Sonali Desai

Archive for the ‘Features’ Category

‘Meals ready’ at Basavanagudi police station

In Features on July 4, 2011 at 12:35 pm

It is the first police station in the city to have a kitchen of its own, say the proud officials  

Sarmistha Acharya

Knuckle sandwiches are no longer the only dish served by police stations in the city. The next time you enter Basavanagudi police station, whether as complainant or suspect, you just might be treated to a hot meal, freshly made by the cops themselves.

While there is no concept of a kitchen in any of the police stations in Bengaluru, the Basavanagudi police station has set up what they say is the first of its kind kitchen in the city. Apart from tea and snacks, this kitchen also serves a lunch, consisting of rice, dal, sambar, rasam etc. And somewhat unusually for a police station, only vegetarian items are cooked here.

Mohammed Aslam, the police inspector in charge here whose idea it was, says that it was an idea he had had for many years, but could never implement before. “I first thought of it after repeatedly I noticed while sanctioning leave for other officers that most of the time they requested leave because of amoebic dysentery, diarrhea, food poisoning, stomach upset etc. These officers tend to get stomach related problems because they eat food outside which is not hygienic,” he says.

So when Aslam found in Basavangudi police station an unused room, he got it cleaned up and converted it to a kitchen. He even has a philosophy behind his police kitchen, which he says can help create a sense of togetherness that is as important as hygienic food. “Since the officials spend maximum of their time in the station, they should consider the police station as their second home and there is a saying that ‘the family that eats together stays together.’ I wanted the same kind of togetherness at the work place, and that was one more reason for setting up a kitchen,” says Aslam.

The fund for constructing the kitchen and purchasing vessels and appliances were pooled in by the staff, with the bulk of the share coming from Aslam himself. The daily expenditure for the food is shared equally by the staff.
Interestingly, apart from the staff, the meals for the suspects in the lock-up – who are not held for more than 48 hours – too are cooked in-house. Aslam explains, “Earlier the food for those in the lock-up was being brought from outside, but now we provide it from our kitchen. It also helps avoid the security problem of someone possibly mixing something in their food.

Buransav Nadaf, an ex-serviceman who is currently a constable in Basavanagudi police station, voluntarily took the responsibility to cook the food and prepare tea. “Every day, about 20 to 22 people have lunch which is cooked in the station. To do this, I am helped by other officers,” said Nadaf.  
Manjunath G Killedar, a police constable in Basvangudi police station said that the staff was pleased with the fact that they are getting healthy food of their choice since the kitchen was started.  “It was simply a waste of time earlier, when we were having lunch outside. Even after spending money, we never used to get healthy food, but the kitchen has solved that,” said Killedar.


Landscapes as art

In Features on July 3, 2011 at 1:30 pm

Landscape Wizards is an exciting new photography venture that focuses exclusively on the wide and varied landscapes of India

Deepa Mohan

With the advent of digital photography, the techniques of image creation have become very easy; but taking a good photograph still remains an art. In the past few years, several young people of Bengaluru have taken to photography not so much as a hobby as a passion; and the latest among these initiatives is an unusual one: Landscape Wizards.

LW focuses exclusively on landscape photography, featuring the wonderful and varied landscapes that our country offers to both the seasoned traveller and the newbie, and the results are put up on their website.

“Popularising Landscape Photography as an art form and exhibiting to the world that India is not just about tigers and temples was one of the  motives behind the initiative,” says LW’s Shivakumar with a smile. “Most photographers concentrate on wildlife or macro (miniature) subjects,” he says. However, Landscape Wizards website concentrates on eliciting the incredible beauty of Indian landscapes and bringing them to viewers across the globe through the internet.

How did the idea of starting such a website occur?  Says Shivakumar, “All of us on the team share a passion for landscape photography, and that prompted us to jointly start this website. We have been friends for quite a while now, so the shared interest did not really need to be ‘put across’ to anyone. The synergy just happened.”

Apart from Shivakumar, the team consists of Anil K, Ashwini Bhat, Pramod Viswanath, and Sriharsha G. “Each one of us brings his own area of expertise to the team. In that respect we have a fairly balanced team altogether,” says Shiva. “We bring diverse approaches to the table in terms of our expertise, but at the same time we are united by our common passion.”

Is Landscape Wizards planning to add photographers to the team? The team members say that if they really come across some talent which is unique and exceptional, and which would expand the portfolio of the Landscape Wizards team then they might consider an addition, but for the time being it is beyond the scope of their plan of action. “We are more concerned in bringing in quality content to our viewers than expanding the team base,” they point out.

Of course, in conversation with the LW team, the next point that occurs is, is this a commercial venture, or one just followed as a passion? Are there any financial overheads? Shivakumar clarifies: “Landscape Wizards is definitely not something which started off with a money-based motive.” For the team members it is basically an art form which they want to pursue.

However, commercial enquiries/requests are handled by each member of the team under his own initiative. Any venture on the net, feels the team, will have quantifiable overheads either in form of logistics or finance. But the LW team also has a concerted plan of action, apart from individual work and interactions, and so the team-work takes precedence for the most part.

The team sees a bright future ahead for not just Landscape Wizard, but for Indian landscape photography as a whole. Landscape Photography in India, they feel, is a form of photography which is still in its infancy. There is so much diversity in India in terms of its landscapes, as much as in terms of its culture and languages. There is an immense opportunity to make award winning landscape images and propogate these images across the world through the medium of the world wide web.  In this country where nature photography is restricted mainly towards wildlife and bird photography, the LW team like to see themselves as leading landscape photographers and want to position themselves as pioneers in popularising this art form.

The team also believes that they are spreading a message of conservation. Through their images, the Wizards feel that they can make a difference to the attitudes of the people towards Nature. “The natural world is not just another place to litter or a place that people ‘use’ for holidays,” says Shiva intensely. “It’s a place that sustains not just human beings, but various other forms of life.” It’s the inculcation of a feeling of respect towards these forms of life  that, say the LW team, inspired them to come up with this project.


All things mango

In Features on June 19, 2011 at 8:08 pm

That was the just what they celebrated this year too at Ranga Shankara’s annual ‘Mango Party’

Gitanjali Warrier

Mango games, mango stories, and needless to say, just plain mangoes in all shapes and sizes. Day two of the Mango Party at Ranga Shankara saw a large gathering of mango loving adults and children telling stories, playing and avidly competing with each other to get their share of the juicy and ripe mangoes laid out for everyone. The annual event organised by Ranga Shankara is meant to inculcate a community spirit, and a wonderful excuse to have fun eating mangoes.

Put together by Arundhati Nag, the party was attended by luminaries such as Girish Karnad, as well as scores of theatre and art lovers who regularly patronise the place along with their families. When asked about the evening, Girish Karnad answered with a polite smile and an all-explaining nod, before mentioning a few sweet facts about the fruit: “The mango is an Indian fruit. The word mango itself comes from the Tamil word Mangaai, which is related to the Kannada word Maavinkaai. And there are so many varieties, and now we have a day to celebrate this variety.”

Arundhati Nag, the founder of Ranga Shankara, who calls the mango ‘a social fruit,’ first came up with the idea nine years ago, when she first decided to invite a few friends to spend an afternoon with her friends at the under-construction building over lunch with various dishes made of mango. She recalls that they brought a great array of them; mango rice, mango pickles, chithranna and a lot of other interesting and intriguing items. This led her to thinking, why extend this to everyone who would be interested in taking part, after all who wouldn’t want to enjoy mangoes on a breezy summer afternoon in the pleasant ambience of the theatre?

The day was especially fun for the little ones, who participated in various fun activities designed around the mango. One of these was a mango eating competition where the participants had to eat the mango without using their hands. It was an amusing sight to see the kids who finally gnawed their ways to the pulp leaping with joy on this achievement! The musicians of an upcoming Indo-German play, Boy With a Suitcase, started a drum circle for the children, and soon other musicians who were present join in with their instruments. A group of 6-8 year olds sat at one of the tables and were busy enjoying the fruit, and made sure that none of the adults where allowed anywhere near the beautiful fruits!

Keertana Kumar, who organised the whole celebration, asked the children about their thoughts on the fruit and many came up with answers like ‘My grandmother makes pickle’ and ‘My grandmother dries them on the terrace.’ One smart one even managed to give the recipe for mango chithranna, on the spot! Keertana feels that such memories associated with their childhoods must be nurtured; otherwise they would be soon forgotten, along with a whole culture which they signify.

To coincide with the Mango Party, a play Butter and mashed Bananas written by  local talent Ajay Krishnan, was staged. It was a play that made waves in the theatre scene when it was first staged, bringing the young playwright much acclaim. Arundhati Nag  was all smiles when said, “We are very proud of having encouraged these youngsters who have gone on to become known playwrights and actors. One of the ways we do it by doing mad things like throw a mango party!”

The Wedding Photographer weds Reality

In Features on June 8, 2011 at 10:06 am

Sick of those fake ‘Kodak moments’ littered through photo albums? Say hello to candid or ‘natural’ wedding photography.

Sonali Desai

All of us have had to endure wedding albums filled with badly (or indifferently) shot photographs that have been thrust on us by over-excited relatives or friends. So, it might be surprising to find that those albums might soon become objects of nostalgia, thanks to a brave new breed of wedding photographers who are raising wedding photography to the level of an art form.

For them, wedding photographs are longer about saying ‘cheese’ or ‘Kodak moments’ that look too artificial and posed on hindsight, but about capturing the real expressions of real people in real settings. And what’s more, this candid and stylish new approach to wedding photography that entertains no fake smiles nor flashy backdrops is finding many takers among the younger generation.

No surprise there, either. For instance, if you ever come across the portfolio Anbu Jawahar – one of most sought after names in this emerging field – on Facebook, you would surely stop for a while to go through his work. Whether it is of the wedding set, the bride, the groom, the place or the people, every shot looks natural, simple, yet exceptional.

Anbu started shooting pictures only as recently as 2008, but his candid photographs from a friend’s wedding were appreciated so much that he decided to go professional. “Earlier people used to look into the camera, smile and then get clicked, but now people understand the art of photography, they need natural pictures than just a pose. I try composing the photography for wedding after talking to the couple, understand their rituals and I look for moments that speak to me, and that is how you bring in a best shot,” he says.
Prabhu Shankar, an architectural photographer who recently got his wedding photo shoot done by Anbu, says, “The best thing about him is that he can give you the best shot even in natural light; he does not require artificial lights, he can click anywhere at anytime. I chose him because I wanted my wedding pictures to be natural and not with poses.”

Nishal Lama, a wedding and a fashion photographer who follows the same approach, says that people are showing a lot of interest in a candid style of photography. “People have become more mature about photography; they don’t want the mundane stuff and capturing candid moments is all they ask for these days.” Nishal says that even though fashion photography needs to be customized, he tries his best to keep it natural. “Photography is nothing but freezing a moment. For instance, instead of taking a child to the photo studio, take him to the garden, let him play and then click the photos.”

Nishal also thinks that this type of photography is not really new, saying “most of the famous Indian photographers never shot their subjects when they were in a conscious state of mind. This is a western concept that is becoming popular now in India.”

others, like photo journalist Ayush Ranka, are slightly skeptical about the trend. “I feel that not many people understand candid photography and I don’t think there are many people who would go for it,” he says.

Kumar Sawan, a photographer who started by clicking snaps on his mobile is philosophical in his response, saying, “Everyone’s perspective differs from each other and so one cannot really say that photography has changed with time. The technology is the only change I see. But a natural photograph would speak to you and not a pose.”

Cheese on silver

In Features on June 1, 2011 at 3:35 pm

There is a new fine-dining restaurant in Indiranagar, Spaghetti Kitchen, which will serve authentic Italian dishes

“Bangalore was a natural choice,” says Italian Celebrity Chef Bill Marchetti when asked why another Italian restaurant on 100 feet road, which is already lined with Casa Piccola, Little Italy, Italia and the likes. Marchetti says that the people in this city love Italian and Mediterranean cuisines. “They are a good number of non-Indian restaurants, when compared to Indian ones, in Bangalore.  The city’s dining culture is classy,” he says. Therefore, Spaghetti Kitchen, the popular landmark for authentic Italian cuisine, could delight Bangaloreans with its newly launched outlet at Indiranagar.

After garnering much appreciation with its exclusive service and world-class quality in Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata, this Italian chain now comes to Bangalore to make its mark. Every dish on the menu has been created by Chef Bill Marchetti to give you a taste of true Italian palate.

Talking about his love for food, Marchetti says, “I cook the food I like to eat, and most of the dishes that is on the menu come from what I’ve had in childhood.” But he does not cook and decides only what goes on the menu. “I have a fleet of good chefs who work under my guidance,” he says. Praising every Indian’s love for cooking Bill says, “Every Indian knows the basics of cooking and so it was easy for me to teach Indian chefs, unlike in the west where we only see fathers cooking barbeque on a Sunday.”

The exotic menu at the restaurant includes signature dishes like Penne Vodka, Black Pepper Chicken, Sea Bass and Tiramisu as well as the popular Parmesan Cheese Potatoes and Triple Chocolate Biscotti. There are also delicious antipastis, insalatas, risottos, lasagnas and thin-crust pizzas. Marchetti’s assortment of dishes promises to delight diners. “We pay special attention to ingredients and training our staff, so that discerning customers have a classic fine dining experience like none other,” says Marchetti.

Spaghetti Kitchen was launched by Blue Foods (Pan India Food Solutions Pvt. Ltd.) on May 19. At the function, Vinay Gopinath, Head – Sales and Marketing, Blue Foods, said, “We have been evolving with every outlet we have launched. This one has a open kitchen and a bar.” Designed as a refreshingly open and stylish restaurant, this restaurant is defined by its spacious settings and elegant décor. Spaghetti Kitchen is a delight with authentic Italian flavor, served in a contemporary atmosphere.

The restaurant is located at 100 feet road, Indiranagar, Bangalore.

Chef’s Picks:
1. Fluffy potato and cheese Gnocchi with an authentic rich Bolognese meat sauce or with Gorgonzola blue cheese and French Cream
2. The crunchiest Cracker Pizza with Italian pepperoni salami or simply and elegantly as a classic Margherita Piemontese chestnut filled profiteroles with hot Maracaibo chocolate sauce and chocolate-coated wine-+soaked figs

Paws to fraternise with claws

In Features on June 1, 2011 at 3:16 pm

A club for pets, the first of its kind in the city, could soon be a favourite among pet-owners. It offers many facilities including day care and a swimming pool exclusively for dogs

Sarmistha Acharya

Now people don’t have to anxiously search for play areas for their pets. Dogs and cats will no more be confined to their homes. A dedicated pet club has come in the city, where among other facilities, there is a swimming pool which is exclusively meant for dogs.
Located at Sarjapr road, Paw & Claw is a club for pets. Spread across an acre, it is a kind of resort for pets and offers different kinds of services including boarding (both for dogs and cats), day care, grooming services, a play area and a swimming pool for dogs.
The owner Adnan Khusro Quraishi claims that this is the first pet club in Bangalore. Here the owners can accompany their pets and spend the day with them. Or if the owners are busy, then they can avail the day-care facility and leave their pets in good hands. Adnan believes that a club has more than the immediate benefits of care and luxury, and that it can help pets learn socialization. Through the club, he says, they will become friendlier to people and other pets.

He believes that the club is a necessity, since there is no place in and around Bangalore for or dedicated to pets. Added to this, dogs are not allowed into parks in the city. The pet owners have to wait till night to take their dogs out for a walk.

The swimming pool is an effective way to exercise your best friend, he says. Fifteen minutes spent swimming is as good as a 15-mile-long walk for a dog because swimming is an exercise during which the whole body works and therefore there is overall development. There are no convenient walks in the city for such a long stroll and also, the swimming pool will save the owners some time.

Adnan’s venture is inspired from personal experience. “I have three Rottweiler dogs. All breeds of dogs need regular exercises and I found no space for this in Bangalore. Therefore, I came up with the idea of this club.” He had been considering this idea for over three years and he started work on it six months ago. While the idea came from Adnan, he was ably assisted by few of friends in this initiative.

Pet owner Vinay Kumar M S believes that others like him will definitely take an interest in Paw & Claw, particularly because of the various facilities the club provides. “I have heard from one of my friend that dogs have got diabetes also. So if the club is proving some health-related services such as facility for swimming then owners will surely line-up for its membership,” said Vinay Kumar. Kumar says that the day care service would be really helpful for owners since most of them are working and having a safe place to leave their pets behind will be welcome.

Classmates Inc.

In Features on May 24, 2011 at 10:51 am

This meeting of National College alumni was no run-of-the-mill get together  – they discussed business and even did a little charity too

Sonali Desai

‘No time,’ is usually the excuse you give when an old friend from college invites you for a get together, if only because you thought alumni meets are all about partying. Not so for former students of National College in Basavanagudi, who have come together with the intention of not only renewing friendships and update themselves on each other’s whereabouts but also exchange ideas on setting up businesses on their own and also do some charity by the side. This was the agenda at the alumni meet organised by the 2001 batch of National College on May 15, which was attended by around 45 former graduates.

The meet kickstarted with interaction sessions and introduction of former students where each one updated others on their professional and personal status. This was followed by a round of games like passing the parcel, dumb charades and musical chairs, which they played for more than an hour. At around 12 noon, the lecturers walked in and graced the meet, only to be overwhelmed by the arrangements made.

It was Harish KL who took the initiative to organise the meet, with help from six other alumni. While many of them were in touch with each other through Facebook and emails, the organising team had to trace the other classmates who they were not in touch with. “This was quite a task and we have been preparing for this meet for a month now,” said Rashmi Belligundu.

Harish explains that he did not want this meet to be just a get together. “This Alumni meet was a forum for likeminded people to start new businesses and also do some charity. Since we know each other from childhood, we can trust each other in business. We also got an opportunity to get in touch with those whom we were not that close as students. We will be soon starting a website or a group where we will have all the information of our batchmates and their projects,” he says.
One of the alumni who attended the meet, Padmashree, who works at Sonata Software, said she was deeply touched by the meet. “I had a great time here and got to know what my classmates are doing and how the college has developed. I relived my weekend memories at this alumni meet,” she said.

Speaking about the group’s charitable activities, she added, “The lecturers have inculcated good values in us, so we thought we should give back to the college in our own way, and that is what we have done by donating Rs 5000 each to the National College Education Society.”

Talking about how they had to prepare for the Alumni meet, Rashmi said, “We met after 10 long years and it was a great experience to relive the college memories. Everyone particularly enjoyed the games because it also helped us befriend many classmates whom we did not know that well.”

Some, like Hemanth Kumar K who works for iGate Patni in Mumbai came down to Bengaluru only to attend the meet. “It was a wonderful feeling coming back to college after 10 years and I think it’s one of the best days of my life. Best thing about the meet was we all went back to our college days through interesting games and activities and got to meet most of our classmates and lecturers,” he said.

Prof. HK Moulesh who teaches Sociology in National College said he was grateful to the students who arranged this get together, and remarked that the alumni have always been a great support to the College. “We do not charge any capitation fee and the question of how to run the College is always answered by such alumni, who contribute to the society in their own way. For example, Dr Sadananda who started MTR foods is a former student of National College; he has not only donated Rs 10 crores for the Jayanagar campus but also Rs 80 lakh for the multimedia auditorium. We will be using donations made by our alumni, to help educate the rural poor.”

All in all, it was a good example of how you can get work done even do a bit of good while having fun and renewing friendships; an example others would do well to emulate.

Herbal gardens for urban homes

In Features on May 23, 2011 at 11:37 am

Amruth Home Garden is about a simple but innovative idea – to offer customised packages of medicinal plants for urban homes – that has proved to be a tremendous success

Radhika Vitla

All city-dwellers would have dreamed of having their own small home garden at least once; if they don’t have one already. But stop short of actually creating one because of the sheer effort and space constraints involved. This is exactly what the Institution of Aurveda and Integrative Medicine (I-AIM), located at Jarakabande Kaval, near Attur in the outskirts of Bengaluru, seeks to tackle.

For over five years, they have been successfully running the Amruth Home Garden programme, which offers ‘plant packages’ (mostly herbs and medicinal plants) that can be grown within the confines of apartments, and allows people to benefit from exposure to their medicinal qualities.

Amruth Herbal Garden draws its strength from our old age healing traditions, espousing the mantra ‘People’s health in people’s hand.’ For generations, Indians have been using plants around them for their day-to-day medicinal needs, a tradition that has been almost totally lost as people are forced to seek help from medical experts and hospitals for even the slightest of health problems, because of their life style and other limitations. It was to keep this tradition alive and to bring these plants into the urban household and establish a relationship between them and people that I-AIM (originally called Foundation for Revitalisation of Local Health Tradition) started the Amruth Home Garden packages.

Launched in 2005, the Amruth Home Garden is a unique garden which has been aesthetically landscaped exclusively with medicinal plants. Several theme based demonstration plots have been established in the I-AIM premises using around 950 native species ranging from grasses to trees. There are also some rare species that have been collected from distant parts of the country. The varied packages include Skin and Hair Care to Women’s Health, Child Care Package and Old Age Package, apart from Stress Reliver Package and Metabolism Package, each of them varying in price ranges and species. I-AIM has also been undertaking institutional garden setup orders too from all over India.

Ganesh Babu, Senior Research Officer at I-AIM told City Buzz, “Nearly 10,000 people in the city have adopted these packages in their homes and benefitted from its use in their daily life. In cities, even for small problems we run for the hospital to get the medicine. If we grow the plants like tTulsi, Brahmi, Ondelaga, Aloe vera, Adusoge, Shatavari, Nelanelli, Dodda pathre or Garike, we can use it for our basic health needs. We can grow them in small spaces like balconies, window sills or in spacious terraces in pots. Some are ornamental too which gives a fresh green look and lung space to our house.”

For those who desire to set up a garden at home, Amruth Home Garden first assesses the space available at their homes, and also makes inquiries about the frequent health problems in the family, if any. For example, if there is a diabetic in their house, they are advised to choose a customised Diabetes package. If the customers are techies, they suggest Stress Relievers Package, if they have kids at home they suggest the Child Care Package, and so on.

Each package has different types of plants which are useful for curing and preventing diseases, including some that can support daily usage for general healthcare. For example, the Hair Care package consists of Hibiscus, Rosa-sinesis, Eclipta Alba, Acacia Sinuta and the Phyllanthus Emblica species. Lolesara (Aloevera) is beneficial for treating cuts, wounds, burns, eye problems, scanty urination, stomach ache, menstrual disorders etc. Adusoge (Adhatoda Vasica) is recommended for cough, respiratory problems, fever, bleeding disorders. Moringa Oleifera (Nugge) is for stomach ache, worms, fungal infections, Asparagus Racemosus (Shatavari) is for scanty breast milk, acidity, burning feet, hoarse throat, menstrual disorder and general immunity, Phyllanthus amarus (Nelanelli) is for liver tonic, Gymnema syvestre (Madhunashini) is for fever, diabetes and cough, Cynodon Dactylon ( Garike hullu) is for cuts and wounds, scabies, vomiting and menstrual problems etc.

Amruth Home Garden provides a variety of 7 to 40 selected healing plants in various packages to cater to the primary health care needs. These plants have been selected very carefully keeping in view of their medicinal value, ornamental value, ease of growing, maintenance, ease of use, safety and efficacy. These do not have a large space can still benefit from the rejuvenating value, colour and flavor of these plants by efficiently utilising the available nooks and corners of the house.

According to Amruth officials, these plants can take care of more than 20 primary health care problems. They say that these plants also promote good health and help in preventing the occurrence of diseases in the long term. But they are careful to point out that these packages are not intended to cure complex and chronic ailments that need professional medical advice.

Surprisingly, these various packages of medicinal plants selected to suit the requirements of houses and public and private institutions, organizations and parks, are available at nominal costs. Their range starts from Rs 200 per package and goes up to Rs 4000, depending on the needs of the subscriber. If people want Amruth staff to set up the garden in their home, it will incur an additional charges. If the customers want their own selected plants, they are free to do so and do not have to buy the packages. Those customers who buy a package, however, will get a free special user guide that contains detailed information about the identification, maintenance and the use of the plants for various ailments.

For more details contact: 28568000/ 01/ 04

Home Garden Packages 

 Complete Package – 21 species (30 plants) – 400 Rs

Advanced Package – 14 species (20 plants) – 300 Rs

Basic Package – 7 species (10 plants) – 200 Rs

Skin Care Package – 4 species (10 plants) – 200 Rs

Hair Care Package – 4 species (10 plants) – 200 Rs

Child Care Package – 4 species (10 plants) – 200 Rs

Revitalisers – 4 species (10 plants) – 200 Rs

Stress Relievers – 4 species (10 plants) – 200 Rs

Metabolism plus (for digestion) – 4 species (10 plants) – 200 Rs

Cough and Cold – 4 species (10 plants) – 200Rs

Women Health Package – 4 Species (10 plants) – 200 Rs

Old age Package – 4 Species (10 plants) – 200 Rs

Anti-Diabetic Package – 4 Species (10 plants) – 200 Rs

Institutional Garden Packages 

Complete Package – 40 species (350 plants) – 4,000 Rs

Advanced Package – 30 species (310 plants) – 3,500 Rs

Basic Package – 25 species (250 plants) – 3,000 Rs


What’s in the packages?

Aloevera (Lolesara),  Adhatoda Vasica  (Adusoge ), Hibiscus rosa sinensis (Dasavala), Ocimum sanctum (Tulasi), Bacopa Monnieri (Jala Brahmi), Piper longum (Hippali), Tinospora Cordifolia (Amruthaballi), Centella Asiatica (Ondelaga), Murraya Koenigii (Karibevu), Punica granatum (Dalimbe), Cymbopogon citrarus (Nimbehullu), Basella alba (Basale), Coleus Aromaticus (Doddapatre), Asparagus Racemosus (Shatavari), Lawsonia inermis (Goranti), Withania Somnifera (Ashwagandha), Moringa Oleifera (Nugge), Andrographis Paniculata (Nelabevu), Phyllanthus Amarus (Nelanelli), Gymnema sylvestre (Madhunashini), Cynodon dactylon (Garike Hullu), Azadirachta Indica (Bevu), Eclipta Alba (Bringaraja), Vetiveria zizanioides (Lavancha), Phyllanthus Emblica (Bettada Nelli), Ocium Basilicum (Kama Kasturi), Vetix Negundo (Lakki), Plumbago zeylanica (Chitramula), Ruta Graveolens (Nagadali), Souropus Androgynus (Chakramuni), Holarrhena pubescens (Beppale), Calotropis Gigantia –White (Bili Ekka), Aegele mamelos (Bilva), Ricinus communis (Haralu), Butea monosperma (Muthuga), Cassica Fistula (Kakke), Alstonia scholaris (Maddale), Terminalia Bellirica (Thaare), Terminalia Chebula (Alale), Acorus calamus (Baje).

Harmony day

In Features on May 23, 2011 at 11:32 am

The Harmonium Habba is fast emerging as one of the country’s leading events dedicated to a single instrument

Radhika Vitla

An entire academy dedicated to that humble musical instrument: the harmonium. Bijapure Harmonium Foundation is perhaps the world’s only such institution, and is the brainchild of Pt Ravindra Katoti, one of the best-known contemporary harmonium accompanists. It is named after his guru Pt Rambhau Bijapure, one of the leading harmonium accompanists of all time and a revered teacher of the Gayaki style of harmonium playing in Indian classical music.

Founded on May 4, 2003, Bijapure Harmonium Foundation is a dedicated forum that promotes the cause of the harmonium as a solo instrument. The foundation maintains a low-profile existence, but makes its presence felt in the musical world with the annual Harmonium Habba festival, the fifth edition of which will be held on June 12 at Seva Sadan in Malleshwaram.

The day-long festival celebrates Indian classical music and with a special focus on the harmonium. The first such festival was held in the year 2007, and the overwhelming response it received prompted Pt. Katoti to do the Habba every year.  According to him, the harmonium is the most commonly used instrument in classical music, but it is very rarely used as solo.

“It is a relatively unexplored instrument and many people have misunderstandings about it. So, it is to promote and explore exclusively in the field of the harmonium that I came up with the idea of starting this organisation,” said Pt Kakoti. He added that he was extremely happy by the reception accorded to a unique festival like Harmonium Habba. “People find it a peculiar event, and wait eagerly every year to attend the event. In the upcoming Harmonium Habba, we will be exploring choir music,” he pointed out.

Recalling his relationship with the great harmonium player and his involvement with the Foundation, Pt Kakoti further said, “As a guru, Pt. Bijapure was everything to me, and it is only because of him that I am here. When I told him that I wanted to register the organization after him, he did not allow me to do so initially. He was such a different personality, who did not want any publicity. Later, when I insisted strongly, he agreed to the idea, and even played the harmonium in the first three editions of Harmonium Habba. He also attended a dozen different events organised by the Harmonium Foundation. Those were some of the most delightful moments of my musical life.”

Pt. Rambhau Bijapure, a proficient accompanist who developed a unique style of accompaniment stamped with his unique identity, hardly needs any introduction in music circles. A versatile teacher, an accomplished music director and a great institution builder, his contributions over the past seven decades have been widely acknowledged by music lovers all over India. In his music career, he had accompanied almost all the leading vocalists of major gharanas of Hindustani classical music ranging from Pt Sawai Gandharva to Dr Gangubai Hanagal, Pt Bhimsen Joshi to Pt  Basavaraj Rajguru, Pt Mallikarjun Mansoor to Kumara Gandharva and many more. Around 10,000 students have been trained at the musical academy he founded, Sri Rama Sangeet Mahavidyalaya. He passed away on November 19, 2010.

Pt. Katoti himself an established accompanist who has received acclaim from many of the top performing vocalists and patrons of classical music. He has performed throughout India and abroad, both as a soloist and an accompanist. Like his guru, he too has accompanied many of the top ranking vocalists like Dr Gangubai Hanagal, Pt Bhimsen Joshi, Pt Jasaraj and others. Born in a family of music lovers, Ravindra Katoti started learning Hindustani classical harmonium at the age of eight. A disciple of Pt Bijapure, he has in turn taught many budding harmonium players, and his ‘Learn to Play Harmonium’ DVD is almost considered the Bhagavadgita for harmonium learners.

The Harmonium Foundation also received acclaim for bringing out three audio CDs featuring harmonium solo performances by Pt Bijapure, titled Meru, Mahameru-1 and Mahameru-2. The foundation has also produced a documentary about the life and work of Pt Bijapure. All this, apart from the Harmonium Habba, which has emerged as one of the country’s leading events dedicated to a single instrument.

Think visual, think different

In Features on May 12, 2011 at 11:05 am

Pencil Jam doesn’t promise to make an artist out of you – but they sure can teach you how to think visually

Sonali Desai

You too drew a mountain, a tree and a house with two windows and a door just like your classmate in kindergarten. But did you ever pause to wonder why we all drew it the same way? At Pencil Jam, they take such questions seriously.

Pencil Jam – a somewhat informal academy for all things visual – was given shape some eight months ago by artists George Supreeth and Smitha Shivaswamy. The duo decided to started Pencil Jam to take forward the sketching and drawing jam sessions they organised every weekend, originally under the aegis of their illustration outfit, Pencil Sauce. The idea was to provide a space and ambience for sketching and drawing enthusiasts to let their hair down and explore and exchange ideas.

George graduated from Chitrakala Parishath in 1996 and worked as a creative director for a few firms before deciding to strike out on his own. He met Smitha who graduated in 2006, and realised that they both wanted to build something besides the regular design services firm. That was how Pencil Sauce was born.
Talking about the unusual name, George says, “We were looking for a way to see ‘illustrator’ because we were probably the first pure-play illustration studio in the country. Pencil seemed to work ok, because people automatically associate it to drawing (as opposed to pen for writing). I have no idea where sauce came from, but it was thrown up in the brainstorming session and it stuck. It seems the incongruence works because people remember it.”

George explains with an example how we all think differently and the difference between verbal and visual thinkers. “Try this experiment. Give someone the keyword ‘forest’ and ask them to list associations with it. The verbal thinkers think sequentially (trees, bushes, plants, squirrels, birds, lion, tiger etc.) and in progressions. The visual thinkers, on the other hand, may respond with random terms because they are seeing systems level picture. While verbal thinking is efficient, visual thinking tends to be richer in detail.”

Pencil Jam participants call themselves ‘drawers’ and not artistes, as they believe that art is a very serious word which denotes a person of rare mastery over technique and subject. George elaborates, “One cannot really teach art. One can however teach the skills required to draw really well. Perhaps some of our students will be great artists one day. But that will be because they persevered. We just teach them the skills, and do that really well.”

Anil Kumar, an engineer who joined the Pencil Jam Community in May 2010, is an avid jammer and has probably never missed a weekend drawing session. “I mainly did pencil sketches and dreamed of watercolours. I was a doodler for years. About a year and a half ago, I started sketching seriously every day. And soon Pencil Jammers happened and I am a far better drawer than I would have been otherwise. Thanks to PJ I have ventured into it and learnt a lot. I still have a long way to go and I look forward to it. I occasionally do pastels, ballpoint pen drawings and charcoals now. I have uploaded the largest number of pictures among all members ,” Anil shares his experience in drawing. “Though he’s not a professional artist, his drawing output per week is tremendous,” comments George.

And now, to tackle the problem we started with. Says Smitha, co-founder of Pencil Jam, explaining why we all drew the same way in school, “In schools most of us drew the same way, and over here we are trying to break people out of it. At Pencil Jam, we help people to observe and draw exactly what they see. It’s more about visual thinking. Like, some people think through words and some of them have a vision; here we develop their visual skills.”

Pencil Jam’s 100 day programme is a foundation for drawing basics and only 10 students in one batch are allowed. The third batch of the program is scheduled to start on May 3rd, 2011. The classes consist of studio work three days a week, and assignments completed from home on the remaining three days.

For more details log on to their website: