Manicured pups in designer handbags were an essential fashion accessory for socialites in the early 2000s. In recent times, social media influencers have put their own twist on this trend with backpacks that have cats inside them. The most common design features a clear plastic window or ‘bubble’. As is often the case with social media-driven trends, this one too can be geared more towards aesthetics than your cat’s comfort and wellbeing, experts say.
Neha Gupta Pillai, feline behaviourist
“Many indoor cats are very territorial, and would much prefer to not have to face a variety of stimuli and new environments. The clear plastic bubble can leave your cat feeling exposed and vulnerable because it does not offer any respite from the distress,” warns says Raj Mariwala, a feline behaviourist and founder of Citizen K9. She also states that while some cats may enjoy going out and exploring, others who are more prone to anxiety can find the entire experience distressing. “Any carrier for your cat should have enough room for him/her to place all four paws on the base, turn around and lie down. Bubble catpacks are typically small and can make your cat claustrophobic. The all-plastic body can cause overheating since the design does not usually factor in air circulation. Your cat can become very anxious and claw his/her way out of the backpack or escape if the zipper breaks. Many cats may be uncomfortable with the swaying motion of a backpack,” she adds.
Raj Mariwala, feline behaviourist
The right fitNeha Rajadhyaksha, founder of a cat backpack brand named Friends Of Fluff, recommends making sure the backpack has a steady frame so that it does not cave in. “The bag should be cross-ventilated and water-resistant so that it is easy to clean. Choose the correct size and avoid using trolleys as the bumps on uneven roads will rattle your cat. The bag must also have strong handles so that it remains steady when you carry it,” she says.
Neha Rajadhyaksha, founder of Friends Of Fluff
Take it easyWith the right bag and a confident cat, you can proceed to gradually introducing your cat to the backpack, says Neha Gupta Pillai, a feline behaviourist and cat retention counsellor. “Mentally prepare your cat to encounter other animals in his/her territory by placing him/her on the balcony or window, where (s)he can smell other animals within a 500 m radius. If your cat feels threatened, (s)he can get become aggressive towards you, withdraw, or become a picky eater. If your cat is comfortable, introduce him/her to the backpack. Spray the backpack with liquid catnip, place his/her favourite toys or blanket inside the carrier, and let him/her explore the backpack without zipping it up. Start short walks inside the house. Reward your cat’s calm behaviour every 15 seconds with a treat and repeat this once every 10-15 minutes,” she advises.
Comfort factorI always wanted to take my two-year-old Persian cat to the park. We ordered a backpack online. When it arrived, I noticed that the pack was made of a flimsy material that would collapse on my cat. The plastic bubble would also heat up in the sun, making my cat very uncomfortable. She refused to enter the backpack. I have since switched to a backpack that has mesh windows and has a sturdier frame and my cat finds it much more enjoyable.
Input by Abbas Motorwala, lawyer
When Aastha Choudhary moved to Mira Road five years ago, the thought of commuting by rail and dealing with a perpetually crowded station irked her. The artist found some solace in the ladies special train in the morning where crowds were manageable. And as time passed, the artist realised that strangely, this was an avenue where she could draw in peace. But her commute was also where new friendships and fascination with her worked bloomed. The outcome is now apparent in a zine that Choudhary released last month, titled Mumbai Local & Ladies Dabba.
Comprising seven drawings, the zine captures little facets of the ladies dabba - making "train friends", double-checking if it's a fast or slow train, or simply staring into a stranger's phone and trying to decipher what they're typing. "To avoid train travel, I wanted to shift to South Mumbai. But I miss it now. I began sketching the drawings from the zine in the train itself in early 2020 but put them together in the lockdown," she shares.
Travelling by train also changed Choudhary as an artist; as someone who isn't comfortable with working on large canvases, she managed to complete most of her work projects on the train. "When you're on a train, you don't have to think about the amount of work you have to do elsewhere. You know, for instance, that you have an hour or so to focus on the drawings alone," she explains. In addition, Choudhary also mentions that the people who were well acquainted with her work in the train would give her space while those who weren't as familiar would be interested, and sometimes even ask for her contact.
The 3.5x3.5 inch zine, which can be purchased off Choudhary's website, is also part of a larger initiative she started during the lockdown called Surprise Saturdays, where would launch a product every Saturday, in tune with maintaining zero waste. She's also made a set of nine acrylic paintings inspired by the faces of women who board the ladies special.
Log on to: aasthachoudhary.comCost: Rs 300
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Children are always expected to end up being adults of a certain kind who are able to appreciate art and have a sense of aesthetics. But if they are not exposed to the world of arts from a young age, where can this come from?" points out Parvathi Ramanathan, manager, collaborations, at the Kolkata-based non-profit ThinkArts, while explaining why they have been creating immersive and engaging experiences to expose kids to art, culture and history since 2013. As children tend to have their own way of looking at the world, she adds, it's not just important to create art for a young audience, but also make space for them to participate in it. And a result of this willingness to help kids be stakeholders in the world of arts has led to their latest project - Let Me Tell You A Story - inviting six to nine-year-olds from South Asia and Switzerland to pen their tales.
Prompts from Rabindranath Tagore's Taal Gaachh and Kati, die Mowe by Anita Hansemann and Verena Pavoni
Most of us grow up listening to or reading stories written by adults for young minds, leaving little space for children to imagine their own narratives. "We want to recognise children as imaginative beings. We want them to realise that their stories are worth telling to the world and side-step any doubt they might have about not being 'good enough'," she shares. Ramanathan elaborates that as part of the project - supported by the Pro Helvetia Swiss Arts Council and The International Literature Festival BuchBasel - they will post prompts from children's literary works till January 17. She informs us that one can write in response to a single prompt or multiple prompts, and that the stories can be penned in English, Hindi, Urdu or Bengali, and be accompanied by art works.
Parvathi Ramanathan. Pics/Thinkarts
Some of the prompts - a couple of lines each - shared by them include lines from Rabindranath Tagore's poem Taal Gaachh, Our Friends, The Ogres by KG Subramanyan, and Amelia Ellicott's Garden by Liliana Stafford and Stephen Michael King. "We hope to secure at least 100 stories. We'll also be posting an open call to professional storytellers who will record some of the stories as audio narratives. Some of them will also be illustrated. This will all go up on the website," she tells us.
If your little one wants to take up their pen, Ramanathan has a tip: "The tagline for the project is 'imagined by the young, for the curious'. So, explore any universe and free-flow. We want to read your stories, and want others to see your imagination come alive."
Log on to: thinkarts.co.in
There were barely any catwalk shows in 2020. Instead, there were discussions about sustainability and inclusivity, changing customer demographic, habits and their response to digital stimuli. Anchal Jain suggests redesigning the broader industry understanding of an omni-brand that's available across omni-channels. "[Instead], build a brand that means more to the customers that trust it, engages in more meaningful ways and is omnipresent," says Jain, founding partner, Val-More Action Advisory.
The brands need to offer purpose to the customer in 2021 by thinking beyond being the maker of a piece of clothing to being a trusted personal stylist. "Introduce more convenience with shopping from home that would mean new last mile connectivity, integrating tech tools like shop-able videos, to bridge the omni-channels," elaborates Jain. Among the players in the virtual experiences field, many are focusing on creating virtual events- "a blanket term used for anything online," thinks Siddharth Seth, creative director at BongWater Films, the Delhi-based boutique VR Studio. "However, a virtual reality experience with a 360-degree field of view is a different league altogether.
The challenge is to find a creative application of VR and make it accessible," adds Seth, the creator behind VR projects for Pero's in-store collection, Good earth's 10th anniversary show and Kiran Nadar Museum of Art. Dr Bhau Daji Lad (BDL) Museum, the city's oldest, was also the first to display a stunning speed of digital adaptation when it was invited by the Google Arts and Culture platform in 2016 to showcase its collection. "One of the many merits of digital outreach is our access to a global audience. Our first webinar was viewed by 2,000 people on YouTube," informs Tasneem Zakaria Mehta, managing trustee and Hon. Director at BDL.
Despite the fashion industry suffering its worst year with almost three quarters of listed companies losing money, a report by Business of Fashion and McKinsey states that online fashion sales nearly doubled from 16-29 per cent of total revenues, and 71 per cent of fashion executives now expect their online business to grow by 20 per cent or more in 2021. What does "online" mean for sectors like fashion and art that thrive on human connection? Why does an authentic story matter? What are the digital natives - generation Z and millennials - looking for in a brand?
Relook at the physical storeAnchal Jain, founding partner, Val-More Action AdvisoryS torytelling has always been important; the change is on what the story will be and how it will be told. Storytelling would also need to move from 'making of' and 'artisans' to real inspirations and what drives the brands. People are demanding for the brand to be the facilitator, not the owner of storytelling. It's not about 'hype' but content. Consumers with access to digital knowledge and desire for genuine products will increasingly ask for proof.
I cannot stress enough on the power of communities in powering a brand. Brands like Anthropologie have long leveraged communities that engage among themselves and the brand beyond the business they actually transact. It is this community that through its own blog sites, sharing inspirations etc, took the brand to a true omni brand presence today with digital sales accounting for almost 50 per cent.
In the post-pandemic world, store footfalls will become important because they continue to be the main theatre where we engage with our customers. Brands would need to rethink their physical store engagement to make every walk-in count. Inviting in more sharply defined customers and store interactions, tech-human interface delivering more relevant merchandise to them would be the key. The Val-More approach to brand extensions requires them to define their existence DNA; in our parlance, eRA: exceptionalness, Rarity and Authenticity, and then evaluate if that identity will also make sense to millennials and Gen Z, which then would mean a totally new brand-image architecture to also talk to them in addition to their existing customers."
Driving the brand narrativeetienne Marques, social media strategist A digital agency has always been an important component of brand building; the pandemic however has tilted that promise even more in its favour. This trend will continue in 2021, considering this is now being understood as the 'new normal'.
The Gen Z and millennial generation represent a new customer, and they are invested in responsible ways to consume fashion. Community building will also evolve in a big way with storytelling driving the brand narrative. Brands who wish to appeal to these digital natives will have to first create a personality, a story, a community around its core values, emotions, experiences, and relay it clearly across all platforms. The audience that resonates with your brand identity will in turn become your customers and brand evangelists.
This year, Instagram filters will become a favourite tool of expression, and the platform itself will reflect a move from bloggers to real influencers. The answer here is to create strategic social media partnerships; a chef, retail store owner, yogini, artist, etc., which would trigger a customer's interest in the brand."
The arts matterTasneem Zakaria Mehta, managing trustee and Hon. Director, Dr Bhau Daji Lad Museum (BDL)We cannot replicate the in-person experience digitally. Not yet, though we have 3D technology. The tactile experience of being in a museum is so much more than just looking at the object. But COVID-19 has telescoped the future into the present. We are rethinking innovative ideas to present exhibitions digitally that will make the experience enriching and absorbing. We are also expanding our education resources and hope to take them online. People will continue to be cautious in 2021 and so it will be necessary to have a mix of both. We will observe all security and safety measures but I think people will prefer more intimate experiences. I am especially proud of Marathi programming, and we are taking this online along with curating special interest tours, working with groups to address their focus areas and making it more personal. I believe strongly that the arts help us become better human beings and so reaching the widest possible audience is important."
Shopping for trousseau wear in a 3D environmentSiddharth Seth, creative director at BongWater FilmsV R can create immersive experiences, expansive yet intimate, where the user can move around on their own terms, while simultaneously allowing the brand to recreate their universe, virtually, in a language that's unique to them. When it comes to shopping; be it fast fashion or bespoke wedding couture, it is possible to recreate the magic of an in-store experience within a 3D environment that is much more interactive and experiential than the monotonous e-commerce interface. With VR, shoppers can seamlessly browse, zoom, add to cart and explore the whimsical, intricate details of bridal-wear. Visualisation, access to product information, images, videos, all allow the customer to preview products from multiple vantage points before making the purchase. everything from perusal and purchase occurs inside this VR environment, which is essentially a digital twin of the physical store."
The audience is the storytellerUdita Jain, producer and managing partner, BongWater FilmsThe pandemic has fundamentally changed the way brands engage with customers, opening up a world of immersive media. By using storytelling, sensory branding, involving consumers in consumption experiences and building emotional connections, retailers can meet consumer desires. VR is one such format. It bridges gaping holes in the narrative, makes storytelling inclusive and lets the audience become the storyteller."
Manoj Gupta and Ayush GuptaThe Case Files of Super Commando Dhruva and Sherlock Holmes (Raj Comics)Coming in: FebruaryFor the first time, one of the country's most loved superheroes, Dhruva, will join hands with one of the most popular detectives in the world - Sherlock Holmes. The 120-pager kicks off when Dhruva receives a call from 221B Baker Street, to solve a case which puts India's national security at risk.
Shanta GokhaleShyamchi Aai (Puffin Classics)Coming in: JanuaryThe city-based, award-winning writer has translated Pandurang Sadashiv Sane's autobiography, into English. Recognised as a classic in Marathi literature, the book is a fictionalised account of Sane's childhood and is rooted in the unconditional love of a mother
Amitav GhoshJungle Nama (HarperCollins India)Coming in: FebruaryCarrying artwork by celebrated New York-based artist Salman Toor, the book has Ghosh delving into verse for the first time. It is an adaptation of the legend of Bon Bibi, a fable from the villages of the Sundarbans.
Pankaj SekhsariaWaiting for Turtles (Karadi Tales)Coming in: TBAA professor and researcher who has worked extensively in the field of wildlife conservation, Sekhsaria presents a fascinating tale for children about turtles. The story is set on Tarmugli Island, a place brought alive by Vipin Sketchplore's illustrations.
Annie ZaidiOne of Them (Aleph Book Company)Coming in: TBAAfter a great run with Prelude to a Riot - the novel was shortlisted for the JCB Prize and won the Tata Literature Live! Book of the Year Fiction Award this year - Zaidi offers a tale about people who live on the margins of a city.
Angellica Aribam and Akash SatyawaliThe Fifteen (Hachette India)Coming in: TBAThe authors dive into the making of the Constitution of India by profiling the 15 women who played an active role in shaping it as members of the Constituent Assembly.
Tisca ChopraMy Period Book (Red Panda)Coming in: MarchForaying into children's literature, the actor presents a frank and fun guide to menstruation, for girls aged between eight and 13. With inputs from a gynaecologist, it serves as a starter kit for parents, too.
Jhumpa LahiriWhereabouts (Hamish Hamilton)Coming in: JuneThe title sees the Pulitzer Prize-winning writer scale new heights; it has been written in Italian by her for the first time, and translated into English. Lahiri returns with a work of fiction, exploring estrangement and attachment, after nearly a decade.
Perumal MuruganFour Strokes of Luck (Juggernaut)Coming in: JanuaryIn this collection of stories translated by Nandini Krishnan, the Sahitya Akademi award-winning writer returns to themes of loneliness, the bonds between humans and animals, and the search for meaning and happiness.
Nikesh ShuklaBrown Baby (Pan Macmillan India)Coming in: FebruaryLauded by Booker-Prize winner Bernardine Evaristo, the title is a love letter by the author to his daughters, in remembrance of their grandmother they never got to meet, while looking at feminism, racism, parenting and belonging.
Ravi Shastri with Ayaz MemonUntitled (HarperCollins India)Coming in: MayIn a candid biography, the current head coach of the Indian national cricket team lays bare his life, detailing his journey with other extraordinary cricketers who helped him grow. Expect never-heard-before anecdotes and insights.
Sorabh PantPant for PM (of the World) (Rupa Publications)Coming in: TBAThe funnyman has performed over 2,000 shows in over 100 cities around the world. Some of his thoughts from the stage and social media will materialise into this work of non-fiction.
Vandana Shiva and Shreya JaniSlow Living (Roli Books)Coming in: TBAMitigating climate change bottles down to the small things - from the way we eat to how we travel. In this part-manifesto and part-manual, the authors and activists prod you to reassess your choices.
Delivering dine-inComing in: FebruaryThe past year saw several cloud kitchens mushroom across Mumbai, including Atom Box, and Bun & Only, co-founded by Sameer Uttamsingh, CEO, Acme Hospitality. According to Uttamsingh, a dine-in area will house both the brands at the existing kitchen in Santacruz. "We'll also launch a second delivery kitchen in SoBo in the second half of 2021," he adds. The F&B professional is also tying up with chefs Seefah Ketchaiyo and Karan Bane for a Japanese restaurant and bar, which is expected to open mid-year. "We're looking at a 3,000-sq ft space offering Japanese-focused food and drinks," he reveals.
Abhayraj Singh Kohli at Tori in Khar. Pic/Sameer Markande
Latin America to LondonComing in: January Abhayraj Singh Kohli prefers to look at the pandemic as an opportunity - one that he seized to conceptualise his latest venture, Tori, a Latin-Asian eatery that is set to grace Khar in place of the now-shuttered Sanchos in early January. "It is a 'Zoom restaurant'. Chef-partner Thomas Catley, who's worked with Michelin star restaurants, hired his whole team from London via Zoom! It'll be a Tapas-style fun dining place offering cuisines from Latin America and Asia, with a strong cocktail programme. We'll be playing fun music like K Pop, Japanese hip-hop and Latin music," he promises. Kohli, who runs Grandmama's Cafe, MRP, Pritam Da Dhaba, among other places, tells us that he also signed off 2020 with a new restaurant modelled on London's Edgware Road. "If you want to eat Lebanese food and have sheesha in London, this is the place to be. We're recreating that experience in Juhu for Mumbai folks," he shares, adding that two delivery concepts are also in the works.
Sweet beginningsComing in: FebruaryIf you've loved the sweet treats from Rachel Goenka's Sassy Spoon, then here's some good news. The founder and CEO of The Chocolate Spoon Company is set to open the first Sassy Spoon café at BKC in February. "The idea is to offer a 'gourmet grab-and-go' option for people who would like a quick lunch, but have guilt-free and healthy mains. So, think more on the lines of salad bowls, hearty sandwiches, wraps and light bites, including cake slices and dessert pots," she elaborates. The entrepreneur is also looking to launch House of Mandarin at the Sheraton Grand in Pune this year.
Comfort mattersComing in: TBAAlthough restaurateur Zorawar Kalra admits that 2020 was "an absolute write-off", he's geared to take on 2021 in full steam, with a focus on brands that offer comforting, crave-worthy fare that celebrates the chefs heading them. Take for instance, the newly-opened +94 Bombay at Lower Parel's Palladium Mall, which is a celebration of Maharashtrian chef Dipesh Shinde's native culture as well as his culinary trails in Sri Lanka, Kalra tells us. He adds that he plans to acquire spaces at a few iconic buildings to expand the Massive Restaurants chain in the city. Apart from restaurants, there will be sustained focus on opening new delivery concepts that will be both premium Indian in nature using the Jiggs Kalra brand, as well as accessible, but high-scale international brands. "We want to focus on small menus to offer consistency. For instance, a new delivery brand likely to be introduced in January, called Butter Delivery. Today, everything is focused on healthy and low-fat; and so we've gone in the opposite direction and created an ode to all things buttery including chicken, dal and paneer. It's a limited menu of repeatable food," he reveals, adding such delivery platforms will mushroom across the length and breadth of Mumbai. He will also be taking Farzi Café to Canada and Bangladesh.
(From left) Karan Jain, Brewdog founder James Watt, Rohit Jain and Abhijit Rao
Chug on angrezi beerComing in: JanuaryWith 106 taprooms in the world, UK-based craft beer specialist Brewdog is foraying into the desi space, with their first outpost in India at Kamala Mills. Directors Abhijit Rao and Karan Jain, who convinced the brewery to enter the Indian market along with chairman Rohit Jain, tell us they plan to open up 10 taprooms across India by June 2021. "The menu and design will be acquired from the UK but will be tweaked according to our taste buds. While some beer will be imported from UK, it will also be brewed at our Nashik plant," shares Rao.
Mediterranean escapeComing in: FebruaryOver the years, Kaneesha Jain's Santé Spa Cuisine has become a go-to for those seeking a healthy menu. In 2021, Jain, owner of Kasa Food Works, is whipping up a new concept — a Mediterranean eathouse, dedicated to vegetarians, in Kala Ghoda. There'll be Italian, French, Spanish, Portuguese, and a little bit of Turkish cuisine, she informs, adding that the menu has been designed by chef Gracian de Souza. The place will be headed by chef Arnez Driver.
For the sake f funComing in: MayMihir Desai, co-owner, The Bar Stock Exchange (TBSE), is also looking east this year with an Asian resto bar planned in Colaba. "We're flying down a chef from Japan. It'll be like a Japanese saké bar, with a focus on food and drinks from the country. We plan to open the place by May," he shares. The restaurateur tells us that he also plans to introduce the bar stock exchange concept in London, with their first international outpost. "London is the city of bars, so it seemed like the best place to take TBSE to. The rooftop bar is likely to open in June."
Powai gets groovierComing in: TBAYet another promising addition to Powai's steadily growing clique of hip spaces to hangout is a new lounge bar that'll be based inside five-star eco-hotel Meluha The Fern. Punish B Sharma, V-P, operations, claims that the bar will be one-of-its-kind at the Hiranandani Gardens. "What sets a lounge apart from a bar, is the former's finesse. It'll wear a more rustic look. We're ready to open but we're waiting for restrictions to ease."
New, normal experiencesComing in: January. February
While awaiting directives from the state government regarding their opening, Chhatrapati Shivaji Vastu Sangrahalaya (CSMVS) is organising two physical exhibitions in January and February, which will be available for viewing once they are given a go-ahead. The first is a children's exhibition titled Entwined: Humans and Animals at the Children's Museum. Curated by the CSMVS team, it will showcase objects from their collection that depict animals. The second exhibition is centred on Tanjore paintings that were gifted to the museum by Kuldip Singh, the eminent architect and collector who passed away in November 2020. Singh had donated over 300 pieces, and thus the show will be accommodated in the Coomaraswamy Hall, under the ConservArte-a Citi-CSMVS Art Conservation Project, as the objects had to be restored at the museum. In addition, visitors will also be able to visit the renewed money and jewellery gallery that had opened in February but had to shut its door due to the lockdown.
30 years of stageComing in: TBAVeteran thespian Lilette Dubey's theatre company Primetime Theatre Co celebrates 30 years. "We had big plans to host a huge festival across five cities and perform 30 shows over 30 days for the 30 years, till 2020 disrupted our plans. But all hope is not lost; we intend to move the festival to October 2021, where we will be premiering new plays." She will also be staging an impactful play that takes on faith, titled When Laxmi counted her Arms and Legs. Written by American playwright, Holly Hepp Galvan, it was a nominee for the Sultan Padamsee Award for playwrights where Dubey was a jury member. "The play didn't win the main prize, but it left an indelible mark on me," she shared. She will also team up with Sahitya Akademi award-winning playwright Mahesh Dattani to rekindle the magic of their long-running English play, Dance Like a Man with its sequel titled Dance Like a Goddess. "It will bring to the proscenium the same characters, but 30 years on, where I will be essaying the role of Lata [her daughter from the first instalment]," Dubey shared.
Detailed chaptersComing in: FebruaryDuring the lockdown, the KR Cama Oriental Institute held online sessions pertaining to the city's history. This year, they will digitally launch two key publications. An awardee of the Mrs Avabai B Wadia Research Fellowship the institute offers, Dr Sugandha Johar's book is titled Ahilyabai's Maheshwar, and documents the 18th century architecture of the holy town. The second title to be jointly published by the institute and Niyogi Books is called Reflections on Mughal Art and Culture, and draws from a seminar that was conducted in Mumbai. Edited by independent scholar Roda Ahluwalia, the richly illustrated volume comprises insights into the aesthetic and cultural legacy of the Mughals, by 13 scholars.
Worth a decoComing in: JanuaryIf you've missed soaking in the city's architectural heritage while being cooped up at home, public charitable trust Art Deco Mumbai will be conducting virtual tours of the Oval and Marine Drive precinct. "We will launch our maiden tour of the magnificent Art Deco buildings on Sir PM Road replete with its rich history of architecture, culture and an emerging swadesi identity through 'Bombay Deco'," founder-trustee Atul Kumar shares. And if you want a keepsake, they're also launching lovely notebooks peppered with blue Deco details, hand-illustrated by Tarini Gandhi.
Dark and originalComing in: TBAMahesh Dattani will also be directing his own play, The Big Fat City, for a group in New Jersey, USA. It will be interesting to see the dark comedy, originally written with Mumbai as its backdrop where characters struggle with realities, relationships and technology in an international context. A revival of the production Snapshots of a Fervid Sunrise with his theatre group Playpen is also on the cards. It is a story of two teenagers in love, but not the kind you would associate with teens who are out to unsettle an unjust government.
Walking towards natureComing in: JanuaryAs part of Mumbai Gallery Weekend (MGW), artist Aditi Singh returns with a solo exhibition at Chemould Prescott Road – her first showcase in India after 12 years. As succinctly described in the working title 'Come, come walk with me', Singh draws from the natural world, channeling elements from urban and rural landscapes into her works.
United with the universeComing in: JanuaryAnother addition to MGW to look forward to is Rithika Merchant's exhibition at TARQ. The Barcelona-based, Mumbai-born artist has exhibited extensively across the globe and even collaborated with French luxury fashion house Chloe. Her upcoming show titled Birth of a New World focuses on a primordial time and seeks to explore what comes next.
Dance meets theatreComing in: TBATheatre director Quasar Thakore Padamsee will create a dance theatre piece in collaboration with talented Odissi dancers. It will be produced by Just B Repertory, a performing arts company founded by dancer-actor Bhavna Pani and Suruchi Pawar that focuses on movement theatre and text-based devised work. "The piece originally revolved around the theme of communication. But a lot has changed through the lockdown, which has pushed us to go back to the drawing board and reinvent," he shared. They also plan to do an extended tour of their adaptation of Every Brilliant Thing featuring Vivek Madan when it's safe to travel. "Mental health has become a crucial topic in the lockdown, and the participatory play relies on the audience supporting the lead to go forward," he added.
Choose the right fabricChoose fabrics that have a subtle sheen such as crepe or silk for a more luxe finish. Details such as a wide lapel, asymmetrical hem, interesting prints, and piping can make all the difference if you are eager to stand out, shares luxury blogger Riaan George.
Make your own rulesSwitch your pyjama bottoms for lungis or sarongs to enhance your comfort and style, George says. Pair these with a fitted T-shirt or a smart shirt for a sleeker silhouette. Colour block or pick complementing prints - geometric and subtle floral patterns are the way to go this season.
Accessorise your lookDesign student Vinanti Jain recommends adding an interesting hair band and quirky socks to the mix. Add subtle jewellery and cinch slip dresses and baggy tees at the waist for an edgy look. Layer your PJs with a cardigan, shrug, kimono, or blazer, and slip dresses with a basic white tee.
Time to danceMusic >> With live music gigs finally making a comeback, shake a leg at a Lower Parel venue where three DJs – Blaekflip, Temple and Mozez – will spin tracks. The venue has taken precautions pertaining to the pandemic.Time: 2 pm onwardsLog on to: instamojo.comAt: AntiSocial, Mathuradas Mill Compound, Senapati Bapat Marg, Lower Parel.Cost: '499
Fun with numbersGame >> Get your family together for a game of tambola, which will be played online. Participants have to download an app, after which they will get a code to enter the game, which will last 20 minutes. Time: 3 pmLog on to: insider.inCost: '50
A verse effortWorkshop >> Turn towards poetry in the new year, and record yourself reciting a verse you have written. Then send the file to the organisers of an event called Poets' Choice, who will upload it on their social media, making it available to poets from across the world. Time: 5.45 pmLog on to: insider.inCost: '499
The plot thickensChallenge >> An infamous Mexican gangster has allegedly stolen the British queen's vintage diamond necklace. You have to solve clues and retrieve it. That's the plot of a virtual escape room, where participants have 45 minutes to crack the problem.Time: According to convenienceLog on to: insider.inCost: '999
Riding highOutdoors >> Jump on a bicycle and start the year on an active note with a tour of SoBo. Explore hidden gems and learn about pop culture references and lesser-known stories from the area.Time: 7 amAt: Meeting point Happy Cycle Shop, Apollo Bunder, Colaba.Call: 9029986969Cost: '899
Colouring the mindArt >> Doodling is not just about creating art, but also about exercising your mind. Learn this practice at a workshop where expert Manjiri Manjrekar will show participants the ropes. The best part is that there are no rules to what you want to paint.Time: 5 pmLog on to insider.inCost: '400
Setting sailSights >> Head out into the Arabian Sea on a yacht, and sail in the waters while soaking in the sights of South Mumbai. You can go on a romantic date, or get eight friends along for the ride. The vessel is sanitised according to World Health Organisation guidelines. Time: 7 am to 4 pm Call: 9819754109 Cost: '3,600
Walk back in timeHistory >> Matharpacady is a heritage precinct in Mumbai that is steeped in history. The place is known for its quaint bungalows and distinct nature. Learn more at a guided walk through the area that travel company No Footprints is organising.Time: 7 am to 4 pmAt: Meeting point Mumbai Darbar Hotel, Byculla.Cost: '499
A slice of heaven possibly has a whole new meaning for bacon-heads - crispy, greasy, salty, like a summer day at the beach. It's no surprise then that the salt-cured meat cut, which is typically derived from a pig's belly, back or sides, has a day dedicated to it. The United States of America (USA) observed National Bacon Day yesterday (December 30) to celebrate all things bacon - the meat, dishes including it, chips, pop corn, and milkshakes flavoured with it, and of course, those who make it.
Rhea Mitra Dalal
Back in Mumbai, too, the rasher has its own fans, so much so, that chef and caterer Rhea Mitra Dalal, who runs the popular Facebook group The Porkaholics, tells us that at least 50 per cent of the posts on it are about bacon. In fact, when we reach out to her to learn more about bacon, the chef chuckles saying she's cooking with the pork slab. The bacon lover tells us that it's her go-to ingredient when she's confused about what to whip up for the day. "I grew up in Bandra, and luckily, we had good pork shops in the area. Bacon, Goan sausages, ham, salami and other pork-y goodies were common in our house. Once in a while, we would have a lavish breakfast with sausages, bacon, eggs and the works. Wherever I have lived, one of the first things I have looked for is the closest pork shop and the best bacon available," says the bacon-head who started the Facebook page, that now has around 10,000 members, to create a space to discuss culinary experiments with pork.
While bacon with eggs, cheese, burgers, sandwiches, pastas, risottos, and the likes, is a common affair, Mitra Dalal's trials with the meat led to an interesting creation during the lockdown - bacon appe. "I discovered the joys of readymade dosa batter in the lockdown. After trying out the basic appe, I began to experiment by adding various ingredients to the mix. Apart from veggies, bacon seemed to be a good idea and it really worked! I have made bacon appes frequently since then," she adds.
When we ask her about tips for buying bacon, the caterer tells us about back bacon and streaky bacon. "Back bacon usually has a clear demarcation between the fat and meat layers - use this for bacon appe. Drain off the fat and keep it in the fridge in a glass jar. Use the fat to fry eggs for an extra yummy breakfast," she elaborates, adding, "Streaky bacon has meat and fat in layers, and is great for a classic bacon-and-eggs breakfast or any other meal where you're serving bacon rashers as they crisp up beautifully."
RECIPE: BACON APPEYIELD: 10 to 12 appe pieces (depends on appe pan size)
Ingredients2 cups dosa batter200 gms meaty bacon rashers1 onion2 chilliesOilSalt
InstructionsFry thinly-sliced strips of bacon, but don't let them get too crispy. Keep them in a plate and chop them into small pieces. Chop an onion finely, along with a green chilli or two. In a bowl, mix dosa batter with the chopped onions and green chillies. Add a little salt and the chopped bacon. Mix everything well. Heat an appe pan and put in a drop or two of oil into each cavity. Once it's hot, drop in enough batter in each cavity, lower the flame to medium, cover and let the appes cook. When the appes are set, flip them to cook the other side and cover. Once cooked after a couple of minutes, remove and serve.
You know that things are serious when Dave Chapelle - arguably the funniest stand-up comic on the planet - ditches his usual acerbic sense of humour for a grave monologue. That's what he's done with 8:46, a new routine where he addresses the concerns over police brutality in the United States of America. Chapelle references the killings of Trayvon Martin and George Floyd (whose neck was trapped under a policeman's knee for eight minutes and 46 seconds, hence the title). This isn't comedy. This is activism on the lines of Martin Luther King Jr.
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Kalti maarle or kaltiMeaning: 'Kalti maarle' or 'kalti' is a phrase I first heard on the Mumbai streets, and later in air-conditioned corporate Mumbai alleys. It's a cute way of saying "let's vamoose". This is a jubilant term of dispersing, say after a fruitful meeting, or ending excess free time during work hours. Either way, it embodies the mirth of escaping or vanishing, sanctioning a goonish way of disappearing. When you use it in other parts of India, this phrase is met with blank amused faces.
Rochelle Potkar is a fiction writer and poet
Can something as simple as a calendar be used as a tool for education and awareness? A chunk of us who are used to stocking multiple freebie copies by organizations and brands might be apprehensive. But Tamanna Balachandran thinks otherwise. The 16-year-old from Malad has created an A5 desk calendar for 2021 that showcases the magnificent marine life that surrounds us with her hand-painted illustrations along with an interesting fact about each creature.
Take for instance, the Parrotfish, which plays a key role on the coral reefs in the Indo-Pacific and Caribbean region. Did you know that it blows a bubble of mucus every night only to use it as a sleeping bag? Creating this calendar was a journey of discovery for Balachandran, too. But she has immersed herself in nature since childhood; as a 10-year-old, she became the youngest certified scuba diver in the world.
Balachandran created the calendar in March, and also started an Instagram page called Hues of the Blues because she always wanted to introduce the marine world to the rest of the world. "I feel that to start caring about that ecosystem, you need to know what is going on in that ecosystem. The reason I am able to feel so strongly about it is because I've been in the ocean. But not everyone has that opportunity so I wanted to show them that world and enable them to build empathy for it through my paintings," she states.
Since Balachandran has spent time scuba diving only in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands and in Sri Lanka, she shares that it was interesting to find out more about creatures in other oceans for the calendar. "I had to find facts that were fascinating and shocking to every person — whether they have prior knowledge or not — so I could reach a wider audience. I also tried to include species that were going extinct or threatened," she says.
Balachandran hopes to keep making more products and is also aiming for a future in marine biology. All proceeds from the sale of the calendar will be donated to Dakshin Foundation, a non-profit whose work is oriented towards environmental sustainability. And isn't it high time we start 2021 on a mindful note anyway?
Log on to rzp.io/l/u7Ictdl5Cost Rs 595