It could have been a scene straight out of Jean-Jacques Annaud’s Two Brothers, a film about two tigers Kumal and Sangha. The sun moves towards his place of rest casting a golden glow on every piece of free creation, turning the whole space an unreal verdant moss colour. Dusk settles in on the cool evening, creating an almost surreal glow on the shimmering tree leaves. Frogs exercise their vocal chords almost as if they have rehearsed their musical piece to outdo each other in a guttural jugalbandi, while crickets sing in unison. Birds direct your eyes from one bunch of glowing leaves to another. At the end of our drive through the jungle, where we have crossed paths with a herd of sambhars and chatted and fed some colourful parakeets, and have almost given up hope of any real adventure, we are stopped in our tracks by a heart-plummeting wild call.
Our guide and the driver exchange one look, reverse the vehicle off the path and turn around. With his foot pushed hard on the accelerator, the driver flies the vehicle on the dangerously uneven winding jungle roads, through rustling trees, as we hold on for dear life, chasing the call of the tiger. Yet another deep guttural call comes from the other side. Our vehicle slices through the almost physical sound waves to reach a center point. Where the driver kills the engine. We wait in eerie silence. The world comes to an almost pandemic like standstill. And then we see it. The majestic tiger walking towards us in all its beauty. A collective taking in of breaths and all eyes are transfixed on the tiger as he languidly walks towards us. We are in his territory. And he looks right into my eyes. I do not want the blood of my family on my hands, so I suppress the rising blood-curdling scream deep in my throat, almost choking in the bargain. As I gasp for breath, he walks past the vehicle, to the other side of the jungle. That gaze stays with me for a long, long time. As anyone who has locked eyes with a tiger will tell you, the experience is surreal, at the very least.
THE WILD AND THE SURREAL
As we drive out of the jungle still in a daze, the magnificent Nahargarh Palace Fort looms ahead, as if magically rising out of the sands. The surreal does not desert us. This stunning fort palace, which every year is the setting for the Music and Wildlife Festival, invites us in through a large fort gate into a world of yore. Visible from the entry gate is the majestic building, built around three courtyards, numerous gardens and fountains. A 21st century fort built organically by Gaj Singh of the Alsisar family, is unique as Gaj Singh explains, “Rajasthan has always been about preserving legacies; this fort is all about creating one.” We chat next to a fountain in a beautifully designed courtyard, surrounded by trees, turrets and arches, regal yet decidedly relaxed and languid. The architecture is balanced and elegant in its simplicity. Despite the magnitude of the property, it does not overwhelm you, but quietly and seductively beckons you into its various spaces.
The predominant feeling is that of spacious outdoors. Which works well for today’s times when indoor, air-conditioned spaces are to be avoided. In fact, the safety measures start right from the time your vehicle approaches the fort palace gates. Temperatures are checked. You are greeted at a safe distance and since you are required to send all details while booking, the transfer takes place quickly in a large open area. All surfaces, handles, rooms, linen, toiletries are sanitized every day. The spacious open-air public spaces are perfect for keeping social distance while you wind down in this calm, spacious resort.
Ranthambore boasts of many such wonderful resorts and camps that extend the excitement of the outdoors while giving you an experience of the famous royal hospitality of Rajasthan. From Taj and Oberoi to standalone resorts, lodges and camps, there is a wide variety to suit every taste and fit any pocket.
Nahargarh has a special magic that in safer times, has wooed many artists to perform there. From Farhan Akhtar to Rasika Shekar to electronic music star Gully boy Naezy to folk artists Arko Mukherjee and sufi singer Mame Khan, the mesmerising spaces at the fort palace have been filled with soulful music and an energy all its own, many foggy winters. Even now, as the sun sets, its mysterious spaces seem to gather an energy of their own.
A special dinner is laid out at the beautifully lit Hathi Kund (the stepwell pool). Banana leaves rustle in the wind, lights glow in niches all around and water ripples into patterns as marble elephants preside over the pond. The stunning beauty of the place transports you to a magical land, where the dazzling canopy of stars watches over you while you experience a meal so divine you could well be in heaven. The magic of this trip has many dimensions, as we soon discover, where you trapeze delicately between the wild and the surreal almost as in a dream.
THE SAVAGE AND THE SERENE
At dawn or dusk, you could take a trip to the jungle and if you are as lucky as I was, a tiger might cross your path. The Ranthambore National Park is home to no less than 71 tigers, tigresses and cubs, many with legendary stories, that the rangers will be only too happy to divulge. You could also visit the magnificent thousand-year-old Ranthambore fort on the hill, where you could chase stories of passion, romance and valour lurking in the turrets and corridors, even as you look down on a breathtaking view of the Ranthambhore jungles. If you feel more adventurous you could book a boat ride on the Chambal river and lock eyeballs with the sitting-to-stare-you-out crocodiles. The serene boat ride on calm waters in the midst of a vast languid landscape at dawn can lull you into a dreamy state. Till an urgent whisper wakes you out of your smiley stupor and you find your guide pointing at a family of ghariyals (crocodiles) crawling on the riverbeds sleepily welcoming the sun. Your heart may do a quick beat or two at the sight of these magnificent creatures. Their savage beauty may well beat you into silence, but If luck favours you, you might get to witness the gentle beauty of the Gangetic dolphin leading you a merry dance up the river, while you try to identify the many beauteous birds on the water through your binoculars.
Once back from this exciting experience, a sumptuous beer brunch in the soft autumn sunshine in the courtyard awaits, followed by a long walk in the picturesque lawns and an amazing spa session.
The atmosphere is languid, the vibe magical, the landscape vast, the tiger majestic, the experience surreal. A mere 350 odd kilometres from Delhi, awaits this unique celebration of wildlife and nature—probably one of the few places one can drive down to rejuvenate oneself in today’s times.
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‘QUEEN’ CHANGED MY LIFE, INDIAN CINEMA FOREVER: KANGANA
New Delhi: Celebrating 7 years of her iconic film Queen, Bollywood actor Kangana Ranaut opened up online about how she thought that the movie would never release. She took to her Twitter handle on Sunday and shared with fans that she took the project on ‘for money’, and had never anticipated it would be successful. Kangana wrote, “After almost a decade long struggle i was told i am too good an actor to be a Bollywood leading lady, curly hair and vulnerable voice made it worse, i signed Queen thinking this will never release, signed it for money with that money i went to film school in New York.” She continued, “in New York, i studied screenwriting, directed a small film in California at the age of 24 which gave me a breakthrough in hollywood. After seeing my work a big agency hired me as a director, i buried all my acting ambitions, did not have the courage to return to india.” Revealing how she was looking forward to working in the US and had even bought a house in los Angeles, she added, “Queen released, changed my life and indian Cinema forever marked the Birth of a new leading lady and woman-centric parallel cinema.”
SONAKSHI TO MAKE HER DIGITAL DEBUT ON AMAZON PRIME
New Delhi: Bollywood actor Sonakshi Sinha is all set to make her digital debut with ace filmmaker Zoya Akhtar on Amazon Prime. Film critic and movie trade analyst Taran Adarsh confirmed the same on Twitter on Sunday. “SoNAKShi MAKeS heR DigiTAl DeBUT… #Firstlook of #SonakshiSinha in #Amazon’s new series [not titled yet]… Ritesh Sidhwani, Farhan Akhtar, Reema Kagti and Zoya Akhtar are the executive producers… Directed by Reema Kagti and Ruchika oberoi,” he tweeted. The Dabangg star and the Gully Boy film director also confirmed the same news on their social media accounts by posting the first look of Sonakshi as a cop from the untitled series. Alongside the post, the caption read, “There’s no limit to what women can accomplish. our collective belief in this has only been reinforced time and again. And on the eve of #womensDay, we’re taking things up a notch! Can’t wait for @aslisona to show us yet again how girls get it done! Coming soon, on @ primevideoiN”.
HERE’S WHAT ANISTON’S ‘11 11’ WRIST TATTOO MEANS
WASHINGTON: Actor Jennifer Aniston finally gave a little sneak peek into her decision of getting the magical number ‘11 11’ tattoo on the inside of her wrist. According to E! News, much of her fans have guessed that the numbers signify the birth date of the actor that is February 11 or a tribute to her beloved dog ‘Norman’ who died in 2011. According to a post shared by her friend Andrea on Aniston’s birthday, the predictions are rolling out to be close to the fact. To wish her bestie on February 11, Andrea wrote, “Can’t wait to celebrate and make more magical wishes! 11 11,” on Instagram along with a post that features both of them having the same tattoo.
AKSHAY SHARES GLIMPSE FROM ‘RAM SETU’ SCRIPT READING SESSION WITH JACQUELINE, NUSHRAT
NEW DELHI: Akshay Kumar has finally begun work on his much-awaited film titled Ram Setu, on Saturday. Revealing the star cast of the film, the actor shared a new behind-the-scenes picture from his upcoming film, which shows him sitting with his co-stars Jacqueline Fernandez, Nushrat Bharucha, and other crew of director and producer at the script reading session of the film. The ‘Padman’ star captioned the post: “he team that preps together excels together! An extremely productive script reading session with the team of #RamSetu this evening. Can’t wait to begin filming this one.” Actor Akshay Kumar will be reportedly shooting for his next film Ram Setu in Uttar Pradesh’s holy city of Ayodhya.
HOW OUR CELEBS LOOK AT WOMEN’S DAY
The International Women’s Day is celebrated on 8 March around the world. It is an important point in the movement for women’s rights. On this occasion, The Sunday Guardian spoke to some of Bollywood’s renowned singers Shilpa Rao, Jonita Gandhi, Payal Dev and Nikitaa who shared their views on women empowerment and their inspiration. Excerpts:
Q. What is the importance of Woman›s Day for you?
Jonita Gandhi: Women’s Day is an important reminder to all of us of how far we’ve come, but also how far we have yet to go.
Nikitaa: A day and even a month (since March is Women’s History Month) doesn’t feel like enough to celebrate, recognise and uplift women, especially women of colour, but it’s still so important. Any day that genuinely encourages people to celebrate the innate value of women is an important and necessary day.
Payal Dev: In many aspects, women are empowered and doing well in our country. As in my case, there are very few female music composers in our country and I am happy to say I am one of them. Unlike before when mediums were limited and there were fewer opportunities, things are different now and whoever does good work, it is praised, be it male or female.
Shilpa Rao: Well, the house that we grew up in, we had a very humanistic approach and centralised treatment towards genders. I mean, me and my brother were taught the same values, irrespective of our genders.
Q. What are your views on women empowerment?
Jonita Gandhi: A little goes a long way. We all need a little encouragement to believe in ourselves, and supporting one another can start at home. The ripple effect is more valuable than we know.
Nikitaa: The empowerment of women is a two-way street. A woman who feels empowered all on her own is a powerful force, but she also requires the opportunities and spaces that let her thrive, grow, and continue to feel empowered as well as help her fellow women. I look forward to a social, political, and economic system that enables the empowerment of women as opposed to making them fight for it.
Payal Dev: I’m glad that people are liking my work, some might not but creating music is not tough and comes very naturally to me. So the effort is to keep creating more and keep improving myself. So is a certain place for female composers in this industry too, but the main and the important thing is our work needs to be good, then it doesn’t matter whoever you are, you are a kid or you are an old or boy or girl. It doesn’t matter.
Shilpa Rao: It’s about the way you look up to your life. Gender is just one part of your personality or your existence. It’s not everything; you are way beyond your gender title, what actually matters is love and respect for each other as a human being. I would just keep saying that yes, there are things that need to be bettered in our society, obviously as there is no society that is perfect, there will be issues and we need to work hard to make it better. Standing up for our issues is very important and I know that probably you might lose things in the immediate present but it will really work out for greater good.
Q. Please tell the name of women you admire most.
Jonita Gandhi: My mom has been my greatest inspiration and biggest role model. She is the backbone of our family and we would all be completely lost without her!
Nikitaa: I think every woman I have ever met has inspired me in some way, and I genuinely mean that. The minute I learned to appreciate the women around me rather than compete with them, I found inspiration in each and every one of them.
Payal Dev: As a woman, we all are working and progressive but at the same time we are also homemakers and caretakers of our house and family, which make us all quite unique and one of our kind.
Study reveals association between walking pace and risk of death among cancer survivors
Washington [US], March 7 (ANI): A study led by Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and the National Cancer Institute (NCI) has found that a slow walking pace among cancer survivors may increase their chances of death.
The research has also identified an association between a slow walking pace and an increased risk of death among cancer survivors.
Investigators now call for more research into these relationships and whether targeted interventions such as physical activity programs could help cancer survivors improve their ability to walk and increase survival after cancer diagnosis and treatment.
While the study does not establish that slow walking is a cause of death, the association persisted across at least nine tumour types.
The study, a collaboration between Washington University, the NCI of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the University of North Carolina and George Washington University, appears March 4 in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research.
“Cancer survivors are living longer than ever – and that’s good news,” said first author Elizabeth A. Salerno, PhD, an assistant professor of surgery in the Division of Public Health Sciences at Washington University.
“But it’s important to improve our understanding of how the diagnosis and treatment of a broad range of cancers may affect walking pace during survivorship — a potentially modifiable risk factor — which could lead to new treatment and rehabilitation strategies to improve the health of these patients.”
The researchers studied over 233,000 participants enrolled in the National Institutes of Health-American Association of Retired Persons (NIH-AARP) Diet and Health Study.
Participants, who were ages 50 to 71, answered questionnaires about their overall health and walking pace, and whether they had any disability related to walking, such as walking at a very slow pace or being unable to walk. After the assessment, participants were followed for several years.
Compared with healthy controls enrolled in the study, cancer survivors were 42% more likely to report walking at the slowest pace and 24% more likely to report being disabled. Among cancer survivors, those who walked at the slowest pace had more than a twofold increased risk of death from any cause, compared with those reporting the fastest walking pace.
The association between the slowest walking pace and a significantly increased risk of death from any cause held for nine cancer types, including breast, colon, melanoma, Non-Hodgkin lymphoma, oral, prostate, rectal, respiratory and urinary cancers.
The association between mobility disability (not just slow pace) and death was even stronger and included all nine of the cancers mentioned above, plus endometrial, endocrine, ovarian and stomach cancers.
While slow walking pace also was linked to increased mortality that was due to any cause among individuals without a cancer diagnosis, the risk of death more than doubled for cancer survivors.
Compared with individuals without a cancer diagnosis who walked at the fastest pace, cancer survivors who walked the slowest had more than tenfold increased risk of death from any cause. Cancer survivors with mobility disability had more than fivefold increased risk of death compared with individuals with no cancer diagnosis or disability.
The researchers noted that cancer survivors reported difficulties walking five years or more after cancer diagnosis and treatment, suggesting that the detrimental effects of cancer diagnosis and therapy are widespread across cancer types and long-lasting, creating opportunities for intervening to help such patients improve their walking ability and pace.
“To our knowledge, this analysis is the first to explore the relationship between cancer, walking pace and subsequent mortality in 15 different cancer types,” said Salerno, who conducted this research while a postdoctoral researcher at the NCI.
“Next steps include identifying the underlying reasons for these associations. It’s possible that slow walking may be due to cancer itself, adverse effects of treatment, or changes in lifestyle. There is still much to be learned about these complex relationships, but our results highlight the importance of monitoring and even targeting walking pace after cancer.” (ANI)
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