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One soul, many lives

A poet, a tarot reader, a filmmaker, director of the Dalmia Group and above all a writer—Laxmana Dalmia is all this and much more.

Anshu Khanna

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Laxmana Dalmia.
Laxmana Dalmia.

She is a woman of many talents; many lives lived within the span of one. A poet, a tarot reader, a filmmaker, director of the Dalmia Group and above all a writer who looks at words as imaginary paintings that reside within our souls. Hence her recent work where she compiled all per prose in one book, One Soul Many Lives, was a coming together of her works and art from a hundred leading maestros of India.

Laxmana Dalmia is always lost with the threads of her thought, expressing them through verses and words. We meet her in one of the most distinguished old havelis of Delhi, driving down the long, very long drive-way of the Dalmia residence in Delhi. One of the many splendorous old homes where the far branched-out Dalmia family lives. Given that the grand patriarch of this family, Ramakrishna Dalmia married six times and had more than a dozen children. A typical manor built in the early 19th century, the house is majestically perched and to date remains preserved in its original form.

Laxmana Dalmia, the quietest amongst the Dalmia scions, is also the introspective daughter who grew up trying to catch “my father’s much distracted eye on silly little me even if it were for a Nano of a warm moment”. At the same time basking in the deep reservoir of her mother’s love. Laxmana Dalmia, born to the last and sixth wife Durgesh Nandini, is an author, poetess, filmmaker and activist who simply traced her mother’s footsteps and began walking in them.

 “My mother, who was a renowned writer in Hindi, introduced me to the world of literature. She would ask me to read aloud whatever she had written and then write it neatly as none could read her handwriting. My first attempt at serious writing was when I edited her biographical novels. Encouraged by my mother, I started writing when I was 13. Once I started I haven’t stopped,” smiles Laxmana dressed in a rich Bandhej sari.

A quest for words recently led her to launch her debut book, One Soul Many Lives, a compilation of verses that capture emotions in myriad hues. Free-wheeling in style and simply written from the heart, the poems take you on a walk called life. Life as Laxmana sees it. She talks of love beyond titles and bonds. The kind she has shared with famed theatre actor Aziz Qureishi who stood by her side from the moment they met at college in the 1970s. Ever since they are together as true soul mates.

She writes on the dichotomy of today’s world that builds walls and divides while offering lip service to egalitarianism. A sense of equality amongst people that IPTA introduced to India a few decades back and Laxmana as active member and treasurer of the organisation strives hard to keep alive. “IPTA is the reflection of my core values. I feel we have to not just feel equal but be truly equal as a nation.” Then in another poem she is a caring grandmother to her adopted son Rudra Dalmia’s children. A single woman who preferred to live in love, she doted on her two adopted son’s family. Laxmana Dalmia is an entrepreneur, with many years of experience in the world of multimedia. She has been actively involved in production, writing and direction for TV, radio and theatre.

 In tone and tenor her poems are like her heart speaking out loud. “When I read them now, I find that I have written more than I knew I was writing. If someone asked me what kind of poems I have written — I wouldn’t know how to typecast them. They are just my interpretations of a host of experiences. Life has made me run through an entire gamut of emotions ranging from fear, insecurity, frustration, jealousy, hatred and anger to love, comprehension, compassion, balance and then perhaps spirituality.

A filmmaker and theatre person Laxmana thinks visually and hence invited leading artists like Anjolie Ela Menon, Jayashree Burman, Raghu Rai, George Martin, Pooja Iranna, Benoy Verghese to match visuals to her verses. “It was such a fluid way of allowing two creative realms to co-exist together. Right from the spectacular launch to the book itself, I think we were able to weld the words with art very well,” says Ashwini Bahadur, the one who put it all together.

Agreeing with her is artist Jayashree Barman. “Poetry is an aesthetic representation of reality… it is ornamented with the choicest of words, the music of rhymes and the art of brevity. So yes, poems I have grown up with do crop up in my mind when I paint. I was pleased to paint Laxmana›s words and found the meanings of the verse translated into my palette.” Anjolie too, whose art is like poetry, found the inherent simplicity in Laxmana’s work endearing. Joining in on an exclusive shoot she felt that art is art, in any form.

George Martin, the intense artist who expresses through colour, created a special piece for Laxmana’s book. He says, “My work reflects the transition between conscious and subconscious states, investigating the tension between the natural and manmade situations. I often connect myself with time and space or images and memory, psychedelic outburst of colours. Laxmana’s poem Shadow or Substance — I transformed to visual poetry. Here images and shadows give a third meaning to the viewer.”

Pooja Iranna, who painted the poem titled “Nostalgia”, found an instant vibration with the words. “Yes, I believe that art is fluid. It is a downpour of expression and many times easily and effortlessly flows. My whole work revolves around this very beautiful poem. It’s a set of five works with dark backgrounds signifying thick dark nights with bright incorporated structures signifying nostalgia and memories of moments spent in them.” For the curator, this was a unique show, both in real installations and the book. “At the art show I tried to create a fairy-tale setting which felt as if you were walking through an exaggerated book,” says George.

 And to sum it all, Laxmana recites one of her favourite poems, The Devil and the Divine. For me, the boat filled with people, gliding in the foreground, represents people who have been victorious in eliminating the ‘devil’ and have climbed the bandwagon towards ‘divine’ salvation. The second boat with two figures, I imagine, is like the lone person making a clandestine, ignominious pact with the devil. The flautist playing ‘His’ tune is equally energising and encouraging — almost like a salutation to those who have risen above the odds and challenges life has thrown at them! “

 The poem and photograph by Raghu Rai are individually and collectively composed with cognitive and emotional elements that can be juxtaposed to create a reality every human faces, almost every day. Each word that is written in the poem and every nuance captured in the photograph say at least these two same things: “Don’t ever let the devil win!”, “Forgive, Forget and move on!”

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Do you know what Katrina is missing these days?

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Mumbai: Actress Katrina Kaif says she misses playing cricket, owing to the ongoing pandemic. Katrina’s new Instagram post is a picture where she strikes a pose with a cricket bat and a ball. She wears a kurta paired with a churidaar in the snapshot. “Missing Cricket.. always ready to play.. properly attired or no..” Katrina captioned the image. Katrina’s friend and “Thugs Of Hindostan” co-actor Fatima Sana Sheikh dropped a kissing emoji on the picture. On the work front, Katrina’s next release is Rohit Shetty’s cop action drama Sooryavanshi, starring Akshay Kumar. The film is slated for a Diwali release as of now. She has also recently signed Phone Bhoot, a horror comedy costarring Siddhant Chaturvedi and Ishaan Khatter. The film is scheduled for a 2021 release.

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Bobby back in action with Class of 83

Priyanka Sharma

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Actor Bobby Deol is back in action and how! Contrary to his last performance in Housefull 4, his upcoming film Class of 83 shows him in a completely different light. The makers on Friday dropped the trailer of Class of 83. For this one, inspiration has been drawn from Hussain Zaidi’s book The Class of 83.

The 2 minute and 22 second trailer takes us back to the time when Mumbai was Bombay. Giving a backdrop into what the situation was like back-then, the voice over says, “Ye sheher kisi jung ke maidan se kum nahi tha” (This city was no less than a battlefield). The trailer then shifts focus to the police training centre in Nashik, where hundreds of young men are preparing to become competent police officers. We are introduced to Bobby Deol’s character Dean Vijay Singh, who takes the task of training 5 of those to build a squad that would have the freedom to encounter gangsters. Interestingly, he already has a case waiting for them. As the 5 boys undergo training, the story gets murkier and intense. In the trailer, the makers of the film also claim that the story is inspired by the true story of the officers of law. ‘India’s Untold fightback’, as they claim.

A lot of questions can be raised on the politics of ‘encounters killings in India’ and whether the film glories it. But moving forward, the trailer of Class of 83 does seem repetitive and a clone of scores of other cop films out there doused with elements of intrigue, action and drama. The only thing watching out for would be Bobby Deol’s performance along with the 5 newbies.

Slated for a premiere on 21 August on Netflix, Class of 83 has been directed by Atul Sabarwal and produced under the banner of Shah Rukh Khan’s production house Red Chillies Entertainment. Class of 83 is Red Chillies Entertainment’s third Netflix offering after Bard of Blood and Betaal.

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Sonali Bendre steps into son’s shoes

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Mumbai : Actress Sonali Bendre Behl stepped into the shoes of her son, literally. She has decided to keep them, too. “Stepped into my son’s shoes… literally! @ rockbehl, I am gonna keep these,” Sonali wrote while putting up an image that shows her trying out her son Ranveer’s shoes. In the image, she is seen wearing black pants and a baggy knitwear pullover, along with the shoes. Earlier, Sonali had revealed that the lockdown has given her no alternative but to become tech savvy. She said that she is happy to learn new things during the lockdown, which began in March.

“It is no secret that I am technologically-challenged, but this lockdown has given me no alternative but to get the hang of it! I’ve had to figure out how to log on to zoom calls on my own, how to go LIVE on Instagram etc,” she had tweeted.

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This year has been a wake-up call: Bhumi Pednekar

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Mumbai: This year has been a wake-up call for us, and if we do not work towards maintaining a balance, our cities will continue to flood, feels Bollywood actress Bhumi Pednekar.

 It has been raining incessantly in Mumbai and adjacent areas since Monday evening, with water-logging being reported from several parts of the city and minor landslides in Malad and Malabar Hill.

Bollywood actress Bhumi Pednekar took to social media on Friday to alert citizens about what is coming in the future if we are not careful from now.

“What Mumbai saw in the last two days was devastating amount of rain. There were some places that were badly affected. The videos and articles are so scary and heartbreaking. This year has been a wake-up call,” Bhumi posted on her verified Instagram story.

“The concrete jungles will live in and the rapid urbanisation is not the answer. We will flood because there is no place for our water to go. It’s all concrete! Most of our cities are in the same state and are affected by different climate emergencies like lack of water or too much of it, toxic levels of pollution, depletion of nutrition etc. Development is important but there has to be a balance. Small changes make a huge difference,” added the actress.

Areas in South Mumbai like Churchgate, Colaba, Marine Drive, parts of Kalbadevi, Dongri, Byculla, and Mumbai Central have been flooded, besides the traditional flood hotspots of the city.

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Delhi’s own vintage man

Diljeet Titus, celebrated lawyer who founded his firm Titus & Co in 1997, is known in the Capital for his sterling and most enviable collection of vintage cars.

Anshu Khanna

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A respected collector who approaches the subject with rare reverence, Diljeet Titus, celebrated lawyer who founded his firm Titus & Co in 1997, is known in the Capital for his sterling collection of vintage cars. But few know that under his heritage-driven endeavour — The Titus Museum of Transportation & Collectibles. This legal luminary’s collection boasts of not just cars, motorcycles, horse carriages, Osler chairs, gilded furniture and chandeliers, but even a Douglas DC3 Dakota aircraft!

 He advises, “Only sell something if you really need to sell it. Don’t discard your family inheritance in a hurry.” He also talks of the car he is entering this year to the much awaited global forum for vintage cars, the one contest everyone awaits with bated breath. He offers the first peek into the1933 Minerva Type AL Landaulette entered by Titus Museum this year. Concours d’Elegance has a deep relationship with India, given the love for automobiles that the royals and the rich of the country showed in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s. Over the years it has made India an important pit stop, hosting a super duper showcase in New Delhi and Jaipur. This year however it goes virtual and single as it is no longer supported by its title sponsor: Cartier.

Concours d’Elegance invites celebrated car owners to send in their entry for a virtual contest. Inviting aficionados to enjoy and participate in the contest without leaving their own homes, the management invites car lovers to vote from more than 180 of the world’s most beautiful automobiles curated into seventeen genres and judged by the world’s most acclaimed experts.

In the lineup will be found an amazing unrestored 130-year-old steam wagon, Steve McQueen’s Land Rover, one of the world’s most valuable Bugattis, and even the ‘Outlaw’ Porsche belonging to John Oates of Hall & Oates. This year Concourse is hoping to raise aid for UNICEF’s pandemic appeal, to help children affected by the COVID-19 crisis worldwide and is aiming to raise a whopping £100,000. Talking of his entry in the contest Titus shares, “I bought my Minerva from His Highness the Raja of Mahmudabad, Mohammad Amir Ahmed Khan. He had bought this magnificent machine during his 1933 grand tour of Europe. The Belgian beauty featured in the Raja’s coronation ceremony in 1936, and got to be known as ‘Mahmudabad 1’.” A beauty with a stunning salon today, it was an absolute ruin when Titus had found it. He shares, “When this ultimate ‘barn find’ was first rediscovered at the palace in 1995, the Minerva appeared largely untouched as if unused for an extensive period of time. Water had leaked on to its rear end through a cracked garage ceiling, but the car was at least intact, with an untouched engine compartment and all mechanical components in place. Because the tyres were rotten and the wheel rims had sunk into the ground, it had to be craned out of the partially dismantled garage, and temporarily fitted with tractor tyres to roll it on to a truck for transportation to Delhi. It initially underwent a complete mechanical rebuild by noted English restorer Julian Williamson, and later had a comprehensive ground-up renovation executed by HH Manvendra Singh Barwani and Kunwar Tripureshwar Pratap Singh of Classic Cars, Indore.”

Debuting in various shows, with already many awards in tow, the car is now on permanent display at the Titus Museum in New Delhi, accompanied by an extensive set of ‘before and after’ photos demonstrating its dramatic transformation and revival at the hands of passionate Indian restoration specialists.

Diljeet, a romantic collector, made this museum for the 106 beauties he has collected over the years. Though he confesses that his all time favourite is the 1933 Minerva, Type AL. “It was astoundingly well preserved and in original condition. “Except that Raja sahab refused to let go of the Louis Vuitton trunk that was part of the car. “I ordered LV for the trunk and interestingly this is the first car trunk they are manufacturing on order after 60 years!”

A careful collector, Titus feels that every collector should have a clear collector’s policy. His is crystal clear. “I shrunk my collection of cars from106 to 36 because I feel you should only retain the best and skim your collection from time to time,” he says. He feels collectors must adhere to antique restoration techniques and remain true to originality. “It’s best to let an expert do the job. Never use an element that should not be there, like a fabric that did not exist then or a finish that is not that circa.” Diljeet further says, “The provenance of whatever I acquire is important. I must know the original buyer.” He also implores the government to help collectors bring back what was originally made in India by making the import duties friendlier. “Also, cars that are vintage should not be subjected to compliance expected of new cars. There should be more realistic fitness tests for these cars,” he says.

Here’s wishing he adds yet another Concourse trophy to his much filled up trophy stand.

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Five easy tips for home-schooling your children

Noor Anand Chawla

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Over the last few weeks, this weekly column has focused on aspects of our lives that have changed irrevocably due to the pandemic. One of the most important transitions has been the shift from regular schooling to home-schooling systems. The change and ensuing adjustments have been monumental in scope, for children of all ages, their parents, as well as for teachers and school administrators who have done their best to respond to this unique and unprecedented situation. In the present scenario, it is unlikely that schools will open up soon, which makes home-schooling a long-term reality.

Some parents have chosen to withdraw their children from formal schools entirely, taking their children’s education in their own hands. Whether you follow a schoolmandated online learning methodology or prefer to design your own age-appropriate educational system, here are a few things to keep in mind for most effectively home-schooling your children.

  • ENSURE YOU ARE INVOLVED IN YOUR CHILD’S ACTIVITIES

 Online teaching can be successful only if the teachers and parents work hand-in-hand. This requires the parents to be aware of the various activities their children are part of and guide them every step of the way. If you do not supervise your children’s school work, they may not take this form of education seriously. Parents need to be patient, calm and resilient in order for the process of home-schooling to succeed. Further, it is essential to keep the conversation lines with the teachers open at all times. If needed, you may politely offer advice or constructive criticism to the teachers. However, be prepared to step up to the occasion if the teachers demand extra attention from you.

  • ENFORCE A DAILY SCHEDULE TO RESEMBLE A TRADITIONAL SCHOOL

 One of the many merits of a traditional school is the enforcement of routine structure that helps a child to grow and thrive. It is important to design a schedule for your child’s lessons, even if you are not following the online structure provided by school. This will help them readjust to school life when it is time to eventually return. If you are working from home and sharing devices and Internet bandwidth with your child, you may skip the live lessons and have them view the recording at a later time, but make sure to do it at the same time every day. In this case, keep the teachers abreast of your child’s progress and keep sharing their work.

  • PRIORITISE CHILD’S NEEDS AS PER INTERESTS & PERSONALITIES

Some children dislike facing screens early in the morning. Others find online interaction boring and/or difficult to adjust to. Hence, there is no point in forcing rigid routines or structures. You may tweak the lessons as per your child’s individual personality and preferences, or modify school-mandated activities to something that your child may enjoy more, as long as the same lesson is imparted in the process.

  • ASSIGN A LOCATION IN THE HOUSE SPECIFICALLY FOR CLASSES

The location where the classes take place, determine your child’s level of attention and focus on the subject being taught. You may change up the location from one bedroom to another; however, make sure there are no distractions around when lessons take place. Keep food, toys and comic books away. Noisy appliances should be shut off for better overall concentration. A desk is an ideal location but any sort of flat surface works well too.

  • APPRECIATE EACH ACHIEVEMENT, NO MATTER HOW SMALL

Encourage your child’s performance by showing your appreciation of his/her efforts in these difficult circumstances. If you feel that your child is too distracted, offer a small reward such as a chore-free afternoon or a sweet treat. Make the most of weekends as lesson-free days, to enforce some normalcy in your child’s routine. You should avoid yelling at or punishing your children for poor performance or lack of attention in class. It is important to be mindful of the strangeness and difficulty of this phase for them as well.

Children are more likely to thrive academically through appreciation rather than punishment. As parents, it is our job to create a nurturing and encouraging environment for their optimal education at home.

The writer is a lawyer who pens lifestyle articles on her successful blog www.nooranandchawla.com. She can be found on Instagram @nooranandchawla.

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