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Enjoy jazz music? Attend this jazz event at a SoBo venue tomorrow

The essence of jazz, they say, is unfamiliarity. The possibility that dangles at the end of every measure as the song progresses, that a musician might introduce an improvised lick, riff or better yet, a solo, is what keeps the listener hooked. As Derek Mathias, leader of Derek & The Cats, a Bengaluru-based jazz band brings his cats to the city this weekend, expect the thrill to grow seven-fold. Accompanied by Anand Murali, Gautam David, Joel Rozario, Adesh Vinod, Vishal Varier and Jason Sharat, the seven-piece band will perform at the G5A warehouse as part of their That Friday Jazz concert series tomorrow. Mathias’ journey began during the lockdown when grooving and jamming were strictly solitary indulgences. “I started composing instrumental tracks using my keyboard. I would play the basslines and other accompanying elements myself using digital synthesizers,” he shares, adding that the tracks were free-flowing and weren’t structured to fit a certain genre. “Next, I started following the musicians who are now my bandmates on Instagram. I sent them a few demos and as it turned out, they all agreed to come together and move on to something bigger,” the pianist shares. Adesh Vinod plays the guitar. Pic Courtesy/Instagram While some might think too many musicians can possibly ruin the mix, the band’s eponymous debut album puts that doubt to rest. Throughout the 25-minute-long album, Vinod’s guitar solos, Sharat’s drums, and Murali’s keyboard, all shine through with ease without eating into the other’s space. “Collaboration is at the heart of our music,” Mathias shares, adding, “The songs are structured in such a way that by the end of the set, the spotlight will have panned to every single member, each injecting the performance with their own style and personality.” You aren’t alone in wondering how a seven-piece band plans and manages their practice sessions and recordings. But Mathias has the answer ready, almost as if he’s been asked this more often than he’d like. “We have learnt to work around it,” he chuckles. The pianist shares how practice sessions often see a few vacant seats, “We practice with whatever combinations of members are available leading up to a show. It is only during the last two rehearsals before a show that we get to hear what we all would sound like while playing together,” he adds. If the band’s name has somehow not given it away yet, the Cats aren’t your typical jazz purists. Mathias leaves us with an off-beat thought, “There is some stigma around the genre where people believe Jazz musicians are all haughty and serious. Jazz is all about moving around, grooving, forgetting your problems, and having fun. Even beyond music, we are a bunch of laidback guys just having fun. If you take yourself too seriously, when do you enjoy the moment?” The spotlight has panned to us. On: Tomorrow; 7.30 pmAt: G5A Warehouse, Shakti Mills Lane, Mahalaxmi West.Log on to: insider.inEntry: Rs 499 Music on our mind Pick your fave gig this weekend >> Classical with a twist Witness Indian classical duo Ranjani-Gayatri present a thematic performance tracing the journey of Indian classical music across different genres.ON February 24; 5 pm AT The Fine Arts Society, Postal Colony, Chembur.LOG ON TO allevents.inCOST Rs 350 onwards  >> Heavy on the bass Join Illenium, the master of melodic bass music as he makes a pit-stop in the city with his vast repertoire of dubstep, drum and bass, and electronic rock music. ON February 23; 9.30 pm AT Bayview Lawns, Princess Dock Building, Mazgaon. LOG ON TO in.bookmyshow.comCOST Rs 1,000 onwards  >> Pop the evening Step into an exclusive listening party experience inspired by the intimate gatherings of the West, led by playback singer Maanuni Desai ON February 25; 8 pm AT The Runaway Crew, Aram Nagar Part 1, Versova.LOG ON TO in.bookmyshow.comCOST Rs 250 onwards

22 February,2024 07:15 AM IST | Mumbai | Devashish Kamble
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Weekend coming: Sign up for these three trips

Lakeside bliss Sign up for a trip to a spot in Bhandardara (below) that offers a 360-degree view of Mount Kalsubai. The itinerary includes a BBQ set-up, games, a masquerade bash, boating and a bonfire. On February 24 onwards Reporting time 4 pmMEETING POINT Kasara railway station (if transportation is needed to the site, mention this location while booking tickets)Log on to in.bookmyshow.comCost Rs 1,299 onwards Winged wonders The Thane Creek Flamingo Sanctuary witnesses the annual visit by flamingos and other migratory birds. This boat safari conducted by a wildlife naturalist, will help you marvel at this water ecosystem. On February 24, February 25 Reporting time Confirm with operator Meeting point Near Bhandup Pumping Station (details shared post registration)Log on to www.treksandtrails.orgCall 8828746865 Cost Rs 1,250 (adult); Rs 900 (child aged 5-12 years); Camera charges: Rs 150 Pedal the night away As temperatures begin to soar, cycling enthusiasts find new ways to pursue their passion. This midnight cycling will begin in Colaba and pass through landmarks like Marine Drive, Gateway of India and Flora Fountain. On February 24 onwardsMeeting point Colaba Market.Reporting time 10.45 pmLog on to insider.inCall 7719800777 (Contact organiser after booking tickets)Cost Rs 360 onwards

22 February,2024 07:10 AM IST | Mumbai | The Guide Team
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Stand-up comedy to board games: Fun activities to do from Thursday to Sunday

ThursdayDesi high in Lower Parel Indulge in innovative cocktails and concoctions straight from Jaipur at Nativ Bar’s bar takeover featuring regional-inspired cocktails such as Nagpur, Jodhpur and Malabar.Time 8.30 pm onwardsAT PCO Bombay, NRK House, Kamala Mills, Lower Parel. Cost Rs 800 onwards Watch literature on screen Catch the documentary Kaifinaama that looks at the Urdu poet Kaifi Azmi’s journey from a small village to a literary giant.Time 6.30 pm AT Godrej Dance Theatre, NCPA, Nariman Point. Log on to ncpamumbai.com Entry First come first served basis FridaySing with the fabulists Storyteller and theatre artiste (above) Ulka Mayur and Sriparna Chatterjee will present an evening of classic poems and melodies that pay homage to some of India’s greatest folk ballads.  Time 5.30 pm to 6.30 pm At Education Centre, Dr Bhau Daji Lad Museum, Byculla. Log on to @bdlmuseumCost Rs 100 Taste of schadenfreude Shreeja Chaturvedi brings her latest show Superiority Complex to town. The show pokes fun at her own attitude towards the world, its schadenfreude and people. Time 10 pmAT Khar Comedy Club, 19th Road, Khar West. Log on to in.bookmyshow.comCost Rs 499 SaturdayFind peaceful vibes Om Shala is hosting a Yog Nidra meditation, crystal singing bowl therapy, and sound bath session accompanied by Indian classical ragas to conclude the guided meditation session.Time 4.30 pm onwardsAT Om Shala, 24th Road, Khar West. Log on to @omshala.official Cost Rs 1,500 Dice ’em up Game Roll up your sleeves for an evening out with fellow board and card game enthusiasts at this unique meet-up.Time 1 pm onwardsAT Rare Earth The Vegan Cafe, Khar West.Log on to  insider.inCost Rs 199 onwards SundayExperience new art Wrap up the weekend with artist and sculptor Hansodnya Tambe’s paintings and interactive sculptures that deep-dive into the intricacies of human consciousness.Time 10.30 am onwardsAt Nine Fish Art Gallery, Byculla. Walk the dark side Catch a unique production of Manav Kaul’s Tumhare Baare Mein told through shadow play.Time 7 pm and 9 pm At Prithvi Theatre, Juhu Church Road, Juhu. Log on to prithvitheatre.org Cost Rs 500 onwards 

22 February,2024 07:00 AM IST | Mumbai | Devashish Kamble | Shriram Iyengar
Chitrakathi works

Send in the puppets

Stories, explains the Israeli anthropologist bestseller Yuval Noah Harari, are the foundational stones for civilisation. As the digital age takes central position in daily lives, it becomes crucial to use this narrative in a more effective, and tactile manner. This weekend, APRE Art House will host a unique workshop and exhibition of traditional Indian shadow puppetry to shape current social narratives for children. Chetan Gangavane “The idea is to expose children to arts and crafts. We want them to understand that there is a lot of beauty and wisdom in tradition, but also have fun,” says Aradhana Nagpal, founder of Garmi Ki Chutti who is curating the session, Storytelling with shadows, with APRE Art House. This dual function is accomplished through the works of two artists in Chetan Gangavane and Tapan Moharana. While the Sindhudurg-based Gangavane brings to the city his heritage of Chitrakathi shadow puppet play, Moharana is a multimedia artist who has been working around the Odiya tradition of Raban Chhaya for the last couple of years. Both forms carry with them centuries of traditional and folk storytelling. Shadow puppetry forms a key part of Moharana’s artistic practice Gangavane explains, ““I hail from Pinguli in Kudal taluka of Sindhudurg. It’s a small village that’s home to the Thakar community but has nourished 11 rare traditional art forms.” Among these are shadow puppetry (Dayati), string puppetry (Kalsutri bahulya), and leather dolls (Tambdyacha bahulya). “The term Chitrakathi comes from telling stories [kathi] using pictures [chitra],” he says. The traditional artist has been involved in the tradition for the last 15 years, and follows his father, Padma Shri-awardee Parshuram Gangavane and elder brother Eknath Gangavane who worked to conserve the tradition, and built a museum to highlight its practice. “These were used to tell stories of ancient myths, mostly the Ramayana and Mahabharata. But this time, we are using it with a newer context; to tell three stories from the Panchatantra that are more relatable to children,” he remarks. Tapan Moharana This attempt to adapt and imbue traditional art to a newer world is necessary, adds Moharana. The Odisha-based artist discovered his state’s traditional art of Raban Chhaya during the pandemic. “I had always been looking for it since it was a faint childhood memory,” he shares, admitting that the last generation of these puppeteers no longer practice the art. “I found through them artefacts, and learned how they used and created these dolls. I have since been trying to imbue them into my artistic practice,” he says. This will emerge through his work Story of a God that he will seek to simplify. Children at a previous show Noting the difference between the two traditions, Moharana explains, “If you look at the form of shadow puppetry in Odisha, it is extremely basic in its style. As you travel across India, it gains more mechanical and artistic features. Throughout, they are used to tell mythologies. My attempt is to bring a more socio-cultural context to the storytelling using this medium.” Nagpal adds, “Such exhibitions allow children to visit an art gallery, and learn to appreciate and interact with an art form. Bringing in shadow puppetry was interesting since children will witness how the art is performed, and interact with the artists.” The event will also allow children to create and colour puppets that they can take home. “They might go on to play with and create their own show,” she says. Aradhana Nagpal Such interactions can be fun, says Gangavane. “We have travelled across the country, and overseas, and at all times participants are curious about the dolls, how we manipulate them and design them. For children, it is a very curious phenomenon,” he says. Moharana notes that while usually puppets are created in goat skin, his session will have paper-designed puppets and art. “In the end,” Moharana summarises, “we always return to the old ways of telling tales that we first heard from our grandmothers.” On: February 24; 11 am and 2 pm At: APRE Art House, Sanghvi House, third Pasta Lane, Apollo Bunder, Colaba.Log on to: insider.inCost: Rs 1,000 onwards

22 February,2024 05:41 AM IST | Mumbai | Shriram Iyengar
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Attend this day-long immersive literature festival for children in Mumbai

Children are requested to come dressed in full character for the third edition of Children’s literature festival Peek A Book, a one-day programme scheduled for this Saturday at the city’s newest museum for kids — Museum of Solutions. Themed ‘Jump into a book’, curator Lubaina Bandukwala says that this year’s edition is all about making reading immersive and engaging for the young readers. Anand Neelakantan at the Bengaluru leg of his book launch “Children love doing activities. Hence, every session planned with different authors will offer an immersive experience [inspired by a latest book by these authors] like dance, humour, art, workshops and more,” she explains. While most books picked up by Bandukwala for the fest were published within the past 12 months, the highlight of the fest will be four book launches in the city by prominent writers including Ashok Rajagopalan (for the fifth part of the Gajapati Kulapati series, Gajapati Kulapati Kweee); Anushka Ravishankar (for her science series, Smarty Pants); Anand Neelakantan (for Mahi, The Elephant Who Flew Over the Blue Mountains) and archaeologist and Sahitya Akademi Bal Puraskar Award-winner Devika Cariapa (for A Children’s History of India in 100 Objects). Children participate in an interactive session during a previous edition Neelakantan’s session will talk about the importance of introducing literature to children. “Reading is the only way to teach the kids how to be compassionate,” he says over a quick phone call with this writer, “Movies and shows spoon-feed children; they are passive modes of consuming content. When you read a book, you become the character and the music producer; the cast and the crew.” He will also read a few paragraphs from his latest book that he says is relatable to both children and adults, “It is an allegorical book. For children, it is a fun read that teaches them about chasing dreams, environment and the need for compassion towards animals. For adults, it’s a political satire with multiple layers.” Children will learn to recognise and solve community problems The first edition of this festival was in 2016; it’s focus remains unchanged. Bandukwala believes that some brilliant works by these authors are often lost amid the famous titles by international books. “Many kids are not readers simply because they either haven’t been introduced to reading or haven’t found a book that interests them. I have noticed that once they meet the authors, interact with them and can put a name to or associate a memory with these books, they are more likely to read. Hence, we have a diverse curation that will appeal to different age groups, up to 10 and above,” she signs off. Time: February 24; 10 am onwards (book launch till 10.30 am)At: Museum of Solutions, Victoria House, Lower Parel. Log on to: insider.in (for registration); @peekabooklitfest (for full line up and activities)Cost: Rs 300 (all-day pass for children); Rs 250 (all-day pass for adults) The Guide’s top 6 picks at the festival >> Find the problem: Jane Goodall’s all-day long Roots and Shoots will teach children how to recognise and solve issues within their communities.at Discovery Zone, MuSo >> Can you Chhau?Inspired by her latest book The Chhau Champ, author Vibha Batra will teach kids the basics of the West Bengali folk-dance.Age group 7 years and aboveTime 12 pm to 12.45 pmAt Story-Stage, MuSo >> Calling on junior Sherlock Holmes:Monika Bhatkhande will introduce the children to her mystery book A Woof in Time as they use their detective skills to solve clues and decode puzzles to catch the villain and retrieve a lost treasure.Age group 9 and aboveTime 11.15 am to 12 pmAt Room of Wonders, MuSo >> What’s in the object?Archaeologist and author Devika Cariapa will bring objects of archaeological and historical importance to the session for the kids to learn to tell stories not through comics or novels, but through these objects.Age group 10 years and aboveTime 12.15 pm to 1 pm At The Library of Solutions, MuSo >> P for parenting: Parents, make a beeline for this insightful parenting session with Mansi Zhaveri (founder of Kidsstoppress) as the activities keep your munchkins busy.Age group For adultsTime 12 pm to 1 pmAt Subko, first floor, MuSo >> Pack a meal: Relieve your mom of cooking duty for a day, and pack her a lunchbox full of love with Rea Malhotra Mukhtyar as you explore the story, Tiffin Dost by Sushil Shukla. Learn the secrets and joy of packing a lunchbo. Age group 4 and aboveTime 1.45 pm to 2.45 pmAt The Library of Solutions, MuSo

21 February,2024 07:20 AM IST | Mumbai | Devanshi Doshi
Flamingos graze along the Sewri creek during their migratory period. File pic

Spot flamingos in Mumbai now and test your knowledge about them with this quiz

1) In May 2018, the state government of Maharashtra formally recognised which flamingo sanctuary as a protected area?a. Bharatpurb. Thane Creekc. Chilika 2) The jetty point in which of these locations is ideal to spot flamingos?a. Sewrib. Sionc. Santacruz 3) What is the smallest flamingo in the world, commonly seen across the mudflats lining the city, called?a. Mini flamingob. Smaller flamingoc. Lesser flamingo 4) What prestigious tag did the flamingo sanctuary in Maharashtra earn in 2022?a. Ramsar Siteb. UNESCO World Heritage Sitec. International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources Site 5) What do flamingos primarily feed on?a. Coconutsb. Algaec. Rodents 6) What’s the average lifespan of the Greater flamingo?a. 20 to 40 yearsb. 80 to 100 yearsc. 40 to 60 years Reading List General information:>> https://animalia.bio/greater-flamingo>> https://animaldiversity.org/accounts/Phoenicopterus_roseus/ Local information:>> https://roundglasssustain.com/habitats/thane-creek-flamingo-sanctuary>> www.flamingosanctuary.com Answers: 1. Thane Creek 2. Sewri 3. Lesser flamingo 4. Ramsar Site 5. Algae 6. 40 to 60 years

21 February,2024 07:15 AM IST | Mumbai | Fiona Fernandez
Composition VIII. Pics Courtesy/Wikimedia Commons

This unique performance in Mumbai pays tribute to Russian painter Kandinsky

What is the colour of a child’s surprise? Or the sound of hunger? These could be questions from a three-year-old or the deep musings of a sozzled philosopher at a local pub. Yet, there are geniuses across the world who have experienced this phenomenon. Nikola Tesla claimed that words inspired his visions; Richard Feynman’s equations emerged with colours; Jimi Hendrix could see colours through chords. This phenomenon of synaesthesia was a defining part of the works of early 20th century abstractionist painter, Wassily Kandinsky. Mouvement 1, 1935 “His [Kandinsky] art is unique in many ways; one being that he was a synesthete,” says Sugandh Lamba, artistic director, who is currently preparing for Lemme Dance You A Picture at Harkat Studios. The show will seek to blend the visual abstraction of Kandinsky’s art with the physical movements of kathak. The idea, she reveals, developed in 2023 when she held a performance for a school for special needs students. “I organised a small annual theatre production for special — needs students, where one of the stories was on Kandinsky. That’s where my research on the phenomenon truly began. It sparked my curiosity to create something around art and dance,” Lamba says. A moment from the rehearsal Born in Russia in the early 20th century, Kandinsky emerged as one of the leading abstractionists of his age. Trained in music, his ability to see colours when hearing sound redefined his approach to art. “Colour is the keyboard, the eyes are the hammers, the soul is the piano with its many chords,” he famously declared. This will be brought to the Harkat Studios stage by four performers — Lamba, Ramya Palavajjhala, Sneha Masurkar and Kriti Chordia. Noting our confusion at the concept, Lamba elaborates, “I cannot recreate Kandinsky’s experience of synaesthesia. What we are looking to do is to see how we can project his art through our expressions.” Sugandh Lamba This concept is not new, but it is not traditional either. Modern dance performances have often sought to interpret visual arts. Lamba puts it down to the nature of the dance form at display — kathak. Having learnt kathak from the age of five, Lamba remarks that the dance form is a direct contrast to Kandinsky’s ideals. “Kathak dancers, as is common in Indian classical dance, focus on structures and form. Each move is carefully tailored to expression. Kandinsky, meanwhile, never believed in structures. What I am trying to do is bring the tools of improvisation from modern theatre and dance to this experiment,” she says. Wassily Kandinsky’s Several Circles, 1926. Pics Courtesy/Wikimedia Commons The result is an experiment — Lamba prefers it over the term performance — that will see them interpret Kandinsky’s artworks as they are projected on a screen behind. This will be complemented by the music of American composer Steve Reich. It is made even more unpredictable by the introduction of improvisation via the audience. “When we say audience participation, it is a lot like improv theatre. We will pass around chits, and ask an audience member to pick an artwork to be displayed,” the 36-year-old reveals. Wassily Kandinsky. Pic Courtesy/Wassilykandinsky.org However, improvisation often implies an element of unpredictability. “We started working on the idea in January this year, and have been jamming since. Even now, the dances are in my head,” she laughs. That notion of inexpressibility certainly brings the experiment closer to Kandinsky’s conception of art, we imagine. On: February 25; 7.30 pm.At: Harkat Studios, JP Road, Aram Nagar Part 2, Versova. Log on to: insider.inCost: Rs 350 Also check out >> Sindhu Mumbai 2024A celebration of classical dance performances unites forms such as kathak, bharatnatyam and dance theatre on a single stage.ON February 25; 2.15 pm onwardsAT Bal Gandharva Rang Mandir, Bandra West.LOG ON TO allevents.inCOST Rs 400 onwards >> Dancefloor adventuresIf you are in the mood for some dancing joy, catch Danish prodigy Aum Shanti teaming up with composers Kapaline and Soundpot from India to create some dance magic.ON February 24; 9 pm onwardsAT Kitty Su, ground floor, The Lalit Mumbai, Marol, Andheri East. LOG ON TO skillboxes.comCOST Rs 499 >> Pranay – A tribute to loveCelebrate the many hues of love through the different and expressive dance styles on stage.ON February 24; 7.15 pmAT Pandit Deendayal Upadhyay Park, Hiranandani, Powai. LOG ON TO ncpamumbai.com to register

21 February,2024 07:10 AM IST | Mumbai | Shriram Iyengar
Dancers perform with the tarpa, a tribal wind instrument crafted using dried gourd, leaves and bamboo, at the previous edition of the festival

Dahanu Festival is back to celebrate the town’s rich culture

As you drive towards the coastal town of Dahanu, you’ll witness the city slowly melt away along the journey. The high-rises are the first to give way, to thick green avenues. The soundtrack of blaring horns cuts to a therapeutic silence a little further away; and as you finally enter the humble town, the dying tradition of greeting strangers with a smile makes a pleasant comeback. A town so tranquil that even the city’s most diligent workhorse, the Mumbai local, chooses to rest here. Dahanu Festival, an annual celebration of the town’s multicultural history organised by the Dahanu Municipal Council, Government of Maharashtra, and local governing bodies, returns on February 23. The festival will offer expert-guided paragliding sessions “The festival is a showcase of the town’s rich cultures that remain largely undiscovered by outsiders,” Vaibhav Aware, chief officer, Dahanu Nagar Parishad, informs us. The highlight, he believes, is the fisherman’s village tour. “The town hosts multiple fisherman colonies. Visitors can step into one to get a first-hand experience of the coastal rural lifestyle,” he shares. Far from the coast, in the interiors live native tribal communities, of which the Warlis are mostly widely recognised. Aware tells us that Warli art workshops and performances with the tarpa, a tribal wind instrument were the favourites last year and will make a bigger comeback this year. For those who wish to test the waters, the festival will host activities by the sea such as paragliding, water sports, and horseback racing along the beaches. “We ensure these activities are conducted by licensed experts to keep our visitors’ safety paramount,” the officer assures us, further noting that the hunger pangs that might strike after a long day’s adventures will be well taken care of. From homely Parsi staples to seafood traditions preserved by the Kolis, the food section will see a convergence of family kitchens dishing out diverse tastes. “In a way, it is a platform for these communities to meet and catch up as well,” he adds. Vaibhav Aware Aware leaves us with shining a light on a peculiar dilemma the town faces, “Our affinity to the sea attracts a host of regulations, holding us back from developing industries and infrastructure at scale to attract visitors. Hence, we are channelising our efforts towards promoting tourism to put the town on the map, one day at a time. The town has all the makings of the perfect tourist spot — pristine windy beaches, lush green fields, forts and places of worship, and all this just a three-hour’s drive from the city. There is no caveat,” Aware exclaims. For this writer, who grew up in the quaint town, there has always been one. Once you’re there, you might never want to come back. On: February 23 to 25; At: Sea View Park, Ganga Ashram Wadi, Parnaka, Dahanu West.Log on to: @dahanufestival

20 February,2024 07:15 AM IST | Mumbai | Devashish Kamble
(Left, above) The volumes contain a survey of palace and temple wall paintings in Gujarat. Images Courtesy/Dr Kenneth Robbins, Dr Bhau Daji Lad Museum

‘Historians must find ways to document diverse populations’

How did your research lead you to focus on the Princely States of Gujarat during colonialism?Dr Kenneth X Robbins: The year 1947 witnessed great accomplishments in human history, the consolidation of hundreds of states along with cities including Ahmedabad into the new Republic of India. Whereas control of the Punjab, Bengal, and Kashmir was divided, Pakistani attempts to divide Gujarat were quickly thwarted. In Gujarat, these states ranged from a large progressive state, Baroda, with a population of 2,433,077 in 1931, to Bilbari in the Dangs with a population of 27. Somehow, the whole area has not garnered much interest. It still surprises many Westerners that most of the Rajput States were here, and not in Rajasthan. Merchants functioned across Gujarat’s boundaries using hundis to transfer funds, pay debts, in exchange for goods, and as a traveller’s check This is why I have chosen to deal with these states first in my plan to edit multiple series dealing with other states across India. Work has begun on both the Deccan States Agency and the Punjab States Agency. Of the 22 authors that include historians, social scientists, and art historians, members of royal and noble families of Bhavnagar, Dhrangadhra, Kamadhia, Mansa, and Surgana have also contributed as have historians from the great university created by and named after Maharaja Sayajirao Gaekwad III. This research publication was inspired by your personal archives. Tell us about the connection.KR: My archives revealed that there were tremendous differences in local policy choices and their implementation in India. For decades, I have been preparing publications and exhibitions about the Indian Princely States (IPS). Most of my ideas for documentation originate with paintings, photographs, posters, books, articles, documents, maps, correspondence, interviews, postcards, trade cards, commemorative medals, numismatic and philatelic materials, share certificates, hundis, flags, ephemera, and other items that I have collected over 60 years. This project highlights that historical writing need not take the form of a traditional “stamp collection.” Ranji was a ‘citizen’ of the British Empire, prince of a little state, ‘king’ of cricket, and ‘emperor’ of the good life, writes Robbins Historians must find ways of documenting the lives and perspectives of diverse populations of these states, and the tribulations of the general population. Women’s contributions and issues, the roles of the Pushtimarg and Swaminarayan Sampradayas, and the history of groups like the Bhils and Kathis are important. Why limit discussion only to the fairy-tale lives of rulers?  Nawabs of East African descent (Habshis, Siddis) ruled Sachin (near Surat) and the Janjira dependency of Jafrabad. Earlier, the Siddis had played major roles as Mughal admirals as well as being powerful in Surat. There are also African villagers living everywhere from Kutch to the Gir forest, and Bhavnagar. Gujarat has a long history of international trade with merchants and traders going across Asia and East Africa. Could you share a few fascinating discoveries that emerged from your research?KR: Maps and other documents show not only hundreds of states, but extreme fragmentation since Baroda and many other states in Western India were composed of multiple land parcels interspersed with territories of British India and other states. The smaller states did not have full internal powers and some were even deemed “non-jurisdictional”. Some states were controlled by multiple shareholders. The families of many leaders of the Indian freedom movement belonged to these states. Much of Gandhi’s approach can be traced back to political practices in these states during the times when generations of Gandhi’s ancestors were heavily involved in their governmental service. A surprising number of other world-famous figures came from these states, including the poet prince Kalapi or the pioneering cricket superstar Ranji. What role did the rulers of India’s Princely States play to patronise the arts?KR: Maharaja Sayajirao Gaekwad III was one of the world’s greatest patrons of art, music, culture, innovation, and modernisation. He promoted the careers of gifted personalities Inayat Khan, Raja Ravi Varma and Aurobindo. We moved the history of painting forward with an extended survey of popular palace and temple wall paintings as well as pioneering work about miniature paintings in states like Radhanpur and the Swaminarayan Movement. What was the relationship between the colonial rulers and the rulers of the IPS till India’s Independence?KR: The historical discourse on India often ignores the states or describes their rulers only as ‘Oriental despots’ or ‘puppets’ who participated in spectacles and received honours, which gave the Raj an aura of invulnerability and permanence. At the same time, the British system of changing the groupings of states and their relationship to the Government of India and the Bombay Government as well as attaching smaller states to larger ones gives the false impression that the British were omnipotent and omniscient. Dr Kenneth X Robbins ...And what is your take on these observations?KR: Maharaja Sayajirao Gaekwad III and other rulers were guardians of tradition, promoted social and cultural values, and were important political actors.  Some tried to insist that British control was limited and even that they had entered associations with the British on equal voluntary terms. Ours is a conscious effort to present princely splendour alongside information about how the administrations of these states functioned. It was not limited to their relationships with the British; it includes local politics such as disagreements about power and tribute between states and succession fights. Rulers were often at odds with rival nobles, raiders, tribal rebels, and even wealthy religious groups from outside their states.  On: Today; 5.30 pm onwardsAt: Education Centre, Dr Bhau Daji Lad Museum, Rani Baug, Byculla East.Log on to: insider.in (first-come-first-served basis)

20 February,2024 07:00 AM IST | Mumbai | Fiona Fernandez
Sir Winston Churchill. Pic Courtesy/Wikimedia Commons

How do we judge Churchill?

It was apt for US President John F Kennedy to have said of Sir Winston Churchill that he mobilised the English language and sent it into battle. Yet, the post-War years have not been kind to him. His virulent racism, imperialistic world view and irascible behaviour — once admired, now detested — make him a conflicted figure. This evening at the Cymroza Art Gallery, Dr Zareer Masani will seek to explain the nuances of Churchill’s history on the whole, rather than through Imperialist or de-colonised views. “I seek to show Churchill as a product of his times. He had his flaws, and believed the British Empire to be superior, to both European powers and those in the Indian Subcontinent. He had racial views of the Hindu religion, and detested its caste prejudices,” says Masani, historian and biographer of Indira Gandhi and Lord Macaulay. Dr Zareer Masani Churchill’s position during India’s struggle for Independence was to keep hold of India as a whole unit by hook or by crook, the former current affairs producer for BBC adds. “He believed that majoritarian rule in India by the Indian National Congress would lead to secession by Muslims or oppression of the Dalits and Muslims as is in India today. He was prophetic in some ways,” Masani notes. One of the key moments that many historians hold the former British Prime Minister responsible for is for the Bengal Famine from 1942 to 1945 that led to the deaths of three million people. Surprisingly, Masani disagrees. “Churchill was, if anything, responsible for its end. When famine broke out, Bengal was governed by Fazlul Haq. There were some delayed decisions that led to bad conditions. As soon as Churchill discovered it, he appointed Lord Wavell, who in turn appointed my grandfather, JP Srivastava (on his executive council in West Bengal). If you look at the war cabinet minutes, as I have, he marks out the famine as the main responsibility. “This is my priority,” Churchill says. Close to a million tonnes of food grains were imported between 1943 to 1944 to end the famine,” Masani shares.To remind us of the broad nature of history, Masani says, “India was not on the prime agenda for him. He wanted to keep it, but he was busy fighting a World War at the time.” History, as they say, is never black or white. On Today; 5.30 pmAt Cymroza Art Gallery, first floor, Bhulabhai Desai Road, Breach Candy. Email museumsocietyofbombay63@gmail.com Free Cool facts about ‘Winnie’ . Churchill’s mother, Lady Randolph was an American born in Brooklyn. This made Winston Churchill half-American.. He remains the only head of state to be honoured with the Nobel Prize for Literature. Every other head of state has been honoured with the Peace Prize.. While Mahatma Gandhi was serving with the Medical Corps in South Africa during the Second Boer War in 1899, a 25-year-old Churchill was also present in the region as a war correspondent during the same time. It was his capture and escape from the Boers that cemented his popularity as a war hero. 

19 February,2024 10:08 PM IST | Mumbai | Shriram Iyengar
Miley Cyrus accepts a Grammy Award for Record of the Year

Unlock the art of impactful speeches with these tips by life coaches

Started to cry then remembered I — just won my first Grammy!” exclaimed Miley Cyrus in between her solo performance at the recently concluded 66th Annual Grammy Awards. The American singer-songwriter and actress had just won the Best Pop Solo Performance (Female) for her song, Flowers, and would later also go on to win the Record of The Year for the same track. For days to follow, social media was flooded with snippets from her winning speeches, her humorous quips during the solo performance; for instance, when right before singing the hook lines of the song, she asked the audience, “Why are you acting like you don’t know this song?” and of course, her dazzling outfits that hugged the 31-year-old’s body like second skin, complemented with the puffed up, voluminous and retro hairdo (an ode to country music icon, Dolly Parton). But the more these videos were shared, the more they became open to dissection; inviting both, comments critiquing and praising her. Some called her out for being disrespectful to the award and having missed mentioning her father, country music artiste, Billy Ray Cyrus (whom she severed ties with after her parents’ divorce), while others supported her candid and heartfelt words. Fans felt it made Cyrus feel more relatable. As her speeches enter the long list of conversation-stirring acceptance speeches delivered at the Grammys, professional coaches decode how to crack the ideal speech. (Right) Losing finalist Novak Djokovic’s gracious mention of (left) Carlos Alcaraz in his Wimbledon speech in 2023 shows humility. Pics Courtesy/Getty images “You can either hate it or love it, but cannot ignore it,” says Dr Shivani Sharma, TEDx speaker, image consultant, communication and soft skills trainer. “As an audience, we have evolved as gossip-mongers, and it is inevitable that you will be judged on what you say. Remember, gossip-mongers are either those who cannot achieve what you have, are jealous or don’t have anything interesting to do. While delivering a speech, bear in mind what you want to say and how you feel. Do not focus too much on how others will perceive it.” Write your own story Breaking it down further, she says that it is of utmost importance to remain humble, while also adding a bit of a personal touch. “The part where she said that she was happy yesterday and she doesn’t want anything to change after she received this award was inspirational; life doesn’t end here. It is always important to add an anecdote wherever possible. In Cyrus’ case, she compared her story with a boy who was chasing a butterfly. A perfect speech is one which is either motivational and inspiring, or emotional. Otherwise, it is just a talk.” Singer Adele mentioned Beyoncé in one of her speeches and how the American singer’s album Lemonade remains an inspiration. Pic Courtesy/Instagram Debarati Roy, image consultant and corporate trainer, agrees. “A speech that has stayed with me is when Kate Winslet won the Oscar for the Best Actress; she had shared how as a child she would practise giving a speech while holding a shampoo bottle. This makes the audience feel like the winners are normal people like them; they come off as more relatable.” Telling your story, she believes, is all the more important when you are not a star. “When you are a public figure, people already know who you are, and what your story is. But in corporate settings, people know you by your work. This is the time to tell them your story and let them get a sense of the person behind the work.” But not at the cost of boredom. “Respect other people’s time as well. Your speech doesn’t have to be long to make a statement. Yes, it is your moment, but that doesn’t mean you hog the speech and make it all about me, myself and I.”  Shivani Sharma, Debarati Roy and Mihika Bhanot Recalling another favourite, Roy cites tennis champion, Novak Djokovic’s Wimbledon speech when he lost to Carlos Alcaraz in 2023. “Djokovic was upset about his defeat, and he made it clear in his speech, but his humility lay in the fact that he expressed that he lost to a better player, and that he will come back stronger. Being humble and grateful in your speech are extremely important aspects. Also remember that no one can do anything alone. Mention what inspired you [like music artiste Adele had credited Beyoncé as an inspiration in one of her speeches at the Grammys] and who helped you reach the podium you are standing on today. This shows a sense of community and fraternity.” Laughter is the key Humour can also be a vital element in your speech. Both Roy and Sharma believe that it adds to authenticity. “When Cyrus in her speech mentioned that while she doesn’t think she has forgotten to thank anyone but she has forgotten to wear underwear, this reflected her true, rebellious side. Injecting humour is equally necessary to make the conversation light-hearted,” Sharma explains. Even as most speeches are prepared in advance, Roy explains that it is the talent of being spontaneous that adds to the witty factor. “It is okay to have a structure in mind; in fact, it is highly recommended. This way, you don’t feel at a loss of words. But remember to not restrict yourself by it. Be spontaneous and allow yourself to read the room and alter the speech a bit.” Bite the burger Mihika Bhanot, image consultant and personal branding expert, has an interesting take on how to give the perfect speech, dubbing it the ‘burger policy’. “A burger comes with a slice of bread on top — this is the introductory bit, where you either make a joke or comment on the weather outside. If it’s pouring outside, for instance, you could say something like — it is raining compliments today, quite literally. Don’t shy away from sharing what you feel. This helps make the speech light-hearted.” The patty is in the middle; this is where you allow yourself to tell your story. “Make this stage aspirational and humble,” she suggests. To conclude, you could leave the audience with a question to interact with them, or end with gratitude. “These steps work for people across fields. Remember to keep your speech short, simple and relevant.” 

19 February,2024 10:04 PM IST | Mumbai | Devanshi Doshi
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