The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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City Lights
Fitness stop plus food shop

Luxury and well-being blend with ease at Calcutta’s newest fitness destination. Solace, an exclusive spa, is set to open its doors early September, offering a holistic mix for the weary of mind and body.

A venture of the Lotus Charitable Trust, set up under the Williamson Magor group, the day spa, housed in a sprawling building in Ballygunge, offers more than just the standard gym.

Blossom Kochhar, aromatherapy expert and beauty specialist, has lent her name to a project for the first time, making her exotic treatments available to spa members at the hands of girls trained under her watchful eye. The treatment rooms are gently lit, with adjoining bathrooms complete with a jacuzzi, offering patrons a host of luscious services. From body wraps and seaweed baths, age-management treatments and body exfoliation, Kochhar’s remedies — so far only available off the shelf — now comes with an expert touch. They will be updated regularly, with Kochhar scheduled to visit once every three months.

An outdoor swimming pool — complete with currents and heating in the winter — is meant not only for a few laps, but also for aqua-aerobics. “This is ideal for those with arthritis as it eases the pressure on the joints,” explains Yashodhara Khaitan, the force behind the project. It is also an effective weight-loss method, though the underwater buoyancy seems to take the work out of the exercise.

Changing rooms are well-appointed, but the icing on the cake is the steamy saunas, which temper the steam and the dehydrating effect of steam-rooms and saunas. This installation is a first in India according to the club authorities. Solace has also roped in Thai and Swedish masseuses.

Sporting goods major Reebok has also tied up with the project. The gym and work-out studio are being set up as per its guidelines, and they will be manned by accredited trainers. “Reebok was very particular about the specifications. Like the aerobics studio has a suspending floor, which adds bounce to cushion the joints,” adds Khaitan. Solace will also become a training centre for other fitness trainers. Workshops on different types of yoga — like the very popular pilates or pranic healing — will be organised from time to time.

A cafeteria will also be at hand for rumbling tummies. Health food — with Coffee Pai providing the food and beverage support — is what it will serve up, but with a promise not to compromise on taste, as well as a juice bar, with all kinds of rejuvenating and energy-boosting potions. For members on special diets, the kitchen will offer customised meals.

“For members interested in medical check-ups, there will be facilities for blood samples to be taken,” says Khaitan. The details of these add-on services are yet to be worked out.

The bad news is that entry into Solace is by invitation only. The good news is that the cafeteria, aerobics and yoga classes will be available for those who book ahead of time. A beauty parlour, Rosie’s, is already operational on the premises. This will be open to the public as well. Individual, couple and group packages are being worked out, but the management is looking at mainly a corporate clientele. The price tag starts at around Rs 30,000 a year.

“This is our gift to the city,” says Khaitan. The spa will be run on a no-profit basis. The premise was previously a diabetes clinic, and the Trust did not want to do away with it. The services will still be available on the first floor rooms reserved for specialists. A dietician will also be in attendance.

Football feast

For football buffs, Friday fare on TV is sure to provide the kicks. Ten Sports is beaming a definitive 13-episode series — History of Football — that tells the story of the game which generates more excitement, passion and wealth across the world than any other sport.

The first episode — Superstars — deals with the likes of Billy Meredith, Pele, Alfredo di Stefano, Garrincha, Maradona and Zidane, looking at the careers of players who have left their mark on the sport’s history. The second — Origins — traces the early history, from the influences that led to the formation of the Football Association in 1863 to how football spread. Episode Three — Brazil — will easily capture the maximum number of eyeballs in this city, crazy about Samba soccer. This programme explores Brazil’s dominance as a footballing nation in the global game, as well as the violent, racist side of Brazilian football.

Episode Four — Football Cultures — explores football’s role within international cultures, combining religion in Iran, with economics in America, and politics in Spain and Ghana. Episode Five — The Evolution of the European Game — charts the major trends that helped shape European football.

The sixth— European Superpowers — profiles teams that have changed football history — Real Madrid in the 1950s, the Dutch and Germans of the 1970s, Liverpool in the 1980s, and Milan and the French national teams of the 1990s. Episodes on the African enigma, South American superpowers, club and country, media role, globalisation of the game, tragedies in football, and a peep into the future of the game follow.

Culture cruise

Parikrama, a proprietory event created by Shoppers’ Stop in 1998 showcasing Indian heritage and culture, is set to debut at the retail chain’s first Calcutta outlet next week. The theme this year is based on the concept of mela, which binds the people of this country together. The festival will be celebrated at the Forum store of Shoppers’ Stop on Elgin Road from August 14 to 31. Parikrama will exhibit the excellence in craftsmanship unique to India through artisans and performers displaying their skills in everything from folk music, dances and art. It’s also an opportunity for people to envelop themselves in vibrant and festive hues of mela clothing, showcasing fabrics like bandhni, zardosi, ikkat, etc embellished with beadwork, block-prints and embroidery.

Artists from different states will showcase their talents — patachitra, straw relief work, jute articles, mehendi, bangle work to wooden horses, beaten silver work, conch-shell work, tattoo, traditional dance performances, music and much more. For the occasion, the in-house design team of Shoppers’ Stop has created an exclusive line of ethnicwear for women. The collection has festive colours combined with regional flavours, crafted in a medley of rural techniques.

Dancing in the rain

Fun City and have joined hands for a mega fun event on Independence Day. Independence Masti will see 56 of the city’s top models descending on the popular amusement park in a unique fashion show – ‘Rhythm of the Falling Rain’. Sudipta, Amrita, Pinky, Sanjukta, Priyanka and other top draws from the ramp will light up the evening in the biggest conglomeration of top models at one venue.

The fashion show will be followed by a 56-minute non-stop rain dance to complement the theme of that magical number ‘56’. DJ Akash and Shayne will be at hand to set the pace for the party animals. There’s a mega model hunt for the wannabes too, with an opportunity to get judged by the celebs.

Music day

A new day is being added to the monthly calendar of the most celebrated rooftop in the city. Srijan will now set aside the second Friday of every month for Hindustani classical music. And a grand start has been planned. On August 16, Girija Devi will perform, as will kathak exponent Amita Datta. The moving spirit behind Srijan, Basant Rungta, is elated at having the eminent vocalist “bless” the monthly meet. “We used to have classical music programmes once in a while. Now it will be a regular feature like our other two monthly meets,” he says.

Srijan has already set aside the last Thursday and Friday of the month for poetry and rock, respectively. Both have become popular, with the rock evenings seeing participation of names like Nondon Bagchi, Anjum Katyal and Usha Uthup. “The classical music evening has generated so much enthusiasm among young performers that the calendar for the next 10 months is filling up fast,” he laughs.

While Veena Kichlu, wife of Pandit Ravi Kichlu, will take charge of the music section of the evening, Odissi expert Sharmila Mukherjee will co-ordinate the dance chapter.

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