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Since 1st March, 1999
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Together, a toast to tradition

Community, fraternity and all things festive. That is the toast of this year’s puja line-up, with three schemes being launched under The Telegraph Celebrating Calcutta! bonanza.

It is time to reconnect with the essence of Durga Puja in Calcutta. To remember the things that really count, the True Spirit Puja awards, in association with CESC, have been introduced. To recognise the efforts of those para pujas that do their best to ensure the inclusion of all — adults and children, the able and the challenged — in safe and positive fun, the True Spirit Puja kicks off this year. Care for the environment and the community feature high on the list of must-haves for this scheme.

Puja committees are invited to come forward with the initiatives they have taken (write in to On Tuesday, at Rotary Sadan, 5.30 pm, those interested in participating in the True Spirit contest, will be briefed about the parameters for assessment. Safety is high on the priority list, including respect for both pedestrian and vehicular traffic norms. Arrangements for senior citizens and the physically challenged to view the deity and take part in proceedings are also essential here. Civic consciousness demands a concern for noise pollution. Social commitment will be measured by the first aid facilities, lost-and-found provisions and the drinking water made available to visitors. Immersion norms followed could score high points, while forced subscriptions could slap minus marks.

Fire precautions (extending to the kind of materials chosen for the pandal), electricity violations, toilet facilities, crisis management are all points of consideration. To ensure that no damage is done to the existing environment, waste management procedures and placement of dustbins will be inspected. Whether trees have been cut to construct the pandal will also be noted.

All this will be judged by a panel, including representatives from The Telegraph, CESC, the Calcutta Municipal Corporation, fire services, the Pollution Control Board, People United for Better Living in Calcutta (PUBLIC, an NGO), and celebrity arbitrators.

A treat is in store for all readers of The Telegraph. The Tram Yatra, to ply from Saptami to Dashami, with 15 streetcars travelling the heritage trail, in association with CTC. Coupons appearing in The Telegraph on those days are enough for anyone to hop aboard these special trams, from 1 pm to 9 pm. They will not only look delectable, they will also feature a host of special events, from recitation to musical performances to story readings and entertainment for kids.

To rekindle old bonds, the Hand-in-Hand contest will be going to 30 apartment complexes and societies. Intra-complex events like dhunuchi naach, sit-and-draw for kids, diya-lighting competitions will be judged by the residents themselves.

So this Puja, get ready to make the best of tradition.

Show the way

It is billed to be the biggest advertising event of this generation. AdAsia 2003 features a list of gurus of the management and communications world that would dazzle any one. And Calcutta’s advertising and management professionals are queuing up for seats.

From November 10 to 14, global giants will come together at the Birla Convention Centre in Jaipur for the meet. Charles Handy, Lester Wunderman, Jack Trout, Rajat Gupta, Ricardo Semler, Trevor Beattie, Irwin Gotlieb, Jeff Goodby and C.K. Prahalad are just a few of the names on this star-studded list. A Chairmen’s Round Table’ will see Mukesh Ambani and Kumar Mangalam Birla discuss ‘India: The Brand'’, moderated by Ian Batey. The list goes on, covering a broad range of subjects

Around 1,200 participants from around Asia and India will arrive on November 10, for a welcome dinner. The sessions start on November 11, with topics like cult branding, Asian advertising and future communication to be discussed. Day Two, after the morning Chairmen’s Round Table, will give managers a chance to do what they do best: play golf. A nine-hole tournament will give non-golfers a chance to check out Jaipur. November 13 includes sessions on brand building, delivering audiences, while the final day includes two session on ‘great campaigns that build brands’, marketing to the entire pyramid and social marketing.

Entertainment is a big part of the package, with large doses of gltiz and glam planned to showcase “modern Indian entertainment”, with the likes of Priyanka Chopra, Diana Hayden, Shiamak Davar and Usha Uthup. All-night discos, the best of Indian cuisine and handicrafts will all be available for sampling, with an eye to woo the international delegates back for more.

Though participation comes with a rather steep price tag — around Rs 30,000 just in delegation fees — there are 100 berths available to students and academics at just Rs 5,000. They will sit through sessions in an adjoining room at the convention, where a live video feed will ensure they don’t miss out on the action.

Touch of the comic

Ever heard of a modeliser' Starting October 4, India will hear much more about them, and their ilk.

Sex and the City, the comedy series that has taken America by storm, will premiere on HBO in India on that date. Modelisers — or men obsessed with dating models — are about as bad as womanisers, feels Carrie Bradshaw, played by Sarah Jessica Parker, a sex columnist, through whose eyes, the ups and downs of being single in New York are seen.

Carrie and her three friends — all 30-something single women trying to negotiate relationships — have garnered a bushel-full of award nominations since its 1998 premiere. And HBO hopes that it will strike the right funny bone with the urban, 25-plus professional audience in India as well.

The HBO Original show is known for its sexy, New York humour. But director, marketing, HBO South Asia, Shruti Bajpai, who visited the city on Thursday, is counting on response from the niche market that, say, likes to party and might frequent night-clubs, as the show centres largely on an urbanised lifestyle. Which is why the show will air at 11.30 pm on Saturdays with a rerun on Thursdays.

Film-buffs, too, have something to look forward to from the movie channel in the coming months. Subtitled foreign films are set to hit the small screen. Though Bajpai was tight-lipped about which language films HBO will showcase, she did reveal that this treat for Indian viewers will happen within the next two months.

Festive ring

Dial 108, download the logo and cut the queue. Pandal-hoppers — with AirTel connections — won’t have to wait hours in long queues this puja as the cell operator has tied up with almost all the popular pandals in the city to give its customers a faster and easier transit in and out of the pandals.

The facility will be available in Singhi Park, Babubagan, Ekdalia Evergreen, Bosepukur Sitala Mandir, Ahiritola among others. To give its customers a complete puja feel, AirTel is also offering puja ring tones and has tied up with Rakhi Purnima Dasgupta of Kewpies, who will be available on phone to explain puja special recipes for the gourmets.

And not just for its customers. Airtel is also rolling out a slew of benefits for Calcuttans. By tying up with Calcutta Police it’s promoting Metro as the mode of transportation during the Pujas. With AirTel Metro Pujo Darshan maps —to be made available with the police and AirTel shops — one can visit pandals without getting stuck in traffic. To help the administration ensure a hassle-free puja, the company has set up a helpline (98310 10000) at Lalbazar and is offering free cell phones with connections to cops.

“We associate ourselves strongly with the city and try to offer our best to our customers and society at large in the festive season of Durga Puja,” says Deepak Gulati, CEO, Bharti Cellular Ltd.

Besides the puja-specific plans, AirTel is adding 22 new sites in Calcutta to provide customers better services. “Cell usage goes up significantly during the Pujas and we are gearing up to handle the load,” added Gulati.

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