The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Up in the air

That Sunita Williams likes her pistachio ice-cream with a chocolate topping is well known. The world also knows that she likes her chholey, for the astronaut kept a detailed log of all that she ate and did during her sojourn in space. But now a book has just hit the shelves that promises to tell us more about the Indian American. Called Sunita Williams: Achiever Extraordinaire, the Rupa book has been written by two first-time authors, Aradhika Sharma and Captain Seshadri. “We were almost through with the book with all the information about Sunita, but we were not satisfied for we did not have the family’s perspective,” says Sharma. “But once Sunita’s father, Deepak Pandya, replied to one of our numerous mails, it all changed.” What followed was a flood of personal information about Sunita’s childhood, youth, her ambitions and her journey towards becoming an astronaut. Watch this space, and pardon the pun, for more.

Bridge of music

In Rome, you do as the Romans, but in London, you stick to the Bengali path. Culture, many believe, is at its vibrant best in adopted homes — and UK, for non-resident Bengalis, is no exception. Last week saw the release of a new CD of Tagore songs and poems. Called In Many Moods, it captures the essence of Tagore in varied expressions. Behind the CD is Nrityakala, an institute of Indian art, culture and heritage formed in London by classical dancer Bithika Raha. “The target audience of this CD is the younger generation as well as the entire global community so that we can carry Tagore’s message across to a much wider spectrum,” says Raha. And the best way to a person’s heart is not through the stomach, but the ears.

All in the family

Birds of a feather flock together may be an old aphorism, but the descendants of the late tabla maestro, Ustad Allah Rakha, would whole-heartedly endorse it. The second generation, clearly, is quite a pool of genius. First came Zakir Hussain, Allah Rakha’s talented son. Then there was Zakir’s brother, Taufiq Qureshi, who made his name as a percussionist, too. And now, Geetika Verde Qureshi, Taufiq’s wife, joins the group of musicians. She is just out with a CD of songs, Rooh — Songs From The Heart, to be released along with her husband’s new CD, Forests. Abba Allah Rakha would have been proud.

Beauty and the beast

It’s amazing how Shilpa Shetty continues to charm men, and from all over the world too. And no, don’t attribute it solely to her Big Brother success. She had former cricketer Geoffrey Boycott weak in the knees many, many years ago, and has been playing fashion designer Tarun Tahiliani’s muse for quite a while now. And if you thought Hollywood heartthrob Richard Gere was the latest person to fall for her drop-dead beauty, you haven’t heart the end of it yet. Gossip windmills are currently turning double time churning out how Mike Tyson might have been ‘knocked out’ by the glam queen. The boxer, having had his fill with throwing punches, has now taken a liking to Bollywood, and has also made public his wish to act alongside Shetty, if and when he got the chance. Well, Shetty’s nose has made news in the past. We wonder if her ears might, as well. One Evander Hollyfield would know.

Out out

So what do Robert Mugabe and Tishani Doshi have in common' Nothing but human rights — the Indian writer is for it, the Zimbabwean leader, against. So Doshi is part of a campaign to oust Mugabe, which is the theme of the international literature festival in Berlin in September. A great many writers from India and abroad are expected to take part in the campaign. An appeal for removing Mugabe has been signed by Doshi, Pakistani writer-activist Tariq Ali, Canadian writer Margaret Atwood, J.M. Coetzee of South Africa and Mario Vargas Llosa of Peru, among others. The festival hopes to spur world-wide reading sessions against the Mugabe regime. The pen may or may not be mightier than the sword, but the spoken word, they hope, will do its bit.

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