Thursday, December 15, 2016

The art of writing for the ‘normal’

British author Lisa Williamson speaks to Sapna Sarfare about her novel The Art of Being Normal which deals with youngster dealing with gender identity and need to get acceptability for who they really are.


Lisa Williamson

Some books just connect from the moment you read the first sentence. One such book has been The Art of Being Normal by British author Lisa Williamson which is a remarkable story of friendship. David Piper has a secret known to few – he wants to be girl. He meets Leo Denton who prefers being invisible to hide a secret. Their friendship begins when Leo saves David from a bully. But it also has to go through some fire. Will they know each other’s secret? What happens if others know about it? The story is about 2 people with dreams which others might not understand.
A native of Nottingham, Lisa trained as an actor before discovering the writer within. She also worked at London-based Gender Identity Development Service (GIDS) which helps underage kids deal with gender identity. She speaks about her debut novel, the thought behind it and more.

I loved the book. It read like a page out of real life yet was fiction. How did that happen?             
I don’t know! I think my lack of planning actually perhaps works in my favour sometimes. I tend to start writing not necessarily knowing where the story will go. As a result, I think the action tends to unfold in quite an authentic and organic way. I also always remember something a creative writing once said, and that was to include lots of ‘strange but true’ details in your work. Life is weird, people are weird, even the ones to seem really ordinary. We all have our strange little quirks and habits so I always try to include as many of these as possible. I also always aim to end chapters on, not a cliffhanger, exactly, but with an unanswered question in the air. 

The story was different & touching. Was there any reason of picking it for your debut novel?
Yes. I was directly inspired by the young people I met through my job at the time – as administrator for the Gender Identity Development Service. I was struck by the lack of fiction featuring transgender characters, particularly aimed at a young adult audience. The books I did find tended to be quite gloomy so I set about writing an entertaining, engrossing book that explored gender identity in a way that I felt reflected some of the experiences the young trans people I’d met had had. I didn’t want it to be defined by one theme/issue. Above all, it’s a book about being a teenager and all the ups & downs this brings. 

While writing, what were the struggles you faced, as the theme is of one lead character wanting to be a girl and another hiding a secret?
I struggle with plotting. I don’t like to plot in advance because I feel it stifles me and often forces me down paths that don’t feel right. At the same time, it’s quite scary not knowing where your story is going! For ages, Leo and David lived in separate cities and I spend weeks and weeks trying to come up with realistic ways for them to meet. I then decided to have them attend the same school but again it took ages to work out how to make their lives collide without sacrificing the authenticity. On the other hand, I actually found keeping Leo’s secret very fun! I liked dropping in little clues along the way and building up to the reveal. 

I loved the fact that the topic dealt with issues like bullying, transgender people, school life, teenage issues and society in a sensitive yet light manner. How did the process go in your mind before writing?
I always wanted the book to be sensitive yet not weighed down by any one issue or theme. Life is full of light and shade so I wanted the book to reflect this. I also knew from the start that I wanted a happy, hopeful ending so even when I was writing a painful scene, at the back of my mind I knew things were ultimately going to be okay. 

How are the issues in your book seen in the west?
Things have changed a lot since I started writing the book (in 2012). There has been a huge increase in the coverage of trans issues in the arts and media and although prejudice remains, the response has been largely positive. By making trans people and issues relevant to them mainstream and visible, it’s helping to remove the sense of fear and the unknown that so many people base their prejudices on. I’ve had lots of lovely emails about the book. Equally, I’m aware I’m in a bit of a bubble. The majority of my friends are very open and liberal so it’s often shocking to me when I realise how prevalent trans phobia still is. Things are improving (slowly) but there is still a lot of prejudice and ignorance. We’ve come a long way in a short space of time but there’s still so much to do. 

How has the response been to the book? Any response which touched you or even made you think?
It's been really, really lovely! I’ve had lots of emails and tweets that have touched me deeply. I’ve had messages from young trans people saying it’s helped them come out to friends and family; others say it’s helped just knowing it exists and is sold in mainstream high street bookshops. I’ve also had messages from older trans people saying they wish they’d had a book like it when they were younger. 

What’s your next book going to be?  
My next book is called All About Mia and is out in February 2017. It’s about a girl called Mia who is a middle child, sandwiched between two very impressive sisters. 

BOOK: The Art of Being Normal
AUTHOR: Lisa Williamson
GENRE: Young Fiction
LANGUAGE: English
PUBLICATION: David Fickling Books
PAGES: 353 

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Pune Events Listings

Here are the latest events happening in Pune. Choose the favourite for a great time…


BLACK SENSATION @ONE LOUNGE FEAT.DJ JIGYESH WITH 6 OTHER DJS
Black Sensation the most talked about Black Party is happening this Friday at One Lounge where the dress code is anything Black. DJ Jigyesh will be playing the best of Commercial House along with six different DJs from Pune where all of them will go back to back! So mark your calendars.
WHERE: One Lounge, Koregaon Park
WHEN: December 16, 2016 
TIMING: 8 PM Onwards
FOR INFORMATION, CONTACT: 9665035671 

CYNTHIA FURTADO LIVE AT BETOS- BAR & KITCHEN
Cynthia Furtado is known as the most sensual singer making Pune proud. Her voice has mesmerized many who love beautiful English Songs. BETOS, a snazzy Restro-bar, is hosting Friday Live and giving this location something they all have been missing out on through artists like Cynthia Furtado and serving a wide spread of delicious food and cocktails alike. BETOS promises to attract everyone and bridge the gap between Cosmo eat out culture followed by Punekars of Koregaon Park and NIBM.
WHERE: BETOS, Runwal Diamond, Opp. Palace Orchid, Corinthians Road, Near Dorabjee's Mall, NIBM
WHEN: December 16, 2016 
TIMING: 8 PM Onwards 
FOR RESERVATIONS, CONTACT: 7219055586/98810 67072

DARK RUM FESTIVAL FEAT. DJ AKEY, CONEXXTION BROS AND AMOL SAWANT  @MIDTOWN
MIDTOWN is hosting a legendary Dark Rum Festival where one can get dark rum for just Rs.49 to getting unlimited dark rum for Rs.549, cocktails like Monk Elixir, Muddled Monk, Garden of Eden pitcher and many more. To add to the fun, this winter season DJ Akey, Conexxtion Bros and Amol Sawant will be going live Fri-Sat-Sun respectively. Midtown has been recently launched as per the New York – Times Square standards. It is elegant, classy and chic woven in colors of electric pink, gold and black.
WHERE: MIDTOWN, C-20, Ground Floor, Marvel Edge, Clover Park, Viman Nagar
WHEN: December 16-18, 2016
TIMING: 7 PM Onwards
FOR INFORMATION, CONTACT: +91 9665593753

CHRISTMAS JOY WITH MAD OVER DONUTS
In just a few weeks from now, streets will be glimmering in Christmas & holiday cheer. And India’s favourite donut brand, Mad Over Donuts, will be celebrating with its special range of Christmas donuts & coffees in the tempting flavours of Strawberry Santa, Ginger Buddy, Christmas Tree along with Hazelnut Lattes and Hazelnut Frappes  available at stores for a limited time only. The 100% vegetarian donuts are made from Mad Over Donuts’ famed handmade dough and freshly made in store.
WHERE: Select Mad Over Donuts’ outlets
WHEN: Till January 1, 2017
PRICING: Donuts start from Rs. 62*. Hazelnut Latte @ Rs. 115* & Hazelnut Frappe @ Rs. 135* (* Taxes Extra)
FOR INFORMATION, VISIT: www.madoverdonuts.com. Order online & get free delivery at: www.moddelivery.in

CONCERT CELEBRATING 175TH ANNIVERSARY OF ANTONÍN DVOŘÁK @ MAZDA HALL
Musica Varia Ensemble is a group of musicians from Germany of the highest order. The group consists of Hannah Sophie Wagner & Olga Becker on Violin, Constanze Marggraf on Viola, Martin Fuchs on Cello and Günter Fischer on Double Bass. They will be performing a very unique programme of Dvořák’s String Quintet Op. 18 and the String Quintet by Franz Lachner. These works will be performed for the first time in India. Please do not miss this concert. PHOTO CREDIT: www.poonamusic.com
WHERE: Mazda Hall, Dastur Primary School, Opp. Ladies Club, Camp
WHEN: December 16, 2016
TIMING: 7 PM
PRICING: Free Admittance

PUNE HERITAGE FESTIVAL 2017 – BLOCK YOUR CALENDARS!
At Pune Heritage Festival 2017, Punekars come together to know their shared past, trace our diverse roots, and explore the varied influences that continue to bring them closer. The Sixth Edition of Pune Heritage Festival is coming soon with activities include various heritage walks, nature trails, bus tours, lectures, workshops, exhibitions, cultural events, games & quizzes, campus tours, and much more.

ST MIRA’S COLLEGE PRESENTS SALIM GHOUSE’S SHAKESPEAREWALLAH
WHERE: Indulakshmi Auditorium, St. Mira’s College, Near Taj Vivant
WHEN: December 17, 2016
TIMING: Gates Open by 5.30 PM; Must be Seated by 5.45 PM
PRICING: Tickets @ Rs. 500 / Rs. 200

For listings, email all details to sapnasarfarejournalist@gmail.com

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Pune Events Listings

Here are the latest events happening in Pune. Choose the favourite for a great time…



‘FLAVOURS OF BENGAL’- MAACH, MISHTI & MORE @ BOTTLEDECK
BottleDeck is bringing to Pune their first food festival – ‘FLAVOURS OF BENGAL’. Bengali cuisine specializes in bringing together the perfect blend of sweet and spicy flavours. Part of this festival will be a 3 day exhibition showcasing some cultural artifacts, paintings, clothes etc and bringing a little bit of Bengal right at your doorstep.
WHERE: BottleDeck, Kshitij Heights, Sr. No. 35, Above Kshitij Apts, Mumbai-Bangalore Bypass Road, Baner
WHEN: December 9, 2016 
TIMING: 12 Noon Onwards​
FOR INFORMATION, CONTACT7745022200 | 7745022211

JIVE INTENSIVE WORKSHOP WITH ANJALI @ THE DANCE FLOOR PUNE
Prepare for this festive season by learning some fun dance moves at The Dance Floor Pune with jive lessons. No prior dance experience required and partner not compulsory.
PHOTO CREDIT: www.pinterest.com

WHERE: The Dance Floor Pune, Dastur Meher Road, Camp
WHEN: December 9-11, 2016
FOR INFORMATION, CONTACT: 9822536789, 8983508551



A SOULFUL EVENING WITH TABLATRONICS @ PHOENIX MARKETCITY PUNE
Enjoy pleasant Indian melodies and soulful rhythms fused with euphonic electronic music with live performance by “TABLATRONICS” at Phoenix Marketcity Pune. A fusion band with unusual but natural confluence of traditional Indian and modern world music, the band includes Heiko Dijker (Tabla), Igor Bezjet (Guitar), Mark Alban Lotz (Flute), Davide (Hang Drum) and Sharat Chandra Srivastava (Violin).
WHERE: Liberty Square at Phoenix Marketcity Pune, Nagar Road
WHEN:  December 10, 2016
TIMING: 6.30 PM Onwards
FOR INFORMATION, CONTACT: 020 33444444 or Log on to www.phoenixmarketcitypune.com or www.facebook.com/PhoenixMCtyPune

#SHAREJOY & SPREAD HOLIDAY CHEER THIS SEASON @ STARBUCKS
The holidays are the most magical time of the year. Inspired by this festive spirit, Starbucks invites customers to #ShareJoy with their loved ones through a special offer at all stores only in Pune. Get 2 Short Cappuccinos or 2 Short Lattes with a delicious Butter Croissant or Cookie at Rs 200 + Taxes – the perfect combination to celebrate the season’s spirit. 
Starbucks has also introduced another cup of indulgence in its exciting range of holiday offerings with its new beverage – the Red Hat Mocha, which is a decadent mix of cocoa and strawberry flavours. This beverage is a delightful treat to the eye. It is available in hot, iced and Frappuccino versions. Decadent Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese which have become the much-loved flavours of the season.
Extending the festivities, the My Starbucks Rewards members can check exclusive collectibles such as the Ornaments, Pouches, Starbucks Tumbler and limited edition Bearista Bear which are sure to bring a smile to their loved ones (limited until stocks last). 
So head over to your neighbourhood Starbucks store with your friends, colleagues and family to enjoy our #Sharejoy offer and exciting specials while they last!
WHERE: Nearest Starbucks Outlet
WHEN: Till January 4, 2017


MIX BAG OF CLUB MUSIC FEAT. DJ JIGYESH @LOLLAPALOOZA
This winter season DJ Jigyesh, winner of War of DJs by MTV, will make everyone bounce to his Mix Bag of Club Music- Hip-Hop, Commercial House, EDM and BDM Tunes as he brings heat on the dance floor on Saturday at Lollapalooza make everyone groove and jump.
WHERE: Lollapalooza, Near Kunal Icon, Pimple Saudagar
WHEN: December 10, 2016 
TIMING: 8 PM Onwards
FOR INFORMATION, CONTACT: 9665035671



SATURDAY LIVE WITH AMOL SAWANT FROM RAS THE BAND @ MIDTOWN
MIDTOWN is the recently launched restaurant as per the New York-Times Square standards. The chef has come from Paris where he was the head of an authentic French Restaurant to craft the F&B Menu. Amol Sawant from Ras Band to perform live on Saturday and make people groove to his acoustic songs.
WHERE: MIDTOWN, C-20, Ground Floor, Marvel Edge, Clover Park, Viman Nagar
WHEN: December 10, 2016
TIMING: 7 PM Onwards
FOR INFORMATION, CONTACT+91 9665593753

YAWAR ABDAL, PRIYA SAXENA & AMOL SAWANT PERFORM 
@ BLUE WATER RESTAURANT
Blue Water is hosting a fun filled weekender for all. Amol Sawant from Ras Band to perform on Friday and make them groove to his acoustic songs. Sufi Nights on Saturdays is where Priya Saxena will make you immerse yourself in some melodic music. Yawar Abdal will make everyone sway to beautiful acoustic songs on Sunday which is the Acoustic Day. 
WHERE: Blue Water Restaurant, Survey No.4 Punawale, Off Aundh Ravet BRT
WHEN: December 9-11, 2016
TIMING:  7 PM Onwards

FOR INFORMATION, CONTACT: +91 7276 676644

RECITAL OF MARCELLO NARDIS & ROBERTO PROSSEDA @MAZDA HALL
Two extraordinary musicians Marcello Nardis, tenor and Roberto Prosseda, pianist will feature a programme of lieder at Mazda Hall with a complete half dedicated to Francesco Paolo Tosti, the great Italian song composer whose death centenary we celebrate this year.
 WHEN:  December 9, 2016
WHERE: Mazda Hall, Dastur Primary School, Opp. Ladies Club, Camp
TIMING: 7 PM
PRICING: Free Admittance

For listings, email all details to sapnasarfarejournalist@gmail.com



Saturday, December 3, 2016

BOOK REVIEW: Amazing Secrets of the Bhagavad Gita

Best-selling author Ed Viswanathan Amazing Secrets of the Bhagavad Gita is a good opportunity to understand the popular scripture. Just do not think beyond that. Sapna Sarfare reviews the book.



The Bhagavad Gita was always an attraction. There have been many a translation and unique takes on this Hindu scripture. So when best-selling author Ed Viswanathan had come up with Amazing Secrets of the Bhagavad Gita, I was intrigued enough to pick it up.

Amazing Secrets of the Bhagavad Gita is, in a way, kind of a follow on. It also has a dialogue form narrative but this time, between a grandfather and his grandson. Of course, the tone of the conversation is more of an indulgent grandpa who answers every question with patience and at times, appreciates the kind of questions his grandson poses.

The book basically introduces you to certain aspects of the sacred scripture and in turn, about Hinduism. What is the Bhagavad Gita? What are sin and salvation according to Lord Krishna? What does Lord Krishna say about birth, death, and reincarnation in the Bhagavad Gita? Does Lord Krishna mention heaven and hell in the Bhagavad Gita? A range of topics are covered, right from sati to stress control, avatar, and yoga to even homosexuality. The Q-As are aimed at the layman who might have some questions. If looking for answers for transcendental questions, this might not be the book for you.

It is easy to go to a particular topic without having to go through pages like mad. The language is simple too.

What really works is its narrative style. The conversation between the grandfather and grandson is simple yet meaningful and is understood by the layman. The topics are put in chapter format with a brief at the beginning, then the Q-As and then a small summary at the end of what the chapter spoke about. It is easy to go to a particular topic without having to go through pages like mad. The language is simple too. One feels it is kept considering the vast readership that might be picking up the book.

The simplicity might a factor for those who probably want more & deeper questions to be replied to. The book could have taken more questions related to things spoken in the Gita. Few complex questions could have been put in. Also, the overall feel one gets in the book is that of a superiority complex of Hindu religion. The talk always slides down to how the religion is more accepting of things or better than other religions. If the writer would have stuck to explaining Hinduism’s position on certain things or just what the book explains on diverse topics, the book would have hit the bull’s eye.

Overall, Amazing Secrets of the Bhagavad Gita does strike a chord with those looking for a visitors' guide to understanding the Bhagavad Gita.  Pick it if you are not looking for deeper meaning.

BOOK TITLE: Amazing Secrets of the Bhagavad Gita
AUTHOR: Ed Viswanathan
PUBLISHER: Rupa Publications India
PAGES: 312
PRICE: Rs. 266 

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Pune Events Listings

Here are the latest events happening in Pune. Choose the favourite for a great time…


FILTER KAAPI AT JUST RE 1 @ UPSOUTH EXPRESS
Grab an authentic South Indian Filter Kaapi at just Rs. 1, if you buy a plate of idli or dosa or medu wada or any favourite South Indian dish of yours, at UpSouth Express. Or buy your cup of filter Kaapi at Rs. 15 and get your second cup of filter coffee at just Re.1. Truly great value for money combined with supreme quality! 
WHERE: UpSouth Express, at Camp & Kondhwa 
WHEN: Till December 31, 2016
TIMING: 7 AM – 10 PM


FLAVOURS OF BENGAL @ BOTTLEDECK
BottleDeck is bringing to Pune their first food festival ‘FLAVOURS OF BENGAL’. Part of this
festival will also be a 3-day exhibition showcasing cultural artifacts, paintings, clothes etc and bringing a little bit of Bengal. Chef Hanumant is proficient in the cuisine and wants the patrons to savor authentic Bengali flavours. Popular dishes like Mishti Doi, Rosgulla, and Macher Jhol will be part of the menu.
PHOTO CREDIT: www.youtube.com  
WHERE: BottleDeck, Baner
WHEN: From December 9, 2016 Onwards
FOR RESERVATIONS, CONTACT: +91 7745022200, 7745022211

DJ ‘EDWARD MAYA’ TO SET THE STAGE AT PHOENIX MARKETCITY PUNE 
Europe’s leading EDM artiste Edward Maya is ready to set the stage on fire with live performance at Phoenix Marketcity Pune on Saturday. Together with him, Queen of Electronica Ma Faiza and India’s no.1 trance DJ Get Massive will enthrall Punekars with six hours of pure EDM a.k.a electronic dance music. So roll up your sleeves and tie your laces tight to dance on the pumping beats!
WHERE: Liberty Square at Phoenix Marketcity Pune, Nagar Road
WHEN:  December 3, 2016
TIMING: 4 PM Onwards

GERMAN JAZZ GROUP MELT TRIO @ MAZDA HALL
The Melt Trio is a guitar trio that does without any comparison. After two highly praised recordings - ‘Melt’ in 2011 and ‘Hymnolia’ in 2013, they presented their third album ‘Stroy' in August 2016. Hear them perform at Mazda Hall. The brothers Peter & Bernhard Meyer are on guitars and bass, while Moritz Baumgärtner is on drums. They have invented a sound that boldly yet humbly overrode all established concepts of jazz improvisation.  
PHOTO CREDIT: www.thehindu.com
WHERE: Mazda Hall, Dastur Primary School, Opp. Ladies Club, Camp
WHEN: December 2, 2016
TIMING: 7 PM
PRICING: Free Entry

CINEMA & STAND UP TO CELEBRATE WORLD DISABILITY DAY @ LOST THE PLOT PUNE
This World Disability Day, LTP wants to create a space, one big ballroom, where the abled and the differently abled can come together on a common floor, share like experiences and focus on what can bring us close, using the two means everybody loves – laughter & cinema. Joining them is comedian Kapil Patwardhan and making her debut in the comedy circuit,  independent writer and journalist Sweta Mantrii! The films shown are Disability: A State of Mind – a film by Sweta Mantrii and Dance for Parkinson’s disease – a film by Tapan Pandit.  
WHERE: Lost the Plot Pune, Seasons Hotel, Aundh
WHEN: December 2, 2016
TIMING: From 7.15 PM Onwards,
PRICING: Entry Free and Happy Hours are on until 8 PM

For listings, email all details to sapnasarfarejournalist@gmail.com

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Pune Events Listings

Here are the latest events happening in Pune. Choose the favourite for a great time…


INDULGE IN A TRADITIONAL THANKSGIVING FARE @ CONRAD PUNE
Celebrate this Thanksgiving at Coriander Kitchen at Conrad Pune with the lavish buffet with traditional turkey recipe & desserts. The meal also includes delicacies like sweet potato hash, roasted butternut squash with hash, braised chicken drumstick with apple and more. There will be a soup station with hand pulled noodles and a turkey craving station with varied gravies & stuffing. Also relish the desserts like pecan nut tart, pumpkin cheesecake, sweet potato & nutmeg pie and cranberry cobbler.
WHERE: Coriander Kitchen, Conrad Pune, Mangaldas Road
WHEN: November 24, 2016
TIMING: 7.30 PM Onwards
FOR RESERVATIONS, CONTACT: 020 67456745

TEDX COMES TO PUNE WITH SOME ECCENTRIC INSPIRATIONAL SPEAKERS
TEDx Pune has organized a gathering with speakers and entertaining activities that will provide intellectual food for thought with a theme, #WhyNot.  8 speakers from all walks of life have a story to share. A Virtual Reality Zone and an Electric Car will also be showcased for a mesmerizing experience.
WHERE: Hyatt Regency, Nagar Road
WHEN: November 26, 2016
TIMING: 12.30 – 6 PM
TO REGISTER, VISITwww.tedxpune.com/register/


LEGO TOWER BUILDING CHALLENGE BY FUNSKOOL FOR KIDS 
@ LANDMARK, SEASONS MALL

Funskool India alongside Landmark is organizing a unique LEGO Tower Building challenge for children between 5 and 10 years of age. Try & build the tallest LEGO Tower using individual LEGO bricks within 120 seconds! The ‘builders’ with the tallest Lego tower from the preliminary  rounds will then go to the final round and the winner will win a round trip to LEGO LAND in Malaysia!!
Photo Credit: www.onthewight.com 
WHERE: Landmark, Seasons Mall, Magarpatta Police Station Road, Magarpatta City, Hadapsar
WHEN: November 25-27, December 2-4 & December 9-11, 2016; FINALS: December 18, 2016
TIMING: 4 – 7 PM
FOR DETAILS, CONTACT: Shilpa – 8087000169 / 020 67070100

FRIDAY NIGHT LIVE FEATURING JAMEER & SAVIO AT BOTTLEROCK PASHAN
Be there to listen to such talent at Bottlerock Pashan on Friday Night Live. Jameer Kharkongor, a soloist, song writer, composer & a cover artist, has collaborated with guitarist Savio Pasannah. They will perform collective fusion of almost all form of genres. Enjoy the night with your food and drinks.
WHERE: Bottlerock- Restaurant and bar, Plot No 106, Vardayani Society, Sus Road, Pashan 
WHEN: November 25, 2016 
TIME: 7 PM Onwards 
FOR INFORMATION, CONTACT: 020 69701177/ +91 9168413139

COEXIST LINEATION – A PAINTING EXHIBITION BY VARSHA & RAMCHANDRA @ ART2DAY
Art2Day presents ‘Coexist Lineation’ – an exhibition of recent artworks by young talented couple Varsha & Ramchandra Kharatmal. Ram & Varsha have developed their own distinct styles and yet you can observe the ‘different similarities’ or the ‘similar differences’ that make both their art so captivating!
WHERE: Art2Day Gallery, 805, The Reverie, Above Skoda Showroom, Bhandarkar Road
WHEN: Till November 30, 2016
TIMING: 11 AM – 7 PM (Gallery Closed on Monday)
FOR INFORMATION, CONTACT: 7276000027 or Visit www.facebook.com/art2day

FUN WITH CALLIGRAPHY – A UNIQUE WORKSHOP @ ART2DAY
Art2Day is conducting unique one day workshop ‘FUN WITH CALLIGRAPHY’ with Architect Sanjeev Joshi, who is been practising calligraphy for last 10 years. Joshi will guide how one can make simple writing interesting with easily available tools. This workshop is for anyone interested in learning art of writing.
WHERE: Art2Day Gallery, 805, The Reverie, Above Skoda Showroom, Bhandarkar Road
WHEN: November 26, 2016
TIMING: 4.30 – 8.30 PM
FOR INFORMATION, CONTACT: 7276000027 or art2daypune@gmail.com


INTERACTIVE SESSION ON ‘THE ART OF LOOKING AT ART’ BY ABHAY SARDESAI
As a part of the upcoming Pune Biennale, Pune Biennale Foundation brings an interactive session on ‘The Art of Looking at Art’ by art critic & journalist Abhay Sardesai to touch upon aspects of art and its dynamic interpretations.
WHERE: Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru Cultural Center, Ghole Road
WHEN: November 26, 2016
TIMING: 6 - 8 PM
PRICING: Open for All

For listings, email all details to sapnasarfarejournalist@gmail.com

Friday, November 18, 2016

Deciphering Pakistan’s ISI

Political scientist & historian Dr. Hein G. Kiessling speaks to Sapna Sarfare in an interview about his book Faith, Unity, Discipline: The ISI of Pakistan on the world’s most unknown yet heard secret service



Some books just catch your fancy. One recently did that for me. It was a book called Faith, Unity, Discipline: The ISI of Pakistan by Dr. Hein G. Kiessling and published by HarperCollins Publishers India. It happens to be the first comprehensive account of the ISI, Pakistan’s secret service organisation. The book delves into an organisation established during Indo-Pak independence and came into flowering with its involvement with the CIA during & after 1979. Political scientist & historian Dr. Kiessling has made an attempt to reveal things about Pakistan’s secret service. The book is a vital one to understand intelligence agencies especially the one which has kept India, South Asia and the world thinking. Dr. Kiessling gives us an insight into the book, ISI and more.

What aspects of ISI made it a worthy subject of your book?
Over the last 40 years in reports about developments in Afghanistan, Pakistan & India, ISI was mentioned often as one of the main players. From these reports, it became clear to me that deeper knowledge & information about the agency were, most of the time, not available. Until recently, there was also no English book on it existing. These were the motives for me to write my book.

It may not have been an easy subject to research, considering the nature of the organisation and that it is quite unlike other such agency. What were the highs & lows and frustrations?
Access to intelligence agencies to insiders, informed people & valuable information is naturally not easy. I worked hard on it and think I was successful to some extent. I got what I expected to get! For me, there were no real disappointments (lows) over the years in doing research. In contrast, I felt sometimes ‘high’ after successful meetings with big shots, both in Pakistan and India.
Looking back, frustration came up end of 2015 & spring 2016. It would have been a perfect publishing time. The book should have been at the same time in the markets in GB, USA and India. For some reasons, this did not happen - water under the bridge now.

The name intrigues me: Faith, Unity, Discipline: The ISI of Pakistan. How did that come about?
On airport road from Islamabad to Pindi, you find “Faith-Unity-Discipline” in big letters on a hill. You can see or read it even at night time. As the motto for Pakistan, it was created by Mohammed Ali Jinnah and later on, changed in sequence by Zia-Ul-Haq. Pakistan’s Military & Intelligence people feel strongly committed to this motto. My publisher in London, Michael Dwyer at Hurst, discussed the title question with me and we agreed it would be a good title for the book.

Reading the kind of news we do about Pakistan, it must have been interesting staying there for around 13 years.
I lived 4 years in Balochistan (Quetta/Loralai) and 9 years in Islamabad. Having a permit for the tribal areas, I traveled a lot. It was fascinating to meet people with different ethnic, religious & cultural background. By the way, over the years I was also at least 20 times in India. All together, the years in South Asia were a highlight in my working life.
"The man (Pakistani) on the street does not feel a direct ISI hold, but is often confused by reports & statements about the agency."
How much hold does ISI have over Pakistani politics & life?
There is no doubt that ISI has a strong hold on Pakistan’s, Afghanistan & India/Kashmir politics and also in the country’s security and fight against terrorism. Politicians, academics, journalists, columnists & mullahs knew this and must keep it in mind. The man on the street does not feel a direct ISI hold, but is often confused by reports & statements about the agency.

On a global level, how would you rate & place ISI as an agency?
The ISI is strongly organized, works effective and is probably the best intelligence agency in Asia.

Politics is ever changing. What keeps the political scientist & historian in you still excited about?
Seeing China working on a “New Silk Road”, on China-Pakistan-Economic Corridor (CPEC) and on getting control over the Indian Ocean. Seeing India’s efforts to counter it. Seeing the developments in Afghanistan and Iran. A fascinating region for a political observer. Though being already in retirement, in 2015, I was still once in India and three times in Pakistan.

What is the one factor about the book to describe the book and make a reader pick it up?
The book is based on open sources, many talks/meetings with real key players & my personal observations over the years. Special on the book are the fully included answers the ISI has given to me in writing in August 2015 on special questions like ‘First Nuke Use’, ‘Situation in Balochistan’, ‘R&AW in Afghanistan’, ‘Missing Persons’, ‘Memogate’, etc. In my mind, this makes the book interesting.

TITLE: Faith, Unity, Discipline: The ISI of Pakistan
AUTHOR: Dr. Hein G. Kiessling
PUBLISHER: HarperCollins Publishers India
PAGES: 320
PRICE: Rs. 599

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Pune Events Listings

Here are the latest events happening in Pune. Choose the favourite for a great time…


BEAT THE WEEKDAY BLUES @ INCOSIA’S EXPRESS LUNCH MENU
Weekdays got you down? Lift your spirits with INCOSIA’s delicious & elaborate Four Course Express Lunch Menu. Enjoy a wide array of choices that is guaranteed to put a smile on your face at just Rs.299! If all this is not enough, you can always add a pint of domestic beer to that meal for just Rs.99. 
WHAT: INCOSIA Express Lunch Menu
WHERE: INCOSIA, Bavdhan
WHEN: Monday-Friday 
TIMING: 12 NOON – 3 PM
FOR INFORMATION, CONTACT: +91 8806916619

ENJOY NEW MENU @ LEVEL 12 DOUBLETREE BY HILTON PUNE-CHINCHWAD 
The Roof- top Resto Lounge Level 12 is now open for all the food lovers in the city. The stunning panoramic view is a favorite among those who also enjoy scrumptious North Indian & Frontier cuisine. The new menu promises to rustle up delicious food that is different from the earlier menu. The restaurant also conducts theme nights every second & fourth Friday of the month.
WHERE: Level 12, DoubleTree By Hilton Pune - Chinchwad
WHEN: Daily
TIMING: 7 PM Onward
FOR INFORMATION, CONTACT: 020 67313333

BIRTHDAY CELEBRATIONS @ LITTLE NEXT DOOR KALYANI NAGAR
The Little Next Door Kalyani Nagar is celebrating their 2nd birthday in Pune and are all geared up for celebration. Join them for their party as they roll free shots every hour. Get bar menu with store prices and enjoy some delicious Mediterranean fare with Indian twist.
WHERE: The Little Next Door, Kalyani Nagar
WHEN: November 18, 2016
TIMING: 5pm Onward


FRIDAY NIGHT LIVE WITH JOINT VENTURE @ BOTTLEROCK PASHAN
Joint Venture, formed by Keith Castelino in 2013, is a grunge rock band, based in Pune, India. His music is an expression of his life, the stories he has lived and the memories he created. Staying true to the meaning of his songs, his purpose, his dreams and what drives him, is what Joint Venture is.
WHERE: Bottlerock – Restaurant and Bar, Plot No 106, Vardayani Society, Sus Road, Pashan
WHEN: November 18, 2016
TIMING: 7 PM Onwards
FOR INFORMATION, CONTACT: 020 69701177 / +91 9168413139


MUSIC SESSIONS WITH DJ YUNG MADDY & VDJ CAS @ SIN ENVY PRIDE
Music Sessions is a concept synonymous for club nights, curating the best music from around the world lasting an entire season. Its major focus is to promote various genres of music ranging from House, Techno, Electro, Electronica and Pop-Rock to Classic Fusion. In the first session, the music being curated is HIP-HOP featuring DJ Yung Maddy & VDJ Cas at Sin Envy Pride. 
WHERE: Sin Envy Pride, Kapila Matrix, Koregaon Park Annex, Mundhwa
WHEN: Friday, 18th November 2016
TIMING:  9 pm onwards
FOR INFORMATION, CONTACT:  +91 7350502727 / 7588255098 

JAZZ WORKSHOP BY KAMAKSHI SAXENA @ THE DANCE FLOOR PUNE
Jazz, a popular & well-known form of dance includes strength, flexibility and conditioning and progressions including turns, kicks and leaps. The jazz workshop will conclude with a fun & energetic choreography. Dance artist Kamakshi Saxena has trained at the Alvin Ailey School, New York and The DanceWorx, New Delhi and has performed extensively in India and abroad. PHOTO CREDIT: www.vimbly.com 
technique
WHERE: The Dance Floor Pune Camp
WHEN: For Adults – November 18, 2016; For Kids – November 20, 2016
TIMING: Adults – 8.30 – 10.30 PM; Kids – 5 – 7 PM
FOR INFORMATION, CONTACT: 9822536789, 8983508551



AZU – THE NEWEST ROOFTOP AL FRESCO RESTAURANT 
@ THE FERN RESIDENCY MIDC
The Fern Residency MIDC Pune at Bhosari recently opened their rooftop al fresco dining restaurant, AZU – Food Drink Music which has an amazing panoramic skyline of the city. Equipped with a well-stocked bar, live music & casual dining, the 100 seater contemporary open air global cuisine restaurant has food & drinks carefully handpicked for young clientele. Largely a la carte menu, you get subtle morsels of tasty appetizers neatly portioned, apart from dishes compiled after careful research. The small plates’ concept for each course will let you experience a number of dishes. The Entrees will be pre-plated or one-pot meals. Purdah Biryani will be a prominent addition here.  
WHERE: The Fern Residency MIDC Pune, BGP 10/14 & 10/15, BG BLOCK MIDC, Bhosari
TIMING: 7 – 11 PM
FOR INFORMATION, CONTACT: Rajib Das – +91 20 30793079

CONCERT OF SITARIST SAMEEP KULKARNI & VOCALIST SANIYA PATANKAR
Head for the 758th solo & Jugalbandi concert of real brother & sister duo Sameep Kulkarni & Saniya Patankar. Sameep is a renowned Sitar player whilst Saniya is also a known vocalist. 
WHERE: Shri Krishna Dhyan Mandir, Bhakti Marg, Off Law College Road
WHEN: 26 November, 2016
TIMING: 6 – 8 PM
PRICING: Entry Free for All

For listings, email all details to sapnasarfarejournalist@gmail.com

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Pune Events Listings

Here are the latest events happening in Pune. Choose the favourite for a great time…

‘ENJOY THE CHILD IN YOU’ BRUNCH @ COURTYARD BY MARRIOTT
 PUNE CHAKAN
Courtyard by Marriott Pune Chakan brings back the nostalgia of childhood with a special brunch to celebrate Children’s Day. A special fun filled circus ambiance will be created along with dessert specially prepared. Join for “The Child in you Brunch” and enjoy a variety of delicious food which will certainly bring an unforgettable smile on your face.
WHERE: Courtyard by Marriott Pune Chakan, Plot P-7, MIDC, Talegaon Chakan Road, Khalumbre
 WHEN: November 11, 2016
TIMING: 12.30 PM – 4 PM
CONTACT: 02135666666 or  Glance at https://www.facebook.com/events/186181595173035/

FUN WITH CALLIGRAPHY WORKSHOP @ ART2DAY GALLERY
Art2Day is conducting unique one day workshop ‘FUN WITH CALLIGRAPHY’ by Architect
Sanjeev Joshi. It is designed for amateurs & young or old. Those interested in the art of writing are welcomed. Joshi will guide everyone on how one can make simple writing interesting with easily available tools around.
WHERE: Art2Day - Deccan, 805, The Reverie, Bhandarkar Road, Above Skoda Car Showroom
WHEN: November 1​2,​ 2016
TIMING: 4.30 PM – 8.30 PM
CONTACT: +91 72700 0027, 9822041899 or Email art2day@gmail.com or Visit www.art2day.co.in

INTRODUCING FARM TO TABLE BRUNCH @ THE CAFÉ, HYATT REGENCY PUNE
This November, Hyatt Regency Pune brings you a healthy dining option with the all new Farm to Table Brunch at The Cafe! Bring the freshness of fields, farms and artisanal foods directly to your plate. Enjoy a freshly prepared spread of delectable winter specialties as our chefs harvest organic ingredients on property. Savor a delicious spread of fresh fruits, vegetables, cage-free eggs, herbs, cheese, grass-fed lamb, pasture-raised chicken and pork for a hearty Sunday Brunch.
WHERE: The Café, Hyatt Regency Pune
WHEN: Every Sunday 
TIMING: 12 Noon – 3 PM
CONTACT:  020 66451619, 9158893844

SUNDAY BRUNCH AT THE BURROW @ PLAYBOY BEER GARDEN
Representational Photo; Credit: thelilacpress.com
Playboy Beer Garden brings to you Sunday Brunch at the Burrow where you get live grills, egg
station, live Asian counter, mimosa bar, sundae dessert counter, illusionist and foot spa. It will be kid-friendly event along with live music by Jameer Kharkongor.
WHERE: Playboy Beer Garden, Balewadi High Street
WHEN: November 13, 2016
TIMING: Noon – 4 PM
PRICING: Limited Packages Starting at Rs. 849*
CONTACT: 020 65335757/5858


JOIN NIKITA LALWANI TO UNVEILS HER BOOK 2 PEG KE BAAD 
Get all your questions on writing a fiction book answered as Nikita Lalwani will talk about the idea behind writing a fiction book & her journey of her transformation from a dentist to a writer. Her book 2 Peg Ke Baad is an take on people & funny incidents that take place after drinking 2 pegs. So come & enjoy some amazing stories this talented writer this Sunday! 
WHERE: SWAY Bar and Kitchen, Mundhwa
WHEN:  November 13, 2016 
TIMING: 1 PM

‘MOTOGP DATE NIGHT WITH YOUR SUPERBIKE’ @DECCAN HARVEST
Anchor Nitish Kamdar once again comes up with a concept to watch out for! For the first time ever
Powered by B.U.Bhandari Triumph to encourage super bike riders community presents ‘Bring Your Superbikes to the Table’ while you watch MOTOGP- Valencia Grande Prix on HD LED Wall over delicious food and cocktails. It is open invitation to all superbike owners irrespective of the brand with friends & people who love MOTOGP and superbikes.
WHERE: Deccan Harvest Restaurant, Opp. Tower 1 Magarpatta, Hadapsar
WHEN: November 13, 2016 
TIMING: 5.30 PM Onwards

CONTACT: 8888833934

For listings, email all details to sapnasarfarejournalist@gmail.com