Things to do

Culture calling

Posted on 1 Aug 2020 02:36:23 GMT - things-to-do

Attend

The history of the Bene Israelis dates back to over 2,000 years, making the community the oldest Jewish group in India.

At a two-hour session, heritage professional Leora Pezarkar, who’s also part of the Bene Israeli community will speak about how it has still maintained its cultural heritage, traditions, customs and Jewish faith in the traditional form. The session will be conducted on Google Meet.

On August 3, 5.30 pm
Log on to insider.in
Cost Rs 400

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Compete for a cause

Posted on 1 Aug 2020 02:25:45 GMT - things-to-do

This pandemic has brought out different shades of our personalities despite being locked up at home. While some of us have used this time to discover our inner master chefs, others have resolved to pen odes in the form of poetry, and many are seeking refuge in art.

If the lockdown has allowed you to rekindle your old hobby, be it art, poetry or story writing, non-profit trust Secure Giving offers a platform called Lockdown Diaries to share your best works and compete for a cause.

Artwork submitted by Astha Shah
Artwork submitted by Astha Shah

Interested folk can submit their best short stories, art and poetry, and stand a chance to win prizes, including a stunning monograph by Atul Dodiya, stationery, limited edition posters, signed artworks and books, quirky sunglasses and vouchers. The winners will be selected after the submitted works are assessed by a panel of eminent personalities. Winning in a particular category will offer them the opportunity to participate in a virtual workshop with some of the judges.

The jury includes gallerists, curators and artists such as Urmila Kanoria, Roshni Vadehra, Rukshaan Krishna, and Michelle Poonawala, author Ardashir Vakil and poet Arundhati Subramaniam, among others.Artwork submitted by Pooja Aggarwal

Artwork submitted by Pooja Aggarwal 

The proceeds from the registration fees (R250) will go towards supporting non-profit Concern India Foundation. "With the onset of this pandemic, we realised the urgent need to raise funds to continue our work in key sectors like education, health and community development. And one of the answers to this was Lockdown Diaries," shares Kavita Shah, CEO, Concern India Foundation.

Kavita Shah
Kavita Shah

Shah adds that the response from judges and participants was phenomenal. "Nearly 100 entries have come in so far, and there are numerous requests to launch competitions in other segments like photography. We have plenty of ideas up our sleeve that we are looking forward to launching," she shares.

Log on to securegiving.net/lockdowndiaries

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Finger on the pulse

Posted on 1 Aug 2020 02:00:00 GMT - things-to-do

It doesn't get more Indian than this. There's a new video-sharing app called DalKhichdi that's been launched after the ban on TikTok, which makes us think that had the developers been of Chinese origin, would they have named it Prawn Dumplings? Either way, we give it a try to see whether it has the potential to fill the gaping void that the TikTok ban has left for regional influencers, after the government pulled the rug from beneath their feet.

The first thing we notice is that the user interface is clean. You are asked a few basic questions on signing up, such as what your interests and preferred video languages are. We choose Hollywood and English, but the very first video that the algorithm leads us to on the scrolling list reflects neither choice, since it's of a middle-aged desi woman with a heart-shaped balloon stuck to her behind, and another aunty trying to burst it with a gyrating movement even as their friends double up in laughter. That sets the tone for the content on the app. Don't expect high-brow entertainment, and in that sense, it is a worthy replacement for TikTok, which democratised content creation, allowing people from outside elite metropolitan circles to express what their idea of fun is.

The sound library section
The sound library section 

The sound library for the music that can accompany user videos is thus on expected lines, with mainly Punjabi tunes and a few devotional tracks thrown in. We go through the process of uploading content ourselves (don't ask what it was), and find that it's ridiculously simple. But each video can only be 18 or 32 seconds long. That keeps the viewer's consumption pattern short and snappy.

And our overall assessment of this app is that while it has miles to go before it can attain the sort of global outreach that TikTok has, when it comes to the Indian market, the developers of DalKhichdi have their finger on the pulse, pun intended.

Log on to Google Play Store

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An eye for detail

Posted on 31 Jul 2020 03:47:58 GMT - things-to-do

Workshop

Designed by Scottish architect George Wittet, the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya (CSMVS) building is a fine example of the Indo-Saracenic style that marries elements of Hindu and Islamic architecture. And a free session today will draw from the museum building and the collection it houses to highlight geometry in Islamic art. The session will be conducted by Meagan Vaz, education associate at CSMVS, and is open to kids aged between eight and 16.

On Today, 4 pm (ages eight to 12); 6 pm (ages 12 to 16)
Log on to Enguru app or play.enguruapp.com

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It's time for Pottermania

Posted on 31 Jul 2020 03:39:44 GMT - things-to-do

A magical workout

If you thought that Harry Potter and yoga don’t go together, think again. A virtual session will combine the two, with people practising asanas set to musical themes derived from Hogwarts, Privet Drive, the Burrow, Forbidden Forest and more. The event is suited even for beginners, so sign up whether you’re a book nerd or yoga enthusiast, or both.

On Today, 4 pm Log on to livewithawaken.com
Cost Pay as you wish

Spell-binding objects

It’s easier to call yourself a true fan if you possess merchandise to back up your claim. But move beyond usual objects like posters and notebooks, and add unusual ones to your collection, including a table lamp designed like a golden snitch, a deck of UNO cards themed on the series and a LEGO kit based on the night bus in the Harry Potter and Prisoner of Azkaban book.

Log on to amazon.com

Take the Potter tour

JK Rowling didn’t conjure the locations in the books out of thin air. She often took inspiration from places around her, such as the flat in London’s Clapham Junction where she used to live, and a road sign in the area that inspired the name for Severus Snape. Join a virtual tour of some of these locations, including cafés where Rowling wrote parts of the series.

On August 1, 4.30 pm
Log on to odysseytravels.net
Cost `599

A quiz for wizzes

So, you know the names of the four houses in Hogwarts. But do you know what map that a scar that Albus Dumbledore has on his knee represents? If you do, join a Harry Potter quiz being organised by Chai and Games. The answer to the question, by the way, is The London Underground.

On Tonight, 10 pm
Log on to insider.in
Cost `99

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Saaz for hope

Posted on 31 Jul 2020 03:14:11 GMT - things-to-do

Sign up

Contribute to tabla maestro Anuradha Pal's Kala Ke Sangh. Produced by Sur aaur Saaz (SAS), it's a two-day music festival that will feature 21 Indian classical stalwarts and aims to raise Rs 37 lakh for 700 members of the industry.

On August 1 and 2
Log on to Facebook/SASevents for the concert; anuradhapal.com/kala-ke-sangh to donate

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Reel meets real

Posted on 31 Jul 2020 03:04:40 GMT - things-to-do

You don't need to step out to make a film anymore because filmmaking assumed a whole new meaning amid the pandemic. Ask the 10 young filmmakers from across India who conceptualised, directed and shot 10 short films virtually in the depth of the lockdown, while conforming to social-distancing rules.

From setting frames over Zoom, guiding actors to shoot from varied angles, to waiting for hours for the right light and transferring heavy files over lagging Internet connections over days, The Lockdown Shorts is an anthology of 10 heartwarming short films — spanning under five minutes — shot remotely. These include Sounds of Silence (directed by Himanshi Handa), Coma (Yash Bandi), Firaaq (Amberee Pitamber), Greeny-Tales (Aakar Kaushik), See You On The Other Side (Roy Dipankar), and Bichaari Chidiyaan (Ida Ali), among others.

Satish Raj Kasireddi
Satish Raj Kasireddi

The anthology documents different stories and emotions of the lockdown — from fighting patriarchy at home to embarking on a quest to find a lost pet. The duo behind it, Satish Raj Kasireddi from HOGA films and Ahab Jafri from Make it Happen Films, was keen to document this historic time through fictional films. "It began with the experiment of shooting one film, where the director, cinematographer, sound designer, editor and actor were all in their respective homes, yet functioning like an on-ground film crew. That success ignited the fire in us to get 10 talented filmmakers on board," says Jafri.

Ahab Jafri
Ahab Jafri

Emphasising how the project helped break preconceived notions about filmmaking, Kasireddi says, "You don't need expensive gadgets, lighting or a 100-person crew to make a film. We made cinema sitting at home, using natural light and shooting on smartphones. The post-production was a challenge but our sound designers, graphic artists and editors worked in tandem with the filmmakers." The team is now working on churning out the second and third volumes, with 20 short films of different lengths, two web series and a feature film.

Log on to @lockdownshorts on Instagram

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Dishing out hope

Posted on 31 Jul 2020 02:29:59 GMT - things-to-do

During the lockdown, almost every third picture on our social media feeds has been that of a plate — packed with all kinds of fare, from a lavish English brekkie to a quick midnight Maggi snack. While a lot of people have sought comfort in food, so many more continue to find it difficult to manage a plateful as the invisible virus has also dealt a blow to our economy. "Hunger kills more people than AIDS, malaria and terrorism combined every year, but in India, we have become immune to it. And as the country shuttered, over 140 million people lost jobs, worsening the situation," says Chitresh Sinha, CEO, Chlorophyll Innovation Lab, and the founder of The Plated Project, a social impact initiative aimed at eliminating hunger through art.

They have been tying up with artists and NGOs every month since the launch of the project in 2019 to create one-of-a-kind decor plates that are sold online and through pop-ups to feed the needy. And in June, the project launched a new collection, A Plate Full Of Hope, for those "who keep our lives running daily". The team roped in 20 artists from across the world who designed limited-edition art plates pro bono. "Each plate now sponsors 60 meals for a person's family. Initially, with the help of some sponsors, we were donating 100 per cent of the proceeds to Goonj's Rahat initiative. We ended up sponsoring 1,50,000 meals in a little over a month," shares Sinha, adding that now, they are directing all the profits towards the charity, after deducting production costs.

Chitresh Sinha
Chitresh Sinha

The idea behind the artwork for this series was to seek a little bit of hope amid the gloom. "We wanted the artists to pick something that they found hopeful amid all the negativity, and illustrate that," shares the founder. He points to one of the plates, titled A Vivid Dream, by Hana Augustine from Indonesia that shows a Koli girl and a boy in a fish pond. "It's about them sharing stories through the thin walls of their houses and letting their imagination fly. Then, there is another piece titled Where The Streets Have No Name, by artist Reshidev RK, who has happy memories of the hustle-bustle of everyday life in Mumbai. So, he recreated that on the plate," Sinha explains. The series also features other leading artists from 10 countries.

Where The Streets Have No Name by Reshidev RK
Where The Streets Have No Name by Reshidev RK

The Plated Project, the founder explains, has a two-pronged approach — to get the common man to start talking about the issue, and to give people who are investing in the plates a sense of happiness. "Our mantra is 'buy a plate, fill a plate'. For our other collections and regular tie-ups, we only deduct the production cost. The rest is shared between the artist and the charity," adds Sinha. Some of their other collections include Quarter Of Nostalgia to address malnutrition, and Encore, aimed at the old brass bands of Mumbai.

Shared Happiness by Demelsa Haughton
Shared Happiness by Demelsa Haughton

"It's a small act which makes you happy as the plates go up on your wall. But the dialogue it sparks off and the money you spend further a bigger cause. When you post the picture of the plate, someone asks you the story behind it. And that's how it becomes a part of the conversation," he elaborates.

Log on to theplatedproject.com
Cost Rs 1,999

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Potterheads cast a spell

Posted on 30 Jul 2020 03:20:35 GMT - things-to-do

Expecto Patronum

Expecto Patronum

Nascimento Pinto, 27, votes for the Patronus charm. It was introduced in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, the third book, and is used through the series until its final instalment, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. "It is not only a defensive spell but also one of the most powerful ones out there. During this pandemic, many people do not have the luxury to work from their homes and have to now do it from their offices, so it would protect them at least while they travel," he says.

The media professional, who has been a Potterhead for two decades, also adds that the spell helps a wizard to communicate with another. So, it would facilitate discussion while maintaining social distancing norms.

Another fact, he shares, is that Expecto Patronum can be conjured only through a happy memory, and thus it can help people who have been feeling low right now. "The more they have to go out, the more they would have to think of the happiest moment in their life, which will help them stay positive, hopefully, till the pandemic ends. The spell essentially protects people from the Dementors who feed on happiness (which in this case is the pandemic)," he says.

Bubble-Head charm

Bubble-Head charm

In the series, they [the characters] use it to produce a bubble over their heads that enables them to breathe under water. But it will work just as well to keep out Covid," quips Asif Khan.

A programme officer with the Bombay Natural History Society, Khan, 35, has been a fan of the franchise for 15 years. The only unfortunate thing about the Bubble-Head charm, he says, is that there is no incantation mentioned in the books or movies.

Episkey

Episkey

In 2004, when Krutika Rao was eight, the film adaptation of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban had released. And she turned into an ardent fan. She reckons Episkey, a healing spell that helps cure minor injuries and relieve pain, might be super helpful to anyone at this point who requires the medical treatment but is either too scared to get it during the pandemic and/ or cannot afford it. "Thus, it reduces the risk of going out and exposing oneself to other viruses as the solution is at the wand’s tip!" she says.

Interestingly, Episkey is derived from the Greek word "episkevi" which means to "repair". The spell was used to fix Harry Potter’s nose in the book and because of this instance Potter himself used it to fix a broken lip.

Up your HP knowledge quotient

Quidditch Through The Ages – A companion book for the HP series, authored by JK Rowling under the pseudonym Kennilworthy Whisp, who is supposed to be an expert on matters of the wizarding sport played on broomsticks.
Log on to amazon.in

Harry Potter - A Journey Through A History of Magic: Curated by the British Library, the book comprises manuscripts by Rowling, illustrations by Jim Kay, and both facts and secrets
about Hogwarts.
Log on to snapdeal.com

Harry Potter: The Character Vault – The title by Jody Revenson details the creative process behind the filmmaking. It covers costumes, make-up and weaponry, too.
Log on to flipkart.com

Hogwarts: An Incomplete and Unreliable Guide – A collection of short reads, this e-book offers an intricate sketch of Hogwarts’ residents.
Lon on to amazon.in

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Sugar, spice and everything nice

Posted on 29 Jul 2020 04:36:49 GMT - things-to-do

The rain seems to play spoilsport for most pantry staples, be it sugar, salt, biscuits, grains, spices or vegetables, especially if you have a small fridge or a kitchen that doesn't have good ventilation. Increased dampness and moisture result in faster fungal growth and worms, which can lead to wastage and multiple grocery runs, at a time when it's not advisable to step out unless necessary. "My mantra is to get monsoon-ready to prevent spoilage. Say no to plastic containers, and opt for airtight glass jars that are more hygienic and odour-free. Also, invest in a batch of Ziploc and freezer bags, and absorbent or blotting papers," suggests chef and food consultant Reetu Uday Kugaji, while sharing tips to keep essentials consumable and dry.

. Sugar and salt tend to absorb moisture and become runny. Don't store them in plastic or metal containers; use airtight glass bottles. Add some rice grains and cloves to the granulated sugar and salt to keep them moisture-free.

Add some cloves and raw rice grains to sugar to keep it moisture-free
Add some cloves and raw rice grains to sugar to keep it moisture-free

. Pulses attract worms and other insects during this time. You can microwave them for two minutes, cool them completely and then store the same in glass containers along with dried neem leaves. For dalia and semolina, dry-roast them, cool them down and then store the same. Drop a few neem or bay leaves in your rice jar to avoid insects.

. It's also a good idea to add besan, atta and even maida in glass containers and keep them in the fridge to increase their shelf life.

Reetu Uday Kugaji

. Clean and wrap vegetables in absorbent papers, and place them in Ziploc bags in the fridge. Wash them before using them. Onions should also be covered in blotting paper, with a little space or enough room between each of them for good air circulation. Store them in a clean and dry place. Before you put lemons in the fridge, apply some unscented cooking oil to each piece to store them better.

. Go-to munchies during chai time like biscuits also get soggy. Wrap them up in blotting papers and keep them in airtight jars.

. Add a few bay leaves to glass jars containing whole spices like peppercorn, cardamom and cumin seeds so that they remain dry.

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Sounds like an idea

Posted on 29 Jul 2020 04:27:51 GMT - things-to-do

Make no mistake. This period in human history isn't the 'new normal' as it's being portrayed to be, simply because there is nothing normal about the situation we are in. Most things are in a state of flux. We are all at the mercy of government regulations, with the state itself being rendered into a pawn at the hands of an unseen virus. Its approach to the pandemic is changing constantly. And in turn, different industry players are also updating the way they operate, on a regular basis. That's why this period isn't the 'new normal', because normalcy requires a sense of stability, which we don't have at the moment.

Take the music business. The lockdown pulled the plug on live events. So, artistes moved online en masse, playing virtual concerts from home. But even there, a sense of saturation — and even frustration — has started creeping in. There is simply no way in which you can recreate the electric feel of an actual concert by playing instruments for an invisible audience from your living room. Musicians are thus thinking of alternative avenues to enhance the listening experience for viewers, because let's face it — if home concerts remain the 'new normal', they are essentially doomed.

Soutrik Chakraborty
Soutrik Chakraborty

One way of doing this is to shift operations from a home to a studio set-up, now that these spaces are allowed to operate again. And city-based studios are revamping their structures to allow for such gigs. Glassonion Studios in Khar recently started a series called MMXX for instance, where they invite independent musicians to use their facilities for virtual performances. Partner Pradeep Mathews tells us, "We have been researching for the past three months about how we can move forward. And the way we looked at it is that studios can become the live venues of the future, since actual concerts aren't coming back anytime soon."

He adds that with that in mind, they kicked into fifth gear since they already had a well-equipped system in place. "There is a limit to what you can digitally put out with home Internet connections. It might also get stale if you have the same backdrop every time you play. But a studio is a much bigger place that we can turn around for different events," Mathews says, adding — crucially — that they have also figured out a way for there to be video interaction between the performer and audience members. "That's as close to an offline concert that you will get right now," he reveals.

Jehangir Jehangir
Jehangir Jehangir

Jehangir Jehangir echoes this view. The owner of Island City Studios, also in Khar, tells us that music consumers are so used to watching well-mixed videos that they will subconsciously expect the same quality from live streams. "That's why I think that if you are able to deliver the same kind of audio and video production that the end listener has become used to, you are automatically giving them a better experience. But only 0.01 per cent of people will have the wherewithal to do that from home."

It's an arbitrary figure, of course. But the point remains that the number of independent musicians who have sound equipment at home that can match a studio's is as minuscule as the population of East Timor is compared to India's. Mumbai-based Soutrik Chakraborty is the front man of a band called Fox in the Garden. He has played five gigs from his house in Kalina since the start of the lockdown, and he laments, "I sometimes perform with beats and accompanying music from a laptop, and the sound quality isn't good enough even if I place speakers all over the room."

But Chakraborty adds that a studio has mixing consoles and other gear that help make a performance a more accurate description of what people are missing out live. "You also meet other professionals and your band members, who help you feel more rooted to your industry. You then feel differently, so you perform differently, and the audience can also feel like they are watching the acts as they know them to be," he says, indicating that this is a feasible model for musicians to follow at least for the time being. But how long will it sustain? For that, let's wait and see when things stabilise to a certain extent, so that we can gauge what the 'new normal' truly is.

Call Island City Studios, Khar (9820854364); Glassonion Studios, Khar (9769402247)

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A fresh coat of learning

Posted on 29 Jul 2020 04:19:53 GMT - things-to-do

We've all had childhood memories of paint-stained hands and school uniforms. Watercolours are often the first medium of painting we're initiated into. To celebrate and recognise it, the month of July has been designated as World Watercolour Month. It was founded in 2016 by Charlie O'Shields, American artist and creator of Doodlewash, who has made it his mission to also connect watercolour artists from over the world.

For illustrator Kripa Bhatia who has closely mapped the city with the medium, there is no such thing as a wrong stroke. The only key to getting a hand of it is to practise. To elucidate, she revisits an instance from art school, "My professor kept an egg on the table and asked us to paint an egg without using the colour white; true artists will know that white isn't necessary." Bhatia outlines the following tips for beginners:

Kripa Bhatia
Kripa Bhatia

. Watercolour is suitable on any kind of paper. But your choice of brush on the surface will vary,. For instance, landscapes and seascapes require washes with a flat brush where a paper thickness of over 250 gsm is ideal or else the sheet will turn soggy. But if you have a thinner sheet, round brushes can be used to render finer

. Beginners can opt for cake colours as they are subtler than tube colours. But the latter is more luminous. It's great for adding details such as the froth of the sea.

. For portraiture, a sketch before painting helps. The pressure and the way you hold the brush will also determine the stroke — round brushes can be held like a pencil while the flatter ones can be tilted.

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