Monday, 30 June 2014

Ladakh Holiday Packages: An Ideal Retreat Away from the City

An area, which is known to occupy the western edge of the Tibetan Plateau in Northwest India, the vibrant Tibetan Buddhist culture and spectacular landscape has enchanted tourists from across the world. Ladakh is dotted with colourful monasteries, surrounded by magnificent mountains with snow-capped peaks, black-billed magpies and narrow stretches of trees along water channels. Whether you are a cultural connoisseur or an avid adventure enthusiast a trip to Ladakh is sure to leave you spell-bound. This oasis of tranquillity and natural beauty is an ideal retreat for those who live in cosmopolitan cities.
Most of Ladakh is yet only accessible by foot (century old foot paths that were used by villagers and traders) and exploring the region in this manner is known to be extremely fascinating. There are plenty of trails which pass through ancient monasteries, arid canyons, glacier covered mountains and farming villages. Trekking in this area is known to be the main highlight if on a vacation to this region. There are numerous trekking routes which are known for their popularity. It is easy to find out which are the best treks to go for from different travel companies online which offer a variety of Ladakh holiday packages.
There are many family packages which are offered by these companies as well as customised Ladakh tour & travel packages. These trips often include sightseeing destinations, meals and transfers. They may include different destinations to visit in Ladakh. A person can easily read the itineraries that have been prepared by the travel company to see if it aligns with their holiday idea.
Some of the different towns in Ladakh include Leh, Kargil, Choglamsar and Turtuk. Visiting all of these small towns and areas in Ladakh are known to offer you a unique picture of Ladakh.
·         Leh: Leh is known to be the largest town in Ladakh. It is an excellent base for exploring the rest of Ladakh. One can find many good guest houses as well as restaurants here.
·         Choglamsar: Choglasmar is known to be a very small town in Ladakh, which can easily be accessed by minibuses which run to and from Leh. It is almost a suburb and has a large Tibetan community.
·         Kargil: Known to be the key area to access the Zanskar area, Kargil is a necessary stop along the way from Leh to Srinagar and the Vale of Kashmir.
·         Turtuk: This remote and literally uninhabited village is located on the line of control between Pakistan-administered Baltistan and Indian-administered-Kashmir.  


Financial Institutions in India: Critical for the Growth of Economy

Playing an indispensable role in the overall development of the country, the financial sector plays a very important role in the welfare of the Indian economy. There are different types of banks, NFBC’s (Non-Financial Banking Institutes) which are known to provide various banking options for people across the country.
One of the most important constituent of the financial sector is the financial institution. These establishments focus on providing various financial transactions such as loans, deposits and investments. It is an institution where financial services are provided to people.
Most of these bodies are known to be regulated by the Government of India. In India, the RBI (Reserve Bank of India) usually takes care of all the financial institutions. The RBI is also known as the Central Bank of India and serves as a regulatory authority with regard to the functionality of different commercial banks.
In order to provide adequate supply to the different sectors of the economy, the Government of India has evolved a very well-structure of financial institutions in the country. They may broadly be categorised into All India institutions and State level institutions. 
Other then the RBI, some of the other financial institutions in India include commercial banks, credit rating agencies, specialised financial institutions, SEBI and insurance companies.
Commercial banks: These are categorised into private, commercial and public sector banks. They engage in a wide variety of activities such as acceptance of deposits, offering loans, acting as trustees, etc. Both private as well as public sector banks fall under this category. These banks can also be categorised into scheduled commercial banks and unscheduled commercial banks. 
Credit Rating Agencies: These bodies assess the condition of the financial sector and try to find out different avenues for improvement. Two of the most important credit rating agencies in India include CRISIL and ICRA.
Specialised Financial Institutions: These bodies provide assistance to different sectors, leading to the overall growth of the Indian economy. Some of the important institutions are Small Industries Development Bank of India, Export-Import Bank of India, Board for Industrial & Financial Reconstruction and National Housing Bank. These institutions serve as intermediaries of financial markets. Thus, they are responsible for the transference of   funds from investors to companies (in need of funds).They, thus facilitate the flow of money in the economy.  
SEBI: Also known as the securities and exchange board of India, this body is in charge of protecting the interest of investors. It also facilitates the functioning of the market intermediaries. This body, thus, supervises market conditions, indulges in risk management and registers institutions.
Insurance Companies: These companies are known for offering financial protection against any sort of loss. The two main categories include life insurance and general insurance. Under the latter, there is car, home, health, travel, home, liability and any other ‘non-life insurance plan. These bodies are in charge of a tremendous amount of risk management. A person is provided with equitable transfer of risk of loss from one entity to another; in exchange for a payment of a premium amount.

Summary: Financial institutions play a very important role in the growth of the economy of the nations. These bodies may be of different types such as commercial banks, credit rating agencies in India, specialised financial institutions, SEBI and insurance companies.

Resource Box: The different financial institutions in the country play a very important role in determining the economy of the nation. Some of the different types of financial institutions in India, other than the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) include commercial banks, private sector banks, SEBI, credit rating agencies and insurance companies.  

Unique Restaurants in Mumbai

We all have been to restaurants throughout our lives, but wouldn’t you want to visit a funky, out-of-the-box styled restaurant as well? Wouldn’t it be cool to dine in a Shikhara or even an ice-lounge; or perhaps have your food while sitting in a rickshaw? Mumbai is a place where you not only can eat in luxurious restaurants and even find small quaint cafes as well; but you can also find extremely ‘unusual’ places to dine at.
Not only will you find good food with great music in most of the restaurants in the city; but you will experience a different ambience in each place.
Some of the unusual but unique restaurants in Mumbai that you might want to try out include:
1) KongPoush - Flavour of Kashmir, Goregaon: Apart from the breath-taking view of Kashmir, the state’s delectable cuisine adds to the list of the country’s regional food favourites. Located on a rather inconspicuous street (BEST Colony Road) near Oshiwara Bus Depot in Goregaon (W) KongPoush is a popular joint for people to get their hands on Kashmir’s rich and meaty food. Having a chef from Jammu and Kashmir who prepares the meal, there is also a wide variety of vegetarian cuisine as well. An air-conditioned restaurant, there are many popular Kashmir delights to savour on. 
2) 21 Fahrenheit, Andheri: Have you ever dined in a restaurant having the temperature at -6 degrees? Probably not! 21 Fahrenheit, located in Andheri is one such place. Not only this, you are given a thick warm jacket, warm boots and a pair of gloves to wear! With everything inside the lounge made of ice; whether it is the seat, the stringed curtains or the wall; one immediately forgets that they are in Mumbai!                  
3) Firangi Dhaba, Andheri: Rickshaw’s are meant for daily transport, right; but how would you like to eat in one? Sounds strange; but Firangi Paani in Andheri offers you this experience.  With old lanterns, film posters, glass patchwork wall, kites and other kitschy pieces that form a backdrop you can enjoy a continental fare as well as authentic dhaba da khana (authentic Punjabi-style). Interesting highlights of this restaurant include the cart-converted table and funky cut-outs of Salman and Aishwarya and the sewing-machine converted table.  
4) Aer Bar and Lounge, Four Seasons Hotel, Worli: A restaurant located at the 34th floor of the hotel, Four Seasons, the Aer Bar and Lounge offers a refreshing panoramic view of the city which never sleeps. Having futuristic furniture which lends a lounge feel that is cosy this restaurant is the perfect place to enjoy a cocktail along with a mezze platter.  

Summary: Mumbai is a city having restaurants which are popular for its global cuisines. Some of the unique restaurants in Mumbai include KongPoush, 21 Fahrenheit, Firangi Dhaba and Aer Bar and Lounge. Not only are they unusual restaurants but offer you a unique experience.

Sunday, 22 June 2014

Up-close with Mira Nair…/Films Seen through Mira’s Lens…/Mira speaks up about her films…/A Glimpse through Indian Society…

Hailing from a life led in three different places- Mira Nair has made her impact world-wide. This realistically driven film-director captures the rhythm behind her career as a film-director to Karina Pandya.

 Many Stories in India are just crying out to be made, and famous International and National film director Mira Nair loves to tell a good story no matter what the genre is. “Everyone has lost someone, everyone has been a parent or a child, everyone has been somewhere in that tapestry”, claims well-known Indian born and New York based film director Mira Nair, about her recent film The Namesake which won credential awards three years in a row.

Born to both Indian parents Mira Nair has led a very conservative life.
Mira Nair studied in the Delhi University and then went to the United States to study sociology at Harvard, where she received a scholarship. While at Harvard her focus drifted to documentary film. She describes documentary as "a marriage of my interests in the visual arts, theatre, and life as it is lived"

Right from then, Nair was active in political street theatre and performed for three years in an amateur drama company as an actor, beginning her artistic career as an actor before turning her attention towards film direction.

 “Actors are always at the mercy of directors and their vision of the world. I wanted to be the one in control - telling the story, controlling the light, the gesture and the frame.
Today she is one the nation’s leading film directors with not only appreciation in India but is known worldwide for her films.

"What is really important to me is a sense of humor and a mischief about life. Life is just too boring otherwise.

I like to be unabashed, which is an Indian trait, both emotionally and visually. It's important to have a circus to play with…

I grew up in a very small town which is remote even by Indian standards. I always dreamed of the world.”

    Committed to telling stories that are rarely heard, Mira Nair started film Production Company,”Mirabai Films, Inc. in 1989. Mirabai Films Inc. is committed to creating films that question cultural barriers and depict worlds that are both true to their culture and universal in their appeal. Salaam Bombay, her debut film from Mirabai Films Inc. was nominated for an Academy Award, Golden Globe, and BAFTA Award for Best Foreign Language Film.

   “I want to question what the outside is and who defines it.
I often find those that are considered to be on the outside extremely inspiring.”
    Since its inception, Mirabai Films, Inc. has produced Mississippi Masala; The Perez Family; Kama Sutra: A Tale of Love, My Own Country; The Laughing Club of India; Monsoon Wedding; Still, The Children Are Here; Vanity Fair; The Namesake, and Migration. These award-winning films have enjoyed worldwide distribution and have been received as innovative, bold films that effortlessly mix reality with entertainment. Besides these, documentary films like Jama Masjid Street Journal, Children of a Desired Sex, and India Cabinet all acclaimed recognition focusing on realistic emotions people have felt due to havocs in the society.
   Mirabai Films is currently in pre-production for Ms. Nair's adaptation of Gregory David Roberts’s novel, Shantaram with Warner Brothers, starring Bollywood prominent star, Amitabh Bachan and Hollywood hunk, Johnny Depp rumored to be released in 2009.

    Migration was one of her four short films to raise awareness about the AIDS epidemic in India.

 Following the tragic events of September 11, 2001, Nair joined a group of 11 renowned filmmakers, each commissioned to direct a film that was 11 minutes, 9 seconds and one frame long. Nair’s film is a retelling of real events in the life of the Hamdani family in Queens, whose eldest son was missing after September 11, and was then accused by the media of being a terrorist.

 “It is the true story of a mother's search for her son who did not return home on that fateful day.”

Nair’s Monsoon Wedding received tremendous critical acclaim and commercial success and went on to win the Golden Lion at the 2001 Venice Film Festival and receive Golden Globe and BAFTA nominations for Best Foreign Language Film.

A Shift from Documentaries to Feature Films:

    “After seven years of making those kinds of films, DOCUMENTARIES - which I love -- I was struggling to find an audience. I began to get impatient. I want to make things happen myself: gestures, light, and the storytelling. What I love about a documentary, which is always stranger than fiction, is the inexplicable nature of it.

     Creative freedom is imperative for me. Making independent film’s  is an obsessive task - having an idea, writing the script, finding finance, casting, shooting and editing.”
    There is a fiction camera but it's working with real people, so the frame is heightened and informed by life but aesthetically influenced by many things.”
She found incipient success as a documentary filmmaker, winning awards for the various films she directed following Salaam Bombay.

     At their core, the films of Mira Nair are humanist in nature. They spotlight the inequities of traditional, patriarchal Indian society, the manner in which individuals are trapped and victimized because of economic status and gender, and the problems Indians face as they assimilate into foreign cultures.

     Nair has worked with well-known actors like Kal Pen, Abu and Irrfan Khan in The Namesake, Reese Witherspoon, and Bob Hoskins in Vanity Fair, Naseeruddin Shah, Lillete Dubey and Neha Dubey in Monsoon Wedding, Naveen Andrews in Kama Sutra: A Tale of Love, and currently with prominent Bollywood star Amitabh Bachchan and Hollywood hunk Johhny Depp in upcoming film Shantharam.

   I make films to provoke people into thinking about the world. I can't make those pleasant Sunday films one sees and forgets immediately. I want to present a multi-layered intense frame. Some of my films -- by their nature, theme, language and treatment -- cater only to India as seen in Monsoon Wedding and Salaam Bombay.

There is no denying Mira Nair could charm the skin off a snake and then sell snakeskin boots back to the snake, if snakes wore boots…


      The Namesake was perhaps, the most personal film of Nair’s and holds tremendous importance to her life.
“Here was the story of a young girl who traveled from Calcutta and wound up in New York City, which is almost precisely the same road I traveled," notes the director.  It was love at first sight claims Mira Nair as she arbitrarily read the book immediately relating to it, torn between lives of Two Worlds.
The Namesake' encompasses in a deep humane way the tale of millions of us who have left one home for another, who have known what it means to combine the old ways with the new world, who have left the shadow of our parents to find ourselves for the first time, and none other than Mira Nair could relate to Jhumpa Lahiri’s famous book.

      ” I wanted to return to making a small-scale, intimate and mobile film, one I hoped to capture on film the moment we unexpectedly become adult, the strangeness of burying a parent in a foreign land that has now become home which is extraordinarily close to my own reality as a South Asian person living in America today. I know what it's like to be in one place and dream of another. I also know what it's like to feel that nostalgia is a fairly useless thing because it is stasis. It does not take you many places."

      Truth is more peculiar than fiction and life is really a startling place. With this thought in mind, Nair has been extremely attached to films that portray life in the real world, the world as we see it. “I must say I enjoy the responsibility of exploring and portraying these stories through film-making. After all, film, unlike academia, reaches millions.”

With success coming Nair’s way since inception, let’s hope for many more future success films out of Nair’s Mirabai Film Production Company!

An Emotional Change over the years….
    Over the years, I have grown up as an individual -- I'm become a wife, mother and a family person. That growth is reflected in my films, as Nair explains about the maturity of her films.

On Mira:
  • She was born on 15 October 1957 in Bhubaneshwar, Orissa.
  • Studied sociology and theater at the University of New Delhi, where she earned an undergraduate degree; earned a graduate degree in sociology from Harvard University, where she also studied film.
  • Being a “yogic filmmaker, Nair is a serious practitioner of Iyengar yoga. She brings a teacher to her set’s who offers an hour class to anyone interested before shooting each day.
  • Nair became the first India’s first female director to win the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival for MONSOON WEDDING.
  • Nair was offered the job of directing Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix in 2007.
  • Nair was honored as the "Pride of India."
  • Shah Rukh Khan’s gorgeous wife Gauri Khan has been offered to play the lead role in Mira Nair’s next film
  • Mira Nair is an adjunct professor in the Film Division of the School of Arts of Columbia University where her husband, Professor Mahmood Mamdani, also teaches.
  • Nair's favorite song is Kishori Amonkar’s, "Raga Ahir Bhairav,"