Sail Away….

If you love speed and you live in India, there’s little you can do on its crowded roads. So, the rich have found a way around this challenge; they’ve taken to the water. It’s the new craze- zip away from the madding crowd in a glittering yacht, complete with all the luxuries.

This new passion is what makes much-anticipated events like the second International Boat Exhibition, to be held in Mumbai from the 28th of this month, all sold out affairs. It’s a chance for manufacturers of leading brands to showcase their top-of-the line products, which, needless to add, fetch astronomical prices. It’s only the second year for this exhibition, but, apparently, a whopping $100 million has already been spent, between last year and now, by the rich and famous on buying the latest floating objects-of-desire.

The change that’s taken place is interesting. Yachts were once seen as playthings meant only for likes of Vijay Mallya – popularly known as India’s Richard Branson – who owns, among others, the Indian Empress, a boat costing over a $100 million. Smaller version of this wonder are now being bought by the “common” people. That’s common, of course, compared to Mr. Mallya, but still filthy rich. To reach as many customers as possible, the boat exhibition offerings start at a few thousand dollars, going up to millions.

This is why yacht clubs are said to be the next big thing in India. The country, being a peninsula, has over four thousand miles of coastline just waiting to be explored by avid holiday goers – well-off Indians who are looking for new ways to de-stress, live it up, and spend their money.

To add to this, this year the Volvo Ocean Race (once known as the Whitbread Round the World race and co-sponsored by the British Royal Navy Sailing Association) has included Kochi – a pretty city in the picturesque South Indian state of Kerala – as one of its stopovers. It’s considered a matter of pride, since this high-profile race, held every four years, is popularly seen as the one of the ultimate sailing events. And its stop in India – a first – is bound to fuel further interest in Indian sailing.

What is needed now is infrastructure, particularly marinas. Right now you could own a million dollar boat, but you’d still have to hop your way to it. As with much of the country, finding a place to put things – cars, people, houses – is an issue. It may be a recent craze but there are already too many boats and not enough parking spaces, especially in Mumbai.

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India’s Top Cop

India’s first woman police officer is on a mission, and it’s a daunting one: To make India a safer place. After taking voluntary retirement from the police force last year, Kiran Bedi- known for her no-nonsense, hard-taskmaster style of functioning – is not giving up on the job of trying to make India safe

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Incredible India

A young man revs up his motorcycle, chest tight, head high, et all, and rides around what looks like a construction site. A voice-over of his thoughts says: “what does America have that India does not?” He thinks, sitting strong on his motorcycle, beaming at the development around him, and the voice again tells us what he’s thinking – “my plans will be of use here, will take India even further”.

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Out-Sourced Luxury Comes Home

As a child I used to love meeting my “foreign” aunt. She was nice, of course, but even nicer was her bulging suitcase containing myriad gifts – everything from perfume bottles and handy kitchen accessories, to much coveted little knick-knacks that we could flaunt the next day at school. I specially remember loving the little, pristine-white erasers she used to bring for us – smooth and smelling of roses – they were a big improvement over the local ones that made the paper all black.

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India’s Missing Daughters

“May you bathe in milk and bear many sons” – so goes an ancient Indian blessing, given by the elderly to young women. It’s a telling statement that reflects Indian societies’ deep-rooted fixation for sons.

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Who Owns Yoga?

What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Yoga? The answer, I guess, would depend on where you live. For me, it used to conjure up images of Indian priests sitting in meditative poses. Not anymore.

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Big Cat in Big Trouble

My fifteen-month-old daughter is learning animal names and excitedly points out to tigers in her picture book as I read to her…chances are that that’s the only memory she’ll have of the tiger, because by the time she’s ten, the Indian tiger may well be extinct.

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The Untouchables

On Friday, the 11th of May, Mayawati – India’s most famous politician belonging to the lowest caste, the untouchables – won the election in India’s most populous state, Uttar Pradesh, in a landslide win. This is big news, for a number of reasons. First, and most important, because she belongs to the dalit caste, the lowest rung of the Indian caste system

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A Kiss is Just a Kiss

The Indian moral police, are at it again, and it’s revolting. This time American actor, Buddhist and friend to India Richard Gere has been caught unawares. His “mistake?” – he made a charming gesture at an AIDS awareness event recently in New Delhi.

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I Came, I Saw, I Married.

My mother loves to tell the story of how she and my father got married. It probably won’t make it to the list of ‘the most romantic marriages’ since it was arranged by my granddad and she barely spoke to my father before they were wed.

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