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Post-WWII America was a savage battle between the conservative and liberals, each tugging desperately until the whole damn thing shattered like a piñata, showering the sixties in free love and whatever other excuses they had to take drugs back then. Winding and hollering their way through like uncaged beasts, carried by a wave of unbridled love, hatred and LSD-spiked orange juice was the Merry Pranksters. Not old enough to be hippies and too old to be beatnicks.

Led by the esteemed author of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Ken Kesey, and with Jack Kerouac’s travelling companion, Neal Cassady, behind the wheel these angel-headed hipsters embarked on a road trip across America. Their carriage was a 1939 International Harvester school bus called ‘Further’, coated to the decks with violent and unimaginable patterns of day-glo paint. Their goal was to shove a firework of truth so far up Conservative America’s arse crack, Congress would be singing stars.

Before now, the remnants of this trip survived in Tom Wolfe’s novel, The Electric Kool Aid Acid Test, and over 100 hours of 16mm reels and audio cassettes, recorded on the trip and passed through the projectors of a select few. That was until Oscar-winning director Alex Gibney (Taxi To The Dark Side) teamed up with Alison Ellwood (Gonzo: The Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson) to bring the 40-year-old footage to the silver screen, enterMagic Trip.

The film documents the Prankster’s voyage across America from the West Coast to see New York World’s Fair, ‘The World of Tomorrow’ and a glimpse into the dysotopian future many had predicted. Their travels became embedded into American culture as the first time the little known drug LSD was cast so recklessly into the public eye. The hallucinogen had originally been tested by the CIA to use in interrogations but the Pranksters saw it as a creative potion to warp their mental boundaries. Kesey was never a political anarchist, he simply wanted to batter down the doors of perception and see what came out. In his words, “I’d rather be a lightning rod than a seismograph”.

The result, and something captured so intimately in the film, is a band of teaheads with names like Gretchen Fetchen and Mountain Girl, bombed out of their gourds, babbling their way across America. One pastime, ‘tootling the multitudes’. was to take acid and sit on top of the bus with a flute, capturing onlookers’ reactions with the notes they played. America didn’t know what hit them, one policeman let them go over after he mistook their outfit for a college prank.

After six years of piecing together the footage captured so brilliantly and haphazardly by the Pranksters, this film promises to be the most immersive view of a group that pioneered America’s cultural charge into the sixties. Famous cohorts of the Merry Pranksters included poet Allen Ginsberg, Gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson and the Hell’s Angels Motorcycle Gang.

Director Alison Ellwood commented after first watching the footage, “I felt like I was a kind of ghost passenger sitting on that crazed painted bus. I could smell the fumes, feel the heat of the desert and sense my heart pounding as I barreled across the roads, my life in the hands of a genius/madman behind the wheel”.

The Sartorial Conman


A jaunt around some of New York’s most exclusive member’s clubs.

If you can escape the clutches of Manhattan’s commercial district- a tangled orgy of concrete, glass and steel, tempered by unfettered human ambition -then lower mid-town offers a brief moment of respite before flinging you back into the depths of the city. Here the sun’s rays, having no longer to contend with the invasive reach of New York’s sky scrapers, flood through the sky-line and bathe among the broad avenues.

Jutting out from it’s perch off Park Avenue and in the heart of Murray Hill, the Union League Club is a prestigious social club that boasts a gilded list of alumni including J.P. Morgan, Ulysses S. Grant, and Theodore Roosevelt. Robed in the candid American décor of early-twentieth century New York, the building’s earthen red façade is a timely reminder to the world that, “they make take our AAA credit rating, but they will never our Americanism!”

The Union League Club

Having being buffeted by such flag-waving machismo, presumably plucked straight from the timbers of the Bush family ranch, I made a subsequent discovery. The prestigious club stocked Johnson’s baby shampoo (which sincerely promised ‘no tears’) in its showers.

I am in possession of such an intimate knowledge of the Union League Club and other similar establishments because I have furnished my past month in New York conducting a social experiment. Drawing encouragement from the success of the world’s banking elite in evading significant retribution for the financial crisis, I concluded that we are bound by human nature rarely to question someone wearing a suit. After all, with some exceptions, they are usually correct with colour combinations.

Therefore armed with a dark blue pin-striped suit (and occasionally a briefcase, depending on my confidence levels), I have successfully strolled into some of New York’s most elite member’s clubs. The main perk being that the majority of these clubs have state-of-the-art facilities, including steam rooms, billiards tables and, in the case of the Union League Club, a golf simulator.

Breaching the clubs’ reception area, though, is a mere skirmish. From then on, your every movement and interaction must be governed by the chief priority of convincing members and staff that you are a fully-fledged member of the elitist establishment. The gleaming facilities at your fingertips are merely a third home, alongside that Upper-East penthouse and manor in the Hamptons.

Said Manor

Being among a herd of sliver Republican moustaches, I tended to stand out. As a result I took to painting myself as a flamboyant British aristocrat, in the mould of Oscar Wilde’s Algernon Moncrieff, to vault into the upper echelons of New York society.  My personal tale was one of shackled potential in rural Buckinghamshire that had driven me to cross the pond in a bid to unleash my creative beast (and wallet) upon the unsuspecting city.

I soon discovered that interactions with staff aided in smoothing the occasionally rough edges of the character. For example, to overcome the potentially awkward situation of being approached quizzically after making lavish use of the fitness equipment I merely brought the attack to the club’s employees; “Ahh “insert name on card here”, just hammered out 75 on the quadrilater, now that’s a p.b if I ever saw one. Am I right!” Accompany that with a pat on the shoulder and the club house is yours.

Conversations with members must be approached more cautiously. When the live stream of Fox News, radiating through the locker room, churned out a story of Tea Party member Christine O’Donnell allegedly practising witchcraft in her rebellious younger years (I guess it’s conservative Americans equivalent of listening to rap music), I had to suppress any laughter for fear that the Tea party had infiltrated the Union League. Perhaps by putting something in the drinks?

The Propaganda machine takes aim at Christine O' Donnell

When thrust into more intimate scenarios, such as the flabby depths of the steam room, it is advisable to preserve silence and escape, if the situation requires it, to your happy place. I once intruded on an elderly member who was going through what appeared to be some form of tantric workout on the marble benches. Through the coils of steam, I could make out his legs jutting at mathematically-implausible angles, and gyrating stubbornly. “Good amount of steam” offered the ghostly apparition in an eager New England accent. “Yep,” I replied “you can hardly see a thing”.

The beating heart of the club, and arguably American Republicanism, is to be found on the fourth floor and is aptly-named, ‘The President’s Room’. It houses a poker table, elegant leather couches and hums with exclusivity. My first and only visit to the room was greeted with the sight and smell of four stout middle-aged men with matching comb-overs. In a dense haze of cigar smoke, they were discussing voter turnout for the upcoming Presidential election beneath a portrait of Ronald Reagan, looking on approvingly. Upon my entrance, the group offered me a collective look as if I had just poured liquid shit into their whiskey glasses and a timely reminder that fictitious English aristocracy will only get you so far.

This clearly shook my hastily constructed pseudonym and, as I was leaving the club later, I heard a desperate shout snake after me, “Excuse me sir?” Needless to say, I have not been back since. After all, the Princeton Club is a leisurely stroll uptown.

DNA- The Empire State of Mind


Ten pointers to get you started on your quest to tame the concrete jungle and become a New Yorker

Concrete Jungle

 Being a New Yorker is a full-time profession. It requires an extensive knowledge of every alleyway and shortcut nestled in the city, an insatiable appetite for culture, and the uncanny ability to draw upon huge reserves of energy like a metropolitan Hercules. Every profession, though, has its perks and being a local in New York grants membership to an evolving, vibrant and colourful city with an urban life force surging through its streets to the top of the skyscrapers.

So without further delay, here are the club rules for being a New Yorker:

-          The only time you go to Times Square is to laugh at the tourists as they gawp like badly-dressed moths at the flashing lights.

Times Square

-          You nurture a burning and irrational hatred for people from the neighbouring state, New Jersey. In fact, any mention of a New Jerseyite at a bar is more effective than a fire alarm for clearing people out.

-          You have worn spandex at least once while cycling/running in Central Park. A true New Yorker knows that appearances count for nothing when planning an efficient work out.

Spandex patrol, Central Park

-          You have mastered the ability to drink coffee, text on your Blackberry, scan the daily newspaper and update your diary. All while being crushed to near-death on the Subway.

-          The oven and washing machine in your flat are as unused as media baron Rupert Murdoch’s voicemail service. Take-aways and tailors thank you very much.

-          You are willing to pay more than $4 for a bottle of vitamin water because its label boasts more for your well-being than the Garden of Eden.

-          Your watering hole of choice is located in the most avant-garde stretches of Brooklyn, anything without a live band and/or a converted roof simply won’t do.

Radegast Biergarten, Brooklyn

-          You have eaten more raw fish than a grizzly bear. In the city’s many sushi bars, that is.

-          You go for massages in Chinatown. They may be in the living room of a basement apartment that smells of tuna salad but who can argue with the $20 discount?

-          You’ve never travelled up to the observation deck of the Empire State Building, after all your friend’s rooftop garden a few blocks down doesn’t have a thirty minute queue.


GA President Joseph Deiss meets with Supermodel Alek Wek before the Meeting

To mark the completion of the International Year of the Youth, the United Nations in New York played host to a High Level Meeting on Youth from June 25-26. The meeting was a formal recognition of the increasingly important role young people –defined by the UN as aged 15-24- are playing in the political, economic and demographic fabric of countries. Speaking at the General Assembly, Nigerian Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin from the United Nations Population Fund reaffirmed this, “soon more than a third of the world’s population will be young people, 90% in the developing world”.

Are governments to view this as a challenge or an opportunity? According to Ambassador Zinzou of Benin young people are an agent for change. “Their sensitivity, capacity to mobilize, idealism and willingness to take greater risk renders them a great agent of change for all societies”, he proclaimed. In the wake of the Arab Spring, in which uprisings were catalysed by the younger generations, young people have presented themselves as a challenge to government’s who would deny their human rights but an asset to humanitarian development across the globe. The Tunisian representative, whose country saw protests in 2010 that led to the ousting of the former president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, named the country’s youth as “our biggest asset”. The globe has penned its future securely on its young population.

Despite the lauded potential of the world’s youth, the inability to access resources or opportunities to effect change in many countries has left young people blunted in their potential. This has also manifested into widespread incidents of youth unemployment, in Honduras four out of five the unemployed are young people and, according to UNICEF, 81 million young people were unemployed worldwide in 2009. Zimbabwe president Robert Mugabe suggested the issue was more prevalent in developed countries. “Young people in developing countries are as talented, entrepreneurial and creative as their counterparts in the developed world but lack the necessary resources” he declared.

A contributor to the problem, suggested the Honduran representative, is government’s detached perception of youth. “We must all vanquish that age old cliché that ‘our youth will be the future’, not just the future but the present belongs to the youth”, he urged. This corresponds to a lack of involvement and representation for young people in political decision-making, a factor identified by the Indonesian representative amongst others. “We need to move on from youth policy to youth engagement and involve youths in decision-making,” he recommended. UN spokeswoman Monique Coleman added her personal opinion, “the greatest challenge to youth development is all of us to take young people seriously.”

The voting age of countries is not necessarily the issue; the majority of countries allow 18-year-olds to vote, including India where 74% of the population are under-35. It is in the higher reaches of policy-making where young people are under-represented, especially considering the majority of policies will affect their futures primarily.

Norwegian delegates at the meeting

Delivering his speech in sign language, the Swedish Youth Delegate regretted there were so few young people representing youth. Honduras would be quick to point out their 26-year-old minister who took the podium, but he was an exception and not a representation. In Sri Lanka, a youth parliament has recently been set up with 335 members representing all ethnic groups, however it is unclear how much power this body has in policy-making. The representative from Switzerland argued that the inclusion of young people in politics gifts governments the asset of a unique opinion. “Young people may not be right at all times but a society that gives them an opportunity may not be wrong at all times” he pointed out.

At the moment 18% of the world is aged 15-24 and this number will grow in the future. Future generations will be forced to confront the globe’s issues, some of which have been delicately ignored by current governments. Countries who invest in this influential body now will place their nation’s future in far better hands. As the representative for Benin puts it, “the 21st century will be the century of human capital, as embodied in young people.” Rather than praise young people for their potential, governments should act upon these words by inviting them to play a part in decision-making. The UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon himself attests, “increasingly young people are saying to their elders and governments, this is not the world we want.”


The UN Security Council Meeting

Leaders from 38 UN member nations met today at the United Nations Security Council to pass a new resolution aimed at protecting schools and hospitals during times of conflict. The resolution identifies these buildings as safe havens for children and will add to the UN’s yearly ‘list of shame’ any parties that target schools or hospitals.

UNICEF was pleased at the decision because schools and hospitals are areas to shelter children and provide safety from conflict happening around them. They also play a big role in a child’s development and access to healthcare and education are among the basic rights of children.

Speaking at the council, Anthony Lake, UNICEF’s executive director, welcomed the resolution, “adding attacks on schools and hospitals as a trigger for listing parties will heighten awareness of these grave violations and the terrible impact they have on the lives of children”.

Protecting schools and hospitals has become an important issue after recent reports revealed armed forces in at least 31 countries were targeting these buildings and the people inside them.  In Afghanistan, there were over 1,100 attacks on education targets between 2006 and 2008. Children were afraid to go to school and hundreds of schools had to be closed for safety. Israel’s representative at the Security Council spoke of how his three children growing up in Jerusalem had to get used to the sight of an armed guard outside their kindergarten.

Attacking these important community buildings has more effects than just destroying the walls and killings or injuring people inside them. If children and teachers are frightened of going to school or doctors fearful of working in a hospital because of a possible attack then it means the schools and hospitals must be closed. Over the past six months in Southern Israel, over 100,000 children have not gone to schools through fear of terrorist attacks.

Without classes, children could miss out on education and an opportunity to improve their circumstances. No hospitals mean that people with illnesses or injuries cannot be looked after. By identifying and punishing armed groups who attack these vital services, the UN is hoping to protect schools and hospitals, but most importantly children’s lives, for the future.

The meeting also addressed the wider issue of children who are affected by armed conflict. In 2008, UNICEF estimated that over 250,000 children were used in armed forces and millions have been killed or injured during conflict. The UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon delivered a stern message of support that the United Nations was fully committed to protecting children in armed conflict.

UNICEF has been involved in monitoring and reporting armed forces that violate children’s rights in conflict. Besides creating reports, UNICEF also teams up with local groups to remove children from the ranks of armed forces and help reintegrate them into local communities afterwards. Last year, UNICEF worked with the government in Afghanistan to re-open 256 schools.

There were positives to take out of the Security Meeting, the USA representative Susan Rice stated that so far in 2011 6,300 children had been released from armed conflict. However, the overall tone was one of marked caution. Liechtenstein pointed out that 16 conflict parties in the UN shame report have violated children’s rights for five or more consecutive years. Bangladesh, meanwhile, called upon the 50 UN member states that had not yet declared their support for children in armed conflict to act.

It was clear to all involved that the next steps for the UN would be concrete actions to ensure the resolution does not simply become a scrap of paper.

Tony Lake concluded his speech: “Let us never forget, human rights are not an end in themselves; the lives of people, of children, are our purpose. Rights are a context for upholding human dignity and for creating conditions for human progress. It is the practical steps we take to protect these rights- and the impact of our actions –that change the world.”


In a professional era characterised by creative dynamism and lapped by the growing waves of globalisation, there is a distinct fascination around the world with Gen Y, those people in their 20s who are beginning to join the world of work. For some, their experiences beyond education begin even before entrance into university in what is termed the ‘gap year’.

Having rose to eminence in the 1990s, the gap year involves taking a year off, often before or after studying in university. The period is traditionally furnished by backpack travelling, volunteer work and adventure tourism with India, South-East Asia and South America among the popular destinations. There are infinite possibilities with the globe rested alluringly at your feet and, for the late teenager beginning to acquaint themselves with their own character, this freedom is both a gift and a curse. It is this fragile interchange that lies at the heart of the gap year.

Over the past five years, over a quarter of British students have opted to take a year off, last year 160,000 students leaving college alone went out in search of sun, adventure and moral fulfilment. Gap years have yet to take off in India, with students reluctant to fragment the educational process with a year off, however they are by no means non-existent.

Wasted Gap Years?

But what is the real value for Gen Y as they roam across the globe, and how can the experience be tailored for maximum value? Having opted to take a gap year between school and university, I was wary of the continuing debate over the value of a gap year. Recently a spokesperson for the gap year planning company, Year Out, lamented that the majority of travellers “just go off and travel independently without any real purpose”. This judgement was potentially influenced by the rise of the ‘gap yah’ brigade, named as such because ‘yah’ is a posh pronunciation and reflective of the disproportionate amount of public-school educated students taking gap years.

The focus on public school students is explainable when you regard the costs of a gap year. Market researcher Mintel found that the average gap-year traveller spent up to £4,000 on each trip. Subsequently, a trend has emerged whereby middle-class students with access to larger funds are the most likely to elect for a gap year. This flamboyant social group has become the subject of parody in recent years and a YouTube clip emerged entitled ‘Gap Yah’ that ridiculed the culture of students travelling abroad for the sole purpose of getting drunk, attracting over 3,600,000 millions hits in the process.

Gap Yah

Indeed, in areas such as South-East Asia and South America, these ‘gap yahers’ have earned notoriety for their pursuit of hedonism. Amanda Miller, who worked as a bargirl in the gap year hot-spot Vang Vieng in Laos summed it up when she questioned the moral value of some travellers’ experiences. “Most people come for the sole purpose of getting drunk and letting loose, there was absolutely no interest in local culture. I’m not sure how people are meant to ‘find themselves’ in the bottom of a vodka bucket”, she sighed. A true manifestation of this hedonistic take on gap years is the Thai party island, Koh Phangan, which hosts monthly ‘Full Moon’ parties. Credited as the highlight for some gap year travellers, these parties last throughout the night and are a notorious haven for drugs, sex and violence with deaths as inescapable as the tides that lap the beach.

Professional worth

It is perhaps the popularity of the full moon parties and the emergence of this hedonistic culture as the fundamental drive for some gap year students that encouraged Mary Curnock Cook, the chief executive of the British body responsible for applications to universities, to call for a recalibration of priorities for people taking gap years. In her view the time for people to use gap years for a break to see the world was extinct. Gap years should instead be used strategically to gain experience to support a university application.

A survey undertaken by gap year organization company Projects Abroad went further and suggested that gap years hold real value for potential employers. Their research found that 60% of business managers believed taking a gap year to be just as important as a university degree when regarding possible interview candidates. They recognized the non-vocational worth of the gap yearer as they travelled and experienced different cultures, which could help develop crucial business skills such as leadership and organization.

It is no surprise that, while some gap yearers opt to sip sangria and gaze at the moon, others have kept a firm eye on the potentially daunting future of universities and job interviews. As a result, ‘voluntourism’ has emerged as a popular choice for students wishing to volunteer in their gap year. It was estimated that 500,000 students participated in volunteer schemes last year. This sector has developed volunteer projects ranging from teaching in Africa to conservation in South America. The company Projects Abroad features a number of opportunities in India, including the promotion and development of sustainable agriculture in South Indian villages. The catch? Being a volunteer is not cheap, the company ‘Real Gap Experience’ offers a three-week conservation placement looking after wild life in South Africa for £1,279 with flights included.

Voluntourism in Africa

Decisions, decisions

With the chilling possibility of my own gap year descending into a global booze cruise whispering seductively in my ear like the demonic Mephistopheles with Dr. Faustus, I was determined to use the time to build professional credentials and widen my global perspective. This was indeed my aspiration when I found myself staring into a vast, 15-month gap year that floated ominously like a black hole, barring my entrance to university. To follow the ‘gap yah’ brigade, cavorting their way across the South American wilderness, I perceived as a wasted opportunity. At 18-years-old, I had the opportunity to gain professional experience and credentials as a tool for differentiating myself in the increasingly competitive labour market. Last year graduate unemployment rates in Britain rose to 20%.

As an aspiring journalist I concluded that work placements in local publications across the globe would be a good opportunity for me to develop and harness my skills, but also creating a unique insight into the countries I would be working at as I interacted with them as a journalist. The locations were perhaps the easiest decision. In this era of globalisation, China and India have demanded the world’s attention for their spiralling rates of growth and increasing role in worldwide politics and economics. China has sustained an extremely high GDP growth rate averaging over 10% in the past ten years while India’s population has soared above 1.2 billion people this year and is expected to harbour the largest population by 2025.

The Dragon…

China’s distinct culture rendered it an enticing prospect to work in and, through Projects Abroad, I found a placement at Shanghai’s largest English speaking monthly publication, That’s Shanghai. The office was run predominantly by expatriates so contact with local Chinese was limited. Despite this, I observed first-hand the impact of the Chinese government at micro level when, before print, a government representative arrived to censor any necessary articles. Government censorship, I learnt, is a crucial factor in China’s creative industries. For example, the movie industry is highly constrained and potential film-makers face banned themes such as time-travel, propagating feudal superstitions and portraying ambiguous moral lessons. In our publication, an article on haunted routes in Shanghai had to be vetoed for fear of government intervention.

As irony would have it, having jumped ship on the gap yah booze cruise, my main role was writing on Shanghai nightlife. Rather than chained to the office desk, I found myself exploring the city’s jazz digs and futuristic roof top bars. As I met bejewelled club owners and interviewing up-and-coming DJs I discovered the city far more than if I had visited the land marks, fuelled the desperate drive for sight-seeing that accompanies most tourist holidays. Mingling with locals I also developed an understanding of China’s unique business culture, such as the importance of one’s reputation and the development of contacts or ‘guanxi’ as they’re known. All useful knowledge when you account for the 132,000 millionaires languishing in Shanghai.

Interning in a publication there is a responsibility to be proactive and create opportunities for yourself. Under the energetic policy of ‘take anything’, I was tasked with transcribing an hour-long interview with a local who had the comprehensibility of White Noise. Four laborious hours later and I was told it was for a half-page article. Developing this mentality to actively seize work I found was priceless experience, especially in professions like journalism where nothing comes free. Working in the exceptional Chinese environment was an opportunity to develop flexibility and, as the Chinese economy hurtles forward, experience with Chinese business is an invaluable asset for potential employers seeking to assault the Chinese market.

… and the Elephant

India

Continuing the trend of globe-trotting, I then alighted in India to work in Mumbai’s largest publication company Spenta Multimedia and later the English language daily newspaper, DNA. At Spenta, to provide the nautical theme for my personal ‘booze cruise’, I was placed on the editorial team for ‘India Boating’.

Commuting on the Mumbai trains to work (I was told afterwards there was an average of ten fatalities a day on the tracks) and interviewing for stories, I had the unique opportunity to experience India from a more localized perspective. Travellers who wrestle their way through hawkers in Connaught Place or queue outside the Taj Mahal for that perfect photograph for their desktop screensaver only view India from a distinctly outsider’s perspective. During my work, I found myself scrambling across Juhu beach in the company of crab catchers and being led through the creaking passageways of Crawford Market by a wizened guide. All two months without seeing a tourist.

Living as a local and being immersed in the eclectic Indian culture, meant I appreciated the country, in my opinion, far more than a gap year student’s typical foray across the Sub Continent. For prospective gap year students, the experience of working in a city is the best opportunity to put your ear to the ground and tailor the experience for your personal benefit rather than follow in the foot steps of a well-leafed guidebook.

The English factor

The defining factor of my trip observing the Elephant and the Dragon was the influence of my English nationality on people’s perceptions. England still holds ties with India, especially through the hysterically popular medium of cricket, but the overwhelmingly welcoming and positive response I received exceeded all expectations. While working for DNA newspaper, this novelty of nationality took a temporary turn for the worst. While attempting to interview a television actor over the telephone I started, “Hi this is Christian from DNA”. Without skipping a beat the actor replied, “yeah sure, and I’m Julia Roberts!” before abruptly hanging up. He had been deceived by my accent into thinking it was a prank call.

In China, the permeance of Western culture over the last decades (fast food outlet KFC has over 3,200 outlets across China) has led towards ingrained and positive assumptions of people from the West. Last year an underground industry was unearthed in China, whereby Western actors are hired by Chinese companies to pose as fake foreign executives working with the company. This appearance of collaborating with Western companies is perceived to show the business as international, well-connected and prestigious. One such actor even had to pose as the vice president of an Italian jewellery company and had to deliver a speech onstage about his pride in working with the Chinese company for ten years.

This overridingly positive perception of Westerners extended, in the case of a 19-year-old, to assumptions on business ability. Interning at a Chinese business publication, the college student was approached by a local colleague who proposed they started a business together. The colleague was essentially pitching his future on the assumption that, being from the West, my friend was a sure thing as a business associate. By my reckoning, the West has contributed tremendously more than their share towards the bubbling cauldron of global problems. But shhhh, don’t tell the Chinese otherwise the gig will be up and I won’t get the temporary job as vice president of an Austrian plastic manufacturer.

In the light of an increasingly globalized professional environment, my prediction is that more students will combine the prospect of travelling on their gap year with gaining work experience. Working in a foreign city provides priceless experience, both in terms of demonstrating flexibility and the opportunity to cultivate an exclusive and personal relationship with the city. My advice is to use every assignment in work placements as a chance to develop your experience and be open to a globalized society of flexibility and diversity of skills.


Upcoming Bollywood horror films are integrating some technical savviness in a bid for frights.

Haunted 3D

The Bollywood horror genre has changed significantly since the days of women screaming in bikinis and a sign of the times is the incoming fright flicks, armed to the teeth with new technology such as 3-D to scare the pants of the modern audience.

One such advocate is Haunted 3D, that is credited asIndia’s first stereoscopic 3D film and masterminded by horror maestro Vikram Bhatt. The director boasts just under 30 years of experience but still regards the film with precedence, “Haunted is my most challenging and fulfilling movie. It was all new, the style was new, the technology was new. It is a unique milestone in Indian cinema,” he proclaims.

Leading man Mahaksahy Chakraborty attests to the change in requirements of shooting in 3D, “At first it was difficult to cope with 3D standards; you have to change how you talk, how you stand, and your body language. It was ten times tougher than a normal film.” According to Chakraborty, the hard work paid off. “Haunted is absolutely revolutionary, it’s ten leaps ahead by being in 3D and five leaps ahead in the Indian horror genre.” He believes the film’s themes are a far cry from the blood and guts of Bollywood’s Old School horror, which had earlier populated Bollywood. “Haunted is very eerie, there are a lot of silences and it thrives on the emptiness of horror, leaving the audience guessing ‘what’s going to happen next’,” he describes.

Also on the horizon is Ragini MMS, featuring a couple on a romantic getaway that is terrorized by a supernatural spirit. The producer, Ekta Kapoor, had described its original presentation, “the way the film was run is a grabbed footage feed.” This style means the footage appears like an amateur home video. The method, which involved 24 cameras positioned at various angles in the house, is pioneering in Bollywood. The appearance of the footage as raw makes the story more believable because it downplays the presence of a movie crew and suggests it had happened in real life. Kapoor had further stoked these fires saying, “The footage is based on a true story.”

Though novel to Bollywood, Ragini’s has drawn comparisons with the Hollywood counterpart Paranormal Activity because it was filmed in a similar format and even has the same storyline. Although admitting Ragini was inspired by the way Paranormal Activity was filmed, Kapoor had denied any further likenesses.

Ragini is another example of Bollywood filmmakers revolutionizing the horror genre by adopting innovative practices and Kapoor was reportedly optimistic for success, stating confidently, “Ragini MMS will be the scariest movie to date in India.” Trade analyst Komal Nahta believes Haunted 3D will benefit from the novelty factor of being the first Indian film shot in 3D, but says horror films cannot count on technology alone for frights. “Everyone is relying on technology to add to the horror but first and foremost the subject of the film must be horrifying, it needs a good story.”


Tune into the frequency of Mumbai’s hottest DJs and get the low-down on the summer’s biggest anthems.

DJ Janux

DJ Janux In his ten years on the decks, local DJ Janux spins psytrance, progressive and tech house. His music has crossed waves toAmsterdam,London and NYC amongst others. DJ Janux’s ideal venue would be The Shaman Sorcery Summit in the Amazon back in 3077 B.C. But for now the mixer must content himself with a summer tour to Nepal, playing at the ‘Mountain Madness’ three-day outdoor festival and then onto Factory club in Katmandu for Nepali New Year.

The DJ’s ideal tour partner would be Stevie Wonder, “so that I could tell him there are 20,000 people on the dance floor and he wouldn’t know the truth” he exclaimed. And if he had to hear one song on loop for a whole year? “The would be Maybe next year by Meiko” the mixer joked

DJ Janux’s summer picks  “Sad Movies by Orca. A party-busting and iconic track with samples of 1950s movies combined with driving dance floor beats.”

Quench by Golong. “Twister and melodic track that moves through several spaces. It has lots of samples and loony sounds.”

Teleporter by Avalon. “Great track to play at outdoor parties during the day, superb groove and psychedelic melodies.” 

Welcome to Summer by Artist Headroom. “Clean groovy positive track with a lot of power.”

DJ Sa Credited asIndia’s premier hip hop spinners, DJ Sa packs hip hop, reggae, dancehall, and mash-ups in his arsenal. The DJ packs a political punch too. “I would love to have DJed during political activist Gandhi’s fight for freedom. Since he preached non-violence, music with a political message could be used as a different approach to protest.”

DJ Sa is following the ‘I am Music Tour’, featuring hip-hop superstars Nicki Minaj, DJ Khaled, Ace Hood, Young Money, and Lil Wayne, with envy. “I would love to be on the ‘I am Music Tour’ right now. Waynehas some of the craziest energy-driven live shows.” However Sa has his own plans, “I’m just about to go to Pune to open for the R&B singer Akon’s performance, then songster T-Pain’s concert afterwards. I am then the official tour DJ for rapper Hardkaur on her world tour aroundMauritius,USA,Canada,South Africa, andAustralia.”

 

DJ Sa’s summer picks Bow Chicka Wow Wow by Mike Posner ft Lil Wayne. “This slow R&B tune is addictive and with a magic hook, plus it feautures the biggest name in hip hop, Lil Wayne.”

All of The Lights by Kanye West. “Massive club banger, whatever Kanye touches turns to gold!”

I Need A Doctor by Dr. Dre & Eminem. “Eminem provides some very personal lyrics and the song is taken from the most-anticipated album of the century, Dretox.”

Yeah 3x by Chris Brown “This is a return to form for Chris Brown since his peak when Forever came out, similar tempo and catchy hooks.”

Black N Yellow by Wiz Khalifa “This guy is on fire right now and, with the help of hit producers Stargate, is one of the biggest tunes of the year.”


 Cool off this summertime with some tasty cocktail recipes from Mumbai’s trendiest watering holes.

 

What? Pommegranza Where? Lalit Bar

Ingredients: 60ml pinky Vodka, Pomegranate seeds and Grenadine syrup.

How: Muddle the Pomegranate seeds in a Margarita glass and put Vodka and dashes of Grenadine syrup in the shaker with ice cubes. Then shake and strain in a chilled glass.

 

What? The Garden Where? Bonobo Bar

Ingredients: 45ml Tanqueray Gin, 200ml Tonic Water, 1/2 Cucumber, 1 Lime, Basil, Thyme, Rosemary, Mint.

How: Put small portions of the Basil, Thyme, Rosemary and Mint together, five-six slices of Cucumber, and one lime cut into six-eight pieces all into a cocktail shaker. Lightly muddle until the aromas are released. Add the Gin and Ice then top with Tonic and stir. Take a tall glass and rim it with a mixture of Salt and Pepper then pour the mixture into the glass. Top with Cucumber and Herbs as Garnish.    

“The cocktail has a limey taste and is an instant cooler with a refreshing feeling.” -Head Bartender Sandeep Singh.

 

What? Gooseberry  Where? Red Zen Bar

 

Ingredients: 30ml Grey Goose Vodka, 30ml Jose Cuervo White Tequila, 90ml Cranberry Juice, 30ml Pineapple Juice.

How: Mix together in a shaker, then strain over fresh ice in a chilled Hurricane glass. Serve chilled and topped with a garnish of pineapple slice.

“Adding Elderflower cordial adds a tasty level of sweetness for the drink and serving the Gooseberry with vodka sorbet is a perfect summer option.” -Barman Kevin.

What? Whisky Crusta Where? Bonobo Bar

Ingredients: 60ml Whisky, 5 Lemon rind strips, 5 Orange rind strips, 3 drops of Bitters, 1 teaspoon of sugar.

How: Pour Whisky into a glass along with Sugar and Lemon andOrange rinds. Burn the outside of the glass then slowly tilt the glass and bring the flame to the top of the drink and apply the flame to the drink. Let the drink burn slowly for about 20 seconds then blow out the flame and add three drops of bitters then stir.

What? Bubblegum Martini Where? A Bar

Ingredients: 45ml Gordon’s Gin, 15ml Martini Extra Dry, 10ml Bubblegum Syrup.

How: Mix together in a shaker with ice, shake well then pour it into a Martini glass.

 “This fainted pink martini has a unique, sweet flavor which excites the taste buds and lets the bubblegum flavor come through. It is very easy to prepare at home for a house party,” -Barman Rajkumar.

 

 

Bombay Mary(right) & Blueberry Basil Martini(left) Trilogy.

What? Bombay Mary Where? Trilogy

Ingredients: 45ml Vodka, 5 dashes of Tabasco sauce, 3 drops of Worcestershire sauce, 2 pinches of Pepper, 1 pinch of Salt, 1 scoop of ice, a wedge of Lime, Guava juice and Chili powder.

How: Pour into a cocktail shaker, add ice, Vodka, Pepper, and Salt. Top up with Guava juice,Tabasco, and Worcestershire sauce then stir. Strain the liquid into a high ball glass rimmed with Chili powder then serve. 

“My signature cocktail is something refreshing that can be served with brunches. I took inspiration from the Guava with Salt and Chili powder sold on Mumbai’s streets.” – Keenam Tham, co-owner.

What? Blueberry Basil Martini

Ingredients: 60ml Vodka, 20ml (half sugar syrup, half lime syrup), 20ml Blueberry syrup, 30grams Blueberry, 3 leaves of Basil.

How: Grind the Blueberry and Basil leaves together. Then put all the ingredients with ice in a cocktail shaker, shake well, pour and serve in a Martini glass.

“Mumbai summers can get unbearably hot and humid and the concoction of basil and blueberry can be extremely soothing. The sweet taste of blueberry and a slight hint of basil guarantees a refreshing coolness.” –Keenam Tham, co-wner.


Meet India’s new Government cabinet, plucked from the ranks of Bollywood.

 

Activist Anna Hazare’s recent anti-corruption campaign attracted voluminous support from B-town. The Twittersphere was set alight with stars’ words of encouragement and exclamations of triumph. This begs the question, how would our very own B-towners fare, should they decide to hang up their acting boots for a dabble in politics?

Abhishek Bachchan Proposed position: Minister of Law and Justice

In movies such as Dhoom, Bachchan junior proved adept at playing a tough-talking cop dishing out cold slices of justice. After Bachchan tweeted on April 8, “Support MUST be in deed not just in thought”, what better way to lead by example than take up a position as Minister of Law and Justice?

After all Bachchan has already cosied up with the Narcotics Control Bureau. “The Bureau has been speaking to me for a long time to come and work with me,” Bachchan stated. The actor is not short of political motivation. “I believe in change, I believe in standing up for rights”, concluded the lawman.

Bipasha Basu Proposed position: Foreign Minister

Bipasha & Josh

Glamorous actor Basu has been following Hazare’s cause and the web was atwitter with her support. On April 9 Basu tweeted, “Corruption is our enemy… V need more leaders like Anna Hazare!” After her highly-publicized rapport with American star Josh Hartnett, Basu appears promising for overseeingIndia’s foreign relations.

The duo was recently spotted getting chummy on the set of Basu’s upcoming film, Singularity. Basu has already worked her magic. “Since Josh is an American he doesn’t know about cricket but I think we have him hooked and we watched the India-Pakistan cricket game together” she exclaimed. Anyone able to sell cricket to an American pledging their allegiance to baseball has my support.

Genelia D’Souza Proposed position: Minister of Propaganda

Urimi

Actor D’Souza’s success in trending her new film Urumi across Twitter with tweets such as “Im goin 2feel urumi thru d ppl cant wait”, makes her a potentially valuable asset to the government in communicating with the public. She retweeted a link on April 6 described as “ a vry sensible & balanced take on Anna Hazare’s fast…” to show support.

“I think Twitter is the best medium to stay in touch with your fans and actually get a real-time response from people. It’s fast, convenient and very easy to use,” D’Souza advised. Hope you’re taking notes, Dr. Singh.

Priyanka Chopra Proposed position: Minister of Education

Chopra with Unicef

UNICEF Ambassador, a former Miss World; beauty Chopra appears the ideal role model for young Indians. On April 6 she tweeted applauding their participation, “What’s remarkable is the uprising of youth of our country in support of Anna Hazare”.

Chopra’s first port of call would be to encourage voting. “How can you just sit and complain the government is bad, you are educated and can steer the country the way you want. When I turned 21 the first thing I did was vote,” she urged.

Trade analyst Taran Adarsh had this to say of actors’ political prospects. “There have been many instances of Bollywood actors going into politics but I still feel that most Bollywood politicians aren’t as impactful, as they still maintain their work in Bollywood”, he concluded.


Mumbai’s new cast of International Chefs get on the griller as they divulge their cooking creeds.

 

Chef Alex Sanchez, Executive Chef, The Table

 

Who: Alex Sanchez,
Restaurant: The Table,
Cuisine: International

The range of Sanchez’s cooking style reflects the cultural diversity of his hometown, San Francisco. He is dedicated to preserving the integrity of his ingredients, be it a carrot or an expensive cut of meat. “Cooking is about spontaneity, sensuality, and the giving of pleasure,” he declares.

Craziest order you have received?
“In an upscale restaurant back in San Francisco we had a superstitious guest who refused to eat anything in even numbers. He ordered a salad, naturally, and I was in the kitchen counting every leaf, every herb, every garnish to make sure it was in odd numbers.”
You have 12 hours to live, what meal do you have?
“Hands down my mom’s lasagna or my grandma’s leg of lamb — either would allow me to relive my entire life in one bite!”

How do you rate Mumbaikar diners?
“It’s difficult to generalise but I’m learning they like bold flavours and large portions. Being largely well-travelled there is also an appreciation for some subtlety and nuance.”

Chef Praiwan Sripal, Thai Chef, Courtyard

Who: Praiwan Sripal,
Restaurant: Red Zen,
Cuisine: Pan Asian

Four months into his Mumbai culinary foray and Thai Chef Praiwan has assembled a menu drawing from Thai, Chinese, Singaporean, Malaysian, Vietnamese, and Indonesian influences. He cooks by six words, “Keep it fresh, keep it simple!”

Craziest order…?
“A guest once requested a dish that was ‘not dead’.”
12 hours to live, what meal?
“I’m a simple man with simple tastes so it would be a fresh, authentic meal, raw papaya salad, Thai green curry and steamed rice.”
Best thing since sliced bread?
In the Thai food world that would be the strong and aromatic fish sauce (Nam Pla) — the staple ingredient of Thai cuisine.

Alain Coumont, Owner, Le Pain Quotidien

Who: Alain Coumont,
Restaurant: Le Pain Quotidien,
Cuisine: European Continental

Having opened a Colaba branch of the international brand in January, Belgian Coumont believes dishes should be a combination of colourful presentation and flavourful ingredients.
Kitchen injuries?
“A friend was re-enacting a stylish tennis shot with a long slicer and took a piece of my finger off in the demonstration. I also broke my toe after dropping a six kilo frozen salmon I was holding by the tail.”
12 hours to live, what meal?

“The best bottle of wine for sure and fresh truffle, if I’m lucky enough to die in
season.”

Mumbaikar diners?
“There is a very diverse range in preference and demographics and, as diners, they are discerning, sophisticated and well-traveled.”

Gia Tong, Head Chef, Trendz

Who: Gia Tong,
Restaurant: Trendz,
Cuisine: Vietnamese

Vietnamese Chef Tong has been plying his trade in Mumbai for just one month and is determined to bring eye-catching and colourful dishes to the dining scene.

Craziest order?
“A customer wanted their braised spare ribs medium-rare but I had to go out and personally explain to them that, because the dish is cooked for six hours, that would be pretty hard!”

Kitchen injuries?
“I was using a Chinese chopper to cut up some chicken and was so busy listening to instructions I chopped off part of my thumb.”

Weirdest ingredient?

“I am used to using snails but when I came to Mumbai I was told to take them off the menu, clearly it’s not Mumbaikar diners’ cup of tea.”


A new batch of Mumbai’s International Chefs prepare for a roasting.

Ian Kittichai, Head Chef, Koh

Name: Ian Kittachi Restaurant: Koh Cuisine: Thai

Hailing from Thailand, Chef Kittachi is a man devoted to his ingredients. His dishes arive courtesy of influences from across the globe and capped off with Thai flavors, spices and herbs. Look out for his signature offerings, such as lamb shank slow-cooked for 12 hours.

What’s the craziest order you’ve received? “Some people who are spice intolerant expect me to do a Green Thai curry without any chilies. But one guest asked me to do a Som Tom without Papaya and I did it with tender coconut shreds instead, it went down well.”  

What’s the weirdest ingredient you’ve cooked with? “Lamprey, an eel-shaped fish with delicately-flavored but fatty flesh, it’s a challenge to cook but even harder to eat!” 

What’s your ideal song to cook to? “Music helps to keep you in the flow of cooking so anything soft and soothing works. I have yet to find if spatulas make good microphones or if my kitchen can be a dancefloor.”

Jihad El Shami, Head Chef, Mabruk

 

Name: Jihad El Shami Restaurant: Mabruk Cuisine: Lebanese

Lebanese chef Jihad El Shami ensures that hygiene and organization rule in his kitchen. “No one appreciates a meal cooked by someone with a sweaty brow and hair loss issues” he declares.

Cooking song? Classical tunes by Fairouz, a female singer from Lebanaon.

What is the best dish you’ve prepared? Fakhed with Riz (A leg of lamb with rice).

You have 12 hours to live, what meal would you have? “Has to be Tabbouleh, a Levantine salad traditionally made of bulgar, finely chopped parsley and mint, tomato and spring onion, seasoned with lemon juice and olive oil.”

Who is your cooking inspiration and what dish would you serve them? My grandfather, he was a complete foodie who loved the Samkeh Harrah (Lebanese Garlic Fish)

Thomas Wee, Head Chef, Spices

Name: Thomas Wee Restaurant: Spices Cuisine: Chinese and Japanese

Seven and a half years into his Indian culinary expedition, Chinese chef Wee has developed a cooking creed centered around health conscious and nutritious cooking.

Weirdest ingredient? “I’ve cooked with wild animals such as Deer, Python, Flying Bat, Squirrel and Turtle.”

Any kitchen injuries? “I was new in the kitchen and fell on a slippery floor right onto the BBQ griller.”

Best thing since sliced bread? Asian rice and noodles!

12 hours to live, what meal? To be honest I don’t think I would have the appetite to eat anything.

Mama Villie Van, Head Chef, Ocean

Name: Mama Villie Van Restaurant: Ocean Cuisine: Pan-Asian

Chef Mama is credited as one of the pioneers of Thai food in Mumbai, being in the city for over 19 years. Her cooking aims at creating authentic and ethic cuisine.

Best thing since sliced bread? The pressure cooker, it makes cooking so much easier.

Your best dish? Panaeng (Meat in Spicy Coconut cream).

Your cooking inspiration? My grand mother, I would serve her my personal version of the Tom Yam Goong (Spicy Shrimp Soup).

What do you think about Mumbaiker diners? They are a spicy lot, over the years their taste buds have evolved but they always want quick service, spicy food, and lots of gravy.


London is a honey-pot for the unsuspecting tourist, make a wrong turn and you could find yourself entangled in a mass of camera-wielding sightseers,    fighting for air. Take it from a local, knowing the city’s best-kept secrets is half the battle.

Green Park

Acquaint yourself with the English summer in the woody expanse of Green Park. Situated five minutes from the heartbeat of London, Picadilly Circus, it’s a welcome escape from the crowds. If lounging around isn’t your idea of a sight-seeing holiday then worry not, this Royal park is steeped in history. Besides showcasing duels in Victorian times, it was used as a hunting ground by notorious British monarch Henry VIII. There’s also the small matter of the Queen’s residence, Buckingham Palace, a few minutes away.

Camden Town

A stomping ground for London’s avant-garde music folk, Camden Town is a sprawling mass of body-piercings, leather and bleached Mohicans. Its watering holes, and namely The Hawley Arms, have long been the haunt of supermodel Kate Moss and Oasis frontman Liam Gallagher. The vintage shops in Camden Market are home to biker jackets, flares and any of fashion history’s other forgotten garments while Cyberdog, which can be best described as a futuristic S&M shop, is a must-see.

La Fromagerie

Visiting a French-named cafe is hardly a way to crown an English holiday but this rustic cheese and wine shop is a stylish dining experience that personifies metropolitan London. Tucked away in London’s trendy Marylebone area, visitors are seated at earthy wooden tables before being given an impressive menu with offering taken from across Europe. The English Stinking Bishop is a soft cheese that lives up to its name and goes beautifully with the French wine, Chignin La Marechale.

Hoxton Hotel

Located in up-and-coming Shoreditch, this stylish offering is widely considered the best-valued hotel in London at 4,250 rupees a night. Owned by Pret A Manger co-founder Sinclair Beecham, it follows a no-nonsense mantra. The exposed brickwork and sizeable fireplace residing in the lobby are indicative of the hotel’s subtle and unpretentious decoration. But don’t be fooled into thinking you’re staying at a budget hotel, there are plenty of luxuries nestled around, including a free daily Pret A Manger breakfast.

DNA- Wax On, Wax Off


As an Englishman I have always held a paternal affection for the wiry hairs protruding from my chest. Their presence represents a rite of passage from pock-faced adolescent to cultured gent. After all, would Sean Connery’s James Bond have been able to charm the pants off female acquaintances without his sizeable chest barnet? I think not.

Yet having seen male actors such as Hrithik Roshan swagger around B-town, brandishing torsos as smooth and shiny as a freshly-waxed Rolls Royce I concluded the hair fest on my breast had to go. And so it was on an ominous Thursday afternoon that I found myself outside one of Mumbai’s finest waxing establishments, in the vain pursuit of Bollywood glamour.

“He needs to be waxed” declared my partner-in-crime to the owner, who then assessed me with suspicious displeasure, as if I’d just asked to date his mother. I was then cautiously led downstairs to an underground room, which had the metallic gadgets and surgical lights to make it the ideal set for the horror film Saw. “Nice and cozy”, I commented.

After awkwardly removing my shirt, I lay down on my back and a hot, golden substance was spread over my chest hairs. It appeared to be honey, but that would be wrong. The only time hot honey should be applied to one’s naked chest is in the privacy of the bedroom by a marital partner, not by a mustached forty-year-old in a dimly-lit underground basement.

With the wax applied, white strips were then rubbed vigorously into the hair-affected areas. This relative calm was shattered when they were viciously yanked away with the triumph of a wizard pulling a rabbit out of his hat. What remained was a barren patch of skin that had taken on an angry, red glow.

I didn’t blame its anger. The tearing off of strips was a painful affair. You knew the pain was coming so it was just a case of grimacing and awaiting the fateful and crunching rip. I wanted to keep up appearances so my face was contorted into an anguished smile, all to the delight of my torturer. He ripped the strips off joyfully as if Christmas had come early and he was tearing open his presents. No wonder Salman Khan prefers using a razor.

After desperately searching for any straggling hairs on my wretched chest as if each one were worth a small fortune, he relented. I was left with a ghostly white torso which resembled a freshly-skinned chicken with a bad case of rashes. My verdict? I may have a chest smooth enough to waltz down the catwalk, but I would happily accept the body hair of King Kong rather than endure that miniature hell every month.


Upcoming Bollywood action flick Zokkomon casts child star Darsheel Safary, 15, once more into the lime light after his acting debut in Taare Zameen Par aged 11. Child actors sometimes face a tough burden, being placed in the public eye early and potentially having their childhood disrupted.

A chirpy Safary sounded entirely unfazed. Of his experience working on set, “It was amazing, I had Jackie Chan’s stunt director (William Ong) directing my stunts”. Safary also kept up with school work and, despite the film’s commitments, performed well in his exams. “I had a teacher on set and my friends kept me up to date with the work I missed.”

Safary’s friends also played an important role in helping him deal with fame. “Sometimes I get annoyed with the attention in public and my friends and family help me out. My friends understand my situation and the best part is they never hype my presence.”

Director Amol Gupte, whose upcoming movie Stanley Ka Dabba features a cast of around five-hundred children, was careful not to disturb his child casts’ experience of growing up. He followed a policy of shooting only on Saturday to avoid coinciding with school, meaning the production took 18 months to film. He had advice for his youthful cast. “I cautioned them to treat this experience as knowledge and not as a route to stardom.”

Actor Jugal Hansraj, who was catapulted into fame aged nine in Masoom and starred as a child in later films Karma and Sultanat, has fond recollections of his child acting. “It was one of the greatest memories of my life, I didn’t miss any of my childhood and forgot about it when I grew up” he recalled.

Thanks to her parents, actor Sana Saeed, who starred alongside SRK when she was nine in Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, had a similarly unobtrusive time as a child actor. “When you’re that small you don’t know what you’re doing so your parents play an important role. My mum made sure I didn’t miss school and I would only do movies in holidays and over weekends.”

Having acted from age three, Saeed, 23, treated her roles as a hobby. “Child actors are so small that they don’t think about it being a career. It gives you confidence and might be a crazy back-up option but I did an advertising diploma afterwards and worked in a client-servicing department. It’s only recently I’ve wanted to get back into acting.”

Hansraj thinks child actors benefit from pressure-free environments. “Kids should be treated like kids and not behave too much, they are playing their part as children and should act straight from the heart.”

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