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Young & Restless

t he s un day gua rdia n 20: s up p lement to t he s unday guardi an | 05. 06. 2011 | new delhi

Upcycling becomes the fun new way to save the planet

niha masih

compulsive confessor
MeenAkShi reddy MAdhAvAn

or most of us, cola bottle caps and empty tetrapacks are useless items, to be thrown away after consumption. But Suren Vikhash, 25, begs to differ. He has managed to create a whole range of chic lifestyle accessories with material you and I usually throw away. His venture called Thunk in India works around the concept of upcycling, which is basically rehashing material into more valuable items. On the occasion of World Environment Day, we look at some young and restless designers who have pledged to transform the way eco-friendly goods look and are perceived in our society. As a student of product designing at Srishti, Bangalore, Vikhash used to often wonder how, through design, he could provide solutions to everyday problems. It led him to create fabrics out of tetra packs to be woven into bags and stationeries. The project won him a cash award of Rs 50,000 from IIT and a loan of Rs 2 lakh from his parents enabled him to take it up more seriously. Now, in his third year, Vikhash caters to 25 high street boutiques across the country and says, People end up buying eco friendly goods either to follow a fad or out of sympathy. I wanted to change this perception by making these goods look as good as others. The state-of-the art furniture range of Thunk, made entirely out of automobile waste,

Single woman in Delhi? Landlords here are good for a laugh

Lampshade made out of bottle caps

includes rest chairs from broken Bajaj scooters, stools from tyres and wine bottle tables. A fellow innovator from the other end of the country, Pankhuri Singh, 27, finds it difficult to choose between being called a traveller or a designer. Since the last year, Singh has undertaken several journeys to create unusual art. Her label Awaraa Art is not just inspired by nature, but comes from it. During her trips, she collects miscellaneous items which she then transforms into utility objects. Leaves, twigs, tree barks get magically transformed into earrings, necklaces and handmade paper diaries in her studio. When you make something with hand, it resonates with people too, she

Designer Vikash makes furniture out of automobile parts

adds. Her finished products do not have the feel of the raw materials that might have

gone into their making. She takes orders online and her product range is priced between Rs 2001,500. Unlike many environmental projects and ideas, upcycling is not uptight and is an exciting lifestyle choice. It aims to lengthen the life span of materials. This also reduces the consumption of new materials. However, the need for upcycling does not always stem from the need to save the planet. It can emerge from the urge to get rid of

the clutter around us in an engaging manner. Childrens illustrator and writer Indu Harikumar, for instance, picks up odds and ends during her morning walk and creates books out of cigarette cases and matchboxes, bags out of worn tee-shirts, paintings on tickets and even fridge magnets out of bottle caps. She jokes about how all her friends have started storing their junk for her. Though not into retailing her stuff, Indu often conducts workshops for NGOs.

m post-feminist, I announce proudly, at my second ever dinner party. After a day spent grocery shopping and food blog surfing, the product of my laborious time spent at the stove is being eaten with gusto, to my happy satisfaction. My friend leans back, satiated from the meal, and raises one sardonic eyebrow. Im taking back the kitchen! I say, a little less sure of the definition of post-feminism, I thought it wasnt feminist to cook, but I dont see why I shouldnt have that skill as well. And learn to knit? asks another male friend. And wear an apron? They break into sniggers. I ignore them and serve dessert in a manner that would put any 50s housewife to shame. Only, Im wearing shorts, the house and furniture are all mine and not the gifts of a husband or a parent, and even the food Ive cooked: lamb burgers, caramelized onions, haloumi cheese was cooked only because I had a massive burger craving, not because I was showing off some fancy new recipe. Okay, only partly because I was showing off a fancy new recipe. Recently, drifting about in a pool in a fancy new hotel with a friend, I think what a nice life she and my other couple friends seem to have. Shared things. Not having to justify buying a dining table (hard for me, because when I eat alone, I usually do it on a sofa with a book). Larger houses. That last one rankles. Increasingly, I begin to look around my tworoom set with distaste, with a countertop in a hallway serv-

tales of love & heartbreak

Met her on a train, never saw her again

I met her in the train last winter. She was travelling with her family, while I was with my friends, returning from a holiday in Goa. I noticed her immediately as she was very beautiful and wanted to talk to her, but her dad had caught me staring at her couple of times and glared back at me. The journey stretched for almost three days, and I finally got an opportunity to talk to her on the second day. She told me that she had just passed out of school and was preparing for a host of entrance examinations. I told her about my college and asked her if shed want to play antaakshri with us. She agreed happily and my friends started teasing me when she moved in next to me. When we reached Delhi I asked her for her phone number, but she refused to share it with me. I told her that she could trust me. But she left without saying goodbye. I still think about her sometimes. Anonymous, 24

New way of development has space even for old traditions

annie Johnny

Delhi is not a city for those wanting to live on their own

I found her irritating the first time I met her

We met during an office trip. She had come with one of our colleagues and I found her very irritating as she cribbed about a lot of things and barely spoke to anyone during the entire trip. By the end of it, we had made dozens of jokes about her. Soon after the trip, I received a Facebook friendship request from her and we started chatting regularly on the Internet. In her chats, she came across as a completely different person and I enjoyed talking to her. I even told her how annoying she was during the trip and she explained that she had just broken up with her boyfriend and agreed to go on the trip to get her mind off unpleasant memories. So, after a while, we decided to meet for coffee. We have many things in common and our differences make our conversations all the more interesting. We have been together for two years now and things couldnt have been better for both of us. Ashish, 26

In a bid to save our heritage from the onslaught of rapid urban development, an NGO in Bangalore is trying to evolve and implement sustainable ways of living in the Indian cities. Sustainable Urbanism International (SUI), a research and design initiative, is involved in developing strategies for urban development that are both culturally and environmentally sensitive. Founded in 2003 by Dr Jyoti Hosagrahar, a teacher in Columbia University, New York, SUI was created to explore the alternate ways of urban development. Being a consultant for UNESCO on historic cities, I have done a lot of research on cities and urban landscapes and Ive discovered that we dont have to necessarily copy the cityscapes of New York. We should be able to find a way to sustain our traditional lifeastyle along with develop-

A monument in the Hoysala region in Karnataka

ment, says Hosagrahar. Working with the Karnataka government and UNESCO, SUI is currently trying to develop strategies and policies that would not just conserve its heritage buildings, but also revive the traditional ways of living. SUI started their work in the Hoysala region of Karnataka. They tried to conserve the historic township as well as boost its tourism by redesigning the

public spaces, street signage and interiors of home stays. Heritage buildings were turned into visitors centre and heritage homes were made boutique hotels. This project has been on for a couple of years now. We chose to develop 14 places in the Hoysala region. We also integrated our conservation strategies with the needs of the people living in the area, says Hosagrahar. Currently,

they are undertaking a similar conservation project in Delwara region of Rajasthan. Our idea of sustainability is different from the popular understanding of the subject. We believe that it is not enough to install solar panels and CFL lights. The regions socio-cultural and economic aspects have to be dealt with care too, says Hosagrahar. So, instead of breaking what already exists and building something new, SUI is trying to make the old buildings and traditions co-exist with the newer additions in the city, without creating a clash of ideas and aesthetics. Her colleague Amit Chanchal explains, We dont want to take something and put it in a museum A lot of Hindu towns used to have a temple in the centre and houses were built around it. These customs have ceased to exist with time, so we want to find a way to revive them.

ing as a kitchen, a living room where, if I was five inches taller, I could stretch out and touch all four walls, a cupboard in a most inconvenient place, but one I cant shift because there isnt anywhere else to go. A bathroom I have to share with my cat. Its cute, but Im done being cute. Im done confining my life to the box of spinsterhood. I dont see why I shouldnt have two bedrooms just because Im not married, I tell my mother. She suggests I start looking for Figures. Some people a house again, somewhere I can stretch and potter about and dream of magical just be. A writers studio, except, I keep thinking about my worlds. I dream extra bedroom, even though I about real estate. know I should be focusing on the basics: a one bedroom hall kitchen. Just right for one small person plus cat. But, I think that bits of Delhi still allow us the luxuries of space for a fraction of the cost, and I think about my teeny tiny flat in Bandra, and how I sometimes fantasized (even dreamt at night) about large houses, houses that opened up into other houses. My most recurring dream was one where I walked into a hallway or a cupboard or something, saw a door I had never seen before, turned the handle and suddenly realised my house was a mansion. Figures. Some people dream of magical worlds. I dream about real estate. And the important thing is, in all these fantasies, it was always just me. Just me and an excess of space.

Diamonds mystery muse was JFKs daughter Caroline

at sporting events for Fenway Park, home to the Boston Red Sox baseball team and the New York Rangers. It was first played at the games in the honour of a Red Sox employee who named her daughter Caroline in 1998. Ranked as the most profitable solo performer of 1986 by Billboard magazine, Diamonds Sweet Caroline is one of the most famous karaoke numbers in America. Though it has been covered by artists like Elvis Presley, Waylon Jennings and The Drifters; Frank Sinatras version is Diamonds personal favourite. He said in an interview, He did it his way. He didnt cop my record at all. Ive heard that song by a lot of people and there are a lot of good versions. But Sinatras swinging, big band version tops them all by far. Shweta Sharma

I turned down the hottest guy in school

Himanshu was the most handsome guy in our school and most of the girls in my class adored him. I was one of the many girls queuing up to get noticed by him. Finally, in my last year in school, I became his partner in a science project and since we had to work after class, hed often come over to my place after school. Honestly, the project helped me get over my crush on him. I found him to be very narcissistic and dumb. He loved talking about himself and his sense of humour was pathetic. I couldnt stand the way he made fun of me and made chauvinistic comments about my work. To make my friends jealous, I used to cook up romantic stories about us. In fact, I was surprised when he asked me out one day, but I turned him down. Maalti, 24 Send in your own tales of new-found love or lost romance to: Song: Sweet Caroline Artist: Neil Diamond Label: Saregama Producer: S.D Burman A picture of an innocent little girl inspired American singer-songwriter Neil Diamond to pen one of the biggest songs of his career. But the woman in the picture remained a mystery for 40 long years, until Diamond revealed in 2007 that Caroline Kennedy, the daughter of President John F. Kennedy, was the inspiration behind this song. It

Diamond revealed the name of his muse after 40 years

took Diamond less than an hour to pen the lyrics of this chart topping number a few years after he found a picture of Caroline, aged nine, posing next to a pony in her riding gear in a magazine. Diamond is said to have performed the song for his muse

on her 50th birthday. She was smitten by the song, contrary to Diamonds belief that she would be discomfited by its romantic words. Sweet Caroline took Diamonds abating career to new heights, selling more than 2 million copies. It also became a sing-along rage

spend time househunting. I explain very carefully to all the brokers I use just what Im looking for. Somewhere quiet, and big enough so I dont get all cramped, and with enough light so that the place doesnt look like a dungeon and oh yes, Id like to entertain some evenings, thanks. Well. Youd think I was suggesting running a prostitution drug ring. First, the landlords all looked deeply suspicious of a single girl wanting to live on her own. It doesnt help that I look about five years younger than I am, so I had to stand on their doorsteps, going, Please! Im nearly thirty! Then, I got well-meaning lectures on how I should really be working on getting married (thanks), and another set of questions, asked in perfectly polite tones, about how I shouldnt have any male guests. Especially not overnight ones. Id reply, equally politely, that I had male friends, and I wasnt going to promise anything of the sort. Thanks, theyd say, shaking my hand, Well call you. Landlord woes apart, there really wasnt anything that was calling to me. Nice houses, basic houses, houses tucked away behind main houses or on top of main houses, all very much Youre-Single houses. Like were pariahs. Delhi doesnt have an abundance of that Bombay staple: the 1 BHK; its either two bedrooms or none. This is not a city for the single person wanting to live on their own, basically. And then, one hot afternoon, en route to see what would turn out to be another city of equally depressing places, I found it. Out of my budget, ungainly, weird bathroom placement, three more bedrooms than I need, but I loved it. I wanted it. This was it, this was my grown up house, a house, I told my friend, that has more personality than I do. A house uncannily like the ones I dreamt about, one room leading to another, and just when you think youre done with the space, theres more. If this house happens, my own, unpariah house, my in-your-face! house, my I-dont-need-to-be-married-to-have-a-guestroom house, if it all comes together, like I hope it will. But land gods are precarious, and you never know, then I might just be a spinster till the end of my days, just so I dont have to share it. Otherwise, theres always the one room sets. Meenakshi Reddy Madhavan is the suthor of You Are Here and Confessions of a Listmaniac.