Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Jo'burg Part 4 (Sunday, July 29)

It was my birthday on Sunday, and lucky me - I got to spend it in Jo'burg & East London :)

Mum & I had lunch with family in Benoni, and Kamlamami surprised me with a birthday cake and candles that I had to blow out - don't know when last I did that :) After lunch, we headed for the airport.

Our flight was at 15:20 and to say the airport was chaotic is a serious understatment! ....and of course, our flight was delayed by 20 minutes, but once we took off into the sunset, mum and I were very happy to be back home.

View of the city from our hotel room @ 06:30

Dilipkaka, me & Baboomama

Delicious lunch with the family

My surprise birthday cake with candles!

Thakormama, me & Kamlamami

Neelesh & me

Time to go home!

Monday, July 30, 2007

Jo'burg Part 3 (Saturday, July 28)

Saturday was extremely exciting for me. Gandhi, My Father was going to have its worldwide premiere in South Africa on Sunday (July 29), and I got to attend the press conference at Monte Casino with my CEO and two directors from SA India.

The panel consisted of: Feroz Khan (director), Anil Kapoor (producer) and the cast - Darshan Dariwala, Shefali Shah (of Monsoon Wedding fame), Bhoomika Chawla (of Tere Naam fame) and Akshaye Khanna.

Naturally, the stars arrived fashionably late, and while the press waited for them, I mingled with other media folk. Before we knew it, we were told to take our seats in the theatre (where the conference was being held), and the stars were whisked in with tight security. AB Moosa (MD of the Avalon Group of Cinema's) introduced the stars and we were shown a promo clip of the film.

Mahatma Gandhi's life has been written and rewritten in countless history books, and for those who know the story of this great man will understand why the worldwide premiere of this film was screened in South Africa.

The lighting was awful in the theatre (not a great venue for a press conference), so my photos are pretty dark...

Clip from Gandhi My Father

Clip from Gandhi My Father

Clip from Gandhi My Father

AB Moosa introducing the cast

Feroz Khan (director) and Anil Kapoor (producer)

My CEO said I should ask a question...the butterflies in my tummy were going crazy! I was so excited! I noticed that journailsts were only directing questions to the producer and director, and the two female leads (Shefali Shah & Bhoomika Chawla) were being left out. After introducing myself and which publication I was representing (SA India), I said that my question was for the cast members (Darshan, Shefali, Bhoomika & Akshaye). I wanted them to speak about the preparations that went into the various roles they portrayed.

I was so psyched when Akshaye told me that he's never been asked that question and has always wanted to talk about it! After I asked my question and sat down, I was like, "OMG - Akshaye Khanna is looking at me and answering my question!" I thought I was over being star struck, but it was just excitement that this was my first press conference with film stars.

Darshan Dariwala (Mahatma Gandhi)

Akshaye Khanna (Harilal Gandhi)

Shefali Shah (Kasturba Gandhi)

Bhoomika Chawla (Gulab Gandhi)

After the press conference, literally within seconds, the stars were swept away upstairs where they gave interviews to the broadcast media. Although he was being rushed out of the theatre, Anil Kapoor took a minute to shake hands with various journalists who were there (including ME!)

Unfortunately I couldn't get a photo with him - everything happened in such a flash that before I knew it, the theatre was empty and I was standing in the lobby. I found Anil very friendly and down to earth. Apparently, the stars had just landed in the country and came to press conference, so they were most likely jet-lagged. Akshaye Khanna didn't exude much energy during the conference and for 99% of the time, had his chin rested on his palm! The ladies (Shefali & Bhoomika) gave clear and concise answers and Feroz Khan (the director) pre-warned us that Bhoomika isn't a lady of many words....

Anil Kapoor after the press conference

Ashley, me & Rajesh with friends

Monte Casino

After the press conference and mingling a bit at Monte Casino, we went to Fordsburg - a predominantly Indian area and walked around at the fleamarket (almost anything and everything you could think of was being sold there). I even bargained a bit! The atmosphere was electric with wafts of delicious eats on sale at nearly every second stall....






Jo'burg Part 2 (Friday, July 27)

On Friday, I went to Pretoria to meet my CEO and the rest of the team of SA India. It was great meeting the people who make it all happen every month. The August edition has been launched in full gloss - which is quite a milestone for all of us involved in the production of the magazine.

Rajesh Devjee & me

The NEDBANK EASTERN BRIDAL FAIR was being held at the Sandton Convention Centre, which is linked to Sandton Towers (where we stayed on Friday & Saturday night). Because SA India was one of the partners, I got to attend the fair as a special guest, and got really cool (front row) seats at the fashion show/dance extravaganza. I had such a fantastic time and was in awe of all the people hovering around me (other media people who I regard as celebs!)

The stalls weren't breathtaking, and the fair is really more for soon-to-be-brides. However, I did pick up some gorgeous bling bling rings.

Look at all that bling!

I also had mehndi applied by some artists from India

The fashion show was exquisite...with some boutiques showcasing their latest in bridal wear (for both ladies & gents).

Here's a clip from one of the dances that was performed (choreographed by Shiamak Davar School of Dance)

Jo'burg Part 1 (Wednesday, July 25 & Thursday, July 26)

My mum & I flew to Jo'burg on Wednesday, July 25 for a family prayer. It was great seeing the family after a few years and being introduced to my mum's old friends. Here are a few pics from the trip... more to follow soon!!

Jo'burg from my window seat on the plane

Oriental Plaza

Oriental Plaza

Flower sellers @ Oriental Plaza

Hooka's @ Oriental Plaza

Sweetmeat shop

Quaint spice shop in Lenasia

Delicious snacks @ Kara Nichha's

Sweetmeats @ Kara Nichha's

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Chatterbox July '07


They say that a teacher never forgets his/her first class. I am no exception and I know that I won't ever forget my first students I taught as a TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) teacher in Cape Town. They were a class of four students from Chad – Ibrahim, Abdel, Hamza and Ali.

Whether the sun was shining, or the heavens were pouring down sheets of rain, these fours students traveled to town every morning to their English class where they were taught an hour each day. My respect and admiration grew for these students because I had never seen such willingness to learn.

Hamza, Ali, Ibrahim & Abdel-Wahid

With Journalism being my field of study for four years, one would think I’d be comfortable and at home with the English language, yet it never ceases to amaze me. Teaching English as a foreign language also made me realize how much we all take for granted in terms of our everyday language usage. If you are reading this, you are most likely English-speaking, and you’re able to comprehend whatever I’m writing, right? We don’t often think of it, but English is such a complicated language. Think of this - Why is the past tense of ‘read’ ‘read’, yet the past tense of ‘buy’ is ‘bought’? Even our spelling is bound to confuse non-English speakers! Think of words like ‘night’. Who’s to say it’s not pronounced ‘neegt’? And where’s the rule saying that the ‘gh’ of the word is silent?

The level my students were at was Beginner to Elementary. In one specific lesson, I decided to teach the five senses (see, hear, smell, taste and touch). When I asked one student to show me his ears, he pointed to his nose. This was such an eye-opener for me, and I soon realized that I had to start with the very basics, despite the fact that my students were in their 20’s.

Everyday I drilled them, teaching things like ‘eyes’, ‘nose’, ‘mouth’ and ‘ears’. Can you imagine my pride and joy when by the third day they were even able to tell me where their wrist and ankle was! On top of that, they learnt which sense is associated with the specific body part. I was beaming like a proud parent!

This month, my column is for Ibrahim, Abdel, Hamza and Ali who taught me that nothing is impossible and that if you put your mind to something, it is certainly achievable.