Monthly Archives: November 2014

Pahilwan Ahmed of Mysuru wins Wresting competition

MLA G.T. Devegowda is seen presenting a silver mace to city’s Pahilwan Ahmed on winning traditional wrestling bout against Pahilwan Yallappa of Dharwad. Also seen are MLA S.R. Mahesh and others.
MLA G.T. Devegowda is seen presenting a silver mace to city’s Pahilwan Ahmed on winning traditional wrestling bout against Pahilwan Yallappa of Dharwad. Also seen are MLA S.R. Mahesh and others.

Mysuru :  (MRU&VNS)

Traditional wrestling buffs were treated to some of the best wrestling bouts at the Sahukar Channaiah Wrestling Grounds at Doddakere Grounds in city yesterday.

Wrestling competitions were organised as a part of MLA G.T. Devegowda’s 66th birthday celebrations. In competitions held yesterday, Pahilwan Ahmed of Mysuru defeated Pahilwan Yallappa of Dharward to win the silver mace.

Many enthusiasts from Mysuru, Chamarajanagar, Mandya, Hassan and Kodagu districts thronged the wrestling stadium to witness the competitions. The competition was inaugurated by MLA G.T. Devegowda by offering Amba Bhavani.

MLA S.R. Mahesh, Mayor R. Lingappa, Corporator K.V. Mallesh, G.D. Harishgowda, MCC Ruling Party Leader K.T. Cheluvegowda, Janata Bazar President Chandrashekar and others were present.

source: / Star of Mysore / Home> Sports News  / Monday , November 24th, 2014

ASI forms taskforce for restoring 3 Mughal-era structures


The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has formed a task force under the organization’s additional director general (ADG) BR Mani for the restoration and protection of three Mughal era-structures – Hanthi Khana, Aga Khan haveli and Khan-e-durran haveli situated on the Yamuna bank in vicinity of the Taj Mahal.

Mani along with senior ASI officials (Agra circle) conducted a survey of the structures on Saturday to ascertain their present condition. They found that all the three structure are in dilapidated condition and encroached upon by locals.

“We will ensure that these monuments are conserved and remain protected from encroacher. A survey has been done,” Mani said.

ASI officials said the selected monuments have found mention in a book written by Ebba Koch, Austrian architectural historian, as riverfront Mughal gardens in Agra. They are located on north eastern side of the monument, said an official.

According to information, Khan-e-durran was Shah Jahan’s governor of the Deccan and played a major role in annexation of Daulatabad fort in 1633. His haveli was later converted into a tannery during British period. At present, its ownership is in dispute. The ASI task fort has also been looking into this matter.

Likewise, Aga khan was the superintendent (also a fuajdar) under Shah Jahan and responsible for maintaining law and order at the river front. “He was also responsible for ensuring proper care of a thousand horses of the Mughal army. He died in 1658,” said an official.

The Hanthi gate was the entry point to the elephant enclosure. Although not much information is available about it, it does find mention in Koch’s book and also in Padshahnama written by Abdul Hamid Lahori in the 17th century.

The ASI will also chalk out a plan to plant trees in the Taj heritage corridor located between the Taj Mahal and the Agra Fort and convert it into a greenbelt. The Supreme Court had passed an order this regard in 2006, but nothing much was done so far because of lack of funds and experts. Now, the project has taken wings once again after former minister of culture, Shripad Naik directed the ASI in August to revive the project.

source: / The Times of India / Home> City> Agra / Aditya Dev / November 22nd, 2014

Former UP advocate general SMA Kazmi killed in road accident

Pratapgarh  (UP):

Former Uttar Pradesh advocate general S M A Kazmi was today killed and three others were injured when the car they were travelling in rammed into a tree in Hatigawan area, a senior police officer said here.

According to deputy Superintendent of Police S P Tomar, the driver lost control while he swerved the car to avoid hitting a motorcyclist and rammed into the tree near Bhadri this afternoon.

He said that three more car occupants — Shakeel Ahmad, Shakir Ahmad and Syed Iqbal — were injured in the accident and have been referred to a hospital in Allahabad.

The accident took place when Kazmi was returning to Lucknow from Allahabad.

source: / The Times of India / Home> City> Lucknow / PTI / November 25th, 2014

Calcutta captures King – Superstar dances and dimples his way into 10,000 hearts


Shah Rukh Khan rocked St. Xavier’s College on Wednesday evening with his dimpled smile, star appeal and snappy quips, giving a 10,000-strong crowd of screaming fans plentiful “happy” moments to remember the evening by.

If a kiss each on the forehead was a fairy tale come true for three second-year students, SRK’s spontaneity ensured that everyone else had something to take away from the hour-long Happy New Year show “Indiawaale Kolkata Mein Chha Gaye!” — presented by t2 in association with CenturyPly and Gameplan, powered by Glamour World Ayurvedic and partnered by the St. Xavier’s College Alumni Association and 91.9 Friends FM.

Chants of “We want Shah Rukh” had rent the air from 5.30pm with half the crowd already on the playground by then, armed with posters professing their love for King Khan and wishing HNY “good luck”. By the time SRK, Farah Khan and the rest of the Indiawaale team arrived from The Oberoi Grand, the crowd had doubled.

First on the stage was director Farah, who promised the audience King Khan in exchange for another promise. “Promise me, all 10,000 of you will go and watch Happy New Yearagain tomorrow, then I’ll ask Shah Rukh to come on stage,” she said.

For SRK, this crowd would have promised her the moon.


Shah Rukh jogged onto the stage clad in ripped denims, black tee, tan leather jacket and his trademark dimpled smile. Delirium.

“There is no place like Calcutta for the love that I get and this is even beyond that. So, thank you very much. I am going to be here. I will talk for you, I will dance for you. I will do everything that you guys say,” promised Shah Rukh.

He proceeded to do just that and more.

The crowd would roar in approval whenever Shah Rukh said something, the screaming continuing when his HNY co-stars Sonu Sood and Vivaan Shah or director Farah endorsed the Bolly Badshah’s love for his adopted hometown. “Shah Rukh told me that when you come to Calcutta with him, you witness love like you have never before, and I am witnessing it right now,” Farah said.

“I genuinely feel like a king of the world because of everyone in Calcutta. I was born in Delhi and brought up in Mumbai, but I can tell you, absolutely, unquantifiably, the love that I get in Calcutta I get nowhere else. As long as I am working I want to come back and do something special for Calcutta so please pray for me that I can do so,” Shah Rukh added.

He went on to repeat a dialogue from Happy New Year that he said was closest to his heart and one which students could learn from — “Duniya mein do tarah ke log hote hain, winners and losers, lekin zindagi har loser ko woh ek mowka zaroor deti hai jismein wohwinner ban sakte hain.”

While Shah Rukh the non-stop entertainer didn’t come as a surprise, at Xavier’s on Wednesday it was his turn to be entertained by his fans. Ten Xaverians got the opportunity to perform not just for, but with King Khan, Sonu, Vivaan and Farah.

While Moubani Roy Choudhury tried a dialogue from HNY, to which Shah Rukh responded with a “You are breathtaking”, fellow Xaverian Virender Singh sang Indiawaale. But it was when four students chosen to dance with the star took the stage that the fun went up a notch.

“I am switching to the Xavier’s team. I am in Calcutta, I have to be with my city. You guys (Farah, Vivaan and Sonu) can represent HNY,” SRK said, slipping between the Xaverians.

After the group had danced to various songs from HNY, Shah Rukh announced that it was time to groove to something different. “Can we have Lungi dance, please?” he hollered.

The audience went wild, as did everyone on stage.


When Class VI student of St. Xavier’s Collegiate School Divyansh Agarwal was reported missing in the crowd crush, SRK did his bit in locating him. “Divyansh, your parents are a little worried. Can you come in front of the stage? You can use this as an excuse to come up and see us from up close as well,” Shah Rukh said, prompting the ladies in the audience to call out that they were all “lost”.

SRK immediately flashed a dimpled smile and flipped a thumbs up sign.

While Shah Rukh hugged, danced, sang along and blew kisses at the audience every few minutes, what he didn’t do despite several requests was take off his black tee and show his eight-pack abs.

The audience did get a glimpse of hunk Sonu’s pectorals though, thanks to director Farah’s bullying.

The HNY team was felicitated by Father Felix Raj, principal of St. Xavier’s College, and also cut a cake to celebrate the success of the film.

Each member of the HNY team got a Xaverian T-shirt and a cap.

The best gift, of course, was reserved for the audience: SRK up close and personal.

What makes SRK a winner each time he takes the stage? Tell

source: / The Telegraph, Calcutta / Front Page> Story> Calcutta / by Chandreyee Chatterjee and Pramita Ghosh / Thursday – October 30th, 2014

Village commemorates 41 Wagon Tragedy victims on anniversary day

Malappuram :

On the occasion of observing 93rd anniversary of Wagon Tragedy, the darkest chapter of Malabar rebellion during British period on Thursday, a village near Tirur commemorates 40 people hailing from the village, who were killed in the tragedy.

A total of 70 among the 90 odd Mappila rebels who were taken in an air-tight goods wagon from Tirur to Podanur were killed on November 20, 1921. The prisoners were taken into custody when the rebellion was in peak and almost 80 detained rebels were despatched in freight wagon from Tirur to Podanur in Tamilnadu. During the journey about 60 of the rebels suffocated to death in wagon.

It is believed that among the 41 persons from Kuruvambalam who were victims of the tragedy, majority were bachelors who left behind no progeny. “Even the historians and local people were not much aware of the role of the Kruvambalam people in the incident till couple of years ago. According to the elders in the village the youngsters here had played a major role in the struggle against the British during the rebellion and more studies have to be conducted to shed light on the contribution of tragedy victims”, said Salim Kuruvambalam, Malappuram district panachayat member, who took initiative for setting up a memorial for the Wagon Tragedy victims at Kuruvamabalam. The district panchayat president Zuhara Mampad will inaugurate the comemmoration programmes in the village. Historians will also attend the programme.

Talking about role of Kuruvambalam persons in the tragedy, the historian KKN Kurupp said that government should conduct a comprehensive study on the victims of Wagon tragedy and other related incidents of Malabar rebellion. ” As there was no such study held so far the state government should initiate action to start a detailed historical and cultural study on the various incidents during the rebellion period. We are going to observe 100th anniversaty of the rebellion in 2021. But still we have no clear data or official document regarding the incidents and the details of the persons who were killed in Wagon tragedy”, he pointed out.

The historian and scholar M Gangadharan has recently opined that the Wagon tragedy was not a cruellest act of the British oppression during the Malabar rebellion, as about 200 Mappila youngsters pulled out of their house and they were killed infront of their family in October of the same year.

source: / The Times of India / Home> City> Kochi / by T. P. Nijeesh, TNN /  November 20th, 2014

Tale of Fading Glory


Hyderabad  :

Once a minister in Nizam’s court and a ‘shaukeen-mijaaz’, legend goes that he wore clothes European that were laundered in Paris, ate only European food, threw lavish parties, ‘Umrah-e-Uzaam’ nawab Fakhr-ul-mulk hadn’t wished to live longer to see his small kingdom being swept away by the winds of development, corruption and encroachment. The remnants of the more-than-century-old monument, peeping out from a corner at SR Nagar, tells the story of grandeur and splendour the Nawab was once known for.

Now a private property, as claimed by the great grandson of the aristocrat, the monument has tombs of Fakhr-ul-mulk, his wife, their five sons and other numerous descendants. “Until 1970, we received jaagir from the government to maintain the tomb. But when it stopped, shops and houses started cropping up on the property,” said Mir Sarfaraz Hussain, the great grand son of the nawab and a retired commissioner of commercial tax.


Recently the ‘zannana’ or female entrance of the tomb was obstructed when a mulgi was set up along boundary wall of the structure. “We even approached the GHMC commissoner but nothing has come of it,” rues the Sarfaraz Hussain.

Not just encroachment, but in last 100 years, the industrial development and urbanisation tanned down its shine. The structure has endured traffic pollution for decades. With the metro rail passing through the area, the existential troubles have only increased for the the nawab’s tomb. “When the area fell under HMR plan, they negotiated with the encroachers and paid them. If taken away, we fear the beauty of the tomb be lost as it will be further sandwiched in the dust of developing the transport system,” points out the Mir Amanath Hussain, the great great grand of Fakhr-ul-Mulk and adds that the matter is pending in the court at the moment.

Erected on two acres out of the total four acres and 27 guntas estate, the tomb is a pagan symbol of tomb architecture in Hyderabad. It is also marked as the last major monument to be constructed in the Qutub Shahi revival style of architecture. Constructed with stone, lime stone and sand, it is quite modest but imposing at the same time.

The tomb that was awarded the Intach Heritage award in 2011 for being instrumental in the evolution of tomb architecture in Hyderabad, with its creaking iron gate, wild overgrowth, broken fountain, rumbling pool, unkept pathway — are all the tell-tale signs of sheer negligence. It’s ironic that the sixth generation of the family hardly has any knowledge of their glorious past or of the majestic stone structure in which they are associated with.

“Yearly we spend a lot of money on the upkeeping of the tomb but as you can see its not enough. What’s more is that no one takes interest in the upkeep of the place,” rues Sarfaraz Hussain and adds “when family is apathetic towards our ancestors, there is no surprise if the administration takes no heed of our pleas.” While fighting many legal battles, the retired government employee is also battling his relatives to set up a private committee to look after the upkeep of the structure.

M Vedakumar, a former core committee member of Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) and the President of Forum for Better Hyderabad opines that retaining the rights of the heritage structure and its precinct by the private parties is justified. “The Government should, however, take into account the condition of the structure and provide assistance for its maintenance,” he said.

He feels that there is a need for a heritage cell to look into all the matter pertaining to the upkeeping of heritage structures. And rightly so, for one doesn’t know how many of the 156 heritage sites will exist for our grandchildren to see.

source: / The New Indian Express / Home> Cities> Hyderabad / by Sadaf Aman / November 25th, 2014

The big fat biryani battle


The A in the B

Shahanshah Mirza cannot imagine his biryani without the aloo. Fatima Mirza could not imagine her biryani with the aloo. Till the girl from Lucknow was married into the Mirza family of Park Circus. “I remember finding the aloo in the biryani quite funny at first,” says Fatima, who friends insist serves up some of the best biryani in town. And yes, with the aloo.

Why are we so bothered about the biryani being cooked in the Mirza kitchen? Simple, that’s where the great “to aloo or not to aloo” debate was born for the Calcutta biryani.

Yes, Shahanshah Mirza is the great-great-grandson of Wajid Ali Shah, the last nawab of Awadh. Foodlore has it that the nawab came to Calcutta after losing his throne and to cut costs, his cooks replaced the meat with the potato. And, foodlore number two: Wajid Ali Shah’s cooks added the aloo but only after falling on hard times following the death of the nawab. Either way, thus was born the Calcutta biryani the city now gorges on.

The nawab’s family line dismisses all this as, well, lore. “The nawab was a connoisseur of food and had given a free hand to his chefs to experiment with dishes. Once his chefs played around with the biryani and put potatoes in it. The nawab liked it so much that he ordered that the aloo be a constant in the biryani henceforth,” says Shahanshah.

And that is how it is cooked to this day in the Mirza kitchen — and in the kitchens of almost every biryani-serving restaurant around town.

With the royal exception of… Royal Indian Hotel.

What started as a humble rented shop in Chitpur to sell culinary creations by Ahmed Hussain, a migrant from Lucknow, is now a two-storeyed restaurant that seats 65 in its AC hall, 75 in the non-AC hall and 40 in the ground-floor dining hall and “remains full at meal times”.

But don’t dare mention the A (aloo) word here. “We only make authentic Lucknowi biryani and our patrons love that. Our biryani does not have aloo, it has kofti (meat balls),” declares Md Irfan, one of the directors of Royal Indian Hotel, stirring up biryani since 1905, the year Lord Curzon divided Bengal.

More than a century on, Calcutta still stands divided. Along the thick potato line when it comes to the biryani.

How tough it is to serve biryani without the potato in a city weaned on that is evident from what Luknow, an Awadhi food restaurant that opened in Park Circus and Ballygunge this year, had to face. With diners insisting that “aloo chhara biryani hoy na (there can be no biryani without aloo)”, Shalini and Vinay Arora, the couple behind Luknow, were in a pickle. The cooks from Lucknow at the helm said: “Awadhi biryani cannot be cooked with potatoes.” But on popular demand aloo was introduced in one of the 11 biryanis on the menu.

No wonder the most popular biryani places in Calcutta just pile on the potato. Arsalan, Shiraz, Aminia, New Aliah — you name it and all of them have it. Aminia of New Market that has been running since August 15, 1947, has three more outlets in Calcutta — at Gol Park, Jessore Road (Nagerbazar) and Rajarhat (Chinar Park). They have been serving aloo with their biryani since inception.

Arsalan, a relatively recent dot on the biryani map of Calcutta (2002), has zoomed to the top of the bestseller chart and now runs five outlets — two in Park Circus, including the landmark one at 191 Park Street, and one each in Ripon Street, Taratala and Hatibagan. For them, there truly is no B (biryani) without A (aloo). “Some customers even look for a second piece of aloo on the plate!” says Arsalan director Akhtar Parwez.

The aloo is also an essential part of the biryani at Shiraz Golden Restaurant, which dates back to 1956. It has 10 outlets in the city stretching from Garia to Dum Dum.

A new kid on the biryani block, Oudh 1590, has tried to create a destination for Awadhi cuisine with the decor and menu at its Deshapriya Park address. But with one concession for the Calcutta palate: the option of the biryani with aloo. “Yes, the Awadhi Handi Biryani without aloo is less popular. People come and specifically ask for the aloo-wala biryani,” admits Debaditya Chaudhury, a partner of Oudh 1590.

Among foodies batting for the aloo in the biryani is musician-food writer Nondon Bagchi. “It is a part of our tradition. The aloo should not be taken out of the Calcutta biryani,” he says.

And slightly further away from home, we asked economist Abhijit Vinayak Banerjee, the celebrated co-author of Poor Economics and a fabled cook in his friends’ circle, where he stood on potatoes in biryani. “Potatoes can be very nice, especially if the biryani is sharp, like a Sindhi biryani,” said the man from MIT in the US. [Sindhi biryani is known to have mint, coriander and prunes in addition to the meat and rice. Originating from Sindh province in Pakistan, some of its variations have potatoes in it.]


The biryani boom

Enough of the potato, let’s get to the meat of the matter now.

To what lengths Calcutta can go for its fill of biryani is evident from the thousands who throng The TelegraphBiryani and Kebab festivals every year at City Centre (Salt Lake and New Town).

And it’s this passion for the rice-and-meat platter that has finally nudged Royal Indian Hotel to join the branching-out biryani brigade. Yes, Royal will have its first branch — “to be opened opposite Quest mall very soon”.

It took four generations and more than a century for this traditional biryani bastion to get a move on. So what prompted them to go south? “Our loyal customers from across Calcutta travel all the way to 147 Rabindra Sarani and often rue that we don’t have an outlet in their part of the city. We believe we are now ready to reach out and take our brand to all corners of Calcutta — north, south, east and west. We begin with south because it is a strategic location, where we can attract a wide clientele from the Ballygunge and Park Circus areas,” says Royal’s Irfan.

The restaurant that enjoys iconic status among loyalists says the popularity of the biryani here picked up after Independence. “Satyajit Ray to Uttam Kumar, Gunter Grass to Khushwant Singh, they all loved our biryani. Yesteryear actress Tabassum would get it packed and take it for Dilip Kumar. And now, Sourav Ganguly loves our Chicken Biryani,” smiles Irfan.

Royal may finally be stepping out of its crease, like Dada used to in his prime, but no one understands the biryani boom better than bestseller Arsalan. “If everything goes right, we intend to open three branches by June 2015,” says Arsalan director Akhtar Parwez. The locations on the radar are Barrackpore, Rajarhat and Jessore Road.

Simmering in the Arsalan handi is a target for “at least 50 outlets across Bengal” in the next 10 years. “If a Bengali loves and craves for Arsalan biryani, he should be able to get it near his home. That’s where we want to take our brand to,” says Parwez, reluctant to divulge the number of plates served per day in their blockbuster outlet at the Park Circus roundabout.

Multiplicity is the name of the game for Shiraz and Aminia as well. Aminia aims to open a branch in Behala, next to Ajanta cinema, and another near the Shyambazar tram depot. Shiraz has launched a chain of quick-service restaurants named Lazeez Express, which “does good business in Kasba”. For Zeeshan, which already has two outlets in the south (Deshapriya Park and Garia), another one near Lake Market is being planned. And then one in Kidderpore maybe.

Two new biryani players — Oudh 1590 and Luknow — are attracting a steady clientele in south Calcutta, enough for Oudh 1590 to eye a second serve near City Centre Salt Lake in January.

Multiplicity is married to makeover in the new-age biryani game, with words like decor and ambience coming into the dictionary. Take Oudh 1590. This Awadhi cuisine restaurant has created a “period dining experience” at its Deshapriya Park address.

The older players, too, are paying attention to the look and feel of their dining rooms. Aminia Rajarhat that opened earlier this year has been built on a Sufi theme.

“Today’s customers are hygiene-conscious and look for places that have a feel-good ambience. So we had to put in a lot of effort to make our Hatibagan address look chic and vibrant,” says Arsalan man Akhtar Parwez.

With the “need to reach out” becoming the mantra — from Royal to Lazeez — the biryani is taking the pizza route. Takeaways and home delivery are playing an important part. “You need to take special care as food items like biryani are best enjoyed fresh from the handi,”says Parwez.

“We depend largely on home-delivery orders, from domestic as well as corporate clients,” says Ishtiaque Ahmed of Shiraz’s Lazeez chain.

And then there’s Facebook, Zomato and Foodpanda for the smart(phone) set to book biryani on the go.

A foodnote: The great biryani debate doesn’t begin or end with the aloo. There’s a greater debate cooking, which questions the very standing of the biryani. But as with most things Calcutta, there is no place for the finer nuances or larger debates of life.

We turn the culinary pages to Abdul Halim Sharar (1860-1926), a courtier in nawab Wajid Ali Shah’s Lucknow durbar, who wrote in Lucknow: The Last Phase of an Oriental Culturethat the real raeez of Lucknow preferred mutton pulao to biryani, which was bit of an aam aadmi food.

The last word is left, once again, to economist Abhijit Vinayak Banerjee from MIT. When asked to define the difference between pulao and biryani, he said: “Pulao is rice cooked in broth. Biryani is made with pre-cooked rice. Kachchi biryani is with marinated but not cooked meat. Normal biryani is with cooked meat. In both cases the meat cooks more and the vapours from that are used to flavour the rice.”

That, sadly, is too fine a flavour for the Calcuttan busy with a mouthful of biryani, aloo and all.

Do you like your biryani with or without the aloo? Tell

ource: / The Telegraph, Calcutta / Front Page> Calcutta> Story / by Sibendu Das / Sunday – November 23rd, 2014

Gill-Sherif bag overall title


Team Mahindra Adventure’s Gaurav Gill and co-driver Musa Sherif, driving a Mahindra XUV 500, assured themselves of the 2014 Indian Rally Championship title garnering some valuable points after the first leg of the 40th K-1000 rally near Tumakuru on Saturday. This is their fourth national title.

Local star Arjun Rao Aroor-Satish Rajagopal, who were second in the overall standings, had a poor day and retired after barely starting the first stage. Their rally-specific Volkswagen Polo R2 suffered an engine failure.

Gill-Sherif have 145 points. Aroor-Rajagopal have 78 and Sunny Sidhu-PV Srinivasa Murthy 62 with one round remaining at Chikkamagaluru next month.

Gill and Sherif were assured of the crown although they trailed teammates Sidhu-Murthy by two seconds after Saturday’s first leg. Sidhu-Murthy’s total time after leg one was one hour, five minutes, 12.2 seconds while Gill-Sherif clocked 01:05:14.4. Their teammates Amittrajit Ghosh-Ashwin Naik were third overall with a time of 01:06:42.0.

“It was not a great day,” said Gill. “We had a comfortable lead but there were electrical problems with the cooling fan and the car began to overheat. Due to this, we had to nurse the car but managed to stay in second place. Hopefully, we will be able to get the lead on Sunday.”

A disappointed Aroor said: “We were barely 300 metres into the first stage of the day when the engine packed up. It is going to be very difficult to get the car back in action tomorrow. We will have to try our best in the last round in Chikkamagaluru next month.”

In the IRC 2000 class, Karna Kadur-BS Sujith Kumar (Mitsubishi Cedia) led after leg one with a time of 01:07:26.4, while championship leaders Rahul Kanthraj-Vivek Bhatt were 01:08:19.0.

In all, 10 out of the 41 cars retired on Saturday.

In the Super Special Stage, held at the Bangalore International Exhibition grounds under floodlights on Friday, Abhilash PG-Sanjay Agarwal were the fastest (one minute, 33.2 seconds) in a Mitsubishi Evo XI. Gill-Sherif were second fastest with 01:34.5, while Sidhu-Murthy were third with a 01:35.9.

Results (leg one, provisional and unaudited): IRC: 1. Sunny Sidhu/PV Srinivasa Murthy (Team Mahindra Adventure, Mahindra XUV500, 01:05:12.2); 2. Gaurav Gill/Musa Sherif (Team Mahindra Adventure, Mahindra XUV500, 01:05:14.4); 3. Amittrajit Ghosh/Ashwin Naik (Team Mahindra Adventure, Mahindra XUV500, 01:06:42.0).

IRC 2000: 1. Karna Kadur/BS Sujith Kumar (Mitsubishi Cedia, 01:07:26.4); 2. Rahul Kanthraj/Vivek Bhatt (Mitsubishi Cedia, 01:08:19.0); 3. Byram Godrej/Somayya AG (VW Polo, 01:09:06.8).

IRC 1600: 1. Phalguna Urs-Anoop Kumar (VW Polo, 01:06:50.5); 2. Hrishikesh Thackersey-Ninad Mirajgaonkar (VW Polo, 01:08:48.8); 3. Vikram Devadasen-Chandramouli (VW Polo, 01:10:13.7).

FMSCI 1600: 1. Adith KC-Harish KN (Honda City Vtec, 01:09:18.9); 2. Aniruddha Rangnekar-Nitin Jacob (Maruti Baleno, 01:15:15.20); 3. Parag C Dhiwar-Aditya R Dhiwar (Maruti Baleno, 01:15:35.0).

Caption: Gaurav Gill-Musa Sherif in action in the Beta stage on the opening day of the K-1000 rally near Tumakuru on Saturday.

source: / The Times of India / Home> Sports / by Sunil Subbaiah / November 22nd, 2014

CRUISE Control

Ace navigator Musa Sherif / The Hindu
Ace navigator Musa Sherif / The Hindu

Musa Sherif, ace navigator on the Indian rally circuit, talks about his journey to the top in Indian motorsport

It’s hard for most people to be as driven as Musa Sherif. And that’s a pun intended. The soft-spoken 39-year-old from Kumbla, a small town in Kasaragod district, is arguably the most experienced, and by most accounts, the most respected professional navigator on the Indian rally circuit, having piloted for over 63 different drivers in an incredibly successful career spanning 19 years. In August this year, when he navigated for his long-time teammate – ace driver Gaurav Gill of Team MRF – in the first round of the Indian National Rally Championship (INRC) at Nasik, Musa became the first Indian to have participated in 200 rallies. It stands at 206 as of last week whenMetro Pluscaught up with him when he had come to the city to organise The Mahindra Great Escape off-road rally.

Musa has also cruised into this year’sLimca Book of Recordsfor being the first person to navigate for and win three championship titles – the Malaysian Group N Championship, the Malaysian 4WD SUV Championship and the INRC – in a year (2009).

“Being a navigator is a challenging job. In a rally, the navigator functions as the eyes of the driver – literally. The driver would be driving totally blind; driving just on the strength of what a navigator is telling him about the terrain, the speed, the curves, the angles… It requires a lot of concentration and commitment on my part for one error can send the car crashing!” explains Musa, who adds that he’s been involved in only a handful of crashes so far. “A few bruised ribs, a couple of broken bones… that’s about it. There’s really not much cause to worry about because these days rally cars and their crew are fully kitted with all kinds of safety features. Besides, before we rally in competition, we do a recee of the circuit. That’s when I write down my pace notes, which is kind of like a detailed storyboard about the circuit, from which I relay info to my driver,” he adds.

Viable profession

And his family had no objections to him taking up such a risky sport? “Actually, they did. My father, Zainuddin, is a businessman and I have three brothers and three sisters, and none of them or my extended family is into motorsport, or any sport, for that matter. Naturally, they were a bit apprehensive when I started out, worrying too much about the risk factor. It’s only when I started winning races and coming back home in one piece that they started accepting that motorsport can be a viable profession,” says Musa, with a laugh.

Although, he’d been interested in bikes since he was a child, learning to ride his father’s scooter at age eight, Musa’s journey to the top began only when he was 20 years old, in 1993, when he was studying for a management degree Mangalore.

“I used to hang around the Karavalli Automotive Sports Club in Mangalore, and on a lark I entered a two-wheeler race. Needless to say, I was hooked,” recalls the ace navigator who was a rider for the first three years of his career, racing motorbikes at local events in Mangalore.

“When I was a rider, I used to find it difficult to get good navigators and so I thought it would be prudent to start learning about navigation. Soon I began to enjoy it so much that I got others to ride my bike while I navigated. Thus with each race I gained experience, and experience is what counts in navigation. Besides, I realised that if I want to continue in rallying, being a navigator would suit me better. Unlike drivers/riders who have a sort of an age limit for competition, navigators just get better with age and experience,” adds Musa.

This adrenalin junkie’s first major break into rallying came in 1996 when he was invited to navigate for veteran driver Satish Bhat of Team JK Tyres. Then, it was rally by rally into the big leagues, where he navigated for the likes of V.R. Naren Kumar (six-time INRC champion), Lohit Urrs, Nikhil Taneja, Samir Thapar, Vijayant Chaudhury, among others.

MRF rally driver Gaurav Gill (left) and his co-driver Musa Sherif Photo:Stan Rayan / The Hindu
MRF rally driver Gaurav Gill (left) and his co-driver Musa Sherif Photo:Stan Rayan / The Hindu

Setting records

Since 2001, Musa has been with Team MRF. He’s been partnering with Gaurav Gill since 2007. In all Musa has won 68 rallies, including INRC Championships in 2007 and 2009. The INRC 2011 title too is all but in the bag, as Musa and Gaurav start the Chikmaglur rally this weekend with a lead of 52 points.

“These days, every time I win, or for that matter, take part in a rally, it seems to be a record!” says the down-to-earth navigator with all the confidence of a man who knows that he is well on course to becoming a legend in his own right.

Keep on going

For a man who’s every breath is a record, what new challenges does he have? “Keep on rallying, of course! And win some more championships with Gaurav – we make a good team. In 2015 along with driver Sanjay Takle, I’m planning to take part in the 15-day Dakar rally, a 10,000 km race across Argentina and Chile. My immediate aim, though, is to race in the upcoming 2012 Asia-Pacific rally championship, racing through New Zealand, Australia, Japan, Indonesia, and Thailand,” says Musa, who says he draws inspiration for his drive from legendary drivers such as Leela Krishnan and Jagat Nanjappa. When not racing, Musa likes to spend time at home with his family – his wife, Safeena, and his kids, Zainulsalah and Mohammad Falah.

source: / The Hindu / Home> Features> MetroPlus / by Nita Sathyendran / November 18th, 2011

Carving a niche

Crickter Ashwin Hebbar / The Hindu
Crickter Ashwin Hebbar / The Hindu

Ashwin Hebbar has given people of Nellore a reason to rejoice

His 250 against Haryana and 175 against Jharkhand in the Cooch Behar fixtures made the selectors come to an agreement to blood him in first class circuit. Nineteen-year-old Ashwin Hebbar found a place in Mohammad Kaif-led Andhra Ranji team for the season thus bolstering the team’s middle-order.

Nellore turned jubilant when after a long gap, a player from the district was picked for the Ranji team. “The last man to earn the cap was all rounder Fayaq Ahmed,” recollects Andhra Cricket Association statistician G. Phani. Ashwin is a product of ACA’s academy concept which took shape in 2010. The sprucing up of three academies at Mangalagiri, Kapada and Vizianagaram for three age groups has done a world of good to junior cricket.

“Players like Ashwin Hebbar, Naren Reddy, Ricky Bhui, MUB Sriram and Karan Shinde are the products of these academies,” says a proud Prasad. For an introvert, who is an avid reader, this season will be an important one for he will aim to cement his place if opportunities are given by the management to perform.

“He has been performing consistently in the junior grade and it is imperative to promote him to keep his morale high. He is also a good fielder in the point-cover region and he is good team man who bowls at gentle medium pace,” says Srinivas Reddy, an ACA coach.

Many administrators and coaches rate Ashwin high when it came to patience. “He has loads of it and he loves to play a waiting game. He has all the strokes but he plays according to situation,” says Prasad. Ashwin had a dream run in the junior grade by slamming more than 500 runs in many seasons and he led Andhra team to win the South Zone under-16 honours.

Many feel that lack of flamboyance like Karan Shinde and Ricky Bhui was the main reason for Ashwin efforts going unnoticed. “He is a quiet bloke. He minds his business and he is not the noisy type to draw the attention,” says a coach.

A darling of coaches, Ashwin always places his team before self. “He is a quintessential middle order batsman but when team demanded, he opened the innings for team and scored big runs. But when it came to national selections he could not match the performance of the regular openers of the rival teams,” says Prasad.

Andhra begins its Ranji voyage from December 7 at Vizag against Hyderabad and will wind up in early February (2015) after playing seven matches and Ashwin certainly has his work cut out for him.

source: / The Hindu / Home> Features> MetroPlus / by J.R. Sridharan / November 21st, 2014