Tag Archives: Hyderabad

Beacon of change

Hyderabad, TELANGANA :

Members smile during a rehearsal break The group is performing qawwali at Goethe Zentrum for World Music Day Celebrations. Photo: G. Ramakrishna
Members smile during a rehearsal break The group is performing qawwali at Goethe Zentrum for World Music Day Celebrations. Photo: G. Ramakrishna

A group of women qawwals share their experiences and the issues they highlight in their qawwalis

Hyderabad :

Away from the hustle and bustle of the bazaars in Charminar, a quiet lane in Sultanshahi resonates with qawwal claps and inside Shaheen Resource Centre, the chatter and laughter of young girls fills the air.

Amidst the harmonium preludes, the group wearing cheery yellow duppattas and feather caps sing a qawwali — Kab tak mera maula, dil mera pukara hai, shaadi meri marzi se kabhi hoti nahin hai, mujh ko kya pasand hai koi poochta nahin hai... Clearly this is not a regular qawwali where singers confine their performances to a spiritual context. The lyrics here carry a message that’s contemporary and temporal though it’s packaged in familiar qawwali tunes.

Jameela Nishat of Shaheen Resource Centre Photo: G. Ramakrishna
Jameela Nishat of Shaheen Resource Centre Photo: G. Ramakrishna

Jameela Nishat, the founder of Shaheen talks about using qawwali as a beacon of change. “Women are not given space in public; they are allowed to write poetry but not allowed to perform in public. This is our effort to bring a change in that mindset,” she shares.

A feminist Urdu poet who writes the songs which depicts reality, Jameela encourages women to take a step towards this change. As a result, the group from Shaheen has performed qawwalis at schools, colleges and other events for three years now.

Sania Fatima, a staff teacher and volunteer, shares the impact of qawwalis. “When we perform for special days like a Mother’s Day or Women’s Day, we intersperse the songs with messages like ‘beti bachao beti padao’ and highlight the abuse women face daily in their lives. The response is amazing as qawwalis are enjoyed by all,” she points out. Some popular tunes of classics like Tere mehfil mein kismet, aajmaake hum bhi dekhenge from Mughal-E-Azam have been used with lyrics changed to highlight contemporary social issues.

Tackling themes like dowry, education, taking care of one’s health, being independent and making life’s choices; lyrics in the songs asks tough questions. Sultana, who is a graduate, believes qawwalis can be used as instruments of change.

Zehra Jabeen recalls the experience of performing qawwali recently during the ‘Salaam Telangana’ event at Ravindra Bharati. “The crowd was restive and making lots of noise; it did not stop even when we started the qawwali. But within a few seconds, there was pin drop silence and they heard us with full attention.” .

It is a mixed group, comprising members of various ages and stages in life. A first year student Swati Kulkarni is also part of the group. “I have knowledge of music but singing a qawwali was new. Everything, from the costume, changing one’s voice, to singing in rhythm to the claps was different,” she smiles. The cheerful group looks forward to the qawwali performances.

“It is a big challenge to come out and stand courageously on a platform to sing. We hope our songs inspire many others too,” chips in Sania, the lead singer, and adds, “We brush aside minor issues of high notes and low notes. We make our voices heard as a group.”

The rehearsals for a forthcoming performance over, the girls break into a smile. “When we wear the costume and sing in rhythm, we feel so excited that we forget the world.”

(The group is performing as part of World Music Day celebrations at Goethe Zentrum on June 26; Entry: Free)

source: http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> Features> Metroplus / by Neerja Murthy / Hyderabad – June 24th, 2016

Suraiya Hassan weaves magic, wants to revive dying textile art

Hyderabad, TELANGANA :

“Mrs. Suraiya Hassan?”

“Haan ji, bol rahi hoon. Boliye..”, the grand old lady of Indian weaving greets me into the conversation.  Engaged in revival work of four different textile forms of Aurangabad, Suraiya has a fascinating tale to narrate.


Her journey began soon after she finished her Intermediate. Suraiya joined the Cottage Industries Emporium, a government institution where she learnt the art of salesmanship and production of textiles and handicrafts. It was a great learning experience spanning well over four years, says Suraiya.

It was while working here that a professor from a foreign country, Suraiya says it would be London, came to their Emporium and she was put in charge of showing her around. “She touched and felt everything and was so impressed with me describing the importance of each and every fabric and handicraft product that she thought I was wasting my time here,” says Suraiya on a lighter note recalling her toddler steps into the weaving industry. Eventually it was this lady who introduced Suraiya to her mentor Pupul Jaykar, of the Handloom Handicrafts  Corporation of India in New Delhi.

It was a move Suraiya had not contemplated in life and it truly got her where she perhaps wanted to be. “Maine kabhi aisa socha nahi tha, lekin ye ek achchi opportunity thi, so I decided to go along,” says Suraiya (I had never thought of such a career move but when opportunity came knocking, I didn’t say no).

It helped that she had her uncle (chacha) Abid Hassan Safrani living in Delhi. He was with the Ministry of External Affairs initially and at one point was personal secretary to the legendary Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose, recalls Suraiya.

Suraiya Hasan was recently honoured with the Devi Award
Suraiya Hasan was recently honoured with the Devi Award

Her association with Bose’s family

Suraiya was soon introduced to the Bose family through their ladies. From casual visits, the journeys

Little did she understand the importance of being married to Bose’s nephew except that Aurobindo too was a busy politician. “He was a trade union secretary with many big companies,” says Suraiya of her husband. She however, never got a chance to meet Subhash Chandra Bose.
became personal and Suraiya got to know the family from close quarters. She then got married to Aurobindo Bose, Subhas Chandra Bose’s nephew.

From Delhi back to Hyderabad

After superannuation, Abid Hassan moved to Hyderabadand bought some land there. He was the one who called Suraiya back to the Nizam’s city and asked her to set up an independent handloom production unit.

“I wasted no time and got to my hometown to set up this unit. It was an exhaustive task but I would say worth the effort,” says Suraiya. It was here that she started work on the revival of four signature Persian fabric forms native to Aurangabad – Paithani, Jamawar, Himroo and Mashru. Thus was born Suraiya’s Weaving Studio, Suraiya’s weaving unit in Hyderabad.

During my visits to Aurangabad, I had seen many artisans work tirelessly on keeping this art alive, but in a very small way, often at their own homes. I therefore decided to make this sector a little organized in the hope that this dying art will have people following it

While she concentrated on her art, her husband used to visit her in Hyderabad when he had free time on his hand.

She is still in touch with the Bose family though the visits have dwindled in number after her husband passed away.


Social enterprise

Suraiya selected a group of people to pass on her art. It was the widows, with no place to go to and children to feed that she thought would be her right target audience. “I used to sit with them for hours together and help them pick up the nuances. To train one artisan easily takes close to 3-4 months on an average and I later got an expert to help me with the training part. Doing it alone was becoming a Herculean task,” says Suraiya.

While she created an opportunity for widows to pick up the art, she helped by setting up a school in the same compound for their children. Called the Safrani Memorial High School, this institute houses classes for students from Nursery to Std 10, where children of her artisans attend school free of cost.

Aged 84 now, Suraiya says she has lots of work yet to do. When she is not supervising the work of her artisans, she goes to teach students in her school. She takes pride in the fact that they have all performed well and some have even gone abroad.

Well this love for education is not by chance, Suraiya says she would have inherited it from her father. He after all was the proud owner of Hyderabad Book Depot on Abids Road, most likely the first book store in Hyderabad which stocked foreign publications.

source: http://www.her.yourstory.com / YourStory.com / Home> Her Story> Inspiration / by Saraswati Mukherjee / January 12th, 2015

Sana Iqbal on a mission of positivity for the youth

Sana began the ride in November from Goa, where she had been participating in a rally. So far she has covered 10 States and Kochi is the 50th city she has visited.
Sana began the ride in November from Goa, where she had been participating in a rally. So far she has covered 10 States and Kochi is the 50th city she has visited.

Sana Iqbal, a solo biker, is on a mission to create awareness against suicide and on depression

The wheels of life often take unchartered routes and open new vistas, just as they did for biker and life coach Sana Iqbal from Hyderabad. A personal reversal had driven the young mother to abject depression, even to a point when she hoped a bike accident on the highway would bring a quick end to her misery. But then things changed. Today, the 28-year-old is journeying solo across the length and breadth of the country conducting sessions on tackling issues related to the young. So Sana talks on matters that trouble young minds from subjects as innocuous as acne problems to complex ones on relationships, career, marriage, depression and suicide. She is simultaneously pursuing a Master’s in Psychology and does corporate training sessions on behavioural skills.

Though she began young as a biker, as early as in school, she took to hardcore riding only last September. Till then she drove not beyond 20 km of central Hyderabad. But in a desperate state, Sana undertook a long solo journey. There she found support and encouragement from unexpected quarters. Passers-by cheered her, children gathered around her in curiosity and waved her luck as she rode; little gestures that alleviated her grief. A change in mindset came about. She felt that solution to life’s problems was in perception, in looking at the other side. With it also came a desire to help society with this thinking, to propagate a positive attitude among youngsters and her peers.

“When the aspirations of a normal life fail then extraordinary things happen.” she says on her decision to undertake this ride of a lifetime, a mission. Make happiness contagious is her message to fellow beings, which is imprinted boldly on a placard fixed to her Royal Enfield.


Sana began the ride in November from Goa, where she had been participating in a rally. So far she has covered 10 States and Kochi is the 50th city she has visited. She starts her day early and ends at sunset. Local people and truck drivers are her navigators and she rides along where the road takes her to. She carries a knife with her, one that she has never needed. “Our country is the safest place for women,” she says, dispelling the prevailing idea that India is unsafe for women. As a lone female rider she has not encountered any problems that have required help. On the contrary she has found camaraderie everywhere she has been to. In Jhansi where her bike had a flat, she was not charged any fee. In fact, the gentleman commended her efforts and requested her to disseminate the message that Uttar Pradesh is safe and not a lawless state as thought to be. An accident in Rajasthan left her frightened but she changed a hostile situation by her approach. “When the man whose car had hit my bike came to see what had happened, when I least expected the gesture, I said thank you. He was so startled at my response and wondered why I was not threatening him,” she recalls pointing out that kind words can change a situation.

To control one’s anger and to be forgiving are two messages that she wishes to give youngsters. India’s burgeoning biker community is her network, friends that help her with boarding, lodging and connectivity.

In the city, Sana addressed students at Chinmaya Vidyalaya and at SCMS College. From here she moves on to Thiruvananthapuram and Kanyakumari. The North East States are next on her plan.

“Every State has a different traffic sense. Kerala has narrow roads and Rajasthan wide ones but it has a lot of animal traffic. Each place has its beauty,” says Sana preparing her onward mission. “We all want to ‘be the change’ but only a few step out to bring in that change. I hope my act will help do so,” she says, putting on her helmet.

source: http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> Features> MetroPlus / by Priyadershini S / Kochi – March 16th, 2016

Voonik.com looks beyond the brand

The online fashion marketplace is here to provide a fillip to unbranded fashion

Sujayath Ali, founder of Voonik.com
Sujayath Ali, founder of Voonik.com

Voonik.com, (both website and app) was founded with an idea to be a fashion marketplace for women looking for their everyday wear. As it’s labelled as the country’s first personalised shopping app, you’re curious about what it means in this context? “Voonik takes the skin tone, body type and preferences into consideration to see if the fit suits you. We’ve developed a 10000-rule algorithm in coordination with our stylists to assist users,” the founder Sujayath Ali states.

Finalising the criteria was a tough ask, but they’d readied them from a generalised questionnaire of over 150 questions in discussion with stylists that women consider as they shop.

Screenshot of the website
Screenshot of the website

For now, its users are shown a series of celebrities with whom they can compare their body, tone and other preferences. Isn’t that objectification of sorts? “As it was a new idea, we needed a way out to familiarise our user-base. It’ll have an adequate replacement in the coming days,” elaborates Ali.

Voonik respects the fact that not everyone needs to be a fashionista for buying clothes online. “There are so many shopping sites that promote branded fashion but we’re here to show how potent unbranded fashion can also be. We didn’t want to sophisticate things and are clear of catering to the masses,” Ali elaborates. He justifies this saying, most women are focussed on the place and quality where a fabric comes from, than the brand altogether. It looks like their focused strategy has indeed paid off with nearly 6 million app installations in its 18-month run.

Beyond user needs, Voonik’s uniqueness shows up in their ‘Become a seller’ section. They have a one-of-a-kind image recognition platform that’ll help the management assess the quality of the fabric once sellers upload the images of the stock. That has helped them build a vast collection of 15-lakh clothing, the most for an online fashion outlet to date, globally.

They have interesting plans lined up for the times to come. Having just acquired a menswear shopping portal Getsty, they’re on the path to integrate men’s collection to their platform, which users can access through another exclusive app. There are two other acquisitions they remain tightlipped about, but with persistence, we get hints. “There’ll be a premium luxury section that’ll be launched too,” Sujayath manages to say.

source: http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> Features> MetroPlus / by Srivathsan Nadadhur /Hyderabad – March 07th, 2016

On a mission to prevent suicides


by S.N. Venkatnag Sobers

Majority of women in our country spend their lives within the four walls unaware about the outer world. For them, their family is their world. Though women put all efforts to cater to the need of their loved ones, yet there are incidents of them being harassed for dowry or other reasons. Only, few have braved the dare consequences to stand tall in the society and emerge as the role models for fellow women.

Here is a woman from Hyderabad who has been travelling across the country creating awareness against committing suicide and also motivating the youth fight depression.

Meet Sana Iqbal, a native of Hyderabad, who has been travelling across the country creating awareness against taking the extreme step. A mother of the seven-month-old son Mohammed Saqib Ali, Sana has taken up the initiative to prevent youth from ending their lives for trivial reasons. “It is important to address the youth and children in certain issues as they get very emotional and sensitive with matters closely related to them. It is very important for parents to spend quality time with their kids and talk to them as they feel depressed on not being given concentration they rightly deserve. When it comes to youth, they fall for the person who listens to them and sometimes get into relationships without knowing if the person is an ideal partners and later regret when the relationship turns sour. And that is when they get depressed and think of taking the extreme step,” says Sana.

Having covered 17,500 kms since November, 2015, on her Royal Enfield, Sana has covered 49 cities in North and Central part of the country. She has been visiting various colleges and giving special lectures on how to come out of depression and not to take the decision to ending lives. Talking about her decision to take up this initiative, Sana tells that she was also a victim of depression for 5 years and had spent many sleepless nights.

Having gone through the trauma, Sana, one fine day decided to break the shackles to come out depression by going on a bike ride and that is when she decided to go on a solo tour throughout the country on her motorbike creating awareness. Sana was in Mysuru recently where she addressed students at a few colleges before heading to Ooty. She expects to complete her solo tour during first week of June this year.

Being a lone woman travelling across the country, Sana has been received well by the people at places she has visited. For her, it has been a memorable journey so far as many people have come for her help at the times when her motorbike broke down. “There have been instances when my vehicle broke down in middle of the road and people came to my help without any expectation after they learnt about my mission. In fact many offered me free hospitality at her houses which motivated me to carry the message that India is a safe country for women,” adds Sana.

One look at her jacket and you will get to see the badges of various bikers clubs. But, one badge that Sana adores is the one presented to her by Civil Defence of Patiala in Punjab which has the National Emblem presented to her in recognition for her initiative. There was a time during the tour when Sana had to cut short her tour while in Delhi as her father-in-law fell seriously ill and she had to return to Hyderabad. Without giving a second thought she came back to Hyderabad but sadly her father-in-law passed away. She later continued with her tour. Sana, who has been away from her kid over the past few months is determined to reach her goal and motivate the youth. Hats off Sana!

source: http://www.starofmysore.com / Star of Mysore / Home> Feature Articles / March 12th, 2016

Gouhar fashions Indian win

Hyderabad :

Sri Lankan captain Shashikala Siriwardena’s ploy to bat first and pile up a big total which could put the Indians under pressure backfired terribly as her batswomen failed to contend with the guile of left-arm spinner Gouhar Sultana.

The Hyderabad spinner, who bowled in two spells and finished with astounding figures of 8-4-4-4, spun a web of deceit from which the Sri Lankans failed to extricate themselves and were bowled out for a paltry 76.

The hosts then rode on skipper Mithai Raj’s unbeaten 34 romped to a seven-wicket win with 105 balls to spare to take a 1-0 lead in the three-match ODI series at the Dr YSR ACA-VDCA Stadium in Visakhapatnam on Sunday.

Siriwardena, on the eve of the match, had said that they would like to post a 200 plus score if they batted first. The Lankan skipper won the toss and had no hesitation in batting first. But there after it turned out to be nightmare for the Lankan batswomen as they were unable to negotiate the Indian bowling.

Indian pacer and former skipper Jhulan Goswami struck the first blow when she bowled Chamari Atapattu (6) with 13 on the board. Five runs later, Goswami sent back Deepika Rasangika (4) and the Lankans never really recovered from those early blows.

Opener Yasoda Mendis and Siriwardena tried to stem the rot with a 14-run stand for the third wicket – the highest of the Lankan innings – but mediumpacer Niranjana Natarajan trapped Mendis leg before. Mendis, who made 17 off 43 balls (2×4) was the only batswoman to reach double figures.

Gouhar then ran through the middle order. The 25-year-old spinner scalped four wickets to reduce Lankans to 51 for seven. Gouhar, who has played 49 ODIs thus far, recorded her career best figures.

Debutants left-arm spinner Rajeshwari Gaikwad (2/11) and offie Sneh Rana (1/7) then ended the Lankan innings.

India, in reply, lost openers Smriti Mandhana (13) and Karuna Jain (6) with 25 on the board. However, Anagha Deshpande and Mithali added 43 for the third wicket to ensure a smooth victory for their side.

Anagha (23; 54b, 2×4) fell at 68 but vice-captain Harmanpreet Kaur (1 no) helped Mithali get the required runs without much ado. Mithali remained unbeaten on 34 off 59 balls with six hits to the fence as India reached 80 for three.

“It was a good win today. I am very happy with the performance of the girls. To begin my stint as a coach with a win is an auspicious beginning,” coach Purnima Rau said.

“Gouhar bowled beautifully and I am thrilled that she recorded her career best performance,” she added.


Sri Lanka: C Atapattu b Goswami 6, Y Mendis lbw Niranjana 17, D Rasangika c Jain b Goswami 4, S Siriwardene c Goswami b Sultana 1, C Polgampola c Kaur b Sultana 1, E Lokusuriyage c Mithali b Sultana 9, D Manodara c Niranjana b Sultana 4, O Ranasinghe lbw Rana 6, S Weerakkody c Rana b Gayakwad 8, U Prabodhani (not out) 3, C Gunaratne c Jain b Gayakwad 6. Extras: (B2, LB1, W7, NB1) 11.

Total: (in 39.3 overs) 76.

Fall of wickets: 1-13, 2-18, 3-32, 4-34, 5-41, 6-46, 7-51, 8-65, 9-65.

Bowling: J Goswami 8-3-16-2, N Niranajana 10-0-35-1, G Sultana 8-4-4-4, RS Gayakwad 7.3-3-11-2, S Rana 6-4-7-1.

India: K Jain c Weerakkody b Gunaratne 6, S Mandhana c Weerakkody b Siriwardene 13, A Deshpande st Surangika b Ranasinghe 23, M Raj (not out) 34, H Kaur (not out) 1. Extras: (B1, W2) 3.

Total: (for 3 wickets, 32.3 overs) 80.

Fall of wickets: 1-15, 2-25, 3-68.

Bowling: U Prabodhani 2-0-7-0, C Gunaratne 10-6-16-1, S Siriwardene 10-3-20-1, C Polgampola 4.3-2-10-0, O Ranasinghe 4-1-15-1, D Rasangika 2-0-11-0.

source: http://www.articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com / The Times of India / Home> City> Hyderabad> Jhulan Goswami / by Solomon S Kumar, TNN / January 20th, 2014

GRAB YOUR GRUB : Breaking bread

A view of the open space outside the Griffin. / Photo: Nagara Gopal / The Hindu
A view of the open space outside the Griffin. / Photo: Nagara Gopal / The Hindu

From artisan breads to scones, pastries, sandwiches and pastas, Griffin has something in store for everyone

Fancy some sourdough bread or maybe some ciabatta? You could try Griffin- The Artisan Bread Store in Madhapur, which promises to dish out fresh breads of various kinds. Fairly new, this store was the brain child of Mohd. Mujahid, who wanted to give the city a taste of different breads. The store, which is already a hit with the expat crowd in the area, also offers a variety of short eats for gastronomes.

The little bread store-cum-café has an interesting array of baked goodies that are perfect for those long conversations over a cup of coffee. You could take your pick from their cookies, scones, donuts, croissants, muffins, cheesecakes or tarts. Priced at around Rs. 50 each, they hardly burn a hole in your pocket.

The artisan bread store at Madhapur in Hyderabad. / Photo: Nagara Gopal / The Hindu
The artisan bread store at Madhapur in Hyderabad. / Photo: Nagara Gopal / The Hindu

Griffin can also be a pit-stop for a quick lunch or casual dinner with its selection of pizzas, sandwiches and pastas. You could choose from their delicious pastas in an array of sauces like arrabiata, pesto, alfredo or a juicy sandwich with some smoked or grilled meat or roasted veggies of your choice. You can’t really get bored with their selection of sandwiches, which are served in different breads each day. “I started this store mainly so I could introduce people to different varieties of breads. The idea behind serving sandwiches in different kinds of breads is to give our clients an idea of the kinds of breads we offer and how they can use them in different ways,” says Mujahid.

You can’t really get bored with their selection of sandwiches, which are served in different breads each day. / Photo: Nagara Gopal / The Hindu
You can’t really get bored with their selection of sandwiches, which are served in different breads each day. / Photo: Nagara Gopal / The Hindu

The café section of this bread store is also a good place to spend an afternoon just reading or browsing the internet with a free wi-fi connection available to patrons. For the coffee lovers there are a variety of coffees to choose from while those watching their weight can pick a salad of their choice.

Griffin also has a bread shelf with different breads like sourdough, ciabatta, bagels and baguettes among others that you can choose from. The breads that are baked in two batches a day are brought in from the Griffin factory in Shamshabad. “We want to keep the products as fresh as possible,” explains Mujahid. The breads like the items on the menu are priced affordably with a whole wheat bread costing as less as Rs.50, while a sourdough could go up to Rs.100 The ciabatta and panini cost around Rs. 30, while a Scottish Bap comes for around Rs. 20.

Griffin – The Artisan Bread Store

Where: Kavuri Hills, Phase-1, Madhapur

When: 7.30 a.m. to 11p.m.

Contact: 040-30512844 ext:454

source: http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> Features> MetroPlus> Food / by Ranjani Rajendra / Hyderabad – December 12th, 2013