When it came to my handshake with the Sultan of Brunei Darussalam, I fluffed my lines. I’d pre-rehearsed the phrase ‘Selamat Hari Raya’ — a Bruneian greeting to mark Eid al-Fitr, the Muslim celebration of the end of Ramadan.
But upon coming face to face with 66-year-old Hassanal Bokiah — who looked regal in his charcoal-grey cara melayutrouser-suit — I shook his proffered hand but could only blurt out a truncated, “Your majesty.”
Like most visitors, I’d spent two days seeing the usual highlights of this tiny oil-soaked sultanate in northern Borneo: a city tour of Bandar Seri Begawan’s monumental golden-domed mosques; viewing endangered proboscis monkeys sporting Cyrano de Bergerac noses; overnighting in the wild Ulu Temburong National Park.
But I was more excited by the prospect of meeting the sultan himself — one of the world’s richest men. If you visit during the annual holiday festival of Hari Raya, there’s a chance to greet him inside the world’s largest residential palace. Istana Nurul Iman boasts 1,788 rooms, 257 bathrooms, and cost $1.4bn (£900m) to build.
The palace only opens to the public for the three days before Ramadan, when 100,000 Bruneians (one-quarter of the population) arrive to shake the sultan’s hand — or that of his wife, the Raja Isteri, if you’re a woman.
“There will be 30,000 people today and the royal couple will shake hands with all of them,” said my Bruneian guide, Tom.
I entered the whitewashed palace amid a throng of well-wishers, dressed in colourful traditional Malayan clothing. Pillbox hats topped cara melayu suits, while women dazzled in silky baju kurong floor-length dresses, with matching headscarves. I think Tom was a little worried by my own sartorial offering, yet a smattering of Manchester United T-shirts set me at ease.
The queuing process is efficiently regulated, so there’s no chance to go off-piste. The first room we entered in a palace that melds near Bauhaus modernism with Islamic-Malaya design is the warehouse-size reception-cum-dining hall.
Hundreds of tables were crammed with Bruneians enjoying the sultan’s buffet: everything from nasi goreng to spaghetti and vivid-green tofu desserts. The waiting time to meet the sultan is about an hour and Hari Raya songs blare out from giant video screens to entertain the thousands of excited, waiting well-wishers.
Next up, we pass through a sort of pharaonic antechamber. Beneath a 165ft-high ceiling, spherical chandeliers resemble bubbles trapped in the rafters. An immense golden portal door glitters in their light.
Beyond this, I shuffle in line into the sultan’s reception hall: a green room with matching flock wallpaper and gold thread-laced carpet plus exotic bouquets of flowers. A smartly dressed man ambles over and we engage in polite chat about the British weather and the Olympics. I have no idea, until Tom tells me, that he’s HRH Prince Jefri, the sultan’s brother.
But there was no mistaking the head honcho as His Majesty heads a procession of male royals. During one minute, I estimate he processes some 30 handshakes, while receiving bows, or kisses to his hands. With a dark, clipped goatee he looks younger than his years. My turn arrives. I deliver my handshake, mess up my platitude, then proceed down the line, greeting the Crown Prince, brothers, and grandsons.
That day, the royal couple shook hands for around five hours and, I later learned, greeted a staggering 39,448 well-wishers.
It was a fleeting dalliance with royalty, but from the joyously charged atmosphere among the Bruneians, I sensed those few precious seconds with Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar Ali Saifuddien Sa’adul Khairi Waddien (to give him his full title) would last for the rest of their lives.
It could not be long before we took you to Jane Austen’s house.
Chawton was the place Jane spent her last eight years: the house, where she moved with her mother and sister, provided a quiet and settled backdrop against which she could find, at last, a voice which reached a wider public. Almost all her greatest works were written in this engaging house in a little Hampshire settlement, looking onto the main road which still runs through the village.
It is not a great mansion but a place of modest means, with kitchen and sculleries, a parlour and a drawing-room, and small bedrooms which look out over the neighbouring houses and gardens and the public house opposite.
In every room posies from the garden sit in small pots in the widow sills. The house retains a quiet serenity: you can still see the small round writing table at which…
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Found this article on http://www.india-forums.com. It details out the depressing trends which are being followed on prime time in Hindi serials.
Tellybuzz scans through shows and speaks to telly celebs about the current trend…
The latest visible trend which is going buzzing in Indian serials is the abortion/miscarriage tracks. Surprisingly, it is very rare the lead actress successfully delivers a child without any hindrances. It is either an abortion or a miscarriage.Watching these soaps, the audience does ponder upon the thought if getting pregnant is a Herculean task
Shows like Bade Acche Lagte Hai did go show before the leap about how Natasha (Sumona Chakravarti) doesn’t want her child as it will affect her professional life and decides to undergo an abortion. However her decision leaves her with the grim reality of never being able to conceive again. When we asked Sumona she said, “Bade Acche Lagte Hai did not use the abortion track for the sake of TRP, definitely. It was a track going on since a long time which started when Natasha’s pregnancy was discovered before her marriage. Yes it is a sensitive topic and Natasha’s pregnancy/abortion track has been handeled very carefully and sensitively and not recklessly. It never sent out any wrong signal. It is a reflection of reality and that’s what we showed”.
On the other hand Simar (Dipika Samson) goes through a miscarriage in Sasural Simar Ka as Khushi (Jyotsana Chandola) wants to take revenge from her, resulting in Simar’s inability to conceive again. Now the show has shown the surrogacy track with Khushi being the candidate for being the surrogate mother.
The list doesn’t end here, Anjali (Daljeet Bhanot) in Iss Pyaar Ko Kya Naam Doon recently went through the same as her husband Shyaam (Abhaas Mehta) wanted to take a revenge from Arnav (Barun Sobti) and Khushi (Sanaya Irani) and decides to use his wife to target the two.
On the other hand, Jeevika (Krystle Dsouza) in Star Plus’ popular show Ek Haazaron Mein Meri Behna Hai, has decided to abort her child in order to save her sister, Maanvi’s (Nia Sharma) life. But who knows maybe creatives might just end up showing that Jeevika cannot conceive again. It’s all a mystery.
Other shows like Balika Vadhu where Gauri (Anjum Farooqi) goes through a miscarriage, Dil Se Di Dua Saubhagyavadi Bhava? witnesses Jhanvi’s (Sriti Jha) miscarriage after her husband (Karnvir Bohra) brutally beats her up.
The trend of abortions, miscarriages and pregnancy has spread like wild fire on the small screen. The audiences will now be waiting to see something new, interesting and masaledar on their favorite shows.
In the 10th Sept 2012 episode of Madhubala (Colors TV), the mother (Padmini) of the female protagonist (Madhubala) says the following encouraging words to her daughter. “Tumhari kismet tumhare haatho mein hai; aur wo tum upar se likhwa ke laayi ho!” Translated, it would mean, “Your destiny is in your hands, your destiny has been written up above”
Errmm…don’t the two statements contradict each other??!!!
Things on the TV which I loved, hated, which took me by surprise, which made me roll with laughter! In short anything & everything about the limited number of hours which I spend with the idiot box. Though the hours are less I make it a point to be abreast with all the latest happenings (not talking about GK but about telly knowledge: P)
I do not claim to be a critic or any such thing. This blog is about what I like & what I do not like. So in short, these are my opinions.
When I was a kid I used to love watching mythological serials. The clothes, the stories, the settings, the special effects (no matter how unpolished), the pure Hindi language…I used to love it all.
Shiv – Sati
Currently I am hooked on to Mahadev (Life OK). It’s a beautiful serial which has managed to stay on track (thanks to good research work) & hasn’t added too many made – up stories just for the heck of prolonging the show. The lead (Mahadev) played by Mohit Raina is a brilliant actor. While Parvati played by Sonarika Bhadoria is good she is nowhere in league with Sati (Mouni Roy).
The recent episodes showed Devi Adi Shakti assuming the form of Durga & later of MahaKali. Sonarika has done a fabulous job as both. While till date we saw her as the sweet, docile Parvati, for the first time we saw the fire – spitting, angry as hell avatar of Sonarika. A wonderful job. I especially loved her expressions when she roared as a lioness. Her eyes were spitting fire!!! If not the roar, then the eyes would have killed Dhumralochan. I personally feel that the audiences would have been more enthralled if the whole Durga – Kaali sequence had lasted a bit longer. It was cut too soon.
The background & sets are pretty good (though the yellow fiery background at the times of wars is getting a tad bit repetitive). And I am so much in love with the costumes & jewelry of the ladies, especially Parvati! What deserve a special mention are the fresh flowers which adorn her hair.
The new promo shows the young warrior son of Shiv – Parvati, Kartikeya. The boy looks promising. I am excited for more mythology. I am especially keen to know why in certain parts of India women cannot visit Kartikeya’s temple.
In a hall nearby is an exhibition an going on about Rudraksha, called “Rudrashakti”. You get to meet experts in this field who guide you about the most useful Rudraksha for you on the basis of your birth date. Each person is advised to wear various rudrakshas in various combinations based on what his strenghts & weaknesses are & on what he wishes to achieve.
Rudraksha, literally translated means “eyes of Lord Shiv” (Rudra = shiv, aksha = eyes). They are fruits of the Rudraksha tree. It grows in the Gangetic Plains in the foothills of the Himayalas. In English the tree is called UTRASUM BEAD TREE while its botanical name is ELAEOCARPUS GANITRUS ROXB.
The rudraksha beads have ridges on them. The ridges are called “mukha”. One ridged rudraksha is called “ek mukhi”, two ridged “don mukhi”, etc.
For more details about the various “mukhs” of the rudraksha & their meanings & uses check out the below link: