Inspired by Vroooom!

Quite a few products have been inspired by things that go vrooom or to use the more common terminology – Automobiles. Even our cities with their roads and highways are built around them. Of these many inspirations three products that stands out due to their immaculate replication are the wrist watch, furniture and fans!

Pairing watches with engineering marvels go a long way back – the very first wrist watch the Cartier Santos was created for a Millionaire Aviator friend of Cartier so that the Brazilian tycoon could keep track of time while flying (but that’s another story),it was followed by the Cartier Tank, which in turn was inspired by what else but Battle Tanks! Besides being associated with the world of F1 racing and other automobile sports (Tag Heuer, Breitling, IWC, etc) watches have mostly taken inspiration from auto engines (Parmigiani and Bentley, Hublot and Ferrari) designs (Porsche Design, Tudor and Ferrari) and even the Race Track (Chopard)!

Hublot And Ferrari

Hublot And Ferrari

Similarly cars have also inspired a range of furniture and interior decor collections. Brands like Lamborghini, Mercedes and Bentley have their own range of furniture inspired by both the interiors and exteriors of their respective cars. The furniture range that stands out among these auto brands is Aston Martin. One look at the featured tables, chairs and lounges and you will know why, as it replicates the Aston Martin’s front shark grill look flawlessly.

Aston Martin Furniture

Aston Martin Furniture

Another brand that has brought the car into the Living Room happens to be Usha, with their E-Series range of ceiling fans, inspired from the auto world. Both the concept of the E-Series along with its painting process are a technological revolution. Unlike the high-end luxury watches and furniture which sport a huge price tag, with the E-Series Usha brings affordable luxury to every home. The automotive inspired finishes for all colours of EX1 and EX3 fans, with their silky smooth finish sparkled by pure aluminum glitters that make these fans eye catching, is nothing short of craftsmanship at its best.

Usha E-Series

Usha E-Series

Inspired by fuel efficient fast cars the flying machine is equipped to consume low electricity with maximum acceleration – racing from 0 to 330 RPM in a matter of seconds. Whereas its in-built precision gear ensures maximum air coverage with a 235 CMM. Add to that the model’s sleek aerodynamics featuring a 1200 mm wing span to whip up a storm! To know more about the E-Series Click Here

The Amazing Chocolate Cake

Why Amazing? Because we will be attempting something, which others have never thought about!

Most people find the Rice Cooker a boring old device, using it simply to cook its namesake dish -Rice. However, you will be surprised what the Rice Cooker can do if you get a little creative. Beginning from Chocolate Cakes and Banana Bread to exotic dishes like Cheesy Jalapeno Bread and Black Bean Chilly, your Rice Cooker can make all these and more.

Feeling Adventurous? Good, let’s try our hand at the Chocolate Cake. The only difference between baking a Chocolate Cake in a Rice Cooker as against an Oven is the time required: The Rice Cooker takes way more time, but that is compensated by the original taste of the freshly baked ingredients. Call it a type of Slow Organic Cooking if you like, which is as healthy, as it is tasty. To borrow Carlo Petrini’s words ( founder of the International Slow Food Movement)  “The quest for slowness, which begins as a simple rebellion against the impoverishment of taste in our lives, makes it possible to rediscover taste.”

IngredientsRice Cooker

  1. 135 gm dark chocolate
  2. 95 gm butter
  3. Butter for Coating
  4. 100 gm icing sugar
  5. 2 egg yolks + 2 whole eggs
  6. 35 gm flour

Method

  1. Begin by coating the rice cooker bowl with a layer of butter.
  2. Mix the ingredients properly till they begin to fan
  3. Place the mix in the rice cooker bowl.
  4. Place the bowl in the rice cooker and push the cook button.
  5. Now wait, it could take anything between an hour to two, depending on your Cooker settings.
  6. Insert a toothpick into the cake to check if it is ready. If the toothpick comes out clean and dry, your cake is done
  7. Once cooked flip the bowl upside down onto a flat plate and serve

Now, wasn’t that easy? It took a little longer than the usual Over baked cakes but nonetheless here you are surrounded by the freshly baked aroma of a lovely cake. Take a bite to savor the flavors, and you realize the wait was completely worth it!  Next  we will teach you to cook something yet more exotic with your Rice-Cooker.

A Change of Air

The Victorians were known for their travels, an endeavor to seek out the world which ultimately resulted with the sun never setting over the British Empire. However, there was another kind of travel recommend by doctors and physicians that involved visiting a sea side resort for a change of air. A prescription so religiously followed that soon the beaches of Bournemouth, Brighton and Blackpool turned into resorts catering to ill-health, perhaps the very first kind of Medical Tourism. However not the Victorians but the Romans need to be credited with the idea that physical and mental ailments can be blown away by a change in breeze and scenery. The reason why we don’t hear much about it in the Roman Chronicles is because people were a little reluctant to stay away from the Capital, where plots and power could change overnight.

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The British in their later endeavors to replicate the English Breeze (change of air)  in colonies namely India, went about building hill stations across the Himalayas from Shimla to Darjeeling. These hill stations in all their majestic glory still cater to Indians for a change of air and mood. However today we have become a little like the Romans, given our work schedules we cannot afford to rush off to the hills every time we feel the need for a fresh breeze.

Living congested in our metropolitan cities, entangled in our busy schedules and without any relief from the scorching sun, we have settled for air conditioners and air coolers. However, the former -air conditioners – only ends up making things cold and damp, if a change of air is what you are looking for than the air conditioner is an illusion. Whereas the latter – air coolers – besides being healthy can replicate the sought after ‘change of air’ pretty efficiently. Technologically advanced coolers that use evaporative mechanism to cool air naturally lets out air similar to a breeze flowing across a lake. The breeze lowers the temperature and has a relaxing cooling effect on people. These coolers will turn you into the ideal armchair traveler even while you go about your daily chores.

Usha Air CoolersTo learn more about Evaporative Cooling click here: Evaporative Air Coolers

The Dreamer and The Dream

“How can we know the dancer from the dance?” – W.B Yeats, Among School Children

We all have at some point in time tried to find the meaning of our dreams. People right from the ancient Greeks to modern masters like Freud and Jung have all tried their hands and mind at interpreting our relationship with the dream world. However, these Interpretations are at times a little too complicated, either requiring you to be a Psychology Major or a Cultural Connoisseur.

The following session by Rashna Imhasly Gandhy titled ‘The Dreamer and the Dream’ was presented at the Bhutan Literary Festival 2014 – Usha presents Mountain Echoes. In it Gandhy a professional Dream Analyst teaches you how to interpret your dreams correctly with ease. Beginning with fairy tales and symbols she takes a road less traveled by to offer valuable insights into the infinite world of dreams and how they project and communicate various subjects from predictions to self-analysis.

She discusses the role of the sub-conscious, the divine within us and gives us tips on very many aspects of the dream process – like how to let our egos go in order to objectively view our dreams. The discussion is peppered with lively anecdotes to make us familiar with the art of analyzing our dreams. Descending into dreamscapes is often a strange experience where appearances can be deceptive, like an elder woman who dreamt about her daughter in distress. She was actually dreaming about her younger self and not her daughter, as she presumed – the dream was a call back to her childhood values.

The session becomes even more interesting when Dream Analyst Gandhy taking questions from the audience begins interpreting their dreams! Showing us how each dream differs from the other and how to read the right signs and thereby reach out to our sub-conscious.

A Love Letter To Antarctica

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Did you know that it is harder to evacuate someone from Antarctica than it is from the International Space Station!

As children some of us dreamed of travelling to lesser known parts of the world which held the promise of discovery. Gavin Francis who is a doctor by profession acting on one such childhood fantasy set off to Antarctica. As a doctor at the British Research Station he spent 14 months in a landscape dominated by ice, silence and Emperor Penguins.

He recounts his adventures in the book Empire Antarctica, which won him the Scottish Book Award. Obsessed by a traveller’s restless curiosity he explores the breathtaking sights of the icy continent from light phenomenons reminiscent of Odin’s Court to the life cycle of the majestic Emperor Penguins.

To explore the silent continent with the Scotsman watch the video below filmed at Usha presents Mountain Echoes 2014 – the Bhutan Literary Festival.

Aphrodisiacs: Desire & Food

ImageThe very word Aphrodisiac gently rolls between our tongues conjuring up seductive images from the classical pantheon of desire.Food perhaps was and is humanity’s first desire with Adam and Eve taking that forbidden bite. Who knew the apple could be such an aphrodisiac? Ever since then men and women have sought out other such tantalizing love potions. In this quest for love and passion Chefs and Alchemist have churned out a million recipes for lovemaking.

Throughout the history of civilizations aphrodisiacs have been sought out not only by Kings and Generals or Politicians and Shamans, but by everyday people who wanted to inject that little bit of excitement into their mundane lives.

The Aztecs considered the Avocado to be an aphrodisiac, while Oysters were known as the food of lust since antiquity. Indians still keep a glass of almond milk by the bridal bed and the 17th century British herbalist Nicholas Culpepper, wrote that asparagus “stirs up lust in man and woman.” In 19th century France, bridegrooms were served three asparagus courses during their prenuptial dinners. 

To learn the science behind Aphrodisiacs and why they have captured the popular imagination since the classical times watch the session on Food and Desire by Prabeen Singh at the Usha presents Mountain Echoes 2014. Her exciting discussion is followed by a cooking demonstration of a delicious Bhutanese aphrodisiac. “If aphrodisiacs be the food of love, play on” we say.

UFO Ultimate Genesis

aliens copyFlutterguts, Kan Jam, Hot Box, Schtick, what do you think these names refer to? No they are not the names of Rock Bands but refer to various styles of playing Flying Discs. No longer a minority sport, the game today is popular worldwide, with more and more teams and nations joining the League of the Flying Disc. “It is no longer an alien game,” as said by a former Flying Discs player Komal Mehra. But ever wondered how did it all begin?

The origin of the game dates back to 1870’s and like most things 70 it begins with the young and restless. The story goes that a Baker by the name of William Russell Frisbie used to sell delicious pies to students around the various colleges in Connecticut. Perhaps bored out of their mind or in search of new adventures students began to toss and catch the empty pie tins; shouting the Baker’s name ‘Frisbie’ to alert the catcher. And soon colleges around Connecticut and then America had all sorts of Unidentified Flying Objects zooming across the university grounds. Frisbie had come to stay.

A few decades later in the year of the Lord 1948 a man called Walter Frederick Morrison articulated a grave concern “It (flying pie discs) worked fine as long as the sun was up, but then the thing got brittle, and if you didn’t catch it, it would break into a million pieces!” The thought eventually led him to manufacture the first plastic Flying Discs under the brand name Frisbee. He followed it with a modified version called the Pluto Platter in 1951, which became the prototype for all flying discs to come.

dog-with-frisbeeAs more and more people took to these Flying Discs, the number of styles and types of game increased. Finally, Ultimate Frisbee came into being in 1967, invented by a few high school students in Maplewood, New Jersey. It is the most recognized form of the sport and is a cross between football, soccer and basketball. The Usha Bangalore Ultimate Open 2014 as its name denotes has taken up this Ultimate version to popularize the game in India.

Another curious chapter in the history of the Flying Disc occurred in 1968, when the US Navy spent $400,000 to study the movements of these discs in wind tunnels. Following and recording their flights patterns with computers and cameras. We don’t know what they actually learnt from the exercise, but we are curious to find out.

As of now 24 teams from across India are gathering in Bangalore this weekend 27th-29th June, to test their mettle in a bid to be the best in the nation. Usha Bangalore Ultimate Open will be one of the largest Ultimate Frisbee Championships in India and you can follow all the updates on our Facebook page.

Silai School: Living With Dignity

Shivavathi

Shivavathi

Shivavathi lives in a small nondescript village that goes by the name of Tallavalasa in what used to be former Andhra Pradesh. Suffering from poverty without any source of income, life was cruel and hard, till she attended a seven day Silai School programme.  And her life changed overnight, rather in that one week, which not only gave her new skills but also the confidence to be an independent woman in a male dominated society.  Today she is a part-time faculty member at a Polytechnic!

Or take the story of Najira Gazi from Joyanagar West Bengal, who after attending the Silai School programme became a teacher in her village imparting sewing skills to other less-fortunate women like her. The fees she earned through these classes enabled her to continue her education, which she had given up earlier due to financial constrains.

Najira

Najira

There are many such heartwarming stories of a million Shivavathis’ and Najiras’ living unacknowledged in the many villages of India. Usha through its Silai School initiative is trying to empower these marginalized women to lead more respected lives.

The programme trains women over a seven day period on sewing, stitching and embroidery skills, along with basics of sewing machine repair. Every participant is also given an Usha Sewing machine free of cost to start a Silai School in their own village and impart sewing skills to others.

Ganga Devi

Ganga Devi

One of the significant features of this programme is its inclusiveness as it makes it a point to empower HIV positives, trans-genders and physically challenged women. For instance take Ganga Devi from Anantpur, who happens to be a handicapped. Her husband abandoned her because of her disability, leaving her without any source of income or respect. The Silai School programme helped her to earn a living and regain her dignity. Today she makes as much as Rs 5000 per month.

Nasiba Begum

Nasiba Begum

These may not be the archetypal rags to riches stories but nevertheless are life affirming ones, filled with hope and mended dreams, which had once broken. Like Nasiba Begum from Kashipur Orrisa, who weaved her own story of survival and today is an entrepreneur selling her brand of Blouses and Petticoats at the village market. Besides success need not always have monetary strings attached, sometimes it may simply involve love and respect. As Sushmita Das from Dahisadas Orissa and Rubina Begum from Khumtai Assam found out, not only did their sewing skills improve their economic status but also brought them recognition from their families.

We promise to bring to you many such inspiring stories from all across the sub-continent paying homage to the achievements of the down-trodden and the marginalized. Struggles which otherwise would have gone unrecorded. For their stories need to be told.

Sushmita Das & Rubina Begum

Sushmita Das & Rubina Begum

The Usha Silai School initiative was started in 2011, there are more than 3190 Silai Schools operating already across India, Nepal and Sri Lanka and the number is growing at about 1000 per year.

The Role of Civil Society

What is Civil Society? Ten years back, one would have been forgiven for referring to the Dictionary to answer that question. Back then most people (if not all) were clueless about its meaning. Today, even with so much citizen activism happening, it is still hard to arrive at an universal answer to that question. As the definition of Civil Society will vary across countries and societies. So much so that a Civil Society Activist from a Democracy is likely to be called an Anarchist in a Monarchy!

One could say, Civil Society is that informal space beyond our immediate life and work where citizens come together to explore possibilities and arrive at solutions to problems that are being politically neglected. Its role is to celebrate ordinary people even if it means going against the ruling elite.

To explore further, do watch the discussion on The Role of Civil Society between Umesh Anand, Dasho Kinley Dorji, Bernard Imhasly in conversation with Usha Chairman Siddharth Shriram, at the fifth edition of the Bhutan Literary Festival.


Closely linked to the concept of Civil Society is the idea of Democracy as the ‘will of the people’. But the question remains how true a reflection of such a collective will is a Democratic society? Democracy also being an expression of differences is all-inclusive or marred by flawed percentages and rules?  And do we need to exorcise the word ‘Opposition’ since the job of the Opposition in the Parliament is not just to oppose, but to do so constructively.

They may not have all the answers, but they do have valuable insights into the workings of a democratic society, how it functions and how ideally it should function, especially in context of the world’s largest democracy India and the newly democratic kingdom of Bhutan. Catch Lily Wangchuk, Pavan K. Varma, Dago Tshering in conversation with Mihir Sharma at Usha presents Mountain Echoes 2014.

Waheeda Rehman: The Essential Superstar

Waheeda Rehman is an Indian legend, there is no arguing that. But what is it that makes this Bollywood leading lady a living legend? Find out in her own words, as she speaks about her life, roles and movies at the Usha presents Mountain Echoes 2014. Where she talks about her growth as an actress from her very first film CID.

As a new comer in Bollywood, it was her proficiency in the Indian dance form Bharatnatyam that gave her both the skills and confidence to jump right into the dynamic roles that she portrayed in movies like Pyassa and Guide. The former evident in her overwhelming and daring performances; the latter revealed through anecdotes and stories, which are now part of the Bollywood canon of lesser known legends. Like the time she confidently insisted that the Director edit-out one of her songs in the movie Pyassa (her second movie), as she thought not only was it (the song) boring but also it didn’t contribute to the plot! Ever, heard of a new actress, or for that matter old, tried, tested and famous actress, pleading for less screen-time for the sake of art? Afraid not.

Her conversations with famous journalist Sathya Saran is filled with such gems and delightful anecdotes and insights. Watch the video to unveil the Superstar.