Monday, February 02, 2015

Q & A with Sandhya Mendonca, MD & Editor-in-Chief, Raintree Media

Sandhya Mendonca, MD and Editor-in-Chief, Raintree Media said, “There is no place like home. I also find the greatest satisfaction when we publish books that showcase our city and our state to the world.”

Q: What is this book about?

A: Marvels of Karnataka & more explores the state like never before. It covers each of the four regions of this beautiful state: North, Central, South & Coastal. Packed with information about where to go, why to go, when to go, how to go, what to eat and what to buy, Marvels of Karnataka & more is a complete guide to this state. It is a must have book for locals and visitors alike. It is a useful book to pick up before a trip and a great souvenir to take back home.

Q: What inspired you to do this book?

A: In September 2013, Raintree Media published Karnataka –A Cultural Odyssey, a coffee table book commissioned by the Governor of Karnataka. The book was released to mark the President of India’s visit to the state, and it was one of the proudest moments for our organisation, not only because His Excellency had earlier entrusted us with the responsibility of publishing a coffee table book on the history of the Raj Bhavan, but this time around we had curated a book on the culture of the entire state. It was but a natural progression after that to publish Marvels of Karnataka & more.

Q: Tell us about the Marvels series?

A: This is the second book in the innovative Marvels series of Destination photobooks, which blends the aesthetics of a coffee table book with the handiness of a paperback travel guide. The first book in the series Marvels of Mysore & more had sold out, and is now in its second print run.

Q: Packaging a whole state is a huge task. How big is the book?

A: Not to worry, it is a very light paperback in a compact and easy-to-read format. It has 160 pages, with over 120 stunning photographs from acclaimed photographers including Dinesh Shukla and Asha Thadani. India’s leading fashion guru, Prasad Bidapa, has said “This book the perfect companion on a road trip through Karnataka."

Marvels of Karnataka & more is available at your nearest bookstore and on SapnaOnline, Amazon & Flipkart . Ebook available at and soon on Kindle

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Saturday, January 31, 2015

Raintree Media turned 10!

The who's who of the city, old friends, associates and clients joined us at Tango Calypso as we raised a toast on Dec 20 to celebrate our 10th anniversary. It was a gala evening - packaging our annual Christmas party and the birthday of our founder and Managing Director. Of course we also had to welcome in the New Year.

Bonhomie flowed along with retro music by the gorgeous Indira Srinivasan, Priya Arjun Singh, Sulaiman Jamal, Dr Thomas Chandy, with Ram Nagaraj rendering foot-tapping Hindi songs. The thoroughly enjoyable evening was attended by Dr. Rajeev Gowda, MP, Ammu Joseph and SG Vasudev, Balan Nambiar, Milind Nayak, Amita and Gurudas Shenoy, Veena and Arjun Sajnani, Vani Ganapathy, Reva, Sandeep and Gita Maini, Arundhati and Jagdish Raja, Poile and Abhijit Sengupta, Jija Hari Singh, Munira and Ashish Sen, Abhijit Saha, Christine Fernandes Jamal, Sheeba and Virender Razdan, Rubi Chakravarti and Imtiaz Sharafali, Namrata G, Aparna and Naresh Narasimhan, Nejeeb Khan and others.

SG Vasudev & Ammu Joseph with Sandhya Mendonca

Ram Nagaraj, Indira Srinivasan and Reva Maini

Abhijit and Poile Sengupta with Aditya Mendonca

Dr. Rajeev Gowda

Gurudas and Amita Shenoy

Indrajit and Nita Kembhavi

Nejeeb Khan and Dr. Mahesh Reddy

The Raintree Media team

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Marvels of Karnataka & more - Destination photobook on Karnataka launched

Starting of 2015 on a good note, we released the destination photobook Marvels of Karnataka & more, the second in the Marvels series of books. After successful book launches over the last few years in Johannesburg, Mumbai, Delhi, Goa, Chennai and other cities, our eighth book launch in our home town was very gratifying.

The Honourable Tourism Minister of Karnataka, Mr. RV Deshpande released the book at the ITC Windsor on January 21.

Mr. Deshpande said, “Books like Marvels of Karnataka & more will definitely help boost tourism in Karnataka and I congratulate editor Sandhya Mendonca on bringing out such an excellent book which comprehensively covers every region of the state."

The guest of honour iconic contemporary folk musician Raghu Dixit has said about the book: “Marvels of Karnataka & more has captured the essence of my beloved state Karnataka in all its glory and beauty, documenting its amazing history, culture, art and heritage. A brilliantly edited and beautifully packaged book that is concise, precise and full of spice!"

Vasanthi Hariprakash, radio and TV personality, took the audience on an enthralling tour of the state, as she read excerpts from the book against the backdrop of the fabulous photographs from the book.

Marvels of Karnataka & more is available at your nearest bookstore and on SapnaOnline, Amazon & Flipkart . Ebook available at and soon on Kindle

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Monday, November 10, 2014

‘And then one day’ – we got an autographed autobiography

And then one day- a memoir’, the autobiography of Naseeruddin Shah is storming up the bookstores across the country.

At the Bangalore launch last Saturday, Shah traced the years of his growth as an actor and a human being. “You will waste total five years to study acting?”, was his father’s remark when Shah told him about his decision to join the Film and Television Institute of India after completing his study at the National  School of Drama. The father-son had a love-hate relationship, and the book shares painful incidents of being compared with his more academically inclined brothers.

Apart from his struggles in the film industry, Shah also recounts his love for the gentleman’s game cricket, equations with co-stars such as Om Puri and the problems he had with his first wife.

“It took me many years to finally come out with my autobiography; some of its thoughts had been penned down years ago” he said.

Naseeruddin Shah with his wife Ratna Pathak Shah and son Vivaan at the release of his autobiography.

The intelligent and quirky Shah declared his “love” for Bangalore and Kannada theatre, adding “the stage was, is and will be my first love”.

A thrilled crowd at the jam-backed Landmark bookstore had the pleasure of hearing eminent historian and writer, Ramachandra Guha who was also the moderator of the event. Guha called the autobiography as a ‘fun, in-depth and a brutally honest work’.

His actor wife Ratna Pathak Shah and son Vivaan who is an upcoming actor joined him as the audience jostled for selfies and autographs. We got an autographed book, and were amused to see that it was a ‘stick-on’. 

By Sreeraj TK
For Raintree Media Features

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Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Much Ado about Adakkam

Poile Sengupta with Inga
In Malayalam, just one word is enough to tell a woman what she should or should not be doing. It’s this word that had writer/ playwright and teacher Poile Sengupta in full theatrical flow at the recent launch of her book Inga.
Inga focuses on the feudalistic, deeply patriarchal and oppressive towards women in Indian society, more specifically in Kerala and the Malayali diaspora. As a writer who loves to play with words and effectively uses colloquial slangs, Poile gave a humourous demonstration of her usage of Adakkam, the Malayalam word in a satirical manner.

Having written books for children earlier, city-based Poile Sengupta says that she felt, “that to be a complete author, one must write for adults despite the fact that writing for children is way tougher”.

Inga is her debut novel for adults, but Poile has in the past written hard-hitting plays for adults: Mangalam, ‪Body blows, A woman speaks, Vikramaditya's Throne and others, all of which have been staged to appreciative audiences. She has also penned Sliced Balls, a rip-roaring comedy on golf, married as she is to golf-addict retired bureaucrat.

With Inga, Poile enters “the crowded compartment of writers for adults” in the words of Sahitya Akademi award winner Shashi Deshpande, who released the book. While Deshpande likened the book to "a thick strong coffee", Chiranjiv Singh, retired bureaucrat and former ambassador to UNESCO, who is a popular figure in the city’s cultural circles, preferred to call it "strong liquor".

Veteran theatre artist Ashish Sen read out an enthralling poem on alphabets from the book while Lekha Naidu brought in her experience in women-centred work, in reading out the dialogues of the female characters Inga, Rapa and Aunt Kuppai from the book.

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Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Wild'less' Wildlife experience in Masinagudi

A herd of Cheetals (Axis axis) oblivious of the human (homosapien) presence 

Visiting a wildlife sanctuary had been always on my to-do list due to my immense fascination for jungles and wild animals. But my visit to Mudumalai National Park, Masinagudi last month was a disappointment. I had expected that I would be out in the wild and will get a chance to catch a glimpse of tigers, elephants, leopards, bears and what not. Sadly, all I could see were homosapiens. The primary habitat of these ‘creatures’ is cities where they are found in abundance. But these creatures were seen all over the forest reserve. They had come in huge numbers along with their fellow beings. As I was myself coming from a big city, I was sick of their sight. Determined, I decided to go on a wildlife safari. I was expecting to meet new friends from the wild there but I found none. All I could see were these homosapiens who were moving in their fuel guzzling and noise making vehicles.

Waiting to catch a glimpse of some feathered friends
I went to a homosapien who addressed himself as a forest guide and asked about the absence of ‘wild’ animals in the forest area. He replied that the alarming presence of homosapiens had scared away the ‘wild’ animals which made them go deep into the forest. I became disappointed again. In short, my highly anticipated trip was nothing but a ‘sit back and relax’ resort stay with homosapiens. While returning back I saw a board which prohibited homosapiens from wandering in the forest area as it may be ‘dangerous’. I laughed at it and recalled a signboard which I had seen in a zoo few months back. The signboard simply stated that it is us, the homosapiens who are the world’s most dangerous creatures. 

By T K Sreeraj/ Raintree Media Features

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Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Nokia's Asha was to empower young women.

The first telecom MNC to set up a full-fledged handset manufacturing facility in India, global communications leader Nokia had been connecting people to progress. By empowering women factory workers and creating community improvement initiatives, it had engineered economic transformation in Sriperumbudur.

Sriperumbudur’s economic landscape had undergone a complete transformation with the setting up of the Nokia Telecom SEZ in January 2006. While its recent decision to stop production of the poignantly named ASHA (hope in Sanskrit) and to shut down the plant itself soon, we recall the hopes of the young women who at one point, composed 70 percent of its workforce.

Our story in the BEST OF CHENNAI had chronicled the heydays when Nokia seemed to be a direct catalyst for economic growth in the region.

Ed: Nokia sold its devices and services business to Microsoft, but it could not include the Chennai plant in the $7.5 billion deal as the Indian government has demanded taxes on software downloaded on handsets manufactured at the unit since 2006.

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Tuesday, October 07, 2014

The hills are alive…with the crackle of plastic

The Queen of misty mountains, Kodaikanal, might soon vie for the title of Queen of garbage hills. The lovely green slopes of the Palani Hills are paying the toll for the popularity of the hilltop getaway, and how.

Tourists throng waterfalls (or stalls)
in scenic Kodaikanal.
Tourists leave a growing trail of litter – water bottles, empty packets of chips, biscuits and every thing they can possibly want to dispose off through the windows of buses and cars.

Plastic is banned in markets and around the popular lake, shopkeepers keep a stock of paper bags made from recycled newspapers. But fruit vendors are prone to slip in a banned plastic cover to keep the fruit from getting squashed. Other hawkers dish out food and drink on plastic or paper plates and cups, all of which fall all around and everywhere but in the trash cans, which are very often seen looking forlorn even as the pile of rubbish around them grow.

What is it with the tourists’ seemingly insatiable urge to munch? Go up Coaker’s Walk and you see them, with their backs firmly turned on the tendrils of mist that cloak the mountains, the far off views of distant peaks and the verdure along the edge. No, what interests the hordes that have spent sums of money and time to travel nearly 7000 ft above sea level, is the row of footpath vendors. From henna tattoos to woollen clothing and of course various eatables, the tourists can’t keep away from the hawkers. Scenic walkway? No, thanks.
Ditto on the route to any of the waterfalls. After the idiotic race to the spot, all they seem to do is to rush to the nearest vendor, eating ceaselessly, bargain vociferously and leave the place in a horrific condition.
None question them; a few valiant signs adjure people to Keep Kodai Clean, and most often these are hidden and obviously unheeded.
- Sandhya Mendonca

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