Aishwarya Rao


“Any good news?” enquired my sixty something neighbour aunty, as I stepped out of the taxi. This year, my summer holidays in India began on that note of interest. A deep interest displayed by a variety of people in our society – the neighbourhood shopkeeper, a friend’s would-be-mother-in-law, the Secretary of the ‘Colony Association’ as they bump into twenty something married girls they hardly know.
Earlier that day, I had invested about two hours of flight time mentally preparing clever remarks that I would come back with to tackle the profound curiosity of acquaintances and fifty something maamis, about the success stories of my sex life. Yet, as I stood in front of the familiar building in good old T.Nagar, no witty response came to my mind. Instead, I found myself mumbling something like “Not this time aunty” and hastily walking away, realizing that no amount of preparation can train you for the missile

Any good news?

The bad news is that it is launched infinite times, restrained and otherwise by a number of ‘relatives and friends’ and by the end of my holidays, I had heard it all - from the delicate
Are you and your husband happy?
the implied
Hasn't it been three years since your wedding?
the ingenious
Your classmate Lavanya has named her second daughter Diya
and the candid
When is your father going to have a grandchild to play with?

This time there was even an order

By this time next year you should be in the family way!
No kidding – by this time next year. Clearly adding a branch to the family tree is that straightforward.
Don’t misunderstand me. I am neither against the idea of breeding nor do the incessant and obnoxious family quizzes fluster me. I only find it tedious to explain my life’s plan to random folks I bump into. Every time a person so innocently picks my brain I find myself questioning their logic and motive – and in most cases I am unsuccessful in discovering a reasonable answer.
Since pretending not to have heard the question never works with maamis who are adamant to hear your story, I often try the “My husband and I are living together in the same city. Isnt that great news in itself maami?” Mostly it works. Other times I surrender and listen to the scientific explanations and strong recommendations of these self-made family counselors – “When I was twenty six, I had my fourth child” (Clearly your recreation options were rather limited!), silently counting my blessings. After all, the REAL good news is that these nosy neighbours are an exclusive summer holiday special.
As for my own parents and immediate family - they say,

Leave it to God. He will make it happen when the time is right

Easy. Isn't it?
Oh wait – Why is God a ‘He’? Well that calls for an entirely different post, doesn't it?
Aishwarya Rao
For most part of my life I have lived in a big and busy city...so a getaway break was something I always looked forward to. And then some remarkable events brought me to Tassie, a pure travel destination, a physical stunner! And ever since I have looked around for 'unique experiences', not featured in Lonely Planet Guides...Here is a list I hope to keep updating for the rest of the year.

Hollybank: Tree Top Adventures
Catch an incredible bird's eye view of the intriguing forests of Tasmania by gliding across treetops. You can enjoy the adrenaline rush of a high-wire, super-fast canopy ride in Hollybank, just twenty minutes from Launceston.

Wynyard: Unforgettable Views
The Wynyard Tulip Festival (September-October) is a chance to walk amidst thousands of blooming tulips and feel like a Bollywood star in a romantic song sequence. If flowers do you no good then explore the bleached sands of Sisters Beach and go swimming in the crystal clear waters of Boat Harbour Beach.

As they say, Tassie is nothing if not for its dazzling wilderness, colonial charm untouched beaches and incredible wine and food. Its urban spirit, fairly recent, will make you wonder if God froze time in Tassie for a small period in time. For a place that accommodates some amazing natural wonders, Tasmania is rather shy...this is my attempt to unearth its dazzling character.
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Aishwarya Rao
I have waited a long time to see this postcard. To see the cultural capital of South India get branded. Although an 'I love Chennai' postcard is hardly any 'destination branding,' it is a refreshing step in that direction.

I love Chennai postcards are available at Ashvita, R.K.Salai

For a city like Chennai that has a fine history and a rich culture, it has often been misunderstood and sometimes even written off. (Remember the Lonely Planet review that claimed that Chennai lacks the
optimistic buzz of Bangalore?)
But look beyond its oppressive weather and difficult auto-drivers, you will find history in its sights and smells. Competing on every respectable stage beginning with technology, manufacturing, culture, education, media and cinema, Chennai is a grand assortment, a city that has something for everyone.
Yet there's very little that has been done when it comes to branding the city.

WHAT MUST BE DONE?
While the government must continue to invest in roadworks, waterworks and civic maintenance, there is an urgent need to tackle outsider perceptions of the city. Government, business, arts and media must come together to promote Chennai as an exciting destination for investment, tourism and talent! The very same principles of branding products apply to branding cities. So we need a strategy and a well executed campaign that will improve the city's image and communicate a promise of value to both its residents and its visitors.

I hope we can learn from New York, L.A., Melbourne and Sydney, some cities that have been marketed more than successfully. And no, I am not referring to a tourism logo, a tag line and a city web page, although these elements are an integral part of a branding exercise. I hope our government too can commit to thousands of Rupees to help create a brand identity and boost national and international tourism.

I hope there will be campaigns, destination brochures, city information centres and souvenir shops that will soon put Chennai-ites (or Madrasis?) on the same pedestal as New Yorkers!
Aishwarya Rao

In the beginning there was nothing. God said, "Let there be light!" And there was light... Watching jaw-dropping fireworks by the Sydney Harbour Bridge has been the highlight of the new year so far! Here's to a terrific, mad and exciting 2010!