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MAY 2000
Volume I •
Issue 4

Publisher's Note:

There is more to science and technology than computers and software, and this month’s main story especially focuses on this fact.

Siliconeer continues to salute and celebrate the success of South Asians in information technology. South Asians who serve this industry will always be a key theme of this magazine.

But Siliconeer is nothing if not eclectic, and we have always believed in looking beyond conventional wisdom. Since coverage of science has always been part of our mission, we decided to look beyond IT and ask: Where does technology cross paths with real-life needs in the old country?

There can be many answers to this question, but few are more poignant than the potable water crisis in the Bengal basin affecting large tracts in West Bengal and Bangladesh. Millions of Bengalis face a desperate predicament as their only accessible source of drinking water is poisoned by arsenic.

Yet the exciting news is that in the Bay Area, a hi-tech company has come up with a device that promised to solve this crisis, and it’s not just on the drawing board, either. The prototype is out, field testing has begun and the company is beginning to get ready for mass production.

In this issue we invited one of the founders of the company to explain not only how the device works, but also asked him to outline the tortuous path between technological conception and eventual acceptance. His detailed interview is not only a heartwarming story of the triumph of science in solving real-life challenges, but it also raises sobering questions about how science and its application remains vulnerable to extraneous social and political forces.


Main Feature

Bengal’s Water Crisis
Battling Arsenic - An Interview with Steve Clarke

An environmental health disaster has unfolded in West Bengal and Bangladesh as tens of millions of Bengalis are drinking arsenic-contaminated ground water. In a candid interview, Steve Clarke, one of the founders of EDA – Berkeley-based Electrochemical Design Associates – tells the exciting tale of developing a solution.

Arsenic patients in Bangladesh and West Bengal. (Photos by Prof. Richard Wilson of Harvard University)

Q: Tell us a little bit about the device. Physically what does it look like, and how does it work?

A: Physically it just looks like a black box, a container with a media in it. The units that we are building for India are about 12 inches in diameter, like a cylinder, and about 2 feet tall. The water from the tube well goes into the top of that. And the clean water comes out, also at the top. It’s real time, it goes straight out again.

One of the distinguishing features about the technology is that it uses a ligand to recover the Arsenic3 and Arsenic5 from solutions.

Q: What is a ligand?

A: Taking arsenic out of water is very much like the proverbial needle in a haystack, where the hay is all of the other ions in solution and we are trying to find a needle in there somewhere.

A ligand is something that selects ions from solutions because of their shape, not because of their electrical charge. It works a little bit like the way somebody’s sense of taste or smell works. In the back of our tongue we have receptors that are a certain shape and only molecules with that shape will fit to them.

A ligand, because it is shape-selective, rejects everything that isn’t arsenic and only selects the arsenic.

In the Bengal basin we are going down from 200 parts per billion of arsenic down to 5 or 10 parts per billion. We are doing that in water that contains other things like chloride and carbonate at much, much higher concentrations, in some cases 10 or 100,000 times more concentrated, and the ability to select something from a solution based on its shape is an invaluable tool.

Now why that’s important is that it means that the device can be a lot smaller because it only has to be sized to the arsenic that we are trying to get out and not sized for the other things that would normally interfere with a medium. It also means that a device can be made with a very low pressure head. So you don’t lose a lot of pressure when water flows through it.

If you have to push your water through a large packed pad, there just isn’t enough pressure head at the pump to do that.

Q: What is Arsenic3 and Arsenic5?

A: Simply put, they are just different forms of arsenic in solution, but the important part is that Arsenic3 is very much more toxic than Arsenic5. Most currently available technologies for recovering arsenic from drinking water require all of the arsenic to be converted to Arsenic5 first and then recover as Arsenic5. Another part of our technology that makes it unusual is that it is fully regenerable. Which means that the media that we use can be regenerated over and over and over again.

Now there are some techniques for recovering Arsenic3 directly but they cause the arsenic to be precipitated in a form and then filtered. The media that is used to do that then cannot be regenerated. And that’s important because if you can reuse a media over and over and over again, it allows us to get the cost down to the end user.

Q: How is this device better than others?

A: There are really several aspects of it that are quite fundamentally different from the competing technologies. The first one is that the device is designed to take out not only Arsenic5 which most arsenic treatment systems will deal with, but it will also take out Arsenic3. That’s important, particularly in India, because the arsenic in its natural state in the drinking water is more predominantly Arsenic3 than it is Arsenic5.

Q: So how are you going about manufacturing this device?

A: We are doing this with an interna
tional company called Luxfer, which is headquartered in the United Kingdom. Luxfer has taken the rights to the technology and they are commercializing the drinking water application technology in India and the U.S. and other parts of the world. We are working with them to both transfer the technology to their organization and help them with some of the scale-up and engineering issues as we go into larger and larger scale operations.

Q: How has this technology been received in India?

A: So far it’s been very encouraging from both Bangladeshi and West Bengal regulators. We are about to ship a whole number of devices over to West Bengal and Bangladesh to run certification tests and we have had preliminary devices operating in the field since about February.

The regulators seem to be extremely enthusiastic about the device for a number of reasons. The first one is that we have a very small device that can next sit to a well head. Secondly, we’ve got a device that can be regenerated, and when we regenerate it we don’t create large volumes of secondary waste, because we are only taking the arsenic out of the water, and none of the other ions.

One of the problems that some of the competing technologies have had is that the processes themselves generate very large amounts of secondary waste.

What we are working to establish is a number of regional regeneration centers with a distribution network so that as the device gets spent that will be taken off and a new one fitted and the used up device will be sent back to a regional reprocessing center where the arsenic is recovered and turned into an insoluble stable form.

That means we can provide control and custody over the arsenic in its final form and that’s a much better thing to do than to allow generation of arsenic-laden sludge at the well head.

Q: How much does this thing cost?

A: We don’t have any official cost
data so I can’t really say a lot. We won’t be quoted on price at the moment because it’s become a liar’s contest.

What we are telling people is that we think that we are going to be substantially lower cost. Not just lower cost, but lower cost on a life-cycle basis.

What we have been focusing on is putting in a credible infrastructure of regional centers that can manage the full life cycle of the arsenic that’s been recovered. We think we are substantially lower than any other competing system.

Q: Give us a sense of how this whole project evolved.

A: We started working on techniques
to recover arsenic from drinking water in 1995. The big news at the moment is the U.S. EPA is proposing to tighten the American drinking water standard from its current 50 ppb (parts per billion) limit to 5 ppb, which is ten-fold reduction in the allowable arsenic, which will bring it in line with world standards. We knew a change was likely to happen. So we started looking at techniques back in 1994 and 1995. And we researched what are now the competing technologies, and started working in ligand chemistry and realized that for what we wanted to do, a ligand offered a lot more.

What became apparent was that the U.S. market was going to mature very slowly. So we moth-balled the technology and went on to deal with other things.

Then in late 1998, we became aware of the size of the problem in Bangladesh, first through the New Scientist magazine, and then contact with Professor Allan Smith of U.C. Berkeley.

We realized it was a huge problem. We took a decision in December 1988 to send one of our guys over to India who was from the region – Samaresh Mohanta — to give us a reality check. He went in early 1999 and he came back and said yes, the issue is very serious and it’s reaching crisis proportions out there.

At the same time we met up with Cal EPA expert Rashbehari Ghosh and he was telling us the situation was appalling in Bangladesh.

Sam came back and said, “Oh my God, it’s terrible. But here is the deal. We are gonna have to build and install 2 million devices.” He also told us what the competing devices would do.

We realized that what we developed for the U.S. market were systems that would work at 2 or 3 million gallons a day, whereas what we needed for the Indian market was 2 million one-gallon-a-minute units.

At the same time I realized we needed to have an engineering and or financial backing to really make sense of it.

I tried real hard to generate some enthusiasm from the Bengali community that resides in the Silicon Valley. The other angle was to go to water engineering companies in the U.S.

To be absolutely frank, I found that the Bengali community in Silicon Valley couldn’t care less. I got the same from the venture capital banks. As far as everybody was concerned, if you didn’t have Java in it, and the company wasn’t called something dot-com, they didn’t care.

That really got me angry, the fact that technology had been rendered down to something that was a small subset of a small subset of a particular branch of technology.

For trade partners, we started talking to Luxfer Group. They had the capability to engineer the ligand at mass production, and we needed somebody who could make it by the ton. We talked to a number of water engineering companies, one of which was Bechtel.

Bechtel showed some interest in the technology, but what we were told later was they were scared that it would actually compete with their own versions of the technology.

Q: So it’s never as simple as having a technology that works and putting it to use.

A: It’s never as simple as that. In fact,
the biggest problem we had was we had a technology that was too good. You know, if you go to any water works, what you will find is large holes in the ground and lots of concrete and lots of filtration systems. We come along and say you don’t need any of that, here is a fully engineered and packaged transportable system that’s tenths to hundredths of a size of that and it will treat 2 million gallons a day. Well, we were not at all popular.

EDA has got 18 or 19 different technologies that it is working on, all of which are in our minds as valuable as this one. But we were looking at photographs and video that Samaresh brought back and we saw the CBS 60 Minutes program, saying, “Christ this is so bad that we cannot afford to sit around, coming up with the ultimate strategy organizing the best financing package and making the most money for EDA.” Because people are dying here. And to a certain extent we put EDA’s commercial interest in this in the back burner and said, “Look, Luxfer have got the legs to do this, they might not have the financial muscle as a Bechtel, but they’ve got more heart and they have got more imagination.”

So we went with them and we structured a deal in November last year. We have been operating a joint team of Luxfer and EDA engineers since November.

Q: Where do things stand now?

A: We are building and shipping
systems. They are prototype-level systems at the moment. We have got two fully operating test facilities, one In Flemington, N.J., which is where Luxfer operates, and one here in our offices in EDA in Berkeley. What Luxfer built was a test rig that can feed an equivalent water to a hand pump which has a multi controller on it, so we can absolutely simulate what’s going on in India in Flemington.

We took the view to actually be quite low-key in the field, until we got a lot of operating hours under our belt and then go forward rapidly with the certification testing and immediately go to a hundred devices and a thousand devices and a hundred thousand devices.

The group of EDA and Luxfer has been joined by Warwick University in the U.K. Warwick University specializes in high volume production and production automation. They are headed by Professor Kumar Bhattacharya out of Bangladesh. They are working flat out on the challenges of how we are going to make a million of these a year.

Q: This is not just about science and business, though, is it? There is a human angle to this.

A: Totally. I went to school in
Huddersfield, England, which was about 30 percent Bangladeshi and Indian. I know what these guys go through.

There are plenty of opportunities for EDA to make a killing on technology. This isn’t one. This is something that has to be done because it’s the right thing to do.

For more information on the arsenic crisis in the Bengal basin, readers can visit the following websites:

The West Bengal and Bangladesh Arsenic Crisis Information Center at http://bicn.com/acic

Harvard University’s Arsenic Project run by Prof. Richard Wilson at

Electrochemical Design Associates was founded with “a very passionate belief that technology is more than computers” by Steve Clarke, Robert Clarke and Darron Brackenbury. It started as a home office-based business doing high-end technology consulting specifically in electrochemistry, ligand science and material science. It does its own R&D and spreads its prototyping facility over a portfolio of technologies.

– Steve Clarke has a BS in mechanical engineering,
an MBA and a PhD in computer science. After
stints in Rolls Royce Aerospace and British Telecom,
he helped found Electrochemical Design Associates in Berkeley, Calif.



Passing on the Baton - By Ashok Gupta

All too often successful small business owners are too focused on the present to spare a thought for estate planning. Yet this carries the danger of being caught unaware when sudden tragedy strikes. Besides, early planning also ensures a smooth and fruitful transition, as Ashok Gupta explains.

Succession is the key to estate planning for your family business. It’s widely estimated that only three out of 10 family-owned businesses survive past one generation. Perhaps that’s because many small business owners are so focused on making their operations successful today that they hardly have time to think about the tomorrows that lay ahead.

In the long term, that’s a mistake. Applying estate planning and succession planning disciplines to your business can help assure a good return for all the blood, sweat and dollars you’ve invested in it.

To begin, you need only ask yourself some basic questions:

  • Who will run the business after you’re no longer involved?

  • How will you access its value to fund your retirement or maximize the estate you pass on to your heirs?

The complexity of the answers is up to you, and your family, associates and advisors.

Succession for Success

Succession planning is much more than picking someone to take your place the day you decide to retire. Ideally, it should be a process carefully orchestrated over many years to groom a leader to be as successful as you’ve been.

If you put it on the back burner until you’re ready to step down, you’re gambling. Gambling that you won’t die or be incapacitated prematurely. Gambling that successors will be as capable and willing to run your business as you are. Gambling that you or your heirs will be able to sell your share of the business at a favorable price, even though you’ve tipped your hand that you want out.

In a sense, any procrastination about succession planning is making a decision – the decision that, if something suddenly happens to you, your business will still be viable after your estate has gone through probate. Is that a decision you’d be totally comfortable with today?

For a family business owner, a well-developed succession plan can act like a “business will,” ensuring an orderly transfer of ownership and management responsibility and reducing the chances of family conflict.

Time can be an ally, if you get started early enough. You might have the luxury of considering a number of candidates who can learn the business and demonstrate the skills to make you comfortable with your choice. Don’t take for granted that your children are as committed to the business as you are. Be certain that they or other designated successors have the true inclination to continue the business successfully.

Think about hiring a professional consultant to help you evaluate potential candidates in the succession pipeline. An objective opinion may help balance the emotions that often can factor into the decision. In addition, a consultant can help develop financial models that project cash flow, tax savings, ownership values and the impact on all parties to the succession plan.

Your business may qualify for favorable estate tax treatment. Under the Taxpayer Relief Act of 1997 and the Internal Revenue Service Restructuring and Reform Bill of 1998, there is an exclusion allowance of up to $675,000 for qualified family-owned businesses. The exclusion plus the exemption equivalent unified credit amount for the year of death can’t exceed $1.3 million. There are a number of requirements to use this election, one of which is that the decedent or a member of the decedent’s family must have been active in the business for a sufficient time.

Maximum Value

No matter who your successor is, you’ll want to make sure that you or your heirs receive maximum value for your ownership interest when you retire or in the event of your death or disability. A well-structured buy-sell agreement is an excellent first step toward that end.

The buy-sell agreement should spell out:

  • How the business will be valued for purposes of a buyout
  • The terms of the buyout
  • Where the proceeds for the buyout will come from
  • How incapacity is defined

Generally, there are many tax and estate conservation advantages to funding the buyout through life and disability income insurance policies on the owners. The implications of assigning the ownership and benefits of such policies can be quite complex, particularly for businesses with multiple owners, and should be discussed with qualified professionals. Don’t confuse the purpose of “buyout” coverage with the “key-person” insurance demanded by lenders; the latter most likely will not be enough to buy out the deceased owner’s share.

Review the buy-sell, life insurance and succession plan periodically to make sure that conditions and values are on track with what has been anticipated.

Even if you have no interest in succession planning and simply want to “cash in” for the best price before heading off to a blissful retirement, it still makes sense to use a certain amount of foresight and circumspection in arranging a sale.

Openly advertising your business for sale might alienate your existing clientele and ultimately reduce its value. Instead, you might hire a broker who has had experience selling businesses similar to yours. If you want to try it on your own, speak to other business owners – both buyers and sellers – to gain the benefits of what they’ve learned in the sales process.

- Ashok Gupta is a financial planner.
He is based in San Jose, Calif.



The Anti-obesity Resin:
An Ayurvedic Cure – By Kumar Pati

The verdant foliage of India includes an innocuous tree, Commiphora mukul. It exudes a resin, however, which has extraordinary properties, recorded in the ancient Ayurvedic treatise, the Charak Samhita. Kumar Pati outlines how modern scientific research shows that this resin can treat contemporary problems of obesity and high blood cholesterol.

One of the best known Ayurvedic herbs in India is gugul. A resin — an organic substance that exudes from trees and plants — from the Commiphora mukul tree, it is widely used in Ayurvedic medicine, and is now becoming more popular with practitioners of Western alternative medicine.

After 2,500 years of successful use, this herb from north-central India is making its way into the arsenal of alternative practitioners. Modern medicine now recognizes that Ayurvedic physicians of the past had accurately characterized many health abnormalities in ancient texts such as the Charak Samhita. At that time, the gugul tree (Commiphora mukul) was scraped to yield gummy resins called “gugul.” These resins were then traditionally used for a variety of imbalances such as intestinal inflammation, diarrhea, urinary disorders and more specifically rheumatism and obesity.

Indians and Europeans are still using gugul for many of the same conditions for which it was prescribed in the past, as a 1987 issue of Science Age noted. The high-quality standardized gugul extracts of today make it a viable alternative in the treatment of cholesterol abnormalities and obesity.

Before you make any changes to your diet, however, you must confer with your physician, to avoid any unforeseen unpleasant side effects.

Gel for Your Joints

The active components of gugul are the sterols E- and Z-gugulsterone. These compounds have been studied for a variety of metabolic effects, but gugulsterones have been noted for their anti- inflammatory effect. In Jammu, the Regional Research Laboratories investigated gugul for its effect on rheumatic diseases and found it to be free of any “adverse and undesirable side-effects.”

Another nutrient used by many individuals seeking relief from inflamed joints is glucosamine sulfate, which is extremely popular with people coping with joint disorders and is one of the treatments of choice for many naturopathic doctors treating arthritic patients. Glucosamine sulfate is recognized in Europe as a chondroprotective agent, which is a substance that increases chondrocyte anabolic activity.

Although people report excellent results in the long run from glucosamines, they exert no anti-inflammatory activity.

Consequently, those individuals needing a little bit more than glucosamines to ward off joint problems, would do well to complement their regimen with gugul. Based on the observations of many herbologists, gugul may prove to be an excellent anti-inflammatory complement to glucosamine.

Gugul and Triglycerides

Because of a study in Drugs of Today, cholesterol researchers have shown interest in gugul. In that study, 79 percent of 245 patients who had high cholesterol were in for a real gugul treat: A 27 percent drop in cholesterol and 22 percent drop in triglyceride.

And for you skeptics out there, this test was done on humans during a six-week period; these results are not a “mice-to-men” extrapolation. As you may have heard about other Ayurvedic herbs used in alternative medicine, gugul also has a varying array of potential effects.

Gugul and Lipoproteins

These days we have a dietary school of thought committed to sharply reducing fats in our diet. As a nation, we have gotten so fat (33 percent of our population is obese), that is obvious that we must cut down our fat intake. Unfortunately, the American Heart Association and many other health practitioners are missing a key item; that lowered fat intake can result in declines in HDL (good, cholesterol-reducer) as well as LDL and Very Low Density Lipoproteins. Also, as a result of drastic decrease intake of fat, there could be less absorption of lipid-soluble vitamins , such as beta-carotene, retinol (vitamin A), tocopherol (vitamin E), and vitamins D and K.

The Indian Journal of Medicine reported some amazing results in a 16-week trial analyzing the effects of gugul and HDL. Let me summarize the results so you don’t have to run down to UCSF to pull the article: HDL levels (“good” cholesterol) increased by 35 percent.

Gugul and Obesity

Ayurvedic practitioners also used gugul for weight-loss. It was thought then that the herb acted as a metabolic tonic, but its mechanism of action was unknown. It is now known through research that gugul has an effect on the thyroid gland. In short, gugul raised the levels of circulating thyroid hormones, which may account for its ability to regulate obesity and cholesterol levels.

So it can be seen that gugul has interesting potential and it is time that we re-examined this wonder of the past.

It is one of the greater ironies of the contemporary world that Indians are reluctant to respect the ancient wisdom that informed its bygone era, while the West is beginning to show an increasing interest in older, Eastern schools of health care.

The most important need today is not an uncritical admiration of all things past, but to keep an open mind and critically examine ancient methods to see if there is any knowledge that can be of contemporary use. Chances are, there is.

Further information on Kumar Pati’s alternative health products is available at www.bestnutrition.com.

- Dr. Kumar Pati, trained both in Western medicine as well as
Ayurvedic medicine, is the former publisher of
Health World magazine.
He owns Best Nutrition Products, a nutrition company.



Yoga Techniques:
Breathing for Life

Breathing is one of the most basic, constant, and sub-conscious human activities. One scarcely pays any attention to it as many other pressing issues prey on the mind. Yoga expert Vasanthi Bhat, however, says a little extra attention to this most mundane of activities can improve the quality of life.

Yoga, with its numerous benefits, is being recognized by a large number of people every day around the world, but one of its most beneficial aspects is often overlooked.

That, of course, is breathing. Breathing is something all people do, but breathing consciously is quite another matter.

Though we normally breathe without paying attention to our breaths as involuntary systems do the job, it is important to know that when we are under stress the breathing channels and other parts of the body associated with breathing get stiff with tension as mind and body work together. This physical fatigue further affects our thinking as the system is starved of oxygen.

Practicing Pranayama is a very valuable technique that leads to a better and healthier lifestyle. Prana means life-force, yama means control. The technique teaches how to breathe consciously. When we breathe consciously we are able to absorb more oxygen. Along with the oxygen, we are able to preserve a great amount of life-force (prana) in the system. We are also able to release tension and free radicals. Inability to release built-up tension and free radicals causes mental fatigue, nervousness, anxiety, anger and imbalance in the nervous system.

There are several breathing techniques that can be utilized to relax one’s body and mind. These include simple breathing, alternate nostril breathing and complete breathing.

Simple Breathing

Simple breathing is a great technique to start out with because it is the basis of all the other breathing techniques. You can practice this breathing while sitting, relaxing, walking, driving and performing daily duties as this is focusing on your natural breath. This will prevent you from getting exhausted at the end of the day due to the constant storage of energy-prana throughout the day.

In order to practice simple breathing you should close your eyes (open your eyes if you are involved in any activities) and observe your natural breathing. By taking time out to observe your breathing, you become more aware of its pattern and changes. This is the first stage of conscious breathing (pranayama). If your breath flows heavily and rapidly, understand that you are going through some mental tension. Continue to breathe slowly through your nostrils while slightly expanding and compressing your stomach and chest muscles as you breathe in and out. When your mind is on the breath, notice you tend to breathe slowly and peacefully as you are able to recharge your mind and entire system very quickly. Practicing just one to two minutes of this simple breathing will help you relax and will alleviate the accumulated stress.

Complete Breathing

Complete breathing is a natural extension of simple breathing. Complete breathing relieves mental fatigue, anxiety, insomnia, hypertension, improves digestion, stamina, tolerance and immune system, relieves constipation, abdominal and heart ailments.

While practicing natural breathing try to pull your stomach in while breathing out. When you are breathing in, raise your stomach slightly and breathe upward while expanding your chest. When you are exhaling, remember to pull your stomach in because exhalation is the most important part of complete breathing.

Observe how smoothly the breathing flows because this increased awareness purifies all the breathing channels and, allows you to breathe correctly.

Alternate Nostril Breathing

Alternate nostril breathing is another technique that has a variety of advantages. Some practice it to attain tranquillity, and to have a balanced energy and peace of mind. Others practice it to ease their difficulty in breathing or to clear the blockage in their nostrils if they have sinus problems.

While sitting down and closing your eyes, put your first two fingers in between your eyebrows and close your right nostril with your thumb, inhale with your left nostril and close it with the ring finger. Opening your right nostril, breathe out gently, then breathe in through the same nostril and close it. Open your left nostril, breathing out, and continue to follow this alternating pattern. After practicing a couple of rounds of this, your breathing will naturally get deeper and smoother.

When to Practice

  • Whenever you get mentally exhausted.
  • Prior to seminars and public meetings.
  • To improve concentration, memory, and productivity.
  • To control and understand upcoming agitation.
  • To convert stressful situation into a positive frame of mind.
  • To achieve a balanced and peaceful state of mind.
  • To relieve insomnia.

- Vasanthi Bhat is a Bay Area-based yoga instructor



On Ramp to the World Wide Web – By Punam Nair

The information superhighway is changing the way business is conducted, and even small businesses are beginning to realize it. Yet many don’t have the time or resources to master the skills needed to set up shop online. Start-up company Hotbiz.com provides the knowhow on a sliding scale, beginning with free templates, thus helping small businesses get on the e-business bazaar, reports Punam Nair

Shawn Bates is anything but your Silicon Valley IT professional. The 32-year old Sacramento resident has a three-year old business servicing swimming pools.

But he realized the information superhighway was too important to ignore.

“I did not want to miss out on the wave of excitement of the Internet,” he said.

So he decided to take his business online, and hit his first speed bump.

Setting up a web page, was not a skill that one is born with, he ruefully discovered. “First I tried a couple of different software, like I tried Microsoft Frontpage,” he recalled. “But I ended up spending so much time trying to learn the software that I didn’t want to get into it.”

Then he found Hotbiz.com, a Silicon Valley start-up company that provides precisely the service that web novice entrepreneurs like Bates needs.

“It was online and it was easy,” he said. “I got up my store up and running.”

What started almost in jest last year now accounts for a third of his business. He still remembered his disbelief after getting his first online order after setting up his web site with the help of Hotbiz.com.

“At first I was skeptical,” he said. “I thought it can’t be this easy. After I got my first order I was, like, this is too easy.”

Bates is not the only happy customer for Hotbiz.com. Krissa Fernandez is another one.

“I had no idea having a web site could increase my business so much,” says Fernandez, owner of EatAlmonds.com, a site that sells farm grown almonds.

Bates and Fernandez are two of nearly 10,000 customers set up by Hotbiz.com, a San Jose, Calif.-based company that helps small businesses set up their own web sites.

Fernandez says she got the web site after a friend told her about the Internet tools Hotbiz.com had to offer. “With the help of Hotbiz.com, I was able to set up a free web site and secure online ordering, “says Fernandez. “The response was great and I was able to save time and money.”

Hotbiz.com is one-stop shop for small businesses trying to get into e-business. The company provides the key tools for people who want to set up shop over the Internet.

These tools include E-Commerce, which allows customers to purchase goods using credit cards; Intranet, which allows businesses to communicate with their own employees using an in-house calendar system and Internet which allows clients and customers to do business on the world wide web.

“Many small businesses want to get online but find it too expensive to set up shop on the net,” says Parul Chheda, co-founder and CEO of Hotbiz.com. “That’s where we come in, we help these businesses by offering them tools to set up a free web site, enabling them to do business online,” says Chheda.

For example, Chheda says a layman can set up a web site through Hotbiz.com, in a day, using premade Hotbiz.com templates. Templates are prototypes of a design made to fit a certain pattern. With the help of these templates, clients can set up their web sites by fitting their business model into these templates.

On the other hand, for custom-made sites, clients would have to pay Hotbiz.com to develop a site they require.

“Hotbiz.com is different because we give applications to small businesses giving them the opportunity to be creative with their business web sites,” says Chheda.

In a nutshell Hotbiz.com is like a service station providing online services, for small businesses that are just beginning to develop their own online services. They also offer website development, email, online management services, virtual bulletin boards, chat rooms and more.

“We provide everything for a company going online. That way businesses don’t have to go to other sites to get all the different services like e-commerce or intranet,” says Dennis Empey, VP of marketing and sales at Hotbiz.com. “Everything they need is offered on our web site,”

“The best part is our clients don’t have to be Internet savvy to get a site of their own using Hotbiz.com tools,” Empey adds.

Hotbiz.com’s easy-to-use applications also include web hosting plus e-commerce, intranet and Internet tools with 24-hour customer-service support.

Right now Hotbiz.com boasts of increasing revenues of about 15 percent to 20 percent per month, according to Empey.

So they are unfazed by the rollercoaster ride in the stockmarket of dot-com forms that have many hi-tech executives reeling. The future goal of Hotbiz.com is to build the company into the largest Internet tool provider.

“We don’t own the customer,” says Empey. “We want the customer to be the end-user,” says Empey.

“Our goal is to build a self sustaining amount of opportunities and there are several right now,” says Chheda. “There’s always a chance of going IPO too,” concludes Chheda.

Hotbiz.com was founded in March 1998 by Parul Chheda, her husband Mahendra Chheda, a former Intel engineer and R. Paul Gupta, founder and former CEO of Quality Semiconductor, which was acquired by Integrated Device Technology for $35 million.

The company has 45 employees, 20 people at their San Jose facility and 25 people in their web development and hosting facility in India.

The company has already raised $2.5 million in capital to begin aggressive marketing as well as develop new services.


Successful Relationships - By Neerja Bhatia

With simple seven steps, we can reach our true essence and build rich, soulful, relationships, says Neerja Bhatia.

Having a rich and soulful relationship is not only our birthright but also our true essence. Even though it is our true essence, it is hidden behind the deep embedded programming that blinds us from seeing beyond our self-inflicted illusion. The self-inflicted illusion comes from wounds of our past that have become a part of our being. Unattended wounds can cause fear, commotion, insecurity, anger, jealousy, bitterness and much more that is not apparent to the naked eye. Unaware of these wounds, we blame others for how we feel in relationships. Emotional pain is not the cause of a bad relationship but an outcry of our wounds. Until we heal the wounds and have a healthy relationship with our inner self, we will continue to attract and experience pain in all our relationships.

So how can we develop a healthy relationship with our inner self?

The first step is to recognize and dismantle the foundations created by the wounds that are causing anger, frustration, insecurity, stress, anxiety, loneliness & failure. These foundations, deeply embedded in our emotions, cloud our vision to reality. When we feel emotionally hurt by someone’s action, reflect on why you feel the pain and see beyond the clouded vision. When you experience the emotional pain, how you feel has a lot to do with how you see yourself. Reflect on what hidden wounds come up for you when you hear something you don’t like. Your emotional pain is communicating with you. Are you listening and learning from it or are you feeling sorry for yourself?

The second step is to learn from how you see others. When you see flaws in others, you are projecting your own flaws onto them. When you see virtues in others, you are projecting your own virtues onto them. The way to recognize and dismantle your foundations is to learn from how you see others. When you recognize a flaw in another, reflect upon your own flaws. You will not be able to recognize a flaw in another without having that flaw in you.

The third step is to feel good from the inside out, and to stop looking for approval outside of oneself. Remember it is your fear turned into insecurity that is looking for approval. Feel fulfilled by seeing yourself beyond the skin-deep person. You are comprised of your thoughts, words, deeds and action. When your thoughts are beautiful, your words will be beautiful; when your words are beautiful, your deeds will be beautiful; when your deeds are beautiful, your actions will be beautiful; and when your actions are beautiful, your inner beauty will shine. You will mesmerize people in and around you.

The fourth step is to know and understand that no individual is superior to or inferior to you. When you feel superior to someone, you have ego issues and when you feel inferior to someone, you have insecurity issues. Neither feeling superior or inferior to anyone is healthy. Remember the existence of duality in everything – when you are feeling superior to someone, it is more than likely you are feeling inferior to someone else. One cannot exist without the other.

The fifth step is to embrace your entire being. Love your entire self unconditionally, the good, the bad and the ugly. Just as one would not be able to experience light without experiencing the dark, how can one experience the good without experiencing the bad? We are all made equal and have tendencies to do good and bad. When we make conscious choices, we tap into our goodness and when we make unconscious choices, we tap into our dark side. Remember that we are all born equal, it is our circumstances, environment and personality that mold us into our present state – but we still have a choice to break away from unconsciousness and live consciously.

The sixth step is to live consciously. Living consciously is living in the present moment. Most of us live in the past or the future: a past that does not exist in reality and the future that is not here as of yet. The biggest asset we have at any given time is the very present moment and it is sad that we are absent from our present moment 90 percent of the time. A majority of accidents occur when a person is absent minded. Start being in the present moment. Letting your mind wander to your vision is an excellent thing, but you need to book time for this aside when you are relaxed and not engaged in mind-intensive activities.

The seventh step is to forgive yourself and others who have caused pain unconsciously to your being. Remember no one person can cause pain consciously as we are all loving beings. We all have wounds we are healing and when we act from those wounds, we are acting unconsciously. No one deliberately causes harm to anyone. Forgiveness opens doors to your healing process and allows grace to flow into your life.

Exercise your birth right by being aware of your feelings, learning from others, being in control of how you feel, feeling the equality in all, loving yourself, living consciously and forgiving yourself and others. These are a few steps to soulful and rich relationships. Are you going to make a choice of living richly or poorly?

- Neerja Bhatia is the founder of
Rhythm of Success which conducts self help seminars



Raag Bilaskhani Todi
Maestro’s Son – By Habib Khan

Mian Tansen was one of the nine jewels – navratna – in Mughal Emperor Akbar’s court. His mastery of Hindustani music is well recognized even today. But his son Bilaskhan was a talented musician in his own right, says sitarist Habib Khan, who describes a beautiful raga created by this relatively less well-known expert of classical music.

Mian Tansen, a legendary figure in Hindustani music, has been credited with the creation of several wonderful ragas, many of which are still faithfully explored to this day. His musical gifts are held in such high esteem that the contributions of another great musician, his own son Bilaskhan, are often overlooked.

Bilaskhan himself crafted a beautiful raga, which in his honor is named Bilaskhani Todi. Although it is less widely known, Bilaskhani Todi has regained recent popularity, thanks to the many presentations of this raga by Ustad Vilayat Khan.

Raag Bilaskhani Todi is a magnificent afternoon raga. The beauty of this raga is that it is carved out of Bhairavi’s surs, and while maintaining its own unique personality, this raga offers reflections of both Raag Bhairavi and Raag Asavari. This is a sampoorna raga, using all seven swaras in both aroha and avroha (ascending and descending scales), and it belongs to the Bhairavi Thaat.

Pancham is Bhairavi’s Samvadi sur, and it is also important in Raag Asavari. Therefore, to preserve the distinct character of Bilaskhani, this raga uses Pancham very sparingly. In the Bilaskhani aroha, for example, we cannot go to Pancham or Dhaivat from Madhyam. Instead, we must go back to Gandhar or Rishab, and then proceed to the next swara from there. Similarly, in Bilaskhani’s Avroha, we cannot move from Pancham directly to Madhyam or Gandhar, instead, we must either leave out Pancham or go back to Dhaivat. By eliminating the focus on Pancham in this way, we avoid the tendency to play either Bhairavi or Asavari.

In Raag Bilaskhani, Rishab and Nishad are paired in the Avroha, and to preserve this raga’s character, which is distinctly different from Bhairavi, Nishad is used very sparingly in the aroha. This feature also offers a glimpse of Asavari while still maintaining the tonal integrity of Bilaskhani.

Another distinctive feature of Raag Bilaskhani is its use of Todi’s ati komal gandhar. It takes practice to recognize the difference in this note. This Gandhar is a little softer or lower than the komal gandhar of Raag Bhairavi, and its use is a defining characteristic of the personality of Bilaskhani Todi. These unique features of Raag Bilaskhani Todi create complete tonal texture that make this raga especially interesting and engaging to the listener.

- Habib Khan is a well-known sitarist
based in the San Francisco Bay Area.


Bollywood: | Guftugu | Hindi Film Review I | Hindi Film Review II |


Big B, Jr.

Looks like the Bachchans are on a roll again. While Amitabh Bachchan was in the news for reportedly agreeing to host a television show, son Abhishek was formally introduced to the media by way of the music launch of J.P. Dutta’s much acclaimed Refugee. The bash, with a guest list which was a veritable who’s who of the Hindi film industry, had a dashing Abhishek in his black coat and trousers quell the industry’s doubts of him holding his own after Hrithik Roshan’s success in Kaho Na Pyar Hai.

And giving him company was another star child, Kareena Kapoor, paired with Abhishek in Refugee. While the press was miffed for the Young B acting pricey and refusing to spare a moment for a quote, Abhishek only proved that he’s a chip off the old block. After all, look where the “private person” attitude got his father. But witnessing the way this six-feet tall son lovingly hugged his mother, no one can begrudge him the private moment he wanted to share with his family.
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Move over, Regis Philbin, here comes Big B. As we mentioned earlier, father Amitabh Bachchan will be hosting a show on the lines of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire show, which has audiences swooning in Britain and the U.S.. Touted to be the priciest television show in India, the Indian version, Kaun Banega Karorepati, to be produced and directed by quiz master Siddharth Basu on Star Plus, will go on air in June.

If not here, people in the U.K. supposedly are excited about it. Guess, the show would be something to watch out for.
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The Lady Arises

Yes, we know this is too much Bachchan for a day, but we really don’t have much of an option here. This talented household is making its presence felt everywhere. While son Abhishek is already making waves for his impending debut with J.P. Dutta’s Borderline film Refugee, mother Jaya Bachchan has been making waves abroad. After her brilliant performance in Govind Nihalani’s Hazaar Chaurasi Ki Maa, Jaya Bachchan seems to have taken her comeback seriously. After having wowed the West with her debut in theatre in Maa Retire Hoti Hai, Jaya Bachchan has already launched herself on her second play Dr. Mukta. Both directed by Ramesh Talwar, Dr. Mukta is also said to be running to packed houses in the U.S. Also, she has signed on two films as well. While she heads the cast of the famous journalist Khalid Mohammed’s Fiza, the grapevine has it that Jaya Bachchan has also signed on Boney Kapoor’s next film.
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While on Boney Kapoor, we automatically think of Sridevi. No, all that news of her impending comeback seems to be false. Sridevi is apparently happy spending time with her daughter Jahnavi rather than take up projects. So the reports that Sridevi was to act in Subhash Ghai’s Yaadein and Yash Chopra’s Mohabbatein have turned out to be false leads, after all. And no, she’s not using hubby’s next home production as her comeback vehicle either.
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Heading South

This time around its not a case of “flopped in Bollywood, so heading toward Mollywood” syndrome. Neither is it the plumpness factor that has pushed these actresses down South.

So what are an obviously slim Tabu and svelte Aishwarya Rai doing in the Telugu version of the Tamil film Kandukondain Kandukondain? Slated for release April 28, 2000, let’s see whether our actresses can spin the same magic that they weave around the Hindi audience.
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Smart Model

Aditi Gowitrikar was one model never accused of being dumb, thanks to her “Doctor” status. After the announcement of her joining films, ages ago, Aditi has finally made it to the first shot for the silver screen. Starring opposite Sanjay Kapoor and Arbaaz Khan in Soch, Aditi has apparently begun on her first 10 days shoot for the film. With Sushmita Sens and Aishwarya Rais out there, who can keep Aditi out?
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Theatre Guy

The guy who entered the Bollywood scene with small cameos in Is Raat Ki Subah Nahin and Mammo, Kishore Kadam is well-known in the Mumbai theatre scene for his performances in Gandhi Viruddh Gandhi and the recent Salesman Ramlal. An actor par excellence, Kishore’s mindblowing performance in Shyam Benegal’s much awaited film Samar is sure to make the film world sit up and take notice. While Amol Palekar’s Kal Ka Aadmi, based on R.D. Karve’s life, is also slated for release in a month’s time.

The best among the current brood of actors, this young actor-poet has currently signed on a role of a villain in director Hansal Mehta’s new venture Dil Pe Mat Le Yaar. Here’s an actor to watch out for.
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Quick Recovery

One guy who recovers from heartbreaks overnight is our own original desi brawn, Akshay Kumar. Just when we were expecting nothing less than a traditional marriage between Miss Colgate Shilpa Shetty and Akki, we hear that they have broken off.

And before we could mull over this bit of information, Akki was spotted doing the rounds of Goa and Hyderabad in hot pursuit of the voluptuous Twinkle Khanna. Now we hear that they are supposed to be getting married and settling down in Canada. Knowing Akshay, let’s see which new actress he co-stars with before we decide on who gets to spend the rest of her life keeping him away from women.
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Hindi Film Review I:
Vapid Cyberlove Yarn


Writer-Director: Kathir
Music: A. R. Rehman
Starring: Sonali Bendre, Kunal and Johny Lever
Producer: A. M. Rathnam

An inspiration, from the Hollywood movie You’ve Got Mail, Dil Hi Dil Mein is a pathetic effort at recreating some warped magic that goes above us lesser mortals’ heads. Other than the fact that the hero and the heroine fall in love anonymously over the internet, there is no story, angle or direction to the movie.

Our obsession for the rich girl-poor boy script suffuses a generally light-hearted movie that Dil Hi Dil Mein could have been. But the point being that it isn’t — and it doesn’t turn out quite that way. The movie begins on a sorry note of how this poor (I-have-oiled-my-hair) guy Raja (debutant Kunal with an abominable hair cut) wants to study MBA in a reputed institute, Ramchandra Institute of Management Studies, in Mumbai. And how coincidentally (the kind which happens nowhere but in Bollywood) his resume flutters in the Nariman Point breeze to land on the car of this big hearted samaritan, who also happens to be the founder of the Ramchandra Institute.

Obviously, Raja gets admission despite the fact that he doesn’t have the money to support himself or afford studies. Here, miraculously the oily-haired poor guy turns internet savvy, is able to afford good clothes and looks extremely well-fed. The angelic hand of his benefactor, one surmises. But sadly, he is unable to afford a better hairstyle.

Raja and Roja (Sonali Bendre) sit in the same cyber cafe‚ but are unaware of the fact, as they chat through the net, exchange e-mails and fall in love. Within months they decide it’s serious, exchange pictures, only to discover that they are just a stone’s throw away from each other. But now, they are uncertain or shy (both seem to have missed the briefing from the director) and decide to just stand on Bandra station waiting for trains, sneaking glances at each other and speaking through telepathy. After an eternity of staring and exchanging glances, when if nothing, you believe its time they at least learned sign language, they start writing letters which never get delivered. As a result, there’s a misunderstanding and both believe that the other is not interested.

Between misunderstandings, attempts at making up his mind and flunking tests, Raja bonds with his benefactor, Mr. Ramchandra, forming a father-son relationship. Just when you expect the internet to set things right for them, Raja realizes that his mentor is the father of Roja. And when he fixes her marriage elsewhere, Raja is dutybound to let her go.

Of course everything sets itself right, for all that ends well is a Bollywood movie. The film makes absolutely no sense, except for some beautiful cinematography by P.C. Shreeram, and A.R. Rehman’s music. While Kunal needs an immediate haircut, Sonali Bendre walks breezily through the movie as though doing her Nirma soap ad. Someone has to put a stop to Johnny Lever who is not in the least bit funny, except for doing a travesty on Kunal’s hairstyle. It’s a pity that such beautiful cinematography and the obviously high budget is wasted on a very badly handled movie. Chatting on the net would pay off better than taking time off to watch this movie.

Rating: ** (Mediocre)

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Hindi Film Review II:
Jaded Govinda Flick


Director: Manoj Agarwal
Music: Anand Raaj Anand
Starring: Govinda, Rani Mukherji, Johny Lever, Satish Kaushik, Paresh Rawal, Tinnu Anand, Avtaar Gill, Tanaaz Currim

Another typical Govinda flick with lots of songs, dances, color and an overdose of Johny Lever — but no head or tale to it (pun intended). Govinda (Raj Malhotra) plays an amateur detective helping his friend, Nirmal Panday, gather some evidence against Nirmal’s wife Ritu Shivpuri’s infidelity, as they are filing for divorce. While Ritu takes the help of her friend Rani Mukherjee who also has the same name — Anjali Khanna — to collect proof of her husband’s waywardness.

To achieve this, Ritu pretends to go on an European tour (after the success of Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge, that is the only tour that Indians seem to prefer) instead sending Rani in her place. Beginning from the airport, all Raj does is irritate Anjali, till almost through with the tour. But still she falls in love with him, with a bus-full of pervert married men (who are all eyeing each other’s wives) and their wives trying to play Cupid. Meanwhile Raj goofs up and assumes on the trip that Helen Brodie (wonder what induced this talented model to take up this role?) is Anjali, and tails her. But between sleuthing and singing songs (with the Raju...number directly lifted scene-by-scene from Dilwale Dulhaniya...) he falls in love with Anjali. Strangely, all through the trip, despite traipsing together for days on the trip, he never once finds out their true names or hears anyone else calling her by her name, Raj obviously realizes a bit late in the day that he is in love with Anjali, and assuming that she is his friend Nirmal’s wife, he is heartbroken.

While Rani assumes Govinda is Ritu’s husband, and both break up by the end of the tour, coming back to their respective towns. Horrified that she fell in love with a married man, Rani agrees to an arranged marriage. So the lovelorn hero comes back (true to traditional Bollywood style) to woo her back after dollops of buffoonery.

Paresh Rawal and Satish Kaushik are wasted here, while the digressions of Tanaaz Currim and the rest of the group is not digestible at all. A visibly thinner Rani Mukherji wears clothes in coordination with the color schemes of Govinda’s outfits. While Govinda is as usual good with his brand of comedy, he seems to have gone overboard with the essaying of different getups. Especially the portrayal of his entire filmi family himself as the grandfather, grandmother, father, mother and sister, is a bit too much, as is his Sardarji and feminine getups in the airplane.

The film misses out on the lip sync in the initial few reels, making the scenes seem a little off kilter. And for reasons known only to the director, British Airways seems to have become our national carrier. While embarking on the tour, the group boards an Air India flight but while getting off, they are on British Airways. Again while flying from Delhi to Mumbai, Govinda is seen taking off in British Airways. At the end of it all, it’s the turn of the audience to say to the director: Hadh Kar Di Aapne.

Rating: ** (Mediocre)

Telugu Film Review I:
Slick, Socially Aware

Sri Surya Movies

(A Man of Destiny)

Story, Screenplay & Direction: Shankar
Music: A. R. Rehman
Starring: Arjun, Manisha Koirala, Raghuvaran, Manivannan, Vadivelu, Laila and Sushmita Sen (guest appearance)
Producer: A. M. Ratnam

Purushottam (Arjun), a handsome TV photographer, falls in love with village belle Chandramukhi (Manisha Koirala). But Chandramukhi’s father balks at the idea of giving away his daughter to a lowly TV photographer.

Meanwhile Chowdary (Raghyvaran), the state chief minister, is an indecisive leader whose vacillation in balancing the demands of the interest groups leads to riots and discontent.

Purushottam photographs these riots and his work helps create awareness of the suffering of the people. He is promoted in his job and gets the opportunity to interview the chief minister.

In that spirited interview Purushottam questions the CM’s lack of accountability. The CM retorts that Purushottam is misusing the media to malign him, When Purushottam shows evidence, a piqued CM challenges Purushottam to act as CM for a day.

Purushottam accepts and starts his day as CM with a meeting with civil servants. He instructs all the officers to dig out all the files on corrupt officials and he suspends all of them on the spot. He makes surprise inspections in slums, ration shops, and solves problems instantly. He organizes a live tele-conference with the people and offers concrete solutions. By the end of the he sends 12 ministers to jail, at the end of the day even arresting Chowdary.

As the media covers Purushottam and broadcasts live, he Purushottam becomes the icon of good governance.

After Chowdary resumes power, he is dumped in a no-confidence motion. Fresh elections are announced. Muddu Krishna (Manivannan) is a secretary to CM. He plays a vital role in bringing Purushottam, who is reluctant, into active politics by making him realize the importance of being a constructive politician. Purushottam’s party wins in a landslide.

After getting elected Purushottam implements innovative ideas. Chowdary and other leaders start plotting to assassinate Purushottam. The remainder of the film deals with how the rivalry of the two is resolved.

Arjun lives up to his reputation as Action King, but also shows his mettle in a role that needs more brain than brawn. Manisha looks different from her earlier films. She epitomizes the innocence of a village belle. While some may not like her raw sensuality in the first half, she is a treat to watch in songs.

Manivannan, essaying a powerful role with a touch of comedy, continues to establish himself into the hearts of Telugu viewers. Laila has an insignificant role, and Sushmita Sen looks very sensual in a special song.

With a slick, deft screenplay, Shankar emerges also as a film maker of social responsibility. He skillfully weaves the love story of Chandramukhi and Purushottam and shows it as a backdrop to the political rise of Purushottam and fall of Chowdary. Anand, a relatively new name in cinematography, reaches new heights. The film is a treat for the eyes. A.R. Rehman did justice to his job as well, and songs and backdrop score is excellent.

Director Shankar deserves special credit for adapting relevant social and political issues to cinema and directing it with such skill, without losing the commercial touch and glamour of the film. His character of CM closely resembles the working style of Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu. Film makers ought to take a leaf out of Shankar’s page. The film not only entertains, but also gives viewers food for thought.


Telugu Film Review II:
Sentimental Saga, but Thin Story

Venkateswara Films

Story & Direction: Y. V. S. Chowdary
Music: Ramana Gogula
Starring: Mahesh Babu, Saakshi Sivanand, Simran and Master Harsha Vardhan
Producer: Burugapally Sivarama Krishna

Srinivas (Mahesh Babu), just back to India from Europe, joins a college in Hyderabad and is attracted to the voluptuous Srivalli (Saakshi Sivand).

Now Srivalli has a friend who lives abroad, Vamsi (Venkat), whom she regards as her best friend. The two were sole survivors when a plane crashed 20 years back.

Srinivas discovers that Srivally keeps a fact secret from her college friends as she does not want pity: She has no parents herself and she runs an orphanage.

Srinivas and Srivalli fall in love and have a lavish engagement party. Just in time Srilata (Simran) attends the engagement. Srivalli comes to know that Srinivas and Srilata knew each other abroad.

Srinivas admits that Srilata was his tour guide when he visited Europe, but adds that they are just good friends. Srilata, who has a kid, Teja (Harsha Vardhan), tells Srinivas that her husband has left her. Teja, the deprived son, becomes attached to Srinivas.

As the wedding day approaches, the plots thickens.

Srinivas suspects there is something fishy about Srilata. When he confronts her, Srilata confesses that when Srinivas visited Europe, he and Srilata were inebriated with an intoxicant given by tribals. They had made love, and Srilata only realized that later when she got to know that she was pregnant. In fact, Srilata loved Srinivas with all her heart. So she decided to have the child and see Srinivas in him/her. Teja overhears this.

As a happy Srivalli gets ready for the wedding, Srinivas agonizes over why this accident happened to him. Srilata does not want to break the engagement and spoil the happiness of Srinivas. Teja knows that Srinivas is his father, but cannot tell him that as he has promised his mother that he won’t let Srinivas know about it.

Amidst all of this Vamsi is flying down to India and propose his love to Srivalli.

The rest of the film untangles this complex web of difficult circumstances.

Mahesh Babu plays a sentimental role with great skill, and has a five-minute mime sequence that is hilarious. He fits less well in the role of a father, but his charm sees him through in the end. Saakshi Sivanand excels in the role of a glamour queen. Simran enters the film in midstream, and dominates the second half with her under-played acting. The less said about Venkat, the better. He needs to work on his dialogue delivery.

Harsha Vardhan, however, is amazing. He brings the film to life with his presence. The whole complexion of the film changes when he enters in the second half.

Inspired by Jab Pyar Kisi Se Hota Hain, the story is thin. Y.V.S. Chowdary tries to pack in too many things into too little time. While his directing skills in the second half are good and he proves that he can etch relationships between characters competently, he must realize that a well-shot scene goes only so far. He must make sure the scenes are put together into a coherent, seamless whole, and here he has a lot to learn.

Ramana Gogula’s music is good, though some tunes are lifted from a Hindi film and a few English numbers.

The first half , with a thin story line, focuses on Mahesh Babu in different outfits, and is boring. The storytelling improves in the second half. Overall, the length of the film is too long, and some shots are lifted straight out of the aforementioned Hindi film. Inspiration is fine, but there is a difference between mindless copying and improvising and polishing on something, and there is little sign in this film of that.


Vegetarian Kabab By Seema Gupta

A popular vegetarian snack from North-Western India, it is easy to prepare and easy on the stomach. It tastes good as an evening snack and can be served with cocktails or as an appetizer. Seema Gupta tells you how to cook it.

Serves 2-4 Persons


  • 2 cups black chana (dry) Boil 5-6 pressures
  • 5 cloves of garlic
  • 2 inch piece of ginger
  • 1 tsp. garam masala
  • 1/2 tsp. tomato ketchup
  • 6-8 slices of white bread
  • 2-3 onions (medium size)
  • 8-10 green chillies
  • 1.5 tsp. vinegar / lemon juice
  • 2 tsp. corn oil
  • Salt to taste


Make a paste of garlic, onion, ginger and green chillies. Soak the bread slices in water. Squeeze extra water from the soaked slices of bread. Grind the black chana coarsely. Heat two tablespoon of corn oil in a pan and fry the paste for one minute. Add the coarsely ground chana to the pan and fry for half a minute. Add the soaked bread slices, garam masala, salt and fry for one minute. Add the tomato ketchup and vinegar or lemon juice to the pan. Allow the pan to cool, and shape the whole paste in the pan like small round tikkies and shallow fry in pan with pre-heated corn oil. Garnish with sliced onions, lemon pieces, and corriander leaves. Serve hot as an evening snack.

Seema Gupta is a homemaker
based in Sunnyvale, Calif.


May-June Horoscope

ARIES (March 21 to April 20): Good luck shall prevail. Take care of minor details in your new venture. People will seek your advice. You will enjoy company of some important people. Property deals will be closed without any difficulty. A big ambition will be fulfilled and it will be the start of a new friendship.

TAURUS (April 21 to May 20): Be careful not to take chances. Things will stay slow in first half but will pick up after 15th. You should investigate before making any decisions. Several opportunities will create confusions. Avoid any impulsive decisions. Handle all machinery and tools with care and drive carefully after 15th.

GEMINI (May 21 to June 20): Time is on your side, make good use of it. Most of your plans will be implemented. Family will pressure you to decide on a new business. You will change your residence in the near future. Money will be spent on car and on a future short vacation.

CANCER (June 21 to July 22): Career related matters would be positive. Legal battles will be won. You will be in touch with a grooming politician. Your assets will grow. Property deal will be beneficial. You will be planning a vacation with family.

LEO (July 23 to August 22): A major problem will be solved and you may get some extra cash. You will dispose off stocks for a big gain. You will be going on a trip soon. Commitment from other side will finally come. You will be making a few good decisions about career.

VIRGO (August 23 to September 22): Try to relax as much possible and wait for the right opportunity. People involved in research and development work will see big success. You will get your dues this month. There will be some last minute hurdles in ongoing negotiations. Avoid speculations.

LIBRA (September 23 to October 22): You will be relieved of a big financial burden. Stand up to the individual who has been making threats. Focus will be on marital life and a business partner. You will be moving to a better place soon. Your image in society will improve and your decisions will surprise people.

SCORPIO (October 23 to November 22): Interesting changes in career are forecast. A promotion is possible. Spouse will cause some anxiety and try to make rash decisions. Issues involving children will stay unresolved. Do not take big financial decisions and stay away from the stock market.

SAGITTARIUS (November 23 to December 22): Play your cards right and you will win. Be diplomatic and patient, this could the turning point of your life. A big competitor will quit. You will get a lucrative offer from a very large company.

CAPRICORN (December 22 to January 19): Disposing off some assets will be profitable. You have the support of planets to help you make right decisions in career. Partnership matters will get delayed. A child may not keep well. You may go on an interesting trip and meet old friends.

AQUARIUS (January 20 to February 18): You may have some argument with a partner. You will try to contact old friends and write a few important letters. People in sales will do well. Spouse will be very liberal on important issues. You will upgrade some gadgets at home.

PISCES (February 19 to March 20): There will be lots of financial activity during first half of the month. Use extreme caution and do not leave things for others. Commitments towards family will increase. You may plan to move. You will overcome all fears and uncertainty in life.

Bay Area-based astrologer Pandit Parashar can
be reached by email at: parashar@ix.netcom.com.


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