Kirmani on Season 2 of Top Design


Shazia Kirmani, who gave a solid introduction to interior design in “Decorating 101,” made her Bravo debut last night in “Top Design’s” second season. The TV series, hosted last time by Todd Oldham who transitions to a mentor role this season, follows 13 interior designers through various challenges as they compete to win $100,000 and a four-page showcase in Elle Decor magazine. (One member of the judge’s panel, Margaret Russell, serves as editor-in-chief of Elle Decor.)

Kirmani and the 12 other designers featured on the show have diverse backgrounds. The group includes a trained countertenor, an artist, a Yale-trained architect, a real-estate developer, a set decorator for film and TV, a former fashion designer, a magazine style editor, and several decorators who already run their own firms. Kirmani falls in the latter group. After graduating from the Art Institute of Dallas, she and her roommate designer Jesse Neargarder had their East Dallas apartment featured in D Home. Today she helms her own design firm, EgoSpace Interiors.

In her 60 Second Life Story video, Kirmani says that she was born in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, to Pakistani parents, and that she has lived most of her life in Texas. According to her show bio, after her first semester at University of Texas at Austin studying biochemistry, she realized she was “more passionate about redesigning her bedroom than anything that was going on in the classroom.” In a interview, the designer shares details from behind the scenes at “Top Design.”

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Comments Off on Kirmani on Season 2 of Top Design         Facebook   RSS 2.0   Permalink   September 4, 2008

Bharatanatyam on the BART: Zavain Dar

Zavain Dar. (Photo by Weiferd Watts)

As we filed on to the escalator taking passengers up from the Civic Center BART station in San Francisco, I noticed that I wasn’t the only one struck by the dancer in one of the large posters on the wall. Others also took more than a cursory look at the young man captured in a graceful pose. He made a striking figure in a black short-sleeved tee, with ornate traditional jewelry layered on top in bold relief. Bharatanatyam, I thought, and wondered if “Zavain Dar” was a visiting artist from India.

Actually, Pakistan-born, Berkeley-raised Dar is an undergrad at Stanford, where he has participated in competitive garba raas, among many other activities. Dar has studied the Pandanallur style of Bharatanatyam with teacher Arul Francis for several years (his dedication is evident in a 2003 story that encounters a young Dar at his lesson, where Francis mentions that his students from Pakistan have outlasted all his Indian students ). Francis says, “Zavain started learning from me when he was an 11-year-old child in 2000. Now he’s turning into a very talented dancer and so for his varnam, I chose “Danike” the very difficult varnam in ragam Todi.” View moments from their lesson of March 16, 2008.

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1 Comment         Facebook   RSS 2.0   Permalink   May 18, 2008

Chill Out with Split’s Rock Vids

The new Videos section of Split Magazine features selections from independent musicians and bands all over India, such as Parikrama’s “But It Rained” — a video shot in the Himalayas Spiti Valley; the song was inspired by tourist kidnappings in Kashmir. Split’s videos also include the documentary by Samira Kanwar on The Big Chill, an international festival of alternative music which came to beautiful Aswem Beach, Goa, in 2007. Check out the rest of the cool videos on display and keep an eye out for more! Split Magazine was founded by Arun Kale, the very talented web producer at .

More: SPIN Magazine Looks at the Indian Rock Scene; Split reported on The Big Chill, Goa

Comments Off on Chill Out with Split’s Rock Vids         Facebook   RSS 2.0   Permalink   March 29, 2008

“He wanted people to know who they were…”

Tejinder Sibia (

Known for his web site documenting the history and culture of Punjabis and Sikhs in California and the Pacific Northwest, Tejinder Singh “Ted” Sibia, who recently died of leukemia at age 70, also took an active role in promoting the inclusion of Punjabi history in state textbooks and Punjabi language study at UC Davis. While heading UCD’s Shields Library research unit for biology and agriculture until his retirement in 2006, Sibia, who immigrated from Punjab in 1960, mentored Punjabi students and served as an ambassador of Punjabi culture on campus. “He wanted people to know who they were, what they were about,” said Carrie Rushby, his library assistant for 12 years (The Sacramento Bee).

His work online documenting Sikhs and Punjabis in North America is an extremely valuable resource that includes rare historical photographs of the Komagata Maru incident, the Gadar Party, an old photo of Sibia himself working in California’s peach orchards as a young man, and more recent photos of a group research trip to Angel Island in San Francisco bay, where his wife Manjeet, who with their daughter survives him, translated several words scratched in Punjabi on a wall of the historic immigration detention center.

Comments Off on “He wanted people to know who they were…”         Facebook   RSS 2.0   Permalink   March 10, 2008

Hermès Orange, Indian Pink (UPDATED)

Wow, guys. I am literally bouncing in my seat. The fat March issue of Vanity Fair landed on my desk. I love going through the March and September books because generally that’s when all the new ad campaigns debut.

This season I’m loving Prada (gorgeous illustrations!), Dolce & Gabbana (artist loft chic!) and Kate Spade (always a sucker for the preppy styling!). Then my eyes landed on the new Hermès campaign…

Ooooh lord, it’s good. The three-pager in VF opens with a shot of a black horse following a painted Indian elephant on a pathway of hot pink and orange flowers. (Very smart, Hermès!) The following spread shows a shot of Indian model Lakshmi Menon in jodhpur chic (Dude, those pants are made of crocodile…. seriously?) between two more painted elephants with more orange and pink flowers. Tagline? Hermès Orange Indian Pink. So perfect.

I love that Lakshmi is the new face of Hermès. She is such great choice for this season’s collection especially since it was inspired by India. I can’t wait to see the rest of this campaign as more March and April books drop on my desk! Will keep this post updated.

UPDATE: I have more shots from this campaign including shots for the Hermès Home collection and handbags and shoes. See it all after the jump!

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19 Comments         Facebook   RSS 2.0   Permalink   February 13, 2008
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Billion Dollar Babies: Top 20 Heiresses

Vanisha Mittal Bhatia (Carl De Souza/AFP/Getty Images)

Vanisha Mittal Bhatia, daughter of Indian-born, London-based steel magnate Lakshmi Mittal, tops a list of heiresses compiled by Forbes of women under 40 ranked according to their father’s or mother’s most recent net worth. Vanisha is active in her father’s industrial empire, holding a seat on Mittal Steel’s board. Dad, whose net worth is estimated at $51 billion, threw his daughter what is believed to be the most expensive wedding in history, a $60 million, week-long extravaganza in 2005 for some 1,000 guests in Paris, including a performance by pop star Kylie Minogue.

Josie Ho Chiu Yi is another heiress on the list. Daughter of one of Hong Kong’s richest men Stanley Ho ($7 billion), she is known to fans of her indie rock music as Josie Ho. Two of the top heiresses, Georgina Bloomberg, daughter of New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg ($11.5 billion), and Paige Johnson, daughter of Black Entertainment Television founders Robert and Sheila Johnson ($1 billion) will be competing against each other for a spot on the Olympic equestrian team.

Read “The 20 Most Intriguing Billionaire Heiresses” and view the slideshow for more details about the heiresses.

Comments Off on Billion Dollar Babies: Top 20 Heiresses         Facebook   RSS 2.0   Permalink   November 30, 2007

Sunkrish Swaddled on NFTUB Season Premiere

Sunkrish Bala (ABC/Bob D’Amico)

The second season of Notes from the Underbelly premiered this week, with a cast including Lisa Harris, Jennifer Westfeldt and Sunkrish Bala. (See “Life of a Bala” in for more on Sunkrish.) The bedroom scene in which he’s subjected to his wife’s efforts to unravel the secrets of their Burberry-clad French nanny’s swaddling technique is the highlight of Bala’s limited on-screen time in this episode.

Not sure what swaddling is or why it would strike fear into the hearts of new parents? Join the club. “How hard is a swaddle?” asks the show’s expecting mother. “It’s like giving an angry cat a bath when you’re drunk,” answers Melanie Paxson, who plays his wife.

In a recent interview, Bala talked about what he looks for in a girl, entertaining the babies on set, and his character Eric.

You’re way too young to be a dad in real life, but you play one on TV so well…

Yeah, Eric and Julie are just those obnoxious parents next door that you don’t want to talk to. Our world is about our baby – the “Mommy and Me” and “Music and Me” classes and waterbabies. It’s like we did this before we had our child, and now our life is consumed by it. It’s a little gross.

Everyone always asks me, what does Eric do for a living on your show?

You know, it’s such a mystery. No one knows and everyone speculates. I know he’s incredibly wealthy, so it’s something that pays a lot of money. That’s all that’s ever been made clear to me.

Any guesses?

He’s definitely like an I-banker or a finance guy. Eric’s so square and boring, but he’s richer than I will ever be in my life!

Maybe he’s a super spy?

You know what, I like that. Eric’s a super spy, and no one knows it, he’s that’s ultra smooth. (OK! Magazine)

Comments Off on Sunkrish Swaddled on NFTUB Season Premiere         Facebook   RSS 2.0   Permalink   November 28, 2007

Ho Ho Half-Lotus

adbusters santa
Santa’s asana this holiday season.

A levitating Santa on a blissful yoga break is an Adbusters mascot for Buy Nothing Christmas.

Buy Nothing Christmas is not really about refusing to spend a dime over the holiday season. It’s about taking a deep breath and deciding to opt out of the hype‚ the overcrowded malls‚ and the stressful to–do lists. It’s about reminding ourselves to really think about what we are buying‚ why we are buying it‚ and whether we really need it at all. (

Not a bad message to take to heart for the rest of the year, in addition to this season of Black Friday, Cyber Monday and free shipping deals.

More: Shopocalypse,

Comments Off on Ho Ho Half-Lotus         Facebook   RSS 2.0   Permalink   November 27, 2007

“Portable Homes” at the New Yorker Festival

Orhan Pamuk and Salman Rushdie. (Andy Friedman/New Yorker)

“The Indian experience is becoming a diaspora experience as well as a national experience,” said Booker Prize winner Salman Rushdie, in a conversation with the 2006 winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature, Orhan Pamuk. The discussion, titled Homeland, was part of this year’s New Yorker Festival and is now available online. Moderated by New Yorker Fiction Editor Deborah Treisman, the conversation revolved around issues of identity, diaspora, and community. Forging a connection between a people and their language, Pamuk asserted, “I have a portable home with me all the time and that’s the Turkish language.” Rushdie and Pamuk also offer other insights into writing, perspective, and existing in America. Both authors are full of witty observations: Rushdie, in an anecdote about his family, said, “My mother was the Garcia Marquez of gossip.” You can watch other videos from the 2007 New Yorker Festival here.

More: Critical Mass, the blog of the national book critics circle board of directors, offers up its take on the talk.

1 Comment         Facebook   RSS 2.0   Permalink   October 16, 2007

And The Emmy Goes To…Geeta Gandbhir

Geeta Gandbhir
Geeta Gandbhir (rediff)

At last month’s Emmy Awards in Los Angeles, film editor Geeta Gandbhir won one of the coveted winged statuettes for her work on Spike Lee’s HBO’ documentary “When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts.” She won the Creative Arts Emmy Award for Outstanding Picture Editing in Nonfiction Programming and shared it with supervising editor Sam Pollard and editor Nancy Novack.

The film, which received three Emmys, portrays New Orleans in the wake of Katrina’s destruction with powerful music, imagery and words. It includes interviews from 100 people selected from diverse backgrounds, including Louisiana’s Governor Blanco and rapper Kanye West and has been described as the “opposite of a Ken Burns documentary.” (NYT). Clips: 1, 2,3, 4.

Read on to learn how Gandbhir, who has worked in the industry for over 15 years, got her start in editing, her other projects, and why babies and Emmys don’t mix.

How did you get interested and started in editing?
I originally worked in animation for a Harvard professor, until I met Spike Lee. He gave me a job as an intern in the edit department on his film “Macolm X” and that was the start of my edit career. I studied art and animation in college and have always been interested in storytelling through film and theater, so editing seemed to be perfect for me – telling stories through a visual medium. Read the rest of this entry »

Comments Off on And The Emmy Goes To…Geeta Gandbhir         Facebook   RSS 2.0   Permalink   October 4, 2007