Social mores

One of the holiest sites in the world now has a hotel to match. We're talking about the swank new Makkah Palace.

Print Edition: October 17, 2010

Divine dwelling

One of the holiest sites in the world now has a hotel to match. We're talking about the swank new Makkah Palace.

The pilgrim route is never paved easy. It's the oldest commandment. But the city of Allah's first revelation may soon become the reason for a second coming. It may not be religious, but the Raffles Makkah Palace does add to the immersive experience of Mecca. Located in the Abraj Al Bait complex, adjacent to the grand mosque, it offers a captivating view of the Masjid Al Haram and Kaaba. Inside, the 213 discreet, yet distinguished suites bear an exotic serenity. Those looking for mideastern delicacies can head to Al Majlis for al fresco dining. Tea salon Narjes offers tea and coffee choices from around the world even as Al Qasr offers Moroccan and Indian cuisines. Finally, the ice creamery, chocolate parlour and spa ensure that spirituality is not the only indulgence. The road to hell may be paved with good intentions; the road to heaven makes good on them. Here's to making the holy halt a happy one!

3D pleasure
Tired of wearing a bulky pair of glasses while watching 3D? Toshiba sees eye to eye with you on that. The company plans to market the world's first 3D TV that doesn't require glasses. Thanks to a system that emits rays of light from various angles of the screen, you can soon enjoy 3D sans the clunky eyewear. No more eyesores.

Celebrity notes
Celebrity fragrances play a big part of every annual style report, but this year has seen, what can only be described as, a deluge of such perfumes. Consider the line-up: Beyonce Knowles, Antonio Banderas, Britney Spears, Bruce Willis and Kate Moss, all hot on the scent of success. While Ms Moss has been at it long enough, the fragrance that seems to be winning hands down is Beyonce's 'Beyonce Heat', which was launched earlier this year. The singer leads the olfactory stakes in terms of numbers, with three fragrances out in 2010. Oh, and turns out even death doesn't spoil your chances; good old 'melting clocks' Salvadore Dali too has a fragrance to his name, launched this year.

An Italian job
The Riviera roared at the Italian job. At the recent International Cannes Boat Show, Gucci ushered in a new wave with its collaboration with boat-maker Riva. The piece de resistance was the 33-ft Aquariva, customised by Gucci's creative director Frida Giannini. Created in honour of the atelier's 90th anniversary celebrations in 2011, the boat is an updated version of the speedracer created by Riva in 2000. Propelled by two 380-hp Yanmar engines, the boat can speed up to 41 knots and do a 150-mile range at cruising speed. The fiberglass hull and detailing are painted in Gucci's signature glossy white and green striping contrasts, with Riva's trademark mahogany (20 coats in all, 10 by brushing and 10 by spraying) on the cockpit and walking decks. The seats and sundeck are upholstered in waterproof Gucci print fabric with signature red and green stripe detailing. Giannini has also designed a number of Riva by Gucci his-and-her bags and shoes, to go along with the craft. Available only on a pre-order basis, the dreamboat starts at $750,000; the accessories are cheaper. Take your pick.

Sounds of autumn

Brian Wilson Reimagines
Gershwin Pop legend Brian Wilson's take on the Gershwins' immortal tunes is a marvellous piece of musicianship.

Robyn, Body Talk Part 2
The Swedish popster releases her second of three records in one year. It is a hard, clubby album glittering with classy tunes.

Brandon Flowers,Flamingo
It was only a matter of time before The Killers' frontman made his solo debut, where he piles on the pop and Bruce Springsteenstyle Americana

Serge Gainsbourg et Jane Birkin
This 1969 cult classic reissue sees Gainsbourg making some sexy music with Jane Birkin.

The Dandy Warhols, The Capitol Years
The wasted Dandy's retrospective shows why they're an iconic band.


The Commonwealth Games: The 19th Commonwealth Games involving some 5,000 athletes from the Commonwealth nations should be a blast despite the hitches. From tennis and swimming to aquatics and wrestling, this multisport event has something for every sports lover. On across the NCR from October 3 to 14.
Website: www.cwgdelhi2010.org

Rajasthan International Folk Festival: Experience the colourful-drenched culture of Rajasthan in Jodhpur, where 250 musicians and performing artists from the state and abroad come together to celebrate their heritage for four days every October. Soak in the culture through the day, and party every night at Club Mehran. From October 21 to 25. Contact:

International Fine Art And Antique Dealers Show: Featuring some of the world's top dealers, this event provides you an opportunity to choose from a variety of art and antiques including sculptures, bronzes, furniture, carpets and jewellery. The strict vetting conditions under which the objects are sold, make this a premier showcase. If you love art, be sure to visit New York from October 22 to 28.
Website: www.haughton.com

Sydney food and wine fair: Now in its 20th year, this is one of the longest-running food and wine fairs in Australia. It showcases the diversity and delicacy of the Sydney dining experience, alongside offerings from the finest vineyards of Australia. Enjoy the culinary carnival with performances by DJs and special guest stars at Sydney's Hyde Park on October 30.
Website: www.sydneyfestivals. com.au

Gandhigiri: An exhibition of 15 large oil paintings and an installation by Jaipur-based artist Gopal Swami Khetanchi aims to take a closer look at post-Gandhian India, and the contrast between a shining India and an ignored Bharat. From October 1 to 31 at Art Positive in New Delhi.
Contact: 011-41602545/46604128

Belfast festival: The annual Irish festival brings to Belfast international art, theatre, literature, jazz, comedy and folk music. Immensely popular, the festival now attracts 100,000 visitors and celebrities. At Queen's University from October 16 to 31.
Website: www.belfastfestival.com

Touch of Glass
Talk about matching the outside with the inside. We're talking about Bowmore's new 40 YO limited edition, of which only 53 bottles have been released for sale, at 6,500 (`4.68 lakh) per bottle. The whisky has been maturing in a bourbon cask since March 29, 1969. On the nose, it is all smoked oak, vanilla cream, poached pears accompanied by a gentle earthy peatiness. The palate reveals wood spice, orange peel, pink grapefruit and sweet pear, with the mild influence of peat smoke. The bottles are as gorgeous as their contents. Crafted by Scottish glass artists Brodie Nairn and Nichola Burns, each one is hand-blown and sculpted using molten glass and stones collected from the Islay shore, with no two bottles the same. Jewellers Hamilton and Inches have slipped a silver collar onto each bottle, which is then presented on a polished slab of natural slate.

Absolut Creation
You've seen the disco bottle, the sizzling sequins, the pop art and the fine art. Now comes the Absolut Sophie mirror, a limited edition collectible inspired by the cocktail Bloody Mary. The mirror has been conceived by young Singapore illustrator Sokkuan, who says the idea plays on the Bloody Mary legend of a ghost who appears in a mirror when her name is called out three times. Sophie Black is the alter ego of Bloody Mary, according to the young artist. The mirror comes free with every two bottles of Absolut and is only available till mid November. Do we hear Singapore calling?

Chilly Season
Looking for a spicy weekend getaway this October? Head to the Basque town of Espelette, in the southwest of France. Known for its flavourpacked chilly pepper-the Piment d'Espelette-the small Basque town celebrates the season's chilly harvest with a two-day (23-24) weekend festival, a ritual that originated in the 1960s. The quirky halftimbered Labourd houses are festooned with garlands of red pepper and the town comes alive with a whirlwind of activities, including marching bands and lots of dancing. On Sunday morning, people congregate for mass and a new member is appointed to the Guild of the Piment d'Espelette. The ceremony is quaint: after swallowing a pinch of Piment, the member takes an oath to defend the Piment to the hilt. And then the party continues on the streets, that are filled with stalls of food made using, what else, the Piment d'Espelette.

Sounds like you know About Oktoberfest

If you like your beer, you should know of its most famous festival.

1. This is a 17-day gala held each year from late September to the first October weekend.

2. This Bavarian festival was first celebrated 200 years ago, in 1810. The occasion was Bavarian Crown Prince (later Emperor) Ludwig I's wedding to Princess Therese. The occasion was commemorated with a massive horse race, which morphed into an annual celebration of Bavarian and German culture.

3. In the last 200 years, the festival has been given a miss 23 times, largely due to war or disease. This includes the two World Wars.

4. For the last 60 years, the opening ceremony has generated its own rituals. A 12-gun salute at mid-day announces the start, and the incumbent Mayor of Munich gets to tap the first keg of beer.

5. Where there is beer in such large quantities, there is bound to be overindulgence. Those who pass out under the influence of alcohol are fondly christened the 'Bierleichen', or the 'Beer Corpses'.

6. The 1999 version holds the record for the largest 'people's fair' in the world, with over six million visitors.

Boutique Treks
When you're talking of the world's greatest mountaineers, Sir Chris Bonington can't but spring to mind. In the last 40 years, the gent has revolutionised mountaineering, with daring climbs up some of the world's highest and most forbidding peaks. One of the few climbers to also make a fortune from his passion, he and his son Joe now organise boutique treks in the Himalayas. So popular are these tours that a month-long trip to Bhutan in October 2011, with Chris on board, is currently being booked, with each traveller paying 5,000 (`3,58,666) for the honour! More information available at www.boningtontreks. com

Hit Record
Theymay be scratchy but they're always desirable, redolent as vinyls are with melodious memories of times gone by. And now you can get your old ones out again. Denon has created a high-end turntable to celebrate its 100th anniversary. The DPA100 is a direct drive turntable which, among other things, has a USB port to help you digitise your old vinyl records. On shop shelves from November in India. Prices start at $2,499

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