A Sip of Honour
She takes 100 sips of coffee—all in a day's work. And that has now brought her global laurels. Asia's first woman coffee taster, Sunalini Menon, 58, has won the Leadership Medal of Merit from the Coffee Quality Institute (CQI) of the Specialty Coffee Association of America. The medal is in recognition of her work in educating coffee growers in Africa and Asia on improving the quality of their yield. What's more, Menon's Coffeelab in Bangalore, set up in 1996, provides a seal of quality to the producer, exporter, trader and consumer. "It is only of late that the world has started seeing India as a nation driven by quality coffee," says the coffee-tasting veteran.
— K.R. Balasubramanyam
He is the man behind the picturesque international cricket stadium in Dharamsala that hosted two IPL matches. Anurag Thakur, 35, the son of Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal and a Member of Parliament from Hamirpur, now has bigger plans for the state. "Himachal is called 'Dev Bhumi', but it will also be 'Khel Bhumi'," he says. Up next after the Rs 50-crore cricket stadium at Dharamsala are 12 national multi-purpose stadiums to encourage volleyball, basketball, kabaddi, wrestling, weightlifting, etc., in the state. The first of them, the Rs 5-crore Atal Behari Vajpayee Stadium, is ready. The young MP is also trying to get top companies to recruit locals. "Youngsters in HP aspire only for government jobs, but I want them to join the private sector and become entrepreneurs," he beams. Smells sure like entrepreneurial spirit.
— Puja Mehra
The Real Deal
Vedika Bhandarkar, the 42-year-old investment banker who has featured on BT's most powerful list twice (2004 and 2006), is on the move. After 12 years with one of the largest Wall Street banks, JPMorgan, Bhandarkar will now be sealing deals for Swiss Bank Credit Suisse India as its Vice Chairman and Head (Investment Banking). Though she refused to comment on her new role as she has not joined Credit Suisse yet, Bhandarkar's task is cut out. Credit Suisse, in its second stint in India, is still finding its feet in the crowded dealmaking space. Roping in Bhandarkar may just change the game for the Swiss bank.
— Rachna M. Koppikar
A Brush with History
As far as world capitals go, Madrid is difficult to beat. The city has taken great pride in restoring and maintaining the historical parts of the city, and that's a great reason to visit it this year. Madrid is one of the world football's powerhouses, so a visit to the Santiago Bernabéu, the stadium of Real Madrid, is a must. No visit to Madrid is complete without a flamenco show at the Corral de la Moreria area in the heart of the city. And for shopping, you can't beat the Sol, Salamanca District with its mix of high street brands and designer boutiques.
— Bibek Bhattacharya
LEICA V-LUX 20
Camera with a Sense of Place
Leica is a name that has been familiar to most photography enthusiasts for generations and a few years after entering the crowded market of compact pointand-shoot digital cameras, it has come out with its latest creation. The V-Lux 20 features a 12x optical zoom lens coupled with a 12.1 megapixel sensor. The device also supports "Geotagging", which will embed positioning data into photographs, allowing modern photo-editing software (such as iPhoto and Picasa) to organise pictures by where they were shot. With an expected launch price of Rs 30,000 plus, this camera won't be cheap, but it will definitely be one of the best in its class (it also has a 25-300 mm lens).
— Kushan Mitra