Meher Moos is known as India's intrepid travller. She joined Air India in 1965 as an air hostess and retired in December 2002 as a Senior Executive Officer. She is presently serving as an International Travel Consultant to Thomas Cook.
A deep interest in anthropology and her abiding love for meeting people and seeing places, has found ample fulfillment during her extensive travels to over 150 countries of the world. Crossing the Arctic Circle in 1972, she visited the 3 Laplands of Scandinavia and in 1976 participated in an exciting expedition right up to the Antarctic Continent on board the famous liner “Lindblad Explorer” sailing from Cape Town to Cape Horn – visiting isolated Antarctic scientific & meteorological bases in an ocean packed with ice shelves and glacial mountains.
Other adventurous jaunts took her from the deep jungles of the Amazon to the heart of the Andes – to Macchu-Picchu in Peru, which was the Lost Land of the Inca Kings, onto Lake Titicaca in Bolivia, later covering the length and breadth of South America. She has also back packed exhaustively, all over the seven Central American Republics and visited many Carribean Islands. In 1975, she traversed right across Central Asia following the ancient Silk Route of Marco Polo, through Samarkhand and Bokhara into Siberia, Mongolia and even the vast Gobi desert : and, in 1978 again sailed from Yokohama to Shanghai, touring China extensively. Her travels through the Orient and Far East, continued well beyond familiar cities into the remotest islands of Indonesia, Melanesia and Polynesia scattered all over the South Pacific – crossing the International Dateline in Tonga, right up to the shores of Easter Island with her strange huge stone gods. Her travels have taken her to all of the Gulf Countries and most of the Middle East as well.
In 1981 she embarked on a 5 month solitary exploration of over 35 countries in Africa – bent on discovering forbidden and inaccessible interiors – marching across the Sahara to fabled Timboctou – home of the Tuaregs – then learning to live with the Pygmies in the dense Equatorial forests and finally hitting the Livingstone Trail. It was a veritable odyssey demanding exceptional endurance and her success story has been amply splashed by the media and television worldwide.
Her early schooling was done in St. Joseph’s Convent, Panchgani and later she appeared for her B.A. (Hons.) from Sophia College, Bombay and for her LL.B. from the Government Law College. She has been a regular speaker on All India Radio and has given many press and TV interviews. Her travel feats have won her many laurels and medals – and as a recognition of “her tremendous courage and exemplary initiative”, the Indian Jaycees selected her for the meritorious award – ‘The most outstanding person of India’, in 1980.
However, her most significant and lasting contribution has been her vivid travelogues in leading journals and her educative and informative audio-visual shows.
I am an artist from Mumbai, educated at the J J School of Art and at the London College of Printing, now living in North London. Since 2001, I have been painting full time. Before that, I was a designer on magazines and an illustrator of children’s books, two of which I both wrote and illustrated. I was then involved in the building trade, first as a maintenance builder and then as a contractor.
My primary medium in painting is using watercolour and acrylics, lino-cuts and I have developed a number of techniques myself. Whilst I have undertaken design work, children's illustrations and portraits, my main subject for the past five years that I have portrayed in my paintings has been on ‘violence against women and children’.
To this end I have held a number of exhibitions over the past years with Amnesty International, Women’s Groups, the Metropolitan Police, New Scotland Yard and the Home Office, at the Nehru Centre and at various other galleries, where I have drawn considerable interest and critical acclaim with articles appearing on BBC Online, The Telegraph (India), Asian Woman magazine and various other Indian and European magazines and newspapers.
I got to know Mrs Zerbanoo Gifford in 2005 when she was writing a book titled – ‘Confessions to a serial womaniser: Secrets of the World’s Inspirational Women’. For the cover of this book, she commissioned me to do over 200 portraits, which were displayed at the National Portrait Gallery for the launch of the book.
In 2007-2008, I had done ‘Art’ with young 8-9 year old Iranian and Kurdish children, organized by IKWRO, a woman’s group. When Zerbanoo had set up the ASHA Centre, where groups from various conflicting countries were invited over at the Centre to participate together in various activities, she asked me to do an ‘art’ class with them. At these sessions, I asked them to express their feelings through painting and drawing on paper, their thoughts on what they had gained through various seminars they attended at the cente, their hopes and frustrations. The result was very rewarding to them and me, as one girl, who is a dancer, felt she could utilise this same technique in her future dance themes. To me, painting out one’s inner conflicting feelings is the same as writing one’s own diary, as it clears one’s mind.
I feel very privileged to be able to contribute (however small), to the amazing work which Zerbanoo and her team at the ASHA Centre are doing for young people worldwide, to bring about understanding and good feelings towards each other and not to let politics divide them.
Though my work has been on ‘violence done’, I see that the ASHA Centre believes in ‘prevention is better than cure’ and they work tirelessly at achieving this goal.
The FOD Wildlife Watch Group has a new base at the ASHA Centre.
ASHA have just had a wonderful new barn built and they want to make it available for the community. There are Watch Groups all over the country and are supported by the Wildlife Trust in that area. We meet once a month and have approximately 12 members at the moment. The children range from 3 - 8 years and our activities include bushcraft, outdoor cooking, mammal trapping and recording, exploring areas to look for wildlife etc.
With the loss of our usual meeting place at the Plump Centre and the potential closure of the Wilderness Centre, we are very pleased to be offered ASHA as our new home. We had one of our meetings in the bio-dynamic garden in March to get the children involved with vegetable growing. We dug over a bed and planted potatoes. We then had a tour of the garden and Rachel the head gardener, explained about how bio-dynamic gardening works.
This Sunday we have our first meeting with ASHA as our new venue. We plan to make winter wreaths, pumpkin drop scones and decorations for the children to put on their windows at home. We will also walk to St Anthony's well which is right on the doorstep.
Born in 1946 in Bombay, India of Parsi Zoroastrian parentage, Shireen Isal completed her schooling, graduation and post graduate degrees in French followed by work experience as secretary in charge of French cultural affairs at the Alliance Francaise in Bombay before leaving for Paris, France in 1974, to join her husband, Dr. Jean-Pierre Isal.
Having made Paris her home, her determination to work in both culture and an India-related field led to an initial stint as cultural assistant at the Embassy of India in Paris. A few years later, keenly aware of the tremendous interest in Indian culture by an enthusiastic French audience, Shireen established Association Sargam (www.associationsargam.com). She thereby rose to the challenge of an entirely new profession, that of artists’ management, learning as she progressed and rapidly touring classical music and dance exponents from India throughout France, expanding thereafter to numerous countries within Europe. This was undertaken in collaboration with local organisers everywhere, whose selfless and committed work she salutes here. Shireen has not only been privileged to invite some of the greatest names from India but, very importantly, has championed the cause of younger and lesser-known artists, offering them a much-deserved platform in Europe
It has been Shireen’s mission in life to present India's finest classical performing artists, thereby meeting her objective of creating a greater awareness in the west of India's cultural heritage and becoming that link between India and Europe by offering all parties the ideal conditions for the propagation of a rich and divine art. Since 1979, over a hundred tours of forty different classical musicians and dancers have been organised in fifteen European countries. They have performed, taught and recorded their art through a total of five hundred events. In recent years, her management work has extended to touring Europe-based musicians of western classical music within India, setting up vocal training courses and concert tours in various cities of India.
Shireen imbibed her love for the arts from her late parents, Dr. Kawas and Villoo Baria, whose love and practice of classical music instilled in her the seeds of her future work. In the challenge she took up on her arrival in Paris 37 years ago, she has been supported by her husband, Dr. Jean-Pierre Isal to whom she attributes any measure of success she will have achieved. That support now also comes from her two daughters, Sarah and Roxane and her son-in-law, Pierrick Williamson. Their love of all things Indian, their help in the organisation of her activities and their enthusiasm to meet and interact with all the artists visiting Europe have provided the bedrock on which her work has been possible. “I salute my entire family for enabling and facilitating my work. I also deeply extend my thanks to all those artists who placed their faith in me and who have – through my interactions with them over the years – so enriched me as a human being. I feel humbled and privileged! As an Indian living abroad, I hope that my work – arising from my deep emotional links with India – will inspire audiences everywhere to enhance their knowledge and love of the arts I strive to promote. ”
Shusha Guppy was born into a distinguished traditional family in Persia and grew up in an atmosphere of poetry and mystical chants. In her teens she went to Paris to study at the Sorbonne. At the same time she trained as a singer, and learnt the French Chanson in its rich variety. A chance encounter with poet Jacques Prevert led to her singing professionally, and recording an album of 'Persian Love Songs', while extending her repertoire to French songs - From the Middle Ages, through the Pleiade Poets, to modern songs of Prevert, Brel, Brassens, to today.
Following her marriage to an English author, Shusha settled in London in the 60's, and began singing an Anglo-American repertoire of folksongs, the works of contemporaries- Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, Van Morrison, and others - and increasingly her own songs.
Shusha started her recording career appropriately with an album of 'Persian Love Songs and Mystic Chants' followed by another of contemporary English songs, 'The Songs of Long-Time Lovers' (Tangent Records). The success of these led to contracts with other major record companies. To date she has produced 12 albums of her own and other songwriter's works, including a collection of French chansons: 'La Fortune', a record of songs by English poets, 'Durable Fire', and a second album of Persian traditional, 'From East to West'.
As a writer Shusha Guppy's first book, 'The Blindfold Horse', was published in 1988 to great acclaim and won the Yorkshire Post Prize for the best non-fiction book and a prize from the Royal Society of Literature. 'A Girl in Paris' followed in 1991 and was equally well received (both published by William Heinemann) as was 'Looking Back - A Panoramic View of a Literary Age' (Simon & Shuster 1993).
In the 70's Shusha travelled with the nomadic Bakhtiari tribes of Southern Persia on their spring migration and made two films: 'People of the Wind' (A Persian Odyssey) - a long documentary, which won an Oscar nomination - and a short film of Shusha singing along the journey. A record of the former film's music was released later.
Shusha lived in London. She was the London Editor of the American literary journal 'The Paris Review' and contributed to a number of national and transatlantic publications. She gave concerts regularly, appeared on television and radio, and took part in international conferences, giving talks on a variety of cross-cultural subjects. These were sometimes accompanies by recital of songs from her rich repertoire.
Shusha (Shamsi) Guppy, singer and writer, born December 24 1935; died March 21 2008
Shyama Perera started her working life as a newspaper journalist. She was the youngest reporter ever taken on by the Guardian at that time, and later moved into television and radio before ultimately settling for a life raising two children and writing novels. She still freelances for the national press and is a regular talking head across all media.
Her current passion is to use the principles of creative writing to instil verbal and written confidence in children, and to promote original thought and expression within business. She also provides manuscript services and was one of six writers granted residencies as part of the 2005 ArchiTEXTS project.
She is a director of Kali Theatre Company, which specialises in new writing by Asian women, and set up the company website.
Simone Poonawalla became a breeder of thoroughbred racehorses after her education in Horse Business Management at Marcus Oldham College (Dux Award & Horse Husbandry Award), Australia and Stud Farm Breeding Management at the Irish National Stud (Gold Medal), Ireland. Thereafter she worked briefly with Taylor Made Stud Farm, Kentucky, and USA for the Keeneland September Yearling Sale.
Returning to India in 1999, Simone was officially employed by the family stud farm. She has been responsible for rearing up/managing young stock. She also involves herself in the management of the business.
Simone believes that the achievement of the horses is down to a team effort. As she says, “breeding a good racehorse is an art as well as a science…breeding a top quality racehorse is a very tricky and difficult operation as it involves so many facets, from top horsemanship to veterinary skills, equine nutrition, quality of bloodstock, environmental conditions, and of course the running of the actual business itself which requires a well rounded knowledge of the industry, astuteness and a keen nose for business.”
Simone goes on to say, "there is no greater satisfaction than getting the desired results, whilst having the horse work along with you – not for you."
Simone Tata was born and brought up in Geneva, Switzerland and graduated from Geneva University. Always fond of travelling, she came to India as a tourist in 1953, where she met her future husband, Naval H. Tata. They married in 1955 and she settled down in Bombay permanently.
Simone joined the Board of Lakme Ltd in 1961 and was appointed as the Managing Director in 1964. This was followed by taking over as Chairman of the Board in 1982. From small beginnings, Lakme blossomed to be the leading cosmetic company in India. It also exports to several foreign countries. In 1989, Simone was also appointed as a Director of Tata Industries Ltd, which is Asia's largest private sector group, with over ninety-one companies in various sectors. Like the Wallenbergs in Sweden and Oppenheimers in South Africa, Tata's interest span much of India' economy.
Simone has been responsible for setting up a chain of successful department stores under the brand name of Westside. Starting from one single store in Bangalore in 1998, it now operates sixteen stores located in major cities around India and plans to double its coverage by 2005.
Apart from her business activities, Simone is connected with several social organisations to which she devotes much time.
Simone is mother to Noel Tata and has three grandchildren.
Sister Nirmala is Mother Teresa's successor as Superior General of the Missionaries of Charity. Born in Ranchi in 1934 to a Brahmin soldier who came from Nepal, Nirmala Joshi joined the order at the age of 17, after converting from Hinduism. Her sister, too, embraced Christianity and became a Carmelite nun. After joining the Missionaries of Charity, Sister Nirmala studied law at the insistence of Mother Teresa, who often took her along during her tours abroad. The Mother's confidence in her abilities was evident when she asked Sister Nirmala to open their homes in Panama, New York and Kathmandu.
She is a modest woman, and when she succeeded Mother she quietly said, "Mother Teresa can never be replaced. She is gifted with rare charisma that can never be acquired in one's lifetime." Sister Nirmal is not without her own strengths as well, however. As spiritual adviser Father le Joly said, "In her, Mother found signs of energy, dedication, and charisma." When journalists once asked Mother Teresa what made Sister Nirmala so exceptional, she replied, "She is a Missionary of Charity".
Sue Douglas is on the board of directors at Condé Nast Publications Ltd. Prior to her appointment as President of the New Business division, Sue launched Vogue.com, Glamour magazine and Tate magazine for Condé Nast.
Born on 29th January 1957, Sue was educated at Tiffin Girls’ School. She later went on to pursue Physiology and Biochemistry at Southampton University, where she is now a trustee.
Sue started as a management consultant at Anderson Consulting (now Arthur Anderson) and later began her media career as a medical journalist at Haymarket Publishing. In 1980 she spent a year in Johannesburg as a writer at Rand Daily Mail before moving to the Mail on Sunday. Over a period of eight years she progressed from a medical correspondent, to associate editor, to the assistant editor of the Daily Mail. Sue moved to the Sunday Times in 1991 as deputy editor, and in 1995 became editor of the Sunday Express.
Since 1996, Sue has been at Condé Nast. During this period, she has also launched Sunday Business, was director of Scotsman Publications with Andrew Neil, and launched Gear magazine in New York.
Sue is a trustee and member of the executive committee at the National Portrait Gallery.
Internationally acclaimed yogini Kalji (Kaliji Ray) is founder of TriYoga®, a complete method that includes the full range of yoga practices. With a natural ability to integrate Eastern thought and Western tradition, she shares these practices and yoga philosophy in a way understood by people of diverse backgrounds.
A Swamini in the Jayalakshmi Datta Avadhoota lineage, she is a disciple of Sri Mata Jayalakshmi and H.H. Sri Ganapati Sachchidananda of Mysore, India. In India, Kaliji received the honorary title of Vishwa Bandhu from Sri Swamiji in recognition of her global service. Vishwa Bandhu translates as friend of the universe, a caring relative of humanity.
In the tradition of ancient yoga, the origin and development of TriYoga is guided by kriyavati siddhi as expressed through Kaliji. From this inner guidance, she has systematized TriYoga Flows, breathing practices, and concentration techniques, and over 1000 hand mudras have come forth. Presently more than 850 certified teachers share the practices in over 35 countries. Kaliji travels extensively to share TriYoga. Featured in many magazines and other media, she has presented over 34 keynote addresses and in-depth programs at yoga conferences as well as other venues worldwide. Inspired by her love for animals, Kaliji has been vegan for more than 30 years and has influenced thousands to make healthier food choices.
Kaliji's spiritual quest began from a very early age. As a young child in America, Kaliji was naturally drawn to self-inquiry and meditation and as early as three years old, she could be found sitting quietly in deep reflection. By age seven she was actively seeking the answer to the question, "Where was I before coming to this planet? Where do I come from?" Upon asking these questions, she would be overwhelmed by feelings of bliss. Although the blissful feeling only lasted seconds it was what kept her asking such questions. Further experiences during her youth made Kaliji realize that the soul is eternal. She was also deeply moved by a spiritual encounter with a man who followed eastern philosophy. After this, they met many times to discuss the ageless truth.
One night in solitude Kaliji prayed and asked the Divine to reveal the source of happiness. At that moment, in July of 1975, kundalini awakened and for twelve hours she was immersed in bliss. Her life changed. She told everyone that she was guided by the Mother Goddess. Five years later, kundalini awakened again and from that day on, kriyavati siddhi comes forth on a continual basis. The students that are in her presence at these times often relate how they feel her spiritual energy and themselves enter into deep meditation and bliss. As it states in yoga texts, the (yogaflow®) sequences that have emerged from kriyavati, when practiced by others, increase their life force and facilitate the awakening of consciousness.
Kaliji has taught TriYoga for over 30 years. Kaliji's presence, her mastery of the flow and the ageless wisdom inherent in TriYoga have inspired and transformed countless lives.
Taleya Rehman was born on 9th September 1934 in Bangladesh. She graduated from the University of Dhaka, Bangladesh, with an MA in Economics. She went on to undertake a research fellowship at the London School of Economics in London and qualified as a teacher in London.
She later moved to England and worked for the BBC for thirty years. Taleya was involved in the BBC World Service in Bengali, qualifying as a newscaster and producing women’s programmes. Through her work with the BBC, she became interested in the politics of language and in human rights issues.
In 1995, Taleya founded Democracywatch in Bangladesh, which campaigns for popular education and female empowerment. Democracywatch also advocates studies on democracy and good governance, and it is linked with a training institute to discover and train future leaders. Democracywatch has run projects in several areas including election monitoring and awareness programmes.
Taleya is the governing body member of a governance coalition which includes ActionAid Bangladesh, Democracywatch, Transparency International Bangladesh, FEMA, PPRC, BELA, BLAST and others, working to promote democracy and good governance in Bangladesh. She has been an official observer of general elections in Bangladesh and Denmark, and has been invited to observe Sri Lankan elections.
Prior to her work at Democracywatch and the BBC, Taleya was the deputy head of a secondary school, and director of Spectrum Radio in London.