Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Masked 'Hillary Clinton' robs Va. bank

A gun-toting man in a Halloween-style mask robbed a Sterling bank on Dec. 27, authorities said.
It appeared that the man wore a Hillary Clinton mask, according to Kraig Troxell, spokesman for the Loudoun County Sheriff's Office. 

Shortly after 9 a.m., the man walked into the Wachovia bank in Community Plaza, approached a teller, brandished a firearm, and demanded cash, according to Loudoun County sheriff’s office reports.

The robber, who authorities described as a black male around 6 feet tall, then fled in an unknown direction with an undisclosed amount of cash. He was seen wearing a black jacket with a red shirt underneath.

No injuries were reported, says Kraig Troxell, spokesman for the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office, which distributed a surveillance image from the robbery.

This robbery is not the first for the Wachovia bank in Sterling’s Community Plaza this year. On Nov. 20, authorities said the bank was robbed at gunpoint by Benjamin L. Sebastian, 32, of Inwood, W.Va.
Sebastian was arrested Dec. 11 and charged with six regional bank robberies, including the Sterling Wachovia bank and an Oct. 6 armed robbery of the Bank of America in Sterling’s Regal Plaza.
He remains in police custody.

Authorities are asking anyone with information about the incident to contact Investigator K. Poland of the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office at 703-777-0475.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Even with missed storm, cleanup is pricey

Read it at the Washington Post's local breaking news blog, Post Now.

After criticism over slow response times to snowmageddon last winter, local jurisdictions and state transportation agencies weren't going to be caught unaware this time.

A number of weather services predicted the first major snowstorm of the year over Christmas weekend. Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) and Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) both issued preemptive state of emergency declarations.

And then the storm never came. D.C. was left with only a dusting of snow. A Capital Weather Gang map shows how close we were to getting pummeled.

Preparation for the no-show snow didn't come cheap.

The Virginia Department of Transportation spent "well over a million dollars" in Northern Virginia over the weekend, spokeswoman Joan Morris told TBD. The department had about 1,700 trucks on the road.

But with $33 million to spend on snow removal in Northern Virginia this year, according to the Washington Examiner, the Virginia Department of Transportation should be just fine. Both Maryland and Virginia increased their snow removal budgets this year.

Karyn LeBlanc, a spokeswoman for the District Department of Transportation says the department estimated it spent more than $500,000 over the weekend, according to TBD.

Montgomery County had 400 people and 375 trucks ready to go at 2 a.m. Sunday, though they went home 14 hours later. Arlington County had about 150 employees out over a 24-hour period.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Dear Metro, I hate that I love you so (#metroloveletter)

By Elizabeth Flock
Read it at the Washington Post

I didn't know you three months ago when I moved to Washington from Chicago. I knew the El, which runs on time, doesn't do random searches, and would never, ever tell me not to eat my breakfast on the train.

I have to tell you something, Metro. You're late. All the time. This morning you stood me up when I had a meeting at work to get to. For half an hour I stood on the platform. You kept me hanging when the "Mad Men" finale was starting and my roommate disabled TiVo. I've fallen in your potholes you call construction one too many times. I've broken a sweat on the way to a date when the Woodley Park escalator was broken, again. And that thing you call a SmarTrip card? I'm onto you. I figured out pretty fast that that card charges me just the same.

What about when I want to get home late at night, after getting better acquainted with your city's watering holes, and I need you the most? You're not there at all. You're shut, with cold metal bars blocking your entrance. Should you really expect me to keep coming back?

But that's the problem, Metro. I will come back, because I love you.

Ever since I met you, Metro, I can't get enough. I'm there every morning from Woodley Park to Farragut North, and every night I take you home.

I could get to work another way. Capital Bike Share looks pretty tempting some mornings, with those glistening red bikes all lined up in a pretty row. I could walk, try the bus or drive. I don't. I take you.
Because you're easy. And you're there. Your yawning ceilings make me feel small, but in a good way. Your SmarTrip card makes me feel important. Your scary octopus Metro map has tentacles that go everywhere I want to go. I've read countless Express newspapers while hanging on to the overhead rail for dear life. And it turns out, by forcing me to eat breakfast at home, you make me a better person. These days, my dress stays coffee-free all day.

I hate that I love you, Metro. But I do.

A lot of us do. We're taking you more every day.

This is my love letter to the Metro. What's yours? Tell me why -- despite the delays, the broken escalators, the constant problems -- you still love the Metro. Write it in the comments or send a tweet using the hashtag #metroloveletter.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Minerals in consumer electronic devices help finance civil war in Congo

By Elizabeth Flock 
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, December 13, 2010; 6:21 PM 

Read it at The Washington Post. 

As you arm yourself with electronic gifts over the next few weeks, you probably won't think about the minerals your new cellphone, laptop or digital camera runs on. But no matter which company made the gadget, it's likely to be powered using tin, tantalum, tungsten or gold, all of which are mined in Eastern Congo, where profits contribute to financing the country's bloody war.

Rebel groups and the national army control many of Eastern Congo's mines. Over the past decade, more than 5 million people have died, and hundreds of thousands of women have been raped in the struggle for power, according to the Raise Hope for Congo campaign. While the Congolese government has expressed interest in tackling the multimillion-dollar trade in minerals, the involvement of its own troops has led critics to question their efforts.

The West has long been aware of this problem, though hard facts are difficult to establish: A 2008 U.S. Geological Survey report found that less than 10 percent of tantalum (the mineral used to make capacitors in most cellphones and iPods) imported to the United States is from Congo. But one human rights group, the Enough Project, estimates that Congolese armed groups make $8 million per year trading in that mineral alone.

Electronics companies argue that the supply chain is nearly impossible to track: There are thousands of companies, they say, that leave little or no paperwork. Manufacturers use Congolese minerals, which cost only one-half or one-third the price of those mined in other countries - due to large quantitites of minerals close to the surface, lack of regulation and cheap labor - leaving the American consumer with no way of knowing whether their purchases are subsidizing warfare half a world away.

The Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, passed in July, seeks to change that, by requiring manufacturers to identify so-called conflict minerals and eliminate them from their supply chains.
              Image of a child miner in the Congo, via Grassroots Group's photostream on flickr.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Whole Foods' Organic Capitalism

John Mackey’s Conscious Capitalism model has its share of dissenters. But the fiery Texan isn’t about to back down
by Elizabeth Flock | Oct 9, 2010

Read it at Forbes India or at Forbes

When John Mackey dropped out of his second university, his aspirations to open a natural foods supermarket looked shaky. He had no money, no business training, and no degree. He hoped to open a vegetarian store in the carnivorous state of Texas. His mother thought he was wasting a good mind to become a grocer.

But Mackey, an unmotivated student, had suddenly found a purpose in natural foods while working at a collective, and he wasn’t going to let it go. Along with his girlfriend Renee Lawson, Mackey rustled up $45,000 from family and friends to start the business.

Mackey and Lawson opened Safer Way in 1978, knowing full well that health food was a gamble. When the couple used their apartment to store food, they were thrown out and forced to move into the second floor of Safer Way, where they showered with a hose.

But Texan customers embraced this unlikely supermarket, and Mackey soon had the confidence to merge with Clarksville Natural Grocery, partly by hinting to owners Mark Skiles and Craig Weller that he would put them out of business. Together, they opened a larger natural foods store in 1980 that would one day change the supermarket game. They called it Whole Foods.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Starting something in the great white city.

I’m sorry for the long hiatus. Shifting cities and the end of summer can take a lot out of a girl.


Since the first day I arrived in Washington, I felt an itch underneath the skin, a persistent feeling of something not right.

At first I thought it was entering a world in which people lived and breathed politics, a world where people talked about the tangled web of lobbying and elections at dinner parties. Or that everyone was transitory, so no one cared to make lasting ties. Or, as my dad put it, that DC was a small town made into a city just because the most important man in the world lives here.

But that persistent itch isn’t any of those things. This morning I woke up and knew exactly what it is.

I can’t find DC’s heart.


Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Kartemquin Films receiving Newberry's Altgeld Award

Documentary company Kartemquin Films to be honored for defense of free speech

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Students draft a lesson plan of their own

Youth Empowerment Project members go to D.C. to present ideas for keeping kids in school
July 23, 2010|By Elizabeth Flock, Special to the Tribune

Read it at the Chicago Tribune
Amara Brady's academic life changed when she transferred to Mother McAuley High School on the Southwest Side last year. She got better books, more passionate teachers and access to postsecondary education information she'd never had. 

"The schools aren't on a level playing field. And some systems are just set up for failure," said Brady, 16, who lives in the North Lawndale neighborhood, where many teens are faced with drugs, violence and a rising dropout rate.
Deciding she wanted to do something about it, Brady joined World Vision's Youth Empowerment Project (YEP), which gives young people a voice to become what they call "agents of change." World Vision is a Christian organization dedicated to fighting poverty.
Brady is one of 13 Chicago-area students who decided they wanted to do something about it. Each year, YEP students from across the country choose an issue that is most on their minds, then come up with a proposal on how to implement change and present it to their local leaders.
After five months of community mapping, interviews, surveys and debate, the Chicago-area students from both public and private schools had a clear choice for this year's issue: education. They wanted to find a way to keep kids in school.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Fear and Loathing in Arizona

Read it at Huffington Post

Posted: July 16, 2010 11:26 AM

The first of seven lawsuits against Arizona's controversial immigration law is being heard this week in federal court in Phoenix. The Justice Department will challenge the state for usurping federal authority to enforce immigration laws. Americans are divided on the issue, as is always the case with immigration. Some worry the legislation will lead to police harassment of people of color. Others are busy making private donations for a defense fund of the law.

On the other side of the world, another battle over immigration drags on.

In Mumbai, India, the Shiv Sena and MNS political parties continue to declare that Mumbai is a city only for Marathis (people from the state in which Mumbai is located). The parties enforce this notion with gangster tactics. In the past, party members have beaten up non-Marathis working in Mumbai, threatened Marathi celebrities who call themselves 'Indian' instead of 'Marathi', and attacked media offices. Just this week, the Shiv Sena told a radio station it must start playing more Marathi songs or 'face the music.'

There are fundamental differences between these two battles, of course. Arizona's law could be used to discriminate on the basis of a person's color. The Shiv Sena and MNS discriminate on the basis of a person's home state. Arizona's law attempts to control immigration from outside of the country, while the Shiv Sena and MNS want to control immigration from within. Arizona wants to do it legally, while the Shiv Sena and MNS resort to violence

What is common between the two cases, however, is fear.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Save Money, Live Better: The Case for Wal-Mart on the South Side of Chicago

Read it at Huffington Post

Posted: June 30, 2010 03:24 PM

Wal-Mart may be coming to Chicago, and soon.

Union opposition has kept Wal-Mart at bay for the last six years, but when the company agreed to pay entry-level workers 50 cents above the minimum wage, unions were suddenly all ears. Last week, the City Council zoning committee finally signed off on a Wal-Mart store on Chicago's South Side.

It helped that Wal-Mart has estimated it would add 12,000 jobs over the next five years in Chicago, where the unemployment rate is more than 10 percent. There are plenty of debates going on over whether Wal-Mart is really the answer to unemployment on the South Side. One persistent argument against the company is that Wal-Mart is bad news for the mom-and-pop stores, and that the many job gains for the city will be offset by the fall-out for the owners of small businesses.

I have a family friend down on the South Side named Brenda, who is unemployed and on disability benefits because of several medical maladies. Brenda lives in West Pullman, not far from where Wal-Mart proposes to set up shop.

Brenda was recently wearing a brand new white jumpsuit. When she was complimented on the suit, she proudly said that it was "designer" and that she had bought it for $268. The suit was clearly worth much less.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Call of the Road

The automobile and the USA — it’s been a long love affair. And what could be more American than a good old-fashioned road trip?
by Elizabeth Flock | Jun 28, 2010 

"Road trip.” That’s all I needed to say to my friend Eileen. A week later, we piled into my 1986 Toyota Camry and headed out of Los Angeles. Destination: Home, Chicago, 2,112 miles away. The Camry was as old as I was — in fact, a mechanic had pronounced it incapable of making the trip —  but there had been no question of whether I would take it with me.

The cult of the road trip in America boils down to this: We love our automobiles. A mere 8 percent of us don’t own a car. When automobiles first came out in the early 1900s, critics said it would be better to just get yourself a horse. But, as American political satirist P.J. O’Rourke has pointed out, the automobile did get a horse for everybody. My Camry was my horse, and I loved it deeply, for its automatic seatbelts, deep furry seats, cassette tape player, and the right-hand window that could only roll down halfway.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

We live in public.

The Stanley McChrystal debacle today initially reminded me of the response to member of Indian parliament Shashi Tharoor's tweets about not wanting to travel "cattle class". Both were fairly stupid moves on their part, considering McChrystal's somewhat tense relationship with Obama, and Tharoor's with Congress over his level of austerity.

But the real issue here, I think, is about a the image our public figures have to cultivate for the public, and what happens when they reveal a bit too much.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Culture shock, shocks of culture

After less than a week back in America, there is still the pang of missing Bombay, but little culture shock. It feels strangely nice to be here, to have an immigration official say "welcome back" in a nasal Midwest accent, to not struggle to enunciate every word into the phone when I order a pizza. (Though I loved attempting Hinglish when I was in Mumbai.)

Vagabondish talks about culture shock here. And Author Amanda Kendle makes an interesting point, which is that the worst part of culture shock is when you come home and get stuck. In Europe, in India, you can travel around the country on cheap flights or cheap buses for almost nothing. Scrap some money together somehow and just go. In LaGrange, IL, I'm dying to go to Santa Clara for the weekend: $410. Or New York: $300. Might as well walk.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Leaving Bombay

I'm not done with #thebombayloveproject yet. But I came back home to the US in June all the same. I expected it to feel like leaving a bad lover, but it feels worse. I wanted to throw up at the airport yesterday. Cried until I couldn't breathe.

It wasn't just that I didn't know when I was coming back. It was that I had grown attached to Bombay, depended on her like a habit, craved time with her. The cool and empty tree-lined streets of the suburb I live in in Chicago were beautiful today... and disquieting.

Here are the first and last pictures I took in Bombay. Neither are technically good. But both are in the monsoon. I came to Bombay just as the monsoon was disappearing in 2008, the Arabian Sea rocky along Marine Drive, and I left just as the monsoon crept in this June 2010, forcing the phalwallas (fruitsellers) under the shelter of waterproof tarps. How can a human miss the rain this much?

Saturday, June 12, 2010

right aur wrong

One thing people I interview for #thebombayloveproject keep telling me is that love is both right and wrong for this city.

One way it's right is because in Bombay any person can be anonymous, swept away by the tides of thousands. Different castes and religions get blended together.  A person can disappear if they want to, reappear with another name.

It can be wrong because in Bombay there is no privacy. Lovers have to go to Bandra Bandstand, and sit along the rocks on the beach and kiss. Prudish mammis tap their canes on the lovers backs, but there's nowhere else for them to go.

Perhaps love is right and wrong for every city, but in Bombay it feels more so.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Bombay Love Project

Here, I am, already two days late for the daily posting. But, as promised, the idea behind the #thebombayloveproject:

Bombay has changed a lot for its lovers over the past generation. Psychologist Shaifali Sandhya says marriage in India has undergone more change in the last two decades than it has in the last three thousand years.

Last generation couples lived through the country pre and post liberalization, in a time with only one TV channel and now with hundreds of dramatic serials. They lived through the austere, tighten-your-belt India and are now living the consumeristic, better-buy-your-wife-a-gold-watch one.

This generation is another animal. They’ve only seen the India who is on the world stage. They've only lived the India that is hungry for position and power and money. And they want those things themselves.

The last generation grew up in the 60s and 70s, the period of youth rebellion. If a girl wanted to love someone that she shouldn’t, of whom her parents didn't approve, she rebelled. It was fight, elope, or die.

This generation doesn't need to agitate. If a girl's parents say no, it’s beseech and appeal for your love marriage, and then beseech some more. And her parents just might say yes. Even if it’s to a man of another caste, or within the same gotra, or across continents to a man of another race.

Of course, it’s not all rosy. Hindu Muslim relationships are still do or die. Some parents don’t care if they hated chafing at the bit—they want their kids to do the same. But these are less.

There are other changes. Marriages are happening later. Joint families are becoming rapidly nuclear. There are more live-in relationships. More divorce. And more sex, sex, sex. Some of this has been mapped out, by Shaifali Sandhya in Love Will Follow, Mother Pious Lady, by Santosh Desai, Surviving Women, by Jerry Pinto. 

These tell the facts, the cold, hard trends. I want to tell the stories. 

Friday, June 4, 2010

Good Night, and Good Luck Blog Revamp

Up until today, I used this blog merely as a space to keep all my writing for Forbes India and any freelance stories.  But now that I am working on #thebombayloveproject (explanation to come in my next post), I think the blog would better serve as a space to post findings of the project daily. It will included everything from finished stories to partly-coherent ramblings.

I'll also add links to interesting outside articles and excerpts from places like Photographic Youth Music Culture Archive, Arts and Letters Daily, India Uncut, Bartleby, The Guardian, NYT, Modern Love, and anywhere else that prints something new or beautiful. (Plus visuals from flickr, FILE, and LIFE; sounds from stereomood and pitchfork; and celluloid from TED, academic earth, and youtube.)

Mostly, though, it it will be a place to record findings of #thebombayloveproject.

To start, check out Ernest Hemingway's difficult short story on love: Hills Like White Elephants

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Societies and firangs just don’t mix

Read it at the Hindustan Times

Mumbai, May 11, 2010

I’ve lived in two housing societies in Mumbai. And both tried to kick me out on the street. A housing society, as I had always understood, is just a residential complex with flats. And the point is, for everyone, to have access to its utilities, help keep crime at bay, make sure the mail is delivered and so on. But in Mumbai, it is so much more. Here a housing society is an association of people with similar interests. There are Muslim societies, vegetarian societies, wealthy societies where every kid goes to The Cathedral and John Connon School and so on.

In the past year-and-a-half, both the societies I’ve lived in have shared the same interest: to preserve that ever-elusive term ‘Indian culture’ in their housing complex, in any way they could. My first landlord sat me down before signing the lease and asked if I was loose, and whether I’d

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Kumbh: In Search of Spirituality

Pilgrims from all over the country walk many kilometres to reach the place of the Second Royal Bath
by Elizabeth Flock | Apr 17, 2010

Read it at Forbes

When I planned my trip to Haridwar for the first bathing date in March, I felt good. I had been given a partial history of the “jar festival” by my yoga teacher (who had, years before, taken sanyasa), had a fairly decent understanding of Hindu beliefs after almost two years in India, and I would be with a Hindu friend who favoured Shiva. Nevertheless, I did have the same wide-eyed expectations that have attracted thousands of foreigners to the festival before.

It is, after all, the world’s largest pilgrimage, hosted by the world’s oldest religion. That the Ganga washes away one’s sins only added to the appeal. How could I not expect some sort of awakening?

When we arrive in Haridwar, after a harrowing bus ride, the Kumbh is in full swing. Pilgrims from all over the country have walked many kilometres to reach the place of the Second Royal Bath, and because our bus had dropped us off six kilometres away from the city centre, so must we. In front of us stride Rajasthani men with sweeping white turbans and curling moustaches; behind us South Indian maamis tread carefully, resplendent in saris despite the heat and dust; everywhere, pilgrims clothed in saffron walk with us.

When we finally find a hotel with an empty room, the owner tells us that we can’t stay. “I think one guest might change his mind and stay an extra night,” he says, standing in front of a sign that announced No Alcohol, No Non-Veg. “This is a very religious place,” he adds.

“Ah, but I am very keen to see the Kumbh with my fiancée,” I say, stressing the last word, smiling as sweetly as I could.

“Oh,” he says, clearing his throat. “Well then, madam,

Prague: City of Shadows

Dark and haunted by a bloody past, Prague is a city that can change you
by Elizabeth Flock | Apr 2, 2010

Read it at Forbes

I’m trying to tell you, the travel writers who call Prague a “fairy tale” city are wrong. Explore the enchanting streets lit by gaslight, they write. Hold your lover’s hand while you stroll across the Charles Bridge, and then off into the sunset. Or so they imply.

What’s conveniently left out is the other part of the fairy tale, the part populated by witches and gargoyles and imps. The part where older versions of the Brothers Grimm — Cinderella murders her stepmother, the Little Mermaid kills herself — ring more true.

Prague is dark, filled with grotesque reminders everywhere of its storied, bloody past. And it will teach you a lot, if you let it. I travelled in and out of Prague for six months, but even in an evening, the city can change you. It can also tear you apart.

Like it did Kafka. Prague’s bleakest fiction writer was haunted not only by his evil father, but also the

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Why Aamir Khan is a Marketing Genius

Aamir Khan’s strategy to market 3 Idiots in smaller towns via regional media has been an unqualified success
by Elizabeth Flock | Feb 2, 2010

Read it at Forbes

When Aamir Khan, producer Vidhu Vinod Chopra, and director Rajkumar Hirani, sat down and watched the first half of the first cut of 3 Idiots together, they knew they were watching something that had the potential to go “big time”. A boisterous drama about three friends dealing with the pressures of engineering school, and one friend teaching them how to dream, was a story they knew would stick. They guessed multiplexes in cities would overflow. They figured they had a fair chance at beating Ghajini, an Aamir Khan starrer and the biggest grossing Hindi film of all time.

But something bothered them. In smaller towns, regional cinema was still king and Hindi cinema just a joker. In Gujarat, a star like Vikram Thakur at his peak, could bring in close to Rs. 7 crore. A top grossing Hindi film on the other hand could hope to rake in just Rs. 3 crore.

“We felt we aren’t connecting enough with our audience… There’s a business capacity of seven, but we are only doing three. So there’s a lot of business we aren’t reaching out to,” says Khan as he talks to us from his Pali Hill apartment in Bandra, a Mumbai suburb. He’s wincing from a leg injury sustained earlier during the day, but is intent we hear what he’s saying.

“Do they want to be entertained? Yes. Do they like watching films? Yes. But are they watching our films? No. They’re watching regional films.” It could only mean two things, he reasoned.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Osian's Art Fund: The Broken Paddle

Flamboyance and grandeur marked out Neville Tuli as India’s best-known art messiah. Today the collapse of his fund has revealed he got it all wrong
by Dinesh Narayanan, Elizabeth Flock, Shloka Nath | Jan 29, 2010

Read it at Forbes

No, it was not the money that I valued —what I wanted was to make all this mob of Heintzes, hotel proprietors, and fine ladies of Baden talk about me, recount my story, wonder at me, extol my doings, and worship my winnings.”
–Fyodor Dostoevsky in The Gambler

If the 19th Century Russian author were to live and search for a novel idea today, he could try telling the story of Neville Tuli, who spent 18 years gambling on horses at Laddrokes in London, returned to his roots in India where he became the best-known spokesman of the country’s art and launched the world’s largest art fund. The story would, of course, turn melancholic, detailing how he fell from glory with the plunge in the art market, struggled to pay his investors and stared at the risk of losing all that
he created.

One good place to start the plot would be the Mumbai office of ABN Amro Bank. A bank executive pays a visit to the office of Tuli’s Osian’s Connoisseurs of Art (Osian’s) almost every other day to recover money that the firm owes several wealthy clients of the bank who invested in an art fund sponsored by it. The dues are more than Rs. 40 crore. The bank has so far managed to extract some of that money. A lot remains. (ABN Amro declined to discuss the case with Forbes India but said it will review any client complaint and investigate).

Neville Tuli, the flamboyant chairman and managing director of Osian’s, needed about Rs. 115 crore to repay investors in Osian’s Art Fund – Scheme Contemporary 1, when the three-year scheme matured in July 2009. Unfortunately, a global recession froze the art market, landing Osian’s in a liquidity crisis and left the close-ended art fund marooned with unsold inventory and a cash shortage just around that time.

Soon, word spread that Tuli’s art fund wasn’t able to pay off investors at its close. This set off a reaction among the art fraternity, beating down the prices of the works of marquee names such as M.F. Husain and F.N.Souza in the fund’s portfolio. Surely, Tuli has told banks such as ABN Amro and BNP Paribas that referred their clients to the fund that it was only a “delay not default” caused by the art market reversal. But he

India Asia Arab Art Fund: Cracks in the Framework

Neville Tuli’s India Asia Arab Art Fund proved a non-starter but has managed to land him in trouble with his investor, private equity firm Abraaj Capital
by Elizabeth Flock | Jan 29, 2010

Read it at Forbes

Sometimes even an exit route can become an unexpected trap. When Neville Tuli conceived the India Asia Arab Art Fund (IAAF), he also considered it as a potential rescuer of the art fund sponsored by his flagship Osian’s Connoisseurs of Art. Tuli told Forbes India that as a last resort, IAAF could buy modern and contemporary art from Osian’s Art Fund, of course, at an arm’s length pricing and valued by third parties.

IAAF, however, never took off and the elaborate set up that Tuli created for it, landed him in trouble with one of his most high-profile investors, the Dubai-based private equity firm Abraaj Capital.

In a claim issued October 5, 2009, Abraaj Investment Management Limited, an associate company of Abraaj Capital, filed a lawsuit againt Bregawn Jersey Limited in the Queen’s Bench Division of the High Court in the UK for more than $23 million.

Bregawn Jersey Limited is Neville Tuli’s offshore company, based in the Jersey Isles that was acting as a purchasing agent for Abraaj.

In March 2008, Tuli wanted a loan to buy art for IAAF, which would specialise in investing in Indian, Asian and Arabian art. Through several contractual agreements, Abraaj advanced Tuli a sum of $1 million to purchase works of art for the Fund. Tuli said he would repay the loan on or before August 1, 2008, with an extension of a maximum of 30 days. The total sum to be repaid was $1.2 million.

In June of that year, Tuli and Abraaj signed a Purchasing Agency Agreement that increased Abraaj’s loan to Tuli quite a bit. The new loan was again for purchasing works of art on behalf of Abraaj for sale to the IAAF. The purchase price by Tuli was not to be more than

Monday, January 4, 2010

Karambir Kang: The Stoic

Uncomplicated. Jokester. Turn-around guy. Saviour. Survivor.
by Elizabeth Flock | Dec 29, 2009

Read it at Forbes

Karambir wasn’t supposed to be his name.

At 22, Kanwaljit Kang was married and pregnant. One night, she had a dream. A saint opened the Sikh holy book and said, “Name your baby, a son, Dusht Daman.” Kanwaljit only laughed. Such a hard name for a child, she thought. The name meant “Destroyer of demons”.

The saint was right. A boy was born. For eight months, he went without a name. Finally, Kanwaljit and her husband Jagtar went to a nearby saint to ask for another name. A name not so rough. But the saint said the name should stay. Still, Kanwaljit resisted it. No, we must give him something more modern, she thought. A softer name. They settled on Karambir. It meant, “A person who does brave deeds”.

Now, Kanwaljit, 61, cries when she talks about her son’s name. She wipes her eyes with her dupatta continuously. Her makeup smears into little rain clouds around her eyes.

“If I had given him the name I was supposed to, maybe he could have killed those terrorists that day,” she says. She cries harder.

On November 26, 2008, her son did not kill terrorists. But