Lifestyle en Wed May 20 10:35:44 IST 2020 yogic-wealth-the-wealth-of-bliss <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Over the years, as a practising financial planner, columnist, public speaker and guest on TV shows, I have observed/interacted with individuals and families from varied backgrounds. They hail from different strata of income, educational qualification, family background, cultural upbrings and beliefs. All the interactions, to begin with, revolve around issues concerning money. The topmost layer is money. However, simply by scratching the surface a little, it is evident that the issue is more that of the mind. It is the mind which throws up different kinds of emotions.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>These emotions are manifestations of latent impressions we have about the way we should live and lead life. For example, the way we celebrate our birthday so that we will be happy could be dependent on: (i) this is the way I want to celebrate (ii) this is the way everybody does it these days (iii) what will people think if I do not celebrate it this way.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The first one is an independent decision. It is absolute. It will give maximum joy. However, there is catch here. While saying/thinking, “This is the way I want to celebrate, and hence I will do it”, there should not be a tint of arrogance, as in “I like it so I will do it, I don’t care what others feel.” Arrogance is a manifestation of ego and inferiority complex. Feelings will be extremely subtle and hence difficult to catch within us.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The second decision comes more from our surroundings. It is more in conformation of the social norms we are surrounded by. Based on each individual’s surrounding at a point in time, it will change. This is dynamic. It may give happiness for some time. Happiness is more because we conform to social norms. However, if this form of celebration does not conform to our innermost self, if at all there is discord between the innermost self and our surroundings, then there may not be happiness. Since the decision we take is relative to something else, our happiness will be short-lived. This is because it is taken in relation to what others are doing.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The last decision is out of fear. This will not give happiness at all. No one except our own self will be able to say from what state of mind we are behaving. To each one his/her own.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>As I kept observing reactions of individuals/families, I realised that in many instances, individual and families are not enjoying wealth. Lack of enjoyment had nothing to do with strata of income and/or level of wealth. The wealthy could be reacting out of fear of “What will people feel if I do not celebrate my birthday in this particular manner.” On the other hand, someone from a middle class income background could be saying: “I like celebrating this way, and hence I will do it.” The reaction could be vice-versa also, with the very wealthy saying: &quot;I like to celebrate this way and hence I will do it,&quot; and someone from middle income strata thinking: “What will people feel if I do not celebrate in a particular manner?”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Somewhere, to get more insight into the behaviour, I started looking at scriptures, and bravo, answers started coming. The most prominent answer was that there is no right or wrong way. If it gives happiness to an individual, it is right for him. As long as there is no harm created to anyone else, either physically, verbally or emotionally, it is fine. On the other hand, if there is absence of happiness, it is time to look within.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>It is about enjoying the wealth we have, in a manner we like, and not in relation to anyone. Absolute joy cannot be relative. Scriptures talk about absolute joy. Scriptures are not against wealth. Scriptures are for enjoying wealth in calm, serene and respectful ways.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>By the way, scriptures talk about four kinds of wealth. Physical wealth (our health), social wealth (relationship with the spouse, family, friends, acquaintances and society in general), emotional wealth, and financial wealth. Only when all of the above are in harmony will we have blissful life–absolute joy. Yogic Wealth.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Gaurav Mashruwala is the author of&nbsp;<i>Yogic Wealth: The Wealth That Gives Bliss</i></b></p> Tue Jun 16 13:35:09 IST 2020 microgreens-grow-your-own-food-kitchen-window <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>The COVID-19-induced lockdown encouraged many people to pursue hobbies and other activities they had been putting off due to lack of time. While art and craft or music and dance were what a section of people took to, there were many who turned to nature and productive activities. Microgreen farming was one such activity that caught up instantly, especially among urban residents.</p> <p>Easy to grow and quick to harvest, microgreens can be cultivated in your kitchen space or even your office cubicle by placing a few seeds on a wet tissue paper. Tiny plants that are older than a sprout but younger than a sapling, microgreens contain 10-40 times vital nutrients compared to their fully grown plants. They are delicious and can be a great choice for fussy eaters.</p> <p>What does one need to get started with microgreens? “Good quality seeds, shallow trays with drain holes, a ventilated space to keep them and a wet towel or polythene sheet to retain humidity,’’ says Vinod Chakravarti of Bengaluru. Chakravarti, a former vice president for SBI Mutual Fund, is now a farming guru. Hyperfarms, a startup co-founded by Chakravarti grows and sells microgreens on a large scale.</p> <p>Chakravarti recommends soaking the seeds before sowing as it helps speeding the germination process. “But even if not soaked they’ll come fine,’’ he says.</p> <p>These superfoods do not even need soil to grow. One can grow them on wet tissue papers. But Chakravarti who likes getting his hands a bit dirty while growing plants prefers cocopeat or even a mix of cocopeat with a little bit of top soil or compost. The plants can be grown throughout the year. However, the germination time may vary depending on seed variety and temperature.</p> <p>According to experienced farmers, mustard and radish are the best seeds to start with. Sabitha Sawariya, a bridal and celebrity artist based in Kochi who got into microgreen farming a few months ago adds two more to the list: Mung bean and buckwheat. “I grow radish, ragi, wheatgrass, mustard, flax, peas, corn mong and spinach microgreens,” says Anamika Bist, an NIFT graduate with 21 years experience in retail sector who is now involved with green initiatives, sustainable workshops and community farming. “Kids love peas and sunflower microgreens,’’ she says.</p> <p>Regular kitchen seeds like methi, sunflower and pumpkin seeds can be used for microfarming. “Amaranth, arugula, beets, basil, all types of lettuces, kale, cabbage, broccoli, the list is almost endless! One simple thumb rule … if the seed is edible, so is its microgreen,’’ says Chakravarti. ‘’Most of the time, beginners make the mistake of over watering and not under watering, which may result in moulds or fungi. Once you have the hang of microgreen farming, you can move on to some exotic ones like red radish sango, nasturtium, etc,’’ he adds.</p> <p>Make sure to cover the tray after sowing the seeds. Once the seeds sprout, they may be exposed to sunlight and watered everyday. Most microgreens love to have around 8 hours of shaded sunlight. However, unlike regular plants, they don’t need any nutrients other than water to supplement their growth, which is one of the factors that has made them a popular choice among urban farmers.</p> <p>Growing your own microgreens on your kitchen window sill can be immensely rewarding, says Rajani Vaidya, a nutritionist based in Bengaluru. “Recent studies have shown that microgreens have many times more anti oxidants, vitamin C, vitamin K, and carotenoids, the substance that is good for eyesight and skin, among other things, when compared to mature plants. They are a fun way to make up for vitamin, mineral or anti oxidant deficiency in our daily diet.’’ she says adding that they should be consumed as soon as possible after harvest.</p> <p>Manjari Chandra, consultant ,therapeutic and functional nutrition at Max Healthcare includes kale, lettuce, spinach and red radish microgreens in her diet. The presence of vitamins, minerals and other important nutrients in microgreens help in neutralizing toxins, purifying liver and strengthening immune system, says Manjari. “They control blood sugar, prevent and fight cancer, improve cardiovascular health, vision and cognitive functions, stabilize hormones, rejuvenate skin and help maintain healthy bones and teeth. Microgreens are a great choice for people looking to lose weight as well,’’ says Manjari.</p> <p>Microgreens can be incorporated in salads, smoothies and sandwiches. Simran Oberoi Multani, founder of Ovenderful and Ovenderful Mom Bakers Community was thrilled to discover that there is a huge range of micro greens that one can grow and use and that they can lift some of the simplest dishes into another level due to the flavour they add. “One does not have to be restricted to just a couple of types of microgreens. It opened my mind up to a lot of possibilities in terms of how I can fortify the food we eat with a simple addition of these fresh greens. They are such a refreshing addition to my food. Dishes which have been slightly richer in texture have been balanced by the lightness and those which were already light have got more dimensions like a new texture,’’ she says.</p> <p>Experimenting with microgreens has been a great learning experience for her. She has realised that the fresh greens pair very well with seeds and nuts. “That has a big advantage of being able to create yum snacking options for adults and children alike.’’</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Fri Jun 12 16:20:43 IST 2020 opinion-sareegram-during-lockdown-is-an-essential <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>As the longest unstitched garment of the world, the saree befittingly symbolizes a country that is the world’s largest democracy. With nearly six metres of cloth, variously printed and embroidered, and endless accoutrements, the uniniatiated may think of it as the quintessential Churchillian bundle of riddle, mystery and enigma. In a community that is deficient in resources, a medium-body sized saree wearer (<i>madhyam marg </i>is close to Indians) typically takes more than 8 metres of cloth. Economically speaking, it hardly makes sense. But then when has any element of this country made sense to the sensible. It is only when you love it, that things fall in place. Till then, it overpowers you with its complexity, unnecessariness, and mostly contrarianness.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>As though saree was not complex enough, COVID-19 struck bringing in its bounty lockdowns, covidiots, covid policing and covidisms. Everyone wanted a ritual, whether it be banging the plate or clapping the hands. Everyone was working from home. There were acronyms that looked almost like expletives, and moral dilemmas that one went to sleep with and woke up hugging them still. How much rice to buy so that it was not hoarding, how much money to PMCARES (so do I), what to donate to the jobless (can I donate a saree?) were questions that were just as excruciating as choice between Prime and Netflix, and which sibling to share passwords with.&nbsp; In a lockdown situation, these questions provided constant company one must say. One talked to them, fought with them, cried and sometimes ignored.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>And then there was the sareegram. Saree on Instagram. Saree sans borders, ironic as it sounds. Saree across states of India, countries of the world. The only borders it knew were the ones on itself. Saree across caste, class and sometimes even gender. A ritual that reinforced togetherness even while being apart.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>There were #sareeinthetimeofcorona, #sareeinginlockdown, #sareeincoronatimes, #copingincotton, #rainbowsizindagi, #sareeinginthetimesofcoronaquarantine, #sareeingforhappyminds, #gharmeinbhisaree that captured the various dimensions of a lockdown life. Saree was the only constant in a rapidly changing world and a mutating virus.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>For instance #gharmeinbhisaree was to make up for the inability to step out in a saree due to lockdown. It showed a certain perseverance to wear the saree at home, preferring it to the ease of a pajama and tee, while juggling Zoom meetings and household chores. It brought the focus on the fact that sareeing was for the self. It helped that there were thousands in the virtual world to see and applaud the motif, the weave, and the fall of the fabric among other things.&nbsp; #rainbowsizindagi was a tribute to the colours that made up our lives, announced with the caption of when life gives you lockdown, make it rangeen (colourful). It was an upbeat take on the when life gives you lemons bit, a way to cheer everyone saying we could still choose to remain positive (with the aid of a saree) despite the glum surrounding the lockdown. There were still colours to live life with. Self care advocated subtly.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>One of the earliest themes to do the rounds was #sareeinthetimeofcorona, a clever spin of Marquez’s much loved book <i>Love in the Time of Cholera</i>, announced soon after self isolation was perceived to be the only weapon against COVID-19. It was fascinating that the call came from Canada, where @sareesaatsamundarpaar works. Despite difference in the lockdown conditions and time zones in both the countries, sareegrammers cheered to the call amidst anxiety of dwindling rations, no house helps and locked down with family 24x7. A cursory search of the hashtag reveals more than 6000 posts during the two months pointing to its reach and social context.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Saree here was a symbol of solidarity, a sort of personal happiness equipment amidst PPE debates flying all around much like the virus itself. It seemed ironic that the news of the shortage of PPEs could easily be juxtaposed with the abundance of sarees- collector’s items, vintage pieces and designer ones. What started with unrealistic personal goals of finishing manuscripts, shedding weight to learning a foreign language, there was a definite change in the narrative in dealing with the lockdown in a fortnight. Staying in with family 24x7 and not able to step outside was turning suffocating, if not noxious. The initial euphoria over quality time gave way to the painful realization that there was no choice and no matter how much conditioning one did, an externally imposed lockdown could not be redeemed by endless Kondo cleaning or symbolic candle lighting. It was but natural that one turned to Insta or sareegram to see a few faces and get a breath of fresh, social air. Lets face it, humans need to connect and when deprived artificially of the same, virtual proved not only a good enough, but a better alternative.&nbsp; There were no commitments frankly that it asked of the women, no meals to be cooked, no subscriptions to be renewed.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>#sareeingforhappyminds was about the therapeutic effects of saree wearing. Amidst meltdowns in the house where there was a scramble for headphones and bandwidth (who got how much in the pecking order), the whole act of choosing an ensemble, laying out the jewelry and styling it as well as smiling for the photography session in sareegram was seen as a method to stay happy amidst the madness. It is well documented what a swish of lipstick can do on gloomy days. The second world war asked the women to be in make up and well turned out for the sake of the morale of the fighting army and the country in general. There is colour therapy here, aesthetics and the whole deal of culture and art as expressed through one’s saree collections.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>I wear a lot of sarees, as it is one of the work wears prescribed by the government of India through gazette notification (yes, the government gets into details) and over the years have sifted through enough piles to know my Maheshwari from Mangalgiri. Many aspects of sareegramming in the lockdown period of a little more than two months fascinated me, in fact moved me sometimes.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In times of disasters, it is well documented how much communities can provide succour. Rebecca Solnit in her 2009 book showed how in the aftermath of natural disasters, communities displayed empathy and collective spirit in helping each other. There is no disputing that sareegrammers did exactly that, as a virtual support group in the lockdown period, who despite being apart and scattered and in the confines of their own homes reached out, wore a saree together on a common theme, learnt and encouraged to go on despite difficulties. Imagine being told by 100 women (no featherweights at that) when a lockdown stares at you that you are beautiful, and more power to you. Women from myriad backgrounds, from different age brackets and life situations yet tied together by the saree pallu, clarified doubts, ranging from literature to law points to medicine. They shared food meal ideas that were handy during a supply crisis. Yes, the group has doctors, lawyers, dentists, bureaucrats, diplomats, home makers, professors and the list goes on. If I needed a quick cookie recipe without flour or the latest MHA directive on the lockdown, this was the set I could turn to than Google. I cannot think of a group more diverse than this. And as we now know, diversity is the best place to learn. Among other things tolerance and respect for the other’s perspective. Thus while I stumble on a saree in my feed that I would not have otherwise picked up, I now deeply appreciate choices that are guided by reasons that are different from mine. I learnt in two days of sareegramming what I did not learn from my years of zen classes.</p> <p><br> <br> </p> <p>The diversity also points to the great scope of networking among women. And this is probably the most underrated of all aspects. I connected with IRS officers who are still training in the Direct Taxes Academy at Nagpur. It fascinates me no end that a stylish diplomat in MEA who regularly reviews the books she reads, has more than 65,000 followers. And that scope of social media, particularly Instagram where the visual as well as the written content can be doled out in an informal, chatty way to a temporary audience &nbsp; (you can count on your blessings but never on your followers for they may change their mind the next minute) who are as variegated as chalk and cheese is never given much credit.&nbsp;</p> <p>Sareegrammers have become like the quintessential networking groups that meet up for a drink occasionally at a posh address. The address box here has changed to a hashtag. It can be a #greensareeformentalhealth that put spotlight on the mental health awareness week, or it could be #themajestyofkosa, a bunch who adored the drape of a kosa silk indigenous to Chattisgarh. There is #ikatkibahaar, #dilhaibenarasi and many more on the menu card. One can seamlessly flit in and flit out of these groups, chatting up and offering comments, saying hi to whoever shows up for the hashtag and moving on to another. They beauty is you could be hanging out with as many as three hashtag groups in a day, discussing the nuances, exchanging banter like gifts and making real connections through virtual means in your messy hair, sans alcohol, lipstick, cigarettes and weariness of personal appearance. And it is never boring. There are drapes to learn, ones that show substantial leg like a skirt, ones that are languorous to the pleatyplus ones- that Malayali sales women have perfected over the years-a hundred knife pleats at the waist and a hundred and fifty, make than two hundred, on the shoulders. It is always about the possibilities after all. Nobody wants to be stuck with a drab drape, that too on Insta.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Another great dimension that Sareegram has is collective learning. @vijayalaxmichabra ran #thesplendoursofodishaweaves for nearly two months that has clocked more than 6500 posts. She painstakingly toured Odisha virtually, district by district documenting the culture and geography of the state and its weaves, even the ones used in curtains and bedsheets! An astute publisher would give her a book deal based on her content.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>I ran #thekotakollective in May with @amarjyotchahal and the posts were not always selfies and sarees but also the unique culture scape of Rajasthan and the versatility of the weave that could go from Rs 700 to 70,000. The learning aspect is increasingly emerging in sareegram where there is an attempt to document the unique aspect of design, geometry and cultural facets of a weave. For instance that onion juice and rice paste is applied to Kota sarees as starch; the unique odor in Kalamkari is that of milk which is an integral part of its making process.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>As this piece was being concluded, there are many agendas that a saree has been tied with. #vocalforlocal is one where handloom has been taken up by the sareegrammers and influencers among them as their load to carry. To revive, to popularise and buy for the sake of weavers and their impoverished state due to dead stock and lack of demand. There is online bidding of treasured sarees envisaged for helping the victims of cyclone Amphan.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;I, for one, find my #atmanirbhar moments in sareegramming. #seeyou at the next hashtag.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><i><b>The author, an IRS officer, is currently the Director at NIFT, Bengaluru. When she is not grappling with policy issues and design questions, she can be found sareegramming @afsarnama. Views expressed are personal and not of the institute or the Government of India.</b></i></p> <p><i><b><br> </b></i><br> </p> Wed May 27 18:08:43 IST 2020 theva-residency-redefining-luxury-on-the-hills <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>During the Covid-19 Pandemic, we have been pushed to reflect on understanding and re-interpreting “luxury”. Therefore, Theva Residency has taken the necessary steps to redefine our philosophy keeping in mind of what is happening in the world and how we can work in harmony with nature to provide a refreshing soulful experience to you. We will be focusing on your mental and physical and emotional wellbeing. We will be offering an experience to refresh your mind, body and soul.&nbsp;</p> <p>The Theva Residency will be the first “Meat Free Boutique Hotel” in Kandy. Feast on the food made by our Resident Chef and his team to produce a range of culinary delights; a fusion of East and West, new and old. The Kitchen Team has curated a menu with more nutritional and immune boosting food using our local indigenous herbs, spices, vegetables and fruits using traditional local forms of preparation. We will be catering for the pescatarian diet.&nbsp;</p> <p>Theva Residency promises serenity, romance and rejuvenation. The location of The Theva Residency is a treat for nature lovers, who will be able to enjoy the beautiful variety of flora and fauna, the endless views of mountain terrain and fresh air.&nbsp;</p> <p>We feel that your stay with us should be primarily catered to your health and wellbeing and maintaining your immunity is key during these times.&nbsp;</p> <p>Step into your haven, to be greeted with a warm Theva smile followed by a “welcome drink” of Coriander and Juggary which keeps your immunity strong and protected.&nbsp;</p> <p>Step into your room with unparalleled valley views and an incredible sense of peace and serenity.&nbsp;</p> <p>For the few who venture out of their rooms, Theva offers the option of swimming laps in the infinity pool, soaking up the sun at the poolside or sitting at the open-air deck for an early drink, as the sun disappears over the hills opposite.&nbsp;</p> <p>Theva is a short distance from the lush Hantana Rainforest, with its rivulets, streams and abundance of animal and plant life - an ideal destination for bird-watchers and those interested in trekking.&nbsp;</p> <p>Theva Team is taking steps forward in creating a more holistic philosophy, in offering a place for you to “enjoy your experience showing compassion towards animals and the environment and yourself”. We would like to create a meaningful experience with a more emotional connection with you.&nbsp;</p> <p>You may not be able to travel at the moment, but while you are now dreaming of your next holiday to Sri Lanka, we hope you will visit us on the hills of Kandy to rejuvenate and unplug to refresh your soul and boost your immunity!&nbsp;</p> <p>“<i>The mountains are calling and I must go,&nbsp;to refresh my mind, body and soul…</i></p> <p><b>Theva Residency Kandy&nbsp;</b></p> <p><b>11/B5/10-1, 6th Lane, Off Upper Tank Road, Off Circular Road 2, Hantana, Kandy, Sri Lanka&nbsp;</b></p> <p><b>Tel: 94(81) 7388296-99</b></p> <p><b>E:</b></p> <p>W:&nbsp;<b><a href="" target="_blank"></a></b></p> <p><b>I: <a href="" target="_blank">the_theva_residency</a></b></p> <p><b>F: <a href="" target="_blank"></a></b></p> Mon Jun 15 11:58:57 IST 2020 these-up-girls-reminding-us-periods-dont-stop-during-pandemic <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>For 17-year-old Hina who hails from Lucknow, a relatively simple skill—making sanitary pads—was her strongest ally during the initial days of the COVID-19 lockdown.</p> <p>“Periods are considered shameful. During the lockdown when even medicine shops were closed, many girls were worried how they would manage,” says Hina.</p> <p>On March 30, sanitary napkins were included as essential items eligible for supply chain operations. But like sanitisers and face masks they were sold out in many locations. Immediate relief work focussed on making ration available, pushing menstrual health concerns off the map.</p> <p>For Hina and 14 other girls in her neighbourhood, this was something they were empowered to tackle.</p> <p>“Home-made pads are more convenient to use. There is never enough money to spare to buy napkins from the market for adequate use during a cycle. You cannot have as many required to change every three to four hours and may end up with infections,” Shalu, 19, says.</p> <p>Nazia, 15, says that having control over how one manages one’s periods often translates into control over other areas of life. “Once I could speak at my home about why I needed to be involved in the conversation about menstruation, I could also take on discrimination. For instance, I could question why my brother was given a glass of milk but I was not. It was like I was free”.</p> <p>For 19-year-old Neelam, that empowerment meant she could tell her 60-year-old grandmother that it was alright for her to sleep with her as she was not ‘impure’ during those days. “Menstruating women are considered dirty in my state. They are banished to either living outside the home, with the cattle or in a separate room,” she says.</p> <p>Hina, Shalu and Nazia in Lucknow, and Neelam in Nainital are adolescents who are talking about menstruation and making pads as part of an intervention started in 2018 by Sahayog to take the conversation on safe menstrual practices to different male and female stakeholders (including teachers and elected representatives) through 15 schools in the three districts of Jhansi, Lucknow and Nainital. The intervention supported by community-based organisations aims to break the taboos around menstruation and give girls the agency to manage it in safe settings.</p> <p>Access to menstrual products, private and safe use and disposal—activities indicated by the broader term menstrual hygiene management (MHM)—are among the health rights most&nbsp;susceptible&nbsp;to neglect during a period of disaster or crises as repeated studies have found out.</p> <p>According to a&nbsp;study published in Springer Nature on the aftermath of the 2015 earthquake in Nepal, ‘immediate relief activities by humanitarian agencies, lacked MHM activities’.&nbsp;</p> <p>Though MHM guidelines were issued in 2015 under the Swacch Bharat Mission, the unprecedented nature of the current pandemic means even lesser attention than normal is paid to them.</p> <p>Mithlesh Chaturvedi, Uttar Pradesh’s Director for Communicable Diseases says, “Periods are a normal phenomenon. There is nothing special that we are doing for them as part of COVID-19”.</p> <p>This statement overlooks the fact that even the Swachh Bharat Mission&nbsp;guidelines mentioned above, single out UP for its low levels of awareness about menstrual health and thus its management.</p> <p>Poor awareness and resource poor settings, such as the ones the above mentioned adolescents inhabit, make girls the butt of jokes, and the target of discrimination leading to suspension of studies and thus a compromised future. A study conducted in 2014 put the number of girls dropping out of school worldwide at onset of menstruation at 23 million.</p> <p>This is due to lack of access to sanitary pads, as well as to lack of a safe changing place at school.</p> <p>Neelam says that one year into the intervention, she led her peers at college to demand a separate common room and toilet for girls to better manage their periods. “We have a bank of home-made sanitary napkins. All girls take from it and replenish it. No one misses classes because of periods now. Ever since we took on the principal for it, the boys too stopped making snide remarks at us”.</p> <p>Cautioning against the possible long term impacts of neglecting menstrual health during the pandemic, a UNICEF brief issued in April 2000 said that while ‘..there is no evidence of impacts of COVID-19 on the menstrual cycle directly, though stress, anxiety and malnutrition can impact reproductive health. …(the) pandemic will, however, have secondary impacts on girls’ and women’s ability to manage their menstruation and their health’.</p> <p>This year, May 28, observed as the Menstrual Hygiene Day, thus draws attention to the fact that periods don’t stop in pandemics. It calls for creating a world by 2030 in which no one is held back because of her periods. It emphasises that all agencies (the United Nations, public sector, corporates, philanthropy) enhance investment in menstrual health and hygiene to achieve this objective.</p> <p>Investment in making one’s own sanitary pads is a skill that not only guards against the vagaries of supply as during the current situation, it also tackles the pollution caused by the non-biodegradable plastics that go into making commonly available and heavily publicised market brands.</p> <p>“We have control not only on our lives but can do a greater good too”, as Hina says.</p> Thu May 28 12:04:55 IST 2020 how-parents-can-help-teenagers-cope-with-lockdown <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>As the novel coronavirus wreaks havoc across the world, the ongoing lockdown in India which is well in its third month has been especially hard for adolescent and teenage children and their working parents. As the latter find it a challenge to work from home and at the same time keep their young children engaged in constructive activities, the children on their part are feeling the negative fallouts of being cooped up inside the house, including emotional trauma. Psychiatrists have noticed a perceptible rise in the number of city teens and adolescents hooked to their phone screens, gaming, chatting and watching films, even as they remain tuned to their online schooling classes.&nbsp;</p> <p>Prakriti Poddar, expert in mental health and director of Poddar Wellness, highlights the issues that are coming to the fore during this hour&nbsp;of crisis and suggests&nbsp;ways in which parents can foster healthy, wholesome relationships inside the home.</p> <p><b>What&nbsp;have&nbsp;been your observations relating to behaviour of adolescent and teenage children during the lockdown?</b></p> <p>This is a scary situation and parents have to really talk to the children about safety. Social and emotional development is very important for children of this age group and we had a couple of calls from parents complaining about the changes in the behaviour of their children ever since the beginning of the lock down period. Most parents cannot be 100 per cent to be with their children even at other times and that is why they have neither the bandwidth nor the emotional empathy because most of the time the day-to-day activities are outsourced to teachers, house staff.</p> <p>So now it's very traumatic for them as everyone's at home all time. We have also observed that child abuse ratio has gone up during the lockdown, as has violence towards children. These are the reasons children are going from being happy to being upset about the lockdown situation. Self-regulation is not something that children are used to and not something they had to do for a long period of time. Now they are suddenly being pushed into the mindset of a grown-up.</p> <p><b>You think boys behave more aggressively than girls?</b></p> <p>The behaviours are inherently different and it is observed that the lockdown has affected girls more. This is because in the psycho social or socio emotional format, girls know how to build community at this age of adolescences and teens. So being inside the home adds a lot of trauma from the age of 11 onwards. Boys, on the other hand, learn how to formulate their self-identity and how they interact with other people. Children in this age group are not able to test their anger, aggression and skills, inside the house, and this has an impact on their minds because the role played by emotions during adolescences is huge.&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Parents are finding a certain disconnect with their teenage kids?</b></p> <p>At home, parents are not taking care of their children all the time. They are not&nbsp;aware of the kid's emotional issues which take place due to hormonal changes. Also, the kids are definitely not able to connect with their peers of the same age because of social and physical distancing and zoom calls are clearly not helping. Our helplines have been getting information that parents are feeling stressed about having children full time at home and are worried about not being able to communicate effectively with them. This is because they have no skills to do so since they were never taking active part in their child's upbringing to begin with.</p> <p>It must be noted, that socialising is very important for teen health and this can be established within the family first, the initiative has to come from the parents. Parents have not taken up first hand attempt at discipline earlier on and now they are using violence because they have no control over the child. On the other hand, what happens if a child who is exposed to bullying and sexual abuse at home is locked down with the perpetrator?</p> <p><b>The access to screen time for children has increased in the past three months?&nbsp;</b></p> <p>Gaming is harmful for emotional health as it creates anger and tantrums. Too much exposure is not advised at all. Of course, with parents working from home and with arguments over the TV remote, exposure to mobile and laptop screens is on an increase. But even in an offline scenario, children who are brought up in an atmosphere where they are exposed to intimate partner violence, domestic violence, or constant fights between parents, will grow up with a lot more distress.&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Also, do pressures of the closure of educational institutions and private offices have any effect on young minds?</b>&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>Stress is very high right now. Young graduates who have been looking for internships, have no chance at it at least in the near future. This inability to get into the job markets plays high on the minds of the young and the rates of youth suicides is anyway very high in India. So, this in a way is an existential crisis for them and gets them into introspection, and even depression.&nbsp;</p> <p><b>How do you think can parents build holistic wellbeing within the family?&nbsp;</b></p> <p>We have training programmes on parenting tips and how they can best understand the child. One needs to be in the driver's seat and should be able to hold a conversation with the child. More importantly, it is when the parent is happy, that the child too will be happy. It is important to limit media exposure of children to fake news, and alarming content, and encourage them to ask questions, instead of dismissing their worries. Open conversation goes a long way.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> Wed May 20 16:59:31 IST 2020 7-reasons-you-need-a-peace-lily-plant-in-your-home <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>People who love flowers tend to have indoor flower plants in their home. These plants are amazing, and when you know what their needs are to thrive in the home, they will not disappoint you. Studies have also been done for many of these house plants, and their amazing benefits will make you want to add more of them. There are many reasons to love indoor plants, such as <a href="" target="_blank">lilies that come in all sorts of varieties</a>. The peace lily stands out, not only for its low maintenance, but it is a showy plant as well. In this article, you will learn of more reasons you need to add a peace lily to your home.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>1. It purifies the air&nbsp;</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>One of the many benefits it provides to human health is it purifies the air. The home is known to have many pollutants present that causes a lot of health issues. Although many people are not aware of this as they cannot directly breathe these chemicals. Just as outdoor air, indoor air can be noxious. Therefore, by removing any sources of these pollutants and proper ventilation, you can control these harmful gases and VOCs. House plants such as peace lily’s also known as cobra plants, can be of help as well in aiding to reduce them. According to a NASA experiment, pollutants like benzene, xylene, carbon monoxide, and formaldehyde are some that a peace lily plant can absorb. Therefore, by eliminating 60% of the pollutants, in return, it makes the air suitable for breathing by adding moisture to it.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>2. It’s a low maintenance house plant</b>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>As you opt for home décor as many people are now turning to, especially indoor plants. Everyone wants one that is low maintenance that can accommodate their busy schedules. The peace lily is one amazing house plant you can choose as it still thrives even when you forget watering them. Besides, it can survive without sunlight and use just bright indoor light from the indirect sunlight. In addition to its good looks of the glossy green leaves and big white bracts, a peace lily is an amazing indoor plant due to its low requirements. Hence, most indoor plant growers pick it as an obvious choice.<br> </p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>3. Absorbs acetone vapors&nbsp;</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Other than the pollutants that come from outside as mentioned above that the peace lily plant protects as from. It also helps protect you from harmful vapors of the products you use in the home. This is from acetone and alcohol that have harmful effects on your health. Varnishes, paints, rubbing alcohol, nail polish remover, among others contain acetone and alcohol. The more you get exposure to these vapors, it can cause headaches, lack of coordination, low blood pressure, acetone poisoning, and lethargy. Hence, when you have a peace lily in your home, it helps keep the surrounding air in your home free from these vapors making it a healthy place for you.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>4. Promotes restful sleep&nbsp;</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In the world, almost everyone is suffering from insomnia and poor sleep. These indoor plants provide an amazing benefit that promotes restful sleep. For this reason, it is an amazing plant for your bedroom and it is a beautiful sight as well. It helps filter the indoor air, increase the levels of humidity, helping you breathe better. Plus, it also aids in good sleep as it absorbs airborne mold spores that are common allergens. Additionally, the beauty of these plants is known to bring calmness by alleviating feelings of stress in the mind and body. It is the best bedroom plant, according to Feng Shui, as it brings positive energy and peaceful touch to the room.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>5. Perfect to spruce up home décor&nbsp;</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Even though you are not familiar with the many health benefits of this indoor plant. Add it to your space for the beauty it adds to a room. It is a perfect inclusion to home décor. The enchanting beauty of the curved bract white flowers and its green foliage are a sight that stands out in the room. Choose a decorative pot to plant it in and make your home décor look appealing and sophisticated in every way possible. The decorative pot enhances its beauty. Place them on tables, shelves, or at a corner depending on the space in your home.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>6. Prevents formation of mildew</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Due to the high moisture content in washrooms, bathrooms, and the kitchen. It is possible to have mildew formation. This is visible on tile grout, bathroom curtains, among other places. Having a peace lily in such an environment will not only thrive, but it will prevent further mildew formation by absorbing excess moisture from the surrounding. Eventually, because of this, the dampness on the walls and the curtains reduces, and it hampers the growth of mold spores and mildew. This is amazing considering how damaging and harmful mildew and spores can be in a home.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>7. Removes mold spores from the air&nbsp;</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In addition to removing the mildew present in high moisture rooms. The peace lily helps eliminate the mold spores in the air. It is beneficial, especially to people who are sensitive to these mold spores. For instance, the exposure to mold spores leads to eye irritation, coughing, sneezing, throat irritation, skin irritation, among others. Those with asthma, chronic lung illness have severe symptoms with this mold exposure. Fortunately, if you have a peace lily, it helps reduce mold spores in the air by eliminating them.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>To sum up, the peace lily is one great flower plant among the lily family. Other than the above reasons to have it in your home. People use it as an ornamental plant for the office as well. They believe it brings good fortune, peace, hope, and prosperity that everyone seeks. Also, it is known to eliminate harmful radiation from computers and television. Hence, it is a perfect gift to someone for their space, and also for your home as well.</p> Wed Jun 03 15:15:34 IST 2020 Actor-and-dancer-Nidhhi-Agerwal-is-a-complete-package <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Nidhhi Agerwal was 11 when she came up with her first business model—a DVD rental enterprise. “I got a person who worked at my father’s company to get a billing book printed with my photo, name and address; I labelled all the DVDs I had at home and went to every flat in my building to market my new venture,” she recalls. It could have been a profitable model, but it was short-lived. The moment she got back home after her door-to-door marketing run, Nidhhi’s mother gave her an earful. The movie rental business died an instant death, but not the passion for moving images. Many years later, she became part of the showbiz that she once tried to milk.</p> <p><br> As a child, Nidhhi adored the ‘Khans’ of the Bollywood. And those DVDs with all the hits of the 90s and the first decade of the new millennium stoked a passion for acting inside her. “I have always wanted to become an actor. Always. I used to play dress up and try to imitate the actors and practise dialogues in front of my mirror,” says the 25-year-old Bengaluru girl. Though Nidhhi had the will, she did not know which way to go at that time. “I did not know how to get into the industry; I did not have any contacts either. People who knew me suggested that I take up modelling. And that is exactly what I did. And before long, I won the Yamaha Fascino Miss Diva contest in 2014. It was a fluke and I did not have an idea as to what I was doing,” she says. Call it luck or fluke, the title definitely got her some attention and it also gave her clarity on the profession she aspired for.</p> <p><br> According to Nidhhi, there have been many incidents and signs that made her feel like acting is her calling. “Once, when I went to Mumbai with my family to visit the famous Ganapati temple there, I was surrounded by a group of girls who wanted to click a picture with me like I was some celebrity. The interesting bit is that this happened even before I started modelling. I was so confused at that point. But I took it as a sign that I should probably get into acting. Since this happened on temple grounds, I felt it was God pointing me to that direction,” she recalls.</p> <p><br> While most people around her thought the desire to be an actor was just a phase in her life, Nidhhi could feel the calling get louder and louder. And it reached a point where she decided to pack her bags and head to ‘the city of dreams’—Mumbai. “My parents were sceptical about my decision but they gave me a year to figure out things and then return home if it didn’t work out,” she says.</p> <p><br> There were a lot of uncertainties and setbacks initially but she kept swimming against the current and made her acting debut in the 2017 film Munna Michael alongside Tiger Shroff. Though the dance-action movie did not do well at the box office, Nidhhi definitely got noticed in the glitterati circle for her drop-dead gorgeous looks and dancing skills. She also bagged the Zee Cine Award for Best Female Debut in 2017. “I absolutely love dancing. I think it is my forte. Growing up, I trained for ballet, kathak and hip-hop. It is amazing how Munna Michael is a blend of two of my favourite things—acting and dancing,” she says. And it is not just dancing that our girl is good at, she is also into gymnastics. She has been working with Shroff’s team of trainers to improve her flexibility and strength. “I feel stronger now. I hope someone casts me in a super intense action role soon,” she says.</p> <p><br> After her debut in Bollywood, she made an entry into the Telugu film industry with Savyasachi, in which she shared screen space with Akkineni Naga Chaitanya. “My mother is from Hyderabad and I have about 500 relatives there. So, doing a movie in Telugu meant a lot to me,” she says. Probably one of the reasons why she took up more projects in Tollywood. Her role in the 2019 release iSmart Shankar, which was helmed by Puri Jagannadh, garnered a lot of praise; the film was a super-hit at the box office as well. “Puri sir was so patient with me. I used to keep asking a lot of doubts and he kept telling me to be calm and not overthink. My father always wanted me to be a scientist or a doctor. So, he was quite happy to see me play the role of a neuroscientist in iSmart Shankar,” she says.</p> <p><br> But everything was not always peachy for Nidhhi. She says that there were days when she questioned her dreams and aspirations. She used to keep fretting about one thing or the other. “One of my films had not done well and it felt worse than a heartbreak. People’s opinions constantly change with time and it is mostly based on one’s last performance. I think it is about time we rise above it. Everything is a journey. It is never about the destination, so just enjoy your journey,” she says.<br> Nidhhi believes that with time one learns to adapt to putdowns and setbacks. Something that tags along with fame is criticism. “I have had a lot of people troll me. I don’t react to it a lot. At the end of the day I know that there are many idiots in the world who have fingers to type nonsensical stuff,” she says.</p> <p><br> Recently, the actor has been busy clearing the air on rumours about dating cricketer K.L. Rahul. “He is a really good friend of mine. We both are from Bengaluru and our friendship started much before he became a cricketer and I became an actor. We just happened to meet up in Mumbai for some coffee and the media linked us,” she says.</p> <p><br> Having said all that, the fashionista loves social media. Her Instagram page recently hit five million followers. Besides giving her fans a glimpse into her workout routine and personal life, Nidhhi is a regular when it comes to posting pictures from her photoshoots. “When I go through the comments on my Instagram posts, I find a lot of pick-up lines—both good and bad. One of the really weird statements that I distinctly remember is ‘so hot, sis’; he was calling me his sister and also calling me hot,” she laughs.</p> <p><br> These comments might seem funny to her now, but as a child, she used to get angry quite fast. She calls her younger self a rowdy. “I have slapped so many boys and girls during my school days. I remember the first time a boy told me that he likes me. We were in the school bus on our way back home. I was eating an apple and he was sitting in the seat behind mine. He said something like, ‘hey, you are very beautiful! I like you a lot’. I threw the half-bitten apple at his face,” she says. Roses, chocolate boxes and other cheesy gifts that screamed ‘I love you Nidhhi’ also found its way into the trash. “I was one hyper child. But I have evolved a lot in the recent past,” she says.</p> <p><br> Currently, Nidhhi is in Bengaluru with her family and is making the most of the lockdown. She is busy learning online—an acting course from the prestigious New York Film Academy and a script writing course from an American online education platform.</p> <p><br> “I don’t want to be just content; I want super stardom. And I want to work for multilingual projects,” she says. It may seem a tad too ambitious but the actor is definitely working towards it. Besides Hindi, Kannada and Telugu, Nidhhi picked up some Tamil for her recent project Bhoomi, which marks her debut in Kollywood. The action-drama starring Jayam Ravi was supposed to be released on May 1, but has now been postponed due to the lockdown. According to her, Bhoomi is one of the best projects she has worked on. “I play a fun role in the movie. I have always played sober characters but Bhoomi is the closest to who I really am as a person. I am a very crazy person and this movie lets me bring out the best in me. I can confidently say that this has been my best performance so far and I can’t wait for people to watch it,” she says.</p> <p><br> She also dreams of entering the Malayalam film industry. “I think they have some amazing stories and excellent cinematographers. Picking up Tamil was a little difficult, which means Malayalam will be even more challenging, but I am ready. I will never let language limit my potential,” she says. Well, as they say, sky is the limit.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>At a glance</b><br> <b>A hobby that you once had but not anymore.</b><br> Playing the piano. I took classes for about five years. I have a grand piano at my home in Mumbai.<br> <b>Your favourite sportsperson.</b><br> Virat Kohli.<br> <b>A show you binge-watched.</b><br> I recently watched this series called You on Netflix. It is super creepy.<br> <b>Midnight indulgence.</b><br> Belgian chocolate ice cream<br> <b>Your biggest strength.</b><br> My positivity. I am a very optimistic person and I think it is mainly because of my immense faith in God.<br> <b>Your nightmare.</b><br> I have scary dreams every now and then. I recently had one where a pigeon attacked me.<br> <b>Genie’s granted you three wishes. Your pick.</b><br> I want to wish for uncountable wishes. My second wish would be to keep me and my family safe. And third one will be to grant me super stardom.<br> <b>Your most prized possession.</b><br> A watch my mother gifted me.<br> <b>A lie you told your parents that you distinctly remember.</b><br> I have told a couple of lies to my parents in my teenage years. Just small things like where I am going or whom I am meeting. I don’t lie anymore because it gives me a lot of anxiety.<br> <b>Suppose you have only a day to live. What would you do? Where would you go?</b><br> I would stay at home, spend time with my family and donate all my wealth.<br> <b>If you were given a billion dollars what would you do? </b><br> I love the thought of it. I would buy a big farm and build a lovely bungalow there. I would also set up an NGO to rescue street dogs and help people get their medical treatments done. I would also probably take a shopping trip and save whatever is left.<br> <b>Suppose your house is on fire, what are the three things that you’d take with you?</b><br> My phone, my dog and my shoes. I have the most amazing collection of shoes. I would probably take them first and run away.<br> <b>One memorable fan moment.</b><br> A fan got my name tattooed. I had just become an actor and I was super shocked to see it; I was very moved.<br> <b>A celebrity crush.</b><br> There are many but if I had to tell one name, it would be Ryan Gosling.<br> <b>If someone dead were to reincarnate, who would you want it to be?</b><br> Michael Jackson. I think he is a true legend. I love people who can sing and dance.<br> <b>An interesting troll that you thought was creative.</b><br> There are many but right now I can’t remember any. Sometimes the trolls seem like a compliment; it is confusing.<br> <b>Horror movies or romcoms? Why?</b><br> Definitely not horror movies; I am super scared of the dark. I love romcoms. Everything about comedy fascinates me. I love thrillers.<br> <b>Your take on nepotism.</b><br> Nepotism is a reality. But there is no point complaining about it. My father has a tyre business and if I was part of the tyre industry, I would have been the ‘tyre queen’. If your parents are in a field, they would do everything to help you. I would do it for my kids.<br> <b>If not an actor, then?</b><br> Nothing. I only wanted to be an actor.<br> <br> <b>My fitness regime</b><br> As a child, I was chubby. But, I grew up to be a skinny teenager. Just like how people make fun of fat children, they make fun of the skinny ones, too. I was a victim of that. That is when I decided to hit the gym and work on my weight and also my muscles. Now I am happy with my body and how much muscle I have gained as a result of working out.<br> I mostly do weight training, which includes heavy weights and high-intensity functional exercises, for five days a week. I also do cardio-dancing three days a week. On the sets of Munna Michael, I got in touch with Tiger Shroff’s fitness training team. I also picked up some gymnastics. I am fit now to do some action roles now; I hope someone casts me for an intense action movie.<br> <br> <b>My skincare hacks</b><br> I am very careful when it comes to my skin. It is a very sensitive part of the human body and you need to be patient when it comes to taking care of it. I don’t use face wash in the morning.<br> <b>Before makeup:</b> I apply Dior moisturiser and La Shield sun block.<br> <b>At night:</b> Dermatologist-recommended face wash and an under eye cream from Clarins.<br> <b>DIY face packs:</b><br> Mix some curd, turmeric powder, honey and lemon and apply it on your face. Leave it for about 10-15 minutes before washing it off with water.<br> Combine some fresh aloe vera gel, turmeric powder and coffee powder. Apply it on your face and let it rest for some time. Scrub gently while washing it off with cold water.<br> <br> <br> </p> <p><br> <b>Nothing down about lockdown</b><br> <b>One hobby you picked up during the lockdown.</b><br> Mopping. I mop my house every day now; it is a great exercise and it keeps my house clean.<br> <b>Once everything is back to normal, what is the first thing in your list of things to do?</b><br> I want to go for a shoot; I miss the sets. Last year, I took 163 flights as part of my work. This year, I don’t think I will take even half of that.<br> <b>One dish that you whipped up during this period.</b><br> I baked a chocolate cake under the supervision of my younger sister. Since we both are into healthy eating, we used maple syrup instead of sugar. It was absolutely tasty. I am not someone who craves for sweet stuff but lately, I have developed a sweet tooth.<br> You’re given a minute to pick out groceries.<br> <b>What are the five items that you would pick up?</b><br> Organic eggs, yoghurt, gluten-free bread, avocado and lemon. It would make a great breakfast. Did I mention that I love drinking lemon water?<br> <b>Lockdown reading list.</b><br> <i>Autobiography Of A Yogi</i> by Paramahansa Yogananda, <i>The Secret by Rhonda Byrne, Ikigai</i> by Albert Liebermann and Hector Garcia. I read a lot of self-help books and I also listen to a lot of motivational speakers.<br> <b>Movies that you watch over and over again.</b><br> <i>Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani, The Wolf of Wall Street, Lion King</i>.<br> <b>Series that keep you awake.</b><br> <i>F.R.I.E.N.D.S, The Big Bang Theory, Gossip Girl</i>.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Sat May 09 15:08:43 IST 2020 vent-your-feelings-and-get-paid-for-it-vent-all-out <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Why the whole world is paying for China's foolishness? Reads an anonymous post on 'VentAllOut'. Another exhorts people to stand up for themselves. Yet another indulges in a quarantine-induced wistfulness for hostel days. There's one that decries the breakdown of the economy due to Covid-19. While one more tagged as 'frustrated' reads 'Can anyone tell me what is love'.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Sounds like anxious, rageful outpourings, and more? In 2018, a Delhi-based entrepreneur set up an online platform— VentAllOut—to do exactly that. And now, one can earn some money while at it. Just two days ago, Sumit Mittal started a cashback scheme for his social media start-up, where anonymous users can rant without fear of being judged or trolled or outwitted. In his random cashback scheme, if an original complaint is at least 100 words and 30 characters long, users can be rewarded up to Rs 12 for the outburst. &quot;You see, we don't want people to just write &quot;I agree&quot; or &quot;disagree&quot;. We want quality sentences.&quot;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&quot;These are emotionally difficult days. People are angry, frustrated and depressed. I want them to come and vent out their worries and I will pay them for it,&quot; says Mittal, who has budgeted at least Rs 1.5 lakh per month to run this scheme. The 46-year-old, who employs 12 people for his boot-strapped company, has 19 years of experience in the payments industry across India, UAE and Africa. &quot;I also have two credit-card related patents under my name in the US,&quot; says Mittal, who added seven vernacular languages to &quot;VentAllOut&quot; in the last two weeks to get more people to pour their hearts out. &quot;This model is very unique. No one is paying you for venting out. And there is no platform which has gone vernacular without funding,&quot; says Mittal who sees his company growing in these distressed times. He has also added features like voice-to-text where users can speak into their apps without typing, and an AI-enabled mood board to track the tone and tenor of posts over a month.&quot;So, if you have been angry and frustrated for two months, we will send you coupons for coffee.&quot; Mittal who has kept the registration on the website/app is free.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>But people can't just get paid for venting any manner of spleen. &quot;Ventiquette&quot; demands refraining from use of derogatory language. The backend algorithm red flags 800 cuss words across languages embedded in the system. One cannot post pornographic material. &quot;And no anti-national, anti-state posts are allowed. We have political debates here. But we can't have terrorist point of view. Terrorists tend to use networks anonymously to communicate, you know,&quot; says Mittal, without quite furnishing concrete examples of anti-national, terroristic posts on his platform. Still, Mittal insists that VentAllOut is more open to offering cathartic release unlike Facebook or Twitter where people are 'fake-happy'.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&quot;Would we ever say on Facebook that you lost your job or are getting a divorce? It's only about shopping, check-in, hilltops and beaches.&quot;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Mittal currently has 12,000 users registered with VentAllOut. He says he has seen a huge spike in users from Tier II, Tier III cities this month, with a 50 per cent rise in daily posts once the cashback scheme kicked in. He wants to make this scheme a permanent fixture. &quot;People go to breakrooms in Gurgaon and Dubai to pay and smash objects for release of pent-up frustration. But with my social media platform, no one needs to travel or pay.&quot;</p> Tue Apr 28 23:00:11 IST 2020 world-book-day-what-publishers-have-lined-up-for-your-lockdown-reading <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Test, Test, Test may be only mantra to find a way through the COVID 19 crisis, but across the world, publishers and incorrigible readers have found a formula for sanity: read, read, read.</p> <p>On no other day of the year has this been more apparent than on the quietest World Book Day (April 23) in many years. As people in countries sit at home, publishers are trying to provide a dose of sanity just at a click of a button.</p> <p>For those looking for love, Penguin Random House India has a book that comes hand-picked by India’s bestselling writer on love, <a href="">Ravinder Singh</a>.</p> <p><i>You Are All I Need</i> is an anthology of romantic stories of aspiring writers who were selected in PRH’s campaign #GetPublished which was a tie up with Romedy Now.</p> <p>Bringing together new writers, this is the third time that Penguin has chosen to do a new writer anthology with Singh. There has not been any waning in the enthusiasm either in terms of people wanting to buy the book or those who want to read it. “There are writers who chose to write in the second time too,” he says. The last anthology with Penguin Random House, <i>Tell Me A Story</i> sold over 300,000 copies.</p> <p>“Romance is an ever-green trend,” says Singh. “My first love story was about a boy who found love on a matrimonial site. That was 2006. In 2020, things have changed. Society has changed. Live in relationships are acceptable. Homosexuality is legal.”</p> <p>From love to a story of hope. Mitch Albom, the man who made everyone weep with <i>Tuesdays with Morrie</i> has written a new book in the times of coronavirus. Titled <i>Human Touch, </i>it is set in the present and is available for anyone to read free on his website. Set in a small town in Michigan, Albom like always uses his fiction to talk about friendship, family and community. Bringing together diverse characters, the book revolves around a little boy named Moses, who doesn’t seem to catch the disease and is then kidnapped. Human Touch will be written one week at a time for approximately 8 weeks.</p> <p>And for those who want a little more. There is plenty of virtual content to tune into. Bloomsbury India has a full day line up of writers who will talk about their books. From Bloomsbury Previews is a “reminder that wheels of the global economy and our day-to-day lives will turn again, hopefully sooner than later,” as Yogesh Sharma, Senior Vice President Sales &amp; Marketing, Bloomsbury India put it. Or Harper Collins India, that is celebrating World Book Day by bringing your favourite authors to your screen. Today, boredom is at bay.</p> Thu Apr 23 19:33:03 IST 2020 straighten-your-beards-with-these-little-known-tips-and-tricks <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p><b>Beard Straightener Tips: Straighten Your Beards with These Little Known Tips and Tricks</b></p> <p>Every beard lover knows the power of straight, curly beards. From neatness to saving time during the cleaning process, straight beards are a treasure. According to experts, beard straightening is part of the <a href="">beard grooming and care routine</a>. Straightening beards make them stronger, prettier, and good looking. However, beard straightening can be overwhelming to beard growers—especially the new ones. However, this doesn’t have to overwhelm you. Like the pros, you can do it. All you need is a few practical beard straightening tips. With the following tips and tricks, you are sure to straighten your beards like a pro.</p> <p><b>Curly Beard Hair Straightening Tips</b></p> <p>By using moderate heat, you can protect your beard and avoid damaging your facial hair. But the problem is that you might still have some curls and you’re likely to spend more time getting your hairs completely straight.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>Before straightening your beard, start by cleaning it thoroughly. Always use a high-quality shampoo and conditioner. If you prefer using bar soap, then choose a specially formulated beard soap featuring no harsh chemicals.</p> <p>Then, dry your beard with a towel. However, you should always avoid rubbing it vigorously; otherwise, you might end up breaking your hairs. Be sure to pat it dry in order to avoid tangling, particularly when it comes to long beards. Once you’ve done that, go ahead and brush or comb it.</p> <p>You can then apply some beard oil for moisture and blow-dry it on a low heat setting. Applying beard balm or wax as a final touch can help prevent your facial hairs from curling as they dry.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p><b>How is a Beard Hair Straightener Used</b></p> <p>Another way to straighten your facial hair is to utilize a <a href="">beard struggle comb</a> straightener. It delivers real results. With this tool, you’ll be able to achieve better results. Plus, this technique is perfectly suited for hard tamed beards. But as earlier mentioned you should always avoid using high heat as it can result in a dry, brittle beard.</p> <p>After cleaning your beard and choosing a low-temperature setting, close the straightener on your facial hair. And then run closed tongs right from the roots of your facial hairs to the ends. Don’t stop at a specific point and keep the heat there for too long. Otherwise, you might end up damaging or even killing the hairs.</p> <p>For a more complete look, apply beard balm and wax. This will also go a long way in rejuvenating your facial hair.</p> <p><b>Use the Right Beard Grooming Products</b></p> <p>Conditioning your beard with oil or balm is extremely important. Beard balms contain all the ingredients of beard oil, but they also comprise of some butter and beeswax. Generally speaking, beeswax is an essential component that provides the necessary hold to keep your beard looking straight for long.</p> <p><b>Getting Straight Beards</b></p> <p>Are you trying to keep your beard completely straight? Or do you just to remove those ugly curls. Whatever your goal is, it’s always important to note that beard straightening isn’t a complex procedure.</p> <p>Of course, the natural combing method is tedious, but at least it makes your beard look a little healthier and tidier. As for the heat method, it only takes a little extra caution with your beard straightener to uncurl the thickest hairs. Plus, the process is super quick</p> <p><b>Beard Straightening Golden Rules</b></p> <p>Whether your beard is long or short, you need to keep it well-maintained. Otherwise, you might end up experiencing issues like patchiness, uneven growth, and patchy coloration. And you really don’t want to go through all that, right?</p> <p><b>Beard Balm Based Application</b></p> <p>Beard balm has all the softening as well as hair conditioning properties you need. It contains beeswax that provides a stronger hold, hence keeping your beard looking straighter all day long.</p> <p>Rub a considerable amount of balm into your hands and gently work it into your beard. Using a comb, slowly brush the hair to make sure each and every hair follicle is coated in the balm.</p> <p><b>Brush and Shape</b></p> <p>Once you’ve applied the balm, brush your hair downward using a boar hair bristle brush. Do this until all the hairs are in line. With each stroke, the bristles strongly lock down into your facial hair, allowing you to grasp a larger group of hairs. This procedure gives your beard a fuller look, which is exactly what you need, right?</p> <p><b>Hand Shaping</b></p> <p>Hand shaping enables you to <a href="">style your beard</a> as desired. The style provides you with a longer, straighter, as well as a fuller beard. Not only does it clean your beard but it also softens the hair giving it a more stylish look.</p> <p><b>Blow dryer</b></p> <p>Using a blow dryer allows you to dry your facial hair much faster than towel drying. Plus, it’s an incredible technique for straightening your hair.</p> <p>This device ensures that the direction of your hair growth is always downward. Besides, it plays a significant role in ensuring that all your hairs are growing in the intended direction. When using a blow dryer, be sure to hold it above your beard with its nozzle facing downward. If you want to make your beard style last longer, consider utilizing a wax-based beard balm.</p> <p><b>Use a Straightening Iron</b></p> <p>This technique is only suitable for those with long beards. Straightening irons are typically some of the most effective ways of straightening your facial hair. They don’t involve the use of any chemicals. Plus, they ensure uniform beard straightening.</p> <p>When utilizing a straightening iron, you need to get closer to the hair roots. Then slowly draw the iron across your beard. Remember, the risk of your hair or skin getting burned when using such a tool is quite high, so be careful. Always be cautious, otherwise, you might end up spoiling your pretty face.</p> <p>Finishing the process with beard oil, wax, or balm will help condition your hair and maintain its style.</p> <p><b>Additional Tips</b></p> <p>Are you having trouble straightening your beard? Don’t worry, you aren’t alone. It’s all about patience and determination.</p> <p>It takes time to get a well-groomed beard. There are tons of beard care products that can keep your facial hair looking neat and tidy. As long as you’re ready to invest a couple of minutes into your <a href="">skincare routine</a>, things will be quite simple for you.</p> <p>As a matter of fact, it only takes a few minutes to trim your beard into a beautiful, straight mane. Jump into the shower, thoroughly clean your beard, and follow these simple tips:</p> <p><b>Use Sea Salt Spray</b></p> <p>While your beard still is still wet, apply a sea salt spray. This will give your beard a better shape and texture. Just be sure to find a product featuring high-quality ingredients, like sea kelp.</p> <p>Research shows that sea kelp extract has the potential to improve skin barrier function. Moreover, it might help alleviate signs of skin aging. Once you’ve bought the right sea salt spray, apply a little to your beard. And then utilize a comb to spread it uniformly throughout your beard.</p> <p><b>The Blow Dryer should be used on a Medium Heat</b></p> <p>Heat styling tools like blow dryers often zap moisture from your hair and cause severe damage. On the other hand, they’re highly effective at styling facial hair. The secret to minimizing damage from these devices is to use medium heat.&nbsp;</p> <p>Holding the blow dryer 15 centimeters your scalp can also reduce damage to the hair follicle.</p> <p><b>Consider Using a Round Brush to Style Your Beards</b></p> <p>When blow-drying your beard, consider using a round brush. The vented ceramic plates found in the brush helps reinforce the heat and quickly remove curls.</p> <p>&nbsp;Once you’ve brushed the beard and blow-dried it with high heat, go ahead and set the desired style with cold hair. Flip your blow-drying device to a cold setting and gently comb your beard using the round brush.</p> <p><b>The Power of Styling Balm</b></p> <p>If you want to lock your beard style into place, apply beard balm to it. Take time to work the balm into your beard, but if you’re using beard oil, feel free to do it fast.</p> <p>Remember, beard oil and beard balms aren’t the same. So, you can always use them together. While beard oil protects the skin underneath your beard, beard balm is commonly used as a styling product.</p> <p><b>A Comb Will Make the Beards More Symmetrical</b></p> <p>The last step is to comb your beard with a fine-tooth comb. This will ensure that your beard is symmetrical.</p> <p>If you have a mustache, consider shaping and smoothing it out as desired. Once all the hairs are straight and tidy, you can comfortably show your impeccably groomed beard to the world.</p> <p><b>The Bottom-Linen</b></p> <p><a href="">Curly, straight beards exude class</a>. So, don’t leave them shaggy. Don’t ignore straightening them. With straight beards, you will look neat, elegant, and stylish. So, what are you waiting for? Purchase the right tools and look stylish with perfectly straightened beards. Straighten your beards today with the above tips and tricks and look good today!</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Wed May 27 15:46:54 IST 2020 10-tips-oral-care-during-lockdown <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>The COVID-19 outbreak and the subsequent lockdown have hit oral health in more ways than one. But, it has not been talked about much. Of course, we have bigger things to worry about.</p> <p>Do remember that all dentists have postponed elective procedures and will carry out only emergency interventions until further notice. So, here are 10 simple tips to keep your teeth in good health.</p> <p>&nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <ul> <li>Brush properly: Brush your teeth for three minutes in the morning and before going to bed. Use a toothbrush with a flexible handle; soft or medium-bristled ones preferred. Always use cream type toothpaste; the gel variety is more abrasive. Use vibratory strokes in an upward to downward motion for your upper teeth and vice versa for the lower set. Focus on three teeth at a time.</li> <li>Refrain from using fingernails, toothpicks and safety pins to remove food lodged between the teeth. Use dental floss and interdental brushes.&nbsp;</li> <li>Avoid mouthwashes, unless prescribed by a dentist. They are known to cause chemical burns.</li> <li>Do not forget your tongue! To avoid bad breath, clean your tongue once daily with your toothbrush. Avoid stainless steel tongue cleaners as they may damage your taste buds.</li> <li>Those with toothaches, swelling and ulcers, and those bleeding from the gums should contact a dentist. Avoid self-medication.</li> <li>Use antibiotics only when prescribed by a dentist. Antibiotic resistance is a clear and present danger. Never use antibiotics from leftover strips.</li> <li>Clean removable dental appliances and dentures with cleansing tablets or solutions. Ensure that they are disinfected every day.</li> <li>The stress during lockdown can lead to problems such as ulcers, dry mouth and jaw joint problems due to grinding of the teeth or gum diseases. If it is worrying you, do contact a dentist. Most importantly, avoid stress.</li> <li>Always keep your toothbrush at least six feet away from your toilet. Make sure insects and lizards cannot reach your brush. Rinse the brush with lukewarm water before use.</li> <li>Eat a balanced diet that is rich in fruits and vegetables. Do daily workouts of 30 minutes. Get your daily quota of sunlight. Sleep well. Avoid smoking and limit your alcohol intake.&nbsp; &nbsp;</li> </ul> <p><b><i>The writer is convenor of the council for dental health and awareness, Indian Dental Association, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala</i></b></p> Fri Apr 17 14:02:20 IST 2020 stay-home-and-read-with-e-books-in-the-time-of-covid-19 <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>New books are the perfect prescription to lift even the deepest blue indigo cloud. The thrill of buying a book, turning its crisp pages to inhaling the scent of a fresh book is still a long way off, &nbsp;but publishers have a new reading list to offer. Courtesy, the e-book.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“We’re living through times like we’ve never known before,” said Udayan Mitra, publisher, Literary, HarperCollins India, according to a press release. “Many things that we would take for granted have changed in the recent past. But reading, and writing, can never stop. The pleasure of reading a new book is like no other. Our newest books, their stories, ideas and emotions, will continue to reach you: for as a reader, you are never isolated from the human community.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Harper Collins India has released three books to help readers glued to the page, even if it is only a virtual one. Taslima Nasreen’s <i>Shameless</i>, written in 2007 when she was under house arrest in Kolkata; read now at a time when the world is forced to remain like Nasreen indoors. The book is available on Amazon Kindle. For those looking for calmness in this age of uncertainty, there is Om Swami’s <i>The Big Questions of Life</i>. And then, a dose of fast with <i>Shuttling to the Top: The Story of The Story of P.V. Sindhu</i> by V. Krishnaswamy.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>It has been a difficult month for publishers across the world. Bookstores are closed and warehouses inaccessible. The economic slowdown had already started to impact purchase of books. The COVID-19 lockdown extension is likely to only worsen the situation. Sales of e-books in India still have a long way to go. A miniscule fraction of the sales, the physical book in India is still king. Juggernaut, which has provided free access of content through its app, still publishes print versions of some of its books too.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“I believe there is opportunity even in adversity,” says Milee Ashwarya, publisher, Ebury Publishing and Vintage Publishing, Penguin Random House India. “It is better to be positive and find ways to make our books accessible to our readers. So although the supply chains have been disrupted during the lockdown and bookstores are shut, we are continuing our outreach with our e-book publishing programme.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>There has also been an attempt to tailor content in the time of COVID-19. “It is the job of publishers to keep changing content according to the situation,” says Managing Director of Rupa Publications Kapish Mehra. “Like there is a Diwali Special, there is also a lockdown special.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Mehra, who likes to adapt to situations quickly, has rolled out 18 lockdown specials, including how not to get depressed and how to exercise. The need to go beyond the usual to predict the book that people will want to turn to is what publishers are now trying to do. With e-books, this is simpler. Ashwarya, has worked feverishly, pun unintended, to get <i>The Coronavirus</i> written by Dr Swapneil Parikh, Maherra Desai and Dr Rajesh Parikh. The book, which took a month to put together, has already met with some success. There is more for May. <i>Building a Happy Family</i> by Raageshwari Loomba, <i>Reviving Jobs: Rethinking India</i> with various contributors, and a racy <i>The Princess and the Political Agent</i> by Binodini, which has been translated by Somi Roy. In June, Penguin hopes to push out even more.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>It is still early days, but the preliminary trends thrown up by Penguin Random House India shows that readers want to escape. Mythology, romance, well-being, spirituality and cookery are what people are turning to. History and autobiographies also popular topic. During the first few days of the lockdown, people wanted to read everything they could on COVID-19. However, as the lockdown continues, interest in cricket, politics and movies are turning. For now, stay home, stay calm and read.</p> Wed Apr 15 20:58:29 IST 2020 5-secrets-of-a-happy-marriage <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Frequently people believe that the main work on romantic relationships happens before the marriage. They believe that after marriage, they form a very strong and healthy couple with their partners, and marriage only solitudes their love. Surely, marriage has a direct impact on relationships. According to sociologists, married couples tend to break up less than couples that live together and believe <a href="">that marriages are not for them</a>. However, it is not that simple.</p> <p>You see, even though marriage is a great way to solitude your love, it will only work if you have been working on your relationships before it. Additionally, your marriage won't last long if you cease to work on your relationship after it. Consequently, to be happy in relationships, you must never stop working on them. Today, we are going to share the top 10 secrets of happy marriage to give you a clue which aspects of your relationship require additional attention.</p> <p><b>1. Don’t try to change your partner</b></p> <p>Of course, if you want to make your partner search for&nbsp;<a href="">Ukrainian lonely women</a>&nbsp;instead of spending time with you, then yes, you definitely should try to change him or her after your marriage. Note, by trying to change your partner, you will only offend them and will harm your relationship.</p> <p><b>2. Make plans and decisions together</b></p> <p>In healthy couples, people tend to do everything together. For example, they together resolve problems, make plans, actions, and even cook. Of course, sometimes, you must make a very fast decision. Therefore, it won't be possible to consult with your partner. In this case, you should try to think about what is best for him or her. On the other hand, when it comes to making plans together, you have no time limits. Therefore, the only thing you need to have is the desire to have shared plans with your significant other. This is crucial for establishing trust and mutual respect in your relationship.</p> <p><b>3. Avoid calling names</b></p> <p>You must understand that even the happiest couples, sometimes, have quarrels. Quarrels help two different people to adjust to each other. Without quarrels, you will never understand your partner. But it is very important to know how to quarrel with your significant other in the right way. Thus, even in the <a href="">moments of the strongest rage</a>, you should never insult your partner. Rather sooner than later, you will resolve your conflict, but it will be very hard for him or her to forgive your offense. This will raise the tension between you.</p> <p><b>4. Spend time together</b></p> <p>One of the greatest ways to maintain a romance in a couple is to spend quality time with your partner. You see, watching TV series together is good, but with time, this will become boring. Therefore, to have a quality time, you must not only spend time together but also try to add something new in your relationship. For example, you can change your activities and search for new hobbies. Consequently, be sure to find time for each other and don't forget about romance. Note, you can ask each other for dates, even if have been living together for a very long time.</p> <p><b>5. Develop your relationship</b></p> <p>Remember, there is no such thing as maintaining your relationship on the same stage. You see, no matter what you do in your life, you either develop or stagnate. When you try to maintain something on the same level, you only make it degrade and stagnate. The same happens in your romantic relationship. It either develops or stagnates. In the case of stagnation, rather sooner than later, you will break up. On the other hand, developing relationships almost guarantee your happiness. As a result, you should always be in search of new things, hobbies, and experiences.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Wed Apr 15 12:06:07 IST 2020 work-from-home-continue-in-pyjamas-or-don-corporate-look <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>The coronavirus outbreak has made us home-bound for the last few weeks. Millions of people around the world are working from home. And while working from home has been around for over a decade as an established practice, for many, it can be a challenge.</p> <p>Bharati Chaturvedi, the wife of Indian High Commissioner to Canada Ajay Bisaria, tweeted an image of Bisaria working from home dressed to the nines. The caption reads, “Different uniforms for work-from-home. I continue enjoying my jammies. Others insist on dressing up to walk the 3 meters from bedroom to their study. #StayatHome lesson 1: Clothes may still need to be ironed. Don’t fold the ironing table. #COVID19.”</p> <p>Former CA, style influencer and writer Lavanya Mohan, has been posting images of outfits she has been wearing each day to work from home on Instagram. Mohan has been wearing breezy outfits like boxy tops and lounge pants, possibly for comfort.</p> <p>The host of the&nbsp;<i>Late Show with Stephen Colbert</i>&nbsp;has been posting videos on Instagram. Colbert, it looks like, has been wearing sports or lounge wear, while working from home.</p> <p>Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who has been under isolation ever since his wife, Sophie Trudeau, tested positive for COVID-19 on March 13, recently posted a video. While Trudeau seems to have let a beard grow, he is seen wearing a crisp shirt. Trudeau certainly seems to think wearing work clothes will help his productivity!</p> <p>Founder of Tweak India, a lifestyle site, Twinkle Khanna on the other hand, seems to be sitting on the fence with breezy kurtas and kaftans while working from home.</p> <p>Entrepreneur Tom Popomaronis, who contributes to a&nbsp;<i>CNBC</i>&nbsp;blog, wrote about mistakes to avoid while working from home. Popomaronis, vice president of Innovation- Massive Alliance, a global service agency providing digital solutions, has been working from home since 2010.</p> <p>In the blog, Popomaronis says, one of the top mistakes to avoid while working from home is to work in your pyjamas, as it will not put your mind in ‘work mode’. According to him, presentable clothes, no matter what profession you belong to, also have a symbolic meaning.</p> <p>Other don'ts on Popomaronis’ list include working from a couch, over-communicating or checking emails when it is not urgent, neglecting health and not setting clear boundaries or creating a structure or schedule to be followed.</p> <p>So, we guess PM Trudeau and High Commissioner Bisaria have got it right after all!</p> Thu Mar 26 17:29:47 IST 2020 5-best-dog-breeds-perfectly-suited-to-introverts <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Just as dogs come with distinct personalities, so do their human companions. Some people thrive in social situations while others enjoy their time alone. Not entirely alone.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Introverts often enjoy companionship from the four-legged, furry variety instead of their human counterparts. No two dogs are alike, but many dogs fit within the stereotypes of their breed. Siberian Huskies, for example, are high energy and love cold weather.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>When choosing a dog, it’s essential to match the pup’s energy and personality with your own. A person who enjoys staying home most of the time fits better with dogs that are most content relaxing at home instead of going on non-stop adventures.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>That’s not to say introverted people or their dogs don’t like an adventure. They do, just in smaller doses.&nbsp;</p> <h1>Introverts Are Best Suited With Breeds With Low Energy</h1> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Finding a dog breed that matches your personality doesn’t mean only smaller dogs. Many large dog breeds get along well with a low-key personality. Dogs, in general, loathe being alone and that is another consideration for introverts.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Are you someone who wants your dog at your side all the time? Or do you want an independent dog that is okay with being alone at times?&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Another thing to consider is how much of a conversation starter your dog will be for strangers. Exotic or rare breeds are more likely to garner attention when out and about on walks. Introverts greatly prefer to keep the attention off of themselves. Having an approachable dog breed can be difficult for introverts who are uncomfortable making small talk or social banter.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <h1>5 Dog Breeds for Introverts</h1> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The best breeds for introverts are quiet, good-natured dogs that have calm but friendly personalities. Here are 5 of the best dog breeds perfectly suited for introverts.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <h1>1. Chihuahua</h1> <h3>&nbsp;</h3> <p>Chihuahuas were originally bred to hunt rats and other vermin. However, they quickly became loyal companions, mainly due to their innate nature of forming an unbreakable bond with the human of their choice.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The breed gets a bad rap as aggressive, demon dogs. While maybe not overly friendly to strangers from the get-go, Chi-chis have that in common with introverts.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>As the tiniest of the AKC registered dog breeds, there will be no surprise that your little pup shares many common health problems with other small breed dogs. <a href="">The right diet</a> can help maintain their weight and give them a healthy life.</p> <h1>2. Shih Tzu</h1> <h3>&nbsp;</h3> <p>The history of the Shih Tzu goes back more than a thousand years. Typically considered from Chinese ancestry, the breed actually originated in neighboring Tibet. Despite being lively dogs, Shih Tzus are happiest on the laps of their companions.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The small dog does enjoy walks, but can’t be exercised too much due to its short muzzle. Shih Tzus’ notoriously long fur needs to be groomed daily.&nbsp;</p> <h1>3. Basset Hound</h1> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Long, floor-skimming ears are the Basset Hounds’ most distinctive physical feature. Personality-wise, Bassets are known to be somewhat lazy, often snoozing the day away. The breed is typically quiet, but they are famous for their howling.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Despite their dopey antics, Basset Hounds require a moderate amount of exercise per day. General recommendations suggest an hour of mental and physical activity daily to keep them fit and happy.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <h1>4. Pug</h1> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Like Chihuahuas, Pugs are known to form close bonds with their humans. Pugs are much more outgoing and sociable than the Chihuahua.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Pugs may be higher energy than the other breeds on the list, but they love to relax on the couch after a long day of playing. They do have potential breathing problems and should only be exercised or walked in short increments.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <h1>5. Irish Wolfhound</h1> <p>The tallest dog breed is surprisingly laid-back. Irish Wolfhounds are truly gentle giants. Their personality is described as reserved and intelligent, perfectly suited for introverts.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Irish Wolfhounds do require a lot of exercises, but once they’ve had their fill, they are happy lounging around the couch. The very large couch.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <h1>Your Four-Legged Friend Should Match Your Personality&nbsp;</h1> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>If you’re an introvert trying to become more outgoing, an active breed can help you achieve that goal. However, calm and easygoing breeds fit with the most homebody introverts among us.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>It can be almost impossible to truly gauge a dog’s personality by breed alone because each dog is unique, just like you are. This guide can give you an idea of what breeds to consider if you don’t have one in mind already.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Sat Mar 21 11:29:23 IST 2020 social-distancing-why-it-is-the-best-tool-we-have-to-fight-the-coronavirus <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p><em>As the coronavirus spreads into more and more communities, public health officials are placing responsibility on individuals to help slow the pandemic. Social distancing is the way to do it. Geriatrician Thomas Perls explains how this crucial tool works.</em></p> <h2>What is social distancing?</h2> <p>Social distancing is a tool public health officials recommend to slow the spread of a disease that is being passed from person to person. Simply put, it means that people stay far enough away from each other so that the coronavirus – or any pathogen – cannot spread from one person to another.</p> <p>The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention describes social distancing as <a href="">staying away from mass gatherings and keeping a distance</a> of 6 feet or 2 meters – about one body length – away from other people. In New York City, for example, <a href="">theaters have closed temporarily</a>, many <a href="">conventions around the world are being canceled</a> and <a href="">schools are closing all across the U.S.</a> I’ve stopped taking the train during rush hour. Now I either work from home or drive in with my wife, or I take the train during off-hours so I can maintain the 6-foot distance.</p> <p>Social distancing also means not touching other people, and that includes handshakes. <a href="">Physical touch is the most likely way</a> a person will catch the coronavirus and the easiest way to spread it. Remember, keep that 6-foot distance and don’t touch. </p> <p>Social distancing can never prevent 100% of transmissions, but by following these simple rules, individuals can play a critical role in slowing the spread of the coronavirus. If the number of cases isn’t kept below what the health care system can handle at any one time – called <a href="">flattening the curve</a> – hospitals could become overwhelmed, leading to unnecessary deaths and suffering.</p> <figure> <img src=""> <figcaption><span class="caption">Flattening the curve is another way of saying slowing the spread.</span></figcaption> </figure> <p>There are a few other terms besides social distancing that you are likely to hear. One is “self-quarantine.” This means <a href="">staying put, isolating yourself from others</a> because there is a reasonable possibility you have been exposed to someone with the virus. </p> <p>Another is “mandatory quarantine.” A mandatory quarantine occurs when government authorities indicate that a person must stay in one place, for instance their home or a facility, for 14 days. Mandatory quarantines <a href="">can be ordered for people who test negative for the virus, but have likely been exposed</a>. Officials have imposed mandatory quarantines in the U.S. for <a href="">people on cruise ships</a> and those <a href="">traveling from Hubei province, China</a>. </p> <h2>Why does social distancing work?</h2> <p>If done correctly and on a large scale, <a href="">social distancing breaks or slows the chain of transmission</a> from person to person. People can spread the coronavirus for <a href="">at least five days before they show symptoms</a>. Social distancing limits the number of people an infected person comes into contact with – and potentially spreads the virus to – before they even realize they have the coronavirus. </p> <p>It’s very important to take a possibility of exposure seriously and quarantine yourself. According to recently published research, <a href="">self-quarantine should last 14 days</a> to cover the period of time during which a person could reasonably present with symptoms of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. If after two weeks they still don’t have symptoms, then it’s reasonable to end the quarantine. Shorter quarantine periods could happen for asymptomatic people as tests to rule out the virus become widely available.</p> <h2>Why is social distancing so crucial?</h2> <p>At the moment, it’s the only tool available to fight the spread of the coronavirus.</p> <p>Experts estimate that a <a href="">vaccine is 12 to 18 months away</a>. For now, there are no drugs available that can slow down a coronavirus infection.</p> <p>Without a way to make people better once they fall sick or make them less contiguous, the only effective tactic is making sure hospital-level care is available to those who need it. The way to do that is to slow or stop the spread of the virus and decrease the number of cases at any one time.</p> <h2>Who should do it?</h2> <p>Everyone must practice social distancing in order to prevent a tidal wave of cases. I am a geriatrician who cares for the most vulnerable people: <a href="">frail older adults</a>. Certainly, such individuals should be doing all they can to protect themselves, diligently practicing social distancing and significantly changing their public ways until this pandemic blows over. People who are not frail need to do all they can to protect those who are, by helping to minimize their exposure to COVID-19.</p> <p>If the public as a whole takes social distancing seriously, overwhelming the medical system could be avoided. Much of how the coronavirus pandemic unfolds in the U.S. will come down to individuals’ choices.</p> <p>[<em>Deep knowledge, daily.</em> <a href=";utm_medium=inline-link&amp;utm_campaign=newsletter-text&amp;utm_content=deepknowledge">Sign up for The Conversation’s newsletter</a>.]<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img src="" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important; text-shadow: none !important" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: --></p> <p><span><a href="">Thomas Perls</a>, Professor of Medicine, <em><a href="">Boston University</a></em></span></p> <p>This article is republished from <a href="">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="">original article</a>.</p> Tue Mar 17 15:46:49 IST 2020 time-to-step-out-of-the-familiar-zone-ami-shroff <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>A curious kid, that is what everyone called me when I was younger,” says Ami Shroff, who is one of India’s most famous female bartenders. And not just any plain bartender, she is a flair bartender, mixologist and performing artist. “I used to be and [still am] attracted to ‘weird’; I get super curious about it and keep going towards it. However, I feel it is this curiosity that also fuelled my passion for flair bartending,” says Shroff.</p> <p>The big question—how is flairtending different from normal bartending?</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Also referred to as ‘extreme bartending’ or contracted to ‘flairtending’, it involves entertaining customers with manipulation of bar tools and liquor bottles in an amusing fashion. “It is just the finesse with which you pick up an object or utilise an object in the bar and make a cocktail; it has nothing to do with fire,” says Shroff.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The 34-year-old says that she was never interested in anything mainstream. “I liked challenging myself and I really enjoyed being able to control and balance objects,” she says. Be it travelling, rock-climbing or spending time in the Himalayas, Ami says everything that she has ventured into has trained her to be better at what she does. “I understood balancing at a very experiential level,” she claims. “Thanks to my profession, I get to travel a lot. It has opened up a world of what is out there and how gender equality exists differently at different places,” she says.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>The start</b></p> <p>For this Mumbai-based girl, bartending was initially a hobby; something that got her a little pocket money. She was studying philosophy and political science at Jai Hind College in Mumbai at the time and it was during this time that she worked as a part-time bartender. This hobby then turned into a passion when she got drawn to flair bartending. But the spark happened long before that.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“I had watched this movie Cocktails where Tom Cruise is a bartender and, in the movie, he does some basic moves of flair. This aspect of bartending is what pulled me into the profession and that is still a big part of why I am in it,” says Shroff. But she is not sure if it was the movie or nunchaku lessons in karate classes that got her interested in controlling and manoeuvring an object. But despite having no formal training, she picked up the tricks and tips. “I started off just flipping a 500ml bottle from the front to the back and in the opposite direction. I learnt my first three object moves from that movie; I was 13 then. Little did I know that some years later, I would take it up as my profession,” she says.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Throwing expensive whiskey bottles in the air, juggling them, mixing drinks, creating new recipes and also tasting them, she took one leap and then, another. “Initially, I hadn’t told my parents that I was bartending, because my father, like any other father, was extremely concerned about my safety. But once they got to know that I was already doing it and that I am passionate about it, they supported me. Sometimes, my father used to travel with me whenever I had a gig outside Mumbai. I feel blessed to have grown up in a family where I wasn’t restricted or treated differently because I fell into the gentler gender group,” she says.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>According to Ami, India is not a safe place. Not just for women, but also anyone who is not gendered male. “The only way we can make our country safer is by speaking up, breaking stereotypes and by getting into spaces that are unknown, under-appreciated and, even the ones that scares us. Even if we are afraid, let us pretend not to be and believe it. To tell you the truth, after so many years of working as a bartender, I feel safer inside the bar than outside,” she says. Ami goes on to say that women need to demand authority and reclaim spaces. “Be it a dark and dingy bar or an isolated street, every space that is tagged unsafe for women can surely turn into a safe one if at least 20 women show up there,” she says. She emphasises on getting out of one’s comfort zone and not restrict oneself from pursuing things that seem beyond reach. “We need to challenge our limitations in order to break them. We ourselves create walls which we think are impossible to jump over. It is okay to step out of the familiar zone sometimes,” she says.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The bar industry in the country has been ruled by men since its inception. There has been a negligible increase in the number of women in this industry. “If the number of women in the bar were probably one in 1,000, now that might be two in 1,000. Surely the industry has been booming, but so have the number of men in the bartending profession,” she says. One of the things that she passionately talks is about having a sustainable approach in the bar. “Waste generated in the bar is not really spoken about. But there is a lot of it. It is about time people become smarter about it. From composting, choosing the right ingredients and wisely using them, I think it is possible to reduce wastage,” she says.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>According to her, one of the biggest challenges for a female bartender is being treated differently. “There are people who crack stupid sexist jokes and it can get annoying most of the times. There is a subtle discrimination and also a lot of power play in the male-dominated bar industry,” she says. They say example is better than perception and Ami wants to be that example who motivates those considered the weaker gender. Head held high, she is not only redefining flair bartending in India but also creating a wave of change by encouraging women to step out their comfort zone.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Here are five cocktails from the London taxi menu by Ami. Get mixing!</p> Sat Mar 07 14:50:02 IST 2020 rhythmic-gymnastics-is-beautiful-but-underrated-meghana-reddy-gundlapally <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>As the countdown starts for the opening of the 2010 Commonwealth Games in New Delhi, 60,000 spectators clap the seconds away. An 11-year-old girl in the crowd goes into a trance and visualises herself leading the Indian contingent, the tricolour held proudly in her little hands. Her father Gundlapally Ramalinga Reddy smiles knowingly. He had taken his daughter, who was into gymnastics, to the Games with the hope that she understands what it means to represent the nation. And it worked.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“I really wanted it,” recalls Meghana Reddy Gundlapally. “I was in love with rhythmic gymnastics and the moment fuelled my passion.” In the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia, she was the only gymnast representing India. “My father runs an HR consulting company and he has seen people from different career backgrounds,” says Meghana, 21. “He said I could finish studies at any age, but had to decide on sports early on. He supported me when I took up rhythmic gymnastics. One of the biggest lessons he taught me was to stay calm no matter what, and that is important when it comes to gymnastics.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Dressed in a pair of sweat pants and a casual black jacket, Meghana appears sylph like as she, almost involuntarily, goes into an en pointe position just before entering the car at the Cochin International Airport. “I tend to do that a lot,” says Meghana, who is fresh from a podium finish at the Fifth Friendly International Tournament in Italy. She checks her phone, which had already started chirping. She speaks in Telugu, and by the tone of the conversation, it sounds like mommy’s call. “I am super close to my mother; I tell her everything. She has taught me everything about being an adult; she is like a walking guide of ‘Adulting 101’,” she says.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Meghana is coming to the shoot straight from a training session in Chennai. “The strength conditioning session was important as it is rare that I get this sort of training from professional coaches,” she says. “There are many things that I do on my own, pertaining to styles and techniques, but I think it is essential to take into account other aspects of the sport like strength training and mental conditioning. Just because the sport screams beauty, it doesn’t mean that it is not challenging; it can get physically and mentally taxing. Also, everything beautiful comes with a heavy price tag.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Go home, you are too old for this</b></p> <p>“This is the first time I am wearing fake eyelashes,” Meghana tells the makeup artist as he fixes it. “I always do my own makeup; just a little concealer, some foundation, eyeliner and lip colour. Nothing more.” She seems to like the new look, for she kept opening the front camera of her phone to see every tiny development on her face.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Draped in a sleek black dress, Meghana looks calm and composed. Her feet in en pointe position again, she goes for a stretch before the first set of photos. The photographer shouts “Ready?”, and with her head held high, she gracefully walks to the shooting floor. And without wasting much time, she gets into character. As she confidently arches her back and lifts her leg, there is elegance oozing in her every move. One could tell that she loves the lights and the camera. But her love for rhythmic gymnastics surpasses all that.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>As a five-year-old, Meghana loved performing in front of people. Not rhythmic gymnastics, though—that came later in life—but dancing. “I learned Kuchipudi from Shobha Naidu—one of the foremost Kuchipudi dancers of India—for five years since the age of five. I think the dance training has helped me immensely when it comes to maintaining my balance,” she says. Before getting into gymnastics, she tried different sports like badminton, basketball and swimming. “I could never stick to any of them,” she says. “I used to go play or train for a bit and then shift to the next event. I thought my affair with gymnastics would also be shortlived.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>It all started in 2010 when she saw her younger brother Suhit jumping on a trampoline at the R.B. Stadium in Hyderabad. She had gone there to pick him up after classes. “I saw that he was having fun and I, too, wanted to try it out. So, the following day I went to his coach, Brij Kishore. The coach told my father that I was too old for it, but I started training anyway.” Training along with Meghana then was B. Aruna Reddy, who became the first Indian to win a medal (bronze) in the 2018 World Cup gymnastics in Melbourne. The focus soon shifted to rhythmic gymnastics. “I started following rhythmic gymnasts around the world,” she says. “I tried out several techniques on my own, watched a lot of videos on YouTube and started following the sport very closely.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Rhythmic gymnastics is one of the two women-only clubs in the Olympic Games; the other being synchronised swimming. Artistic gymnasts perform on equipment whereas rhythmic gymnasts perform with it. The twirls, the subtle nuance of a properly arched back, the sinuously curved leg, the flamingo-like balance, the right lines and jumps—all the elements that make this sport a spectacle.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>When Meghana took up the sport, it was relatively non-existent in India. It had no funding and no support whatsoever. But she never regretted her decision. “When I started, there was no coach specific to rhythmic gymnastics in the country,” she says. “I went to the US for my first international training. When I got to the club I had booked for training, the coach said she could not take me. She said I was too old to learn the basics and that I won’t be flexible. But I was not ready to give up, and we found another club in California where I started my training.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>After the short training in the US, where she did her basic levels, Meghana went to the UK for a month. Both Meghana and her mother stayed in a small town in Wales. “It was an eventful month,” says Meghana. “I have so many funny stories but one that we still laugh about concerns the man who lived next room. The weather was cold and we were freezing. My mother and I noticed that whenever our neighbour left the building, the heater would go off. We were so mad because we thought he had been switching it off. So, one day we started banging at his door. A really tall man, shirtless, opened the door and he looked confused, seeing two short foreign women shouting at him. It took us a while to realise that he did not understand a thing we said. When we realised that the building had a central heating system, you had to see the look on our faces.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>After Wales, Meghana moved to London in 2013; she was there for a year and a half. “I passed level nine in rhythmic gymnastics there. London was like home for me and I enjoyed every bit of my training. I liked how they had a systematic approach in their training and this helped me a lot in improving my techniques,” she says.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>She got back to Hyderabad after that and started participating in competitions within the country. “Nobody knew me back then and nobody probably knew the sport either. I did not even have a proper place to practise. But I saw beyond all the impossibilities, kept training and I started participating in various competitions. When I am training, I am a different person altogether; I am completely focused,” she says.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>One major putdown she faced was when people told her that she was not fit for the sport and that she should give up fighting for it. “People pointed fingers at my age and my weight. They said that I would never achieve anything in this sport. I am glad I could prove them wrong,” she says.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Meghana continued her academics by joining an open school programme. “People often questioned my parents for letting me take up this sport. It wasn’t just another hobby for me and I was strongly convinced about it. I finished my 12th boards only recently, when I should have done it a couple of years back. But I don’t regret anything. I carried my books even while travelling for competitions so that I could study for my tests during the breaks. People only see the glamour and glitter bit of this sport, not the hard work that goes in and the sacrifices that athletes make,” Meghana says.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>According to her, rhythmic gymnastics is an excellent opportunity for young girls to express themselves. “But it is not just about ribbons and rhinestones; it is also a tough sport and needs exceptional dedication for athletes to stay lean, flexible and strong, all at the same time,” she says.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Although she wants more girls to pick up rhythmic gymnastics, she also cautions that it is a super expensive sport. “A basic leotard (the one-piece garment that performers wear during the competition) costs about €400-700. There are more expensive ones,” she says. Meghana’s pink and peach leotard, that costs around €500, has Swarovsky crystals on them. “My mother carries it in her handbag whenever we travel for competitions. There is a reason for that. Once when my father and I were travelling back to India from Greece, our bags got stolen from the cab when we stopped to go see a dock on the way to the airport. My bag had three leotards and all three were expensive. Since then, we keep it close to us,” she says. The training mat costs around Rs19 lakh. One also has to spent on equipment like clubs, ribbon, hoop, rope and balls.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>As Meghana opens her suitcase, the entire crew gets distracted by all the bling. Shiny golden and red balls, glittery clubs and a ribbon that looked absolutely magical. “Let us do a shot with the ribbon,” the photographer suggests, and Meghana’s face lights up. As she marches pertly out on the floor with the ribbon trailing obediently behind, the crew looks at her in awe. She begins to pose and the ribbon suddenly appears to take on a life of its own, swirling seductively in increasingly wide spirals. “I am good with clubs, balls and hoops, but the ribbon is quite hard. During competition, gymnasts should make sure that the ribbon does not touch the ground and that it should be constantly moving. I have got tangled up in the ribbon a couple of times,” she says. As she kept moving, one could see not the ribbon or the girl, but both, as a unit in a single flowing composition. Enchanting.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>The hurdles and the hope</b></p> <p>“I was closely following 2016 Rio Olympian Varvara Filiou from Greece. From her social media posts, I understood that she was training till 2017 and then she stopped. I sent her a text immediately. She had her doubts in the beginning and then she said that she wanted to meet me,” Meghana says. Meghana wasted no time in getting to Greece. Varvara conducted a small test to see if the Indian girl had what it takes to excel in the sport. She was convinced and agreed to coach Meghana.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>But, during the 2018 Commonwealth Games, both Meghana and Varvara received a shock after they landed in Australia: they were told that Varvara cannot access the Commonwealth Games village, or the training facilities. Only Meghana had the accreditation. This meant that she was on her own in the week leading up to the event. “For an entire week I stayed alone, trained alone and on the day of the competition, I competed alone,” she says.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Meghana managed to secure the 18th place finish despite the maelstrom in the background. Surely, it wasn’t one of her best performances. “The seconds of silence just before the music started playing was terrifying. Everyone had so many expectations. The mental pressure was weighing me down. And, the worst part is that I never opened up about it at that point. It took me a lot of time to talk about it,” she says. It was just weeks before the Commonwealth Games that her first gymnastics coach Brij passed away after battling cancer for some time. This had also affected her performance. “All of us have battles that we need to fight; some on our own and the others with some help,” she says. But things took a positive turn after the Commonwealth Games, when Go Sports Foundation came on board. Their team now takes care of her nutrition and physiotherapy.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In 2019, just before the World Championship, Meghana was down with dengue. The competition was the only way she could get a ticket to the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics. “Tough luck but I think everything happens for a reason. I am still young and the world is full of opportunities,” she says. Meghana is now focused on Commonwealth Games 2022 and Summer Olympics 2024.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“It is nice to see that nowadays parents are offering support to their children in pursuing sports. Most of them are fully convinced that sports can be a full-time career opportunity in future. I just hope that rhythmic gymnastics would have better days in the future,” she says.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>As we reach the final leg of our shoot at the Fort Kochi beach, Meghana’s fluidic movements gather quite a crowd. The waves are licking at the golden sand under her feet and the crimson orange sky gives an ethereal hue to her peach flowy dress. She contorts her back and stretches out her arms without any care. And just as the sun sets, she breaks into a vertical split. The flash fires; it is picture perfect. But Meghana doesn’t stop there. She sways and goes into her favourite en pointe position as if she was tiptoeing to watch the sun disappear into the sea. She wants to go on but the crew is ready for a wrap. Meghana longingly looks at the beach sand and one could tell that she was not ready to leave.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>They say, if it is pretty, it is not a sport! But looks like rhythmic gymnastics provides just the right counterpoint to the rest of the games. “Most gymnasts have an early retirement which is why trainers insist on starting early. I will stop playing this sport one day, but I can never unlearn what it taught me. I want our country to start talking more about this sport and I hope I could bring about that change,” Meghana says on the way back to the studio. Let us hope so.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><i>Apparatus:</i></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Rope:</b> Usually made of hemp or a synthetic material. Its length is in proportion to the height of the gymnast. When the middle of the rope is held down by the feet, both ends should reach the gymnast’s armpits.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Gymnasts swing the rope, throw and catch the rope, make figure-eight-type circling movements and more.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Some of them leap and jump through the rope while they are holding it with both hands.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Hoop:</b> Made of wood or plastic. The hoop is 0.7 to 0.8m in diameter. During performances, gymnasts toss and catch the hoops.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Ball:</b> Made with rubber or a synthetic material and is roughly around 0.2m in diameter. Tricks such as bouncing and rolling besides throws are performed by the gymnasts using the ball. It is usually around 14 ounces.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Clubs:</b> Resembles bowling pins and both the clubs are of equal length, around 0.4m to 0.5m. They are made from wood or a synthetic material. Gymnasts use the clubs to do tricks like circles, mills, throws and catches. Each club weighs around 150g.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Ribbon:</b> Single two-inch-wide satin strip, about 6cm long, connected to a slender wooden wand. Gymnasts accentuate their moves using the ribbon; they create patterns, including spirals, circles and snakes. The gymnasts must keep the ribbon in motion throughout the entire routine; also, the ribbon should not touch the ground at any point during the performance.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><i>My fitness regime:</i></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>My training schedule usually keeps changing, depending on the competition season. Now, I do four hours of rhythmic gymnastics training, two hours of strength and conditioning which includes bodyweight exercises. I also have two hours of ballet training.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The strength and conditioning routine changes every month and the ballet schedule is different every week. It all depends on the areas where I need improvement and extra care.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><i>What’s on Meghana’s plate?</i></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>My diet plan, like everything else, keeps changing every month depending on my training schedule. We also go for a body scan every week to keep track of the progress with regard to my body fat proportion and muscle mass. The changes in the diet are based on the scan results.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Early morning drink:</b> Celery juice</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Breakfast:</b> Either eggs or stir-fried vegetables with boiled beans, channa or lobia</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Lunch:</b> Salad with some kind of protein like chicken, fish, turkey or egg</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Snack:</b> I usually have fruits. Dried and fresh ones</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Dinner:</b> It is again salad with chicken, fish, turkey or egg</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Apart from this, I also drink a lot of water during the day. Sometimes, I add chia seeds and lemon to it. I also love espresso shots.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><i>At a glance:</i></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><i><b>Do you have a pet name?</b></i></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Yes. Everybody at home calls me ‘Mini’</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><i><b>Funny incident.</b></i></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>There are so many! In one of my initial competitions, I rolled my hoop on the floor and the plan was to throw it with my leg the moment it rolled back to me. But somehow, I missed and the hoop rolled right out of the mat. I didn’t know what to do. The music kept on going and I ran behind my hoop. It was embarrassing then, but it is funny now.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><i><b>A show you binge watched.</b></i></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>My all-time favourite is F.R.I.E.N.D.S.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><i><b>Your first crush.</b></i></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>It was a long time back when I was in school. It was one of my classmates.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><i><b>A lie you told your parents.</b></i></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>I told them that there was no alcohol at our high school fresher’s party. (Giggles.)</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><i><b>A song you keep humming.</b></i></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>‘City Slums’ by Raja Kumari</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><i><b>Your idea of a perfect getaway.</b></i></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>A resort or a beach. I wouldn’t get into the water but I like to sit and watch the waves.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><i><b>One thing you always wanted to do but never could.</b></i></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Skiing. I had the opportunity but I never got myself to do it.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><i><b>A weird habit.</b></i></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Sitting in splits while watching TV, eating food or doing my homework.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><i><b>Something you would tell your younger self.</b></i></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Follow your dreams and don’t let what people say stop you from pursuing it.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><i><b>A person you look up to.</b></i></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>There is no one person. I look up to my parents.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><i><b>Comfort food.</b></i></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Raw bell pepper.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><i><b>Three wishes.</b></i></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>I would have asked for travel but I already do that. Eating without getting fat, getting to watch TV shows without the wait for the next season and well… world peace, I guess.</p> Sat Mar 07 14:24:16 IST 2020 ivanka-trump-embraces-kashmir-inspired-style-at-rashtrapati-bhavan-dinner <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>For the state dinner, businesswoman, author and mother of three Ivanka Trump wore an outfit by designer Rohit Bal. She looked simply stunning in a floor-length anarkali suit, which was from the Kashmiri designer's 'Guldastah' collection. The collection includes sarees, gowns and anarkalis embroidered with flowers that are native of the Kashmir Valley. The designer honoured his birthplace with the collection at Lakme Fashion Week in January 2019.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Her other outfits paid homage to the country she visited. Advisor to President Trump Ivanka, on day one, earned some brownie points from supporters of sustainable fashion by repeating a printed Proenza Schouler dress that exuded spring on her visit to the Taj Mahal. She had worn the dress on her trip to Argentina in September 2019.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The next day as she was on a tour of the Rashtrapati Bhavan, Ivanka chose to go desi in a bandhgala kurta and pants by Anita Dongre. Its to be noted that when the Duchess of Cambridge Catherine Middleton visited India, she too, chose an Anita Dongre dress. Former-first lady of US Hillary Clinton and Canada's first lady Sophie Grégoire Trudeau too, have donned Dongre's creations.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Melania Trump decided to play it safe fashion-wise</b></p> <p>The first lady, as she boarded the Airforce One jet to India on February 23, rocked retro French flair in a black turtle-neck top, slim pants and buckled Roger Vivier flats. Trump sure has come a long way, fashion-wise since her early days in the White House. She was often seen in traditionally flashy European labels like Dolce &amp; Gabbana and Gucci, occasionally wearing Celine, Givenchy or Ralph Lauren.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The former model, who often chooses her clothes, has worn some stylish numbers like a Chanel Haute Couture gown while hosting French President Emmanuel and First Lady Brigitte Macron in April 2018 to a Herve Pierre dress she wore while greeting Queen Raina of Jordan in Washington and a white pant-suit at the State of the Union speech in 2018— although she wore it to plausibly stand out in a sea of black-wearing Democrats who wore the colour to support the TimesUp and #MeToo movement.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>On landing in India, Melania wore a white jumpsuit by designer Herve Pierre featuring a Nehru collar and a green brocade sash, tied neatly as a belt.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>On day two at the Rashtrapati Bhavan and while attending a Happiness class at Delhi CM Kejriwal's model school, she wore a midi dress by Carolina Herrera, embroidered with colourful flowers.&nbsp;</p> <p>On her last night in India, at the state dinner at Rashtrapati Bhavan with President Ram Nath Kovind, Melania made wore a floor-length Carolina Herrera dress with danglers that vaguely resembled&nbsp;<i style="font-size: 0.8125rem;">jhumkas</i>.&nbsp;<br> </p> <p>All-in-all it looks like, FLOTUS' sartorial choices were a safe bet with modestly cut out outfits and details like accessories paying homage to the country she visited.<br> </p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Wed Feb 26 16:09:42 IST 2020 national-museum-half-baked-harappan-food-walk-sans-a-non-vegetarian-menu <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>The ‘Historical Gastronomica: The Indus Dining Experience’ at the National Museum in Delhi has a specially crafted tasting menu on Harappan food culture that includes Khatti dal, Kachri ki sabzi, black gram stewed with jaggery and seasame oil, raggi ladu, thin barley griddle cakes, sweet rice with banana and honey and a special “Indus Valley Khichri”. However, it has removed its non-vegetarian options from its menu, which included meat fat soup, quail roasted in Saal patta and salt cured sheep, at the last minute.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>What should a food pop-up at Delhi's National Museum be like? Considering it's one of the largest museums in India, housing the most significant art objects from the prehistoric to the modern era, it's a surprise how the idea of interpreting ancient history on a gustatory plane hasn't been explored yet.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Architect and conservation consultant Somi Chatterjee, during a walk-through for ‘Historical Gastronomica’ on Harappan food culture at the National Museum in Delhi, asks a group a visitors if they know what Umami is. The evolved palate of the Harappans included all kinds of pulses, lentils and spices including garlic, ginger and coriander. Salt was amply available. Their cooking implements, vessels, <i>chulha</i>s and pits were so sophisticated, they even barbequed and distilled. Chatterjee also informs visitors how there might have been hilsa and shutki fish (dried fish). When she reaches the Harappan sites on the Markan coast in the Balochistan province on the map, we learn how the Harappans tamed their camels who could often act fussy. “They made a paste out of dates (seeds) and powdered fish bones. And the mash was fed to the camels to sustain them. They also ate the same thing,” Chatterjee reveals slowly and carefully, waiting to see the reaction. “We shared bread with the camel,” she declares with a hint of pride.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>It is to be borne in mind that inhabitants of the middle Bronze age across Asia ate meat. There is&nbsp; sufficient documented evidence of domesticated animals in the Harappan age; they are believed to have kept sheep, goats, buffaloes, chickens and hunted for animals and wildfowl, apart from consuming fish and shellfish from the rivers and the seas. Also the argument of the additional director general of National Museum, as reported in the <i>Indian Express</i>, that the presence of idols of gods and goddesses, and a relic of Lord Buddha, might make the cooking of non-vegetarian food on the premises a sensitive matter does not hold water. Divinity of the religious kind is not infused in sculptures and art objects, unless these idols are consecrated in temples with proper rituals.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>With the ongoing Indus Dining Experience―curated jointly by the National Museum and One Station Million Stories (OSMS)―the premier Institute is flipping the narrative once again in visitor engagement. By opening out its premises to offer a re-creation of the food of the Harappan Civilization with a curated menu, the museum is pro-actively looking at revisiting years of archaeological research and artefacts on the subcontinent's earliest known urban culture. When you think about how the National Museum has one of the most impressive artefact collection on the Indus Valley Civilization―its thematic gallery also displays the famous Bronze Dancing Girl, which was excavated from Mohenjodaro, a Harappan site―a literal re-imagining of the food of the Indus people by experts in the field is not to be missed. The in-house vendor of the National Museum canteen has been shifted out for the duration of the exhibition to allow for a celebrity chef to take over with his Indus Kitchen.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The special Indus Valley menu strictly adheres to ingredients identified by archaeologists and researchers from sites of Indus-Saraswati civilization, culled out by OSMS, a Delhi-based collective of conservation architects. They have attempted to emulate the documented temperature, speed and cooking techniques of this pre-historic time in collaboration with National award-winning chef Sabyasachi Gorai, popularly known as Chef Saby.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The food tasters are for ₹650 and dinner is ₹3,250 for vegetarian menu only.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>When: </b>19 Feb, 9 am – 25 Feb, 8 pm</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Where: </b>National Museum, Janpath Road, New Delhi.&nbsp;</p> Thu Feb 20 13:29:33 IST 2020 music-and-acting-will-have-equal-importance-arjun-kanungo <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Never the nerd in school, Arjun Kanungo always managed to scrape through his exams. “During my board exams, my friend, who was the class topper, would teach me those portions that were sure to appear in the question paper and I used to spend about 45 minutes to an hour with him,” the 29-year-old singer recalls. “This was the routine for every subject and I managed to pass with 41.1 per cent marks.”</p> <p>However, if marks were to be awarded for staying out of trouble, he would have scored the maximum. “I always managed to get away with things,” he says. “Yes, I was definitely very naughty. But aren’t all kids supposed to be? The difference was that I used to be smart and cautious; as a matter of fact, I still am!”</p> <p>He may not have been a trophy child but he sure did bring home a couple of trophies and medals. Inspired by his lawyer-mother Sheila Kanungo, who won silver in 10m air pistol pair at the 2002 Commonwealth Games, Arjun took up the sport. He is a three-time national gold medal winner in centre-fire pistol. “I have a deep relation with guns. You can never be half-hearted when it comes to shooting. There is no opponent, which means you cannot blame anybody for your actions. It is the same in real life—you are responsible for your actions. I love how the sport teaches one so many life lessons,”he says. He also played basketball at the national level. Whether it is shooting targets or hoops, he says sports has helped him stay focused and honest in life. “I really enjoy engaging in sporting activities. Even now, whenever I get time, I go play basketball with my friends,” he says.</p> <p>Music happened much later in his life. Nobody in his family had anything to do with music. “It was sudden. But I felt it so strongly,” he says. After finishing high school, Arjun was about to pursue a graduate course in architecture. “My family is in the construction business, so it made sense to go for architecture or anything related to construction,” he says. In search of a good university, he went to New York. He fell in love with music there. “I had friends who were studying at The Julliard School for performing arts and I used to hang out with them,”he says. “It was amazing to see the passion with which they worked and made music—so driven and purposeful. They put their everything into it. And there it happened—I fell in love with the art.”</p> <p>He came back to India and pursued a graduate course in mass media at R.D. National College, Mumbai. He also decided to open a recording studio; he was only 18 then. “My parents were supportive but I wanted to take responsibility for my actions. So, I took a loan to open my studio,”he says. Arjun started delving deep into music through his recording studio Promethean Audio. Later, he diversified into acoustic design and construction with his second venture, Promethean Design.</p> <p>“Asha Bhosle’s team used to come to my studio for recording their work. They knew I could play the guitar but they wanted someone who could sing as well. So, they asked me if I could take it up. I never did any professional singing at the time but I still gave it a shot and the rest, as they say, is history,”says Arjun. He got into playback singing and his first commercial success came with the song Khoon Choos Le in the 2013 film <i>Go Goa Gone</i>, starring Saif Ali Khan. He toured with Asha Bhosle and also started doing solo shows; he also lent his voice for several Bollywood films.</p> <p>Interestingly, despite all this, Arjun felt out of place. He calls it the lowest point of his life. “I wanted to figure out if I fit in the industry. I wasn’t very happy with what I was doing in music and that made me really depressed. I didn’t want to feel that way because I really love music. So, I decided to take a break that year,” he says. According to Arjun, everybody feels lost at some point or the other. “I had times when I felt I didn’t know the way. But in my lows, my mother has been a big guide. She is very grounded and whenever I was in doubt, she was there for me. I always pick people who are grounded to be around me,” he says.</p> <p>However, Arjun wisely used the break to his advantage; he went to study acting at Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute in New York. After finishing his training in method acting, he took up musical theatre and decided to pursue acting in India. “The funny thing is that I was signed by a music label just two weeks post my arrival. Here I was, trying to start my career in acting, and then music comes calling. It is interesting where life takes you,”he says.</p> <p>Soon Arjun churned out his debut single with rapper Badshah—’Baaki Baatein Peene Baad’—which became a party anthem in 2015. The song not only fetched him popularity but also the Global Music Academy Awards that year. Then he launched his next single, ‘ Fursat’, which was applauded for the concept of the video. “‘Fursat’ is very close to my heart. I am very patriotic and people who work for the Army are very close to my heart. I respect them a lot, especially the women, who sacrifice so much for the country. Through the song and the video, I wanted to talk about how a partner should care for his wife,” says Arjun. Even his recent launch ‘Tu Na Mera’ is set in a combat zone. The song, presented by VYRL Originals, is a modern love ballad that shows the life of a commando and his unrequited love; the lyrics were penned by Kunal Verma and the video was directed by Danny Mamik. “It was very stressful working for this video but it was also fun. Danny has done an incredible job with the video,” he says. From kickboxing and tae kwon do to combat and stunt training, Arjun used to train for almost eight hours a day to perfect his moves. “It took us months to come up with a blueprint for the video. We practised action sequences, planned all the nuances and shot the video in three consecutive days,” he says.</p> <p>According to Arjun, the NSG (National Security Guard) jackets used in the video were the real ones; they borrowed it for the shoot from a troop. “We purposely put the female commando in the video as we wanted to talk about the battle of sexes in NSG. The last woman NSG commando left after she got pregnant. It is sad that there are no more women in the troop,” he says. Most people don’t know that the female soldiers joining NSG undergo 90-day rigorous training and are at par with the male commandos. “In the video we show how the female commando is as strong as the man but we wanted to put it across uniquely. I think we achieved that,” says Arjun.</p> <p>He thinks that the Indian music industry needs to focus more on original work and stop recreating things. “For some reason Bollywood has given up on original compositions and they have been recreating stuff. I am not against recreating stuff. Wait, maybe I am. I take that back. I am against recreations. If you are recreating something, give it a new twist or a new vibe. Give something new to the audience,” he says.</p> <p>Talking about something new, guess what is new in Arjun’s life—a new role! On January 16, 2020, Arjun announced his acting debut with Salman Khan’s <i>Radhe: Your Most</i> <i>Wanted Bhai</i>, on his social media platform. He posted a screenshot of the news story in the <i>Hindustan Times</i>, with a caption that read:</p> <p>“First big drop of 2020! You will see me acting in #Radhe this Eid! A huge, huge thank you to the amazing @beingsalmankhan for believing in me and giving me this opportunity. New year, new goals!”</p> <p>The post came as a surprise to many since Arjun, who is super active on social media, did not even give a hint to his followers on what was brewing. But after his big revelation, he started posting Instagram stories of the set and him taking one flight after another for shoots at different locations.</p> <p>Recently, he posted a picture of a blood clot on his arm. “Black and blue from a little scene in #Radhe…loving it! #notmakeup,” he wrote.</p> <p>An action role maybe? Clearly, he wants to keep the suspense but at the same time he also wants to leave his followers thinking. “I am very excited about my role in Radhe; it is completely Salman bhai’s vision for me. It means a lot to me that he gave me a chance,” says Arjun. The film marks Salman’s third collaboration with Prabhu Deva, and is scheduled to hit the screens this Eid.</p> <p>“To work on projects as big as this and with megastars is a dream come true for many. I haven’t been able to sleep most nights since we started filming,” he admits.</p> <p>What more can an artist ask for?</p> <p>“I believe the universe gives you what you settle for. Things happen in your life when they are meant to and I feel like 2020 is the year acting will become an important part of my career as an entertainer. With this project, I felt it was the right time and the right character,” he says.</p> <p>So, what about music, you may ask.</p> <p>“Music will always have equal importance. It means everything to me,”says Arjun. “Even if I wouldn’t have become successful in my career, I would have still taken up music. Everything I have is because of music. It was not just another career option for me; I had plenty of options. But I chose music despite the fact that it is one of the most difficult career paths to take. I am glad I was stupid and took the risk. It is 100 per cent worth it. I believe I can do both if I work hard.”</p> <p>According to him, musicians evolve with time; the rate of change in one’s way of creating music is directly proportional to the number of experiences. “I feel that the goal of music is to make someone feel an emotion. Only when you feel something deeply can you make someone else feel that emotion. You become more honest with music, the more you live with it. I found my purpose in music,” he says.</p> <p>Apart from music and acting, Arjun loves nature—everything green and clean. He is a promoter of green energy and alternate sources of energy. His house in Bandra has a solar-energy system in place; it alternates between conventional electricity and solar-powered electricity. He even posted a short video of the solar panels on Twitter after he got it set up. He calls the setup “his new solar system” in the video and hash-tagged it #TheFutureIsSolar. The artist also gave up on red meat and milk, and prefers to carpool or walk to reach his destination and disposes waste intelligently. He has a farm on the outskirts of Mumbai, where he has planted more than 800 trees. According to him, a lot of what he eats at home comes from the farm. “I have over 200 plants in my home. I love watering and taking care of it,” he says.</p> <p>Arjun is also fond of animals but he thinks that owning a pet at this point in his life is not a wise thing to do. “I had a dog for 16 years but he passed away four years ago. I never got a dog after that. Somehow, I couldn’t. But I think it is mostly because I feel like I won’t be able to take care of it since I travel a lot. I would love to own one but I think the responsible way to go about it is that I don’t. As of now, I want to focus on the film,” he says.</p> <p>And he is right. “The character I play in Radhe is quite nuanced. I can’t reveal much though. All I can say is that people are going to be surprised to see me in a character like this,” he says. Looks like we will have to wait till May to know what the big hush-hush is all about. n</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Matters of the heart</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Tall, handsome and a singer to boot, Arjun Kanungo ticks all the right boxes. He has worked with some gorgeous women, from artists like Jonita Gandhi and Momina Mustehsan to models like Ksenia Kahnovich (Ek Dafaa) and Sonal Chauhan (Fursat). And, he has quite a few crazy female fans who have tattooed his name on their bodies. Hate to break it to you girls, but our boy is taken.<br> </p> <p>Arjun met his girlfriend Carla Dennis, a South African model and actor, on the sets of his debut single, Baaki Baatein Peene Baad. She was also in Arjun’s recent indie pop song, Tu Na Mera. “We did not start dating immediately after we met; we were friends for a couple of years,” says Arjun. “I have known her for quite some time and I think she is one of the strongest women I have met. She is not only beautiful but also carries such an amazing energy. She is a go-getter, and is definitely<br> everything I look for in a partner.”</p> <p>According to Arjun, love is one of the most important components of living—a good relationship is what keeps one happy. “I feel it is important to value love,” he says. He also thinks that a relationship takes on a life of its own. “It should always grow organically,” he says. “We definitely have more freedom than our parents did and I think what two people decide between themselves is nobody’s business except their own. It is all about choice and not following a tradition. I think cohabitation is alright just like how I am okay with couples having children without getting married.”</p> <p>When it comes to his idea of an ideal date, Arjun likes staying at home with some good take-out food and a movie. “I like talking when I am on a date. I want the other person to be able to hear me and vice-versa. So, I don’t prefer crowded places where there is a lot of background noise,” he says.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>First memory of Valentine’s Day</b><br> </p> <p>I had my first girlfriend when I was 13. As children, we tend to do funny things. I remember buying her a can of Coca Cola and a packet of chips for Valentine’s Day. It was all that I could afford at that time. She also did something similar; she got me a packet of biscuits. It was a sweet gesture. We were young, we didn’t have any money and despite all that we got each other something. I think that made it special.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>What’s on Arjun’s plate?</b></p> <p><b>Early morning:</b> I start my day by drinking a lot of water.</p> <p><b>Breakfast: </b>A glass of orange juice, six egg whites, five almonds and one apple.</p> <p><b>Lunch:</b> Grilled chicken with<br> sautéed vegetables or a tuna sandwich. At times, I stick to roti, sabzi and curd.</p> <p><b>Mid-day snack:</b> Protein bar or mixed dry fruits.</p> <p><b>Dinner:</b> Two rotis with dal and<br> any green vegetable.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>At a glance</b></p> <p><b>A show you binge-watched.</b></p> <p><i>I recently finished watching the Netflix series Jamtara: Sabka Number Ayega. I loved it.</i></p> <p><b>Your first crush.</b></p> <p><i>When I was six, I had a crush on this girl called Shibani. I have no clue what she is up to now.</i></p> <p><b>A lie you told your parents that you distinctly remember.</b></p> <p><i>One lie that I clearly remember is about how I never smoked. I started smoking when I was 13 and then made the healthy choice of quitting it before I turned 20.</i></p> <p><b>A song you keep humming.</b></p> <p><i>‘Tujhe kitna chahne lage’&nbsp;by Mithoon. I absolutely love this song.</i></p> <p><b>Your idea of a perfect getaway.</b></p> <p><i>Anywhere quiet and clean. I love Japan; I love the food there and also the people.</i></p> <p><b>One thing you always wanted to do but never did.</b></p> <p><i>I don’t think there is anything. I have always tried to do what I wanted to even if I failed at it.</i></p> <p><b>A weird habit.</b></p> <p><i>I plan a lot; I would call myself a walking planner. Even the mundane things, I just need to see a plan for it.</i></p> <p><b>Something you would tell your younger self.</b></p> <p><i>Don’t worry about anything. Things will get better irrespective of what is happening at the moment. Finally, everything just falls into place.</i></p> <p><b>Dream collaboration.</b></p> <p><i>I am doing one right now—Radhe—with Salman Khan. I am super happy that Salman bhai&nbsp;thought about me for the movie.</i></p> <p><b>A person you look up to.</b></p> <p><i>My mother; she is my idol.</i></p> <p><b>Comfort food.</b></p> <p><i>Sushi or ramen</i></p> <p><b>Favourite fictional character.</b></p> <p><i>There is this character I made for my comic series; he is called Veer. We are planning on launching it mid-2020.</i></p> <p><b>Dream car.</b></p> <p><i>Tesla. Sadly, India isn’t getting one anytime soon.</i></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Sound ON</b></p> <p><i>Arjun’s top ten must-listen</i></p> <p><i>1. Baaki Baatein Peene Baad</i></p> <p><i>2. Fursat</i></p> <p><i>3. La La La</i></p> <p><i>4. Aaya Na Tu</i></p> <p><i>5. Woh Baarishein</i></p> <p><i>6. Ek Dafaa</i></p> <p><i>7. Gallan Tipsiyaan</i></p> <p><i>8. Hona Chaida</i></p> <p><i>9. Sanam Mere Sanam</i></p> <p><i>10. Tu Na Mera</i></p> Mon Feb 03 16:58:46 IST 2020 stray-dogs-may-have-a-natural-ability-to-understand-human-gestur <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Stray dogs have the natural ability to understand human gestures, and respond to some cues better than the others, according to a study which may help improve our relationship with the canines.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The study, published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology, said free-roaming dogs, which have never lived with human companions, are capable of following pointing cues to locate food rewards.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>For the first time, researchers, including those from the Indian Institutes of Science Education and Research (IISER) Kolkata, tested 160 adult stray dogs across several Indian cities to understand the ability of the canines to follow complex human pointing gestures.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In the study, the scientists placed two covered bowls on the ground -- one containing chicken, and another with just the scent of the food.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Then a second experimenter, who didn't know which bowl had food, pointed at one of the bowls, the study said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>"In the initial experiment we would bend down and take the pointing finger very close to the bowl so that a dog could understand that we're trying to point to that bowl. And there we had actually seen that only 50 per cent of the dogs could understand, perhaps because some of the dogs were apprehensive that the human is trying to attack them," study co-author Anindita Bhadra from IISER Kolkata told PTI.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>She said the 50 per cent of dogs which approached the experimental set up comfortably were assessed further.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>"In another case, while standing upright, I put my hand out, pointing at the bowl. This is distal pointing," Bhadra explained.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In distal pointing, she added, there are two kinds.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>"One is dynamic pointing, where I put my hand out with one finger pointing, and continued to hold it for a minute. And the other one is called momentary distal pointing, in which I point just for a couple of seconds, and then I stand straight and don't give the dog any cues," she explained.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In both dynamic and momentary pointing, the study noted that about 80 per cent of the dogs, which could approach the experimental set up, were able to follow the cues and get the food reward.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Based on the experiment, Bhadra and her team, believe that stray dogs knew where to look when a person points to an object, suggesting that their ability to pick up cues from humans could be a natural trait.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The researchers speculate that stray dogs pick some gestures, and don't follow some, perhaps due to the typical way in which people in India provide food to free-roaming dogs.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>"While this has not been extensively tested, it is likely that dogs are more accustomed to humans throwing a piece of food away from themselves as a response to begging, or to a human dropping food on the ground and moving away," the researchers wrote in the study.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>"However, though the proximal pointing cue is considered to be a simpler cue to follow from a completely anthropomorphic perspective to an untrained dog, this might be a more difficult situation, with an unfamiliar human constantly pointing at the container, and thereby being in very close proximity to the food source," they noted.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In another finding, if a bowl pointed at was empty, the researchers said the adult dogs were less likely to follow the pointing cue again.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Based on these observations and earlier studies on canine behaviour, the researchers said, humans inadvertently play a role in shaping the personalities of stray dogs.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Bhadra and her team suggest that the study may provide insights on how humans influence the behaviour of dogs on the streets, and help in better management of dog-human conflicts which commonly occur in India's urban areas.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The findings also solve important pieces of the puzzle of what made dogs special for human domestication thousands of years ago, the researchers said.&nbsp;</p> Fri Jan 17 17:13:38 IST 2020 the-opulent-decor-at-delhis-the-kimono-club-is-gatsbyesque-the-food-modern <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Leading adman and artist Freddy Birdy is also a well-known word muralist.&nbsp; A sampler of his “text paintings”, adorning the walls of Delhi's new casual dining restaurant 'Plate', include saucy flashes of wit like ‘what I want for breakfast in bed is you' or&nbsp; ‘Her favourite thing to make for dinner was a reservation’.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>At the Asian casual dining and bar The Kimono&nbsp; Club — located in Lutyens' Delhi —Freddy has shied away from words. Instead what you get are old world, baroque-style paintings and stained glass mirrors reflecting the vintage glamour of huge, shiny disco balls. For TKC aims to capture the discreet allure of 1920s Paris with the buzzy bright lights of modern-day Shanghai, Bangkok and Hong Kong. When asked to paint a textual personality of the restaurant in his trademark style, Freddy says The Kimono Club is “ Modern. Sexy. International. Chic. Fun. Exciting. Over the top. Slightly Crazy. Pulsating. A frisson of the old and new. Madness.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>With cucumbers from Israel, wood ear mushrooms from Japan and lobster from the Andamans, TKC sure does dish out an exciting palate of delectables. And your seafood hungering can be easily satiated. With a range of signature dishes in soft shell crab, black cod miso, river sole fillet, Tamari glazed sea bass, sous vide duck and jumbo prawns, richly seasoned in all kinds of house soy and teriyaki, TKC is not afraid to revel in exaggeration.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The splendid Ponzu soy, tart and tangy with wok-tossed smokiness, is used liberally in carpaccios and stir-fries. Each cut in the duck carpaccio is seasoned to perfection. The stir fry pork sticks out as a somewhat regular choice in the midst of its peers, but the tenderloin asparagus is comfort food, redolent and warming. The tofu steak in teriyaki sauce, when served with Kerala red rice and braised seasonal mushrooms, is a vegetarian sublimation of gustatory divine. Its crisp shell cracks to yield soft, dense, toothsome tofu. The Kimono old fashion is a cocktail à la Tokyo Rose, simple and sleek to see and sup. Just avoid the misadventures “aerated tofu cheesecake”.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>TKC comes from restaurateurs Ashish Dev Kapur and&nbsp; Joydeep Singh,&nbsp; known for popular dining and entertainment destinations like Whisky Samba and The Wine Company in Gurgaon, The Wine Rack in Mumbai and Antares in Goa. The modern Asian bar and restaurant also have a&nbsp; 40-foot whisky bar at one end, offset with an expansive wine wall on the other. But if going to the bar counter is too much effort, there is a hefty little goth-style metal box on every table — a ‘call-for-champagne’ buzzer meant to beckon trolleys loaded with odds and ends to make the perfect champagne cocktail. Think Negroni Redux and passion fruit cordial.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The dark red interiors with large floral patterns and gaudy lights do manage to recreate an opulent, giddily wasteful vibe of the roaring twenties.&nbsp; So much so that the ongoing theme is “Geisha Calling” with “supermodels” expected to entertain guests by fluttering around two large velveteen swings hanging from the ceiling. Is this going a bit too far in today's age when Gatsby-style decadence is much too passé?&nbsp;</p> Mon Jan 13 17:03:38 IST 2020 curves-and-the-verve <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Eighteen years after the Kingfisher Calendar made its debut, it still has the perfect blend of everything that is sexy, elegant and luxurious. Published by the United Breweries Group and shot by ace photographer Atul Kasbekar, the calendar is not only about foxy models but also features some of the world’s most picturesque destinations. And the calendar for 2020 is shot in the land of astounding diversity­—the universal home of beauty, South Africa.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>According to Atul, the Kingfisher Calendar girl needs to have a certain ‘X-factor’ apart from obvious features like an interesting face and a toned, athletic body. “This X-factor or quality is not easy to define but when photographed, it is clear as day to the viewer that there is something special about the talent,” says Atul.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Kingfisher 2020 Calendar features four models—Aishwarya Sushmita, Zoya Afroz, Pooja Chopra and Aditi Arya. The models tell <i>Smart Life</i> about their diet and fitness regime, their journey and some inside stories.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Aishwarya Sushmita</b></p> <p>“<b>I am a conscientious model!”</b></p> <p>Her name is an amalgamation of the names of former Miss World Aishwarya Rai and former Miss Universe Sushmita Sen. Singer, belly dancer and national level badminton player, this 25-year-old, from Darbhanga in Bihar, says, “A model should be confident and hardworking. But the most important rule of modelling is to be patient and passionate.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Aishwarya says the calendar shoots are very challenging. “It requires a lot of stamina, hard work and patience to deal with tasks that we are given. In the recent shoot, I was in freezing cold water in nothing other than my bikini. I was shivering and my teeth were clattering,” she says.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>To show solidarity with the frozen model, Atul jumped into the water. “I had someone hold an umbrella to save my camera as we were shooting under the waterfalls.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Apart from modelling, Aishwarya enjoys painting and reading. “I look forward to my leisure time; sometimes, when I am not painting or reading, I hit the gym,” she says. This is her second appearance in the calendar after winning the Kingfisher Calendar Hunt in 2015.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>My diet</b></p> <p>I am not finicky about food but I prefer to keep it healthy as much as I can. I start my day with green tea and lemon or just lemon grass tea followed by coconut water. I drink a lot of water throughout the day.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>For breakfast I take a small bowl of sprouts and a full bowl of fresh cut fruits or juice.</p> <p>Lunch is usually simple; a bowl of rice, chapati and dal with some vegetables on the side.</p> <p>In the evening I munch on some dry fruits or have a homemade smoothie.</p> <p>Dinner totally depends on my mood; it is sometimes south Indian dosa or north Indian home-cooked mutton rice.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Fitness regime</b></p> <p>I think it is very important to take care of our mental health along with physical, since both are closely connected. Mental health plays a huge role in our ability to maintain good physical health. If you want to start your journey to have a better body, exercise daily for at least an hour, eat right since 70 per cent of your body weight is what you eat. I make sure that I work out regularly; either I hit the gym or go for a swim or do yoga or boxing. I play badminton on a regular basis to keep myself fit. Apart from all this, make sure you get good sleep and stay motivated.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Zoya Afroz</b></p> <p>“<b>Don’t you think I am stunning?”</b></p> <p>She made her first on-screen appearance as a child artiste in 1998. She played the role of Baby in the Star Plus soap opera <i>Kora Kagaz</i>. She also did a couple of commercials. In 2013, she won the Pond’s Femina Miss India Indore 2013 and Pond’s Femina Miss India International 2013. With all these titles in hand, Zoya Afroz, from Lucknow, says, “The biggest strength of a model is being secure in one’s physical appearance. Models should not be affected by prying eyes of others and give their best at every click.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Zoya says that everything related to the calendar shoot continues to be an experience, but nothing compares to being on that stage of Miss India and winning the coveted crown. “The calendar girl shoot was a lot of fun; it extended throughout the day. One memorable experience during the shoot was when we went up the Table Mountain on a cloudy day. The view was breathtaking and I was awestruck. I will definitely visit South Africa again,” she says.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>According to Atul, Zoya’s story is nothing less than inspirational. Once overweight, the 25-year-old trained hard to be worthy of calendar images. “I personally tend to gravitate towards duskier women for the calendar, but with Zoya, it has been nothing less than revelatory,” he says.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Every profession has its set of challenges, even modelling. “The initial stages were difficult for me but it took a great deal of focus and discipline to get to the place where I am today. Nothing beats the thrill I get when I walk on that ramp,” Zoya says. According to her, beauty is often wrongly perceived. “It is about the kind of person you are and the good deeds that you have done for those around you. This defines true beauty. I have had to make many sacrifices; I’ll keep it a secret though. But all of the sacrifices have been worth it,” she says.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>My diet</b></p> <p>I believe in lifestyle and not diet and hence, I don’t have a fixed one. I strive for balance and I make sure that I don’t hit the extremes. I eat a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables and protein in any form most of the days. I don’t have a fixed diet plan but I have a variety of small meals throughout the day­—all of it home cooked and healthy. I also keep a tab on the portions I consume and make sure that I drink a lot of water.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Few days in a month are cheat days. That is when I let myself eat whatever I please; it mostly involves spaghetti.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Fitness regime</b></p> <p>Staying fit is very important to me. I work out at least three to four times a week and it is all high intensity training. For an actor, every day is not the same. Some days, I wake up at 5am, hit the gym and work for 12-14 hours. There are also days when I stay late in bed, eat an extravagant brunch and go out with my friends. It is all about staying focused without missing out on the fun side of life.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Pooja Chopra</b></p> <p>“<b>I’d call me spunky”</b></p> <p>She won the coveted Femina Miss India East title in 2009; she also got a direct entry into the top ten finalists of the Femina Miss India 2009. A week before the 2009 Miss World pageant, she sprained her ankle but that did not stop her from going for the competition. Pooja Chopra won the ‘Beauty with a purpose’ title at Miss World 2009, thanks to her charity work in Project Nanhi Kali, which supports the education of underprivileged Indian girls. Despite the many titles, the model, from Pune, is grounded and says that she has always been prepared to persevere for her share of work. “I have always sought good people and fortunately, I got them as well. It is necessary for every human to find their purpose; the rest will follow,” Pooja says.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>According to the 34-year-old, the difference between any other commercial modelling and Kingfisher Calendar is the person who shoots it and the place where it is shot. “Atul scouts for the best of talent and, not to forget, the most picturesque of locations where you’re darn sure that your pictures are going to come out looking like it is worth a million bucks,” she says.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Although Pooja did not visualise herself as a calendar girl, Atul did. “Working with someone like him was a great learning experience. He told me about the angles, what works and what doesn’t and the right attitude—he just knows everything. And also, I like all the challenges that my profession throws at me. I do not see them as challenges but as an opportunity for personal growth,” she says.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>According to Atul, Pooja has done an excellent job of maintaining her shape. “She has had a lot of experience in front of camera prior to this but never anything like the calendar shoot. However, she blended with the mix pretty well,” he says.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>My diet</b></p> <p>I don’t have a specific diet; I have five-six meals a day, keeping it healthy and wholesome. It primarily consists of eggs, oats, fresh fruits, vegetables and nuts. Since I am a vegetarian and also gluten sensitive, my food options narrow down considerably.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Fitness regime</b></p> <p>I start my day with 10 minutes of meditation. I work out 5-6 days a week. It includes cardiovascular exercises, weight training, functional training. I also do a session of full body stretching once a week. I prefer engaging in some form of outdoor activity since I’m not a huge fan of staying confined to the gym.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Aditi Arya</b></p> <p>“<b>I am sensible. Period.”</b></p> <p>Though her acting debut in Tollywood failed to click at the box office, the glamour diva did not let it bog her down. Model, research analyst and Femina Miss India World 2015 titleholder, Aditi Arya, from Chandigarh, has come a long way in the fashion industry. “I used to always underestimate the effort put in by models before I actually got to try modelling myself,” Aditi says. The 26-year-old feels that every model should know how to have fun while maintaining a strong sense of discipline. “Models should be patient and must learn to take the day as it comes and live in the moment. Having the balance is the key. The camera captures every detail, so it is essential to be alert, present and agile,” she says.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>According to Aditi, shooting for the calendar has been a lot of fun. “There was this one shot which Atul had to take from a top angle while leaning off the edge of a stilt. He made his assistant hold his pants behind him so that he doesn’t fall. It was both comical and scary at the same time,” she says.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Aditi believes that the Kingfisher Calendar campaign is a balance of beauty, fashion and commercial modelling experience in equal doses. “You feel like an active contributor to the final pictures. The campaign not just celebrates the location, clothing and brand but also the beauty of its models and that makes us feel special,” she says.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Atul calls her the baby of the group. “She is simply sensational; reminds me of a very young Nargis Fakhri,” he says. As for the bubbly model, she is looking forward for the calendar launch and the release of her Punjabi film in February.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>My diet</b></p> <p>My diet chart varies according to my monthly fitness goals. Last year I had phases where I moved from high protein to keto to dairy free diet regimes. Currently I am back to simple, balanced vegetarian meals with zero sugar.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Fitness regime</b></p> <p>I am an early riser, but that is a fairly recent development. I think it has been one of my best decisions; it has made me very productive. My fitness routine alternates between dance and functional workouts. I switch dance with martial arts classes every month. MMA and functional training spread over five days a week. I try to make it beyond an hour a day.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>All four models got into training mode almost a year prior to the shoot. Atul says that it is not just the preparation period or the shoot that is difficult, even the journey to the shoot site can be a challenge. “One of our shoot locations was in an area called 22 Watervalle. It is an area with waterfalls, about 2.5 hours away from Cape Town. Getting there involved a drive and a very steep climb up walkways and stairs. But we got some of our best shots there,” he says.&nbsp;</p> Mon Jan 06 16:32:38 IST 2020 how-kerala-muhamma-plans-to-be-first-synthetic-sanitary-pad-free-village <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>As a new year dawns, Muhamma, a village in Kerala’s Alappuzha district, is ushering in commendable changes. Kerala’s first open-defecation free panchayat, yoga gramam, model wetland panchayat—Muhamma already has many titles to its credit. And now Muhamma is drawing attention with its large-scale project to become India’s first synthetic pad-free village.</p> <p>Officially launched on December 27, the project is an initiative to curb the menace of menstrual waste disposal by replacing synthetic sanitary napkins with sustainable options like cloth pads and menstrual cups. “Currently, on a pilot basis, we have selected 3 wards out of the panchayat’s 16 wards for distributing cloth pads and cups. Awareness classes at gramasabhas and workplaces including coir factories are being conducted on a regular basis to educate women on this matter,” panchayat president J. Jayalal told THE WEEK.</p> <p>With ASHA (Accredited Social Health Activist) workers as the nodal points for the project, Muhamma’s quest for change is slowly gathering pace. Right from visiting every household for taking orders for cups and pads to spreading awareness about these sustainable menstrual products, ASHAs are indeed instrumental in this project. “Women in Muhamma have embraced this change very positively, even though there is an anxiety over switching to menstrual cups. But gradually, it will change, said Baby, an ASHA Worker.</p> <p>The idea was born from lessons learnt after a canal rejuvenation which the panchayat carried out along with ATREE (Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and Environment), a non-profit organisation based in Bengaluru. Massive amounts of sanitary pads and diapers were found to be the major contaminants of canals. “A survey conducted in the wake of canal rejuvenation revealed that an estimate of 1 lakh sanitary pads are used per month in Muhamma. Initially, though there were plans to team up with Indian Medical Association’s waste disposal project, it was not fully beneficial. Thus, we switched to the idea of cloth pads and menstrual cups,” said Jayalal.</p> <p>Reema Anand, Program Officer of ATREE said that being a rural area, synthetic sanitary pad usage is comparatively low in Muhamma. “Almost 25 per cent of the women of menstrual age, especially homemakers, use cloth during menstruation. Thus, switching over to cloth pads is relatively easier for them. In reality, beyond a habit or product switchover, what we intend through this project is a platform where women can openly talk about their menstrual issues and can gain awareness on matters of personal hygiene,” she said.</p> <p>Concerted efforts are being made to encourage women to completely switch from synthetic pads and it may not be totally off the mark to say that it has reaped success. “Since the day I started using menstrual cups, it has become extremely comfortable. It became such that I even forgot I was on my period,” said Maya, a homemaker in Muhamma.</p> <p>However, there are apprehensions. The inhibition towards menstrual cups and the usage of cloth pads during rainy season remain the prime concerns of many women. Nevertheless, when a user herself shares her experience to her neighbour or friend, it becomes a merit for this initiative. Thus, through awareness programmes and testimonials, the waves of apprehension are slowly being dismantled, added Reema.</p> <p>“Cloth pads and menstrual cups are economically viable and if maintained hygienically, they can be used up to a period of 3-5 years,” said Dr. C Jayanthi, medical officer, Muhamma Community Health Centre.</p> <p>The project, funded by ISRO's commercial arm Antrix, provides cloth pads and menstrual cups at a subsidised rate. In the near future, plans to manufacture cloth pads in the panchayat through ATREE’s social innovation lab are also being discussed.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Tue Dec 31 14:23:29 IST 2019 underwater-wedding-maternity-photoshoots-this-photographer-loves <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Underwater photographer, cinematographer, wedding photographer, shark enthusiast – Anup J. Kat wears many hats. Anup has travelled a long way in the world of photography, experimenting and clicking those moments in perfect frames. He is the only Indian to win the CLIO Awards—the international award in advertising, design and communication</p> <p>Excerpts from an interview</p> <p><b>A wedding photographer and cinematographer who embarked on a journey to become an underwater photographer. Can you describe your life as a photographer?</b></p> <p>Photography for me started off with my father, who, when I was a kid, taught me what photography was all about. He ran a production house and made films for Doordarshan. So, the world of images and camera was not new to me. Eventually, when I picked up the profession, I did not have to strive hard to master the skill. It was the art I was more focussed on. Initially, I broke the ground with wedding photography. Then the urge to do something different sparked in me and that was how I ended up in underwater photography. Oceans were something that always awed me and it became yet another reason for me to cling on to this form of photography.</p> <p><b>You are a great shark enthusiast. Can you describe your first experience of seeing a shark underwater? And how have you been able to change the perception about these species?</b></p> <p>Sharks are always characterised as creatures that are vicious and scary which, in reality, they are not. If you look at the number of shark attacks this year, it has dwindled to one or two. Sharks get really scared when they see a human underwater. For them, we are something which does not look like a fish with bubbles coming out from the top. Initially, I also held a similar perception about them. It was at Omedu Island in Maldives when I saw them underwater for the very first time. The experience was such that my heart was pounding so terribly. But then, I understood that these species are scared or to put it more right, least bothered about the divers. After couple of dives, it became such that I starting taking pictures with them.</p> <p><b>How fascinating and different is it to shoot underwater? Is it difficult to convince people to do the wedding shoots underwater?</b></p> <p>The experience of being underwater is different and extraordinary. There is no gravity acting upon you and it is like we are in space. While shooting underwater life, one needs to get to their level, figure out the right angle which is in stark contrast to the normal shoots. Also, time is a crucial factor in this photography where we get only about 45 minutes to capture the moment. It is essential that the photographer becomes a good diver to achieve this for this is indeed a risky business.</p> <p>I never ask those whom I do not know to go for an underwater shoot. When it comes to underwater wedding photo shoots, I always pay heed to the comfort factor. To capture the right clicks, one has to feel comfortable and I always make sure that my clients are perfectly alright to go with it.</p> <p><b>But, is there a demand for underwater photography?</b></p> <p>I could say there is not much demand for this fascinating photography. But, it has more to do with research-based photography where it brings in the needed information for marine biologists; or it could be for resorts as well. For me, underwater photography is a hobby and it is just what I love doing.</p> <p><b>About your production house </b><i><b>1</b></i><sup><i><b>st</b></i></sup><i><b> December films</b></i><b>?</b></p> <p><i>1</i><sup><i>st</i></sup><i> December films</i> is run by my brother Atul and me. Executive producer Ganesh Pareek has also played a key part in setting up this production house. Based in Mumbai, we solely focus on ad films and do not go for the corporate films. One of our ad films for Nike titled ‘Make every yard count’ had won nine Cannes Lion Awards in 2013-’14 which was a boost for us. HRX, Uber, Star Sports are among the list of our clients.</p> <p><b>Your view on the changing trends in field of wedding photography?</b></p> <p>Well, wedding photography has now gone to a different tangent altogether. When I stepped into the photography world, a very few experimented with candid photography which has now become all too familiar for everyone. Today, even the clients have an understanding about modern day shoots and are aware of the different genres of shooting as well. It is great to see that the industry is changing and evolving to a great new level.</p> <p><b>Is underwater maternity shoot becoming a trend in India?</b></p> <p>I made a head start in underwater maternity shoot with<i> Chak De! India </i>fame Anaitha Nair when she was in her ninth month of pregnancy and since then it has fared well. In my opinion, I could say that there isn’t really a trend in underwater maternity shoot. There are too many factors that go into this type of photography; a lot that should be taken care of. Firstly, the mother needs to be comfortable in the water. It is the prime factor. The consent of her parents and in-laws for her to go underwater is also crucial. And there aren’t many photographers who are comfortable in the water or have the necessary equipment for underwater shoots.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>A piece of advice for those young photographers who want to step into underwater photography?</b></p> <p>Become a good and safe diver first. It should stand supreme in the list before taking a camera underwater. Take at least fifty dives before venturing out with the camera. I made a mistake by taking my camera along just after I received my diving certification. So it took longer for me to be a good diver. Give yourself time; this is something that does not come easily.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Sat Dec 21 12:12:59 IST 2019 what-to-see-in-toronto-multicutural-hotspot <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Fringing the iconic Lake Ontario in Eastern Canada, Toronto is perched on a water body that bestows upon it plentiful natural resources and a healthy lifestyle credo. Canada’s largest metropolis is a potpourri of cultures, tongues, cuisine and urban contrasts that greet visitors with elan and a friendly character. Under an hour’s drive from the world famous Niagara Falls and the salubrious Niagara-On-The-Lake region, this city is the gateway to the province of Ontario and the many alluring locales around that make it the centre focus of tourism, trade and enterprise. We braced ourselves for a wholesome and engaging experience in this hotbed of the spirited Indian diaspora that have carved a commanding niche for themselves.</p> <p><b>Unique attractions, endearing identity</b></p> <p>Our Citysightseeing Toronto Hop On Hop Off coach was waiting for us at the busy Dundas Square as we took to the top for uninterrupted views of the city’s attractions. Our cameras whirred ceaselessly as we captured frames of the diversely delightful landmarks we passed and alighted to experience.</p> <p><b>The royal Ontario museum</b></p> <p>Perched on the northern edge of the University of Toronto campus, the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) is an unforgettable visit. The ROM is home to more than six million fascinating artifacts and rare objects. It proudly boasts of being Canada's largest repository of world cultures and natural history. We discovered that the museum packed with a bewildering array of relics Medieval Roman sculptures, Far Eastern and sacred Chinese art creations. The highlight was a fascinating exhibit of the earliest indigenous Nation peoples of Canada, their First Peoples.</p> <p>Little ones visiting the ROM have their hands full, literally! Activities galore abound for them as the kids gallery offers children come up close to touching a snake skin, shark jaws and more. To add excitement, the ROM’s CIBC Discovery Gallery is a kiddy riot where they can don colourful costumes for a pantomime!</p> <p><b>Casa Loma</b></p> <p>This edifice was the unusual inhabitant to the landmarks list! It was Sir Henry Pellatt, a former soldier who had been fascinated with the idea of having his own castle overlooking Toronto city. So he lived up to his fancy and created his enormous 98-room Casa Loma in the 1900s. The cost? More than $3.5 million to complete! The one-and-only live castle in North Toronto was an emperor’s lavish lair complete with towers, secret passageways to boot, horse stables, a hyper large wine cellar, a well-calibrated 5-acre garden, coloured with cheery fountains and evocative sculptures and even bright floral blooms.</p> <p>It is a psychedelic paradise of sorts, certainly that we smiled our walk through with wide-eyed awe. This was one attraction in Toronto we would have never missed. Our cruising Hop On Hop off coach glided through the city streets with ease as we waited eagerly to visit the next feature.</p> <p><b>Art gallery of Ontario</b></p> <p>The snazzy, avant garde architecture leaves you riveted in admiration with it’s cutting edge design and 21st Century appeal. This celebrated Art haven is one of the largest museums in North America and attracts countless art aficionados the year round. The collections scale way beyond 95,000 exhibits from around the globe, including European masterpieces to modern, experimental and contemporary art.</p> <p>The vast collection of Canadian Art including works by the Group of Seven is the highlight that we spent a good deal of time exploring. Adjoining the AGO is the striking Ontario College of Art and Design University, standing high above the street on colourful stilts that resemble pencils. The polka dotted façade is an eye catcher and draws admiration from even city dwellers for its unmissable presence.</p> <p><b>Hockey Hall of Fame</b></p> <p>For crazed and fanatical hockey buffs who swear by the game, the Hockey Hall of Fame in downtown Toronto is a Mecca. Every information about all-time hockey greats, the celebrated players, heroes, the teams, and the games come alive in a fabulous documentation of visual imagery. One can also see the Stanley Cup and a collection of significant memorabilia and collectibles storied there.</p> <p><b>City hall and Nathan Philip square</b></p> <p>Nathan Philip Square is sprawling, huge and is graced by a fantastic bronze sculpture—The Archer by Henry Moore. It is home to the popular landmark —the new City Hall. Brilliant Finnish designer and architect Viljo Revell created two arc-shaped high-rise towers, 20 and 27 stories high respectively.</p> <p>The lively square in front of City Hall is a man-made pond, a much frequented winter skating rink with the famed ‘Toronto’ glow sign is resplendent. This is a great photo opportunity for city citizens and visitors alike.</p> <p><b>Graffiti alley</b></p> <p>Running parallel to, and between Queens Street West and Richmond Street West from Spadina Avenue to Portland Street, this fascinating street is a free-for-all-artists of the city.</p> <p>From socially relevant graffiti to critical opinions in color to eccentric visual embroidery and maverick expressions that span entire wall ranges, this place magnetizes camera and selfie crazy tourists who pose along painted doorways in animated mirth.</p> <p><b>Yorkville and colonial neighbourhood charms</b></p> <p>We slowed down in this lively precinct to catch a glimpse rows of colonial bungalows and villas, town row houses and establishments all hailing from a bygone era of genteel living. Rust, red, peach, ivory, white and light blue-coloured residences and facades evoked nostalgia and smiles, as the tree-lined boulevard had a more relaxed and easy going feel.</p> <p><b>Eaton centre</b></p> <p>This massive, iconic landmark just across Dundas Square is at the north end of the Central Business District. There is a subway station which makes it all the more attractive. Ultra-modern and trendy chic rule this vibrant shopping complex extending over several blocks and floors. The sometimes confusing layout packs in department stores, specialty shops, boutiques, restaurants, cafeterias, and snack bars.</p> <p><b>The entertainment district</b></p> <p>Another one of Toronto’s many splendored spaces! A fitting reply to New York's Broadway, the Entertainment District is the place to jam and gel every evening onwards.</p> <p>So you have major theater productions and presentations, the latest musicals, concerts, and scores of other lively performances to choose from. A fantastic spread of gourmet dining options abound where one can mingle, mix and share vocabulary. Remember, it is along King Street where you’ll find the action!</p> <p><b>St. Lawrence market</b></p> <p>Part of the nostalgic historic Old Town area of Toronto, this 17th century market has witnessed scores of changes and upheavals. Besides being a cheery, busy and bustling marketplace of many sorts, it is also the city's social hub and City Hall. From assorted goods and wares which line up systematically as we strolled, to gourmet meats and cold cuts to cheeses and loads of gastronomic greats, we found handcrafted jewelry boutiques and other merchandise too. A fruit vendor informed us that cooking classes were also offered at the Market Kitchen and regular exhibitions on the city's art, culture and history in the lively Market Gallery within the precincts.</p> <p>The St. Lawrence Market is proudly rated as one of the best food markets in the world. We were frankly impressed by the endless miles of delectable fare at most reasonable prices! Come Saturday and crowds jostle for walking space to catch the hoary action of spirited vendors. Have an appetite? Be sure to make your way through the maze for yummy piping hot, fresh treats. We were recommended a peameal bacon sandwich at the Carousel Bakery which is the signature dish in Toronto – Canadian back bacon stuffed in a Kaiser roll…a must gorge delight!</p> <p><b>CN Tower</b></p> <p>This stunning edifice earmarks the iconic identity of Toronto's dazzling and eye catching harbor front skyline. It stands towering at 1815-feet the peak of which offers breathtaking panoramas of the sprawling city. The CN Tower (Canadian National) facilitates seamless transmissions for communications.</p> <p>After a long wait, express elevators zoomed us to the top in less than a minute from where four observation areas open up for exploration. The dramatic Glass Floor room, the LookOut Level, the spectacular revolving 360 The Restaurant and the SkyPod, easily one of the highest observation points on the planet.</p> <p>We ‘attempted’ the EdgeWalk that dared us on the world's highest hands-free external walk on any monument!. Of course, our harness secured our walk on the 5-feet-wide ledge as we stared wide eyed at the vertical depth 116 stories below us.</p> <p><b>Rogers centre</b></p> <p>You just cannot miss this impressive dome-shaped landmark right adjacent to the CN Tower, it’s a sports arena par excellence. It’s the habitat of the famed Toronto Blue Jays. The outstanding architectural design features a massive retractable roof sliding back to open in fair weather.</p> <p><b>The distillery district</b></p> <p>Dating back to the early 1800s, this heritage neighbourhood was home to Canada's largest distilling company - the Gooderham and Worts Distillery. Now a pedestrians-only neighborhood jostling with industrial and Victorian edifices on cobbled streets, it is home to boutiques, art galleries, performing art venues, trendy shops, lively cafes and restaurants, even a brewery. We took a brief stroll through the area that radiated a genteel and laid back charm we quite liked.</p> <p>We grabbed a craft beer pint and spent stare-away time watching folks abandoning their urban fundas and relaxing around. One can spend a whole day here, exploring every nook and cranny.</p> <p><b>Kensington market</b></p> <p>Get into the pleasant din at the Kensington Market. A former Jewish settlement, this neighbourhood has busy streets coloured with shops, cafes, restaurants and stores selling a variety of goods from across the world. This permanent address for variety offers a traditional market touch to your visit in the last Sunday of each month.. Totally pedestrian on this day, you’ll enjoy the antics and free expressions of live street buskers as shoppers stop by with smiles on their faces and ice cream cones in hand.</p> <p>This art-and-style-and-gourmet neighborhood packs in variety for all and sundry, radiating the crazy with the outlandish in character. A must-experience on your Toronto visit.</p> <p><b>Toronto islands theme parks</b></p> <p>When you are in need of a break from the hustle and bustle of Canada's biggest city, hop a ferry to the Toronto Islands half an hour away. The fabulous city skyline views are worth every frame as Toronto shimmers with pride right into the starry night! These scenic islands and islets are a relieving touch of verdant green acres as compared to the city's skyscraper-speckled mainland. The three islands, Centre, Ward's and Algonquin, are conveniently connected and accessible.</p> <p>There are relaxing picnic spots, quaint and pretty beach fronts, sporting outlets and the Centreville Amusement Park.</p> <p>For little people there is a fascinating petting zoo. The islands of Ward and Algonquin are more easy going with old cottages and English gardens. The Toronto islands, all in Lake Ontario are mercifully no-car-zones, so folks can take it real easy on a leisurely walk, biking and even enjoying a grassy family’s day out. When it is snowy winter its time for cross-country skiing, ice skating and icy thrills here.</p> <p>We promised ourselves we’d be back.</p> Thu Dec 12 15:18:59 IST 2019 try-a-triathlon <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Three, two, one and go—the participants run towards the water for their swim course of the triathlon at the Miramar beach in Goa. After this they have two more challenges—cycling and running. With about 1,000 participants, the Ironman 70.3, that was recently organised in Goa, was the first ever Ironman event to happen in India. The 70.3 refers to the total distance in miles (113km) covered in the race—1.2 mile (1.9km) swim, 56-mile(90km) bike ride and 13.1-mile (21.1km) run. But this is half the distance covered in the usual Ironman triathlons.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Says Deepak Raj, founder and head coach, Yoska, and organising head, Ironman 70.3, Goa: “It was the first time this event happened in India and we had a lot of amateur participants. We decided to go for half Ironman as we wanted many to participate. A full Ironman challenge can seem daunting to many, especially because the culture of participating in triathlons is just catching up here. But I am positive that soon, we will have the full course of the challenge in India.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Considered one of the toughest endurance challenges anyone can undertake in a single day, the full distance Ironman event involves swimming 3.8km in open water, 180km cycling and 42.195 km running—all done sequentially.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>When did it all start?</b></p> <p>The Ironman event started in Oahu—a part of the Hawaiian island chain. The idea of the event was conceived by Navy man John Collins and his wife Judy. It was after their family of four—John, Judy and their two children—participated in a multisport event in San Diego, US, that the couple realised their passion for endurance events. They had always dreamed about creating an athletic event that people would enjoy and a debate with friends on which athletes were the fittest—swimmers, bikers or runners—resulted in combining the three of the toughest existing endurance races. Thus, the first Ironman event happened in 1978 in Oahu with the Waikiki rough water swim, the Around Oahu bike race and the Honolulu marathon. The race had 15 participants and the first one finished the challenge in 11 hours and 46 minutes. The next year saw a woman complete the race in 12 hours and 55 minutes. By this time the media started noticing the event and the 1980 event had over 100 participants. A new record of completing the challenge in 9 hours and 24 minutes was set. By 1983, the event got global attention and a qualification system was introduced. A 17-hour finishing cut-off was also instituted. In 1985, the Ironman brand and name got popular globally. Now, there over 100 Ironman events that happen across the world.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>The swim</b></p> <p>Of the three challenges, the swim is usually the most intimidating course, especially for newcomers. “Not everyone in India grows up swimming and swimming in open waters is challenging even for seasoned swimmers. I feel once the swim gets over, participants feel a little relaxed for the next two courses. Sometimes, athletes fear rough waters and this can cause panic which may even result in drowning,” says Jaimielle Jacobs, wife of Ironman world champion Pete Jacobs, co-founder of Live Your Own Fit and a competitive triathlete.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>For 18-year-old Adit Dahiya, who took part in the team event category, his phobia of swimming in open water did not stop him from completing the 1.9-km swim; he flew down from UK just to attend the event. “Halfway through the second lap of the swim, I felt like I was seeing things in the water but, it was all in my head. I just kept telling myself that I need to finish it no matter what. I think the mentality matters a lot. I think the best way to overcome a phobia is to experience it first-hand,” he says. His father Yashish Dahiya, 47, CEO of Policy Bazaar, who took up the second course of the triathlon—cycling—says he was just relieved seeing his son come out of the water. “I was a little worried because he has this phobia of open water but the moment I saw him, I just knew the rest of the course is going to be smooth. My last Ironman 70.3 was in Dubai in February 2019 and we have been training as a team for the past six months. I think it paid off,” Yashish says. Their team, Juggernauts, finished first in the team category with Pankkaj Dhiman, their fitness coach, completing the event with the run.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>According to Kaustubh Radkar, former national swimming champion and worldwide recognised Ironman athlete, mastering strokes, body position and breathing while swimming is a constant pursuit and every triathlete must consistently train for it. “I usually tell participants to start training at least nine months before the event but this is for people who are the basic level of all the three sports. I think when it comes to swimming, breathe on every three strokes—it allows you to focus more on the stroke,” he says. Kaustubh has completed over 20 Ironman triathlons and is among India’s elite athletes. He made it to the Ironman Silver All World Athlete’s list for the fourth time in a row in 2018. Kaustubh is now an Ironman Certified Coach and he provides coaching to amateur, elite athletes and professional triathletes. According to him, being relaxed and timing the breath is important during the swim. “It is essential that the head points forward and not up—the aim is to get your mouth out of the water not your eyes,” he says.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>The ride</b></p> <p>Most people think cycling is the easiest among the three. Try doing a hilly course or an uneven terrain. Joint-eroding climbs and exciting descents may seem easy for onlookers, because they feel that athletes get to sit during this course, but it is equally difficult. “Swimming is my forte but cycling has always been a challenge for me. I am still trying to optimise my cycling skills,” Kaustubh says.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>For Bishworjit Saikhom, the first to finish the Ironman 70.3 Goa challenge, his legs started cramping when he started to cycle uphill. “I decided to let others pass me by and thought I will cover up in running. I was not going to give up. So, I started pedalling lightly and relaxed a bit during the descents,” he says. Bishworjit trains with the Bombay Sappers—a regiment of the Corps of Engineers of the Indian Army. It was his first Ironman and now he will be preparing for the full Ironman after the 2020 World Championships in Kona.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>According to him, it is necessary to ride the right bike otherwise it can result in pain in joints because of wrong posture. “Ride easy for the first hour; it is okay if you are being passed by a lot of people. Remember, you are also warming up for the run,” Bishworjit says.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>A snazzy bike with fancy gears may help you shave off a few minutes but it isn’t all about getting the fastest bike. “There are uncertainties even when it comes to cycling. There are chances that your bike might get a puncture or some other mechanical error but keeping calm is key in all these situations. The moment you panic, the body begins to underperform,” says Jaimielle.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>The run</b></p> <p>It can be very difficult to run a strong marathon after riding the bicycle for 112 miles. Most Ironman dreams die in this course. According to Deepak, most participants tend to go too hard on the cycling and don’t save energy for the run. “All the athletes are fatigued by the time they reach the final course. Some even think of giving up at this point. This is where training helps you. Your body and mind are so conditioned during training that you know exactly how to combat fatigue,” he says.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Deepak used to be a techie who weighed over 95kg, thanks to bad lifestyle habits and zero exercise. He initially took up running to lose weight but then decided to pick a goal to keep the focus. “I had a pair of line skates and I wanted to do something about it. That is when I came across a flyer with the advertisement of a 38-km roller skating marathon and I signed up for it with no background in the sport. I felt this is the only way I could force myself to learn skating. I started to learn skating and then consistently trained for the marathon. As a result of it, I completed the marathon; this motivated me to condition my running too,” he says. In 2002, he signed up for the Berlin Marathon and with the help of some exercise videos, dietary changes and training, he completed his first marathon in 4 hours and 58 minutes. As a result of his dietary changes, exercising and training, he lost over 30kg. This was when he decided to take it a step further. So, in 2008, at the age of 30, he took up his first Ironman challenge and was one of the few Indians to complete the challenge.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“Fitness is a way to unwind from my everyday activities and it fills me with positive energy and attitude. I am passionate about fitness and I want more people in our country to have the same—I want many to participate in the upcoming triathlons,” he says.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>After spending about 14 years in the corporate sector, he decided to follow this passion and start a triathlon coaching company—Tri A New Life—and develop the sport in India. He also set up a technology platform for the coaching company, Yoska, and a triathlon academy to scale up and support a much larger audience across India. He is a qualified and accredited coach for running, cycling, swimming and personal fitness; he has successfully completed 13 Ironman triathlons till date, with a personal best time of 10 hours, 19 minutes and 8 seconds. He now works closely with an extended team of like-minded and passionate people to drive the progress of triathlon in India and support the growing triathlon community in the country.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Training</b></p> <p>If you are aspiring to be an Ironman athlete, head to the weight room. Apart from training in swimming, cycling and running, it is necessary to work on your strength. Says Jaimielle: “Athletes must be consistent with deadlifting, squats, explosive movements, lunges and exercises for core conditioning. Strength plays a key role in endurance training. Hitting the gym, at least thrice a week helps to maintain muscular balance and function as well as help in controlling the posture. For an athlete, four things that are key in training are—mobility, flexibility, strength and power.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Most times, athletes tend to put strength training on the back burner. Gym workout is a massive component of training. According to Jaimielle, more strength means more efficiency. “Strength training not only enhances muscular endurance but also aids quick recovery after the event. Apart from strength training, it is also important that the athletes are given some mental conditioning too. At the end of the day, the mentality of the individual is what determines the result. Athletes need to understand that it is not about finishing first; it is about completing the race,” she says.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Train till you drain?</b></p> <p>In the process of training for the event, there are chances that the athletes tend to overdo training and get exhausted—both physically and mentally. According to Deepak, athletes, especially amateurs, should keep in mind that they get adequate rest throughout the preparation period and solid rest before and after the event. “After the race, it is necessary to give the body some recovery time. At the end of the day it is not about winning or losing, it is about staying fit and healthy,” he says.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>A certain amount of fatigue is expected during the training period as well as the event. But the problem is when the fatigue persists for a longer period of time. “Most coaches make you push forward sometimes and ask you to be mentally strong and stick to the training. But when you feel tired, it is necessary to take a break but not by completely stopping your routine. Instead try doing minimal or light activity during this time,” says Jaimielle.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Diet</b></p> <p>Body needs sufficient fuel, especially when you are taking part in endurance sports. “When it comes to Ironman or any sport for that matter, nutrition and hydration is key. Athletes need to figure out an eating and drinking strategy that would last up to 17 hours; this can be challenging. Usually, athletes eat energy bars, gels and chews after the swim or during the cycling and running course. If you consume too few calories, you may underperform as the body does not have the energy to go on. Athletes should aim to eat 60-90 grams of carbohydrate per hour during the event,” Jaimielle says.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>According to Nagaraj Harsha, a triathlete and head of brand activation, Fast&amp;Up—a brand of sports nutrition supplements—it is necessary to consume electrolytes (sodium, potassium and magnesium) during the race. “The rate at which a person sweats varies not only with individual but also with regard to the environmental conditions. People not only lose water when they perspire, but also lose electrolytes. Sodium is a critical electrolyte especially for endurance athletes. In hot and humid races athletes require regular intake of electrolytes—about 500-1000mg per hour,” he says.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Even while training, it is necessary to consume a lot nutrient-rich food so as to avoid weakening the body muscles. “Diet is an important part of training. Without proper diet, it is difficult to get the body ready for any sort of endurance sport,” Jaimielle says.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>ONE-ON-ONE WITH THE QUEEN OF KONA</b></p> <p>A professional triathlete and six-time winner of the Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii, Natascha Badmann is the first European woman to win the Ironman triathlon World Championship. Called the ‘queen of Kona’ by many athletes, she is a social worker in Switzerland. Also nicknamed, ‘Swiss miss’, Natascha won her first challenge when she was 29. She is coached by husband Toni Hasler, who is also her nutritionist. In an exclusive interview, Natascha talks about her journey into the world of triathlon:</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>When was the first time you took part in the event? Did you have prior experience of running marathons?</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>I started gaining interest in sport pretty late. As a matter of fact, I had no interest in sports till the age of 23. This was because I was overweight and overworked; I was not satisfied with myself and used to be depressed. Toni, my husband and coach, asked me to try running. So, I started running; initially with no running equipment and only one block at a time. Interestingly, I felt happy every time I ran. And thus, the story started.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Have you had any setbacks—injuries or opposition?</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Thanks to serious planning, I was healthy most of my career. My first real setback was a horrible accident in 2007 during Ironman WC Kona. I hit a cone on the bike leg and I broke both my shoulders, ribs and had two surgeries. The doctors said that I would never be able to race again. And even worse, they said I would never be able to swim. At the hospital, I remember how I couldn’t even wipe my tears with my hands. It was my lowest point. How did I overcome? Long story, short—I didn’t believe a word that the doctors said. I worked hard. It took me seven years to recover and in 2012, I was in Kona again and finished sixth. This was a big victory for me.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>What are some of the challenges?</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>When I had my daughter at 18, I was not into sport at all. So, it was easier to manage a baby. When I entered the field, it became easier as she was no more a baby. My biggest concern at that time was that I was not being a good mother because of my hectic schedule which was mainly coming home from work and going out for a 30-minute run. Although with time, I started to realise that balancing things between professional and personal time is important, so I tried to spend as much time with my daughter.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Why do you think people should try out the Ironman event?</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>I think people should try Ironman events as it is a test of endurance and mental toughness apart from the physical aspects. It makes a person ready to face any challenge in life and more than just an event, it is more of a lifestyle. Also, the feeling of satisfaction after completing an Ironman race is beyond words.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>What is key when it comes to preparing for the event?</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The most important aspect of preparing is high intensity training and a sustainable nutrition plan in place. Nutrition and hydration are extremely important to participate in an Ironman event.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Was your family supportive?</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>My husband always supported me. He is my coach. He also cooks and takes care of my bikes. My mentor, my support system—he juggles so many roles yet does not fail to do justice to each one of it.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>What is the feeling when you reach the finishing point?</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>This feeling is unique and I won’t forget them for the rest of my life. I remember my first victory in Kona in 1998. I was so happy; happier than I could express in words. I spread my arms out and wanted to share my happiness with the whole world.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Has there been a point when someone said you can’t win or said something that put you down?</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Well, there are many. But one thing I remember very vividly is when a lot of people thought it is necessary to eat meat to do Ironman. I don’t eat meat and never thought this way. Once I heard someone say—it is unbelievable that she can win without eating meat! Funny, how people are full of such false notions.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>What diet do you follow?</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>I try to eat healthy. I eat a lot of vegetables and fruits apart from the carbohydrates and proteins that I consume daily. The week before a race, I go low on carbohydrates for four days and then about three days before the race, I pick up on carbohydrates and lower my vegetable and protein intake. Also, as I mentioned earlier, it is important to have a sustainable nutrition and hydration plan in place. There should be a high intake of carbohydrates in all forms followed with an energy drink which always helps you while training.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>What sort of training is required to participate in the event?</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Winter time is very cold in Switzerland and I often go to a training camp on the Canaries to do some long bike rides. When I’m home I hit the gym, swim, run and do some indoor cycling. Before walking into a competition, I prefer to have some outdoor miles on the bike; I prefer the mountains to make my pedaling stronger.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Have you thought about quitting at any point?</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Yes, many times. There were times when I was so exhausted that I wanted to quit and move on.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Does it get difficult with age or is age just a number?</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>For me age was just a number. In 2012, I won Ironman South Africa. This made me the oldest Ironman winner.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>What is your advice for Ironman participants?</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Have fun and enjoy being able to train and race. This is a privilege.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>The event tests endurance—is there any other event according to you which is more difficult than this?</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Yes, there is Ultraman. (2-3 times an Ironman). There are also Decathlons (10x Ironman). I have never tried it though.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>What if you lost consecutively; would you still pursue the event?</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>This is a mental aspect. There is no losing for me. There will always be someone who might be faster or stronger than me. I always say—racing is like getting a chocolate cake; if I win, I get additional whipped cream, but I get to eat the cake either ways.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Signs of fatigue</b></p> <p>* Loss of appetite</p> <p>* Sore muscles</p> <p>* Elevated waking heart rate</p> <p>* Suppressed heart rate with high exertion in training</p> <p>* Poor quality of sleep or night sweats</p> Sat Dec 07 16:46:46 IST 2019 upclose-with-bom-diggy-hitmaker-jasmin-walia <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>As an eight-year-old, Jasmin Walia’s three favourite words were: lights, camera, action. “I used to grab any prop I found around the house and imitate television stars,” recalls the British-Indian singer, who made a rocking singing debut in Bollywood with the viral song Bom Diggy in <i>Sonu ke Titu ki Sweety</i>. Whenever her mother played ballads at their home in Essex, the UK, the little girl would wear her puffy tutu skirt and swirl around like she was in some fairyland. The memory comes to a standstill and, she comes back to real time. “I don’t think I was a shy girl; I always loved and still love performing in front of people. Though I knew I wanted to be an artist, I never thought of making it big in Bollywood,” the 29-year-old tells <i>Smart Life</i>.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>It was during a family evening in their living room that her father realised that singing and acting were more than just a fancy idea for his daughter—it was her passion. “I sang ‘Over the rainbow’ composed by Harold Arlen every Saturday during our family time. My favourite line in the song­­­—dreams really do come true—was something I held on to. One evening, my father, who, for a fact, cannot sing, said I should pursue the art. He signed me up for some vocal training and before I knew it, I started taking part in solo singing competitions at school. Those lessons still come in handy,” she says.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>At the age of 10, she started attending theatre school. “I used to love listening to Indian music and watching Bollywood movies. This was one of the ways that I connected to my culture,” she says. Despite the fact that there is no musical background whatsoever in her family, Jasmin’s parents were always supportive of what she wanted to do. “My parents are just lovely human beings; I am very blessed that way,” she says. “My father would patiently drive me around for different auditions in different parts of the country and encourage me if things didn’t work out. He would keep telling me to push forward and not look back. This is a life lesson that I would never forget.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In 2010, Jasmin got her break with the British television series—<i>The Only Way Is Essex</i> (<i>TOWIE</i>). Part soap opera, part reality show, the series covered the lives, loves and scandals of a group of real-life Essex boys and girls. She was taken as an extra but got promoted to a full cast member in 2012.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“Suddenly, I felt like I literally opened up my private life for the whole world to see; all eyes were on me,” says Jasmin. “It was both overwhelming and exciting. People in the UK started to identify me as the TOWIE girl.” But, our star has had her share of racist abuse on social media. She was sent vile messages by online trolls. “It was ridiculous and I was extremely upset but I never retaliated. This is all part of being in the limelight,” she says.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>According to her, the entertainment industry is not always a happy place. “There was this incident once, when a co-actor was drunk and she physically attacked me outside the scene,” recalls Jasmin. “This had a big impact on me. I learnt that people can do anything to feel superior than the other person. Some upcoming stars want quick fame and they are ready to pull down anyone who is a threat.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>But this was nothing compared to the knockback she got in the sets of The X Factor in the UK in 2014. Jasmin kept the whole thing low-key but the video of her audition caught the attention of her <i>TOWIE</i> fans. Her costars even spoke about it in one of the episodes. Simon Cowell, famous for his blunt and controversial comments, said she hasn’t got a great singing voice.. “You look great, you’re a nice girl but honestly the vocals are just all over the place,” he said after Jasmin sang ‘Rather be’ by Clean Bandit. “Getting turned down on The X Factor was a devastating experience for me. It was my lowest point and it took me a while to move on. But I did and I am glad I came up from that low point,” she says.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>According to Jasmin, auditioning for the X-factor was the biggest mistake she made and she regrets every bit of it. “They made me wait for about 10 hours before I got on stage. So, the whole day I was just going through the songs and by the time I got on stage I was tired and very nervous. I was made to sing &nbsp;five songs but they showed only one in the video. People were laughing; the pressure was massive. But again, I can’t blame all these external factors; maybe, it wasn’t my day or maybe it wasn’t my best,” she says.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>But spring was not far behind—Jasmin was voted one of Britain’s sexiest Asian stars, along with One Direction’s ex-member Zayn Malik in December 2014 in the poll by UK-based Eastern Eye magazine. “It came as a surprise but it happened just at the right time—not too early nor too late,” she says.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Jasmin then got cast in another television show called <i>Desi Rascals</i>, streamed by Sky One from July to September 2015. The show also featured her then-boyfriend Ross Worswick. It gave her the opportunity to explore her cultural roots while still maintaining all her glitz and glamour. The series delved into the lives of a group of West Londoners in their quest to achieve their dreams through all their challenges. “<i>TOWIE</i> was fun and spontaneous but <i>Desi Rascals</i>&nbsp;was a bit more structured. I felt it covered deeper issues and challenges that people go through. It was definitely an interesting experience,” she says.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>After the series, Jasmin appeared in the theatre show <i>Aladdin</i> at the Aylesbury Waterside Theatre, alongside Michelle Collins. She played the role of princess Jasmine in the show. “I enjoyed theatre as a child but never thought I’d get to do it later. It was very exciting singing and acting live in front of thousands of people,” she says. It also helped her to understand that she wasn’t ready to give up on singing yet.So, she decided to take up a project with singer Zack Knight, who was at that time working on his album Dum Dee Dum. “I was not going to let what Simon Cowell said bog me down. Since I was turned down on an international platform, the pressure to perform was even more. Every step I took in the music industry was a major gamble. But I am glad I did my debut singing with Zack,” Jasmin says.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Like every other T-series video, this one also gathered humongous views on YouTube. The catchy music and rendering sure did get attention but Jasmin’s auto-tuned voice massacred the character of the sing-along ditty. Nonetheless, the upbeat music was a hit with listeners but it wasn’t good enough for Jasmin to make her mark in the industry. “A lot of people sent mean tweets about the autotune. But when Zack and I were making this song, we felt the robotic tone gave us the desired club feel that we were looking for. We know the level of autotune we used for the track and both Zack and I were extremely happy with the product,” she says.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Many people also commented on Jasmin’s pumped up lips and skinny figure in the video. “People had a problem that I looked too skinny and had queries regarding my lips. Growing up, I have always been a skinny girl and I tend to lose weight when I get stressed out. My lips—100 per cent natural. I haven’t done anything to it. But if I were to change one of my body parts, that would be my ears,” she says.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Not long after her debut, the song Bom Diggy&nbsp;happened, and it changed her life. The music video got over a million views in five days. It was also number one on the Indian pop charts for several weeks. This made her one of the most wanted newbies in the music arena. “I thoroughly enjoyed working on this song and I was sure people would like it, too. We spent a lot of time and effort working on it. Making a track is a lot of hard work. A three-minute song takes over three months of work. I think it is more challenging than acting,” she says. But her acting was also a big hit—the video of her robbing a bank along with Zack Knight definitely got a lot of attention. “A fun concept is what we had in mind. We wanted to go for a wanted or armed robbery feel. Beyonce and Jay Z’s Bonnie and Clyde ’03 video inspired me a lot. Though this song was supposed to be a love song, when we were in the studio, we decided to increase the tempo of it; it went from a love song to a club song,” she says.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Despite the fact that her parents used to speak Punjabi at home, she was not fluent in it. “I had to pick up some Punjabi before working on the song. The accent really matters when it comes to singing. I wouldn’t say it was difficult but it definitely wasn’t easy,” she says.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>But the hard work paid off. The song was a regular at discos, parties and pubs. Even Nick Jonas loved it. As a matter of fact, Bollywood was surprised when Jasmin performed for Nick and Priyanka Chopra’s wedding.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Interestingly, of all the reality TV stars who have attempted to launch music careers, Jasmin is arguably one of the most successful. Her recent ‘pop-partish’ single Mañana is doing quite well with over one million views on YouTube in a span of two weeks. “Mañana is a song I created with a hint of Spanish vibes as I like to change it up with every song I release and make it a little different. Mañana means tomorrow in Spanish. So, in the hook chorus, I am singing about how I am not interested in this person so he can call me tomorrow because I am going to have some fun and forget about him. It could also be <i>main ne aana</i> which means ‘I won’t come’ in Punjabi. The song is all about current love affairs and relationships,” she says.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Though the singer is known for her upbeat songs, she also likes ballads. “In the end it is not about how fast or how slow the song is; it is all about writing the perfect song and making sure people connect to it,” she says. According to Jasmin, there is a shortage of mainstream ethnic artists. “I really don’t know many British-Asian singers apart from Zack and Jay Sean. I think it is about time more singers come up,” she says.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Jasmin does not want to be just another British-Indian singer, she wants to be a role model to young girls. She feels that girls, not just in India, but also abroad are apprehensive to come out of their comfort zone and do something radical. “I want to make young girls realise that they can make their dreams come true. Most people fear failure and that fear stops them from pursuing their passion. But failure is only for a season; then the season changes. But one needs to patiently persevere till the next season. If I had made a decision to quit after The X Factor, then Bom Diggy would not have happened. It is important to use all the failures as a manure to grow stronger and produce fruit,” she says.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Although she is back in the UK now, the singer says she will be visiting India more frequently. “I have a couple of exciting projects coming up but I can’t talk about it. For now, you can call me Mañana,” she says. Did someone say, the perfect cliffhanger?</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Diet</b></p> <p><b>Breakfast:</b> Usually it is scrambled eggs and some kale with a splash of lemon juice. Sometimes, I have salmon in the morning.</p> <p><b>Lunch: </b>It is different every day. But mostly, I go for a chicken salad or roasted chicken with some vegetables. I also consume carbohydrates like pasta with a lot of sauce or some bread during this time of the day.</p> <p><b>Snack: </b>I prefer a trail mix of different nuts or some fruits.</p> <p><b>Dinner: </b>I eat Indian food. Bread with some curry, or fish and vegetables.</p> <p><b>Pre-workout: </b>I have a small snack.<br> I have a little chicken or scrambled eggs for energy. But usually I don’t eat a lot before workout because<br> I feel nauseous later.</p> <p><b>Post-workout:</b> I have some potatoes, fish or chicken.</p> <p><b>Intra-workout:</b> I only drink water.<br> I don’t prefer electrolytes.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>At a glance</b></p> <p><i><b>The meanest thing that you’ve ever said to someone.</b></i></p> <p>I think it would be... you’re a horrible human being. I have<br> no right to judge someone as good or bad.</p> <p><i><b>A nickname that annoys you.</b></i></p> <p>I hate it when people call me ‘Jazz’.</p> <p><i><b>A bizarre habit.</b></i></p> <p>I love having plain pasta with salt and vinegar.</p> <p><i><b>Guilty pleasure?</b></i></p> <p>KFC. I love chicken.</p> <p><i><b>What do you do when you’re feeling blue?</b></i></p> <p>I just eat a lot of sushi with loads of soya sauce.</p> <p><i><b>If not a singer…</b></i></p> <p>I think I’d want to be a stylist or do anything related to fashion.<br> I love going thrift shopping and dressing up.</p> <p><i><b>An Indian artist you look up to?</b></i></p> <p>There are so many wonderful composers and artists in the industry. When I hear some melodies, I get goose bumps. Shreya Ghoshal is wow. I love Vishal and Shekhar too. I would like to<br> collaborate with them some day.</p> <p><i><b>A movie you have watched over and over again?</b></i></p> <p>Titanic! I have watched it one hundred million times; I know all the lines by heart.</p> <p><i><b>One thing you would like to change about yourself?</b></i></p> <p>Personality-wise, I would like to stop worrying, and my looks—it would be my ears. My ears are too big and I am scared to do any sort of plastic surgery. I get very emotional when I talk about them.</p> <p><i><b>A to-do in your bucket list?</b></i></p> <p>I want to visit Tokyo!</p> <p><i><b>One thing you hate?</b></i></p> <p>I hate it when people have ego.</p> <p><i><b>Best career advice you have taken or given?</b></i></p> <p>It is something my dad kept telling me—never give up. Even when it feels like your whole world is crashing down and you can’t go any further, don’t stop; keep pushing forward. The music industry is very tough. There can be times when people tell you to stop or abandon your dreams, but you need to stay positive and good things will always happen.</p> <p><i><b>What is your favourite colour?</b></i></p> <p>It used to be purple but now it is turquoise. I don’t know why.</p> <p><i><b>A quote that has inspired you.</b></i></p> <p>Always be the best that you could be.</p> <p><i><b>One thing you regret?</b></i></p> <p>Going on The X Factor.</p> Wed Dec 11 10:16:43 IST 2019 fuittfuitt-a-contemporary-dance-form-inspired-from-arabic-music <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Just like ragas make the melodic framework of Indian classical music, Maqam comprises the principal set of musical notes in traditional Arabic music. But what would it be like to exist in between these musical notes?</p> <p>Switzerland-based choreographers Laurence Yadi and Nicolas Cantillon personify that transitional space in their unique brand of dance style FuittFuitt. In this dance form, the focus is never on the movement per se, but to express the time between two movements, just like Maqam allows composers to improvise between the notes. Yadi and Cantillon were in India last month as part of the 'Indent Symposium: The Body and the Performative', supported by the Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia, to showcase this distinctive dance form.</p> <p>A FuittFuitt workshop typically includes a group of dancers swaying in trance-like, fluid motions—like water, endlessly meandering. Named multi-styles FuittFuitt by the choreographers themselves—who set up 'Compagnie 7273' in 2003 to research and develop the performance style—the movements in the form weave into each other in a wavy, spiraled, hypnotic dance.</p> <p>For their debut India tour, held in Delhi and Kolkata, Yadi devised a solo dance performance of FuittFuitt for the first time. Clad in an all-black ensemble, stationed in the middle of the stage, and holding on to a piercing gaze shot through with agony and emotional turmoil, Yadi raged and heaved, cried and laughed in continuous maneuvers from one single position, and had the audience transfixed for the show's entire run of 40 minutes.</p> <p>So far, Yadi and Cantillon have created about 20 pieces of the dance form, ranging from silent ones to danced-concerts, from duets to group pieces and toured internationally with their projects from Africa to Russia. They regularly offer teaching lessons and workshops in Switzerland and beyond. In 2014, they also published a book on FuittFuitt as a primer, decoding the complexity of the concept. Both have won several awards, including the Swiss Prize for Dance and Choreography, and the Fondation Liechti for the Arts’.</p> Mon Dec 02 19:12:47 IST 2019 high-intensity-exercise-improves-memory-wards-off-dementia <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>For the first time in human history, older people outnumber younger people. This has created unique health challenges. Dementia may be one of the scariest — a debilitating condition that erases memories; a condition without a cure. </p> <p>But dementia does not have to be your fate. Exercise protects our memories from being erased and our latest research shows that it is never too late to start.</p> <p>As an associate professor in the department of kinesiology at McMaster University, I direct a team of researchers in the <a href="">NeuroFit Lab</a>, where we’ve shown that <a href="">physical inactivity contributes to dementia risk as much as genetics</a>. </p> <p>Our latest research suggests that the <a href="">intensity of the exercise matters</a>. We enrolled sedentary seniors in a new exercise program and in just 12 weeks their memories improved. But this only happened for those who walked at a higher intensity, and their memory gains were directly related to their improvements in physical fitness.</p> <p>Our next step is to understand how exercise alters the brain — so we can establish personalized exercise prescriptions for brain health in aging.</p> <h2>Train for a healthy brain</h2> <p>In our growing aging population, we are all at some risk of developing dementia. This is because a certain amount of our fate is predetermined by biological factors. <a href="">Aging is a critical risk factor for dementia and certain genes also increase our risk</a>. </p> <hr> <p> <em> <strong> Read more: <a href="">Downsizing to an early death? Why exercise is so important as you age</a> </strong> </em> </p> <hr> <p>Recently, however, we have begun to appreciate the role that lifestyle plays. New evidence reveals <a href="">decreasing dementia rates despite an increasing aging population</a>. The reason? Improvements in living conditions, education and health care. </p> <p><a href="">One of the greatest modifying risk factors is physical inactivity</a>. This gives us the opportunity to train for a healthier brain!</p> <h2>Physical activity lowers risk</h2> <p>A study from my lab examined the <a href="">interaction between genetic and physical activity in a group of more than 1,600 older adults</a> who were part of the <a href="">Canadian Study of Health and Aging</a>. </p> <p>Within our sample, around 25 per cent had a genetic risk factor for dementia but the majority (around 75 per cent) did not. This is representative of the population at large. All participants were dementia-free at the start of the study and we followed up with them five years later.</p> <p>Here is what we found: 21 per cent of the people with a genetic risk developed dementia and physical activity had no effect on this group. In contrast, for people without a genetic risk, those who were active had a significantly lower risk of developing dementia than those who were inactive.</p> <p>Critically, those who were inactive were at a similar risk to those who were genetically predisposed for dementia, suggesting that physical inactivity can negate a healthy set of genes. You can’t change your genes but you can change your lifestyle!</p> <h2>Exercise acts like a fertilizer</h2> <p>It turns out that exercise does something that helps the brain regenerate itself: it grows new neurons in the hippocampus, and this improves memory. </p> <p>Although we don’t fully understand exactly how this works, we do know that exercise increases brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which acts like a fertilizer to promote the growth, functioning and survival of the newborn cells.</p> <p>Newborn neurons fit together like the pieces of a puzzle, <a href="">where each neuron represents a different aspect of a memory</a>. If we have more newborn neurons, then we can create memories that are richer in detail and less fallible to error. For example, you will remember correctly whether you took your medication today or yesterday, or where you parked your car in a busy parking lot. </p> <p>We have shown that neurogenesis-dependent memory improves with exercise in both <a href="">young</a> and <a href="">older</a> adults.</p> <h2>It matters how much you sweat</h2> <p>The seniors participated in three sessions per week. Some performed high-intensity interval training (HIIT) or moderate-intensity continuous training (MICT) while a separate control group engaged in stretching only. </p> <p>The HIIT protocol included four sets of high-intensity exercise on a treadmill for four minutes, followed by a recovery period. The MICT protocol included one set of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise for nearly 50 minutes. All exercises were tailored to the seniors’ current fitness levels.</p> <p>Only seniors in the HIIT group had substantial improvements in neurogenesis-dependent memory. There was no improvement in the MICT or control groups.</p> <p>The results are promising because they suggest it’s never too late to get the brain health benefits of being physically active, but if you are starting late and want to see results fast, our research suggests you may need to increase the intensity of your exercise. </p> <p>You can do this by including hills into your daily walk and picking up the pace between light posts. This will help keep dementia at bay to keep the ever-growing number of seniors healthier longer.</p> <p>[ <em><a href=";utm_medium=inline-link&amp;utm_campaign=newsletter-text&amp;utm_content=expertise">Expertise in your inbox. Sign up for The Conversation’s newsletter and get a digest of academic takes on today’s news, every day.</a></em> ]<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img src="" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important; text-shadow: none !important" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: --></p> <p><span><a href="">Jennifer J Heisz</a>, Associate Professor in Kinesiology and Associate Director (Seniors) of the Physical Activity Centre of Excellence, <em><a href="">McMaster University</a></em></span></p> <p>This article is republished from <a href="">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="">original article</a>.</p> Sat Nov 30 16:39:01 IST 2019 world-diabetes-day-should-you-go-straight-for-insulin-if-diabetic <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Diabetes is found in all parts of the world and is becoming a serious threat to mankind, taking the form of a global epidemic. According to the International Diabetes Federation Atlas 2015, an estimated 69.2 million Indians are diabetic and the number is estimated to grow over 100 per cent by 2030.</p> <p>Studies reveal most of the <a title="Diabetes, redefined" href="" target="_blank">treatment for diabetes</a> in India is largely dependent on foreign-made insulin, which is expensive. With diabetes becoming such an epidemic in India, the root causes are never looked at. “Rather than tackling the lifestyle issue, going straight for insulin is not the only option,” Fionaa Godlee, former editor of <i>British Medical Journal </i>told the <i>Economic Times</i> at the BMJ South Asia Awards 2016.</p> <p>A senior diabetologist from Bengaluru who did not want to be named said that with the entry of corporates into the medical field, healthcare has become a business which has to be profitable for the investors. “Many are persuaded to prescribe insulin due to heavy rebates and profit margins the healthcare professionals are provided with,” he added.</p> <p>Before immediately jumping onto insulin, a few diet and lifestyle changes will go a long way in keeping sugar levels in check. Generally speaking, those diagnosed with type 1 diabetes (kids), type 2 diabetes and gestational Diabetes (pregnant women) should include protein and fibre and decrease carbohydrate (refined), sugar and fat in their diet. “Diabetic patients need to eat a small snack like almonds, makhanas or even yoghurt between meals, to help keep blood glucose levels up. Regular snacks can make it difficult to maintain a healthy weight, so checking with the diabetes team for specific advice is needed for diabetes management,” Sheela Krishnaswamy, a Bengaluru-based dietician.</p> <p>Physical activity such as walking, swimming or jogging is important for using up spare glucose in the body and making the joints and muscles sensitive. Exercise can help reverse diabetes and prevent heart related disorders which are related to the disease.</p> <p>Recent researches done in Kerala have found that diabetes can be treated by conjoining physician-prescribed drugs, a normal diet and joint movements (within half an hour after consuming food). The duration for the joint exercises depends on the blood sugar level of the patient. If the sugar level ranges between 150-200 grams, the patient has to exercise 10 minutes after each meal. If it is between 200-250 grams, then 15 minutes of exercise and if it exceeds 250 grams and above, then 20 minutes of exercise should be done. These exercises focus on the 12 joints of a human body (elbow, wrist, shoulder, knee, ankle and hip) and is done in a lying position. “This method is not gaining popularity as it will affect income generation by various pharmaceutical companies and doctors,” says Dr Vijayan who runs Body Tree, a charitable health centre that specialises in ayurveda and yoga.</p> <p>Leading a <a title="Diabetics are at greater risk of a heart attack" href="" target="_blank">healthy lifestyle</a> in a stress-free environment will surely control this epidemic.&nbsp;</p> Thu Nov 14 16:30:23 IST 2019 How-Bridget-White-is-reviving-old-recipes-of-Anglo-Indian-cuisine <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Author Bridget White was raised in the land of gold. Born to an Anglo-Indian family in Karnataka's Kolar Gold Fields—one of the earliest industrialised mining towns in erstwhile Mysore state, managed by the British in the 19th and 20th century—hers was a life of dance halls, charming bungalows, resplendent gardens, church services, balls and boisterous feasts with roasts, cutlets and croquettes. In her long-running blog, there is an entry which recalls Graveyard Feast on All Soul's Day when Catholics and Anglicans honour the souls of the dead every year on November 2. Her memories of the day conjure up a carnivalesque atmosphere with homemade wreathes made of silver oak leaves, balloons, candles, merry-go-rounds and sweets festooned around four cemeteries like a village fair.</p> <p>Does White remember any particular delicacy or comfort food dedicated especially for the day? “We cooked stuff our dearly departed ancestors would have liked to eat. It is another way to memorialise them. There is no one dish everyone cooked” laughs a 66-year-old White who is now settled in Bengaluru, some 100km away from KGF.</p> <p>She could just as well rustle up a cookbook in veneration of the dead whose spirits haunt KGF. For, Bridget White has documented thousands of home-style, inter-generational Anglo-Indian recipes across seven books in the last eight years. Her first book, 'Anglo-Indian Cuisine: A Legacy of Flavours from the Past', won the best culinary history book from India at the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards in Spain in 2012. Other books authored by her are bottomless storehouses of forgotten recipes including tea-time treats, simple egg concoctions, festive food, vegetarian delights, “vintage and contemporary cuisine from colonial India”, handed from her mother and grandma combined with her own fine-grained research. White might just be the most prolific documentarian of Anglo-Indian recipes living in the country today—a rapidly dwindling community whose elders bemoan the loss of their distinct heritage and culture.</p> <p>So it is only befitting for her to curate the winter menu of Delhi's Khan Market outpost 'Anglow: Whiskey Bar and Anglo Indian Kitchen' which opened this year in February. At the media tasting spread on October 31, White went around tables regaling diners with anecdotes and trivia about Duck Ding-Ding and Frisky Chicken. She is not absolutely sure how the name Ding-Ding came into being, but it loosely refers to meat acquired from hunting sojourns of Anglo-Indian men living in tea gardens, and mining-railway colonies. The meat, marinated with spices and vinegar, would be hung out to dry on a string in the summer heat. Perhaps it swayed then to the rhythm of ding-ding. “As for Frisky Chicken, the servers back then found it hard to pronounce chicken fricassee, hence the name,”says White.</p> <p>While Railway Mutton Curry and Dak Bungalow Curry are indispensable fixtures on the Anglow menu, this curated Winter menu, supervised by White, has featured her all time favourites like Bengal Lancers Shrimp Curry gifted to the Anglo-Indians by the Skinners Horse Regiment of the Indian Army and the delectable aubergine and potato vindaloo. Their Devilled Pork is marinated in lime, Worcestershire, mustard, coriander, chillies, vinegar and pepper and braised with tomatoes and onions. The deliciously crunchy and tender pork seekh kebabs are a must-try. Desserts include safe classics like chocolate pudding and apple crumble. One does miss the absence of Mulligatawny soup (an anglicized version of the Tamil Melligu (pepper) and thanni (water) for vegetarians looking for a wholesome broth to stay warm and cosy.</p> <p>But to really get a taste of splendid, authentic Anglo-Indian fare in all its breathless variety, one would be well-advised to get copies of books by White. Think Grandma's Country Captain Chicken, Crumbed Lamb Chops, Duck Buffat, Almorth, Fish Padda and many more.<br> </p> Tue Nov 05 19:07:26 IST 2019 no-shave-november-three-beard-styles-you-can-try <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Beards are divisive. While some cultures view them as essential, others associate them with poor hygiene and an “uncivilised” appearance. But, come November and beards represent something bigger. A massive collective effort to aid the fight against cancer—No-Shave November.</p> <p>The concept is simple—donate the money normally spent on grooming, from the cost of razors to the cost of a salon visit (women typically contribute the cost of waxing), via Started in 2009 by the family of Matthew Hill from Chicagoland, US, who died of colon cancer, the NGO has raised more than $2 million (around Rs14 crore) to date.</p> <p>If you are observing No-Shave November, you may be left with a lot more beard than you are used to by the end of the month. Some choose to continue growing it and aim for yeards (beards grown for one year) or tweards (two years). Others opt to go back to the clean-cut look or the highly popular stubble. But, if you are in the mood to experiment, check out these three styles.</p> <p><b>The Garibaldi</b></p> <p>British historian A.J.P. Taylor called the Italian general Giuseppe Garibaldi (1807-1882) the “only wholly admirable figure in modern history”. It is no surprise then that he left behind a lasting legacy. From English football club Nottingham Forest's official colours to the names of Italian naval ships and a biscuit, the general inspired many things. But his most understated contribution is perhaps the beard style named after him.</p> <p>The Garibaldi is a wide, full beard, but no longer than 20cm, with a rounded bottom and an integrated moustache. Keep the moustache neat and allow the beard to grow. If this is your first experiment with a full beard, the Garibaldi is a good choice as it is suitable for all face shapes.</p> <p><b>The Bandholz</b></p> <p>When Eric Bandholz was fed up with the stigma against beards in the corporate world, he quit his job as financial adviser at Merrill Lynch, and turned his beard into his business. He is now CEO of Beardbrand, a men's grooming products company founded in 2012, and his now iconic style is proudly displayed on the company logo.</p> <p>The Bandholz is similar to the Garibaldi—both have moustaches connected to full beards. But while the Garibaldi has a rounded bottom and a length limit, the Bandholz is allowed to grow freely. However, trims around the edges are also acceptable. It gives the face a more angular look and is suitable for men with round faces.</p> <p><b>The Old Dutch</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In October 1860, a 11-year-old girl named Grace Bedell from Westfield, New York, wrote to presidential candidate Abraham Lincoln, telling him that “growing whiskers” would make him look better as he had a thin face. Four months later, when Lincoln stopped in Westfield and met Grace, he was sporting a beard.</p> <p>Also called the Shenandoah beard and the Chin Curtain, among other names, the Old Dutch style made popular by Lincoln is back in vogue now and is suitable for men with triangular faces. Round off the corners, flatten the bottom and ensure the sideburns are prominent. But most importantly, no moustache.</p> Tue Nov 05 17:26:03 IST 2019 India-own-sandwich-day-How-Indians-took-sandwich-and-made-it-their-own <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>It was World Sandwich Day on Friday (November 1), while Americans celebrate national sandwich day on Sunday (November 3). Because, you know, Americans are Americans and they want their own take on everything. But what everyone miss out meanwhile is how India has taken this most common of all food items and quietly made it it's own, in typical desi style.</p> <p>More people may consume rice as a daily staple, but there is no doubt that the sandwich is the world's go-to standard when it comes to a fast and filling simple meal that can be had without much fuss. And it has been the case since the 18th century when John Montague, the fourth earl of Sandwich, didn't want one of his marathon gambling sessions be interrupted by routine drudgery like sitting down for supper. “Give me something that can be eaten with one hand (while he could continue rolling the dice with the other one, we suppose) and will not soil it,” he probably commanded his servant who was then instructed to put some cold beef filling between two slices of toasted bread. Voila! Mankind's most ubiquitous food dish was born.</p> <p>And yes, one of its appeals was that it did not even require a dish to be served in, if it came to that. With the subsequent industrial revolution seeing increasing number of people travel further and further away from their homes to factories and offices, the sandwich became a Western world staple. It was the nifty lunch, easy to make at home and compact enough to be packed and carried from home – in their bags or even in their coat pockets. As the midday meal got pushed to later and later in the day, the sandwich also became a popular not-too-heavy night-time meal.</p> <p>While the colonial powers may have introduced the sandwich in India, there is no doubt that we have made it our own. ''“From the vada pav, dabeli (a Maharashtrian food item) to samosa pav, we have made the sandwich our own,” points out Shamsul Wahid, group executive chef of Impressario, which runs a string of restaurants across India, including Social. “All we needed was good bread...the Indian kitchen always come up with something to improvise, you can play around with the chutney, or there's always something leftover which can be used as a filling!”</p> <p>The Portuguese-origin 'Pav' bread is today central to one of India's most iconic street dish, the vada pav, which is essentially a spicy potato patty sandwiched within a pao and some masala and green chilli popped in. And who hasn't had a quick bread-omelette or a bonda (or boiled egg) squashed between bread slices while rushing to something? But when it comes to the classic Indian sandwich, there are two rather similar claimants. The more famous is the Bombay sandwich, which now occupies pride of place in even restaurants abroad though it traces its origins to the street vendors of Mumbai (Bombay) – white bread with a flavoursome filling of spicy mashed potatoes and green peas, with a dressing that can go the gamut from mayonnaise to pav bhaji masala gravy. Many intrepid Mumbai street vendors even sprinkle sev mixture on top of the sandwich for an additional crunch. Very indigenous and ingenious, you have to admit.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The other one, and it is easy to overlook it, is what your mom probably packed for you for lunch or served as a tea-time snack countless number of times – the chutney sandwich, which noted food columnist and TV show host Vir Sanghvi calls “the easiest-to-make tasty sandwhich in the world.” You may not find it in restaurant menus, but white bread with coriander chutney spread on them, filled with sliced cucumber has been the definition of 'fast to cook and good to eat' for Indian households (even after Maggi noodles came in) for ages. “The tang of the chutney will take away the maida taste of the white bread and the cucumber provides texture as well as a cool counterpoint to the teekha chutney,” Sanghvi writes in one of his columns. “It is the perfect Indian sandwich, brilliant in its simplicity.”</p> <p>As tastes evolve and Indians travel and eat out more, we can expect an evolution in the type of 'desi' sandwiches on offer. Wahid says the chicken tikka sandwich, omnipresent in airline inflight menus, airport cafes and other QSRs, is already the most popular sandwich in the country. Sandwich chains like Subway have many sandwiches with Indian fillings, including the customer fave paneeer tikka. More could join the list. Social, for example, has a chilli chicken stuffed pita bao which is one of its most popular items. The shape may be different and the filling may not receive an approval from John Montague. But, this is how we 'sandwich' it for a new generation, toothsome and spicy delicious, like we want it.</p> Sat Nov 02 18:18:16 IST 2019