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Stories and tips to improve lifestyle. Well researched articles about health, food, profession, fitness, green living.

A day in the park and yoga

Well-Kept with a diversity of flora and fauna, the District Park of Janakpuri is one of the best parks for morning routines in Delhi. Therefore the best place for beginning the day in the park and yoga

A DAY IN THE PARK AND YOGA

Hence, from the break of dawn, people staying in the neighbourhood come to this Sprawling Park.

A DAY IN THE PARK AND YOGA

Not only the leafy foliage acts as the oxygen chamber but also the shady trees provide relief from the sweltering heat in summer.

A DAY IN THE PARK AND YOGA

As a result, in the green expanse people walk, jog, exercise, gym, play team sports and meditate.

A DAY IN THE PARK AND YOGA
1.25 Km longs tails for walks and jogs

Moreover, even on the most crowded day, this idyllic park provides quietness and solitude.

A DAY IN THE PARK AND YOGA
Fragrant and Medicinal Eucyalyptus

The Fragrance of the Eucalyptus fills the air throughout year. The intoxicating smell of the Saptaparani in the autumn evenings harbingers the winter.

A DAY IN THE PARK AND YOGA

Now that the pandemics slowed the lifestyle, the park repaired by itself. The monsoon made the park even prettier.

A DAY IN THE PARK AND YOGA

The grassy lawns are greener, and the flowers are in full bloom, unhindered by humans.

A DAY IN THE PARK AND YOGA
Walking barefoot

The paved paths make walking and jogging smoother. You don’t need shoes; you can walk barefoot unhurt on the 1.25 km long trail.

MORNING PARK WORKOUT
MORNINGOpen Gym

People of all age groups come here. Some come to relax and chatter, while others come to tone up their body and mind.

A DAY IN THE PARK AND YOGA

Some of them have been coming to the park for 40 years. They share a special bonding with the trees and the park dogs.

A DAY IN THE PARK AND YOGA
A permanent resident of the park and a friend of reqular visitors. Pampered with food.

Mynah, Crows, Sparrows, Pigeons and Squirrels are some of the permanent residents of this park.

A DAY IN THE PARK AND YOGA

Now that the traffic is less, you can listen to the birds chirping.

A DAY IN THE PARK AND YOGA
The leafty foliage to heal writers block

In addition, If you experience writer’s block, you can get healed when you walk through the shady paths covered by the canopy of tall, leafy Eucalyptus, Ashoka and peepal trees.

A DAY IN THE PARK AND YOGA

Besides the colourful foliage of the Amaltas, Gulmohar and Bougainville on the vast expanse of the parks provide a visual treat.

MORNNG PARK GAMES

When you walk through the park, some people get noticed because of their unique mannerism in walking, jogging and meditating.

A DAY IN THE PARK AND YOGA
Padma Mayurasana/Lotus Peacock Pose

Mr Krishnan is one such regular visitor where for beginning the day in the park and yoga. He walks on the trails and does yoga on the grassy lawns.

A DAY IN THE PARK AND YOGA
Mayurasana/Male Peacock pose

Yoga is one way to remain healthy and maintain mental equilibrium in this pandemic.

 YOGA POSTURE
Halasana/Plough pose

When we approached Mr Krishnan, he agreed to show us yoga asanas that will be beneficial for various diseases.

YOGA ASAN
upta Konasana/Reclining Angle Pose

As a matter of fact, he said he never he allowed a video shoot of his daily yoga practice.

WALKING IN THE PARK AND YOGA
Matsyasana / Fish pose

Meanwhile as he demonstrated the yoga postures, we watched and listened to him with silence and concentration.  

Watch the Video:

Dr. Mathew, a public health expert, answers ESSENTIAL questions about COVID-19

The more the questions answered, the more the number of doubts about Covid-19 during the pandemic. The readers of Lifestyletodaynews.com had a plethora of questions about COVID-19 ranging from precautions, medication, and the long term impact of the virus. Dr. Mathew Varghese, a Public Health expert and orthopedic surgeon featured as a real-life hero by Bill Gates, was kind enough to answer the question in the mind of the readers. He spared time for an in-depth video interview about almost every issue relevant to a common man in the present scenarios. Read on to find the informative answers which are educative in nature:

According to experts, the pandemic is not going to end in July, will it end?

The experts are basing their information on facts of previous epidemics and the behavior of Coronaviruses. You had SARS1; we had Middle Eastern Respiratory Disease. These are the experiences that help to guide us in our understanding of this disease.

By Mathematical models, they show that possibly by July, or maybe even August, the epidemic will reach a peak, and gradually settle.

A definite time? Difficult to answer

Historically if you look at epidemics, they have all been like this. Including the Spanish flu, which came, lasted for quite some time, and then eventually disappeared. So it is not that these pandemics will be there forever.

They will eventually be overcome by human immunity and resistance to fight against viruses. Therefore it is difficult to answer when this pandemic will end.

How long will it last?

We do not know. But usually, pandemics have a history of infecting a certain number of people and then petering out.

So there is a growth curve, which may be steep or slow, reaches a peak, and goes down.

When a large number of people have herd immunity

That growth curve starts going down, only when a certain proportion of the population is infected, which then has the resistance to fight against it. This resistance to fight the virus is called herd immunity.

When the infection has immunized a large number of people in a community, they have herd immunity.

What is the percentage of people that need to be infected to get herd immunity?

There are experts that, until recently, have been saying 60%. But some recent reports say that when even up to 20-30% of people are infected gives you sufficient herd immunity for the pandemic to end.

Somewhere between 20-60%

Anyone who says that this is going to end in 10 days or 15 days is all guesswork. We do not know, but we hope, once herd immunity of a certain proportion somewhere between 20-60% is reached, we will have overcome the pandemic.

Will the virus be eradicated?

In Coronavirus, we do not have a vaccine as yet. It will take about one, one and a half years at least before a vaccine comes.

Even then, if you look at the few vaccines available today, they do not provide you with permanent immunity like smallpox or oral polio vaccine.

ESSENTIAL QUESTIONS ABOUT COVID-19

They give you a limited period of immunity. Flu vaccines need to be given every year to protect the elderly from the effects of flu-related pneumonia.

We do not know how effective will the vaccine be for Coronavirus. We have to wait and see. Until then, we cannot answer this question, can we eradicate it or not? But looking at the past behavior of flu unlikely we can eradicate it forever. 

Is there any possibility of home testing for Coronaviruses, and is that legal?

As yet, there is no home testing available, so the question of legality does not come. We do not have such a test.

At this point, we do not have any home testing

In the future, there may be, and it may be useful to test that. But at the same time, at this point, we do not have any home testing available with us.

IMMUNITY

Is immunity the biggest weapon against Coronavirus?  

Yes, you know what the first virus identified was? It was a plant virus, Tobacco Mosaic Virus (TMV), in 1891. The first human disease-producing virus, you know when it was identified? 1901, it was a yellow fever virus. Remember, till today, 120 years down the line, we do not have a drug to cure virus illness.

When somebody says that I am immune, it could be because they had an infection or they have been vaccinated and become immune.

We overcome virus illnesses by the body producing antibodies that fight the viruses, kill the viruses, and we win. Those antibodies that the body produces are what give us the immunity.

When somebody says that I am immune, it could be because they had an infection, or they have been vaccinated and become immune.

We overcome virus illnesses by the body producing antibodies that fight the viruses, kill the viruses, and we win. Those antibodies that the body produces are what give us the immunity.

So is this natural immunity?

No, it is a healthy individual who can raise antibodies in sufficient numbers and strengths to fight the virus. When you say you have excellent resistance, you are saying you are a healthy person without any malnutrition, without any other illness, which may be lifestyle diseases or other diseases that make you vulnerable and immune-compromised. Therefore you are susceptible to get the infection.

It is a healthy individual who can raise antibodies in sufficient numbers and strengths to fight the virus.

How to increase immunity?

Your health is based on a balance of things—a Balance of what you eat. You have to have a balanced diet, which means a proportion of food has to be carbohydrates, proteins, and fats.

Labourers need to take a large number of carbohydrates. At the same time, inactive people take fewer carbohydrates, less fat, and more protein. Besides, you need to have a balance of physical activities also.

ESSENTIAL QUESTIONS ABOUT COVID-19

But that’s not sufficient.

You need to have minerals. Minerals like Zinc, like Copper, various other minor elements are required for your enzymes in your body for fighting and producing cells for fighting viruses. We get these elements from natural food that we take, like the vegetables, nuts, and the pulses.

We need to take a balanced diet; stay healthy and physical activity keeps our body fit. Intellectual pursuits keep our mind fit.

Physical health, mental health, well-balanced nutrition are foundations for good immunity.

So we need to have good physical health, good mental health, and proper nutrition-balanced to maintain our body health. That is the baseline foundation for good immunity.

PREVENTION

Most people have to venture out for work, essential, medical emergency, so how do we protect ourselves from being infected?

This is basic. Everyone has to remember. First, we have to understand how the virus spreads. The virus spreads from one person’s breath to another person’s breath.

The virus spreads from one person’s breath to another person’s breath.

If you are close to each other and breathing into each other’s nostrils or mouth, you are infecting each other. If a person is within your breath air distance, you are likely to get infected if the other person is infected.

How do we prevent this?

We can’t stop breathing. You continue to breathe. So we need to wear a mask.

1. The first safety step is a mask, a good mask.

A cloth mask with porous layers in it doesn’t work. It has to be a mask with multiple layers that prevent the virus. Remember, viruses are tiny particles. It can go through the pores of your cloth mask.

Therefore you need to have a mask that has a filtration capacity to filter the viruses.

Mask to protect you from the other person’s breath.

Remember, any mask is better than no mask.

So if you don’t have any masks, then use a multilayered cloth mask. At least two or three layers so that the probability of the virus entering your airway is less than normal.

2. The second safety step is to keep a safe distance.

It is debatable, whether you say one meter or two-meter or whatever.

Generally, a minimum of 1-meter distance should be kept. That is important to prevent you from getting infected from the other person’s aerosol. It is the droplets that come out of his breathe when he breathes.

ESSENTIAL QUESTIONS ABOUT COVID-19

Remember if you are shouting, or you are singing you bring out more aerosols. So if you are standing opposite somebody who is singing and is likely to send the aerosol down the line further, maybe 3 meters, 4 meters also, be careful. So it is essential to have the mask.

Sometimes these aerosols, small droplets, fine droplets, containing virus particles, land on your hands. And any human being touches their face at least 20 times in an hour. So from our mouth, from our nose, from our eyes, we get the viruses on to our hands. When we touch an object, we transfer the virus from the hands to the article.

When we cough without a mask, we put those aerosols on the objects around us. The objects around us are contaminated, and if somebody comes and touches those objects, we transfer the virus to the hand.

3. The third most important safety step is Hand Washing.

Regular hand washing, especially if you have touched foreign objects outside your house. Unless you are in your home where somebody is infected, and home quarantined, don’t touch any article that he has touched.

Don’t go to him closer than one meter. Don’t go to him without the mask. You have to be very careful. Any object from outside that you have touched wash your hands.

ESSENTIAL QUESTIONS ABOUT COVID-19

Any unknown person bringing you an object, wash your hands. Anybody giving you some items through courier, wash your hands soon after you have touched. If you have a doubt, leave the object untouched for 5-6 hours, and that is sufficient enough to be sure there are no viruses on the packet.

How to wash our hands?

I say that soap and water are enough to wash hands.

Soap and water is the best.

Why do you say that?

Washing hands with soap and water are the best way. The virus has a coating. That coating is easily washed away by soap because it has got a lipid content.

What are Lipids?

Lipids are fat-related substances. You know oils are washed only very effectively with soap. Therefore soap is more efficient than plain water or even sanitizer.

Are you not happy with sanitizers? Why?

  • It is expensive.
  • It is difficult for poor people to get sanitizers.
  • They finish off in no time.
  • Because you want to conserve the amount of sanitizer you use a small amount. You put a little bit on your palm and rub. That is not sufficient.

Use it liberally. Back, between your fingers, your thumb all have to be. And that is the same technique for washing also.

Do liberal, not thrifty use of sanitizer. 

So the steps for cleaning your hands with sanitizer, washing your hand with soap and water, remain the same—every finger, front, back, thumb separately. Palms everything has to be adequately cleaned.

Soap and water are the best. But in the absence of that, you can use a sanitizer. Make a liberal use, not of a thrifty use of sanitizer.

Should we also use soaps for washing vegetables and fruits and packed groceries?

No, you don’t have to do that. We cook and eat Vegetables. Washing them with plenty of running water is sufficient. On top of that, you are cooking it. However, if you have salads that you are consuming, make sure that you have washed it thoroughly with running water.

You don’t have to use soap. I have seen people using Soda bicarb, washing soda, detergents. No. Some of the detergents will soak into these vegetables; some of these may be toxic.

Washing vegetables in plenty of running water is sufficient.

Especially washing soap, you don’t want to intake them into your body. So running water is good enough.

If you are too anxious, you may use warm water and wash these vegetables that you are going to consume raw. Or the fruits that you are going to eat, clean them thoroughly with water. Running water is good enough for you.

There is a recent report that sunlight will help you fight the virus. How useful is sunlight to fight the virus?

Sunlight has a spectrum of rays, from the very narrow spectrum to the very long spectrum – infrared to ultraviolet. Ultraviolet rays do kill viruses, but they need to lay exposed for a specific time.

 If you are thinking of getting yourself sunbathed, remember Ultraviolet rays are also harmful to your skin. We do not recommend it as a method to protect yourself from the virus.

Drying and keeping objects in the sunlight for 5-6 hours may be good enough.

However, if you are thinking of keeping objects in the sunlight, which have possibly contaminated, you may keep them out in the sun, leave it. Just drying and remaining in the sunlight for 5-6 hours may be good enough.

One essential item which you may use the sunlight is for your masks. Any surgical mask, which you buy, can be reused, provided you dry it sufficiently.

Any surgical mask can be reused, provided you dry it sufficiently.

You take four masks, number them 1,2,3,4.

1st day wear Mask No. 1.

2nd-day mask No. 1 goes on the washing line. Leave it in sunlight and use mask No. 2.

3rd day the second-day mask goes up the washing line, and then you wear mask No. 3.

4th day, mask No. 3 goes on the washing line, and you wear mask No. 4.

5th day, Mask No. 1 comes back, and you recycle it to a maximum of about 28 days.

You can use one set of four masks for 28 days. This method is found sufficient for the recycling of your mask. And that is the only area where I would use sunlight to sanitize the mask.

QUERIES

Curiously, some of the coronavirus positive cases have never ventured out of their houses, for six months, and followed all the precautions at home, how could that happen that they got infected?

Highly improbable that they have had no contact, and yet they got infected. The virus did not come out of thin air. It arrived through a source that was infected.

It has to be they handled some object or met somebody, coming to their house, who was infected and became positive. The chain of infection does not continue without any interaction.

The virus did not come out of thin air.

There has to be some interaction from some infected person, either directly or indirectly through objects of exchange. Maybe notes, handling notes. Perhaps some package that was given by a courier.

There have been reports of Pizzas delivered by pizza delivery boys who were infected, and they infected people.

It could be from anything that the virus landed on your body.

ESSENTIAL QUESTIONS ABOUT COVID-19

There is a doubt in everyone’s mind that we are already infected and healed from Coronavirus in these three months.

Yes, it is possible. Many of us had mild flu, cold, cough, and no other symptoms, and we became all right.

It is possible that you are infected, and you got cured.

That is what happened in the aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt where tests showed 60% of the young, healthy men were infected but asymptomatic. So you may be infected, and you got cured.

In such cases, will we be able to find out if we were infected?

Yes, there is a way to find out, and that is by testing for antibodies.

The problem with this test is that the antibody tests are not as reliable as the antigen test that we call the real-time PCR. Those are far more sensitive and far more specific. At the same time, the antibody tests are non-specific and not so reliable. The testing for antibodies will help us identify these cases.

The testing for antibodies will help us identify these cases.

What is an antibody?

The antibody is a body substance created by our cells to fight the virus. So it is something in your blood that is protecting you from infection from the future. So if you have an infection, initially, there is no antibody because the virus is an entirely new organism that has entered your body.

The antibody is a body substance created by our cells to fight the virus.

As it enters, the body recognizes it as a foreigner and starts fighting it. As it fights, the antibody level increases until it reaches a peak, and the body wins, or sometimes the virus wins, and the body dies. Usually, the body wins. 99.5% of cases the body wins. And we can eliminate the virus. So testing for antibodies will help us identify these cases.

Are there any long term side effects for a Coronavirus patient?

Since being identified, the virus has been only six months old, causing its symptoms and the disease. It is too early for us to say if any complications are long term.

In the short term, we know what is happening. However, long term, we do not know. Only time will tell. Most viruses do not leave long term effects except for diseases like poliomyelitis, and a few other viruses that cause long term damage to the body.

Most viruses do not leave long term effects

But by and large, coronaviruses do not belong to that category, and therefore we do not expect there will be any long term effect. But time will tell. At this point, I can’t answer that question.

When primarily the elderly and those with comorbidities have succumbed to Coronavirus, some young, healthy people with no health issues died due to Coronavirus, what could be the reason?

Again difficult to answer. But in my hospital, I have been keeping track. We have a 200-bed Corona ward in our hospital. We have been regularly treating Coronavirus patients right from the beginning of the epidemic.

We have had many cases coming to us. What we have found is 90% plus of those patients that have died, whether they were young or they were old, were diabetics. We don’t know what happens in them. For some reason, people with diabetes have been vulnerable.

For some reason, people with diabetes have been more vulnerable.

And those that have died have shown significant changes in their lungs. And what was described in the lungs, earlier thought to be pneumonia, was later on found to be not pneumonia, but clotting in the lungs’ vessels.

What do lungs do in our body? They oxygenate the blood. This oxygenation happens because blood is flowing through the alveoli in the lungs.

Some have what is known as ‘Cytokine Storm.’

And when the blood vessels are clotted blood flow cannot happen. Oxygenation cannot occur, and the patient dies in the absence of oxygen, because of the tissues not getting oxygen for survival. That is what happens. Some of the patients, young and dying, are described to have what is known as ‘Cytokine Storm.’

What is a Cytokine Storm?

It is a reaction committed by the body to fight the virus, but the response is an overwhelming reaction, and that causes side effects to the patient, and the patient dies from it.

The younger people dying are usually ones who had a cytokine storm, and mostly, these are the ones with diabetics or some other major illness.

What is the precaution to be taken by pregnant women, especially while going to the hospital for checkups?

The precautions remain the same—Mask, distancing, hand wash.

Remember when you are pregnant; a pregnant mother is two lives; the mother and the child. So there is a double reason to be as cautious as possible keeping away from

  • Crowded outpatient areas.
  • Closed and poorly ventilated areas.
  • Poorly ventilated doctor’s chambers.

Make sure that when you go, you should have seen the clinic earlier. It should be well ventilated. The number of air chambers should be good so that your probability of getting the infection is low.

ESSENTIAL QUESTIONS ABOUT COVID-19

Can we accompany our child along with us?

I would not recommend that. Except in a dire situation, where no one else is at home to protect the child, to be with the child, you may carry the child.

Remember, children may be impulsive. They suddenly go and touch things, they may suddenly interact with people, and they may also pull off their mask.

Take children with you only in a dire situation, where no one else is at home to protect the child.

Therefore, because of the impulsiveness and unpredictability of children’s behavior, we do not recommend that children be accompanying pregnant mothers for antenatal care.

ADVICE TO MEDICAL PROFESSIONALS

You have directly handled patients during prime times, be it HIV+ve or Coronavirus patients, what is your advice to the medical service professionals who are directly dealing with Coronavirus patients?

My advice remains the same. If you protect yourself, you will be able to take care of your patients better. While I have seen so many patients who are Coronavirus positive, frankly infected, I have dealt with them without fear.

For the last 31/2 months now, I have been dealing with patients every day. But I take my precautions. My job as a physician is primarily a responsibility for patient care.

If you protect yourself, you will be able to take care of your patients better.

I have taken the Hippocratic Oath, and I will care for my patients, come what may. And this was what we noticed when the HIV epidemic came up. Huge stigma against those people with HIV. Then they started coming up with innocent victims of HIV. Those are all judgmental issues.

We should not be judging people for an infection. We should not be stigmatizing people for their disease. Our job as professionals is to take care of these patients. We do it to the best of our ability, without any stigma. However, while we do it, we protect the patient, and we shield ourselves.

How do you do that?

  • Make sure that you wear a surgical mask. If it is close contact, it has to an N95 mask that you need to wear.
  • If you are going to do an invasive procedure, you must wear gloves.
  • Or you must wash your hands before and after you touch the patient.
  • As far as possible, keep away from the breathing area of the patient.

How do you assume that you have not got an infection from somebody? Possibly, You got infected without having any symptoms. You need to wash your hands before you touch the patient. And after touching the patient, you protect yourself by rewashing your hands.

If you have to touch the face, the eyes, the nose, mouth of the patient, or any other invasive examination, make sure that you are wearing gloves. Do not do it without gloves.

ESSENTIAL QUESTIONS ABOUT COVID-19

Maintain distance. Any object that you use on the patient should first be sanitized, used, and sanitized again. Like the Stethoscope that I used for seeing the last patient with a backache, I sanitized it with sanitizer.

I am an orthopedic surgeon; you will wonder how the corona patients come to me. Yes, they come to me with a backache. Body aches are usual in viral infections.

The protocols are the same: Protecting yourself and protecting the patient.

They came to me with backaches. Neither did they know that they had corona, nor did I know that they had corona. I examined them. I suspected based on some of the questions that I asked. I sent them, and they were confirmed to be coronavirus patients.

We need to be careful. The protocols are the same: Protecting yourself and protecting the patient.

Hydroxychloroquine is used to treat lupus, rheumatoid arthritis and malaria, does that mean that those with these conditions can kill two birds with one?

Don’t get wrong impressions.   The diseases of Lupus and Rheumatoid, these are autoimmune diseases.

What are autoimmune diseases?

These are diseases that the body’s immune system fights its cells. Usually, our immune system fights foreign cells, viruses, bacteria, allergens. But in this type of condition, Systemic Lupus Erythematosus or Rheumatoid Arthritis is Autoimmune diseases where the body fights its cells and causes illness.

You are not winning two wars at one time.

So the body’s immune system is busy fighting its cells, therefore when an invader comes, you are vulnerable. So even if you are taking Hydroxychloroquine, your invader will have the upper hand. It is just like internal strife is the right moment for an external enemy to fight and win over you.

Similarly, malaria is an external infection because of a parasite. So there is a fight between the body and the malaria parasite. So you are fighting one war inside your body. When another invader comes, even if you are taking Hydroxychloroquine, that invader has the upper hand. So that kind of cross-protection does not happen. So you are not winning two wars at one time.

Some people still believe that Coronavirus is a myth or a conspiracy. What do you have to say?

As yet, there is no evidence to show that Coronavirus is created as part of bioterrorism. We do not have any reasons for that. There are hypotheses, but it has not been proven anywhere. We do not have any basis for saying that.

The only proof we have is, Coronaviruses ordinarily seen in bats and some of the animals, and most commonly in bats have 500 species of Coronaviruses.   They are a real storehouse of Coronaviruses, without any disease in them.

Bats are a real storehouse of Coronaviruses, without any disease in them.

But when it jumps from bats to human beings, you have the disease coming. Had there been an intermediary? We do not know. 

Remember, when we tinker with nature too much, when we tinker with the animal kingdom’s natural habitat, in the animal kingdom, we are likely to have an interaction between the viruses in the animal kingdom and the human interface. And that is when we have diseases jumping from animal kingdom to humankind.

When we tinker with the natural habitat of these animals, that is when we have diseases that jump from animal kingdom to humankind.

So the key message in this pandemic is that we should not ruin our environment, we should not destroy our forests, and we should not unnecessarily damage our animal kingdom. We are all part of an ecosystem; we are part of that ecosystem; we have a responsibility to protect the ecosystem for staying safe.

Concluding Message

The virus is here, it will have a natural peak, and they die down naturally. The vaccine is the way to protect it for the longer-term. But a vaccine will take a minimum of 11/2 years to come by.

Until then, the only way to protect from the virus is by preventing the spread of the infection from one human being to another.

  • Wearing a mask
  • Keeping a safe distance
  • Washing your hands regularly.

Stay away from places that people gather as we do not know who is infected and who is not infected.

Thank you so much! Keep safe! All the best!

Dr. Mathew Varghese is a Public Health expert and Orthopaedic Surgeon. He is currently the Head of the Department of Orthopaedics, St Stephen’s Hospital, New Delhi. His work with polio patients caught the attention of Bill Gates, who named him a real-life hero who inspired him in his blog.

12 tips to productively engage Kids during the lockdown

As schools are closed around the world, keeping kids productively engaged at home has become a major challenge now.

The thought of staying at home with kids during the lockdown has built up a certain level of stress and anxiety, especially for overworked mommies. Juggling Work-from-home, helping kids with online classes and household chores in the absence of a serving maid has increased stress and anxiety.

For kids, their attention span is limited to a maximum of 20 minutes. Maintaining balanced positive emotions are instrumental for their mental well-being. Parents can and should decide to engage their children in activities which they find beneficial and entertaining.

Daily routine is the key

Begin with a routine both for kids as well as parents.

To the extent possible, maintain a regular schedule for the child. Preferably in consultation with them maintain a schedule around their daily activities like mealtime, reading time, online classes, bed timing, e-device using houses, etc.

Identify the hours when the child is free and these are the hours you need to keep them engaged.

List out activities that your child can do independently and those that would need supervision. The schedules should for the kid be drawn keeping this in mind.

This will help you as well as the kids to feel at ease while also maintaining discipline.

It is advised that parents should try and get maximum of their work done during the children’s naptimes.

Stay Active

Physical exercise is one great way to get a day started. Make them join you for morning stretching exercises or yoga or any work out indoors. This engages the child and at the same time helps them to be fit and active.

Let them learn to embrace each day with gratitude and make children learn something new each day.

Social Connectedness

Give time to children to connect with their extended family and friends through audio and group video calls during this period. Make them discuss how everyone else in the family is coping in these hard times.

This also helps them to be socially connected and responsible. This also helps to know their extended family better.

Family time should include personal time for each other as well as edutainment time (combination of education and entertainment).

Picture Courtesy: Edible Garden

Control Media content

Children are watchful about what is going on around them. Regardless of age, every kid is aware that the conventional lifestyle has currently taken a pause.

Limit the amount of screen-time focused on COVID-19. Too much information can lead to anxiety.

Older children who are exposed to news and social media can feel the heat already. So communication becomes very important wherein talking with your children in a calm, and simple way enables you to control their anxiety as well as yours.

Productive screen-time

Of course, it is essential to limit your child’s screen time, but if right balance is struck technology can be a great way to engage your child.

 It is practically impossible to limit screen-time these days. Instead it is advisable to find ways to make this time more productive.

Look for online creative classes based on your child’s interest. Post lockdown, there are many short virtual classes on Music, Dance, Art, sketching, photography, etc.  

Take advantage of the free online virtual tours like zoo tour, museums around the world, etc. This can help the child a virtual holiday and also learn about new places sitting at home .

Introduce them to good educational apps that aid in a great way to support the school assignments.

Develop Life skills

Irrespective of the gender, teach or involve your child in basic life skills such as cooking, cleaning up room or other household chores, depending on the child’s age.

Baking is one kitchen activity that most kids would love to do along with their parents. Helping with taking out the ingredients, licking the sugary whisk, making shapes out of moulds, checking the oven to watch them bake, decorating it on their own, their cute interaction and the never-ending queries – adds up to the excitement and in the process they get to learn new things.

Role-play activities

The joy of role-play is that kids can choose to become anyone they like for a short time, and the choice is endless! 

Allow your child to dress up themselves and get into somebody else’s shoes or in an imaginary situation and ask them to do a role play and share their thoughts.

Trust me, it’s much fun!

Picture Courtesy: Edible Garden

Art therapy

Allow children experiment and explore new skills like Origami, playdough or any such art/craft ideas. Yes, there are many physical and mental health benefits associated with it.

Origami helps develop hand-eye coordination and mental concentration. Play-dough encourages the child to improve his/her creative imagination and enhances the child’s pre-writing skills.

Encourage them to start reading books

If you don’t have access to physical books, encourage them to read e-books or nowadays, with the help of a couple of apps and sites, hundreds of Audiobooks can be accessed for free. Audiobooks are of great interest to children.

Blackboard corner/Fun wall

Give them a corner of their own to explore in their room, decorated with big black chart paper (blackboard look) and chalks to paint on. Make your child do art work or learn or may be write on what they learnt each day or use it to create a check-list on what they plan to do the next day, etc. This truly can be a fun session, especially when they get to see that their parents are monitoring it.

Picture Courtesy: Edible Garden

Group-activity

Create an activity plan in consultation with parents of their friends and engage them to do some activities together over video calls. This could be, reading s story books with good moral and values ,developing story from a given thread ,narrating about a book they have read/animation movie they have recently seen, doing some DIY activities together, watching documentaries, playing quiz (that’s a school activity for my son), etc.

This activity is a great solution if you need to go for online meetings with your colleagues or just that you need some you-time.

Mess-free activities

Provide them with any non-hazardous objects/waste materials that you have at home and ask them to create anything that their mind says to.

There are many mess-free ideas, simple creative activities/games all over the internet which needs minimal products and also less supervision. You would be surprised to see that some of these activities will have a striking resemblance to what you would have also done as a kid in your childhood. There are many Art and Science based activities that are deeply connected to what the preschool focuses on and promotes learning through it.

Colourful wooden toys, Magnatiles or just everyday items around the home can be used for these activities. Magnatiles serve as a great learning tool for children, as they engage children in creative play and helps them learn and practice  a variety of skills and concepts.

These kind of activities /games has proved to be having fun and a great stress buster even for the adults as well.

Remember, this lockdown is a luxury period and can be considered a boon wherein you get to spend quality time with your little ones, which is otherwise out of the question especially as working parents. Let us make the best use of it.

ALONE we can do so little, TOGETHER we can do so much” — Helen Keller.

About The Author

Sanitha Jubin is a Keralite nurtured in Middle East, settled in Cochin, presently residing in Hyderabad. Human Resource Professional with over a decade of experience in the IT Domain. Now pursuing her passion as a lifestyle consultant. The interest areas include but not limited to culinary, costume designing and conducting grooming sessions for   aspiring managers.  Check out her culinary skills and Artwork on  instagram.com/sans_platter

Picture Courtesy: instagram.com/ediblegarden & Sanitha Jubin.

Migrant workers are not beggars

“Your salary and my monthly earnings are almost the same Mam” Kumar said. As usual I was travelling by chartered bus with my colleagues. And Kumar was incessantly bragging about his rags to riches story. Kumar was the driver of the chartered bus ferrying us from office to home. He was in Delhi for over a decade and now he owned a house and a car which he used as a taxi. He always hinted that he was financially well off than us, the educated class.

Success stories like Kumar’s inspires millions of youngsters from villages to folk to cities to earn their livelihood and eventually fulfil their dreams. The dream of a migrant worker to the cities in India varies from sending some money back home, building a Pucca house in the village, giving good education to kids and to move up the ladder of the society from poor to middle class lifestyle.

A decade ago, while traveling to office, I could see truckloads of families setting foot to the City. With dreams in their eyes, hope and happiness, tiredness of the tedious journey hardly mattered.

The winter mornings were filled with picturesque scenes of mothers preparing rotis on makeshift chulha (Oven) and children sitting around enjoying the warmth of the fire. The smell and smoke of the cooking and huddling of the little ones gave the impression of a village in a city.

Their makeshift shanties were insecure. I asked my friend “why don’t these men come alone, why do they bring their women and children to this unsafe City?” She said “Just like our fathers brought our mothers and us when they migrated to cities, these men also want to be with their family”.

We forget that we are all migrant workerss to the City. Every city dweller is a migrant worker. We are glorified migrants. Two decades, four decades, maybe hundred years ago families came in search of greener pastures and found a firm footing.

Education is what differentiates the glorified migrants from the modern migrant workers in India. According to reports a majority of the migrant workers in the past 10 years are uneducated. Leave alone education, they cannot even read and write.

Million dollar smile. Author: Unknown

Take the example of my maid. She is from a landowning family in her village. There is an air of dignity around her. She and her husband came to this city 30 years ago and now their family consist of 30 members including children, daughters in law and grandchildren. She does not believe is giving schooling for children because she says there will be no dearth of menial jobs in the city. Madams and Sirs in Kothis (bungalows) cannot survive without a train of helpers in the form of drivers, maids, gardeners and so on for which education is not required.

She will prepare dozens of rotis and aloo sabji (potato curry), in the morning, and leave for work. Children will have the rotis until it is over and then they survive on langar, food from the house of employees and Maggi. Take a survey and probably the migrant workers might be the largest customer base of Maggi. Roti and Kapada (food and cloth) they get in plenty from the employees.

What clothing and food to accept was a matter of choice. It was my maid who told me that the bread that I bought mistakenly for wheat bread was actually ginger bread. She knows because one of her other employees buys ginger bread regularly. The migrant workers have got an exposure the sophisticated city lifestyle, that the middle will never get to experience. An office boy once said that if you want an imported winter jacket go and stand shivering on the roadside of Lajpat Nagar. Some rich man will come and give you a Jacket.

Never in their wildest dream did they dream that corona will create a great barrier between them and their employees. The overflow of food items from the employees came to a grinding halt. The migrant workers suddenly realized that they are the have nots. Suddenly the were flushed out of their rented homes like the cockroaches are eliminated with hit spray.

They knew they have something which the we have not. They are land owners back home. Now whenever the migrant workers are interviewed about the food that they got they will say that ‘we are treated like beggars’. Migrant worker got a dignity. If we got an apartment in the city, they got a piece of land in their village. They expect to be treated with dignity.

One reason that only 30,000 migrant workerss returned from Kerala and 2 million are still staying is because of the food. The migrant workers were given food of their choice.

For the migrant workers who are walking towards their homes or those who are travelling by buses or trains, we must be sensitive towards what food we offer them. Give them food that can stay fresh for 3 or 4 days, like lemon rice, masala poori, and pickle. They can be given some energy bars instead of Parle G biscuits. The taste of the energy bar should be favourable to them. It is not what you give, but how you give that matters. Instead of using the situation as a photo op or as an opportunity for charity, support them as a friend or brother.

Let them walk, we cannot stop them from walking. We can help them by making their walks comfortable. Offering them the right kind of food, foot wear and clothing. Just like The Mahatma and the Buddha they are walking towards enlightenment and freedom.

For 52 Days hospital is home for these Angels on earth

The trending hashtag of health worker ‘We stay at work for you, please stay at home for us’ is being literally followed by Aleyamma Philip, a nurse in Bharatpur in Rajasthan. Along with colleague, Rekha Rani, she is staying at her Primary Health Care Centre taking care of those in quarantine.

Since March 22nd, they haven’t gone home 35 km away in Jaipur. Rekha, a mid wife, has two little kids who are being taken care, back home by her parents.

She stayed away from her family so that we remain safe

Aleyamma, a Lady Health Visitor (LHV), identifies every new traveller to Bahaj block in Deeg district, in Bharatpur. So far, 300 have been quarantined in quarantine centres .

She visits them every morning to check on their condition. The health of the locals is also monitored.

Rekha and Aleyamma stay at the PHC and cook their own food. Aleyamma’s two grow up children, are with her husband Joseph in Jaipur. She finds solace in the video calls with her family.

No matter in which part of the world they are these Angels on earth are offering their services much beyond their calls of duty. On this Nurses Day we must spend a few minutes to remember the services of Nurses like Aleyamma.

Meet the Bean to bar chocolatier couple in India

Apart from the milk chocolate, dark chocolate, or homemade chocolate, another range of chocolate is slowly gaining a loyal group of customers in India. Know as the bean-to-bar chocolate you might have seen them displayed at events, fairs and malls.

Coincidentally, two weeks ago I came in touch with a chocolatier couple based in Chennai, L Nitin Chordia, and Poonam Chordia. They started Kocoatrait the only zero waste and sustainable bean to bar chocolate brand in the world.

They are the first certified male and female chocolate tasters in India. In addition, they own Cocoatrait, a consultancy firm for chocolates, and Cocoashala, an education, and training institute for chocolates.

Nitin and Poonam are part of the bean to bar revolution that is happening world over and particularly in India. In a bean to bar chocolate making the entire process from procuring the cocoa seed onwards is done by the same manufacturer in small batches.

In a bean to bar chocolate we know exactly where the seeds come from. For Kocoatrait, they procure cocao seeds from Kerala and Karnataka.

Like in wine making, the terroir of the chocolate is important. Climate, soil, terrain, of planting Theobroma Cocao influences the flavour of the chocolates.

Poonam the creator of Kocoatrait brand incorporated a number of local and indigenous ingredients in the 12 vegan chocolate varieties. Lemongrass, sukku coffee, lavender, coconut, banana, masala chai and red rose are some of the exclusive chocolate flavours. The rose petals are sourced from Rajasthan, Jaggery from UP thus keeping the production of the chocolates local and sustainable.

Kocoatrait chocolates are all vegan and free of vegetable fat or oil. And to keep the chocolates sugar-free natural sweeteners like Jaggery and coconut sugar are used.

The cocao seed processing to the final packaging iof the chocoate is done in small batches with lots of dedication, hardwork and passion. Every process is ensured to be sustainable, local causing the least harm to the environment.

The couple run the wet table top grinder for 24 hours continuously to bring out the natural flavour of the cocoa. And the chocolates are wrapped using packaging materials made from reclaimed cotton and coconut husk.

I had a online interview with Nitin Chordia who talked about their brand of bean to bar chocolates and about the benefits of consuming chocolates. The interview was an eye opener about the benefits of consuming dark chocolates. Nitin also tells how to develop a taste for dark chocolates which is good for health.

About Bean to Bar Chocolates

What is bean to bar chocolate making? How prevalent it is in India?

Bean to bar chocolate making involves making pure chocolate starting from cocoa beans without substituting the fat, which is cocoa butter in this case. This is a new wave globally in chocolate making and India is not left behind.

It involves making specialized and pure chocolate in small batches. We have 5 successful Bean to bar chocolate makers in India and I had earlier predicted 40 such Bean to bar makers by the end of 2020. 

Bean to bar chocolate is seldom imported.

Milk vs Dark Chocolates

What is the difference between milk chocolate and dark chocolate?

As the name suggests if there is milk in a chocolate recipe, then it is referred to as milk chocolate. Milk chocolate usually has a very less percentage (less than 20%) of cocoa and is dominated by sugar and milk.

When chocolate is made without milk and has a higher cocoa percentage it is called dark chocolate. One must be very careful and note that the milk should not be substituted by sugar and hence of 50%, dark chocolate makes no sense. Most of the balance of 50% is sugar! 

Comparing Bean to bar chocolates with dark or milk chocolate categories is like comparing oranges and apples. They are not the same.

What is the rate of consumption of milk and dark chocolates in India?

As of today, predictably so, milk chocolates form most the market. Dark chocolate is a category that is currently very small but promising huge growth opportunities.

Particularly after the pandemic, we have noticed more people understand the benefits of dark chocolates. We are in no way implying that the entire country will start consuming dark chocolates going forward. 

Are dark chocolates healthy?

Not all dark chocolates are equal. Dark chocolates above 65% are considered healthier when they are made without adding any other vegetable oils or milk.

When milk is added to chocolate, our body’s ability to absorb the antioxidants that exist in cocoa is nullified. In my opinion, a freshly made Indian sweet is better to consume than 50% dark chocolate.

In our earlier research, we figured out that any Indian sweet has a maximum of 36% sugar content whereas a 50% dark chocolate would mean 50% sugar content! This is alarming! Hence we cannot say that all dark chocolates are healthy. 

We Indians have a sweet tooth, how do we eat dark chocolate which is bitter?

While Indians have a sweet tooth, we also like beverages like beer wine and coffee. We must also note that in India we do not know to differentiate between a sugar craving and chocolate craving.

Also, it is a myth that all dark chocolates are bitter. The bitterness depends on the quality of cocoa beans used while making chocolate. Lower quality cocoa beans are usually bitter and hence are cheaper.

During my early days as a chocolate taster, I have tasted and enjoyed 100% dark chocolate made without any sugar and was still able to quite easily enjoy it. I enjoy 100% dark chocolate quite regularly these days.

We must also note that much like wine beer and espresso coffee one needs to develop a taste for dark chocolates also. With more education, people will start appreciating the flavour nuances in dark chocolate just like how they do in the case of wine and coffee.

Is there difference between Indian and international dark chocolates?

This is not a straight forward question to answer. However to put it simply most of the international dark chocolates being imported are commercially made and mass-produced chocolates.

Most of the available dark chocolates in India are also mass-produced.

However, if you have to choose between mass-produced Indian and imported dark chocolates, I would have to say that imported dark chocolates are perhaps a better buy (produce wise and not necessarily value-wise) simply because of the strict Ingredient laws that govern chocolate production internationally.

We must also remember that we are paying a much higher price for imported chocolate (3 times more than the price it is sold in retail in the country of production) simply because a majority of the price constitutes import duties and transportation costs. Hence you are not actually paying the entire price for the product. 

Sustainable Chocolate Making

What is sustainable or zero waste chocolate making? 

Chocolate making where, every aspect of a business including sourcing of raw materials, use and reuse of existing resources and packaging material which is safe and good for the environment Give while taking and not to create landfills is our definition of sustainable and zero waste.

How you have made your brand Indian, traditional and eco friendly?

Almost all the ingredients that we use in our products are made in India and are organic. We use traditional stone grinding to refine our chocolates which help us retain flavour.

We use the most energy-efficient machinery to produce Kocoatrait chocolates. They may not be cost-efficient processes and equipment but the intention is to be eco-friendly and hence we make our choices a specific way. Last but not the least, our packaging is zero waste and that completes our offering.

What is the cocoa husk packaging that you use to wrap the chocolates?

While creating Kocoatrait as the world’s 1st truly zero-waste, sustainable, and eco-friendly chocolate, we were clear that we have to start from the outside. The wrapper needed the most attention because, like potato crisps, the packaging of chocolates have always been seen in a negative light towards the impact of it on the landfills and oceans.

What we decided to do was to work with reclaimed waste cotton from garment factories and Cocoa husks that we generate during a roasting process. We put them together and make a material that is upcycled, completely paper-free, plastic-free, tree-free, compostable, biodegradable, and recyclable.

This is the first and only such wrapping material used by a chocolate brand. Until March 2020 we have helped save 50 kgs of single-use plastic chocolate wrappers from entering landfills and the ocean. 

How lucrative is chocolate making business in India?

The mass-produced chocolate business will continue to behave like an FMCG offering with pressures on sourcing and margins. As far as Bean to bar chocolate industry is concerned, we see very high profitability, the ability to start small and very attractive ROI

Can a rubber or coffee planter make more income from cocoa plantation?

An existing rubber or coffee planter can usually add cocoa as an additional crop within the same farm. However, we must remember that cocoa has a long gestation period.

When the planter starts selling cocoa, it certainly gives him the luxury of a balanced income. Every crop whether it is rubber, coffee, or cocoa behaves like a commodity and has the same uncertainty. 

Ferro Rocher, Toblerone, a box of Quality Street Chocolate, Snickers, Galaxy, and Mars are some of my favourite imported chocolates. Are they milk or dark chocolates? Should I eat or not eat them?

All the above-listed products are milk chocolates. whether you should eat them or not depends on the purpose or intent of the value to be derived.

Broadly speaking, if you are up for some indulgence and a sugar rush, all the above will fit your bill and you could consume them. People usually consume dark chocolates with the aim of lower sugar intake and the health aspects (antioxidants) which they could benefit from. 

the day I stopped google search for health symptoms

In this past one week, you might have searched Google, at least once, for the term Coronavirus. Not just Coronavirus, but a few other words along with it like symptoms, remedies, and prevention. This is fine.

However, there are times you Google specifically for symptoms like coronavirus headache, coronavirus inflammation, coronavirus cancer…and so on. This is where I want to share the importance of E-A-T algorithm introduced by Google in 2018. I will explain later about EAT and the Medic Updates of August 2018. First I would like to share a story.

My Story

The story begins in 2014 long before Google introduced E-A-T in SEO. I got admitted, for one month, to get ayurvedic treatment for arthritis. There were symptoms of arthritis for a year hence I was on medication.

Arthritis is a relatively harmless condition unlike deadly diseases like Cancer – that is what my family believed. That was because there were no hereditary cases of severe arthritis in my family.

According to the ayurvedic doctor, there are about 5000 variations of arthritis. Furthermore, the ancient Sanskrit texts on Ayurveda say that a doctor cannot claim to completely cure four diseases, out of which arthritis is the foremost.

Only when my health condition got out of control did I decide to undergo proper ayurvedic treatment. There were excruciating pain and trouble in walking.

Ayurveda is a holistic treatment; therefore as the treatment began there was more pain and inflammation. Furthermore, for the first in my life, I came to know how functional every part of my body was. The situation is like taking the car for servicing and the mechanic finds a number of faults with the car, which you had never imagined.

Every day I used to clear all my queries with the doctors. Some replies were unsatisfactory. There were too many queries. Besides you cannot pester a doctor with ludicrous queries.

Therefore, to get more information I searched Google. The disease crippled and brought to a halt my speedy lifestyle. I had scores of queries for Google.

I was searching Google for arthritis and life span, arthritis and cancer, arthritis and degeneration, arthritis and deformation, arthritis and gingivitis. There were search results for every query. In case the answer was no satisfactory I would modify the question until I got satisfactory answers.

There were stories of many arthritis patients – a young lady in her twenties, a mother with three kids and a single mother with two grown-up children – all depended on their family to fulfill their daily routines. There were no positive motivational stories.

After reading all the articles I thought I was either going to die or remain bedridden forever. Thinking about my kids’ future, one night I was in a frenzy and loss of breath.

The next day Doctor told me that Rheumatic Arthritis is reversible. He showed me two of his staff who came there crippled with Rheumatoid Arthritis, now they were free of the disabilities and working like others.

Then I went to my room and searched Google for Arthritis reversal. There were many articles and inspiring stories on arthritis reversal. Those stories gave me the motivation to approach arthritis positively and to expect a recovery very soon, On a positive note, that day I stopped searching for health queries regarding arthritis.

That day…..

That day I got the answer for the query for my cardinal question ‘Can I live a normal life once again’? Five years after the severe arthritis attack, I now live a normal life. Like the doctor said arthritis is not completely curable. By following certain food and lifestyle changes, the disease has come under control.

Google Search and Coronavirus

At this time when Covid-19 is spreading, faster and wider than wildfire, I would like to tell you how to make good use of the August 1, 2018 Medic update introduced by Google. To ensure quality content in sensitive topics like health and money google brought in the EAT ( Expertise, Authority, and Trustworthiness ) algorithm.

To be ranked high on google, the author of the post must be able to establish  Expertise, Authority, and Trustworthiness about the topic. Now the question is how can a reader understand the EAT of the post that he or she is reading.

Here is how you can decide on the EAT of the post:

The Bio of the Author

Medical News Today

When you read a health post check the credentials of the author. In the above example, the claims of the author have been reviewed and verified by a Doctor. That gives authority and trust to the post.

Read the comments

The comments of the readers are very important in asserting the trustworthiness of a post. In the above comments, the readers are doubtful about the genuineness of the post. In such cases, the author’s replies are very important.

Medical claims backed by science

Every medical claim that the author makes must be backed by science. In the above example, the author quotes from WHO. The quotes make the article authoritative and trustworthy.

Tips on how to search google for health topics from my personal experience

Listen to the Doctor

Some doctors have put posters outside their consultation rooms asking the patients to leave their google knowledge outside.

Listening to the doctor with an open mind is very important. A doctor gets his medical degree after years of hard work. They are those multitalented, studious, disciplined classmates who chose medicine as a profession with a passion to serve humanity. They have to clear tough exams to qualify for medical studies.

Listening and following what the doctor says is very important. Google can provide additional information and clarity about the disease. What a doctor says about your health condition and what you think about your health issue may be entirely different. The doctor is always right. There should be mutual trust between the doctor and the patient to get proper healing.

From my personal experience, I understand that we end up with the wrong information when we search for health issues we feel we are suffering from. For instance, now you are doubtful whether you got COVID-19 because of an irritation in the throat. The search results for your queries on COVID-19 and throat irritation might either give you jitter or false hope.

Yesterday a Volgger apologized for spreading false information on Coronavirus. She had said in her vlog to drink hot water so that coronavirus goes from the throat to the stomach and thus dies. Now she says her claims were a mistake.

I would say that you should not overdo google search. Google for Coronavirus symptoms or Coronavirus Cure and the top search results are from the renowned health organization from the world over. Trust what they say.

Search for the disease, not symptoms

You must search for a specific disease like Coronavirus. Then you get the proper search results. If you search for symptoms, you get confusing search results. If you google ‘cold, cough, sneezing’, then these are the symptoms for the common cold, flu, coronavirus and even cancer. Weight loss is a symptom of cancer, liver disorders, and many other diseases. Therefore you should google for disease in general instead of symptoms in particular.

Top Search results are most credible

According to Marie Haynes, a renowned SEO consultant, the top three Google search results have a Wikipedia page. Which means those are from credible sources that have Expertise Authority and Trust.

PS: This post was written with an intention to give a proper direction to everyone who searches about Coronavirus. Maintain social distancing, wash your hands always and stay safe until coronavirus in contained.

Meet women fashion entrepreneurs in India

The Indian fashion industry is one place where you can find several women entrepreneurs. Through their creations, they nurture some of the subtle aspects of nature, culture, tradition, and environment. A woman knows best how to bring out the best in her creations. She knows how to protect and give a breath of new life to those things from the bosom of mother nature that are on the verge of extinction.

Sustainability is the watchword these days. Creating sustainable products is not just trendy; it is the need of the hour. Climate change and the environment depletion make us all sit up and think about what we can do to save mother earth as we know her. These women fashion entrepreneurs are on the path of sustainability.

Here are interviews with a few women fashion entrepreneurs in India, who have carved a niche for themselves in the field of fashion and sustainability.

Rebecca Reubens

Rebecca Reubens

Dr. Rebecca Reubens core expertise is for bamboo and rattan. She is the founder of Rhizome, a multidisciplinary sustainability design studio. She is a world bamboo ambassador for the World Bamboo Organization. A trained industrial designer from the National Institute of Design, India, she focuses her creations on design, craft, and sustainability. She is associates with multi-governmental institutions, governments, NGOs, SMEs, and communities in Europe, Asia, and Africa. Rebecca is the author of the book, ‘Bamboo: From Green Design to Sustainable Design.’

Here is an interview with her, where she talks about sustainability, her journey so far, and her experience of being a woman entrepreneur:

About her enterprise

Tell us something about Rhizome, India’s first multidisciplinary sustainability studio?

Design impacts sustainability because it orchestrates how materials are harvested, produced, used, and discarded. The question is whether you want to take accountability for these design decisions and their impact on sustainability. Rhizome, since its inception in 2009, does commit to doing this. We go beyond the environmental aspects and also consider the social, economic, and cultural elements which influence sustainability.

What can we expect to gain by visiting your studio?

Bright minds hard at work and sound design! 

Who can visit?

Anyone and everyone

Journey So far

From your student days at NIFT, how has your journey been so far?

Exciting and always growing larger and yet quieter. Moreover, the scope and understanding of things that impact design required consideration while designing expanded exponentially. Whereas, the ego has become smaller.

About Sustainability

Why have you chosen bamboo and sustainability?

I chose bamboo because of sustainability. Bamboo is one of the most sustainable materials known to man and needs leveraging for sustainability. While I don’t only work with bamboo – I work with other sustainable materials as well.

Bamboo is my material of choice because I have been working with it for almost two decades now. I began my bamboo journey as a student at NID, then as a part of the International Network for Bamboo and Rattan, and finally through my practice.

What are your future ventures, especially at this time when a sustainable lifestyle is become a necessity due to compelling environmental reasons?

We have a new brand of sustainable jewelry called Baka. We are also moving into the fashion space. 

Fashion Tips

How can the college-going youngster and the young office going population adapt bamboos and sustainability in their lifestyle?

Buy less, and what you buy, buy sustainably. Read and keep yourself informed. Check up on tall claims and beware of greenwashing. Pick the real ones – we all know who they are – and buy things that are classic and will last you longer. Buy into experiences rather than ‘stuff.’ Look at alternate service models rather than ‘stuff.’ – take public transport or an Ola instead of buying a car.

How can the common man, especially the college-going and the office going people make the best use of your creative collection?

Our collections are convenient and competitive in terms of price and performance. They are a good design. So it is simple – buy them, use them, don’t throw them away. Get a piece customized from us – we want you to love what you own and keep it forever.

As a successful woman entrepreneur, how was your journey so far?

It was possible only because of support from my family and friends. Cultivate a strong network – this is what will catch you when you jump into the universe with eyes wide open. 

Women’s Day Message

It would be super if there were no women’s day – because gender equality existed. Unfortunately, it does not. Some of us are more privileged than others – we need to speak up and be the voices of those who cannot speak for themselves. Fight for equality – quietly and loudly – make sure you are heard and seen if you are privileged. Be the change you want to see.

Rebecca Reubens

Medha Khosla

Medha Khosla

Medha is the founder of the designer brand Anomaly that focuses on workwear wardrobes. The clothes are designed for Indian professionals and created using natural Indian textiles. She completed her academic studies at the prestigious Pratt Institute of Brooklyn, New York. Armed with the skills, expertise, and exposure of working and studying in New York for ten years, she returned to India. Anomaly has become well-known within a span of four years since its inception.

About her enterprise

Tell us something about your brand, “Anomaly’?

ANOMALY is a premium clothing brand specializing in high-quality essentials for men and women. Since we are a brand born out of dislike for excess, desire for subtle detail, and clean design, we create classic, everyday staples crafted from natural, Indian textiles.

Journey So far

Tell us about your journey till now?

It’s been a rewarding and challenging journey at the same time. Being a first-generation entrepreneur and never having worked in India before, I’ve faced many difficulties in setting up our studio and workshop. Finding the right team is an ongoing work in progress. I have had to fight many battles to execute my vision and goals for Anomaly. But, I wouldn’t trade this experience for anything else as I continue to grow and meet incredible people along the way!

As a successful woman entrepreneur, how was your journey so far?

The journey was exacting, rewarding, full of hurdles, and excellent opportunities at the same time. At the same time, it is no doubt challenging to navigate a man’s world in business. It is inspiring to build a business from the ground up and enrich the lives of our workers and karigars with relevant skills. I have decided to keep going no matter the challenges because resilience and perseverance are essential to continuous success.

About Sustainability

How are your creations sustainable?

We holistically approach sustainability from designing smaller collections, using ethical and lean production methods to manufacture based on need/orders.

We use only natural textiles like cotton, linens, and silks to ensure each textile scrap gets upcycled into trimmings, home accessories, and fabrics. Our philosophy is ‘less is more,’ and we believe in practicing sustainability in every aspect of the design, sourcing, and manufacturing process.

What are your future ventures, especially in providing sustainable products?

We are working on building our accessories range into an exclusively sustainable collection of upcycled home goods. Strengthening our business as an ethical production house for other brands and startups is very important to me as I firmly believe our studio has the right skill set for helping other like-minded brands grow. We would like to tie up with more prominent companies/corporates to develop a line of sustainable clothing or accessories for them – this would be an incredible step forward for us to execute a shared vision on a larger scale. 

Will sustainable fashion become affordable to the larger population?

First, we need to identify what affordability means to the average Indian buyer and educate them on why it is better to choose a sustainable garment or textile over synthetics and cheap mass fashion.

There is a lack of awareness amongst the average consumer, and so they decide to opt for inexpensive clothing over a well-made, ethically produced, and beautifully designed apparel.

Sustainable fashion cannot be cheap because a lot goes into the development and creation of a garment from the design to sourcing to execution. We need to stop comparing everything to mass fashion instead of focusing on why sustainability is more valuable and imperative in today’s world.

Fashion Tips

How relevant and affordable it is to the college-going and the young office going population?

We focus on elevating classic silhouettes into contemporary garments relevant to a broad audience from 25-65 years. Our styles are not trend-based but designed for everyday wear and all seasons.

Our price points are very accessible, primarily since we only use 100% natural, high-quality textiles to create a superior quality product. We don’t compromise on either and keep our prices very competitive at the same time.

Now slow fashion and repeating garments are becoming a trend, can you give some fashion tips to the young generation about what factors they have to take into account to look trendy and presentable every day?

Taking care of one’s garments is essential. We recommend choosing the right detergents and hand washing whenever possible for longevity in one’s wardrobe. I recommend finding unique ways to style one’s staples to feel and look presentable. The more we care for our garments, the longer they last and stay relevant. 

Women’s Day Message

Keep breaking barriers and follow your passions. Don’t stop trying and be prepared for failure. Women hold this world together, and this is the time for us to push ourselves to the forefront – be seen and heard.

Medha Khosla

Image Courtesy: Rebecca Reubens and Medha Khosla

7 connecting features of MG Hector: India’s first Internet Car

Within a few weeks, India’s first Internet Car, MG Hector, specifically manufactured for the Indian Roads and Climatic conditions will be launched. A first of its kind, the brainy Car manufactured by MG Motors, a century-old Britsh Sports Car manufacturer, understands, commands and responds when you say something. In this age of Smart gadgets, the cars are becoming iSmart with this innovative connectivity technology.

The iSmart Next Gen Car provides an integrated solution in partnership with leading technological giants, Cisco, Microsoft, Adobe, Cognizant, Panasonic, Unlimit, Nuance, TomTom, Gaana, Accuweather, SAP and iTeligence. The iSmart consist of embedded connectivity solution, maps and navigation services, voice assistant, pre-loaded infotainment content, emergency and concierge services and built-in apps. It also supports OTA (Over the Air) updates.

The Head Unit

A prototype of the Head unit: the brain of the Car
The device is vertical because consumers prefer to use mobile devices vertically

The 10.4″ Head Unit, is the largest in its category in any cars, and bigger than any tablets available in the market. The brain of the system is installed in this head unit. The unit is preloaded with an entertainment content which will be updated OTA (Over The Air).

iSmart Mobile App

Every MG Hector owner would get a downloaded iSmart App for their mobile phone. A number of actions can be carried out by the App:
Fuel level and vehicle range.
Lock and unlock status.
Remotely switchon the Climate control on the hot day when the car has been standing in the sun.
Speed Alert
Security Alert
And many more features……………….

Hello MG: Voice Assist

The AI based Voice Assistance understands about 100 voice commands

MG Hector iSmart system comes with a cloud-enabled; AI-based Voice Assistance enabling over 100 voice commands to control the vehicle. These includes commands like “open sunroof”, “Climate Control”, “Open Window”, “Radio Control”, “search embedded songs” and “navigate to places”. Apart from accents, the system also recognised differences in semantics in speech.

E-Call: Safety and Security feature

MG cars come with an instant emergency response system. In case of an accident, if the airbags are deployed, E-call is automatically triggered. The information of the exact location of the occurrence is transmitted to the pulse hub team. They try to connect with the Head Unit, if there is no response they call the owners phone and in case there is no response they call the emergency contact number.

Music by Gaana

MG Hector is preloaded with Gaana App and premium account with ad-free music and download capability. The owner would get the largest collection of latest music, smart playlist and presonalised recommendations.

OTA (Over The Air) Updates

MG India is introducing OTA feature for the first time in India. This will make sure MG cars gets updated as and when new updates are available. Hence the system would get new look and themes periodically.

Developers and partners over time would be able to bring in many more features and services, unimaginable today. All available to MG car owners via a simple update.

Privacy and Cyber Security

Data related to driver and vehicle analytics will be stored locally in the Microsoft Azure Cloud DC in India. MG is working with Microsoft around the world to ensure the utmost standards of cybersecurity are available. #MGDriveIn

Unbox Festival: A Weekend of Discovery and Learning

UnBox 2019 was a weekend of discovery and learning, and allowed for unanswered questions as well as explorations. It brought together emerging and disruptive ideas from those who are pushing boundaries of their own practice. The three day festival had 100 Indian Collaborators and 32 International Collaborators.

With 328 Total Participants, the festival outcomes are both tangible and intangible. Some projects were co-created at the festival and will continue into longer projects. Here are some quick highlights from UnBox Festival 2019:  

Discussions and talks                                            

Stories, conversations, and dialogues took centre stage at UnBox Festival this year touching upon relevant topics shaping contemporary thought. Day one was loaded with talks on water resource management at the grassroots, cultures and values of learning in the present age, the importance of consent in the digital space, exploring technology for conservation, the impact of social media on India’s upcoming general elections, as well as exploring the messy futures space from a personal and human perspective. Conversations on the burgeoning city limits and its impact on infrastructure and resources, storytelling traditions that share genealogies and ecological patterns, ethics that may govern the use of AI systems, the impact of technology in the social sector, making a truly inclusive Internet, design-led innovation strategies, the need for intersectionality in design and the use of digital processes in preserving heritage, unfolded and expanded through the three days of the festival.

Workshops

UnBox 2019 curated a set of workshops conducted by experts from varied practices, for festival attendees to participate and immerse into. While some created intimate spaces to brainstorm and ideate, others got participants down to their hands and knees exploring and making. Taking on multiple tracks and formats, they led participants to experience disability to understand its needs and choices, explored emerging technologies, create a wishlist of a feminist Internet, build unique conspiracies, imagine a world of AR/VR without using it, and discussed the role of technology in craft practices. UnBox also curated workshops that used three-dimensional tensile structures to evaluate the relationships of the human body, and featured the unheard stories of the brave women of Karnataka, explored the future of consent, examined data driven investigation, and making zines.

The festival also hosted a 4-day lab, in partnership with UK-based artists collective – Invisible Flock, that focused on building meaningful, cross-disciplinary collaborations within environmental and socially engaged practices. It brought together artists, designers and writers from India, Uk & Uganda to think about technology beyond its traditional understanding, and instead as a creative medium. Outcomes from the Lab were shared in multiple formats ranging from exhibits to talks and performances.

UnBox Food Lab

UnBox Food Lab explores connections and meaningful interactions between food, its preparation, the act of enjoying it, and the people who consume it. This year the lab manifested in the form of  talks, workshops, and communal meals at the festival, with conversations on cultural appropriation in food and the future of urban farming; workshops that investigated the fascinating world of coffee through games, experience traditional fermentation processes, and explore our interconnected food ecosystems. A selection of films explored the challenges of rising food demands, while thematic culinary experiences translated into community meals that served traditional regional recipes and helped reconnect with those that grow our food.

Performances

The evenings brought together an eclectic mix of sound and visual artists. A transmedia narrative using improvised electronica and live visual programming, featured Seasonal Affected Beats, Aural Eye and Cursorama came together in Dreamswitch at the UnBox Open House on day one of the festival. UnBox After Dark was a collaborative audio-visual showcase by UnBox residents and guests at Foxtrot, Koramangala. The night combined sounds from Bombay based electronic musicians SPRYK and Echofloat, with visual interpretations from Thiruda and Cursorama from the VJing collective Alt-Q, supported by Romanian collective Aural Eye Visions Studio. The last evening of the festival brought together an indie folk trio with Abhijeet Tambe accompanied by Michael Dias and Kaushik Kumar in The Unwind Collection, at The Humming Tree in Indira Nagar. This was followed by a modern, electronic set that brought together the sound experiments of Nikhil Narendra and Shreyas Dipali.

Installations & Exhibitions

The exhibits at UnBox transformed the space of the festival into a transient gallery with projects and ideas across multiple formats. More than 18 installations and exhibitions were presented that ranged from immersive entertainment with VR film pods to a participatory installation on creating a collective scent. Others included the outcomes of mixing environmental data collection with technology, a curated set of albums that created an archive of stories from India’s countryside, an interactive installation that made visual and acoustic connections between outer space and physical spaces that surround us, and the making of both real and virtual Narkasur effigies. Music came alive through the stories of a curious crow that lit up each time a musical note played, and a transient space within an auto rickshaw that urged all to make their own music.

As reported in the Press Release of the Unbox Festival. Image Courtesy: Unbox Festival Team