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  • 11/03/17--23:30: For the love of puns!
  • He looks like Vinod Kambli and sounds like Sachin Tendulkar. He tempts you to ditch the deadly Blue Whale Challenge for his amusing Pink Dolphin Challenge. An erstwhile TV writer, Sorabh Pant took to stand-up comedy when the art form was still nascent in India.

    Theres nothing subtle about the founder of The East India Comedy, who was recently in Bengaluru for the Black Dog Easy Evenings. From Pant on Fire to Travelling Pants and Rant of the Pant, Sorabhs style is, typically, over-the-top, with puns intended. Not surprisingly, hes a rage on twitter.

    Excerpts from an interaction with the comedian and author, who considers Jon Stewart (American comedian, writer and TV host) the funniest of them all:

    Whats the best and worst part about being a comedian?

    Travelling to so many places is the best part. Also, the people who come to see my show. Its awesome! However, sometimes people tend to get ridiculously vitriolic and hateful. But then, that comes with the territory. The worst part of being a stand-up comedian is that I spend a lot of time travelling alone, which means I get too much into my own head… which is not a very nice place! A comedians head is a dark and weird place.

    Is Indian stand-up comedy on par with the worlds best?

    The stand-up comedy scene in places like the US, the UK, Australia, and, perhaps, Canada may be better than ours, but we are doing pretty well. Our output and audience response are great. New-age channels like YouTube, Netflix and Amazon have been very helpful. Not just the comedy shows, but the web series and experimental content out there is changing the future of entertainment.

    Where in India do you find the most receptive audience?

    I dont think they are in the metros. This year, I did shows in places like Bhopal, Indore, Nagpur and Nashik, and saw how excited the audience gets. They cant believe you came all the way there! But its not so much about the city or the town; its about the crowd. In that sense, college shows are usually the best. Sometimes, older audiences are very receptive too. Im always happy to be surprised.

    Of all your opening acts, which is the most memorable?

    Ive enjoyed them all, whether it was the opening act for Rob Schneider or Vir Das. All of them were fun. Nonetheless, if I had to choose one, it would be Wayne Brady. You may or may not find him funny, but his crazy work culture is quite something. He was in India for five days and we were taking 6 am flights to new locations every day. Despite the jetlag and everything else, he was always on the ball.

    Whats more challenging, writing comedy or books?

    As a comedian, you usually write with your brain. The best jokes, though, are those that have heart. Ive started to realise this now, so my writing is more personal. I try to use my heart and soul too. With stand-up comedy, it takes a long time to get to crack the joke you want. But the good thing is that you get feedback from the audience every night. Writing fiction, on the other hand, takes a lot of focus and hard work. It needs structure, organic flow, characters with motivations. Ive written two novels and the third will be out this November. It has been five years in the making!

    Ultimately, both kinds of writing come with their own challenges.

    How has becoming a parent changed you?

    If I didnt have children, I would have just headed out to the US or Canada and honed my stand-up comedy skills However, when you have a family to support, you have to keep working. Your sons playschool fees have to be paid, daughters diapers bought. Theres no leeway to be lazy, which is a good thing. It keeps you pretty grounded.

    Besides, kids are more joyful than anything else you can have in life. And Im not saying that because I have two of them!

    Is stand-up comedy a viable career option?

    Yes, it is, but dont expect it to be easy. Even if you have two videos that go viral, you have to keep at it for years. Ive been a stand-up comedian for nine years and I can tell you that its not a place for lazy people. A word of advice for aspirants: dont quit your day job right away.

    What keeps you so active on social media?

    I like following news, and am fascinated by peoples opinions. So, I love twitter. Initially, I didnt quite understand Snapchat and Instagram, so I had to figure out a way to like them. And with Facebook, I love doing live video streaming. Basically, I like to interact with people, as long as they are not ****heads. I try be relatively balanced, even though many people may think Im not.

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    The country has made a rapid progress in terms of going digital as far as payments is concerned over the last one year post scrapping of old Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes in November last year.

    The recent data from the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) shows that the mobile banking transactions have grown 19.3% to 863 lakh by end of September 2017 from 723 lakh transactions in November 2016.

    In the case of the Unified Payment Interface (UPI) transactions, it has shown a phenomenal jump of 107 times to 308 lakh transactions from 2.87 lakh transactions in November 2016.

    According to NPCI data, electronic payments systems including RTGS, NEFT, IMPS, CTS, USSD, NACH, UPI, PPI, debit and credit card at POS, have increased from 67 crore transactions in volume and Rs 94 lakh crore in value terms in November 2016 to 87 crore in volume and Rs 124 lakh crore in value in September 2017.

    The giant leap in digital transactions have benefited many e-wallet companies like Paytm, and also FinTech companies.

    Wallet major Mobikwik has doubled its subscriber base to 65 million users post demonetisation.

    Upasana Taku, co-founder, Mobikwik says, over the past one year, the industry has grown over 55% and has added 150 million users in the e-wallet platforms, along with 10 million merchants.

    "At present, we are witnessing close to 30 lakh transactions every day," she said.

    Recently, the company has partnered with Bajaj Finserv Limited to develop an EMI wallet through which customers can avail credits and loans. Bajaj Finserv-Mobikwik wallet is also the first credit wallet, she adds.

    Mobikwiks frequency for active users grew by 100% and gross merchandise value (GMV) grew to $2 billion and slated to go up to $10 billion.

    "Over 25% transactions come from semi-urban and rural users and 75% of our users are millennials," Taku says, adding, "By 2020, we envision that majority Indians will make their mobile as bank and do the entire suite of financial transactions like investments, loans/EMI, insurance, cross-border remittances in addition to making basic payments."

    The countrys fifth largest private sector bank YES Bank recently launched a superior payment wallet services BHIM YES PAY by fully integrating the application with all the IndiaStack APIs and NPCI Products.

    The bank has over 5.5 lakh registered users on BHIM YES PAY and more than 2 lakh users have already availed either UPI or Virtual Card Services to carry out P2P payments and online shopping. Since launch, the bank has witnessed over 2 million transactions valuing close to Rs 70 crore. Ritesh Pai, Chief Digital Officer, YES Bank says, "We will soon launch FastTag, which will facilitate easy toll payments and look forward to widespread adoption of the digital payment products."

    During demonetisation period, digital lending also witnessed a significant growth. Manav Jeet, MD and CEO of FinTech company Rubique, says, "At Rubique, we have seen approximately 30% growth in credit card applications during the last year."

    The growth rate of the digital payments industry which was earlier in the range of 20-50% has accelerated post demonetisation to 40-70%, informs Payments Council of India Chairman Navin Surya.

    "However, demonetisation is just one of the milestones towards our countrys cashless journey and not the final destination. It conveyed a strong psychological message to our countrymen that cash is not welcome and digitisation of cash is inevitable. This also resulted in doubling of the number of PoS machines in just one year which was one of the weakest links prior to demonetisation," he says.

    The insurance industry too witnessed a sharp rise in online payment. "Soon after demonetisation, the industry witnessed a sharp spike in cash payment of premiums but over time we have seen even households from Tier-II cities that preferred cash getting comfortable with NEFT and ECS mandate. This huge behaviour change has significantly improved contactibility and will reduce unclaimed funds," says Karni Singh Arha, Chief Financial Officer of Aviva Life Insurance.

    Dewang Neralla, MD & CEO of Atom Technologies said demonetisation was a big boon for Indias cashless and digital agenda.

    Atom saw an over 3X growth in the last one year. "Before demonetisation, we were processing monthly transactions of Rs 3,000 crore which now stands at Rs 6,800 crore across all our verticals. The major contributor to this growth was our online payments business. Payment processing volumes have grown three times to what they were since demonetisation," he said.

    According to him, the two major technological advancements which will drive the industry going ahead are Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning. AI and ML will transform the overall generation of payment technologies right from analytics to on demand payment processing aside to changing the shopping behaviour. It will help study the consumer patterns to rollout better financial products for them, he adds.

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    Scientists believe that inorganic semiconductors used in making solar cells may have hit the efficiency ceiling besides being an environment hazard. "In my opinion, silicon technology has reached a sort of limit regarding efficiency. It is around 20% efficient right now, but it hasnt seen a huge leap in efficiency in a long time. Production of electronic grade silicon pollutes the environment significantly and manufacturing silicon wafers indigenously on a large scale is still a challenge," says Professor Sandeep Kumar, Raman Research Institute, Bengaluru, who specialises in soft condensed matter.

    Increasing solar efficiency

    Going organic is the alternative, says Sandeep, who along with his team of researchers, is studying the use of organic materials like polymers or carbon fullerenes in solar cells. "Organic photovoltaic (OPV) research has received a good momentum in the past decade as OPVs have emerged as promising sources of alternative energy due to their low cost, ease of fabrication, roll-to-roll processing and flexibility," he says. Traditionally, inorganic semiconductors like silicon have been used in making solar cells due to their appropriate electrical properties and wide availability.

    In addition to being an environmental hazard, some scientists believe that silicon-based solar cells may have also hit the efficiency ceiling. "The power conversion efficiency of OPVs has crossed the 10% mark and is increasing by the day," explains Sandeep. In a recent study, in collaboration with researchers at the Centre of Material Sciences, University of Allahabad, and National Physical Laboratory, New Delhi, Sandeep has used indigenously developed discotic liquid crystals (DLC) to build effective organic solar cells. This could become an eco-friendly alternative to conventional solar cells.

    This study was funded by the Department of Electronics and Information Technology and published in the journal, Liquid Crystals. "DLCs are of fundamental importance not only as models for the study of energy and charge migration in self-organised systems but also as functional materials for device applications such as one-dimensional conductors, photoconductors, light emitting diodes, photovoltaic solar cells, field-effect transistors and gas sensors," remarks Sandeep.

    DLCs are made of stacks of disc-like molecules in a state of matter that lies between those of a liquid and a solid crystal, like powdered sugar, which is made of solid crystals, but collectively behaves like a liquid taking the shape of the vessel in which it is stored. Earlier studies have shown that DLCs efficiently conduct electricity along their length with very little loss. In this study, the researchers have used DLCs in solar cells to increase their efficiency.

    The world is witnessing a shift in its primary energy sources, with fossil fuels giving way to renewable sources like solar and wind. India is well along this line of transformation with 10 GW of electricity currently produced from solar energy, compared to just 2.6 GW in 2014. This shift to solar energy across the world has revived the solar cell (also known as photovoltaic cells) industry. As a result, there is an increase in the number of investments in the sector.

    A solar cell, in principle, converts the energy of light falling on it into electricity. The light conversion in OPV cells is based on charge generation at the interface between two different organic semiconductors, followed by their separation and migration towards opposite electrodes.

    The researchers of the study sandwiched a layer of DLC between an active layer (PCDTBT and PCBM) and a molybdenum trioxide buffer layer. "We have explored the use of DLC as an additive in classical organic photovoltaic cells and observed significant improvement in conversion efficiency from 1.24% to 5.14%. The enhancement is attributed to the better charge mobility in the ordered system due to the presence of columnar phase of the DLC," explains Sandeep.

    Although solar is hailed as a green energy source, the mining and manufacturing process associated with silicon-based solar cells releases large amounts of pollutants, overshadowing the eco-friendly status of solar power. Organic solar cells, on the other hand, overcome these shortcomings and with studies like this, they may soon surpass the efficiency of silicon-based cells, finally providing us a true green source of power.

    (The author is with Gubbi Labs, a Bengaluru-based research collective)

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    Modern technology is making it possible for medical scientists to analyse inhabitants of our innards that most people probably would rather not know about. But the resulting information could one day save your health or even your life.

    Im referring to the trillions of bacteria, viruses and fungi that inhabit virtually every body part, including those tissues once thought to be sterile. Together, they make up the human microbiome and represent what is perhaps the most promising yet challenging task of modern medicine: determining the normal microscopic inhabitants of every organ and knowing how to restore the proper balance of organisms when it is disrupted.

    Proof of principle, as scientists call it, has already been established for a sometimes devastating intestinal infection by the bacterium Clostridium difficile. This infection, popularly called C diff, often occurs when potent antibiotics wipe out the normal bacterial inhabitants of the gut that otherwise keep it in check.

    When all else fails to clear up a recurrent C diff infection, the Food and Drug Administration, USA has approved treatment with a faecal transplant from a healthy gut presumed to contain bacteria that can suppress C diff activity. The treatment is highly effective, with a cure rate in excess of 90%.

    Human Microbiome Project

    Under the auspices of the National Institutes of Health, USA, a large team of scientists is engaged in creating a normal microbiological road map for the following tissues: gastrointestinal tract, oral cavity, skin, airways, urogenital tract, blood and eye.

    The effort, called the Human Microbiome Project, takes advantage of new technology that can rapidly analyse large samples of genetic material, making it possible to identify the organisms present in these tissues. Depending on the body site, anywhere from 20-60% of the organisms that make up the microbiota cannot be cultured and identified with the older, traditional techniques used by microbiologists.

    If the institutes five-year project succeeds in defining changes in the microbiome that are associated with disease, it has the potential to transform medicine, assuming ways can be found to correct microbial distortions in the affected tissues. Here are some of the demonstration projects already underway:

    Skin: Dr Martin J Blaser, microbiologist and director of the human microbiome programme at New York University School of Medicine, USA, is directing examination of the organisms on the skin of 75 people with and without psoriasis, checking if agents used to treat it adversely alter the microbiome.

    Vagina: Jacques Ravel at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, USA and Larry J Forney at the University of Idaho, USA are studying 200 women to determine the microbial changes that may result in a common infection called bacterial vaginosis.

    Blood: At Washington University in St Louis, USA, Dr Gregory A Storch, a specialist in paediatric infectious disease, and colleagues are examining the role of viruses and the immune system in the blood and respiratory and gastrointestinal tracts of children who develop serious fevers.

    Gastrointestinal tract: Claire M Fraser-Liggett, a microbiologist, and Dr Alan R Shuldiner, a geneticist, both at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, are exploring how the microbiome affects the bodys use of energy and the development of obesity.

    Microbiodata & health

    Previous studies have already found differences in the gut microbiota of lean and obese adults. There is also evidence that the typical high-calorie diet rich in sugar, meats and processed foods may adversely affect the balance of microbes in the gut and foster the extraction and absorption of excess calories from food. A diet more heavily based on plants may result in a microbiome containing a wider range of healthful organisms.

    In studies, mice that had a microbiota preconditioned by the typical US diet did not respond as healthfully to a plant-based diet. Compared to lean mice, obese mice have a 50% reduction in organisms called Bacteroidetes and a proportional increase in Firmicutes, and lean mice get fat when given faecal transplants from obese mice. A similar shift has been observed in people, and the distorted ratio of organisms was shown to reverse in people who lose weight after bariatric surgery.

    There is also evidence that microbes residing in the gut can affect distant sites through their influence on a persons immune responses. This indirect action has been suggested as a possible mechanism behind rheumatoid arthritis. In mice, certain bacteria in the gut have been shown to foster production of antibodies that attack the joints, resulting in the joint destruction typical of rheumatoid arthritis.

    Studies have suggested a role of the gut microbiota in the risk of developing neuropsychiatric illnesses and even chronic fatigue syndrome. Researchers have suggested that in genetically susceptible people, altered microbes in the gut may disrupt the blood-brain barrier, leading to the production of antibodies that impede normal brain development.

    Among the challenges in elucidating the microbiomes role in health and disease is determining if changes found in the microorganisms inhabiting various organs are a cause or an effect. Most of what is known about the microbiota in people with various health problems is based on observation, making it difficult to say which came first: the disease or the disrupted microbiota. Animal studies are a clue but not proof of a similar effect in people.

    Until therapeutic studies now underway are completed, people with conditions thought to be influenced by the microbiome have no choice but to rely on possible treatments suggested by animal research and some preliminary human studies.

    People interested in fostering a health-promoting array of gut microorganisms should consider shifting from a diet heavily based on meats, carbohydrates and processed foods to one that emphasizes plants. As Dr Jeffrey Gordon, a genomics specialist at Washington University School of Medicine, USA, said, "The nutritional value of food is influenced in part by the microbial community that encounters that food."

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  • 11/13/17--22:44: A time to kill
  • Im a firm believer in non-violence but Im also aware that we all have limits we can be pushed to. I have often wondered… if driven to it, could I kill?

    Late one night I found out.

    Id just come home and, as I was undressing, I suddenly felt I was not alone. I was being watched. I slowly turned around, scouring the room and focused on a slight movement in the corner. There he was. Peeping out from his hiding spot under the piano. Coldly staring me straight in the eye. I froze in terror.

    It immediately occurred to me how different my life in New York is from my life in Bombay. In Bombay, in a situation like this, all Id have to do is intercom my staff and theyd march in armed with a selection of brooms, rolled up newspaper and other weaponry. I would point out the intruder and then leave the room while they took care of the assassination. Only once theyd finished the dirty work and cleaned up, would I return.

    In New York, it was different. I was alone. I had no troops. No army of assassins. If I called up the doorman or super, Id be the laughing stock of the building. No, I would have to face this trespasser myself. It was a rite of passage I had to go through. I felt like a lion cub about to hunt his first gazelle. The battle lines were drawn. It was man against cockroach.

    I told myself I could do it. I was a grown man hundreds of times his size. I lift weights. Ive shot guns and even done my own stunts in movies, for gods sake. So then why was I suddenly breathless and why was my heart threatening to pound right out of my chest?

    We both stood deathly still, surveying each other. Waiting to see whod make the first move. I could sense the beast was hoping to cross the room and make it to the safe refuge under the bed. And I knew if he succeeded, chances of finding him in the labyrinth of exercise equipment there were slim. I had to get him before.

    Suddenly, he made a dash for it. There was no time to think. I lunged for the closest weapon, a sneaker. He expertly dodged and swerved. I missed the first time but on my second strike I connected. There was a carpet underneath so I realised the impact hadnt crushed him, but rather trapped him within the grooves of the sole and I knew the minute I so much as moved the shoe, he would dart out and be forever lost. There was only one option. It was time for chemical warfare. Not caring that I was in just my boxers, I ran out into the hallway and grabbed a can of ant spray that Id seen discarded in the compactor room. It would have to do. I came back in and began to plan my next move. I stared at the shoe for a couple of minutes. Then circled it a few times, evaluating the best angle to approach the next phase from. Strategy was key and I didnt want to rush into it. Once decided, I took aim, a deep breath and quickly lifted the shoe as I simultaneously started spraying wildly. The wily bugger was quicker than I anticipated. He zipped out and managed to make it to the bed. But just as he disappeared under it, I nailed him with one well aimed squirt between the wings. Wounded and disoriented he would now be easy to hunt out.

    With adrenalin induced Herculean strength, I hurled the bed aside and there he was, cowering besides a dumbbell. Panting and dripping with sweat, we stared at each other knowing these were the climactic seconds of the battle. And then he made one last brave but feeble run for it but he knew it was hopeless. The duel was over. I unleashed so much ant spray that I think he might have died from drowning rather than the poison.

    As I looked at him lying belly up in a pool of pesticide, I was overcome with a mixture of accomplishment and guilt (or was I just high from the fumes?). I must have used half a roll of paper towel to lift his remains and carry them at arms length to the trash and the other half to scrub the floor, in true Lady Macbeth fashion, till the stain and smell were gone. It was finished. I needed a drink.

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  • 11/13/17--22:44: A date with nuts
  • Milling crowds on the approach roads to Basavanagudi only indicate why the ongoing Kadlekai Parishe, held in the locality for decades, is considered one of the defining events of Bengaluru.

    You can see people on Bull Temple Road and the adjacent streets elbowing their way through
    the crowd to buy the groundnuts of their choice from the scores of stalls that have sprung up.

    Stalls selling toys and other knick-knacks, makeshift eateries and game counters complete the carnivalesque mood at the fair.

    The event attracts regulars who have been coming here for as long as they remember. Youngsters have
    also been thronging the venue.

    Raghunandan N from Cognizant, Manyata Tech Park, is no stranger to Kadlekai Parishe. He grew up in and around Basavanagudi and recollects how he was first taken to the annual peanut fair by his grandfather when he was barely 10.

    "I have been a regular visitor for the last 30 years. I now take my daughter there. While the different varieties of groundnuts remain the main attraction, the fair has grown from what it was when it started. Today it has everything to entertain people of all age groups," says Raghunandan.

    Women are easily drawn to the stalls that sell decorative items, kitchenware and jewellery. Gowri M N, a housewife, says that she never returns empty-handed from the fair.

    "Some of the items, displayed at the fair are not available in regular markets. There are handmade showpieces, handicrafts and toys that are rare. Some of the Dasara dolls in my collection have been picked up during the earlier fair. There are dolls made for particular festivals," says Gowri.

    Areas in and around the Bull Temple Road still have the charm of old Bangalore and many like Sandeep Kumar, a businessman, finds Kadlekai Parishe a chance to revisit these old places.

    "As a child, I didnt understand the significance of the festival but as I grew older, I was fascinated by the history. Events like this give youngsters an insight into the stories behind the grand fair. I love being a part of the crowd and there is always a sort of infectious energy in the place," feels Sandeep.

    Anybody who visits the fair never leaves without carrying groundnuts with them. Shobha S, a teacher, says, "I buy groundnuts for our home and pack extra for our friends and neighbours. We have a feast of sorts whenever we bring home the groundnuts because theres so much that you can make with it. We make sweets, chutney powder and other delicacies with it."

    The fair is also every foodies delight. Raghu R, a sales manager with Gravity India, says that he goes there not only to witness the event but also to relish puffed rice specialties and Chilli bajji.

    "The food stalls are a treat in itself. But I wish the organisers had taken more measures to manage the crowd in a better way. There are times when the crowd can get a little unruly," observes Raghu.

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  • 11/13/17--22:46: 'I am enjoying the rush'
  • I am enjoying the rush

    Greek-Swedish actor Elli Avram was always drawn to the southern part of the country but she never got a chance to work there till the Kannada-Tamil remake of Queen came by.
    The role and the opportunity to work with established actors down South made her accept the project without a second thought. Since it is a remake, the basic script remains the same, barring a few changes.
    The actor, who is all set to dub for the film, is also busy taking lessons in Kannada and Tamil. In an interview Elli talks about her Kannada debut and her future plans.

    Were you excited when you were offered the Kannada remake of Queen?

    My role is that of a bold and outspoken girl. I found these character traits pretty interesting because it is a lot like how I am in real life.

    What took you so long to take up work down South?

    I was always open to working in South Indian cinema, but I never found the right script. Having lived in Mumbai, I always found places in the South to be very exotic. I feel connected to the people and places here. Even the languages spoken here have a melodic ring to it.

    Are you in favour of working in remakes?

    There is nothing wrong with remakes. I am keen on working on performance-oriented characters and I have found that in Queen. I am also getting an opportunity to learn to speak Kannada, Tamil and French.

    How are your Kannada lessons going on?

    It is going well. It is taking me a lot of time and effort to get the pronunciation and accent right. But I like these challenges because they help me grow as an actor.

    How was it working with director Ramesh Aravind?

    Ramesh sir is passionate about his craft. He is so full of energy and always has a positive spirit. I admire his commitment and dedication towards his work.

    What else are you working on?

    I am hosting the The Great Indian Laughter Challenge with Akshay Kumar. I have enjoyed every moment of working with him because his pranks can be quite lively and entertaining.

    Are you enjoying the rush?

    There are days when I travel continuously. There is a lot of pressure but I
    am enjoying the rush because it gives me new experiences everyday.

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  • 11/13/17--22:46: The motorcycle sisters
  • It is seen as the ultimate name in motorcycles and men have waxed eloquent about their love for the machines that come out of the Royal Enfield stable. However, women are increasingly storming this male bastion and hitting the road with their mammoth companions.

    For telecom professional Sudha Kodandaramaiah, her fathers passion paved the way for an unending fascination for motorbikes. "My dad is very passionate about riding and we had a lot of bikes at home. My somewhat orthodox family didnt allow me to ride initially but three years back I decided I wanted to do this."

    "I had my share of inhibitions, exacerbated by the remarks people made about bikes being too heavy and not meant for girls. When I contemplated buying my own bike, a Thunderbird 500 CC, many people discouraged me as they felt I will not be able to manage it. But I went ahead with my plan anyway," she added.

    For Learning Development Manager Pratima Hebbar, the interest in riding grew out of a necessity. "Basic commute was what I was looking at and I thought why not bikes?" she says, adding, "Being a female rider has both pros and cons. People would ask
    me questions like Isnt it heavy? What would you do if the bike falls? Can you put centrestand? How would you fix a puncture? and so on. On the roads, I have been catcalled, raced with and even blocked by male riders while on my way to work. However, I have also received a lot of praise, thumbs up and requests for selfies."

    Pranita Aruun Zanje aka Rinku, as she known in the riding community, was also inspired by her father. "I learnt riding when I was in my seventh standard. My dad rode a Royal Enfield Bullet and I used to think One day I will also ride it. I have two Royal Enfields now and I am crazy about riding. I have married another rider so we get along very well in our shared enthusiasm."

    While Pranita doesnt seem to have faced many challenges herself, she rues the lack of commitment from some other women riders she has seen. "Even though we have lady riders in our club, they are hardly there for trips. I am the only regular rider there." She has a soft corner for aspiring riders and when young girls come up to her and evince an interest in her bike, she teaches them for free.

    All three women, like many others, are preparing for a three-day festival in Goa now. Called Royal Enfield Rider Mania, the largest gathering of Royal Enfield enthusiasts around the world, the extravaganza involves three days of music, meeting up and motorcycling action.

    Says Pratima, "I look forward to this event every year. The 600 km ride from Bengaluru to Goa is in itself an attraction. Plus you get to meet lot of people and see events and custom bike displays."

    "It is very inspirational, even for non-riders. There is a different kind of energy there, with all the young and old riders. Plus, many female bikers ride all the way from Hyderabad and Delhi. I feel very motivated when I see them," says Sudha.

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  • 11/13/17--22:50: Love actually!
  • From studying together in college back in West Bengal to tying the knot and finally settling down in Bengaluru, Debolina Mukherjee and Ayanangshu Lahiri have traversed a long way for love.

    Hailing from Baguiati, Kolkata, Debolina was a year junior to Tollygunge-based Ayanangshu in college when they fell in love. When he went to
    Mumbai to work in an advertising firm, Debolina flew down to Bengaluru to pursue a job as a communications professional. Ample opportunities and the presence of his lady love later brought Ayanangshu to Bengaluru.

    The duo, who are married for two years now, have been in the city for the past four and a half years -- a time which has given them only pleasant memories, says Debolina.

    "Bengaluru is a calm city. When one comes from the north or northeastern parts of India, the weather here is something to look forward to. Also, we have never faced any issues considering the fact that we are outsiders. In many other cities, there is a problem of hostility towards people from other states. However, despite so many people making their way to this city, Bengaluru has always welcomed everyone with open arms. We have settled in well," says Debolina.

    While their week is mostly spent in their respective workspaces, weekends are something that they look forward to. Debolina eagerly waits for her drummer husband to showcase his talent at different gigs, with different bands.

    "He has his own band and also performs with other bands, so weekends are usually spent attending his gigs. If that doesnt happen,
    then we have a tradition of movie nights on Saturdays, where we go for late night shows in Gopalan Cinemas. We love spending as much time as possible with each other and weekends are the best time for this," adds Debolina.

    Since they feel that Bengaluru doesnt have many tourists spots within the city limits, they often visit places like Yercaud, Wayanad and Kodaikanal for a weekend getaway.

    "My sister stays in Chennai, so most of the time we drive down to her place and come back the same day. However, when the month is ending and we are short of cash, we love staying indoors and bingeing on Netflix," says Debolina.

    Ask Ayanangshu how his stay has been in the city and he promptly says, "My reason for coming to Bengaluru, apart from the job, was my then girlfriend and now wife. I have never had cause to regret my decision though. Bengaluru has always been a homely and warm place. The fact that half of my school and college friends are here makes it an even more fun place to stay."

    He also highlights that, after West Bengal, the celebration of Durga Puja is the grandest in Bengaluru -- an occasion they eagerly wait for every year.

    They are foodies and they love trying out different cuisines every other day.
    "Bengaluru has the best options in restaurants and we love exploring a new place every time we go out for lunch or dinner. The ample number of Bengali restaurants in the city doesnt let us miss home much," says Debolina.

    Over the four years they have been here, they have made many friends and spending quality time with them is important to the couple. So whenever they get time, the duo calls them over or makes a visit to their houses.

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  • 11/13/17--22:50: Chip of the old block
  • For nine-year-old Yash Vihaann V K, cooking is not an unwelcome chore. The third standard student of VIBGYOR High, Marathahalli, was so enamoured by his mothers activities in the kitchen that he is now a budding chef himself.

    "I started my culinary journey at the age of four after watching my mother in the kitchen. I used to help her in small ways by peeling potatoes or cracking eggs. Slowly, my interest grew and I started trying out things on my own," says Yash.

    He now has his own YouTube channel named Yummy Treats with Yash, which he says is all about inspiring other children to cook with a compilation of easy D-I-Y recipes. Here too, he has been inspired by his mother, Padma Vinod, who herself has a YouTube cookery channel.

    "I saw her channel and the kind of things she posted there. After I was fairly confident about my culinary skills, I asked her if I could have my own channel. I asked her why I had to post my videos in her channel. She thought about it for some time and then made a channel for me," he says.

    "Out of all the dishes I have made, my favourites are milk poha, chicken fried rice and the one-minute chocolate mudcake. My friends have tasted the chocolate fudge I made and they loved it."

    Talking about her sons interest, Padma says, "Initially I thought it would be a passing phase but he was really keen. He would ask me things like the difference between certain ingredients, the method of preparation of certain dishes and even questions like the difference between garam masala and other masalas. When he would see me preparing something in the kitchen, he will be like Do you need help? Can I do something? Okay, let me stir this for you. I will do this while you take care of something else.

    "From all this, I gauged he was genuinely interested. He loves eating and trying out new things and recipes. He also loves watching cookery channels and going through my recipe books. Best of all, he likes to clean the dishes also (laughs). There was a channel where they taught the kids that it is not only about cooking but also about cleaning up the mess and he has been following it to this day," she adds.


    ( Makes 12 muffins)

    * 1 egg

    * 2 cups all purpose flour/maida

    * 1 cup granulated white sugar

    * 3/4th cup chocolate chips

    * 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

    * 1 cup plain yogurt (curd)

    * 1/2 cup milk

    * 1 teaspoon baking soda

    * 1 teaspoon Vanilla essence

    * 1/2 cup vegetable oil


    * Crack the egg into a bowl.
    * Add vanilla essence to the egg.
    * Using an electric beater, beat the egg along with the vanilla essence well. If you do not have an electric beater, you can use a manual (hand) whisker also.
    n Next, add the oil, milk and curd (wet ingredients) to the mixture.
    * Whisk the mixture until smooth.
    * Grab a large bowl and add the flour, sugar, cocoa powder and baking power (dry ingredients).
    * Using a spoon or a whisker, gently mix all
    the dry ingredients together.
    n* Now pour the wet ingredient mixture into the dry ingredients bowl.
    * Gently combine the wet ingredients + dry ingredients together using a spatula or by running an electric beater. Do not beat the batter too much; it should be slightly
    * Using a ladle or a spoon, fill the muffin cases up to three-fourth with the batter.
    * Sprinkle lots of chocolate chips on the muffin. You can also mix in some chocolate chips in the muffin batter if you
    * Arrange the muffin cases on the baking tray
    * Pre-heat the oven to 200 Degree C and bake the muffins for about 20-25 minutes.

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  • 11/13/17--22:52: 'Style is about personality'
  • Payal Singhal is one of the most well-known names, not only in the world of fashion but also in celebrity circles. Her label, which is known for traditional Indian wear combined with modern aesthetics, is a preferred choice among names like Deepika Padukone, Kareena Kapoor Khan, Sonam Kapoor and Alia Bhatt.

    Her collection was recently exhibited at the fashion and lifestyle exhibition Divalicious, the brainchild of Vanita Bhatia, that was held in the city for the first time. The celebrated designer spoke to Rajitha Menon about her idea of style and her latest collection.

    What would be a quintessential Payal Singhal creation?

    Something thats fun, fuss free yet high on impact and super comfortable - fashion forward yet a classic.

    When did you know that you wanted to be in the fashion industry?

    At the really young age of 15! I entered a design contest and won against fashion students from across the country. I was only in tenth grade at that time. Thats when I truly knew that this was what I always want to do in future.

    What is your idea of style?

    To me, style is about personality; it goes beyond clothes. Its about an attitude, its about how we live our lives.

    If you could recreate an iconic look by giving it your own twist, what would it be?

    I would love to remake the famous orange figure-hugging sari worn by Mumtaz in the movie Brahmachari. I would love to do it in beautiful handloom silk brocade in a pale rose shade with a little bit of pearl work on it.

    Favourite celebrity muse?

    Neha Dhupia and Shibani Dandekar

    Tell us about your new collection...

    The Payal Singhal Festive Collection has some of our signature printed tunics and indo-western outfits and lehengas. For the heavier wedding wear line, we have embroidered capes with low crotch pants , embroidered jackets and saris and lehengas. The colour palette is comprised of are pale rose, powder blue, ebony and black in luxurious fabrics like chanderi, silks and organzas. Intricate Mughal-inspired embroideries with Jaali and zardosi work and mukaish work also can be seen.

    Misconceptions that people have about a fashion designer...

    That all we do is sketch and attend glamorous fashion shows and parties. Ninety percent of the time we are in our workshops, working with masters and tailors to get the clothes made.

    What garment would you be most uncomfortable in?

    Clothes that dont fit properly or are rough on the skin make me the most uncomfortable.

    What do you do in your free time?

    I love watching movies and reading and spending time with my son.

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  • 11/13/17--22:54: Keep them warm
  • Winter is here and there is nothing better than a pair of stylish boots to keep those hot legs warm.

    Sock boots

    The biggest footwear trend this winter is the sock boot. This boot hugs the ankle and extends to midshin. With a super pointed toe and kitten heel, it is inspired by 80s footwear. They are easy to slip into, without any hassles of laces or zippers, and feel like second skin.

    First spotted at the Balenciaga Runway, celebrities like Kendal and Kylie Jenner, Gigi Hadid and Selena Gomez have been spotted wearing the sock boot. From designers to high street brands, everyone is experimenting with the sock boot. This makes it easily available in a variety of colours, styles, materials, textures and price points. Sport an oversized knit on top and let the sock boots do the talking.

    Glitter boots

    Gone are the days that boots were pulled up on snowy days or were simply a blank canvas for our winter wardrobe. Shimmery, glittery, jewel encrusted - it is all about the bling. Glitter boots are the must-have accessories for Fall 2017. When the model sashayed down the runway in high shine boots at Saint Laurent Fall Winter Show, the entire world took notice. With disco balls on the feet, it is hard not to. For anyone looking to instantly draw eyes to their legs and make a statement, a pair of glitter boots is a must-have.

    Slouchy boots

    This old school trend is the safest bet for incorporating into your everyday wardrobe. Slouchy boots look the best with skinny jeans, as theyre roomy and provide a flattering proportional contrast to the slim denim style. But it also adds a sophisticated gleam when paired with skirts and dresses. It comes in a myriad of options from leather to suede to suit everyones needs.

    Thigh-high boots

    This season, thigh-high boots are reaching new heights, quite literally. As the temperature begins to drop, your thigh-highs will provide an extra layer to keep your legs warm. They also jazz up an otherwise ordinary outfit, like your go-to jeans and a simple blouse. A long-sleeved sweater dress and coats paired with thigh-high boots are guaranteed to make
    you look stylish and chic during the day.

    Red boots

    Red is the it colour of Winter 2017. From outerwear to footwear, it can be spotted everywhere. While white boots were a big trend this summer, red boots are primed to be everywhere this Fall. It started out on the runways with virtually every designer, from Valentino to Victoria Beckham, sending their models in a pair of red boots. And then every celebrity, model and influencer was seen flaunting a pair.

    Whether tucked into a pair of jeans or styled with a skirt, a pair of fiery red boots make any look pop.

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  • 11/13/17--22:54: The rural charm
  • Breaking away from the monotony of their work life, designer duo Yuti Edward and Atul Edward launched own label in 2011.

    Their love for travel and passion for Indian arts and crafts gave birth to the idea of UDD, which works primarily to create a community of India inspired tribal, rural and urban artists and weavers, translating their talent into wearable art.

    In a conversation with Surupasree Sarmmah, Yuti talks about her journey from a graphic designer to a fashion designer.

    What sparked your interest in fashion, considering you and your husband never had any background in this field?

    I was a graphic designer by profession and my husband was a sportsperson. Leading a monotonous and routine life stifled the creativity in me. But, thanks to our love for travelling, we used to often make trips to the rural and mountainous regions and lakes to rejuvenate. While on the move, I used to doodle different things that were hallmarks of that place. Seeing my interest, my husband gave me the idea of inscribing these doodles on fabrics and also to start something of our own. After six months of research, we started our label. Today, Atul helps me with the backend operations and I take care of the designing bit.

    What inspires your designs?

    Travel has been a big inspiration. I also get inspired by folk art, craft and weaving and dying techniques of a region.

    Udd signify...

    Udd means to fly in Hindi, which also symbolises freedom. We as a label, dont follow any fashion norms, especially in designs and prints. There is a freedom of creativity that is reflected in my work.

    What are you most comfortable in while travelling?

    I am a non-fussy dresser while travelling. Wearing a pair of dhoti pants and a kurta is what I am most comfortable in.

    Your all-time favourite outfit...

    Definitely sari. It is one of the outfits that can be worn for a casual day and for a formal occasion. This versatile nature of the garment is what makes me fall in love with it.

    Who is your muse?

    A woman who is confident of who she is and doesnt have to try to impress others is someone I always look up to - someone who is understated and confident.

    The best-dressed celebrities in the industry...

    I love the way Alia Bhatt carries herself in whatever she wears. Sonam Kapoor is another actor who is dynamic with her choices. Sonali Bendre is one actor whom I have always been so fond of. She is so subtle yet so elegant.

    Any fashion advices for young fashionistas...

    Just be fluid with your choices and go with the flow. Choose an outfit that suits your bodytype and not because it is in trend.

    A little about your latest collection...

    Atmann is a collection which is close to my heart. This is a collection where I have collaborated with a Bhuj family, I actually sat with the weavers and weaved my own designs. It was truly a spiritual experience that changed my perception of fashion and design.

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  • 11/14/17--21:56: On my pinboard
  • On my pinboard

    Sandalwood music director and singer Arjun Janya has worked in more than 100 Kannada films. Some of his notable projects in Kannada are Kempegowda, Bhajarangi, Romeo, Victory, Vajrakaya, Maanikya, Hebbuli and Tarak. He has worked with almost all the actors in the Kannada film industry including Shivarajkumar, Puneeth Rajkumar, Sudeep, V Ravichandran and Ramesh Aravind.
    He is presently working on The Villain with Shivarajkumar, Pailvaan with Sudeep and Rambo 2 with Sharan.

    "Ilaiyaraaja and A R Rahman top my list of favourite musicians. I admire Ilaiyaraaja because his music is simple and relatable. He uses a lot of notes and dynamics in his compositions, but still manages to retain the essence and simplicity of the work. The commitment, dedication and discipline to his craft is something that the younger generation can emulate."

    Nasreen Munni Kabir
    I am not an avid reader but among the very few books that I have read, I enjoyed reading A R Rahman: The Spirit of Music by Nasreen Munni Kabir. Overnight, I finished reading that book. It vividly describes his life and musical journey. I am a big fan of A R Rahman and I could connect with the legend almost immediately after I read the book. I have met him and I find him to be a wonderful human being with no ego hassles. He is also someone who has steered clear of"controversies."

    "I travel to Mysuru whenever I can afford to take off. I feel one with the rich culture and heritage of the place. I like walking through the streets and visiting the market places there. I also enjoy spending time at Chamundi Hills because there is something very calm and serene about that place. Singapore is another favourite place of mine because I find the people there warm, courteous and welcoming."

    Kamal Haasan
    "I find the films of Kamal Haasan very entertaining and engaging. There is really no role that Kamal hasnt explored and all his films come with a social message. He works on subjects based on social issues and most of his films are thought-provoking and relevant. This is also what sets him apart from the other actors. I also find the films of Dr Rajkumar very interesting and feel good after watching his movies. I have always watched the first day, first show of both these actors."

    Ashwath Kumar
    "My father Ashwath Kumar has always been my inspiration. He passed away when I was 13 but I cherish the time I spent with him. He lived a selfless life and made sure that everybody around him were happy and comfortable. He didnt earn very well but he always bought me whatever I asked for and never denied me anything. He catered to everybodys needs even if he had to give up his own."

    Chicken biryani
    "Nothing compares to the chicken and mutton biryani cooked by my mother. I have travelled to several places and tried different kinds of cuisines, but I havent found a similar taste anywhere else. I also make it a point to try the local food and speciality of the places that I am visiting. I am also a good cook and learnt my basic lessons in cooking from YouTube. My daughter likes some of my chicken specialities like Hyderabadi chicken and Kadai chicken. I dont cook now as frequently as I used to because of time constraints."

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  • 11/14/17--22:04: Courting the wild
  • The Forest Departments proposal to slash the rates of the seven newly launched eco-trails such as Skandagiri, Savandurga, Makalidurga, Siddarabetta, Avalabetta, Devarayanadurga and in Bidarakatte has drawn a mixed response from trekkers in the city.

    While the reduction in rates could attract more people, this could also have deleterious consequences as more footfalls mean the chances of the place being littered are high.

    Most trekkers are happy with the decision but they point out that this move should be accompanied by increased monitoring to make sure that people dont destroy the eco-friendly spaces.

    Deepa Bhat, an avid trekker, points out that slashing the rates without proper guidelines should not be done. "The reduction in rates must come with stringent rules and regulations. For instance, people must be asked not to carry or use plastics in the trekking zone and there must be a proper check on consuming alcohol and smoking. Trekkers must be asked to use GPS so that they dont lose their way. These are just some of the guidelines that must come with the reduction in rates," says Deepa.

    Kaushik Bajibab, a regular trekker and founder of Wishbone, a wildlife and adventure travel company, feels that instead of attracting more people, the Forest Department officials must make efforts to educate the existing trekkers on the importance of wildlife conservation. He says, "Charging a huge fee makes sense if it is utilised well by the forest department. They could use it for paying better salaries and educating the guides on wildlife etiquette. This will help trekkers." He also observes that of late, one has been witnessing excessive tourism in many critical wildlife habitats. "Tourism should be promoted by adopting proper measures. It must be used as a tool to enlighten trekkers on wildlife and critical places within the forest. The information provided must help individuals to understand their role and the importance in maintaining a healthy balance in the wild," adds Kaushik.

    Vinay Nagaraj, an IT professional and a regular trekker, has travelled to almost all the prominent trekking spots like Roopkund in Uttarakhand, Stok Kangri in Leh, Meesapulimala, Tadiandamol, Kodachadri and Kudremukh. He points out that the proposal to reduce the rates must be accompanied by an increase in the fine amount for violations. "The reduction in rates may attract more visitors, so forest officials must now take measures to keep a close watch on the movement of people within the forest. There arent enough CCTV cameras inside the forest to monitor the activities. This must be looked into," he says.

    Nima Soman, yet another trekker, adds, "The advantages of leveraging a fee would help in guarding the ecosystem. Instead of opening food stalls along the trek trails, the officials could use the fee to buy aerial pod trolleys that can enhance better transportation of the food and baggages of the trekkers to the trek place. This would prevent littering," adds Nima.

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  • 11/14/17--22:20: 'I am a total workaholic'
  • Hes a familiar name in the music industry. Anish Sood, DJ and music producer, was one of the initial entrants into the dance music industry. This was at a time when the concept was just picking up in the country.

    He entered the field at the age of 16 with no formal education. With a mechanical engineering degree, he has travelled a long way since and is arguably the biggest name in the Indian dance music scene. He is also a regular performer at the biggest music festivals in India.

    He has performed at Sunburn Festival, Tomorrowland UNITE, Storm Festival and India Bike Week, to name a few. He was recently in the city to perform at Loft 38. Anish spoke to Anila Kurian about his busy schedule and about his debut album.

    What was it like performing in Bengaluru?

    It was fantastic. The crowd was great and I had a lot of fun!

    Youre known as the busiest DJ. How do you unwind?

    Well, I just try and catch up on some sleep. I also workout religiously during the week and try to catch up with my friends for quiet dinners.

    What according to you is the best part of being a DJ?

    I think the best part is that we get to share the music we love with people and watch them go through the process of listening to something for the first time.

    And is there a worst part?

    The worst part, as cliched as it sounds, has to be the travel and late nights. It definitely takes a toll on your body and can have serious long-term repercussions if you dont balance your lifestyle.

    How do you define your music?

    House music with pop sensibilities.

    Youve worked with a lot of international artistes. Whats the best lesson youve learnt from them?

    Professionalism. They are so focussed and punctual, its something we can really learn from them as a country in whole.

    Tell us a little bit about your debut album.

    The album draws heavily from my teenage years when I was listening to a lot of jazz, rock and pop. When I decided it was finally time to write an album, I wanted a fresh unique sound and exceptional songwriting. Hence I temporarily moved base to Los Angeles with absolutely no expectations or pre-conceived ideas. I then got to work with some of the best talents and Im really happy with the end result. While the primary genre is house music, the album also embraces pop, funk, disco and techno elements.

    What are some of the goals that you want to achieve in the future?

    Just make great music and art. I truly believe that if you focus on making great content, everything else follows.

    What are some of your other interests?

    I really enjoy taking pictures. Id probably be a photographer if I wasnt a musician.

    What do you usually do when youre not working or thinking about working?

    Thinking about why Im not working (laughs)! I am a total workaholic so if Im not working Im probably sleeping.

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  • 11/14/17--22:22: For a flying start
  • An increasingly common sight in Bengaluru is ambulances stuck in traffic for hours together. In such a scenario Mayor R Sampath Raj had announced a proposal to create one helipad in each of the eight BBMP zones. Some Bengalureans spelt out their thoughts on this proposal to Metrolife.

    Akshay Kamath, finance executive.

    "I was very vocal about the need of helipads on the social media when a traffic block caused by a politicians convoy lead to an ambulance being held up, a few months ago. Not only designated helipads, but also all the helipads on tall buildings should be used for medical emergencies. There should be a facility to efficiently transport patients to the nearest hospital so that no time is wasted."

    Banu Prakash, process excellence consultant.

    "Helipads are not a luxury and should be considered a necessity now. With the increasing number of vehicles on the roads, it is high time that helipads are introduced. For the trial and test stage, eight helipads are a good number to start with, but it should increase once the concept clicks. For helipads to be accessible for people, the services cost would also matter. These should be located across the city and not just restricted to the CBD."

    Ayan Mozumdar, general manager (operations)

    "I would like to look at it from another point of view. While it is good that the government is thinking of doing something to address medical emergencies, how affordable is this for the common man? How close would these helipads be to the hospitals? Why cant we look into providing better and more affordable healthcare to everyone? At present, the government needs to work on other things like marked and independent corridors for ambulances and awareness campaigns to make motorists in the city more sensitive."

    Narendra K, manager (operations) with a hospital.

    "With the citys current traffic situation, we need every possible option to tackle medical emergencies. Helipads can help save time while shifting patients. Anything that can help address a medical situation during the golden time should be considered a must for the medical industry. The helipads need to be planned depending on the location and traffic density. Roads like Bannerghatta Road house many hospitals but are choc-a-bloc all the time."

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  • 11/14/17--22:22: Twitter trail
  • Twitter trail

    The introduction of the 280-character limit on Twitter has garnered a lot of reactions from users around the world. Closer home, Bengalureans share their opinion on this new feature.

    Deepika Singhania, writer"I am not for the 280-character limit. At least with the previous 140-characters, people had to creatively think and limit themselves about what they want to tweet. However, now it looks like, with more characters in the pocket, people will have more space for hatred towards each other."

    Varun Hemachandran, social entrepreneur"I think it is a good addition. It has been long over-due. I know a lot of people are not happy with the 280-character limit, but not everyone is good at shortening their thoughts and writing in 140-characters. 280-characters will make it more convenient and easier for a person to fit in their thoughts. This will not take away the purpose of Twitter in any way."

    Suneel Raghavendra, filmmaker "I am completely indifferent towards this feature. There are other more important things that social media platforms like Twitter should focus on. Anyway, even before the introduction of the 280-character limit, people still used to thread their tweets together and said what they had to. So be it 140 or 280, to abuse or threaten people, only 10 words are enough. I dont think this feature will make any difference in the usage of the platform."

    Sadiq Ahmed, gaming consultant"It is definitely a good move. What people usually used to do when they wanted to tweet a long post, they used to write that down on a notepad or a phone, take a screenshot and then post the picture. Now, with the 280-character limit, it will help them tweet their thoughts directly. I was waiting for a long time for this to happen. The next move that I am eager is Twitter coming up with a feature where the tweets can be edited. This feature will also help many startups to promote an event, etc."

    "It is definitely a good move. Usually when people want to tweet a long post, they would write that down on a notepad or phone, take a screenshot and then post the picture. Now, with the 280-character limit, they can tweet their thoughts directly. I was waiting for a long time for this to happen. I am also looking forward for Twitter to come up with a feature where the tweets can be edited. This feature will help many Twitteratis."

    Sadiq Ahmed, gaming consultant

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  • 11/14/17--22:24: Bulletin Board- Nov 16, 2017
  • Engineering internship

    Janitri Innovations is hiring interns for Embedded Engineering profile in Bengaluru. Students with knowledge of Embedded Systems can apply by November 20. The stipend is Rs 10,000-15,000 per month. To apply, visit

    Safety Quest

    The Arundhati Foundation in association with Walnut Knowledge Solutions, is conducting Safety Quest 2017, an inter-school quiz competition with an emphasis on safety on November 18
    at Shoonya Centre For Performing Arts from 2 pm to 6 pm. For more details, email or call 9535218921.

    Automation internship

    Xurmo Technologies is hiring interns for Automation Testing profile in Bengaluru. Students with knowledge of Java and C Programming can apply by November 20. The stipend is Rs 10,000-15,000 per month. To apply, visit

    Astronomy course

    M P Birla Institute of Fundamental Research, Bengaluru will be conducting a basic course in Astronomy on Saturdays for interested individuals between December 2, 2017 and December 17, 2017. The number of seats is limited to 30. The medium of instruction will be
    English. For more details, email or visit

    Education fair

    Education in Ireland is organising an education fair in Bengaluru on November 26. The education fair is for the students who are aspiring to pursue higher education in Ireland. It will take place at Taj Vivanta, MG Road between 12 noon and 5 pm. To register, visit

    Management fellowship

    Indian Institute of Management Bangalore (IIMB) is set to launch a doctoral programme in Entrepreneurship. For more details, visit

    Web design internship

    LeucineTech is hiring interns for Web Development profile in Bengaluru. Students with knowledge of MongoDB and Node.js can apply by November 26. The stipend is Rs. 15,000 per month. To apply, visit

    PGDM - HRM

    T A Pai Management Institute has collaborated with SHRM to develop a course on PGDM in Human Resource Management. For more information, visit

    Life skills course

    Banjara Academy is conducting a Train the Trainer - Life Skills certification course from November 26, 2017 to April 2018 at its R V Road centre. For details, call 080-26575101, +919538859316, +919880836288, or email

    Business internship

    Start-ups Club is hiring interns for business analyst profile in Bengaluru. Students with proficiency in written and spoken English can apply by November 27. The stipend is Rs 8,000-12,000 per month. To apply, visit

    Art competition

    Star Creative Art invites applications from students for International Child Art Competition 2017. The students can participate under the categories of drawing, cartoon, canvas painting and greeting. The last date to apply is November 30. For more details, visit

    Culinary Arts scholarship

    Le Cordon Bleu New Zealand invites applications for Diplome De Patisserie or Diplome de Cuisine Scholarships for international students. The last date to apply is November 20. For more

    Future Forests Fellowship

    The University of British Columbia (UBC), Canada is offering Future Forests Fellowships for international students to pursue full-time doctoral studies at UBC Forestry. The last date to apply is November 24. For more details, visit

    Photographer of the year

    CBRE invites entries for Urban Photographer of the Year Competition 2018 from individuals of age 13 years or above. This years photography contest has the theme of Cities of Connections: People, Places, Perspectives. The last date to apply is November 30. For more details, visit


    The University of Edinburghs School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences, UK invites applications for PhD Scholarships 2018-2019. The last date to apply is November 24. For more details, visit

    NCERT Research Associateship

    National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) has announced the NCERT Research Associateship 2017 for the young educationalists or educational researchers. The last date to apply is November 29. For more details, visit

    KTH Masters Challenge

    KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Sweden invites applications for KTH Masters Challenge 2018 from graduate students. This challenge offers scholarships covers the full tuition fee cost for a Masters degree. The last date to apply is November 21. For more details, visit


    Xavier School of Management has introduced Fellow Programme in Management (FPM) at XLRI in India, 2018 to train prospective scholars to become innovative researchers and teachers in various aspects of management. The last date to apply is November 30. For more details, visit

    Filmmaking competition

    University Grants Commission (UGC) has announced the National University Filmmaking Competition 2017. The universities and affiliated colleges can send their entries in the form of documentary films or fiction on the theme ragging to UGC. The last date to apply is November 30. For more details, visit

    INTACH scholarship

    INTACH is offering scholarships for those who want to advance their knowledge and understanding of heritage conservation or contribute to a critical and creative thinking in the field of heritage in India. The last date to apply is November 30. To apply, visit For more details, email

    National Essay Competition

    The Central Ground Water Board (CGWB), Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation, Government of India invites applications from students up to 18 years of age for the third National Essay Competition on water-related issues. The last date to apply is December 31. For more details, visit

    Presidential Scholars

    The Centre for Science and Society, Columbia University, USA has announced the Presidential Scholars in Society and Neuroscience 2018. Applications are invited for the position of postdoctoral research scholar, scientist or associate research scholar or scientist from across the world. The last date to apply is November 27. For details, visit

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    The healthcare industry is undergoing a technological growth worldwide. The major reason behind the growth is adoption of newer technologies to meet the rising demand of the patients for accessible and affordable care. According to a report, the size of the healthcare industry is predicted to reach USD 280 billion by the year 2020. It is also one of the top 10 growing industries in the world. As a
    result, this sector sees a huge potential for further growth.

    This growth has opened up a variety of career opportunities for students, one of which is medical coding. Medical coding is one of the fastest growing career options for fresh graduates whose strength lies in skills and training. In tier II and tier III cities where the professionals would want to have a white collar jobs without having to migrate to metro cities, coding is helping shape their future.

    What is medical coding? It is the process of converting healthcare diagnosis, procedures, medical services, and equipment into the universally accepted, industry standard codes. Medical transcriptions from hospitals and clinics are converted to universally accepted codes in diagnosis, procedure and drugs. The codes are then referred to medical billing and insurance purposes. The codes also help countries in maintaining health records and statistics to study the disease burden and thus give a path for authorities to draft health policies.

    It is easy to start a career in medical coding since this field doesnt compulsorily require a clinical or healthcare degree. However, a basic knowledge of anatomy and physiology will help one get a better understanding.

    Medical coding is done based on codes set by International Classification of Diseases (ICD), Continuing Professional Development (CPD) and The Healthcare Common Procedure Coding System (HCPCS) which help coders document medical procedures for the patient. There are many medical coding courses available at affordable costs. Some of the skills required to enter the field are:

    Analytical ability: A coder should be capable to read and analyse medical records and patient details, use the right codes for the billing procedure and forward the claims to insurance companies.

    Coding software: A coder needs to have a basic knowledge of the coding software, in addition to database management and Microsoft Office.

    Accuracy: This is an important aspect in medical coding. The coder has to understand every detail of the patients medical history. Even if theres an error, he or she should have an eye for detail to fix it.

    Positive growth

    The healthcare services outsourcing industry is evergreen. There is an increasing demand for medical professionals across the globe which means there is good job stability and security. India is emerging as the hub for healthcare outsourcing where coding is the most preferred option by professionals. In fact, 80% of US companies outsource to India. With exposure to both IT and healthcare, the coders find a new avenue to polish their careers. Professionals are able to work in a secured environment with plenty of growth opportunities.

    The industry has created abundant job opportunities, particularly for Life Science students. It will continue to see positive growth in terms of job opportunities. The industry is growing at over 18% year-on-year and it is currently the fastest in the IT or ITeS space. The demand and supply gap of certified medical coders is approximately 40% and has been increasing over the last two years. This will mean faster career growth for people who have the right skills.

    Basic communication skills backed by a certification in coding will help students be part of one the leading industries. With a growing influence of Information Technology in the field of healthcare and with a need to have alternate career options, in next five years, India would perhaps see a growth of about 30-35% in number of professionals who would want to explore their career in medical coding.

    (The author is with Omega Healthcare Management Services, Bengaluru)

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