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    The real estate sector, which has largely remained unaware of technological developments, is going through a phase of metamorphism and has been lately coming under the scope of cutting-edge technology. In fact, technology has made it easier to invest in property and helps many non-resident Indians (NRI) invest in the country with relatively lesser inconveniences.

    India has a rent-generating commercial real estate inventory of 537 million square feet, which is estimated to be worth more than $70 billion. This investment avenue offers favourable growth prospects to NRIs. Indians settled in the US and Europe often invest in Indian real estate to earn loftier returns as developed countries offer low returns on investment, usually under five percent.

    Favourable scenario

    The ones in the Middle East are also disposed to invest in Indian real estate because they have comparatively fewer investment options available to them within the region due to the legal framework that restricts expat investment in real estate. Furthermore, commercial properties offer constant returns through rent-generating offices tenanted by blue-chip companies.

    The commercial real estate provides relatively greater security to investors as they are leased for nine to 15 years with a minimum lock-in period of three to five years. The contracted yearly rent appreciation of five percent in the lease agreement also negates inflation providing inflation-adjusted returns. This is drawing larger numbers of NRI investors to the Indian real estate market. But while they recognise that property gives the best post-tax returns in India, there are other factors at play that keep them at bay.

    Typically, investors stay away from the real estate sector since it requires considerable domain knowledge along with a significant investment of personal time. This is over and above the capital required to step into the commercial real estate in any meaningful manner. Commercial properties have ticket sizes of anywhere between five crore to 40 crores (INR). Primarily, the huge ticket size screens out a majority of potential investors with relatively smaller savings.

    Further, this ticket size also makes the investment too big of a risk to take, as its highly concentrated with no room for diversification. An investor has to additionally conduct extensive research to analyse the future potential of the property, take part in successive negotiations, and initiate sales calls to liquidate the asset later.

    Being geographically isolated from the property also makes them quite concerned about how its managed, what the tenants are up to, and whether the tax and maintenance dues are being cleared on time. Most investors, therefore, incline towards investing in riskier under-construction or early-stage properties. Constant involvement of third-party players such as brokerage firms and independent real estate agents magnify the difficulty drastically when the focus shifts towards commercial properties. It gets more complicated for foreign investors when they need to be present in the country to fulfil the procedural requirements.

    Tech comes handy

    Technology has a very basic characteristic: it has the power to transform anything. A few tech-driven platforms are coming to the fore to eliminate the prevailing challenges and extend a seamless investment experience to NRIs. These tech platforms are using big data, machine learning, data analytics and pattern recognition together with fundamental boots-on-the-ground research to bring the most favourable investment options to investors.

    For instance, companies today have a unique fragmented-ownership investment model that enables its investors to partially invest in a tenanted commercial property for a minimum investment of Rs 10 lakh. Individual investors can also sell their share at any time on the proprietary resale platform, providing them with instant liquidity should they need to sell their share.

    The listed properties are typically rent-generating offices housing blue-chip companies and extend around seven to eight per cent rental yield in addition to the capital appreciation of 10-15%. Such new-age platforms, moreover, have an end-to-end digital process, making it easier for NRI investors to buy and manage their investment portfolio. This is enabling investors in making safe and secure commercial real estate investments while maximising their returns by tapping into this technology.

    India is one of the fastest growing economies with very strong present and future growth prospects. This has made the country a promising investment destination for MNCs, who are either increasing their presence in the country through business expansion or foraying into the Indian market to establish it. The last quarter has closed with foreign direct investment (FDI) worth $85.79 billion - the highest-ever FDI in a single quarter.

    These snowballing investments reflect a rapidly booming business landscape in India thats having a positive impact on the commercial real estate sector. Thankfully, technology-driven platforms are keeping an eye on every trend and market development thats affecting your real estate investments.

    (The author is co-founder and CIO, PropertyShare.IN)

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    Packing and moving are vital parts of shifting. There are many things happening at once, hence one faces many difficulties in this labour-intensive task. Similarly, packing electronic items is not an easy job. They require extra care while shifting because they are delicate and expensive.

    One can always hire professional movers and packers for these delicate items. These professionals will manage things well in the shifting process. Besides taking help from the experts, following these tips can make the process of moving easy:

    Save the boxes: If possible, save the original boxes and packing material of the device for repacking.

    Packing material is vital: Electronics are usually fragile and delicate, so make sure you use enough bubble wrap, cushioning material and packing paper. Avoid using newspaper for packing.

    The temperature in storage: Electronics such as computers and TVs may need to be stored in climate-controlled units. Seek advice from the manufacturer or your storage facility.

    Mark the cartons: Clearly mark fragile on the outside of cartons with breakables or delicate electronics. Also, mark this side up on items containing electronics to denote the sides.

    Organise cables and remotes: Take photos of how wires or cables are connected to their devices so that you can reassemble them later. Wrap your wires neatly and label them so you know which wire belongs to which device.

    Consult the instruction manual: Refer to the instruction manual of the electronic device to pack the device properly.

    • Seal them well: Lastly, dont forget to check if all the boxes of electronic items are properly sealed. It is crucial that all boxes are sealed properly and the devices are secured in place.

    (The author is CEO, Interem Relocations)

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    The year 2018 is all about transformation as organisational culture takes precedence and leaders look to provide better amenities to their employees and differentiate themselves from the competition. Theres a powerful movement going on in workplaces as an increasing number of companies are looking to revamp their offices in order to promote the well-being of employees. Designed to support various postures and increase productivity, ergonomic furniture is revolutionary in many ways. Heres why every workplace needs to put art and science to work and invest in the right asset.

    For the better

    In growth markets like India and China, there are many hindrances like real estate constraints, poor infrastructure and challenging public transportation. Considering these restrictions, organisations need to focus on creating a pleasant work environment for their employees. A company that wants happy, engaged employees has to worry about their employees experience from the moment they leave their homes.

    Ergonomics is how companies can enhance workplace well-being and increase the productivity levels of fatigued and drained workers. Today, work is both physically as well as cognitively demanding, and to ensure quality, workplaces need to be designed to help deal with the stress it causes.

    Setting up standing stations, treadmill desks and more active spaces encourages movement and helps users stay engaged. A benching work environment, for example, can be designed to support both individual and collaborative work. An extra open space at the end of a workbench can also provide a natural area for informal conversation or one-on-one collaboration. These kinds of ergonomic designs can have a huge impact on employee well-being.

    Promote workplace health

    Workplace health is correlated with organisational performance. Sitting in poor postures for long periods with little movement can impact our health and result in low productivity levels. Introduce height-adjusted work surfaces so that employees can spend portions of their workday standing, thus avoiding unnecessary weight gain and lack of blood flow.

    As most office tasks are best performed while seated, sitting in the right posture helps avoid awkward postures that can lead to neck, shoulder or vision issues. The challenge is that many workers are sitting in chairs that dont encourage healthy spinal motion. When a user reclines, the upper spine wants to arch backward, while the lower spine wants to arch forward. Yet most chairs dont mimic this motion. By offering employees only high quality, ergonomically advanced task chairs, employers can significantly promote workplace health.

    Assist diverse work modes

    Whether its individual work, working in pairs or working with a group, we know that people perform best when they can choose where and how they work. Incorporate a palette of place, a menu of different workspace choices for different work modes. From a stand-up meeting to seated task work, heres a diverse workforce driving new demands.

    The overall effect of the choice of places is that employees are better able to negotiate a work-life balance. So, besides the obvious physical benefits of more daylight, a blend of work modes supporting multiple modes and working styles, ergonomic furniture makes real estate more usable and also ensures workers have the best place to work at any time.

    So, go ahead. Get some ergonomic furniture and live a stress-free life!

    (The author is managing director, Steelcase India and Asia Pacific)

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  • 12/06/17--22:08: 'I'm a diverse person'
  • There is something about the way Monali Thakur sings that catches the attention of her listeners. Its not just her voice but also the attitude that reflects when she is singing.

    After giving hits like Badri Ki Dulhania, Zara Zara Touch Me and Sawaar Loon, to name a few, shes back again with MTV Unplugged Season 7 to give her version of the songs. Monali speaks about her musical odyssey.

    What do you like about the show?

    You can do whatever you want to with certain songs. Its like you have the freedom to do whatever you want and its just priceless.

    Which are some of the songs that you will be singing?

    Apart from the songs that I have sung in films, I also have certain melodies that people arent aware of. These are songs I have collaborated and clubbed with popular ghazals and folk songs. The rehearsals were a lot of fun.

    Youve been quite busy lately. What are you working on?

    Im doing MTV Music Project with the channels team again. Apart from that, theres been a lot but I just cant talk about them yet.

    Youve made a mark in several genres of music. Which one has been your favourite?

    I cant pick one because I am a diverse person. I have different moods and I like listening, dancing or moving to different genres of music according to how I feel. But the one genre that I have difficulty understanding is hardcore metallic rock. I just dont understand that.

    How do you balance your music with other

    To be very honest with you, its very difficult. It feels like these days are just filled with various obligations that I dont know how to distract myself. But unfortunately, to live in this crazy world, you have to figure it out.

    Whats the weirdest thing thats ever happened to you while working on a song?

    I wanted to sleep when I was singing once! But there are many, many weird situations that happen regularly. We take our sweet time recording too. But it all depends on your mind and which state of
    mind you are in. Then again, a lot depends on your voice.

    Youve been writing music for a long time. Do you remember the first time you wrote one?

    I wrote a song when I was really young. I even tuned it. I have composed many singles like that.

    How do you feel about other artistes doing covers of your songs?

    They are all beautiful to me. I dont have the heart to say one of them is better than the other, especially because they are not sending it to me for approval. Its great that they like my song and want to make a cover out of it.

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  • 12/06/17--22:10: The Himalayan Dream
  • At an age when most of us are searching for the best pension schemes and shopping for comfortable rocking chairs, we planned to do what at that time seemed almost impossible.

    I was 62 and my wife a few years younger and our plan was to do a motorcycle ride to Spiti Valley in the Himalayas.

    Touring by motorcycle has been a passion for my wife and me for many years.

    We are members of a biker's forum called 'xBhp' who are based in Delhi and they promised to arrange a motorcycle for us at Delhi.

    The first thing we did was to book non-refundable air tickets to Delhi and back. This would ensure we don't change our minds at the last moment!

    Finally, the D-day arrived. We had an early morning flight so that we would have enough time to collect the motorcycle and ride up to Jalandhar to meet our niece who lives there. By evening we arrived at Jalandhar.

    The next morning all of us drove down to Amritsar to visit the magnificent Golden Temple and return back in the evening. We needed to catch up on some sleep and rest before the tough ride ahead.

    Early next morning we embarked on a journey we will never forget! From Punjab, we rode through Chandigarh and into Himachal Pradesh.

    Himachal surely has to be one of the most beautiful states in our country. We breathed in the cool fresh air and rode through roads flanked by oak, pine, fir and cedar trees and apple orchards rich with colourful and tempting apples.

    We cannot travel for very long stretches in that region for more reasons than one. First of all, we just could not resist stopping often to admire the beautiful views. And secondly, we needed time to gradually acclimatise to the high altitude. By evening, we reached Solan and stopped our ride for the day.

    The next morning, after a hearty breakfast we continued our ride. We passed through the beautiful but crowded city of Shimla and through Kufri, Theog, Narkanda and Rampur to reach Jeori where a heavy downpour greeted us.

    The weather in the mountains can be unpredictable and can change from bright sunshine to thunderstorms in a jiffy.

    We checked into a hotel for the night and retired early. We know that we have reached the end of good roads and the most difficult stretches would begin the next day.

    We woke up to a bright and sunny morning. It was the end of good roads and from there it was narrow, gravel-covered roads. Often we had to cross streams created by melting snow which made the road slushy and at my age, with a pillion carrying a haversack and saddlebags on the bike, it took all my resolve to keep the bike upright. Often there were landslides and we had to wait for it to be cleared before we could ride through.

    The Border Roads Organisation (BRO), which takes care of the roads in that region, needs to be saluted for the amazing work they do under such harsh conditions.

    The going was slow. As we climbed higher, the low oxygen levels can leave you panting. And then there are the breathtaking views! How could anyone rush through those magnificent mountains without pausing often to admire?

    By evening we reached a small hamlet called Nako and checked into a homestay for the night. After dinner, we curled up under eight-inch thick quilts. It was only October and already freezing.

    As we dozed off, we realised we were finally living our Himalayan dream.

    The next morning after breakfast we set off again. We were already at an altitude of nearly 12,000 feet and still climbing. Most of the roads were not only narrow and rough but totally isolated. We would sometimes travel 20 to 30 km without meeting a soul. The isolation was unnerving at times, more so when you are flanked by the towering, snow-capped mountains.

    By late afternoon we reached Kaza, the largest settlement and also the district headquarters of Spiti Valley. After miles and miles of isolation, it was a pleasure to see an ATM and a petrol bunk! Nestled among the mighty Himalayas, this was to be our home for the next few days.

    The next morning we rode to explore the Key Monastery, which is 1000 years old and also the largest in the valley. From there we rode up to Kibber, which is the highest motorable village in the world. Beyond Kibber is Tibet.

    At 14,500 feet, we were literally gasping for breath but the surreal beauty of the region took our breath away.

    Spiti Valley is not just a region, it is truly another world. We had met the warmest of people in one the coldest and harshest of regions.

    After saying goodbye to our new found friends, we left for Manali.

    The crowded streets of Manali and Kullu full of boisterous holiday-makers were almost like a culture shock to us after the peaceful serenity of the valley and the smooth highways of the plains were boring after the testing, bone-jarring ride on non-existent roads.

    After a stopover at Kurukshetra, we rode back to Delhi to catch our flight to Bengaluru.

    Ravi Shankar and Juliana Shankar
    (They can be contacted on

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  • 12/06/17--22:12: The traditional aroma
  • Christmas is on the doorstep and its time to bring out the decorations and make your home look like a magical place. But of course, no celebration is complete without food and this time, its all about Christmas cakes.

    The process of making these cakes takes weeks or months, starting with the soaking of fruits, raisins and nuts and finally mixing it with spices before it goes into the batter.

    Many home bakers in the city have already begun their preparations. Dorothy Victor, a home baker says, "Its been a couple of weeks since I soaked my fruits and raisins. The baking will begin very soon."

    Its become a family tradition for Dorothy to bake these cakes every year. She usually as family members coming over during this festive season. "Its not going to be too grand as I lost my father this year. But Christmas is the most joyous celebration of the year and we all look forward to it," she adds.

    So what makes Dorothys Christmas cakes so special? She says with a smile, "My secret ingredient is lots of love."

    For self-taught baker Jeyadra Vijayselvan, the preparation for this years plum cakes began last year. She says, "I usually soak the dried fruits in alcohol a few months before Christmas the previous year so that the flavour will soak in very well by the time I have to a bake it. Closer to Christmas, I take them out and add the spices to it and its ready to go in the oven."

    Jeyadra isnt someone who follows the traditional recipe. "Ive felt that those cakes usually dry up and crumble as soon as you try to cut a piece. Ive improvised on that so when you cut through the cake, youll get a beautifully smooth slice," she explains. She also makes panetonnes which were the first Christmas cakes ever made.

    "The true origin of the bread/cake can be found in the Middle Ages when people used to celebrate Christmas with a bread richer than the one they ate every day, so they would add raisins and oranges. Not many in the city know about this recipe, and I hope they will find this interesting," says Jeyadra.

    Adding a little twist to tradition is home baker Rebecca and her daughter Tresa Francis. Tresa says, "I dont soak the dried fruits in advance like many bakers. I just pressure cook them when Im about to bake so that it becomes soft and easy to make. My mother, on the other hand, bakes almost 500 kg for a company; but she makes date and walnut cakes and carrot cakes."

    Rebecca says, "A friend of ours asked me to make these cakes once and since then, I end up making a lot of it for his office. These cakes dont require any soaking but the fruits need to be cut and kept ready for baking. It takes about two weeks to finish the whole

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    She has been an actor since she was 15. A renowned personality in the theatre circuit, theres pretty much nothing that Padmavati Rao hasnt dabbled in. The artiste will soon be seen in Boiled Beans on Toast, which will be staged at the Deccan Herald Theatre Festival, curated by Sandbox Collective. The play is written by Girish Karnad and will be directed by Prakash Belawadi. In a candid chat, she talks about the Deccan Herald Theatre Festival and more.

    Does the name of the play, Boiled Beans on Toast, connect with the history of the city?

    Bengaluru is derived from Bendakaluru (city of boiled beans). Yes, the play is about what was and what is Bengaluru. The play applies to any urban area which aspires to be like any other city in the developed world. There are bridges being built and metaphorically bridges collapsing between people. How one comes face to face with realities and what are the costs involved, are some of the questions being addressed in this play.

    What pulled you to work in Boiled Beans on Toast?

    Prakash asked me to play the lead. Though it is a powerful play, I wasnt sure about it initially. But he was positive that it would be a big change for me. It is an honour to work in Boiled Beans on Toast and I am doing a Karnad play after a while. I am really glad I am a part of it.

    According to you, what more can be done through the Deccan Herald Theatre Festival?

    The Deccan Herald Theatre Festival is a festival that has been there for decades. This years format is unique. I hope the festival continues to keep the pulse on what is needed as theatre is one platform where one can truly express their heart and mind. The festival should continue to connect to the youth across the country.

    How has the theatre scene evolved in Bengaluru?

    Theatre has come a long way. There were days when we all had jobs and we would meet only in the evenings to practise. This hasnt changed for many but one can see youngsters making the choice about what exactly they want to do. We didnt have that kind of an option earlier. It was tough. The way of working in theatre has also changed a lot. We would just dive into a script earlier but now everyone does workshops before every play. This is great as it brings the team together.

    How have you been able to balance theatre and movies?

    I think what has seen me through is my sense of commitment. There have been times when I committed to a theatre production and was offered a movie and had to turn it down. It is not easy. There have been other times when I had committed to a film and a good play would come along. This situation is even harder. One just learns to work around it and know what one should invest their time in.

    Are movies and plays similar or different?

    They are very different mediums. In theatre, the performance happens in a very intimate space. When it comes to films, the technicalities like closeup shots on the eyes or face or long shots all dictate to what extent the scene will emote.

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  • 12/06/17--22:14: Greener pastures
  • Laurie Baker, an eminent architect and a pioneer of sustainable architecture, had once rightly said, "I have my own principles, which I am unwilling to abandon. I dislike falsehood and deceit. A building should be truthful."

    In the fast-paced city life, over-polluted roads and stressful situations, one would always like to relax a bit. But where are those relaxing spaces in the concrete jungle that we live in?

    Eco-friendly houses are becoming a trend these days as people are realising the need for greener living spaces. They no more need those false ceilings or vitrified tiles; instead, they are preferring breathable interiors.

    "I always wanted to construct a home like this," said Thriveni, an artist. "I had seen such vernacular houses, which are also eco-friendly, in my village in Chikkaballapur and in my husbands native place as well. Since my brother himself was a civil engineer, he had constructed almost five to eight houses in a similar fashion. Right from the beginning, I was sure I wanted to construct such a house. This was always in the back of my mind."

    "I never thought about the cost when my husband and I decided to build a house like this. Though the outer structure may be cost-effective, the prices of flooring and interiors might shoot up a bit. However, in the long term, it has zero maintenance. Even the maintenance cost for flooring is almost nil."

    "It is a totally different feel when you enter eco-friendly homes. These days, the look of hotels and homes are almost the same. It was not just a dwelling place I wanted but a real home. There is breathable air in such houses," adds Thriveni

    Ravi MN, a civil engineer, also has much to talk about eco-friendly homes. "From the past 20 years people have become knowledgeable and there has been a demand for such houses. I would have constructed about 20-25 houses in this style. Most of these houses are constructed in the load-bearing system, where we do not use columns or pillared construction," he says.

    "This is done to economise the cost and withhold sustainability. When we construct such houses, we do not go in for multi-storey buildings. This also saves cost as you save heavily on plastering and other costs that would be incurred," adds Ravi.

    Adds Radha Madhusudhan, a professor of community medicine, too, has an eco-friendly house.

    "I had always loved the green spaces in old Bengaluru because I grew up there. I wanted to have the same environment recreated now, which is why I opted for an eco-friendly house. Apart from that, there are health benefits also," she says.

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    They are called the fantastic four and for good reason. Digital sensation SANAM is a hot favourite in the music scene. With an unprecedented 3 million YouTube subscribers and sold-out shows across the globe, it is no wonder their name drives the crowds wild.

    In the city to perform today at Opus in Harlur Road, the boys took time off to chat with Rajitha Menon about music and memories.

    Fans and followers in almost every country now...

    Keshav Dhanraj: We found out recently that we are one of the few channels in the world that have reached almost every single country. We have followers even in countries like Iceland and Finland. When we first started out, we thought that mostly our audience will be Indian since we put out Hindi music. But our music caters to everyone.

    What makes you say that?

    Keshav: Recently we did a concert in Suriname and the organisers were quite surprised with the turnout. They told us that usually, every artiste has a fixed type of crowd. But for our show, there were kids, parents and grandparents. There were Chinese, African-Americans, Indians and Pakistanis. Cant tell you why but we are grateful that this happens.

    The best part about being independent musicians...

    Keshav: We grew up listening to bands. But later on, musicians were only seen as singers, and mostly Bollywood ones at that. There was no recognition of instrumentalists or the band culture. We wanted to change that. We have done songs that we enjoyed in our style and put it out whenever we felt like it. There was nobody telling us what to do. Our strong management team is another plus factor.

    How has the scene changed over the years?

    Keshav: When we started off, there was absolutely nobody listening to our music. We had to spam all our friends and ask them to watch our videos. But now there are so many bands and we feel that these changes are also because of us. Our music made us famous and that is something that we can sustain.

    Describe the sound of the band.

    Sanam Puri: Its not something that can be described in words, it has to be felt. The final output sounds different to everyone. If you want to label the music, I guess its pop rock.

    A song special to the band...

    Sanam Puri: Every song is special and has reached different parts of the globe. Lag Ja Gale and Gulabi Aankhein have helped us to capture two different kinds of audiences.

    New projects...

    Sanam Puri: We are working on a lot of singles and are planning on bringing out more originals next year.

    How do you handle the female adoration?

    Venkat Subramaniyam: We are just lucky that we have got such a vast female fanbase in different age groups. You deal with each of them differently. Some people want you to be more active on social media so we do things like live chats. When we travel, we do meet-and-greets and also spend time with the audience at shows.

    Craziest fan reaction...

    Venkat: Lot of them. In countries like Mauritius, Maldives and Israel, fans come to the airport and get emotional and hand us all kinds of gifts. Mostly it is impossible to take those gifts. Then I personally remember a show in Delhi when a girl in the audience kept asking me to take off my shiny glasses so that she could see my eyes better. I took them off and kept them on my amp and then the next thing I know - shes flicked them!

    When not making music, what do you guys do?

    Samar: Chilling, having fun, partying, playing games, going crazy (laughs).

    If not a band, then...

    Samar: Personally, I would be a cricketer. When I was in college, I had to choose between music and cricket and I went with the former.

    In a nutshell, what is the secret of your success?

    Samar: Happiness. And the love we have for each other.

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  • 12/06/17--22:20: On the happiness lane
  • Actor Harshika Poonacha began her career at the age of 15 in the Kannada film industry. She has acted in all the Southern language industries. Harshika is remembered for her memorable performances Jackie with Puneeth Rajkumar, Thamassu with Shivarajkumar and Yash, Advaitha with Ajai Rao and Crazyloka with V Ravichandran in Kannada. She has also worked on a few projects in Telugu and Tamil languages. She won the State Award for Best Actress for Thamassu. She has also made an appearance in Big Boss with actor Sudeep and Super Minute with actor Ganesh. Harshika will soon be seen playing interesting roles in Chitte in Kannada and Charminar in Malayalam.

    "I usually never get a weekend all to myself but whenever I do, I make the best of it. My tight work schedule makes it impossible for me to indulge in things that I enjoy doing, so weekends give me a chance to take a break from the routine and spend time with my family and friends. I make sure that I dont rush through the weekend and take time to enjoy whatever I am doing.

    I am a huge movie buff. There have been weekends when I have watched at least four movies in a day. I have learnt a lot about acting and the art of making films just by watching movies. There are a few actors whose style and work is worth emulating. I admire Urmila Matondkar for her oomph factor and I have even made videos of her songs. I also enjoy watching the movies of Madhuri Dixit Nene and Kareena Kapoor Khan.

    Weekends are the time I slip into a lazy mode. Some of my Saturdays start with an early morning run and a round of swimming at a club. This sets the tone for an eventful weekend.

    I try to pack in a lot of variety into my weekends. I enjoy doing up the interiors of my home and adding colour to every corner. I shop for home decor and sometimes change the cover of the couch and the wall paint as well. I do this to overcome the monotony of being in familiar surroundings.

    I love automobiles. I picked up a passion for bikes and cars from my father. I still cherish the days when I was taken on short rides by my father and I would be so eager to hold the handle of the bike and steer it. My father too wouldnt hesitate to let me hold it. I now own a bike and I ride it occasionally.

    Cooking is another favourite pastime during the weekend. I dont mean to praise myself but I am a good cook and an experimental one at that. I make Mutton biryani and Ghee rice with Chicken curry, mutton and liver preparations in Coorgi style. In the sweets category, I make Mysore Pak, Holige, Kaju Barfi and Gulab jamuns. I dont believe in going by the recipe book but do my own research for some interesting recipes. My mother and aunt have helped me develop an interest in cooking.

    I am not a party person and have a handful of close friends. I hang out a lot with Reshma Kunhi. Shes my best friend and I enjoy spending time with her. My friends and I usually go out for movies and wrap up our outings with a dinner. And if we are in a mood for some desserts, then we head straight to J W Marriott. They have the finest of midnight desserts.

    I try to make time for all the things that I love doing on weekends because it makes me feel happy and stay positive."

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  • 12/06/17--22:32: Bibliophile heaven in China
  • Are you one of those people who doesnt like to be watched while reading a book? Well, youll probably be ready to make an exception if you visit Chinas stunning new library.

    This library is an incredible structure built like a giant spherical auditorium in the middle that looks like a giant eye. Book-lovers from around the world can prepare to be awed by the massive, futuristic library with space to hold more than one million books

    The library is located in the Binhai home Cultural District in Tianjin. Tianjin is a coastal city that borders the Beijing municipality. It is located next to a park and is part of a group of five cultural buildings that are connected by a public corridor underneath a glass canopy.

    It is five-storeyed and was designed by Dutch design firm MVRDV in collaboration with the Tianjin Urban Planning and Design Institute (TUPDI), and has since been dubbed The Eye of Binhai. It covers 34,000 square metres and can hold up to 1.2 million books.

    Taking just three years to complete, the library features a reading area on the ground floor, lounge areas in the middle sections and offices, meeting spaces, and computer or audio rooms at the top. It provides an opportunity for studying too; however, how much studying wed get done is debatable because we are likely to be too busy marvelling the awesome architecture.

    Turns out, most of these futuristic-looking floor to ceiling shelves are painted to look like theyre full of books, but in reality, much of the covers in the hall are printed images. The real books are stored in other rooms in the building.

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  • 12/07/17--16:00: Cupcake crush
  • Cupcakes have become mainstream, as they are served everywhere from birthday parties to corporate events. Baking is an art, a science and it also means finding comfort in the familys best kept secret recipes. All you need is a right technique. Here are some tricks to making some fantastic cupcakes:

    * Pans: Standard baking tray cups measure 2-inch in diameter and are used for regular-sized cupcakes. Mini-baking cups are 1 inch in diameter, while the jumbo ones are 3 ½ inches. You can get some adorable cupcake wrappers, which can be placed in the baking pan before you pour the batter.

    * Ingredients: Cupcakes are miniature versions of your favourite cakes. Choose the ingredients depending on the texture you want for your cupcakes. Keep the scaling of ingredients in mind to fit small batches of six or 12 pieces. Quality ingredients are the key to great cupcakes. For example, in case of chocolate cupcakes, make sure you choose a good quality Dutch cocoa and some Belgian chocolate chips.

    * Mixing: Techniques like creaming, folding, foaming etc are crucial to baking. Mixing of the batter determines the texture of the cupcakes. If you are looking for soft and fluffy cupcakes, cream the butter and sugar until they are light and fluffy.

    * Portioning: If all the cupcake liners are filled with the same quantity of batter, the cupcakes will be baked evenly. Use an ice-cream scoop to portion the batter.

    * Filling: You could add caramel squares to the middle of the batter, nuts or chocolate chips as filled centres before baking. You can even fill the centres with yummy sauces like lemon curd, caramel once the cupcakes are baked.

    * Frosting: Icing is the best way to dress up your cupcakes. Ensure that the cupcakes are completely cool before frosting them. Try frostings like American buttercream, Swiss meringue buttercream, whipped cream and ganache.

    * Decorating: You can garnish you cupcakes with sprinkles, fresh fruit, chocolate chips, candy or chopped nuts. You can even drizzle some chocolate sauce, top it with cherries or dip it in caramel or Nutella.

    (The author owns Indulge Cupcakes)

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  • 12/07/17--16:04: Exotic Bali on a plate
  • Gado-Gado (vegetable salad with peanut dressing)
    Ingredients: For the peanut dressing, around 150 gm of fried peanuts; 15 gm of fried shallots; a clove of garlic; 15 gm of palm sugar; 10 gm of galangal; 2 birds-eye chillies; 250 ml of water; 1 lime; 30 gm of sweet soy sauce and 5 gm of salt. For the salad, 100 gm of boiled bean sprouts; 100 gm of long beans, cut long and boiled; 100 gm of julienned carrots, boiled; 10 gm of boiled cabbages; 50 gm of tofu sliced, deep fried; 1 hard-boiled egg, wedged; 1 tomato, wedged and 100 gm of potato, boiled and cubed.

    Method: For the dressing, grind peanuts, palm sugar, fried shallots, galangal, chillies and garlic in a mortar. Gradually add water in batches to form a paste. Add lime juice and sweet soy sauce. Toss in vegetables to prepare the salad.

    Note: Serve as a light salad or as an accompaniment with grilled fish or chicken.

    Sate Lilit (Minced seafood satay)
    Ingredients: Around 150 gm of snapper fillet, minced; 150 gm of prawn, peeled and minced; 100 gm of base genep (spice mix made of candlenuts, garlic, galangal, coriander seeds, black pepper, fresh turmeric and shallots); 15 gm of fried shallots; 15 gm of fried garlic, finely chopped; 1 birds-eye chilli, finely chopped; 15 gm of coconut, grated, toasted; 15 gm of palm sugar, sliced; 15 gm of thick coconut milk; 2 kaffir lime leaves, julienned; 5 gm of shrimp paste mixed with 1 tsp water; 1 lime, squeezed; 5 gm of salt and lemongrass for satay skewers 6-inches in length.

    Method: Combine all ingredients together and mix well. Mould a tablespoonful of the satay mixture around the lemongrass stick and cook over charcoal grill or a grill pan till they turn golden brown. Ensure that your use fresh prawn and fish as frozen ones may contain too much moisture.

    Tum Bebek (minced duck in banana leaf)
    Ingredients: Around 150 gm of boneless duck, minced; 50 gm of base genep; 1 egg; 15 gm of fried shallots; 15 gm of red chillies, diced; 1 birds-eye chilli diced; 1 kaffir lime leaf sliced fine; 15 gm of grated coconut, toasted; 5 gm of salt and white pepper powder and 5 banana leaves for wrapping.

    Method: Combine all the ingredients. Mix them well and check the seasoning. Place a tbsp of mixture into the banana leaf and wrap gently and close each side with bamboo/tooth pick. Steam these parcels for about 15 minutes until well cooked. Serve hot.

    Courtesy: Chef Ravinder, Ayana Resort and Spa, Bali.

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  • 12/07/17--16:08: Food from the hills
  • When I land at Dehraduns Jolly Grant Airport, the air is crisp and the landscape is a dull green carpet that continues onto the mountains, amid open fields and colourful houses. I drive into Antara, a senior living concept that invites residents above 55 years of age to live on its 14-acre property situated on the plateau surrounding by Mussorie hills in Purukal village.

    Chef Arun Karara, head of menu creations, has prepared a traditional lunch for us, using locally sourced produce and recipes. "I am in charge of a healthy and balanced diet for the residents and when I looked around at the region, I realised that the high-quality local produce here can make my task simpler. Any meal in the hills is ghar ka khana," he smiles, adding that they work with a food partner network that deals directly with farmers to source produce. Vegetables in Dehradun have travelled only a short distance from the farms, which ensures their freshness and taste.

    Dehradun is a pot belly, which combines Garhwali and Kumaoni food. The server had brought in a plate of tikkis made from barley and pumpkin with a side dip made of wild sesame. "Compared to the black and white sesame available in city markets, the hills produce four to five different varieties, which are consumed to keep the body warm in winters. We toast the sesame and add lemon juice to it," Karara explains.

    The warm tikkis melt in my mouth and the lightly spiced bites are wholesome. For the non-vegetarians, there is bhatti chicken made with simple masalas of turmeric, chillies and garam masala. The meat is succulent and the charred edges add a rustic touch to the dish.

    Go to grains

    Dehradun is big on millets like jangora (barnyard millet) and madwa (ragi), which are available here in plenty. "All the produce in hills is seasonal, so even the locals follow seasonal meals. They usually avoid meats and heavy foods in summers, saving that rich diet for winters," the chef explains. With the nip in the air, winter greens like batua, palak and sarso abound. For mains, I am served batua saag with jhangora roti.

    "People here have large backyards, where they grow their own produce including greens, broccoli, tomatoes, etc," says Karara.

    I dip my roti in the local Uttarakhandi dal called kulhatt or horsegram. The dal has been roasted, ground and boiled to a thick consistency.

    Spice trail

    Since Dehradun doesnt grow a lot of spices, the locals incorporate fresh spices like turmeric in their meals. "The fresh spices that locals grow are not similar to the ones used commercially. Desi turmeric has a different sort of flavour profile than the regular one," Karara points out. A popular spice in the hills is jakhiya (cleome viscose), which belongs to the mustard family. When I taste it in a yogurt dip, the tiny, dark brown grains have a crunchy texture that leaves a subtle zing of mustard. "Even a simple aloo sabzi is treated with a tadka of jakhiya," says chef.

    Apart from the use of few local spices, Dehraduni cuisine is also known for the use of dairy. Small vendors make local cheese for their own consumption, which is similar to cheddar. They also make an excellent mozzarella using cow milk.

    Sweet tooth

    In winters, locals consume heavy desserts, so you will see lot of ghee lot of millets and starch paste. During summers, they prefer fruits.

    Bal mithai is an absolute must have. The brown chocolate-like fudge is made with roasted khoya, coated with white sugar balls. I relish a bowl of janghore ki kheer, one of the most popular desserts cooked with millet and cows milk. It is not heavy on your palate compared to the rice kheer, and is easy to digest. I decide to take a spoonful just for a taste after the scrumptious meal, but end up licking the bowl clean!

    On any given day, a full meal like this would slip me into a drowsy mood, but this one leaves me feeling energised to walk around and breathe in the fresh air. "The ingredients have been nurtured by the good soil and air. It is bound to uplift your spirits," Karara signs off.

    My time in the beautiful hills of Dehradun comes to an end the next day. The chef sends me off with a loaf of banana and walnut cake, which is dense, buttery and nutty. On my way to the airport, I take a small detour at the famous Ellora Bakery on Rajpur Road. At one of the oldest bakeries in Dehradun, kids are buying toffee, locals are buying freshly baked bread while tourists are picking up plum cakes.

    Bakes and cakes are an integral tradition of Dehradun and I pick up a box of toffees that are chewy, caramel treat to end my trip on a sweet note.


    Chainsoo (serves 4)


    Whole Black gram dal (gehat dal): 200 gm
    Garlic: 4-5 cloves
    Cumin seeds: 1 tsp
    Black pepper: 4 corns
    Red chillies: 4-5
    Coriander powder: 1/2 tsp
    Turmeric powder: 1/4 tsp
    Red chilli powder: 1/2 tsp
    Garam masala: 1/2 tsp
    Oil (preferably mustard oil): 1/2 cup
    Water: 3 cups
    A pinch of asafoetida
    Salt: 3 tsp
    Ghee and coriander leaves for garnishing


    * Place a kadai on a medium flame and dry roast the dal for about 3-5 minutes until it emanates an aroma (do not over roast). Take it off the flame. Grind the roasted dal into a coarse powder.
    * Heat oil in a kadai and add the garlic cloves. When the cloves turn light brown, add cumin seeds, red chillies, black pepper and asafoetida. Immediately, add the powdered dal and fry for 1-2 minutes.
    * Add turmeric powder, coriander powder, red chilli powder, salt and water. Cover and cook until the dal becomes soft. Let the mixture simmer for 20-30 minutes.
    * Before turning off the heat, sprinkle garam masala over the chainsoo.
    * Garnish with ghee and chopped coriander leaves.

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    That welcome nip in the air makes it official: winter is here! Usually featuring a slew of unprepared, unplanned outfits, dressing for multiple seasons in a day isnt exactly easy. Fashion is all about reinvention, especially during winters. Hence, we give you an exclusive insight on the seasons new must-have trends, ranging from party-approved numbers and winter-ready knits to head-turning festive ensembles.

    * Asymmetry: Move over straight hemlines! Asymmetry is the simplest shortcut to chic this season. A fishtail, a bias cut flounce, a draped detail or a simple wrap skirt are all small details that can define a new aesthetic - sartorial balance. A handkerchief hem dress is a multitasker, dazzling from brunch to vacations.

    * Red alert: This vivid shade is topping charts everywhere. Whether your winter wish list includes a festive anarkali set or street-style inspired active wear, theres a red outfit to suit everyone! If the bright red is not your thing, you can avoid it by wearing burgundy clothes.

    * Great jeans: The high waist, light-wash denim and mom jeans are making a comeback now. The style now is to keep it simple. Pair your favourite pair of booty-shaping jeans with a T-shirt, button-down, or sweater, and sleek shoes like flats, booties, or unembellished sneakers. Or theres more to denim than pants. Upgrade with off-shoulder tops, dresses and co-ord sets. A head-to-toe denim look makes a great Instagram-worthy outfit.

    * All that glitters: Shine on baby! For a sun downer wear something shimmery that works well when the night falls. Go for a metallic top, statement-pleated skirt, cropped pants, midi skirt or mini skirt. Or indulge in dance-floor-ready metallic and sequinned slips, T-shirt dresses, skirts and accessories. For a subdued effect, give velvet a shot.

    * Tartan & plaid: Tartan is once again gracing the runways this season, with everyone sporting checked shirts, plaid coats and tartan trousers. The Scottish-inspired pattern, suits all ages. Sported by the Sarah Jessica Parker, Emma Watson and more, a tartan shirt or dress is a rad choice for Christmas.

    * Modern Indian: Channelling desi chic gets easier. The Indo-Western fusion or the Western ethnic fusion has been one of the biggest and most versatile fashion trends, ever since it started ages ago. India-inspired dresses make for a unique style statement while well-tailored Nehru jackets add a dapper edge to menswear.

    * Suit up: For all the street wear and athleisure dominating fashion, tailored suits are also making a strong statement now. Often limited to workspaces, pantsuits made a splash on runways this season. Nail the trend with an off-the-moment grey blazer that goes boardroom-to-bar in an instant! For starters, you can add some playful flair underneath, whether in electric colours or with shiny, punky zips.

    * In the pink: From millennial pink to dusty rose, pink is winning winter. Besides from being just another feminine colour, its also considered a statement. This lush colour to your closet with separates accessories or a fusion ensemble for the festive season.

    * Extra cover: Winter without jackets? No way! Choose from bombers, long-line cover-ups, varsity jackets or classic leather. Or pick a printed hoodie and wear your opinion. The street style stars have been styling this seasons must-have blazer in a variety of ways, be it with a tee and straight leg jeans or mini dress and knee-high boots.

    * As you like knit: With temperatures dipping, this is the best time to show off your knitwear. Knitwear is the must-have this winter; never has it been so popular amongst designers. Not just sweaters, make room in your wardrobe for form-fitting knitted dresses and top

    (The author is vice president, design, Max Fashion)

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  • 12/07/17--16:14: Beauty, the vegan way
  • Beauty and health are becoming the most debatable topics today, as there is always a new trend that comes up and we follow it blindly without understanding its true meaning. With labels like vegan, cruelty-free, organic and natural doing rounds, it is hard to choose from a wide range of beauty products that will suit your skin and hair. However, vegan beauty products are the most obvious choice today, as they are made from hand-picked natural ingredients without any chemical components.
    Currently, veganism is the most trending health fad. From health to beauty benefits, going vegan can help detox your body. Vegan beauty picks are proven to be more effective and sustainable. Moreover, vegan products are animal friendly, as they dont contain animal by-products and are not tested on animals before being manufactured.

    Ethical choices

    Made from choicest of natural ingredients sourced from around the world, vegan products have zero side effects on your skin. They are safe for sensitive skin and damaged hair. These products are designed to maintain the natural tone of every skin and hair type. Natural ingredients such as coconut milk contain antibacterial properties and ginger, aloe vera, seaweed, tea tree oil, green tea, chamomile and seaweed gels work well on any skin type, as they are rich in vitamins and antioxidants. These products rarely cause any type of skin irritation or rashes.

    Whats more, vegan beauty products has been living up to their claims of being 100% vegetarian without compromising on morals and beliefs. Being 100% vegetarian implies that all the products that have been produced without the use of animal by-products. Vegan beauty ranges do not contain animal ingredients like honey, beeswax or milk.

    Staying true to their philosophy, vegan beauty brands have been actively participating in Forever Against Animal Testing Campaign for a global ban on cosmetics animal testing for products and ingredients, revolutionising the beauty industry and protecting millions of innocent animals around the world. Lets take a look at the benefits of a vegan beauty regimen:

    * Soft & supple skin: Following a vegan beauty regime can bestow you with healthy skin. Vitamin B found in kale and vitamin C in oranges regenerate the skin cells making your skin soft and radiant. Vitamin C is known to enhance the natural radiance of the dull skin. Even melons and cucumber that are rich in water content can keep you skin hydrated.

    * Thick & long locks: Natural extracts such as green tea in shampoos, hair scrubs and conditioners help get rid of impurities and clear the scalp, leaving you with longer and stronger hair. Products that are 100% vegetarian, without colourants and silicone, refresh the hair and scalp and act as natural conditioners to your hair. The use of banana and ginger in vegan products also fortify the hair, giving it a healthy shine.

    * Acne control: Common ingredients in vegan products such as seaweed, tea tree oil, vitamin E, aloe vera, chamomile have energising properties. Chamomile purifies the skin and gives a silky soft feel and is suitable for sensitive and acne-prone skin. Aloe vera has soothing and calming properties that can fight skin irritation and inflammation. Seaweed is known to absorb excess oil and skin impurities, thus helps in treating acne. Tea tree oil targets the imperfections of the body and it is best suitable for blemished skin.

    * Chemical free: Devoid of harmful chemicals, vegan products do not need any ingredient check. Fancy, scientific sounding names can be confusing and we often buy products containing chemicals without a second thought. We end up using these "fancy" products on a daily basis, gradually harming our skin and hair. Most cosmetics contain chemicals like lanolin (derived from sheep), butylated hydroxytoluene and formaldehyde that can have damaging effects on your skin, causing irritation and inflammation.

    * Prevent skin problems: The chances of developing rashes, allergies, eczemas, acne, skin inflammation and skin diseases are low when one uses vegan cosmetics. Your skin becomes naturally beautiful and healthy with fruit and oil extracts.

    * 100% cruelty free: Vegan products do not contain beeswax, collagen, gelatin, honey, carmine, cholesterol and other ingredients derived from animals. These products are 100% cruelty free and never tested on animals. Although not all of us are animal rights activists, knowing our beauty essentials are not made after harming innocent animals, is a relief.

    * Animal-tested products are a threat to our ecosystem and also cause pollution during their manufacturing process. Rabbits, dogs, hamsters and mice are harmed because of inhumane testing techniques. Making another living being suffer for the sake of your mascaras, eyeliners, lipsticks, creams and foundations is a risk not worth taking, especially when you have a range vegan beauty products to choose from instead.

    * Natural skincare products such as essential oils like tea tree and chamomile; herbal extracts such as aloe vera, green tea; vitamins such as E,C and A; fruits like ginger, melons and cucumbers and other antioxidants, are especially crafted for skincare. Vegan products take us back to the ancient times when man turned to nature for all his beauty and health needs.

    (The author is head, training, The Body Shop India)

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    Are you looking for a super food that can serve you the goodness of omega 3 fatty acids, calcium, zinc, magnesium, antioxidants, protein, carbohydrates, fibre, vitamins B1, B2, B3 and E in every serving? Look no further than chia seeds, a nutritional super food that can be sprinkled on your rice dishes or mixed into beverages and baked foods, without worrying about any side effects.
    Lets take a look at how these tiny seeds are beneficial to the body:
    * Aids digestion: Chia seeds are easy to digest and help in regularising bowel movement. Rich in healthy fats and fibre content, chia can cure constipation. Eating chia seeds can also make a person feel full, as they absorb a considerable amount of water and expand in the stomach when consumed.
    * Fights ageing: According to a study, chia seeds curb up to 70% of free radical activity, as they contain natural phenolic concentration. Chia seeds can prevent skin cell damage, UV damage and promote repair.
    * Boosts immunity: Chia seeds are one of the healthiest foods that supply a lot of energy and endurance to the body. They can be eaten unprocessed as well to build immunity.
    * Cuts down belly fat: Consuming chia seeds everyday increases the bodys metabolic rate and burns belly fat effectively. Chia seeds reduce visceral adipose tissue, a belly fat tissue that affects metabolism and leads to obesity.
    * Improves bone strength: High in calcium content, consuming 1-2 teaspoons of chia seeds everyday can make your bones stronger. Chia contains boron, which helps digest the calcium, magnesium, manganese and phosphorus for bone growth.
    * Lowers cancer risk: Chia seeds can cut down the risk of breast and cervical cancers. Chia contains alpha lipoic acid that limits the growth of cancer cells in the breasts and cervix.

    (The author is nutrition and wellness expert, Oriflame India)

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    If sunglasses keep the eyes safe from harmful rays in summers, then they are all the more effective in winters. Research shows that winter brings with it double the threat of eye damage. Experts say that winter sun sits lower in the sky and at a different angle than summer months. It actually leads to more exposure to harmful sun rays if one is out for a longer periods of time. It can be damaging to various layers of the eye. Here are reasons why one must wear sunglasses in winters:
    * Protection from glare: Wintry precipitation coats every surface, and it leads to bright reflections of sunlight, which cause glare that can impair vision. This reflective glare is dangerous while driving. Sunglasses prevent the glare and provide safer and more comfortable vision.
    * Filter UV rays: Exposure to UV radiation is linked with cataracts and macular degeneration. UV rays damage the corneas, which in the long run lead to cataract. Quality sunglasses filter harmful UVA, UVB and UVC rays.
    * Act as wind barriers: Winters can be windy. Dust and debris in the wind can cause corneal abrasions. Sunglasses act as wind barriers and prevent the windblown particles from entering the eyes.
    * Prevent headaches: The pupil in the eye controls the inflow of light reaching the retina. Pupil dilates to allow more inflow of light in dim light conditions, while it constricts to prevent too much inflow of light in bright light conditions. Constant constriction of pupil leads to headache and eye strain. Sunglasses balance the amount of light entering the eyes, which increases comfort.
    * Improve vision: Eyes require just the right amount of light for undisturbed vision. Too much light causes "bleaching" of the retinas, which reduces visual acuity. Hence, wearing high-quality sunglasses becomes absolutely crucial even in winter months.

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    Pneumonia is an infection in one or both lungs that is caused by various bacteria, viruses, or even fungi. Pneumonia generally causes heavy inflammation in the air sacs of your lungs, which are known as alveoli. The alveoli are then filled with fluid or pus, making it difficult for the person to breathe. It is one of the most serious and life threatening disease of all. According to Indian Academy of Paediatrics, at least one child under the age five dies from pneumonia every two minutes in India.
    Pneumonia can range from mild to life-threatening. It turns fatal in case of infants, children, people older than 65, and those with weakened immune systems. With winter at its peak, it is important to know the early symptoms to watch out for:
    * Severe cough that may produce phlegm (mucus)
    * High fever
    * Shortness of breath and chest pain
    * Vomiting, nausea and fatigue
    Treatment for pneumonia varies according to the intensity of the illness.
    * Mild pneumonia can be treated at home with rest, antibiotics and by drinking plenty of fluids. If the case is severe, a person might require hospitalisation.
    * Doctors prescribe childhood vaccination to curb pneumonia.
    * Breast feeding an infant for up to six months, nutritious diet, a good hygiene and healthy lifestyle can prevent the disease.

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  • 12/07/17--16:26: Tricks to shed winter pounds
  • Winter weight gain often feels inevitable as the colder, shorter days force us to stay indoors. Most of us want to stay glued to the TV or cuddle up with a book. Moreover, the seasonal hunger pangs dont make it any easier for us.
    However, the lesser known fact is that the cold snap can actually help one shed extra kilos. According to a study conducted by Sydney Garvan Institute of Medical Research, from shivering workouts to sleeping in a cold room, keeping cool has been found to help burn body fat. It is all related to white fat and brown fat. Everyone is born with brown fat because it is natures way of keeping body warm, but this reduces with age. White fat, on the other hand, stores extra energy, and having too much of it contributes to obesity.
    Increasing brown fat not only helps in weight loss, it also reduces the risk of Type 2 diabetes. Those who live in cold climes have 42% increase in brown fat volume and a 10% increase in fat metabolic activity. Hence, we should avoid cosy environments, as with the lack of exposure to a varied ambient temperature, we may become prone to obesity. Here are the key rules for winter weight loss:
    * Quick workout: Spend at least 10-15 minutes outdoors. Research shows that shivering for that amount of time can be effective for weight loss. Shivering is equivalent to an hour of moderate exercise, as it increases the level of the irisin hormone, which is produced by muscles, and stimulates the conversion of energy-storing white fat into energy-burning brown fat.
    * Move more: If you are not big on gymming, head out for treks or walks. Hard workout techniques like hikes and treks speed up the calorie-burning process.
    * Pack up on proteins: A protein-rich diet can keep you full for a longer time and help stabilise your blood sugar levels. Ensure that even your snacks contain at least 10 gm of protein.
    * Drink hot: Diligent consumption of hot water and green tea can curb binge eating and boost energy. It also hastens the process of burning white fat and aids weight loss.
    * Eat seasonal produce: Seasonal vegetables can help you maintain your weight. Cauliflower, sweet potatoes, winter squash, beans, peas, lentils and brown rice limit the white processed carbohydrates. As most vegetables and salads are calorie free, with the exception of corn, sweet potato and potato, using them as a meal base slashes your daily calorie intake. Soups and stews are also an healthy option.
    * Nothing can beat a bowl of hot oatmeal in the winter. Not only is it tasty and convenient, its also full of nutrients and phytochemicals, that fill you up and energise you.
    * Surgical option: If you are obese, with a BMI more than 35, then a weight-loss surgery is the best option for you, as there is no risk of infection and the surgery is also more effective during winters.
    Lastly, being aware of your poor eating habits and lack of physical activity is the first step towards effective long-term weight loss.

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