Wednesday, July 30, 2014

13 Beautiful places in India to visit before you visit their foreign counterparts

A lot of people in India are travelling abroad for vacations, honeymoons and just for the sake of visiting beautiful new places in the world. But a lot of us seem to forget that what we seek abroad, we can find as easily in our own country. This doesn’t mean that one shouldn’t travel abroad, but it does mean that one should travel within India and witness all its marvels before we step out into the world. So here are a few places you should visit in India before you visit their counterparts abroad.

Here are my 13 must visits in India before you look for these beauties abroad.

1. Before you get lost in the beauty of Switzerland,

Find your piece of paradise in Kashmir.

2. Before you get drenched at the Niagara Falls,

Get drenched at the Chitrakoot Falls in Chhattisgarh.

3. before you surf the sands of the Sahara,

Come and explore the Thar.

4. Before you visit the Bonneville Salt Flats in America,

Visit the Rann of Kutch in Gujarat.

5. Before you take a trip to Madagascar,

Take a trip to the Andamans.

6. Before you chill on the beaches of Brazil,

Give the beaches of Goa a chance.

7. Before you go 'Woah' about the bridges in Taiwan,

Take a bow at the Howrah bridge in Kolkata.

8. Before you feast your eyes on the flowers in Antelope Valley in the U.S.A

Drink in the colours of the Valley of Flowers in Uttarakhand.

9. Before you hear the roar of the African lion,

Be awed by the majesty of the Royal Bengal Tiger.

10. If its french architecture you crave for, why go all the way to Saigon in Vietnam,

When you can see it all in Pondicherry in India.

11. Before taking a stroll in a Japanese flower garden,

Take a romantic walk in Nainital.

12. Before you get dwarfed by the statue of Christ The Redeemer in Brazil,

Get dwarfed by Saint Thiruvalluvar's statue in Kanyakumari.

13. And before you take selfies at the Arc de Triomphe in France

Feel proud and take one at India Gate in New Delhi.

Which of these Indian locations you think have beaten their foreign competitors. Please leave your comments below.

Leonardo Dicaprio raises $25 million in star-studded gala to save endangered animals

He's one of Hollywood's most high-profile environmentalists.
And on Wednesday night, Leonardo DiCaprio put his money where his mouth with the inaugural gala for his namesake foundation.

The A-list actor was joined by dozens of celebrity guests on the French Riviera for event, which raised an amazing $25 million to help protect earth's last remaining wild areas.

"There has never been, since the time of dinosaurs, as many plant and animal species disappearing so quickly,” DiCaprio told the audience during his opening remarks. “We must make efforts to protect rich biodiversity." 

The host of the evening added, "The wild species that depend on us to protect their habitat, like Tigers whose numbers have plummeted to under 3,200 left in the wild, or African elephants, who are being slaughtered at a rate of over 30,000 a year for their ivory tusks — they have no voice. We must be their ambassadors. We must be their protectors. We must stop their slaughter".

The event included an auction of artwork from artists like Damien Hirst and Pablo Picasso, DiCaprio's own Harley Davidson motorcycle signed by Martin Scorsese, Robert De Niro and Bono, and rock n’ roll memorabilia available to 500 guests.

In attendance were names like Selena Gomez, Joan Collins, Petra Nemcova, Cara Delevingne, Jared Leto, Marion Cotillard, Robin Thicke and Bono (who auctioned off his personal guitar for $1 million). It’s been reported that tickets to the event cost between between $7,000 and $130,000. The proceeds went toward the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation, which funds projects and programs to help save endangered and threatened species around the world.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Cholesterol-free foods could kill you!

Did you know that cholesterol free foods can actually lead to higher cholesterol levels because they have a component known as trans fat? 
This type of fat along with saturated fats is a recipe for disaster. Both the compounds require a large amount of processing by the body and can lead to higher levels of LDL or bad cholesterol which then go and clog arteries leading to heart disease, infertility, raise your chances of strokes and according to certain experts even Alzheimer’s.
What is LDL cholesterol? Why is it the ‘bad boy’ of the cholesterol world?
LDL also known as low density lipoprotein is actually simply a carrier of one type of cholesterol. Since the carrier when combined with cholesterol can cause severe conditions like heart disease it has been labelled as the ‘bad boy’ of cholesterol carriers.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Real Madrid sign James Rodriguez

Real Madrid have signed World Cup Golden Boot winner James Rodriguez from French league club Monaco.
The 23-year-old Colombia forward has agreed a six-year deal at the Bernabeu.
The reported fee of about 80million euros (£63m) makes Rodriguez the fourth most expensive transfer of all time after Gareth Bale, Cristiano Ronaldo and Luis Suarez.
A Real Madrid statement read: 'Real Madrid have reached an agreement with Monaco for the transfer of James Rodriguez, who will join the club for the next six seasons.

The player will be presented today, Tuesday 22 July, at 20:00 (Spanish time), in the Santiago Bernabeu's presidential box.

'Following that, James Rodriguez will take his first steps on the Santiago Bernabeu's pitch wearing the Real Madrid shirt and will attend the media in the press room.
"I'm very happy," Rodriguez said as he left the clinic. "Everything went well."

Monaco vice-chairman Vadim Vasilyev said his club had no plans to sell Rodriguez, but were proud to be part of "one of the most significant transfers in football history".
Vasilyev said: "The time came when the solution of a transfer was considered to be the most beneficial solution for all parties."
Rodriguez's goal against Uruguay in the round of 16 at the World Cup, when he chested the ball down and then volleyed it in, was voted the best of the tournament. He scored a total of six times.

Rodriguez will strengthen Madrid's offensive lineup by joining Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema in attack.
The Colombia forward will likely wear the No. 10 jersey, vacated when Mesut Ozil left Madrid for Arsena.
So who has the upper hand now, with Barcelona already having splashed the cash on Liverpool's Luis Suarez for a reported amount of 75million. Lets wait and watch to see what unfolds in the coming days.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Malaysian passenger plane crashes in Ukraine near Russian border

A Malaysia Airlines passenger flight has crashed with 295 people on board, according to a Russian news agency. 

According to the reports, a Boeing 777 was flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur and was shot down in the Donetsk region. the plane lost contact at about 4:20 p.m. Ukraine time and that the airplane was brought down by a "ground-to-air missile

The crash comes just months after Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 disappeared in March. 

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said the jet may have been shot down. 

"We do not exclude that the plane was shot down and confirm that the Ukraine Armed Forces did not fire at any targets in the sky," Mr Poroshenko said in a statement posted on the president's website. 

Separatist leader Aleksander Borodai blamed the crash on the Ukrainian government's forces. "Apparently, it's a passenger airliner indeed, truly shot down by the Ukrainian Air Force," Mr Borodai stated.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Neymar coming to Kerala for Ayurveda treatment?

Now this is some news. The TV channels in Kerala Tuesday went berserk, saying injured Brazilian footballer Neymar was likely to come to the state to undergo ayurveda treatment for his injured back.

The Brazilian international who broke a bone in his back from a reckless challenge in the World Cup quater final game against Colombia, has been ruled out for the rest of the World Cup.

The TV channels said the Brazilian Football Federation has got in touch with Chief Minister Oommen Chandy. However, Chandy has stated that nothing of that sort has happened.

He said there was a request from football fans in Kerala, asking the government to put up a proposal for treating Neymar using ayurveda. "I spoke to Health Minister V.S. Sivakumar, who called up leading doctors of the state-run ayurveda college here. They got details of Neymar's injury through the internet and (were) studying what sort of treatment should be adopted."

"We were planning to tell the media about this tomorrow (Wednesday). But now that everything is out in the media, with distortions, the health minister will tell you all." "Please don't get it wrong, we are only going to decide whether to put up a proposal to Neymar whether he wants our treatment," Chandy said.

Sitting is the new Smoking

If we estimate the exact time we spend sitting, it comes to around to about 10-12 hours per day. This includes driving, sitting at your workplace, relaxing at home and other such activities. Thought to be as bad for your health as smoking, the number of hours you spend sitting directly affects your health. So much so, that in her book Don’t Lose Out, Work Out, Rujuta Diwekar mentions that sitting predisposes you to a variety of diseases like diabetes, heart disease, high levels of cholesterol and an overall sluggish system.

Sit at your own risk!
Sitting for long hours can lead to certain disorders like chronic fatigue syndrome accompanied by anemia, insomnia, digestive problems, lethargy, etc. Apart from that, it may also give rise to inactivity stress syndrome –a condition where a person suffers from stress without doing any work. 

At the work place, a sedentary lifestyle is accompanied with bad dietary habits like eating junk food, irregular eating habits or eating on the run and drinking unhealthy beverages like tea, coffee or soft drinks. This completely upsets your normal metabolic function which may lead to conditions like acidity, constipation, ulcers and irritable bowel syndrome.

Can lead to spinal problems
The way you sit or your posture can be one of the causes for spinal problems or common pains along the neck, shoulders and lower back. Bad posture or sitting the wrong way can lead to muscle strain and eventually severe back problems. Apart from that, you could also suffer from muscle and bone loss as well.  This problem is no more unique to the elderly, experts have found that even in teenagers; continuous sitting can be a reason for muscle pain and bone loss.
Another major ill effect of sitting is obesity. Sitting is known to lead to accumulation of belly fat, thereby increasing the amount of bad cholesterol in your body. This in turn leads to diabetes and heart problems.

Tips to keep the ill-effects of sitting at bay:
  • While watching TV, take a short walk during the commercial breaks. Alternatively you can choose to finish some work between your regular TV shows.  While at work, take short walks either around your office or outside. This will not only help you relax and refresh your mind but will keep you fit as well. 
  • Make your food habits healthier. Avoid eating junk food and try some healthy snack options instead.
  • Practice relaxing and stretching exercises like yoga, which can be done while sitting at home or even in the office.

Good Bye Orkut

After ten years of sparking conversations and forging connections, we have decided it's time for us to start saying goodbye to Orkut. Over the past decade, YouTube, Blogger and Google+ have taken off, with communities springing up in every corner of the world. Because the growth of these communities has outpaced Orkut's growth, we've decided to focus our energy and resources on making these other social platforms as amazing as possible for everyone who uses them.

We will shut down Orkut on September 30, 2014. Until then, there will be no impact on you, so you may have time to manage the transition. You can export your profile data, community posts and photos using Google Takeout (available until September 2016). We are preserving an archive of all public communities, which will be available online starting September 30, 2014. If you don't want your posts or name to be included in the community archive, you can remove Orkut permanently from your Google account. Please visit our Help Center for any further details.

It's been a great 10 years, and we apologize to those of you still actively using the service. We hope you will find other online communities to spark more conversations and build even more connections for the next decade and beyond.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Shahrukh Khan and Salman Khan hug once again at Baba Siddiqui's iftar party

It was the same host and the same photo opportunity. Salman Khan and Shah Rukh Khan had famously buried the hatchet at Baba Siddiqui's Iftaar party at a Bandra hotel last year and the twain met again last night. SRK was the first to arrive at the gathering and the Khan family, including Salman, brothers Arbaaz, Sohail and their father Salim Khan walked in half an hour later. 

Salman and Shah Rukh posed together with their host and then retired to two corners for the rest of the evening. While Salman sat with his brothers, his former rival took a seat with Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan and Salim Khan.

The holy month of Ramzan once again saw friends turned foes Salman Khan and Shah Rukh Khan hug each other at MLA Baba Siddique's annual Iftaar party, hosted at Mumbai's Taj Lands End Hotel this evening.

Shah Rukh Khan arrived first. Salman arrived 20 minutes later. No sooner had Salman arrived, the shutterbugs, who were restricted to the red carpet followed Salman inside the venue of the party.

Baba Siddique took Salman around to meet all the guests present on the occasion. When Salman came near SRK's table the two greeted each other cordially, shook hands and hugged each other.

When Salman was asked about the likelihood of seeing him again with SRK he responded by saying,"Yeh sab Baba hi kara sakta hai. Yeh sab Iftaar tak hi seemith nahin.  Inshallah aap humein aage bhi saath dekh sakte ho! "

Salim Khan, Sohial Khan, Sunil Shetty, Aditya Pancholi and Chief Minister of Maharashtra Prithviraj Chauhan were other guests present on the occasion.

Last year, there was much speculation in industry circles about whether  Shah Rukh and Salman would call a truce after they had hugged and greeted each other cordially at the Iftaar part hosted by Baba Siddique.  Of course nothing of the sort happened. 

The paths of the superstars had crossed again at the Star Guild Awards this January, which Salman had hosted at NSCI stadium in Mumbai. The two superstars had hugged each other when Shah Rukh went up on stage to receive the Best Entertainer of the Year Award for his film Chennai Express.

Receiving the award SRK had said it was a great time for him to get an award in the company of Salman, who is one of the greatest entertainers the country has ever seen.

According to eyewitness present both the superstars were in great spirits at the party.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Budget 2014: 6 things you can expect from Narendra Modi's first budget

The Budget Edition carried out on 1st March 2013, carried a sharp commentary by a man who was then one of India's many chief ministers. A little over a year later he became India's prime minister. In about a week from now his government will present its first budget.

Narendra Modi's 2013 budget commentary, even granting it was written from the perspective of a CM from the then national opposition party, offers interesting insights into how India's current PM thinks a good budget should look like.

Here's Modi 2013 analysed for clues to Modi 2014:

Find cash for infra: "Against the much-needed Rs 55 lakh crore for infrastructure development, the budget attempts to mobilise a meagre Rs 50,000 crore", Modi had observed in 2013, and built on this theme of neglect of big projects. Finding big money for big projects will define 2014 budget as a Modi budget like little else would.

Skill them young: "The UPA government has allocated a mere Rs 1,000 crore for skill development. Contrast that with the Rs 800 crore for just one state, Gujarat, has allocated for skill development". That 2013 observation by Modi, who also said even rich countries like the US do more to tackle skill shortage, played out throughout his 2013-14 poll campaign and is again a signature Modi theme. Modi wants even plain vanilla welfare scheme NREGA to be retooled into a skills programme. Smart ideas and substantial fiscal backing for skills development can be another Modi imprimatur on Budget 2014.

Feel federal: "States have been requesting the Centre to address the issue of deficit of trust ... ," Modi had written in the context of critiquing the 2013 budget for what he saw as being insufficiently federal in terms of resource allocation. Many PMs and FMs don't pay enough attention to federalism issues in Union budgets. But this PM, the first serving CM to get the country's top job, may have a different approach. GST rollout is critically dependent on statesand Modi has courted some CMs already. His 2014 budget may try and address that 'trust deficit'.

Avoid gimmicks: "The move to set up the world's first public sector women's bank is a mockery ...", Modi had written, rubbishing a proposal P Chidambaram had claimed was radical. Experts had disagreed with Chidambaram. And that Modi had decided to attack a 2013 budget proposal that had seemed politically correct indicates he may not want his 2014 budget to be critiqued for gimmicky and superficial ideas.

Don't play safe: "This budget is ... piecemeal ... UPA ...wants to play safe," Modi had written. His 2013 commentary had mocked UPA repeatedly for not thinking big. It's safe to assume Modi in 2014 would want to avoid being tagged as "playing safe". The 'I will change things' politics of his election victory doesn't allow that option.

No fiscal fudge: Modi wrote, while commenting on UPA's fiscal deficit targeting, that "without any clear measure to mop up tax revenues and increase (tax) collection efficiency", deficit targeting will lead to "cuts in development spending". Many experts said this, too. And they will say it about Modi's budget even more should it try a fiscal fudge. But Modi's 2013 commentary shows he knows the severe reputational costs of a fudge. Cutting deficits sharply but honestly will make Modi's 2014 budget stand out clearly from UPA's last few budgets.