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first_imgWhen Indian police officers in a small boat pulled within sight of the remote island, they saw a group of islanders huddled on the beach. Carrying bows, arrows and spears, they appeared to be guarding something.Police officials said it could have been the body of John Allen Chau. The 26-year-old American missionary was killed last week as he tried to spread Christianity to North Sentinel, a forbidden island in the Andaman Sea.The crew peered at the islanders through binoculars, making sure to stay several hundred yards off shore, out of bow-and-arrow range.“The Sentinelese were watchful,” Dependra Pathak, the area’s police chief, said Saturday. “They were patrolling the beach, at the same spot John was killed, with weapons.”“Had we approached,” he said, “they would have attacked.”So instead of retrieving Chau’s body or determining where it is, the police officers, after sketching out the crime scene, motored away.“This case is the strangest and toughest in my life,” Pathak said. “We are trying to enter into another civilization’s world.”North Sentinel Island is home to one of the last undiluted hunter-and-gatherer societies, a rugged, Manhattan-sized island where a few dozen people live trapped in time and in total isolation.Efforts to retrieve Chau’s body are proving difficult, and some anthropologists say it will be impossible. The search symbolizes the larger quandary India confronts in trying to enforce a society’s rules in a place that has been intentionally set away from the rest of that society.Indian law says North Sentinel’s culture is so precious and unique that its people should be left totally alone and no outsiders are allowed there. It also says that murderers should be punished. That is the bind police are facing.The fishermen and one other man who police say helped Chau reach the island have been arrested and charged with culpable homicide not amounting to murder and with violating rules protecting aboriginal tribes. Another case has been filed against “unknown persons,” the islanders, for killing Chau.The investigation is heading into uncharted territory. Will any of the islanders actually face prosecution? And if arrested, would they die in captivity from disease, their immune systems no match for modern microbes?c.2018 New York Times News Service  Related Itemslast_img read more

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first_imgA drug that protects children in wealthy countries against painful and sometimes lethal bouts of sickle-cell disease has been proven safe for use in Africa, where the condition is far more common, scientists reported Saturday.More research remains to be done, experts said, but knowing that hydroxyurea — a cheap, effective and easy-to-take pill — can safely be given to African children may save millions of youngsters from agonizing pain and early deaths.“I think this is going to be amazing,” said Dr. Ifeyinwa Osunkwo, who directs a sickle-cell disease program in Charlotte, North Carolina, but was not involved in the new study.“There is currently no treatment in Africa, and a lot of children die before age 5,” said Osunkwo, who has treated children in the United States and Nigeria. “We’re going from nothing to gangbusters.”The disease, in which blood cells twist themselves into stiff semicircular shapes, is caused by a genetic mutation thought to have arisen in Africa about 7,000 years ago.About 300,000 babies are born with the disease each year; about 75 percent of them are in Africa, and about 1 percent in the United States.The condition is found throughout the Americas and the Caribbean among descendants of Africans brought to this hemisphere by the slave trade. Sickle-cell disease also is found less frequently in southern Europe, the Middle East and India.These are also places where malaria is still endemic or was until a few decades ago. People who inherit one copy of the sickle-cell gene are partially protected against malaria, which is presumably why the mutation has persisted in Africa.But children who inherit the gene from both parents are often left breathlessly weak from anemia, prone to infections and liable to have crises in which their blood cells clump and jam capillaries in the brain, lungs and other organs.The pain is often so excruciating that only opioids can help. Treatment may require blood transfusions or, in wealthy countries, bone marrow transplants, which themselves carry a risk of death.Without treatment, many children die from strokes or organ damage.Hydroxyurea has been used for decades in the United States and Europe. But some early animal studies made researchers fear it would make African children more susceptible to local infections, particularly malaria.The new study followed 600 children in Angola, Uganda, Kenya and the Democratic Republic of Congo who were given the drug for more than two years.As with children in wealthy countries, taking the drug daily also made it far less likely they would die or need a blood transfusion because of their sickle-cell disease. They were about half as likely to suffer bouts of severe pain, and somewhat less likely to get other infections.In an unexpected twist, investigators discovered that the children were about half as likely to get malaria while using hydroxyurea as they had been before the trial started. The reasons are not known.“With all the malaria, malnourishment and vitamin deficiency in Africa, we couldn’t assume it would work as well as it did,” said Dr. Russell E. Ware, director of hematology at the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital and a co-author of the study, which was presented at a meeting of the American Society for Hematology and simultaneously published in the New England Journal of Medicine.Hydroxyurea is already on the World Health Organization’s essential medicines list, is available in generic form for about 50 cents a pill and can be stored at room temperature, Ware said.If this study raises interest in buying millions of additional doses for use in Africa, the drug could presumably be made far more cheaply, he added.Even though the study was fairly large, it had some limitations.It was intended to prove only that the drug was safe for children aged 1 to 10. It was not designed to test various dosages to find the ideal one, nor to determine how many lab tests are needed to monitor children taking the drug, nor to determine the long-term effects.So further work will be needed, researchers said.Also, the research was done without a placebo control — a group of similar children not getting the drug. Oversight boards in the four test countries felt it would be unethical to deny the drug to any child, since it was known to work elsewhere, said Dr. Leon Tshilolo, a pediatric hematologist at the Monkole Hospital Center in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo, and the study’s lead author.To compensate for the lack of a placebo group, the researchers watched children for two months before starting them on hydroxyurea. That established the baseline rates at which the children normally suffered pain crises, needed blood transfusions and got malaria or other infections.The results “mean survival will be better even in very low-resource settings,” Tshilolo said.Hydroxyurea was originally developed to fight blood cancers like leukemia, and people taking it must be monitored to make sure that it does not dangerously lower their white blood cell and platelet counts.The study, however, used moderate daily doses, and only about 5 percent of the children enrolled needed to have their dosages lowered because their blood cell counts dropped.In 1998, the Food and Drug Administration approved the drug for American adults with sickle-cell disease; pediatricians soon began giving it off-label to children, Ware said.Trials proving it was safe in American children were not finished until 2016, and the FDA approved pediatric use last year, opening the way for a trial in children in Africa.For years, many black Americans with sickle-cell disease were reluctant to enroll themselves or their children in drug trials, Osunkwo said, because of the United States’ sordid history of medical experimentation on black patients — including the infamous Tuskegee Study, in which black men with syphilis were left untreated even after the invention of penicillin.Also, she said, the drug is known to lower men’s sperm counts, break off women’s hair and turn fingernails dark gray. For safety reasons, it is not normally given to pregnant women even though they may suffer severe sickle-cell crises.Osunkwo said she slowly overcame patients’ reluctance by letting them help design the trials.“And,” she added, “I would say, ‘Being dead is worse than having dark nails.’ ”In Africa, enrolling 600 children was relatively easy, shilolo said, because Africans with sickle-cell disease who had visited Europe had heard of hydroxyurea and knew it worked.Sperm counts were obviously not an issue in a children’s trial, he added. But African men were usually willing to use the drug once it was explained that the drops in sperm count were relatively small and rebounded when the drug was stopped.c.2018 New York Times News Service Related Itemslast_img read more

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first_imgA year after labor conflicts and strikes paralyzed the industry, the tea gardens of Darjeeling are limping back to normalcy.Nearly 8.5 million kilograms of tea is produced in 87 tea gardens of Darjeeling annually. It had fallen to paltry 2.8 million kg in 2017. Nearly 80 percent is exported to countries like Japan, Germany, USA, UK, France and Russia, among others. In 2018, nearly 6 million kg of Darjeeling tea was exported.The 2017 labor shutdown had whiplashed the second flush, considered most important in terms of quality and export, “The timing of the agitation couldn’t have been worse as it coincided with the second flush, which is mostly exported because of its quality. It was the first time that tea gardens in the hills were included in the agitation. As a result, the tea industry faced disastrous consequences,” said Subrata Bose, a small tea grower based in Siliguri. “The first and second flush are considered premium, contributing about 45 percent of the annual production and the tea produced in these seasons is mostly exported.”Industry insiders say it will take a few years to fully recover from the shutdown. The unrest provided a fertile ground for other tea growing regions, especially Nepal, to make a play for importers of the world famed brew.Kaushik Basu, Secretary of Darjeeling Tea Association, said: “It cannot be ruled out that Darjeeling tea suffered immensely because of the strike. It created apprehension in the minds of buyers who fear the re-run of the situation. They even begun to buy tea from alternative markets of Nepal and other countries,” said.Tea marketers from Japan, which imports 2 million kg of the Darjeeling tea every year, tapped tea from Nepal tea growers in 2017. “The situation made the buyers jittery and the demand came down by 10-12 percent as compared to other years. Sadly, neither the state nor the Central government came up to iron out the doubts in the minds of the buyers. It could take at least 3-5 years for the situation to turn normal only if no further strike occurs,” Base said.Nepal tea enters India through the Indo-Nepal Free Trade Agreement free trade agreement. The agreement was extended for another seven years in 2016.Nepal’s tea gardens, spread across 28,000 hectares, mostly in the east, are gradually expanding to the central and western parts of the country. These tea gardens produce over 24 million kgs of tea per year, of which around 6 million kg is orthodox, just shy of the 8 million kg of orthodox tea produced in Darjeeling.According to industry analysts, the Darjeeling tea industry loses Rs 120 crore every year to cheap leaf tea imported from Nepal under the rubric of “Darjeeling tea.”Plucking tea in a tea estate in Darjeeling. Photo: G SinghThe tea gardens are also skrinking. “The hills are losing tea plantations areas to encroachments and increasing population. Several decades ago, Darjeeling produced around 20 million kg of team which has come down to just over 8 million kg on an average. It is becoming difficult to compete with other tea growing countries,” said a prominent tea grower on condition of anonymity.Sumon Majumder, the general manager at Darjeeling Impex Limited, one of the leading tea exporters in the eastern India is counting on 2019 as the year the Darjeeling tea industry rebounds: “The pruning has been good this year (2018) and the climatic conditions are also favorable because of chilling cold which helps in improving its quality. We sincerely hope that the quality of first flush will be really good that would translate into higher returns. The exports are likely to pick up, because of good quality and increased production.”But the 2017 shutdown was a body blow to the industry, he says: “There was 5.6 percent growth in the export of tea starting 2017. The future looked bright but then came the near four-month shutdown in the hills in demand of Gorkhaland that virtually destroyed everything, because it was time for second flush considered the most profitable produce. We are still trying to recover as our export of Darjeeling tea fell down to Rs 7 crore in 2018 from around Rs 10 cr in 2016. Apart from monetary loss, it generated fear in the minds of the international buyers forcing them to stay away from buying Darjeeling tea.”Tea growers are apprehensive over union demands for wage hikes.In August 2018, a three-day strike was called in 196 gardens of Terai and Dooars by the joint forum of 23 trade unions demanding revision of minimum wages.  The two regions accounted for more than a quarter of the country’s tea production in 2017.Sumon Majumder, the general manager at Darjeeling Impex Limited: “Apart from monetary loss, it (the shutdown) generated fear in the minds of the international buyers forcing them to stay away from buying Darjeeling tea.” Photo: G SinghThe trade unions are gearing up for a movement for wage hike in wages. Abhijit Mazumder, the president of Terrai Sangrami Chai Mazdur Union based in Siliguri, said: “The state government has been playing in the hands of the employers and they have been dilly-dallying on our demand to raise the wages of the laborers.”Mazumder said the union is planning a new agitation: “We have been raising our voice for over four year for hike of wages but to no avail. We have been demanding that wages to be increased to Rs 400-Rs 450 from Rs 159 being paid to the workers. The onus should not only be on the workers, but also on the employees who are exploiting them.  The workers have also tried to produce best quality of tea, but have got nothing in return.”Harkaram Chaudhary, superintendent manager of Namring Tea Estate in Darjeeling, expressed apprehension about the rising risks to Darjeeling tea: “The quality of tea is getting affected, because of increasing tea plucking rounds from seven to 10-12 days due to severe labor shortage. The long plucking rounds have been impacting the quality of the tea. We export around 250 kg of Oolong tea of the 300 kg produced. Climate change is also the reason as erratic weather has changed the texture of the leaves and bushes have become dormant.”India is home to a wide variety of teas, including black tea, orthodox tea, green tea and organic tea. Unlike many other tea producing and exporting nations, India has a manufacturing base for both CTC, or black tea, and orthodox tea, in addition to green tea. India offers several high-quality specialty teas, such as Darjeeling, Assam Orthodox and the high- range Nilgiri, which has a distinctive aroma, strength, color and flavor.“The brew is known for its aroma and flavor and is sought after the tea lovers across the world. It will continue to remain the favorite cuppa for us no matter what comes. The strike is over and buyers are coming back and they are aware that it is now also happening in other countries. We expect the current year to bring higher returns for the tea industry,” said S. Patra, the secretary of Indian Tea Association. Second Largest Tea Producer in the WorldIndia is the world’s second largest tea producer and fourth largest exporter after Kenya, China and Sri Lanka.India’s tea exports stood at US$ 837.33 million in 2017-18, as compared to US$ 731.25 million the previous year, according to the Tea Board of India.In the first six months of the current financial year, April-Oct 2018, tea exports had touched US$ 463.95 million. During this time, major importers of Indian tea were Russia ($ 64.14 million), Iran ($ 57.63 million), US ($ 34.90 million), UK ($ 34.31 million) and UAE ($ 30.15 million). Related Itemsfeaturedlast_img read more

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first_imgOur best hope may be the weather.For a long time, many people thought that it was a mistake to use the weather as evidence of climate change. Weather patterns contain a lot of randomness. Even as the earth warms and extreme weather becomes more common, some years are colder and calmer than others. If you argue that climate change is causing some weather trend, a climate denier may respond by making grand claims about a recent snowfall.And yet the weather still has one big advantage over every other argument about the urgency of climate change: We experience the weather. We see it and feel it.It is not a complex data series in an academic study or government report. It’s not a measurement of sea level or ice depth in a place you’ve never been. It’s right in front of you. And although weather patterns do have a lot of randomness, they are indeed changing. That’s the thing about climate change: It changes the climate.I wanted to write my last column of 2018 about the climate as a kind of plea: Amid everything else going on, don’t lose sight of the most important story of the year.I know there was a lot of competition for that title, including some more obvious contenders, like President Donald Trump and Robert Mueller. But nothing else measures up to the rising toll and enormous dangers of climate change. I worry that our children and grandchildren will one day ask us, bitterly, why we spent so much time distracted by lesser matters.The story of climate change in 2018 was complicated — overwhelmingly bad, yet with two reasons for hope. The bad and the good were connected, too: Thanks to the changing weather, more Americans seem to be waking up to the problem.I’ll start with the alarming parts of the story. The past year is on pace to be the earth’s fourth warmest on record, and the five warmest years have all occurred since 2010. This warming is now starting to cause a lot of damage.In 2018, heat waves killed people in Montreal, Karachi, Tokyo and elsewhere. Extreme rain battered North Carolina and the Indian state of Kerala. The Horn of Africa suffered from drought. Large swaths of the American West burned. When I was in Portland, Oregon, this summer, the air quality — from nearby wildfires — was among the worst in the world. It would have been healthier to be breathing outdoors in Beijing or Mumbai.Amid all of this destruction, Trump’s climate agenda consists of making the problem worse. His administration is filled with former corporate lobbyists, and they have been changing federal policy to make it easier for companies to pollute. These officials like to talk about free enterprise and scientific uncertainty, but their real motive is usually money. Sometimes, they don’t even wait to return to industry jobs. Both Scott Pruitt and Ryan Zinke, two now-departed pro-pollution Cabinet secretaries, engaged in on-the-job corruption.I often want to ask these officials: Deep down, do you really believe that future generations of your own family will be immune from climate change’s damage? Or have you chosen not to think very much about them?As for the two main reasons for hope: The first is that the Trump administration is an outlier. Most major governments are trying to slow climate change. So are many states in this country, as well as some big companies and nonprofit groups. This global coalition is the reason that the recent climate summit in Poland “yielded much more,” as Nat Keohane of the Environmental Defense Fund said, “than many of us had thought might be possible.”The second reason for hope is public opinion. No, it isn’t changing nearly as rapidly as I wish. Yet it is changing, and the weather seems to be a factor. The growing number of extreme events — wildfires, storms, floods and so on — are hard to ignore.Only 40 percent of Americans called the quality of environment “good” or “excellent” in a Gallup Poll this year, the lowest level in almost a decade. And 61 percent said the environment was getting worse. In an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, 66 percent of Americans said they wanted to see action to combat climate change. Some polls even suggest that Republican voters are becoming anxious about the situation.The politics of climate change remains devilishly hard, especially because so many people around the world feel frustrated about their living standards. France’s “gilet jaune” protests, after all, were sparked by a proposed energy tax. Compared with day-to-day life, the effects of climate change have long felt distant, almost theoretical.But now those effects are becoming real, and they are terrifying. To anyone who worries about making a case for climate action based on the weather, I would simply ask: Do you have a better idea?c.2018 New York Times News Service Related Itemslast_img read more

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first_imgThey landed in Southampton and headed to Yorkshire where Clarence’s parents were living. The newly married couple set up a home in Lincolnshire where they lived for 50 years. They brought up two children, Pat and Terry, before they relocated to Llanidloes in Powys on September 1, 1997.They then moved together to Bupa Bupa Maes-y- Wennol residential home after Clarence got diagnosed with dementia. “I’d had him by my side for over 60 years, and I wasn’t going to leave him then!,” Lyne said.Wishes from the QueenThey marked their anniversary with a party at the residential home. Their daughter Pat lives nearby while Terry lives in Scotland with his wife Eileen. Their daughter Helen — Clarence and Lynn’s only grandchild — came from Paris to mark her grandparent’s platinum anniversary.The couple is also set to receive a congratulatory card from the Queen, according to the Sun. Expressing his gratitude  Lyn.“I count us so lucky to have had such a long, happy marriage and don’t know where I’d be without Clarrie by my side. We’ve been through a lot over the years,”When asked for tips for a happy marriage, Lynn laughed. “Don’t ask! He will tell you every man should be married, because no man has the right to be happy all the time. And, he will tell you that every man should have a wife to help him understand all the problems he didn’t have when he was single!”Nevertheless, on their platinum anniversary, Clarence obliged. “Make sure you always agree on the most important things in life. Everything else is a compromise.”Lyn added to his advice: “Never share a cross word, but instead share plenty of fun ones.”Sandra Holt, manager of Bupa Bupa Maes-y- Wennol residential, told the The Sun: “Clarrie and Lyn are such an inspirational couple. They’re always by one another’s side and every night, when Clarrie goes to bed, Lyn will tuck him in and give him a kiss. They’re so loved by everyone here that we couldn’t let their special day go unmarked.”  Related ItemsBritish Couplelast_img read more

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first_imgKevin Durant has apologized for the disparaging comments against India that he made in a recent interview. The American basketball player posted messages on social media on August 11, saying he is “sorry that my comments about India were taken out of context”.The 28-year-old NBA champion Golden State Warriors member was in India last month as part of his efforts to promote basketball around the world. He tweeted that his comments about the poor conditions in the country were “taken out of context”. He added that he should have “worded it better”.Durant’s ApologyHis posted on Twitter: “Sorry that my comments about India were taken out of context, I’m grateful for the time I’ve got to spend there and I’m really pissed about how my comments came off, that’s my fault, should’ve worded that better. I spoke about the difference between my imagination and reality there in Delhi and about where the game is compared to the rest of the world. No offense from this side, I’m coming back out there for more camps and cool shit. Sorry…” [SIC]pic.twitter.com/g54w3TtAoH— Kevin Durant (@KDTrey5) August 11, 2017What Durant Apologised ForIn an interview with the Atlantic this week, he recalled his visit, saying the “cows in the street, monkeys running around everywhere, hundreds of people on the side of the road” and the poor living conditions of people. “Just a bunch of underprivileged people there and they want to learn how to play basketball. That — was really, really dope to me,” he said.Durant’s comments drew a lot of reactions online, with many people questioning the research he did about the destination, before undertaking the visit. He had said in the interview: “India, I’m thinking I’m going to be around palaces and royalty and gold — basically thought I was going to Dubai,” he said in the interview. “Then when I landed there, I saw the culture and how they live and it was rough. It’s a country that’s 20 years behind in terms of knowledge and experience.” He talked about his visit to the Taj Mahal, saying he had expected the Mughal monument to be “holy ground, super protected, very, very clean”. But what he saw, he said, was very different. “Mud in the middle of the street, houses were not finished but there were people living in them. No doors. No windows … stray dogs and then, boom, Taj Mahal, one of the seven wonders of the world,” he said.Trip to IndiaDurant was on his debut trip to India in July, during which he toured the country, coached the top local prospects in the game, and even set a Guinness World record for the world’s largest basketball lesson (multiple venues), in which 3,459 children participated. Related ItemsIndia basketballIndia NBAKevin Durant apologisesKevin Durant India tripKevin Durant NBA IndiaKevin Durant Taj MahalLittle Indialast_img read more

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first_imgMore than 400 foreigners were booked for various crimes in Goa in the last five years, state Tourism Minister Manohar Azgaonkar told Goa Legislative Assembly on Tuesday.Most foreign nationals who have criminal cases against them belong to Nigeria, Russia, Nepal and UK, according to the written reply submitted to a question tabled by Margao MLA Digambar Kamat, Times of India reported.Booked for drug peddling, murderOver the years, crime against foreigners has made tourists wary of the popular destination. The rape and murder of Danielle McLaughlin, a 28-year-old Irish woman, in Canacona in March this year was the latest incident to rock the state. On the other hand, crimes committed by foreigner nationals in Goa, which hosts a huge expat community, has put the local people on alert.In the list of nature of crime, drug-trade was on top of the list, with as many as 63 cases registered under various sections of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985 (NDPS Act).This is followed by cheating, for which 58 foreign nationals were booked. Forty six foreign nationals were booked for violation of  Foreigners Act. The number of persons of foreign nationalities booked for murder and homicide, and rioting was 16 and 21, respectively.Crime by Foreign Nationals on RiseIn 2016, the percentage of crimes reported reduced by 11 per cent, but in January 2017, that figure rose by 9 per cent. In around 40 days into 2017, 243 cases were reported, according to the Times of India.Last month, a Nigerian national, Augustine Okafor Olise, was arrested for allegedly peddling drugs at Baga. In June, Russian national Edward Petrovich Goryachewa was arrested for allegedly stabbing three people at Baga Beach in North Goa.In March 2017, Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar directed the police to take strict action against those involved in crime, specifically drug trade and crime against women. The following month, Parrikar put a stop to parties after 10 pm as a way to tackle the drug trade and crime in the state, Hindustan Times reported. Related ItemsCrimeCrime in GoaDrug-peddling in GoaForeignersForeigners Arrested in IndiaGoalate night party Goa.Little IndiaManohar Parrikar Goa crimeTourists arrested Crime in Goalast_img read more

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first_imgThe manager of the Vrindavan branch of UCO Bank has been arrested for allegedly raping a 20-year-old Russian girl repeatedly since she came to India in September. The girl and the manager, Mahendra Prasad Singh, became friends on Facebook in 2016.  The girl came to India on Sept. 17 and visited Vrindavan in Uttar Pradesh on his insistence. On Sept. 22, she was taken to a house and allegedly raped for several days.  “The manager of UCO Bank’s Vrindavan branch, Mahendra Prasad Singh, has been arrested based on a complaint filed by the woman today,” Vijay Shanker Mishra, the Deputy Superintendent of Police said, according to the Press Trust of India.   The 20-year-old complainant said that Singh had threatened her with dire consequences if she reported the rape. According to police procedure, she was sent for medical examination. Singh and the girl became friends on Facebook in November 2016 and talked to each other often, the FIR reads.  She came forward with her complaint only after another Russian woman she met advised her to do so.  The temple town of Vrindavan has been in the news recently for an increased rate of crime. In 2015, an American woman had alleged that a sadhu raped her. Activist Vipin Chaturvedi said in 2015 that pilgrims arrive at all times and there isn’t enough police protection or infrastructure like street lights.  “The foreign bhakts are techno-savvy, connected with the world through internet. Many come for some kind of spiritual adventure,” activist Pavan Gautam of Mathura told the Times of India in 2015. “Some of them are high on drugs and keep the company of babas in ashrams. Braj Mandal is now an emerging spiritual hub with a whole lot of attractions. Soon, the tallest Sri Krishna temple will come up here. But the question is, are police ready for the new challenges?”   Prior to this, a 60-year-old Italian Iskcon devotee filed a police complaint against an ascetic in October 2014, and in February 2015 a 82-year-old Russian woman was attacked and robbed.   Related Itemslast_img read more

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first_imgI can read and write Bengali, says Grant Walsh while talking about having lived in Kolkata for over five years.“Bhalo. Tai na (Good. Isn’t it)?,” he asks. “I am not fluent and don’t understand the meaning of complex words. But I can recognize them and read them too,” he adds.Passionate about coffee and “American cafes”, Grant moved to India from the United States to establish a brand that would be known for the beverage across India.“I explored Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru but they already had good establishments,” the 39-year-old bodybuilder tells Little India. “Kolkata did not have any, so I chose to build 8th Day Cafe and Bakery here.”Grant tells us about finding happiness with his wife and two sons in the City of Joy:Sights and Sounds One of the first things I noticed about Kolkata were the different sights and sounds, the chaos, the non-stop honking by drivers… American life is very private. But here, all of life happens on the streets in public.Durga Puja is unique. Ahead of the festival, I suddenly saw temporary structures going up on roads and in parks. Every nook and corner had a pandal. The celebratory nature of the people with all the drumming, singing and the lights was overwhelming.Taking the Durga or Kali idols for immersion into the Ganga was an amazing experience. My whole life changed during those first few weeks.During Diwali, I felt like I was in a war-zone. There was non-stop bursting of fire crackers throughout the night. It was insane.Grant Walsh with his wife and two sons8th Day of the Week The cafe’s name — 8th Day — is a play on the idea that the 8th day of a week is a separate day meant for how you wish to spend it.The cafe also gave me the opportunity to meet new people and form some great friendships. We are now friends with the vendors, and also get invited to trade shows and festivals across the city.We host Arcadia sessions at the cafe every month — usually on the last Friday — when we either bring an Indian artiste to perform, or host an Open Mic Night where people express themselves in whichever way they like. We also display the works of different artists on the walls every six weeks to help them get exposure and a chance to sell their artwork.Bureaucracy and Paperwork I started building the cafe in September 2014 without having any idea about the ramifications of the Puja season on labor. Nobody was willing to work because of back-to-back Durga Puja and Diwali festivals.I come from Arizona where I can set up a company in two days online if I want. When I moved here, I didn’t realize it would be such a hard task.The level of bureaucracy and paperwork that needs to be done here is long. The lack of transparency and communication irritated me the most.Whenever I asked the concerned people how long the paperwork would take, they would tell me that it would get done soon. If they had been honest to say that it would take nearly two months, I wouldn’t have gone through so much stress.Who Eats at 10 pm? When I go to the homes of my Indian friends, I see them eating at 10-11 pm or maybe later. I’m usually asleep for two hours by then. In the United States, we eat by 6 pm.Seeing people eat with their hands felt weird. My friends here give us cutlery. But now, I have tried it myself and also learnt to appreciate it.Bengali food has become one of my favorite foods ever. The Chinese cuisine is interesting. I used to eat a lot of street food -– egg rolls, puchkas and momos — during the first couple of years of my stay. I would choose street food over anything even today. But I had to stop eating it because I couldn’t stay healthy.Arcadia Session at 8th Day Cafe and Bakery in Kolkata.Laidback Kolkata People here are a lot more satisfied with their lives unlike the American people, who are more focused on climbing up the corporate ladder. I think people here don’t feel the need to do so because that would mean compromising on the time they spend with family and friends.It’s been a time of learning for me in this city. When it came to doing business here, I had to be humble and not assume that I know how to do things just because I knew how to do them in the U.S. I allowed the country to have an impact on me and teach me.My son is culturally more Indian than an American because he has spent his formative years in Kolkata. I myself feel like I am both Indian and American now.Bonding Among Communities The most beautiful thing about the people here is that they have a deep understanding of relationships. The genuine care that they have for each other has been my biggest takeaway from India.When we first moved to Kolkata, we stayed at Salt Lake for a year. My son had parked his bike out on the porch. But it was gone in the morning. We thought maybe someone stole it.But we found it parked in the afternoon. The child who took it rode it back to the house. “You left it here,” the child said when we asked him. I got confused and asked some Indian friends about it. They said it’s a community and we should share everything among each other. The child just wanted to use the bike for a while so he took it for a ride.In our neighborhood, when somebody gets sick, everyone rallies around to extend help.I see three generations living together under one roof.It is such a beautiful picture of humanity that I hope I will take back with me if I ever move back to the United States.The interview has been condensed and edited.Expat Voice is regular column on expats in India. Email us at expat@littleindia.com to nominate yourself or another expat for the column. Related Items8th Day cafe American8th Day Cafe KolkataAmerican KolkataExpat Kolkataforeigners in IndiaGrant Walsh 8th Day CafeGrant Walsh KolkataKolkata foreignerslast_img read more

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first_imgMane Voskerchyan came to Delhi from Armenia in 2012 to pursue an internship at AIESEC, the non-profit youth organization. She interned with three companies in India as an international manager before moving to the United States in 2014.“After working in the United States for a year, I moved back to India because I wanted to start my own business,” Voskerchyan tells Little India. “I was familiar with the market in India. It had great potential and I had good friends and connections in Delhi.”Voskerchyan, 28, lives with her French partner Jean Marc Dameron, whom she met at the India Art Fair in Delhi. The couple, who run a handmade candles business, recently had a baby girl.Voskerchyan talks about her interesting first day in the “city of tanks and gates,” the natural beauty of India, the significance of Holi and more:At least the moon is the same!When I arrived in India, I reached the house that AIESEC provided me with. There was a Japanese girl in bed with high fever. Every hour, someone would go inside to check if she was alive because she wasn’t moving at all. My Brazilian roommate was in hospital. A Kenyan and a Japanese guy also lived in the same house.In the morning, the Japanese man took me to the market in Kailash Colony. In Armenia, we consume a lot of cheese. I could not find anything familiar to me in the store and thought of buying some bread, cheese and ham so that I could make a sandwich and be good for the day. I asked the shopkeeper if he had cheese and bread. He said no. I called my friend, crying, and said that the market here does not have cheese or bread. What am I going to eat?Later in the evening, I had to meet my friend at Old Fort for a light show. There were a lot of mosquitoes so I kept scratching my leg. My friends asked me to stop as they thought I was trying to get attention. On our way back home, they saw my legs, which were all red. I also fell sick.That’s when I just happened to look at the sky and saw the moon and exclaimed, “Oh my god! The moon is the same.”That was my first day in India. My friends still make fun of me for saying that.Mane Voskerchyan and Jean Marc DameronFragrance of ArmeniaMy partner and I started Natura Morta Candles with the aim to encourage people to appreciate nature and its gifts.We collect flowers from the mountains in Armenia. We then dry the flowers and bring them to India to make the candles. All the candles are handmade and one-of-a-kind pieces. We do not use any chemicals in the process. We sell them in India, Armenia and Japan.I learnt to live in harmony with nature in India. I realized I wanted to have an impact on people’s lives after I moved here. Through my work, I try to encourage people to value themselves, because they fail to embrace their identity. If you look at trees, they are never the same and that is their beauty. You never say a tree is ugly. Then why are you so critical of yourself?City of tanks and gatesI was surprised to see gates separating one colony from the others. If we would reach our house beyond 9 pm, we had to enter from the back gate as only one gate would remain open. We had to give our numbers and tell them which house we were going to otherwise the car wouldn’t be allowed to enter. I found it very weird.For me, seeing tanks on the rooftops of buildings was very new because the rooftops in my home country don’t look like that. We don’t have gates or tanks on the rooftops of homes in Armenia. I call Delhi a “City of Tanks and Gates.”However, the parks here are beautiful. There are so many different kinds of trees. When my parents came here, I took them to the parks here. I have two dogs so I take them there for walks. Even when you go to the zoo here, each tree has a name. If I ever go back to Armenia, I will miss the parks the most.A stinky affairA few years ago, we went to a few places in Rajasthan for a short trip. We stopped in Jodhpur for a night as we had to take a train back to Delhi the next day. We could not spend a lot of money as we were interns so we stayed at a low-cost hotel.We thought we would take a shower before sleeping. I went in first, took a shower and came back. Then, one of my friends went in to brush her teeth only to come out and complain about the water being bad. There was also a terrible stink in the washroom. We asked another friend who had used the toilet. “I swear I did nothing,” she said. We opened the windows in the washroom but the smell just wouldn’t go.Later, we realized that we had taken a shower with stinky water. We complained about it to the hotel authorities, who then provided us with clean water. We washed our hair with shampoo but the smell wouldn’t go. In the end, we had to put shampoo in our hair, tie it up and sleep the entire night with it to get rid of the smell.It was quite an experience. We laugh when we talk about it now. But at that point of time, we freaked out.Holi – Giving a second chanceI first played Holi with my Indian friends in Armenia. When I asked them what it meant, this is what they told me:‘When you happen to see the face of a person you hate or are angry with, you instantly remember the reason behind the hate. India has a caste system in place. When you see someone of a lower caste, you tend to avoid talking to them.On Holi, the faces of people are covered with color, which means you don’t really recognize the person you hate. You don’t know whether the person belongs to your caste. Therefore, you don’t feel any negative emotions because you are too busy enjoying the festival.The festival is about giving love or equality a second chance. No one is above or below each other. During that time, we are all equal. There is no slave or king. I don’t hate you because I don’t recognize you. I don’t see you. I see the color.’It made so much sense to me. It’s a beautiful thought.Mane VoskerchyanValue of a person’s lifeAn incident that happened at one of the companies I interned at really came as a shock to me. The company had installed silos (big containers to store grains) in one of the neighboring countries. However, the installation was not done properly due to which the silos collapsed and a laborer died.I was horrified when I came to know about it. As a sales manager, I started to question the kind of product I was selling and the kind of company I was working for.Later, I was told that the matter had been settled. I don’t know what happened. I don’t know whether the company paid some compensation to the worker’s family or did something else. But I was told that the matter was settled.It made me think about the lack of value of a person’s life here.Unforgettable journeyI have spent a lot of quality time with myself in India. There is so much to see and experience here. India is a part of me now. It is my second home.What I love about India is that it makes you think out of the box. It’s a country of extremes. It broadened my horizon and made me a very strong person. It’s been an unforgettable journey so far.The interview has been condensed and edited. Expat Voice is regular column on expats in India. Email us at expat@littleindia.com to nominate yourself or another expat for the column.  Related ItemsArmeniaNew Delhilast_img read more

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