Practice safe selfie. No selfie is worth dying for.

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Practice safe selfie. No selfie is worth dying for.
  • Selfies boost self-esteem, selfies hurt self-esteem
  • Selfies are empowering, selfies are narcissistic
  • Selfies are fun and exciting, selfies can be annoying
  • Selfies are about creative self-expression, selfies are about self-indulgence and vanity

The debate goes on…

The growing obsession with selfies has the smartphone brands competing in the markets for their coolest selfie features and cashing on the selfie fad. In a recent smartphone commercial aired on the prime TV channels, India’s ace cricketer, Mahendra Singh Dhoni is shown taking a selfie with a Lion.

Though the picture could be fake and is done in a fun spirit, yet, in my opinion showing a popular figure and a youth icon taking a selfie with the lion is ill-advised and irresponsible. Given the fact that several people have inflicted harm and injury upon themselves or upon the animals in the pursuit of snapping selfies with wild animals, celebrities should actually warn people of the risks of taking such life-threatening selfies.

Recently, a man got trampled to death while trying to take a selfie with an Elephant in Rourkela in Odisha. An endangered dolphin died in Argentina after people pulled it from the water and passed it around the beach for selfies. At the Yellowstone National Pak, five people taking selfie photographs provoked a bison into attacking them. During the annual bull-running festival in Toledo, Spain a man taking a selfie was tossed up into the air and gored to death by the bull in front of the horrified crowd.

In another incident, actor Varun Dhawan was slammed by the Mumbai police for risking his life while clicking a selfie with a fan. He took it in the right spirit and apologized.

Varun Dhawan selfie trouble
A selfie is not worth dying for

Many such incidents have occurred all over the world.

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Diwali – Festivities, Fireworks and Folklore in India and beyond

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Diwali – Festivities, Fireworks and Folklore in India and beyond

Diwali, the festival of lights is here again. This is the much awaited time of the year when houses, shops, temples, and malls adorn the decorated look, lit up with lanterns, candles, earthen lamps (diya) and electric bulbs. While Diwali is the celebration of “good over evil”, “light over darkness”, “knowledge over ignorance”, and “right over wrong”, the festival has largely come to be equated with the bursting of crackers. So much so that Supreme Court’s ban on crackers in Delhi NCR region in view of the rising pollution levels has drawn a lot of flak, with some people even suggesting the ban as an anti-Hindu decision. Notwithstanding the pollution that follows, people have protested the ban by bursting crackers in front of Supreme Court.

For many people, crackers are a source of joy, and some people believe that loud bursting sounds and lights would ward off and scare evil and notorious spirits away. If this is the case, then I would say that the spirits return the very next day in the form of pollution to harm our environment and our health.  In the row over the firecrackers, we also tend to be forgetful of the different ways of celebrations, the myths, legends, beliefs, and festivities associated with Diwali, prevalent among the different communities in different parts of India and in some other countries as well.

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Ten food quotes and a Bibimbap bowl

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Ten food quotes and a Bibimbap bowl

Food is always associated with festivities in most cultures. Among the Bengalis, eating out is a norm during the Durga Puja. At the pandals, stalls are set up that sell a variety of food from different parts of the country. The trend of eating out continues on and off till Diwali and then peaks up again during the New Year.

These are the times when I usually try out different cuisines. Though my food choices are rather limited by the virtue of being a vegetarian, I look for the vegetarian version of various cuisines. Last week, during a lunch-out at Hitchki (the word means hiccup in Hindi), a restaurant in Powai,  I spotted a dish on the Menu card, with a rather strange sounding name – Bibimbap.

 

Seeing the unusual name, I checked out its composition.  It looked like a rice dish cooked with carrots, mushrooms, and some other ingredients. I found that the restaurant served the dish both with and without meat. I opted for the vegetarian version, which we ordered along with dim sum and bough for starters. While waiting for the order, I surfed the net to find out where this cuisine came from.  Read more

Improve indoor air quality with Royale Atmos

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Improve indoor air quality with Royale Atmos

Masks have been used since ages for both ceremonial and practical purposes. I have always had a fascination for different types of masks. Whenever I go to some new place, along with the other knickknacks and souvenirs, I generally bring home a mask, which finds a place on the wall of my living room. However, lately more than the decorative masks, I have been buying face masks for protection against the rising pollution levels.

Masks
Masks – from decorative to practical

I got an anti-pollution mask when I went to Delhi last year in November. After Diwali, the air pollution levels in Delhi had reached a phenomenal high. The schools there had declared a three-day holiday during what was being called as the Great smog event, and people were advised to stay indoors. The premise was that inside our house, we were safe from pollution.

It was not until recently that I realized how wrong that perception was. My sense of safety from pollution inside the house was severely challenged after I heard that indoor air can be 5 times more polluted than outdoor air.

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6 ways to grow your Instagram followers

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6 ways to grow your Instagram followers

A picture is worth a thousand words.

Well, not 1000 but 60,000 words to be precise. That is because our brain processes visuals 60,000 times faster than text, and 90 percent of information transmitted to the brain is visual.

 

This is exactly the premise on which Instagram has been created. The seamless combination of technology with visual content has made Instagram, a very popular platform. With 700 million followers worldwide, Instagram is the fastest growing social media platform.  That people like to spend time on Instagram is apparent from the fact that Instagram is now twice the size of Twitter and has surpassed Snapchat.

Though I had an Instagram account, I had hardly ever engaged on it for 2 years or so, as I never really understood the platform. Once in a while, I would post at random, and naturally, I had only a handful of followers. It was only in December 2016 after I started uploading the pictures from my trip to Jaipur that I started paying attention and figured out how to the engage on Instagram.

Within 8 months, I gathered 6000 followers organically, plus an average engagement rate that is more than 10%. By no means, I can claim that this is a great number as there are several accounts that have millions of followers. Yet, having discovered the power of Instagram in the high traction it garners, I can categorically say that Instagram is a platform that a digital influencer should not ignore.

So, how do you build and grow your Instagram account?

Of course, the easiest is to buy followers, but when people buy followers, they do not necessarily engage with the account. So, when you come across accounts with ten thousand or more followers and a very low engagement rate (1- 2% of the followers), you know that the followers are most likely fake.

Engagement Rate = [(Likes+Comments)/ No. of followers] as %

Engagements (likes, comments) can also be purchased. But again, if you go on purchasing interactions for all your pictures, you’ll most likely end up spending much more than the benefits that accrue from your account.

 

Here’s how you can boost your Instagram presence in an organic manner

1. Post consistently on Instagram

The thing that attracts me (maybe others too) about Instagram is that it encourages quality over quantity. Posting only one to two pictures in a day is sufficient to start building your follower base, provided you post on a regular basis.

When you post regularly, the Instagram algorithm that detects your posting and engagements (likes, comments, shares) rewards you by making your post appear in the feed of your followers or in the feed of those you engage with. If your pictures have a rich visual appeal, it increases the chance of people liking your pictures while scrolling through their feed.

Pay attention to the timing of your posts. Posts on times when the traction tends to be the highest.

In my experience, I can say that Instagram rewards consistency more than any other platform.

 

2. Improve the aesthetics of your feed

On Instagram, many people generally tend to like pictures that stand out while scrolling through the feed.  Pictures with higher exposure, warm temperatures and higher contrast have been found to have higher engagement levels.  Use of certain filters that create these effects is thus likely to increase the engagement level.  Apart from the filters that Instagram provides while posting, filters can also be applied using filter apps. My favourite filter app is Aviary. Some other good filter apps are Snapseed, VSCO, and Instasize.

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Red Square Kremlin – A walk through the heritage sites in Moscow

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Red Square Kremlin – A walk through the heritage sites in Moscow

A sense of secrecy, power, awe, and Lenin – these are the images that cropped up in my mind at the mention of Kremlin in my itinerary. The Red Square and the walled complex adjacent to it have been associated with almost all the important events in the history of Russia. These were the first spots that we were to visit during our city tour.

I had briefly touched upon these places in my post Tour of the Russian Wonders: Moscow and St. Petersburg in 5 days. But that doesn’t do the slightest justice to these magnificent places that are steeped in history.  So, here I revisit the two places in greater details:

 

Red Square:

Lined with sturdy red buildings on one side and Alexander Garden on the other, the Red Square dates back to the 16th century.  Back then, the square was meant to serve as Moscow’s main marketplace. It was a place where people congregated for public ceremonies, coronations, parades, and also for executions. Now, it is a heritage site, which is closed to traffic and filled with visitors and tourists. Rock concerts, cultural performances, competitions, bridal parties etc. are held in the square. The Red Square lights up with fireworks and festivities on the New Years Eve.

We enter the square through the Resurrection Gate. The gateway built in 1995 is an exact replica of the original gateway. The original gateway first appeared in 1534 and was reconstructed in 1680, only to be destroyed on the order of Stalin to make way for large-scale Soviet ceremonies in the square. Between the twin arches of the Resurrection Gate is a little Chapel with a blue star studded dome. A compass embedded in the ground near the chapel marks Kilometre Zero, the point from which the main streets of Moscow originate and branch out. Read more

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