India

13 Hotels That Look Like They’re Straight Out Of Your Dreams

Start saving your frequent flyer miles now…

October 14, 2016

India’s Tourism Minister Tells Tourists Not To Wear Skirts To Avoid Rape

“For their own safety, women foreign tourists should not wear short dresses and skirts.”

August 29, 2016

It’s Time To Stop Attacking Caitlyn Jenner

One person can never represent an entire group, and we shouldn’t expect them to.

June 15, 2016

Investigation Uncovers Shocking ‘Baby Farm’ In India

An underground operation has been selling babies for just $1400.

April 20, 2016

Sex Shaming: India Bans Porn On The Internet

The porn industry may have just lost one of its biggest markets following the ban of pornographic websites in India.

According to Reuters, a government official has confirmed that internet service providers were ordered to block 857 websites including adult dating sites and porn blogs out of fear they’ll become a “social nuisance.”

RELATED: Dumbing Down: How Modern Life Is Destroying Your Brain

“Free and open access to porn websites has been brought under check,” NN Kaul, a spokesman at the department of telecommunications said. “We don’t want them to become a social nuisance.”

What’s interesting – aside from the fact that India invented sex manual Karma Sutra – is that the Supreme Court only last month refused to impose a ban after hearing a petition that claimed porn fuelled sex crime. Instead, they opted to respect the rights of the individual and said they should be free to access such websites in private. The weekend told a different story, however, when several porn sites became inaccessible and instead displayed a message that read: “blocked on instructions of the competent authority,” reported the Daily Mail.

With India having the second largest number of internet users in the world, what will this mean for the digital porn industry? Perhaps there will be a revival of the DVD or even the VCR, considering there’s plenty of adult films available on EBay. Or maybe the government have caught on to that, also? In all seriousness though, let’s not even begin to imagine what all that pent up male sexual frustration could lead to.

It seems there are a lot of people who are not happy about the ban, understandably, with the hashtag #pornban trending on Twitter over the weekend. One user called @chetan_bhagat wrote: “Don’t ban porn. Ban men ogling, leering, brushing past, groping, molesting, abusing, humiliating and raping women. Ban non-consent. Not sex.”

Best-selling novelist Chetan Bhagat also weighed in on the discussion, tweeting: “Porn ban is anti-freedom, impractical, not enforceable. Politically not very smart too. Avoidable. Let’s not manage people’s private lives,”

According to the Independent, some Reddit users suggested that porn bans fall outside the scope of the law, therefore they could be challenged and possibly revoked in court.

Watch this space.

What do you think about a porn ban being imposed in the internet?

Image via Shutterstock

August 4, 2015

Shoo The Flu In 5 Simple Ways

So it all begins with those mild tingly sensations in the throat. By the time you realise something is probably wrong in there, you have already been attacked by cold and flu.

You are already sneezing or coughing, have teary eyes and you are probably [helplessly] trying to gulp without any discomfort. No, please don’t look at those antibiotics in the kitchen cupboard. They shouldn’t have been there in the very first place.

Antibiotics come with their side-affects that can include diarrhoea, nausea and vomiting, thrush and allergic reactions. The loss to the person’s immune system is irreparable. Cold and flus are viral and we know that antibiotics have no effect on a virus (those who didn’t know this, do now).

So what’s the way out? Natural remedies, for sure.

People have been using natural medicine over thousands of years. Having first emerged in India as Ayurveda (ayur meaning life and veda meaning knowledge) around, as some believe 3,000 years ago, it was translated into Chinese by 400 AD. The best way to go is the natural way, and the best part about it is that it is harmless and has no recorded side-affects.

Here’s my grandma’s five [miraculous] ways to beat the cold and shoo the flu.

  1. The vitamin dose. Contrary to what most people think about lemon and other citric fruit being bad for cough and flu, it turns out that vitamin-C actually helps in soothing sore throat. Combine a few drops of lemon juice and a tablespoon of honey and mix it in a glass of warm water. If you don’t like warm, mix the honey and lemon while the water is warm and drink it when it’s at room temperature.
  2. The ginger affect.  Ginger is known for its decongestant qualities. It helps stimulate slow digestion and improves the taste buds too, that are worst affected in cold and flu. Boil a few slices of fresh ginger in water. You can add a cardamom seed and a few mint leaves for aroma and taste. Pour the ginger tea over a slice of lemon, already resting in the cup. Don’t like lemon, skip this part.
  3. When we say ginger, how can we forget its friend garlic? Garlic contains antiseptic properties. Use as much garlic in your food during cold and flu.
  4. This one’s my personal favourite. Chew five whole black peppercorns. Don’t swallow, I said chew. Wait for around 10 seconds before you lick a generously scooped one tablespoon of honey. Wait for another 10 seconds and drink a cup of warm water. Try to take it sip by sip for the dripping-effect. This works like magic. My grandma has cured blocked, painful throats with this in five minutes. Repeat once or twice a day depending on how bad your sore throat is.
  5. Mix half a tablespoon each of ginger with black pepper, cardamom, cloves, cinnamon and turmeric (all spices ground). Add three teaspoons of raw sugar into it to form the base mixture. Now take half teaspoon of this mixture and mix with either honey or warm water. Take this twice a day for relief within two days.

Image via womansworld.in

By Ayesha Hasan

August 14, 2014

Go Sweet This Weekend With Semolina

Semolina’s comforting texture, rich taste and easy-on-the stomach quality are not the only best things about it. Due to its potassium content, semolina improves kidney function. It increases immunity for being a good source of two vital vitamins: E and the B group, and of course, the traces of phosphorus, zinc and magnesium in semolina are beneficial for bones and the nervous system.

With so much to offer in a plate, I could not resist sharing this old family recipe of the famous Indo-Pak sweet, locally called suji ka halwa. Made and enjoyed in Pakistan and India for hundreds of years, this quick and easy to makehalwa has adorned dining tables of the Mughal kings for years.

I first learned how to make it when I was 11, and spending my vacation at my grandma’s house. Every time I make it, I feel the same aroma that I had fallen in love with in her kitchen, and since then I’ve believed that no one makes it better than her.

A compulsory item on an Indo-Pak menu on any given rainy day, a cold night or an indulging grand Sunday breakfast. While you read this, I am taking to the kitchen to make some for my family, because it’s drizzling here where I live. I am certain you will love it, and so will your guests. So enthral them with your ‘Indo-Pak cuisine skills’, and of course, you can thank me later. Here’s the recipe:

Preparation and cooking time 20 minutes

Serves 4

Ingredients 

1 ½ cups semolina

1 cup clarified butter/ghee (available from any Indian/Pakistani shop)

4 cloves

6 pods cardamom

3 cups water (the idea is always using double of the quantity of semolina)

1 cup sugar (brown/white – you can increase it if you like yours sweeter)

A few drops of yellow food colouring

Raisins, soaked in warm water for a few minutes, to garnish

Pistachios, roughly chopped, to garnish

Almonds and dried coconut, sliced, to garnish

Method 

  1. Heat ghee/butter in a deep skillet on a low flame.
  2. Add cloves and cardamom pods, and fry until they start giving off aroma.
  3. Add semolina and keep stirring to avoid making lumps. The semolina is quick at absorbing the butter so make sure it’s mixed well to make a batter with thick consistency. Keep stirring until the semolina starts changing colour to golden brown.
  4. Meanwhile, also put the water on the stove to boil in a separate pan. Add sugar and yellow food colour. Cook until the sugar is dissolved. This should take a few minutes.
  5. Add the water mixture to the semolina slowly and keep stirring. At this point, the stirring might become a little difficult as the sweet starts to thicken. Use the cooking spoon to break any lumps that may form at this point.
  6. Bring it to your choice of consistency. Do not overcook as semolina gets harder the more it is cooked. Ideally, it is considered prepared when it begins to come away from the sides of the pan as you stir the spoon. But it should still be soft.
  7. Put in the serving dish and garnish with chopped pistachios, almonds, dried coconut and raisins. Serve hot or at room temperature.
  8. I like to have mine with green tea, which also helps wash down traces of ghee.

By Ayesha Hasan

August 9, 2014

The Dark And The Beautiful

From among many stories that my mother often shares with me, the most recently shared and without a doubt the most disturbing one was when my grandmother, my father’s mum, looked at the newborn me and remarked: “God! She is so dark. Would have been better not to have one than having such a dark child, and that too, a daughter.” I am not sure how uncomfortable that had made my mother at the time but it had been making me increasingly irate since hearing it until I heard Lupita Nyong’o, a Mexican-Kenyan actress of the 12 Years a Slave fame, deliver a heart-warming speech about ‘black beauty’ at the 7th annual Black Women in Hollywood Luncheon in February, where she was honoured with the Best Breakthrough Performance Award for the film.

She shared a letter written to her by an anonymous young girl who was “just about to buy whitening cream” when she saw Nyong’o and changed her mind. Nyong’o’s experience as a self-hating teen, taunted for her “night-shaded” skin and feeling unbeautiful, who would obey her mother only in pursuit of God’s reward in the form of an overnight shedding of her dark skin to morph into a white beauty. “But God never listened,” she said.

Her words were so powerful they echoed in my mind for days. Her desperation to liberate from the social discrimination so well put into words that somehow soothed my helpless agony caused by my grandmother’s comment and so many others, whether they were from educated and literate or from where I came from – an economically backward area of Pakistan, with low literacy rate and high cultural conservatism.

The obsessive discrimination attached to dark skin was an unwanted gift brought to the Asian sub-continent first by the Huns and Mongols from East Asia and later by the Aryans from Central Asia, who – like the early Americans – treated dark-skinned people as slaves. But it surprises me to discover that the Asian obsession with white skin is actually deep rooted in Chinese and Japanese history. A read into old Chinese literature will give you an idea how fair skin tone was associated with a woman’s class or character and a reference to where she might have come from, with dark-skinned women mostly seen as peasants.

While there have been several attempts at breaking stereotypes associated to colourism, the dilemma of dark, dusky women in South Asia is still far from over. Humiliatingly stereotypical television advertisements promoting skin whitening creams and treatments continue to reinforce typecasts that fair-skinned women are more likely to find “eligible” partners. Amidst this, a recent Indian jewellery advertisement that made a bold attempt at breaking this stereotype by showing a dusky bride with an adolescent daughter was not less than a breath of fresh air. It gave ways of positive change that at least India’s youth in the region was changing its perception about colourism.

Maybe it’s because of women like Indian actress and director Nandita Das and British sitcom director and actor Mindy Kaling, who defy the concept of white beauty – not because of their own skin colour but their aim to change the idea that women, and especially Indian women, are only beautiful if they have fair skin.

The world needs more women like Nyong’o and Sudanese supermodel Alex Wek (who not only served as a role model for Nyong’o but has taken the modelling industry by storm); and Das, who intrepidly advocated the ‘Dark is Beautiful’ campaign in India that called for ending discrimination against dark skin; and Kaling, who in a recent interview with The Guardian admitted to standing strong despite enduring a humiliating experience when a network rejected her because she “was not considered attractive… enough” and when US Elle preferred taking a black-and-white close-up of her when having her on the cover.

As a Pakistani woman who has always defied the orthodox sub-continental mindset against women and faced criticism for it, I know that it takes more than just confidence to confront deep-rooted typecasts against women. I can relate to these women when they react to social disparagement for their race, colour, size or choices they make in life. To these 1,000 problems facing these women, there is only one solution: positive activism to neologise the concept of beauty and stimulate the youth to realise that beauty is only skin deep.

By Ayesha Hasan

June 5, 2014