SPREAD SMILES, NOT VIOLENCE

In the year 2003, a Bollywood movie Pinjar was released, which was based on the novel of late Ms. Amrita Pritam. It was a period movie depicting the stormy times of the people during the India-Pakistan partition. I went to watch with my family members as I was looking forward to it, especially after listening to its songs on loop and dancing on a few as well. I never imagined that the movie would be so heart-wrenching and traumatic. As soon as the interval came, I said to my cousin sister, Prabhjot, “Thank God, we were not born in that era!”

In the light of recent violent activities, I don’t feel lucky either. So much hatred and so much anger was witnessed in Delhi that everyone got worried. More than worry, most of the people like me felt bad and miserable about the incidents.

What did the rioters gain? The departed soul had no religion. What are we going to teach our children? Have those people lost their sense of feeling? Such thoughts were erupting in mind. I was careful enough not to watch or listen the news in front of my children. And there, on the screen, I saw a child weeping over his dead father. “Stay away from the news”, I told myself. I preferred clicking on the ‘Hide this post’ on the disturbing posts that I saw on my Facebook and prayed for peace to prevail.

I commend one of the posts written by Randeep Hooda 3 years back:
If you are Muslim and suddenly start feeling unsafe in country where you lived for more than thousand years..
If you are Dalit and start feeling insulted on every moment of life..
If you are Hindu and suddenly start feeling that cows are being slaughtered everywhere…
If you are a Jain and suddenly start feeling that your religious piety is being compromised…
If you are Punjabi and think all the youth are on drugs.

Just do one thing…
– Stay away from social media…
– Don’t watch news…
– Stay away from debates on religion…

Just look around you at your friends who belong to different castes, communities and religions…
And you will find that you are living in one of the best countries in the world!! 

This is so true. The moment we watch anything on social media, we tend to get agitated, share it more and get trapped into the vicious circle. These debates are not going to do any good for you and the discussions go on endlessly.

Just look around you at your friends who belong to different castes, communities and religions…
Each one of us is a creation of God, so respect everyone and treat them equally.
And these lines from a Punjabi hymn have been running over my mind ever since:
Awal Allah Noor Upaya (In the beginning God created light)
Kudrat Ke Sab Bandey (Then He made all the mortal beings)
Ek Noor Te Sab Jag Upja (From that One light, the entire universe welled up)
Kaun Bhaley, Kau Mandey? (So how can some be good and some bad?)

 

 

HONEY! I LOVE YOU…

Honey Glazed Walnuts ?? Yes, yes. Heard you. They are delicious and healthy. But so are honey glazed chicken, honey glazed carrots, sriracha and honey glazed broccoli. Browsing these recipes is like food porn, watching the ingredients bring the dish to life while salivating almost makes me full sometimes. If one has to ask me what is that one versatile ingredient that you would want to experiment with while cooking, my answer without a doubt would be honey. It can be added to any vegetable or meat to bring that twist. Have you tried honey with a bitter gourd? If you love bitter gourd, you should try this. 

My morning routine starts with a glass of warm water with honey and lemon.

honey2
(Image Credit: Google Inc.)

It gives the required kick to the morning. Lemon is refreshing, and the honey helps boost energy.  For many years of my life, my morning beverage was coffee, but once I replaced it with lemon and honey water, I saw dramatic improvements in my health.

Honey acquires its characteristic taste depending on where the bees collect the nectar from. If the honeycomb is an area where Neem plants are more, one could easily taste the bitterness in the honey. 

Honey improves our immunity, which helps us fight a lot of diseases. Are you anemic? Have a tablespoon of honey a day, and you would see improvement in your hemoglobin levels. Honey also is an excellent remedy for cough. Honey was considered a medicine in ancient times, and in India, it is still part of many home remedies. A mixture of honey and ginger juice helps heal sour throat. Honey has antioxidants that can prevent cancer, heart diseases, and in some cases, can heal wounds. 

I was watching a food show a couple of days ago where they said that honey is not recommended for infants less than a year old. I was curious to know if this is true because, in our households, we do give honey to newborn babies. After some reading on different websites, and this is what they say, “Honey can contain spores of a bacterium called Clostridium botulinum, which can germinate in a baby’s immature digestive system and cause infant botulism, a rare but potentially fatal illness.” So, let your kid be of a year old before you start giving honey to them. 

little kid looking at homemade pancakes with berries and honey on table
(Image Credit: Google Inc.)

Do you know how to check if the honey you are using is authentic and not adulterated with sugar? Take a bowl, add a tablespoon of honey into the bowl. Add a quarter cup of water to the bowl and gently swirl the bowl. After a few rounds of water on the honey, the honey would look something like a honeycomb. If the honeycomb shape is not formed, you can be sure that the honey is not pure. This amazed me when I tried it. Honey is so versatile, can get along with any food item, helps us stay healthy and all of this while maintaining its own authenticity. This is so important for us humans to understand from honey, honey bees, honeycomb or I must say, the honey-making process all in all teach us to be selfless, have a meaning for life, help others and be kind without losing our own self-identity. 

The glob of precious honey that I had poured into my mouth at Ace’s was the life’s work of hundreds of bees, a unique floral ode collected from thousands of blossoms in a poetic foraging ritual – Holley Bishop

A MENU OF UNCERTAINTY, CHANGE AND GROWTH: ARE WE READY FOR IT!

Hello stranger!  I am not You! You are Not Me! A normal thing to follow a certain lifestyle pattern decked in one’s comfort zone when you walk right into my close guarded space. It’s another tale that I let you in, and oblivious about drastic changes to take place. I am a happy go lucky guy. I not only resist but loathe changes happening in my life. Wanna bet! Ask me to be your 4 a.m soul friend and every chance I will gun you down. Chill! I am kidding.

We live in the age of social media where we have countless strangers on our Friend list which we add and remove as fast as changing partners. It’s our sexless and multiple hookups permeating every single breathe taken. One stranger among many will sashay into our lives like a sprinkle of sweet and sour, chosen by the universe and the divine.  Resistance doesn’t really work and we need to trust that person as a critic who wouldn’t think twice in pushing us beyond limits to heal and offer a perspective that we often blithely ignore.

I call it baby steps where we need to swim against the person tide to remove the stiffness and see things with an open eye. Are we willing to make changes?

A soulmate, a friend or a partner often step in to push us beyond our acceptable limits. In the start, it may hurt and a tough call to walk on a tight rope. It can be any small thing, be it de-cluttering the personal space or making a personal change to a varied lifestyle, from eating healthy to devoting daily 5 minutes meditation and slowly kicking the butt.

There is never a Right time for a change and will probably Never be. We just need to trust this Stranger Friend with whom we connect on a deeper level and small adjustments can trigger a meaningful overhaul.  For a someone getting hitched or getting in a relationship, raw nerves may tick for he or she has to share the personal bed with someone new for the days of splaying all over is no longer a luxury. Next, in line, arrange the wardrobe and don’t just throw the towel on the floor or washroom.  The question is, how many among us are well adjusted psychologically for the life-altering changes? The truth is we are never ready and keep resisting means we will remain stuck in a rut. 

It has always been a tough call on a personal level to make changes. I prefer resisting in most of the case.  But, the honest truth is clinging on to the old means an unwillingness to grow and discarding old things to embrace the new means we are stuck in an immovable past that can often carry the perfect recipe for disaster or a huge burden to carry.

Do we eat Right or indulge in the frills of monotonous sex? Think over it! Add some zing and color to our personal canvas to remove the drab hinging into our existence. Changes need not be drastic. Every single time, add something new to the routine. For instance, sprinkling less salt in the food to cut the body fat.

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CARE TO BE CAUTIOUS

All you need to get a sneak peek

And cause someone to freak,

Is to go and click… click… click…

 

You don’t have to be a gizmo geek

Just give your brain a wild tweak,

And lo it starts on a havoc wreak!

 

When at the receiving end,

Life simply bends.

How else would you respond to misdoings that offend?

 

To closet oneself is termed unsocial,

And to share information at times turns quite suicidal.

No matter how much you think it to be a thing very trivial.

Social media, yes indeed connects,

But lives and people it most often dissects,

As if we are mere – ‘to be accomplished’ projects.  

 

Beware of hackers and all those snoopy trackers,

Sharing limited information is the key to protect yourself from those prowling attackers,

Then you can relax and be at peace with your bowl of cheese crackers!

It’s unsettling to have around certain nosy posy bums,

Who have no business to beat other people’s drums,

And still call themselves well-intended chums.

 

At a mall or a store, on an errand or when doing an all-important chore,

Beware of eyes that glare to gore,

And never trust people who knock at your door.

Unknown offers always decline,

To ludicrous proposals never recline,

This is how you can your safety determine.

BEWARE WHAT YOU SHARE

Picture this…

A theft committed at a residence, after a family tweeted their family vacation plans;

A teenage girl commits suicide after she was harassed by followers of on FB ‘hate page’ targeting her;

Sexual assault on minors who unwittingly befriended unknown people online, who later bullied them into having ‘consensual’ sex with them;

Private photos shared with friends ending up on commercials or on porn sites….

These are all actual, real cyber and personal crimes, not something I’ve cooked up to grab attention. But the sad fact is, we all are contributing in some way to these incidents.

No, you don’t think so?

How many of you are guilty of this?

So we went to a new place to vacation? Let’s post as many selfies as possible and let them know exactly what the interiors of our hotel looked like.

We bought new merchandise? Gotta tweet, instagram or snapchat about just how much we love it!

We went for the movies? Gotta post about it, with location.

We’re getting bored? Let’s start a live video, at home, sitting in our bathrooms!

Oh, is that a new shopping website that we haven’t checked out yet? Let’s start by first making an account and connecting it to all our networking sites AND our bank/PayPal/Paytm accounts.

Oh, and let the whole world know that ‘home’ means ‘XYZ’ building and road ‘coz we’ve got GPS. Oh yeah, baby!

You still think you aren’t oversharing? Think again.

Here’s my very own experience.

I shop a lot online, and even though I’d like to say I’m generally careful about what information and how much of it I divulge online, I’ve had my moments of stupidity. So there was a phase when I was doing a lot of online shopping and sharing my information on this and that site. Ditto with my husband. Then it happened to us.

I got a call from my bank asking me if I was trying to do a foreign transaction. When I denied it, they told me someone was repeatedly attempting to use my account information to shop from several international or foreign websites, and that they’d have to block my online account. My card was hotlisted too, and I was saved in the nick of time, but two weeks later, exactly the same thing happened to my husband.

We raked our brains about why and how, inspite of all the safety measures we take, all the reviews we read about the sites we shop on, and routine checks on our accounts, did this happen to us. The answer was – we overshared and we were unlucky.

It’s scary to think how an absolute stranger can just stumble across your name on social media and then hop from one site to another, gathering details about you, sending you requests from each networking site, or mapping your activity, unless you’re very careful, all because you shared your personal details on social media. FYI, that too has happened to me 😦

More often than not, the real culprit behind every cyber crime is our propensity to overshare and self-advertise on the internet, particularly on social media.  We may think what we are sharing is only limited to our friends and family, but the truth is, there are several ways in which you may be exposing personal information unknowingly, to third parties and even third party marketing websites.

This list consists only a few examples of potential sources of cyber threats to your privacy:

  1. Unsecured Personal Details on Social Media (includes your real or full name, age, date of birth, residence, phone numbers, your relatives and friends and their details).
  2. Sites that use cookies to save browsing information.
  3. Online games/puzzles/quizzes etc. that require you to share it with and/or add friends.
  4. Sites that require you to ‘agree’ to access to your contacts list, friends or pictures.
  5. Search engines where you stay logged in and/or authorize saving passwords.
  6. Having the same password for every site and not frequently changing them.
  7. Keeping predictable passwords.
  8. Posting pictures on sites that allow them to be publicly available.
  9. Not optimizing or using your privacy settings on social media.

Naturally, the way to avoid privacy invasion or identity theft would be to avoid doing the above listed things. However, the sure-shot way of safeguarding your personal information is to limit your presence online or carefully monitor what you share. If you won’t share details about your new dress with a stranger on the road, there’s no reason why you should share it with the public at large. Sitting behind a screen does not, of itself, give you protection from all kinds of threats. In fact, it makes you more vulnerable because of our tendency to become lax about maintaining privacy.

So next time, before you itch to share, think about whether you truly need to advertise yourself, be frugal with your information online, and beware what you share.

Pradita Kapahi

3 IGNORED TRUTHS OF 21ST CENTURY MEDIA

The 18th century is the advent age of media. Since then the work of Indian media is remarkable. As the days went by media industry took new contours and today India is globally recognized for its media power. In India, Media is considered as the Sight, Sound and Voice of People. In our country every day 100 million copies of newspapers are sold, from 690 satellite channels, more than 80 are news channels and apart from this p-media (print media) and b-media (broadcast media), the o-media (online media) works like wild-fire. Every Indian kid above 10 yrs of age has a glimpse of what is happening in times today. And all these numbers and statistics clearly portrays ‘how active media is in bringing all issues, big and small into limelight!’

Apart from the entire statistics, the call of media is ‘to bring the truth to the people”.  Media stands for two things “TRUTH” and “PEOPLE”. The lifeline of the entire universe is also “Satyamev Jayate !”. Truth needs People to survive and People need Truth to survive ! But in this 21st Century media has mostly fallen down from its call. In this 16th year of 21st century Media is more concern to TRP (Television Rating Point); Money-making; Market Competition; Glamour; Yellow Journalism, Politics; so on and so forth. Censorship is more on “Truth” and “People” rather than all sort of fabricated stories. Every media agents ask for one thing – “MASALA”, not for the sake of Truth but for TRP. In the blockbuster film “PK” when Jaggu (Jagat Janani) introduces PK to “Jerry – the pictured News head”, she says if we will bring Tapaswi and PK front to front, our TRP will increase and that’s what most of our media story is today.

Now the big question is, “WHY MEDIA HAS DRIFTED AWAY FROM ITS CALL? Today, every individual’s plea to media is, don’t ignore the 3 central truths of your call!

  1. Intent must be prior to Content:- Every word that we convey has an intention behind it. There is nothing called random ! Nowadays there is frequent divergence between Intent and Content in media stories. Which ought not to be ! Most of the media presentations are politicized with party politics, every statement that is flashed is in favor of some political party. Yes, every good work must be appreciated but that must not become the means of upliftment/buttering. Mostly media contents portray the promotional picture of the ruling party.

Every media agents must be PEOPLE intention and TRUTH contented !

  1. Stand for TRUTH:- Media agents name their programs/presentations with sellable words like “Sach Ka Samna”; “Aap ki Adalat” and much more but where is the change? Do we truly present “SACH (Truth)” for the cause of “AAP (People)”? or again some more well-dressed lies with flamboyant masala!

Today we bring censorship on Truth, let not that day appear when we will find censorship on our Rights !

  1. Remember, People trusts you:- While conveying some news to our friends we often quote “arre, you don’t know! This has come on media.” This simple line expresses the trust level we people have on media. People trust media because they consider media, “as their ears to listen to their plea; as their eyes to listen what is happening behind the curtains, and as their mouth to speak for them”. In short, if it is good enough to be on TV, it is good enough to be true.

My two questions for media is:-

  • Does Media have the guts to say, ‘yes, we have obeyed our call (bringing the Truth, before the People)’?
  • Can Media prove itself today, ‘yes, we are the Ears, Eyes and Mouth of People’?

Keep thinking!

SOCIAL OR ANTI-SOCIAL?

Facebook Death ! Twitter Suicide ! MySpace Murder ! YouTube Killing ! Sounds bizarre I know. What have such negative words got to do with social media platforms ? They are made for entertainment, for communication, for connecting, for interaction. They are definitely supposed to enrich our lives making us more social and more popular.

Unfortunately, this is just a myth, the truth is somewhat different. Can you believe that a crime is reported on FB every 40 minutes ? Facebook was referred in investigations of murder, rape, child sex, offenses, assault, kidnap, death threats, witness intimidation, and fraud.

  1. A normal teenager of 15 murdered his dad when the father banned the kid from using MySpace, the reason being the kid was posting suicidal notes. After the murder, he removed his father from his Top 8.
  2. A guy was frustrated from his x wife and her attacking Facebook posts, made out of anger about his child support payments. He became aggressive and beat her up using a hammer, doing every painful act to his x wife and left her body which was discovered the next day.
  3. Two childhood friends, both aged 22 were best mates before the arrival of one girl who made these two buddies fall for her. They exchanged heated arguments on Twitter for some days because of this girl and due to the impact one of the friends shot down his best friend and Tweeting immediately after that “RIP MY FRIEND”.

These are merely several instances, there are so various crimes taking place that prove teenagers and youngsters are driven by social media in a morbid way. I read such stories and wonder why status on FB and Tweets have become an ego issue for us. They are just done for fun, what is there to take them so seriously that you decide to end a life, be it yours or theirs ?

Not just deaths by murder but bullying that leads to self-destruction is an equally worrisome issue. Today all kids have PC and a good bandwidth internet connection. But dounnamed-1 we identify how and for what they are using them ? They could easily be using to harass that best friend who visits your home often from a fake ID they made just to stroke ego.

Ever heard the term “Death by Selfie” ? No ? Well, let me tell you it is something that is plaguing social media today. We all like to change DP, we wanna use the one where we look cutest, sweetest, sexiest, and what not. But has it ever come to you that it could lead you to Death? We all know about the Pakistani girl, Qandeel Baloch famous as “Pakistan’s Kim Kardashian”. She is famous for posting provocative selfie’s and videos of herself on social networks. That is how she reached the heights of fame. But she also reached gates of destruction when her brother killed her, after repeatedly warning her to stop posting embarrassing stuff on FB. She was killed by him in rage, in the name of Honour Killing.

Cyberbullicide is the term used to define suicide due to having indirect or direct experiences with online aggression.  Cyber bullying and cyber harassment are two prevalent ways to lead to pro-suicide behavior. Phoebe Prince, a recent Irish immigrant, hanged herself after nearly three months of routine torment by students at Her High School, via text message, and through the social networking site, Facebook.

Social media platforms, such as chat rooms, blogging Web sites (e.g., Tumblr, Reddit), video sites (e.g., YouTube, Vimeo), social networking sites (e.g., Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, Google+), picture sharing sites (e.g., Pinterest, Instagram) as well as e-mail, text messaging, and video chat, have transformed traditional methods of communication by allowing the instantaneous and interactive sharing of information created and controlled by individuals, groups, organizations, and governments. But that does not mean we will use them as a source to spy on family and friends. Relationship status is not meant to hurt other by changing them back to being single. Our Display Pictures don’t need to make us look like Katrina Kaif or Scarlett Johansson. Friends and Ex’s whom you aren’t comfortable with mustn’t be bullied but Unfriended and blocked. Troublemakers should be dealt with prudence, report them. Last but not the least, never spread rumors on social platforms.

Be Social, not Anti-Social !