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Big Fat Indian Weddings and Social Responsibility: A Case



Big fat Indian wedding

Photo by flickr/rsmith4321

Indians like weddings. Big ones: with all the pomp and show. In these occasions there are third and fourth degree, almost unrelated relatives and friends of friends of friends. From Indian standards, you are made aware that you are not doing that well in life if half your town is not present at your wedding. The matches made in heaven are also no less interesting than the festivities. These matches tend to be made by Auntijis (all women older than you by 5 to 10 years), (and several other similar websites), love-arranged marriages, arranged-love marriages and once in a while by people being stupid enough (or smart, depending on one’s perspective) to really fall in love.

While these moments to remember can be made more personal or traditional or both, at a lot less expense, somehow investing in house, gold and big fat weddings is a national obsession. People take loans to pay for the arrangements and then there is a Stone Age custom of dowry. Even wedding invitations come with gifts and dry fruits these days. Guests at wedding have to shell out expensive gifts or cash as well, that tends to be compared after the event, to judge the affection of benefactor to the couple. It is basically a big fat event where everyone loses a lot of money. One can keep on writing more scathing critique of big fat weddings or even try to defend some of the good parts of this over-bloated new tradition but I am only interested in making a pragmatic and patriotic argument against excessive materialism.

While there is enough money in with middle class and upwards in the country very little of it gets spent on things that should matter. A large amount is spent on pomp and show. Why is that we are so averse to investing back in the economy and growing our own personal fortunes? The distant relatives that one usually never meets or cares about can anyway happily go about their business, without having to attend few more mandatory weddings.

If you think money is to spend and to hell with future investments, then too why spend it on feeding the well-fed? Why have a pretentious large affair? Make the spending count. Take a longer break than a touristy honeymoon. Go explore the world or for that matter, India. How many non-touristy destinations in India you have spent a week at? If you are conscientious how about opening a school or doing something for street kids or health care for poor? I can write several more suggestions but I am sure you can think of what matters to you. Anyway I need to stop writing, as I need to come up with a good excuse or an argument with my parents, who want to drag me to a big fat wedding in few hours and convince me that my India visit can be best utilized if they get to arrange a fat one for me too.

Dr. Sukant Khurana is a New York based scientist, artist and writer of Indian origin. His basic research involves neurophysiology, computational neuroscience, sensory perception, addiction, learning and memory, while his applied research extends into many areas of drug discovery and problems of the developing world. Both his visual art and writing explore the issues of modernization, displacement and identity.

Culture and Lifestyle

Are You One Of The Many Millennials That Are Prone To Burnout?



Burnout is real. It’s something that so many millennials are currently facing without really realizing it. Burnout is simply where your body (and mind) just cannot cope with the activity that you’re throwing at it any longer. When you’re working hard and a lot of hours, when you’re trying to lead a hectic social life, take care of your health, look after your home, and spend time with your family, something’s got to give. Of course, we don’t tend to slow down on work or social or home or family stuff, because it’s what we know we need to prioritize. So, our bodies tend to show signs of stress. And then burnout can set in.

Sometimes, you’ll just stop. You won’t physically be able to work any longer. Sometimes, you’ll start to feel a sense of depression that you just can’t shake. Sometimes, you’ll just realize that things aren’t worth harming your body over anymore, so you slow down and drastically change your lifestyle. Hopefully, you’ll be able to avoid the first two and land at the latter – for your own sake. But, if you do realize that you are probably on thin ice with your lifestyle and you’re worried about burnout setting in, you can stop it in its tracks without having to end up with any of those three outcomes. But how can you do it?

Well, let’s take a look at some of the signs of burnout and what you can do to make sure that you’re not one of the millennial victims.

Signs Of Burnout


The very first sign that you’re on a downward slope to burnout is overworking. Even when you love your job, and you’re really happy to put in all of the hours possible to carve your career, you probably don’t even see this as an issue. But, it’s usually the effects of overworking and always being ‘on’ that are going to bring on burnout. We’re addicted to social media and being connected to the world, and this is also a huge influencer for bringing on burnout.

Raising Stress Levels

As both a by-product of overworking and just always being on, you will find that your stress levels are high. You may not feel stressed and angry as such, but your body will be stressed. The excess activity and overworking will always mean that your body will be suffering from stress, even if you feel mentally content. Your mind may be clouded, even though you’re happy too. But let’s also take a look at the physical symptoms.

Poor Health

Stress is such a huge killer. And you might not like to admit that you’re stressed, but your body will be showing the signs. Not only will you be suffering from sleep deprivation (even if you’re sleeping solidly, you might not be sleeping enough), susceptible to colds and other illnesses, not eating well (or enough, due to picking at food on the go), using up too much energy without replacing it. And all of this is then going to lead your body to break down.

No Free Time

The final indicator is that you have no free time. Maybe you think that you’re just an expert planner and that you’ve organized your life successfully. But, that’s not true. Everyone needs a release. If you schedule in free-time and restful moments, catch ups with friends, and just time for you, then great. But if not, this is the biggest warning sign yet!

Combating Burnout

Looking At Your Lifestyle

After reading through the signs, you may start to worry that you’re doomed, or that you are one of the many prone to burnout. But don’t panic. Because you can save yourself. You just need to know what to do to sort of reverse the effects and get yourself back into a healthy rhythm. And the best way to do that is to look at your lifestyle objectively and see if you do show any of the signs of burnout. If you do, now we know what you need to work on to change.

Slowing Down

From here, you’re going to want to slow down and enjoy life. It’s really that simple. You may have to break habits and change your attitude, but you really do have to just start taking it easy. When you do, you should find that you instantly feel like a weight has been lifted off of your shoulders. You can enjoy the smaller things in life, sleep well, and generally feel much healthier in yourself.

Taking Action

But next, you need to take action. It’s important that you prioritize your health and start putting things back together. So do the things you’ve been meaning to for a while. Book in with your doctor, call that personal injury attorney to seek advice, think about exercises classes. Whatever you feel is a health issue, you need to take charge and finally put it right.

Committing To Working Hours

A small step but a big one for you will be then to commit to your working hours. Work 40 or 20, not 60 or more. You need to be able to pull back if you’re going to get through this burnout-free.

Making Time For Relaxation

But it’s not enough to just slow down and cut back on your overworking, you also have to make time to rest and relax. When you’re not used to doing this, or you find it hard to switch off, these simple ways to relax are really going to help you to do that. But the important thing is, that you’re actually making time for it now.

Finding Your Ideal Balance

Finally, you need to make sure that you’re finding your ideal balance. Creating a balance in your life can be hard, but if you want to be healthy and happy, then you will do it. You’ll find the perfect balance between home and work and social and ‘me time’ so that you can avoid burnout for good and never become a statistic.

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Culture and Lifestyle

What do have in common fashion weeks, the Internet and the social media?



Whoever uses the Internet nowadays knows the importance that influencers have. Not only when it comes to advertise any product with the purpose of selling it but also when it comes to provide more visibility to any brand, idea or business. In fact, it is in these cases where influencers are more and more important since they are a good asset for companies, even an investment.

After all, knowing what other people thinks about a specific product or service is seen as a trust mark, specially if we feel connected to the person who is telling us about all its the features. A connection that has come together with the widespread use of the Internet and the social media, no matter the area we are or the audience we are addressing.

In fact, we can see a good example of this influence in the world of fashion and, in concrete, in the different fashion events, which have seen in these technological means the best way of promotion.

Or at least that is what we can infer from the data of the last report of Launchmetrics and the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA), Front Row to the Consumer. A report where we can see the impact that the Influential voices of Fashion Weeks have and why these fashion events are still successful even if they are very expensive and last for so little (the average cost of a catwalk show is around 200,000 dollars for a standard time of 10 to 15 minutes).

An influence that corresponds to the big impact the social media and the Internet have on our lives at present, at the so-called “digital era”, where it seems that nobody knows you unless you are on the web.

Fashion, social media and influencers: how do they relate?

As it has already happened in many other businesses and industries, the arrival of the new technologies (and, above all, the arrival of social media and influencers) has supposed a complete change in the way things developed so far.

It is been ages ago (or at least that is what it looks like) since we relied on TV or newspapers adds to know about the different products, services and events we could access to. On the contrary, today, no matter what you are looking for, you will probably end up turning on your computer, opening your browser and googling it. And, what is more important, you will probably find exactly what you are looking for. As fast and easy as it sounds.

In view of this situation, we should not be surprised to hear about all the possibilities this new trend involves for any industry. And much less to hear that in the fashion industry all these changes have been a complete success.

Just think for a moment about the “rules” that guide social media and the role influencers play, where we want to see nice pictures and stories or where we want to buy products that will make our lives easier. And now taking this into account, you may better understand the great relationship that fashion and the new technologies have.

In fact, as we have stated before, the report of Launchmetrics and the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) has actually examined all these changes and obtained very interesting data. For example, that the visibility of most of the brands increased during the fashion weeks thanks to the social media (up to 800 % with respect to the rest of the year) or the fact that the Media Impact Value (MIV) of all these fashion brands makes fashion weeks a very good investment.

The influence funnel: are we really free to choose?

When talking about social media and, specially, about the role influencers have, there are many critical voices that speak out to criticize all these changes and the new ways of buying and behaviours we see in consumers.

However, and even if it is true that we all have experienced changes since the Internet became popular and a daily tool, this critics ignore an important fact: we may have changed the means but we have not changed the bottom-line message. Specially if we take into account that advertisement have existed for a long time.

The only difference is that today the way of promoting a product or service is much faster, much more collaborative and much more direct. But it does not mean it is worse. On the contrary, we are heading to a more dynamic world where everybody will be connected and where we will be constantly updated.

And, finally, we are witnessing a change in industry (almost a revolution) that is already making our lives better, even if it means that social media is the new way of communicating with brands.

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Imagine A Mall Without Any Stores: Will Online Shopping Make Retail Units Obsolete?



The number of people who shop online is increasing year on year. In 2016, shoppers made 51 percent of purchases online, and this is a trend that has been developing and gathering speed over the course of the last five years. With Internet shopping on the rise, is it unquestionable to think of a mall without any stores? In years to come, will the idea of going shopping with friends or indulging in retail therapy involve gathering around a screen or discussing purchases and swapping photos on an instant messaging group?

The rise of Internet shopping

Research suggests that the popularity of online shopping is growing all the time. There are more sites out there, there’s more choice, and people are increasingly reliant on convenient ways of shopping. While there’s still a strong case for physical stores, especially during peak periods, like the holidays, there’s no getting away from the fact that more people are choosing to use the Internet rather than visiting a store. Trends show that it’s also not just a case of shopping on your favourite store’s website. Online-only shops are also beginning to dominate the market. According to data from the Office for National Statistics in the UK, businesses like Amazon and Asos are building their client base on a daily basis. In 2015, these online-only stores took almost 50 pence out of every pound spent online. This is a significant increase from 41 pence in 2014.

Online shopping is more accessible than ever before, and it’s available 24-hours a day, almost anywhere imaginable. In 2017, 96 percent of Americans shopped online. Although most purchases are still made offline, the gap between the web and physical stores is closing all the time.

What’s so good about online shopping?

Online shopping offers a range of benefits for consumers, especially those who don’t have the time or energy to hit the shops. With an Internet connection, you can browse, choose an item and pay in a matter of seconds. Time is of the essence for many shoppers. Although some enjoy moseying around the stores and trying things on, shopping is not everyone’s idea of fun, and online shopping can make the experience much less stressful and time-consuming. You can order what you want or need at the tap of a button from anywhere you like. You can shop in bed, on the train or while you’re sipping a cool drink on vacation. There are virtually no limits when it comes to online shopping due to advances in connectivity and the widespread availability of wifi networks and 4G. The Internet also makes shopping accessible to everyone. If you struggle to get out and about, you have health issues, or you don’t drive, getting the items you want doesn’t have to be a military operation. You no longer have to worry about getting public transport or asking for lifts. You can shop from the comfort of your own sofa.

Internet shopping is not just advantageous because it saves time and effort. You can also access a much wider range of goods online, and the web can also open you up to new shopping experiences. If you’ve ever used auction sites, for example, you may understand the thrill of winning the contest and securing a product at a bargain price. Online shopping gives you the chance to switch up the way you shop and find out more about different techniques and experiences offered by retailers. The rise in popularity of online shopping has also prompted retailers to work on their USP. There’s a huge amount of competition out there, and this benefits the customer. Companies are building on existing ideas and models to make them better. If you’re looking for an example, check out this article entitled Here’s How DealDash Is Revolutionizing The Online Auction Industry, and take note of the differences between these auctions and traditional pay to enter auctions. As a consumer, competition brings new opportunities and enhanced experiences, which you can’t enjoy when you trawl stores at a mall. There’s also the small matter of money. When you go shopping, it’s not always possible to see how much the items you want cost at different stores. With online shopping, you can compare prices in seconds. This means that it’s easier than ever to get more for your money.

Another advantage of online shopping is the ability to learn about products before you buy. In a store, you’re probably not going to have a load of reviews posted on the shelf below a TV, a laptop or a garden furniture set. If you’re online, you can read independent reviews and customer comments before you make a decision.

Are there any downsides?

Nothing is perfect, and if you surveyed a group of people about their online shopping experiences, there are bounds to be gripes and complaints in there somewhere. Perhaps the most significant difference between Internet shopping and traditional shopping is the inability to enjoy the experience of going into a shop, interacting with assistants, trying the products for size and taking advantage of that personal touch. The online experience is very different. It’s faster, it’s more clinical, and there’s always an element of risk involved. Some stores offer free returns to eliminate anxiety about what happens if a product isn’t suitable, but this isn’t a universal perk. There’s also a chance that you’ll end up receiving something that looks completely different to the product you thought you’d ordered. We’ve all seen hilarious examples of online shopping gone wrong in the papers, but this is the risk you run when you haven’t got a product in front of your very eyes.


Although we laud online shopping for its convenience and speed, it can still be a more time-consuming process than going into a shop. If you want something straight away, buying in-store is almost always the best option. Even if same-day delivery is available, this is likely to come at a cost, and you’ll still have to wait hours rather than seconds or minutes.

So what does the future hold for the high street?

If you listen to broadcasts or read the news, it’s not uncommon for high street giants to report losses. The trouble is that it’s hard to ascertain the causes of slow sales. In the UK, some retail magnates are struggling, but is this purely the result of rising online retailers? It’s unlikely that the popularity of online shopping is the sole cause, especially as many of the companies that are hitting the headlines have a strong online presence. There are many factors at work, including political change and uncertainty, and some businesses are going through a period of adjustment to try and cater to new consumer trends.

The key to surviving in any business is being able to adapt to a changing environment. Time brings change, and in this case, retailers who are used to packed shop floors need to adjust to new ways of shopping. Many are stepping up their online game to attract new customers, but it also makes sense to try and make traditional forms of shopping more appealing. The aim is to enhance the experience so that customers enjoy the time they spend in-store. If they have fun, they’re impressed with the service and the shop looks the part, this is going to make them want to return and also encourage them to recommend that store to others. From installing DJs in a trendy clothing store on a Saturday afternoon to providing interactive displays featuring products on sale in a tech store, there’s a lot to be said for actually going into a shop still.

What factors affect your decisions?

When you think about shopping, what factors influence the decisions you make and ultimately, make the difference between shopping online or visiting a store? Do you prefer the personalised experience on offer in a shop or do you enjoy the speed and convenience of shopping from your living room? Sometimes, the type of products you buy makes a difference. You may feel much more comfortable ordering books, games or films online than you would a wedding dress, a state of the art TV or a new pair of shoes, for example. There’s also the question of time. If you’ve got spare time, perhaps you’d like to spend it perusing the shelves. If, on the other hand, you’re in a mad rush, you probably don’t want to contend with traffic, finding a parking space and waiting in line for the fitting room. There’s also the issue of accessibility. If you can walk to a store in five minutes, this is going to save you more time than it would to place an order and then wait for delivery. However, if you don’t drive, you work shifts, or you don’t live near a shopping centre, online shopping is a much more attractive proposition. Everyone is different, and there’s no right or wrong answer. Choose how to shop based on what you need, how much time you have and what kind of experience you’re looking for.

There’s no doubt that the Internet has changed the way we shop. With online shopping on the rise, it may seem likely that retail stores are doomed, but there’s every chance that many will adapt and adjust effectively. We may be fans of online shopping, but don’t write off your favourite high street stores just yet.

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