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Top 10 Cultural Myths About India

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1. India is a country

We often think of India as a country, that is what we have been learning in the schools. Well, in a broader sense, it is true, but when you visit and experience it, you will feel India is like a continent where big nations having different languages, culture, music, food and clothing styles are living together in harmony. You can consider India as an advanced version of European Union where there is one economy, one market and no visa/document requirement to travel around. India is often termed as subcontinent; usually Indian subcontinent includes Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Sri Lanka and sometimes Myanmar. When the British rule on the subcontinent ended, over 400+ princely states (or nations, to get the actual feel) joined and formed the union of India. Later French colony of Pondicherry, Portuguese colony of Goa, ‘Daman and Diu’, ‘Dadra and Nagar Haveli’ and independent state of Sikkim joined the Indian union bringing in more diversity in the already diverse India.

Indian government never tried to homogenize its population unlike how Soviet Union, China, and many other countries did to strengthen their rule over the territory. Soviet Union enforced its culture and usage of its language, Russian on all the republics to strengthen its domination. India, on the other hand, left its diversity intact allowing people of different communities practice their religion, language, culture and customs freely.

With that much diversity, which is not even found in entire Europe, it would be unfair to generalize Indians, for e.g. Indians are always late, all Indians are vegetarians, all Indians drink tea with milk and sugar. I hope you are getting my point, with a whopping 1.237 billion population; it is even greater than that of Europe + Russia, you cannot dare to generalize it.

2. All Indians are in customer support

If you live in US, Canada or in West Europe, it would be surprising if you have never talked to an Indian customer care/technical support representative. When I was in US, I realized that people thought jobs going to India meant tech support jobs, since that was what people had experienced in their daily life. However, unfortunately for Americans, outsourcing is not just about technical support, but entire engineering and software jobs that has been captured by Indian companies. If your phone bill was calculated and paid correctly, if your flight was on time, if your insurance claim was paid successfully, if your shopping bill was calculated correctly and discount coupon was applied without an error then you have to thank an Indian. Not just that, if you use Apple, Microsoft and Facebook, again you can thank an Indian. Indian knowledge and engineering is everywhere so deeply integrated in your life that you will not realize it. You realize it only when a customer care representative from India is talking to you.

3. Indian women do not study

It is a big myth about India around the world that Indian society does not allow women to enjoy their freedom and practice their right to education. Post-independence, India has been struggling to eradicate some social evils that were brought in the society during British and central Asian rule in India. Indian literacy rate is low at 74.04%; it consists of male literacy rate of 82.14% and female literacy rate of 65.46%. It is true that in earlier days due to poverty parents do not used to send their girls to school. It was a widely accepted tradition that women after marriage would go to a new house and become homemaker. Therefore, parents used to teach her methods of managing and organizing home along with cooking.

Today things are changing and have almost changed. 65.46% literacy rate of females include all the women in India irrespective of their age, youth literacy is much better. It is very common to see Indian girls in cities flaunting their beautiful clothes and mobiles and going to school. In villages, I observed girls wearing white shirt and blue skirt, or white and blue salwar suit and red ribbon on their pony or wearing red hairband and going to school. They graduate from schools not just literate but educated. Almost every year in the nationwide board exams of 10th and 12th class Indian girls outshines boys when it comes to percentage scores. These girls not just pass the high schools, but secure professional degrees and career as engineer, doctor, lawyer or journalist. Indian women are in the every profession you can think of. As the new generation takes the command of the nation, we will see more improvements.

4. Indian women do not work and stay at home

It is not always true, but it happens a lot all over India. However, it does not necessarily mean that women are forced kept inside homes. As I wrote in the previous point, today more women are working than ever in India, as Indian society is getting modern. However, working was never related to education. I have seen old women or uneducated women even in the village working in the farms, tea gardens, in small-scale industries or as labourers or maids. In cities, I have seen women doing all sorts of professional work as men.

Often in the joint family women are made to stay at home and do home tasks. Nevertheless, this concept of joint family and living with parents is gradually becoming unpopular as unlike earlier days, today often people go to bigger cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Pune, Hyderabad and Bangalore for work, leaving behind their family. Sometimes it is a woman’s desire to stay at home and take care of their child or a community through an NGO. Indian women think differently, there are women who leave their career for their family. I see many people in my home in Russia were criticizing this, but most of the times it is a women’s self-decision!

In middle class and in upper class, being a homemaker is considered as luxury. Women relax at home and watch daily soap opera continuously; maidservants come at home and do all the cleaning and even cooking. Women join various community in the neighbourhood like kitty parties and hang out together play games, and organize a feast. Some women join NGOs and social or animal welfare communities and spend their free time there, isn’t it a royal life? 🙂

5. Indian women are not allowed in temples

It is again a popular myth. My friends who went to India and came back to Russia were telling me that women cannot go to temples in India, then they were showing me their pictures in Akshardham and ISKCON temple in New Delhi, and my quick question was how did you manage to intrude into a no woman zone?

Then there is another myth that women and men made to stand in separate lines in the temple. It is again not true, in temple anyone can go and in any order. Yes, it is possible that temples may have security lines and security lines in India are always separate for men and women because it involves frisking.

There are some temples in India like Sabrimala in Kerala where women are not allowed if they are sexually active. It is not because they are considered dirty or impure, but because the old style temples are often situated at the great heights, which requires long trekking to reach there. Earlier sexually active women during periods used to get fainted or feel uncomfortable. Therefore, the society decided to avoid women from the age of 10 to 50 coming to the temple. Now with better facilities women can tackle problems during period, but temple tradition became like a rule over the time which no one considered changing it. Such temples are very less in India, in my knowledge had only this temple.

top 10 myths about India

TWR journalist from Russia visits famous ISKCON temple in Delhi. Women can go inside and sit or walk with men.

6. Indian men practice Dowry

Despite strict laws in place by the Indian government, dowry is still practiced by many in the country. Often bride’s parents gives her gifts when she marries and goes with her husband. It is considered normal, but the problem arises if there is specific demand of cash or items from the groom side. If the groom side is not satisfied, it may result into domestic violence. This happen among not so socially and intellectual open people. Even education could not help eradicate this problem. I have seen highly professionals like doctors, engineers and lawyers also indulging in it. One needs to be spiritually open and intellectual to overcome this mentality.

With love marriages becoming popular in India, dowry practices is also becoming less popular. However, like the first rule, you cannot generalize all the people in India. Moreover, I have seen people and my friends in India who are strictly against it.

7. India is a hot place

Because India is located close to equator, we have a feeling that is a very hot place, but in reality temperatures in India can vary from +50 C to -50 C. Yes, it can be that hot and cold. The best time to visit India is from October to March, it is pleasant time and winter is warm if you are in north central, central or south India. The northern part of India can be very cold due to Himalayas! Delhi falls in north central India, therefore winters are not so extreme there. At the most, temperature can dip down to 0 C. However, in India people are not used to centralize heating, they simply manage with thick blankets and clothes or sometimes chimneys.

Some of the religious and spiritual places, scenic hill stations and other places of interests and leisure are situated on the Himalayan belt; the best time to go there is from April to September. Do not be surprised if you see snowfall in those months of summer 🙂

8. Indians worship millions of gods.

As a foreigner when you visit a temple in India, you are surprised to see hundreds of gods in one temple, and when I ask my Indian friends, even they do not know who all are them. I used to believe in this myth, until I met some spiritual minded intellectuals.

Indians believe god is only in one form, energy, which is shapeless. Indians find god in anything that has energy. Moreover, all the life-supporting elements and bodies like Sun, moon, earth, water, air, and fire receive immense respect and sacred place among the hearts of Indians. This is the reason why Indians do not consider animals inferior to humans. Animals are equally worshipped and revered in India, and are inseparable part of Indian culture. Apart from believing in god as the form of energy, Indians believe in the concept of power sharing. They believe in Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh who have the power of generating life, operating life, and destroying life respectively. The concept of power sharing, which is very new in the western world, existed for tens of thousands of years in Indian culture.

The idols that we see in the temples are actually the people who have actually lived in some period of history. For e.g. Ram and Krishna were actually kings. Ram was the king of Ayodhya and Krishna was the king of Dwarka. Their deeds and their philosophy was so impressive that Indians consider them as the avatar of Vishnu and they are revered and idolized even until today. It is just like how in Russia we idolize Lenin. That is why, if you go to South India, you see some other “gods”, if you go to North Indian mountains you see each village has its own “goddess” associated with some historical incidence around the village.

9. India is full of diseases and snakes

If you are planning a trip to India, it is likely your friends, your personal doctors will scare you about diseases in India like cholera, diarrhoea, malaria and dengue, and your travel agent will insist you to take extra health insurance and medicines especially for the trip. However, once you land in India you will see, while some part of it is true, mostly it is a big hype. You will be fine and healthy if you drink packaged mineral water and eat from the right places. Not that native Indians eat from the wrong places just that their immunity system is stronger than ours is and they can resist more diseases than we can.

Malaria and dengue are indeed some scary diseases, which can be avoided if you avoid the rainy season and stay in good places.  Other diseases can be avoided if you drink packaged mineral water. It is good to be cautious, but not good to be scared. So come to India and experience this land of colours and cultural diversity.

You will find snakes only if you head near to the forests, or if you go to an unmaintained park or garden or maybe if you encounter a snake charmer on the street. India has some of the poisonous snakes of the world, but the snakes that you encounter in parks and gardens may not be poisonous at all. In fact, I have never seen a snake in India other than in the zoo and once in the park, it was small and scared and hid himself 🙂

10. All Indians are vegetarians

Again applying my first point here, you cannot generalize. There are as much non-vegetarians in India as vegetarians. I do not know the exact percentage, but eating chicken, fish and meat is now more common in India than ever before. Majority of the people in India do not prefer to eat beef, as cows are considered very revered. However, Indian vegetarian food is not boring as we think. It is not all about salads, Indian curries and vegetables can be made in such a way that we cannot even think. The food is very interesting here and can be very spicy for the foreigners, but worth trying it 🙂

Russian by roots, global citizen by choice. In love with India and Indian culture, love to report everything from politics to military news. Against the controlled media.

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Culture and Lifestyle

Why Do Movies Change The Way People Dress?

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via GIPHY

Movies transcend the silver screen. Apart from being avenues for actors to show off their skills, they also let the great and good of Hollywood strut their stuff. Impacting fashion, then, is inevitable.

At least, it has been for the past couple of decades. Directors and stylists create the looks, and ordinary people try to recreate them as best they can. But why? What makes films the leaders of fashion? After all, they are the original influencers because their reach was far and wide before social media became a thing!

Here are four factors that give Hollywood a say in the fashion industry, and why anything isn’t likely to change.

Escapism

People don’t watch movies to connect with real life. If you wanted to do that, you’d binge-watch documentaries or never turn off the news. No, you sit down to take in a film because you want to get away from life for a few hours. What this does is convince you that the characters are not representations of fictional people, but real. So, recreating their charm and swagger through their outfits seems like the logical next step. After all, you may see yourself through the width of a lens rather than your eyes.

Latest Trends

Of course, actors aren’t regular, run of the mill human beings. They’re part of the 1% of society, which means they get rich and famous perks that aren’t available to others. This means they don’t turn up on set looking angelic – they are morphed into Gods and Goddesses by stylists. Stylists are professionals with their fingers on the pulse of fashion, so they know how to dress people to appear cool or sultry or effortless. The public doesn’t have this type of access, but that doesn’t stop you from copying the styles.

They’re popular for several reasons!

via GIPHY

Pop Culture

It’s hard not to know about the latest pop culture trends, even if you actively stay away from them. That’s because they are everywhere, including on your TV screen. This has been the case for decades, from Morpheus’ rimless glasses in “The Matrix” to Marilyn Monroe’s blonde hair and white dress combo in “The Seven Year Itch.” Part of the reason that movies are iconic, aside from famous lines, is their recognizable outfits. At some point, you’ll see a trend that you love and want to recreate at home because there are thousands of movies/they are derivative.

via GIPHY

Accessibility

Film is one of the most conspicuous forms of media. Movies start their lives in theaters, move onto your screen, and finish in your DVD collection. As a result, you get tons of opportunities to see the latest fashion trends. You’re exposed to it, even if you don’t read glossy magazines or class yourself as a budding fashionista. The rise of Netflix has solidified the effect as your reference points are only one click away in an app or folder on your mobile device.

And, that’s why movies will continue to change the way people dress in the future.

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Weed It And Reap! It’s Time To Design Your Own Garden

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home garden

With our new normal seeing us staying at home a lot more because of the current Covid-19 pandemic, there has never been a better time to invest in your garden. Because people are seeing the staycation as the default holiday this year, homeowners are going above and beyond the annual garden tidy-up and are embarking on a full remodel of their outside area. If you have triffid-like plants overtaking your borders, your lawn has seen better days, there are no zones to enjoy and you can’t even consider dining outdoors, it can be challenging to find the joy in your garden. You need to treat your garden like the interior of your home. Your humble abode is your pride and joy, so this should extend into your outside area.

Gardens are no longer a patch of lawn and a couple of side borders full of plants. There are all sorts of glorious garden styles for you to enjoy depending on how you see your garden being utilized. Will you want a grand, elegant array of blooms? Do you want to grow vegetables? Or are you seeing your garden as an outdoor party area? Take a look at how you can design your own garden using these ideas to inspire you.

Create Some Zones

Gardens serve many purposes. Some days you will be outdoors with the kids, spending some time playing games and kicking a ball around. All you need for this is some artificial grass that is resilient and requires little maintenance. Many individuals aren’t willing to put the mowing time in, and would rather have a permanent lush green carpet underfoot. This is why artificial lawn is so popular. Alternatively, you could plan for a pool out the back. For those kids who are active and a little older, a dip in the pool can be more attractive than the video games on offer inside. All you need to do is source water pump spare parts for your kidney shaped pool every couple of years, get it cleaned regularly and look forward to some exciting outdoor summer pool parties.

Vegetables

Many people are keen to explore the concept of sustainability. This means foregoing any reliance on supermarkets for food, and having a go at being more self sufficient. You could decide to create some raised beds, ready for sowing. Think about the vegetables you love to cook with and eat, and get planting. You might want a couple of rows of parsnips, some pumpkin and some artichoke. If you want to get the kids involved, think about whipping up a greenhouse or some polytunnels, and plant some strawberries, cucumbers and tomatoes. These salad veg and fruit enjoy the more humid conditions.

Al Fresco Dining

If you see the outside of our home as being an extension of your pad, you might want to consider how you can accommodate some outdoor dining. Whether you are having a barbecue or enjoying eating outdoors for a summer dinner party, you need a patio with an awning for cover adjacent to your home. This means your guests don’t have to go too far to sit and eat and relax and chat. Being a host, having your diners outside can be fun and enjoyable in the summer months. You could even give it a go during winter. While chillier, you can create a cozy atmosphere with an outdoor heater, a firepit and some subtle lighting.

Barbecues are also fun for the whole family. You could pick up some good quality garden furniture from a local garden center and enjoy eating some halloumi burgers, marinated salmon and grilled corn at the weekend.

Planting

If you adore flowers and color, it’s time to consider your planting. Don’t just head to the garden center and pick up flowers because you love the look of them without any planning. You need to work out when your flowers will bloom, whether you want all year round color, or whether you fancy some shrubbery or grasses. If you don’t have a green fingered bone in your body, it might be a good idea to pick up some wildflower seeds. These can be left to grow on their own and love nutrient poor soil. All you need to do is mow it back a couple of times a year. Wildflowers also help you do your bit for the environment as they are great pollinators for bees.

If you love an English country garden look, you’ll want traditional blooms. Consider some roses, hydrangea and scented heather and lavender. These are wonderful for those gardens that have a lot of colors: reds, yellows, oranges, and violets. If you prefer a more modern or exotic look, palms and bamboo can be ideal, provided you have the sunlight. Read up on the sort of plants that match well together and draw out your patch for planting. Then you can plot which shrub or flower you will plant where.

Water Feature

If you don’t have the room for a pool, but you still fancy a water feature, consider a fountain or an illusion orb. For a garden to be a relaxing space, the sound of water can add to the atmosphere of calm and tranquillity. Couple this with a hammock or some gentle swing seating, and you can have an extra zone where you can kick back, read a book, have some alone time, or chill with pals.

When you do have your garden zones, don’t forget the finer details. How will you move between each zone? Will you have a tiered garden or do you need to think about paths? Sand and paving come in all different sizes making an easy path to lay. You could opt for a shingle path instead or go for some decking.

Designing a garden can be tricky, so think about getting the professionals in if this gives you more confidence. There are many factors to consider with a garden, but follow this guide and you will soon weed it and reap!

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The best ways to stay entertained at home

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home entertainment

They say that home is where your heart is. After all, our home is the place where we spent most time at. But sometimes, if we lack of the proper forms of entertainment, our time at home can become dull and boring. That is why today we have brought you a list of the best entertainment applications and softwares in order to turn the time you spend at home into the best time of the day.

Make sure your sound systems are on point

Sound is a key factor in most modern media forms. It does not matter whether we plan to enjoy watching a new film or some quality gaming session, if we do not have the proper sound systems, the quality of the experience becomes way less pleasant. 

Many people try to solve this problem by buying expensive sound equipments, but, how can you know if they are working to their fullest potential? The solution to this problem is simpler than you could think, all you need to do is run a speaker test on your sound devices. 

This test will help you realize the quality and range of your speakers, headphones, earplugs, etc. It does not matter the type of audio system you use to consume digital media, thanks to this quick and easy test, you will be able to enjoy the experience at its fullest potential and detect any possible problem your device could have.

Having access to the best apps on the market

Nowadays, we can find all forms of media compiled on different apps. These apps are an user friendly way to present what traditionally could only be found on websites. For example, the popular video page Youtube has its own app with a more user friendly interface for phone users where users can find their videos in an easier and faster way. And same goes for social media apps, game apps, software apps, etc. 

All these apps can be easily found on the play store. The only thing you would need to do is to download Play Store compatible with your mobile device. Once you have installed the latest version of the Play Store, a whole new world of apps will open in front of your eyes. All you need to do is pick your favorite ones and start enjoying them. 

Stimulating our kids

The time our kids spend at home is precious and we should always treasure it. However, we all know that kids get bored easily, so we should always look forwards to productive ways of keeping our kids entertained while stimulating their learning process. This can be easily achievable using music games. Music games are the perfect stimulus for our children. Their colourful layouts will catch their attention while the music will teach them how to differentiate between different instruments, tones, etc. Before they realize, our kids will be learning everything about music in a fun and productive way. 

Learn to dance without leaving your home

Learning how to dance is a goal we often share but that we often struggle to achieve. Knowing how to dance properly is a skill that would always come in handy for social gatherings and for a quick self-esteem boost. However, this would usually imply that we would need to enroll ourselves in expensive and boring courses at dancing schools. But thanks to the recent developments on technology, learning how to dance is now easier than ever. Websites like  www.salsabachatadance.de provide their users with everything they would need to get started on learning how to dance from the comfort of their own homes. From virtual lessons with a 3D instructor to dance sessions using Virtual Reality systems, you can turn your living room into a disco floor and start learning how to dance like a real professional.

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