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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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Here’s Why Everyone Can Get Stacked At Home During Lockdown

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Has the lockdown been tough on your body? Without the gym to lean on, it can feel as if you don’t have space, specialist equipment, or motivation to maintain a hefty amount of muscle mass. 

Sadly, this leads you to one conclusion – you’re going to lose all of your hard work from the past couple of years. Sure, the home workouts that everybody talks about are cool, but only if you have space and freedom to exercise at home. Not everybody owns their property, and not everybody has a spare room that doubles as a gym.

The good news is that you don’t require any of that stuff, and here are the reasons why.

Basic Exercises Are Your Friend

When you review home workouts, your eyes instantly gravitate to the exotic activities as they seem harder and more challenging. Considering that you want to get your pump on, you don’t want the session to be straightforward. However, the basic exercises feature on pretty much every home workout plan, and it’s because they’re effective and adaptable.

If, for example, you find push-ups and sit-ups too easy, you can try bicycle crunches or place a weight on your back as you press down and push back up. They’re also multifaceted activities and will train a range of muscles.

Reps, Reps, And More Reps

Do you find home workouts to be less stimulating than your gym sessions? Do you lack the motivation to build muscle in your bedroom or living room? If you are, all you have to do is up the number of repetitions. Suddenly, the constant pressure from the plank will rattle your bones until you can barely rest on your forearms without feeling a burn in every inch of your body.

Whether it’s core or strength exercises, two to three sets of ten reps each will make you reconsider your opinion on home workouts!

Readymade Equipment Already Exists

You’d love to perform a few of your gym sessions at home but lack the tools. The one thing about a gym is that it contains all the specialist equipment you require to focus on muscle groups and increase mass. Well, your home also does; you just don’t realize it yet. Take a look at every door frame and you’ll see a ledge for pull-ups. How to do a pull-up is your decision, but as long as you grip the top of the wood with plenty of friction, you’ll always have the option.

Some people go as far as installing a pull-up bar, which is a walk in the park with thanks to the video below.

You’re Always Connected To The Internet

If you’re wondering why this matters, it’s because home workouts can get boring if you stick with the same exercises. However, there are tons of different activities available on the internet, and you’ll always have a connection at home. As a result, you can research and prepare new sessions in minutes before going into the next room and smashing it out.

Come on – do you still think you can’t get stacked at home during the lockdown?!

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Irrefutable Truths About Having Kids in the Modern World

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parent child

There are so many things that play a role when you have kids, and you need to understand that there are plenty of things that you need to bear in mind. Having children is a massive responsibility, and there are a lot of things that you need to think about to help you make you the most of this. Understanding what parenthood entails is one of the things that plays a massive role in helping you hit the ground running. 
There is no rulebook or manual for telling you the right way to parent, but there are plenty of tips and hints you should be looking at that can help with this. Every child is different and every parenting approach will be different, but there are a lot of things that you have to keep in mind to help with this. Make sure you focus on trying to make the best possible decisions you can, and there are a lot of issues you can look at that will help you with this. Check out these irrefutable truths about being a parent these days that apply to everyone.

You’ll Always Worry

One thing that is absolutely certain about being a modern parent is that you are going to worry. It’s part and parcel of the process, and this is something you need to work on. Don’t be afraid that you are worrying too much, as this is something that all parents do, you are not alone here, and it’s important to understand that. Worrying is part of having kids, and it’s the part you’ll never quite get used to, so you are going to need to do as much as possible to work on this and do what you can to try to stop worrying and panicking quite so much, but this can be hard. 

It’s Expensive

Something else to think about when you have a kid is the fact that this is very expensive, and you are immediately going to be having additional costs to contend with. Make sure you look at what you can do to save money as much as possible. Whatever you can do to cut the costs of having a child is something you need to look into right now. That means saving where you can, using hand me downs if possible, using coupons and vouchers to save money on travel or days out, and preparing and cooking meals at home as opposed to eating out all the time. Everything you can do to slash costs, even slightly, is going to have a major impact on this process. 

Kids Change Your Life

Children will change your life, there is no question about that. This is something nobody can really be prepared for until it actually happens to them, and there are so many factors that will change in your life as a result, such as family holidays. Try to think about some of the best ways of making sure you work on this as much as possible. There are a lot of things that will change forever when you have children, such as your responsibilities, and your approach to life in general. You will now start to base your life around your children and helping to nurture them as much as possible.

State Help is Available

A lot of people forget or overlook the fact that state help is available to those with children. Whether it’s Taiwan’s childbirth allowance or the UKs Child Tax Credit, government help is available to parents all across the world. Having a child can be tough, and it can especially be tough for couples or parents who have low incomes. Sometimes the money received from government support can be crucial for improving your livelihood and helping you feed and clothe your kids as much as possible. So this is definitely something you’re going to want to know about and look into as much as possible. 

Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help

Something a lot of new parents seem to struggle with is asking for help when they need it. Being a first-time parent can be incredibly hard, and this is something you are going to have to get right as much as possible moving forward. Try to come up with ideas that will help make things easier for you, but also, make sure you ask for help if you need it. There are plenty of ways you can get help from the state, and, of course, family and friends can play a big role in the process of helping you out as well, especially your parents who have done this before so do have wise words to impart on the matter of parenting.

Nighttimes Might be Stressful

One thing that is for sure is that nighttimes are going to be stressful. You can kiss goodbye to that 8 hours of blissful and uninterrupted sleep, and this is something a lot of people struggle with. Getting into a good nighttime routine early in the process is really important, and this is something you should try to work on. Alternatively, you could get in touch with a sleep therapist who can give you advice for some of the things you should look to do when it comes to getting your child to sleep better. With a structured routine in place, it is going to get a little bit easier to deal with this, and you should have a baby that sleeps better as a result. 

There are a lot of things you need to bear in mind as a parent, and you need to try to do as much as you can to make this process easier for you. Try to do as much as you can to understand the important parts of being a parent, and try to work on being as good as you can be for your kids. There are so many things that you need to make the most of right now, and this is something that plays a big part in the process of improving your approach to parenthood. 

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Buying The Right Furniture To Do Your Home Justice

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Pixabay furniture

Home furniture options seem to be much more limited when it comes to high street shopping these days. Even out-of-town stores seem to stock a smaller range of pieces as rents rise and floor space is at a premium. Today, everyone’s buying online. It’s easy to visualise yourself buying a book or a kitchen appliance online – after all, you know that wherever you source it from, it will be essentially the same item. However, you could be forgiven for not knowing where to start when it comes to home furniture. How can you tell from a few photos what will be a good buy and what won’t?

Every piece of furniture is an investment and one you hope will last for years to come. The pieces you choose are also a reflection of who you are and make a statement to those who see it in your home. Moreover, each item also needs to fit within the overall décor of your room and not look out of place. You don’t want antique furniture if you’ve invested a contemporary house design. So how do you go about choosing and buying furniture online? 

You will probably already have a good idea of the style of furniture you want for the room you are fitting out. The first thing to do is search relevant keywords and note down the manufacturers’ names that come up. Maybe you’re after ‘best shabby chic bedroom furniture’, in which case the Coach House Fayence or Belgravia range may pop up in your search results. Perhaps you ask Google for a more contemporary look for your living room, in which case the Rowico Lulworth range may be more your scene. 

Once you’ve found a few names of popular makers of the kinds of home furniture range you want, your next step is to narrow down the search based on quality and budget. A rough look through a few retailers’ websites will give you an indication of prices. In fact, you might be surprised at what you can afford: Internet retailers can often reduce costs by cutting out the middleman and selling directly to the public. As for quality, search for independent online reviews from past buyers to back up the manufacturers’ claims.

Once you’ve found the pieces of furniture you want, the next factor to consider is who to purchase from. There is an ever-growing wealth of online sellers, some great and some not so good. The first thing to check on a company’s website is whether it will deliver to your part of the country. There’s little benefit in ordering low priced items from overseas if you then have to fork out a fortune for delivery and/or customs charges. Many good retailers will offer free delivery on larger items, or for orders over a certain amount. This can help save you money. 

Check how long it will take for your furniture to be delivered. Six to ten weeks for hand-crafted items is reasonable; anything less is a bonus. As furniture, especially that made from solid wood, is heavy and prone to damage, look for the company’s assurances that shipping and delivery are managed appropriately and with guarantees against damage in transit. You should also choose a firm with a fair returns policy in the unlikely event you’re not happy with your order when it arrives. Finally, it’s a smart idea to find out what past customers have said about retailers. Has the company delivered on its promises or been responsive if there were any issues?

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