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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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DIY Bathroom Repairs Everyone Should Know

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They say “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” but if something is stuck or clogged, one should be on the know-how. Reaching almost a year since quarantine began, people have been spending longer than average locked inside their homes. With this, homes may have experienced more wear and tear than usual, especially bathrooms.

It can be frustrating to feel helpless when dealing with something as tedious as a leaky faucet, a broken toilet, or a clogged drain. Considering this, small do-it-yourself remedies may be resourceful. 

That began said, if challenges are too drastic, larger renovations may be in order. If that is the case, consider commercial bathroom renovations instead. 

For the meantime, these are some nice and easy-to-do remedies than can offer your bathroom a quick fix. 

Uncloging a Bathroom Drain

When taking a shower or washing your hands, having water rise from the drain is the least you would want. Slow bathroom drains are often caused by a build-up of soap-scum and hair. Many resort to using chemical drain cleansers to remedy this; however, these products carry toxic chemicals and can be ineffective at times. 

Instead, use a plastic hair snake. This product resembles a long zip-tie which can bend inside pipes to snag the accumulated gunk.

To begin, remove the drain stopper before inserting the wand. This will require unscrewing and disconnecting the stopper’s horizontal and vertical rods. After doing this, you may finally insert the snake. Once the cleaning process begins, beware: it’ll get gross. As a tip, try to girate or make sweeping motions with the snake in order to grab as much gunk as possible. 

Fixing a Broken Toilet

Dealing with a broken toilet can be a common issue. 

If the toilet won’t flush, check inside the it’s tank. To do so, remove the toilet’s rectangular lid; the lid can be found behind the toilet seat. Look for the chain which connects the flush lever to the plug at the bottom of the tank; the plug is also known as the flapper. If a toilet isn’t flushing, the likeliest answer is that the chain is disconnected from the lever. To resolve this, simply reattach the chain. 

Meanwhile, if water keeps on filling your toilet, it most likely means your toilet is flushing by itself. This isn’t good as it is wasteful. The likeliest reason would be that the toilet has a leaky flapper. To fix this, turn off the water valve from behind/ underneath your toilet. Flush your toilet until emptied. Check the flapper’s size and purchase another flapper. Brands do not matter as long as they match in size. Replace the old flapper with a new one, and voila! 

Replacing a Leaky Faucet

Fixing a leaky faucet often requires replacing the parts inside the handles. To do so, first turn off the hot and cold water valves. Doing this will help prevent any unwanted water geysers from jumping out of the faucet or handles. 

Once you’ve turned off the water valves, check if water is still trickling down. If so, rather than replacing the handles, this means your faucet is in need of a plumber. If it isn’t leaking, you may proceed. 

Pry off the handles and loosen the screws underneath. Once both items are removed, remove the top with an adjustable wrench and pull out all the parts. The best tip is to use needle nose pliers to do this. Head to a home improvement store and ask for help in searching for new replacements. To reassemble, repeat the steps in reverse and test the faucet.

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The 8 Best Christmas Movies to Watch with Your Family

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Christmas is the perfect time of year to get together with family and friends and spend as much time as possible with them, but it’s also a time to curl up on the couch and watch those Christmas movies we’ve seen a thousand times. Don’t know which one to choose, though? To inspire you over the next few days, we’ve created a top 8 Christmas movies list to watch with your loved ones during the incoming Christmas holidays. You can easily find them all online in platforms such as movie 4k, Netflix, Hulu or HBO.

Love Actually

One of the most romantic movies of recent times is also one of the most adorable Christmas films, so why not watch or the billionth time? In this movie, director Richard Curtis mixes 10 small love stories that at the beginning do not seem to have anywhing in common, but end up intertwined at the end. Apparently, as he didn’t have them all developed enough to make their own movies, he just left them as optimistic pills. They are very different stories -some euphoric, others tender, others surprising- but all of them to make you grab the handkerchief and want to wish Merry Christmas to the first person you come across.

Serendipity

Some may think that this is one of the most cheesy films in the history of cinema, but there is no denying that the chemistry between Kate Beckinsale and John Cusack is enormous. Serendipity’ is related to chance and the possibility of two people meeting over time and that’s what happens to Jonathan and Sara. The two meet in a department store while looking at a pair of wool gloves; they will connect in such a way that they are going to have a drink and skate to Central Park. When that ‘casual date’ is over, doubts will arise: to exchange the phone or not? To reveal their true identity or not? Destiny will play a key role in them.

Elf

The film follows the story of an abandoned baby who manages to slip into Santa’s sack and ends up at the North Pole. There, he will become one of the elves who help Santa make toys all year round. However, as soon as he learns that he is human, he will go to New York to look for his father. It’s not a masterpiece, but it’s definitely hilarious.

I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus

A classic among Christmas movies starring 90’s TV stars such as Connie Sellecca, Corbin Bersnen and Cole and Dylan Sprouse. The film shows how little Justin sees his mother kissing Santa Claus -and doesn’t recognize his father in the costume-, and he beleives that his mother’s affair is the prelude to their parents divorce, so he tries to keep Santa far away from the house with his bad behavior.

While you were sleeping

A classic romantic comedy that tells how Lucy, a subway ticket vendor, is in love with a man that she sees every morning catching a train. One day, he accidentlly falls on the track; she rescues him and, for some reason, she ends up pretending to be his girlfriend to his whole family. Everyone receives her with much affection except the brother of the victim, who did not buy her story.

Bridget Jones

A good dose of Bridget Jones never hurts anyone, not even at Christmas, and especially if you choose the first movie of the saga -since the second one wasn’t as good and the third and last wasn’t successful at all. Renée Zellwegger brings to life the most clumsy journalist in history who struggles between two men: Daniel Cleaver or Mark Darcy, an old friend of her family who seems a dull, boring guy, but also charming and caring.

Home Alone

Just in case you missed the huge cultural phenomenon that was John Hughes’ big Christmas movie, it needed to be on this list. Starring Macauly Culkin, it tells the story of a young boy who is forgotten at home when his family leaves to Paris to spend the holidays. While the parents try to come back for him, the boy ends up having to defend his home from thieves who are determined to celebrate their own Christmas party by robbing everything in the house.

It’s a wonderful life

Only a director as skilled as Frank Capra could turn a film about a suicidal man into a Christmas classic. Jimmy Stewart leads the cast as George Bailey, a guy who plans to end it all until an angel named Clarence shows him what his life (and that of all his neighbours in Bedford Falls) would be like without him. In a story taken directly from Dickens, it turns out that George has a much bigger impact than he thought.

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Try These Tips out to Simplify Your Everyday Life

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Everyday life naturally has a way of getting complicated, and spiralling out of control in one way or another.

Especially if you are an ambitious person and want to achieve the most you possibly can in your professional life, while also having a lively and uplifting personal life, it can be very difficult to avoid the experience of being drowned in excessive complexity from time to time.

The thing is, there are many downsides to excessive complexity in your everyday life, ranging from significantly increased stress levels, to a real difficulty with regards to being able to effectively juggle assorted projects and responsibilities.

Try these tips to simplify your everyday life.

Declutter your home and make sure everything has a place

A lot of excess complexity can sneak into your life via a cluttered home, where things just naturally feel overwhelming because of the fact that your mind and attention are constantly drawn to the chaotic nature of your living environment.

There are many different potential benefits to decluttering your home, but one of the key benefits that various home tidying gurus and productivity experts praise about the act of decluttering, is that it helps promote a state of mental tranquillity, focus, and an overall reduced sense of complexity.

So, do what you can to declutter your home and make sure that everything has a place. Contact e-waste recyclers, load bags of clothes to donate to charity shops, and do whatever else you need to do in order to begin simplifying your life and your mindset by simplifying your home environment.

Identify one or two big goals to work towards, and put the rest aside for later

Most of us have all sorts of different dreams, projects, and potential goals that we would hypothetically like to explore and devote our time and attention to, at some point or another over the course of our lives.

Unfortunately, however, trying to juggle too many goals at once is usually a recipe for stress and failure – not to mention a sense of overwhelming complexity, as we are constantly trying to figure out the best way to allocate our time and energy to the various projects we want to make headway on.

One of the best ways of simplifying your life and of focusing your energy, is to identify just one or two big goals to work towards at any given time, and put the rest aside for later.

Do your most important tasks at the start of each day

“Analysis paralysis” is a very real phenomenon, and it tends to occur when we have too many different options at our disposal, and have to try and figure out how best to juggle a variety of factors – such as where to fit in the different tasks and chores that we are committed to each day.

A great simplicity-boosting exercise here is to always do your most important task at the start of each day. That way, everything else is more or less a nice optional extra, and stress decreases dramatically.

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