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Expat Indians: Handling The Generation Gap | Expat Woman

Expat Indians: Handling The Generation Gap

By Pallavi Bhattacharya

Come mothers and fathers
Throughout the land
And don’t criticize
What you can’t understand
Your sons and your daughters
Are beyond your command
Your old road is
Rapidly aging
Please get out of the new one
If you can’t lend your hand
For the times they are a-changin’.

This is a verse from Bob Dylan’s The Times They Are A-Changin, entreating parents to come out of their frog in the well attitude, and embrace the fact that societal norms have changed over time.

Namesake

Almost each and every civilization of the world, throughout the ages, has faced a generation gap, which refers to misunderstandings and miscommunication between two generations, specially youngsters and their mums and dads, stemming from variances in values and outlook.

Even in India, youngsters and their parents, fall prey to the generation gap. In the USA, this disparity is far wider, between the generations, especially in families which have recently migrated to the West, having done their schooling in India.

These families are generally two generations behind the young American generation, even if they had been brought up in a city. Indians who have emigrated from small towns and villages may be behind by more generations.

They get the cultural shock of their lifetime on landing on foreign shores, and vow to themselves, that come what may, they will raise their kids to be deeply rooted in Indian culture and not let them imbibe what they have deemed as the ‘vices’ of the West.

There’s a many a slip between the cup and the lip. No matter how much they may try to cocoon their kids, by discouraging them to inter-mingle with American kids who aren’t of Indian origin, the fact is that they have to send their kids to schools, where children of various races study.

The society that expat children grow up in is far more liberal than the one their parents persuade them to follow. More so, there is immense peer pressure to confirm to the way of life, deemed as cool, by American teens.

This gives rise to seemingly endless quarrels between teenagers and their parents. Teens often pretend to oblige to the rules and regulations laid down by their parents at home, but stealthily flout them as soon as they step outside the house.

These are the broad based areas where generation based conflicts occur:

  • Clothing:

Those who were born in the 60s, 70s and 80s, and were raised in USA, may have fights with their parents and grandparents, who insisted that they dress in Indian attire on stepping into adult hood.

They may have had a trying time to explain to them that while in America, one should ideally dress like the Americans do. The elders in the family may have got into a shock on seeing their young daughter wear a body hugging outfit without a dupatta.

Fashion is now more radical. It is perfectly natural for Americans especially of European and African origin, to wear mini skirts, crop tops, attire with bikini straps, cut out shirts or dresses, lacy wear, shoulder revealing tops, shorts and sports bra (while exercising), cleavage showing dresses, lacy see through attire and bikinis (while swimming or on the beach).

Indian parents often regard these clothes as provocative and are against ‘excessive skin show’. What irks kids the most, is when parents link these kinds of outfits with being of a loose character.

As far as choice of clothes are concerned, there is not much that parents can do, being judgmental about it, may make thing worse. Though the mode of attire may seem quite outrageous to puritanical parents, the best way to handle the situation is to live and let live.

The most they can do is casually tell their kids, how certain clothes which are more orthodox in nature, look good on them, without lambasting them for wearing contemporary attire.

  • Films, television programmes, books and music:

Every generation has its choice of films, TV programmes and music. Instead of reprimanding their kids’ selection as frivolous and an epitome of evil; parents could rather try to inculcate in their kids an aesthetic sense of arts. After that, they should permit their kids to develop their individual tastes in the same.

Often Indian kids in America look down upon Indian music, literature, films and theatre. This may be because as they are so exposed to American culture that their inclination for Indian entertainment and fine arts hasn’t developed.

Or they want to shake off all their Indianess, with the hope that that will make them more acceptable in a Caucasian American society, where there is immense peer pressure to ‘fit in’.

Parents must not handle the situation by giving their kids a moral lecture on the superiority of India simultaneously demeaning American culture or start their sentences with, “When I was your age…”

Instead they need to tackle the situation in a composed manner by maybe intelligently discussing Indian art forms with their partner in the presence of their kids, with the hope that maybe they will develop a natural interest on listening to the discussions.

Parents should try not to lose their nerve, if their teen has stealthily watched porn or an adult film, many of them may have done the same as a teenager. Instead they should tell them that they can read or watch whatever they feel like on reaching adulthood.

  • Language:

The younger generation often uses many profanities in their speech, which is done to vent frustration or in an attempt to be cool. If parents themselves swear, then they cannot tell their kids not to do so.

If bad language genuinely upsets parents, they need to explain to their child that it is nicer to use more polite language or if they wish to use ‘vulgar’ terminologies or gross jokes that must not be done in the presence of parents or formal society.

  • Dating:

Parents need to be strict in this scenario, but not overtly firm. In certain cases, they need to behave with less prejudice.

Indian parents need to be liberal when it comes romancing someone of non-Indian American origin. The pre-conceived notion that non-Indians will make bad or unfaithful partners is wrong. There have been many successful inter-racial American marriages.

Pre-marital sex is very common in the USA. Most kids have kissed by seventh grade and are making love by the time they are in the eighth grade. Instead of moralistically sermonizing the virtues of virginity, parents should calmly explain to their kids the health issues and dangers of becoming sexually active at an early age.

Though kids may have already been imparted sex education in schools; as a parent you may remind them that abstinence is the best form of staying away from sexually transmitted diseases and unwanted pregnancies.

Inform them that sexual intercourse at an early age increases the risk of vaginal and cervical cancer. Instead of expressing loathing and anger when they discuss fellatio, tell them that it puts one in risk of oral, throat and cervical cancers.

Educate them about condoms and birth control and don’t tell them that they have brought disgrace to the family, if they have had pre-marital sex. Being tight-lipped about the birds and bees is the worst mistake you may make.

Having curfews and limitations is important, all American families have the same.

If parents find out that your child is homosexual or bisexual, they need to accept his sexual orientation, instead of forcing him to get into a heterosexual relationship or looking for a way to “cure” them.

Though arranged marriages may seem to be superior to love marriages to some Indian parents, they must remember that Americans choose their own partners and that their son/ daughter may want to do the same.

  • Drugs, alcohol and smoking:

Parents need to be extremely strict when it comes to consuming narcotics, there should be no leeway in this regard. Unlike as in India, kids in USA, may be offered drugs in schools by their peers, as early as ten or even before that.

Pot, Mary Jane, grass, reefer, shrunk and weed are among the drugs American teens often use to appear to be cool or de-stress. Marijuana is inexpensive and quite easy to obtain.

Sermonizing about the hazards of drug use may be less effective than parents asking their child to join in an anti-drug campaign, coming up with creative posters against drugs and getting them to watch films with an anti-drug message.

Indian families in which drinking and smoking are religious taboos, may get the shock of a lifetime if their kids take to the bottle or smoke a cigarette. Even if this happens, as a parent remember that the main reason for this may be peer pressure.

Parents need to express to their child that they are upset, but should not ostracize them. They need to firmly tell their child that if he wishes to smoke and drink, he needs to reach the legal age and, in a friendly and non-threatening way, explain the health hazards associated with smoking and drinking.

They must not confront their child, when he is in an inebriated state, as that may prove to be counterproductive. They need to have the discussion when he is sober.

Parents should keep the following in mind while dealing with the generation gap:

• Talk to your child as a friend, instead of a know-it-all parent.

• Taking them to babas and gurus for a moral lecture, may not be too helpful.

• Don’t be preachy.

• Never give denigrating terms to your kids, while judging their code of conduct and tell them that you were chaste and virtuous, when young.

• Remember that as USA is the country in which you live now, you need to be more open-minded in your way of thinking.

• Remember that generation gap conflicts are the most during the troublesome teens, so this too shall pass.

• Gender discrimination, as in having a different set of rules from boys and girls, will be met by severe opposition from teenage girls.

• Visit a counselor if necessary, to free yourself from the stigma of taking help.

• Don’t disown your child or raise a hand on her.

• Make her watch Gumrah and Confessions of an Indian Teenager, though these are serials on the issues and generation gap faced by teenagers living in India, they may also help NRI teens.

Teenagers should keep this in mind, when they have fights arising from the generation divide:

• Your parents are from a different generation and have dissimilar cultural values, which is why they are opposing what you do.

• Instead of fighting, debating and arguing, which unnecessarily leads to distress and unhappiness; try to find a middle ground.

• There is no need to dress in a certain way, use bad language, drink, smoke and do drugs to be cool. Many of the so-called “cool kids” are destined to become complete failures later in life.

• Though it’s tough, find ways not to succumb to peer pressure.

• India has a rich cultural heritage, so feeling proud of it, does not make you inferior.

• When you outgrow your teens, join college, get a job, start earning and then living alone, you will hardly have these conflicts with your parents.

Expat Indians: Handling The Generation Gap | Expat Woman

Going Entrepreneur? Here’s How To Start Your Own Company

Starting your own company is a fine goal to have in life. You’ll be told you cannot, that is too much of trouble for you to indulge in, that there is too much risk, and how your day job brings you a secure salary at the end of the month.

Start Your Own Company

But, if you know this is what you want, don’t back off and don’t get discouraged.

If you were a 9-to-5er, they’ll say you couldn’t keep your job. If you were a housewife, they’ll say you are not domesticated enough. But by now, you already know that people will always tell you, that you cannot.

March right ahead and form your own company. Because, you can!

Also, as Emma Watson once said, “Don’t let anyone tell you what you can or cannot do, or cannot achieve. Just don’t allow it. It’s wrong. It’s so wrong. Be what you want to be — and prove them wrong.”

Here is a little help from us. These are the most important tips you can use to turn entrepreneur and start your own company:

  • Believe in yourself

When people have told you that starting your own business is tough, they weren’t wrong! It is very difficult and a lot of work goes in before actually starting the company.

First, accept that what you are about to do is not going to be easy. Working in a cubicle where someone else takes the decision, is easy.

Starting your own company needs every iota of confidence, resilience and motivation that is in you, maybe even a little bit borrowed. Do this only when you are ready and sure, just having a brilliant business idea won’t take you ahead.

  • Assess yourself

None of us is superhuman and even if we push ourselves, there is only so much a person can do. Now, don’t see this as a negative aspect.

The positive side to this is assessing and being aware of what you can do, and what you might not be comfortable with, or able to. This puts you on the forefront because you will not walk with your strength and depend less on your weaknesses.

  • Identify your market

Look at the supply and demand; find out if people really do want your product. Apart from the size of the potential market, what is also important is to know if it is a short term demand or a permanent demand.

Will people enjoy your services or will they want to try it out once out of curiosity. Your business will be your source of income to knowing the market and its demographics to understand if this source of income will be long term or temporary/seasonal.

  • Evaluate the market

Don’t do something just because everyone is doing it. First, your concept should be different. Only then can you attract more customers.

Go through its pros and cons and check out its plausibility. Can you make a profit out of selling this concept? Will there be a demand of the concept forever? Because, short term demand won’t fill your bank account for very long!

Once you have done this, identify your market. Evaluate all available markets and understand which one works the best for you.

  • Have a business plan

My advice is, write it down. Make it professional and business-like with – mission, vision, target, and cost of operation, financial projections and miscellaneous information.

Set accomplishment goals which you will set for your business to achieve and write it down. Make sure that when you are filing your returns at the end of the year, you also tally stats with your ultimate business goals.

  • Find investors

Investors are needed to help you fund your company, unless you are planning to use your own life’s savings.

If you are getting an external investor, make sure they share the same passion about the business and are not in it merely for the profits.

And always remember that your investors automatically get a say in the works of your company. Hence sharing passion and goal is important because otherwise ideas and egos will clash.

  • Get the legalities sorted

Everything should be on paper, including the kind of ownership of the company. Make sure that the papers are checked by a good lawyer because any loophole might get you into trouble.

  • Formalities

Now, decide upon a name for your business and register it. Find out what your tax obligations will be. Insure your premises and everything valuable the business will own.

Yes, this is important. The cost might pinch you now, but you can sleep peacefully knowing everything is covered.

  • Advertise

Once all this has been sorted, you will need to advertise your business. You have two options of going about with it.

If you have ample advertising funds, go for traditional advertising. Book slots in newspapers, magazines, websites and even television.

Or alternatively, advertise your website on social media. This is a pretty effective way of advertising as your reach out is huge and you can directly target your specific audience.

  • Promote your company

A website is a good idea to promote your business. Instead of having to tell prospective clients everything about your business, maybe multiple times in a day, wouldn’t it be great if your website did the talking?

Just give them your visiting card and point the URL to them. Cool, right? Now to have an impressive website is important. It’s okay if it is minimal.

Since your website’s content will be doing the talking/advertising on your behalf, ensure that it is top-notch. Not only should the content be good, it should also be error-free, crisp and to the point.

The above are the few basics you need to carefully do when starting a company. There are many more big and small steps which make up the entire process, so go slow and take every step with a good amount of thought.

Once the company is set and functional, you can sit back and breathe! All the best! Remember, you can do this!

© Naaree.com

Expat Indians: Handling The Generation Gap | Expat Woman

10 Ideas For Working Women To Look Stylish

We all know that holding down a day job and trying to pursue a career can be a both a rewarding and tiring experience.

However, choosing your wardrobe can make bold statements about the type of person you are, not just from a formal business perspective but also in the clothes that you wear on a casual basis.

Business Style Fashion

From a business view, dressing stylishly, and with a hint of elegance can make all the difference to how far up the career ladder you are likely to progress.

Putting effort into your style speaks volumes to clients, customers and your superiors, so in today’s post we wanted to take an in-depth look at 10 simple but effective ideas that can help you, the working woman, look as stylish as possible.

  • A Suiting Dress

The first port of call in our run down of the top 10 ideas is your dress code, whether it’s a suiting dress or a blouse and a pencil skirt, you need to choose wisely at this stage as this will make up the basis for your entire professional look. Get this wrong and any other ideas just aren’t going to work.

You need to think of this as a jigsaw puzzle where we will be putting each piece together in the process to getting you looking your absolute best.

You dress should compose of the two main colours, black and white; these are popular in the business world because they are plain and professional.

If you are wearing a dress, then make sure that the dress is tailored to fall below your knees, and if you are wearing a blouse you will want to make sure that it buttons close to your neck for the ultimate in style and elegance.

If you have any doubts on the look at this stage it’s always worth consulting a friend, partner or family member who can give a second opinion and some advice.

  • Tailored Blazer

Call it the finishing touch to a formal outfit or the working woman’s alternative to a little black dress. However you want to look at it you can’t help but notice the powerful statement a well-tailored blazer can give to a business woman. It adds class, character, but more importantly it shows a certain level of authority of the woman that is wearing it.

If you think these are expensive you’d be wrong because a tailored black blazer can fall in at less than $50 if you shop in the right places.

  • A Silk Scarf

Accessories to your look can go a long way to complete your outfit and there is nothing more chic than a silk scarf draped around your neck.

Now, the reason we have chosen silk at this point is that silk is known for being an expensive looking material that will complement the blazer look.

A woollen scarf or other fabric just wouldn’t look right with a working woman’s outfit. You would only end up looking tacky, out of place, with no fashion sense.

A silk scarf, such as one that is silver in colour will radiate elegance and freshen up your entire look no matter what season of the year.

  • Stylish Necklace

In the fashion industry we call these accessories, statement pieces of jewellery that can add the final touches to business attire.

A subtle necklace to match your blazer and blouse look is all you need to put the final pieces to a well thought out professional look. Remember that, when it comes to choosing a necklace, less is more.

Choose something that looks classic, and stands out (gold, silver or diamond solitaire usually do the trick), but not something that stands out in terms of size, as it will overpower your look. You just want something that adds value and character.

  • Stud Earrings

Earrings and necklaces are a perfect team so never leave one of these out if you really want the polished look. When it comes to deciding which earrings to go for, the choice should be easy because you want them to match up with your necklace.

Therefore, when you buy a signature piece of jewellery look for a matching set and you won’t go wrong. Again, less is more because you want to make a statement but you don’t want great big earrings that overpower your overall look.

Some diamond solitaire studs are just the trick to adding a little bit of bling to your professional image, but they won’t take the attention off your complete look. This really is where classic statement jewellery can really pay off for you.

  • Smart Handbag

When it comes to handbags you need to consider a few things. This is going to be completely different from your Friday night bags, because you are going to need it to carry more stuff in it.

It’s an office bag at the end of the day, so you are going to need a roomy and spacious bag that is a cross between a Friday night bag and a handbag.

handbag

Buying a bag that is too big which just draw attention from your look to the bag, and if anything, it will have a negative impact on your finished style.

Instead choose a professional looking bag that will help compliment your overall look, and allow you to carry all those office necessities with you to work in the morning.

  • Fashionable Watch

Keeping an eye on the time can be a critical factor in being a successful career driven women, whether its deadlines that need to be met or whether its keeping an eye on meeting times, having a watch can make all the difference.

Not just any watch will do though because you are now well into the process of creating a stylish look that you don’t want to ruin with a cheap watch. The idea of getting the right watch is to combine the latest fashion with the same look and style as your necklace and earrings.

watch

The good thing about a quality watch is that they last years and years, and unlike dress fashion they tend to always stay in fashion and never fade out.

The real question is how much do you want to pay, as we know that watches can range from $30 to $1,000, so you need to work with what your budget allows for.

  • Silver Bracelet

This style choice is optional if you already have a necklace, earrings and a watch, but it can add some more bling to your professional image.

This is optional because you need to see if adding a bracelet will be too much for your look. At the end of the day, you don’t want to over complicate your look and if you feel you will be wearing one for the sake of wearing one, then you might not want to include this tip.

However, if you think that adding a silver bracelet will be beneficial to your look then we say go for it! As always go for simplicity in design and don’t get anything too chunky or overpowering that will spoil your look. The most basic of bracelets can add a lot of value to your professional image.

  • Ankle Boots

Moving away from statement jewellery we come to footwear, and there are a couple of designs that will set your image off for you.

The first are ankle boots which look great all year-round, but it’s about sending the right message and having a certain level of comfort because you are more likely going to be wearing these boots 40+ hours of every week.

Ankle boots can create a confidence factor amongst business women, providing style, elegance and professionalism.

  • Black Pumps

If boots just don’t cut it for you, believe it or not a simple pair of black pumps can really finish off your look.

Perhaps wearing pumps with other dress combinations wouldn’t look right but this simple addition to a professional image can really do wonders, because they are classic, simple and they aren’t overpowering.

With pumps you have a few designs to go for, and this is where the comfort factor will play its part. You can have closed toe and high heels, or open toe and flat soles.

What you have to remember is that you are going to be wearing these shoes a lot more than any other shoes in your collection, so you want to look for combinations of classic chic as well as a mix of comfort, that will take your professional look to the next level.

  • Summary

When it comes to advancing your way up the career ladder and looking stylish at work it doesn’t have to take a lot of effort if you know what to look for.

These 10 ideas are aimed to transform your look and give you some inspiration in how you can be taken seriously as a working woman who wants to advance in her chosen field.

Remember that first impressions can make a substantial difference to how you progress within a company, so looking elegant, classic and stylish is something that you want to really zone in on, if you want success to follow on from that.

Expat Indians: Handling The Generation Gap | Expat Woman

10 Reasons To Quit Your Job And Start A Business

There might be a million reasons you’ve heard about why you shouldn’t start a business and stick to your day job. There’s insecurity and there are more chances to fail. In fact, the moment you announce that you plan to start a business, there are more people sure of your failure than those who are sure you will succeed.

Business Woman

‘Business is a man’s field’ or ‘It’s not a safe world out there’ – you get to hear such heartwarming, caring statements. A day job is more secure, at least your salary at the end of the month will be guaranteed. There is no security in business and very few people succeed in business.

Well, booyah! And, wrong! For every failure in business, there are double the numbers of successes. One can fail in any field of life, even in an office job. And until one starts taking risks, how will one know what they are capable of?

While a few of the things people say to dissuade you from starting your own business are pretty valid, there are as many reasons why you should. And quite frankly, if you are hardworking and sincere, there is no reason why you cannot succeed in business too!

If you are at the stage where you want to work for yourself, here are 10 valid reasons why you should quit your job and start a business now.

  • Flexible timings

You can work when it is convenient for you. Of course, you will need to work, and most likely more than you do in that miserable day job you had, but hard work never scared you, did it?

The icing on the cake is that you can fit your work as well as your other commitments in a single day. PTA? Sure you can go! Piano recital? Of course, you’ll be there in the front row!

How many times have you had to follow instructions from a boss who really didn’t know what they are talking about? Millions of times. Forget that nightmare of a boss and call your own shots. Right or wrong, you’ll be responsible for the decisions you take.

  • Your passion gets wings

Always dreamt to be known for your work, rather than the company that hires you? Well, that won’t happen by sitting in a cubicle. With a business you can put yourself on a goal to becoming an achiever and soon be a brand name yourself!

  • Financial independence

Yes, that’s what you will have, once you start a business. Thing is that, you can spend all your life being everything else but who you want to be. But if you want to financially independent, an entrepreneur is what you should be.

Money might not buy happiness, but it does really make life more comfortable. You earn and it goes to your account, you withdraw and spend it as you wish. Don’t forget to save though.

By being independent and a business woman, you not only create a job for yourself but you would be creating jobs for many others. Personally, that is the biggest job satisfaction one can get. From being a non-earner to being able to help others earn their living – tell me this isn’t a very big deal.

  • Mentoring

While setting up your business, you get to meet people who are experienced in the same field. While you get to mentor under them, over the years, when you become an expert yourself, you get to mentor new aspirants, and pay it forward.

  • Learning new things

With a business to establish and then run, you meet new people almost every day. You go to new places and experience new things. And this exposure is real time, not a virtual one. Is that cool, or is that cool!

You learn to fight, to not give up, to create reasons to be happy and to stay chin up when not. You learn new things and teach yourself a thing or two. Owning a business is no piece of cake and you learn it the rough way, but you learn it well and through experience.

  • Build your own brand

You work towards a single goal and the goal is turning your passion into business. Doing so, you also create and build your own brand recognition for yourself and your business.

  • Inspire others

Just as today you are dreaming of having your own business, a decade later, another young girl would be wishing the same. She might not be as bold as you were, but she can surely take the leap using you as a role model. Sounds good, right?

  • Pride and Security

Owning your own business and running it successfully is no mean feat. In fact, it is a matter of pride and will only make your work harder. The long hours will not bug you (as much as having a job) because you know what you are out to achieve and how to obtain it.

While setting up a business means no fixed salaries, at least in the initial months, and no insurance, it also means you don’t need to worry about appraisals, office politics, favoritism, and lay-offs. Your business, your responsibilities. Your hard work just cannot go unnoticed.

  • Recognition

The thing about starting a business is that as and when you develop it and make it grow, you are also increasing your own recognition. Your name soon becomes synonymous with your product, and more people than you’d ever imagined start hearing about you.

  • Do it your way

You might have worked under someone for a decade or so but how many times did you get the liberty to call the shots? You’ve had to take orders from the boss who most likely, knows much less than you do about the product, but has the power to get his strategy, however impractical, incorporated. While your foolproof strategies, gather dust, year after year.

By starting your own business, you not only have the authority to decide how to do things yourself but can refer to ten options and select what seems the best for you. If it is the right way, you win. And if you not, you don’t have to worry about the criticism of others. So run the business as you wish to and bring all your ideas to the table.

© Naaree.com

Expat Indians: Handling The Generation Gap | Expat Woman

Naaree Interviews Actor And Director, Nandita Das

By Swarnendu Biswas

Her razor-sharp intellect and uncommon sensitivity towards social issues complement her enchanting beauty and compelling aesthetic talent.

But while talking to Nandita Das it was very difficult to comprehend the gravity of the fact that I was conversing with a world-renowned actress and director, for she lets the weight of her astonishing achievements and enviable fame sit lightly on her slim, elegant and strong shoulders.

Her unassuming and easy going personality belies the fact that she is one of the most critically acclaimed actresses of serious Indian cinema of our times, and also the fact that her maiden directorial effort has made the world of cinema to sit up and recognise the arrival of a new cinematic genius from India; a country whose film repertoire is even now by and large perceived by overtly melodramatic and utterly mediocre mainstream Bollywood fare.

Casually Famous

Even the immense significance of the fact that the French Government had conferred her with the Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters (Chevalier dans l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres), one of the most prestigious civilian awards in the world, in 2008, for her contribution to art and culture, hasn’t infused any hint of arrogance into her friendly personality.

In this context, it also deserves a mention here that, in 2011, Nandita became the first Indian to be inducted into the Hall of Fame of the International Women’s Forum.

The honour recognises Nandita’s “sustained contributions to the arts and to the world as one of the most gripping cinema arts leaders of our time who has shown us what both-feet-on-the-floor authenticity looks like and how keeping your values in focus and applying your talent can fuel women and the world forward,” said IWF in a statement.

Despite having a journalistic experience of more than one-and-a-half decades and the experience of doing numerous stories and interviewing a galaxy of celebrities behind me, my voice trembled like a newbie as I asked my first question to the tall and elegant embodiment of inspired aesthetic vision sitting before me, dressed in a casual blue jeans and a white top.

The lady with a refreshing smile that flows like a cascade, however soon put me at ease. In fact, her apparent softness belies her tremendous strength of conviction within. Nandita has always had the courage and the conviction to tread the uncommon path, provided that path leads to the fulfillment of her social sensibilities and her aesthetic conscience. As far as her film career goes, she has chosen those films which she believed in.

Her revolutionary streak is reflected by the fact that in only her second film as an actress she essayed the role of a newly married woman who gets involved with her sister-in-law in a loving lesbian relationship, a relationship which fulfilled the characters’ need for the love and passion which they couldn’t find in their oppressive and claustrophobic conventional marital relationships with their respective spouses.

Playing With Fire

Fire, which was released in India in 1998 (the film was made in 1996), can be regarded as a watershed film in the Indian context, where three awesome cinematic talents (Deepa Mehta, the director of the film, Shabana Azmi and Nandita Das, the two female leads of the film) managed to make an extremely potent and path-breaking commentary on the feudalistic character of Indian arranged marriages (a great majority of them, at least), and at the same time on the exploration of the evolving gender equation in modern day India.

Fire Movie Nandita Das

Fire is probably the first feature film which was brave enough to explore the radical concept of female homosexuality in the regressive backdrop of urban Indian social milieu.

Fire not only gave Nandita international acclaim at the early stage of her career, but also helped her grow into a more evolved person. “Fire made me a more open and less judgmental person. My own sensitivity towards what we perceive as the ‘other’ grew,” says the lady as she brushes aside her locks of hair from her vibrant visage.

The film ran to full houses in most metropolitan cities throughout India for almost three weeks, but soon the violent protests against this revolutionary film surfaced. The film, as was expected, created quite a bit of social outrage that quickly snowballed into a series of violent incidents perpetrated by the self-styled moral police of Indian society, on many of the cinema halls screening this revolutionary movie.

However, despite the moral policing by self-righteous Shiv Sena and Bajrang Dal workers, the film’s international fame continued to grow, and Fire went on to become a post-modern classic.

“Through the wide range of questions and comments that I encountered after the screening of Fire, I was appalled to see how prejudiced and intolerant our society was,” declares Nandita. Unfortunately, the attitude of our society, where hackneyed mindsets are predominant, still hasn’t changed much, after 15 years. Nandita says that she takes every opportunity to dispel unfounded myths on homosexuality that prevail in our society.

Fire also did awaken Nandita to the power of cinema, and induced her to take cinema seriously as a passion and profession. “While I never wanted to be an actor, Fire showed me how the medium of cinema could be a powerful instrument for public debate and advocacy. After the experience with Fire, I found a new platform and a creative medium to express myself,” articulates the great lady.

Theatre of Conscience

Nandita’s artistic exploration has a history of being influenced by the burning concerns of society. Born in New Delhi, to the celebrated painter Jatin Das and the noted writer, Varsha Das, Nandita’s early sensitivity towards society is perhaps reflected in her choosing to do a Master’s degree in social work.

After her Master’s in social work from the Delhi School of Social Work, she begun working with an NGO called Ankur, that works with women in the slums of Delhi. Her stint with Ankur was followed by her work with Alarippu; an organisation which is engaged in making education enjoyable for children from underprivileged homes. “The various realities which I got exposed to during my work with NGOs did impact my choices in films, both consciously and instinctively,” articulates Nandita.

Her acting forays began with a street theatre group named Jana Natya Manch, which was started by the late revolutionary playwright, Safdar Hashmi, where she also propagated several social causes through her acting skills. However, she doesn’t take her theatre background too seriously. “Many feel that I have come from a theatre background but doing street theatre and amateur plays during my college days cannot be counted for any great foundation in theatre,” explains Nandita candidly.

“The reasons for doing those street plays for four years were less to do with acting and much more to do with the social issues that those plays raised. Those plays in some ways induced me to pursue my Master’s in social work,” admits Nandita. She also modestly says that she has “worked on only two professional plays, which are The Spirit of Anne Frank, and Heads Ya Tails,” before embarking on to act and direct her own theatre production.

This trained social worker and actress notes that she entered the film world by “default.” However, despite not being armed with any formal training in either acting or direction, Nandita, with her spontaneous talent, managed to create new milestones in both the spheres.

Today, Nandita with an impressive repertoire of 37 films (many of them award-winning ones) in 10 different languages — English, Hindi, Bengali, Tamil, Telegu, Urdu, Marathi, Oriya and Kannada and Rajasthani —is an icon in the realm of Indian cinema.

Between the Lines

Nandita is happy to return to the stage after eight years with her maiden theatre production titled Between the Lines, that was recently staged across various cities of India.

Despite knowing very well that theatre and films are two entirely different mediums, and despite having much less experience in theatre as compared to her rich and varied experience in cinema, she took on the enormous challenge of co-writing, directing, producing and acting in this play.

It is exceptional people like Nandita who always have the courage to experiment with new forms, styles and mediums.

“It was both challenging and exciting to explore the medium of theatre, that is comparatively new for me, but I have always enjoyed doing new things without the fear of failure. For instance, I directed Firaaq without any formal training in film direction and learnt a lot in the process. I like to dabble in different things and will continue to do so,” asserts the courageous lady with a soft smile that never fails to reflect a sense of tenderness.

Her ardent love for experimentation and the absence of fear for failure is shared by her present entrepreneur husband, Subodh Maskara (she was divorced from her first husband, Saumya Sen, in 2009), and these attributes, together with Nandita’s love for stage acting before a live audience, has compelled the couple to start their own production company named Chhoti Production Company Pvt. Ltd.

Through Chhoti, their intention is to explore new forms of creative expression and to tell compelling stories through various mediums, across the country and beyond. Between the Lines is their first venture.

She has directed, produced, co-written the maiden play of this production house, besides playing one of the two pivotal roles in it. Between the Lines is a contemporary play on a lawyer couple set in urban India. In the play, the couple ends up arguing on the opposite sides of a criminal trial, resulting in the blurring of their personal and professional lives.

Human relations and gender issues are explored in this engrossing drama. According to Nandita, “Between the Lines is set in contemporary India and explores the relationship between a lawyer couple, who have been married for 10 years. One day, they end up on opposite sides and as they fight the case in the court, their own inequalities begin to surface. And now they have to cope with it, finding a new balance and a new understanding of each other.”

The popular myth that gender inequality in the Indian cultural milieu is largely a characteristic of the lower or underprivileged strata of the society gets undermined after seeing the play. If we explore a bit, we come to the conclusion that gender inequality is an all-pervasive bitter truth in India, a fact which Nandita is extremely opposed to. “Even in so called progressive societies, many gender inequalities in subtle forms thrive along; we only have to scratch the surface to see or feel them,” commented the wise lady.

Nandita’s strong belief that the people are not averse to strong content and their interest is not limited to crass commercial fare is endorsed by the positive audience reaction to the play, which was screened in major cities like Mumbai, New Delhi, Bangalore, Kolkata and Ahmedabad in the recent past. The play was even performed before audiences in Dhaka, Bangladesh. “We hope to take it to the audiences outside India, to various other countries,” declares Nandita with enthusiasm.

Though she has not done much professional theatre before Between the Lines, it now seems she is very much in earnest to take her passion for stage to great heights. Nandita is presently playing the lead role in a play named ‘Gates to India Song’ which is being held during Bonjour India!, the festival of France in India. However, this time her role is limited to acting only.

The play is directed by Eric Vigner, written by Marguerite Duras, features an Indian cast, and is being/will be staged during 13th February to 14th March of this year, across Delhi-NCR, Mumbai, and Kolkata.

Joys, Challenges and Awards

Being totally overwhelmed by her powerful and extremely attractive personality, I blurted a clichéd question about the various challenges that she was involved in her cinematic career till date. She gracefully laughed at my immature question but gave her insightful answer, nevertheless.

“I have acted in 10 different languages, so at times doing a film in a language unfamiliar to me was not easy, especially acting in films made in the South Indian languages. At times it was the shooting conditions that were daunting like that of in Bawander or in Maati Maay – A Grave-keeper’s Tale. And at times emotionally some films pushed my boundaries and became insightful experiences,” articulates the diva of post-modern cinema, while adding firmly, “However, the exciting part was to overcome those challenges and do justice to the characters.”

I also requested her to name the five best film directors that she had worked till date, but she refused to play favourites. “I have been fortunate to have worked with many renowned directors, and also a number of first-time directors. By listing favourites, I would be doing injustice to all the influences that they and many others would have had on me,” affirms Nandita.

While she says that she has been fortunate to have worked with many renowned directors like Mrinal Sen, Shyam Benegal, Govind Nihalani, Mani Ratnam, Deepa Mehta and Adoor Gopalakrishnan, there are many other lesser known directors who have influenced her cinematic sensibilities over the years. “On every set, I have learnt the craft of filmmaking and most of those learnings were not conscious. The biggest lesson that I have learnt in my journey through moving images is that there are no rules in filmmaking. I have observed everyone and then taken the path that suited my film and its sensibilities the best,” explained Nandita, in her down to earth manner.

Nevertheless she named some of the directors with whom she immensely enjoyed working with. Besides working in the great Deepa Mehta’s Fire, which she says “had a wonderful cast and crew,” she loved working with “Mani Ratnam, for his relentlessly energising shooting style; Santosh Sivan for being so spontaneously creative and having such a fantastic team to work with; Adoor Gopalakrishnan, for his uncompromising puritanical approach to cinema; Shyam Benegal for his intellect and warmth; and also with first-time directors like Chitra Palekar and Kavitha Lankesh for their passion and commitment.”

Nandita has various fond memories of working in Bengali films. She recollects that it was Suman Ghosh’s film named Podokkhep –Footsteps, which gave her the opportunity to get to know and work with Soumitra Chatterjee, the iconic film actor of Bengali cinema who had been featured quite frequently in Satyajit Ray’s internationally renowned films, and has recently won the Dadasaheb Phalke award (India’s highest award in cinema, given annually by the Government of India, for lifetime contribution to Indian cinema).

“I also enjoyed working with Mrinalda (the noted director Mrinal Sen, one of the pioneers of the New Wave Cinema movement in India), who is such a special person, brimming with thousands of stories that I so loved listening,” reminiscences Nandita.

She says that she has a multitude of amazing experiences about her work with different directors. “If I had the time, I could have written a book on those experiences,” she notes.

Her superlative performance in Mrinal Sen’s Amar Bhuvan got her the Best Actress Award at the Cairo International Film Festival, in 2002, which is one of her several acclaimed awards. Some of her other prestigious awards for acting include the Best Actress award for Bawander – which is a film based on the trauma of Bhanwari Devi, a rape victim from Rajasthan – at the Santa Monica Film Festival in 2001, the Best Actress award for Maati Maay – A Grave-keeper’s Tale at the Madrid International Film Festival in 2007, and the Best Actress award at Nandi Awards for Kamli, in 2006.

A Riot of Cinematic Creativity

Nandita, who served as a member of the prestigious jury at the Cannes Film Festival in 2005, the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival in 2007 and the Marrakech International Film Festival in 2009, began her own journey behind the camera with her directorial debut in Firaaq. To say her maiden directorial venture in cinema is a sheer masterpiece, would be an understatement. In terms of inspired cinematic expression, the movie has few parallels in the Indian cinema during the last decade.

Working Still- Firaaq

Perhaps Firaaq’s aesthetic quotient can be regarded at par with that of Pather Panchali by Satyajit Ray (1955), Bhuvan Shome by Mrinal Sen(1969), Ankur by Shyam Benegal (1974), Fire by Deepa Mehta (1998) and Paromitar Ek Din by the ultimate diva of Bengali cinema, Aparna Sen (2000).

Nandita’s maiden directorial work has every chance to be regarded as one of the greatest films ever made in the world cinema, by the future generations to come, for a significant work of art like Firaaq can be best evaluated in retrospect.

Nandita’s directorial debut in the realm of feature films had its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2008 and thereafter it travelled through more than 50 international film festivals across the globe, winning over 10 international awards and 13 Indian awards.

Of course, it garnered critical acclaim and popular appreciation across the globe. The Purple Orchid Award for Best Film at the Asian Festival of First Films, Special Jury Award at International Film Festival of Kerala, Special Prize at the International Thessaloniki Film Festival are only some of the coveted awards won by Firaaq.

Inducing Firaaq

Nandita describes Firaaq as the “manifestation of all the helplessness, anguish, anger, frustration which I have felt over the years about the way things are happening around us.” She also chooses to describe her cinematic masterpiece as “a work of fiction, based on a thousand true stories.”

The time of the film is set a month after the horrific Gujarat riots in 2002, which killed 790 Muslims and 254 Hindus, and where more than 2500 people were injured. A riot where many people became homeless, and many women became rape victims.

According to Nandita, “Firaaq traces the emotional journeys of ordinary people; some who were victims of riots, some perpetrators and some who chose to watch silently.”

The film explores the impact of sectarian violence on their life and relationships. “It is an ensemble film that follows multiple narratives that are at times interconnected and at times discrete. What unites them is their spatial and emotional context,” elaborates the director.

Firaaq was not an easy story or a rather a collection of stories to be made into cinema, but Nandita’s masterful handling made the multiple narratives coalesce into montages depicting universal human drama that does have the potential to move any sensitive soul in the world.

“I didn’t scout for a story that I could direct, instead the stories compelled me to become a director,” articulates the filmmaker, who directed actors of the caliber of Naseeruddin Shah, Raghubir Yadav, Paresh Rawal, and Deepti Naval in her landmark directorial venture.

Firaaq Still nandita das and naseeruddin shah

What makes Firaaq strikingly different from other riot films is that it does not show the gory violence of riots, but explores the nerve-wrecking tensions between people that prevail just after the riots. The story is set over a 24-hour period. “The exploration of the fierce and yet delicate forms of fear, anxiety, prejudice and ambivalence in human relationships during such times is the substance of Firaaq,” points out the filmmaker.

Emboldened by her friendly disposition, I even acquired the temerity to ask her what factors influenced her to chose such a sensitive or rather a controversial subject as her first directorial venture. “Most people wonder why I chose this subject, even though I have not personally been a victim of violence. But for me it is no less a personal film as it brings together a lot of my life’s experiences and my interactions with people,” explains the sensitive lady.

There were other factors too which induced her sensitive mind to create this thought provoking cinematic venture, for which she also co-wrote the screenplay with Shuchi Kothari.

“The making of Firaaq was also influenced by the waking up to newspapers with stories screaming with violence; having conversations about religion and identity and soon finding oneself in a very polarised heated debate; meeting victims of violence and seeing their vacant helpless eyes penetrating into my soul; feeling deeply disturbed by the constant ‘them and us’ from all quarters… Firaaq is a reaction to all that and more,” Nandita elaborates with uncommon passion.

The challenge of her directorial debut was however, not that easy to overcome. “The journey of making Firaaq has been an all consuming, but also a cathartic experience. At any given point, hundreds of factors need to be dealt with and many simultaneous decisions had to be made,” confesses the dusky, alluring and breathtaking beauty. At the same time, she did enjoy each phase of making Firaaq “with all its challenges, big and small.”

However, she refuses to take the whole credit for her brilliant effort, which fetched multiple awards. “I am grateful to all those who had their faith in me and in the story I so wanted to tell,” acknowledges Nandita.

Leading Children’s Cinema

Recently, the diva has completed her tenure as the Chairperson of the Children’s Film Society, India, a position in which she has been since 2009. She feels the experience had been a learning one for her. The prestigious position was perhaps another opportunity for her to explore her awesome creative versatility.

“I found my work as the Chairperson of the Children’s Film Society, India (CFSI) as both daunting and rewarding. It was an opportunity to make a difference, to try out something new and explore yet another area of interest,” she explains.

Nandita laments the fact that there are few distributors for children’s films in India. “There aren’t too many takers for children’s films in terms of distribution, despite the fact that kids form a huge part of the audience,” Nandita points out. It is really distressing that in India there is dearth of quality cinema that can provide enriching entertainment to children.

“Children form a huge film audience the world over. I wonder why we haven’t explored the children’s film segment enough,” aired Nandita, who rightly thinks that “a great majority of our films for children are either preachy and boring, or fluffy and sometimes even violent.”

Becoming More Selective?

Considering the fact that the last feature film where she acted was made in 2010 (I Am), I asked her why she isn’t appearing more regularly on the screen in the recent times. “My last two years were extremely hectic, as I had the twin responsibilities of being a new mother and the Chairperson of CFSI,” admits Nandita, which left her with little time for acting assignments.

“I had enough on my plate during those years, with my son Vihaan and CFSI as my top priorities,” asserts the multiple prestigious award winning actress and director, who has become a one-woman institution of sorts in a very short time. However, she informs me that she had finished the shooting of two films recently; one in Tamil and the other in Hindi. “Now that the CFSI responsibility is over, I can look forward to doing many different things,” says Nandita.

Nandita Das 2

However, besides being extremely busy on the personal and administrative front in the recent years, her graph of cinema acting gives indication that she has perhaps also been extremely choosy and selective in her choice of films for quite a few years.

In fact, from 2007 to 2012, she has appeared in only three released films, they being Mehreen Jabbar directed Ramchand Pakistani in 2007 (the film, which was premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York, in 2008, and won the People’s Choice Award at the Fribourg International Film Festival in Switzerland, garnered huge critical acclaim), Adoor Gopalakrishnan directed Naalu Pennungal (Four Women) in the same year, and Onir-directed I Am in 2010. As compared to that in 2006, she had five releases as an actress.

Despite her awesome intellectual prowess and her renown across international film fraternity, Nandita doesn’t exhibit any snob value in dismissing the predominantly mediocre and crass Bollywood fare altogether. However, she admits that “Mainstream Hindi cinema has mostly played safe in an attempt to please large numbers of people.”

But at the same time, she takes note of the account that “in every era we have seen some bold films in the realm of mainstream Hindi cinema, which have gone beyond the comfort zone and have told different stories irrespective of their box office performances.”

She is happy that “quite a few young film makers from Bollywood these days are stretching the boundaries and experimenting with both form and content.” One such pertinent example, according to her, is Dibakar Banerjee’s Love, Sex aur Dhoka.”

She also laments the fact that often Indian films are construed as only Bollywood fare. “Indian films are not just Bollywood films and there is a whole range of films in regional languages that constitute the gamut of Indian cinema,” points out one of the finest talents of Indian cinema.

Socially Conscious Shorts

Besides full-length feature films and theatre, Nandita has also shown her enviable creative mettle in the realm of short films. She and her first husband, Saumya Sen, began Leapfrog, an advertising company geared towards making socially conscious ad films.

For Leapfrog she directed a 90 second long public interest spot for the Delhi-based and the world renowned NGO Centre for Science & Environment, on Rainwater Harvesting, which was shot on 35mm. The public service spot aimed to create an interest in rainwater harvesting.

It used a lyrical approach to communicate an environmental solution which is often inaccessible due to its technical nature. The response to the spot was simply overwhelming; from both the critics and the general audience.

This 90 seconds of lyricism with a strong message won the Grand Prix at the Environfilms International Festival of Environmental Films 2006, and was adjudged the Best Short Film at FICA, Brazil 2005, at Torrino Film Festival in Czech Republic, in 2005 and at Vatavaran Film Festival in New Delhi, in 2003.

For Leapfrog, Nandita directed three more short films, which are titled Education for All, Learning is Child’s Play (I), and Learning is Child’s Play (II). All of these short films are each 60 seconds in length. Nandita also co-directed a 30-minute, short film with Sanjay Maharishi, for Sanket Productions. The name of the short film is Imprint In Clay. The short film is a tribute to Late Sardar Gurcharan Singh, the pioneer of studio pottery in India.

Words for Change

Nandita is not only a manifestation of great brains and beauty. She can be best described as a combination of great talent and great looks with a great heart. Her compassionate heart finds fulfillment in social work, which exudes the humane facet of her tremendous intellectual prowess.

Over the years, her social concerns have taken the form of talks and as well as eloquent writing. She has given a plethora of talks in India and around the globe. She spoke at MIT on April 2007, after a screening of Fire.

Nandita’s versatility is also expressed through her compelling writings, through which she has had espoused several social causes and concerns, besides exploring other facets of life too. She has several published writings, and is running a monthly column for The Week, in their section Last Word.

Nandita Das

Nandita has been involved in active campaigning against the scourge of communal violence, the violence against women, and the societal stigma concerning HIV/ AIDS. At the same time, she has raised her potent voice on the issues of children’s rights, disability and human rights. “The choices in my film work have been heavily impacted by my experiences in social work,” states Nandita.

“I primarily do advocacy work for issues concerning women, children, victims of violence, people living with AIDS…. basically for those who are marginalised,” concludes Nandita, as the evening with its crimson colours began to flood its soft light on the patio. Soon the dusk would emerge…“I have also been part many South Asian peace initiatives, like SAHR (South Asians for Human Rights),” points out the lady.

I wanted our conversation to continue till eternity, but her professional commitments didn’t allow that. As she ended the interview, I realised that four hours have flown by in a jiffy. Dusk had set in, along with promise of a new tomorrow… as refreshing as the soul-refreshing laughter of Nandita Das.

© Naaree.com

Expat Indians: Handling The Generation Gap | Expat Woman

Witness The Timelessness of Your Love With Couple Watches

Call it a clever marketing strategy or the general population’s affinity to expensive timepieces, but couples watches have emerged as the most popular trend in the watchmaking industry.

In fact, the allure of this fad has reached such heights that almost all major watch retailers around the world like Ethos Watch Boutiques are churning out couples watches from the luxury watch brands to “celebrate the spirit of love”.

Especially with the festive season looming large, the demand for these luxury timepieces has seen a rapid rise; owing to the fact that a majority of the middle-class couples in India want to usher in better times with gifts like these watches.

Continuing in the same vein, we bring you some of the trendiest and most popular watches that this booming industry has to offer right now.

The Omega Constellation

Launched in 1952, the Omega Constellation range of watches have proven to be the epitome of luxurious precision and elegance.

The Omega Constellation

Upon first look, these watches may come across as being rather simplistic, which you could say they are; but once you look at the details of each watch, you’ll see why they are so coveted.

These watches feature a solid 18k gold and steel case with Roman numerals inscribed on the bezels. While the male watches sport silver dials with golden hands, their female counterparts have mother-of-pearl (MOP) dials that spell magnificence.

Both these watches are harnessed with identical steel straps that set off the stark design. Priced at INR 312,660 and 219,500 respectively, these classy watches will ensure you capture the spotlight wherever you go.

Tissot T Sport

When it comes to creating sporty watches that are both functional and luxurious, Swiss giant Tissot is miles ahead of everyone else. With price tags of INR 39,700 and INR 40,900, these speed-oriented models are sure to appeal to the racer in you.

Tissot T Sport

While the gent’s variant features a dual-tone bronze and black stainless steel case with a black strap, the feminine version has a white and bronze case – the perfect yin and yang.

Tag Heuer Formula 1

What do the recently crowned F1 world champion Lewis Hamilton and tennis superstar Maria Sharapova have in common? They both vouch for the worthiness of the Formula1 range of watches.

Tag Heuer Formula 1

These watches are priced at INR 151,500 and INR 188,500 and rightfully justify their price tags with their Swiss-made sophistication and power. If you are looking for couples watches to indulge the Formula1 freak in you, these are the watches to buy.

These timepieces feature round cases and two-tone silver and black straps. They also come with charcoal grey and black dials with chronograph and date functions.

Tissot T Classic Dream

These Tissot timepieces from the Classic Dream collection redefine affordable luxury with a price tag of INR 13,200, for both the male and female variants. The watches feature a steel case and a strap, which have a matte finish.

Tissot T Classic Dream

They have simple white dials, which are supported by the Swiss trademark Quartz, ensuring seamless movement. These watches are ideal for any sort of occasion, whether it is an everyday office accessory or a weekend rendezvous.

As the saying goes, a watch defines a person. So, purchase two stunning new timepieces to define your personality and that of your significant other.

 

Expat Indians: Handling The Generation Gap | Expat Woman

The Best of Goa: Your Go-to Beach Guide

Whether you’re with your friends or with your family, there are innumerable activities to indulge in while visiting Goa. From savouring mouth-watering seafood to reliving Goa’s rich Portuguese history, the list is endless. No matter what you plan to do in this laid-back state, one thing you certainly can’t ignore are the beautiful beaches – Goa’s soul.

Palolem_Beach_India

The beaches of Goa are famous for lively parties and scrumptious food. But there’s more to these gorgeous stretches of sand. Ask the locals and they will list out many relatively unknown beaches where you will be able to escape the crowds and truly unwind. So, Goa is the ultimate destination for a holiday, no matter what you want to do—relax or party.

From trance parties to tranquility, the myriad beaches of Goa have something for everyone. Here’s a little insight into what to expect at some of the most popular beaches in Goa:

Calangute Beach

Want to enjoy a rejuvenating sunbathing session while lying on a comfortable lounger or indulge in exciting water sports? Head straight to one of the most visited beaches in Goa, Calangute Beach. Popularised by the hippies in the 60s, this beach is a mass favorite of international tourists.

Water sports available on the beach include jet skiing and parasailing. Sign-up for a banana boat ride, if you want to enjoy a water ride with your family. If you’re hungry after a fun bout of water sports, gorge on some fresh seafood at Aggie’s, one of the famous shacks on the beach.

Baga Beach

Adjacent to Calangute Beach, this beach is less crowded and more picturesque. The beach is named after the Baga Creek, which empties into the sea near the north end of the beach. From extreme water sports to fine food and wine, Baga Beach is popular for its attractive amenities.

Well known for its commercial nightlife, the beach is home to some of the best beach shacks in Goa such as Tito’s, Britto’s, and Cafe Mambo. If you are keen on having a beautiful underwater experience, you can also sign up for snorkelling and scuba diving here.

Palolem Beach

Where the beaches of North Goa are lively and filled with people, the southern beaches are more peaceful, untouched, and aesthetically pleasing. One such beach in South Goa is Palolem. Filled with scenic rocks, shady palm trees, and soft white sand, this stunning beach is a perfect place to enjoy a starry evening by a bonfire with your loved ones.

The beach is also popular for hosting silent noise parties, which don’t disturb the serenity of the beach. As the beach is getting busier with each passing year, it’s recommended that you explore Palolem’s beauty while it’s still unspoilt.

Arambol Beach

Surrounded by rocky cliffs on two sides, this 16 km long north-Goan beach is relatively unexplored and truly stunning. Arambol Beach is a traditional fisherman village, which has a Bohemian feel. The beach is a much-favoured spot for water sports like paragliding and kitesurfing.

The beach is popular among tourists for its attractive bays, one of which is the sweet water lake at Paliem. Fed by hot springs and sulphurous mud, the lake is quite a favourite with hippies who love mud baths. Known as one of the best beaches in Goa, Arambol also has a rich music scene and tons of shopping options.

Vagator Beach

Set amidst the cliffs with soft and white sand, Vagator Beach offers stellar sunset views. An ideal location to relax, it boasts of long stretches filled with coconut and palm trees. The nearby Chapora Fort is a popular spot for tourists and photographers, as it offers breathtaking views of the beautiful beach.

How Do I Get There?

Goa is very well connected to all the major cities across the nation. So getting there won’t be a problem. Goa has two major railway stations located in Thivim and Madgaon. The nearest international airport is situated in Dabolim, which is just 26 km away from the state’s capital, Panjim.

Where Should You Stay?

What’s better than choosing a place that adds to your holiday fun? Located close to the beaches of North Goa, Goa-Club Estadia, a Sterling Holidays Resort, offers guests luxurious and comfortable rooms, complete with all the modern amenities like a swimming pool, multi-cuisine restaurant, and lush green herbage.

This Spanish-style villa is certainly an extension of the Goan culture and one of the best resorts in North Goa. Check with the travel desk for local sightseeing tours and activities.

Image source: Palolem Beach India” by Martin Frey Martin Frey – Own work. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons

Expat Indians: Handling The Generation Gap | Expat Woman

10 Must Haves For Bachelorettes Moving To A New City

For every Indian Bachelorette, moving to a new city for work is almost a new beginning for life. Wherever you’re going though, there are certain essentials that you definitely need for your small abode.

For your convenience, we’ve put together the comprehensive checklist of things you’ll need when starting out on your own.

Mattress Matters

This should be a no-brainer, really. Home is where the heart is, and your bed is the home within your home. Invest in an appropriately sized bed, a comfy mattress, and pillows.

Bachelorettes

Don’t forget the bed sheets and pillow cases, with spare sets for both.

Toilet Brush – Keep That Bowl Shiny!

Bathroom

You’re bound to have guests over, and a spotless toilet bowl makes a bigger impression than you’d think! A dirty toilet bowl tells people you don’t care enough about cleanliness, so get a toilet brush and keep your bathroom shiny.

Cleaning Supplies

Use the right cleaning liquids and brushes and make sure everything stays clean and shiny.

Cleaning Supplies

A vacuum cleaner can be really helpful here.

Kitchen Appliances – Your Personal Assistants

Kitchen Appliances

Money spent on a domestic help can be saved when you have the right set of kitchen appliances, and there are many, namely, OTGs, Roti Makers, Vegetable Cutters, Peelers, etc. Pick from these according to your needs.

A Small But Handy Toolkit

kit-2160_640

Anybody that lives alone needs a basic toolkit, containing at least a hammer, a screwdriver, pliers, and a flashlight with extra batteries. You can add to this kit as required.

Pots, Pans Et Al

Pots Pans

No kitchen is complete without a basic set of pots and pans. You’ll also need plates and cutlery for dining purposes. Also keep paper plates and cups handy for parties.

Spruce It Up With Curtains

Curtains

The addition of curtains can bring a touch of class into any home— don’t miss out on the looks a curtain can afford you!

Personal Grooming

Toiletries

Have a proper supply of toiletries such as shower gel, liquid soap, toothpaste, moisturizer, scrub stones and so on— this will keep you healthy, and an added bonus is that you’ll smell really good!

Doormats

Doormats

These are handy in keeping dirt from shoes outside the house, and can be used outside toilets to keep them free from muddy footprints.

Washing machine

Unless you have a maid who wants to work for free, investing in a washing machine is a great idea. Modern machines can help you wash as well as dry your clothes.

Washing Machine

These are some of the most common things you’ll need when starting out in a new city; make sure you have these covered when you’re moving in!

Expat Indians: Handling The Generation Gap | Expat Woman

5 Things to Look at Before Buying a Good Pregnancy Test Kit Online

Imagine that you and your wife have been trying for years to have a child, then one day she starts to feel some telltale symptoms: nausea, sensitivity to certain smells and more. “This is it!” you say to yourself, “It’s morning sickness!”

You feel happy and elated at the prospect of finally having a child; however, you are still not certain whether or not she really is pregnant. You can set an appointment with a doctor in order to make sure but the cost of a hospital appointment just for a test seems slightly unreasonable.

Then you realize that you can simply buy a pregnancy test kit from online sellers like Big Chemist and immediately determine whether or not she is pregnant with a doctor’s accuracy.

The problem, though, is that you don’t know what to look for when it comes to getting the right kind of kit, as well as what condition your wife should be in before you actually get the test in the first place.

Here are a few key tips to keep in mind when it’s time to pick up a test.

1. Be Sure to Wait Before Testing

Before you choose a test for your wife, HealthXchange.com states that it is important that you first determine how many weeks it has been since her last period, as well as when you think she could have gotten pregnant.

Just because she feels slightly ill does not mean that she is pregnant. The necessary HCG hormones take time to really come out once a woman is pregnant and, as such, if you were to take the test immediately after she started feeling ill and vomited, it is likely that the results would come back as negative.

It is due to this that you must first look at the schedule of her periods and determine if a sufficient length of time has passed. Give it at least two weeks from the time you suspect she was pregnant to the time that you will start testing. This gives the HCG hormones enough time to truly get around the body and will enable the test to properly determine whether or not she is pregnant.

2. Kits Must Test for HCG Levels

HCG level tests, as explained by eMedicineHealth.com, are the means by which kits determine whether you are pregnant or not, and if the kit does not indicate in the labeling that it tests for this specific hormone then it is likely that you have bought a fake kit or one that does not dispense accurate tests.

However, before proceeding to buy any kit that has this indicator on it online, you will need to first check out the various reviews associated with that specific product. One of the reasons behind this is the potential for some kits to read a “false positive,” indicating pregnancy where there is none.

This sometimes depends on either the quality of the kit in question, but could also be indicative of a hormone shift that should be addressed by a doctor. In order to be sure about the type of kit that you will get, make a thorough examination of the various reviews it has received and determine whether the experiences of other people show that the kit is a good choice.

2. Are the Results Easy to Interpret?

SurgicalShop.com explains that one of the most frustrating things about some pregnancy kits is that interpreting the results can be a nightmare – not all kits follow the same standard. It is often two bold lines in the kit for a positive or a single bold line for a negative; however, here are some kits that have the opposite result.

While most kits are fairly accurate, it is recommended that you choose one that you believe has results that are easy to determine without having to do extensive research on the topic.

3. Examine the Price of Kits

The price of a pregnancy testing kit often ranges from Rs 50.00 to Rs 98.00, but there is no such thing as a “standardized” price when it comes to the sale of certain items. The price of items sold online is based on the discretion of the seller and, as such, it is very likely that some of them can be rather malicious when it comes to price gouging.

It is based on this practice that it is highly recommended you check out the different prices of sellers online. Also, do note that despite the numerous positive descriptions stating how good one kit is over the other, they all basically function in the same way.

5. Determine the Kit You Need

One of the best kits that you can purchase that has easy results to interpret are those that use either a happy face or a sad face when it comes to determining whether you are pregnant or not.

A smiling face indicates that you are pregnant while a sad face indicates that you are not. These are easy results to determine and, as such, helps to ease your mind that much faster when it comes to whether you are pregnant or not.

You really don’t need to pay more than you really have to for a pregnancy test kit, especially when taking into consideration the fact that you’re going to be throwing it away after you are done.

© Naaree.com

Expat Indians: Handling The Generation Gap | Expat Woman

How To Report Domestic Violence In India: Call These Helplines

Domestic violence is not just a problem of the lower and middle classes. It is very prevalent even among prominent people. For many it came as no surprise that Aam Aadmi Party MLA Somnath Bharti was involved in a case of domestic violence. The red flags were all there for those who know what to look for.

However, the signs of domestic violence (DV) are not always so obvious and a lot of women don’t report that they’re being abused. Even the woman’s own family is not always supportive at such times, because of the shame and guilt that surrounds such issues. Another concern that women face is how to prove domestic violence in India.

But, there is hope for women. On Sep 4, 2015, a Times of India news report stated that the Bombay high court set aside that part of a state government circular which prohibited counselling and mediation in domestic violence cases without a court order.

What this means is that domestic violence cases can now be resolved out of court, with the help of NGOs, counsellors and police, who will be allowed to counsel a woman “with regard to the course of action which she can take including joint counselling/mediation with her spouse/husband or her family members/in-laws.”

The guidelines further state that a violated woman must be informed about her right to choose her future course of action and that she must be guided with regard to her legal rights under the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act.

Naaree.com caught up with Barkha Bajaj, the Executive Director and Head counselor for Aks Foundation, which deals with domestic violence situations in Pune, to find out the options available to women suffering from domestic violence.

How severe is the problem of domestic violence in India?

It is quite severe – 80% of our calls are of domestic violence. Also, a lot of violence in India is not looked at as violence. As it is a patriarchy a lot of violence against women is expected and accepted.

What has been your experience with women who call in for help with domestic violence situations?

They need support more than anything else. There is a lot of self-blame, confusion, guilt and shame as they love their partners but are also fed up. A lot of them feel helpless and hopeless as they feel stuck in their situations.

How do the Aks Foundation and other organisations go about helping such women? What kind of support can women look to you for?

We provide 24/ 7 support through our crisis lines. Within Pune we also provide legal support and advocacy where our volunteers go with the survivors to the hospital or police station.

One line is dedicated for counseling services. We also liaise with other NGOs or look for lawyers in the city if the call is outside Pune.

What is your advice to women who are suffering from domestic violence and dowry demands? What is the first thing they should do when faced with such a situation?

If they want to leave, the law is strong and they should use legal channels. However, the first thing is to tell someone they can trust and get support. Don’t hide it and suffer alone.

How can women be aware of signs of controlling men and those prone to Domestic Violence? Can we take clues from how his parents treat one another?

Well there are red flags for eg:
– Extreme jealousy
– Isolating behaviors
– Controlling- who she sees, what she wears
– Intimidation and threats
– Emotional manipulation- making you feel guilty all the time

Power and control wheels are available online – which show you strategies used by perpetrators.

(You can download a printable copy of the power and control wheel here to help you understand what you’re going through)

Women often overlook red flags, thinking they can change the man once they are married to him. What would you like to tell such women?

We can only change ourselves and we cannot change someone else unless they want to change. Trying to rescue and change someone is a lost battle.

What change in mindset is required, for women and their families, to avoid getting into a situation involving domestic violence?

Education – gender sensitization, talking about gender in general and gender based violence. This should be part of all school curriculum.

What parting advice would you like to give young unmarried women in India?

Know the signs of power and control. Domestic Violence is about power and control so be aware. Also, if you feel in your gut it’s a bad decision – get counseling. Also, financial independence is important. 🙂

See our related post: Working Women Less Prone To Domestic Violence, Say Legal Experts

For women involved in a situation of Domestic Violence, please contact the helpline of the Aks Foundation in Pune below. They are available 24/7.

  • Domestic Violence Helpline In Pune

Aks Helpline Numbers: 8793088814 to talk to our volunteers anytime.

For legal advice, call: 8793088815

For psychological counselling, call: 8793088816.

The following organisations can be contacted in Delhi:

  • Women’s Organisations In Delhi

Sakshi Violence Intervention Center: (0124) 2562336/ 5018873

Shakti Shalini: 1091/ 1291 (011) 23317004

Shakti Shalini Women’s Shelter: (011) 24373736/ 24373737

SAARTHAK: (011) 26853846/ 26524061

All India Women’s Conference: 10921/ (011) 23389680

JAGORI: (011) 26692700

Joint Women’s Programme (also has branches in Bangalore, Kolkata, Chennai: (011) 24619821

  • DIAL 1298 Women Helpline in Mumbai

DIAL 1298 Women Helpline, a toll free women-dedicated service managed by Ziqitza Healthcare in Mumbai has successfully helped more than 38,000 women in distress through its network of 80 partner NGOs.

Launched in 2008 with the support of 10 NGOs, DIAL 1298 Women Helpline offers women across socio-economic strata legal, psychological, psychiatric, trauma, medical and other kinds of counseling through its associations with a variety of women oriented NGOs.

The Helpline addresses a wide range of complaints including dowry harassment, eve teasing, abuse, domestic violence, cyber crime, divorce and maintenance, sexual harassment at workplace, among others.

The helpline was initially launched with the support of 10 NGOs and now works closely with over 80 NGOs in and around Mumbai. DIAL 1298 Women Helpline is a referral helpline service. Any woman who needs help can DIAL 1298 and it will connect to Silver Innings Foundation.

The foundation will refer the caller to an NGO that will either address the issue at hand and provide counseling or negotiate with the family members to resolve the issue. In instances where the woman requires immediate assistance, then the call will be forwarded to 103 Police Helpline.

DIAL 1298 Women Helpline

If you work with a Domestic Violence Helpline in India, please post your contact information and comments below. We will add it to this post.