Mohua Das

Assistant Editor at The Times of India, Mumbai | Formerly with The Telegraph, Calcutta 

Couldn’t believe what the newspapers said and so I became a journalist! It's been 15 years since and what a life-coach it's been as I wake up to it’s power and value, every morning. A good story isn't always about the president or popstar but everyday people and places with compelling tales. Those are the stories I hope to tell... and find the extraordinary in the ordinary!

Netas go on pre-poll ribbon cutting spree at jab centres

Wielding a pair of scissors, an MP from the city is in the middle of a weeklong jaunt across vaccine centres. One morning at Kurla, the next day in Vile Parle and the day after, in Chandivali congratulating the “corporator & all party karyakartas working hard to help people.” All the while, trailed by an army of aides, a photographer to capture the moments and an audience of vaccine aspirants queued up. There will be relief. But first, let there be a ribbon to cut.

Covid leaving kids orphaned, but viral adoption pleas are illegal

In the midst of cries for oxygen and emergency drugs on social media, a desperate appeal that stopped people in their thumb scrolling tracks a fortnight ago was a message urging families to adopt two girls—one aged three days and another six months—with the claim that they had lost their parents to Covid. “Please help these kids get a new life, spread the word,” urged the post that quickly went viral.

India’s first openly gay actor to win a national award on his journey from insults to stardom

The voice on the other end is rapturous. Not without reason. Benjamin Daimary ’s afternoon nap had been just interrupted by a phone call telling him that his role in the Assamese film Jonaki Porua (Fireflies) had won him the jury’s special mention at this year’s National Awards for acting. “I was like, ‘What! Me? Why me?’ when Prakash-da ( Prakash Deka , director of Jonaki Porua) called. So I googled to confirm,” he says, all dressed up for his interview.

In Bollywood, women get screen time but very little talk time

The year 2020 wrapped up what you might call a good decade for women in Bollywood with many steely, witty, sharp, cute, fun and badass female characters in leading roles. It felt like the narrative was changing, and women had become more than accessories. However, research tracking speaking parts in the world’s biggest movie-making industry reveals that in the biggest pan-national box-office hits from the past five years — on an average, “women have less than a third of the dialogue". In other words, men significantly out-talk the women.

Covid funding hits other causes hard, NGOs struggle for funds

For a sector that relies heavily on public generosity to survive, the pandemic has dished out a double blow to nonprofits as donors — both individuals and corporates — diverted their funds to Covid relief and the PM Cares fund. And then came the Foreign Contribution Regulation Amendment (FCRA) bill in September that imposed stiff conditions on bigger organisations and stopped their transfer of funds to smaller ones.

How these folks turned a job loss in pandemic into a new start

And just like that one morning in July, he was dismissed. Sandeep Sinha, a senior procurement manager at a real estate firm in Gurgaon, says he had anticipated it — “It was critical for the survival of their business and not personal.” However, in one instant, it also became apparent that the 36-year-old with degrees in mechanical engineering and business management and an experience of 11 years had joined tens of thousands of skilled professionals — from engineers and chefs to pilots and journalists.

Century-old Marathi-Hebrew kirtans get revived in Mumbai

At sundown this Thursday, if synagogues in the city are allowed its two-day celebrations for Purim — a festival commemorating the salvation of Jews in the Persian Empire — apart from time-honoured rituals of children and adventurous adults screaming and stomping their feet to scare away the evil Haman during readings from the ‘Megillah’, the congregation will witness a slice of Marathi Jewish history brought alive through ancient sounds of Bene Israel kirtans.

Vaccine envy among major harmless side-effects on families of medicos post jab

Eighteen-year-old Nitant Pandya , the youngest in his family and usually the more pampered of them all, suddenly found himself navigating a new normal — of not getting his share — when the gift of life arrived for the rest of his family brimming with healthcare workers, Nitant was “happy” for them. Yet, the newly disenfranchised teenager couldn’t help but feel a twinge of jealousy.

This unique collection of foreign posters tells the global story of Indian cinema

It seems, time travel to an alternate universe may in fact be possible. Only that the time machine isn’t a spinning wheel that disappears in a puff of smoke but comes in the shape of Indian film posters where a Govinda potboiler Gareebon ka Dost inhabits the world of Russian avant-garde, Raj Kapoor’s Jagte Raho finds expression in East German reductive art and Raju Ban Gaya Gentleman is a Japanese manga artist’s muse.

Bees halt hungry elephants eyeing crops, cut human-animal conflict

After several failed attempts, Dhanesh Parashar, a 36-year-old cashew farmer from Dodamarg in the Sindhudurg district has finally found a new ally in his struggle to keep free-ranging elephants from chomping down on his crop: honey bees. Yes, elephants — the largest animal on land — are afraid of bees. So intensely that the tiny insect is helping farmers shoo away marauding elephants that could wipe out a year's harvest in one night.

Designer’s coming out as a woman magnifies transgender visibility

While she’s still trying to get the hang of walking in six-inch stilettos or adjusting her bodice, Swapnil Shinde, reborn at age 39 as Saisha Shinde, appears ready to upstage all the fashionistas that she has been dressing for the past two decades. Transgender visibility in the country reached new heights after the fashion designer came out to the world with a new name and a new face as a transwoman, becoming one of the first to break grounds with her trans identity in India’s pop culture sphere.
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