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How Japanese forest therapy transformed Mumbai's green cover

A canopy of kanchan, karanj, neem, jamun and palash trees casting a 20-feet high shade on the Central Railside Warehouse is barely reminiscent of the cement bags, construction debris and toxic air particles that once defined this corner of a massive cement storage facility in Jogeshwari until even a year ago. Hemmed in by concrete chaos and smoke-belching motor vehicles zooming past its busy roads, the dusty wasteland is now a foliage-rich micro forest.

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.

Vaccine FOMO makes India’s seniors give it their best shot

Country legend Dolly Parton who recently broke into a version of Jolene that went — ‘Vaccine, vaccine , vaccine, vaccine/ I’m begging of you please don’t hesitate/ Because once you’re dead, then that’s a bit too late’ — would be proud of her contemporaries in India. Contrary to the stereotypes of elderly people — wary, slow-of-gait and particularly vulnerable to misinformation about the vaccine — what emerged was a reverse of the depressing story one might have expected.

Religion meets feminism with women qazis and pandits defying male-only tradition

The name Sheela Atta made headlines last month after a Bollywood actor invited the veteran woman purohit from south India to officiate at her wedding ceremony. Women breaking into the male bastion of priesthood and challenging patriarchy aren’t new, but a wider acceptance is. With more young adults swapping sexist rituals with forward-thinking options, an increasing number of people are actively seeking out women priests as they are known to display “a higher degree of emotional intelligence”.

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.

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.

'Adopt' a museum artefact, save history this festive season

Know someone who would like a sixth century ‘ Head of a Damsel ’ for Christmas? Or maybe a 400-year-old silk thangka painting of Chundhaa, goddess and protector from epidemics and diseases? Instead of the predictable exchange of presents this festive season, these endangered objects can make for a gift that can keep on giving with the CSMVS allowing people to adopt centuries-old artefacts as a way to mitigate pandemic-induced losses and care for precious pieces from the past.

Tackling the new homeschool challenge of kids playing hooky

Remember the time when playing hooky in school meant making excuses to go to the toilet or to drink water and cheating was all about peeking into the neighbour’s answer sheet, writing precious information on thighs or carrying scribbled notes inside the pencil box? The homeschooling era has curiously ushered in a new truant landscape with students using their imagination and—inadvisable but ingenious—digital hacks to steal a march on their virtual invigilators.

Digital makeover turns back time on Ajanta’s 5th century murals

The idea of digital technology to resurrect a 5th century painting might seem a bit odd at first but the creative effects of such anachronism can occasionally be startling. Twenty nine years after photographer and art historian Benoy Behl stepped into the dark recesses of the Ajanta and revealed its cave paintings as it had never been revealed before, the 65-year-old has managed to digitally repair the ravages of time, blunders of less competent restorers and damages inflicted by the occasional visitor — to arrive at what they looked like 1500 years ago.

Keema is losing the mutton, and bhurji its anda

Guess the meal these ingredients make when you blend wheat, rice, gram and quinoa flour; throw in beetroot powder and some pea protein; a dash of garlic, onion, salt and dhania; a smattering of binders; and then toss the mix into a hot kadai? A bowl of what its creators call the “unmutton curry”. One part plant, one part tech-engineered meat and one part activism—this jigsaw aimed at making it easier for meateaters to embrace a world-saving movement—comes in the shape of a kebab, omelette and sausage.

Hush-hush parties keep neighbours on toes

Nightclubs may still be waiting to unbolt and watering holes running dry, but that doesn’t mean the city is staying home. Despite the grim rise in cases everyday, Mumbai’s party loving folks have chosen to return to their pre-pandemic ways, ditching safety guidelines and socialising at house parties or at beaches and parks — sometimes openly or in secret, despite the risks and the backlash. Earlier this month, at a hush-hush party organised quietly behind downed-shutters of a plush restaurant
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