Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Acronym of the day

Amazon’s P2P service is here! The company launched person-to-person (P2P) payments via Amazon Pay for Android users in India. You can now make instant bank-to-bank payments through the UPI platform on the Amazon app—and pay local stores or Amazon delivery workers at your doorstep. Add in all the other P2P services—Paytm, Google Pay and PhonePe—and it’s terrible news for your bank account.

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The biggest news story today, explained.

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Crossing the midway mark in a very long election

No single big story came out of yesterday’s events—at least none that would require an explainer. But the fourth phase of polling did make a lot of news. Here’s a quick roundup of the most significant headlines.


Mumbai’s amazing turnout: Each time the city votes, the entire country has to endure an endless parade of celebs giving us the ink-stained finger. But it was totally worth it this year. Smacking down claims that its ‘selfish’ residents would opt for a long weekend, turnout hit a 30-year high at 55.1%—that’s the highest since 1989! Go Mumbai! Though to put it in perspective, the turnout in Bengal was a whopping 76.4% yesterday.


The other gift from Bengal: The funniest netaji sound byte of election 2019. Babul Supriyo, the BJP candidate from Asansol, Bengal, had a very eventful morning. He stormed the polling booth in his constituency, fought with electoral officers over allegations of booth capturing, and had his car windshield smashed by angry Trinamool workers. His rival, Moon Moon Sen, however, had far more pressing problems: “All I know is that they gave me my bed tea very late, and so I woke up very late.” This series of unfortunate events were compounded by an untimely encounter with a reporter. You must watch the clip yourself. No adjectives can do it justice. (Meanwhile, Supriyo has been accused by the Election Commission of intimidating voters.)


A case against Modi’s rhetoric? In a well-timed rally held in Bengal, he declared: “Didi, apki zameen khisak chuki hay. Dekh lena, May 23 ke baad charo taraf kamal khilega. Tab apkey bhai apko chhorkar bhag jayengey, dekh lena…. Aaj bhi, Didi, tumharey chalis vidhayak merey sampark mein hain” (Didi, the ground is slipping beneath you. Mark my words, the lotus will bloom in every direction after May 23. Your brothers will desert you…. Even today, Didi, 40 of your MLAs are in touch with me). No doubt, Congress will be adding that open call for horse-trading to their long list of grievances. The party filed a plea with the Supreme Court claiming that the Election Commission has not reviewed or acted on any of its complaints against Modi or Amit Shah.


EC springs to life: The commission has hastily taken action, promising to review the complaints in a meeting today—including the BJP complaint against Rahul Gandhi for using the phrase ‘chowkidar chor hai’. The likely reason: the Supreme Court agreed to hear the Congress plea. (Indian Express has the details)


Move over Priyanka, here comes Tej Bahadur: After great speculation, the Gandhi sibling decided not to go head-to-head with Modi in Varanasi—and was accused of lacking courage by many. Well, there is no mistaking the chutzpah of a former BSF constable who has decided to take on a Prime Minister as the Samajwadi Party candidate. Tej Behadur made headlines when he uploaded a video complaining about the poor quality of food served to the jawans—alleging corruption among senior officers. He was later dismissed on charges of indiscipline.  


Jab Shyam Rangeela met Viklap Mehta: the two comedians decided to spoof Akshay Kumar’s interview with PM Modi. It’s gone viral and is pretty funny, but not ROFL funny. (YouTube)

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contemplating your sad ‘bed tea’-deprived existence

Your Sri Lanka terror update is here: There are two big stories today.

  • The Easter Attacks mastermind Zaharan Hashim’s phone records reveal that he called over a dozen men from Tamil Nadu and Kerala—who are now being tracked by intelligence agencies. Also: he may have spent three months in India last year.

  • The secretive leader of the Islamic State group, Abu Bakr al-Baghdad, released a video referencing the SL bombings which he said “pleased the hearts of Muslims.” He described it as “part of the revenge that awaits the Crusaders and their followers.” It was his first public appearance in five years.


Also, Sri Lanka has banned ‘face coverings’ worn in public: President Sirisena has issued an order outlawing any garment which "hinders identification" for security purposes. Muslim groups are irate, but not because the veil itself was banned. Hilmy Ahmed, vice-president of the Sri Lanka Muslim Council, explained, "It is the stupidest thing to do. Three days ago we [the Muslim community] took a voluntary decision regarding this. The All Ceylon Jamiyyathul Ulema told all Muslim women not to wear face veils for security reasons. If they wanted to wear a veil, then they were told not to come out." (BBC)


ONGC is coming for your wildlife: Oil and Natural Gas Corporation now has government clearance to start drilling for natural gas in the Tripura Wildlife Sanctuary, best known for its gaur (bison). But don’t worry: The company is donating two electric buses worth Rs 24 lakh to ferry tourists to the Sepahijala Wildlife Sanctuary near Agartala. See? Now we can happily marvel at the wildlife in one sanctuary while remaining blissfully unaware of the destruction of another. (Times of India)


Your Game of Thrones list is here: And it doesn’t contain any spoilers. You can now create your own GOTV death pool thanks to Quartz. Also: If you haven’t seen the latest episode as yet, just be warned it is very, very dark… er, literally so. Also, Indian parents rejoice. You were way ahead of the game when you named your kid Arya. Americans are just catching up—it is the most popular GOTV name.


Counting votes can kill you: especially if you’re doing it in Indonesia where 150 million people voted in the recent national election, all on the same day! To make it more challenging, each person had the option of punching five ballot papers—which brings the total up to 750 million possible ballots that need to be counted by hand. The result: 300 poll workers have died, and 272 have collapsed from fatigue-related illness. Wait, it gets worse. The main opposition leader is alleging voter fraud, which would trigger a recount. (Quartz)


For Mark Zuckerberg, love is…: Building a glowing alarm clock for his wife, Priscilla. It’s called a ‘sleep box’ and it emits a dim light between 6 and 7 am—when it’s time to check on their two young kids in the morning. We love to mock the Zuck, but this is a neat and simple idea. Many anxious mothers with young kids check on the time through the night—which in turn interrupts their sleep. This way, mom can just open her eyes and go right back to sleep if the box isn’t glowing. But we can’t help but note… Daddy Mark appears to have zero problem getting his zzzs.  (CNet)


Orange is the new royal black: Whole Foods, an upmarket grocery chain in the US, will commemorate the birth of Harry and Meghan’s soon-to-be child with a “vibrant orange” cheddar cheese called “Royal Addition.” However, Bollywood is way, way ahead of them… thanks to a hunk of “vibrant orange” beefcake called Ranveer.


Is it time for a Jane Bond? The reigning 007 Daniel Craig certainly thinks so. But Bond series producer Barbara Broccoli is unconvinced: “Bond is male. He's a male character. He was written as a male and I think he'll probably stay as a male. And that's fine. We don't have to turn male characters into women. Let's just create more female characters and make the story fit those female characters.” (Daily Mail)


Speaking of trained spies: Norwegians claim that the Russian Navy is training beluga ‘spy whales’ to harass fishing fleets. A Russian colonel’s response: Please, that beluga’s no spy! Why? "We have military dolphins for combat roles." Well, who can argue with that. Also: just look at the video. This maybe the most goofiest secret agent since Austin Powers. (BBC)


Sports Illustrated makes burkini history: Somali-American model Halima Aden posed for the magazine wearing a hijab and burkini, a first for its swimsuit edition—best known for featuring hot babes in miniscule bikinis. The message: "[W]hether you are wearing one-piece, a two-piece, or a burkini, you are the pilot of your own beauty." (CBS News)


Questions for animal lovers: are as follows:

The Bumble Bizz campaign is nearing its end: There are just two days left to nominate either yourself or another woman who has been an inspiring game-changer—be it in business, government, medicine, or some other field. Bumble—the social networking platform by women, for everyone—will showcase them as part of their campaign starring real women on Bumble. So, hurry, download Bumble in the App Store or on Google Play or go to Bumble Bizz to apply or nominate! (Note: This is sponsored content from a trusted brand partner)

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Unexpected, thought-provoking and always worth your time

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The 'History of Indian Food' Edition

The history of our cuisine is ancient, diverse, and filled with surprises. One author is astonished to discover how little has changed over so many centuries. The other uncovers a lost strand of our culinary heritage which sprang to brief life on very distant shores.

The food of ‘half and halves’

Between the late 1800s and 1917, Punjabi men arrived in California to farm its lands. Strict immigration laws had an unintended effect: marriages between the men and Mexican women. And that union produced its own community of ‘half and halves’ and a very unique cuisine. Both have all but disappeared. This fascinating long read retraces their history.

Read: California’s Lost (and Found) Punjabi-Mexican Cuisine | Eater

Sex, Love etc 2

A 1000-year old Indian cuisine

What did Indian food taste like without tomatoes, potatoes, maida or chilis—all recent imports from faraway lands? Vir Sanghvi finds some answers when he sits down to a meal prepared by Shri Bala who recreates dishes featured in the Sangam Literature of South India. A helping of Kootan Soru anyone?  

Read: Historical food | Hindustan Times

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