Monday, August 26, 2019
Champion of the day

PV Sindhu became the first Indian to win the gold medal at the badminton World Championships in Basel, Switzerland. She defeated Japan’s Nozomi Okuhara in straight sets—21-7, 21-7—in a final that lasted a mere 38 minutes. This photo of her winning moment totally gave us the feels. As did this wonderful clip of Sindhu tearing up as the Indian flag is raised to the tune of the national anthem. Bonus clip: An adorable video call between Sindhu and her proud mother right after her win. Sindhu dedicated her medal to her mother, noting it was mom’s birthday on Sunday.

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The biggest news story today, explained.

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The definition of 'normal' in Kashmir

The government blocked a delegation of Opposition leaders led by Rahul Gandhi from visiting Kashmir over the weekend. It sparked a new row over the lockdown in Kashmir.


The delegation: Twelve political leaders representing nine parties set out for Srinagar on Saturday to express solidarity with the people of Kashmir and “expedite the process of return to normalcy.’’ The most prominent among them were Congress MP Rahul Gandhi and CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechury. 


The airplane incident: The drama first kicked off on the flight to Srinagar when a distraught Kashmiri passenger confronted Gandhi in tears. “Our children have not been able to move out of their houses. My brother is a heart patient. He could not see the doctor for 10 days. We are in trouble,” she says in tears. (Watch the clip here)


A rocky landing: Once the delegation landed in Srinagar, the next battle took place between the J&K police and TV reporters. Aaj Tak’s Mausami Singh later filed an emotional report where she alleged that the police had physically assaulted journalists to prevent them from filming the delegation. (Watch the clip here. It starts with her confronting the cops and ends with her nearly in tears.)


Blocked and returned: The leaders were immediately escorted to a VIP lounge. On Yechury’s insistence, they were shown a written order barring them from leaving the airport. Gandhi argued, “[T]he government is saying that everything is OK here, everything is normal. So, if everything is normal, then why aren’t we allowed out?” The delegation was then sent back to Delhi within a few hours. (Gandhi later tweeted out clips of the interaction with the officials inside the lounge.)


The government’s response: Meanwhile in Delhi, Kashmir Governor Satya Pal Malik told reporters, “In all the crises that happened in Kashmir in the past, at least 50 people used to die in the first week itself. Our attitude is such that there should be no loss of human lives. 10 din telephone nahi honge, nahi honge, lekin hum bahut jaldi sab wapas kar denge” (if there are no phones for ten days, then so be it. But we will return everything to as it was very soon.) He also released a long list of government schemes that will soon be available for Kashmiris.


So are things normal? Of course not. Even the government isn’t pretending that a complete lockdown of the state is “normal.” It is instead making a two-pronged argument. One, the abnormal measures in place are necessary to minimise loss of lives—which is the argument used to explain everything from the detention of Kashmir’s leaders to the communication blackout. Two, the government has every intention (and a plan in place) to return Kashmir to normalcy—all of us, including the Kashmiris, just have to be patient.  


Will it work? Thus far, the security forces appear to be caught in an on again/off again pattern. The moment they ease restrictions, there are protests and incidents of stone-pelting—which in turn leads to a renewed clampdown. Moreover, other attempts to restore the appearance of normalcy haven’t worked. For example, when the government reopened schools, Kashmiris chose to keep their children home out of fear. 

The bottomline: The real question is whether Kashmiris will accept the ‘new normal’ established by the government—i.e. the revocation of Article 370 and downgrading of the state to a Union Territory. Most news reports indicate that they will not. 

Learn more: Here is more Kashmir-related reporting that is worth your time:

  • An IAS officer lauded for his work in the Kerala floods quit his job over the lockdown in Kashmir. His reasoning: The government may have every legal right to revoke Article 370, but as Indian citizens, Kashmiris have an equal right to protest the decision. The Telegraph has his interesting take.

  • Indian Express has a must-read report on the unenviable position of Kashmiri politicians who are now in custody. Seen as pro-India, they have lost the sympathy of their own people. Also: the article points to the sheer number of arrests with one police officer claiming that “anybody who is greeted by more than 10 people in a mohalla is a potential mob mobiliser” and is “thus seen as a threat.”

  • Also from Indian Express: This unusual story of a Vishwa Hindu Parishad member begging guards to let him meet his Kashmiri friend who is being held inside a guest house. 

  • Two sides of the communication lockdown: CRPF soldiers pleading for access to a phone to call home; Kashmiris travelling great distances to stand in long lines to make a single call to loved ones.

  • News18 reports on a deserted apple mandi in Sopore which tells a larger tale of financial devastation and despair in the Valley.

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watching PV Sindhu kickass in Basel

Mourning Arun Jaitley: The 66-year-old former Finance Minister and BJP stalwart passed away on Saturday after a long battle with cancer. There have been innumerable eulogies and profiles published since. We found these to be the most valuable:

  • The Quint profiles a man who was generous to a fault, loved to be loved, and remained deeply loyal to the PM—despite deeply disagreeing with him on many occasions.

  • Shekhar Gupta in The Print puts politics aside to pay tribute to a friend who remained undaunted by severe illness. 

  • On that same note, we loved this photo of Sonia Gandhi consoling the bereaved Jaitley family.

  • Unlike many run-of-the-mill photo galleries, this one includes excellent black & white photos of a young Arun Jaitley.

  • Of the many tributes to Jaitley, this tweet of Times Now anchor Navika Kumar was the most clueless and accidentally revealing. 


The first crime committed in space: may involve a woman astronaut who illegally accessed the bank account of her estranged wife while she was at the International Space Station. Anne McClain had been set to make history by participating in the first all-woman spacewalk, but may now set a different kind of record entirely. (BBC)


Hong Kong protests turned violent again: over the weekend. Police used tear gas and batons against protesters who responded with stones, bottles and bamboo poles. Also under attack: the city’s ‘smart’ lampposts which were installed to collect data on weather, air quality and traffic. The protesters began sawing them down—fearing they will be used as surveillance tools to track and punish protesters. Watch the clip here.


A thriller Down Under: All out for an embarrassing 67 runs in their first innings, England staged a remarkable comeback to tie the Ashes test series against Australia. The hero of the day: Ben Stokes whose 10th wicket partnership with Jack Leach finally won the day—thanks mainly to brilliant sixes like this memorable reverse sweep. Adding to the drama: This LBW decision in favour of Stokes. Meanwhile in Antigua: India comfortably beat West Indies by 318 runs in the first test match of the series.


The case against Chidambaram: The Enforcement Directorate has leaked details of the case it plans to present to the Supreme Court—which is set to hear his plea for anticipatory bail today. Key bits of evidence: bank accounts and properties stretching from Argentina to Greece and Sri Lanka. Also: the role of two key co-conspirators who negotiated the deals, and accepted money on his behalf. (Indian Express)


Sacred Games ending explained: Season 2 writer Varun Grover offers two alternative explanations for the series’ ambiguous final scene. Neither is satisfying, but then neither was the ending. As is obvi, serious spoilers ahead. (Huffington Post)


Weekend reads you may have missed: include the following:

  • Two interesting takes on the 'Zomato vs restaurants' row: The Telegraph takes aim at the Indian consumer’s obsession with discounts over quality; Founding Fuel explains why Zomato Gold is a ‘bargain hunter’ program designed to help Zomato’s bottomline and screw over its restaurant partners. 

  • Mint has a delicious read on an attempted kidnapping and murder on Malabar Hill back in 1925—which brought down the Maharaj of Indore.

  • Everyone’s talking about this Guardian essay that explains why social media is as addictive as gambling or drugs

  • Rolling Stone looks at some men’s obsession with their sperm—as manifested in their desire to impregnate as many women as possible.

  • Washington Post on why the dog is one of the world’s most destructive animals—and how the forest fires in the Amazon prove it.

  • Huffington Post takes a closer look at ‘parlour didis’—overworked and underpaid beauty salon workers who have become social media’s latest punching bag.

  • The Print has an excellent and witty excerpt from William Dalrymple’s latest book on the East India Company. This one is about a mercurial, beer-obsessed Jahangir and the hapless attempts made by Englishmen to woo him.


Your daily quota of sunshine items: includes the following:

  • This guaranteed-to-cheer clip of 70-plus-year-old ladies dancing at their school reunion in Mangalore.

  • Remember the woman who went viral for singing a Lata Mangeshkar song at a railway station in Kolkata? Well, she has a recording contract for an upcoming Bollywood film. And she sounds just as phenomenal in a studio. Watch it here.

  • This inexplicably cute reminder that everyone likes their belly rubbed… including this little bat!

  • This hilarious representation of the government's attempts to revive the economy. It involves a doomed car. 

  • This story on the newly discovered scientific formula for the world’s funniest fart. Yes, you read that right.

  • This cooking show video for what may be the world’s worst recipe. Really, you keep watching to see if it can get any worse… and then it does.

  • The world’s best dog will tuck its owner into bed. OMG, we are in love and insanely jealous.

  • This badass millipede. Yup, that’s what it is. 

  • Finally, Bangalore’s first robot-manned restaurant. Yes, there is a video.

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The best place for the best advice

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How to clean your smelly gym clothes

Men sweat and women glow… umm, we don’t think so. All humans work up a serious sweat, especially when we exercise—be it at the gym or when we are out on a run. And sweat makes us and our clothes smell not-so-nice. It’s especially true of moisture-wicking performance fabrics, which do an amazing job of keeping you dry, but have extra nooks and crannies that hold on to dirt and odors. Here’s a step-by-step guide to keeping your athletic wear clean and stink-free. 


Take it all off: Honestly, most of us spend way too much time hanging out in our workout gear after we get home. Don’t allow that call or WhatsApp message to distract you. Take it all off the moment you are done—be it at the gym or at home. 


Hang it up: If your sweaty leggings and top aren’t going to be washed asap, throw them on a hanger. They are less likely to breed bacteria and mold—which remain trapped in the fabric even after a wash. And you really don’t want them lying in a pile in the laundry hamper alongside the rest of your clothes.


Throw ‘em in the fridge: Now, this is an emergency measure for when you are travelling—say, on work and staying at a hotel. You definitely don’t want to shove those nasty-smelling clothes into the suitcase and take them home. A better solution: Throw them in a plastic bag and put them overnight in the hotel room fridge. The cold air will help reduce the odour and they will at least be travel-friendly by morning.


Time to soak: Take one part vinegar and four parts water and soak your exercise wear for about 15-30 minutes right before you wash them. If you don’t plan to wash them for a while, use this trick to ‘sanitise’ them, then rinse in cold water and hang to dry. This way, they will remain bacteria- and smell-free until laundry day.


Time to wash: Here are the basic rules of washing athletic wear: 

  • Do not overdo the detergent. No, extra sabun does not make these dirty clothes extra clean. In fact, extra detergent leads to build up of soap residue which ‘locks’ the nasty smells into the fabric. So less is more!

  • Stay away from fabric softener. The reason: see above. Also: it doesn’t play well with stretchy fabrics like lycra or spandex. 

  • Wash them inside out… because, hello, they are the dirtiest and smelliest on the inside.

  • Cotton can endure hot water, but that is not true for any kind of artificial fabric (which is what most high end athletic wear is made of these days). Opt for cold water and a gentle cycle on your washing machine, or else hand wash, if possible. 

  • Add a laundry booster like a cup of vinegar or baking soda if they are extra smelly.

  • Do not wash your workout clothes with fleece or heavy clothing items like sweatshirts, or towels. They will transfer lint to stretchy workout fabrics, which in turn makes them harder to clean.


Time to dry: Happily, most of us do not use dryers. But if you do, please don’t throw your gym clothes in one. The heat helps to trap smells into the fabric. When it comes to sweaty clothes, good old-fashioned air-drying is best.

Learn more: There’s not much more to this. But you may want to check our previous guide to getting rid of icky stains.

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