Thursday, February 13, 2020

Video of the day

A day ahead of the trailer release for Angrezi Medium, Irrfan Khan released a heartwarming and keeping-it-real video about his struggle with cancer. “When life gives you lemons, you make lemonade. Sounds good… but when you get a handful of lemons it isn’t that easy to squeeze them. And we always have the choice to stay positive. In situations like these, it’s up to us to make lemonade.” Point to note: Irrfan has been diagnosed with neuroendocrine tumour, and is receiving treatment in London.

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The biggest news story today, explained.

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The loss of Wendell Rodricks

One of India’s best-known fashion designers passed away in his home at the age of 59. We offer a brief profile of Rodricks and why his death is an immense loss to both the fashion industry and gay community.


A brief background: Born and raised in Mumbai, Rodricks belonged to a Goan Catholic family. And he first graduated with a degree in catering, and then took a job at the Royal Oman Police (ROP) Officers Club in Muscat. He belonged to a pioneering generation of Indian designers who entered the field at a time when there was no such thing as a Indian fashion industry. Of his decision, he once said: “My parents were aghast at the prospect and my mum said: ‘I can see your board outside – Rodricks and Sons, Tailors and Outfitters.’” 


His fashion legacy: In a culture that adores OTT bling (hello, Rohit Bal), Rodricks was a devotee to minimalism—which posed a severe uphill battle in the early days. He told WWD: “After I showed my third season I said that if it doesn’t work I will go back to Paris. But it worked, it clicked. Then after moving to Goa in 1993, the first collection I sent from Goa was such a big hit because it was eco-friendly, it had minimalism, and it had resort. I gave those things to India before the words were coined. I was always battling the customers who always asked for embroidery.” For more see:

  • The Moda Goa Museum & Research Centre—the first Indian museum dedicated to costume design. Rodricks donated his personal home in order to set it up. Here is a gorgeous photo gallery of some of its artefacts. 
  • This photo gallery of his designs. Also a good example of his signature style: the sari gown here.


Also important: He was also a passionate advocate of body positivity—which was reflected in his designs—in an industry notorious for body shaming. He once told Indian Express: “I believe that fashion should be democratic. It cannot be only for the rich or the super slim. In my store, I have deliberately kept this system — women there are not called large or extra-large — they are voluptuous and voluptuous goddesses.” 


Our favourite Rodricks’s fashion quote: “I don’t care if Indian fashion goes global. Indian fashion is in a good space. We have a population of a billion and more to service. Why should we go out to prove that we can go out and remake a jacket that the West wants to remake every season?”


The mistakes: Of course, Rodricks was not immune to the occasional misstep. Most recently, he took a crack at Priyanka Chopra’s barely there Grammy gown: “@priyankachopra nailed it at the Grammys 2020. Truly the bold and beautiful in this @ralphandrusso couture fringed gown where the neckline goes all the way from LA to Cuba.” Fiercely criticised for his remarks, Rodricks maintained: “It was more dress shaming than body shaming.”


Open and courageously gay: Rodricks was open about his sexuality at a time when it carried immense consequences even within the industry. He once told the Hindu: “Either you are truthful about yourself or you become a hypocrite in society. There is no point in marrying a girl and destroying her life by producing one child. I am very firm about it. The State has no right to peep into my bedroom.” And despite his pro-gay rights stance, he was awarded the Padma Shri in 2014—at a time when the Supreme Court had criminalised homosexuality. Notably, at the time, the vice president of the Goa BJP said: “Gay or not, it should not affect your getting the award. Personally he has never told me that he is gay. But maybe it will give legitimacy (to the movement to legalise homosexuality).”

A lifelong love: Rodricks met his partner Jerome Marrel in Oman as a young man, and married him in a civil ceremony in Paris in 2002. His biography ‘The Green Room’ says of the event: “The actual signing of the Pacte Civil de Solidarie was a sober affair, with the hurt of a family rejection of their formal union in their hearts. No one from Wendell's family, who lived in the same city, came for the celebratory Christmas lunch that year, and Jerome and Wendell “went to bed that night fighting back tears," while the" forty kilos of pork lay cooling on the buffet table.” Feeling," dirty, drained, defeated." It would take a long time to make up with the family.”

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dreading the tsunami of Trump coverage looming ahead

Your viral outbreak update is here: Here’s the latest on the coronavirus that is spreading around the world:

  • Singapore is suffering a severe condom shortage. The reason: Singaporeans are using ‘protection’ when touching the elevator buttons in their apartments! Yes, there are photos.
  • A British man managed to pass on the coronavirus to at least 11 others without setting foot in China. He caught the virus during a conference in Singapore in January and then passed it onto others while on holiday in the French Alps.
  • Bad news for men: They made up 68% of the early cases detected in Wuhan—a number that has since come down to 54.3%. Other commonalities across patients: chronic conditions like high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease and cancer. 
  • “If we can't contain the virus, it could infect 60% of the world’s population and kill 1 in 100 of those infected- that is around 50 million people,” says a leading expert. Is that really true? New Scientist looks for answers.


‘Kem Chho’ Trump: The government is readying to put on a show to rival the ‘Howdy Modi’ event in the US. ‘Kem Chho Trump’ will be held in the newly- constructed Sardar Patel Stadium which has a seating capacity of 1.10 lakh—and is the biggest cricket stadium in the world. See photos of the massive makeover underway.Trump bahut khush hua, and said: “He (PM Modi) said we will have millions and millions of people… There will be five to seven million people just from the airport to the new stadium (in Ahmedabad).” Also making both sides happy: India has already finalised two mega defence deals worth $3.5 billion with the US for 30 heavy-duty armed helicopters.


Delhi election update: The best outcome: A new ‘happy Hanuman’ is replacing the popular angry version of the monkey god—the orange one that glares at you from the back of autos and cars. Also popular: Chhota Kejriwal, a one-year-old ‘twin’ of the CM. Very unpopular: Congress leader in charge of Delhi, PC Chacko, has resigned—just rewards for the party’s second political duck in a row and taking aim at Sheila Dixit: “The downfall of the Congress party started in 2013 when Sheilaji was the CM. The emergence of a new party AAP took away the entire Congress vote bank. We could never get it back. It still remains with AAP.”


The first US primary: New Hampshire comes second to Iowa, but it is also the first proper election—i.e. where people do sane things like vote in voting booths (unlike wacky Iowa’s disastrous caucus). The outcome: Old curmudgeons rule. Bernie Sanders won, Pete Buttigieg came second, followed by Amy Klobuchar. Rapidly sinking in fortunes: Everyone’s fave women candidate, Elizabeth Warren. Already out: The only non-white candidate remaining, Pete Yang. (The Guardian)

Mehengayi continues unchecked: Retail inflation soared to 7.59% in January—the highest since May 2014. The reason:  spiralling dal and sabzi prices. Also: factory output shrank again by 0.3% in December. (The Telegraph)


How bad is harassment in India: One stalking case was reported every 55 minutes in 2018. The total number of cases: 9,438—almost double of the 4,699 reported in 2014. India Spend offers a deep dive into this scary phenomenon.


Assam’s shocking NRC disaster: After years of delay, the national register of citizens—which determines who gets to stay, and who is thrown in a detention centre as a foreigner—was published in August in Assam. Now it has vanished into thin air from the NRC website. The Home Ministry insists that the data is safe and cited "some technical issue in visibility on cloud". But  according to Wipro—which provides cloud storage for the NRC list, this is the real problem: The government has failed to renew its tech contract.   


Dope can create false memories: A new study has found that people who take just one hit of weed double their number of false memories: "While science isn't completely sure why, researchers suspect that cannabis activates receptors in the hippocampus, the memory center of the brain, possibly producing "fragmentation of thought, loosening of associations and heightened distractibility." (CNN)


The ‘desi khana’ Pop Up: We have a delightful curation of hot and smart takes on our fave foods and ingredients.


  • Quartz’s Sriram Iyer has a must-read rant on “creepy coriander”—the green, flaky, wannabe-marijuana”—that is invading all Indian food.
  • Next up, Sandip Roy in Times of India on the always-controversial and dearly beloved biryani—which has now become a political flashpoint.
  • Bonus biryani treat: Nilanjana Roy’s excellent thread that curates the best biryani reads, all in one place.
  • Related news: biryani sales are shooting up after Arvind Kejriwal’s victory in Delhi.


Things that make you go WTF: include the following:


  • Ola is gearing for its big launch in London, but is doing a massive ad campaign in India
  • Rs 1.62 crore a day. That’s the cost of PM Modi's SPG security cover. 
  • Indian customs recovered Rs 45 lakh hidden amidst bags of peanuts and biscuits from a passenger at Delhi Airport. 
  • First rampant wildfires ravaged large parts of Australia. But now torrential rains are raising the threat of massive mudslides. Can you ever have too much of a bad thing?


Cool stuff we learned on the internet: includes the following:


  • The Guardian on a hugely popular Pakistani serial about a cheating wife and her rich lover has sparked a lawsuit accusing it of gross misogyny. 
  • Wirecutter offers a deep dive on the flood of fake products and spurious brands on Amazon.
  • Business Insider’s video explains why pink Himalayan salt is so expensive.


Your daily quota of sunshine items: includes the following:


  • The hilarious location names on a tiny island called Tristan da Cunha—one of the most isolated places in the world. 
  • Meet Siba the poodle who won the Westminster Dog Show. Bonus: a photo gallery of all the wonderful pooches at the show. 
  • This gorgeous array of winning images that scored the people’s choice awards for Wildlife photographer of the year. 
  • The first documented photo of the adorable Ili pika (Ochotona iliensis) which is a critically endangered rabbit-like species. So insanely adorable. 
  • This video of a woman who made an impressive cheese board 30,000 Feet in the air—sitting in the middle seat! 
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