One of the great things about festivals are the ads! This one from to mark Ramzan is incredibly sweet and tender—more so in a pandemic year that has brought such isolation.
THE GREAT PANDEMIC: A QUICK UPDATE * On April 14, India added and 1,037 deaths. Maharashtra accounted for 33% of the new cases as well as the highest number of deaths. It took the US 21 days to jump from 100,000 to 200,000 daily cases. It took us . * We also administered 3,139,063 vaccines yesterday. But a new government task force says we’ve of our monthly target of 150 million doses by nearly 50% * The 10th class CBSE board exams have , and the 12th class ones have been postponed—and will be held at a date to be decided later. But as reports, a lot of people are still unhappy. * Delhi is going from bad to worse, reporting —and it is dealing with a severe shortage of ICU beds. New plan: convert hotels and banquet halls. * Also suffering: Bihar, where all its hospitals are . Worse, many of its district hospitals are not equipped to offer care to severe cases. A good related read: on how the second wave has exposed gaping holes in our healthcare system. * Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath —which we assume surprises no one. * The double mutant variant (explained ) has been of the samples tested in Maharashtra—establishing that it has now become dominant. That’s up from 15-20% on March 24. Is it now okay to blame the surge on the variant? Great related read: on how the government played down the new variant to avoid panic—and why it backfired. * The between the official death count and the numbers at crematoriums is fueling a huge fight between the Gujarat government and the local media. * South Africa has its rollout of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine thanks to fears about blood clots. This is especially disastrous for SA since it first had to nix AstraZeneca vaccine due to worries that it offers minimal protection against the South African variant. A reality check from : women run a higher risk of developing blood clots from birth control pills than the J&J vaccine. * Denmark became the to completely stop administering the AstraZeneca vaccine. * has a great read on vaccine tourism—where people go to other nations to get their jabs. THE BIG SUEZ AFTERMATH: IT’S A MESS! Ever Given has now thanks to a giant jhagda between Egyptian authorities and the ship’s owners Shoei Kisen Kaisha Ltd. Cairo wants the costs of the salvage and loss of transit fees—for the period Ever Given blocked traffic. How much Ever Given’s owners have been ordered to pay by an Egyptian court: . Also stuck: All the on board containing consumer products, industrial parts and other goods bound for Europe. Also: Shoei Kisen wants owners of those goods to share in the costs of freeing the ship. FLIPKART TO OWN CLEARTRIP The e-commerce company is getting ready to acquire the travel booking site in a distress sale—and it marks a move to expand into a whole new area for Flipkart. Also, it will bring Walmart muscle to the fight ahead against the likes of MakeMyTrip, Yatra and Booking.com. Why Cleartrip was in great distress: It earns more than 80% of its revenue from airline bookings—which isn’t good given the pandemic. () Speaking of e-commerce giants: Amazon is organising an Indian summit called ‘Smbhav’ to encourage small businesses. Indian trader groups are planning their own counter-programming: a summit titled ‘Asmbhav’. () In other biz news: Tesla has a Chinese rival. Xpeng Motors has launched a self-driving car called P5—and it will cost less than the cheapest Tesla. has more details. Also, it looks kinda cool: Also feeling good: The crypto exchange Coinbase which had a blockbuster IPO—and its market valuation briefly soared past $100 billion on its debut. () TWO THINGS ABOUT KIDS One: A three-month baby boy has three penises—which makes him the first ever reported case of human triphallia. The two extra appendages were growing out of his perineum—the area between the genitals and the anus. Neither had a urethra (for urine) and both were removed. The good news: the baby is doing well with no report of complications. () Two: In case we needed scientists to confirm it, a new Harvard study shows that spanking affects children’s mental health and development as much as more severe forms of physical punishment. It also led to anxiety, depression, behaviour problems, and other mental wellness issues. Moral of this study: There is no such thing as ‘mild’ corporal punishment where kids are concerned. () A good related read: on how Mukesh Ambani is turning the 261-year-old kid’s toy store Hamleys into a powerhouse. AWARD-WINNING AIR CABINS! This is one of the winners of the Crystal Cabin awards—which honour the best designs of how we might hang out on a flight in the future. This version below is called a ‘coffee house cabin’ that looks more like a conference room. has the others—which are mercifully far less reminiscent of cube culture. Speaking of air travel: The annual passport rankings are out. And most of the results are unsurprising. Japan once again has the most powerful passport in the world—the kind that gets you across most borders—193, to be exact, followed by Singapore (192), Germany and South Korea (both 191). At the bottom of the list: Afghanistan, followed by Iraq and Syria. () ONE HILARIOUS FASHION THING This one is going to get funny, but you have to wait for it. Harrods had to stop selling New York label Judith Leiber’s Ganesh-inspired clutch—which sold for an eye-watering £6,340. In fact, the company has withdrawn the clutch entirely. The reason: outrage of angry and offended Hindus and ‘woke’ South Asians. The director of the Hindu Council : > “It raises a serious question, why doesn’t a world-renowned brand do proper research on religion and faith to find out what [its > products] mean to the people who are following that faith. It’s cultural and religious appropriation.” Ok here is what the : And here’s the funny bit, : And here’s the even more hilarious bit, :
“I am SIX! And my own mother won’t let me !!!” Why not indeed lololol!
Plot mein twist… Sometimes it’s the simplest tasks that confound us… Music that soothes a magnificent beast…
READING HABIT BOOK EDITOR’S NOTE You first saw Vivaan Shah in ‘7 Khoon Maaf’ an adaptation of Ruskin Bond’s ‘’ ten years ago, and most recently in ‘’, based on of the same name. No wonder, then, that books are an integral part of his life—he is a voracious reader and an , and he answers our Book Addict’s Quiz this week! What is your most powerful and/or cherished childhood memory of a book? There’s many. I remember being absorbed and terrified by a game-book for children called ‘’, which my brother and I would try to solve. It was like a puzzle, or a precursor to a video game. There was something enigmatic and mysterious about this book. One would get lost in it. It acquired a menacing presence not unlike that of the fictional ‘’ board game. and were other childhood favourites. I would often read these before sleeping. Their permanent resting place was under my pillow. Every once in a while, a slim pulp novel would fit behind an open textbook so as to give the impression of my being immersed in my studies whereas I was actually off on a flight of fancy. I was often caught by teachers trying to do this, and the novel promptly confiscated. God only knows how many currently reside in some antiquated cabinet in my school. <Somewhere in Vivaan’s old school, a pre-teen is reading a stolen James Hadley Chase, silently thanking the gods.> What line of literature or poetry can you quote ad nauseam? Brownie points if you can tell us when and where you quoted it most recently. Anything by I recite his stuff to myself whenever I’m feeling strange and gloomy. My favourite poem of his is ‘’. Another poem I know by heart is ‘’ by Oscar Wilde. I sometimes spontaneously spring these poems on unsuspecting friends on drunken occasions. I also like to do them on stage in an empty auditorium as a sort of vocal warm up. When people hear me recite these to myself, they might think I am mad. <Yes, because what you really want to hear eight whiskeys down is "The dead are dancing with the dead. The dust is whirling with the dust."> An author you adored as a child but haven’t thought about in years. I remember her book ‘’ having a strange effect on me. That was the heyday of fantasy fiction, with books like ‘’ and ‘’ fascinating readers of my age. I have a friend who, when we were kids, claimed to have read ‘’ in 30 minutes, a sheer impossibility as per the laws of physics and recorded human logic. <Unlike JK Rowling’s other great tome, ‘’, which we’ve been trying to finish for the past nine years.> Which book would you gift to your new best friend, and which to your worst enemy? Haha, I don’t have a worst enemy. Although if someone really wants to make a person suffer, he can give them ‘’ or ‘’. (Hahaha, just kidding, ‘Ulysses’ is a masterpiece and one of the greatest works, but ‘Finnegan’s Wake’ can be difficult). To my best friend I would gift ‘’. It’s a life changing book. <Moby Dick? Gives a whole new meaning to ‘With friends like that, who needs enemies…’> I would love to see a movie/series adaptation of ‘___________ starring ____ as _____. I would love to see a movie/series adaptation of ‘’ starring as Gargantua. A book review that was better than the book? Difficult to pinpoint one. But I’m a huge fan of the literary criticism of and <Would it be mean to say Oates’ own reviews are better than her novels?> Which book do you pretend to have read? ‘’ by Thomas Pynchon. Also, anyone who claims to have read Moby Dick when they were a child can instantly be branded a liar. A lot of people think it’s a kid’s adventure yarn. It’s much more than that. It’s a work of theological implications. <Ah, the book most often compared to that other great unreadable tome ‘Ulysses’. Good choice!> What is the first “forbidden” book you read in secret? ‘’ by D.H. Lawrence. <Nice! Well-written smut is the best kind!> What’s one of the funniest books you’ve ever read? Something apart from Wodehouse, Adams, Durrell et al would be even better. ‘’ by Evelyn Waugh. <Catholic guilt, homo-erotic yearning, upper class angst… ‘Funny’ isn’t the word that comes to mind lol!> Send us a photo of your tsundoku pile. <130/100 for sheer variety and organised chaos!> Thank you for playing, Vivaan! Be sure to check out his excellent book ‘’. Plot mein twist… Sometimes it’s the simplest tasks that confound us… Music that soothes a magnificent beast…
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