Our lead image today is Katsushika Hokusai’s ‘Under the Wave off Kanagawa’ aka ‘’—which is the single most iconic piece of Japanese art—almost as famous and instantly recognizable as the ‘Mona Lisa’. But we reserve a special place in our heart for Utagawa Hiroshige’s Just a little beauty break on a Friday to brighten up the end of a work week :). Also: has a lovely illustrated introduction to great Japanese woodblock artists—including Hiroshige.
A BRILLIANT SPLAINER CONVERSATION On April 10, we held the first Splainer AMA with chef and restaurateur extraordinaire Manu Chandra. The conversation was everything that we wanted a splainer event to be: intelligent, thoughtful and passionate. The questions asked by the attendees were just excellent, as were Manu’s responses. We will be doing this once a month for our founding members, and have a list of lively topics and guests lined up. Also coming up: lots of good stuff for our founding members—who literally got us off the ground—to mark our one-year anniversary on June 1. Want to join the club? you need to know about becoming a member. Also: A small taste of the conversation below to get you excited for future AMAs: THE GREAT PANDEMIC: A QUICK UPDATE * While PM Toshihide Suga insists that there is no stopping the Tokyo Olympics—set to kickoff on July 23—others in his party are making . One has suggested cancelling the games entirely, while another suggested banning all spectators. * A shows that the Brazil variant is mutating, and could become more adept at dodging antibodies. The mutations were found in the spike protein—which is the part targeted by most vaccines. Experts say: “If you have a high level of transmission, like you have in Brazil at the moment, your risk of new mutations and variants increases.” * Leading medical experts in Israel say that the country is close to achieving herd immunity—with of the population possessing antibodies either due to infection or vaccination. * A good read: Brian Resnick in explains why you shouldn’t panic if you were vaccinated, and still get Covid-19. US SANCTIONS RUSSIA The Biden administration will impose stiff sanctions on Russia, in retaliation for interfering in US elections, and a widespread hacking campaign targeting US agencies and companies. Ten Russian diplomats were expelled, and banks have been prohibited from buying new bonds directly from Russia’s central bank, finance ministry and the country’s massive sovereign-wealth fund after June 14. What to : > “Russia has up to 68,000 troops near Ukraine, as well as Iskander surface-to-surface missiles and other heavy weapons, U.S. > officials say. The Biden administration is in the process of preparing options to provide nonlethal and lethal aid to > Ukraine—and additional economic sanctions—should Russian troops attack Ukraine.” In other diplomacy news: UAE officially confirmed that it has been playing peacemaker between India and Pakistan—at a talk held in Stanford University, no less! The Emirati ambassador to the US, Yousef Al Otaiba, : > “They might not sort of become best friends, but at least we want to get it to a level where it’s functional, where it’s > operational, where they are speaking to each other, where there’s lines of communication and that’s our goal.” THE RUPEE IS NOT DOING WELL The currency has fallen past Rs 75 to a dollar for the first time since August—thanks mostly to worries about the second wave. It is now the worst performing currency in Asia this quarter. Banking experts say, “Economic growth is going to get more impacted than what we are expecting. We are underplaying the impact of Covid.” That said, some financial institutions are predicting the rupee will recover to Rs 73/dollar by year end. () AN ALARMING WHATSAPP HACK Security researchers have discovered that hackers can suspend your account in just two steps. First they try to sign into your account using your registered phone number. When the sign in fails repeatedly—since they don’t have the OTP code—the account is automatically blocked for 12 hours. Next, they call WhatsApp support—which will ask them for a simple email stating that your phone is lost or stolen. Once sent, your account is entirely deactivated. The solution: setting up a two-step verification process so the email has to be sent from your account. () Speaking of social media: Instagram is testing a new feature that lets you hide the number of likes on your posts—or on those of others. () NEWEST PEACOCK SPIDER ON THE BLOCK Say hello to Maratus nemo—named after everyone’s beloved Disney fish for obviously orange reasons. Here’s why this : the population of spiders, and arachnids in general, is plummeting worldwide. Also: “Discovering new spiders can also benefit humankind, whether it’s controlling agricultural pests or inspiring new medical treatments.” So Nemo: But more hilariously, here are some of his ‘’ cousins: In far less happy news: According to a new study, only 3% of the world’s land is ‘ecologically intact’—i.e. undamaged by human activity. They are located in the Amazon and Congo tropical forests, east Siberian and northern Canadian forests and tundra, and the Sahara. Why this is especially distressing: previous estimates were far higher at 20-40%. () AP STYLEBOOK JUNKS ‘MISTRESS’ The Associated Press stylebook—the bible for all nitpicking copy editors—has decided to on behalf of women in relationships with married men: > “Don't use the term mistress for a woman who is in a long-term sexual relationship with, and is financially supported by, a man > who is married to someone else. Instead, use an alternative like companion, friend or lover on first reference and provide > additional details later.” Of course, AP was because… it’s Twitter, people! But the stylebook guru is standing firm, saying, “we felt that was better than having one word for a woman and none for the man, and implying that the woman was solely responsible for the affair.” Also changing their language: ESPN, which is thinking of shaking things up in time for The Hundred—a new competition where each side plays a 100-ball inning. To make the game more accessible to new fans, the word ‘out’ may be used instead of ‘wicket’: > “[T]he term wicket can be used to describe a dismissal, the stumps and bails and even the pitch [which] can be confusing to > people not familiar with cricket. ‘Outs’ is regarded as descriptive without being too distant from current terminology because > it says what happens when the batter is dismissed.” Umm, okay... We are less befuddled by the : using the gender-neutral term ‘batter’ instead of batsman or batswoman. () In more cricket-related news: The new edition of the Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack—aka the Bible of Cricket—has named a best player for each decade, and in two categories: international test cricket and One Day Internationals. Virat Kohli and Kapil Dev took the top ODI honour for 2010s and 1980s, respectively. Ben Stokes was named Cricketer of the Year for the second time in a row. () A final fun sports thing: Canadians with the team uniforms for the closing ceremony of the Tokyo Olympics this summer. The reason, they look : In comparison, the US team uniforms—designed by Ralph Lauren—look : THREE VERY STRANGE STORIES One: There is a huge in the United States. The reason: Covid-related spike in demand for food delivery (and little packets that arrive with it), and disruptions in the supply chain. This is things are right now: > “One eBay listing, for example, starts bids for a set of five packets at $5.90—a dollar and change for each one. Another listing > for two “tear-to-squeeze” packets starts at about $3 each. On Facebook Marketplace right now, there’s a seller in Scranton > offering a set of three for $1,200.” Two: A fight over overhead storage space turned into a full-on hair-pulling brawl on a Tunisair flight. has the story, and the video is age-restricted on , so you will have to click through to watch it. Three: Residents of Krakow, Poland, were terrified of a creature spotted on a tree—with some convinced it was an iguana. So they called the authorities to take care of it: The authorities arrived only to discover that the dreaded beast was a somewhat large croissant 😂 ()
All of us have heard of —which we tend to remember as a giant blimp that crashed and burned. But we didn’t realise how magnificent it was in life until we saw this colourised clip. FYI, we scraped the happy parts from this —which ends in shocking footage of the actual crash with live radio commentary… since this is supposed to be a sanity break. But that too is a spectacle worth your time (if you have the stomach for it).
SO YOU WANNA WATCH SOMETHING… : This anthology series—from KJo’s Dharma Productions—has a stellar cast of women actors: Konkona Sen Sharma, Aditi Rao Hydari, Nushrat Bharucha. Going by the trailer, it looks similar to ‘Lust Stories’. The official description: “A twisted tale of lovers, a struggle for daily life, a calculated friendship and a journey to find solace... the film explores jealousy, entitlement, prejudices and toxicity.” It drops on Netflix today. : This whodunit has lots of potential. Here’s of the plot: “Kartik (Anup Soni) walks in on his fiancé’s murdered corpse at a party. He goes on the run, chased by a cop, Rajesh Ahlawat (Rahul Dev), and ends up reuniting with an old lover, Vasuki (Paoli Dam)—who may have an agenda of her own.” So yeah, could be awesome or total shite. You can watch it on Zee5. This is a buddy series about three friends in their 20s in Melbourne. Think a very dysfunctional Gen Z version of ‘Friends’—and with a lot more interesting characters, including a bisexual South Asian, her straight and white bestie, and a still-exploring-sexuality ‘baby’ drag queen. The show’s tagline: the divisive sociopolitical hellscape that is 2021.” has more on the show and its creators. It’s already streaming on Netflix. A LIST OF GOOD READS * has a lovely piece on young Bahujan artists using social media to challenge casteism, and reclaim their identity. * If you aren’t a Bill Gates fan, has the perfect long read for you titled ‘How Bill Gates Impeded Global Access to Covid Vaccines’. * Is Jon Stewart relevant any more? That’s the question explores in the context of his upcoming show ‘The Problem with Jon Stewart’. * It’s official! We’re going back to the 90s. discusses the return of the low-rise, while mulls the resurrection of the wide leg jeans. Yes, skinny jeans are out. * looks at how big tech is weaponizing design patents. * Perfect weekend browse: The big interactive collection that celebrates friendship. * One of the best sports writers in the biz, , looks at how Ahmedabad has emerged as the epicenter of Indian cricket—and why it’s not good news. For example: pushing all matches to the Narendra Modi stadium where “the orange wall made the sighting of the pink ball difficult in natural light for fielders, but who cares”. * This on tiger poaching is both a heartbreaking and necessary read. * We highly recommend activist letter titled ‘The Story of a Rose’—written from prison. * We learned a lot from this debunking myths surrounding the ‘ancient’ tradition of Ayurveda.
Heading home after a long night at the bar… Everyone needs a helping hand… Ceremonial battle.
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