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APRIL 2016

How YouTube Changed The World This online phenomenon is increasingly ruling our lives PAGE 62

SHYAM BENEGAL ON STUDENT PROTESTS PAGE 98

THE POWER OF GRATITUDE PAGE 78

HUMOUR SPECIAL: DUMB CRIMINALS Unbelievable tales of bad judgement and plain stupidity PAGE 72

CLASSIC BONUS READ

THE CASE OF THE ROLEX MURDER PAGE 138

THE ART OF GOOD DECISION-MAKING............ 43 LAUGHTER, THE BEST MEDICINE..................... 86 FIGHT BACK LUNG CANCER................................ 88 DRAMA: LION ATTACK!...................................... 104 ENRICH YOUR WORD POWER........................... 159

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Contents

P.

APRIL 2016

62

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88

Cover Story

HOW YOUTUBE CHANGED THE WORLD An online phenomenon that’s increasingly ruling our lives. S I M O N H E M E L RY K W I T H ARUSHI SHARMA

72

WORLD’S DUMBEST CRIMINALS It didn’t take a master sleuth to catch them. B R U C E G R I E R S O N

78

THE POWER OF GRATITUDE How saying “thank you” can make you happier. L I SA F I E L D S

88

FIGHTING LUNG CANCER

114

What does it take to be antinational? DA M AYA N T I DAT TA

120

A changing approach and new treatments are bringing hope. KAT H A KO L I DAS G U P TA & A N I TA B A R T H O LO M E W

94

98

124

130

P HOTO : © CORBIS

LION ATTACK! Bonding with Africa’s biggest cats nearly cost this teen her life. LIA GRAINGER

MY SECRET VENICE A well-known journalist acts as tour guide in this iconic city.

Shyam Benegal on what keeps him going at 81. S N I G D H A H A SA N

104

HALLOWED HALLS Churches as architectural marvels. CO R N E L I A KU M F E R T

ALTERNATE VISION

Drama in Real Life

FINDING THE SILVER LINING How one woman changed her destiny. P R AT H YA S H A G E O R G E

SOUNDS LIKE Words that put the whizz bang into our language. D O N YA L E H A R R I S O N

WHO IS UNINDIAN?

JOHN HOOPER

138

Book Bonus

THE CASE OF THE ROLEX MURDER An investigation into a drowning begins with a watch. BILL SCHILLER

READER’S DIGEST

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Vol. 57

| No. 4

APRIL 2016

12 Editor’s Note

14 Over to You

Everyday Heroes

22 Help for the Homeless These humanitarians offer innovative solutions for a better world and future. A LYS SA J U N G , B R A N D O N S P E C K TO R , BETH DREHER & MICHELE WOJ C I E C H OWS K I

VOICES & VIEWS My First Job

28 Compassionate Care

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How one heart surgeon’s first job made him a philanthropist. DR DEVI SHETTY

Words of Lasting Interest

18 Life’s Like That 34 Good News 36 Medical News 38 Humour in Uniform 40 Points to Ponder 55 Shocking Notes 61 It Happens Only in India 86 Laughter, the Best Medicine 123 As Kids See It 158 Brain Teasers 159 Word Power 163 Studio 164 Quotable Quotes 6

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Remembering Shakespeare on his 400th death anniversary through his sonnet on love. S H O R M I S H T H A PA N JA

Department of Wit

32 The Food Lover’s Diet For guaranteed happiness (not necessarily a slimmer waist), try this out. ANNE ROUMANOFF

Finish This Sentence

42 I break into a laugh

when...

N ILOTPAL BARUA H

READER FAVOURITES

30 Marriage of True Minds


Vol. 57

| No. 4

APRIL 2016

WHO KNEW?

156 13 Things Gyms Won’t

Tell You

BY MICH E LLE CROUCH WITH N I S H A VA R M A

161

Entertainment OU R TOP PICKS OF THE MONTH

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ART OF LIVING

43 The Choice Is Yours C H A N TA L T R A N C H E M O N TAG N E

Health

46 First Aid for Your Voice Money

50 Good Money Habits G AU R AV M AS H R U WA L A

P.

Travel

52 In the Southern Hills KA LYA N I P R AS H E R

Beauty

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Total number of pages in this issue of Reader’s Digest, including covers: 166

56 The No-Fuss Guide to

Anti-Ageing

DR REKHA SHETH

Family

DONALD E. H UNTON

Fitness

60 A Lifesaving At-Home

Check-Up

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READER’S DIGEST

ILLUSTRATION: Sameer Kulavoor. COVER DESIGN: Sadhana Moolchandani

CHRI S PHILPOT

58 The Morning Report


VOL. 57 NO. 4 APRIL 2016 Editor Deputy Editor Senior Research Editor Features Editor Senior Features Writer Editorial Coordinator

Sanghamitra Chakraborty Sunalini Mathew Mamta Sharma Snigdha Hasan Arushi Sharma Ruchi Lodha

Art Director Sadhana Moolchandani Senior Designer Keshav Kapil IMPACT (ADVERTISING) Group Business Head Manoj Sharma Associate Publisher Anil Fernandes Mumbai: Senior GM (West) Jitendra Lad Bengaluru: GM Upendra Singh Chennai: GM Velu Balasubramaniam Kolkata: Deputy GM (East) Kaushiky Chakraborty

Published in 46 editions and 17 languages, Reader’s Digest is the world’s largest-selling magazine. It is also India’s largest-selling magazine in English.

Editor-in-Chief Aroon Purie Chief Executive Officer Ashish Bagga Group Editorial Director Raj Chengappa

BUSINESS AGM - Marketing & Circulation Ajay Mishra Chief Manager, Operations G.L. Ravik Kumar Marketing Managers Kunal Bag, Anuradha Rana Production Anuj Kumar Jamdegni Dhanad V. Patil

NEWSSTAND SALES Chief GM D.V.S. Rama Rao GM, Sales Deepak Bhatt Deputy GM, Operations Vipin Bagga The Indian Reader’s Digest is published by: Living Media India Limited (Regd. Office: K9, Connaught Circus, New Delhi) under a licence granted by the TMBi (formerly RDA Inc.), proprietor of the Reader’s Digest trademark.

TRUSTED MEDIA BRANDS, INC. (FORMERLY RDA INC.) President and Chief Executive Officer Bonnie Kintzer VP, Chief Operating Officer, International Brian Kennedy Editor-in-Chief, International Magazines Raimo Moysa Founders: DeWitt Wallace, 1889–1981; Lila Acheson Wallace, 1889–1984

HOW TO REACH US MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTIONS/CUSTOMER CARE: Email subscription.rd@intoday.com Mail Subscriptions, Reader’s Digest, A-61, Sector-57, Noida, U.P. 201301. Tel: 0120-2469900 Toll-free No 1800 1800 001 (BSNL customers can call toll free on this number) For bulk subscriptions 0120-4807100, Ext. 4361 For change of address, enclose the addressed portion of your magazine wrapper. ADVERTISING ENQUIRIES: Phones Mumbai: 66063355 Chennai: 28478525 Bengaluru: 22212448 Delhi: 0120-4807100 Kolkata: 22825398 Fax: 022-66063226 Email rd4business@intoday.com EDITORIAL/LETTERS TO THE EDITOR: Email editor.india@rd.com Mail Reader’s Digest, India Today Group, 3rd Floor, Film City 8, Sector 16A, Noida, UP 201301; Phone: 0120-4807100 We edit and fact-check letters. Please provide your telephone number and postal address in all cases. Facebook: www.facebook.com/ReadersDigest.co.in Twitter: @OfficialRDIndia Instagram: @readersdigestindia © 2016 Trusted Media Brands, Inc. (Reader’s Digest editorial material). © 2016 Living Media India Ltd. (Living Media editorial material). All rights reserved throughout the world. Reproduction in any manner, in whole or part, in English or other languages, is prohibited. Published & Printed by Ashish Bagga on behalf of Living Media India Limited. Editor: Sanghamitra Chakraborty (responsible for selection of news). Printed at Thomson Press India Limited, 18-35 Milestone, Delhi-Mathura Road, Faridabad 121 007 (Haryana) and at A9, Industrial Complex, Maraimalai Nagar, District Kancheepuram 603 209 (Tamil Nadu). Published at K9, Connaught Circus, New Delhi 110 001.

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Editor’s Note AS I WRITE TO YOU, my son is struggling with a sleeping bag—the filling is out and all over him and he has no idea how to fold it back in, neatly. My earlyteens boy is off on a school trip, and is doing his own packing. I offer to help, but he stops me: “Chill, Ma. Let me figure this out.” I step back: ouch, he would rather look up a YouTube tutorial than have his mother potter around. I was amused at how I’d started sulking about something I now do routinely myself. My recent search history on YouTube shows I learnt how to use a new coffee maker, picked up a great recipe of haleem from a Pakistani woman and watched puppies being trained for my own pet. I routinely catch up on TV news that I may have missed, an old Kishore Kumar hit or a Louis CK comedy that makes me smile, before I turn in for the day. It’s amazing, how the simple idea of uploading your personal videos on the internet has caught on and changed the way we work, play and live. I’m particularly fascinated, as a journalist, by the way YouTube has led the march of user-generated content on the internet for over a decade, democratized information and empowered audiences. Deciding the hierarchy of news is no longer the preserve of editors alone: the power has devolved to the audience. This is most significant in a world where free speech can be muzzled, human rights threatened and news manipulated by authoritarian regimes. How YouTube Changed the World (p 62), our cover story, is a celebration of people power. From spreading social messages to providing entertainment, from being a powerful educational tool to building global communities, it is a reminder of the enormous influence this platform has. To celebrate the first day of April, we have for you a humour special on Dumb Criminals (p 72) that you shouldn’t miss. Also, read The Power of Gratitude (p 78)— it will make you believe in a ‘thank you’ more than ever; it certainly reaffirmed my faith in it. What better place to let you know that you, dear reader, inspire us to make the Digest what it is? So, thank you! Send an email to editor.india@rd.com 12

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PHOTOGRAPH BY ANAND GOGOI . HAIR & M AKE-UP BY ROLIKA P RAKASH

You Are The World


Over to You FEEDBACK ON OUR FEBRUARY ISSUE

FINANCIAL REGIME There is no dearth of laws to curb the generation and circulation of black money [Can the New Law Flush Out Black Money?]. It is the lack of proper execution that is the problem. The solution is three-pronged. Political will comes first, followed by transparency of the system, and awareness amongst people and their participation. ARVIND PRAKASH VERMA, Al l ah ab a d

Life insurance, though not an investment but a necessity, provident fund, postal savings certificates and medical insurance were some common options for savings when I was in service [What’s Your Plan?]. The foresighted invested in housing. But it was impossible to imagine the extent of inflation and devaluation of the rupee over the years. Fixed pensions from private companies, as opposed to regularly revised government ones, are a pittance now. Everyone must plan for the future to maintain a minimum standard of living, keeping their family commitments in mind. D.B.N. MURTHY, B e n g a l u r u

FB GIMMICK An internet user enjoys the freedom of access to a zillion sources of information [Quickipedia]. Facebook’s Free Basics service that seeks to pro14

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vide free access to a few selected websites, is contrary to the spirit of this freedom. That this facility will be of great help to a huge section of India’s population, who cannot afford to be online, does not redeem the initiative. The concept smacks of control. VIKAS KUMAR SINGH, Ara r i a , B i h a r

FLYING BLUES Many of us wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between Grenada and Granada [The Case of the Ticket Mix-up]. If Gamson can prove that he had booked his tickets with airport codes, he must be reimbursed. Even if he can’t, he deserves compensation because it is the airline’s fault for not mentioning the country’s name on the ticket. But Gamson was lucky to be mistakenly flown to a Caribbean country. Hopefully, he made the most of it. HIMA JARIWALA, v i a e m a i l


OV E R TO YO U

After enjoying the solatium offered by the airlines, Gamson has no locus standi to claim further relief. He can’t have his cake and eat it too. AYYASSERI RAVEENDRANATH, Ara n m u l a , Ke ra l a

Private players should remember that it is their customers who let them earn profits, and such experiences would tarnish their image, as word travels. SAHIL, v i a e m a i l

TESTING TIMES Examination stress can be fatal if not managed well [Bust Exam Stress]. It is a trying time for parents when their children appear for exams that impact their careers and lives. It’s also the time when children’s bodies undergo changes and they experience mood swings. They need support from their parents to adjust to all of this. RAMACHANDRAN NAIR, Mu s c a t , O m a n

Over two decades of teaching has made me realize that parents, more than children, need to understand that marks and ranks are not everything. There are plenty of examples of successful people who did not fare well in academics. SHREEPRAKASH SHARMA, Bi rau l i , Bi h a r

PRECIOUS TIME Being an army officer, I can’t visit my parents as often as I wish to [The Gift Money Can’t Buy]. Every time I go home I find them a little older, a little unwell, managing life and relatives, 16

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WR IT & E WI N!

I prided myself on relocating to my home town to take care of my aged mother, and doing everything I could to make sure she is taken care of. But I now realize that I haven’t been giving her what she needs the most—my company. I will now spend some time talking to her every day— about the people she loved and things she enjoyed doing. SHEILA THAYYIL, K a n n u r, Ke ra l a

missing my brother and me, wishing that I would be married. We hold down our jobs, but miss out on family that makes life worth living. MAJOR NEHA, Ne w D e l h i

ADEQUATE SHUT-EYE In India, sleep deprivation as a condition is not as well-recognized as it should be [Sounding the Alarm on Sleep]. Most celebrities romanticize the attribute of working through the night. Working overtime is an Indian phenomenon, with the BPO culture adding to the owls amongst our workforce. Besides, youngsters believe it’s fun staying up at night. What’s disturbing is that parents often take their young children to late-night movies. CHANDRIKA R. KRISHNAN, B e n g a l u r u

Write in at editor.india@rd.com. The best letters discuss RD articles, offer criticism, share ideas and experiences. Please include your phone number and postal address.


Life’s Like That

I WAS UPSET and sent my boyfriend

AS THE HOSTESS at the casino

a text saying, “How could you cheat on me?” I got a text back immediately in reply from my dad. I texted back and said, “Sorry, Dad—that message was meant for Ben.” Back came another text from Dad. “On a totally unrelated issue, have you seen my rifle anywhere?” He’s always been a protective father!

buffet showed me to my table, I asked her to keep an eye out for my husband, who would be joining me momentarily. I started to describe him: “He has grey hair, wears glasses, has a potbelly...” She stopped me there. “Honey,” she said, “today is senior day. They all look like that.”

SHELAGH CLARKSON

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ROSALIE DARIA

INDIAP ICTURE

“After a few more years of complaining I think I may change my life.”


L I F E ’ S L I K E T H AT

MY HUSBAND WAS fraught after a tough day at work, so I decided to take him and our three kids out for a meal to help him relax. He was still feeling irritable when we arrived at the restaurant, so when the waiter approached and asked, “Would sir like a table?” he snapped, replying, “No thanks, we’ll eat off the floor...carpet for five, please.” I don’t know who was more embarrassed—the waiter or me! CAROLINE ALDEN

AT MY SISTER’S place of work, a

shoplifter was caught stealing a bottle of whisky. He was interrogated and the manager of the store gave him a severe telling off. He told him that if he bought the bottle he’d let him off this time, and mentioned the price of the whisky. The shoplifter cheekily replied, “That’s more than I was intending to spend. Can you show me a cheaper bottle?” LOIS JONES NIHILISTIC PASSWORD SECURITY QUESTIONS ■ At what age did your childhood pet run away? ■ What was the name of your favourite unpaid internship? ■ In what city did you first experience ennui? ■ On what street did you lose your childlike sense of wonder? ■ When did you stop trying? mcsweeneys.net

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X ANYONE KNOW A TUTOR? Are you of the opinion your children are acing school? Well, check out some of their test answers. Q: Use the word congenial in a sentence. A: When you leave the gravy out too long, it congenials. Q: The first thing Queen Elizabeth II did upon ascending the throne was to … A: Sit down. Q: Write a sentence containing a double negative. A: Mike is ugly and he smells. Q: Name two plays by Shakespeare. A: Romeo and Juliet Q: On what grounds was Aaron Burr tried for treason? A: New York Q: Write about the importance of animals in Of Mice and Men. A: The mice are very important— without them, you’d have only the men. Q: Use the word doldrums in a sentence. A: I cannot play the doldrums. From F in Exams: Complete Failure Edition by Richard Benson (Chronicle Books)

Reader’s Digest will pay for your funny anecdote or photo in any of our jokes sections. Post it to the editorial address, or email: editor.india@rd.com


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EVERYDAY HEROES

“We want to reach people where they are,” says Doniece Sandoval.

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Helping the Homeless “We reconnect people with their dignity”

P HOTOGRAP HS BY M IKE M CGREGOR

Doniece Sandoval

AN OLD BLUE BUS pulls up to a wellness centre in downtown San Francisco, US, and a small crowd forms. Young and old, men and women are waiting to board for their turn to bathe. This city bus has been modified as a sanitation station with two private bathrooms, each including a shower, toilet, sink and changing area. The brainchild of Doniece Sandoval, a former public relations executive, Lava Mae (a play on the Spanish for “wash me”) provides up to 500 showers a week for the thousands of homeless people who sleep on the streets in this city. “We reconnect people with their dignity,” says Doniece. Two years ago, Doniece overheard a homeless woman on a San Francisco sidewalk say that she’d never be clean. “That made me wonder what her opportunities were to actually get clean,” says Doniece. She learnt that San Francisco had only eight public shower facilities. “I thought, If you can put food on wheels, why not showers?” she says. Doniece persuaded the city to give

her four decommissioned buses that she then had remodelled with $75,000 she’d raised on a crowdfunding website. Each bus connects to a fire hydrant for water, which is heated by large batteries on board. Waste water is drained into city sewers. The first bus hit the road in July 2014; a second one rolled out in early 2015. Doniece plans to put the other two buses elsewhere in the Bay Area and imagines expanding the programme internationally. Those in need of a shower, sign up for a 15-minute time slot at a local homeless shelter, and Lava Mae provides towels, shampoo, soap and a new pair of socks. “No matter how clean you try to stay on the street, you’re going to be grimy,” said Silas Borden, a military veteran who showers weekly on a Lava Mae bus in the Mission neighbourhood. “And I want to wash it off.” Says Doniece, “It’s a humbling experience to see people come off the bus so grateful for something that should be a natural human right.” ALYSSA JUNG, WITH MICHELE WOJCIECHOWSKI

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E V E R Y D AY H E R O E S

“They said it was bad karma” Robert Lee

AS AN ELEMENTARY school student in New York City, Robert Lee would stare in disbelief at his classmates throwing away half-eaten sandwiches after lunch. His Korean immigrant parents had taught him and his older brother not to waste food. “They said it was bad karma,” says Robert, 24. While studying finance and accounting at New York University, Robert remembered this lesson and joined Two Birds One Stone, a food-rescue club on campus that delivered, five days a week, uneaten pasta, vegetables and other leftovers from the dining hall to nearby homeless shelters. When Robert and fellow club member Louisa Chen entered a college entrepreneurship contest, they proposed a slightly different idea for a food-rescue non-profit group: their programme wouldn’t have a donation minimum (meaning they would gladly pick up one bag of leftover bagels or a single pot of soup), would operate seven days a week, and would be staffed entirely by volunteers. Their idea won the competition. With the $1,000 prize, they founded Rescuing Leftover Cuisine (RLC) in July 2013. In just the first few weeks, Robert’s team delivered a donation of enough spaghetti and meatballs 24

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to feed 20 people in line at a New York City homeless shelter that had run out of food. Robert, who had taken a job as an analyst at J.P. Morgan, devoted his spare time to creating a network of New York City restaurants, from mom-and-pop delis to large chains like Starbucks and Panera Bread, that agreed to donate food, and he enlisted volunteers to make food deliveries to homeless shelters. After RLC received national press attention, homeless shelters and soup kitchens in Portland, Oregon, Washington, DC and other cities reached out to Robert for partnership advice. To date, RLC has distributed more than 1,13,400 kilos of food in 12 cities around the US. Only a year into his finance job, Robert gave up his six-figure salary to focus on RLC. “I compared one hour of impact at J.P. Morgan to one hour at RLC, and the difference was just tremendous,” he says. He’s now the group’s only fulltime employee. “One shelter recently told us that our donations allow them to provide entire dinners for more than 300 people, three nights a week,” Robert says. “Things like that make me glad I quit my job.” BRANDON SPECKTOR


“This group saves shelters thousands of dollars,” says Robert Lee.

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“I want to give people a chance without judging them,” says Veronika Scott.

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R E A D E R S D I G E S T. C O . I N

“Design to fill a need” Veronika Scott

WHEN VERONIKA SCOTT was a student at the College for Creative Studies in her native city of Detroit, US, she received an assignment to “design to fill a need.” She dreamt up an idea for insulated overcoats that would double as sleeping bags, made 25 of them, and handed them out to people living in makeshift shelters on a rundown city playground. While her efforts were greeted mostly with enthusiasm from those braving Detroit’s brutal winters, one woman voiced dissent. “We don’t need coats; we need jobs,” she told Veronika. Then she had her second inspiration. Veronika, now 26, found an expert to teach two homeless women to sew and hired them to assemble the coats. She paid them with donations she received through her blog. At first, the coats were constructed in a homeless shelter’s utility closet. “The top of the coat would hit one wall, and the bottom would be out the door,” says Veronika. After graduating from college in 2012, she moved the shop into an old downtown warehouse for socially conscious businesses and founded the Empowerment Plan, a non-profit organization. Clothing manufacturer Carhartt donated several old industrial sewing machines and reams of fabric and zippers. General Motors and other companies chipped in

operating funds and insulating material. To date, the Empowerment Plan has produced more than 10,000 coats and distributed them in 30 states, Canada, and elsewhere abroad. The group employs about 20 people—mostly single mothers, some of whom have served time or worked as prostitutes—and pays them more than Michigan’s minimum wage. “We don’t require a GED test [high-school equivalent diploma] or even previous employment,” Veronika says. “We’re looking for people who are motivated.” The Empowerment Plan provides free GED and financial-literacy classes and offers micro-loans to those who qualify. Nearly all the employees eventually move into permanent housing, and some go on to jobs in the auto industry and construction. Veronika has refined the coat’s design by switching to an outer layer of lightweight polyethylene that resists air, wind and water and an inner layer of synthetic fabric that stores body heat. Her latest innovation is to make the bottom of the sleeping bag removable. Still, Veronika is less focused on the coats than on the workers who make them. “At the end of the day,” she says, “[the coat] is a vehicle for us to employ people.” BETH DREHER, WITH MICHELE WOJCIECHOWSKI

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VOICES

VIEWS

My First Job

Compassionate Care BY DE V I SH E T T Y

DR DEVI SHETTY,

the renowned heart surgeon, runs one of the world’s largest low-cost heart hospitals, Narayana Hrudayalaya, in Bengaluru.

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I WAS JUST BACK from studying and training in England in 1989, when I was offered a job at BM Birla Heart Research Centre, in Kolkata (then Calcutta) as the chief cardiac surgeon. It was one of the first stand-alone cardiac hospitals in the country, and I was in my early 30s. In England, I had trained with the National Health Service (NHS), where if a patient needed an operation, you went ahead and did it. You looked at the angiogram, and if you needed to, you operated. Everyone knew what their jobs were. Here, I needed to spend upto an hour convincing the family about a heart operation. In those days, it was like a death warrant. Now, it’s the opposite, with an hour-long discussion telling people why they don’t need a surgery or stent! We encountered the most basic issues then. There was no concept of disposable gloves. Gloves were washed and hung out on a line! There was nothing like a radiopaque marker—the instrument is particularly helpful to know that you hadn’t left a swab inside a patient after an operation. There was also no concept of cardiac post-operative care. These seem like trivial matters, but it was a nightmare— literally like coming from Heathrow to Howrah. So I brought four British nurses from Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospital in London. They stayed for three READER’S DIGEST

ILLUSTRATION BY KES HAV KAP IL

AS TOLD TO SUNALINI MATHEW


NI LOTPA L BARUA H

years and worked with me. When I walked into Birla, I walked into an empty building, as the first doctor. Soon, I learnt the art of management. The Birlas were excellent employers, and though I was young, they involved me in the business of running the hospital. We had a daily profit-and-loss account, even though it was a trust hospital. I learnt that done on a daily basis, this is like a diagnostic tool; done at the end of the month, it could be like a post-mortem. I learnt how big business houses worked: they identified talented, skilled people, and allowed them to function and build. After all, your hospital’s reputation is based on the doctors’ skills and ability to provide patient care—unless you make your doctors, or at least the senior ones, a part of the financial decision, they will never know if a solution is affordable or not. I used to see over 100 patients a day, and I realized that heart surgery needed to be made affordable. It has laid the foundation for the work I do now. I understood how to think big, to go beyond your own hospital and look at the national and global picture. Exposure is important: for instance, I had the opportunity to interact with our African facility. It’s very important that in your first job, you work for someone who thinks big. But I was also humbled. One day

Dr Devi Shetty treasures what his first job taught him.

I got a call asking for a home visit. I said I didn’t do them, but the caller told me that if I visited, my life would be transformed. Since I didn’t have much to do at that moment, I went. My life did change—the sick person was Mother Teresa. She taught me the power of simplicity and compassion. We often think that the greatest power is one of brute force, but you can conquer the world with kindness. It doesn’t need language; it is universal. READER’S DIGEST

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WORDS OF LASTING INTEREST

We commemorate The Bard’s 400th death anniversary with this iconic verse

Marriage of True Minds BY W IL LI A M S H A K E SP EARE

SONNET 116

Shakespeare (1564 - 1616), England’s greatest playwright, has been immortalized by works such as this.

ABOUT THIS SONNET By Shormishtha Panja

SINCE THIS SONNET is seen amongst the most abiding expressions of true love, it would come as a surprise, then, that it was addressed to a young man, rather than Shakespeare’s lady love. It is a part of the series of sonnets that Shakespeare wrote to Mr W.H., “the onlie 30

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ILLUSTRATION: KES HAV KA PIL

Let me not to the marriage of true minds Admit impediments. Love is not love Which alters when it alteration finds, Or bends with the remover to remove: O no; it is an ever-fixed mark, That looks on tempests, and is never shaken; It is the star to every wandering bark, Whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken. Love’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks Within his bending sickle’s compass come; Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks, But bears it out even to the edge of doom. If this be error, and upon me prov’d, I never writ, nor no man ever lov’d.


IN DI API CTURE

begetter” of the sonnets, as the dedication puts it. Critics believe W.H. is either Henry Wriothesley, Earl of Southampton or William Herbert, Earl of Pembroke. It seems W.H. may have been Shakespeare’s patron and viewed by the Bard as his social superior. For the Elizabethan sonneteers, love was not merely love, as Arthur Marotti puts it, but linked to social prestige and patronage. For Shakespeare, the provincial young man from Warwickshire, trying to make his fortune in London in the not-so-respectable profession of the theatre, a patron among the nobility would have been vital. Shakespeare’s sonnets are surprisingly autobiographical for a man who seldom revealed himself in his plays. They are replete with contrary currents of self-abnegation and self-proclamation, of faith in the strength of love, along with a lasting impression of its weakness. Sonnet 116 is no exception. The beautiful image in the lines, “Love’s not Time’s fool…” brings alive Father Time’s scythe. It seems like it encircles, as if in an embrace, before chopping off the signs of youth—rosy lips and cheeks. And like so many fragile spring blooms, these are said to be gathered only to be cut off by the mower. Shakespeare often uses words in more senses than one. We see dark undertones in an otherwise strong

proclamation of the steadfastness of love. The sonnet also throws up the usual tropes of Petrarchism (the Italian Renaissance poet Petrarch being the father of the sonnet)—the comparison of the lover to a “bark” or ship lost at sea. We have the legal language of the opening lines and the clever couplets that close every Shakespearean sonnet and which often seem to bring an abrupt and artificial sense of closure. Shormishtha Panja is a professor of English and Director, Institute of Lifelong Learning, University of Delhi. She has recently edited the books Shakespeare and Class and Shakespeare and the Art of Lying. She has been the President of the Shakespeare Society of India. READER’S DIGEST

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DEPARTMENT OF WIT

Food Lover’s Diet BY AN N E R O U M A N O F F

DEAR READERS, I’d like to share exclusively with you the secrets of my food lover’s springtime diet, refined and perfected through losing and regaining hundreds of kilos.

1) Stop saying, “I shouldn’t” when you swallow something yummy. There’s not a God of calories constantly on watch who’ll bombard your thighs with cellulite the instant you tuck into that gooey chocolate cake. So please, when you fall for a box of macaroons and/or a bar of milk chocolate and/ or a cheese plate, enjoy them!

ANNE ROUMANOFF

is a wellknown French humorist. She lives in Paris.

3) Don’t tell anyone you’re on a diet. You’ll be showered with demotivating comments like: “Again!”, “What regime are you following this time?” “I never diet, it doesn’t help in the least” (from a size 8). “But you’re fine as you are” (from a size 18). 4) Never order French fries in restaurants. Instead, pinch them from your neighbour’s plate. After a while he’ll protest and you’ll be obliged to stop. 5) If you suffer apnoea after running five metres, and just hearing the word “sport” gives you aches and pains, try to walk for a few minutes a day. Plain old shank’s pony is better than any sport. 6) Don’t forget to smile. As the proverb I’ve just made up goes: a joyful woman at ease with her spare tyre is more attractive than a depressed bag of bones.

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I NDIAP ICTURE; ANNE’S ILLUSTRATI ON: KESHAV KAP IL

2) Avoid eating all these treats at the same meal. One lapse a week is okay, three lapses a minute are not.


SOME POSITIVE STORIES THAT CAME OUR WAY

Good News BY TIM H ULS E

Berliners help refugees

SOCIETY “When you’re new here,

it’s very difficult to begin without contacts,” says Belarus-born artist and activist Marina Naprushkina. She is talking about the plight of refugees and asylum seekers in Berlin, where she now lives. Two years ago, she confronted the issue after a shelter opened near her home. “There weren’t any activities for the children,” she says. She began by giving weekly art classes. From such small beginnings, Naprushkina’s initiative has grown into the Neue Nachbarschaft (New Neighbourhood) community centre, where more than 400 refugees and asylum seekers can practise their German, share food and drink and get to know each other. Mayor Michael Müller has called on Berliners to help the government welcome the more than 70,000 refu-

gees to the city, and projects such as Naprushkina’s are doing just that. “There should be an initiative like this in every neighbourhood,” she says. “There has to be an interest in getting to know people who are arriving. If not, you’re going to create a parallel society.”

France acts on food waste

ENVIRONMENT Some seven million

of the estimated 89 million tonnes of food thrown away each year in the EU is binned in France. But now pioneering legislation means France “will become the leading country in Europe to combat its waste” as per National Assembly MP Guillaume Garot. Rather than simply discard unsold food, supermarkets must now donate items to charity—or recycle them as animal feed or compost. Another of the new French measures stipulates that “doggy bags”

“However difficult life may seem, there is always something you can do and succeed at.” Ste p he n Hawking , t h e o re ti c al phy si ci st a n d c o sm o l o g ist

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must now be made available in restaurants that serve more than 180 meals a day. The better-designed, chic bags may encourage a culture of taking leftovers home.

I MAGE COURTESY: THE BETTER I NDIA

Bengaluru taps solar power

ENERGY The humble autorickshaw has played its part well in India’s transition towards cleaner energy. First came the shift from diesel and petrol-consuming versions to the ubiquitous yellow and green ones, which run on CNG. And now the little three-wheeler could go solar if a pilot project launched in Bengaluru last month proves feasible. The zero emission ‘ElecRic’—a regular auto converted to a solar-powered one—can run for 110 km on a full battery charge of five hours. RJMS EV, a Bengalurubased private manufacturer of electric vehicles and components, owns the patent for ElecRic and has priced it at `2 lakh. Umesh Chandra, one of the company’s directors, has suggested that the government provide charging points near metro stations and public offices to facilitate accessibility as well as last-mile connectivity. Meanwhile, the Pakistan parliament recently became the first in the world to completely run on solar power. The parliament’s solar panels will even generate some surplus power, which will be directed to the national grid.

GREEN HEROES In Mumbai, where a patch of green is as difficult to spot as a patch of the open sky, the Vrindavan Garden in the MIDC colony in suburban Andheri, comes as a verdant relief. “The municipality is supposed to maintain the garden, but nothing was happening,” says P. Sriganesh, a resident. The people of the locality approached the authorities and proposed maintaining the plot. Once the go-ahead came in 2006, the one-acre plus land was nurtured with the botanical and landscaping knowledge of the initiators. Today, it boasts undulating lawns and a variety of trees, complete with vermicompost pits, a football ground and a play area. Even though the residents had to hand back the garden to the authorities recently, they continue to be involved in its maintenance. SOURCES: Refugees: The Christian Science Monitor,

17 December 2015. Food: The Telegraph, 27 December 2015, 3 January 2016. Solar power: The Times of India, 5 March 2016; The Indian Express, 23 February 2016. Heroes: thebetterindia.com

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NEWS FROM THE

World of Medicine BY K E LS E Y KLOSS

Early Signs of Heart Trouble There may be telltale symptoms the month before a sudden cardiac arrest. In a new Annals of Internal Medicine study, researchers tracked 840 patients who experienced cardiac arrest (an electrical malfunction of the heart). Upto 50 per cent of men and 53 per cent of women experienced warning signs, such as chest pain and shortness of breath, in the weeks before. More than nine in ten patients reported symptoms resurfacing 24 hours before the cardiac arrest—but only 19 per cent called a medical emergency number.

Green Light to Shower After Surgery Doctors typically advise against getting surgical wounds wet to prevent infection until stitches are removed, which can take days or weeks. In a new study, researchers recruited 444 patients with low-risk surgical wounds. Half showered 48 hours after surgery, and the other half waited two weeks. There was no difference in infection risk, but patients who were able to shower were happier with their care. Early water exposure may be safe for most patients, but always check with your doctor.

Swapping sweet drinks for the sugarfree kind can still damage your pearly whites. Australian researchers tested 23 soft drinks and sports drinks on healthy, extracted human molars. All beverages caused erosion of dental enamel (most beverages eroded it 30 to 50 per cent). Any drink with a low pH (meaning it is acidic) can cause harm, even if it has no sugar. Check 36

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THE VOORHES

Sugar-Free Drinks May Hurt Teeth


for acidic additives, especially citric and phosphoric acid.

What Happy People Value Most Cherishing time is the secret to contentment, according to a new Social Psychological and Personality Science report. Researchers analyzed nearly 4,700 participants who were given real-life examples, such as whether they’d prefer an expensive apartment with a short commute or a less pricey apartment with a long commute. More than half prioritized time, linked to greater happiness, over money.

Antibiotic Resistance: a Growing Threat The effects of medicine-resistant infections may soon pose a larger risk than cancer. Annual deaths caused by drug resistance are estimated to increase from 7,00,000 in 2015 to about ten million in 2050, according to Review on Antimicrobial Resistance. The world’s population is taking more antibiotics, rendering the drugs less effective, and drug companies are producing fewer new antibiotics.

Downside of Being Mom’s Favourite Were you the golden child? It may not make you happy. Purdue University and Iowa State University researchers found that depressive symptoms were

most common in adult children who claimed to be closer to their mothers than their siblings were. Sibling rivalry may play a role (a mother’s attention may not nullify negative attention from jealous siblings), or favourites may be likelier to care for an ageing mother, which can take an emotional toll.

Working Out May Cause Alcohol Cravings Pennsylvania State University researchers recruited 150 adults to complete daily diaries on physical activity and alcohol consumption. Regardless of age and gender, active folks consistently drank more than their couch potato peers. People who exercise may look to further a postworkout high or reward themselves for exercising with alcohol.

Mental Trick to Stop Craving Junk Food Negative messages about unhealthy food may make you crave it more. In an Arizona State University study, researchers gave dieters either positive or negative messages about sugary snacks. Participants then watched a video while eating cookies. Those who received the negative message ate 39 per cent more cookies than the positivemessage group. If you’re trying to diet, think about the pros of healthy food rather than the cons of junk food. READER’S DIGEST

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Humour in Uniform

“You can’t fool me by wearing our uniform; I can see you’re on the other side.”

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fact, the sergeant just wanted an empty water can). WE WERE INSPECTING several lots

of grenades. While everyone was concentrating on the task at hand, I held up a spare pin and asked, “Has anyone seen my grenade?” SMSGT. DAN POWELL, from rallypoint.com

Reader’s Digest will pay for your funny anecdote or photo in any of our jokes sections. Post it to the editorial address, or email: editor.india@rd.com

RAJU

THE MILITARY has a long, proud tradition of pranking recruits. Here are some favourites from rallypoint.com: n Instructed a soldier in the mess hall to look for left-handed spatulas. n Sent a recruit to medical-supplies office in search of fallopian tubes. n Had a new guy conduct a “boom test” on a howitzer by yelling “Boom!” down the tube in order to ‘calibrate’ it. n Ordered a soldier to bring back a large can of dehydrated water (in


Points to Ponder THE OPPOSITE of love is not hate, it’s indifference. The opposite of art is not ugliness, it’s indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, it’s indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, it’s indifference. ELIE WIESEL,

humanitarian,

HOW UNFORTUNATE would be a nation which has only obedient, conformist minds as its youth—youth who fight only for placements with fat pay packets; who are ready to turn into cogs and wheels of the machinery, which turns profit for a few and crushes the rest of humanity.

in U.S. News & World Report

APOORVANAND,

[MY MOTHER] would say to me,

“It’s so easy to say yes, but never be afraid to say no.” If you work hard enough and you’re good at what you do, an opportunity is never the last chance. It’s just a sign you’re on the right path. Don’t rush into anything. LITTLE SIMZ,

ra p p e r,

in The Red Bulletin

p r o f e s s o r o f Hi n d i a t t h e Un i v e r s i t y o f D e l h i , in The Indian Express

YOU KNOW WHEN you actually get good at sports? When you’re having fun and being creative. When you’re being a kid. When you don’t even realize you’re getting better, that’s when you’re getting better. If you’re not engaged in what you’re doing,

WITTY WISDOM The best time to re-evaluate your life is when the online video you’re @APARNAPKIN (APARNA NANCHERLA), comedian watching is buffering. Never trust a man wearing more than 0 necklaces. @AUDIPENNY (AUDREY FARNSWORTH), c o m e d i a n

I read the internet so much, I feel like I’m like on page a million of the worst book ever. AZIZ ANSARI, comedian, in a stand-up routine

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...The only magic that happens in this world happens on the stage. Films take you captive, they feed you everything on a plate, the legerdemain they create transports you into a state where you may as well be dreaming, but theatre takes you into a world where your imagination is stimulated, your judgement is unimpaired, and thus your enjoyment heightened.  NASEERUDDIN SHAH, actor, in his autobiography And Then One Day

it’s as helpful as taking the trash out. It’s just another chore. PATRICK O’SULLIVAN,

r e t i r e d N H L p l a y e r, in The Players’ Tribune

then plateaued out. If that society has a lot of young people and if you don’t have institutional capacity or will to deal with their demands, you are in for social upheaval. SUNIL KHILNANI,

ILLUSTRATION: KES HAV KA PIL

REREADING the same book produces

new insights because the reader is a different person. Indeed, a good book is very much like a mirror: The glass is the same year after year, but the reflection in it changes over time. CHRISTOPHER B. NELSON,

p r e s i d e n t o f S t . Jo h n’s C o l l e g e , in The Wall Street Journal

IF YOU LOOK at recent history, the real crunch happens in societies which have fared well for a bit, and

a u t h o r o f t h e b o o k Th e Id e a o f In d i a , in an interview to the BBC

TO BE HOPEFUL in bad times is not just foolishly romantic. It is based on the fact that human history is a history not only of competition and cruelty but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage, kindness. What we choose to emphasize in this complex history will determine our lives. HOWARD ZINN,

historian,

in his book

A Power Governments Cannot Suppress

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FINISH THIS SENTENCE

I break into a laugh when… ..I see people doing

laughter yoga in the park.

SURESH KUMAR, Madurai

..I make a move to

push a glass sliding door.

ATIYA JIVRAJ, Hyderab ad

...I am

tickled.

ASWANT KAUR ASHI Tarn Taran, Punjab

...our politicians promise voters the moon at election rallies.

NEELAM NAYYAR PARIHAR, Ludhiana

Laurel and Hardy clips.

JAMMI VENKATA RAMANA, Chennai

specs on and go searching for them!

PARIMITA LODHA, Ahmedab ad

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IN DIA PICTURE

...I have my

...I watch


ART of LIVING LIFE LESSON

Big decisions don’t have to be overwhelming; it’s all in how you frame the answers

The Choice Is Yours BY C H ANTAL TRANCH E M O NTAGNE

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T H E C H O I C E I S YO U R S

WHEN CONFRONTED with a difficult decision, we can be like deer caught in the headlights: dazed and unable to choose a direction. Should you start your own company or stay in your current job? Pick investment A over investment B? Opt for this course of medical treatment or that one? The answer isn’t always obvious, and the fear of making a disastrous move can send anxiety levels skyrocketing or allow paralysis to set in. Despite these pitfalls, actual empowerment is possible—it’s a matter of shifting our mindset. Here are some steps to feeling liberated in the quest to find answers.

Step 1: Take It Easy “Most of the paralysis in decisionmaking comes from assuming the world has the right answer and we’re just too stupid to figure it out,” says Ruth Chang, a philosopher at Rutgers University in New Jersey, US. Not so, she insists. Chang studies the process of making hard choices and has outlined a new framework for those tough calls. According to her thinking, in truly complex situations, there is no right answer and no one option better than another. “So when we face hard choices,” she says, “we shouldn’t tear our hair out trying to figure out which alternative is better.” If you need further incentive to ease up on yourself, consider a 2012 44

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study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. The authors found that anxiety clouds your judgment and makes you more likely to seek outside counsel and act on bad advice.

Step 2: Do the Grunt Work While less-demanding decisionmaking is your goal, you still have some heavy lifting to do. There has been a surge of insight into the field of emotional/instinctual/intuitive decision-making, yet you should still start at the beginning: with the facts. Chang argues that studying the alternatives, making pros and cons lists and working out the hypotheticals is important and unavoidable. However, if you’ve studied all the options and a clear decision doesn’t rise to the top, don’t get stuck. Move on to the next step.

Step 3: Dig Deep Montreal-based certified life coach Erica Diamond knows that finding the answers to life’s truly tough questions requires a one-two punch. “We often think that decisionmaking is all logic,” she says. “But the best decisions are made with a combination of intellect and instinct. Good strategists collect information based on these two things until they feel they can make a good decision.” In research released in 2014 by Time Inc.’s Fortune Knowledge Group and global advertising firm


R E A D E R S D I G E S T. C O . I N

Gyro, 62 per cent of executives admitted to relying on gut feeling and other unquantifiable factors, while upto 65 per cent said that subjective elements influenced their choices. “Any big decisions can’t be made in a vacuum of analytics,” said Christoph Becker, Gyro’s CEO, in an interview after the study was released. “It’s underscored by a rational structure, but emotion has to lead.”

ALL IM AGES : INDIA PICTURE

Step 4: Distinguish Yourself In going through the exercise of listing the facts, pondering the possibilities and letting sentiments play a part in decision-making, remember that hard choices are an opportunity. “When we pick between options that are on par, we can do something remarkable: we can put our very selves behind an option. And what we put our agency behind really does define what matters to us and who we are,” says Chang. “You

might say that we become the authors of our own lives.” Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon, would agree. In a commencement speech he gave to Princeton’s graduating class of 2010, he echoed Chang’s philosophy, outlining why we should view decision-making as empowering. “When you are 80 years old and, in a quiet moment of reflection, narrating for only yourself the most personal version of your life story, the telling that will be most compact and meaningful will be the series of choices you have made. In the end, we are our choices. Build yourself a great story.”

THE GADGET Do you want to try a totally 21st-century method of decision-making? Turn to somethingpop.com for answers about where to work, live and invest. Created by financial-tech whiz kid Ben Gimpert, the web tool allows you to plug in and assign a weighted percentage to your priorities, like vacation time, pay and office environment. A quick analysis of the numbers and— bam—the choice is made.

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HEALTH

Struggling to be heard? It may not be their hearing—but your volume

First Aid for Your Voice BY S USA N I N C E

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who’ve used certain medications over a prolonged period (blood thinners, for instance) or have a medical condition (like thyroid). Professionals who overuse their vocal systems because their jobs require constant chatter, or speaking in a noisy setting, are prone too. Fortunately, there are ways—from easy maintenance tips to surgical fixes—that can help you avoid ‘sounding old’ or losing the ability to make yourself heard.

Too Hoarse to Talk Relentless, highvolume talking is a part of the job for call-centre employees, lawyers and teachers. According to a French study published in BioMed Central, one in two female teachers reported voice disorders, compared to one in four males. Self-described ‘talker’ Kaysi Hamilton, 39, a maths

DAN SA ELI NGER/TRUNK ARCHIVE

WHEN I ENTER a family reunion, relatives crank up their hearing aids. At parties, I’m often asked to repeat myself to the point of just smiling and giving up. This scares me because my mother’s puny voice eventually became so small that phone calls were torturous, then impossible. While hearing and vision issues are prominent in many discussions of ageing, there’s often silence on how our voices age. “You may begin to see this change when you enter your 50s,” says Dr K.K. Handa, director and head of department of ENT and head-neck surgery at Medanta-The Medicity, Gurgaon. In fact, several people have difficulty speaking that is serious enough to be diagnosed as a voice disorder, with their pitches and volume dropping. Problems can start with retirement, at menopause, or even at a younger age in those


teacher, rarely gets a break from speaking throughout the school day. When Hamilton, from Texas, became hoarse in April one year, she thought it was just allergies. As Hamilton powered through her workdays, she couldn’t raise her pitch, at times her voice would drop out entirely, and her neck muscles were so tense that swallowing became difficult; she felt as if she were choking. She counted the days until summer break, but things didn’t improve. “If your voice doesn’t recover over a week, or even a season like summer, there’s likely a permanent voice problem that needs fixing, such as nerve damage or a growth on the vocal folds,” says Ingo Titze, PhD, director of the National Center for Voice and Speech in Utah, US. A few months later, in July, Hamilton consulted ear, nose and throat (ENT) specialists. They saw a pea-size polyp (a swelling in the vocal cord’s mucous membrane) dangling like a water balloon from one of her vocal cords. Polyps can occur with longterm exposure to irritants such as cigarette smoke and chemical fumes, as well as because of chronic allergies and excessive voice use. Hamilton’s doctor, Ted Mau, MD, director of the voice centre at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, recommends that patients start with voice therapy to learn better habits, even if surgery to remove the polyp will almost certainly be needed.

VOICE-CHANGING MEDICAL CONDITIONS Temporary hoarseness is normal when you get a cold (infection causes your vocal cords to swell, interfering with their normal vibration). Allergy and sinus problems can create a postnasal drip that irritates vocal cords. Many allergy pills also dry out vocal cords, so ask about using alternative meds, sinus washes, and medications to thin mucus (such as those used with plenty of water). Don’t clear your throat to get rid of phlegm (this bangs the vocal cords together and is a harmful habit). Another common vocal cord irritant is gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) that reaches the throat. GERD medication or lifestyle changes (such as avoiding foods that cause heartburn) may be all it takes to feel better. In rare cases, voice changes can be the first sign of a vocal cord cancer or a symptom of a neurological problem such as Parkinson’s disease. Don’t ignore a voice change that lasts more than three weeks. While an exam will check for these conditions, it’s likely that changes in your onceyouthful voice will turn out to be owing—at least in part—to your speaking habits or ageing.

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F I R S T A I D F O R YO U R VO I C E

Hamilton’s therapy focused on massaging and relaxing her tense throat and neck muscles. She learnt techniques to make more use of natural cavities in the head to create volume without overusing the throat. One common exercise: blowing raspberries (as babies do, trilling your lips to a brruh sound). Another involves singing through a straw (through a range of pitches or a favourite tune). After surgery to remove her polyp, and a tricky seven days of absolutely no talking, Hamilton responded to additional vocal exercises. Within weeks, her vocal cords were working properly. She’s more careful now, drinking plenty of water and taking voice breaks during the day.

Too Quiet to Be Heard Bruce Lyon, 74, thought his wife, Kathie, should have her hearing checked. He suspected she wasn’t paying attention when she’d ask “What did you say?” multiple times every day. But after his adult children repeatedly complained and even his grandson pointed out his very soft voice, Lyon acknowledged that the problem was his. “It was a struggle to project enough to be heard, especially at restaurants or places with background noise,” says Lyon, a retired university administrator in Georgia, US. His ENT doctor referred him to the Emory Voice Center, where Lyon’s 48

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vocal apparatus was videotaped through a scope while he performed various vocal exercises. The diagnosis: vocal fold atrophy, or presbyphonia. Vocal folds can weaken with age, especially after menopause in women or when the vocal muscles aren’t used enough; Lyon, for example, had begun talking far less since his retirement several years earlier. During speech, vocal folds vibrate, rapidly touching and separating as air pushes through. As muscles lose volume, strength and coordination, it takes more effort for the folds to close—and sometimes, as atrophy gets worse, they can’t. The result is a softer, less resonant voice that requires far more effort to make audible. “Presbyphonia is a double whammy because it occurs at the same time that friends may have agerelated hearing changes,” says Edie Hapner, director of speech language pathology at the Emory Voice Center. With Hapner, Lyon did a series of exercises called PhoRTE (pronounced “forte,” like music instruction in Italian to play loudly or strongly). Modelled after strength training with older adults in sports medicine and physical therapy, the exercises start at about 50 per cent of maximum effort, gradually building up in intensity. At home, Lyon practised in two 15-minute sessions a day, energetically sustaining a vowel sound, gliding up and down his pitch range, calling out simple sentences in a loud voice,


R E A D E R S D I G E S T. C O . I N

DOS AND DON’TS FOR A HEALTHIER VOICE DO: Drink plenty of water, especially if you take medication. Drugs dry out the moist mucous layer that protects your vocal cords. Avoid large amounts of coffee, caffeinated drinks, as well as alcohol, which can dehydrate you. DON’T: Yell. Screaming can lead to bumps or calluses on the vocal folds, so move closer or find another way to get

someone’s attention. Some teachers use amplification headsets, like those worn by fitness instructors. DO: Sing. Trained singers generally sound much younger, longer than people who don’t sing. If singing isn’t your thing, read aloud every day to keep your vocal muscles working. DON’T: Go low. Vocal fry—the raspy, Kim

and using a respiratory resistance device to strengthen his breath. It worked. “The change was gradual, but within a couple of months, we weren’t asking him to repeat himself,” says Kathie. Like any type of muscle conditioning, however, the maximum improvement lasts only with continued practice. Lyon’s voice problems were considered mild to moderate, but in some people, bowing of the vocal folds is so extreme that even with vocal therapy they won’t touch. “We can inject a filler to augment the vocal cords. Some fillers use the

Kardashian–like speech pattern increasingly popular among teens (both boys and girls)— may set them up for voice problems later because the vocal muscles don’t get exercised at the full range of pitch. DO: Find your natural speaking resonance. Say “mmm-hmm.” That’s a good indicator of where your most comfortable resonance will be.

same material used to fill facial wrinkles,” says Elizabeth Guardiani, MD, an assistant professor of otorhinolaryngology and head and neck surgery at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, US. As for me, a chat with a voice specialist indicated nothing particularly abnormal. I am determined to drink more water and use my voice more— enunciating with French-language CDs or singing in the car. If that doesn’t improve things, I’ll consult a pro. Lyon says he wishes he’d gone for help three years earlier. —WITH INPUTS BY SUNALINI MATHEW

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MONEY

Useful tips to make your plans in the new financial year sustainable

Good Money Habits BY G AU R AV M AS H R U WALA

IT’S THE RIGHT TIME for a new year resolution or two, from a financial planning point of view. Look at them as a promise to yourself, a promise that needs to be honoured. Most resolutions are made in euphoria—when you get an increment, or after reading a selfhelp book. The charm dies down, and so does the enthusiasm. Here are some tips that will help you stay the course all year through.

Take baby steps. The other day a colleague walked up to me and said, “I have decided to wake up at 6:30 a.m., starting tomorrow.” I asked when she usually woke up. “At 8:30,” came the reply. Two hours is a tall order. After a few days I asked her how she was progressing. Her disheartened smile said it all. I suggested that she set her alarm for 5 minutes before her regular time. “That’s too simple,” she 50

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said. If she had considered pushing the clock by 5 minutes every 10 days, she’d reach her 6:30 a.m. goal in eight months—that’s a lifelong benefit. Get the drift? Now simply replace time with savings.

Tell apart a resolution and a habit. We make resolutions with a conscious mind, habits are cultivated so that eventually they are dealt with by our subconscious mind; and they stick. So don’t be in a rush to invest your money. Go with a systematic investment plan (SIP) of a mutual fund or start a recurring deposit (RD). A client did just this: he started with `5,000 per month, and because he did not feel the pinch, he wished to increase it. We suggested he up the amount by 10 per cent every year. If you want to inculcate this habit in your child too, ask him to put `100 in a post-office or bank RD. As human


beings, we want to progress. Once a habit is formed, we want to move ahead and will most probably increase the investment amount without any prodding.

Get your family’s buy-in.

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It’s a good idea to involve your family in your financial plan. If your daughter knows that she can only eat out one weekend a month because you’re putting money away for a European trip in 2017, she will be much more cooperative and feel she is a part of the decision. Plus, you’re inculcating a habit that will stand her in good stead in the years to come.

Give your goals a meaning. Link your investment to a particular financial goal; your commitment to it will be stronger. Instead of opening an RD for a random period, think of

a goal before you make the decision. A client had an SIP in equity funds, but she seemed directionless about the investment—it was just there. Once we suggested that she link it to her daughter’s education fund, she immediately wished to increase the amount she was investing. When you name your investment, the goal takes on a greater meaning.

Plan in advance. Earmark any incoming funds for a purpose. For instance, if you know you will get a Diwali bonus of `1 lakh, call it the “Renovation Bonus” if you’d like to do up your house, for instance. If you know this well in advance, you are less likely to buy an expensive mobile phone on an impulse. Gaurav Mashruwala is a Mumbai-based financial planner, and the author of Yogic Wealth: The Wealth that Gives Bliss! READER’S DIGEST

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TRAVEL

Look out for these lesser-known destinations this summer

In the Southern Hills BY KA LYA N I P R ASH E R

Ananthagiri Hills, Telangana Take a break from the clutter and crowd of Hyderabad and head to the salubrious climes of Ananthagiri. It lies cocooned in the Eastern Ghats. Ananthagiri is made for a laidback break as you kick off your shoes, lie in your hammock and watch the River Musi, a tributary of the Krishna, flow through the undulating landscape. When you want to get active, the tropical semi-evergreen forests covering the hills are teeming with flora and fauna (including pythons and monitor lizards). The Anantha Padmanabha Swamy Temple, with Lord Vishnu as its main deity, is located within the forest and is a good excursion. Think of it as a feast for the eyes and balm for the soul. Get there: Roughly 90 km from Hyderabad 52

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Stay: The GrassWalk Jungle Camp is a good stay option; thegrasswalk.com

Chikkamagaluru, Karnataka Spend a quiet, relaxed time in Chikkamagaluru, in the Baba Budan Hills in the Western Ghats, reacquainting yourself with nature and sipping on some of India’s finest coffees. One of the largest producers of coffee in the country, this is where you can stay within a plantation and start your day with a brew grown right where you are. Take plantation tours, go berry-picking, attend coffeemaking sessions or simply enjoy the abundant greenery and stunning views. If you love flowers, you can spend time spotting the over 300 varieties that grow around the hills here, or visit the Nehru Rose Garden, where the amphitheatre often hosts cultural events.


Get there: Roughly 250 km from Bengaluru Stay: The Serai Resort, a luxury property; theserai.in/resorts-chikmagalur; Silent Valley Resort, an eco-hotel; greenplanetresorts.com

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Athirapally, Kerala Nestling in the verdant Sholayar range, this nook of Kerala remains largely crowd-free. The biggest attraction here is the magnificent Athirapally Waterfall, a wide cascade, almost as wide as an ocean. The waterfall is at its mightiest after the monsoon, which is also the best time to visit. If you like nature, this is an ideal base for you to plan little treks into the jungle, listen to the wind rustle through the trees and the waterfall thundering down in the distance—it will be an experience you’ll cherish.

Get there: Roughly 80 km from Kochi Stay: Rainforest, a lovely boutique hotel; rainforest.in; Kandamkulathy Ayursoukhyam Ayurvedic Resort, if you want to get an ayurvedic treatment along with your holiday; ayursoukhyam.com

Valparai, Tamil Nadu The most memorable thing about your Valparai holiday will be the drive up to it: 40 hairpin bends up the Anamalai Hills, in the Western Ghats, afford fabulous views of the dams below. (All the bends are numbered to aid anyone who cannot be bothered to keep count!) Once you’re there, misty mountain highs and tea gardens unroll in front of your eyes, an unbelievably beautiful landscape filled with acres of manicured greens. Stay at a tea estate bungalow, enjoy READER’S DIGEST

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IN THE SOUTHERN HILLS

fine tea and let your mind, body and soul relax. It’s elephant country, so you’re sure to catch more than a glimpse of them. Get there: Roughly 100 km from Coimbatore Stay: A vintage bungalow with limited rooms within the tea estate; sinnadorai.com. Or choose a homestay to suit your budget at valparaitourism.com/homes.php

Yercaud, Tamil Nadu A hill station near Salem that offers panoramic views of the Servarayan Hills and the Eastern Ghats. The most striking feature, however, is the lake in the middle of the woods, a great excursion with a packed picnic. In fact, it seems Yercaud means the ‘lake forest’ (yeri is lake and kaadu is forest, in Tamil), and this beautiful geographic feature gives the place its very name. Yercaud is well known for its citrus fruits, particularly oranges, and you can walk among dense and cool orange groves here. They say the temperature never goes beyond 30 degrees here—so get there before global warming does.

MUST-TRY LOCAL FOOD & DRINK FILTER COFFEE: Not just at your hotel but all along the highways, especially in Tamil Nadu, you will find potti kadais (small shops) with big signs advertising filter coffee. We suggest you stop at the Only Coffee outlets on the GST Road (NH 45), and try the strong and sweet ‘metre coffee’, that’s poured out from one receptacle to the other, with a flourish. SET DOSAS: Spongy and fluffy, enjoy a ‘set’ or stack of these hot off the tawa on any roadside eatery in Tamil Nadu or Kerala.

Get there: 200 km from Coimbatore, or 170 km from Tiruchirapalli Stay: The Regent Hill Side Resort, a green stay option; enjoyyercaud.com or GRT Nature Trails, a luxury stay; grthotels.com/yercaud

it doesn’t need it. The man who needs it doesn’t know it. What is it? ANSWER: A coffin. 54

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RIDDLE ME THIS … QUESTION: The man who made it doesn’t want it. The man who bought


Shocking Notes FROM ALL OVER HOBBYISTS TRAFFIC CONES

AUTOGRAPHS

David Morgan’s collection is the envy of all Department of Transportation groupies. Since 1986, the 72-year-old Brit has gathered 500 traffic cones, including one he says is from Malaysia. “Some people probably think it’s dull,” he told the Daily Mirror. “If I go to parties and tell people I’m a cone collector, they quickly move on.” Source: mirror.co.uk

Big deal—a lot of people collect autographs. What sets Paul Schmelzer’s collection apart is that he asks celebrities to sign his name. Yes, he goes up to the rich and famous and says, “May I have my autograph?” Seventy celebrities have signed Paul Schmelzer, including Yoko Ono and the voice of Homer Simpson, actor Dan Castellaneta. Robert Redford and James Brown got confused and signed their own names. Source: signifier-signed.blogspot.com

ILLUSTRATION BY NI CK DAUPH IN

FREE-TRIAL ITEMS

Ever wondered if those dubiouslooking tummy trimmers, hair growers and fat-melting belts staring at you from newspaper classifieds, teleshopping TV channels and pop-up windows, have any takers? Looks like Sandeep Pillai can’t get enough of them—not for their quality, but for their free trial-and-return policy. Since the 1980s, when he was a student in New Delhi, Pillai has been ordering these items, using and returning them just in time. The free trial is what matters; what he doesn’t/can’t use gets passed on to friends. Source: The Tribune

QUOTES

Greg Packer’s goal in life is to be the most quoted person on earth. So far, the 51-year-old retired highway maintenance worker has been quoted by media outlets nearly a thousand times. Somehow he has finagled his way in front of a camera to speak on topics such as the Iraq War and the first iPhone, neither of which he knew much about. He has been quoted so often that the Associated Press warned its reporters about using him in any more articles. Source: The New Yorker

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BEAUTY

Cut through the promises that lotions and potions offer, to look and feel your age

The No-Fuss Guide to Anti-Ageing BY DR R E K H A SH E T H

A LADY ONCE WALKED into my clinic, complaining that she felt older than her 42 years. Her face was dull, her skin mildly patchy, and she was a bit overweight. A couple of questions later, I realized what she needed first was an anti-ageing lifestyle: eating right, exercising every day and staying stress-free and happy. Once we took care of the basics, we were able to help her with targeted treatments. Beauty treatments and products have made great strides over the years, but there’s only so much they can do. As a dermatologist, I see signs of ageing in women in their 20s and 30s. It is not just hormones that play havoc with the skin, a combination of other factors, both internal and external (pollution, for instance), can damage it. Try this basic, easy56

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to-follow skincare regime for a healthy complexion. Follow the CTM (cleaning, toning moisturizing) regime religiously. Cleansing, sun-protection and use of a moisturizer with anti-ageing ingredients, are the most important steps. Your skin needs to be cleansed at least twice a day. An alcohol-free toner helps close pores. Use a moisturizer to keep your skin hydrated through the day. Carry along a sunscreen. Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen (with UVA and UVB blockers) that has a minimum of SPF 30. A sunscreen from a reputed brand may cost between `500 to `2,500. Buy a small pack and carry it with you to reapply it as often as you can.


Say yes to serums and night creams. If you are in your 20s or 30s look for antioxidants; if you are in your late 30s and 40s look for retinol, peptides, plus vitamin C. As you reach your 50s, use a concentrated serum/night cream which is hydrating. Remember, the older you are, the drier your skin gets.

Pick moisturizers and day creams with ‘active ingredients’. Look for antioxidants, both vitamins and botanicals, on the label. Amongst the vitamins, A, C, E, niacinamide, co-enzyme Q10 (CoQ10) and idebenone (a synthetic derivative of CoQ10) are the ones to pick. Look for lycopene, green tea, grape seed, pomegranate and soya bean extracts if you prefer botanical products; they help rejuvenate your skin. Choose a hydrating moisturizer that is appropriate for your skin type, whether dry, combination or oily.

Don’t fear technology. Your skin doc may recommend certain treatments. There are new safe, norisk procedures available, but know that they must be performed by a dermatologist, not a helper at a beauty parlour. These include specialized facials, LED photomodulation, IPL (Intense Pulsed Light), skin polishes, skin peels, neuromodulators, fillers, lasers and a wide range of skin-tightening methods. Combined with a healthy lifestyle, they will help your skin stay youthful and glowing. Dr Rekha Sheth is a cosmetic dermatologist in Mumbai and is founderpresident, Cosmetology Society of India.

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ADAPTED FROM PREVENTION INDIA. © 2015 LIVING MEDIA INDIA LIMITED.

THE AGE-OLD PROBLEM When I turned two, I was really anxious because I’d doubled my age in a year. I thought, If this keeps up, by the time I’m six, I’ll be 90.

STEVEN WRIGHT

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FAMILY

The Morning Report

WHEN MY mother passed away a few years ago, my octogenarian father was left alone in the large house they had shared for 50 years. Without her to watch out for him, he worried about who would find him and help if “something happened.” My sister and I live in other states, so we hit on the idea that Dad could send us an email every morning when he awoke. Thus was born the Morning Report. He’s usually up by the crack of dawn, and his half a dozen or so sentences are waiting in my inbox 58

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when I wake up, despite the twohour time difference. If there’s no email, I call him, or my sister does, to make sure everything is fine. (Sometimes he’s having computer problems or decided to sleep in.) The reports have become more than a daily check, though: They’re a diary of sorts, a planning tool, a catalyst for more extended conversations, and a source of insight into his life. Through them, Dad tells us about his daily routines. He might be heading to the grocery store for bananas,

GRACI A LA M

BY DO N A L D E . H U N TO N FR O M T H E B OSTO N GLO BE


going to his cardiac-rehab exercise class, or having lunch with friends. I find the repetitive cycle of his activities—current-events discussion group on Tuesday nights, Rotary Club on Wednesday afternoons, and coffee with friends after church on Sunday morning—reassuring. Sometimes he slips in cryptic teasers. For example, recently he told us, “I’ve climbed halfway up Mount Washington!” Given his age and distance from New Hampshire, such a hike was unlikely. I was befuddled for a day or two until he reminded me he was working on a hooked rug with a scene of the mountain.

Each email closes with “All my love, Dad.” When my mother was alive, that sentiment was normally reserved for her. Now that she is gone, he shares those feelings and his experiences with us. For me, what started as a simple security measure has spawned a deeper closeness. I’m grateful my father is still able to manage his computer and the internet. I know the day will come when he’ll no longer be able to write the reports, and we’ll have to find other ways to keep tabs on one another. But until then, they are our way of knowing that another normal day has begun.

COURTESY OF THE AUTHOR, FROM THE BOSTON GLOBE (MAY 24, 2015), COPYRIGHT © 2015 BY DONALD E. HUNTON.

IDK*, FBI The FBI released an 83-page glossary of Twitter shorthand that agents might encounter. If these entries are any indication, someone at the Bureau had way too much time on his hands. ■■ BOGSAT

(“bunch of guys sitting around talking”)

■■ IITYWTMWYBMAD

(“if I tell you what this means, will you buy me a drink?”)

■■ SHCOON

(“shoot hot coffee out of nose”)

■■ WYLABOCTGWTR

(“would you like a bowl of cream to go with that remark?”)

■■ BTDTGTTSAWIO

(“been there, done that, got the T-shirt, and wore it out”) muckrock.com

*I don’t know READER’S DIGEST

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FITNESS

These simple moves can reveal hidden problems to ask your doc about

A Lifesaving At-Home Check-Up BY J E SS I C A C ASS I T Y

Hold for up to 60 seconds. If you wobble early, you may be at higher risk for brain decline. In a Japanese study, 30 per cent of older adults who could balance for only 20 seconds or less, had microbleeds in the brain, an early indication of risk for stroke or dementia. These microbleeds can affect balance, memory and decision-making. 60

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TOUCH YOUR TOES

Sit with your spine straight, then lean forwards and try to touch your toes. Not even close? You might be at risk for cardiovascular problems. By using this test, University of North Texas researchers found that inflexible folks had less-elastic arteries than those who were more lithe. Stiff arteries mean the heart has to work harder, raising the risk of heart attack or stroke.

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3

SITTING TO STANDING

Time how long it takes to lift and lower yourself from a chair 10 times as fast as you can. Middleaged adults who did 10 reps in 21 seconds or fewer, were less likely to die over the next 13 years than those who took longer. The test requires muscle strength, balance and cardiorespiratory fitness; being slow may indicate an underlying disease before symptoms arise.

ILLUSTRATIONS BY CHRIS P HI LPOT

BALANCE ON ONE LEG

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IT HAPPENS

Only in India No no, there’s an inter-college debate happening today.

Why is the Republic Day parade happening now?

& Basu Samitu Epuri Raj

IF YOU THINK the scanning you and

your belongings go through is tough, relax. At least the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF), that guards the Delhi Airport, isn’t investigating your love lives. The force has now been put in charge of keeping a watch on relationships among the airport staff after several spouses complained about the staff’s affairs with colleagues. This has resulted in lots of CCTV surveillance, a broken relationship and transfers. And we complain about taking off our shoes. S u b m i t t e d b y PRIYA MEHTA, Ne w D e l h i ; Source: hindustantimes.com

A LADDU, CREATED during the last Ganesh festival in Tapeswaram, Andhra Pradesh, has set a Guinness world record for the world’s largest sweetmeat. It weighs well over 8,000 kilos so we can only hope the contest wasn’t close. The laddu has set this Guinness record five years running. The sweet shop’s next goal: to create a 500-kg kova (sweet) for Maharashtra’s Sai Baba temple. S u b m i t t e d b y MEETA AGARWAL, Ko l k a t a ; Source: ndtv.com

Reader’s Digest will pay for contributions to this column. Post your suggestions with the source to the editorial address, or email: editor.india@rd.com READER’S DIGEST

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COVER STORY

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Whether it’s music videos, lectures, silly stunts, or just funny cats, this online phenomenon is increasingly ruling our lives

HOW YOUTUBE CHANGED THE WORLD BY S IM O N H E MELRYK WITH ARUS H I SHA R MA ILLUSTRATION BY SAMEER KULAVOOR

AN UNASSUMING YOUNG MAN stands in front of some elephants at the San Diego zoo. “Um, the whole thing about these guys is they have really, really, really long trunks,” he rambles self-consciously into the camera. “And that’s pretty much all there is to say.” It’s hard to believe that when this banal clip was uploaded to a new website called YouTube on 23 April 2005, it would launch a world-changing phenomenon. The young man was YouTube co-founder Jawed Karim, a native of East Germany, who, along with READER’S DIGEST

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H OW YO U T U B E C H A N G E D T H E WO R L D

co-founders Steve Chen, originally views coming from mobile devices, from Taipei, and Chad Hurley from in 2014 the platform went further and the US, saw a hole in the internet launched ‘YouTube Offline’. This is a for a service that allowed people feature offered in only 14 other counto share personal videos easily. It tries, that allows users to watch their caught on spectacularly and within favourite videos, even when there is a year was showing 25 million videos no usable network connection, by a day. Eleven years on, more than a downloading it via mobile data or a Wi-Fi network. By launching billion users visit the site every an offline experience, Youmonth, watching six billion Tube has managed to move hours of video, with 100 hours past the challenges of data of film uploaded to the site connection, speed and cost, every minute. In India alone, so consumers can enjoy a YouTube gets more than 60 smooth, buffer-free version million unique users a month of the platform. and watch time has been growing at 80 per cent, year on year. Show Business Eleven years on, YouTube has allowed The billions of vidmore than one n u m e r o u s a m a t e u r eos now on the site, billion users uploaded by everyone music reviewers, anifrom homemakers to mators, filmmakers, visit the site multinational corporateenage lifestyle adviseach month, tions, range from cute ers and others to make watching six cats to speeches from billion hours of films that get seen by a world leaders—and wide audience. video. almost everything in “TV and film used to between. And, from its just be pushed out to a mumbling beginnings, YouTube has passive audience,” says Don Tapscott, fundamentally changed much of how author of books like Digital Economy we work, rest and play. and Grown Up Digital. “Now everyone Moreover, with over 400 million in- can become involved in the creation ternet users in the country [of which of culture.” over 300 million access it via their But YouTube has also created a mobiles] and six million new mobile lucrative alternative entertainment internet users being added every industry. It’s now far more watched month, India is seeing a phenomenal than any TV network, and its Partgrowth in online video consumption. ners Program gives video creators a With more than half of YouTube’s share of the four-billion-euro adver64

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PHOTO ILLUSTRATION BY KESHAV KAPI L

R E A D E R S D I G E S T. C O . I N

tising revenue earned by the website each year, according to how many views they’ve had. Thousands now make a living through everything from amateur cookery advice to comedy shorts. For instance, the popular standup comedy team AIB, who initially started with podcasts, only gained fame when they launched their YouTube channel in 2013; last year, they debuted on India’s Richest Celebrities 100 list by Forbes, ahead of celebrities like Rajnikanth, Irrfan Khan and Anurag Kashyap, and even teamed up with Hotstar to host and produce a news satire show “On Air with AIB” on the Star network. Bollywood has recognized the power of this platform too: big banners have started investing heavily, promoting films. Nearly every upcoming film has a YouTube page for the official trailer, behind-the-scenes footage and interactive videos with the cast and crew. Film director Sujoy Ghosh, known for Kahaani, decided to release his short film Ahalya on YouTube, rather than go the commercial route. It went on to become one of the most-watched videos of 2015, with more than 5.5 million views. Actors like Alia Bhat and Irrfan Khan have released videos on YouTube, in collaboration with AIB, to reveal a different side to themselves. Similarly, before the release of Barfi, its makers launched an interactive video campaign on YouTube. We see

From top to bottom: Psy’s “Gangnam Style”; AIB and Alia Bhat’s “Genius of the Year”; Sofia Ashraf’s “Kodaikanal Won’t.”

Ranbir Kapoor introducing the viewers to his character Barfi and sharing funny anecdotes about him. The interactive app [inbuilt in the video] allowed viewers to ask Barfi for advice, change his mood, show them how to dance and impress a girl, and so on. READER’S DIGEST

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H OW YO U T U B E C H A N G E D T H E WO R L D

Pussy Riot screened their Where once they had to slog Fe b r u a r y 2 0 1 2 p r o t e s t around the entertainment against President Putin in circuit or go to drama school, a Moscow church through people break into the tradiYouTube. And footage of the tional media and entertainfirst January 2011 demonment industries through Youstrations in Tahrir Square, Tube too—Canadian pop star Cairo, were on the site, Justin Bieber being the galvanizing support for most famous example. the removal of Hosni It used to be up to TV Mubarak, well before executives and profesThe more we the mainstream media sional reviewers as to see of different cottoned on. who would get enough Of course, YouTube exposure to become a places and gives wide exposure star. Says industry anacultures, as lyst John Blossom, aufilmed by locals to controversial or less thor of Content Nation: themselves, the savoury political views, Surviving and Thrivless remote and too, such as extremist propaganda, be it from ing As Social Media alien they members of ISIS or Changes Our Work, Our become. Iran’s foreign minister Lives, and Our Future, Mohammad Javad Zarif “On YouTube, the public does the work of making things making the case, direct to a Western hot.” Korean singer Psy’s “Gangnam audience in November 2013, for his Style,” for instance, went to No.1 in 30 country to be allowed nuclear power. But YouTube has almost certainly countries, thanks largely to becoming a YouTube cult—with two billion been more of a force for good than ill, views and counting—and is now the helping, for instance, highlight African farming projects that need help or most-watched video on YouTube. the 2014 Ice Bucket Challenge, which raised well over a $100 million for the Politics YouTube has provided a great plat- US’s Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis form for the ‘common man’ to expose (ALS) Association. In India last year, government wrongdoing and mobi- Sofia Ashraf, a 27-year-old singer, lize political change—particularly in used YouTube to spread a viral rap countries where free speech is limited. video (to the beat of Nicki Minaj’s ‘AnSyrian rebels have used it to spread aconda’) calling out “Unilever’s failure awareness of their uprising against to clean up mercury contamination President Assad. Russian punk band and compensate workers affected 66

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R E A D E R S D I G E S T. C O . I N

by its thermometer factory in Kodaikanal” that was shut down years ago. Last month, the company announced compensation for its workers after 15 years, when former employees, exposed to the toxic mercury, petitioned before the court. Along with the workers’ campaign, the video may have helped create awareness for the cause. The Indian government has also turned to YouTube: some of our ministries today have a YouTube channel, including PM Modi, who also has an official channel, PMO India, that documents his travels, meetings and speeches, among other things. Recently, finance minister Arun Jaitley took to it when his ministry launched a new YouTube channel, in an attempt to appeal to younger audiences ahead of this year’s union budget. The first video showed Jaitley stirring a pot of halwa ahead of the “halwa ceremony,” a quirky pre-budget ritual.

WHAT’S INDIA WATCHING? The videos that get the most hits in India are associated with comedy, beauty and fitness, cooking and technology tutorials, along with videos for kids. “Regional language content has also picked up a lot of pace,” adds a YouTube India spokesperson. “And music and Bollywood content and TV shows are evergreen, and continue to be extremely popular on YouTube in India.” Moreover, with the rise of comedy groups like TVF and AIB, Indian YouTube has seen a surge of creators who are now using the platform to express themselves and create content that’s not only engaging, but is shaping popular culture. Here are the top trending YouTube videos from 2015:

Shrinking the World From gentle videos of domestic life on Pitcairn Island [in the southern Pacific region] to a rescue video of a Siachen soldier trapped under 10 metres of snow after an avalanche, closer to home, YouTube shows us far more of the planet than documentaries and magazine supplements ever could. The more we see of different places and cultures, as filmed by the locals themselves, the less remote and alien they become, often challenging our assumptions. Footage of the poor-

1. “Every Bollywood Party Song,” by AIB featuring Irrfan Khan 2. A Chhota Bheem episode called “Chhota Bheem aur Krishna Jodi No. #1” 3. The 500th episode of popular TV show Crime Patrol 4. “Honest Weddings” by AIB 5. A spoof of the film PK by Shudh Desi Endings

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but-contented residents of a close-knit Arctic hamlet might make us rethink what’s important in life, for instance. But the change can be potentially even more profound. “I met a 14-year-old goat herder in Kenya, who had a solar mobile device that allowed her to post and watch videos on YouTube,” says Tapscott. “She didn’t have water, or electrical power, she was pregnant, married to some guy who bought her for 180 goats, but she was also part of a global media experience. Imagine the kind of cognitive dissonance that YouTube might bring to her. Imagine the disruption.”

Education YouTube has thousands of free t u t o r i a l s u p l o a d e d by h e l p f u l amateurs and companies that show you how to do almost anything. It also provides a platform for more highbrow learning. The TED talks, for instance, are lectures by experts on everything from tribes in the Amazon to fractal mathematics. The not-for-profit Khan Academy, meanwhile, combines online learning aids and puzzles with micro lectures on subjects including maths, economics, healthcare and astronomy. With the help of YouTube, it has delivered 400 million lessons to

START YOUR OWN CHANNEL

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YouTube serves as a great platform to put a brand, product or service in front of millions of potential viewers, with the click of a button. Here are some tips on how you can become a successful ‘YouTuber.’

can run the channel without you having to disclose your personal Google account information. But remember, only one YouTube channel can be associated with each Google account.

1. First, create your free Google account. If you’re starting a YouTube channel for your business, set it up from scratch, using a unique and nonpersonal email address. That way someone else from your organization

2. Since there’s no specialized business account or YouTube channel for businesses, customize the channel’s settings so it best caters to your audience and showcases your business, its image and your videos.

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3. Make sure you upload a photo or logo, and in the “About” section, add a short description, add links (which lets you decide whether or not to show how many views your channel has), and add channels to highlight partners, different departments, or individual employees. If you don’t know of any other YouTube channels you want to feature, you can leave this section blank and update it after you’re better acquainted with the platform.


R E A D E R S D I G E S T. C O . I N

schools everywhere from rich British suburbs to villages in India, struggling against poverty. Scientists have even shared their new discoveries on YouTube. Carnegie Mellon University PhD student Johnny Chung Lee received several million plays of a video he posted in 2008 showing how a Nintendo Wii controller could transform a normal TV screen into a virtual-reality display.

Changing Our Minds “YouTube is improving our memories,” says Tapscott. “It’s a visual record of a huge amount of what’s happening or 4. The video manager helps you manage all your content. There are also some unique features found on this page: n The ability to livestream a life event n A place to go to create video playlists n A tab to access your search history n A tab that shows you all of the videos you’ve liked 5. The first video you upload should be a trailer for your channel. Depending on your industry or focus of your channel, the initial trailer can be a general look at what your

has happened in the world, and it’s available to everybody.” You can now have a strong memory of a family party you didn’t even attend thanks to YouTube footage, for instance. You can revisit obscure regional news stories you had long forgotten about. You can watch old footage of a favourite pop song from the ’80s, or writers and entertainers who have passed on years ago. YouTube has given us a far deeper, clearer sense of the past than we’d get from just being told about it, in history books or TV documentaries.

company, product or service is all about, or can be more specific or an unusual video to convey the details of the channel. 6. Like any other online community, YouTube needs to be maintained and managed. As your presence continues to build, it’s important to constantly engage with your target audience and also, find people who are dissatisfied with your brand, and address their issues. 7. YouTube also has a formidable analytics suite. You can use this data to help decide

what content you want to produce and use key factors like audience demographics, playback locations, devices watched from and audience retention, to better tailor your videos. 8. Finally, don’t forget to link your channel with your other social networking accounts such as Facebook, Twitter and Google+. Remember that more platforms mean more views and more exposure. Sources: mashable.com, sproutsocial.com, entrepreneur.com

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H OW YO U T U B E C H A N G E D T H E WO R L D

The World of Business

cial message. These tend to be longer, YouTube has profoundly changed get promoted through viewer shares, marketing, says Blossom. “It’s almost and stay memorable. Ariel, the launessential for a company or product to dry detergent brand, launched a powhave a compelling YouTube presence.” erful new ad campaign that takes on The website is an excellent vehicle for traditional patriarchy and focuses on ads, but its comments sections also one of the challenges faced by women all over the world: balancgive firms instant feedback ing the demands of raising a b o u t h o w a p ro d u c t i s a family, along with mainbeing perceived, and they taining a successful career. may change their marketing Similarly, popular jewellery accordingly. brand Tanishq featured a B u t Yo u T u b e i s a l s o dusky mother getting reunder mining companies’ married, shattering many ability to determine how their s t e re o t y p e s i n o n e products are perceived. sweep. Indian clothVideo bloggers, who Citizen ing company, Anouk, review everything from journalism is too stirred the waters the latest gadgets to restaurants, now hold a now a powerful with an ad featuring a lesbian couple, chalhuge amount of power, force: 39 per lenging the traditional, with many having cent of the millions of viewers. most-watched socially conservative outlook and choosing Firms have to woo them videos come to align itself with a prowith free gifts, advertise from the public. gressive message. next to their videos and sometimes take drastic PR action to counteract their Reporting the News criticism. A 2009 upload by Canadian A 2012 study by a US think tank, the musician Dave Carroll criticizing Pew Research Center, found that United Airlines for breaking his guitar YouTube has become the worldwide may have helped wipe 157 million platform for viewing news. The most euros off the company’s share value, searched term on the website was and prompted the firm to change its news-related, in five of the 15 months customer-service policy. analyzed. Most news events on Indian In India too, companies are part- television are available on YouTube for nering with YouTube for a wider reach viewers to revisit and verify for themwith ads that serve a dual purpose: selves. We tend to turn to YouTube for promote their brand and convey a so- most things we have missed watching 70

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live or catching on TV—from speeches made in our Parliament to John Oliver’s take-down of Donald Trump. It turns out, 39 per cent of the mostwatched videos came from members of the public, rather than news organizations, revealing how YouTube has made citizen video journalism a powerful force. Amateur recordings have been the first, most revealing or often the only footage to emerge from several major events, including the Nepal earthquake and Saddam Hussein’s execution. Recently, the events around student protests and government action on them were shared and discussed widely. It is YouTube and its users that frequently set the news agenda now, says Blossom—determining the latest, most important event in the world that most people want to see footage of—rather than editors or TV producers. “Major media outlets must follow in YouTube’s footsteps to gain some portion of people’s attention as events unfold,” he says.

Building Communities YouTube has created thousands of new communities: how-to videos form a large part of these, whether

they are based around beauty, fitness, cooking or kids’ content—the fastest-growing areas, according to a YouTube spokesperson. So whether you’re wondering how to make your favourite butter chicken, or tie your newborn baby’s diaper or fix your iPhone’s blank screen, YouTube has an ‘expert’ for you. Another good example is videogame players, says British author and internet psychologist Graham Jones. Fans of a particular game will produce films showing their hints and tricks, others will leave comments saying why they love the game, and so people all over the world will start bonding over a shared interest. The same can happen with everything from football tutorials to footage of obscure Indipop songs from the ’90s. Of cours e, view er comments beneath YouTube videos often do just t h e o p p o s i t e o f bu i l d i ng n e w , enriching relationships, being nasty, sarcastic or threatening. But, says Jones, research has found that far more people leave positive comments online than unpleasant ones, so one could argue that YouTube helps bring people together by showing that, “Most of us are actually quite nice.”

THE THINGS WE WEATHER When you come out of the storm, you won’t be the same person who walked in. That’s what the storm’s all about. HARUKI MURAKAMI

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HUMOUR SPECIAL

Unbelievable tales of bad judgement, timing and just plain stupidity

WORLD’S

DUMBEST CRIMINALS BY S N I GD H A H ASAN AND BRUCE GRIER SON

M

UMBAI RESIDENT Altaf Qureshi had just

made off with the handbag of a lady he’d spotted dozing in a railway ticket counter queue. Now the proud owner of the booty—a cell phone, necklace and some cash—he only thought it polite to answer his newlyacquired phone when it rang.

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Supermarket Hero A 23-YEAR-OLD man in a supermarket checkout line in Stuttgart, Germany, was about to pay for two cans of cola when a couple of the store’s employees confronted him. They had seen him shoplift. The man bolted. But as he ran, grocery items he had shoved down his trousers slipped out of a pant leg. He tripped on them and fell sprawling to the ground, where staffers detained him for the police.

The Perfect Alibi THOUGH HE PLEADED innocent, LaDondrell Montgomery of Houston, Texas, was slapped with a life sentence for armed robbery. But shortly after the trial, his lawyer dug up evidence that would exonerate the man, something Montgomery knew but had completely forgotten: he’d happened to be locked up in jail at the time of the robbery. Source: ABC News 74

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Publicity Hounds O N C E YO U S E T U P a business, marketing it is only obvious. A gang of three professional shooters in Allahabad decided to build their profile with a blitzkrieg of publicity: they actually circulated smiling, guntoting photographs of themselves in the crime world and to further substantiate their expertise, CVs of their felonious deeds were added to their publicity campaign. The ingenious modus operandi came to light when the police busted the gang. The trio—Ajay Yadav, Rakesh Kumar and Neeraj Singh—said the portfolio helped establish their credentials with prospective clients. Source: timesofindia.indiatimes.com

Hit, Run, Repeat A 21-YEAR-OLD —with his girlfriend and another friend in the car—had driven no more than a couple of hundred metres before crashing into a n S U V . T h e y o u n g ma n f ro m Innsbruck, Austria, was clearly in a pickle. It was 7 a.m. on an October morning last year, and he and his friends had spent the entire night in a local tavern, and now he faced both dr unk-dr iving and hit-and-r un charges. Thinking quickly—or as quickly as his fuzzy brain allowed—he decided he had to hide the car. He carefully shepherded the lameduck vehicle down the road to a

ILLUSTRATIONS BY LUC M ELANSON

At the other end was the lady Qureshi had robbed, and she made an enticing offer: “Keep everything else, just return my documents,” she said. “I’ll pay you `1,000.” The genius master criminal couldn’t believe his luck. All set to rake in some more cash, he reached the designated spot—only to find some plain-clothes cops waiting. The police sent off the lady with well-deserved praise and took Qureshi into custody. Source: ndtv.com


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nearby backyard. But just as he pulled in he realized something important: the yard was the parking lot for the local police station. He tried to beat a retreat before anyone noticed, but crashed into another car. Good news: it was not a police cruiser. Bad news: it was the private car of a police officer. This time, when the young man tried to drive away, his car broke down. Police were on the scene—almost immediately.

Spurious Persuasion A C A L I F O R N I A WO M A N facing nearly five years in prison for forging drug prescriptions brought to court a doctor’s note that suggested her case be postponed for medical reasons. Her request was rejected—the note was a forgery. Source: Yahoo News

Dear Diary DURING A ROUTINE security check, the local crime branch officials of Ahmedabad rounded up Devendra Singh, alias Devanand, when he couldn’t produce documents for the motorbike he was riding. When the suspicious-looking 23-year-old was frisked, out came a diary that belonged to the owner of a motorwinding unit in the neighbouring town of Bavla. The unit, along with three other plants, had been burgled a week ago and copper wires worth `42,000 had been missing. A raid at Singh’s home yielded another diary, and this one had the details of his other shenanigans—15 robberies, where the spoils ranged from oil and ghee to two-wheelers and a tractor. READER’S DIGEST

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What’s worse is that Singh is the son of a retired armyman who had come to work as a security guard in Gujarat. While he left for his village, the son stayed on to chronicle his escapades. Source: timesofindia.indiatimes.com

Market Loss THOUGH PRETTY MUCH everyone

knows everyone in his Polish hometown of Okonek, with a population of about 4,000, with its quaint clock tower and small police station, 22-year-old Pawel P. didn’t recognize the man he approached in the supermarket parking lot this past October.

“Hey dude,” Pawel said brightly: “Wanna buy some weed?” The man loading his groceries paused. This must be a joke, he thought. Who would sell drugs to an off-duty police officer? But as he realized the young man was on the level, the officer played along. He agreed to purchase some marijuana but claimed not to have the cash on him. He asked the young man to hold tight while he called some buddies to come bring the funds. The buddies, when they showed up, were, of course, other policemen. Pawel faces up to three years in prison for drug possession and trafficking.

Read It or Weep TWO WANNABE CROOKS’ inattention became their undoing in the Dutch town of Enschede. The two men broke into a jewellery store last July and cleaned out every single piece of merchandise in the shop window. But they failed to notice a sign that read: “All rings and other pieces on display are models only.” In the end it didn’t matter, as neighbours heard breaking glass and alerted the authorities. Police arrested one suspect at the scene: the second managed to flee but was arrested a few months later.

Bedtime Story AFTER RANSACKING an underrenovation house in West Bengal’s 76

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Madhyamgram, a thief got exhausted and wrapped up for the day. Imagine the horror of the lady of the house, when the following morning, she shook her daughter to wake her up and a stranger emerged from beneath the blanket—sporting the daughter’s pullover! A warm blanket on a cold winter night, it seemed, had outweighed the treasure he’d spent hours looking for. Fighting a hangover, the man couldn’t recollect how he’d landed up there and tried to flee. But the masons kept him from escaping until the police arrived. Source: oneindia.com

WI TH I NPUTS FROM READER’S DI GEST. US

Self-Reliance P H I LO M E C E SA R , from Bethlehem in the US, decided to represent himself in court against charges of robbery. But his legal skills were on par with his larceny skills. During the trial, he asked a witness to describe the robber’s voice. The response: “He sounded like you.” Ironically, the jury’s decision sounded a lot like “guilty.” Source: mcall.com

Crime Speaks for Itself MUMBAI’S SUBURBAN RAILWAY

premises were Nandu Tayade’s favourite haunt, until the Government Railway Police caught him. Having committed several thefts, Tayade’s most recent haul was of `1.12 lakh he’d stolen from a lady in the queue

at the booking office. During interrogation, Tayade pretended that he was deaf and dumb in a bid to seek clemency. When he wrote down the name of his village in Jalgaon district, the police took him on a trip home. He continued to pretend before his wife and children that he could neither hear nor speak, but when the police approached his neighbours, they gave him away. Tayade confessed to his crime later. Source: dnaindia.com

Out of the Frying Pan… WHEN A CHAIN SNATCHER was caught in Kurnool in Andhra Pradesh, he first tried to pull off a tear-jerker, saying he stole for the treatment of his ailing mother. When he still ended up at the rural police station, he continued with his pleas from behind bars. And when that didn’t help either, he had a brainwave. He asked the sentry guard if he could use the loo. When he didn’t return for a long time, the guard smelt a rat. He went to check the backyard, only to see the thief atop a tall tree. Now it was the guard’s turn to coax the thief who was in no mood to listen. Off he jumped to the other side, letting out a victory cry. The thief, however, had to come back to the police station within minutes—he had fallen inside an adjoining jail compound. Source: timesofindia.indiatimes.com

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How saying “thank you” can have positive effects on your health and the well-being of others

The

Power of

Gratitude LAST YEAR, I FELT COMPELLED to bake brownies

for complete strangers to say thank you. I’d had to call the emergency because I found my partner unconscious on the floor. Within minutes, a police car and ambulance arrived, filled with first responders who whisked my partner away to the emergency room, where he received the critical care that he needed. 78

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ILLUSTRATION BY KEI TH NEGLEY

BY LISA FIE LDS


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A week later, still marvelling at the impact of a handful of strangers, I wrote thank-you notes to those helpful first responders and baked for them. It was a small gesture with a big impact. When I dropped off stillwarm brownies at the police station and firehouse, they thanked me for delivering gifts. Thanking me? All I’d done was bake; they’d saved a life. I drove away feeling light and happy, partly because I’d done a good deed, but mostly because I was amazed that there are selfless people who do lifesaving work and expect nothing in return. Later, I realized that my natural high had been more than what it seemed. Research shows that sharing thoughts of gratitude and performing acts of kindness can boost your mood and have other health benefits. “We know from studies in the literature that gratitude does have a good impact on happiness, that it increases life satisfaction,” says Willibald Ruch, a psychology professor at the University of Zurich who does research on the effects of character strengths like gratitude and humour. “It’s among the top five predictors of happiness.” You can make positive changes in your own life by choosing to embrace gratitude. Here’s how: 80

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A Good-For-You Sentiment When you feel thankful for things you’ve received or something that’s happened, that’s gratitude. It’s impossible to feel it in a vacuum; others are always responsible, whether they’re loved ones, strangers or a higher power. “Gratitude is how you relate to others, when you see yourself in connection with things larger than yourself,” Ruch says. Today, many people don’t stop to appreciate what they have, much less express gratitude. The instant-gratification lifestyle we lead may be to blame. “With commercial and social media, everything is speeding the younger generation to make them feel that they are the centre of the universe,” says Tamiko Zablith, founder of the London-based etiquette consulting firm Minding Manners. “If it’s all about them, why thank others?” Why not thank others? Studies have shown that people who express gratitude increase their happiness levels, lower their blood pressure levels, get better quality sleep, improve their relationships, experience a positive impact on their depression levels and are less affected by pain. And gratitude’s positive effects are long-lasting. Canadian researchers found that people who wrote thank-


R E A D E R S D I G E S T. C O . I N

you letters or performed good deeds for a mere six-week period were able to improve their mental health, reduce their bodily pain, feel more energetic and accomplish more daily tasks for up to six months. Because gratitude is a relatively new field of study, researchers are still trying to identify its cause-and-effect relationship with various health gains. “We know that people who have higher levels of gratitude also report sleeping better, but we don’t really

themselves,” says study author Helena Hörder, a researcher at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden. “Maybe it’s some kind of confidence that you can cope with this and focus on the right things.”

Making Someone Else’s Day What about gratitude recipients? Research has confirmed that people who receive messages of thanks or acts of kindness experience positive emotions when they’re singled out.

Gratitude is how you relate to others, when you see yourself in connection with things larger than yourself. know why,” says Alex Wood, professor of psychology and director of the Behavioural Science Centre at the University of Stirling in Scotland. “Is gratitude leading to better sleep? Is sleep leading to more gratitude? Or could it be some third variable that leads to both gratitude and improved sleep?” Perhaps all of the above. Gratitude can benefit people during all stages of life. Swedish researchers have found that people aged 77 to 90 who choose to be thankful for what they have, are less likely to dwell upon the chances that they may grow frail. “When they can’t change something, they choose gratitude and focus on what’s good: walking on their own legs, still being alive and living by

“Those are happy surprises—you’re not expecting coffee or for someone to hold the door open for you,” says Jo-Ann Tsang, associate professor of psychology at Baylor University in Texas, who does gratitude research. “You’re more likely to feel grateful if you receive help that’s unexpected. It’s different if a doorman holds the door than a stranger, because that’s not their [the latter’s] job.” When someone is the recipient of unexpected kindness or gratitude, he’s more likely to return the favour or pay kindness forward. One study found that when someone is thanked, it more than doubles his chances of being helpful again, likely because he enjoys feeling socially valued. READER’S DIGEST

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Zablith likes the reaction she gets when she rewards a stranger who holds the door open for her at Starbucks with his rightful place in line in front of her. “The look on his face is shock,’” Zablith says. “He’ll be nicer to the cashier, the next person he sees at work. There’s a trickle-down effect.” The give-and-take of gratitude can also deepen relationships. Studies show that when your partner regularly expresses gratitude, making you feel appreciated, you’re more likely to return appreciative, grateful feelings

some difficulty with what good things happened,” Ruch says. “But if every evening you write them down, you experience those things more intensively. Gradually, your brain gets trained into a more appreciative mode, so the sense to be grateful increases. “Even when our training is over, people still continue with this exercise, because they find it so rewarding. Pe ople enjoy lo oking up what happened a few weeks ago. It becomes a book of nice memories,” he adds. Samuel Coster from St. Louis, US,

If you share grateful thoughts with the person who helped you, it has the potential to bring you two closer together. and stay committed to each other. One study found that sharing gratitude with a partner makes you feel more responsible for his well-being and more satisfied with the relationship. “You feel closer to the other person, and they feel closer to you,” Tsang says. “That creates an upward spiral.”

Developing the Sense If you aren’t particularly grateful, you can learn to be. People who are instructed to keep gratitude journals, in which they write down three positive things that happen to them each day, cultivate gratitude over time. “People at the beginning have 82

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began keeping a regular gratitude journal three years ago. When he was diagnosed with lymphoma a year later, it helped carry him through his illness. “Gratitude training certainly came to my aid during the dark times,” Coster says. “Did I get cancer? Yep. Did I also get to hang out with my family way more, gain a greater appreciation for life and get a few cool scars? Yep. And that’s the part I focus on.”

Expressing Gratitude When you share grateful thoughts with the person whom you’re thankful for, everyone benefits. And the effects will last longer than you’d expect:


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Researchers found that people who write thank-you notes to people whom they haven’t properly thanked may boost their happiness levels and improve interpersonal relationships for up to six months. “If you keep gratitude to yourself in a journal, it will make you happier, but if you share it with the person who helped you, it has the potential to bring you two closer together,” Tsang says. John Kralik of California actually experienced this first-hand. He’d been feeling depressed and discouraged whenever he took account of his life: He’d been divorced twice. He wasn’t as close with his children as he wanted to be. His law practice wasn’t earning money despite the gruelling hours he devoted to work. At a particularly low point, he remembered his grandfather telling him, decades earlier, about the importance of gratitude. He decided to write 365 thank-you notes over 365 days, hoping for a positive change. Immediately, he noticed his attitude and situation begin to improve. At the end of the year he wrote a memoir about his experience, A Simple Act of Gratitude: How Learning to Say Thank You Changed My Life.

“I didn’t need a scientific study to know that if you are grateful to people and if you learn how to accept gratitude well from other people, your life will be enriched,” Kralik says. “The first effects are that you realize that you have a much better life than you thought.” I’d experienced such positive feelings after writing thank-you notes to those first responders, I decided to try again. This time, inspired by Kralik, I chose someone from my past whom I’d never thanked before: The high school English teacher who had encouraged my writing more than any other teacher I’d ever had. I hadn’t seen him in 25 years, so I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to locate him, but I did. He’s in his 80s, living in a warm retirement town. I spent an evening honing my letter, thanking him for the guidance and support that he’d given me years earlier. I may never hear back from him, but that isn’t the point. By taking time to put into words the impact that my teacher had on my life and my career, I became infinitely more grateful and appreciative of what I’ve achieved in life, and I’ve been riding that burst of positivity for weeks.

WHY AM I PRESIDENT OF THE ENTITLED CLUB? Well, for one, I deserve it. @HOME_HALFWAY

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Laughter

TWO MEN Tom and Frank, had loved cricket more than anything, their entire lives. One day, Tom says to Frank, “If you die before me, promise me you’ll come back and tell me if there’s cricket in Heaven.” Frank agrees and makes Tom promise the same thing. About a week later, Tom dies. One night, Frank wakes up to someone calling his name. Scared, he asks, “Who’s there?” 86

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Suddenly Tom appears and says, “Hi Frank. I’m speaking from Heaven. I’ve got some good news and some bad news. The good news first: there’s cricket in heaven!” Frank gets very excited, and then asks, “What’s the bad news?” Tom looks at him grimly and says, “I looked at the line-up for tomorrow and you’re opening the batting.” From the internet

ILLUSTRATION BY M IKE SHIELL

THE BEST MEDICINE


A WOMAN NOTICED her husband standing on the bathroom scale, sucking in his stomach. “Ha! That’s not going to help,” she said. “Sure, it does,” he said. “It’s the only way I can see the numbers.” THERE IS NOTHING more awkward than the moment you realize you’re getting a double-cheek kiss. @MICHMARKOWITZ

A FEW MONTHS AGO, Hamas “arrested” a dolphin for being an Israeli spy. Readers of Reason magazine came up with titles for the film this action might inspire: ■ Orcapussy ■ Free Schmuelly ■ Goldflipper ■ The Porpoise-Driven Life ■ Dolphinfidel DID YOU HEAR the one about the kid

who started a business tying shoelaces on the playground? It was a knot-for-profit. ANDREW FERGUSON MR JONES GOES to his local barber for a shave. While he’s being foamed, he mentions how difficult it is to shave fully around the cheeks. “I have the solution,” the barber replies. “Place this small wooden ball between the cheeks and the gum to puff the skin out.” The man has the closest shave he’s had for years. “But what if I swallow the ball?” he asks.

“Oh, just bring it back tomorrow. Everyone else does.” JOSEPH STOKOE PETE AND LARRY hadn’t seen each other in many years. Now they were having a long talk, trying to fill the gap of those years by telling each other about their lives. Finally, Pete invited Larry to visit him at his new flat. “I’ve got a wife and three kids and I’d love for you to visit,” he said. “Great. Where do you live?” “Here’s the address,” says Pete. “There’s plenty of parking behind the flat. Park and come around to the front door, kick it open with your foot, go to the lift and press the button with your left elbow, then enter! When you reach the sixth floor, go down the corridor until you see my name on the door. Then press the door with your right elbow and I’ll let you in.” “Good. But what’s all this business of kicking the front door open and pressing buttons with my elbows?” Says Pete, “Well, surely you’re not coming empty-handed?” From the internet

A GRASSHOPPER walks into a bar.

The bartender says, “Hey, we have a drink named after you.” The grasshopper says, “Really? You have a drink named Steve?” Reader’s Digest will pay for your funny anecdote or photo in any of our jokes sections. Post it to the editorial address, or email: editor.india@rd.com READER’S DIGEST

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A changing approach and new treatments bring hope to thousands

Fighting

Lung Cancer W

hen Anil Sharma* (now 55), started smoking at 22, he never imagined that he was putting himself in danger. He continued to smoke, up to a packet or more a day. The thought of quitting never occured to him. Things changed in 2012, when Sharma developed a cough that refused to go away. 88

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*Name changed on request READER’S DIGEST

P HOTO: © CORBIS

BY KATH AKO LI DAS GUP TA A ND ANITA BARTH O LO M EW


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FIGHTING LUNG CANCER

When home remedies and cough syrups didn’t help, his daughter took him for a check-up. After a chest X-ray, he was diagnosed with tuberculosis and put on anti-tubercular treatment (ATT). But he saw blood in his sputum in a month. The family panicked and went for a second opinion. A CT scan showed lesions; a biopsy confirmed the terrifying diagnosis. “In India, where tuberculosis is rampant, it is common to find a lung cancer patient being put on ATT. I find about 30 per cent of lung cancer cases are misdiagnosed. The symptoms are similar: a persistent cough, hoarseness, wheezing, shortness of breath, sputum streaked with blood, weight loss and chest pain,” says Sharma’s oncologist, Dr Ullas Batra, consultant medical oncologist at Delhi’s Rajiv Gandhi Cancer Institute and Research Centre. ATT takes up to nine months, and the cancer may develop to an advanced stage. Luckily for Sharma, it was still localized, which helped improve his odds greatly.

What the Stats Show “According to the WHO , globally, 71 per cent of all lung cancer deaths are attributable to tobacco use (smoking and smokeless). In India, around 32 per cent of cancer deaths in men and 6 per cent in women between 30 and 69 years are caused by smoking,” says Dr Manu Raj Mathur, a scientist at Delhi’s Public Health Foundation of India, and a core team member of 90

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THE STAGES OF LUNG CANCER STAGE I Early, isolated in the lung where it originated, has not spread. The fiveyear survival rate is the highest when detected at this early stage and is about 70 per cent. STAGE II Has spread but not extensively, usually to nearby lymph nodes and to membranes between the lungs or surrounding the heart. The five-year survival is between 45-60 per cent. STAGE III The cancer that has advanced further, and has now spread to lymph nodes on the same side of the chest as the affected lung, as well as other parts of the body. Survival rate: between 10 and 25 per cent. STAGE IV May have spread to both lungs, into the chest and throughout the body, possibly affecting bones and organs, such as the brain or liver. Understandably, the survival stats drop to about 13 per cent. Small-cell lung cancer accounts for about 15 per cent of all lung cancers. It spreads quickly and is likely to be advanced by the time it is diagnosed. It is grouped as ‘limited and extended stages’. In the former, five-year survival ranges between 10 and 13 per cent; with extended stage disease it is just about 2 per cent. With inputs from Dr Neelesh Reddy, consultant medical oncologist, Columbia Asia, Bengaluru and Dr P.K. Das


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Project STEPS (Strengthening Tobacco Control Efforts through Innovative Partnerships and Strategies). “People who smoke cigarettes are 15 to 30 times more likely to get lung cancer or die from it than people who do not,” says Dr Rajeev Bedi, director, Medical Oncology, Fortis Cancer Institute, Mohali. Even smoking occasionally increases the risk of lung cancer. The longer a person smokes and the more cigarettes smoked each day, the higher the risk.

Every cigarette you smoke can damage the DNA in lung cells. But it’s the build-up of damage in the same cell that can lead to cancer. According to research published in the journal Nature, for every 15 cigarettes smoked, there’s a DNA change, which could cause a cell to become cancerous. Passive smoking is dangerous too. “Non-smokers who live with a smoker and inhale second-hand smoke, increase their risk of lung cancer by 20 to 30 per cent,” Mathur adds. “A meta-

SMOKERS ARE 15 TO 30 TIMES MORE LIKELY TO GET LUNG CANCER OR DIE FROM IT THAN NON-SMOKERS. Smoking is Harmful

Each puff of cigarette contains a mixture of thousands of compounds, i n c l u d i n g m o re t h a n 6 0 w e l l established carcinogens. Many of these carcinogens damage our DNA, including key genes that protect us against cancer. Certain other chemicals interfere with pathways for repairing damaged DNA. This makes it even more likely that damaged cells will eventually turn cancerous. “The damage to the DNA hampers the regulated growth of cells, causing them to proliferate, leading to the formation of tumours in the body,” explains Mathur.

analysis reported 27 per cent higher risk of lung cancer among neversmoking women exposed to spousal ETS (environmental tobacco smoke) c o mp a re d w i t h n e v e r-s m o k i ng women not exposed to spousal ETS.” Although smoking causes the vast majority of lung malignancies, there are other risk factors. “These include exposure to certain substances, including asbestos, arsenic, radon and diesel fumes,” says Dr P.K. Das, senior consultant, Oncology, Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals, New Delhi. Genes are more often to blame when the illness strikes young people, says Dr Rafael Rosell of the Catalan InstiREADER’S DIGEST

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tute of Oncology, Barcelona. Genes help determine which treatments work best for each individual.

Detecting it Early Detecting cancer early, before it’s had a chance to spread, gives individuals the best chance of long-term survival. There’s been a push to screen for early signs with annual low-dose CT scans

for those at an increased risk. Doctors in India are not in favour of this: it’s not just the cost, but the worry of a large number of false positives. “Because the incidence of tuberculosis is very high in our country, such a screening will lead to a detection of a large number of nodules which may not be malignant and in turn warrant unnecessary biopsies,” says

NIGGLING QUESTIONS ON OUR MINDS Shisha is fruity and flavourful; surely the odd puff can’t harm? According to the WHO, a one-hour shisha session can be as harmful as smoking 100 cigarettes. A cigarette smoker takes between eight and twelve puffs, inhaling 0.5 to 0.6 litres of smoke. But during an hour-long shisha session smokers may take up to 200 drags, ranging from 0.15 to 1 litre of smoke each. Should we be wary of e-cigarettes? These are batteryoperated products designed to deliver nicotine, flavour and other chemicals. They turn chemicals, including highly

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addictive nicotine, into an aerosol that is inhaled by the user. According to the US Lung Cancer Association, in initial lab tests conducted in 2009, the FDA found detectable levels of toxic cancer-causing chemicals—including an ingredient used in antifreeze—in two leading brands of e-cigarettes. Furthermore, a 2014 study found that the aerosol from e-cigarettes with a higher voltage level contains more formaldehyde, another carcinogen. Flavours in e-cigarettes, including gummy bears, fruit punch, peach, licorice, also cause concern as they are used to target

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kids. Besides, it is not known whether the flavouring agents are safe to inhale. Do the alarming levels of air pollution contribute to the risk? Yes. A 2013 assessment by WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) concluded that outdoor air pollution is carcinogenic, with particulate matter most closely associated with increased cancer incidence. Safe levels for PM according to the WHO’s air quality guidelines are 20 μg/ m3 (annual mean) for PM10. The level in Delhi was 286 in 2014, said the WHO. —With inputs from Dr Manu Mathur


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Dr Raj K. Shrimali, consultant radiation oncologist, Tata Medical Center, Kolkata. Instead, they stress on the need to spread awareness about the condition, and its prevention. The choice of treatment depends on the stage and type of malignancy. Surgery is a good option for people whose cancers are detected early (Stage I or II). However, if the cancer is metastatic [it spreads to other parts of the body] surgery might not always be the best therapy. But there are numerous treatments today that can prolong life even in people with more advanced cancers.

Treatment Options “Standard chemotherapy drugs and radiation can slow a tumour’s growth, shrink them and kill cancer cells,” says Bedi. “These therapies are often used post surgery to mop up any malignancy that might have been missed. And these are also typically the first line of treatments used for more advanced tumours when surgery isn’t feasible.” Now, precision or personalized chemotherapy, also known as targeted therapy, is changing the way we think about cancer. Just like normal cells, cancer cells need “growth factors”—hormones, proteins and other substances that occur naturally in our bodies—in order to thrive. “We do a genetic analysis of tumour tissues,” says Dr Eric Haura, a physician-scientist at the Moffitt Cancer

Center, Florida. If this shows that a cancer is being fuelled by particular growth factors, targeted drugs can block the cancer cell from accessing its ‘fuel’ source. And that sometimes “results in dramatic responses,” says Haura. He points out, though, that these drugs aren’t cures, as cancers eventually develop resistance to these and other drugs. New drugs, tailored to the mutating cancer, can in some cases replace the ones it has developed resistance to. These are designed to behave like a super-charged version of your body’s own immune defences. One of the most promising discoveries in the history of lung cancer is a new cancer vaccine called CimaVax, developed in Cuba and soon to be tested on patients in the US and Europe. But rather than wait for a vaccine, improve your odds of not getting lung cancer right now. If you smoke, stop. And though your risk won’t drop to levels of someone who has never smoked, within ten years of giving up smoking the risk of dying from lung cancer drops by half. Sharma was diagnosed at Stage II, but did not undergo a surgery. His tumour was shrunk using radiotherapy. Then a combination of chemotherapy and radiotherapy was used to kill stray cancer cells. All this over four months with resting periods, explains Batra. Sharma quit smoking the day he was diagnosed and has been cancer-free since his treatment (three and a half years now). READER’S DIGEST

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They’re the words that put the whizz bang into our language

Like BY DONYALE HARRISON

Sounds

WHEN I WAS MUCH YOUNGER, onomatopoeia was one of my favourite words. I loved the fact that a word that means “words that sound like natural sounds” is itself so complicated that practically no one could guess its meaning, let alone spelling. If I’m being honest, I had a hard time even saying the wretched thing. But, like most children, I was a keen user of onomatopoeia: cars

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went vrooom; dogs went ruff ruff; water splish splash. And the joy of those words remains, even though I might nowadays aim for the sophistication of a susurrus (whistling or rustling) or tintinnabulation (ringing or tinkling). There’s nothing overly mysterious about onomatopoeic words. For the most part they describe actual sounds, from the quack of a duck to the whoosh of deadlines flying by.


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Many of them are very old words: quack, baa, moo and miaow, popped up in the Renaissance; susurrus and tintinnabulation both come from the Latin; while whoosh is newer as things only got that fast in the 19th century, and it took till the 1960s for engines to warrant a vroom. Sometimes words become less onomatopoeic the longer they hang around: bleet used to be pronounced bleat, with a long vowel, which sounds much more like the sound a sheep actually makes. In the same way, new words pop up as the language finds a need for them; like zhuzh, the last-minute fancying up of an outfit that was introduced into the language by Queer Eye for the Straight Guy (more than a decade ago: I feel old!), or bah-bow, the tonal impersonation of a wrong answer buzzer that apparently began on an American quiz show before spreading to every teenager I know. There’s a reason onomatopoeic words are so popular: you don’t really need to know their meaning in order to understand them. The first time you heard someone described as frumpy, the word itself gave you a sense of lumpy tiredness. Whereas the same person described as sleekit or schmick would clearly have invested in a haircut and new set of clothes, not to mention a shoe polish. Onomatopoeia allows you to give a finer tone to the quality you are discussing than standard English. An ex96

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plosion that goes pop is probably just a lid left on in the microwave, while one that goes bang is more likely to be at least errant fireworks. A boom will certainly do real damage and missiles whizzing past are definitely bad news. The sounds themselves indicate the severity of the blast. This quality of self-explanatoriness can even work across language barriers. I had no idea what the Italian word for mosquito was, but when I saw a Roman look crossly at his arm and mutter “Zanzara!” it needed no translation app. However, despite the fact that we’re mostly hearing the same sounds, there are some remarkable international onomatopoeic quirks. Some sounds have surprising universality. Variants on shhh and hahahaha commonly convey shushing or laughter in dozens of languages. In others, we have only minor differences: the French plic ploc is in fact much better than English drip drop for a leaking tap, while the German plitsch platsch suggests you should really call the plumber sooner rather than later. But others are wildly different. Illustrator James Chapman has a wonderful website (www.chapmangamo.tumblr. com) where he shows how different languages represent different onomatopoeic words. One of my favourites is of cats: purr in English becomes ronron in French, nurr in Estonian, schnurr in German and goro goro in Japanese.


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There are two possible explanations: either the cats have regional accents, or we’re listening to them through different sets of expectations. Now the first proposition isn’t wholly ridiculous. Songbirds are known to have regional song variants, as do whales, and some research suggests that domesticated animals take on aspects of the accents of the humans around them. I’ve patted cats around the world and there are definite cultural trends in their mannerisms. But The Guardian’s Gary Nunn, who wrote a brilliant article on this topic titled “Why do pigs oink in English, boo boo in Japanese and nöff nöff in Swedish?” summed up the broader scientific argument with “it isn’t pigs that are multilingual, it’s us.” Apparently we hear animals and other sounds through the aural “lens” of our own language. One fact that quickly stands out in international comparisons is the unusualness of Japanese onomatopoeia. It is the only language in which a cat’s miaow does not start with an M, rather, they say nyan nyan. Similarly, it is alone in having no Z or S sound in the word for bee noises: Japanese bees say boon boon. It’s no casual difference. Japanese has not one, but three types of onomatopoeia: giseigo, which are the sounds of living things; giongo, which are the sounds of inanimate objects; and gitaigo, which is for words that mimic qualities like businesslike or

SAY IT LIKE THIS Some apparently random onomatopoeias make far more sense when pronounced with the right accent. Ronron: French for a cat’s purr, it has a rolled R, a soft O and barely there N. Nöff nöff: Swedish for a pig’s oink, it’s pronounced with a nasal vowel, like the French neuf (9). Hamba: Bengali for moo. There’s no special pronunciation: cows in Bangladesh just seem a bit more cosmopolitan than others round the world, which mostly moo.

quickly. Unlike English, where this class of words is often used in a less formal manner, Japanese uses them in a wider variety of contexts and more commonly. Alas, it would require a far better grasp of linguistics (and Japanese) than mine to extrapolate from this to nyaning cats, but it is a good excuse to slip in that the gitaigo word for annoyed is mukamuka, which is clearly splendid and worth sneaking into English. So the next time you find yourself lost for words and resort to, “She was all growl growl and he was all nyah nyah,” don’t bemoan your inability to remember adjectives. Celebrate the fact that your onomatopoeia is connecting you with a worldwide audience! Except, possibly, the Japanese. READER’S DIGEST

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Shyam Benegal on the debates in our campuses and beyond, and the issues highlighted by his films

Alternate Vision

I STRUGGLE TO conceal the surprise in my voice when Shyam Benegal returns my call. In a film industry where being endlessly elusive is par for the course, this veteran filmmaker stands out as much for his pathbreaking cinema as for his refined, self-effacing manner. The 81-year-old filmmaker’s oeuvre is as diverse as it is impressive: with more than 26 feature films, 65 documentaries, and about 35 feature length/do cumentar y films and television serials, Benegal looms over Indian cinema after more than 50 years as a director. He is amongst the most respected public intellectuals of our times. He emerged as a major voice in the new Indian cinema of the ’70s with Ankur. Since then, his massive body of work has explored important social issues—such as caste, gender, livelihoods, freedom, communalism 98

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and the idea of India—and earned him several National Film Awards under various categories, the Padma Shri, the Padma Bhushan as well as the Dadasaheb Phalke Award for lifetime achievement. He has served as chairman of the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) twice and was recently appointed by the government to head a committee to address the problems of film certification and censorship. Benegal has contributed richly in unshackling cinema—and indeed our public sphere—from censorship and making it a free space for creativity and expression. As universities around the country boil over with protests around student rights and the nation debates questions of identity and freedom of expression, as thinkers and activists express concern over the government’s methods and approach towards education, Reader’s Digest spoke to the

YOGEN SHAH

BY S NIGD H A H ASAN


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erudite filmmaker to understand how he sizes up the current situation— from FTII to JNU and beyond. I meet Benegal at his South Mumbai office, lined with books and film posters, where he unscrambles the noise around—drawing from his exhaustive reading, research and understanding of India. As someone who’s worked with the students of the FTII, what is your take on the current state in Pune? They’ve already found a way out. The students have gone back to class. The chairman has taken charge and will meet them. My views on this have been very clear. The chairman shouldn’t expect the students to come and meet him; he should go and meet the students. After all, one mustn’t forget that the FTII students aren’t children—they’re fully formed and developed individuals who come with educational degrees from universities. They will not go on strike simply for the sake of it. The reasons need to be examined. And how would one know the reasons, if one does not do it with empathy? The management cannot look at its own students as opponents. We have seen student protests in other campuses, post the FTII agitation. How do you see them, and the role of a university in society? It is a space for learning, questioning, debating—going through the entire 100

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spectrum of human experience. Protests are part of that. So is discussion and argument. Once you come out of the university, you are in the everyday world. The Constitution sets out the social parameters of our life. The university has to be a space that allows one to look beyond those parameters. It’s a space for intellectual ferment and untrammelled imagination, not one to be invaded as it was, both in the case of the Hyderabad University and JNU, by the police or anybody else. I don’t think the government was right in either case because there was no reason to make it seem as though students were enemies of the state. The government can look at the world in a particular way, but within the university you should be able to explore, argue, take positions. Unfortunately, this was not allowed to happen—whether it relates to caste prejudice, which caused Rohith Vemula to commit suicide, or lawyers beating up students and accusing them of anti-national activity. There is an ongoing debate on intolerance. How do you look at it? Intolerance raises its head in India’s public discourse from time to time, largely because it constitutes the faultline between communities. This is frequently exploited by politicians to consolidate community votes for their own benefit. This doesn’t mean Indians are by nature intolerant. If


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we were, we wouldn’t have been able the problems of censorship. It is far to live at peace with ourselves or our too premature for me to comment at neighbours—who are far more diverse present as it is work in progress. We than in any other country in the world. are asking fundamental questions. Tolerance and intolerance are We have g o t a f a ir a mou nt of wrong words to use. The problem feedback from the public, from NGOs is one of inclusion. Indians, by and concerned with women and children, large, have this dexterous ability to and from the entire film industry of the country. We exclude and include are collating all of it at the same time. How Manthan was now to identify the we exclude people financed by the problems that need to outside of our caste be tackled. or religion, but as a Gujarat country we embrace Cooperative Milk Over the years, you all our diversities! Marketing have engaged with Federation. Indian cinema in Many of your films various capacities. were made during Filmmaking has many the time of active dimensions. Apart student politics. Are from the creative asstudent movements pect—conceptualizmaking a comeback? ing, writing, direction, I wouldn’t be able production, editing— to say anything about one is concerned with that, but there are the world of cinema t i m e s w h e n c e ritself and its place in tain events create society, our country a fear in the minds and the world at large. of a lot of young people that authoritarian forces You cannot escape this engagement at a re re a r i n g t h e i r h e a d a g a i n . a larger level. Unlike writing a book, filmmaking This is a real fear because we’ve had a phase of authoritarianism a few is not a solitary process. It starts off by being a social activity because you are decades ago. already working with other people. Coming back to films, what is your How did you start making films? idea of censorship? I am heading a committee formed My father was a still photographer. He by the government to look into had a photo studio and would make READER’S DIGEST

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short, silent 16-mm films on his children—we were 10 of us. These films served as after-dinner entertainment for guests, and our comments made for the soundtrack. So cinema is what we grew up with and since it concerned us directly, we were hooked. You made your first film at age 12. The camera was always there and summer holidays provided ample opportunity for filming. All our cousins would come down, and classical singing and dancing filled the air. One time, Guru Dutt, a cousin (he was a dancer with renowned choreographer Uday Shankar’s troupe before he went on to become a filmmaker and actor in Bombay) came to our home for the summer vacation and frequently performed on the terrace in the evenings. From our home in Trimulgherry (in the Secunderabad cantonment) the army’s Garrison cinema was a stone’s throw away. My brother and I had befriended the projectionist. The cinema had two or three changes of programme a week. This allowed us to watch both foreign and Indian films every week. This exposure to the rest of the world helped a great deal in creating my world view. Was your career in the advertising industry a stepping stone? I did my MA in economics, but teaching did not seem like a particularly good option. So I moved to Bombay looking for work. I gave up 102

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the thought of assisting Guru Dutt because I had my own ideas for the kind of films I wanted to make. I got a job as a copywriter, but within months, my agency discovered my interest in cinema and I was put in the film department. I started making ad films in a big way for the next 12 years until I became a full-time filmmaker. I was making documentaries for the Films Division [of India] on the side, and attempting to find an investor for feature films. Then one day, one of our distributors, Mohan Bijlani, asked me why I wasn’t making feature films. I said I would if he would produce them and that’s how Ankur was made. I never looked back since. You have explored interesting models of financing your films. The stories I wished to develop had relevance for the communities about whom the films were made. This motivated them to contribute to their making a crowd-funding model that I followed for some of those films. For Antarnaad, [based on a socio-religious movement in Maharashtra] people donated small sums of money over a large geographical area. Susman [about the struggle of rural handloom weavers against mechanization] was partly financed by weavers’ cooperatives. Manthan, too, was financed by [5,00,000 members of ] the Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation Ltd.


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You’ve made films on various social issues. To what extent have they been addressed? Not altogether. India is a very large and complex country—a subcontinent, in fact. Its diversity is enormous and we live in many different centuries at the same time. The diversities are not just horizontal, but vertical. It is not easy to address them adequately. Cinematically, has poverty been swept under the carpet? Present-day cinema probably reflects the fact that poverty has at least been tackled economically in India. Visitations of famine year after year, in one or another part of the country was common, but not any more. Over the last several decades, the number of people living below the poverty line has come down, yet not completely eliminated.

try’s history and played their part extremely well. They set us on a path, which has defined our course as an independent nation. Gandhiji gave us the weapon of satyagraha and his life was his message. He chose non-violence to free us from the British and our colonized minds. Nehru could see the complexities of India as a nation. His books reflect this so well. Perhaps, some of his ideas have less Nehru could see relevance today. After the complexities all, we are all creaof India as a tures of our own time.

nation; the books he wrote reflect it so well.

Gandhi and Nehru have been an important part of your work. Are they being rendered irrelevant? Everybody has a place in history and when you talk of history, there is no such thing as irrelevance. They both came at a particular time in the coun-

What are the subjects that are currently drawing your attention? A mini-series on all the wars India has fought in the 20th century. It looks at World Wars I and II, and after 1947, the conjoined twins [India and Pakistan] fighting each other. We are a ver y fascinating people. It’s just not possible to be bored if you are in the subcontinent. What keeps you going? Life is a one-way street; one has to keep going. First, you define the work for yourself and remain committed to it. Once there is total commitment, the work in turn begins to define you. READER’S DIGEST

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DRAMA IN REAL LIFE

Lauren Fagen wanted nothing more than to bond with Africa’s big cats— that wish nearly cost the teen her life

LION

ATTACK! BY LIA GRAINGER ISTOC KPHOTO

PHOTOGRAPHY BY MAUDE CHAUVIN

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L

AUREN FAGEN woke early on 1 July 2013, the African sun still low in the sky. The petite 18-yearold had arrived as a volunteer at the Moholoholo Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre in north-east South Africa two weeks earlier to spend time with the animals she’d loved from afar since childhood. Born and raised in Montreal, Canada, she had always been fascinated by wild cats, and there was one that interested her above all: the lion. W H E N FAG E N WA S L I T T L E , her parents were reluctant to have a pet, so instead she would spend time at the homes of friends with dogs and cats, cuddling and caring for them. In June 2013, three months before she was set to begin her much-anticipated undergraduate degree at McGill University, she still couldn’t shake the feeling that she hadn’t fully explored her connection with animals. She brought up the issue with her mother, Alana Isrealoff, and through an online search they discovered Moholoholo. Fagen was thrilled when her mom said she could use a portion of her education fund to spend four weeks at the centre. The teenager had never travelled abroad alone before. A month later, she climbed out of a small plane that delivered her to the town of Hoedspruit, South Africa, and gazed out at the expansive plains. 106

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AT THE CENTRE, Fagen marvelled at the range of wildlife. There were cheetahs, leopards, rhinos, hippos, hyenas, lions. She quickly learnt her daily routine, making her rounds to deliver breakfast to the creatures under her care: honey badgers, wild dogs and vultures. When Fagen had time off, she would sit next to her favourite cheetah’s enclosure and press her hand flat against the chain-link fence so the animal could lick her palm. Some coordinators admonished her for this, but Fagen claims that other staff at the centre permitted the activity, which gave her the sort of intimate interaction with wildlife she had always craved. “From my perspective, so long as one of the coordinators had approved it, I was not taking any risks,” says Fagen. In accordance with the centre’s policies, volunteers had to sign a document acknowledging they would be working with dangerous animals, and they were warned by coordinators not to go near cages without supervision. During her time at Moholoholo, Fagen would write in her journal, “It’s hard not to be able to cuddle with any animals at the centre, despite being surrounded by them.” On the morning of 1 July, she finished her early rounds and headed to the clinic, where 20 or so volunteers had gathered to receive the afternoon tasks that needed to be done that day. Coordinator Jan Last announced they


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would be cleaning the feeding cages of the big cats. “Who wants lions?” Last asked the group. Fagen’s hand immediately shot up. “Me!” she exclaimed. Last laughed. Fagen had not been shy about her desire to interact with the centre’s wild-cat population. The teen grabbed a mop and a bucket and headed off. THE LARGE-CARNIVORE enclosures consisted of feeding cages attached to main living areas. These cages— completely sealed with gates— allowed staff to feed the animals without coming into direct contact with them. Food was placed in the cage, and when the worker had safely exited, a gate was opened to allow the animal access to its meal. The lions were kept in adjoining enclosures, and their feeding areas stood in a spaced-out row connected by a walkway. Fagen made her way to the end of the row and found herself alone outside one of the cages. It was small, about three metres long and a metre and a half wide. She filled a bucket with water and sloshed it over the concrete floor. The cage’s low corrugated metal ceiling forced Fagen to crouch as she pushed the mop back and forth. She squatted to get better leverage, and when she looked up, she froze. On the other side of the enclosure’s chain-link fence, not a metre from her,

a lion named Duma was rubbing his body against the fence. Fagen was struck by the animal’s immense beauty. This is it, she thought. The most memorable moment of my trip. When she turned around, she saw another volunteer, Mariana Aranha, a 23-year-old biology student from São Paulo, Brazil, who had come to see if Fagen needed any help. “That’s cute, but it’s not really safe,” Aranha recalls having warned Fagen, when she saw her close to the lion.

IT’S HARD NOT TO BE ABLE TO CUDDLE WITH ANY ANIMALS AT THE CENTRE, DESPITE BEING SURROUNDED BY THEM. (For her part, Fagen has no memory of this warning.) She then took a picture of Fagen and Duma. “I can send it to you later.” Fagen smiled and thanked Aranha for the photograph and said she didn’t need any help. She went back to cleaning while Aranha walked off. Once alone, Fagen remembers noticing with alarm that Duma had moved. Instead of sitting behind the tightly woven fence, he was now behind the cage’s gate made of metal bars spaced several centimetres apart. READER’S DIGEST

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As Fagen watched, Duma slipped his paws through the bars and laid them down on the ground, extending his claws as he did so. The lion stared directly at Fagen. Feeling her stomach lurch, she backed away and turned to continue her scrubbing. Suddenly, she recalls, she found herself flipped violently onto her back. What happened? she thought. Did I trip? She quickly realized what had occurred: Duma had reached through the bars and, with claws extended,

FAGEN FELL BACK ON THE WET GROUND AND STARED UP AT THE CEILING OF THE FEEDING CAGE. SHE WAS TRAPPED.

grasped her right leg, pulling it hard through the cage’s metal bars to past her knee. RATHER THAN FEAR FOR her life, Fagen’s first thought was of how much trouble a lion attack would cause the centre. No one has to know about this, she thought. I’ll just pull my leg back. That’s when Duma, his long yellow mane framing open jaws, clamped down on her right thigh. 108

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It took Fagen a moment to identify the intense shrieks she was hearing as her own. Seconds later, Aranha and another volunteer appeared in the entranceway. They stared in shock at Duma, snarling over Fagen’s bloodied leg, then ran to get help. Alone again, Fagen was horrified to see that her left leg had now also been pulled through the bars up to her lower thigh. She felt no pain but knew that wouldn’t last long. She gritted her teeth and forced herself to look at Duma, gnawing on her right leg. You can still save your left leg, Fagen told herself. She leaned for ward, grabbed her left thigh above her knee and pulled. Excruciating pain shot up from her knee joint. She couldn’t get her knee back through the bars—it was stuck. Fagen fell back on the wet ground and stared up at the ceiling of the feeding cage. She was trapped. Then the teen had an idea. Forcing her knee joint through the bars might mean breaking her leg, but that seemed a far better option than the alternative. Break your own leg or die, Fagen thought quickly. She reached down and again grabbed her thigh, barely covered by her now tattered and bloodied sweatpants. She focused her strength


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COURTESY OF LAUREN FAGEN

and pulled, her knee joint straining against the viselike bars. It was no use at all. Fagen stopped pulling, and her vision began to narrow into a black tunnel. AT THE END OF the darkness, a face suddenly appeared. It was Last, the park’s volunteer coordinator, and with him was 24-year-old Natalie Bennett, a veterinary nurse from Surrey, England. Rushing into the cage with Last, Bennett was shocked by what she saw: on the other side of the bars, a female lion named Tree, attracted by the

commotion, had joined Duma in the attack, biting at Fagen’s left leg as Duma chewed on the right. Last took hold of Fagen and pulled hard, but to no avail. Bennett and Last grabbed brooms and brushes and began prodding and hitting the lions. After what felt like forever, the animals finally released Fagen’s legs. Last grasped her again. With one yank, he managed to free Fagen from the bars of the cage. Delirious, she held up her hands, examining the ring on her index finger. It was caked in red. READER’S DIGEST

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Is that my blood? she wondered, then began to scream. The lions nearby continued to pace and snarl, aggravated by the wailing. Last pulled Fagen out of the cage and laid her down on the grass. Bennett surveyed Fagen’s injuries. She’d seen terrible animal wounds before, but nothing this serious. Fagen’s left knee was deeply gouged. Both legs were covered in teeth marks, and a 15-square-centimetre flap of flesh on the inside of her right thigh was hanging open, and bleeding. With the help of another park employee, Bennett bandaged the wounds.

FAGEN DENIES TRYING TO KISS DUMA AND BELIEVES THAT SHE SHOULDN’T HAVE BEEN LEFT ALONE TO CLEAN A LION’S FEEDING CAGE. Meanwhile, Fagen flailed as the two women worked to save her. They had to move quickly—swarming ants, attracted by the blood, were crawling around Fagen, trying to penetrate her deep cuts. “Why does it tickle?” she yelled. “It’s nothing,” Bennett replied, brushing the insects away and covering the openings with gauze. An ambulance had been called, but the first emergency responder to 110

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arrive was a paramedic named Giles Becker. He leaped from the hospital SUV and ran to Fagen, where he tried to calm her. He then injected her with painkillers and gently loaded her onto a gurney [a wheeled stretcher] in the vehicle. Bennett hopped in, and as they drove to meet the hospital ambulance, Fagen fought unconsciousness. “I’m so tired,” she moaned deliriously, her eyes fluttering shut. “Lauren, you have to stay awake until we reach the ambulance,” said Bennett, taking her hand. “Your life depends on it.” It was another hour until Fagen was transferred to the ambulance, which sped towards the hospital in Nelspruit, the closest town equipped to deal with substantial injuries. Two hours later, Fagen’s painkillers had all but worn off, and she was nearly hysterical with pain, as a medical team rolled her into the ER, where a nurse administered anaesthesia. WHEN SHE AWOKE hours later, Fagen learnt her right tibia was broken, the ligaments of her left knee were torn, and there were lacerations to her tendons. Her inner-thigh muscles were, according to her attending doctor, “ripped apart.” She was really lucky to be alive. Had the rescue taken any longer, the lions would likely have hit a major artery. News of the attack spread quickly around the world, with reports stating


R E A D E R S D I G E S T. C O . I N

that Fagen was trying to ‘kiss’ Duma when he pulled her through the bars. In court documents, the claim that Fagen had made physical contact with the lion would become part of Moholoholo’s owner’s defence in the lawsuit Fagen filed against him for close to $8,00,000 (the case has yet to go to court). The owner’s plea also states that Fagen violated the safety rules and was at fault for getting too close to the lion. Fagen adamantly denies trying to kiss Duma and believes that she shouldn’t have been left alone to clean a lion���s feeding cage when the bars were wide enough for the animal to fit his paws. A volunteer observed that the centre added additional bars to Duma’s cage shortly after the incident had occurred. In press reports the

founder of Moholoholo said it was the first attack in its 20-year existence. (Moholoholo’s owner, on the advice of his lawyer, refused requests to comment on this story.) Fagen’s mother arrived in South Africa three days after the attack to help her daughter through her recovery. It would be several weeks until Fagen was strong enough to travel home. But before she did, Fagen went back to the centre one last time to see Duma and Tree. Reporters had been asking Fagen if she could forgive the lions for what they had done to her. Gazing through the fence at the two enormous cats peacefully lounging on the dusty grass in South Africa, Fagen thought to herself, There’s nothing to forgive. I’ve always understood that animals are wild.

USELESS (BUT INTERESTING) FACTS n

Alaska is simultaneously the most northern, the most western, and the most eastern state in the US.

n

One trillion seconds is about 32,000 years.

n

Women have been found to blink more often than men.

n

Honey never spoils. You can eat 32,000-year-old honey.

n

For every human on Earth there are approximately 1.6 million ants. The total weight of all those ants is approximately the same as the total weight of all the humans on Earth.

Buzzfeed.com

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ALL IN

A Day’s Work

THE HR MANAGER of an automobile

manufacturing company confronted an employee for being habitually late by claiming that, “The company could have manufactured five extra cars in the time wasted by your late arrival.” To which the employee quipped, “But the additional cars would mean worse traffic, and I’d be here even later!” R.S. RAGHAVAN, B e n g a l u r u JUST BEFORE the final exam in my

college finance class, a less-than stellar student approached me. 112

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“Can you tell me what grade I would need to get on the exam to pass the course?” he asked. I gave him the bad news. “The exam is worth 100 points. You would need 113 points to earn a D.” “OK,” he said. “And how many points would I need to get a C?” AIMEE PRAWITZ

HERE’S A workplace culture shock:

New York Times writer Amy Chozick describes what it was like to work for a fashion magazine: “A girl gets on (the elevator) with a Birkin bag, and

SUSAN CA MILLERI KONAR

“I’m sick and tired of your micromanaging.”


her friend goes, ‘Oh, my God, I love your bag. Is that new?’ And she goes, ‘No, I got it, like, a week ago.’” cosmopolitan.com

DETAILED LABELLING

CONFERENCE CALLS are great

if you want to hear 15 people say “What?” from the bottom of a well. @BAZECRAZE

I GOT an odd-job man in. He was

useless. I gave him a list of eight things to do and he only did numbers one, three, five and seven. COMEDIAN STEPHEN GRANT

THAT’S A BAD SIGN A WOMAN called our airline

customer service desk asking if she could take her dog on board. “Sure,” I said, “as long as you provide your own kennel.” I further explained that the kennel needed to be large enough for the dog to stand up, sit down, turn around, and roll over. The customer was flummoxed: “I’ll never be able to teach him all of that by tomorrow!” gcfl.net

Seen on a New York subway poster: “Se habla Español/Russian” (Spanish is spoken here/Russian). AARON FERNANDO, v i a t h e i n t e r n e t Spotted on a restaurant’s website: “Glutton-free menu available.” EMILY PAYNE, v i a t h e i n t e r n e t Read on a pharmacy marquee: “We sell beer and wine! We can flavour your child’s prescription!” Consumer Reports

POINT TAKEN JOB INTERVIEWER: You wrote

BUZZF EED.COM

here that your biggest weakness is not knowing what ‘irony’ means. Me: Ironic, isn’t it? Is it? I don’t know... @DAVID8HUGHES CLIENT: “We need you to log in to

the YouTube and make all our company videos viral.” clientsfromhell.net

n No one ever says, “Boy, that ‘I Have a Dream’ speech could have been a lot better if Martin Luther King Jr. had used PowerPoint.” n The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t invent PowerPoint. n There’s no “I” in “team,” but there is one in “PowerPoint,” so you should make it yourself. meetingboy.com

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Who Is

UNIndian? What does it take to be anti-national, legally? BY DAM AYANTI DATTA

W H O O R W H AT I S A N T INATIONAL? This is a question that has been at the centre of an urgent nation-wide debate. On 9 February, a group of students from Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) had allegedly raised anti-India slogans to mark the anniversary of the controversial execution of Afzal Guru, an accused in the 2001 terrorist attack on Parliament. On 13 February, Kanhaiya Kumar, the JNU students’ union president accused of sedition, was arrested. On 23 February, JNU students Umar Khalid and Anirban Bhat t a c ha r ya, a l s o a c c u s e d o f sedition, ‘surrendered’ before the Delhi Police at midnight. They denied they had done anything wrong and added a telling comment : “These people are telling us about patriotism.” But, what exactly is that statute— 114

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Section 124-A of the Indian Penal Code—that had its origins in a 146-year-old legislation, that defines who or what is un-Indian today? “Whoever, by words, either spoken or written, or by signs, or by visual representation, or otherwise, brings or attempts to bring into hatred or contempt, or excites or attempts to excite disaffection towards the Government established by law in India, shall be punished...” Considered an “offence against the State”, sedition can even condemn one to a lifetime behind bars.

A COLONIAL HANGOVER “I feel that the time has come when we may advantageously concert measures and prepare a polic y to exclude effectually seditious agitation.” It was August 1909, and


A LAM Y

Lord Minto, Viceroy of India, was cooling off at his summer palace in Shimla and mulling over “measures to be taken for the suppression of sedition.” The archived Records of the Government of India, Foreign Department Serial No. 178, says he sent out letters to 24 princely states seeking “mutual cooperation against

a common danger”: “disaffected people” who dared criticize the British government in India. Over a 100 years later, the word ‘sedition’ is still doing the rounds in an elected democracy, where citizens provide legitimacy to public policies and laws. A remnant of the age-old English common law, it was READER’S DIGEST

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WHO IS UNINDIAN?

introduced by the British in 1870. “As colonial rulers, they felt the need to ‘criminalize’ the disaffection of the colonized towards a government by force,” says legal scholar N.R. Madhava Menon. “But its continuance in free India is incongruous.” In a democracy, everyone has the right to disapprove of a government and seek its removal in the next election, without resorting to violence, he explains. The term sedition bumps up against the right to free expression and speech enshrined in the preamble and Article 19(1)(a) of the Indian Constitution.

CHILLING EFFECT Most modern constitutional democracies around the world have either abolished or let the provisions of sedition fall into disuse. The law of sedition was abolished in the UK in 2009 for not reflecting the values of constitutional democracies. Former colony New Zealand got rid of the law in 2007, for offending democratic values and becoming a tool to silence political opposition. In the US, the courts consistently criticize the “chilling effect” of the sedition law on free speech and afford wide protection to political speech. Failure to prevent sedition is also punishable there. In Australia, the law remains in the criminal codes. In India, however, the vagueness of language, the voluminous legislative history and conflicts in judicial interpretation have allowed succes116

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sive governments to use it with impunity. Legal search engine Indian Kanoon throws up hundreds of references for “sedition.” If in the preIndependence cases, the overwhelming rationale was “undermining the British government in India”, as in the three sedition trials of freedom-fighter Bal Gangadhar Tilak in 1897, 1908 and 1916, in independent India the judiciary has slapped sedition cases for inciting people to violence. Over the years, grounds for the sedition charge have widened: “for exceeding the limits of legitimate criticism;” “habitually publishing seditious matter;” “mocking the Constitution;” “offences against the State;” or spreading “hatred,” “contempt,” and “disaffection”. Yet the judiciary has routinely granted acquittals in sedition cases too. In 1942 (Niharendu Dutt Majumdar vs King Emperor), the Calcutta High Court set aside a case where the appellant was arrested for his speech that the government had not taken any steps to stop communal disturbances during the Dhaka riots: “…to describe it as an act of sedition is to do it too great [an] honour.” In 1962, the Supreme Court held (Kedar Nath Singh vs State of Bihar), “A citizen has a right to say or write whatever he likes about the Government, or its measures, by way of criticism or comment, so long as he does not incite people to violence...” In 1995, (Balwant Singh and Anr vs State of Punjab), the Supreme Court refused to punish two


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PA RVEEN N EGI/MA IL TODAY

men for raising slogans of ‘Khalistan Zindabad’ in a crowded area outside a cinema hall the day Indira Gandhi was assassinated: “Raising of some lonesome slogans, a couple of times by two individuals, without anything more, did not constitute any threat to the Government of India…”

POLITICOS Vs SUPREMOS Not surprisingly, sedition has turned out to be a great arena of judiciaryexecutive friction, especially in the new millennium. While the mandate of the courts has been to uphold freedom of speech and expression, successive governments have used sedition laws as a deadly weapon to stifle criticism and gag opponents. In 2003, Vishva Hindu Parishad leader Pravin Togadia was slapped with sedition by a Congress-run Rajasthan government for defying its ban on tridents, while in 2005 the Congress government in Punjab and Haryana filed an FIR against Simranjit Singh Mann, president of the Shiromani Akali Dal-Amritsar, for raising pro-Khalistan slogans in the Golden Temple complex on the 21st anniversary of Operation Blue Star. In 2006, Manoj Shinde, editor of Surat Saamna, a Gujarati newspaper, was charged with sedition for using “abusive words” in an editorial against then chief minister Narendra Modi. A classic case is physician and rights activist, Dr Binayak Sen, who was convicted of sedition in 2010 on

The new face of patriotism.

the allegation that he “couriered” Naxalite letters. Did it have anything to do with his vocal criticism of the Chhattisgarh government’s vigilante outfit Salwa Judum? He got bail in April 2011, and the Supreme Court bench observed: “He may be a sympathizer, but this does not make him guilty of sedition.” Who will have the last word on the JNU row? The executive or the judiciary? To senior advocate K.T.S. Tulsi, “Youngsters raising slogans and engaging in intellectual radicalism cannot be called sedition.” Where is the evidence to show they resorted to violence, posed a security threat to the state or had the intention of overthrowing the government, he asks. “I will be surprised if the charges stick.” READER’S DIGEST

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WHO IS UNINDIAN?

Rebel REPORT

A history of some famous Indian sedition cases 1897, 1908, 1916

1891 THE FIRST TRIAL Jogendra Chandra Bose criticized the government in an editorial of Bangobasi newspaper. Prosecution dropped the charges after he tendered an apology.

THREE TRIALS OF BAL GANGADHAR TILAK Faced sedition charges thrice for “undermining the British government in India.” The second time, he spent six years in jail.

1922

TRIAL OF GANDHI Charged for his writings in Young India. At the trial, he said, “I am here, therefore to invite and submit cheerfully to the highest penalty that can be inflicted upon me for what in law is deliberate crime, and what appears to me to be the highest duty of a citizen.” Sentenced to six years in jail.

KAMAL KRISHNA SIRCAR Vs THE EMPEROR Charged for condemning Communist Party ban and supporting the Russian Bolsheviks. The Calcutta HC commented: “It is really absurd to say speeches of this kind amount to sedition.”

1934

SIMRANJIT SINGH MANN CASE President of the Shiromani Akali Dal, Amritsar, was arrested for raising pro-Khalistan slogans at the Golden Temple on the 21st anniversary of Operation Blue Star. The court held that raising slogans at a public meeting “is not sedition.”

MANOJ SHINDE, EDITOR, SURAT SAAMNA For using “abusive words” against chief minister Narendra Modi in an editorial and alleging administrative failure in tackling the Surat floods.

2006

2005

DR BINAYAK SEN, RAIPUR, CHHATTISGARH Was convicted for allegedly helping courier messages to Maoist leadership. Was sentenced to life imprisonment and granted bail later.

ARUNDHATI ROY, S.A.R. Geelani, Varavara Rao, Shuddabrata Sengupta et al booked for their “anti-India” speech titled “Azadi: The Only Way.”

2010

ASEEM TRIVEDI Kanpur cartoonist arrested for mocking Constitution. Did not apply for bail until charge was dropped. Bombay HC slammed police for his arrest on “frivolous grounds.”

2012

ADAPTED FROM INDIA TODAY (7 MARCH, 2016). © 2016 LIVING MEDIA INDIA LIMITED.

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1907

NIHARENDU DUTT MAJUMDAR Vs KING EMPEROR For his speech that the Bengal government hadn’t taken any steps to stop communal disturbances during the Dhaka riots. Was later acquitted.

BANDE MATRAM Aurobindo Ghose was arrested for “habitually publishing seditious matter” in Bande Matram newspaper, but was acquitted.

KEDAR NATH SINGH Vs STATE OF BIHAR Charged for seditious speech. SC held: “A citizen has a right to say what he likes about the government, or its measures, by way of criticism, as long as he does not incite violence.”

ALAVI Vs STATE OF KERALA Where the court held that sloganeering, criticizing Parliament or the judicial setup did not amount to ‘sedition.’

1962

1942

PRAVIN TOGADIA, VHP ACTIVIST Slapped with sedition by Rajasthan government for defying the prohibitory orders and ban on distribution of tridents; also faced a charge under Section 121-A of IPC (waging war or attempting anti-national activity).

1982 BALWANT SINGH AND ANR Vs STATE OF PUNJAB They had raised slogans of ‘Khalistan Zindabad’ outside a cinema hall the day Indira Gandhi was assassinated. But their conviction was set aside by the Supreme Court.

1995

SEDITION OF LALA LAJPAT RAI Was deported to Mandalay in Burma for “open sedition” without a trial. However, he was allowed to return after a few months when Lord Minto decided that there was insufficient evidence to hold him for subversion.

2003 HARDIK PATEL The 22-year-old quota agitation leader from Gujarat was booked by the police under charges of allegedly instigating a youth to kill policemen instead of committing suicide.

2015

ARUN JAITLEY Was charged for an article he wrote reacting to the Supreme Court verdict on the National Judicial Appointments Commission. The Allahabad High Court quashed the charges.

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Finding the SILVER LINING From a patient of depression to a therapist—the story of a young woman who’s not afraid to speak up BY P R AT H YA S H A G E O R G E AS TOLD TO SNIGDHA HASAN

THE AUTUMN OF 2002 was unlike any other. Instead of preparing for my new academic year, I was packing up my life in the US to move back to India. I was 12 then and Philadelphia was my world—with my school, friends, and all the other anchors of childhood. Although I was uncertain about the decision, a part of me was looking forward to the move. My parents had promised me that we would be happy in India. The seventh grade, however, proved to be the beginning of my tumultuous school life. The sultry Pathanamthitta weather and the overall culture shock aside, language was a problem as, back then, not many children in Kerala spoke English. My accent didn’t help either and was a constant subject of mockery. Coming from an interactive model of learning, I found little scope for communication. By the end of the academic year, I had changed three schools and switched from an ICSE 120

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syllabus to the state board curriculum and then finally to CBSE. Still unsettled, I would often refuse to go to school and weep bitterly until my parents gave in and let me stay at home for the day. With not one friend to help me sail through it all, I tried hard to shut school out of my life and began to miss many classes. Finally, the teachers suggested that I seek psychological counselling, which didn’t seem like a good idea to me. My parents were also hesitant because of the stigma attached to it. They didn’t want their little girl to get labelled, and waited for time to set things right. But when school continued to make me as miserable as ever, my parents decided that it was indeed time I saw a psychologist. I didn’t disagree. After all, here was my chance to miss another day of school. The psychologist was a young lady in her late twenties. She welcomed me with a pleasant smile and asked, “How


C. SHAN KA R

Prathyasha, at home in Thiruvananthapuram.

are you feeling today?” I looked away and said nothing. The psychologist was inexperienced and didn’t know how to handle a difficult case like mine either. She tried to establish a rapport with me, but I remained defensive throughout. After about half an hour, I was starting to lose my patience. Since my reluctance to go to school was the theme of the session, the only words I uttered at the clinic were, “I am ready to go to school,” just so she would let me go. I never saw her again. Years went by and my life was now beset with despondency. I knew I was different from other people and it was getting difficult to have me around at home too. My parents still thought it was a phase I’d grow out of, but I was deeply wounded. I kept to myself and spent nights crying into my pillow. Things only got worse af-

ter I completed my graduation. I was always a bright student, but I had grown aimless. My parents’ patience had begun to wear thin and one day, after my results were out, things came to a head. They told me to get a job, or share once and for all what my plan for the future was, or, leave the house. A bachelor’s degree in philosophy didn’t prove to be very helpful professionally, so that only added to my confusion. This seemed like the last straw and I slashed my wrist. It was a desperate cry for help. I couldn’t go on any longer. When good sense prevailed, I told my parents I needed help and they were happy to take me to a psychiatrist. I remember bursting into tears in the doctor’s office. This was very different from my first experience with a therapist. The psychiatrist was an elderly man with silver-grey hair. He | APRIL 2015 | NOVEMBER READER’S DIGEST 2016 READER’S DIGEST

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F I N D I N G T H E S I LV E R L I N I N G

looked at me patiently, waiting for me to start talking. For the first time in my life, I opened up to someone, and it felt good. I was diagnosed with depression—and later with bipolar disorder—and prescribed medication. Things started to change dramatically for the better. I had never felt this alive or so close to my true self. What had been brushed aside all these years as mood swings, stubbornness and a difficult personality, began to fall into place. Nothing was irreparable, after all. The medicines were working miracles and I wondered why I had been holding myself back.

Things started to change. I had never felt this alive or so close to my true self. With a fresh perspective on life, I had to decide what to do with it. Nothing felt more right than studying psychology. At first, it was just an attempt to understand myself better. But later I realized that there are a lot of people, like me, who needed help. I was determined to know more about my illness. I completed my masters with a university rank. Soon, I started working with a psychotherapist myself. It felt different sitting on the other side of the table. I would see a part of myself in every patient I interacted with. 122

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Once, a girl who had moved to Kerala from Dubai, came to see me, when I briefly worked as a counsellor at an architecture college in Thiruvananthapuram. She was finding it difficult to adjust to the new environment. So when I comforted her saying that things do get better and gave her my example, we both knew that it was not an empty promise. What I considered a curse is indeed a blessing. It helped shape my choice of career, and, more importantly, empathize with my patients. My newfound self renewed my zest for life. And now that I knew my calling, I couldn’t waste another moment. I cleared the National Eligibility Test two years ago, and at 24, became an assistant professor of psychology at Farook College, under the University of Calicut. Teaching was wonderful, but I realized I wasn’t done with learning. So now I am back in Thiruvananthapuram, preparing for the entrance exam for MPhil in clinical psychology at the renowned NIMHANS in Bengaluru. It’s been a long journey from being a patient to a therapist. My parents have been on this roller coaster with me and nothing makes them happier than seeing their daughter’s independence and achievements. Bouts of depression remain a part of my life, and at times, slacken its pace. But today, I know how to manage them without letting them eclipse what’s good. I’ve learnt that there is always hope, even when you can’t see the silver lining.


As Kids See It

IN DI API CTURE/ ARUSHI S HA RMA

“With a chauffer like my Dad, why would anyone want to learn to drive? I’D TAKEN my children to visit their aunt in Guernsey, and we were to be joined by my other sister and her children. On the morning they arrived, my sister and I were excited. “The eagle has landed!” I said as their plane touched down. I had a lot of explaining to do when I overheard my son telling his cousins, “When your plane got in, Mummy said, ‘The evils have landed.’ ” ABIGAIL WATKINS

I just had to hug him and say sorry. It made my day! VANESSA SMITH

THE LOVELIEST PRESENT I’d ever

MY FIVE-YEAR-OLD granddaughter, Ashika, recently started learning about continents, oceans and the concept of a globe. The other day, when she tripped and fell on the globe, her first question was, “Did I cause an earthquake?” K.G. SUBRAMANIAM, B e n g a l u r u

received was a box from my son Cal, which appeared empty. I peered inside and, puzzled, asked him if he’d forgotten to put something in it. He exclaimed, “But Mummy, it’s full of kisses I blew into it!”

MY YOUNG SON and his cousin were

watching a video of a peacock screaming, and got into an argument about whether it was crying or not. As the peacock proceeded to unfurl its magnificent tail, my nephew yelled, “Oh no! It burst!” SAMIKSHA SHARMA, Ne w D e l h i

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Great architecture, unusual locations, fascinating history—these churches are all truly unique

Hallowed

Halls THEY HAVE BEEN BUILDING the Sagrada Família for 133 years and counting. It is expected to take yet another 11 years before the work on Spain’s most famous, and seemingly permanent, building site is finally completed. This hasn’t stopped the monumental church in the heart of Barcelona from becoming a magnet for tourists. The fantasy basilica, largely the brainchild of architect Antoni Gaudí, is visited by around three million people every year. 124

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P HOTO: © TRAVEL PI CTURES/ALAM Y STOC K PHOTO

BY CORNELIA KUMFERT


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HALLOWED HALLS

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THE CHURCH in the Swiss monastery village of Cazis looks as if it has been carved from solid stone. In reality it is the product of an extravagant and clever architectural design. No less than 108 wooden elements were layered with shotcrete to create this unique place of worship. A particular highlight is the building’s windows, which are designed to create special lighting effects at different times of the day. THIS UNDERGROUND salt church is dedicated to Saint Barbara, the patron saint of miners. The extraordinary place of worship lies 240 metres below the surface of the Romanian town of Târgu Ocna. The church’s spacious interior chamber, chandelier, bishop’s chair, cross and numerous other religious objects are all carved entirely from salt. IT IS ALMOST impossible not to be dazzled by the vivid colours of Saint Basil’s Cathedral on Moscow’s Red Square, despite this garish Russian landmark’s alleged gruesome history. Built in the 16th century during the rule of Ivan the Terrible, legend has it that this famously cruel czar was so thoroughly pleased with the end result, he had the architects blinded to prevent them from creating anything as beautiful ever again. READER’S DIGEST

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COMEBACK CITY

THE “JERUSALEM of Ethiopia” is situated in Lalibela, a small town in the north of the country. This is the location of no fewer than eleven monolithic churches, each of them hewn from a single block of stone and connected to the others by an ingenious network of tunnels. Probably the most famous among them is the Church of Saint George, a huge building in the shape of a cross that was carved out of the bedrock from the top down in the 13th century. TRINITY CHURCH on King George Island is one of the remotest churches in the world—it is located in Antarctica! The small wooden church was built in 2004 on the grounds of Russia’s Bellingshausen research station and has been defying the unrelenting elements ever since. The 15-metre-high wooden structure can accommodate up to 30 people. 128

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P HOTOS: © ALAMY; (OBEN RECH TS) © GETTY I MAGES

ABOUT 2,700 METRES above sea level, in the Columbian town of Zipaquirá, worshippers wishing to attend mass have to journey deep underground into a disused salt mine. Visitors can walk the 14 Stations of the Cross at depths of up to 180 metres. The star attraction, however, is the 120-metre-long cathedral with a 16-metre-high cross at its end, a breathtaking view even for the non-religious.


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My secret

Venıce It’s one of the most visited cities on the planet. But there’s so much the tourists miss. Our tour guide: John Hooper

E

VERY TIME I VISIT VENICE ITS BEAUTY HITS ME

afresh. But what I love about this great city is that its sunny, gilded splendour carries with it a subtle hint of melancholy. You have the Grand Canal, made famous by Canoletto, with its exquisite palaces and jade-green waters, to be sure. But this is also a city built on shifting sands amid treacherous tides; a place of mists and ghosts. And for the curious-minded, it is also a city of surprises and mysteries.

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GUIDO BAVIERA/S IME/4 CORNERS IMAGES

Intriguing turbaned figures watch over the diners in Venice’s Campo dei Mori. READER’S DIGEST

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MY SECRET VENICE

Everyday life in Cannaregio.

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ownership, Venetians are, somewhat perversely, passionate dog lovers. Cannaregio is also a place of surprises. Slip into the second narrow lane on the right and you are in the Ghetto (2), an area where the Jews were forced to live back in the early 16th century during the old Venetian Republic. Further down the lane, I glance up and spot a plaque on the wall that warns Jews against vilifying Christianity “on pain of the rope, jail, the galleys and the whip.” The Ghetto draws some tourists and even has a few gift shops selling everything from menorahs—nine-armed candle holders used on the festival of Hanukkah—to wine stoppers made of coloured glass produced in the lagoon on the island of Murano. But beyond the Rio della Misericordia—the ironically named Canal of Mercy that runs by the Ghetto—lies an even quieter area where tourist gondolas rarely venture and where the loudest sound for much of the year is the squabbling of gulls.

I AM LO OKING FOR HIDDEN treasure. The few who chance upon the 14th-century church of Sant’Alvise (3) probably don’t spare it a second glance. But in the presbytery and tucked away to one side of the altar are three works by the great 18thcentury Rococo painter, Giovanni Battista Tiepolo. Sant’Alvise is engagingly idiosyncratic. The artists who painted the

F RANCESCO LASTRUCC I

Like any visitor arriving at Venice’s bustling Santa Lucia railway station, I set off to explore the city following signs to the Rialto. Had this been my first time here, I would have then followed further signs taking you from the Rialto to the glories of St Mark’s Square, the Doges’ palace, the Bridge of Sighs and the waterside Riva degli Schiavoni with its breathtaking views across the lagoon. But today I’m intent on enjoying some of Venice’s less obvious attractions. So, once across the Ponte delle Guglie, as tourists disappear into the first of a string of lanes packed with souvenir stores, I turn left. Beyond the fishmonger’s stall on the fondamenta (the Venetians’ word for a paved quayside), I enter another world. The sestiere, or district, of Cannaregio (1, on the map overleaf) is where more than a third of Venice’s citizens live. It is where they do their shopping, where they stop to gossip and where they walk their dogs—although this city is uniquely unsuited to dog


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P HOTOGRAPHED BY COLIN DUTTON

John Hooper leaves the crowds behind.

ceiling used drastic foreshortening to create the impression of pillars soaring through the roof to heaven. But something went awry. So, unless you stand right in the middle of the church, the pillars on the other side all tilt in the wrong direction. At the back of the church is a set of rather crudely painted tempera panels depicting scenes from the Old Testament. One detail is striking: a tasselled canopy over a potentate of some kind. It is so wholly un-European that it could only have been painted by someone who had seen an original brought from the East. More than any of the states that

made up Italy before its unification i n t h e 1 9 t h c e n t u r y , Ve n i c e — independent for over a thousand years—looked east : to the Levant, Persia and far beyond. Arab and other eastern influences seeped into everything from their architecture to their jewellery. Retracing my steps to the Fondamenta della Sensa, I walk east to the little Campo dei Mori (4) , or Moors’ Square, so called because of three sculpted, robed and turbaned figures who stand in niches set into the walls. Weatherbeaten now—they have lost their original noses—the “Moors” are a mystery. The most READER’S DIGEST

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common explanation is that they depict three brothers, traders in silk and spices, who came to Venice in the 12th century as refugees from their homeland of Morea, an old name for Greece’s Peloponnese peninsula. But, if that is the case, why did they wear oriental clothes? And why is there a fourth “Moor” around the corner next to the house of Cannaregio’s most famous son, the late Renaissance painter, Tintoretto? The artist’s real name, which was only recently discovered, is another echo of Venice’s trading links with the east. His surname was Comin, which means cumin. Nea rby , Ti nto re tto’s g iga nt i c depictions of the Last Judgement and the Worship of the Golden Calf, soar over 15 metres to the vaulted ceiling of the Madonna dell’Orto (5). On my way to admire them, crossing the Rio della Madonna dell’Orto, I glance back at the façade of the grand house the brothers from Morea are said to have built for themselves. What I see only deepens the mystery of its earliest occupants: a bas-relief of a man with a camel. Behind the church of the Madonna dell’Orto, there is a vaporetto (water bus) stop. I need the 4.2 to get to Fondamenta Nove. “We do our best to confuse outsiders,” jokes a local as we wait on the pontoon. Not only do some of the vaporetto routes have decimal points, but houses are numbered according to the sestiere to 134

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which they belong, with no regard to the lane or canal they look onto.

AFTER A REVIVING ESPRESSO macchiato, I catch the number 12 to the pretty island of Burano (6), where the houses are painted in every colour of the rainbow, and then a number 9 to the island of Torcello (7) and a step back in time. Torcello is all but uninhabited these days. But there are some restaurants for visitors along the brick path that leads away from the vaporetto stop. A chill wind is blowing. Gulls screech. I decide it’s time for lunch and duck into the cosy Osteria al Ponte del Diavolo for a plate of steaming pasta: spaghetti al nero di seppie (spaghetti with cuttlefish ink), Venice’s most traditional dish. Delicious. For most people, Venice is the collection of islands, centred on the Rialto, that seem to form one big island in the shape of a fish. But the term also encompasses the other islands in the Venetian lagoon, and there was a time when Torcello was the most populous and important of them all; when it was Venice. After the collapse of the Roman e mp i re i n the w est, G er ma n i c tribespeople poured into the Italian peninsula, prompting wave after wave of refugees to flee for their lives into the lagoon. The largest number settled on Torcello, becoming subjects of the only remaining “Roman” empire— that of the east, with its capital at


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VENICE AND ISLANDS

M AP BY M IKE HALL/ILLUSTRATIONW EB.COM

Explore the lesser-known, numbered haunts to discover a secret Venice.

Constantinople or Byzantium. So when, in 639, the inhabitants of Torcello built themselves a cathedral, and even in 1008 when the existing basilica was erected, much of the decoration was of a kind associated with the eastern Christian churches. No photograph can do justice to the sheer scale of its towering mosaics: of the Virgin and Child behind the altar and of the Last Judgement on the rear wall. For several years, the bell tower of what is now the Basilica di Santa Maria Assunta was closed for repairs. But it was reopened in 2014, and so—for-

tified by the pasta—I head for the top. In the belfry, I find myself alone. In a silence broken only by the whistling wind, I look out undisturbed over Torcello with its fields and vegetable plots laced by streams and linked by rickety wooden bridges. It’s not so very different from how the place must have looked back in the 7th century.

I AM STAYING ON THE GIUDECCA (8) , the long, eel-shaped island slithering under the belly of the “fish.” Outside the tourist season, it belongs to the Venetians even more READER’S DIGEST

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Colourfully painted houses are a trademark of the island of Burano.

than Cannaregio: here you find the homes of the city’s postal workers and garbage collectors, the people who steer its fire launches and wash the tourists’ linen. But it is also in the early stages of becoming Venice’s alternative quarter. Several art galleries sit along the quay that faces the main island of Venice. One of them is holding an opening party. From inside, comes laughter and the chinking of glasses. A little way along, I discover Generator, a hostel carved out of an old grain store. The bar, with its smart but quirky retro decor would not look out of place in one of the trendier quarters of Berlin. Just the spot for an aperitivo before dinner. I settle for a Venetian favourite, an Aperol spritz (Aperol and 136

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sparkling Prosecco wine with a dash of soda) to go with the nuts and olives the barman sets out for me. Next day, I have time to kill. I want to visit the island of San Lazzaro degli Armeni, but it can only be reached by a vaporetto that leaves just once a day: at 3:10 p.m. So first I decide to make for the part of Venice where the Bienniale, the city’s international contemporary art exhibition, is held. In the gardens nearby, there is a magnificent 19th century greenhouse, the Serra dei Giardini (9), nowadays partgarden nursery and part-café-restaurant. It is the ideal place for a leisurely mid-morning coffee. I continue my tour, reaching a square hung with washing in the alleyways off Via Garibaldi. Here I come across a large shrine created from one side of a house. It has lace curtains and, inside, amid the pots of flowers,

SAN DRO SANTI OLI/SIM E/4 CORNERS I M AGES

A HOLE IN THE HEART OF EUROPE


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an icon—again, that lingering Byzantine influence—of the Madonna. It gives me an idea. I catch the vaporetto towards Saint Mark’s, but get off after a couple of stops. A couple of hundred metres away, beyond the Pensione Wildner where the 19th-century American novelist Henry James finished The Portrait of a Lady, is Calle de la Pietà. I doubt if more than one visitor in a thousand notices the slot for offerings under the little bas-relief of the Virgin and Child. Even fewer notice the wooden segment jutting out above the green door. It looks as if it might belong to an early revolving door. As indeed it does: the rest of the structure, inside the Hotel Metropole, houses a cash register. But once it had a sadder purpose. It was a foundling wheel—a device in which mothers could leave their unwanted babies to be brought up by nuns. Further down the lane you get to what was—and, to some extent, still is—Venice’s Greek quarter. After various twists and turns, I reach another bridge and, opening a gate on the left, walk beside the Rio dei Greci to the Orthodox church of San Giorgio. Next door is a museum of icons, the oldest of which date from the 15th century and were rescued from Constantinople.

AT 3:10 P.M. PRECISELY, THE number 20 vaporetto casts off for the final leg of my journey, to the fabled island of San Lazzaro degli Armeni (10). Once a leper colony, it was put at the disposal of an order of Armenian Catholic monks who fled when the Turks seized their monastery in Morea. That was in 1717. The monastery’s museum today is a treasure house for anyone with a taste for the exotic. It houses artefacts from the lost civilisation of Urartu, a manuscript written in the extinct language of Ge’ez and a sword belonging the last ruler of the half-forgotten Armenian kingdom of Cilicia. At the end of my visit, standing in the church with its bright turquoise ceiling and mosaics, I ask the blackbearded monk who has showed me around where he was from. “Kessab in Syria,” he says. “It was once part of the kingdom of Cilicia.” Then he shakes his head.“Today is a very sad day for me,” he says. “It is a year since jihadis took Kessab and drove out its Christian population. They sacked the city and desecrated the cemetery.” Venice still picks up distant echoes from the east. John Hooper is the Italy correspondent for The Economist and author of The Italians.

WAGER OF THE BEAST? The sum of all the numbers on a roulette wheel is 666. READER’S DIGEST

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CLASSIC BONUS READ

The Case of the Rolex Murder A routine investigation into a drowning leads police through a complex web of swindles, double and triple identities—and finally, to a cold-blooded killer BY BI L L S C H I L L E R F R O M A H AND I N T H E WAT E R 138

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I LLUSTRATION BY STEVEN P. HUGHES

F I RST P U B L I S HE D I N R E A D E R ’ S D I G E ST DE C E M B E R 1 9 9 9

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ARLY SUNDAY MORNING, 28 JULY 1996, fisherman John Copik and his son, Craig, left their home port in Brixham, Devon, on England’s south coast, aboard the trawler Malkerry. Once at sea, they let a long trawling net out behind them. After about two hours the men hauled up the net. Finding few fish, they released it again. Another check a few hours later showed that things hadn’t improved. They let the net out a third time and turned for home. About 3 p.m., less than 10 kilometres from shore, Copik called to his son, “Let’s haul ’em in, mate!” As the net emerged from the water, Copik could see that their luck had changed. It was loaded with fish, with one especially large one trapped inside. Probably a porpoise, the father thought. As the net drew closer, however, Copik felt a chill run through him. A human face stared back at him, the mouth slightly ajar.

Father and son heaved the net on board and Copik radioed the Coast Guard. As the Malkerry sailed into port, a police car waited at the dock. Detective Constable Ian Clenahan, a young officer who had just been posted to the region, bent over to have a look at the body. The dead man was fully dressed and had a large gash on the back of his head. On his right wrist was a stainless steel Rolex Oyster watch showing the time and date—11:35, 22 July. There was no identification on the body, just one possible identifying mark: a tattoo of what looked to be five stars on the back of the man’s right hand. 140

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In an autopsy, injuries were duly noted: a crack on the back of the skull; a well-defined bruise on the left hip; some minor lacerations on the chest and back, possibly caused by the body being dragged along the sea floor. None of these injuries was serious enough to have killed the man, the senior pathologist concluded. The blow to the head might have been sustained accidentally, perhaps as the deceased fell into the water. But the fact that the lungs were laden with seawater, led the pathologist to make his pronouncement: death by drowning. The question that remained unanswered: who was he?


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TIME WILL TELL Days went by, yet the police were no closer to making an identification. Then on 31 July, a friend suggested to the coroner’s officer, Robin Little, that since every Rolex comes with a serial number, perhaps the company might help. Little dialled Rolex’s UK office, about 290 kilometres away in Bexley, Kent, and explained the situation to one of its employees, who confirmed

According to the Rolex records, the watch had been serviced twice in the 1980s, both times by an authorized dealer in Harrogate. Following a call to the watch dealer, Clenahan asked the local police to confirm a name: Ronald Joseph Platt, born 22 March 1945. National and personal records allowed them to track the victim from Harrogate to 100 Beardsley Drive, in Chelmsford,

THE MAN HAD DIED BY DROWNING, THE PATHOLOGIST SAID. THE UNANSWERED QUESTION: WHO WAS HE? that each Rolex made has a serial number inscribed on its casing. Thus a record of every servicing to a watch could be obtained through Rolex’s central registry. Little slipped the watch out of its plastic bag and flipped it over. He could see no number. “It’s on the shoulder of the casing, just where the bracelet joins the case,” he was told. “You can’t see it without taking the pins out and removing the bracelet.” And so, with a small needle, Little nudged one and then the other pin out, and carefully removed the bracelet. There, inscribed on the side of the watch, was number 1544402.

Essex, a little over 400 kilometres east of where the body was found. Armed with this, Clenahan asked the Chelmsford police to research the victim. There, Sergeant Peter Redman came up with a useful piece of information: Platt’s landlord still had the name and cell-phone number of a reference Platt had provided when he’d moved in six months earlier. It was a Mr David Davis. Redman gave the cell-phone number to Clenahan. The detective dialled: “Is that David Davis?” “Yes, it is.” “David Davis, who acted as a reference for a Ronald Platt, who leased a flat in Chelmsford?” READER’S DIGEST

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“Yes. Who is this?” “Constable Ian Clenahan , Mr Davis. There’s been an accident at sea and a body has been found. We believe it may be your friend Mr Platt.” “Oh, my God! Are they absolutely certain?” “Apparently,” Clenahan said. “Could you go to the station in Chelmsford and tell us a little bit about him?” “Of course.” On 22 August, a six-foot-one, dapper man with a dark beard walked into the Chelmsford station. He had an oval face, a strong chin and shining brown eyes. He identified himself as David Davis. Sergeant Redman, a friendly, round-faced plain-clothes detective, welcomed his visitor. He knew Ronald Joseph Platt, Davis said. “I’ve known him for a couple of years. He’s a friend. Kindred spirit, really. But I understood he’d left for France to set up a business there.” “When did you last see him?” “June, I believe.” “Did he leave an address?” “No. But I was anticipating hearing from him.” Davis added that before Platt left, he had his mail redirected to Davis’s address, Little London Farm. While Davis was still there, Redman called Clenahan and passed the phone to Davis, who told the detective constable that Platt had two brothers. He was not sure where they lived, but he did know that the dead man’s mother was living in High Wycombe. 142

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Also, he said that Platt had done a stint in the army. All interesting material, Clenahan thought. With a little more luck, he might be able to close the file on this case. He especially wanted to wrap it up now that a new detective chief inspector (DCI) for Devon and Cornwall, Phil Sincock, had arrived.

IDENTITY CRISIS Sincock had come to his post with impeccable credentials. In 1990, he had taken on a murder case that had gone unsolved for 10 years—and conclusively pinned it on a criminal already doing time for kidnapping. So far, however, it appeared that his detective skills would not be needed for the Platt case. It was being treated as an accident and was coming along well. Army dental records had confirmed Platt’s identity. Then the police managed to track down one of the victim’s brothers, Brian. The dead man was most definitely Ronald, the brother said. He explained that the tattoo on the right hand was not a five-pointed star, but a maple leaf. His brother had been raised in Canada and loved the country. Brian gave them more useful information: Ron had had a girlfriend, Elaine Boyes. They had been together off and on for more than 12 years, but three years earlier, in 1993, they had broken up. By this point the investigation had extended into October. It had


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been two-and-a-half months since the corpse was found. At long last it seemed it was nearly time to lay Platt’s body, and the file, to rest. Just one question remained: how had Platt ended up at the bottom of the sea? Since David Davis seemed to have been the dead man’s only friend, Clenahan wanted to talk to him one more time. The detective had trouble reaching Davis on his cell phone, so he called Sergeant Redman, his

“This is Little London House,” the man said. “That,” he said, stepping out onto the porch and pointing next door, “is Little London Farm.” “Thank you very much,” Redman said, and began to walk away. Then it struck him that he’d better make sure. He turned around. “That is where Mr David Davis lives, isn’t it?” “Dear boy,” the elderly man replied, “you’re mistaken again. There’s no Mr Davis who lives there. That is where Ronald Platt lives.”

“DEAR BOY,” THE ELDERLY MAN REPLIED. “THERE’S NO MR DAVIS WHO LIVES THERE. THAT IS WHERE RONALD PLATT LIVES.” colleague in Chelmsford, for another favour: could he go out to Davis’s house and ask him to call the Devon and Cornwall police department? On 14 October, Redman, in civilian clothes, drove to Little London Lane. There, he found four houses. Two had signs on their gates, but neither one said Little London Farm, the name of Davis’s house. That left the other two. The o d ds are 50-50, thought Redman. When he went to one of the houses and knocked, an older gentleman answered the door. “Sorry to bother you, sir, but is this Little London Farm?”

Redman was stunned. “Ronald Platt?” “Yes. With his wife, Noël. And their two children.” “May I ask what this Mr Platt looks like? I may have the wrong address.” “Oh, he’s about 50. An American chap. Outgoing, friendly, dark hair, beard. A retired banker from New York. He spends a lot of time on his boat down in Devon.” It was a precise description of Davis, Redman realized. He had to get back to the station and make an urgent call. As he heard Clenahan answer, Redman said, “Something’s up.” READER’S DIGEST

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The police were sure David Davis was a liar, but was he capable of murder?

FATEFUL ENCOUNTER Clenahan listened to the sergeant’s report, then went to Sincock’s office. “That Davis fellow who’s helped us out with the Platt case,” Clenahan began, “the man who said he was the dead man’s friend. He’s been living under Platt’s name.” And one more damning detail: Davis had a boat down in Devon somewhere. The Platt case was now no longer a low priority. The next day the DCI convened a meeting with Clenahan 144

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and other detectives. He ordered them to put Little London Farm and its residents under a microscope; get hold of local government records, banking records, and itemized telephone bills. Clenahan tracked down Platt’s former girlfriend Elaine Boyes in Harrogate and made an appointment to meet with her. Wearing glasses and dressed rather conservatively, she seemed genial and quite trusting. Clenahan had brought a photograph of the dead man’s hand, the one with the maple-leaf tattoo. Yes, a shaken Boyes said, it was Ron. The police had notified a David Davis too, Clenahan told her. “How long has he known?” she asked. “A couple of months now.” The woman froze. She said she had spoken to Davis only about a week before and had asked about Platt. All Davis had said was that he had seen him off to France. Boyes went on to tell Clenahan about her life with Ron Platt, and how the two of them had come to befriend David Davis. It had begun in the summer of 1990. She was then a 31-year-old receptionist at Henry Spencer and Sons Fine Art Auctioneers in Harrogate, a posh Victorian spa town, a little over 360 kilometres north of London. One day a man walked in and asked to see some paintings. Just then the phone rang. Boyes answered it, fielded

ALL PHOTOS COURTESY HARP ERCOLLI NS PUBLI SHERS

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other calls, and handled queries from colleagues, every now and then giving a nodding smile to the patiently waiting visitor. “At last,” Boyes said. “How can I help you?” “I’ve been watching you,” the man replied. “You’ve got people traipsing through here, the phone’s ringing, and you treat everyone so well. I could use someone like you.” “I beg your pardon?” “I’m planning on starting up a

is going back. We’re planning on heading over as soon as we have the money.” “Elaine,” said Davis, “I could offer you enough money so that within a year’s time, you could both fly off.” Boyes agreed to think about it. When Davis saw her again in February, he met her boyfriend, Ron Platt. Boyes decided to accept Davis’s offer. In April, Elaine Boyes became special assistant and secretary of

“I COULD USE SOMEONE LIKE YOU,” THE MAN SAID. “I’M PLANNING ON STARTING A FINE-ARTS AND ANTIQUES COMPANY.” little fine-arts and antiques company myself. I’m over here quite a bit now, and I’ll be moving permanently from America soon. I’d pay you well, you could travel, we could even take some courses together down at Sotheby’s in London. “You don’t even know me.” “David Davis,” he said, extending his hand, bowing slightly and smiling as he did so. “Elaine Boyes,” she replied, shaking hands. “But this is ridiculous. I can’t even think about changing jobs, Mr Davis. I’ve promised my boyfriend we’ll move to Canada. He grew up there, and all he ever talks about

Cavendish Corp., Davis’s new artand-antiques venture. She was her boss’s sole legal representative, with the power to open bank accounts, and deposit and withdraw money on his behalf. Around that time Davis told her about the ‘tragedy’ of his first marriage and how his ex-wife, back home in the United States, was pursuing him for alimony. His response had been to move to London. One daughter, Noël, had chosen to come with him. For that reason it was vital, Davis told Boyes, that his name never appear on documents of any kind. Security and secrecy were crucial. READER’S DIGEST

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“I’M GOING HOME” Elaine Boyes had a strong incentive to follow Davis’s instructions to the letter. He not only paid her 50 per cent more than she had made at Spencer’s but also arranged for her and Platt to buy a stylish two-bedroom apartment. “Mr D,” as Platt called him, had put up nearly $1,00,000 for the purchase. Davis and Platt were about the same age and had become friends. Davis rented premises for Platt and set him up in his own television-and-video

mail. She’d give it to Davis, and he’d have her transfer some of that money back into Cavendish’s accounts. Then unexpectedly, late in 1992, Davis told Boyes that the loans he’d given her for the purchase of her apartment had to be called in. He cited “cash-flow problems.” The couple listed their apartment for sale. A few weeks later, Davis told Platt he could no longer pay the rent on his shop. Platt would have to go it alone. On Christmas Day, 1992, Davis

IN HIS LETTER, PLATT WROTE HE WAS RETURNING TO ENGLAND. HE HAD BEEN TRYING TO LIVE ON ODD JOBS AND WAS FED UP. repair business. He had even lent Platt $23,000 for start-up costs. As for the work Boyes had to do, it was hardly onerous, she explained to Clenahan. Davis would send her off to France, Italy or Switzerland, to look at an antique sale or some properties and, while she was there, deposit cash in accounts she set up in her own name, as secretary of Cavendish Corp. It was all part of Davis’s alimonyavoidance strategy. Throughout 1991 and 1992 everything went smoothly. Boyes would return home from a trip, and a week later a deposit slip would arrive by 146

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invited Boyes and Platt to dinner at his house and presented them with a card in which he had written: “Two air tickets to Canada. Valid until the end of February.” “It’s time you and Elaine seized the dream, Ron,” he said. The couple thanked Davis profusely, although Boyes later persuaded him to give her a return ticket, just in case. Davis had one last favour to ask. Since he would have to operate Cavendish Corp. all alone and would need to access his money, could Boyes and Platt make rubber-stamp copies of their signatures?


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His request didn’t seem unreasonable. Both complied. On 11 February 1993, Boyes signed over a power of attorney to Davis, so that he could finish up the sale of the apartment. The document gave him the right, she recalled, “to deposit money, to draw money, to sign my name, to receive mail on my behalf, generally to act in relation to my personal affairs in all respects as I myself do.” Davis, ever the smooth talker, convinced Platt to also leave him copies of his birth certificate and driver’s licence. On the evening of 22 February 1993, there was a farewell dinner for the couple before they left for Canada. At one point, Ron Platt announced, “By this time tomorrow I’ll be home.”

DARK AND COLD For Boyes, Calgary in February was a harsh introduction to a new country. The city was not at all the wide-open, friendly frontier town of Platt’s childhood memories. It seemed dark and cold now. Neither Boyes nor Platt had jobs lined up, so they were forced to look for cheap housing. They found a little basement apartment. At night they lay awake and listened to the rumble of trucks on the Trans-Canada Highway, just a few streets away. Platt began to brood and grow morose. Boyes was glad she had insisted on a return ticket to England. That summer, Boyes flew to England

for her sister’s wedding. When she met Davis at her sister’s wedding, she announced that she wasn’t going back to Canada. “But what about Ron?” Davis inquired. “He needs your support, Elaine. I think you should give him a second chance,” Davis said, gently. Boyes would not be moved. In March 1995, Davis received a letter. On opening it, he read the news: Ronald Joseph Platt was returning to England. He had been trying to live on odd jobs and was fed up. When Platt came back that spring, Davis found him a job just outside High Wycombe, so Platt would be near his mother. When he lost that job, he announced he wanted to move to Chelmsford to be closer to Davis. Six months later he was dead.

ARREST AND DISCOVERY By the end of October 1996, Phil Sincock and his team had gathered a fair amount of incriminating material regarding David Davis. They had various pieces of paper bearing Ron Platt’s authentic signature, some of which didn’t match the ones that had been handled by Davis. Sincock felt that if he could get into that house on Little London Lane, he would very likely find a treasure-trove of material. To get at it, he planned a raid on Davis’s house for 31 October. On the day before, Clenahan obtained Davis’s cell-phone records. They showed conclusively that he READER’S DIGEST

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had made numerous calls from Devon between 7 and 23 July, placing him squarely in the area where Platt’s body was recovered, and around the time Platt had died. Police had what they believed was a murder suspect. The next step was to gather evidence that would stand up in court. Early on the morning of 31 October, police cars moved into position around Little London Farm. At 10 a.m., as police waited for a signal

“Good morning, Mr Davis. Do you remember me? It was Sergeant Peter Redman. “Yes, of course. What’s this all about?” “I am arresting you on suspicion of the murder of Ronald Joseph Platt.” Then he cautioned Davis about his rights. At the station, police found on their suspect, the birth certificate of David W. Davis, a credit card in the name of R.J. Platt, health-club and museum

FLASHING LIGHTS CAME ON, THEN ONE OF THE POLICE CARS SURGED FORWARD, MOTIONING THE TAXI TO PULL OVER. to charge the house, a taxi turned into Little London Lane. David Davis was sitting in the front seat. Two police cars quickly fell into line behind the taxi. Flashing lights came on, then one of the police cars surged forward, motioning the taxi driver to pull over. A policeman walked up alongside it and shouted at Davis, “Get out of the car!” Davis slid out, hands up. Two officers quickly frisked him and snapped on a pair of handcuffs. Then into the group of policemen walked a figure in plain clothes. 148

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cards in David Davis’s name, as well as business cards for a James J. Hilton, 146 Avenue William Favre, Geneva. Another identity. Might there be others? Sincock wondered. Who was this man they had taken into custody? Back at Little London Farm, Noël Davis was also told she was under arrest. At the police station, her pockets and bags were emptied. Out came documents in Elaine Boyes’s name: a phone bill, cheque book, credit cards and a National Health Service card. She also had a man’s wallet, which contained Ronald Platt’s


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birth certificate, driver’s licence, bankcards and various other papers. At first Noël stuck stubbornly to what was clearly a well-rehearsed script: she was from Long Island, and her husband, David, had been a friend of her father’s. The police questioned her again and again. Finally, she told them this: David Davis was in fact her father. After Platt and Boyes had left for Canada, Noël explained, she and her father assumed the couple’s identities. The Davises moved to Devon. As for the real Ronald Platt, Noel said, she hadn’t seen him since they ate Christmas dinner together in 1995. She had no idea that he had been in Devon during July. In fact, she had no idea that he was dead—until now.

MOUNTING EVIDENCE Sincock had his people working around the clock. He had Davis’s fingerprints sent to the US authorities via Interpol to see whether he was wanted there. His sailboat, Lady Jane, was impounded for forensic testing. The police pored over his personal phone records. As Phil Sincock had suspected, Little London Farm was laden with intriguing material. The man of the house was a pack rat. Seemingly every piece of paper that ever passed through David Davis’s hands had been kept : bank documents, legal documents—even old train tickets. Oddly, nothing appeared to go

Davis hired Elaine Boyes and helped her and Platt buy a stylish apartment.

back beyond six years. And yet, the details kept building. There was a receipt dated 8 July, for the purchase of a number of items at a sportinggoods store called Sport Nautique. On it was a notation for a ten-pound anchor. The police didn’t know what significance the receipt actually had, but they filed it with the mountain of other documents. READER’S DIGEST

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By 3 November, investigators had gathered enough evidence to warrant Davis’s continued detention. Noël was released. On 4 November, David Davis was formally charged with the murder of Ronald Joseph Platt. Meanwhile, the investigation, now involving up to 70 officers, continued. More digging and clues that turned up, took the police to other locations. At a place called Solutions in Therapy, where Davis was a therapeutic-counselling partner, police found five gold bars stashed away in the office; at Genstar Storage they found more cash and gold, and a Global Positioning System ( GPS ), for navigation; at Chelmsford Storage, they turned up suitcases filled with some of Ronald Platt’s personal belongings. Sincock sent his detectives to interview John Copik. Again the fisherman went over everything that had happened on 28 July 1996. This time Copik recalled that after the police took the body away, another fisherman, Derek Meredith, had spotted an anchor tangled in Copik’s nets. It was small, less than a metre long, with a rather sinister plow-shaped blade. “Do you want it?” Meredith asked. “You’re welcome to it,” Copik said. Detectives, intrigued by this new 150

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The one man Ronald Platt (pictured) trusted most took his identity.

fact, tracked the fisherman down. “I gave the anchor to my girlfriend,” Meredith said. “She and her mother, Patricia Johnson, put it in a rummage sale, I think.” When the officers knocked on Patricia Johnson’s door, she confirmed she had put the anchor in a sale, but it hadn’t sold. When she fetched it, it fit the description of the one Davis had


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bought on 8 July, at Sport Nautique. Forensic experts dusted Davis’s sailboat, Lady Jane, for fingerprints, and painstakingly searched for evidence. Incredibly, there was not a single print to be found. Eventually it dawned on the police to check the Sport Nautique shopping bag that had been found aboard the boat. There they found the fingerprints of Ronald Joseph Platt. And blood as well. There were three microscopic drops discovered on the

where Copik netted the body. There was still no evidence linking Davis himself to that place on that day—until Noël Davis recalled that on July 20, her father announced he was heading out to sea alone. On the only other occasion when Davis had gone sailing on his own, Noël said, he had returned by 6 p.m. But on that day, Noël prepared dinner, then cuddled up in front of the television. By 8:59 p.m., Davis still wasn’t back.

EXPERTS DUSTED DAVIS’S SAILBOAT FOR FINGERPRINTS. INCREDIBLY, THERE WAS NOT A SINGLE PRINT TO BE FOUND. rolled-up sails, and on cushions they found a small bit of hair and scalp, which tests showed as being similar to Platt’s. Police examined the GPS unit taken from Genstar Storage. The manufacturer explained to them that that particular model stored the precise time and the last navigational reference point registered when it was shut off. When investigators downloaded the data, the last time and date recorded was 8:59 p.m., 20 July 1996, the approximate date of Platt’s death. It placed Davis’s boat about six and a half kilometres from

At that precise time, 4 kilometres from the Devon coast, a hand switched off Lady Jane’s GPS. It was exactly 15 minutes before sunset. In that light, from that distance, a sailor no longer needed the GPS. He could see his way to shore. It was well after dark when Davis came home. On 25 November, another autopsy of Platt’s defrosting corpse was done. Something new appeared: a bruise on the left leg, just above the knee. With the body stretched out on the examining table, a 4.5 kilo zinc-plated anchor, similar to the one retrieved from Patricia Johnson’s house, was READER’S DIGEST

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brought in and laid out along Platt’s left side. The two bruises—the new one and the one previously noted on his left hip—matched the contours of the anchor. Investigators noted that roughly 28 cm from the belt buckle were several marks on the leather that contained zinc, of the kind used to plate the anchor. This evidence supported the theory that someone inserted the anchor under Platt’s belt to keep his body submerged. The circumstantial evidence against Davis was mounting.

Edinburgh; who professed to have been a banker in the United States, Switzerland and England before retiring to become a psychiatrist? None of his stories checked out. Sincock had assigned two detectives to review every scrap of paper retrieved from Little London Farm. The police then prepared an information circular on Davis with his photo and fingerprints. They passed it to Interpol. On Friday, 22 November, the National Criminal Intelligence Service office in London received a message from Interpol in Switzerland.

INTERPOL SAID DAVIS LOOKED VERY MUCH LIKE SOMEONE ON ITS MOST-WANTED LIST. IN DEVON, THEY CELEBRATED. WHO IS DAVID DAVIS? But Sincock was still puzzled about something else. He was certain David Walliss Davis, as Davis insisted he was formally called, was not his real name. The police had run a search and discovered only one David Walliss Davis. He had been born in Britain, and he had left as a child for parts unknown—in 1949. So who was this man—who claimed to have been born in England; who said he was an English-literature graduate from the University of 152

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They said that David W. Davis looked like someone on Interpol’s mostwanted list, a Canadian-born swindler named Albert Johnson Walker. In Devon, they celebrated. It looked like they had caught a really big fish. The murder investigation pressed on. As the police soon confirmed, Davis was indeed Walker, a Canadian financier from Paris, Ontario, who had fled his home country six years earlier, taking with him his 15-yearold daughter, Sheena—a.k.a. Noël Davis—and millions of dollars’ worth


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Noël’s mother and sister with her photo. She was 15 when Davis fled with her.

for help with a bank-loan application. In the process Davis had cunningly talked him into handing over his birth certificate. On 9 December 1996, the suspect was remanded into custody under his real n a m e —A l b e r t J o h n s o n Walker.

DAMNING TESTIMONY

of his clients’ money. The same money Elaine Boyes had unwittingly helped launder. In all, police estimated Walker had actually swindled more than $2 million from his ‘clients’. He had transferred close to $7,00,000 to various European accounts, from which he took out as much as $4,75,000 in gold, in British pounds, and even in French and Swiss francs. As for the real David W. Davis? Police learnt he was living in Canada a n d ha d o n c e g o n e t o Wa l ke r

By now the evidence against him was over whelming. There was an array of witnesses who said they had seen Walker with Platt in bars and hotels in Devon as late as 10 July. These reports were in stark contrast to Sheena Walker’s statement to the police that her father had told her he had last seen Platt off to France in June, and supported the theory that Walker was plotting something—the murder of Ronald Platt. Walker had needed a new identity. The David Davis cover he was using would only stretch so far. He had Davis’s birth certificate and nothing else. Ronald Platt had become his key to an entirely new life. Once Platt returned to England, all was at risk. READER’S DIGEST

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Walker knew his meeting with Platt had to remain a secret. Thus, Sheena’s testimony could be the prosecution’s most potent weapon. Alone in his prison cell, Albert Walker must have realized the danger. On Sunday, 2 February 1997, he telephoned his daughter, who had now returned to her mother’s house in Canada, asking her to change her testimony to say that she knew that Ron had been in Devon with him. Not long afterwards, Sheena made

personable and, except for the handcuffs, charming. The prosecution painted a picture of him as a calculating man who induced Platt to go to Canada, then stole his identity. When Platt could not make a go of it and returned to England, Walker, a wanted man, saw that his new cover might be exposed. So he decided on murder. He bought an anchor, took Platt out to sea, knocked him unconscious, fixed the anchor to his body and

WALKER STRODE INTO THE COURTROOM. HE LOOKED PERSONABLE, AND, EXCEPT FOR THE HANDCUFFS, CHARMING. her own transatlantic call—to the Devon and Cornwall police, informing them that her father had called her from prison and ordered her to change her testimony. It was an explosive accusation. Phil Sincock realized that if allowed into the court record, it could be a real trial clincher. On 24 March, at a pre-trial hearing to determine if there was enough evidence, Walker strode into the courtroom with all the bearing of a trial lawyer. He wore a dark suit, blue shirt and tie. His natural-grey hair was neatly trimmed. He looked 154

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heaved him overboard. But he made two key mistakes: he left the watch on Platt’s wrist, and he unknowingly registered the date, time and place of his movement on the GPS. Walker’s defence team argued that the prosecution didn’t have enough solid evidence. Without an eyewitness, they said, it could not be proved that Platt had been murdered. His death might well have been a suicide. Furthermore, there was no absolute proof that the anchor retrieved by Patricia Johnson was the same one that was pulled up in John Copik’s net. Nor was there any proof that


R E A D E R S D I G E S T. C O . I N

the anchor was the one Walker had bought on 8 July 1996. The manufacturer had made thousands, and the retrieved anchor could have been any one of them. More important, the defence said, the prosecution could not prove that Platt was on Walker’s boat on the day that the alleged murder supposedly took place, or that Walker himself was there that day at all. The defence argued that even the date and time of death could not be determined satisfactorily. Although the watch had stopped at 11:35, it was not clear whether it was a.m. or p.m. According to the government’s own evidence, the last time anyone had seen Platt and Walker together was 10 July. Death by drowning was estimated to have occurred approximately 10 days later. The judge, however, was not convinced by the defence’s arguments. “It is my considered view,” he said, “that there is sufficient evidence to commit the case to the Crown court.” The trial was set for 22 June 1998. The evidence was simply

overwhelming. Walker could not account for the whereabouts of the anchor that he had purchased on 8 July; he could not explain why the GPS reading from the Lady Jane showed the date, time and place that it did and how he had come to be using Platt’s driver’s licence, his birth certificate, his bank accounts. Finally, he had no plausible explanation for where he was on the night of 20 July. Added to all this was Sheena Walker’s painful testimony about the call from prison, exposing her father for what he was: a supreme ma n i p u l at o r c a p a b l e o f d o i n g absolutely anything to save his skin, including telling his own daughter to twist the truth. O n 6 Ju l y 1 9 9 8 , Wa l k e r w a s pronounced guilty and began serving a l i f e s e nt e n c e at Lo ng L a r t i n maximum-security prison in England. In 2005 he was transferred to Canada to stand trial on fraud charges. Convicted on those counts, Walker is serving that sentence in a British Columbia prison.

A HAND IN THE WATER: THE MANY LIES OF ALBERT WALKER © 1998 BY BILL SCHILLER IS PUBLISHED BY HARPERCOLLINS PUBLISHERS LTD. HARPERCOLLINS.CA.

DASHBOARD APOLOGY They say it’s the thought that counts— unless you’re left with this note and a damaged car. “Hi. My name is ‘Jim’. I accidentally hit your car and someone saw me so I’m pretending to write down my details. SORRY. Jim.”

Facebook

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WHO

KNEW

13 Things

Gyms

Won’t Tell You

1

We count on you not to show up. About 25-30 per cent of people who start an exercise programme quit within six months. If more members started coming regularly, it would be chaos in here. Here’s a tip to help you stick with it: start slow. People who quit typically push themselves too hard at first and get discouraged.

2

You can usually beat the membership fee down. And if you’re not a regular gym person,

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maybe you should go for the day-byday pay option. Sometimes it can be more economical in the long run.

3

The way many of you use the treadmills is totally wrong. Holding on for balance is okay, but some people support almost all their body weight on their arms. That’s unsafe— and it prevents you from burning as many calories. If you can’t manage to loosen your grip, try slowing down.

4

What’s hot right now? Functional fitness, or doing exercises that help you in everyday life, which is

ILLUSTRATI ON BY SERGE BLOCH

BY MIC H E L L E C R O U C H WITH N I S H A VA R M A


important for older adults hoping to prevent injury. That means fewer exercises like leg extensions, a movement you likely will never do outside the gym, and more multi-joint, fullbody exercises (like squats) that strengthen you for real-life activities, like lifting heavy boxes.

5

Be wary of products and banned substances being promoted. Gyms and trainers get a huge cut on the sales. They could also be harmful!

6

Enjoy the free personal-training session when you join. But if your trainer shows you complex exercises and doesn’t write anything down, it might be the management’s orders. The goal: to make exercise seem complicated, so you go through with buying training sessions.

7

Patience, people! TV ads may give you the idea that you can lose 10 kilos and transform your body in a few weeks, but unless you’re spending eight hours a day in the gym, that’s just not reality. Stick with us for three months, and you will see a noticeable difference in your physique.

8

Beware the smoothie station. Some smoothies pack as many as 500 calories, which may negate the workout you just did. Plus, we sell those products at a big markup. You can save money—and calories— by making them at home.

9

Want us to offer a class at a different time? That’s great. But we won’t create a new class just because one person asks; we need about 12 people to come regularly to make it work. Get a group of co-workers or friends who are interested, and request it together.

10

Members can be unbelievably territorial. Once, I was teaching a spin class when two people came in late and saw other members on their reserved bikes. They started yelling and pulling the people off. It was like a scene out of a movie.

11

You know those towels we provide? They’re not there for decoration. Please don’t forget to wipe yourself, especially if you sweat excessively. Always use a towel on weight benches, avoid touching your face and wash your hands immediately after your workout.

12

Some trainers only pay attention to those who give them an extra payment or gifts. Avoid falling into that trap.

13

Gyms don’t always reveal the qualifications of their trainers upfront. Ask for details.

Sources: Tom Holland, MS, CSCS, former gym owner and author of Beat the Gym; Tiffany Richards, former employee at a fitness chain; Charlie Sims, owner of a CrossFit gym in Louisville, Kentucky; Jim Thornton, MA, ATC, CES, president of the National Athletic Trainers’ Association; and economist Stefano DellaVigna, who studied gym users for three years.

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Brain Teasers 1

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12 13

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DOWN 02 Ran with easy strides (5) 3 Methods (4) 4 Calm, peaceful (6) 5 Trained, taught (8) 6 Restaurant where meat is sliced in front of you (7) 7 Drew attention to (words in a text) (10) 10 Womanly quality (10) 13 In all likelihood (8) 15 Badly bitten (by an animal) (7) 17 Kind, merciful (6) 20 Periods of seven days (5) 21 Jump with a rope (4)

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ANSWERS

ACROSS 01 Inflate (a balloon) (4, 2) 05 Draw in liquid through a straw (4) 08 Cause of a baby’s sore bottom (5, 4) 09 Football official (3) 11 Puts a stop to (4) 12 Material used as floor covering (8) 14 Beaten players (6) 16 Put your trust in (4, 2) 18 Colour of sailors’ uniforms (4, 4) 19 White graceful bird (4) 22 Man’s best friend (3) 23 Judo expert (5, 4) 24 In a lazy manner (4) 25 Uncover, reveal (6)

25

Across: 1 Blow up 5 Suck 8 Nappy rash 9 Ref 11 Ends 12 Linoleum 14 Losers 16 Rely on 18 Navy blue 19 Swan 22 Dog 23 Black belt 24 Idly 25 Expose Down: 2 Loped 3 Ways 4 Placid 5 Schooled 6 Carvery 7 Underlined 10 Femininity 13 Probably 15 Savaged 17 Humane 20 Weeks 21 Skip

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IT PAYS TO ENRICH YOUR

Word Power “X” and “Z” are among the shortest chapters in an English dictionary. Without peeking into yours, try to define the following words that start with these two rarely used letters BY SAM ANTH A RID EO UT

1. xanthic

A: gummy. B: yellowish. C: calming. 2. zeitgeist

A: game-changing event. B: harmless ghost. C: spirit of the times. 3. xenon

A: chemical element with atomic number 54. B: planet Jupiter’s red spot. C: bull monster from ancient Greek mythology. 4. xiphoid

A: plotted on a graph. B: sword-shaped. C: notched.

11. zealot

6. zephyr

A: pleasantly bitter taste. B: light breeze. C: inoffensive comedian.

A: tax dodger. B: arsonist. C: extreme partisan.

7. zygote

A: forgetful. B: hospitable. C: resourceful.

12. xenial

A: fertilized egg. B: dormant virus. C: cheekbone. 8. xeric

A: disillusioned. B: dry. C: concerned with appearances.

13. zonk

A: stun, as with a blow. B: trip and fall. C: squabble loudly. 14. Zoilus

9. zoolatry

A: study of animals. B: worship of animals. C: care of animals.

5. xilinous

10. zymology

pertaining to A: luxury. B: infinity. C: cotton.

science of A: muscles. B: welding. C: fermentation.

A: unnecessarily harsh critic. B: greedy capitalist. C: misleading public speaker. 15. xyloid

A: silly. B: tinny. C: woody.

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WORD POWER

Answers 1. xanthic—[B] yellowish. Not a fan of white wedding dresses, Ana settled on a gown with a xanthic tint. 2. zeitgeist—[C] spirit of the times.

Amitabh Bachchan, in Deewar was praised for capturing the zeitgeist of the 1970s. 3. xenon—[A] chemical element

with atomic number 54. Xenon gas is used as a general anaesthetic because it’s fast-acting and non-toxic. 4. xiphoid—[B] sword-shaped.

Gladiolus plants are known for their xiphoid leaves and vaseworthy blossoms. 5. xilinous—[C] pertaining to

cotton. After the air conditioning broke down, Angad wished his suit were made of a more breathable, xilinous fabric. 6. zephyr—[B] light breeze. A

zephyr animated the laundry on the line, creating a picture-perfect springtime scene. 7. zygote—[A] fertilized egg. In vitro fertilization involves creating a zygote outside the human body. 8. xeric—[B] dry. Trees from England don’t tend to thrive in the xeric climate of Arizona. 9. zoolatry—[B] worship of animals.

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friend of zoolatry after watching him fawn over his cat. 10. zymology—[C] science of

fermentation. Before refrigerators, zymology offered a way to preserve food and drink. 11. zealot—[C] extreme partisan. Despite the similarities between the two parties’ platforms, zealots on both sides opposed a coalition. 12. xenial—[B] hospitable. The mayor implored the suspicious townspeople to adopt a more xenial attitude towards tourists. 13. zonk—[A] stun, as with a blow. Seeing that Batman was distracted by an overturned school bus, the Penguin snuck up and zonked him with an umbrella. 14. Zoilus—[A] unnecessarily harsh critic. Apart from a few predictably scathing reviews from known Zoiluses, Bahadur’s novel was well-received. 15. xyloid—[C] woody. Harish’s homemade wine had a xyloid taste from the grape stems he had forgotten to filter out. VOCABULARY RATINGS

7–10: fair 11–12: good 13–15: excellent


Entertainment OUR BEST PICKS OF THE MONTH

Films

Movie of the April isn’t the cruellest Month month as far as films are concerned at all—one we can’t wait to see is the live action/CGI adaptation of Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book with an all-star cast that includes Bill Murray, Idris Elba, Scarlett Johansson, Lupita Nyong’o, Ben Kingsley and Christopher Walken. Also, TV comedy heroes Key and Peele have made a film, Keanu, which might be brilliant, given the quality of their show. On the Bollywood front, the big April film is SRK’s Fan, which features the star in a double role—as himself and as his own psychotic superfan.

Television

The show we’re most looking forward to in April is another one starring a desi girl. No, not Priyanka Chopra, who hopefully will take some time off after winning hearts at the Oscars, but Mindy Kaling, whose hit show The Mindy Project is back after a four-month hiatus for the second half of Season 4. Also premiering in April is a new season of The Odd Couple, starring (and produced by) Matthew Perry from Friends, along with comedian Thomas Lennon; the show is an updated adaptation of a 1965 Neil Simon play. READER’S DIGEST

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E N T E R TA I N M E N T

Sports For cricket fans still fresh from the excitement of the World T20 tournament, the ninth season of the IPL kicks off on 9 April. But this month has more in store for other sports fans as well—the Chinese F1 Grand Prix is on 17 April, while the Champions League quarters and semis should give football fans plenty to cheer about—the first legs of semifinals will take place on April 26-27. The EPL’s FA Cup will also be on in full steam. 162

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L E FT: PE NG U IN RAND OM HOU SE ; BE LOW: IND IAPICT U R E

BOOKS

A must-read this month is Sunil Khilnani’s Incarnations, which explores the lives of 50 remarkable Indians, from the Buddha to Emperor Akbar, to business tycoon Dhirubhai Ambani, and how they’ve helped shape the world’s largest democracy. Another interesting book out this month is We Indians by none other than Khushwant Singh, who dissects different aspects of the Indian character, from our attitude towards sex and religion to our views on corruption and the English language.


Studio

HAI ABHI KUCH AUR, FROM THE NIRANTAR SERIES, BY S.H. RAZA, ACRYLIC ON CANVAS, 100 X 100 CM, 2015 Legendary artist Syed Haider Raza’s oeuvre has been as fascinating as his life. His childhood, spent amidst the lush forests of Madhya Pradesh, inspired his expressionist landscapes. At 25, he co-founded the Bombay Progressive Artists’ Group. In France, where he lived for years, he began to represent French landscapes geometrically. Then came the pure geometric figures. “The bindu is the best known mystical symbol that Raza invokes in his art,” says poet, cultural theorist and curator Ranjit Hoskote. “It is the focal universal source from which all energy radiates, and into which it is absorbed, in cyclic rhythm. Raza’s paintings portray a universe born from the tension between entropy and regeneration.” To celebrate Raza’s 94th birthday in February, Mumbai’s Art Musings gallery released a book last month. It chronicles his works with them since his return to India in 2011. READER’S DIGEST

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Quotable Quotes …if a technology doesn’t actually help us socially understand each other better, it isn’t going to catch on and succeed.

Universities are the laboratories of thought. S E R G I U S S TE P N IA K ,

revolut i oni st an d wr it er

M A R K ZU CK E R B E RG ,

ent repren eur

Not sure which is harder on a relationship: sharing a dresser for three years or sharing an iPhone charger for one day. R H E A B U TC H E R , c om e di an

VISUALIZING...THINGS ARE ALWAYS CREATED TWICE. FIRST IN THE WORKSHOP OF THE MIND AND THEN, ONLY THEN, IN REALITY. SHARMILA NICOLLET, golfer

N E I L GAI M A N , auth or

When is the best time to start up? Yesterday! But, today, is not too bad a choice either! A R U N M U TH U K U M A R , ent repren eur

TH E DI F F E R E N CE B ET WE E N A H E RO AN D A COWAR D I S ON E STE P S I DEWAYS . GENE HACKMAN, actor

A soul that shines out of sheer simplicity is the one everyone’s drawn to. D I K S H A L A LWA N I , yoga t e a ch er

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INDIA PIC TURE

Life is always going to be stranger than fiction, because fiction has to be convincing, and life doesn’t.



Reader's digest how youtube changed the world