Tuesday, June 29, 2010

A discovery of India, with suggestions on Facebook (IANS Travel)

NEW DELHI - They have taken a break from their routine lives and embarked on a journey to discover the ‘real’ India with a budget of Rs.500 a day. And guess what is ‘guiding’ this Delhi-based couple in their excursion - tips on social networking site Facebook.Saurav Jha, 28, a consultant at Energy India Solutions, and Devapriya Roy, 26, doing research at the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), left their work and began their journey through the country May 1. They will return by the end of July after a period of nearly 100 days.The couple even did a ‘pilot run’ of 20 days to check the feasibility of their idea in January-February.“We wanted to see India as it is. The only way we could do it was to have a travel budget, eat budget and sleep budget. We decided to move the way the locals do in an area - talk with them, hear their stories and become a part of them,” Jha told IANS.The couple calls it the “Heat and Dust project”.Their experiences will eventually find place in the pages of a book to be published by Harper Collins.The Facebook page, through which they are seeking suggestions, is appropriately named “The Heat and Dust Project : a book in motion” and has nearly 850 members.When the couple were in Bhopal, their Facebook friend Sarajit Jha posted a suggestion: “No trip to Bhopal can be complete without visiting four places: Raja Bhoj lake, Hotel Jahnuma (yes the buildings are a piece of work and they have a mini museum), the old city, and the Union Carbide factory.”To which Saurav replied: “Thanks we are in the old city now and we will try to visit those four places; let’s see if we can.”In Gwalior and Kannur, they got suggestions like “Try out the fort in Gwalior” and “While in Kannur play with these elephants”.While going to Mahabaleshwar from Panchgani, they received a suggestion to stop at Mapro garden on the way.Some of the places they have travelled so far are Mahabaleshwar in Maharashtra, Kerala, Bhopal, Mumbai, Pune and Bangalore.For the near 100-day journey, the total budget is Rs.50,000 - only for bed and food, which does not include, say, the price of tickets to historical monuments.“In most states we have been able to eat and sleep for around Rs.500 a day. But we certainly have had to do a fair degree of scouting, sometimes late at night, before we have found a place that suits our budget,” Jha said.The route map is not strictly followed. “We move on impulse, local tips and suggestions from our group members on Facebook,” he explained.The couple even share their experiences through posts and photos on Facebook.“Notes on Coorg: Red earth, pouring rain and a thousand degrees of green!,” Roy posted June 16.The uncertainty of their journey and place of stay has of course added piquancy to their project.“The typical problems that we have faced thus far are essentially related to the uncertainty of transport schedules and of landing up in unknown places at night without knowing where we would be staying till morning,” Jha said.While staying at small, out of the way places, the couple had often to prove their marital status in order to get a room.“Being a man-woman duo, we have had to prove our marital credentials in quite a few places before we were provided accommodation,” he said.But the payback from the trip has been more than generous - through wonderful moments like a homemade lunch with their auto-rickshaw driver in Barmer.“It was a lovely meal - bajra rotis with brinjal subzee and lots of homemade ghee followed by dessert. As we were finishing dinner, a sudden shower came. There had been no shred of clouds in the sky. Right on cue, the lights went off. It was an awesome moment,” Jha reminisced.On being asked whether this journey was worth giving up their jobs, Jha said, “Absolutely, it’s worth it because ultimately it is an inward journey. Through it we have been able to discover stark insights about ourselves.”According to Harper Collin’s V.K. Karthika, the book will naturally be positioned as a unique travelogue.“It will mainly be a travel book which will have their day-to-day experiences. It will be out by next year during the month of June,” he added.

Women in thirties freezing eggs to wait for ‘Mr Right’

LONDON - An increasing number of women in their 30s and 40s are freezing their eggs while they continue their search for their Mr. Right, say British doctors.“They come in their 30s or late 30s if they haven’t found the right partner,” dailymail.co.uk quoted Srilatha Gorthi, a senior research fellow at Leeds Centre for Reproductive Medicine, as saying.The technique is now as popular with healthy women as with cancer patients and those women at risk of premature menopause.Simon Fishel, managing director of the 11-clinic chain, said: “Women are coming in their late 30s because they are starting to feel that nothing is happening. They have fallen out of a relationships, they haven’t got a man, they are career people.”The trend was brought to light by a study of all the women who had applied to have their eggs frozen at a Belgian clinic between July 2009-May 2010.Highly-educated and financially secured, these women were in their late 30s and early 40s, and had considered adoption or single motherhood before plumping to spend hundreds of pounds on IVF and egg vitrification or freezing.They told their doctors that they wanted to “take the pressure of the search for the right partner” and “give a future relationship more time to blossom” before bringing up the subject of babies.“The women I saw were not young calculating career women who have everything worked out and deliberately postpone motherhood to advance their careers,” said Julie Nekkebroeck, from the Centre for Reproductive Medicine at the Free University of Brussels, who headed the study.“By vitrifying their oocytes (eggs) they wanted to buy time to find the right partner and do everything they could to prevent age-related infertility. Moreover, frozen oocytes were considered as very precious goods, since even if they would meet Mr. Right in the near future, they would only use the frozen oocytes in the last instance, after trying to conceive naturally,” she added.However, others warn that egg freezing does not guarantee motherhood and pointed out that by the time a woman reaches her late 30s, the quality of her eggs deteriorate.“Many women now choose to delay having children and although they should be supported in that choice, they need to be aware of the potential problems they may encounter when they do decide the time is right for motherhood,” said Clare Lewis-Jones of the charity Infertility Network Britain.“Age has an impact on male as well as female fertility and when they do meet Mr Right, they may well find that he has fertility problems. They also need to be aware that using fertility treatment is no guarantee of success.”

19 militants lay down arms in Manipur

IMPHAL, June 28 – In one of the biggest surrender ceremony in recent times,19 hardcore members of three militants groups laid down arms and surrendered to Manipur DGP Yumnam Joy Kumar and Major General CA Krishnan, Inspector General of Assam Rifles (South) on Saturday.The surrendered militants – 15 United Liberation Army, three Kanglei Yawol Kanna Lup and a self-styled Sergeant Major of the United National Liberation Front also handed over a large quantity of stores and communication equipment including an AK Rifle with ammunition, two Sten-gun carbines, two 303 rifles, four pistols, a revolver, hand grenades and three wireless radio sets.The surrender ceremony was held at Assam Rifles headquarters at Mantripukhuri near here on Saturday.Speaking on the occasion, Manipur Police chief assured that the government will ensure for their future life under existing surrender policy while IG Assam Rifles CA Krishnan said that such a large scale surrender of the militants is unprecedented in insurgency history of the State.Earlier, 13 Zou People’s Army cadres and six militants belonging to the People’s Liberation Army and the Kangleipak Communist Party- Military Council (KCP-MC) had surrendered to the Assam Rifles and Red Shield division separately on June 4 and June 9 last.Meanwhile, Assam Rifles troops apprehended one over ground worker of People’s Liberation Army of Heirok Part II while jawans of Maratha Light Infantry arrested one People’s United Liberation Front cadre of Khelokhong Makha Uchiwa on Sunday. Troops of Assam Rifles also apprehended two cadres of Kangleipak Communist Party (MC) in Imphal East district.