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Small cars on bumpy roads? 16/08/2008
From no phones to millions of cell phones and easy connectivity across the nation. It has been one of the greatest feats in "mass transit" ever. Now 70 years after the appearance of the first small car in Europe, India is waiting to see its common man wake up to the reality of owning a car at last. The euphoria is understandable but under the present conditions (inflation, resource crunch, bad roads and lack of space), will this make things better or worse for us?

At the cost of a common man's dream is it a mere media hyperbole to say this may be the most disastrous crossroad for our country?
Development and sustainability must go hand in hand to break through the gridlock of the acute shortage of resources that we are facing globally today. "While innovations cannot stop, we have to be concerned about how to accommodate little dreams into that...

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Nothing to be wild about 03/08/2008
Tracking illegal trade in wildlife takes one to most unlikely places. Now going towards Nathu La Pass on Sikkim's border with Tibet, my thoughts, however, were more on the prospect of high altitude mountain sickness. Finally, I did succumb to the altitude sickness and had to turn back about 12 kilometres before reaching the destination. How sad.

But why this journey to Nathu La?
With the opening of the Nathu La Pass for international trade and tourism in 2006, conservationists fear that illegal trade in wildlife contraband will spawn further. The highly militarised zone is the closest point connecting Kolkata to Lhasa - the virtual headquarter of illegal wildlife trade according to wildlife experts. Rhino horns, hornbill skulls, tiger and leopard bones, fur, claws, canines, talons, penis, bear gall bladder, bird beaks, are all raw material for Traditional Chinese Medicine. The demand, despite international campaigns, is still huge. Sea cucumber and other marine wealth make their way from the Andaman Sea to Kolkata en route to Lhasa by road, only 800 kilometres away.
It is also near the Siliguri wildlife t...

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Image in the mirror 21/06/2008
Can you relate to any of the following scenarios? Despite hard work at your work place, your promotion has become a thing of the past. On a personal front, you invariably run into rough weather with friends. A negative approach defines you , and most important, you see yourself through what others think of you. If all this feels familiar, you need to reinvent yourself and go for an image makeover.

"A personality makeover does not just entail a simple change in make up, hairstyle, or wardrobe. What lends a "radiant glow" to the new you is the reinvention that will happen within, " says Parvana Babaycon of Optimum Image institute, an image makeover company based in Kolkata. She is a certified Image and Professional Development Consultant with internationally known Londo...

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Life in a Metro 21/06/2008
Every fledgling town, every bustling city, every expanding metro has "them". Huddled in hundreds and hundreds of small groups, they live a dismal life, working silently behind the scenes, to add to the glitz and glitter, the sparkle and shimmer of a burgeoning nation. Some see them as encroachers and a serious threat to law and order but come to think of it, without them we would not have the roads and fly-overs, the bridges and the skyscrapers, the malls and multiplexes.

They are the construction workers.

"Why do you want to write about us? Why will anyone be interested? " is a genuinely stunned question of Amol, who has just been initiated in to the family trade at the tender age of 14. He and his family are among the millions of itinerant casual labourers who live in small make-shift shanties made from the throw away construction materials of cement bags, plastic sheets and bamboo shafts. They go where their work takes them, living a nomadic life, carrying only bare necessary items like utensils and clothes in small bundles. In the rainy season when there is no construction work available in the cities they make a mass exodus towards the villages to work as agricultural labourers, for those four months.

Next to th...

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Going green 21/06/2008
Do you envy the landscape garden in the next-door bungalow? Do you regret not having some space for letting your green finger practise the art of gardening because you are cooped up in a flat? Not to worry, the ever- adoptive human mind can make changes when necessary. So apartment dwellers today are casting off their blues about not owning a house with a backyard and a kitchen garden and trying to accommodate some greenery within the confined space.

Quietly, a green revolution is taking place within the urban condo as well.

The designers unanimously agree that flats have been going green with a vengeance and even in flats not more than 1000 sq metre. "Apartment gardens are much in fashion. Everyone wants some greenery in their flats now, be it a small houseplant or a proper terrace garden, " says designer Namita Basu...

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