In the right direction

 

These GPS navigators are custom-made for Indian streets, so you won’t need to stop and ask about the route any more

Shweta Taneja

 

A map in hand is worth two on line when you are driving, says Amit Prasad, founder and CEO, SatNav Technologies, a Hyderabad-based GPS map-making company.

“You don’t need a phone GPRS connection, and re-routing is much faster in on-board systems,” he says. After all, cars honking behind you in traffic will not wait for the map to buffer on your smartphone. “A good GPS system talks to you and says ‘turn right’ at exactly the point where you need to take a turn,” explains Prasad. And since the maps are updated every six months, the very latest constructions are included in your map.

According to a report published last year by IE Market Research Corp., a Canada-based market intelligence and business strategy research and consulting firm, the navigation industry in India will be worth $158.4 million (around Rs. 793.58 crore) by 2014. New Delhi-based navigation company MapmyIndia’s director Rohan Verma claims his company has grown 600% in the last three years. “This is a testament to the significantly growing demand for GPS navigators,” he says, adding that guidance, turn-by-turn instructions, ease of use and detailed maps are the main advantages GPS navigators have over smartphone maps.

Some GPS services available in India are:

Via by TomTom

Via by TomTom. Guidance, turn-by-turn instructions, ease of use and detailed maps are areas where GPS navigators score over smartphone options.

Via by TomTom. Guidance, turn-by-turn instructions, ease of use and detailed maps are areas where GPS navigators score over smartphone options.

The Dutch navigation-system makers entered the Indian market in September with their Via series. The maps come loaded with TomTom’s unique Landmark Navigation functionality, wherein you can search for a specific place by a landmark around it, be it a famous monument, temple or park. The console also includes a “Help Me!” emergency menu that provides information about hospitals and other emergency services on the road. Of the three models available for India, Via LIVE 120 and Via 125 have voice controls, so you don’t have to stop or take your hands off the wheel. These two models also come with a mobile car-kit feature that can convert this device into a hands-free Bluetooth speaker. The mount which comes with the device attaches to the windscreen and can be turned up to 180 degrees. It comes with an 11cm or 13cm touch screen, depending on the model.

Continue reading “In the right direction”

Pinch and swipe

Looking for a tablet? Here is how you can go the touch-screen way with devices that cost less than Rs. 15,000

Touch screens have transformed the way we browse the Internet and entertain ourselves. In fact, now we don’t click and type, but pinch, zoom and swipe. It has been almost a year since the first tablet was launched in India in November 2010. And by the look of it the craze for tablets is just on the rise.

However, not all of us can afford the swanky top-of-the-line versions. If you can’t imagine buying the iPad 2, Samsung Galaxy Tab, Motorola Xoom or HTC Flyer right now, but still want to experience how a tablet works, you need not wait any more. To help you make the right choice, we waded through the Android-based affordable tablets out there to bring you six we think you can try out.

iBall Slide

The Slide is a 1 GHz, Android 2.3 tablet with a bright 7-inch capacitive display.

It comes with 8 GB storage that can be extended up to 32 GB with an SD memory card. To cut costs, iBall has gone with only one front-facing camera, and no rear camera. As a result, it has a good 2 MP camera for videoconference calls, and it also comes with an HDMI out, mini USB and SD card slots. The device supports Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, but lacks built-in 3G.

Upside: The iBall Slide has a USB port with which you can connect it to your PC or attach extra memory, keyboard, data dongle, etc., making it easy to connect and work on. The HDMI allows you to connect it to your TV to watch videos easily. It also comes with 8 GB internal memory built in, so the majority of users will not need to buy more storage.

Downside: There’s no rear camera and no SIM card support for data connectivity. Connecting to 3G requires a USB data dongle, an added expense of around Rs. 2,500. Audio quality on the iBall is terrible.

Money matters: Rs. 13,995 *

*Prices are subject to variations.

Continue reading “Pinch and swipe”

Caught in the net

Try these smart ways to keep a check on your Internet addiction. By Shweta Taneja

 

It’s a connected world out there. So much so that most of us cannot think of life without a phone or access to the Internet—even when on holiday.

Take control: Learn how to disconnect from the online world and organize your daily Internet use.

Take control: Learn how to disconnect from the online world and organize your daily Internet use.

“When I am hiking and I force myself to disconnect from the online world, I feel alone. I feel like there’s so much of the trip that I would like to share with my online friends,” says Hrish Thotaa, a 31-year-old social media professional and self-proclaimed Twitter addict who spends 8-9 hours on social networking sites and chats, and 3-4 hours on email. “I spend my entire waking time online,” explains Thotaa.

A study called A Day without Media was conducted in 2010 by the International Center for Media and the Public Agenda, University of Maryland, US. The study had asked 200 students at the university to abstain from using all media for 24 hours. They then had to blog (http://withoutmedia.wordpress.com) about their experiences. “Although I started the day feeling good, I noticed my mood started to change around noon. I started to feel isolated and lonely. I received several phone calls that I could not answer,” wrote one student on the blog after the 24-hour fast (the website did not give out names). “By 2pm, I began to feel the urgent need to check my email, and even thought of a million ideas of why I had to. I felt like a person on a deserted island… I noticed physically that I began to fidget, as if I was addicted to my iPod and other media devices, and maybe I am.”

“Most youngsters cannot imagine their lives without cellphones and the online world today,” says Jitendra Nagpal, consultant, psychiatry, Moolchand hospital, New Delhi. “They feel anxious or stressed when they lose connectivity, be it because (the) battery has run out, they are in an area with no connectivity, or they have no balance left,” he explains. Psychologists have a word for those who make it an obsession: Internet Addiction Disorder (IAD).

Addiction to the World Wide Web is a very real issue. You can see the signs everywhere around you nowadays: a fidgety colleague who needs to constantly tweet, a friend who clicks the refresh button on Facebook hoping to see something new while on a dinner date, or you realizing at the end of a day that you have been browsing the Internet for so long that the afternoon has passed and you still have a pile of work to get through.

“Procrastination is the greatest demon of being connected,” says Sasank T., a 25-year-old marketing manager based in Bangalore. Sasank scored 58 on an Internet Addiction Quiz (www.netaddiction.com), a score which suggests that he might be facing some problems at work because of the long hours he spends online.

“I have had to work nights as I skipped deadlines since I was online for the whole day in office,” Sasank says. “There are times when many days go by doing nothing but browsing my favourite sites.” The only time Sasank disconnects is when his laptop heats up and gets switched off; and then the phone comes in. If, like Sasank, you can’t let go of the online urge, here are some tools that can help you:

Detect your time wasters

Wisdom has it that a 2-minute break on Facebook can last for hours. A second on a site can never last a second. Each one of us has sites that we love wasting our time on.

Try this tool: SelfControl (http://visitsteve.com/made/selfcontrol) is a free software that allows you to restrict the time you spend on social networking sites, gaming forums or shopping sites. Simply install the software and add any domain name to its blacklist, like Facebook.com. Then put on a timer and tell the software how long you want to use that domain in a day (from 1 minute to 12 hours). Once you have spent that much time on that particular site in a day, it will be blocked from your browser for the rest of the day. All the other sites will work just fine. SelfControl takes addictions seriously. The app was planned as an extreme measure, so use it only if you are not going to change your mind—deleting the application or rebooting your computer will not help unblock the particular site.

Continue reading “Caught in the net”

Tweaks for tweets

 

Are endless tweets giving you a pain in the neck? We list some cool apps and websites that guide, curate and arrange the massive sea of information into bite-sized pieces for you

Time was when life was simpler. When all you had to do was reach office in the morning, check your emails, read some blogs, have a steaming cuppa and get on with your work. In the good old days, a message like “You’ve got mail!” brought a smile to your face. Heck, it even brought back the memory of a romantic movie.

Tracking tips: Who you should follow, and how to increase your popularity on Twitter.

Tracking tips: Who you should follow, and how to increase your popularity on Twitter.

In Twitterverse, the voices in your feeds never stop. According to the official Twitter blog (blog.twitter.com), as of June end the micro-blogging social network was generating a whopping 200 million tweets per day. That is equivalent to a 10-million-page book of tweets or 8,163 copies of Leo Tolstoy’s 1869 epic novel War and Peace. Reading this much text would take more than 31 years, the blog tells us. Here are some efficient ways to manage the information overload on the five-year-old micro-blogging site.

Find the right people to follow

There are oodles and oodles of tweeters online, but there are only a few hundred influencers. If you don’t hear them on time, you might just miss the next big thing your fellow tweeters are talking about. Find the right influencers of your industry on Twellow (www.twellow.com) by category. The website scrounges through Twitter.com every day to come up with a list of influencers tabulated on the basis of number of followers, industry or categories such as entertainment, news, society and sports. Here you will find the people who are heard by thousands of people and whose tweets are retweeted the most, etc. TweetLevel.com, on the other hand, lets you search the right people to follow by entering a word in its search box.

Tell a tweet story

Feeling creative and want to play with your and other people’s tweets? Check Storify (http://storify.com). Still in its beta stage, the website is an innovative way of telling a story using social networks and the endless information online. You can use tweets, Flickr photos, YouTube videos and articles from the online space to tell a story about a topic, idea or concept. The interface is simple, with a search button where you can search for tweets using hashtags or words and then drag and drop them in your story. The story is publicly available and can be embedded into a website or a blog.

Archive a hashtag

Hashtags were lying forgotten on the number “3” key of your keyboard before Twitter introduced them to create tweet groupings. Now, a hashtag before any word in a tweet makes it about a group, event, occurrence, meet-up or idea. But what happens a day, a week or a month after the hashtag has been used? If you want to save the tweets of a hashtag from being lost forever in the ocean of information that is Twitter, try the Twapper Keeper (http://twapperkeeper.com) free service. It lets you archive up to two trends by hashtags, keywords or fellow tweeters. Another such free service is The Archivist (http://archivist.visitmix.com), which focuses only on hashtags. Once you link the site to your Twitter account, it can track a hashtag for you on a daily basis, and analyse it by users, volume, sources and retweets, etc., in a fancy graph.

Mute the noise

Your stream is inundated with the tweet traffic of retweets, automatically generated tweets from Foursquare or Gowalla about where your friends are or those irritating “I am sleeping now” tweets. In between all this traffic, you could miss the tweets that may actually be relevant to you. Mixero (www.mixero.com) is a Twitter client developed with the idea of “reducing the noise” or information overload. It lets you collate the people you follow by groups and see tweets according to groups, user platforms or channels….

Continue reading “Tweaks for tweets”

Powerhouse in your palm

 

The smartphone is bored. Day in and day out, we connect to the Internet, answer some emails, post a tweet or two and play Angry Birds. Sometimes we have long chats with friends or text angry messages to our boy/girl friends when they are late. However, most of us don’t realize the power we have in our hands. What most of us do with our smartphones is akin to driving a Ferrari or a Bugatti on a German autobahn at 40kmph—it’s simply sacrilegious.

So before your phone’s delicate touch screen gives in to the angst of its tedious existence, shift gears and make use of it the way it was meant to be used: innovatively.

Turn it into a Wi-Fi hot spot

Being ubiquitous: Don’t want to rush back to the office for a presentation? You can view the slides on your phone

Being ubiquitous: Don’t want to rush back to the office for a presentation? You can view the slides on your phone

It’s actually quite simple. Your phone has a 3G (or if you are still tied down to ancient technology, a 2G) Internet connection and a Wi-Fi adaptor. So why can’t it act like a Wi-Fi hot spot for your PC, tablet and other devices? All you need to do is install an app that makes use of your phone’s Internet connection and Wi-Fi adaptor and showers its Internet connectivity on to Wi-Fi-enabled devices around it. There are a lot of apps that help you do this, but the good ones offer encryption as well as password protection from lurkers— this is a must if you are using your phone Wi-Fi in a public space. Though some brands like the iPhone, HTC and the Nexus series come with built-in Wi-Fi tethering, the features are limited—it is best to download an app made for this purpose.

Start now: We like Connectify (www.connectify.me). It is a free app and can be used on Android-based systems. For Nokia phones, JoikuSpot (www.joiku.com) is a great app. Its free version turns your phone into a Wi-Fi hot spot without password protection and basic Internet protocol support (which means no emails can be checked). The premium version, which costs around Rs. 580, comes with the ability to use a password to secure the network, encrypt it, and gives you full Internet protocol support. If your iPhone is updated to iOS 4.3, you can use the new Personal HotSpot, which is password- protected. For other iOS versions, try MyWi 4.0 (intelliborn.com). It can be used on jail-broken handsets and costs $19.99 (approx. Rs. 900). IPhone does not allow users to go beyond its operating system. Jail-breaking or hacking the system to install other apps is one way to bypass this.

Use it as a debit card

Bar code-based mobile payment is fast becoming a trend. In India, Airtel Money (www.airtelmoney.in) lets users load their mobile phones with money to make payments at select stores.

Continue reading “Powerhouse in your palm”

The circles of social networking

The virtual giant has done it yet again, with the Google+ Project. The latest rage, it is fun, easy to use and gives you a next-generation experience

Shweta Taneja

 

It is a little more than two weeks old, in beta stage, and already has two million users across the world. It has already crashed twice because too many people were logged in at the same time. Its regular invites are being sold on EBay.com for 99 cents (Rs. 44). A week after it was launched, Google’s marketvalue shot up by $20 billion. If you haven’t heard or read about it, you might as well have been living under a rock. Welcome to the latest rage in social networking, the Google+ Project.

Till now, social networking attempts by Google at best got responses such as “ahem” or an indifferent “so what?”. Google Wave became nothing but a techie haunt, Google Buzz stopped buzzing within a few days of its launch, and Orkut failed to attract anyone but sleazy lurkers. All of them fell off the online radar, and weren’t missed much.

But Google+ has an altogether different approach to social networking. It is fun and it offers a little bit more than Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, MySpace, Orkut and all other social networks put together. According to Google, it aims to be a social layer on top of the search engine and all its product offerings, so that your Web experience becomes one seamless, integrated Web-social experience.

Circles and Hangouts

The social site revolves around Circles—which are specified groups of friends, family, acquaintances and the people you want to follow. You can create, edit and delete Circles with a simple drag-and-drop function. A tweet (@gstrompolos) describes the experience of putting the people you know in Circles as playing a never-ending game of solitaire with your contacts. Visually, that is what the drag-and- drop feels like.

Continue reading “The circles of social networking”

The great big online sale

Forget those favours from friends abroad for the just launched iPad 2. Now a simple click can get you the latest and best gadgets at your doorstep

Shweta Taneja

A few months ago New Delhi-based Rina Bhardwaj, 31, was running around the Capital’s infant shops looking for a baby monitor. “I wanted it before my baby was born and I could not find it anywhere!” she says. After searching for a week, she took a friend’s advice and checked websites which sell gadgets. She found exactly what she was looking for on EBay.in. “It took me an hour of browsing, 5 minutes of paying and it was delivered to my home within a few days,” she says.

Be it the latest gadgets or the hard-to-find stuff, Indian websites are offering it all online—and chances are you will get most items at a discount. Here are some websites you should visit before you trek down to a gadget store.

EBay Global EasyBuy

Want to buy something that has just been launched in the US? EBay.in has made it easy with its Global EasyBuy service (www.ebay.in/globaleasybuy). You can buy the latest laptops, personal digital assistant or PDA phones, music systems and other cool things as they launch in the US. The prices displayed include shipping and customs costs, so when you order you know exactly how much you will have to pay. The website offers an equated monthly instalments, or EMI, facility for three-six months on select items, in case the cool thing you want comes with a hefty price tag. So you pay in rupees, while the latest e-book reader is delivered to your home. The prompt customer service and no-fuss website are an added bonus.

Log on if: You need the newest and the best internationally, and are ready to pay any price for it.

Olx.in

In store: Looking for deals on a mobile phone or the latest gadgets launched in the US? Online retail sites may be just the thing for you

In store: Looking for deals on a mobile phone or the latest gadgets launched in the US? Online retail sites may be just the thing for you

A newly launched website, Olx.in is a subsidiary of the international site Olx.com, famous for its classified advertisements. The website is a marketplace where you can sell or buy just about anything and everything under the sun.

Continue reading “The great big online sale”

While online, thou shalt not…

Be it Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn, follow these 10 commandments of social networking etiquette

 

Social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter have their share of boorish people who jump into other people’s conversation, generally create a ruckus or bombard your Wall with their gaming updates—and don’t know when to stop. Here’s a list of things to avoid.

Playing games on other people’s Walls

Yes, we know that you love to play Farmville, take mid-afternoon quizzes about “Which Mahabharata character are you?” and “What kind of Ramdev follower are you?”, and dozens of other apps that come your way on Facebook. That doesn’t mean your friends should suffer from a perennial feed of your app activity. It’s not only irksome to see who you just added as a “friend” on Facebook, but also increases the silly updates on people’s Walls. Before they turn off the extra noise you are creating by un-friending you, turn off the bot updates that these apps generate.

Go to your Privacy Settings > Apps and Websites. Click on “Edit your settings”. On the Web page that follows, click on the “Edit Settings” button along with the “Apps you use” header. This will list all the apps you use and what your profile is being used for. Uncheck the feature “Post on your Wall” for every app. Believe us, your friends will thank you for it.

Saying no to your mother

No sneak peeks: Online etiquette demands that you keep your eyes off other people’s screens. Illustration by Raajan/Mint

You might dread the day your mother, or the gossipy aunt who wants you to get married to her cousin’s son, sends a friend request on Facebook or Orkut but you cannot really stop them from coming into your online social spaces. Not unless you change your cellphone number and house and shift to another planet. There are some people you just cannot avoid, but don’t despair—Facebook lets you divide your friends into different lists through which you can control who sees what on your Wall, your status updates, your photographs and even tags. Keep a list of people you couldn’t say “no” to and limit the way they see your profile. You can control the status updates they read, the photos they see and the discussions they can keep a tab on. Make Lists by clicking on Friends on the left-hand side of your Facebook profile. Now go to Edit Friends > Create a List. Once you have completed segregating your friends, simply go to Privacy Settings. Click on Customize Settings in the section “Sharing on Facebook”. You can click on each of the elements on your Facebook profile, such as your information, posts, photographs and details, and for each set which lists of people can view them.

Using all caps

Except when it’s a bank that has just used your credit card for an unauthorized payment, or when you want to make a point strongly, never ever use all caps for any communication online. In the online world, talking in all caps is not talking, but YELLING…

…Read the complete story on the Mint website here.

Take charge of Facebook

Want to take control of your data and the way you use your Facebook account? Then try these tricks. By Shweta Taneja

 

When Tejas Pande, a 23-year-old Bangalore-based information technology professional, heard about a workshop called Facebook Resistances at the Centre for Internet and Society (www.cis-india.org) in the city, he signed up without thinking twice. “I spend almost 10 hours every day logged in to my Facebook account. Its fixed rituals were getting to me. So I wanted to find out how I can take more control of my account and make it more personal.”

The workshop, which was conducted by Marc Stumpel, a new media researcher and privacy advocate from Amsterdam, the Netherlands, had the same concerns. Stumpel’s workshop, which has travelled across the world from Barcelona and Berlin to Bangalore, is a research initiative that looks at changing the rules and functionality of Facebook. “We want to change your experience of the site and make it more personal,” he says, adding, “We also want you to safeguard your privacy in the Facebook world.” All this, he says, is possible through add-ons to your Internet browser. “People just need to know what these cracks are.”

Privacy rules: There are simple ways to safeguard your privacy on Facebook.

Privacy rules: There are simple ways to safeguard your privacy on Facebook.

With more than 600 million active users, Facebook has become prone to attacks from hackers. Problems such as identity theft and malicious bot messages or status update worms are becoming common. Other than that, privacy concerns which have wracked Facebook since its inception continue to be controversial despite the “controls” it now offers.

The main reason for this is that the social networking mammoth keeps on pushing new features or changes constantly and rapidly, even before we can understand the ones that already exist. “Most often we don’t get a chance to opt in to new features, and can only opt out if they get our attention,”explains Stumpel. This leads to a loss of control over personal data and what Facebook can do with it.

To prevent this, it’s necessary to keep going back to those account settings and make full use of whatever control Facebook offers at any point. Here are some of the latest ways you can protect your online identity.

Log out of multiple sessions

How many times have you logged into Facebook from an Internet café or a friend’s mobile phone and forgotten to log out? Every time you do that, even though you close the browsing window or application at the end, Facebook keeps your session open, making you vulnerable to mischief. Now you can log into your account and see a list of active sessions with their details, which include the login time, device name, the approximate location of the login based on IP address, and browser and operating system. If some of them are unauthorized or you are unaware of these activities, shut them immediately and reset your password.

Take control now: In your Facebook account, go to Account > Account Settings > Account Security > Account Activity > Also Active. Facebook lists all your active, open browsers in the Also Active list. Click on End Activity on the unwanted ones. You can also take control of which gadgets you log on from with the Login Approvals feature that comes under Account Security. This feature lets you put a code alert, which can then be SMSed to your mobile phone as soon as you log in from an unrecognized computer. This will alert you in case there’s been a login from a source you don’t know about.

Avoid the unwanted photo tag

Did a friend just put your drunk as hell photograph, wearing a “I hate my boss” T-shirt and making an obscene gesture, online? And did your boss and wife see it and blast you for irresponsibility? Other than the embarrassment, you may get into trouble at home or at work because of friends tagging inane photographs they clicked somewhere you don’t remember.If it’s not photographs, it’s minor irritants such as social or festive messages that you unexpectedly get tagged in. Avoid such irritants with a simple click.

Take control now: Go to Account > Privacy Settings > Sharing on Facebook. Click on ‘Customize settings’. In the page that pops up, choose in each option who can see and comment on things you share, things on your Wall and things you’re tagged in.

Secure your account

Hacking is increasingly a problem on Facebook. The reason is that on most of the networks, Facebook (unlike email clients) works on an unsecured connection (http) and not a secure one (https). Now the social networking site gives you an option to choose a secure site for logging and browsing. You can also choose one-time passwords when logging into Facebook from a public connection.

Take control now: Go to Account > Account Settings> Account Security > Secure Browsing. Tick on Browse Facebook on a Secure Connection (https) whenever possible. In case you are using a public computer, take the option of Facebook One-time Passwords. Text “OTP” to 32665 on your mobile phone and you will get a new one-time password which expires within 20 minutes.

Stop Facebook from haunting you online

Baffled when your Facebook profile image pops up every time you are reading a news site or a travel website online asking you to “Like” a news or review since another friend from Facebook does? Or surprised when you are browsing a travel website and your friends’ photographs pop up suddenly, saying they have been there and “Recommend” a hotel or site? Facebook has partnered with some websites to, as it delicately puts it, “provide you with great, personalized experiences the moment you arrive, such as immediately playing the music you like or displaying friends’ reviews”. Basically if you are logged in to Facebook, these sites can take information from your account and display it and also tell you which of your friends have visited that particular city earlier. If you wish to stop Facebook from haunting you everywhere you go online on your browser, act now.

Take control now: To block a third party, go to Account > Privacy Settings > Apps and Websites> Instant Personalization. Deselect Enable Instant Personalization to stop getting these subtle suggestions from Facebook.

Cut off the ads

A Facebook friend, Mr-I-Like-Everything, “Likes” yet another page and it pops up as a suggestion on the right side of your profile. If you have been on Facebook long enough, chances are one of the “Sponsored” pages has been shoved under your nose at least once. These little ad blurbs which keep popping up on the right-hand side corner, or underneath your apps on the left side of your page, are a mix of advertisements as well as Facebook’s way of further profiling you. Facebook calls them “Suggestions” that add to your social personality, but they are just ads.

Read the complete article here.

Iron those wrinkles away

Botox and fillers are fast becoming a way of life in the high-flying corporate world from Mohali to Mumbai. By Shweta Taneja

Rajesh M., a marketing manager based in Mumbai, constantly got into arguments with his colleagues and juniors because they found him too critical. Then one day, he was told by a friendly colleague that it was his frown which made him look “angry” all the time. “I had these three deep frown lines in between my eyebrows,” explains the 35-year-old, “which looked like I was always frowning.” His colleagues felt he was always disapproving of something being discussed, which led to negative vibes in the team.

“I had had enough of this. I wanted to get rid of these lines. Someone suggested Botox to me. I looked up on that online and liked the idea,” says Rajesh. Over a weekend at the start of this year, he got Botox injections to freeze the area between his eyebrows. “The process took barely 10 minutes at a clinic and after the weekend I was all ready to join back work without those lines,” he says.

“Botox injections for treating frown lines have become quite common for men,” says K.M. Kapoor, senior consultant and head, department of cosmetic surgery, at Fortis Hospital, Mohali, who also runs a private clinic in Chandigarh. “Freezing that frown gives you a relaxed and friendly look, giving you a pleasant look.” According to him, Rajesh is among an increasing number of men who are not thinking twice before opting for non-invasive procedures to “correct” a facial expression or hide ageing.

Dr Kapoor gets around 600-700 patients, both men and women, every year who want Botox injections. Thirty per cent of these are men in the 35-45 age bracket. Three years ago, the percentage of men coming to his clinic for Botox was only 10%. “They are all well-educated, senior executives in high-paying jobs who want to retain their young looks, especially among their juniors who are in their 20s,” explains Dr Kapoor.

Botox, fillers and other non-invasive cosmetic procedures such as peels and laser hair removal are popularly known as lunch-time lifts. “All lunch-time surgeries take less than an hour, are non-invasive or superficial, can be done with local anaesthesia and show results immediately,” explains Mumbai-based cosmetic surgeon Manoj Kumar J. Manwani, who handles approximately 5,000-6,000 cosmetic cases every year. Lunch-time procedures are very popular with professionals as there is little or no recovery period, explains Satish Bhatia, 43, a dermatologist and skin surgeon based in Mumbai. “Most of my patients want non-invasive or lunch-time procedures due to weekday office timings,” he explains. They can recover over the weekend and be back on Monday looking “refreshed and relaxed”.

According to Dr Bhatia, corrections for which demand is growing in the corporate world are mole removal, skin augmentation, double- chin correction, chemical face peeling, laser treatment for unwanted hair, and facelifts.

Quick makeover

“The idea behind preferring non-invasive procedures to a full-blown surgery is that these men do not want to change their faces remarkably, but just give themselves a younger face which makes one feel more confident,” explains Dr Manwani, whose male patient list is full of professionals—engineers, doctors, managers, etc. All of them want quick, non-invasive procedures because they want little alteration to their faces and want to get it done quickly. “They also know exactly what they want and which area needs to be ‘treated’,” he says. “Most of my male patients come to me alone and after an initial consultation where they tell me the problem area, we decide on the kind of procedure they want to take up.”

Looking good: Frown lines, laugh lines, moles, scars—you can get rid of them in a jiffy.

Looking good: Frown lines, laugh lines, moles, scars—you can get rid of them in a jiffy.

Priti Shukla, a cosmetic surgeon who has been running Priti Shukla’s Cosmetic Surgery in Hyderabad since 2001, believes that the trend of men “doing it” is here to stay and will increase in the coming years. “Already 50% of all patients I get are men,” she says, “and most of my older clientele who are in their 40s opt for Botox and fillers.” According to her, the trend is most common among software professionals in Hyderabad who want to get cosmetic surgeries done to boost their confidence and come in with their credit cards handy. Money is not a problem for them.

The risks

Though treatments such as Botox and other non-invasive procedures are generally risk-free, some temporary side effects have been reported. “There can be some reactions in case you are allergic to the toxin in Botox or fillers,” says Dr Kapoor. In the case of Botox, you can experience droopy eyelids, nausea, muscle weakness, facial pain, indigestion, or tooth problems. In the case of fillers, you can experience prolonged redness, swelling, itching or skin hardness and bumps.

He cautions against trying out these injections in a beauty parlour or a spa since they are unregulated and the results can be disastrous. A trained cosmetic surgeon knows facial anatomy, so the chances of his injecting the wrong muscle are very small, explains Dr Kapoor. So the chances of you looking like a frozen bitter gourd on Monday morning are slim.

Do your research beforehand. Dr Kapoor suggests: “Read up on the procedure, what it does to your body, consult with a known doctor who will know the right questions to ask and ask if there would be any side effects, especially if you have a history of heart disease or popping pills like vitamins, medicines or even herbal products. Your doctor needs to know it all.”

Another risk is infection, or wrongly administered anaesthesia. “You should avoid any kind of cosmetic makeover during summer as there is more colonization of bacteria and chances of infection are higher,” cautions Dr Manwani. According to him, winters are the best time to get these procedures done. “Also, before you decide on a clinic, check the place thoroughly for its sanitization to avoid catching an infection floating around.”

“The biggest risk in these procedures is that of unrealistic expectations,” says Dr Shukla, who gets patients who want drastic changes to their face. “A face filled with Botox is never a good idea, it can make you look too plastic. Your doctor knows best and if she says that a specific wrinkle cannot be filled, take her advice,” she says.

Take the example of 24-year-old Kanishka S., who is already worried that his face is beginning to resemble a dried-up walnut.

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