Comic release: Obsolete Baby

So excited to announce release of “The Obsolete Baby”, a whimsical and darkly funny short comic short I scripted that deals with giving birth and our obsession with technology. Illustrated by artist Kavita Nambissan, it releases in Ground Zero fourth volume by MetaDesiComics

It’s an all women creator anthology and kind of answers a question on where are women artists when it comes to comics. Other than my story, the anthology includes Blond Bonanzas – a surreal and potato-filled journey into the unknown, written by Simona Terron and Aishwarya Tandon; Batperson and Kitten, a mini-comic full of fun, written and drawn by “Suki” and Manjula Padmanabhan, and a neurofuristic to-be-revealed-title by Ridhi Batra and Tanushree Majumdar. 

The whimsical 80s feel in the cover
As well as the story cover. Isn’t the suit so cool?

I’m pretty excited about this. Grab a copy at one of the ComicCon India booths, or online.

Give your brain a boost with these 9 smart foods

You need the right food to keep your brain healthy. A study published in The Lancet in July concluded that one in three cases of dementia could be prevented if more people looked after their brain health and strengthened the brain’s network by improving their diet, not smoking, doing exercise, keeping a healthy weight and treating high blood pressure and diabetes.

Brain health is easy

Without the right nutrition, the brain cannot produce neurotransmitters or neurochemicals like serotonin or dopamine that are responsible for mood, social behaviour, appetite, memory and even sexual desire, say Luke Coutinho, doctor of alternative medicine and founder of the health start-up Pure Nutrition. “The right foods can boost numerous aspects of mental health, including memory, concentration, intelligence, cognitive thinking, and help in the prevention of diseases like depression, Alzheimer’s, etc,” he says.

Photo: iStockphoto
Cherries, dark chocolate, eggs and banana can help to improve your mind health. Photo: iStockphoto

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7 signs that you are addicted to social media

Feel you are addicted to social media? Selfies. Holiday pictures. Links of interesting articles. Posts. Thoughts of the day. Funny cat videos. Welcome to the virtual world of social media, where people spend hours consuming content posted by others.

You are addicted to social media when
Are you addicted to social media? Find out.

Mumbai-based Prashant Gautam Nanaware is a typical example. “I take pictures of everything, including food, and post things online instantly,” says the 30-year-old communication consultant who has Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook and WhatsApp on his phone, with all the notifications always on. Even his travelling is full of clicking, “instagramming”, and responding to incoming messages.

“What’s an off time? My phone’s on my bedside when I sleep; when I wake up, I see my notifications first. And I like it when my photos and posts get likes or comments.”

Prashant Gautam Nanaware

Recently, while watching Baahubali: The Conclusion, he did a live movie review on Twitter. When he participated in the Mumbai Marathon last year, he ran a Facebook Live session while running. He carries a full power bank and a charger for his OnePlusX and is online for almost 15 hours every day. “Social media has taken me over,” he says.

Like Nanaware, many of us are on the borderline of social media addiction. “Anything in excess is not good for health and can turn into severe addiction,” says Sameer Malhotra, director, department of mental health and behavioural sciences, Max Super Speciality Hospital, Delhi. “If you have a persistent desire to use it, neglect other priorities of life, become restless at the very thought of not being able to log in, neglect sleep, get your eyes strained, use it first thing in the morning, and have relationship issues because of being constantly on the platform, there’s a high chance you’re an addict.”

Think you could be a borderline case too? Here are the signs to look out for.

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The boot camp workout

Here’s everything you need to know about the boot camp workout, the  military-inspired exercise routine. 

Inspired by the training given to those who join the Armed Forces, boot-camps are high-intensity workouts that deliver specific results. “It’s primarily an outdoor group activity where a cluster of people who have the same goal join together,” says J. Keshav, owner and president of BootCamp Chennai, whose 12-week outdoors boot camp costs Rs12,300. The goals of a boot camp could vary, from weight loss, building stamina and endurance to general fitness, stretching, toning or strengthening muscles. 

“In one word, it’s roughing it out,” says Bengaluru-based Wannitaa Ashok, an expert in body transformation. “A full-body cardio and strength workout that’s very effective for weight loss,” she adds. It can help increase lean muscle mass, and build muscular and cardiovascular endurance and strength while improving overall coordination and balance, she explains. An important aspect of the workout is limiting the rest time between each move, so the heart rate goes up and you burn calories faster. “You do circuits of intense exercises for about 30-60 seconds each, pausing for only a few seconds between exercises,” says Vesna Pericevic Jacob, wellness expert and founder of Vesna’s Alta Celo, a wellness clinic based in Delhi. The idea is to schedule challenging workouts that push you to your limits, improve your fitness levels and burn calories faster. 

Boot-camp: The fitness level required

Photographs by Nathan G/Mint
Boot-camp training helps build strength, agility, speed and flexibility. Photographs by Nathan G/Mint

Most fitness trainers know that people who come to them are rookies, so they scale the activities around the group’s requirements, says Delhi-based Kamal Chhikara, owner and head coach at Reebok CrossFit Robust.

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Say goodnight with sleep apps

Sleep apps can at best help you discipline sleep habits, not tackle disorders.  There are many sleep apps that claim to use the accelerometer, microphone and camera in your phone to record the quality of your sleep, using sleep graphs to show how you slept, but all of them use average sleep patterns. This is based on the idea that interrupting the wrong sleep cycle—when you’re in slow-wave (deep sleep) or REM (dreaming)—can result in a sense of fatigue.

Image result for sleep apps

But a study published in June in Preventive Medicine Reports, which screened 369 sleep apps available on Android and iPhones, analysed the most popular apps and found that while most help users set sleep-related goals, track and manage their sleep, and even offer white noise or guided meditation, few make use of other methods known to help the chronically sleep-deprived.

“There weren’t a lot of apps that had any information about the benefits of sleep, mentioned health risks associated with not getting enough sleep, and recommended the amount of sleep someone should get on a regular basis,” said Prof. Diana Grigsby-Toussaint from the University of Illinois, US, who led the research, in a press release.

Sleep apps can be useful in disciplining your sleep 

While you can use sleep apps to regulate and discipline your body clock and sleep cycles, you shouldn’t make the mistake of believing these can help you tackle sleep disorders.

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Post 35? It’s never too late to start exercising

You’re post 35 and you’ve finally decided to start exercising? That’s great news. For exercising regularly can reduce fat, stress and cholesterol, improve body functions, prevent diabetes and boost self-confidence, says Ali Irani, head (physiotherapy and sports medicine), Nanavati Super Speciality Hospital, Mumbai. The tricky part, however, is to ensure that your routine is safe, painless and enjoyable, especially if you are above 35. “It’s best to keep yourself low on intensity and duration initially, especially when you’ve never done it before,” he says.

Our experts suggest ways to make sure you keep moving, steadily and steadfastly.

Keep small, realistic goals

Want those six-packs? It’s possible, but you need to be patient, for it won’t happen immediately.

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8 gadgets to make air travel more comfortable

One of the most annoying aspects of air travel is just how loud everything seems to be, especially when you’re trying to sleep. There’s the quiet but insistent hum of the aircraft, which becomes a rumble the further you are from the cockpit. Then there are people talking, laughing, babies crying, cold blasts of air, and the sharp thuds of washroom doors. Technology can help you shut off some of this noise.

Google Daydream view comes with a soft wearable design that is lightweight and designed to fit comfortably over most eyeglasses.
Google Daydream view comes with a soft wearable design that is lightweight and designed to fit comfortably over most eyeglasses.
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Milan and Turin: A tale of two cities

A chill February wind from the Alps shuffles me from the open piazza in front of the Duomo di Milano into the relative warmth of the corridors that make up the famous Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II. The oldest active shopping mall in the world, this galleria in Milan was completed in 1877. It is an architectural marvel, with two giant glass-vaulted arcades over the streets connecting Piazza del Duomo and Piazza della Scala that intersect in an octagonal central dome. The glass-and-iron roof is a distinctive 19th century design.

I join the flow of locals and tourists wandering aimlessly amongst the artistically modern window displays of luxury brands like Gucci, Prada and Louis Vuitton that vie for attention alongside 150-year old stuccos, friezes, columns and a sigh-worthy mosaic floor.

I see a river of people pooled around a curious sight on the mosaic floor. I peer into the crowds, looking through slits and gaps between arms, waists and handbags to see the figure of a rampaging bull in beige-on-blue mosaic. Odder still, I see visitors join a queue for the chance to go up to the mosaic and “crush” its testicles by standing on them, and rotating thrice at the spot.

A tourist “crushing” the privates of the galleria’s mosaic bull. Photo: iStock
A tourist “crushing” the privates of the galleria’s mosaic bull. Photo: iStock
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How to protect your eyes

Your eyes are getting no rest from screens. Here’s how to protect them

An average Indian office-goer spends 6-8 hours daily looking at computer, mobile or television screens, says P. Suresh, consultant ophthalmologist at Fortis Hospital, Mumbai. “The figure is worse for IT professionals or people who use computers for work, as they spend 12-16 hours in front of screens .” That’s more than half a day spent gazing at a screen, glued to a laptop or a smartphone.

“It is like running on a treadmill all the time. You’re not giving any rest to the muscles of your eyes”

Dr P. Suresh

Continuously gazing at a screen causes stress, “leading to eye fatigue and strain, with symptoms like headaches, itching, blurred vision, red eyes, burning sensation, heavy eyes and, sometimes, difficulty in focusing”, says Parul Sharma, senior eye surgeon at Max Eye Care, Delhi.

If you think taking a break from your computer and WhatsApping will make a difference, it won’t. The closer you are to the screen, the more you strain your eyes.

So what should you do?

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Indian fantasy has come of age. Here’s why

Almost surreptitiously, Indian fantasy has made a niche for itself in the English language in India. Three years ago, when HarperCollins published my urban fantasy novel Cult Of Chaos, An Anantya Tantrist Mystery (2015), I was at the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur. My editor contacted me and requested a video for the upcoming HarperCollins sales conference to explain the genre of the novel.

I dressed up, cycled through the campus and found myself in a professor’s office in the computer science department trying to angle my MacBook to make sure the background was filled with academic books, and not beams. “It’s like Sherlock Holmes solving supernatural crime,” I exclaimed, trying to make eye contact with booksellers through the little black dot on my laptop.

The nightmare for an Indian fantasy author

My aim was to make them avoid the one thing that gives nightmares to every fantasy author: A deep-seated fear that your novel will end up in either the Indian writing or mythology shelves in book stores. This fear has roots in reality: Because for decades, the Fantasy section has been petrificus totalus, with reprints of The Chronicles Of Narnia (1950-56), The Lord Of The Rings (1954-55), the Harry Potter series (1997-2007), A Song Of Ice And Fire (1996-) and, recently, the likes of the Percy Jackson series (2005-) and The Hunger Games (2008-10), with no space for Indian fantasy titles.

The Liar’s Weave by Tashan Mehta

Internationally, the urban fantasy subgenre wasn’t an uncharted section. Even the sub-subgenre that Anantya Tantrist mysteries belonged to, that of an occult detective dealing with the supernatural underworld of her city, was thriving enough for some literary agents to actively look for them and for others to discard them because too many of these “occult detective types” had been submitted to them.

Urban human-ish occult detectives with a problematic personal life had invaded subgenres ranging from urban fantasy to paranormal romance. Notable examples included the vampire hunter series Anita Blake by Laurell K. Hamilton (1993-) and The Dresden Files (2000-) by Jim Butcher, told from the point of view of a private investigator and wizard based in Chicago. Indian author Mainak Dhar’s anti-hero zombie hunter in the Alice In Deadland series (2011-12) had also been on shelves for a while.

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