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Kolkata cafe celebrates ‘queer’ identities over food




Kolkata, May 8: Festooned in fairy lights, far from the prying and judging eyes of the public, cafe “Amra Odbhuth” (We are Queer) provides space to the LGBTQ community members here to get together over platters of food and celebrate their identities.

What started out as a pop-up and the need for a meeting space to discuss issues and furnish a platform for queer reading and performances sans censorship, has become a movement of sorts to reclaim the word “Odbhuth” (queer in Bengali).

“Amra Odbhuth” in a renovated family home in south Kolkata, has branded itself “as a space where queer and trans voices get together, laugh, perform and celebrate identities.”

The unique cafe-collective movement was started by Upasana, Nandini Moitra, Raina Roy and Kallol Guha.

“There aren’t a lot of queer friendly spaces in the city. We just wanted to share our experiences and connect with each other, outside activism and NGO spaces. We wanted to have a concrete, physical space outside online forum. Since food culture is big in Kolkata, people always love to get together over food,” one of the founders told IANS.

The cafe-collective, more of an extension of an idea to break away and start something new, also resonates with Nobel laureate poet Rabindranath Tagore’s famous verse “Amra nutan joubaneri doot, amra chaanchol, amra odbhuth, amra bera bhangi, amra ashok bone, ranga neshay rang”.

In English it translates into “We are heralds of youth, we are restless, we are unique, we break down barriers and sway to the forest’s intoxication.”

Although it is not operational on a regular basis, the cafe comes up with rotational menus aligned with its events: queer art meet, evening of poetry with performance artist Alok Vaid-Menon and screenings.

It also unveiled a full-fledged traditional Bengali menu for the Poila Baisakh celebration last month.

Apart from the regular coffee, the popular foods here are basil ham cheese grilled sandwich, bacon salad and mandarin mojito (non-alcoholic).

The founders have expansive plants for the space, though funding is a pressing issue.

The cafe is also open to non-LGBTQ members as long as “they respect boundaries”. Some of the other house rules include a no-alcohol policy since the cafe is smack bang in the middle of a residential area.

“The concept is to ensure the members of the community feel comfortable and are able to enjoy art, cinema and performances without being judged,” the co-founder added.


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Best ways to decorate your space with plants



Home decoration plants

New Delhi, Jan 17: Plants look just adorable and keeping them indoors not only brings life to the entire place but they also improve the air quality by reducing toxins existing in the atmosphere so make sure you are decorating your abode with plants nicely.

Myna Batavia, Founder of Green Carpet, and Preeti Narula, Founder of Living Balconies, list down ways to decorate your house with plants.

* Your living room is the best place to be decorated with a lot of greenery. Potted plants are the best choice to be kept in the living room. These pots are available in different sizes and colours to suit your requirements. Ensure that they are visible over the furniture kept in the living room.

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* The dining area should be graced with plants such as money plants, bamboo plants, and ferns in glass bottles and vases.

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* Embellish your bedroom with indoor plants such as Sansevieria which increases oxygen levels at night to have a sound sleep. You can keep small potted plants on bedside tables on either side of the bed.

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* In the open space or balconies, install a shelf or hanging flower boxes along the railings to make it look attractive from outside. Also planter in sync with wall colours and embellishing the place with animal artefacts will increase the beauty quotient of these areas.

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* Also just to fill in the empty area of your apartment, you can try keeping big plants in colourful pots.

* Decorate your living space with indoor plants as they make any area feel bright, lively, calm and beautiful.

* Place your plants on shelves or wooden pallets to create a mini indoor garden

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* One can also hang indoor plants like Chinese money plant, Staghorn ferns, snake plants and weeping fig in the balcony.

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* Use your old crockery set for planting to decorate your kitchen, living room, and even bathrooms.

* Make your own terrarium with succulents to create a decorative piece in your kid’s room or dining table.


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Writing a to-do list will help you sleep faster at night




New York, Jan 15: Unable to sleep at night? Try writing a “to-do” list at bedtime as it may aid in falling asleep, a new study suggests.

“Most people just cycle through their to-do lists in their heads, and so we wanted to explore whether the act of writing them down could counteract night time difficulties with falling asleep,” said lead author of the study Michael K. Scullin from Baylor University, in the US.

The study compared sleep patterns of participants who took five minutes to write down upcoming duties versus participants who chronicled completed activities.

“There are two schools of thought about this. One is that writing about the future would lead to increased worry about unfinished tasks and delay sleep, while journaling about completed activities should not trigger worry,” Scullin said.

“The alternative hypothesis is that writing a to-do list will ‘off-load’ those thoughts and reduce worry,” he added.

For the study, published in Journal of Experimental Psychology, researchers monitored electrical brain activity using electrodes on a group of healthy young adults.

They completed a writing assignment for five minutes prior to overnight polysomnography recording in a controlled sleep laboratory.

They were randomly assigned to write about tasks that they needed to remember to complete the next few days (to-do list) or about tasks they had completed the previous few days (completed list).

Participants in the to-do list condition fell asleep significantly faster than those in the completed-list condition.

The more specifically participants wrote their to-do list, the faster they subsequently fell asleep, whereas the opposite trend was observed when participants wrote about completed activities.

Therefore, to facilitate falling asleep, individuals may derive benefit from writing a very specific to-do list for five minutes at bedtime rather than journaling about completed activities, the researchers noted.


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Gardening can make old people stay more healthy




Germany, Jan 12: Indulging in gardening may not only keep older adults active but also boost their health and mental well-being, finds a study.

The findings showed that older women who spend more than three hours on household chores a day and got less or more than seven hours of sleep a night, were less likely to be in good health.

However, the researchers found that the similar criteria had no effect on the health of elderly men.

It is because older women spent more time doing repititive housework like cleaning and cooking, while men spent time in gardening and maintenance work, which is mentally very stimulating, the Daily Mail reported.

“The difference in the sexes’ health is probably to do with the type of housework women tend to do, which is a lot more repetitive and routine work, like cleaning and cooking. While this probably has some limited health benefits, it is not very physically active, is not really exercise and is not very stimulating mentally, which relates to physical health,” Nicholas Adjei, researcher at the Leibniz Institute for Prevention Research and Epidemiology in Germany, was quoted as saying by the paper.

“Men did much more active household chores, such as gardening and maintenance. The physical exertion is good for the health, with gardening involving digging, mowing and carrying soil. We think gardening and fixing things may also be more enjoyable than cleaning,” Adjei added.

For the study, researchers looked at more than 36,000 pensioners, who reported about their daily activities and general health. Healthiness was calculated based on participants’ answers to a questionnaire, in which they rated their health on a five-point scale from “poor” to “very good”.

The results showed that even taking away sleep, which can impact people’s health, men appear healthier when doing jobs around the house.


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