Dhaka, July 12 (UNB) - At Delhi’s Khirki Extension, a group of women can be seen creating fabric dolls, while music in Dari, plays in the background. Gunjan, one of them, is a refugee in Delhi, who had to leave her entire life behind in Afghanistan’s Bamyan — a place known for its monumental Buddha statues destroyed by the Taliban in 2001. She moved to Delhi in 2015 along with her husband and three children. Her husband, who knows Pashto, Hindi and French, works as a translator, while she runs a stitching enterprise, reports The Indian Express.
“People don’t understand my situation as a refugee. I struggled to find a job as I didn’t have an Aadhar card, and the only job I was offered demanded 12-hour work and paid only Rs 3000,” she says. “We had to leave our entire lives behind for our safety. Situations and circumstances are better here, but quality of life was better there,” says Gunjan.
But things got better after she met Iris Strill and Bishwadeep Moitra — the couple who founded Silaiwali in November last year. Silaiwali is a social enterprise that upcycles waste fabric generated from mass clothing manufacturers and uses it to create rag dolls by women refugees from Afghanistan. It works in association with UNHCR, the UN Agency for Refugees and Fair Trade Forum and Made51 Geneva. “There are so many people who are losing their homes and livelihood due to war and strife. We came in touch with a few Afghan women and wanted to help them find sustainable incomes through our skills and experience in design thinking,” says Moitra, a former journalist and graphic designer, who’s also written the book Brigitte Singh: Printress of the Mughal Garden (2018). His wife, Strill, runs the accessory brand Purple Jungle.
“Delhi-NCR is a major location for garment and soft-furnishing manufacturers for many international brands, and these productions generate a sizable quantity of waste fabric in the form of strips and end-pieces of the yardage. Usually, this waste is sold as garbage. But we decided to collect it from various factories and bring it to our studio where it is given a second life,” says Moitra. The large amount of waste fabric in the form of strips and end pieces makes the raw material for Silaiwali, where Gunjan, along with 11 other women, went through a month-long training in design, cut, stitch and embroidery. While most artisan centres, which mostly pay wages on the basis of the number of items an artisan makes, Silaiwali pays them a monthly remuneration. Plus work-life balance is easier, all of them live in the neighbourhood and work seven hours a day.
The women gave these dolls various skin tones to give them a universal appeal. “This was to show that the dolls do not conform to any nationality or race, and celebrate cultural diversity as their bodies are made of fabrics in different hues. Ethnic prints and natural materials sublimate a chic and bohemian fashion in a generous and mixed spirit. Far from the stereotypical offer of pink princess dolls, Silaiwali doll is a doll-woman of the world,” says Moitra. “Every doll is unique, wearing its own individual handmade outfit, and her story is attached with the tag to evoke an emotional connect,” he adds. The doll comes in its own box and after you open it, one sees it lying in its bed. Remove the bed cover and the doll is revealed, wearing different outfits such as muslin tunics, dresses and indigo kaftans. The packaging doesn’t use any plastic.
These dolls are available in various stores in Delhi, Bengaluru, Mumbai, Kolkata, and Goa. To celebrate World Refugee Day, Japanese brand Uniqlo had chosen to sell Silaiwali dolls as part of their fundraiser. A store for handmade products, Einzelstück in Zürich also sells them. In the future, they plan to make dolls available in the US and add new figures such as the horse and snow leopard.
Dhaka, July 12 (UNB) - When Christiaan Stoop decided to study the culinary sciences and become a chef, his parents asked him to begin by taking a solo trip to a country with contrasting culture, reports The Indian Express.
He drew out the map and picked Shanghai as his destination. The few weeks he spent there taught him a lot more about diversity in food and culture than he had experienced growing up. “My parents had hoped that it would give me perspective on what it means to live alone and learn in an alien environment but it turned out to be so much more than that.
I could explore the local cuisine, sample ingredients that I had never come across, and more importantly, understand technique by spending time in the kitchen,” says Stoop. “In short, it taught me the importance of travel in the honing of one’s culinary skills,” he adds.
The sous chef at The Oberoi, New Delhi, is 23 now. In these past seven years, he has consistently travelled across various countries, spending time to understand and learn about local cuisines while training under acclaimed chefs. He has been mentored by the celebrated, seven-time Michelin star chef, Carme Ruscalleda, and has trained under Chef Bobby Bräuer in Germany.
And it is this experience and expertise that Stoop has put into designing the latest menu at Vetro, The Oberoi, Mumbai. Titled ‘Confessions of a Culinary Traveller’, the menu brings together some of the best dishes and unique ingredients from the UK, Spain, France and India. Available until July 14 in Mumbai, it will be served as a four-course tasting menu for lunch and a five-course gourmand menu for dinner.
The menu, thus, features elements such as sea buckthorn from the UK, black garlic from Spain, mango and ginger from India and lamb loin and asparagus from France, among other ingredients. Recounting some of the memories from his travels to each of these countries, Stoop says that cucumber for him really stood out during his stint in the UK. “While working with Chef Heston Blumenthal of The Fat Duck, I saw that he included the use of humble ingredients in fine dining, like the cucumber. And unlike most others, he wouldn’t chuck away the seedy heart of the vegetable. That was a huge inspiration,” says Stoop, who’s special dish with the vegetable is, thus, a cured and pickled slice of cucumber that enhances its texture.
Showcasing Spain without the use of seafood is unimaginable for the young chef, who grew up eating the wholesome meat-heavy German cuisine. The lightness of the summery food, dominated by fish, crabs and spices, made him fall for the cuisine. India, however, was a contrast, and Stoop’s choice of ingredients (lemon, ginger and mango) represents exploration of vegetarian food.
With these, he showcases the strong, individualistic flavours Indians enjoy in their food. However, he uses them to prepare a sorbet, lending them a unique flair. With France, the chef was keen to contradict the common perception of the cuisine’s complexity and has hence used comfort foods such as onion creme and potato gratin in conjunction with lamb loin and asparagus.
Every journey eventually concludes at home. And that’s what Stoop does too. Saving the best for last, he is serving the guests the classic Bavarian creme for dessert with raspberry and thyme. “It’s the perfect balance of flavours and textures, with the sweet cream and tangy raspberry — a German classic,” he says.
Dhaka, July 12 (UNB)- From bachelor parties to family reunions, group trips are opportunities to explore the world with the people you love. They also have the potential to be planning messes, with scheduling, decision-making and sorting-out finances coming together in a seemingly endless and possibly disappointing snarl. But they don’t have to be. We’ve rounded up tips, tricks and tools to help plan your next group getaway, hopefully allowing everyone to focus on the fun, not the logistics, reports The Indian Express.
— Understand your group dynamic
The first step in planning a successful trip: Ensure the travellers will get along well together. “Is it a group of friends, or is it a couple of families travelling together? Is it a multigenerational trip with a big age range?” said Kate Doty, managing director of premier access at the adventure travel company, Geographic Expeditions (GeoEx). “These factors all come into play with activity level, comfort zones and rooming.”
Understanding individual roles within the group is big, too. “There will be someone in the group who will be the natural leader,” Doty said. “Be candid about this! Find opportunities to talk through these topics with humour and lightness.”
Group dynamics can play a big role in determining where to stay. Families might prefer the ease and facilities of a hotel or resort. Big groups of friends might opt to search through home rental sites like VRBO and Airbnb. Ali Killam, Airbnb’s consumer trends expert, recommends creating a shared wish list and inviting group members to add listings and vote on favourites.
“Determine what’s most important to the group when it comes to accommodations — a pool, a big kitchen, proximity to town, the beach — and filter the search accordingly,” she said.
— Shared apps are vital
Once you’ve decided on the group, figure out when everyone is available. Doodle allows users to create a poll online of possible travel dates and then vote on preferred options. Tried and true Google Sheets is a decent way to organize options for destinations, housing and more in a spreadsheet and track when and how people will be travelling.
Katrina Kagan, the partnerships and marketing associate at the weekly newsletter Girls’ Night In is the designated planner in her group of friends, who try to take group trips at least once a year. She created a trip planning spreadsheet that gathers travel details, expenses, meals and more for the purpose; her colleagues were so impressed that they shared it with the newsletter’s 150,000 subscribers.
“If you’re a planner like I am, this spreadsheet is a way to get organized enough that you can feel personally at ease during your trip. Why not take half an hour beforehand to get organized?” she said. “If you’re not a natural planner and are looking to step into that role, this can be a starting point.”
Beyond the spreadsheet, TripIt is an itinerary-building app that allows you to collect details for flights, hotels, car rentals and more into a master itinerary — the app’s Inner Circle feature allows you to share your itinerary with other members of your group.
Other ways to communicate, beyond unwieldy email chains: set up a private Facebook or WhatsApp group to send messages both while planning and when travelling. Google Docs make for a shared repository of events and suggestions and other vital information. And, if you plan on Instagramming your travels, a fun group hashtag is a nice way to keep track of the memories.
— Figure out finances
Tracking expenses is doable via spreadsheet, but still requires a fair amount of work to properly divvy up shares and figure out who owes what. Splittr and Splitwise are popular mobile free apps for tracking, prorating and ultimately balancing expenses, available offline and in multiple currencies.
“I was travelling a lot with friends, and I was the one who did the spreadsheet after the trip. I thought, ‘This should be easier!’” said the Splittr founder and developer, Raphael Wichmann.
Splitwise was originally created with roommates in mind, but translates to the travel space — it also integrates directly with the payment app Venmo, allowing you to make payments and receive money directly.
“We’re looking to helps reduce stress and awkwardness when it comes to finances,” said Jon Bittner, the Splitwise chief executive. Bittner suggests creating a group as soon as the first big expense, like a house or hotel rooms, has been booked, and continue adding expenses as you go.
Looking to treat your friends or family to free rides during your trip? Uber Events allows you to set up a code to cover transportation for your crew, with options to customize the time window, location and pickup radius (we particularly like this option for weddings and family reunions).
— Getting group deals
Investigating group deals may be a bit time-consuming but the research can save you money. Amtrak recently launched Share Fares, which earns you greater discounts on tickets the more people you travel with. If booked at least three days in advance, this program can reduce ticket prices up to 35% for groups of four.
Brian Kelly, The Points Guy, has made a career out of understanding the intricacies of airline and credit card loyalty programs. On his site, he published a free article, the “Ultimate Guide to Points, Pooling and Sharing,” for applying airlines miles and credit card points to group travel.
To begin with, he warns about transferring points and suggests instead on combining them.
“Airlines will generally charge you one cent per point or mile to transfer, which negates the value,” he said. He also suggested savings could be had by taking a “look at your trip in terms of one-ways instead of round-trips, and look at it based on availability.” If flying together is a priority, consider letting members of your group with the most available points purchase individual legs of the trip. This allows for booking through multiple airlines, too.
Some domestic airlines offer perks for groups booking together, including discounted fares and flexible ticketing options (while other apps and services for booking group flights exist, we found they were neither streamlined nor consistently well reviewed).
— In doubt? Leave it to the professionals
Kelly may be a points expert, but he decided to use a travel agent for a recent group trip to Iceland. “The number of options when planning a trip can be overwhelming,” he said. And when one of his friends left a piece of luggage at the airport, the tour company was able to have it delivered to the group.
Not being responsible, he said, “felt like an actual vacation!” Others are making similar decisions: A return to travel agents and advisers is on the rise. A recent report from the MMGY Global marketing agency noted a growing number of millennials, especially millennial families, planned to use travel agents for trip planning during 2018 and 2019.
Cece Drummond, the managing director of destinations and experiences of Virtuoso, a global travel adviser network, noted that VIP treatment, better value and free benefits are some perks of using travel agencies.
“They can easily be frustration because there’s too much information available,” she said. “Our advisers can help sort and sift through that.”
Dhaka, July 12 (UNB) - When Lisette Sand-Freedman, 42, took a four-day family trip to the Dominican Republic in February, she chose her out-of-office email message carefully. “In case of emergency, please call 911” was what rolled into the inboxes of chief marketing officers, publicists and celebrities who were trying to reach Sand-Freedman, chief executive of Shadow, a marketing and communications agency with offices in New York and Los Angeles. Her goal had been to offer a moment of levity and remind her contacts to pause and rethink their definitions of urgency, reports The Indian Express.
The short note triggered responses like, “You go girl!”, “It’s about time” and “This made my day.” (Because Sand-Freedman is always on call — she said she receives “hundreds” of emails daily — her staff even posted the out-of-office message on their Instagram accounts.)
But not everyone feels so bold and free. The flexibility of email personalisation is dictated by one’s career, institution and job title.
“It depends on the company, the culture and who their customers are,” said Vivian Garcia-Tunon, owner of VGT Consulting Group, an executive coaching business in midtown Manhattan. Garcia-Tunon has worked as a human resources leader in financial services, private equity and investment banking, and noted that the communication differences at creative and conservative businesses are vast. Her client Brunch, a web design and development studio in Washington, D.C., can be sassier than banks she works with, such as Capital One. “They can’t be too edgy because that’s when people get scared,” she said.
It’s important for individuals to remember their audiences and what the implications are, Garcia-Tunon said: “If they’re trying to be a smartass, they need to make sure they’re comfortable in the risky approach and the consequences of their messages.” To avoid drama, she advises asking the office what it considers appropriate.
Or employees can simply follow the leader. Erich De Oliveira, 41, of Marlborough, Massachusetts, first encountered custom vacation memos 2 1/2 years ago when he began working for Simply Business, an online business insurance brokerage in Boston.
“Some of the out-of-office messages were really around ‘Hey, I’m going to be at the beach with my family and my children, so unless you’ve got something more important than that, I’m probably not going to be available for you,’” said De Oliveira, recalling a C-suite executive’s out-of-office email. “It highlights the value of what’s important to each person. For that person, it just happened to be their family.”
Since then, De Oliveira, a chief customer officer, has crafted original, quirky greetings to indicate he is not available. Within days of this year’s “Game of Thrones” season premiere, his contacts received a timely notification:
“Thanks for your email but I’m out of office. My family is headed up north with a supply of dragonglass for our friend, Jon Snow. If we have time, we’ll likely go beyond the wall, but not sure yet. So while we go and do that, I will not have my phone or computer with me (terrible reception beyond the wall anyway).”
Regardless of attitude and approach, many businesses develop templates to keep the tone consistent among automated emails. Organisations can hire consultants to construct these, too. “We’ll create canned responses for everything, and then the team members can pull what’s appropriate. It’s the company’s fingerprint or the leaders’ fingerprint,” said Susie Carder, a profit and business coach in San Diego whose clients include doctors, attorneys, salons and advertising companies. “What they’re saying in their communication affects their brand in a positive or negative way.”
Sand-Freedman knows this all too well, and she dialled it down a bit from her emergency message for a trip with her girlfriends to Miami this past April.
“Spring Break. Until Monday, April 8th. In case of emergency, please call one of the 50 other SHADOWS that work here,” read her out-of-office message, neatly conjuring an image of attentive colleagues. “Every form of communication should truly serve a purpose,” Sand-Freedman said.
Albania, July 12 (AP/UNB) — A joint Albanian-American underwater archaeology project says it has found amphoras that are at least 2,500 years old in the Ionian Sea off the Albanian coast, which might yield an ancient shipwreck.
The research vessel Hercules of the RPM Nautical Foundation said Friday they had found 22 amphoras — a two-handled jar with a narrow neck used for wine or oil — 40-60 meters (yards) deep scattered around the seabed close to a rocky shores near the Karaburun peninsula.
Archaeologist Mateusz Polakowski said they believe the Corinthian A type amphoras date to between the 7th and the 5th century B.C.
"If the remains of a wreck can be found, it will put this discovery as the earliest ship ever to be sailing along the Albanian coast," said Polakowski.
RPM chairman James Goold considered the site as "one of the most important of all of our discoveries ... (and) it will be very important from a historical and archaeological perspective" if confirmed.
Further investigation of the site will be necessary.
Albanian archaeologist Neritan Ceka said similar wine amphoras of Corinthian and Kerkira origin have been found in Durres and Apolonia and other inland areas in Albania, something which indicates the intensive trade during the second half of the 7th century B.C. along the Albanian coast.
Since 2004, RPM has mapped Albania's offshore seabed for ancient and modern shipwrecks, with ongoing plans to open an underwater museum in western Albania.
"It certainly would be a great starting point for a national program around which to establish a museum and show the pivotal role of Albania in antiquity," said Goold.
Ceka said Albanian authorities are planning a new four-to-five-year project with RPM and the Texas-based not-for-profit Institute of Nautical Archaeology, to explore the possibilities of excavating shipwrecks, a financially expensive and scientifically delicate process.
The research in Albania has so far uncovered 28 wreck sites as well as several amphora mounds and additional finds all the way from southernmost Sarande and Butrint to Durres and it is planning to go north of Durres afterward.
RPM's presence in the last 12 years has been a "huge step" to Albania's science of underwater archaeology, according to Auron Tare, UNESCO head of the Scientific and Technical Committee for World Underwater Heritage.
"If confirmed this ship wreck can be associated with the foundation of two major cities in Albanian coastline, Dyrrachium (modern Durres) and Apolonia, both the gates of Via Egnatia, the ancient road to the eastern trade," said Tare.
"We have discovered not only ancient shipwrecks but also a good number of WWI and WWII shipwrecks shedding light to an unknown chapter of our history," said Tare.
Albania is trying to protect and capitalize on its rich underwater heritage, with scant funding for its preservation from the government one of Europe's poorest nations.