This week’s spots of cheer.

‘We are harmless and nice’: The Miss Africa Bangalore pageant breaks racist stereotypes

Photo credit: Facebook/TeamOneAfrica

Though none of the pageant participants interviewed by said they had personally faced a racist attack in Bengaluru or felt unsafe, all expressed sadness and frustration over the instances of Africans being targeted in India. Both Ano and Thetkoech often see female friends receive unwanted attention from men, mostly through social media. Ano said African women are sometimes stereotyped as prostitutes. She sees the pageant as a way to highlight the value of the African woman.

“They will show that the African woman is intellectual, smart,” she added. “It’s a challenging experience. It makes you face your fears.”

Watch: This man teaches birds to take safe routes by flying alongside them in his plane


For the last 27 years Christian Moullec has been training geese and other birds to take safe routes, away from hunters. He does this by flying his microlite aircraft on those routes and inducing the birds to fly alongside.

On his first flight from Sweden to Germany, Moullec was followed by 30 geese. Now his dream is to fly with 500 birds.

No lights, no sound systems: A unique theatre festival in Assam blends ecology and community life

What makes Under the Sal Tree unusual are its eco-friendly venue and aspirations – as the name implies, the festival’s main stage, which is made of mud, is located literally under a thick canopy of Sal trees in a reserve forest. The festival also follows a strict no-technology policy – there are no artificial lights or sound amplification systems. The actors are, therefore, required to modulate their voices in order to be audible to the audience, which reciprocates by offering its complete attention in absolute silence.

Fighting all odds and jeers, a 21-year-old woman is reviving nearly-extinct Manipuri folk songs

Photo credit: Kavi Bhansali

The petite Mangka is mild-mannered but a rebel of sorts. The unassuming young woman has broken many taboos associated with Manipuri traditions. To begin with, women were not encouraged to perform Moirang Sai, an almost extinct art form that Mangka has become a almost a custodian of. Nor were they allowed to touch a pena, a fiddle-like folk instrument that she now plays with authority.

Because of Mangka Mayanglambam’s commitment to Moirang Sai, it is now drawing both an audience and aspirants – nearly 200 young students, who call her oza (respected teacher) throng to the school that her father runs in Imphal to learn the art form.

Photos: How tigers adapted to thrive in dissimilar corners of the world

Photo credit: Julie Larsen Maher

These remarkable cats have adapted to thrive equally well in these dissimilar corners of the world. In Southeast Asia, for example, the complex coat pattern helps Malayan tigers blend in with the dense lattices of tropical vegetation as they stalk their prey. And in northeast Asia, to protect against the cold, Amur (or Siberian) tigers grow noticeably thicker coats than their southeast Asian counterparts.

The Amurs also have “thicker skin”: these cats are tough. Here, winter conditions drive the other mega carnivore of the region – the brown bear – to hibernate, while tigers push through chest-deep snow to search for prey in temperatures that reach the minus forties.

Bollywood in 2017: What the success of ‘Badrinath Ki Dulhania’ tells us about the year’s soundtracks


To examine the current state of Hindi film music, we thought we’d use a case study, the biggest soundtrack of the year Badrinath Ki Dulhania.

We’re calling it the biggest on a number of factors. It’s the oldest 2017 release – it came out in February – that’s still on the iTunes chart, and sits at number five on the music e-tailer’s list of the most popular albums of the year, making it the highest-ranking soundtrack of the past 12 months (2016’s Ae Dil Hai Mushkil is number one). The title track, with over 320 million views, is the third most viewed Bollywood music video on YouTube of all time. The standout tune, ballad Humsafar, with over 69,000 searches, is the most Shazam-ed Hindi film song of the year. The film too was a box-office smash.