This week’s spots of cheer.

Serving up a message: Artists from Israel and India bring women’s stories and struggles to the table

“We come from very different cultures, yet in both countries women face similar issues, like domestic violence, lesser wages, glass ceilings,” said Siegal, who met Lal, vice-chairman of Chandigarh’s Lalit Kala Akademi, at an international art residency in Macedonia in 2016. “We decided to bring simple women from different parts of society to our table. A table is where the family sits together, where you eat and talk and laugh, but also where there are negotiations. It is traditionally a woman’s sphere. Yet here, the woman is the initiator, the leader, the protagonist.”

Fascinated by Kolkata and Bengali food, a British journalist wrote an ode to them in a cookbook

But the book isn’t just a collection of recipes or how-tos – it comes alive with the anecdotes Kochan fills her opening essay with. She talks of her time in Kolkata and at Future Hope – the people she has met, school picnics, visits to the city’s clubs, the quirks of the city’s food scene and the kitchen at the organisation. She punctuates recipes with tidbits such as one about the much-loved houseparent Basudev and his exploits growing oyster mushrooms at the Boys’ Home in Ballygunge.

Watch: Talk show host Chelsea Handler attends an Indian wedding, and asks all the right questions


The video above is a startling combination of familiar sights, baffling (or honest) claims that no one in India has sex – before or after marriage – and a host who is convinced she has been slipped some narcotics and is hallucinating.

Handler, dressed suitably, asks all the right – if a trifle naive – questions, and is surprised by some of the answers. So are we.

Know your legend: Sanjay Chakravarty, the man who has given India some of its finest shooting stars

In a coaching career that has spanned over 40 years, Chakravarty has molded careers of many such youngsters and made them into champion shooters.

Anjali Bhagwat, Deepali Deshpande, Anuja Tere (now Jung) and then Suma Shirur and London Olympics bronze medallist Gagan Narang are just a few who have trained under Chakravarty.

He doesn’t quite remember the number of players he has worked with in these years. “I never had an academy set up, it was not easy to keep a tab on the number of shooters who trained under me,” he reasons.

Instead of noble heroes, a dance piece tells the stories of Ramayana’s most conflicted characters

Ahsura, A Ramayana Triptych, performed at the recent Margazhi season in Chennai, was an attempt to look at epic figures who were flawed, conflicted and enigmatic. Ahalya, Shurpanakha and Ravana – whose names made for the title’s acronym – are almost never seen in classical dances, except in passing and as a means to extol the virtues of the gods and demi-gods. The exception to this are Kathakali and Koodiyattam, Kerala’s Sanskrit theatre, in which anti-heroes have meaty roles.

Watch: Mick Jagger took an auto-rickshaw ride in Rajasthan and lived to post the video

Though it was not the rock star’s first visit to India or Rajasthan or even Jodhpur, this time Sir Mick decided to spice things up through social media.

Much to the chagrins of his fans, though, Jagger has not clarified why he is – or was – in India, or for how long. However, his Instagram and Twitter posts convey that he is having a great time exploring India, riding “tuk-tuks” (auto-rickshaws), among other things, to get some satisfaction.

Orchids: India is falling under the spell of the flowers that once inspired Nabokov and Cartier

Small farmers, half of whom are women, are earning well through the growth of ornamental orchids for the Indian floriculture market. However, a lot needs to be done in the post-harvest chain for marketing, especially for exports. Work also needs to be stepped up in the area of propagation, as North Eastern orchids, especially in the Khasi hills, have been ruthlessly exploited in the wild. Nepalese forests have been similarly stripped. Though botanists and scientists have made efforts to speed up propagation, especially in-vitro, in the last decade, what is required in commercial cultivation of orchids are refrigerated transportation, better packaging and airlifting.

Ronaldinho was the greatest salesman of ‘Joga Bonito’ that we’re ever likely to see

Barcelona team-mate Eidur Gudjohnsen had once stated that Ronaldinho was so good with the ball that the Brazilian could make it do absolutely anything, perhaps even make it ‘talk’.

The joke was so obviously on Madrid but Ronaldinho took the applause wherever he went, such was his effect on opposition fans and players. It was impossible to hate him, as it was not to admire him.

Watch: This schoolboy from Saharanpur solves complex arithmetic problems in his head


Meet Chirag, the class eight student from Saharanpur, Uttar Pradesh, who has a unique grip on numbers. He can recite the multiplication table for any number, all the way up to 20 crore.

As the video above reveals, Chirag, egged on by one of his teachers at school, can now solve complex arithmetical problems without the help of a calculator or even a piece of paper.

Caught on camera: Beautiful sighting of a mother snow leopard helping her three cubs cross a river

The snow leopard has always been a mysterious creature, shy and rarely seen. Labelled an endangered species, it saw its numbers declining over the years. But now, with the efforts made by a number of conservation organisations, the dwindling has been arrested.

A video, from China, of a mother helping her cubs across a mountain river is a sweet reminder of just how majestic – and how caring – the snow leopard is. Of course, motherly instincts are not unique to the species, but even so, it is a beautiful, heartwarming sight.

United front: North and South Korea agree on combined women’s hockey team for Winter Olympics

The two Koreas on Wednesday agreed to form a united women’s hockey team for next month’s Winter Olympics in the South, the latest in a flurry of cross-border talks.

Following a working-level meeting held at the truce village of Panmunjom, the two sides also announced that their athletes would make a joint entrance carrying a pro-unification flag, according to Yonhap news agency.

Watch: This woman has taken the most beautiful photographs of women around the world for her book

From deep within the jungles of the Amazon, and the high peaks of Mongolia to the dusty deserts of Rajasthan, Romanian photographer Mihaela Noroc travelled around the world with one objective in mind, to take pictures of women’s faces.

In her book titled The Atlas of Beauty, Noroc showcases some of her spectacular work. How did she get all these extraordinary portraits? One secret, Noroc explains in the video above, is to blend with the way of living wherever she goes, and try not to change things.

Living the dream: A new generation of Central American filmmakers are lighting up the screen

A distinctive film industry is emerging in each Central American country based on their previous success. For instance, Nicaragua has not produced a fiction film since 2014 with La Pantalla Desnuda, or The Naked Screen. Instead, the local producers have focused on documentaries that have been well received at international film festivals in Costa Rica and Cuba. Two documentaries by local producers opened in December: Las Mujeres de Wangki, or Wangki’s Women, by Rossana Lacayo, and Heredera del Viento, or Wind’s Heir, by Gloria Carrión.

Watch: This 3D visualisation is a mesmerising and hypnotic journey through the Orion nebula


Visible even to the naked eye, the nebula – the nearest spot in space to Earth where large stars are formed – is one of the most photographed celestial formations. But what is unique about this three-dimensional visualisation is that it combines images captured with infrared light, laser technology, and visual techniques.

The video offers a flight through sparkling stardust and multi-coloured clouds to the notes of Dvorak’s Serenade for Strings in E Major playing in the background.

Finally, a publisher took storytelling and author readings beyond litfests and big cities

In Tura, located in the Garo Hills of Meghalaya, The 100 Story House, a rustic children’s library, is one of the few spaces in town where books are accessible to young readers. Here, groups of children often gather on weekends to read and bond over art and craft workshops. “Books can provide much needed peace amidst political disturbance, which our region is known for,” said Jemimah Marak, who runs The 100 Story House.

A diplomat is taking Indian poetry to the world through translations of a hundred ‘great poems’

I think these poems, which I call the great Indian poems, would appeal to anyone interested in India. To make these poems widely available, I am working on their translations into several languages. So far, 100 Great Indian Poems has been translated into Irish and Portuguese. The German, Greek, and Spanish translations are in progress. So it turns out that I am taking Indian poetry to the world after bringing poems from across the world to India.