Last year, I got married with great pomp and ceremony. It was a magnificent and traditional Indian affair, our magnum opus that lasted all of six days. As a bride, I remember feeling special, emotional, ecstatic, overwhelmed, anxious, in-control and clueless all at once. Soon after, many of my friends and cousins got married, and I ended up attending almost ten Indian weddings over a one-year timespan. One particular group of wedding-goers at each of these weddings caught my eye: the non-Indian wedding-goers, the foreigners. Often a 1% minority in an alien setting with people they don’t know, music they don’t understand or food they’re not sure they can digest.
So this is for you if you’re new to Indian weddings. You’ve been handed the cream-and-red envelope, with a direct invitation from the Elephant God. You’re excited and keen to attend, but also terrified; there are just so many questions! What’s it going to be like, will I get diarrhoea, what am I expected to wear, where do I book a room…don’t worry. Consider this an Indian Weddings for Dummies, or an attempt thereof. Of course, every Indian wedding is different, with personal and cultural nuances. But this is a broad model that generally applies.
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Saloni Khanna is a fashion model who has walked the ramp for some of India’s leading fashion designers, including Manish Malhotra, Ritu Kumar and JJ Valaya. She has also shot for multiple print ads and music videos. But here’s an interesting fact – one year ago, none of this existed. As of February 2016, Saloni was an Assistant Systems Manager at Tata Consultancy Services (TCS). How did she switch to something so counter-intuitive? And successfully so? How does it feel walking the ramp in those gorgeous designer outfits? And do you really have to eat half a peach for lunch?
Let’s find out.
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The Joint Entrance Examination (JEE) is the sole entry point into India’s best engineering colleges – the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs). Students have to battle it out to solve the most challenging questions from Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics. With an acceptance rate of 1.5%, it is notoriously known as one of the toughest examinations in the world. Aspiring students sign up at coaching academies for two, sometimes four years. Even coaching institutes have selection screening tests to tutor only the best students. With a large population and much talent, it can get extremely competitive. Ambarish Srivastava is the Dean of Physics and Centre Head at FIITJEE Faridabad, one of the most coveted coaching institutes in India. He’s also an alumnus of the prestigious IIT Delhi.
I was his student once, and am fortunate to be interviewing him today. Let’s ask him what it takes to crack the test, his thoughts on the disturbingly high student suicide rates it is known to cause, and more.
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Renting caravans for road trips is popular in countries with scenic locations, like Australia, New Zealand or the USA. Unfortunately, the culture never really took off in India; a country known for its breathtaking sights and delectable flavours. For travel and adventure enthusiasts Neha and Rahul Soman, this was a problem worth solving. And that is how Wacation On Wheels was born.
In conversation with Neha Soman.
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