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After India's largest slum defeated the pandemic, some of its young residents pulled out their phones to write, shoot and release a triumphant rap video.
"At first we were afraid, what would happen to us? But we stood with the doctors... now it's your turn," rapped the young men in the video.
We Did It -- Kar Dikhaya in Hindi -- showcased new talent and won acclaim from celebrities, but its creators' abiding goal was to fight the stigma dogging this densely populated corner of Mumbai.
The Dharavi slum is home to around 1 million people, many of whom live in single-room shanties and share communal toilets.
Its labyrinthine alleys have long been associated with filth and disease despite its remarkable success in the battle against COVID-19, and its residents battle constant discrimination.
But Ayush Tegar Renuka, one of the star students of the Dharavi Dream Project hip-hop academy, told AFP he feels "so proud" of belonging to the community.
"The Dharavi shown on TV channels and the real Dharavi are very different places," the 16-year-old said.
Ayush began breakdancing three years ago, brushing off his widowed mother's pleas to give up a pursuit she feared would result in a trip to the hospital.
She was not alone. Many parents were initially reluctant to enroll their children in the school's free classes, dismissing hip-hop as dangerous, a distraction from homework or simply a waste of time.
The Dharavi Dream Project's co-founder Dolly Rateshwar was determined to change their minds.
The daughter of a Hindu priest, Rateshwar was nervous about venturing into the neighborhood, but the teenagers she met struck a chord with her.
"I was raised in a very conservative family... I never knew there was a bigger world out there," the 38-year-old told AFP.
"And I was worried that these kids might lose out on life because they didn't know the possibilities open to them."
'My confidence level was zero'
The school opened its doors in 2015, offering free classes in breakdancing, beatboxing and rapping to around 20 students, with digital media start-up Qyuki -- Rateshwar's employer -- and US entertainment titan Universal Music Group footing the bill.
As the project won praise from musical icons such as Oscar-winning composer A.R. Rahman it rapidly expanded, with young students like Joshua Joseph -- now better known as MC Josh -- using hip-hop to tell their stories.
If black rappers in the United States could shine a light on racism, he reasoned, hip-hop could do the same for India's glaring inequality and mistreatment of marginalized communities.
"My confidence level was zero before I started to rap," the 21-year-old told AFP. "The school changed my life."
When COVID-19 arrived, the rapper's income collapsed overnight as Dharavi was put under a stringent monthslong lockdown.
Mumbai authorities quickly realized that the slum held the key to defeating the pandemic and launched "Mission Dharavi" -- aggressively sanitizing communal toilets, running daily "fever camps" to check for symptoms, repurposing wedding halls as quarantine facilities, and asking residents to stay home.
By the end of June 2020, Dharavi had recorded just 82 deaths -- a fraction of Mumbai's over 4,500 fatalities.
Like the slum, the school staff also refused to be cowed by the virus, switching to online classes soon after the first wave of infections hit last year.
As the pandemic ground on, Rateshwar realized that the academy could expand its reach even further, and broadcast an invitation on Instagram for anyone, anywhere, to join their classes.
They received 800 responses in the first 24 hours.
A year on, the school hosts 100 students who attend every online session -- half from Dharavi itself -- and 300 others who pop in occasionally, including from overseas.
'Everyone wants to become a superstar'
But Rateshwar's focus remains firmly on students from the Mumbai slum, on making sure their voices are heard and their future prospects secured.
"Obviously everyone wants to become a superstar but ... I also try to tell them about alternative careers in the music industry, as artists' managers, or jobs in social media," she said. "Most of all, I want them to stand tall."
For 21-year-old teacher Vikram Gaja Godakiya, who learned breakdancing from YouTube videos, the school means much more than a steady paycheck.
"People have always been unfair to Dharavi," he told AFP, describing how the pandemic had made employers increasingly reluctant to hire slum-dwellers.
When Godakiya started breakdancing in secret nine years ago, he never imagined he would be able to do it for a living.(VOA/HP)
By Monika Manchanda
Eating fruits is one of the most satisfying ways to tackle sweet-tooth cravings while meeting your nutritional needs. Despite many studies and research on fruit consumption in diabetes, there are a lot of speculations on the right kind of fruit consumption and its relation to blood sugar levels.
Eating seasonal and locally available fruit has many health benefits ranging from reducing sugar and inflammation levels to fighting high blood pressure -- thanks to their abundant vitamins and mineral presence! They are a powerhouse of antioxidants like vitamins A, B, C, E, and minerals like iron, calcium, magnesium, and fiber.
The fruits listed below are not just diabetic-friendly but are loaded with fiber and water content which can slow down the sugar spikes and sugar absorption rate. Apples are not just nutritious and filling; According to a study, they are significantly associated with a lower risk of type 2 diabetes if consumed in moderation. Turns out there is a truth in the old saying, "An apple a day keeps the doctor away", after all!
Apples are not just nutritious and filling; According to a study, they are significantly associated with a lower risk of type 2 diabetes if consumed in moderation. | Photo by Pierpaolo Riondato on Unsplash
Avocados are a great source of healthy fats and more than 20 vitamins and minerals. They are high in fibers as well, and have been linked with lowering the risk of diabetes. Berries: Adding berries is one of the best ways to add a variety to your diabetes-friendly diet. You can choose from blackberries, blueberries, or strawberries because all of them are power-packed with antioxidants, vitamins, and fibers. Papaya is rich in natural oxidants, which makes it a perfect pick for people with diabetes. It reduces the chances of future cell damage.
Star fruit: This sweet and sour fruit is rich in dietary fiber and vitamin C. It also positively impacts anti-inflammatory processes and can help repair cell damage, and it has minimal fruit sugars as well. Kiwi fruit is an excellent source of Vitamin E, K, and potassium, and they are low in fruit sugars as well, which makes it a perfect diabetic-friendly fruit.
Avocados are a great source of healthy fats and more than 20 vitamins and minerals. | Photo by Kristine Wook on Unsplash
Melons (Musk melon and watermelon): Powerful hydrating fruits like cantaloupe and melons are recommended for people with diabetes, and people with the risk of developing diabetes. Eat-in moderation for multiple nutritional benefits like fiber, potassium, magnesium, vitamin B, and C. Dragon fruit is full of dietary fibers, vital vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
Pear are nutrient-rich, and they are known to fight inflammation and improve digestion.? Studies also suggest that consuming pears along with a healthy diet reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes. Orange: This citrus fruit is full of fiber that helps slow down sugar absorption into the bloodstream, and its vitamin C component helps improve immunity levels.
Add fruit to your salads to enjoy their goodness with a sprinkle of cinnamon, it tastes better and reduces sugar spikes . | Photo by Jo Sonn on Unsplash
Add fruit to your salads to enjoy their goodness with a sprinkle of cinnamon, it tastes better and reduces sugar spikes . Add nuts like walnuts and almonds to complement your fruit snack. you can also add flaxseeds to balance the glycemic load in the body. (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: Diabetics, Apples, Star fruit, Pear, Melons, Kiwi fruit
By Nimerta C Sharan
Your monthly round up of the latest lifestyle launches, from luxury indulgences to artisanal creations, here's what you can look forward to :
Exciting news for all handbag lovers, luxury fashion house Louis Vuitton recently launched their limited edition handbags 'Artycapucines - Chapter 3'. Six internationally -- acclaimed artists have transformed the black canvas of the timeless Capucines bag into beautiful art pieces. Each bag will be available in a limited edition of 200 and will be released worldwide at the end of October 2021.
Exciting news for all handbag lovers, luxury fashion house Louis Vuitton recently launched their limited edition handbags. | Photo by Erik Mclean on Unsplash
Add To Cart
Looking for a quick festive fashion fix for you and your loved ones? E-commerce giant AJIO has announced it's hottest fashion sale starting September 30, 2021. The shopping platform has roped in stylista Sonam Kapoor as the face of the sale that will offer more than 2500 brands at discounted prices.
E-commerce giant AJIO has announced it's hottest fashion sale starting September 30, 2021. | Photo by Mitchell Luo on Unsplash
The country's leading design house, Good Earth, in collaboration with textile designer Madeline Weinrib will present its collection of 'butah' motif dinnerware and home textiles at the Metropolitan Museum of Arts, New York. The 'Heirloom Project' that honours diverse Islamic design techniques will display curated products from across the globe.
The 'Heirloom Project' that honours diverse Islamic design techniques will display curated products from across the globe. | Photo by Jean Vella on Unsplash
Sweet dreams are made of this! Iconic French patisserie Laduree has opened its first Indian outpost at Delhi's upscale Khan Market. Spread over three floors, the bakery currently has twelve macaron flavours, their signature pastries and tea cakes and other brunch and high-tea items on the menu. Bon appetit.
Iconic French patisserie Laduree has opened its first Indian outpost at Delhi's upscale Khan Market. | Pixabay
Bright And Beautiful
Raw Mango's latest festive edit 'Moomal' goes live on their website on September 26, 2021. Inspired by the richness and diversity of Rajasthan, the collection consists of organza and silk saris and shararas, gota lehengas and kurtas and embroidered odhnis. The colours and silhouettes are just right for the upcoming festive season. (IANS/ MBI)
Raw Mango's latest festive edit 'Moomal' goes live on their website on September 26, 2021. | Photo by Souravi Sinha on Unsplash
Keywords: Lifestle, AJIO, sale, Deepika PAdukone, saris, Motifs, artisan, art
Actress Kangana Ranaut has talked about how her weight adjustments for her latest 'Thalaivii' that "messed up many things" in her body and left her with "permanent stretch marks". For her role in the film, based on the life of late Tamil Nadu Chief Minister and former actress J. Jayalalithaa, Kangana had to gain 20kg and undergo major physical transformation several times.
She took to Instagram to share her experience, detailing that doing all that over the six months period left her with "permanent stretch marks". "Gaining 20 kgs in 6 months and loosing it all within 6 months that too in my thirties messed up many things in my bodya I also have permanent stretch marks as well but art comes to life with a price and more often than not price is the artist him/herself," she wrote.
"Thalaivii" showcases the varied aspects of Jayalalithaa's life, tracing her journey as an actress at a young age to becoming the face of Tamil cinema, as well as the rise of the revolutionary leader who changed the course of the state's politics. Talking about her upcoming works, Kangana currently has 'Dhaakad'.
She is also shooting for her next 'Tejas', where she plays a fighter pilot. The Indian Air Force was the first of the country's defence forces to induct women into combat roles in 2016. The film takes inspiration from the landmark event. 'Tejas' is directed by debutant Sarvesh Mewara. The film will be RSVP's second film which pays a tribute to the Indian military after the immensely successful film "Uri: The Surgical Strike" which was released in January 2019. (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: Kangana Ranaut, Thalaivii, bollywood, stretc marks, actress, tamil cinema