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Naughtie McCourtie Series: Handling the Indian heat

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By Rebecca McCourtie

India 2

Give it to me Indian style. I can handle the heat!

OK… I know what you’re thinking, calm down… it’s not anything like THAT… keep on reading…

Don’t insult me Rumna… I know what you’ve done! You’ve gone and made my dinner ‘white-girl-style.’ I told you that I can handle it! I’ve been working here for over a year now. You know I’m good for it! The biryani last week was just a once off… too many spices maybe. I can handle heat. This vindaloo is not hot! Give it to me like I’m an Indian!

That was when I was 19-years-old and working at the local Indian restaurant in-between university classes. I don’t know if it was then or whether it was inadvertently before this time when I developed an intrigue for everything that is ‘Indian.’

I remember being 18 and on my GAP year in Cambridge when I almost fell into a ditch after spotting the most magnificent earrings in a shop window. They were a bright emerald green, had gold trimming and elaborate filigree detailing. Each earring was shaped like a rotund crescent moon with little white pearls dangling off the edge like stars. I was in love! I wanted them so badly, but alas the minimal pocket money I was afforded by my volunteer institution was not going to cover their exuberant cost.

I would walk past this shop window every day for the remainder of my stay in Cambridge, wishfully gazing through the glass that separated me from the objects of my desire. It wasn’t until my 12 months volunteering was up, that my ‘employer’ gifted me the earrings as a farewell. I couldn’t believe my luck!

I banged around in these earrings for years and years, lapping up every compliment pertaining to their beauty. I wore them to the point that they literally dropped off my ears. I still have the broken pieces in my jewelry box. I had no idea at the time that they were actually Indian. It wasn’t until ten years later when I found myself in a jewelry store in Kochi, peering through a glass display case, that a salesman informed me that the style was typical in the region. You see, I loved India before I even knew I loved India, if you know what I mean?

I think I actually realised that I loved India when I got off the plane and out of Cochin International Airport. I became ‘one’ with the largest crowd I had ever seen outside of an organized event. For me it was the first time in my whole entire life that I was a racial minority and it fascinated me to be ‘different.’ The sights, the sounds, the movement of hundreds of bodies all going everywhere and nowhere all at once. It was a culture shock for a young woman from the northern suburbs of Canberra, Australia. There was just something about the chaos that I fell in love with… it was magical.

India 3

My love was confirmed while working at a school in Fort Kochi. I have one memory that has stuck with me in particular. I can remember it with precision and defined accuracy. It had been sport carnival day. Having learned the hard way that excitable children will bowl you over in any rush of enthusiasm, I stood at the base of the school stairwell and pressed my body against the wall. I braced myself for the swarm of children that would emerge from their overcrowded classrooms as the bell rang. DING DINGDING. I could hear the floors above me rumble with movement. Turning my head, the vision was surreal. A swarm of BRIGHTLY coloured T-shirts covering every colour of the rainbow loudly rattled down the stairs. It was like the Gods had opened a giant packet of Skittles and poured them down the staircase. Noise, colour, vibrancy… laughter… happiness… This was the reason why I fell in love with INDIA!

So who am I? Well, I am Australian, I am 29 and I am travelling the globe with the hope of ending up in India. I want to talk to you about this, that and the next thing… nothing is off limits!

I am Naughtie McCoutie and it is a pleasure to meet your acquaintance.

Naughtie McCourtie

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Australia Proposes To Strengthen Regulations of Facebook, Google

Facebook has 17 million monthly users in Australia -- 68 per cent of its population -- while Instagram, second most popular site in terms of users - which is owned by Facebook, has 11 million users

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400 mn using Facebook Watch, now available on desktop. Pixabay

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) on Monday proposed measures to counter the dominant market positions of Google and Facebook and strengthen monitoring on their access to information, advertising and consumers personal data.

The regulatory body, which recommended 11 preliminary measures in the report, was directed to conduct a public inquiry into the impact of digital search engines, social media platforms and other digital content in 2017 by then treasurer and current Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

“Acting as an intermediary between consumers and news outlets, platforms are inherently influential in shaping consumers’ choices of digital journalism,” said the report cited by Efe news.

This influential position and filtration of news items could place the consumer in a so-called filter bubble, increasing the risk of consumers being exposed to unreliable news, according to the report.

“The algorithms operated by each of Google and Facebook, as well as other policies, determine which content is surfaced and displayed to consumers in news feed and search results,” it said.

“The ACCC considers that the strong market position of digital platforms like Google and Facebook justifies a greater level of regulatory oversight,” Chair Rod Sims said.

Facebook
Facebook, social media. Pixabay

The commission called for the creation of a regulatory authority with powers to monitor these digital platforms and recommended establishing an automatic mechanism to take down content that violates copyright.

The ACCC said consumers should be informed about the manner in which these platforms collect and use their data to create personalized advertising.

This would include a reform of privacy laws to require the user’s express consent to data collection and “enable consumers to require erasure of their personal information where they have withdrawn their consent”.

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ACCC said that it found that “competition may have been distorted in multiple sectors where consumer data is used”.

Facebook has 17 million monthly users in Australia — 68 per cent of its population — while Instagram, second most popular site in terms of users – which is owned by Facebook, has 11 million users.

In 2017, Google registered 90 per cent of search traffic originating from Australian desktops and 98 per cent from mobile phones. (IANS)