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4 mistakes of a business traveller

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Travelling with a work colleague? Lisa Holland warns of these common mistakes to avoid.

Business trips excite almost every young professional who has just started the job and is profoundly dedicated in making a successful career out of it.

Official tours may be for trainings or meetings, may it be a sole trip or with a partner who can be a colleague or supervisor. In either case there are certain protocols that one must bear in mind.

The simple little happy posts on Facebook and pictures of waving at the international airport of the destination can at times be at the cost of personal image, professionalism and wrong messages sent across.

When there are many other colleagues who could have been selected, being the lucky one can have many envious people behind ready to contribute to the grapevine and shoot!

Here’s how to be at one’s best behavior and be professional to make the business trip a success and climb the corporate ladder.

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1. Avoid too much personal information

Some pep talk is always good when it comes to a travel partner on a business trip. It acts as a networking tool and builds a comfort zone which aids in performing better at work. However, keep in mind that this discussion should stick to general and lightweight topics such as education, work history, interests and hobbies.

Stepping ahead and spilling too much personal information is a hazard of jeopardizing personal image in front of the colleague and most probably everyone finding it out once back at work.

2. Don’t get in the holiday mode

When leaving the workplace, be sure that all relevant documents and supporting files have been taken along. Despite of the fact that the colleague must be carrying the same information, it is one’s responsibility to be fully prepared and make the organization’s investment in  the trip worth it.

Carrying copies of the same important file is also important. Re-check, as getting there and then finding out that a page or some information is missing can be embarrassing and also show careless attitude which is a big negative.

Once at the destination, do not get the adrenaline rushing, avoid tossing around stuff in the room. Be as organized as possible.

3. It’s not a food tasting holiday

Some lucky employees have easy-going bosses or managers accompanying who do not mind fun. Even if the boss is the happy-go-lucky kind, refrain from feeling too easy. Maintain professional behavior.

When ordering food beware that the new place might be cooking stuff that can prove to be allergic and harmful. Unnecessary bowel movements and sickness may hinder the productivity of the trip.  Avoid any food tasting and stick to safe foods that one knows the tummy would be friendly with – sandwiches, rolls, salads and steaks. These don’t get messy while eating too. Spurring on a noodle or spaghetti unconsciously is also a no-no.

4. Avoid casual dressing

Although the destination can be anywhere from the far east to north, maintain professional attire and wear semi-casual while traveling. Dropping in with a spaghetti strap for flight while others have coats on may simply turn to a nightmare.

Be wise, carry less and opt for coats, shirts and formal looking attire only.

As for the trip, times when two colleagues are away can be enticing to make either one or both vulnerable. To avoid falling into weak moments and risking personal reputation at work and worse, chances of promotion, maintain a distance and stay to oneself whenever business work is not being conducted.

Lisa Holland loves to share knowledge about travel. She refers for providing best services in Location de voiture Alicante

Featured Health Lifestyle News

NZ to celebrate Diwali with Yoga

yogathon, dr prasad

While Diwali usually provides an excuse to eat sugary sweets and fattening dishes, a community group in New Zealand is hopeful of using Diwali to get people more active.

An yoga competition will try to improve health at Dipawali celebrations in Rotorua.

On Saturday, 12 October, the Rotorua Convention Centre will witness the “healthy” festival organised by Maori Indian community.

yogathon, dr prasad

In association with Yogathon New Zealand, Rotorua Deepawali Festival committee will run a ‘Health for Humanity’ Yoga competition from 10.30 am to 11.30 am, just after the opening ceremony.

The free competition “aims to create awareness about Yoga,” says a festival organiser.

“Before the competition, all participants will be taught how to do ‘Surya Namaskar’ (Sun salutations), which are a series of Yoga postures.”

New Zealand cities will also witness ‘Health for Humanity’ yogathon programme from 12th to 26 October.

Deepawali, a well-known Hindu festival, is not only celebrated by people of India, but also by people of Nepal, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Indonesia, South Africa, Fiji and many other countries.

“In an increasingly multi-cultural New Zealand not only Hindus from all over the world, but all communities participate in events like Deepawali and share their cultures with each other.”

Hindu Council of New Zealand made Deepawali a public festival in Rotorua in 2008.

“In the first year, a message of healthy lifestyle and care for environment was promoted through smoke-free, alcohol-free and meat-free festival, which is also in accordance with Hindu cultural practice.

Diwali celebrations New Zealand

“In the following years, the themes were Hindu Maori relations, Developing Youth Leadership, Women Empowerment, and Unity in Diversity.”

For more information, please contact: Dr Guna Magesan JP, by emailing at the gmail address: rotorua.deepawali

Featured Health Lifestyle

7 Clever Tricks To Thicken Your Hair

Think women are the only ones with a few beauty tricks up their sleeve? Guess again!

If you’re searching for ways to make your thinning hair appear thicker, these clever tricks will help you achieve a full, lush look.

1. Wash that hair!

One glance at the hair-clogged drain following a shower can understandably scare many men away from frequent washing.

After all, it would appear that a wash makes the hair fall right out! However, the average person can lose up to 100 hairs a day, regardless of how frequently they wash their hair.

In fact, skipping a wash allows dirt and grease to build up, which makes hair lie flat and appear to be filled with gaps. Wash regularly to maintain a look of thickness.

2. Be gentle

Though washing your hair doesn’t make it fall out, being rough with it can send it flying.

Keep in mind that hair is three times weaker when it is wet, so vigorous towel-drying or combing can easily cause hair to snap and break.

Let your hair dry naturally, or gently pat it try, to avoid damaging your strands. It is essential to protect the hair you still have!

3. Ditch the comb

Many men with thinning hair obsess over their hairdos, leading them to constantly comb or brush their locks. Don’t do this!

Over-combing thin hair will suck the volume right out of it, making it appear flat and limp. Forget the comb and instead use your fingers to style your hair.

Not only will this be less likely to flatten your ‘do, it will add texture and volume, making hair appear thicker.

4. Use the proper products

In times of desperation, many men reach for gels, waxes, and other heavy-duty styling products in an attempt to achieve the illusion of thickness.

However, such products can seriously weigh hair down, in turn making it appear flat and thin.

Mousse is actually the most effective product, followed closely by root-boosting hair sprays. Choose these over thick pomades and gels.

5. Banish cigarettes

You already know that smoking is bad for your health; but did you know it’s bad for your hair too?

Smoking harms your hair with a one-two punch. First, it increases the levels of hormones that can cause hair loss.

Second, it constricts small blood vessels, thus depriving hair of the nutrients it needs to grow. As if you needed another reason to quit!

6. Don’t underestimate the importance of a good cut

Everyone laughs at Donald Trump and his hideous combover that is fooling exactly zero people.

Yet many men attempt to disguise their baldness by growing their hair extra long and getting tricky with fancy parts.

However, a shorter, classic crop is much more flattering, as it will divert attention from your hair loss and back to your face.

If you still have some hair to work with, ask your stylist about cutting techniques like “slicing” and “brick cutting,” which will give you a textured look and make your hair seem thicker.

7. Include soya in your diet

When your body digests soya, your intestines are prompted to create a molecule that could potentially stop balding. How?

It takes a hormone that promotes hair loss and stops it in its tracks.

Try incorporating some soya in your diet and monitor the results!

Gina Volpe is a writer living in New York City, where she is constantly devising tricks to appear more attractive. Gina gets a lot of her hair tips and tricks from NuHart Hair blog.

Featured Health Lifestyle News

How Age Affects The Safety Of Having Children

If you’re thinking of having your first child later in life, you’re not alone. Over 20 percent of women in the United States are waiting till their mid 30’s to have their first child.
This is an exciting decision and most women don’t consider aspects regarding fertility. Unfortunately though, deciding on conceiving later in life can bring on a few extra hurdles to overcome.

However, this does not mean that you will be unable to conceive or even conceive naturally.

How Age Affects Pregnancy

There are many reasons you may have heard as to why it is more difficult for women to conceive as they get older: fertility drops after the age of 35; the chances of a pregnancy resulting chromosomal abnormalities are slightly higher; as well as risks in miscarriages are slightly higher.

There is also another reason that may not be as well known: reasons concerning your follicle stimulating hormone (FSH). The follicles are stimulated to produce a mature egg, which in turn will be released during ovulation.

FSH levels increase as you get older, which actually sounds like a good thing. But FSH levels typically increase because the reserve of eggs a woman has is actually depleting. Thus, a high FSH level can actually decrease the likelihood of conceiving.

Using Assisted Reproductive Technology

Since in vitro fertilization (IVF) was introduced many decades ago, there has been an increase in the number of births via Assisted Reproductive Technology (also known as ART).

The reason for this increase is that this method is often prescribed as a first line of defense, resulting in ART methods becoming grossly overprescribed.

Dr. Sami David explains in his book, Making Babies: A Proven 3-Month Program for Maximum Fertility, Dr Sami David, that in his experience, more than half of women who receive IVF treatments could have successfully conceived with minimal intervention or even naturally.

It’s important to understand that if you’re at first having difficultly conceiving, immediately turning to IVF treatments could do more harm than good, as these treatments come with risks.

Risks with IVF treatment

One of the major risks is multiple births – IVF treatment will increase the chances of  having multiple births, including early labor, complications and lower birth rates than if you were pregnant with a singleton. Both the mother and baby could face both short- and longterm health issues. Other risks:

    • Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome – Using fertility drugs to induce ovulation can cause your ovaries to swell and become painful. This condition is known as ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome. Pregnancy may prolong the symptoms of this condition.
    • Birth Defects – As discussed previously, becoming pregnant after 35 years of age can increase the likelihood of a baby being born with chromosomal abnormalities. In addition, if you receive IVF treatments in this age range, can increase the risk of putting the woman into early menopause and even cancer.
    • Stress – The financial costs as well as the physical and emotional toll that IVF can have on the couple may cause chronic stress, making it harder to become pregnant even with the assistance of IVF.

Despite these risks, however, there is still hope. Dr. Sami David also explains that before committing to IVF treatments, natural remedies could be all that you need to conceive, no matter your age.

Simple changes like lowering bath temperature of the father-to-be by 4 degrees, cutting out alcohol, or even gaining a few pounds can all lead to a successful, natural pregnancy.

Featured image License: Creative Commons image source

Haley has been writing for more than five years in many industries. She has a varied background and enjoys sharing her knowledge with others.

Featured Immigration Work Abroad

Dos And Don’ts For A Successful Job Interview

Winning job interview

Being a graduate, I have spent countless hours in university careers events being given guidance on how to be the perfect interviewee. They tell you the obvious tips such as “always ask questions” but, from my first-hand experience I have decided to compile a few of my own hints, tips, dos and don’ts for having a successful interview.

I have just graduated with an honours degree in Spanish and History and have started working as an online marketing intern at The Workplace Depot. Yes, I know, Spanish and History doesn’t have a lot in common with online marketing, but this is my first tip which actually concerns the process before you get given an interview – applying for positions.


Winning job interview

It is always worth sending an application for a job that on first glance you don’t appear qualified for, but once you look at the job description you know that your skills and what you’ve learned through university or from previous work experience make you a perfect fit. You have to be in it to win it!

Let’s start with the positives, here are the dos:

1. It is important that you know why you want the job. To turn up to an interview when you aren’t convinced yourself will never win over a potential employer. Think about your future prospects with the company and how they fit in with your personal future plans. It’s not all about wanting a job for the pay, you have to want to do the job and gain something from it.

2. When promoting yourself in your interview try to include key words mentioned in the person specification and job description. Obviously, only use them if they flow naturally. Don’t try and force them in if they don’t make sense! By naturally slipping these terms and phrases into conversation it shows you might be just what the company is looking for.

3. Another important consideration is what to wear. It is important to make a good first impression, and what you look like is vital to this. You want to be able to walk into your interview and the interviewer see that you are the sort of person they want to have in their office. It goes without saying; you need to look smart and presentable.

From your shoes being clean to your shirt being ironed, it all makes a difference. Also, my advice is to look at the company website and try to figure out what the dress code might be. Are there pictures of employees on the website? Do you think you need to wear a suit or can you get away with more casual work wear?

Another tip of mine is: girls, do not wear high heels. There would be nothing worse than falling flat on your face in front of a potential boss. First impression can even come down to a good handshake, so practise this too.

4. My fourth tip might sound cliché, but it is key to a good interview. Be yourself. Portray some positive aspects of your personality through how you speak and your body language. Maybe mention some productive activities or hobbies you have outside of work that will make you memorable.

Whether it’s as the person who bakes cakes or the candidate who spoke French, it might not be relevant to the job but you will be remembered for those little things.

5. Finally, just relax. Going into a job interview is a nerve-wracking experience but you will come across so much better if you are calm and relaxed. Take your time to speak and remember that your interviewer is human; they understand that you might be nervous and need a couple of seconds to think of an answer or a response to a tricky question.

I don’t recommend “umming” and “arring” for minutes on end, but taking a deep breath and a couple of seconds to think before you open your mouth will work wonders and it will help you not to start babbling.

Now, the don’ts. These may seem obvious but you’ll be surprised at how many people make these common mistakes.

1. The first suggestion is something I fell victim to in one of my past interviews. Don’t arrive unprepared. Know some background about the company and what they do. I advise that you have a good look at the company website beforehand and make a mental note of key things the company does and stands for.

In my experience, I was asked who the main competitors for this brand were. I reeled off an answer, thinking off the top of my head and I was rather pleased with my quick thinking. However, when the interview was over I was slated by the interviewer for not doing my research and wasting her time.

It’s safe to say I have never made this mistake again and now I always have a thorough look through the web pages and social media of the business before an interview. It’s always better to be over-prepared than under-prepared.

2. The second point might sound foolish, but when in an interview, don’t pretend to have heard the question. If you didn’t quite catch what the interviewer has said or don’t understand the question fully, don’t be afraid to ask them to repeat the question. Like I said before, they are human, and it would come across so much worse if you start answering a different question!

3. Now I turn to the dreaded “what’s your biggest weakness” question. This is always a difficult one to answer as you want to talk about how good you are, not reveal what you are not good at to a potential boss. One piece of advice is not to do what the majority of interviewees do, which is to turn a positive attribute into something negative such as: “I’m just such a perfectionist” or “I work too hard”.

These just come across as fake and it is much more advantageous to say something that is an actual weakness. By this, I don’t mean something like “I’m rubbish at time keeping”. Mention something constructive for example, if you aren’t very knowledgeable about using Microsoft Excel then say so, but it is essential that you follow up your weakness with how you intend to rectify this and progress in the particular area.

4. This is another piece of advice that comes straight from my own experience. It’s brilliant when you can show some of you personality in an interview, but don’t try to make too many jokes. In a recent interview, the interviewers were extremely casual and cracking jokes back and forward between each other throughout the meeting.

This situation was all too tempting for me and I began to join in. I left the interview thinking I’d made a great first impression and had a laugh with the staff, however after a couple of days I began to realise the mistakes I had made. A job interview is a professional situation and you have to act professionally. There is no harm in letting your sense of humour come through but do not get carried away. They are assessing your professional capabilities and not how you tell a joke. Oh and if you wondered, I didn’t get that job either.

5. The final point is all the obvious things that don’t need any explaining. Don’t be late to your interview; don’t swear; don’t answer your mobile phone or start texting (yes, people have done this!) and don’t moan about previous employment because it doesn’t come across well at all.

So, those are a few handy hints that should hopefully help to improve your interview technique. Another point I must add is not to get disheartened if you think the interview didn’t go as well as you would have liked. It’s sometimes the interviews you feel didn’t go to plan that are actually the successful ones, as I found out.

How to succeed at job interviewsEmily Rooke is a graduate from Nottingham Trent University.

Featured Immigration News Work Abroad

Will NZ migration to UK grow?

London is keen to have more Kiwis come and stay longer. But probably the view is not shared by the rest of the UK.

During the New Zealand Prime Minister’s recent visit to the UK, the mayor of London supported a possible bilateral trade that may allow skilled Kiwis to stay longer in the UK. However, the UK prime minister hasn’t shown any such inclination.

Highly enthusiastic Ben Johnson, London’s mayor, wants a “bilateral labour-mobility zone” between New Zealand and Britain.

Currently, skilled New Zealand citizens can obtain Youth Mobility visa and work in the UK for up to two years. They are required to return to New Zealand when their two-year visa expires.

“It is quite difficult sometimes for New Zealanders who want to work here to stay on and contribute in the way that they might,” Boris told media.

“By contrast, you can come from France or Croatia or wherever it happens to be – Slovenia or any one of the 28 EU [European Union] countries now – without any hindrance whatever.”

Boris’ comments  have raised an intriguing possibility of Kiwis regaining greater access to extended residence in the UK, a University of Canterbury (UC) management researcher says.

The 20th century saw a gradual parting of ways between New Zealand and the United Kingdom in defence, trade and, more recently, migration.

Jobs in the UK

Researcher Dr Rosemary Baird

UC researcher Dr Rosemary Baird says unless New Zealanders have an ancestry passport or a European spouse it is difficult to stay in the UK for any longer than the two years the tourist visa allows.

“But the two-year tourist visa still attracts large numbers of Kiwis on their OE. London, in particular, contains vast numbers of New Zealanders, living with their Australian cousins, in large expat-rich areas in Earl’s Court, Shepherd’s Bush and, more recently, Wandsworth.

“Although some Kiwis do make the transition from visitor to permanent resident many Kiwis work to travel – determined to milk the last ounce of European adventure out of their two years sojourn.

“As a result their focus is usually on personal experiences rather than on becoming part of English society. If longer stays become more accessible, Kiwis might be inclined to migrate in a more intentional and long term manner.

“Perhaps Mayor Johnson’s proposal anticipates that longer term stays could encourage Kiwis to contribute to London communities at a grass roots community level.”

However, the British Prime Minister David Cameron has tightened immigration policy since coming to power.

Young New Zealanders keen to live in the UK after the initial two-year youth mobility visa expires need to go back to New Zealand and migrate to the UK if they meet the strict criteria led out.

While the British prime minister did not give any hints of possibly relaxing the immigration policies for Kiwis, his New Zealand counter-part seemed to  understand Britain’s priorities.

“He (the British PM) is just trying to deal with a broader migration issue which is challenging for the UK,” New Zealand prime minister John Key said after his meeting with David Cameron.

“With their position with Europe they have enormous numbers of people that can actually freely, and as of right, come here to the UK and that is putting stress on their system, so we need to acknowledge that,” John told media.

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Canada launches online tool for new migrants

jobs in vancouver

Canada has launched a new guide and web tool to help newcomers settle and integrate in the country.

Citizenship and Immigration Canada’s new publication, Welcome to Canada, will assist immigrants in preparing to come to Canada and to help them navigate their way during their first months.

“The new edition shows our commitment to helping the citizens of tomorrow experience a smoother transition into their new community and into the Canadian workforce,” says Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney.

Twice as long as the previous edition, the new guide is developed in consultation with several federal partners and experts in the field of integration, and has been reviewed by new immigrants.

jobs in vancouver

The guide features practical information on many different topics including how to access language classes, basic information about Canada’s education system, laws and the justice system, the labour market and much more.

For the first time, the Welcome to Canada guide includes examples of immigrants to Canada who have successfully integrated. The guide was enriched by advice and anecdotes from Nick Noorani, himself an immigrant and an expert who specializes in immigrant integration and career outcomes.

“Canada has given me more than I could ever have dreamed of,” says Nick. “And through my experiences I can help future immigrants succeed in Canada and this guide is a big part of that.”

This is the first time the Welcome to Canada guide has been revamped since it was first introduced in 1997. Like  Discover Canada citizenship study guide, Welcome to Canada is available in PDF or E-book format.

Similarly, the immigration department launched another interactive tool – Living in Canada Tool, also intended for newcomers. The new tool comes on the heels of the success of the Come to Canada Wizard, the online immigration assessment and application tool,

The Living in Canada Tool produces a semi-customized settlement plan filled with tips, next steps, and useful links based on user responses to the initial questionnaire. Users can also find local immigrant-serving organizations with the integrated Find Services map, and can bring with them their customized settlement plan for additional, personalized support.

To help newcomers integrate, the Government has tripled settlement funding since 2005-06 and remains committed to ensuring the distribution of settlement funding is fair, that immigrants receive the same level of service, regardless of where they choose to settle, says the immigration minister.

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Life is too short for negative feelings – Hrithik

Bollywood actor Hrithik Roshan is very optimistic about 2013.

The Bollywood heartthrob opened India’s 2012 box office with the international box office success film Agneepath, which garnered rave reviews from critics and audiences alike and set the precedence and benchmark for 2012.

Hrithik enters 2013 with heightened anticipation for another blockbuster year. He will start the year filming Fox Star Studio’s Indian remake of the Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz starrer Knight and Day with leading lady Katrina Kaif. The year will culminate with the release of his home production, Krrish 3, releasing on Diwali 2013. Hrithik’s profile will soar to greater heights as the 3D film sees Hrithik star as India’s much-loved superhero again.

In a heart-to-heart chat with The Global Indian magazine, Hrithik shares his insecurities and his hopes.

What will you remember the most about the year 2012?


It’s simply a dream film for any actor. 2012 has been an awesome year. Resuming my role as Krrish was nostalgic and very exciting. To end the year with homage of films at an esteemed festival, the Marrakech Film Festival, was such a humbling experience. All in all 2012 was a high throughout!

Hrithik & Sussanne

So what can your fans expect from you in 2013?

2013 is going to be a busy year. I will be working on various projects and some great films too. We are wrapping up Krrish which releases later this year and then in March I start filming with Katrina for the Indian remake of Knight and Day. I am really looking forward to 2013 as it will be another year packed with lots of excitement, but also a lot of hard work and early morning film shoots!

It must be so difficult to live up to the expectations as the Bollywood icon. Where do you get all this energy from?

My family has been my biggest inspiration – they are my true role models and they continue to be. My parents through to my grandparents have seen and experienced all shades of life, the good, the bad, and always faced any situation God presented to them fearlessly together. We share a unified bond which I also instill in my own little family with my wife and children.

Krrish 1 and 2 have been a huge success and audiences will be eagerly for its third instalment. What is going to be different about Krrish 3?

I think the audiences are going to be in for a treat with Krrish – if you loved the first two films, you will adore this edition. Krrish is our home production and was like coming home. It’s still early to comment fully on latter film – I know the audiences will be in for a fun ride with Katrina and I.

People like Hrithik as a dancer, the dance seems to be missing in his movies these days, is it intentional?

Not at all! However clichéd this sounds, I guess the scripts I’ve currently been working on just haven’t demanded any breakthrough dance sequences. But never say never though!

As a Bollywood megastar, the schedules are very hectic. How do you find time for your family?

I do try and see my family as much as I can as they mean a lot to me. I guess it’s crucial to prioritise time accordingly. It doesn’t matter how much time you spend with your family, it’s never really enough… But coming from a family where filmmaking runs through our veins, we do understand the pressures associated with work thus the understanding between us as family and for our work always helps us to strike that important balance.

Hrithik Courtesy RadoThe youth world over rave about your body, and the young boys are obviously keen to get some health tips on how to get  a six pack, and girls would want to know Hrithik’s diet plan. Would you like to share some weight loss tips?

I work out a lot and have a strict diet and exercise regime that I follow religiously. Being fit isn’t just about being physically strong but also mentally. My fitness workout is a major release for me, in a way it’s my way of chilling out!

Despite being a top actor in Bollywood, you come across as an approachable and friendly person. How do you do that?

Bollywood actor Hrithik RoshanI have always believed in being a good human first and foremost. My parents have brought me up with great morals and values, life is too short to create negative surroundings and feelings. Like they say ‘treat others how you’d like to be treated’.

Finally, this may sound like a cliche question, but if you did not succeed in Bollywood, what else would you be seen doing?

I cannot imagine doing anything else! I know it sounds cheesy, but I love what I do! It really is in my DNA. I have had the opportunity to live multiple lives in one lifetime and through the power of cinema, did my small bit to touch a chord with the world and form a indescribable bond.

Art Events Featured Lifestyle News

NZ parliament celebrates Diwali

Members of the Indian community from around New Zealand gathered at Parliament last night to celebrate the Diwali. The festival of lights will be celebrated around the world on 13 November this year.

Ethnic Affairs Minister, Judith Collins, welcomed 250 guests, including the prime minister, John Key, community leaders and those from a range of ethnic communities.

The director of the Office of Ethnic Affairs, Mervin Singham, opened the celebration.

“In a multicultural society, it’s important to develop bonds of respect, friendship and understanding across people from diverse backgrounds. Without these, we cease to be communities,” Mervin said.

The Indian High Commissioner to New Zealand, Avanindra Kumar Pandey, told the audience that New Zealand is a very welcoming place and the remarkable warmth of its people helps to cement the friendship between the two countries.

The President of the New Zealand Indian Central Association, Paul Singh Bains noted that Diwali is celebrated around the world and is a time when family takes centre stage and people have time to reflect on their achievements.

The lighting of the traditional diya – or lamp, he said, signifies love, joy, pride and hope.

A traditional floor decoration, or Rangoli, made from coloured powder formed a vibrant feature at the entrance to the Banquet Hall. The Hindu Council of New Zealand organised the Rangoli created by artist Sudha Thomas with help from a youth Interfaith group from Wellington.

Diwali new zealand

New Zealand prime minister, John Key, talks to young participants in Diwali celebrations as the ethnic affairs minister, Judith Collins, looks on.

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Indian innovater gets ready with iPhone payments gadget

iPhone gadgets

When you speak with him, you get a sense of ease, even a sense of quiet, that sounds like an introvert. Get him to talk about his latest innovation – SwipeHQ however, and you get to hear him talk passionately.

And then, there’s an air of swiftness while answering potentially tricky questions (future product plans) that are met with a guarded and measured response.

Manas Kumar is a technology-smitten young man who spends 20 hours a day thinking about producing digital tools to make lives easier for businesses and its customers.

iPhone gadgets

And at 32 years of age, he has became the second-youngest business-owner to list his company on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange.

Ever since that listing in December 2011, he’s been in news – for good reasons of course! The most recent being the announcement of his yet-to-be-launched device – SwipeHQ, a matchbox-sized device that plugs into an iPhone’s sound jack and converts the smartphone into a mobile payment device that can swipe a credit card to process a payment.

But that’s not how this story was meant to start.

He was a typical 20-something, cricket-struck Indian, with a dream to play at international level. That dream brought him to New Zealand in 2001, and before he knew, he was flipping burgers and pumping gas to make ends meet.

The hand-to-mouth existence meant he was working on multiple jobs, and did not leave him with much time to go home – so he would find somewhere in downtown to sleep before starting on the morning shift. Two years later, an urge to get out of the meagre existence gripped him.

Einstein gave him a clue. “The definition of insanity is,” Einstein famously said, “to do the same thing again and again and expect a different result.”

Manas aspired to break the vicious circle. That moment, the cricket bat made way for computer keyboard. A $10 buy of a domain name later, Manas started his website design company in 2003.

It wasn’t an easy ride – the first years of business were extremely difficult. Einstein probably repeated his mantra, and Manas changed gears to reinvent his company to develop software for businesses.

The year was 2007. This is when the wind entered the sail – things began to look up.

OptimizerHQ , as Manas’ company is now known, received good response to its flagship email marketing software, among other products. Manas had found his muse – to develop digital tools to help businesses serve its customers better.

Taking a leaf out of his own book, and possibly still listening to Einstein, Manas and his team looked at new ways of helping businesses, at a time when iPhones, Blackberrys and Galaxys were creating a growing category of tools – smart phones.

Manas designed a device, which will be launched in August, that can be plugged into a smart phone and voila! You have a payment gateway – a tool that merchants can use to receive payment from customers.

From lawnmower in the backyard, to the baker at the farmers market to major retail shops, the device can help a range of businesses. So who is his competition? “No one,” says Manas.

He is targeting a market that’s currently dependent on customers carrying cash. And what better place to launch his product than New Zealand – a cashless society, where the number of electronic payments (per capita, at point of sale) is one of the highest in the world. But he is not keen to compete in the EFTPOS (debit card) market.

SwipeHQ, as the device is known, will be able to process credit cards only at this stage. “It’s a deliberate strategy,” he says, and stops, not intending to reveal the reasons.

EFTPOS machines have taken years to gain trust of customers. Will customers trust smart phones to handle payments? Manas affirms that they have followed industry best practices in encryption and data safety while designing SwipeHQ.

“If you look in media, there have been so many instances where EFTPOS terminals have had issues in terms of not being able to stop fraud. There’s always risk with payment gateways.

“We have gone through all the regulatory aspects of producing this technology. We deploy a lot of resources into securing the device, and our commitment to security is second to none.”

He’s upbeat about the future of his company. “Internet is not just about website. OptimizerHQ is going to be a significant company because we are able to make a change in the way companies do business.”

Ask him about his personal life over the next few years, and you are greeted with a pause. “I’ll probably be still putting in 20-hour days for weeks at end!”

Editor recommends Featured Health News

Flu shots safe for pregnant women – expert

As the winter approaches in Australia and New Zealand, health professionals are recommending flu shots for new and expectant mums.

The safety of flu vaccination during pregnancy is well established and should be routine, according to the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.

The College says that vaccination offers benefit to both mothers and infants. Influenza immunisation is estimated to prevent 1 to 2 hospitalisations per 1000 women vaccinated during the second and third trimester.

New Zealand’s National Influenza Specialist Group (NISG) says that the vaccination is free until 31 July  for pregnant women, people aged 65 years and over, and those with ongoing medical conditions.

“Pregnant women are offered free immunisation as studies have shown they are particularly susceptible to more severe outcomes from flu. Additionally, vaccination of pregnant women has been shown to decrease the incidence of influenza in their new-born babies,” says NISG spokesperson Dr Nikki Turner.

Dr Turner says women should also think about immunisation against influenza for children. Immunisation is recommended, but not free, for healthy children.

The 2012 seasonal influenza vaccine includes protection against three types of flu, including the Pandemic H1N1 Influenza 09 (swine flu), which is expected to be still in circulation in New Zealand this season.

“People need to be immunised as soon as possible as it can take up to two weeks to develop immunity after vaccination,” says Dr Turner.

“Although flu is mild-to-moderate for most people, it can lead to serious complications and even, in rare cases, death for others.”

Research in Australia and New Zealand found that pregnant women are seven times more likely to be admitted to intensive care with severe influenza than women who are not pregnant.

The study also found that women more than 20 weeks pregnant were at an even higher risk as they were 13 times more likely to be admitted to intensive care than a woman who is not pregnant.

Health experts believe pregnant women are more affected than others by swine flu because of the changes that occur in a woman’s body when she is pregnant. The developing fetus places stress on a pregnant woman’s respiratory system as well as her other organs as the unborn baby grows, making a woman more vulnerable to developing severe complications from what would normally be a more mild case of the flu.

The influenza vaccine has been shown to be safe and effective in pregnant women. No study to date has shown an adverse consequence of inactivated influenza vaccine in pregnant women or their offspring.

Myth: the flu vaccination gave me the flu!

Unlikely, as the flu vaccine does not have active viruses, rather it is made from inactive viruses that stimulate your body’s immune response.

There are a number of viruses that circulate during the flu season and the seasonal flu vaccine protects against the most common strains that are expected to be making the rounds that season, including swine flu.

If you get the flu after having the flu vaccination, unfortunately you have caught a strain of flu that you have not been vaccinated against, or you did not respond completely to the vaccine.

For free health advice in New Zealand, call Healthline 0800 611 116. For advice about influenza immunisation visit or or text FLU to 515.

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Leader upset at “sexploitation” of yoga

Yoga for sex

A Hindu community leader has expressed his displeasure about “books, magazines, DVDs, and other media showing yoga as some kind of potion to enhance sex life.”

Hindu statesman Rajan Zed says that yoga was a serious mental and physical discipline by means of which the human-soul (jivatman) united with universal-soul (parmatman).

Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, stressed that it was simply misuse of age old and revered system of yoga.

Yoga for sexRajan Zed listed some of the popular titles selling in the market: “Better Sex Through Yoga” (Greaux, Langheld, Rich), promising “Easy Routines to Boost Your Sex Drive, Enhance Physical Pleasure, and Spice Up Your Bedroom Life”; “Sexy Yoga” (Barrett), giving “40 Poses for Mindblowing Sex and Greater Intimacy”; “Sex Yoga” (Brighton), showing “The Seven Easy Steps To A Mind-Blowing Kundalini Orgasm . . . No Partner Required!”; “Intimate Yoga for Couples” (Mishabae); etc.

Here is sampling from some well-known magazines: “Yoga Positions for Better Sex” (Prevention), “Want Better Sex? Do Yoga” (Psychology Today), “Workout: Yoga for Hotter, Better Sex” (Men’s Health), “Yoga for Better Sex” (Women’s Health Magazine), “The Great Sex Yoga Workout” (Fitness Magazine), etc. Even Harvard Health Publication of Harvard Medical School gave “Examples of yoga poses to enhance sexual function”. shows a “Playboy’s Naked Yoga” free video depicting Playmate of the Year Sara Jean Underwood doing various yoga poses on a yoga mat totally naked.

Criticizing portrayal of yoga as erotica, Zed pointed out that yoga, referred as “a living fossil”, was one of the six systems of orthodox Hindu philosophy and was highly revered in Hinduism.

Rajan Zed further says that some sages have described yoga as the silencing of all mental transformations, which leads to the total realization of the Supreme Self. Some have used yoga attempting to gain liberation by removing all sensory barriers. According to Patanjali, author of the basic text, the Yoga Sutra, yoga is a methodical effort to attain perfection, through the control of the different elements of human nature, physical and psychical.

Rajan Zed

Zed argued that just for plain mercantile greed, companies and individuals should not attempt to distort the esteemed ancient yoga tradition as it would hurt the devotees.

About 16 million Americans, including many Hollywood and other celebrities, reportedly do yoga. Hinduism, which introduced yoga, is the oldest and third largest religion of the world with about billion adherents and “moksh” (liberation) is its ultimate goal.

Editor recommends Featured Lifestyle News

Call NZ Ambulance in your language

New Zealand’s Ambulance service is now able to offer a more user-friendly service to people who don’t speak English.

The emergency service’s three call centres around New Zealand have access to Language Line, an interpretation service offered by the Ministry of Ethnic Affairs. As part of this access, the call centre staff will be able to speak with callers in 42 different language, which include popular Indian, Asian and Pacific Island languages.

It means they (call centre staff) can now ensure, more accurately, the details of the help that’s required by the person who has made the emergency phone call, says a newsletter by the Office of Ethnic Affairs.

“Good communication in these circumstances can not only make a life or death difference, but also result in a more efficient use of ambulances.”

People who speak little or no English and who wish to get an ambulance should call 111 and when the operator answers request the ambulance service. When they get through to the ambulance they should say ‘Language Line’ followed by the name of the language they want for example ‘Language Line Mandarin’ or ‘Language Line Samoan’.

The list of languages offered by Language Line

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Why buy when you can adopt?

Don’t buy a dog. Adopt. That’s the message Bollywood actor Imran Khan wants to give his followers.

Following in the footsteps of his uncle Aamir Khan, who is a Bollywood icon known for making movies with social messaging, Imran is supporting an advertising campaign by People for Ethical Treatment for Animals (PETA), in raising awareness about stray dogs.

And Khan practices what he preaches. The star of the 2008 Hindi blockbuster “Jaane Tu… Ya Jaane Na” says his life was enriched after he adopted Tony and that he would like his legions of fans to experience the same joy.

"Tony changed my life," says Bollywood actor Imran Khan with his adopted dog, Tony, who passed away recently.

Tony was found wandering in Mumbai streets by Khan’s friend who took the dog to the Bollywood star. Khan lodged a complaint with local police and was told that the dog was abandoned by its owners. Khan gave shelter to the orphaned dog who stayed with him till the dog’s death recently.

“Tony changed my life,” says Khan.

“Ultimately it boils down to how much you care.”

He wants to open an animal shelter.

“I care a lot about animals. If I see an injured animal, sick animal and essentially any animal I feel I could help in some way, I do that.

“The fact is that there are dogs and cats and all kinds of animals roaming around the streets. Very often people buy dogs, buy cats – they see them as toys or as fashion accessories. They get bored of them and they … throw them out of the house. That’s a very horrible thing to do.”

More than 25 million stray dogs lead a ‘dog’s life’ in India, braving hot weather, merciless drivers, starvation, and many times, fatal attacks. Thousands of dogs take refugee in animal shelters because adopting a stray dog is not a culture in India yet.

“Every time a dog or cat has a litter, it means fewer homes for the dogs and cats who are languishing in animal shelters or roaming the streets,” says a PETA statement.

In a country where the man leads a dog’s life, indifferent attitude towards stray animals is not surprising.

Prospective cat or dog owners will help the cause of stray animals if they visit an animal shelter to adopt a pet or take in a homeless animal from the streets. PETA also reminds guardians always to get their animal companions sterilised.


Art Featured

Why is Indian art a sought-after investment

S H Raza art

On January 1, 2011, The Times of India published a survey of spending patterns among Indians which aimed at predicting projected net spendings on various sectors in the new year.

As expected, the greatest growth potential was observed in the telecom sector. But what was surprising was that a close third in the group was the luxury sector, recording a 20 per cent growth.

The luxury sector, according to market analysts is not a primary spending sector, and when it shows a growth potential only third to such basic necessities as telecom and housing in a developing country like India, it only points to one thing a solid growth in the secondary market and a spurt in surplus, which can only happen in a healthy GDP scenario.

S H Raza art

S H Raza, sold for $3,486,965 at Christie's London

And that is good news to the Indian art fraternity, since art investment, in India at least, is a top-of-the-order secondary market phenomenon.

Actually, Indian art has become one of the most sought after alternative investments in the world.

It is felt that compared to the stratospheric prices touched by western contemporary art, where Mark Rothko and Andy Warhol sells for astronomical prices, Indian art prices have a very long way to go to reach their peak. Research shows that, conservatively, Indian art is undervalued by five times and 10 to 15 times if compared to its western equivalents.

F N Souza

F N Souza, Birth, sold for $2,159,850 at Christie's

The highest price fetched by an Indian artist hovers around the $ 3.49 million, which was achieved last year by Sayed Haider Raza’s Saurashtra.

Compare that with prices fetched by Warhol on a regular basis, which has been around $63.35 million last year.

And to think that compared to Warhol’s factory style of working, Raza’s style will be nothing more than cottage industry, thus guaranteeing a greater chance of being unique.

It is therefore not out of place, when Rajiv Chaudhuri, a New-Yorker of Indian origin who has been a pioneer in setting up an Indian art fund abroad says, “If you look at Indian art from a purely financial perspective, I would say it’s cheap relative to Western or even Chinese art … [Mehta] is one of India’s finest painters of the 20th century. The reality is that average artists from the West routinely sell for $5 million to $7 million. And by the way, Mehta painted only 200 works in his entire life. Andy Warhol probably did 200 every six months…” This was way back in 2005.

Anish Kapoor, art

Anish Kapoor, Untitled, sold for $1,945,250

In perspective, the five best Indian artists in terms of global sales volume during the last decade have been Anish Kapoor, Tyeb Mehta, MF Husain, Souza and Raza. And collectively, their best years have been between 2006 and 2010.

Despite the global economic downturn, which took its toll between 2008 and 2009, these five have commanded a more or less fixed pricing, with a slight dent only in 2009, which between them, they collectively recovered in the very next year.

Out of the five, as has already been said, Raza is still now the highest priced, though it is Souza who had commanded the best price in terms of works sold and value generated in a given year which stands at an impressive (by Indian standards) $24,265,186.87 in 2006.

However, among the five, the first artists to have burst onto the International scene were Souza and Raza, who sold their works way back in 1990 followed closely by Kapoor whose first documented sale had been in the following year. But compared to those early days, when these Indian stalwarts went for anything between a few hundreds (Raza was priced at $706 in 1990) and few thousands (Souza was at $1635 in 1990 and Kapoor at $ 4867 in 1991) they have definitely come a long way.

In 2007 the Indian art market was $450 million, an increase of 29% on the previous year. Around 2009 the value of the global Indian art market was in the region of $2-3 billion and growing rapidly. Today, this represents a tiny fraction, approximately 6 to7 per cent of the $30 billion global art market.Hence the upside potential is impressive.

art M F Husain

M F Husain, Battle of Ganga and Jamuna, sold for $1,609,000 at Christie's New York

Arun Vadhera, Christie’s consultant in India and owner of Delhi’s Vadhera Art Gallery has been quoted by the media that he doesn’t think Indian art is anywhere near its peak.

On the contrary, it is at the same stage as technology was in the late eighties and early nineties. According to a research conducted recently, art experts are comparing the boom in Indian art to that of the similar boom in Chinese art which began in the 1980s, fuelled by a rising economy and a newly-rich Chinese community.

The rise in interest in Indian modern and contemporary art has been due to two reasons. On the one hand, there is a rapidly growing Indian (both NRI and Indigenous) collector base, as was evident from the prices Rabindranath Tagore’s sketches fetched in the Sotheby’s auction last year.

Art Tyeb Mehta

Tyeb, Mehta, Figure on Rikshaw, sold for $1,918,925 at Christie's London

On the other hand the artistic significance and commercial importance of Modern and Contemporary Indian Painting has now been discovered by the likes of the English billionaires Charles Saatchi and Frank Cohen, and the French luxury brand czars Francois Pinault and Bernard Arnault.

Francis Newton Souza, was collected and promoted, initially by Victor Musgrave at Gallery One (London) and by the American Harold Kovner.

From the 1960s to the 1990s, the Americans, Chester and Davida Herwitz travelled yearly to India to acquire new works of art for their collection of Indian contemporary art. They developed close friendships with many of India’s leading artists, particularly MF Husain, has been pointed out as they have done for Indian art what no Indian industrialist has been able to do.

And their aim was not to decorate offices, but to be involved in the Indian contemporary art movement.

Today, with the new breed of contemporary Indian artists, like Subodh Gupta, Raqib Shaw and Anish Kapoor, also comes the new breed of promoter and collector. This is already transporting the whole sphere of Contemporary and Modern Indian art to a new, higher level of international marketing and collecting.

Gupta is often referred to by the western and Indian art critic fraternity as the ‘Damien Hirst of India’. This in itself speaks volumes of a familiar attempt to equate to a modern counterpart phenomenon of the West. In Gupta’s case, one of his promoters, Delhi-based former New Yorker Peter Nagy, is part of the immediate cutting edge of Contemporary Indian painting.

It is thus not hard to comprehend the way the top five Indian artists have fared in the global market. (Graph 2) From a ‘jumpy’ start in the mid-nineties, they have soared to their highest limits (till today) in 2005-2006 and have then taken a fall. However, except for Mehta and Kapoor, all the rest have seen a sharp rise in 2010, once the market gained in confidence.

A comparison of the price graphics among Indian artists and their more well known global counterparts will show that their rise after recession has been sharper than the latter.

This is because of their price differential, as Indian artists, even after two decades in the world market (considering from 1990 till 2010) are still undervalued and hence more readily capable of overriding the hammer price by a larger margin. However, Kapoor’s and Mehta’s inability to ride the crest of 2010 is also significant.

Reasons, feel art market insiders are 1) Mehta’s inability to market himself. He started off late and he never really sought a promoter who would command the kind of international prices that suited his kind of creations and 2) Kapoor has been the most consistent on the scene for close to two decades and he had been the one to best capitalize on the market. However, his familiarity may have taken away the exoticism which he thrived on initially.

However, the same art-market insiders predict that the Indian art market value will cross that of the Chinese market in the next three to four years. In 2009, the average price of individual works of high-end Chinese contemporary art was in the range of $19 million, whereas top-of-the-chain Indian artists commanded around $5.5 million. Thus there is always an upside to be achieved still, with a burgeoning Indian domestic as well as NRI market the counterpart of which has given the Chinese their due.

The Indian art market has been showing the most evident signs of development. Subsequently, Indian artists have reasons to cheer up.

Image Courtesy : Sotheby’s, Christie’s and the Artists

*2010 values are as of October 29, 2010

*As per print media, internet, auction reports & artnet

(The original article was published by Art News and Views.)