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Budget Adventures This Summer

“The beautiful spring came; and when Nature resumes her loveliness, the human soul is apt to revive also” – Harriet Ann Jacobs

 After a wet, windy and chilly winter with temperatures reaching sub-zero levels at times, the summer spring has finally arrived in Manchester. With dried up branches showing signs of carrying beautiful buds which would blossom into myriad hues of colours in the near future, the atmosphere around the city is one of merriment and joy. People have started coming out of their coops and hibernation and have started enjoying quality time with friends and families sun-bathing in open gardens, pubs and restaurants. The sun rises early in the morning and stays late till the night. With the change of seasons, the spirit of the people is also changing from one filled with laziness and boredom to one with enthusiasm and adventurous.

Summers also mean summer vacations, travelling with friends and families and exploring new places. If you want to travel this summer for a short stay or even a one-day trip; but not too far from Manchester, then here are your options.

Leeds

Leeds

1.Leeds- situated at a distance of about 30 miles from Manchester, Leeds is a city with history, tradition and culture in every nook and corner. The famous University of Leeds has made the place well-known and well populated. Leeds also boasts of a strong heritage through its museums, galleries, docks and ancient ruins.

How to Reach?

By Bus: Megabus is a budget travel option with tickets costing less than £5/ person. (http://uk.megabus.com/)

By Train: Trainline travel with tickets costing £16.50/ person (https://goo.gl/cGJTt0)

Where to Stay?

Budget Hotel: Hotel ibis Budget Leeds Centre. (http://goo.gl/rmIhrp)

This hotel is very near to the city centre as well the Leeds bus and train station. It is accessible in every way. The room rates start at £26 per night with free Wi-Fi.

What to See?

There are a number of places to see in Leeds. The must see ones are:

Kirkstall Abbey

Kirkstall Abbey

Ruins of the Kirkstall Abbey (www.leeds.gov.uk/kirkstallAbbey) (Entry Free)

The Abbey Museum (www.leeds.gov.uk/museumsandgalleries/…/Abbey-House-Museum.aspx) (Entrance Fee: £2-£4)

Royal Armouries Museum (https://www.royalarmouries.org/visit-us/leeds/) (Entry Free)

Thackray Medical Museum (www.thackraymedicalmuseum.co.uk/) (Entrance Fee £7-£8)

Leeds City Museum (www.leeds.gov.uk/museumsandgalleries/Pages/Leeds-City-Museum.aspx) (Entry Free)

Total Budget: (Estimate)

Day Trip: £30

Overnight Trip: £60

 

Windermere

Windermere

2. Lake District, Windermere “Wordsworth said of the Lake District that there was ‘nowhere in so narrow a compass with such a variety of the sublime and beautiful’. Thirty-four miles across, the area boasts a breathtaking range of tarns, fells, forests and countless chic and cosy hotels to stay in.”-  http://www.cntraveller.com/guides/europe/england/lake-district/where-to-stay

If you want a cosy relaxing weekend away from the hustle and bustle of the main city, then the Lake District is the perfect destination. This beautiful district features miles of sprawling natural beauty, fields, lush greenery and lakeside. At times, just sitting by the lake with a book or trying your luck at fishing makes a great family vacation.

How to Reach?

By Bus: Go Euro runs regular services connecting Manchester to Lake District. The bus tickets cost around £22. (http://www.goeuro.co.uk/)

By Car: It is a one and half hour journey from Manchester by car taking the M6 highway.

By Train: Direct trains run from Manchester Piccadilly to Windermere, Lake District. The journey costs £10.50 (https://goo.gl/zhJynT)

Windermere, Main Road

Windermere, Main Road

Where to Stay?

Hostels and Camps: For budget travellers or students, financially this is the best option. Sharing rooms cost around £20-£23 pounds depending on the type and availability (http://www.dmslakedistrict.co.uk/)

What to See?

Windermere is the perfect place to indulge in some outdoor activities. You can book in to trekking groups, or walking tours around the district. It is highly recommended to visit the lakeside and if possible to hop on a boat and explore the beautiful waters. That apart, activities like balloon flights, horse riding, golf, swimming and also encouraged. It is advisable to have a look at the official visitor information for booking activities in the following website http://www.lakedistrict.gov.uk/

Total Budget: (Estimate)

Day Trip: £20-25

Overnight Trip: £45-50

 

Backpool Tower and Beach

Backpool Tower and Beach

3.Blackpool is the perfect place to enjoy the beach and indulge in some natural tanning treatments. During the hot and humid summer, the cool beach side breeze and the sun comes to the rescue. Many take to building sand castles and sculptures, swimming in the sea or just enjoy sitting in the beach with a glass of cool drink. 

  How to Reach?

By Bus: Go Euro (www.goeuro.co.uk) services run from Manchester to Blackpool and vice versa everyday from £3 per heard. It takes around four hours to reach Blackpool.

By Train: Trainline (www.thetrainline.com) services run regularly from the Manchester Piccadilly station at £17.70 per head. It takes around an hour and a half to the destination.

Where to Stay?

Budget Hotels include Tiffany’s (http://www.tiffanyshotel.co.uk/) and Hotel 33 (uk.venere.com)

 What to See?

Blackpool Zoo -Not many cities near Manchester has a zoo and thus, the Blackpool zoo is an ideal attraction while travelling with children. The admission prices cost around £12-£15 pounds depending on whether it is booked online (http://www.blackpoolzoo.org.uk/) or in person.

Grundy Art Gallery – An art Gallery does not only put up paintings, sketches and sculptures, it puts up the interests of an era and displays parts of the heritage of the city. Admission is free for all in the gallery.

Theme Parks –Theme parks are a great way to spend family quality time. They also form part of the favourite children attractions. The theme parks in Blackpool include Blackpool Pleasure Beach complete with roller coaster rides and Sandcastle Water Park which provides the much-needed respite on hot summer days

Beaches – The beach is the main attraction of the city, although care has to be taken of the timings of the tide. Near the beach is the Blackpool Tower which is a must visit attraction of the city.

Total Budget: (Estimate)

Day Trip: £40-£45

Overnight Trip: £100

 

 

River Punting in Oxford

River Punting in Oxford

 4. Oxford- “There are more museums in Oxford than even the most cultured vulture can take in on a short break. The highlights include the iconic Ashmolean Museum (Beaumont Street); the Pitt Rivers (South Parks Road); the Museum of the History of Science (Broad Street); and the Museum of Oxford (St Aldate’s) to learn about the city’s rise to fame and fortune.”- http://www.wanderlust.co.uk

Oxford can well be called the city of the museums and galleries. A city which grew around the world-famous University of Oxford hosts a lot of activities for visitors and tourists all year around.

How to Reach?

By Bus: Go Euro runs regular services to and fro both cities. Tickets start from around £30. (www.goeuro.co.uk)

By Train: Trainline runs regular train services per day with prices starting from £73

Where to Stay?

The holiday Inn Express is the budget hotel in the city centre. More details can be found at the official website in http://www.ihg.com/

Christ Church Oxford

Christ Church Oxford

What to See?

The best way to see Oxford is on foot and on water. While one can take a leisurely walk around the city centre and exploring the museums, galleries and churches; one can alternately take to river punting and see Oxford through a new perspective. Some must visit places include Bodlien Library, Sheldonian Theatre, Radcliffe Camera, University of Oxford, Oxford Museum of History and Science, Museum of Oxford, The Headington Shark Sculpture and Story Museum.

Total Budget: (Estimate)

Day Trip: £60

Overnight Trip: £200

 

Liverpool Docks

Liverpool Docks

5. Liverpool- This port city is the epicentre of two major happenings in history – The sailing of the Titanic and the rise of the Beatles. Thus, it is an absolute must-visit when in the UK. With museums, Liverpool docks, shopping malls and pubs within a walking distance of each other, the city is great for both day trips and overnight trips. 

 How to Reach?

By Bus: Megabus runs direct coaches daily from Manchester to Liverpool and vice versa starting from £1.50p (https://uk.megabus.com)

By Train: The train line runs regular services which takes you Liverpool in an hour. They cost £3 one-way and £12.50 open return. (https://www.thetrainline.com/)

Where to Stay?

The Tune Hotel in the City Centre is the best budget hotel in an area close to the train station and the docks. The room rates cost about £34 per night. For more details check out the official website at (http://www.tunehotels.com/)

What to See?

Liverpool Street

Liverpool Street

A short walk from the Liverpool Lime Street Station is the main attraction of the city –The Albert Docks (www.albertdock.com). Surrounding this dock area are the major attractions of the city – The Liverpool Museum, The Merseyside Maritime Museum, The Museum of International Slavery, The Liverpool Eye and the TATE Museum of Modern Art. All of these museums have free entry. For a one day trip, this is the perfect place to be in. There are many street food joints and eateries near the dock area. The shopping centre is also a short walk from the docks and can be easily reached.

The Conde Nast Traveller especially recommends the Liverpool Museum for its unique collection of the city’s history and culture. “Located on the city’s waterfront by the famous Albert Docks, the first national museum in the world that is devoted to the history of a regional city . . . . . Over 6,000 objects will be showcased across the museum’s three floors. Many of these items have never been on public display before and range in antiquity from the ice age to the present day.”http://www.cntraveller.com/news/2011/july/museum-of-liverpool

Additional places to visit would be the Beatles Museum and the Cavern Pub. The Liverpool Cathedral is also a beauty worth visiting.

Total Budget: (Estimate)

Day Trip: £20

Overnight Trip: £50

 

These are some of the best places to visit this summer with your friends and family. They are also great for group travellers or even solo travel. Thus, this summer take out your adventure boots and backpacks and start exploring the world away. . . . .

 

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Restaurant Review: Akbar’s

The dreams of one man led to the establishment of the first Akbar’s restaurant in Bradford. But dreams and aspirations are not easily satisfied. Thus, started an array of Akbar’s restaurants being opened in various parts of the United Kingdom. From Birmingham to Manchester; from Newcastle to Leeds all have been blended in the subtle flavours of authentic Indian cuisine through the various branches of this restaurant.

Akbar’s is situated in the Liverpool Street, just off the Deansgate Road in Manchester. Surrounded by the Manchester Museum of Science and Industry on one side and the Roman Mamucium and Castlefield on the other, Akbar’s is a regular hotspot for tourists and travellers and those who like to soak in the flavours of India in this multi-cultural neighbourhood.

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Akbar’s from the Streets 

The restaurant functions from supper times and is opened only from 5 pm to midnight Mondays to Saturdays and from 4 pm to midnight on Sundays. The rich cultural heritage of India and the diversity in its cuisines can be experienced the moment you step inside. The huge statue of Lord Buddha welcoming the guests with folded hands at the reception coupled with a smiling assistant to guide you to your seats form a pleasant ambience. The interiors are beautifully decorated with gold and black patterns which are interrupted by classy glass designs.

If you are to enter around 5 pm, you would probably find it deserted but by half past five, the whole restaurant is buzzing with activities. The managers and assistants are running about ushering in the guests; the waiters are busy taking orders and serving the guests; the bar is filled with bartenders making various hand gestures while preparing some of the best cocktails and mocktails on the floor. The activity and the adrenaline levels in the kitchen rise up too, as they have to keep up with the pressure of serving quality food to their customers. At times, when the kitchen door opens one can catch a glimpse of the head chef shouting for more spices , the sous- chef quickly scanning the food that is to be put on the table, the waiters colliding with each other or cutleries and pots banging against one another. But even amidst the chaos inside, the output on the plates outside smell of a rich aroma of mixed spices and butter.

Being an Indian myself, I was elated to see an Indian restaurant but also wondered about the authenticity of the flavour. I ordered for a jar of Mango Lassi, Butter Family Naan, Chicken Tikka and Prawn Curry.

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Chutneys

After a while, the waiter came in bringing a large tray of papads with four types of chutneys. The Papads were crisp and the subtle aroma of coconut oil in which they were fried came drifting up my nostrils as I sat eating them waiting for my main course to arrive. The chutneys however, were a delight. It seemed as if the wide range of flavours which complement a traditional Roti or bread was put in front of me in only four small bowls. There was the traditional sweet mango chutney, which is made using sweet mango pulp and spices. It was spicy yet sweet. A raita which is a mixture of cucumber, onions, nuts and at times tomatoes in curd. A bowl of sour onions dipped in vinegar as well as a bowl of a paste made of green chillies and mint leaves. These chutneys satisfied ones palette and left  them with a taste of sweet, sour, spicy and chilly.

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Mango Lassi 

As I was sitting, munching my papads, the Mango Lassi made its appearance. It was a huge jug, big enough to feed six people. The Lassi, at the first sip tasted what I had expected it to taste like. The sweet mango flavour mixed with the thickness of the curd and milk gave it the much-needed refreshing taste. The drink however was too sweet given that most of its ingredients were naturally sweet and would only add up to its sweetness.

I looked around  and saw that all the tables were full. In fact, the little I could see of the reception area from my seat, I saw was full of guests waiting to be seated. The murmurs around me grew louder and louder with the entire restaurant filled with people and staff. Soon after, arrived my main course-a huge steel stand holding about a 2 ft long Butter Family Naan with butter dripping from all its edges followed by my Chicken Tikka and Prawn Curry. By now the waiter realised that I was Asian and after politely asking me about my native language started talking to me in Hindi, our native language. He explained that the Family Naans were a speciality in Manchester and UK and was not available in India. I agreed with him on that as such huge Naans were indeed not available in Indian cuisine.

It was now time for me to taste each of the items I had ordered. The moment I put the Naan inside my mouth, the overpowering taste of melting butter took me instantly. The Naan itself was just the way it should have been – crispy at the sides, a little burnt even, due to the process of making it. It had a smooth tear and smelt of burnt charcoal and butter.

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Chicken Tikka 

The Chicken Tikka came next on my list. It was served in the traditional copper bowl with two handles on either ends. The dish was sprinkled with coriander and garnished with lemon slices. The gravy was thick and oil-rich. The chicken itself was cooked to perfection spicier on the outside and soft and tender on the inside. The gravy was spicy but not hot.  The Prawn Curry came as a pleasant surprise. Small round prawns cooked beautifully in red chillies and turmeric was the dish of the day for me. Served again in the traditional manner, the prawn curry was the first of its kind that I had tasted.

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Prawn Curry 

After finishing my food, I awaited the cheque. I was recollecting all the flavours and dishes that I had. Interestingly, though Akbar’s served Indian cuisines, its values had blended tradition with modernity much like the city itself. The plates were a mixture of tradition in modern style and flavours. The beauty of such a combination is that it gives a chance to rediscover the potential of traditional Indian Cuisines in modern times. Thus, the restaurant had delivered its promise of authentic cuisines and had also added to it a modern twist.

Akbar’s is a highly recommended restaurant due to its quality, quantity and flavour. It delivers what it promises. The chain is a recipient of various awards and honours and is currently running the nominations for the English Curry Awards 2016.

Additional Information:

Address: 73-83 Liverpool Rd, Manchester M3 4NQ

Opening Times: Mon – Sat: 17:00 – 00:00
                                            Sun: 16:00 – 00:00

Website: www.akbars.co.uk / www.akbars.co.uk/Manchester

Rates (for 2): £40-60

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MediaCityUK: A Traveller’s Guide

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MediaCityUK

The most promising feature of the Salford Quays are the towering buildings of the MediaCityUK which appears to be like an old watch tower of the entire property. Salford Quays, the erstwhile dockyard has now been re-shaped beautifully to accommodate the docks, MediaCity, The Imperial War Museum and The Lowry Outlet Mall. Often for a first time visitor, the Quays may seem almost like a different ‘different planet’.

Staying:

Resembling a self-sustaining unit in the middle of the Manchester, the Quays has earned name and fame as a popular tourist destination. It is well connected with the city centre via regularly plying trams and buses. In fact, the Holiday Inn provides for a great overnight stay in the Quays. The temperature varies depending on the weather. However, due to the presence of water bodies, the area can be very cold and windy, especially after sunset.  Thus one should be equipped with warm clothes, sturdy shoes and an umbrella at all times.

What to see?  

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View from the Vertical Bridge

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View of MediaCity From the Bank

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View from the Bridge

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View from the Bridge

The Manchester Ship Canal, an extension of the River Irwell flows right through the Quays. On the left bank, it has two over bridges running through it to cross over to the Museum. However, the over-bridges can be a bit shaky due to the force of the winds and safety should be maintained at all times. Running below the bridges are the Mersey Ferries which regularly ply bringing tourists and locals to this side of the city. Interestingly, the vertical bridges even open up (much to the irritation of the hovering seagulls) to let the ferries pass underneath it. On the right bank of the canal, an intelligently manufactured piece of water body is used as a swimming pool. Often during the day, one can see people taking their children on prams and dogs on leash around the bank for a lovely walk.

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The Imperial War Museum

The nearby attractions would include the Imperial War Museum. This museum exhibits a well collected permanent display of the remains and memories of the World Wars. There are many temporary exhibitions held as well. It is advisable to check with the website or the reception of the museum to find out about the exhibitions so as to not miss any interesting ones.

Cropped_image_of_MediaCityUK,_dock_10_Studios

The itv

Although prior permission is required to visit the BBC Studios , the ITV and Sky News, if one would like to opt for a tour then it must be booked well in advance directly though their official websites. Otherwise, one can always look at the studios from outside while taking a walk across the property.

Shopping/Food:

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The Lowry Outlet Mall

The Lowry Outlet and Shopping Mall fulfils all the requirements of a ‘shopping therapy’. From clothes and accessories to electronics, sports equipment, and food everything is available under one roof. Alternately, if one would like to try out different cuisines then the nearby Marco’s, CAU, Nando’s and WagaMama are restaurants to look out for. Bars and Cafes like Pret, Dockyard and Booths are also great for budget meals.

Nightlife:

Though MediaCity does not boast of a nightlife enthused with the lights and tunes of a discotheque, what it surely does boast of is the beautiful panoramic view of the whole place. Witnessing the sheer beauty of the place from the rooftop of the hotel, apartment buildings or even standing on the bridges (not for long though) would uphold the worth of coming to this place.

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Photo By: Julia Reinert (www.germanchester.wordpress.com)

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Virunga : A Documentary by Orlando von Einsiedel

                                  Virunga – Official Trailer 2014 from Grain Media on Vimeo

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Baby gorilla with caretaker

Virunga, a documentary made on the Virunga National Park in Congo defines the beautiful relationship between humans and gorillas. The Park is the only surviving natural habitat to around 800 mountain gorillas. These beautiful beasts have become victims of hunting and poaching and many are mercilessly killed each year. Their children are often left orphaned and have to fend for themselves in this world. However, the Virunga National Park houses a Gorilla orphanage within its boundaries. The caretakers of this orphanage consider the animals to be their family; and come what may stands beside them through thick or thin. They act as parents to the gorillas, so that they do not feel lonely or abandoned in this world.However, due to the recent discovery of oil in Lake Edward, the boundaries of this park are being threatened. This would mean that the gorillas and all other wild animals that peacefully live in this park would be prone to environmental hazards and other illegal activities like poaching.

Furthermore, the M23 rebels are threatening Congo into a revolution. Though this would not directly affect the park, but one never knows the mindset of rebels and thus the park authorities secretly prepare for defence. This would also mean panic, havoc and mass evacuation of the people in the nearby cities. The aggressiveness of this political situation was beautifully investigated by a freelance undercover and investigative journalist.

Interestingly, the documentary was to be made to promote tourism in Congo. Gorilla Tourism is one of the most important methods of earning revenue in this region. But the political outbreaks in the city could not be ignored as well and thus, the documentary went on to cover politics and environment both. In fact, the director suitably blends both the circumstances to highlight how political unrests affect wildlife and its disastrous consequences on nature and mankind.

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A Still from the movie

I would personally recommend everyone to watch the movie. Its cinematography enthralled me for the entire duration of the movie (100 minutes). The beautifully captured landscape of the Virunga National Park embeds itself in our minds as a never-to-be-forgotten photograph. The rangers, who play the most important part in protecting the park, lead a life, not less than the army. Their lives are threatened all the time to be killed by political groups or poacher groups. Above all, the gorillas themselves win over the audience with their large expressive black eyes and their helplessness towards the cruelty of mankind.

On the other hand, being a journalism student, the tactics of the investigative journalist was of special interest to me. However brave the journalist was, as an audience one still felt sceptical of her ways and feared for her life and safety. To be honest, it is not easy being an undercover journalist and certainly not in an area torn apart by political unrest.

Virunga has received innumerable nominations at prestigious awards including the Academy Awards and the BAFTA. It is also the recipient of the Peabody Award and the feature documentary Award at the DOXA among many others.

Virunga_National_Park_GorillaThis documentary is an eye opener to the greed of mankind. This greed knows no bounds. It has lost the rationale of right and wrong. Man does not think twice before harming nature; the very planet they live in. Virunga is a documentary of only one national Park, but there are innumerable national parks and wildlife sanctuaries spread across the world who are experiencing the same fate. It is a call for mankind to realise their mistakes and take a step back. For if the world is not protected now, there might not be a world left in the future.

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The New Day Launches in Britain: Success or Risk?

 

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Photo Courtesy: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-35685156

In today’s time and age, when the world is going digital from print, Britain takes a bold step in launching its very first national newspaper (in print) after a span of thirty years. This initiative itself is commendable because of two reasons. First, a newspaper is brought out in print form, when veteran newsprints like The Independent is all set to wrap up its print edition and go online. Second, after thirty years a new newspaper is being launched. This only highlights the fact that for the past three decades, there has been a leading monopoly of newspapers such us The Guardian, The Independent, The Daily Telegraph, The Times and the like. However, with the society and consumer patterns ushering in the digital age, the monopoly of these print newspapers is staggering to maintain their identities in the consumer market. All the above named newspapers and many more have their corresponding online portals for news consumptions through mobile phones and computers.

This much talked about newspaper is called The New Day. Interestingly, it was launched on the 29th of February 2016, which comes once in every four years (and a date which would go down in history marking actor Leonardo DiCaprio’s Oscar win after six Academy nominations). The marketing strategy for this newspaper is very unique. On the 29th of February, it would be given away free to attract new readers. Thereafter, for the first two weeks it would cost 25 pence; following which it would be raised to ‘full price’ at 50 pence. Comparing a nominal fee of 50 pence with other newspapers costing over a pound, those who prefer newspapers to online consumption of news might want to give this paper a shot.

 

Coming to the paper itself, the publishers (The Trinity Mirror) have acknowledged the presence of the online news consumption. But they have justified their paper by stating:

“It has to be a new type of newspaper. And everyone can have a voice. Be they the Prime Minister or passer-by on the street. Because both deserve to be heard. Our stories will be selected to impress our readers, not to impress other journalists. We’re just fairly normal people who want to create a paper you’ll enjoy. ”

 Indeed, the newspaper takes a fresh look on delivering stories to its audience. Instead of having a hard news as its top story, its front page adorns snippets of a feature story titled ‘Too Much Too Young’, a study based on the lives of the young children who help in taking care of their parents. The paper comprises all kinds of stories – politics, sports, research study features, opinion articles, photographs, activities and crosswords and even a quote of the day. But what sets it apart is its neutrality or impartiality. It puts forward all views on a certain incident or event and lets the audience decide for themselves which views to support.

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Two Interesting Articles (above)

Two articles that caughtmy eyes, were titled ‘Too Much Too Young’ and ‘Would you help a child being bullied? ’. The  former because, often we have heard how children must take care of their parents, but by children one certainly does not mean those falling within the age group of ten and under; and the latter because, bullying is a big issue in contemporary society. The aftermath of bullying could demoralise a person to such an extent that psychiatric help might be required or in worst cases it might lead them to commit suicides.

Out of curiosity (and University work) I have been to two different newspaper stores, one in the MediaCity and the other in Rochdale. The store supervisors in both the shops have given me a statistics of about three New Day being picked up by their customers out of the sample stacks of fifteen newspapers sent to them. Personally, even if the statistics might not seem very alluring, the newspaper was launched just today and it should be given some time to build an audience for itself. The success or the failure of this paper would only be seen as the time goes by, but for the initiative of launching it in print with no online website, the publishers should be congratulated for their effort.

Print versus digital is a much debated topic in contemporary media. What is your opinion on the launching of a purely print edition? It is a risk or an answer to the challenge the print media is facing from the digital media? Let me know of your opinions.

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Tribal Tourism in Bangladesh

When speaking of tourism, what comes to our minds naturally are the Pyramids of Giza, The Statue of Liberty or the exotic destinations of The Caribbean Islands. However, those who are inclined towards the cultural aspects of tourism, might find tribal tourism as ‘exotic’ and worthy of being on their bucket list. Tribals are a minority as well as a vulnerable population who mostly reside in the villages and remote areas of a country. To be honest, there are many tribal villages whose name one has never heard of, or do not feature in most maps. But that does not mean that they are non-existent. In fact, the rich culture, traditions and heritage that these tribal villages hide within their boundaries is a treasure trove of knowledge in itself.

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Bangladesh is one such country which has quite a population of tribal’s residing within its borders. Frankly speaking, these tribal’s have faced cameras during certain documentaries made on them. They have also allowed tourists to enter their villages for a day or so, so that the visitors get a feel of the tribal community. But, tribal tourism as a whole is not promoted enough and is not taken up enough by tourists. Tribal tourism has its own pros and cons, discussing which, deviates the agenda of this article. The focus groups here are three different tribal village communities in Bangladesh.

Khashia Tribal Village

The Khashia Tribal village lies near the tea and betel leaf plantations. This gives a huge boost to the economic conditions of the individual families living here. Both men and women work in the nearby plantations, while the children attend schools and play around all day long. It is recommended that if one is to visit this village, one should contact the village chief first. The village chief is respected by the entire tribal population and if the village chief trusts the tourists, the villagers would become more comfortable in having them around. These tribal’s are very close to nature and has lived in harmony with Nature from time immemorial. In the true sense, they are probably the only ones, in this rapidly developing world who resides close to Nature; respects and takes care of it like no other.

Oraon Tribal Village

The Oraon Tribes are local aborigines of Bangladesh. With time, many such families have shifted to being farmers and some have migrated to the tea estates. The Oraon village is famous for its tribal folk. The music, dance, songs and musical instruments originate in the boundaries of this village. In fact, it is a common site to see the villagers return home after a hard days work and gather round the fire to celebrate life through songs and dance. Local musical instruments like the Mandar, Nagara and Kartal are often manually made here with whatever best amenities they can gather. In the Youtube documentary too, the background score was that of a locally composed song. During overnight stay at tribal villages, such song and dance is a ritualistic part of every night. Most villagers gather round and have dinner together amidst such celebrations. Interestingly, on a closer look one can say that they celebrate the essence of life; the essence of existence. They do not need official festivals on their calendars to celebrate. Their daily existence is a result of celebrating nature and worshipping it with an open heart.

Tripa Tribal Village

The Tripa village is famous for its hand-woven garments. Many times, these talented tribal are engaged into weaving garments and local attires. It takes manual labour and a long time to weave such garments and thus hand-loom industries are suffering a major setback in the global markets. But, going on a tribal tourism and not witnessing some live hand-woven garments would mean to miss a lot.

These three tribal villages in Bangladesh uphold three important facts of tribal tourism, which are- folk culture, local industries, and daily routines of the villagers. These three are the main parameters when it comes to exploring a new culture. Those apart, comes local attires, cuisines, languages and the lot. Tribal Tourism in contemporary times is rising, but within limits. Tribal tourism depends a lot on the tourist’s personal choices, ability to adjust to an alien environment as well as preserving the sanctity of the locals.

Bangladesh Tourism offers specialised packages for such Tribal tourism. But is very careful to not allow an overload of tourists; doing so might disturb the peace of the tribal community.

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The Economics of Tourism

Tourists_photographing_Lujiazui_from_the_Bund,_2013

Tourism is much more than meets the eye. One can indeed have a time of their life skiing in the Alps or sunbathing in the Caribbean beaches; but the economics behind the tourism industry globally affects the economic status of every country. Tourism industry in the 21st Century is one of the fastest growing industries. However, the monetary aspect of this field involves a crucially interconnected web of financial benefits between the host country and those involved in promoting tourism in a global scenario. In fact, according to an economic study the profits made in international tourism is much more than the combined profits made in global transactions of chemicals, petrol, automotive and food. Thus, this industry has been rightfully termed as the ‘World’s No. 1 export earner’.

However, on a close look at the above statement, it has been found that it is in reality nothing but a charade. Tourism indeed earns the host country a lot of financial benefits, but, out of those financial benefits how much is actually brought forward to the government of the host country. While it seems that the host country gains a lot of foreign revenue, one forgets the various ‘leakages’ in the system which prevents the total revenue earned to come under the political umbrella of the country. To understand this situation, it is necessary to have a look at the different types of ‘leakages’ in the system.

Degeneration of Local Business

Every tourist expects to receive a certain standard of facilities while travelling. Due to this the pressure of maintaining a high quality is very competitive. Most hotels and restaurants opt for the highest possible standards for which they display a variety of facilities which are not available locally. Due to this, the local businesses go unnoticed and suffer from a setback. A direct result of high standardization is that the local economy of the host country receives no boost in business. Furthermore, a heavy percentage of financial benefits are lost out to foreign trade investments who promote high quality of restaurants and hotels in host countries. According to a study, 70% of Thailand’s tourism revenue leaves its borders, 80% in the Caribbean Islands and 40% in India; showing that a large chunk of the earned proceeds are lost out on due to international investments.

Import Leakage

Following up on the previous point, more and more facilities are imported globally to make sure that the tourists are satisfied. There are hotels spanning acres of land with villas, spa centres, beaches, and multi cuisine restaurants; all with international standards of hospitality. Most of these international standards are imported from various countries. Thus giving rise to what is known as import leakage.

Export Leakage

Many a times, a global business tycoon makes an investment in constructing a hotel in a country. But, the benefits made from the hotel business are often taken to their residential country. Thus even if the host country earns a profit through such international investments, due to export leakage the profit fiancé is lost to international countries. This leaves a lesser margin of proceeds for the host country.

Enclave Tourism

P&O_Cruises_-_MV_Aurora_-_Alongside_Dubrovnik

Not many are familiar with the concept of Enclave Tourism, but are most common in cruises and luxurious holidays. Most cruise ships are made as self-sufficient entities. They consist of hotels, restaurants, shopping malls, gymnasium and recreational areas for children and adults. This provides the tourists all the facilities that they need within the cruise ship itself, thus lessening their chances of ever going ashore. Even if by chance tourists do go ashore then there are restrictions on local trade in such shorelines. This leads to minimum or nil profit for the host country on whose waters such internationally invested cruise ships are stationed.

Increasing economics of host countries

To top it all, the economics of the host country needs to be looked into as well. If the price of the commodities are rising or falling, it has a direct impact on the tourism industry. Food Products and Petrol Prices are the two most important parameters in this situation. The rise and fall of their prices have direct consequences on the tourism industry. The price to travel from one country to another is always changing, depending on the peak season, budget, price rise and the like. Moreover, during festive season the prices reach sky-high. Thus, national economic situation and budget of the host country plays an important part in tourism.

From the above points, it is clear that though tourism industry is a flourishing one, the nitty-gritty’s of this business cannot be and must not be overlooked. Tourism industry has a direct effect in world economy helps in the development of the third world and developing countries. A major percentage of their revenues are earned through tourism. Although, it is true that economically better off countries earn more profits but the profits of the third world countries cannot be undermined either in comparison to their national economy. To conclude, tourism industry has started spreading its wings globally, and in the days to come would reach new economic heights.

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Politics, Youth and Social Media

A very interesting topic was taken up as part of my academic module in my class today. It was politics. Having been a student of politics, not so long ago, this grabbed my attention. Although lets be honest, my area of specialist journalism is far from politics, well so I thought so, till today’s class. Without beating around the bush I would come straight to the point. Two really interesting and important questions caught my attention.

  1. How has social media affected political behaviour of the citizens?
  2. What does political reporting encompass?

These two questions, in itself, are two highly debatable areas.

Social media has definitely affected political behaviour. This statement holds true and can hardly be strongly challenged. However, social Media is responsible for what we can call virtual politics rather than physical politics. This, I speak looking at the international scenario. To be very honest, today’s youth especially those aged between 18 to 30 are mostly interested in their own lives, celebrities, culture and arts. Have they got any time for hardcore politics amidst their daily schedule? But, with the presence of social media and mobile apps they have the headlines of day to day global, national and regional politics in their fingertips. Social Media primarily does the work of informing, educating and making the youth politically aware of the situation.

Platforms like Facebook and Twitter have been highly used for sharing political views and arguments. Nearly every little meeting, talks, strikes, political elections or activities are discussed world over through these platforms.

“Popular discourse has focused on the use of social media by the Obama campaigns,” Boulianne concludes. “While these campaigns may have revolutionized aspects of election campaigning online, such as gathering donations, the metadata provide little evidence that the social media aspects of the campaigns were successful in changing people’s levels of participation. In other words, the greater use of social media did not affect people’s likelihood of voting or participating in the campaign.”

Source: http://journalistsresource.org/studies/politics/digital-democracy/social-media-influence-politics-participation-engagement-meta-analysis

Political blogs are rising over the years. Youths who have their political opinions find it very easy to put them forward to the world through blogs. That apart, online petition, surveys, propaganda are also gaining grounds. In fact, all of these increase to a great level just before any political elections. They have become part and parcel of what is commonly called as modern day E-Democracy.

social-media-for-political-campaign-in-india-4-638

Photo Courtesy: http://www.slideshare.net (http://goo.gl/ZxcW7z)

With such examples it is clear that globally youths are educated and informed about politics through the use of social media but does this information ultimately culminate into voting behaviour in all scenarios?  This is an important question which needs answering. Only thorough research in this field and time can give an answer to this question.

Coming to the second question of what does politics encompass; well the answer is everything. Everything that one does or happens around an individual is directly or indirectly linked to politics. But it doesn’t mean that everything comes under political reporting. I would personally say that everything around us has political linkage but everything around us in NOT political reporting. Say for instance, what is printed inside prescribed school text books might have political connections; but if a student does not score well in the exam, it is not political reporting.

The above opinions are purely mine and you are more than welcome to disagree. I would however, love to know about your opinions as well so please  do drop by and leave a comment on what you think is the role of social media in shaping up the political future among the youths.

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My Tips to Survive in this City . . . .

At the end of 2015, it is best that I contemplate on what is necessary to have/ learn/possess/ do to survive in Manchester. The city is lovely and accepts you the way you are so you would not need to change much. But here are few things that you have to adapt to if you plan on staying here for a long time.

shoes

  1. Have an array of shoes. From walking shoes to snow boots to fashionable shoes and slippers etc. etc. etc. This is because you have to walk walk and walk a lot. No matter where you go, you have to walk. So, you might as well own good shoes , check their soles once in a while, change your shoes if they are worn out (Lots of good shoes are available on sale).  Please Go Out and Own your perfect comfy sets of shoes! umbrellas
  2. Never ever  step out of your front door without a muffler, gloves, cap/hat, unbrella or rain coat. Well not so much of a rain coat, but Umbrella is a must. In fact, it is best if you own more than one. You never know when a strong gale will blow your umbrella away.  In short DO NOT CATCH A COLD !
  3. Life survives a lot here on coupons. You have coupons behind bus tickets, in magazines, in newspapers and various other places. Collect them and use them, cause they really work and you do get discounts. Also, if you are a student then keep your ID Card at hand, you might get an extra student discount.
  4. A lot of magazines and newspapers here are free. Grab them and read them. For a person like me, who was allergic to any kind of newspapers, I  have taken to all free newspapers and magazines to kill my boredom. Today, I probably read more newspapers and mags than I have ever read in my life.
  5. You cannot forget to wish people. All conversations here start with a “Hello, you all right? ” or “Hiya, You OK?” . Do not panic when at the end of a conversation people say “Thanks Love” . A “Thank You” to the bus driver is mandatory. So, lets start revising on our manners again.
  6. A strong GPS system on your mobile phone would certainly do you good. If you are to live in this city on your own then you might as well know which place is which and do not get lost. I have marvellous experiences of getting lost in the middle of this city and let me tell you, it is not a good experience. So please avoid it if you can!sunny day
  7. Love bright and sunny days where you can tan yourself a little? Bid Good-bye to them! A bright and sunny day is a rare occassion. It rains mostly everyday. In fact, more than the rains, it is the  cold wind which is difficult to cope up with.
  8. When in Manchester, you just cannot leave the city without seeing some famous places in and around the city. In Manchester, apart from the regular Museums and Art Galleries, MediaCity UK, Castlefield, Trafford Centre, City Centre with the City Council and Northern Quarters are a must. Around Manchester, Oxford, Cambridge, Cardiff, Liverpool, Stockport, Macclesfield, Warwick are places that cannot be missed.
  9. Have a bank account. Nearly every place here accepts card payments so you need not carry any cash at all. Although, keeping a one pound change always helps especially while taking out trolleys from the trolley park in shopping malls!intro+the+scribble+diary
  10. Lastly, keep a scribble diary. Not that it is necessary but I maintain one where mostly crosswords and other such puzzles are solved. But I think I maintain the diary to keep my sanity more than anything. With mostly nothing to do during the festive season this diary helps me cope up with my boredom.

I hope this helps you get a taste of some of the mandatory stuffs needed to survive in this city. If you think there is something missing in this listicle please feel free to add it. Thanks.

See you again in the Next Year with more such posts on this interesting city :).

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DIY Cards For Christmas

xmas tree info

With Christmas knocking on your doorstep, you must be busy in your last minute shopping for your near and dear ones. But what about friends and relatives who mean a lot to you, but are miles apart ? A simple hand made card from your end, matters to them than a thousand expensive gifts sent by you. It tells them that you still remember, care  and have a place in your heart for them. Here are some really easy card ideas that you can implement and make pretty cards for your friends and families.

card 2

All you need to make this card are some really pretty buttons. Never mind if they are not all of the same colour and size.

CARD3

You can play around with your finger print reindeers and later draw the features with a felt pen. If you want you can either paste real bows or draw them with coloured felt pens to make your reindeers look handsome.

CARD 1

With an array of different colours on your fingers, it might tend to become quite messy, it is better to make sure that one design dries off completely before starting another design. You can draw on the black curved line or paste a black thread instead.

CARD4

During Christmas you get to see many different types of wreaths.But why not make your own wreath card?