Category Archives: Lifestyle, Society, Culture & Politics

The Island Where Everyone Wears A Gas Mask!

Mount Oyama

Resting atop a chain of volcanoes, Miyake-jima is an island in the Izu group, southeast of Honshū, Japan. About 160 kilometers south of Tokyo , this town is a hub for volcanic activity where over the past century, the volcanoes have erupted six times. The worst of these occurred in June 2000 when, after a repose of 17 years Mount Oyama which is an extremely active volcano spot erupted & 17,500 earthquakes hit the island between June 26 and July 21.

Inside of Mount OyamaEruption of Mount Oyama in Miyakejima Japan Picture

During the assault of eruptions and earthquakes, ash plumes soaring as high as 10 miles enveloped Miyake-jima, and heavy ash fell as the craters collapsed. High levels of toxic sulphur dioxide would regularly rise up through the ground, making 20 percent of the land not fit for habitation. Covered with a cloud of harmful sulphur dioxide gas, spewed into the air by volcanic eruptions, the islands heavy weather systems and cold make it worse. At one point, it was so bad that it was polluting the air with 42,000 tons of sulphur dioxide per day. Those who have studied the volcano’s patterns have found that it goes off in intervals of 20 years.  But even when Mount Oyama isn’t mid-eruption, it continues to emit sulfuric gas.

Miyakejima Panorama Photograph

The eruptions released so much toxic gas into the air that three months later in September, the government had to force a mass evacuation of the entire island. Over 3,600 people evacuated the island in 2000 because of the toxic gases which could harm their lungs. For five years, Miyake-jima was declared off-limits, with the barren island resembling a post-apocalyptic world. Dead trees and rusted cars peppered the derelict space. Mount Oyama continued to emit 10,000 to 20,000 tons of sulphuric dioxide gas from its summit every day for two years following the eruption. Slowly, though, the evacuation order began to lift, and in 2005 citizens were allowed to return to their homes.

6_gas mask town japanGas Protection

Despite the high level of volcanic activity that causes poisonous gas to leak from the earth, some island denizens just can’t stay away! Some opted to remain in their relocated houses in Tokyo, but about 2,800 chose to return, taking back the island’s abandoned buildings. They have adopted ways to suit the living conditions in the island.

8_gas mask town japan

Considering the re-populating of the island, nearly a third of Miyake-jima remains permanently uninhabitable and the government mandates regular health checkups and enforces age restrictions in certain areas. In terms of monitoring the air quality, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government has been watching the volcanic activity through videos, helicopter and satellite images.

Naval Leapfrog4_gas mask town japan3_gas mask town japan

In the meantime, civilians walk around with gas masks to protect themselves from the toxicity. All residents and visitors are required to carry gas masks, and an air raid alarm goes off when the sulfur levels get unhealthily high. So when the air quality gets bad enough, the town turns into a masked extra-terrestrial looking crowd of people seemingly attending the same themed costume party.

Miyakejima The Gas Mask Town

But all that poisoned air does have its perks. While many wouldn’t exactly call this an ideal spot for tourists, some curious about this town where the citizens wear gas masks do venture through. Gas mask tourism is a huge draw for people who want to pretend they’re living in the post-destruction age. With disposable masks sold at ferry stations and local stores, this gas-soaked village hasn’t kept tourists away. The city’s site advises visitors to learn about the harmful effects of sulfur dioxide before visiting as it can be quite damaging to one’s health. They even suggest tourists get a respiratory medical exam before booking the trip. Visitors can also take tours of abandoned houses, flattened cars and a school gym half-destroyed by lava or dip themselves in hot spring baths, until self-awareness hits and visitors realize that they find disaster enjoyable enough to pay for.

9_gas mask town japan

Free Basics – Why You Shouldn’t Support It!

There’s a lot of buzz going around ‘Free Basics’ – A platform that Facebook is trying to get it launched full-fledged in India. But what exactly is Free Basics? Does it really mean that Indians will now have access to basic Internet for free? Let’s find that out in detail. Whether the claims are too good to be true or it’s just another scam that can prove to be really disastrous in future!

Why ‘Internet.org’ was renamed to ‘Free Basics’?

About a year ago, when Internet.org was launched in India, countless netizens protested as it was against net neutrality. Shocked by this response, the marketing department of Facebook renamed it to ‘Free Basics’ and re-launched it here as they thought Indians would never say ‘no’ to anything that says ‘free’. Facebook has been aggressively marketing to get it accepted by India’s Telecom regulator. Right from publishing full page newspaper ads, roadside banners and online ads, they have also started sending constant notifications to all their Indian Users to click a button which will direct an email to TRAI saying that you support ‘Free Basics’. They ‘accidentally’ sent these notifications to foreign users as well. And, if you do not accept their pesky notifications, they make you feel guilty for not supporting ‘digital equality’ by showing the list of your friends who support it. By the look of these ads, it seems like Facebook is doing a huge favor for India through ‘Free Basics’ and our government is acting all evil trying to put a stop to their good efforts. But is that so?

What is Free Basics?

Free Basics is a platform given by Facebook in association with telecom operators, where certain basic internet websites will be available free of cost. This means, if you are visiting Facebook or its partner websites, you don’t have to pay internet charges at all. However, if you are visiting other websites such as Google, you need to pay data charges as you have been doing all this while. In India, Facebook has tied up with Reliance to make certain websites free of cost. However, while Facebook claimed that the initiative would allow people who cannot afford the Internet to get access to ‘information’ and connect with the world, a number of people and organizations have been opposing it. And this is because ‘Free Basics’ does not mean free access to the whole of Internet.

What is Net Neutrality?

Net Neutrality is the principle that Internet service providers and governments should treat all data on the Internet the same, not discriminating or charging differently by user, content, site, platform, application, type of attached equipment, or mode of communication. It is one of the fundamental principle due to which Internet exists in the form we see today. Source: Net neutrality- Wikipedia

Internet Access v/s Services on the Internet

Google is a service and so is “Internet access” – and if many of you are using Google service for free – then there is no point in fighting or debating for “Internet access” which is also a service. Google service also requires infrastructure and Internet Access also requires infrastructure – it depends on the business model of the companies on how they generate revenue.  Internet is an open protocol and there is difference between protocols and infrastructures. What we pay for is “Internet access” because that requires a lot of infrastructure and we pay rent for using that infrastructure. Gmail or Facebook are services but not the internet. Internet is collection of those services from which the user should be allowed to choose what he/she likes.

What does Reliance gain from this?

Here’s the deal. You have two options to access Facebook: (1) You can choose Reliance network, and access it for free; or (2) You can choose other telecom operators and pay for the same service. What will you do? It is obvious that people would prefer to go for Reliance. However, once you register on the Reliance network, you realize that actually you need more than just the websites available on Free Basics. Free Basics does not have Google, YouTube, Amazon, Flipkart, Yahoo, LinkedIn,Twitter, Snapdeal, HDFC, ICICI, PayTM, eBay, IRCTC, NDTV, Rediff, Quora, Quikr, RedBus, BSE/NSE and the list goes on. The basics of Indian internet is not on Free “Basics” and you will soon realize, (Click on the image below) that it offers nothing significant, and you will anyway need to pay for the other services.

websites freebasics

When these people, who are now interested in internet, get converted to full payment service, then Reliance becomes their obvious choice. Therefore, telecom operators gain from Free Basics because it increases their subscribers.

What happens if other Telecom Operators join?

We now know Reliance is interested in Free Basics as it gives them an edge over other telecom providers. However, what if other telecom operators also join in? Imagine if all the major telecom operators in India such as Idea, Airtel, Vodafone etc. join the Free Basics platform, what happens then? Reliance will not have any inherent advantage and in that sense, all the websites listed above will be available for free on all the networks. In that case, these telecom operators will gain nothing and will all be just killing themselves? The fact is that these telecom operators are interested in this initiative because it gives them more subscribers. It increases the size of the market as a whole. A lot of people from rural India who have never used internet on their mobile phones will now start using internet. In this whole initiative, the telecom operators will eventually win, because their subscriber base will go up. You may argue that they are not charging for it (because it is free basics). But this argument is foolish because you and I both appreciate that the websites offered by Free Basics are not even basics. They are not offering useful websites like Khan Academy or Amazon or Quora or even Google for that matter. Therefore, anyone who subscribes to Free Basics will eventually want to shift to the full version of internet.

Why is Free Basics a problem?

One thing we must understand is that internet has always been free, fair and democratic in terms of access of information and usage. But today with the dawn of Free Basics, this space is under threat. Even though we do not discuss or see it around us, the World Wide Web dictates our present and future in a manner more real than we can imagine. The ones who are joining the internet today or in the future should be able to use the internet without any restriction, just the way it is meant to be. The issue here is that Facebook’s Free Basics app offers some Internet services (like Facebook) for free, but doesn’t offer the entire Internet for free. This violates net neutrality, the concept that all content online should be treated equally.

Plus no competitor of Facebook would use free basics for obvious reasons. We must never forget that it’s a public company. Even if Marks intentions are good, in difficult times they would use everything they have like targeted ads, big data and many more. Facebook at present sells your data to NSA (source) and this is a security issue for India. So you can anticipate what they can do in future. But the major problem is the ecosystem which is what they are trying to create over the coming years.

Today, there are nearly 1 billion websites and if we consider that there are 3.5 billion users of the Internet, 1 (which could be you) out of every 3.5 such users also offer content or services. The reason that the Internet has become such an influential force for change in such a short period of time is precisely because anybody can connect to anyone, anywhere in the world, not only to receive, but also to provide content or service. This gives both sides equal access to the Internet. But unfortunately, all this would stop if the Internet Service Providers (ISPs) or telecom companies (Telcos) are given the right to act as gatekeepers.

No ISP or Telco can decide what part of the Internet or which websites we can access. Tim Wu, the father of net neutrality, has written that keeping the two sides of the Internet free of gatekeepers is what has given a huge incentive for generating innovation and creating content. This is what has made the Internet, as a platform, so different from other mass communications platforms such as radio and television. Essentially, it has unleashed the creativity of the masses; and it is this creativity we see in the hundreds of millions of active websites. Facebook’s ads and Mark Zuckerberg’s advertorials talk about education, health and other services being provided by Free Basics, without telling us how on earth are we going to access education or doctors and medicines through the Internet? It forgets that while English is spoken by only about 12 per cent of the world’s population, 53 per cent of the Internet’s content is English. If Indians need to access education or health services, they need to access it in their own languages and not in English. No education can succeed without teachers. The Internet is not a substitute for schools and colleges but only complements and that too if the material exists in the languages understandable by the students. Similarly, health demands clinics, hospitals and doctors and not just a few websites on a private Facebook platform.

The danger of privileging Free Basics over a public Internet is that it initiates a new kind of digital divide among the people. A large fraction of people who join Free Basics may come to believe that Facebook is indeed ‘The Internet’. Just the way the British Empire was based on the control of the seas, whoever controls the vast oceans of data today, controls the global economy.

Net neutrality is not an obscure subject which concerns only a few netizens. It is fundamental to the world, in which the Internet is a fountainhead of knowledge, a platform for communication and an artery of commerce. The one who wheels access to the Internet will control our future ultimately. This is what the current battle over Facebook’s Free Basics is all about.

Why hasn’t Free Basics launched in the US or other major economies?

This scam has been pushed through these poor, mostly helpless African nations who have no experience of anything better and who have no ‘activists’ like us who tell their governments they’re raising a generation of deprived children with no access to the real internet. The more online-progressive countries like Japan, Norway, Finland, Estonia and Netherlands have banned programs such as Free Basics. With over 12 lakh emails to TRAI last year, we worked our way towards a ban for it in India too – but Facebook has since spent a large amount of cash in ads, lobbying, diplomacy and PR to try to get it unbanned here. They’ve managed to re-open a closed issue, again. And now we need to re-shut Free Basics.  This program, call it digital apartheid if you will, has been roundly condemned by experts ranging from Tim Berners-Lee, the gentleman who invented the world-wide web, to Ph. D. researchers to civil society officials working in the field, globally. Just because countries like South Africa did not know how to say no to Facebook doesn’t mean India has to say yes. In fact, India saying no to this digital apartheid should hopefully inspire the African and other poor nations to kick out this evil program that serves no one but Facebook at their government’s expense. The issue in India is big, not only because it is home to Facebook’s second-biggest user base outside the U.S., but because whatever happens in India will likely set a precedent in other important countries, like Indonesia and Brazil.

Click on the image below for the list of countries where Free Basics has been launched.

FREEBASICS COUNTRIES 3

FREEBASICS COUNTRIES 2

FREEBASICS COUNTRIES 1

In the US, Facebook is strongly on the side of net neutrality – but in the developing and undeveloped world, they speak from the other side of their mouth, blatantly seeking to violate net neutrality and to give our citizens here a second-rate online experience that they wouldn’t even dream of offering people in their home country.  There are almost 50 million unconnected people in the US. Why haven’t Facebook tried offering them this shoddy program and see how the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) responds to them? We Indians do not need a “bridge” to the full internet, when we can have the full internet itself. The “bridge” is a fancy invention by Facebook to refer to a holding area where Facebook holds, numbers and tracks people before they pay up and wander off into the real internet. Study after study has shown that the poor and the less fortunate in undeveloped nations vastly prefer limited access to the full internet (for example a data limit or a speed limit) rather than full access to a few limited sites – like the one ‘Facebook Free Basics’ offers. They want the freedom of choice. Why hasn’t Facebook chosen the other, proven options to bring people to the internet that do not violate Net Neutrality?

Is Facebook doing this as charity?

Forget their lies about “wanting to connect India” – if they really did, they would offer the open and full internet to everybody for free. The real reason is something they have never denied: their rivalry with Google and their questionable stock price. Both companies have 1.5 billion users, but Google makes Rs. 70,000 crores while Facebook does less than one-fifth as well. In other words, for every new user that comes on the internet, Facebook makes Rs. 8, while Google makes around Rs. 48. Facebook’s stock is valued at a much higher multiple than Google. With no reason to support the extreme price, it will fall. For Facebook to keep their stock price high, and to keep Zuckerberg and wife as rich as they are, they need to find new users who sign up for Facebook, but at the same time do not use Google. Thus a strategy via this program was planned out to offer Facebook but not Google at the mass, poor people level. Who is outside the first 1.5 billion people? It’s mostly people in India and China. But since Facebook is banned in China, the essential to Mark Zuckerberg’s balance sheet becomes us, Indians! Hundreds of crores of ad spend, against tens of thousands of crores of valuation is just nothing!

The internet market growth is getting saturated in the western world as most people are already using internet. India and other Asian countries have a large untapped population who are yet to use internet. Facebook wants to acquire these users by any means possible. One easy way to make Facebook popular among these users is to give it for free. Do you know how drug-agents get college students addicted to their drugs? They first give it for completely free. Then once the students get addicted to it, they start charging them heftily. Free basics is launched for Facebook’s best interests. Otherwise why are they so pushy about this and investing millions for the ad campaign itself, when people are clearly protesting against it? Reliance – the official network partner of Free basics advertises it as ‘Free Facebook’ on newspapers (Source)

Who will get affected?

There are many other reasons why Facebook’s Free Basics Digital Apartheid is bad. We need to get this fact across to people that Free Basics is not offering anyone internet but only sponsored content. We must understand that internet will stand true to its name only if it gives equal opportunities to all the people. If Free Basics starts operating full-fledged, it will be unfair because those websites will now have more viewers than others. And in this way, the other websites will suffer. And the very premise on which internet flourished, will be destroyed. Why is a company like Flipkart able to compete with Amazon today. This is because they have an equal platform called the internet. Today, they are competing only on the basis of their services. This is a healthy competition and it is beneficial for everyone. Startups like Ola are able to efficiently compete with established taxi companies such as Uber. Just imagine what would have happened if Ola did not have an equal opportunity? What would have happened if Uber was available for free and not Ola? Internet is giving an equal opportunity to a number of people because all of them can reach so many users at the same time. This is the magic of the internet. Therefore, with the advent of internet, people are able to genuinely compete only on the basis of services that they offer. Free Basics is going to destroy that. This model will give some companies an edge over the others and will therefore discourage other innovative ideas.

It’s bad for entrepreneurs – your business can’t be discovered by these new potential users on the Internet until you advertise on Facebook. The same goes for big businesses. If a lot of people switch to free internet and Free Basics – then paid-subscribers can be hurt big time. Suppose you start a website that caters to the weather forecast requirements of farmers. With the help of Free Basics, a lot of farmers are able to use internet. However, they cannot access your application because your website is not available in the Free Basics platform. On the other hand, assume a farmer wants to buy a television set for his family. He has an option of buying from A or B. However, he can only access A, because other websites like B are not available for free. Maybe, he ends up paying more for that TV set. The issue with Free Basics is that, it is controlling the content available for the subscribers of internet. Therefore, your website will not be able to reach a lot of subscribers just because you don’t have a tie up with Free Basics. This is outright unfair – both to the website owners (such as the person who works hard to create a useful website for farmers) and also the subscribers (such as the farmer who doesn’t even know that he can have better facilities on other websites). This is against the principle of net neutrality. This is applicable to urban India/metros where the mobile internet is exhausted. Having understood the scenario pretty well, Facebook can slowly take control of the internet by arm-twisting all telecoms into being the sole provider of free internet bundle.

Facebook or Whatsapp wasn’t a basic internet service 10 years ago. If some other company X had offered their service free from past 15 years then Facebook/ Whatsapp wouldn’t have even existed. The things which may look basic now may not be basic in the next 10 years. By giving Facebook control of which apps to give for free, we are creating a monopoly. New startups won’t be able to compete as everyone will use the Facebook’s free alternative. For example:- If free basics was launched in 2010, then Whatsapp would never have been so popular as ‘Facebook Messenger’ would have been free, while you would have to pay data charges to use ‘Whatsapp’ or any other service. This creates a monopolistic environment where only Facebook will thrive.

Have any other telecom companies offered a Zero-Rating platform?

Earlier, Airtel had offered a similar platform called Airtel Zero, using the zero-rating concept. Zero-rating is a practice where internet service providers (ISPs) do not charge customers on data for select applications that they use. Following a public outcry from those who want a free and equal internet, a number of firms, including Flipkart, pulled out of Airtel Zero. Similarly, Cleartrip and NDTV had also pulled out of internet.org. Free Basics operates on the zero-rating principle.

What we really need to get India digitally connected?

There is no denying that a lot of users in India are not connected to the internet, and we know that they would be better off if they were genuinely connected to all the plethora of services that internet can offer them. But this cannot be done by differentiating between some websites over others. Moreover, the power of differentiation cannot be controlled by a single entity (Facebook). This is the case of too much power in the hands of too few people, and this is always disastrous.

While the Free Basics platform has connected only 15 million people in different parts of the world, in India, we have had 60 million people join the Internet using mobiles in the last 12 months alone. And this is in spite of the high cost of mobile data charges. There are 300 million mobile broadband users in the country, an increase fuelled by the falling price of smart phones. In spite of this increase in connectivity, we have another 600 million mobile subscribers who need to be connected to the Internet. Instead of providing Facebook and its few partner websites and calling it “basic” Internet, we need to provide full Internet at prices that people can afford. This is where the regulatory system of the country has to step in. The main barrier to Internet connectivity is the high cost of data services in the country. If we use purchasing power parity as a basis, India has expensive data services compared to most countries. That is the main barrier to Internet penetration. Till now, TRAI has not regulated data tariffs. It is time it addresses the high price of data in the country and not let such prices lead to a completely truncated Internet for the poor. There are various ways of providing free Internet, or cost-effective Internet, to the low-end subscribers. They could be provided some free data with their data connection, or get some free time slots when the traffic on the network is low. 2G data prices can and should be brought down drastically, as the telcos have already made their investments and recovered costs from the subscribers.

Ways Facebook can help without violating Net Neutrality, but they won’t!

There are many, many proven and better ways to get the less fortunate on the Internet – rather than wearing the Facebook Free Basics handcuffs. Schemes such as Gigato offer free data for normal usage of apps. The Mozilla Foundation runs two programs for free and neutral Internet access. Facebook could work with them. Mozilla in partnership with Grameenphone in Bangladesh allows users to receive 20 MB of data usage for free each day, in exchange for viewing an advertisement. In Africa, Orange users get 500 MB of free access on buying a $37 handset. In India, Aircel has begun providing full internet access for free at 64 kbps download speed for the first three months. Facebook could sponsor and expand that. Facebook can give all Indian users free full access to internet upto a certain data limit every month. For instance, 100MB data free for everyone every month without any restrictions. They can give Free internet at low speeds upto a certain data limit. They can also provide ad supported free internet, without restrictions. They could give subsidized data coupons like Rs.10 for first 200MB of the month. Facebook could help lay the infrastructure (cables, routers etc) to connect villages/rural towns. They could offer free unrestricted internet to poor people in selected regions. They can create something like ‘Google Web Light for Slow Internet’ which will reduce the data size of all websites and provide it for free. Facebook can help doing something like these organizations have done, as part of their philanthropic effort.

What is ‘Free basics’/’Internet Dot Org’ according to Facebook?

Free Basics by Facebook provides free access to basic internet services to a billion people all over the world. It makes the internet accessible to more people by providing them access to a range of free basic services like news, maternal health, travel, local jobs, sports, communication, and local government information. To date, we’ve been able to offer these services to a billion people across Asia, Africa and Latin America. By introducing people to the benefits of the internet through these services, we hope to bring more people online and help improve their lives.

That really makes it look so good, right? Who doesn’t want free unlimited internet? You can imagine that a poor kid in a village in central India should be able to see Khan Academy videos, her Dad should be able to look up agricultural spot prices on Google or a commodity exchange and perhaps her Mom could look for a better-paying jobs at a top job board. But no, none of these are a part of the so-called “Free Basics” that Facebook offers the poor. Videos in fact, are not available at all, presumably to conserve bandwidth so it can be retained for more important things like villagers sending each other Candy Crush requests. There is no place these folks can buy, or sell or trade. There’s no Kiva or other bottom-of-pyramid money service. No loans they can receive. No government sites, no banks. No Coursera or EdX or Khan Academy – so it’s not about education either. Forget about entertainment – there’s absolutely none of that. You name any possible site of importance to someone who needs information and opportunities, and it’s not there. But, hey, I guess then you can always poke folks in the next village!

Who is paying for Free Basics?

Telecom operators pay for Free Basics and they get this money from users who pay. By encouraging people to choose Free Basics, Facebook reduces the tendency to bring down data costs for paid Internet access. Free Basics isn’t about bringing people online. It’s about keeping Facebook and its partners free, while everything else remains paid. Users who pay for Internet access can still access Free Basics for free, giving Facebook and its partners an advantage. Internet access is growing rapidly in India. Free Basics is not an open platform. Facebook defines the technical guidelines for Free Basics, and reserves the right to change them. They reserve the right to reject applicants, who are forced to comply with Facebook’s terms. In contrast they support ‘Permissionless Innovation’ in the US. Facebook was criticized in Brazil for misleading advertising (source). Their communication in India is misleading. People find the “Free” part of Free Basics advertising from Facebook from Reliance misleading (source). Facebook says that Free Basics doesn’t have ads, but does not say that it will never have ads on Free Basics.

How Facebook got you to support Free Basics – A sly move!

FREEBASICS FACEBOOK MESSAGE

 

What can you do to stop ‘Free basics’?

They may claim 3.2 million in support, but how many of those mails are legitimate?  Remember this. Internet exists in its current form because of net neutrality. (It is not just a buzz word.) If it wasn’t neutral then you wouldn’t be reading opposing opinions. You can go to Save The Internet! and send an email to TRAI saying you are against this. You can spread this information and ask your friends to also do the same. It is important for the people who know the truth to help others understand it.

Say No To Free Basics! Save The Internet!

Popular Games & Sports That Originated In Ancient India!

Ancient India had a rich tradition of games that were played and passed on through generations and cultures for not only leisure but also to develop mental capabilities and maintain physical fitness. During ancient times, physical fitness was given prime importance, especially by the kings and the higher-class warriors.

Here is a list of well-known indoor & outdoor games that took birth in the soils of Ancient India, many of which are still actively played throughout the world.

Chess

The game of chess was invented in India and was originally called Ashtapada (sixty-four squares). “Ashtapada” in Sanskrit denotes a spider -“a legendary being with eight legs” and this game was played with a dice on an 8×8 checkered board. 1000 years back, the squares weren’t black and white like we see in the presently used chess board. Other Indian boards included the 10×10 Dasapada and the 9×9 Saturankam. Later this game came to be known as Chaturanga. The Sanskrit name Chaturanga means ‘quadripartite’ — the four Angas (divided into four parts) which symbolize “the 4 branches of the army.” Like real Indian armies at that time, the pieces were called elephants, chariots, horses and foot soldiers. Unlike modern chess, Chaturanga was mainly a game of chance where results depended on how well you rolled the dice. Played on an authentic cloth  by 2, 3 or 4 players, Chaturanga combines the basic strategy of chess with the dynamic challenge of chance as each move is determined by the random roll of a wooden dice. In fact,  in the Mahabharata, Yudhishthira and Duryodhana played a version of Chaturanga using a dice. The game Chaturanga was a battle simulation game which rendered Indian military strategy of the time.

In 600 AD this game was learned by Persians who named it Shatranj. The word ‘checkmate’ is derived from the Persian term Shah-Mat which means ‘The King is Dead!’. The Sanskrit translation of this term would be Kshatra-Mruta. Another term viz. ‘The Rooks’ which is the name for one set of the counters used in chess, originated from the Persian term Roth which means a soldier. The Persian term is derived from the Indian term Rukh, which obviously seems to have originated in the Sanskrit word Rakshak which means a soldier which is again derived from Raksha which means ‘to protect’. About the introduction of this game into Persia, the Encylopedia Britannica says that the Persian poet Firdousi, in his historical poem, the Shahnama, gives an account of the introduction of Shatranj into Persia in the reign of Chosroes I Anushirwan, to whom came ambassadors from the sovereign of Hind (India), with a chess-board with men asking him to solve the secrets of the game. The king asked for seven days grace, during which, the wise men vainly tried to discover the secret. Finally, the king’s minister took the pieces home and discovered the secret in a day and a night’s time. The Encyclopedia Britannica concludes that “Other Persian and Arabian writers state that Shatranj came into Persia from India and there appears to be a consensus of opinion that may be considered to settle the question. Thus we have the game passing from the Hindus to the Persians and then to the Arabians, after the capture of Persia by the Caliphs in the 7th century, and from them, directly or indirectly, to various parts of Europe, at a time which cannot be definitely fixed, but either in or before the 10th century. Tamil variations of Chaturanga are ‘Puliattam’ (Goat and Tiger game), where careful moves on a triangle decide whether the tiger captures the goats or the goats escape;  ‘Nakshatraattam’ (Star game) is the one where each player cuts out the other and the game named ‘Dayakattam’ with four, eight or ten squares, is similar to modern day Ludo. Variations of the ‘dayakattam’ include ‘dayakaram’, the North Indian ‘pachisi’ and ‘champar’ along with many more local variations.

Carrom Board

It is a “strike and pocket” table game of Eastern origin similar to billiards and table shuffleboard. It is found throughout the East under different names, though most non-eastern people know it by the East Asian name of Carrom (or Karrom). Carrom is widely played in India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and surrounding areas and in the Middle East as well. In South Asia, many clubs and cafés hold regular tournaments. Carrom is popularly played with families including children, especially at social gatherings. Different standards and rules exist in different areas. The game of carrom is believed to have originated from the Indian subcontinent. Although no concrete evidence is available, it is believed that carrom was invented by the Indian Maharajas. One Carrom Board with its surface made of glass is still available in one of the palaces in Patiala, India. It became very popular among the masses after World War I.

Ludo

Also known as Pachisi, the earliest evidence of this game in India is the depiction of boards on the caves of Ajanta. This game was played by the Mughal Emperors of India; a notable example being that of Akbar. Variations of the game made it to England during the late 19th century. The one which appeared around 1896 under the name of Ludo was successfully patented.

Cards

The popular game of cards originated in ancient India and was known as Krida-Patram.  These cards were made of cloth and depicted motifs from the Ramayana, Mahabharata along with ancient artwork. The tradition is still carried on today with floral motifs and natural scenery.This game was patronized especially by the royal and noble class. In medieval India, playing cards were known as ‘Ganjifa’ cards and were played in practically all royal courts. It is recorded to have been played in Rajputana, Kashyapa Meru (Kashmir), Utkala (Orissa), the Deccan and even in Nepal. The Mughals also patronized this game, but the Mughal card-sets differed from those of the ancient Indian royal courts. According to Abul Fazal’s (Author of the Ain-e-Akbari) description of the game, the following cards were used. The first was Ashvapati which is the ‘lord of horses’. The Ashvapati which was ranked the highest card in the pack, represented the picture of the king on a horseback. The second represented a General (Senapati) on a horseback. After this card came ten other cards with pictures of horses from one to ten. Another set of cards had the Gajapati (lord of elephants) which represented the king whose power lay in the number of elephants. The other eleven cards in this pack represented the Senapati and ten others with a soldier astride an elephant. Another pack had the Narpati, a king whose power lies in his infantry. The other cards  were known as the Dhanpati, the lord of treasures, Dalpati the lord of the squadron, Navapati, the lord of the navy, Surapati, the lord of divinities, Asrapati, the lord of genii, Vanapati, the king of the forest, Ahipati, the lord of snakes and so on. Based on reports by Abul Fazal, we can say that the game of playing cards was invented by sages in ancient times who took the number 12 as the basis and made a set of 12 cards. Every king had 11 followers, thus a pack had 144 cards. The Mughals retained 12 sets, and so they had 96 cards. The Mughal Ganjifa sets have representations of diverse trades like Nakkash painter, Mujallid book binder, Rangrez dyer, etc. In addition to this, there were also the Padishah-i-Qimash, the king of the manufacturers and Padishah-izar-i-Safid, the king of silver, and many more. The pre-Mughal origin of the game of cards is evident if we examine the pattern of painting on the cards. We also find that despite the observation of Abul Fazal that Akbar introduced the pack with 8 sets, we find that even earlier, in Indian (Hindu) courts we have packs with 8, 9 and 10 sets apart from the usual 12. The numbers were derived from the eight cardinal directions Ashtadikpala, for the pack with 8 set; from the nine planets Navagraha for the one with 9 sets and from ten incarnations Dashavatara of Vishnu for the pack with 10 sets.  The largest number of such cards are to be found in Orrisa. The painters from Orissa have represented various illustrations like the Navagunjara, a mythical bird-human animal which was the form assumed by Sri Krishna to test Arjuna’s fidelity.  Illustrations from the Dashavatara of Vishnu are also portrayed.

All these cards were hand-made and were painted traditionally. This required considerable patience and hard meticulous work. The kings usually commissioned painters to make cards as per their preference. The commoners got their cards made by local artists who were found in urban and rural areas. In order to obtain the required thickness, a number of sheets of pieces of cloth were glued together. The outlines of the rim were painted in black and then the figures were filled with colors. As cards were played by members of all strata of the society, we find a variety of cards. Cards were made of ivory, tortoise shell, mother of pearls, inlaid or enameled with precious metals. The circular cards were more common but there were different shapes like oval & rectangular as well. The cards were usually kept in a wooden box with a lid painted with mythological figures. This art of handmade, hand painted cards which survived for hundreds of years, decayed gradually and thus became extinct with the introduction of printed paper cards by the Europeans in the 17-18th centuries. With the extinction of the art of making and painting cards, the memory that Indians played the game of cards with their own specific representations of the Narapati, Gajapati and Ashvapati was forgotten too.

Snakes & Ladders

This game had its origin in India and was known as Moksha Patam, Parama Padam and Mokshapat. It was used to teach Hindu Dharma and Hindu values to children. The British renamed it as Snakes and Ladders. The game was created by the 13th century poet Sant (Saint) Gyandev. The ladders in the game represented virtues and the snakes indicated vices. The game was played with cowrie shells and dices. Later through time, the game underwent several modifications but the meaning remained the same – good deeds take us to heaven & evil takes us through a cycle of re-births. There are certain references which take the game back to the 2nd century BC. In the original game, the squares where the ladders were found were referred as follows – Square 12 was Faith, 51 was Reliability, 57 was Generosity, 76 was Knowledge, and 78 was Asceticism. The squares where snakes were found depicted the vices like Square 41 was for Disobedience, 44 for Arrogance, 49 for Vulgarity, 52 for Theft, 58 for Lying, 62 for Intoxication, 69 for Debt, 84 for Anger, 92 for Greed, 95 for Pride, 73 for Murder and 99 for Lust. Square 100 represented Nirvana or Moksha.

In another version known as ‘Paramapadam’, there are a hundred squares on a board, where the ladders take you up and the snakes bring you down. The difference here is that the squares are illustrated. The top of the ladder depicts a God, or one of the various heavens (Kailasa, Vaikuntha, Brahmaloka) and so on, while the bottom describes good qualities. Conversely, each snake’s head is a negative quality or an asura (demon). As the game progresses, the various karma and samskara, which are the good and bad deeds, take you up and down the board. Interspersed are plants, people and animals. The game serves a dual purpose: entertainment being one and the other being the learning that one gets with regards to the do’s and don’ts of life, divine rewards and punishment, ethical values and morality and so on. The final goal leads to Vaikuntha (heaven) which is depicted by Vishnu who is surrounded by his devotees or Kailasa with Shiva, Parvati, Ganesha and Skanda with their devotees. In the present age of moral and ethical degeneration, this game would prove to be a brilliant way to instill values in children who are way too exposed to the highly influential world. The British took the game to England in 1892, named it Snakes and Ladders and changed it according to Victorian values.

Mancala

If Paramapadam teaches us moral values, Mancala (Pallankuli) develops mental skill and quick thinking. Two players compete on a board consisting between seven to twenty pits per player, where each player has to collect the coins or shells or seeds with which the game is played. The player with the maximum number is declared the winner. There are nine variations of this game, each with regional, caste and religious significance. This game was extremely popular among women and required a good memory and an alert mind since they had to count and remember the number of coins or seeds accumulated by the opponent. This is a traditional mancala game played in South India (especially Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala), Sri Lanka and Malaysia. This game is also known as Ali guli mane (in Kannada), Vamana guntalu (in Telugu), Pallanghuzi (inTamil) and Kuzhipara (in Malayalam).

The game is played by two players, with a wooden board that has fourteen pits in all (hence the name from the words fourteen pits (pathinaalam kuzhi). There have been several variations in the layout of the pits, one among them being seven pits on each player’s side. The pits contain Cowry shells, seeds or small pebbles used as counters. There are several variations of the game depending on the number of shells each player starts with.This board game with 14 cups is set out with six seeds in each cup; the players distribute these seeds into the other cups until there are no seeds left. The person who reaches two consecutive cups without seeds has to bow out of the game. This game is popular among the kids as well as the old. Kids are encouraged to play this game as it teaches how to count, improves eye–hand coordination and develops concentration while playing. And for the older people of the house, it is a god way to spend time in the company of the young members of the family. In Indonesia, this is known as Congkak or Congklakin. It is somwhat similar to Brainvita.

Dice

The dice is attributed to India based on certain accounts. Some of the earliest archaeological evidence of oblong dice have been found in  the Harrapan sites such as Kalibangan, Lothal, Ropar, Alamgirpur, Desalpur and the surrounding territories. Some of these oblong dice that were used for gambling, date back to the third millennium BCE. The oblong or cubical dice (akṣa) is the precursor of the more primitive vibhīṣaka—small, hard nuts drawn randomly to obtain factors of a certain integer. Dicing is believed to have later spread towards the west to Persia, influencing Persian board games. Early references to dicing can be found in the Ṛig Veda as well as the Atharva Veda.

Polo

India is said to have set the base for modern Polo. In the 15th century, Babur made the sport popular when he founded the Mughal Empire. Later, the Britishers globalized the sport which was only played in the areas of Manipur, Jammu & Kashmir and other states. Another variation of polo is the one played with Elephants and is known as ‘Elephant Polo’. It is played in India (Rajasthan), Nepal, Sri Lanka, Thailand, England and Scotland. Since very ancient times, Elephants have been a part of Indian culture. They were representatives of the strength and power of Kings and Emperors. It was therefore natural that polo “The King of Sports”and simultaneously “The Sport of the Kings” was included to be played on elephants as well.

It was invented in India during the early 1900s when we were a part of the British Empire and the first people to play were members of the English aristocracy. Elephant polo is played between two teams of three or four elephants. Each elephant is ridden by two people, a player and a mahout. Mahouts are professional elephant handlers who work for many years with an individual animal to develop a close rapport. They are able to communicate quickly and effectively by using spoken commands and by pressing behind the elephant’s ears with their feet. Players are tied onto the back of their elephant in rope harnesses, so they can concentrate on hitting the ball without the fear of falling off. The players give directions to the mahouts and the mahouts give directions to the elephants.

Bull Fighting

Bull Fighting which is also known as JallikattuEruthazhuvuthal or Manju viraṭṭu, is a bull taming sport played in Tamil Nadu as a part of Pongal celebrations on Mattu Pongal day. Bulls are bred specifically for the sporting event and a specific breed of cattle bred for this purpose is known as “Jellicut“. In May 2014, the Supreme Court banned the sport citing animal welfare issues. Bullfighting was common among the ancient tribes who lived in the ‘Mullai’ geographical division of the ancient Tamil country. Later, the sport became a platform to display bravery, win prize money and a form of entertainment. The term “Jallikattu” originated from the words “Jalli” and “Kattu“, referring to silver or gold coins tied to the bulls’ horns. A seal from the Indus Valley Civilization depicting the sport is preserved in the National Museum, New Delhi. A single painting discovered in a cave about 35 km west of Madurai shows a lone man trying to control a bull. The painting, done in white kaolin is estimated to be about 1,500 years old.

Kho Kho

Kho Kho was started in India way back and  it was played by the people of Maharashtra. Kho-Kho ranks as one of the most popular traditional sports in India. The origin of Kho-Kho is difficult to trace, but many historians believe, that it is a modified form of ‘Run Chase’, which in its simplest form involves chasing and touching a person. With its origins in Maharashtra, Kho-Kho in ancient times, was played on ‘raths’ or chariots, and was known as Rathera.

It is an ancient game of the undivided India, pssibly derived from the different strategy and tactics of the “Kurukshetra” war in the Mahabharta. The chariot fight during the war and the zigzag pathways followed by the retreating soldiers indicates the formation of Chain Play-Defense Skill in the game of Kho-Kho. On the 11th day of the war, the Chief of Kaurava Army, Guru Dronacharya drew a typical strategic circular formation- Chakravyuh, keeping Jayadratha at the main entrance with seven soldiers to draw in and kill the enemy. Veer Abhimanyu, the son of Arjuna, entered into the trap but could not get his way out and in the process got killed. He fought gallantly alone against seven soldiers. The method adopted by Abhimanyu resembles the idea of “Ring Play” – a Defense tactic in Kho-Kho. It became popular in 1935 when the first edition of the rules were published by Akhil Maharashtra Shareerika Shikshan Mandal. It is also called “Game of Chase” . Over the years the rules have gone under a major change. The first Indian Kho-Kho Championship was held in 1959 under the Kho-Kho federation of india. In the year 1982, the game was included in the Indian Olympic Association.

Gilli Danda

Gilli Danda is an ancient sport of India, possibly with origins over 2500 years ago. It is believed to be the origin of Western games such as Cricket, Baseball and Softball. It is called dānggűli in Bangla, chinni-dandu in Kannada, kuttiyum kolum in Malayalam, viti-dandu in Marathi, kitIti-pullu in Tamil, gooti-billa in Telugu, and Lappa-Duggi in Pashto. This sport is generally played in the rural and small towns of the Indian subcontinent. It is widely played in Punjab and rural areas of the North-West Frontier Province and Sindh (Pakistan) and Sultanpur district, Uttar Pradesh. The game requires two sticks. The bigger one is called “danda” and the smaller one is called “gilli“. The player then uses the danda to hit the gilli at the raised end, which flips it into the air. While it is in the air, the player strikes the gilli, hitting it as far as possible. Having struck the gilli, the player is required to run and touch a pre-agreed point outside the circle before the gilli is retrieved by an opponent.

Kabaddi

Kabaddi is a contact sport that originated in Ancient India. There is concrete evidence that the game is 4,000 years old. It originated in the state of Tamil Nadu. The game is derived from group hunting and village defense tactics. Kabaddi is an umbrella term which encompasses various forms of the game including International rules of Kabaddi and the Indian Kabaddi styles – Sanjeevani, Gaminee, Amar and Punjabi. Kabaddi also encompasses similar sports known by their regional names, such as hadudu in Bangladesh, baibalaa in Maldives, chedugudu in Andhra Pradesh, sadugudu in Tamil Nadu and hututu in Maharashtra. India is the most successful team on the world stage, having won every World Cup and Asian Games title so far, in both men’s and women’s categories.

It is a combative sport with seven players on each side and is played for a period of 40 mins. The basic concept of the game is touching a player on the other side and eliminating him by coming back to the origin side of the player. It is a team sport, which requires both skill and power, and combines the characteristics of wrestling and rugby. The game originated from Ancient India and the modern Kabaddi became popular in 1930. Dhopkel is also a similar to Kabbadi but is played more in Assam areas. Dhop is the name given to a rubber ball that two teams throw across a central line into each other’s courts. Each team sends a player into the opponent’s court; the aim is to catch the ball his team throws and make his way back to his team without allowing the opponents to touch him to earn points.

Rugby

Yubi Lakpi, a traditional football game played in Manipur using a coconut, has some notable similarities to Rugby. Despite these similarities, the name is not related to the game of Rugby or the Rugby School in England. It is in fact of Manipuri origin, and means literally “coconut snatching”. Perhaps this was the root of modern Rugby. Most Manipuris are quite adamant that the modern world stole the idea from them and made it into Rugby . This game which has been around for centuries is so similar to Rugby, which evolved a great deal later, that it must be more than just a coincidence. The game is traditionally associated with autochthonous forms of Hinduism. It is said to have started as a ceremonial re-enactment of the celestial snatching of the pot of nectar after the Samundra Manthan. An official game is held on the occasion of the Yaoshang Festival of Shri Shri Govindajee at palace ground with Royal presence.

Unlike Rugby, it is an individual sport and not a team one. Before the start of the game, players rub their bodies with mustard oil and water to make it slippery to catch each other.  Each side has 7 players in a field and one of the ends of the field has a rectangular box, a side of which forms the central portion of the goal line. To score a goal a player has to approach the goal from the front with his oiled coconut and pass the goal line. The coconut serves the purpose of a ball and is offered to the king or the judges who sit just beyond the goal line. However, in ancient times the teams were not equally matched but the player with the coconut had to tackle the rest of the players. The ultimate goal of yubi lakpi is to present the coconut to the King or the head of the tribe . It is a game of individuals because each player is vying to win the coconut and get the reward. In the original games, the King would watch the players to see who was the most skillful and who possessed qualities for the battlefield . Each player would therefore try to impress.

Martial Arts

Martial arts is a part of India’s ancient culture and is a traditional game. Originally, the traditional form of martial arts started in the southern part of India and now it not only has different names but also has different forms that’s practiced in the different regions of India. Khusti – The Indian Wrestling is also a part of Indian Martial Arts and is found throughout India. Indian martial arts has an important influence in the development of modern Asian martial arts. Nowadays, people have started opting martial arts training for self-defense as well as for for fitness. Indian martial arts can be roughly divided into northern and southern styles. A detailed list of the various forms of Martial Arts that has its origins in India will be discussed in the next blog!

Happy Playing!

Popular Myths You Thought Were True!

Many times the things we think of as common knowledge is nothing more than just a Myth that has been passed down to us generation after generation! Here are a few popular myths that  have been debunked. At any rate, this list is by no means exhaustive. So if are are aware of any other widely known myth or urban legend, go ahead and leave a comment.

Our Tongue Is Mapped!

There are no different receptors for each taste whether it’s, bitter, sour, salty, sweet, umami, spicy, minty and so on. The entire tongue can sense all of these tastes more or less equally. So, while some parts of the tongue may be able to detect a taste before the others do, all parts are equally good at conveying the different kinds of taste. Threshold sensitivity may differ across the tongue, but the intensity of sensation does not.

Bulls Hate Red!

Bulls are colorblind! They actually react to motions of the bull fighter’s cloth as a perceived threat. Although professional matadors use a red cape to enrage their bull, it is not the color red that makes the animal angry! The bulls will charge regardless of the color due to the threat posed by the matador.

The Great Wall Of China Is Visible From Space!

First of all we have to define where “space” starts. Is it 50 miles, 100 miles, the moon? For our purposes we will use the International Space Station, and guess what? Thats right, you can’t see the Great Wall of China from there. By the way, the ISS is about 173 miles above sea level which is considered low Earth orbit. That’s barely even space. There are man made structures visible from that height, however, one being the Giza Pyramids and Airport Runways! While many believe this, the truth is that none of the Apollo astronauts reported seeing it from the Moon or even close to the Earth’s surface! There are several variations on this folkloric statement, and they’re all quantifiably false.

Bats Are Blind!

Don’t be fact-blind! The truth is that all 1,100 bat species can see but no animal, including the Bat, can see in complete darkness! Since Bats are night creatures and hunt insects in the dark, they have an additional trick called echolocation that helps them navigate their way in complete darkness. They create sounds that bounce off nearby objects which enables them to locate food.

We Have 5 Senses!

The standard list of five senses doesn’t really give our bodies credit for all of the amazing things they can do. Apart from the basic touch, smell, hearing, taste, sight, we have close to 20 in all which include the sense of balance, pain, hunger, thirst, fullness, heat, cold, itch, pressure, etc.

Antibiotics Kill Viruses!

This word pops up every cold and flu season. Antibiotics, by their very definition, kill bacteria. The common cold and influenza are viruses and are not affected by antibiotic use. While some might think that taking an antibiotic could prove helpful on some level, it could actually bring in more problems. Taking antibiotics in a manner contrary to their intended purpose or dosage instruction could cause other common bacteria within the body to become drug-resistant! This could create “superbugs” that cause illness much worse than the primary.

It Takes 7 Years To Digest Chewing Gum! 

The gum base is insoluble, just like the fiber base of raw vegetables, corn, popcorn kernels, and seeds. Our bodies do not possess digestive enzymes to specifically break down gum base. Gum will stick readily to your shoe but it does not stick to your stomach wall or the intestinal tract. Instead of hanging around for years, it simply travels the same path as food and is excreted in stool. Doctors figure this old wives’ tale was invented to prevent kids from swallowing the rubbery substance.

Primitive Humans & Dinosaurs Crossed Paths!

Humans and Dinosaurs coexist only in books, movies and cartoons. The last dinosaurs – other than birds – died out dramatically about 65 million years ago, while the fossils of our earliest human ancestors are only about 6 million years old. So they never lived among one another at the same time!

A Penny Dropped From A Height Could Kill!

A penny isn’t the most aerodynamic of weapons. A combination of its shape and wind friction means that, tossed even from the 1,250-foot Empire State Building, it would travel fast enough merely to sting an unlucky pedestrian.

There Is No Gravity In Space!

Blame the term “zero-gravity” for this common misconception. Gravity is everywhere, even in space. Most of us only experience gravity in the downward direction, but gravity is not just a downward force. It pulls in all directions and dimensions. Astronauts appear weightless because they are in continuous freefall towards the Earth, staying aloft because of their horizontal motion. While orbiting, they are falling towards the earth but moving sufficiently sideways to miss it. So they are basically always falling but never landing. The effect of gravity diminishes with distance, but it never truly goes away. Gravity exists in virtually all areas of space. When a shuttle reaches orbit height (around 250 miles above the earth), gravity is reduced by only 10%. It’s also untrue that space is a vacuum. There are a lot of atoms out there, albeit sometimes far apart!

Humans Use Only 10% Of Their Brains!

This media darling has been around for at least a century. Fortunately, it’s just not true. What is correct, however, is that at certain moments in anyone’s life, such as when we are simply at rest and thinking, we may be using only 10 percent of our brains. And of course, not everyone uses brain t to its full capacity. If that would have been true, everyone would have been an Einstein or remember π to the twenty-thousandth decimal place or perhaps even have telekinetic powers! MRI imaging clearly demonstrates–with fancy colors no less–that humans put most of their cerebral cortex to good use, even while dozing.

Reading In Low Light Will Make You Go Blind!

This is completely false. Our ancestors used to read, sew and do a number of other chores by firelight, and none of them ever went blind from it. Research shows that reading in low light can strain your eyes, but they go back to normal as soon as you turn a brighter light on.

When You Shave, The Hair Grows Back Thicker & Faster!

Re-grown hair isn’t thicker, coarser or darker. It just appears so because it’s no longer tapered! A study that was done 80 years ago actually proved that this was not true, but many people still believe it today. Hair is dead and so shaving it is not going to make it grow faster. The follicles beneath the surface of the skin make your hair grow and what comes out is dead by the time it reaches the skin’s surface. So another reason why it appears darker and thicker is because it hasn’t been exposed to the sun or chemicals for very long!

Eating A Low-Fat Diet Is Healthy!

In the 90’s everyone was doing low-fat. There were low-fat cookies and other sweets, even low-fat pasta! You name it and there was a low-fat version. The truth is, the human body needs a certain amount of fat just the way you need carbs and proteins to stay healthy. So following a low-fat diet can actually go against your plan. Also, many food products that are labeled low-fat, are replaced with sugar, which as everyone knows can lead to weight gain and a whole host of other health problems!

Saturn Has Solid Rings Around Them!

The beautiful rings of Saturn are not solid bands. The rings are comprised of individual dust and ice particles that range in size from microscopic to many feet long. The dark grains of dust making up this faint ring are probably debris that cosmic impacts knocked off the gas giant’s distant and equally dark moon Phoebe. The spectacular ring system may date back some 4.4 billion years to the time when the planet itself formed. In fact, the giant ring around Saturn is even larger than thought, spanning an area of space nearly 7,000 times larger than the planet itself!

Macintosh Computers Are Virus Resistant!

80% of the computer industry is ruled by Windows, so hackers are merely attacking the majority. They are not immune to viruses, but viruses aren’t really made for OS X because the amount of users is relatively small.

There Are 3 States Of Matter!

Contrary to what you learned in grade school, there are four states of matter and not three. Solid, liquid, gas, and plasma are the four states of matter you see every day! Other known states are Bose–Einstein Condensates and Neutron-Degenerate matter, but these only occur in extreme situations such as ultra cold or ultra dense matter.

Share the post & comment below with the Myths you know of!

Happy Debunking! 🙂

9 Nights, 9 Goddesses, 9 Stories! That’s Navratri!

One of the most sacred festivals of India, Navratri is here! And as we all know, this festival is spread over 9 nights and 10 days in worship of Goddess Durga or Shakti which represents the energy of the universe, in her 9 beautiful forms with great reverence. In Hinduism, Mother Goddess is honored in all her manifestations and the celebration culminates on the 10th day with Dussehra, which symbolizes the victory of good over evil.

As the ten-armed Goddess, Mata Durga presents a radiantly beautiful form that is bewitching to behold. The 9-day period from the new moon day to the 9th day of Lunar month of Ashwin is considered the most auspicious time of the Hindu calendar and is hence the most celebrated occasion of the year.

The 9 different forms of Devi are worshiped over the 9 days. These are the most popular forms under which she is worshiped.

Durga Shailputri 

She is a daughter of Himalaya and the first among 9 avatars of Goddess Durgas. In her previous birth, she was the daughter of Daksha. Her name was Sati – Bhavani. i.e. the wife of Lord Shiva. Once Daksha had organized a big Yagna and did not invite Shiva. But Sati being obstinate, went for the Yagna. There upon Daksha insulted Shiva.

Sati could not tolerate the insult of her husband and burnt herself in the fire of Yagna. In her next birth she became the daughter of Himalaya in the name of Parvati – Hemvati and got married to Lord Shiva. As per the Upanishads, she had destroyed the ego of many Devtas like Lord Indra. Being ashamed, they bowed and realized that in fact, she is Shakti and everyone including Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh are capable of who they are by only after receiving Shakti (Energy) from the Goddess.

Brahmacharini

The second avatar of Goddess Durga is Brahmacharini. Brahma is that who observes penance (tapa) and good conduct. Here “Brahma” means “Tapa”. The idol of this Goddess is a very gorgeous one with a rosary (maala) in her right hand and a Kamandal in her left.

In her previous birth she was Parvati Hemavati, the daughter of Himalay. As the story goes, Brahmacharini was busy playing games with her friends when Naradaji came to her and by reading her Palm-lines he predicted that she would get married to a naked and terrible ‘Bhole baba’ who was her husband in her previous birth as Sati, the daughter of Daksha. He also told her that she had to perform penance for him now. There upon Parvati told her mother Menaka that she would marry only Shambhu or she would remain unmarried for life. Saying this she went to observe penance. And that’s how she became famously known as Tapacharini or Brahmacharini. Thereon, her name Uma became familiar too.

Chandraghanta 

The name of the third Shakti is Chandraghanta. Her name means “one who has a half-moon shaped like a bell. She has ten hands holding a trident, mace, arrow, bow, sword, lotus, goad, bell and waterpot and one of her hands remain in a blessing posture. She rides a tiger or a lion as her vehicle, which represents bravery and courage. She wears a half moon on her forehead and has a third eye in the middle of her forehead. Her complexion is golden.

After Lord Shiva gives Parvati his word that he wouldn’t marry any woman, her sufferings overwhelm him so much that he gives up and followed by a tearful reunion he agrees to get married to her. Soon, the joyous moment of Parvati’s life starts when Shiva brings a procession of gods, mortals, ghosts, ghouls, goblins, sages, ascetics, Aghoris and Shivaganas to the gates of King Himavan’s palace to take away his bride Parvati. Shiva arrives at King Himavan’s palace in a terrorizing form and seeing this, Parvati’s mother faints in terror. Parvati appears to Shiva and sees his fearsome form. To save her parents and other family members, she transforms herself into Goddess Chandraghanta.

Chandraghanta persuades Shiva to re-appear in a charming avatar and thus he appears as a prince decorated with countless jewels. Parvati revives her mother, father and friends and they both get married to one another.

 

Kushmanda

The fourth form of Goddess Durga is Kushmanda. Ku means “little,” Ushma means “warmth” or “energy”, and Anda means “cosmic egg.” She is considered to have created this universe with her divine smile.

When the universe was non-existent and darkness prevailed everywhere, Maa Kushmanda produced the Cosmic egg with her smile, bringing light to the universe. Kushmanda has the power and strength to live in the core of the Sun. Her luminosity gives the Sun its brightness. She is said to give direction to the Sun God, Surya.

Kushmanda is Goddess Shakti herself, the first being of the entire universe and she is believed to be the only one who created this universe by transforming half of her being as Shiva. They thus created the universe and other Gods and Goddesses too. Adi Shakti took herself into three forms. One of the three splits was her own form Kali and hence we find Adi Shakti as well as Kali as the wives of Shiva.

Skanda Mata

The fifth form of Goddess Durga is “Skanda Mata”. Skanda is another name for Kartikeya and Mata denotes mother. Skandamata rides on a lion and possesses four arms, out of which two often hold the lotus flowers. One of her hands is always in the boon-conferring gesture and with the other she holds her son Skanda in her lap. Her complexion is white and she is also seen seated on the lotus, which is why she is also called the Goddess with a lotus-seat.

As per the belief, Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati’s energy combines into their own forms of nature while in deep meditation. On knowing this, Lord Indra assigns Lord Agni (Fire) to kidnap the ball of energy and keep it for safety from Demon Tarakasur. After meditation, Parvati realizes what happened and chases after Lord Agni who vanishes with the divine energy to Goddess Ganga. Parvati comes out of her cave and questions the Gods on why Lord Agni stole the divine energy. Parvati gets angry and attains the form of Goddess Durga, when they tell her the reason. She curses the Gods that their wives will never be able to enjoy the happiness with their children and with that, curses Lord Agni that he will be an all-burner, unable to differentiate the differences between right and wrong, his food will have impurities, that he will always be surrounded by black smoke and anyone who touches him in one of the three worlds, will get reduced to ash. Meanwhile, Shiva comes out of the cave and calms her down. Later, Shiva’s son Kartikeya (Murugan or Skand) is born from the six Krittikas (Mothers) and not Parvati. But still, the Goddess accepts him as her own child, thus setting an example of a great mother before the world. In her Durga avatar, she takes Kartikeya from Kritika Lok (Krittika World) to Kailash riding this Lion. Upon growing up, Kartikeya learns about the boon of special powers and weapons given by Lord Bhrahma to kill Demon Tarakasur. Before going to the battlefield, Parvati transforms herself as Goddess Durga to bless Kartikeya. With her blessings, he manages to kill Tarakasur and his army! The Gods thus make him their commander-in-chief.

Katyayani

The sixth form of Goddess Durga is Katyayani. She is called Katyayani as she was born to Sage Katya of the Katya clan. This is the daughter form of Durga. A loving daughter, she is the epitome of love but won’t hesitate to rise up in anger to defend righteousness and Dharma. It is believed that Maa Katyayani persistently battled against the evil and deceitful entities.

Sage Katyayan performed severe penance to please Maa Bhagvati and wished for Maa Durga to be born as his daughter. The Goddess acceded to his request. Meanwhile, an army of the powerful demon Mahishasura, who could only be killed by a warrior Goddess, had reached heaven to overthrow the Gods from their abode! The trinity of Gods – Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva, were infuriated and they create Goddess Durga, who was a culmination of the powers of all the deities. Sage Katyayana had the first privilege to worship her and so she was also named Katyayani.

Kalratri

The seventh form of Goddess Durga is Kalratri. She is black like the night. Hairs unlocked, her necklaces shine as bright as the lightening! She has three bright eyes that are round like the universe and thousands of flames of fire come out of her nose while she breathes. Kalaratri is the one of the fiercest forms of Durga and her appearance itself evokes fear. This form of Goddess is believed to be the destroyer of all demon entities.

She rides on Shava (dead body). She holds a sharp sword in her right hand while her lower hand is in blessing gesture. The burning torch (mashal) is in her left hand and her lower left hand is in a fearless gesture by which she makes her devotees fearless. She is known as “Shubhamkari” in her auspicious state.

There were two demons named Shumbha and Nishumbha, who invaded devaloka and defeated the demigods. Indra, the ruler of the demigods, along with the demigods went to The Himalayas to seek help in getting back their abode. They prayed to Goddess Parvati. She heard their prayer, while she was bathing and she therefore created another goddess Chandi or Ambika to help them out by killing the demons. In the battlefield when Chanda-Munda who was sent by Shumbha and Nishumbha, came to battle Chandi, she created a dark Goddess Kali or Kaalratri. Kali killed them, thus acquiring the name Chamunda. A demon named Raktveej had a special boon. If his drop of blood fell on the ground, another Raktveej would get created. When Kaalratri attacked him, his blood started creating several clones of him. This way it was impossible to defeat him. During the battle, furious Kaalratri attacked him and immediately drank his blood to prevent it from falling down. She thus killed Raktveej and helped goddess Chandi kill Shumbha and Nishumbha! This way, they gave back the demigods a safe place to live.

Maha Gauri

The eighth form of Goddess Durga is “Maha Gauri.” She is as white as a Conch, Moon and Jasmine. She is usually depicted with four hands, three of which hold a trident, lotus and drum, while the fourth is in a blessing gesture. The lotus is sometimes replaced with a rosary. She rides a white bull, usually shown wearing white clothes. The top left hand is in “Fearless – Mudra” and her lower left hand holds “Trishul.” 

She is calm and peaceful and exists in a peaceful form. It is said that while observing penance, the dust and earth made Gauri’s body really dirty. Shiva cleans her with the water of River Ganga and Immediately her body transforms into a bright form like the lightning! Thus she is known as “Maha Gauri” as well.

Siddhidatri

The ninth form of Goddess Durga is Siddhidatri. There are eight Siddhis which are Anima, Mahima, Garima, Laghima, Prapti, Prakamya, Iishitva & Vashitva and these Siddhi’s are given by Maha Shakti.

It is said in the “Devipuran” that the Supreme God Shiva got all these Siddhi’s by worshiping Maha Shakti. With her gratitude, Lord Shiva’s half self was transformed into a Goddess and therefore his name “Ardhanarishvar” became well known. The Goddess drives on a Lion, has four hands and looks pleased. This form of Durga is worshiped by all Gods, Rishis-Munis, Siddhas, Yogis, Sadhakas and devotees for attaining the best religious asset.

Happy Navratri!

Characteristics Of An Introvert!

Some people assume introverts are socially anxious, but that’s not really the case. Introverts just don’t handle social situations as well as extroverts do. Although the stereotypical introvert would be at the party, hanging out alone by the food table fiddling with the phone, the “social butterfly” can just as easily have an introverted personality! Sometimes a lot of introverts can pass off as extroverts! In fact, introverts can be warm, interested in others and powerful in their own right as well. People are frequently unaware that they’re introverts, especially if they’re not shy! They may not realize that being an introvert is more than just cultivating time alone.

It can be more helpful to pay attention to whether one is losing or gaining energy from being around others, even if the company of friends gives them pleasure. While introverts and extroverts are often viewed in terms of two extreme opposites, the truth is that most people lie somewhere in the middle of the extroversion-introversion continuum. There are certainly plenty of introverts who are socially reserved and who would prefer to stay home and read a book rather than go to a big party, but there are also plenty of introverts who enjoy socializing. You might even be surprised to learn that many people who you think of as “social butterflies” might actually be quite introverted!

The following behavioral signs of introversion can give you a start in learning about traits and attitudes that suggest that your personality (or that of someone you know) may be less outer-oriented than you realize. See how many you feel honestly apply to you!

SOCIALIZING

We don’t need alone time because we don’t like you. Don’t take it personally. But we need alone time because we just need alone time! In fact we aren’t even judging anyone when we sit quietly. We’re just sitting quietly, probably having a good time watching extroverts in action. And though it might not look like it on the way we behave sometimes, if we say we’re having fun, we are having fun. And if we leave early, it’s not because we’re party poopers. We’re just pooped. Socializing takes a lot out of us! When we want to stay in, we just do it without making a big, aggrieved production about how it is absolutely essential for us to stay in sometimes—we need to do it, we just have to recharge—because we have extreme intermittent photosensitivity OF THE SOUL! Also, we are always on or before time.

TALKING

If you want to hear what we have to say, give us time to say it. We don’t fight to be heard over other people. We just clam up. Just as introverts are less likely to volunteer in public situations, they are also less likely to volunteer opinions or advice in less public settings. Whether it’s a family discussion around the kitchen table or a staff meeting to decide how to market new products, people high in introversion will keep their views to themselves and let the noisy extroverts take control. Because of this, and because your advice may indeed be highly valued, it’s likely that if you’re constantly being asked “What do you think?” it might suggest that your behavior sends cues to others of your inner desire to focus your attention and thoughts inward. We may look disinterested in striking up a conversation and might even seem lonely, but we are not! We are just choosy. And we’re loyal to friends who don’t try to make us over into extroverts. We speak at a volume perceivable by humans. We don’t obsess over the possibility that occasionally liking to perform activities solo (reading, going for walks, etc.) makes us extremely unique. “Extroverts don’t have the same internal talking as we do,” says Olsen Laney. “Most introverts need to think first and talk later.” As you might remember from your elementary school days, there were some fellow students whose hands shot straight up into the air when the teacher asked a question or needed someone to volunteer. Extroverts tend to be ready and eager to stand out in any academic or social situation. You are probably more of an introvert than an extrovert if you are content to sit back and let others take center stage. It’s not that introverts know less than others; they just don’t feel a particular need to be in that limelight. I remember my best friend would poke me to raise my hands up because she knew I was aware of the answers to the question and still sat there quiet on my bench.

COMMUNICATION

Anything but the telephone. You may not pick up your phone even from people you like, but you’ll call them back as soon as you’re mentally prepared and have gathered the energy for the conversation. “To me, a ringing phone is like having somebody jump out of a closet and go ‘BOO!,'” says Dembling. “I do like having a long, nice phone call with a friend — as long as it’s not jumping out of the sky at me.” We interact with other humans in orthodox ways and sometimes it’s fun and sometimes it’s not and mostly it’s whatever. Most of those who know me would agree with this! I can talk comfortably over the telephone to just about 10 people in the world at the moment. We communicate emotions, fears, and desires to relevant parties in a clear way.  Sometimes you do things alone without tweeting “OHHHH MY GODDDD I LOVE TO DO THINGS ALOOOOONE!!!!!!!!! #INTROVERT”. Introverts are notoriously small talk-phobic, as they find idle chatter to be a source of anxiety, or at least annoyance. For many quiet types, chitchat can feel disingenuous. “Let’s clear one thing up: Introverts do not hate small talk because we dislike people. We hate small talk because we hate the barrier it creates between people.”

GOOD LISTENERS

Introverts listen before they speak. They watch from the sidelines and take some mental notes before they insert themselves into any social situation. This preparation allows them to enter a conversation confidently, without stumbling over their words or doubting the accuracy of what they say. Introverts are often described as quiet, reserved, mellow, and are sometimes mistaken for being shy. While some introverts certainly are shy, people certainly should not mistake an introvert’s reserve for timidity. In many cases, people with this personality type simply prefer to choose their words carefully and not waste time or energy on needless chit-chat. If you are the quiet type and a little bit reserved, you probably are an introvert. We shy away from asking questions and we also dislike being asked too many questions. We would rather analyze on our own instead. We also do not like unnecessary explanation which we are asked to do to prove ourselves. It stresses us out! All things said, we can talk endlessly with people we know very closely or enjoy being with.

SELF SUFFICIENT

Introverts are not dependent people. They believe it is foolish to depend on another person to take care of their material needs. This freedom makes them feel empowered, because they know they can manage any curve ball that life might throw at them. It’s true that opposites attract, and introverts frequently gravitate towards outgoing extroverts who encourage them to have fun and not take themselves too seriously. “Introverts are sometimes drawn to extroverts because they like being able to ride their ‘fun bubble.'” They are shy with their love interest even when they are comfortable.

SUPER FOCUSED

Introverts concentrate with everything they’ve got. They make a point of paying attention to nonverbal cues that might reveal hidden meanings, because they know words are only half of the story. This ability helps them avoid potential misunderstandings. Introverts identify changes in their environment very quickly. They will probably be the first person to notice a new haircut. This often causes their friends and coworkers to thank them for being so thoughtful. The upside of being overwhelmed by too much stimuli is that introverts often have a keen eye for detail, noticing things that may escape others around them. Research has found that introverts exhibit increased brain activity when processing visual information, as compared to extroverts. When describing the way that introverts think, Jung explained that they’re more interested in ideas and the big picture rather than facts and details. Of course, many introverts excel in detail-oriented tasks — but they often have a mind for more abstract concepts as well. “Introverts do really enjoy abstract discussion,”

EASY TO PLEASE

Introverts don’t need much to feel happy and content. They would rather stay home and enjoy a good book or bubble bath than go to a loud bar and buy expensive drinks. This distinction helps them save money and relax after stressful days. They forgive easily. Introverts are masters of their emotions. They reflect until they are able to understand the triggers that are responsible for their negative thoughts. This retrospection helps them dig deep enough to deal with entrenched self-defeating beliefs that limit their potential. Introverts are trustworthy as they can keep secrets. They know how hard it can be to trust somebody, so they won’t share a personal detail if you don’t want them to. This is exactly why introverts are excellent best friends. But they are often taken for granted because they seldom complain. They are patient and can tolerate irritating people too. But we are likely to avoid people who seem like they might be in a bad mood, if not outright furious at something or someone. People high in introversion don’t want to look at someone who seems mad. This is because they are more sensitive to potentially negative evaluations. If you think a person is angry because of something to do with you, his or her gaze becomes a threat.

LEARNERS

Introverts believe knowledge is power. They are intensely interested in the things that they care about and want to learn everything they can. This eagerness helps them become experts in their fields. Introverts have interesting things to say. They might not be fans of small talk, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be engaging in a deep discussion. This distinction is a common source of confusion. Introverts are often considered to be “quiet,” but that’s not because they don’t like people. They just don’t like to talk about trivial things. Introverts are passionate people who want to make the most of their days, so they’d rather not waste their time with a shallow conversation. If you want to find out how fascinating an introvert can be, simply ask them an intelligent question about a topic that they care about. They have a penchant for philosophical conversations and a love of thought-provoking books and movies! Introverts like to jump into the deep end. Introverts observe and take in a lot of information, and they think before they speak, leading them to appear wise to others. Introverts tend to think hard and be analytical.  We are often called an ‘old soul’ since our 20’s! Despite the belief that introverts are so quiet, they can be the best leaders of all. If the group is ready to lead itself, then the introverted leader will draw the most potential out of them. It’s only when the group needs a spark provided by its head that introverts might be unable to provide the necessary guidance. Then you’ll need to partner with an extroverted yin to your yang.

NETWORKING

If you’re an introvert, you may sometimes enjoy going to parties, but chances are, you’re not going because you’re excited to meet new people. At a party, most introverts would rather spend time with people they already know and feel comfortable around. If you happen to meet a new person that you connect with, great — but meeting people is rarely the goal. Networking (read: small-talk with the end goal of advancing your career) can feel particularly disingenuous for introverts, who crave authenticity in their interactions. “Networking is stressful if we do it in the ways that are stressful to us,” Dembling says, advising introverts to network in small, intimate groups rather than at large mixers.

DISLIKES CROWD

We feel like an outsider in the middle of social gatherings and group activities, even with people we know! If you tend to find yourself feeling alone in a crowd, you might be an introvert. We might let friends or activities pick us, rather than extending our own invitations. One of the most fundamental characteristics of introverts is that they need time alone to recharge their batteries. Whereas an extrovert might get bored or antsy spending a day at home alone with tea and a stack of magazines, this sort of down time feels necessary and satisfying to an introvert. Do you start to get tired and unresponsive after you’ve been out and about for too long? It’s likely because you’re trying to conserve energy. Everything introverts do in the outside world causes them to expend energy, after which they’ll need to go back and replenish their stores in a quiet environment. Short of a quiet place to go, many introverts will resort to zoning out. We feel exhausted after spending time with a lot of people. After a day interacting with others, we often need to retreat to a quiet place and have an extended amount of time all to oneself. One of the major characteristics of this personality type is that introverts have to expend energy in social situations, unlike extroverts who gain energy from such interactions. That doesn’t mean that all introverts avoid social events altogether. Many introverts actually enjoy spending time around others, with one key caution – introverts tend to prefer the company of close friends. While an extrovert might go to a party with the goal to meet new people, an introvert goes with the intent of spending quality time talking to good friends.

DISTRACTED EASILY

While extroverts tend to get bored easily when they don’t have enough to do, introverts have the opposite problem! They get easily distracted and overwhelmed in environments with an excess of stimulation.”Extroverts are commonly found to be more easily bored than introverts on monotonous tasks, probably because they require and thrive on high levels of stimulation,” Clark University researchers wrote in a paper published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. “In contrast, introverts are more easily distracted than extroverts and, hence, prefer relatively unstimulating environments.” But on the other hand they tend to be self-driven and disciplined too. They don’t need approval from external sources, so they direct their energy to the pursuit of an ambitious goal instead. This ambition often turns introverts into highly successful people.

EXCELLENT PUBLIC SPEAKERS

Introverts can be excellent leaders and public speakers — and although they’re stereotyped as being the shrinking violet, they don’t necessarily shy away from the spotlight. Performers like Lady Gaga, Christina Aguilera and Emma Watson all identify as introverts, and an estimated 40 percent of CEOs have introverted personalities. Instead, an introvert might struggle more with meeting and greeting large groups of people on an individual basis. We avoid shows that have active audience participation!  Whether it’s making your way through a crowded bus station or just navigating a crowded street, if you’re an introvert you most likely don’t seek a great deal of contact with others. In decades past, if you wanted to avoid interacting with strangers, you would keep your head down and look straight in front of you. Now you have the added protection of being able to hide behind the protection of your headphones (though no one has to know whether there’s actually music coming through them or not).

LOVES SOLITUDE

Whenever possible, introverts tend to avoid being surrounded by people on all sides. We’re likely to sit in places where we can get away when we’re ready to – easily. We opt for seats in the aisle, the back or at the corner to avoid interaction! But we’re not opposed to group meetings or discussions, but if we want to come up with a creative solution, we need some time to work the problem out on our own. Having the opportunity to reflect quietly on a problem allows you to make the maximum use of your ability to engage in original thought, and to produce results about which you can feel proud. As an introvert, our idea of a good time is a quiet afternoon to ourselves enjoying our hobbies and interests. A few hours alone with a good book, a peaceful nature walk, or a favorite television program are great ways to help you feel recharged and energized. This does not mean that the average introvert wants to be alone all the time. Many introverts love spending time with friends and interacting with familiar people in social situations. They key thing to remember is that after a long day of social activity, an introvert will probably want to retreat to a quiet place to think, reflect, and recharge. If having a few hours to be alone sounds like your idea of a good time, you just might be an introvert.

DON’T GET HIGH ON SURROUNDINGS

A 2006 Japanese study found that introverts tend to have lower blood pressure than their extroverted counterparts. Neuro-chemically speaking, things like huge parties just aren’t your thing. Extroverts and introverts differ significantly in how their brains process experiences through “reward” centers. Researchers demonstrated this phenomenon by giving Ritalin — the ADHD drug that stimulates dopamine production in the brain — to introverted and extroverted college students. They found that extroverts were more likely to associate the feeling of euphoria achieved by the rush of dopamine with the environment they were in. Introverts, by contrast, did not connect the feeling of reward to their surroundings. The study “suggests that introverts have a fundamental difference in how strongly they process rewards from their environment, with the brains of introverts weighing internal cues more strongly than external motivational and reward cues,” explained LiveScience’s Tia Ghose.

WRITERS

Many introverted children come to believe that there’s something “wrong” with them if they’re naturally less outspoken and assertive than their peers. Introverted adults often say that as children, they were told to come out of their shells or participate more in class. Introverts are often better at communicating in writing than in person, and many are drawn to the solitary, creative profession of writing. Most introverts — like “Harry Potter” author J.K. Rowling — say that they feel most creatively charged when they have time to be alone with their thoughts. Introverts can move around their introverted “set point” which determines how they need to balance solitude with social activity. But when they move too much — possibly by over-exerting themselves with too much socializing and busyness — they get stressed and need to come back to themselves, according Olsen Laney. This may manifest as going through periods of heightened social activity, and then balancing it out with a period of inwardness and solitude.”There’s a recovery point that seems to be correlated with how much interaction you’ve done,” says Dembling. “We all have our own private cycles.”

SMALL GROUP OF CLOSE FRIENDS

One common misconception about introverts is that they don’t like people. While introverts typically do not enjoy a great deal of socializing, they do enjoy having a small group of friends to whom they are particularly close. Instead of having a large social circle of people they know only on a superficial level, introverts prefer to stick to deep, long-lasting relationships marked by a great deal of closeness and intimacy. They might have a lot of friends on the social network but in reality they have very few close friends. If your social circle tends to be small, but very close, there’s a pretty good chance you are an introvert.

 ADVANTAGES

You’re less likely to make a social gaffe, such as by inadvertently insulting someone whose opinion you don’t agree with. Because you enjoy reflecting on your own thoughts, you’ll be less likely to get bored when you’re alone than someone who needs constant social stimulation. The only risk you face is that people who don’t know you might think you’re aloof or that you feel superior to everyone else. Giving yourself permission to be a little more open in revealing your thoughts and feelings may help you make the best of both worlds, being true to your personality while not erring in the direction of seeming antisocial.

Everyone exhibits some traits from each personality type—as Carl Jung said, “There is no such thing as a pure extrovert or a pure introvert. Such a man would be in a lunatic asylum.” But some people fall squarely in the middle. They may draw energy from a crowd one day, but feel the need to retreat the next. If this sounds like you, you might be an ambivert.

Remember, introversion is not an all-or-nothing characteristic. People can be what you might call introverts with a capital I (aka “very introverted”) or they might be outgoing in some situations with some introverted tendencies. Introversion exists on a continuum with extroversion, and most people tend to lie somewhere between the two.

Ten Signs, Your Boss Doesn’t Respect You!

Stumbled across this amazing article on Forbes contributed by Liz Ryan who also writes for the Huffington Post, Business Week, LinkedIn, the Harvard Business Review, the Denver Post and leads the worldwide Human Workplace movement to reinvent work for people!

I had a boss one time who would ask me for my opinion on various business topics at least once a day. She’d stop by my desk and ask me what I thought about this topic or that one. I was about 24 years old.

This was so far back in the day that cubicles were uncommon. Most of us sat at open desks and maybe if we were lucky, we had a little file cabinet next to our desk, too.

My manager would walk up to me and ask “Why are the inventory records out of date and how do we fix them?” I’d tell her what to do.

At first I was flattered. Then I realized that I was nothing to my boss – I was just a source for information, and an insignificant peon. Anything intelligent that I might say was immediately re-packaged as her own, original idea.

My boss would ask me for my opinion and then immediately forget that she had asked me.

She took my opinions and they became her own. She added nothing to them and subtracted nothing; she simply told people “Here’s what I think.”

If anybody asked her a clarifying question, her head might literally have exploded.

I figured that it didn’t matter whether my boss ever acknowledged my ideas or not, because if she stayed in her job beyond the point where I could tolerate her, I’d quit my job anyway.

That boss didn’t stick around long. Somebody figured out that she made a better ventriloquist’s dummy than a manager and she was out the door. Over time I learned that you can’t stick around to work for people who don’t respect you. What is the point?

If a job only pays your bills, it’s robbing you! The right job pays your bills and grows your flame. Working at the right job your mojo grows every day. You keep learning and you build up the people around you, who build you up in turn.

Here are ten signs your manager doesn’t respect you, and it’s time to make a change!

Your Time Means Nothing

Our client Jordan worked for a guy who would tell Jordan at nine or ten a.m. “There’s a report I need from you today.”

Jordan would ask “What kind of report?”

“I’ll tell you later,” his boss would say.

All day long Jordan would try to find out what kind of report his boss needed, without any success.

At four-forty-five his boss would finally say “Here are the report details. I need that report tonight!”

These reports took one to three hours to create. Jordan had finally had enough and he took an internal transfer over his boss’s objections.

Now there’s no one in his old department who knows how to create custom reports, so his inconsiderate boss has to go without them.

Your Boss ‘Forgets’ or Overlooks Commitments

When your boss doesn’t respect you, he or she will make commitments to you just to get you to stop asking. Then he or she will ‘forget’ the commitment or lie about it.

“What — I promised you a week of vacation in September? No way! You must be mistaken!”

You can put everything you say to your boss and everything s/he says to you in writing, but do you really want to live your life that way? There are other managers around who will value you instead of taking you for granted.

S/he Ignores Your Needs

A good manager asks you once or twice a year or more often “How are you doing? What do you need from me?”

A lousy manager doesn’t ask people what they need. Even when people communicate their needs clearly and wait patiently for their smallest requirements (from a copier that works to software that would make the work faster and more accurate), their needs don’t get met.

Life is long, but it’s too short to wait for a poor manager to wake up and listen to the people around him.

The Boss Explains Nothing

It’s hard to do your work when the burning question in your mind is “Why?”

Why did we change the product release schedule? Your boss doesn’t tell you, because he or she doesn’t think you need to know. Why was the meeting cancelled? Same answer.

Why have you changed my job description five times in the last month? Only your boss knows, and he or she isn’t saying. What does that tell you about the level of respect your boss has for you?

As Far as S/he’s Concerned, Anyone Could do Your Job

Bad bosses are fearful. They’re terrified!

If you’re good at your job, don’t expect a fearful boss to tell you that. He or she will take the opposite view, and make sure you know that in his or her opinion, anyone on the street could do your job.

Our client Alexander worked for a fearful VP. Alex’s boss told him “You’ve been very lucky here. You lucked into this manager job. A lot of people would want your job.”

Alex was feeling his mojo that day, and so he told his boss in a jocular tone “Really? Why do you put up with me, then?” Alex figured his boss was all bark and no bite, and he was right.

His boss wouldn’t have dared to try and do his VP job without Alex at his back.

The VP was bounced from his job after nine painful months.

Now Alex says “This time it worked out for me, but I don’t think I’d wait nine months for another lousy manager to get the boot. Those nine months probably shortened my lifespan by two years.”

Doesn’t Consult You in Your Area of Expertise

A bad boss will understand at some level (maybe a molecular level) that you know a lot more than he or she does, but don’t expect them to consult you in your area of expertise.

They’ll find somebody else to ask for advice, because it’s too hard for a fearful boss to admit that an underling like you knows more than they do.

Steals Your Ideas Without Hesitation

Like my boss a thousand years ago, many bad managers will steal their team members’ ideas without giving it a second thought. They don’t think of it as stealing.

They figure that you work for them so your ideas are naturally available to them without attribution or thanks. That’s not just how they view business ideas.

Their political beliefs, philosophical tenets and everything they think and believe comes from other people.

Can you imagine going through life without forming your own opinions? Maybe not, but lots of people do it!

Couldn’t Care Less How You Learn Important News

Bad managers don’t trouble themselves to make sure that sensitive or potentially upsetting news is delivered carefully.

If they want to change your role or give you an unpleasant assignment, they’ll text you or send you a group email message, or just let you wait to hear the news through the grapevine.

The surest sign of a weenie boss is the inability to communicate effectively with other people. That’s something only humans do well!

Won’t or Can’t  Acknowledge your Contribution

It is physically impossible for a fearful manager to thank you for a job well done. They’ll say “That’s what your paycheck is for! Why should I thank you for doing your job?” instead!

Your Boss Disrupts Your Life Without a Care

The last sign your boss doesn’t respect you is that he or she thinks nothing of disrupting your personal life, like another boss of mine who told me two days before Christmas to schedule an all-day meeting with our management team, out of town and on the following day — Christmas Eve.

It was very snowy that year and I said “We might not be back at home for Christmas, and there’s nothing urgent to discuss – why not do a telephone conference instead?”

“Don’t worry about it,” said my fearful boss. “I only need the real business people in the meeting – not HR.”

I laughed out loud. Fearful managers always declare themselves!

I quit that job a month later.

You don’t have to waste your life or your brain cells working under someone who squashes your flame.

The world is big, and there are plenty of people who are dying to work with you. The first step is to decide you’re worth better than the treatment you’re getting now!

Image Credits: HikingArtist.com & Cthulhu