Fitness as a Lifestyle

I went to the mall today to meet Rakhi who is a fitness instructor at the gym which is located inside the mall. I have been very curious about the fitness boom in India so wanted to talk to her about it. I was very impressed with the size, professional upkeep and facilities in the gym. Rakhi mentioned that this was just a mid-size gym, which looked pretty big to me, and that there was a bigger one in another locality. 

Fitness, as Rakhi notes, is not yet a lifestyle in India. People usually exercise and go to the gyms for short term goals, such as when getting married or when traveling to beaches. It is more about appearance and looking good as opposed to being healthy and fit. Gyms in India can be quite expensive so they can only be afforded by a relatively smaller segment of the population. Free spaces such as public parks and paths for walking and jogging are still very few. Significant air pollution further adds to the problem of outdoor exercising. This is a hindrance for all, but especially for women, who need safe and easily accessible places for everyday exercises. 

Indian Puppet Tradition In Need of Support

I recently visited the Bhartiya Lok Kala Mandal, Udaipur. It has a wonderful array of puppets primarily from the Rajasthan region in the museum. A little more care and preservation of the puppets is required otherwise in the current condition, where they are collecting dust, they are likely to deteriorate. The puppets are known as Kathputlis in the region. There are many forms of puppets in India ranging from wooden to shadow puppets but their popularity is on a decline. There is an attempt by the government to revive these art forms but they are on a small scale and not professionally managed. The need to support, encourage and actively promote this art form is even greater now when people around the world are experiencing cultural homogeneity because of globalization. This is making them actively look for authentic cultural experiences. Tourists don't visit India to go to the malls, they want to experience Indian history and culture. Preserving art will not only bring in tourism dollars, it will also help preserve Indian culture.

There were a group of older children visiting the center on a school trip the day I visited the museum. Most of them were taking selfies with the puppets with their cell phones. Later watching them enjoy the puppet show gave me hope that this cultural art form might still survive in spite of threats from other modern forms of entertainment like the video games. 

India’s Soaring Real Estate Market

The land for development in India is limited, the population is over a billion, the money made through legal and illegal means is plenty, and the aspirations for western style lifestyle and comfort is on a rise. All these have fueled an unprecedented growth in the real estate market. Real estate ads promise luxury homes but rarely do they deliver one. Shoddy construction, incomplete work, land and other forms of disputes, unprofessional and untrained labor, often affect what is delivered. In spite of all this the builders are making a huge amount of money and so are the property owners who have seen their property price rise 4-5 times in a matter of few years.