Culture Gender & Identity Life

I’m a third culture kid and it makes me feel culturally homeless

“You will never be completely at home again because part of your heart will always be elsewhere. That is the price you pay for the richness of loving and knowing people in more than one place.”— Miriam Adeney

Grihya…the Hindi word for accommodation.

In 1998, my mom and I moved from Aligarh, India to the United Arab Emirates. I remember her telling me we left just before my first birthday in September. So, my maternal side of the family made it a point to celebrate before we left home. It was bittersweet; since it was my first and last birthday celebrated there. 

Later, after arriving in the U.A.E., the three of us, my mom, dad and I, lived in a single apartment. Here, I spoke my first words, got my first bicycle and watched a lot of Pokémon. But as summer holidays approached each year I’d say goodbye (temporarily) to the U.A.E. and fly back to India.

Ghar…the Hindi word for home.

My first ghar was up a broad street narrowed by endless shops in Aligarh, India. I got used to the cacophony of Aligarh’s streets quite well. Somehow found my place among the countless people marching up and down its rough roads. Vaguely, I remember standing in the balcony of my Nani’s (maternal grandmother) house and watching various vendors pass by. I didn’t care for most, except one, the man carrying pink and blue clouds of cotton candy.

Acquiring cotton candy happened in one of three ways. One, either I rushed down steep stairs with money to buy it. Second, I stood on the balcony and called out for someone to buy it for me. Third, someone from my family was already buying the candy for me before I made it to the balcony. 

Today, the taste of cotton candy still connects me to Aligarh. In this way, I’ll always have access to my first home even if I don’t get to visit often. Thinking about all this compelled me to further consider what home meant to me. I have two homes. The difference between “Ghar” and “Grihya” is severe. Both words are similar but worlds apart. The thing is that Dubai is home but not fully, not like Aligarh. And Aligarh is home but not fully, not like Dubai. I find myself pulled to both places but never enough to fully want to stay. 

Places unlike words, sadly, aren’t interchangeable. In the U.A.E., I grew up with different cultures surrounding me. From Arabic, Hindi, to Malayalam, an array of languages fill the air. The concept of a native language doesn’t work when you grow up such diversity. I do have a mother tongue, Hindi, but don’t speak it as much as English.

Beghar… the Hindi word for homeless

So when the time comes to fill in my first language on documents I go back and forth between choosing to write Hindi or English; eventually choosing Hindi. Cause no matter how much I lack in speaking Hindi or how good I am at English. Hindi is always going to be the first language that introduced me to the world. Its alphabet is still with me even though I’m not fluent.

 My identity shifts with the backdrop. Which is hard to explain to someone who has a stable home and identity. In fact, being in transit is being at home for people like me. Cause home isn’t just four walls and a roof, it’s an emotional thread that keeps you grounded, something you can come back to regardless of how lost you felt being among the others.

But the thing is, I don’t fully know what I lost either. I haven’t lived in India enough to grasp what it means to be a local there. And I am not from the UAE to live like a local. Culturally speaking I feel lost, homeless. Though despite all this, I am loved and I love. I have memories I wouldn’t give up for anything. And if anything growing up with more than one home has taught me is you never fully belong anywhere but to yourself.

Life Hacks Tech Now + Beyond

5 apps to help you finally master the language you’ve been dying to learn

Learning a new language is exciting, but finding the right resources and being persistent in your studies can be extremely difficult.

The key to learning a new language is getting a little bit in your brain every day, even if it’s just a word.

Psychology explains that our metacognition (awareness of mental processes) plays a huge role in learning things, especially foreign languages. This includes being aware of how we learn whether that’s memorization, reading, auditory, etc. Furthermore, according to linguists, to acquire, not just learn, a new language an individual needs to have access to a native speaker to make conversation.

But we language enthusiasts have all been in a similar situation, we’re so eager to start learning a new language, but as time goes by and it gets harder your gusto wains. Eventually, you give up, from difficulty, not enough time or resources, or maybe you just haven’t found that method that clicks.

No worries! We’re here to help you with that.

1. Talk with native speakers- Busuu

Screenshot of the website Busuu app describing the app against a picture of a scenic view of Rio with an array of flags at the bottom.
[Image description: Screenshot of the website Busuu app describing the app against a picture of a scenic view of Rio with an array of flags at the bottom.] Via
Busuu allows you to fully immerse in the language by connecting you with native speakers. The app provides lessons and material in 12 different languages. You can also to teach your mother tongue to other users by correcting their text. Additionally, it provides mini-travel courses that can be handy while a trip abroad.

2. Use flashcards- Memrise

Two phones against a yellow background with information about the Memrise app written in black.
[Image description: Two phones against a yellow background with information about the Memrise app written in black.] Via
If you prefer learning with flashcards, Memrise is the app for you. It uses fun videos made by native speakers to help you learn new vocabulary. Another interesting thing about the app is its object recognition feature.

This means you can snap a photo of anything and learn what it’s called in a foreign language. Memrise is suited for beginners who what to get a hold of basic words and alphabet.

3. For a flexible approach- Babbel

Screenshot of the language app Babbel with a white background and a picture of a dark-haired girl waving wearing a burgundy knit beanie waving with both hands along with text written in black.
[Image description: Screenshot of the language app Babbel with a white background and a picture of a dark-haired girl waving wearing a burgundy knit beanie waving with both hands along with text written in black.] Via
Babbel takes you step-by-step in learning a new language. Furthermore, the app helps you practice vocabulary for everyday conversations. Based on the student’s skill level the app gives an array of images and words to learn and repeat.

Along with the app’s interactive dialogues it train’s the user early on for practical conversation. It offers material on 14 different languages most of it free with a few paid features. The sync feature allows you to start where you left off on any device the app is download on- desktop, mobile or tablet.

4. If you want something fun- MindSnacks

A black background with a black iPhone showing the app MindSnacks along with various colorful icons to the left of the iPhone.
[Image description: A black background with a black iPhone showing the app MindSnacks along with various colorful icons to the left of the iPhone.] Via MindSnacks
As the name suggests the app gets you to learn a language while solving puzzles. Its colorful design and graphics make learning new words entertaining. The fun storyline is a nice break from a standard language app.

Most games are aimed around grammar, vocabulary, and listening in the language you’ve chosen. Throughout the games, progress is tracked, allowing users to see how much they’ve improved.

5. For a more serious commitment- Coursera

Screenshot of the Coursera website with information written in black against a white background to the right there's a picture of a white iPad with the preview of the app.
[Image description: Screenshot of the Coursera website with information written in black against a white background to the right there’s a picture of a white iPad with the preview of the app.] Via
An online learning platform also available as a mobile app. partnered with top universities, it aims to provide universal access to online courses. The platform provides specialized courses and degrees in various subjects.

If you’re looking for a long-term commitment and maybe even a certificate at the end of the course, this is the app for you. Most of the material is free to access, though to earn a degree/certificate you have you pay.

Coursera provides material on Russian, Korean, French and specializations in English.

A new language can be a tricky thing to master but don’t be afraid to make mistakes. The key is progress over perfection.

Tech Now + Beyond

Facial recognition software is proving extremely deadly for marginalized communities

Twelve proposals regarding climate change, energy use, pay equality, etc. were presented at Amazon’s annual shareholder’s meeting. Two of which, regarding the company’s facial recognition software.

The first demand was for Amazon to stop selling this software to police, law and government agencies. Second, was to set up a human and civil rights inspection into the usage of the software.

The shareholders voted to reject both. Moreover, the proposals are non-binding. This implies that Amazon won’t have to take any sort of responsibility even with a majority vote.

It’s absolutely astonishing that pressing issues regarding human and civil rights required a vote at Amazon. Especially when facial recognition software has a history of unfairly targeting people of color, minorities, and women. The more concerning part is this problem isn’t only limited to Amazon. Almost all big tech company’s software has shown a racial bias or taken part in government surveillance, which is completely racist, misogynist and dangerous.  

For instance, earlier this year, Microsoft was accused of working with a Chinese military university on research regarding facial recognition which could be used in the persecution of China’s Muslim minority- the Uighurs. If you haven’t already heard China has been detaining Muslim minority groups in prison-like conditions and forcing them to denounce their religion.

The country has already set up several facial recognition cameras that can track citizens’ whereabouts. Furthermore, the data collected through facial recognition software can be accessed by the police easily. 

Although, Microsoft did bar the selling of its facial recognition to law enforcement in reply to the whole debacle. it still doesn’t address the bigger issue. Why are big tech companies selling consumer products to governments who use these to further impede on privacy and human rights? Seems like there’s no ethics when it comes to capitalism.

In recent events, Ousmane Bah, an 18-year-old college student sued Apple for misidentifying him for a thief using facial recognition. This isn’t the first time a person of color has been misidentified as a criminal, and definitely not the first time using this technology. It has been proven that false matches affect people of color at a higher rate, especially women of color and this can be extremely dangerous, even deadly. In fact, 35% of dark-skinned women were mistaken as men by facial software. In contrast to misidentification of light-skinned women was around 7%. Additionally,  Transgender drivers are getting kicked off of Uber due to facial recognition not recognizing them because it can’t pinpoint their gender. 

Facial recognition will only be effective and accurate on the people it’s trained on which is, primarily,  white men. The technology is 99% accurate on this demographic. With the lack of diversity and the lack of inclusion in new upcoming technologies using anything designed for one demographic in law enforcement can deepen the injustice against people of color.  Especially, when there is already a pre-existing racial bias in the police force against people of color. Reports show that African-Americans are more likely to be stopped and searched by the police. Arming a police officer with a piece of technology that works against people of color is detrimental. 

Tech companies have a large amount of influence over society, economy, and democracy. In fact, more than half of e-commerce goes through Amazon.  Furthermore, Amazon has also been under fire for reportedly meeting up with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to market their Facial Recognition software. 

It is evident that human bias sneaks into algorithms because they are being created by scientists who have these racial biases and if this continues to go unchecked it will continue to be a detriment to society. 

Jacob Snow, a tech and civil liberties lawyer, in his statement explains “Face surveillance will be used to power discriminatory surveillance and policing that targets communities of color, immigrants, and activists. Once unleashed, that damage can’t be undone.”

Tech Now + Beyond

Here’s how technology is helping fight global hunger

In 2015, the United Nations announced 17 goals to achieve by the year 2030. These goals include fighting injustice, ending inequalities and economic growth. The second huge goal on the table, however, is to achieve no world hunger.

Is it possible to live in a world where no one struggles to find their next meal?

To end hunger or any social inequality, a blueprint on how to tackle the situation is urgent and the UN has outlined targets that the world has to meet by 2030 in order to make this possible.

Worldwide, 815 million people are undernourished- that’s about 1 in 9 people. Furthermore, 1 in 4 children suffers from irreversible malnutrition or stunting. A dearth of safe water, proper nutrition, and sufficient food lead to negative effects on their education and growth. Leading them to perform poorly at school. This systematically leaves generations of young kids behind in poverty.

Assessing the massive reach and innovation in technology there’s no arguing it is a powerful tool to help tackle this issue. This is happening, around the world, impacting millions.

Thankfully new technologies are emerging to help with this problem and reach some of the targets the UN has outlined.

1.  Share the Meal

Screenshot of the share the meal website that it light blue on top with the faces of three children smiling and white at the bottom.
[Image description: Screenshot of the share the meal website that it light blue on top with the faces of three children smiling and white at the bottom.] Via
You might have already seen ads about this app on Youtube or elsewhere on the internet web. An initiative started by the UN World Food Program (WFP) this app allows you to provide a meal to people in the most critical hunger spots.

The WFP is the largest humanitarian agency fighting hunger and reaches about 80 million individuals worldwide. According to the app it requires $0.50 to feed one child. This money then goes to the WFP, that they use to feed a child. Share the Meal provides food assistance to children in Lebanon, Palestine, and India.

2. Precision Agriculture

Several farm trucks on a crop field while the sunsets in the background.
[Image description: Several farm trucks on a crop field while the sunsets in the background.] Via Joao Marcelo Marques on Unsplash
One of the targets of the zero hunger plan is increasing the income and productivity of small-scale food producers. In countries like Ethiopia, India, and Pakistan precision agriculture is used. This technology equips local farmers with information on soil, land, and weather.

It includes providing farmers mobile-phone based agronomic information to increase crop yield. Furthermore, farmers can call agriculture hotlines for any sort of query on the crops.

3. SAFE stoves

Several stoves made of clay on the ground outside under a shade with people gathered at a distance.
[Image description: Several stoves made of clay on the ground outside under a shade with people gathered at a distance.] Via
Hunger is also a gender issue. According to statistics, it’s reported that 60% of the world’s hunger population are women. Moreover, women and girls are held responsible for collecting items like firewood which are essential to make food. To collect wood they have to travel far and through unsafe areas- putting their lives in danger.

The WFP launched fuel-efficient stoves called Safe Access to Firewood and Alternative Energy in Humanitarian Settings (SAFE). These stoves are made of clay, soil, bricks, and metal. Its flexible design makes it portable and reduced cooking time. Furthermore, these stoves reduce environmental degradation by serving as a sustainable alternative to firewood.

4. E-cards

A little girl holding an e-card with both her hands showing it to the camera and smiling
[Image description: A little girl holding an e-card with both her hands showing it to the camera and smiling.] Via
The WFP partnered up with Master Card to provide refugees in Lebanon and Syria a source of food. E-cards allow refugee’s shop for food in markets with the help of cell phone technology Food rations provided by organizations don’t include fresh produce, something the e-card can provide. Moreover, the card is topped up monthly with $27 for each family member. This reduces the cost of distributing food, storage, and bring business to local vendors.

Although these innovations are helping thousands of undernourished and vulnerable people, a lot more has to be done to meet the 2030 goal. Political investments towards zero hunger and outlining long-term food security plans.

After all, proper nutrition is a basic necessity and a human right.

Tech Money Now + Beyond

Here’s what you need to know about the new Apple card

On March 25th, tech giant Apple announced a plethora of services at their keynote event. Many Hollywood stars made an appearance including Steven Spielberg, Reese Witherspoon, Oprah Winfrey and many more; the event was pretty action-packed. One of the services introduced was the Apple card. This was really surprising to me and I’m sure to lots of Apple users. A tech company like Apple diversifying into the credit card industry is huge, at least that’s how they made it seem at the keynote. Apple has partnered up with Goldman Sachs and Mastercard. Sachs’ role is to issue the card meanwhile Mastercard will handle the payment processing. There is an option for a physical card but from what was discussed at the keynote, it seems the card is meant to be mostly a digital experience.

How real is the hype though?

Well, for starters Apple says the card would have no charges. Additionally, the company promises some of the lowest interest rates for a cash back reward card with the APR rates being around 13.24% – 24.24%. Sounds great, right? Well, for the most part, it is. But if your aim is to pay as little interest a non-rewards card would be better, which has lower rates than a rewards card. The rates set up by Apple are competitive but not the lowest in the industry.  For instance, the USAA Visa Platinum credit card APR is as low as 9.15% and has no annual or international fee.

On release, the Apple card can be fully integrated with Apple Pay. Through this, the company aims to provide its users with detailed transaction history and map out where these payments were made. Which is practical if you want to cut down on spending. The payoff calculator shows users interest cost on different payment amounts in real time. These features are hard to find with other companies.

One thing Apple is pushing with this card is privacy. The client’s data will not be sold to third parties for advertising. Moreover, Apple won’t know the details of the customer’s transactions. The transaction history will take place on the user’s device- not on Apple servers. An innovative step compared to its competitors privacy-hostile business models. Hopefully, this step will encourage other companies to consider strengthening privacy policies.

Daily cashback is another term that caught both mine and a lot of other peoples’ attention at the keynote. Apple seems to be providing 3% cashback on its products and services made at an Apple store. 2% on all purchases if made with the card through Apple pay and 1% with the physical card. Clearly, the company is more focused on expanding digital payments. The 2% cashback with Apple Pay appears to be a strategy to market more iPhones. However, Apple Pay charges a processing fee with every transaction. So, the whole no charge with the card is probably just a way to distract users from this.

When the card comes out this summer, there’s no doubt the product will make waves. The laser-etched titanium is definitely eye-catching. But this card is built mostly for iPhone users and those willing to buy one. In the past few years, the smartphone sector has stagnated and this is Apple’s way of further diversifying its products and generating revenue. The card and many of the services announced are a way of keeping consumers within the Apple ecosystem. In the US alone 70% of retailers accept Apple Pay. Naturally, to increase this number Apple integrated the card with Apple Pay.

Apple promises this card is designed for a healthier financial life.

We’ll find out how they stick to this promise in the coming years, starting this summer. 

Health Care Mind Wellness Life

I wish people talked more about this depression symptom

Trigger Warning: Mentions of Depression

I’m sick.

Sick of having to explain what depression is like to people who ask.

Frankly, having to explain it at all is tiring. I have days where I wish someone could just understand without me having to put it into words. But that’s not fair for the people who love me and for someone who truly wants to help. How can anyone understand your pain if you don’t vocalize it? I understand the importance of having an open conversation on depression. An honest conversation with myself and a doctor is what got me into therapy.

A safe space to openly communicate my thoughts and feelings was helpful in so many ways. But during therapy sessions, I found it hard to say what I felt. It’s like my brain slowed down and everything was rushing past me. Every time I’d try to form a sentence it’s like the words weren’t there or somehow, I had forgotten them.

I soon learned the term for why remembering words got so hard at times; brain fog. Brain fog isn’t a medical condition but rather a term used for a cluster of symptoms that affect thinking, memory and recollection. Moreover, brain fog can arise with other conditions as well, including Multiple Sclerosis, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Lupus, etc. It’s hard to know what exactly causes this “foggy brain” in depression–whether it’s the loss of motivation or chemical imbalance.

I can’t pinpoint when exactly the fog started. Little things started happening like forgetting instructions that had just been said and trying really hard to remember just for anxiety to kick in, sending me into panic mode. That doesn’t happen always.

On good days, it’s a bit easier to get by. By this I mean I don’t have to dig my brain for words. Those good days I’m grateful for and hold onto.

But the worst part is not about not being able to put thoughts into words isn’t the problem itself, it’s the loss of agency, the loss of yourself.

Losing parts of yourself is never easy. Losing parts of yourself means having to put in more effort to get through something that once didn’t take much time.

It’s really hard to explain, because, it happens quite often but for small stuff. Like remembering what someone just told you to do or recalling a list of items that you just read.

When I forget things I could remember in seconds before, I’m reminded that my brain has changed. And this seems to be backed by researchers, who report the hippocampus (in charge of memory) of depressed individuals seems to be smaller than those not depressed.

I don’t know how small my hippocampus has gotten or if it’s the same size but it feels as if there is less space to information in my head.

I feel like a filled cup, I have to spill some out to take it the new.

Moreover, I hate to admit but my writing has suffered because of this.

Earlier, I felt I had some sort of talent but now, on some days, coming up with sentences seems impossible. And impostor syndrome doesn’t help either. If my talent lies in writing and language and if I have bad days where it feels impossible to do either, is it a talent?

Or am I just lucky on the good days?

I feel like every day starts off with this wheel of fortune scenario with only three options; good, bad and neither. I don’t get to spin the wheel, I don’t get a say if it’s a good day or a bad day. The wheel spins and I accept its choice.

Most days, saying how I feel or even writing about it is me confronting the fog, sometimes I get lost, somedays I get past it. I’ve realized the only way to regain agency of words is to try, no matter how tired and demotivated I feel. I get to try.

That’s enough.

Gift Guides K-pop Fashion Lookbook

These are some of BTS’ best music video looks of all time

I got into BTS in 2017 after the release of the Blood, Sweat, and Tears music video. Since then, I’ve been a huge fan of their music.

The group doesn’t stick to one type of style of anything, really. During their debut era the music they put out was highly influenced by hip-hop, rap and RnB, same goes with the fashion in music videos. As they started to grow and mature so did their art and style.

Not only did they grow, but they’d also start to experiment with new genres of music. Talk about various topics such as mental health, self-love, and criticizing baby boomers (referring to Baepsae and Dope).

All this served with mesmerizing visuals and fashion makes them hard to miss. Their style though ever-changing, is bold and unique, just like them.

1. Pink on pink on pink on pink.

Seven member boy group BTS dressed in pink sitting on a bright yellow sofa looking at pop singer Halsey dressed in pastel pink the background is a building with a bright blue fluorescent sign that stays persona.
[Image description: Seven member boy group BTS dressed in pink sitting on a bright yellow sofa looking at pop singer Halsey dressed in pastel pink the background is a building with a bright blue fluorescent sign that stays persona.] Via Youtube
Bangtan Soneyeondan is repping the color pink with the recent release of Map of the Soul: Persona. I absolutely love the different shades of color put together with different textures. The Boy in Luv music video’s Korean title translates to “A Poem for Small Things” which is apt for its sweet and romantic lyrics.

And what other colors could convey this better than pink?


2. Pretty pastels + denim=SLAY ME NOW.

Seven member boy group BTS sitting around a Diner table while the boy with peach hair sits on the table in the center and smiles.
[Image description: Seven member boy group BTS sitting around a Diner table while the boy with peach hair sits on the table in the center and smiles.] Via Youtube
Another range of outfits from the Boy in Luv video but this time it’s less in your face. I feel these outfits are more apt everyday looks (if a monochrome outfit isn’t your thing).

A more simmered down summery pastel is a great choice.



3. Badass street style, all day, every day.

[Image description: Seven member boy group BTS dancing against a dark sky, with various cars on fire behind them and a police car to the right.] Via Youtube
Streetwear, one of my favorite trends, mainly because loose-fitting clothes are my favorite.

I feel much more comfortable wearing this kind of style. The song Mic Drop itself is a final good-bye to haters and the nay-sayers BTS have encountered in the past. It’s a declaration of self-love in the most epic way possible. I love the ‘effortless-yet-cool’ vibe the outfits give off and look comfortable to dance in.



4. Sexy suits. All of them. All. Of. Them.

[Image description: Seven member boy group BTS staring into the camera wearing suits.] Via Youtube
Honestly, this entire music video deserves a written piece of its own.

But my favorite is Jimin’s velvet blue suit, along with the scarf and earrings. The outfit isn’t too flashy, it’s simple and elegant. And for those days where a dress just won’t do, a nice fitting suit is a wardrobe essential. With the music video’s lustful undertones and trap beat, the suits and with the silk scarves add a regal touch to the visuals.

All this put into one plus BTS’ intense knife like choreography, watching Blood, Sweat, and Tears is an experience.




Tech Now + Beyond

How instant photos helped me remember that I had good days and could overcome my depression

On my 17th birthday, my dad bought me an instant film camera, the Fujifilm neo classic. Never having owned one before I was so excited to use it. Back then, I was completely unaware of the significance it will have on my life.

In retrospect, the instant film was making a comeback, so I gladly hopped on the trend. In the beginning, I tried to take cool pictures but failed miserably. Either the lighting was too dark or too bright, the photos were out of focus or the entire frame was completely black. It’s safe to say, it took me a while to get a hang of things. Eventually though, after heartbreakingly wasting so much film, I learned what worked and what didn’t. 

In 1948, Edwin Land (co-founder of Polaroid) invented the first instant camera. Interestingly, what lead him to the invention was his daughter’s question…

“Why can’t I see the photo?”

Land took that challenge upon himself and developed the Polaroid Land Camera. The camera was sold out in minutes at $89.95.  It practically exploded in popularity and by the ’70s, Polaroid reached peak sales with the release of SX-70.

Back then, most people had to wait for weeks to get a hold of the pictures they took. Land’s invention provided convenience and speed of distribution of pictures.

Today, instant cameras preserve a sense of nostalgia and solidify moments. But, gradually with the digitalization of cameras, the company steered away from instant photography.

While traveling abroad I’d always make sure to pack my camera along. I took pictures of whatever I wanted to solidify. Monuments, flowers, the sky and even mundane structures like streetlights became things to marvel at. It’s like looking at the world with a whole new perspective; I was excited. Then, the time came to move out and head to university, and so naturally, I brought my camera along.

The next three years of my life were probably the most challenging. Moving to an entirely new country, juggling assignments, work, and depression, all started to take a toll on my happiness. I was desperately trying to feel alright through unhealthy coping mechanisms. Eventually, I stopped doing most things I loved and I started to stay inside more and more.

Of course, none of this helped. It made me miserable and to cope I indulged further, creating a vicious cycle. The thing about depression is, it erases the good memories you lived through. As if your whole life has been this way, bleak and colorless. But that’s not true, even if I don’t remember. I have proof, for myself.

I remember sort of re-discovering my little photo album in the back of my drawer. It got pushed back because of all my notebooks. Looking at the polaroids I took from the age of 17 made me realize I’ve had good days. Those little 54 x 86 mm pieces of film served as reminders that I’ll have more of these moments. With not many people around to remind me of this fact, my photos really helped.

The pictures I take on my phone don’t have the same effect. There’s something different about holding memory in your hand opposed to it being some abstract thing in the cloud. With all the loneliness that comes with moving to a new place. I longed for something that could attach me to real objects. I spent so much time online writing, chatting and watching, I wanted to look away from the screen. Moreover, since I found my photos I also started using my camera again and often. This meant actually leaving the house and taking pictures of places and things. I was taken back to when I first got it as a present, the very same excitement. 

Decades of history is tied to the instant camera. It encapsulates the junction between technology and human perspective. For me, it’s a way of recording, collecting and holding on to my fondest memories. 

I might not have every pleasant memory recorded with my camera. That’s alright, a small reminder is sufficient especially on the days that seem to hard to get by.

A polaroid of a cloudy blue sky with the words a word alone scribbled at the bottom.
[Image description: A Polaroid of a cloudy blue sky with the words a word alone scribbled at the bottom.] Via Anushka’s camera
The Environment Science Food & Drinks Now + Beyond

5 foods to cut out if you want to reduce your carbon footprint

There are many ways to reduce your carbon footprint, drive less, reduce waste and reuse plastic, etc. Likewise, what we put on our plates has an impact, not only on our bodies but on the environment too. Eating a more environmentally conscious diet could reduce water pollution, emission of greenhouse gases and eutrophication. Only when we aim to be environmentally conscious in all facets of our lives, can we protect the planet. And our plates is a good place to start.

Here are some foods you can avoid or cut down on to protect the environment.

1.  Almond Milk

A brown and white corgi running across the wooden floor with a carton of almond breeze in its mouth.
[Image description: A brown and white corgi running across the wooden floor with a carton of almond breeze in its mouth.] Via GIPHY
Apparently, this popular dairy alternative might not be as healthy as you think. Though almond milk makes a great replacement for cow’s milk, its effects on the environment are hefty. For instance, 80% of the world’s almonds come from California, a place that has been experiencing severe drought.

To add, production almonds and its milk require high amounts of water supply. Due to the high water demand, farmers drill wells that create subsidence issues, these threaten infrastructure. Oat milk seems to be a more sustainable alternative.

2. Lamb

A gif of lamb kebabs on skewers being barbequed.
[Image description: A gif of lamb kebabs on skewers being barbequed.] Via GIPHY
Among red meats, production of lamb damages the environment the most. The meat produces 20kg of CO2 emission, which contributes to an increase in greenhouse gases leading to global warming. Furthermore, the increase in sheep livestock due to lamb production contributes to the creation of methane gas in the atmosphere. This gas is 30 times more potent and heat-trapping than CO2. All this contributes to global warming which in turn leads to climate change.

3. Cheese

A gif of an animated mouse eating a triangle of cheese whole.
[Image description: A gif of an animated mouse eating a triangle of cheese whole.] Via GIPHY
Yes, you read that right. Cheese, according to this study was on the third item on the list for the amount of CO2 produced. At first and second were lamb and beef respectively. What puts cheese so high up on the list? It requires high amounts of milk to produce small quantities of cheese.Moreover, cows being ruminants produce high amounts of methane gas.

Although, cheese is not eaten in large quantities like meat is.It’s still important to be aware of the effects cheese production can have on the environment. Soft cheeses, such as brie, mozzarella, and camembert produce much fewer greenhouse gases due to a shorter aging process. They are much more sustainable options.

4. Rice

A gif of wide arrays of dishes with a big plate of rice at the center.
[Image description: A gif of wide arrays of dishes with a big plate of rice at the center.] Via GIPHY
It’s one of the most staple food crops across the world. Because of the large demand for rice, it is one of the major contributors to rising temperatures. Rice paddies produce nitrous oxide, an atmospheric pollutant, which is far more potent than CO2 and methane. Furthermore, 2.5% of climate warming is reportedly caused by rice production. And the high demand of water required in growing rice is detrimental to the environment, as it uses up vital water sources.

5. Farmed Salmon

A piece of cooked salmon being placed on green vegetables.
[Image description: A piece of cooked salmon being placed on green vegetables.] Via GIPHY
Over the years, there has been a large decline in wild fish due to excessive fishing. Pisciculture or fish farming is used as a method to combat this problem. But this kind of farming is proving to be quite detrimental for marine ecosystems.

In fact, pesticides and synthetic chemicals used to prevent bacterial outbreaks usually make their way into the sea and pollute it. Further, these farmed fishes escape from farms and get mixed with the wild population. Ramifications of this lead to a weakened wild stock due to genetic modification.

It’s easy to be oblivious to the consequences our food has on the environment when shopping for groceries. But as reported by the UNFAO agriculture greenhouse gas emission have drastically increased over time. These numbers could increase by 30 percent in the next 30 years.

Switching to a more plant-based diet and cutting down on meat/fish consumption can help our environment. Some of us might not be able to completely cut out the foods mentioned above but we can do our best to be mindful of the food we consume.

Tips & Tricks Health Care Tech Wellness Now + Beyond

These 5 apps can help if you’re suffering from drug addiction

The stigma surrounding drug abuse makes it harder for people to open up about their issues. Consequently, those suffering from the illness often feel shame and struggle to find help. Availability of proper health resources becomes crucial for recovery. Plenty of apps are available to help with depression and anxiety. Likewise, similar services are obtainable to help with addiction.

(Note: These apps cannot be substituted for medical treatment, they’re supplementary.)

1. I Am Sober

Screenshot of a sobriety app that says ready to quit against a green background with the number of days, hours, minutes and seconds someone has gone without alcohol.]
[Image description: Screenshot of a sobriety app that says ready to quit against a green background with the number of days, hours, minutes and seconds someone has gone without alcohol.] Via
Addiction is a complex illness and getting sober is no different. I am Sober, provides positive reinforcement and keeps a record of progress. Additionally, it tracks how many minutes, hours and days you’ve stayed sober. Also, the app calculates money saved on not purchasing the substance. Users can also share their milestones with each other by adding photos, so they don’t feel alone in their journey.

I am Sober connects the users to a wide network; to bring you a 24-hour companion. 

Available for free on iOS and Android.

2. Sober Grid

Preview of the app sober grid with a red background with white text ask for help 24/7 written at the top.
[Image description: Preview of the app sober grid with a red background with white text ask for help 24/7 written at the top.] Via
Struggling with addiction and relapse can be isolating if one doesn’t have the right kind of support. Therefore, having an accessible community to guide you through tough days is helpful. Sober Grid aims to do exactly that, a social networking app connecting individuals in recovery. For instance, the “Burning Desire” button let’s other people know help in wanted. 

Available for free on iOS and Android.

3. Happify

Preview of the app happify against a blue background with the text gain insights and track your progress over time written in white at the top and a progress chart shown on a samsung phone.
[Image description: Preview of the app happify against a blue background with the text gain insights and track your progress over time written in white at the top and a progress chart shown on a Samsung phone.] Via
In most cases, substance addiction is accompanied by anxiety and depression. Sometimes, the drugs used could also cause symptoms of another mental illness. Here, apps that promote healthy ways to deal with low mood & anxiety help. 

Happify consists of science-based games and tools that help improve emotional well-being. The techniques behind the games are developed by experts studying psychology.

Available for free on iOS and Android.

4. My Sober Life/My Sober Life Pro

Screenshot of the app my sober life that consists of seven options against a green and blue background with the number of hours sober at the bottom.
[Image description: Screenshot of the app my sober life that consists of seven options against a green and blue background with the number of hours sober at the bottom.] Via
The 18 + age restriction on sobriety apps limits access to apps by someone younger. It’s been reported that 50% of the adolescent population has misused some drug in their life. Moreover, exposure to drugs at an early age increases the risk of developing a drug addiction later in life.

My Sober Life is for teenagers and young adults (12-25 years) in recovery. Based on the 12 step recovery principles and with the help of teens who have successfully recovered. The app includes a sobriety counter and a progress tracker. Furthermore, this app allows users to record obstacles and construct plans to tackle them.

Available for free on iOS and Android.

5. Stop Drinking – Andrew Johnson

Screenshot of the quit drinking with andrew johnson with a play menu against a blue background.
[Image description: Screenshot of the quit drinking with andrew johnson with a play menu against a blue background.] Via
Cutting down on alcohol is often be accompanied by cravings and the urge to drink again. Although, these cravings are normal during recovery. Often, they come with a sense of loss of control. So, to combat this the app provides relaxation techniques, visualization and positive techniques to help with urges.

Available on iOS and Android for $2.99.

Addiction can be very distressful. But there’s no shame in asking for help. Just like other mental health condition, it is treatable.

The apps mentioned above are not a substitute for professional help, rather a chance for succor. If you or anyone you know is suffering from addiction reach out. The 24/7 national drug help hotline in the US is 1-888-633-3239. And in the UK, 0300-123-66-00.

The stigma around drug addiction can only be tackled when we engage in conversation. Don’t push this under the rug, talk and educate.

Career Tech Science Career Advice Now + Beyond

This is what it’s really like to be a woman of color in the world of science

In the 10th grade, my chemistry teacher told my class that boys do better at science and math than girls.

Most of us brushed it off, but it doesn’t mean I was not familiar with this gender stereotype and heard this from numerous adults. I felt disappointed by my teacher’s comments. They stuck with me through adolescence.

Sometimes I wouldn’t do as well on a science test and find myself going back to my teacher’s words. For a second, I’d flash back to what the teacher had said, wondering,  “Is it because I am a girl?”

Most women are exposed to these negative stereotypes from a young age. This just gets worse as women climb higher in STEM fields.

Women of color are not only underrepresented in STEM fields. They also face a “double jeopardy” situation. They have to carry the weight of not only gender but race bias as well. Compared to their white counterparts, they are at a higher risk of being pushed out of science fields due to these biases. According to a study by the University of California, 100% of women of color in science report some form of gender bias compared to 93% of white women in science.

How does this bias affect women of color?

In a survey,  Black women report their skills being questioned. Latinas are mistaken as custodial or administrative staff. Asian-American women feel the pressure to act more feminine in workplaces. Most women of color report having to work twice as hard to be perceived as legitimate compared to white men and women. They also report instances of accent discrimination and demeaning comments.

There seems to be an additional bias at work against Black women, this makes them feel lonely and alienated.  Black women also felt that engaging socially with co-workers could lead to negative perceptions of their competence. Colleagues bring up awful racial stereotypes in workplaces. On confronting colleagues about those stereotypes, Black women were told off for being too sensitive and were told to “get over it” by their white counterparts. According to this study, women of color report that the challenges faced were attributable to “cultural differences” between them and the dominant culture. 

The race bias further molds sexism towards women of color based on ethnicity. Their white counterparts just don’t experience this “double jeopardy” anywhere near the same level.

Furthermore, the toxic environment hinders the relationship between women co-workers as well. The competitive environment gives rise to in-group conflict. To elaborate, women report feeling the need to compete with one another to maintain their spot. Carrying out scientific work becomes harder in such burdensome circumstances. Why should women carry the weight of society’s prejudice and ignorance?

How does the lack of diversity affect science?

Any sort of bias is demoralizing and exhausting. Negative stereotypes set a precedent for young girls and women that they won’t be as good as men in science. No wonder the caricature of a scientist is a cis-gendered white male. There is little representation for women of color in science. 

Children mainly learn about male scientists in classes. This implicitly tells young girls that there is no place for them in science. In reality, women of color have been making major contributions but are left out of the narrative.

Moreover, the lack of diversity affects science too. With a monolithic workforce, the understanding of scientific concepts and inquiry become limited. A diverse set of scientists would bring broader questions and insights to the table. Groups such as 500 women scientists are working towards a more inclusive and accessible STEM field. Their ‘March for Science‘ rallies conducted across various cities worldwide stood for this message.

These efforts work toward an inclusive and diverse science workforce. Such a workforce is key to helping science evolve and grow.

USA The World

The hashtag #DisabledPeopleAreHot tackles the stigma around sexuality and disability

To challenge the notion that people with disabilities are non-sexual beings, disability advocate Andrew Gurza has revived the hashtag #DisabledPeopleAreHot on Twitter to encourage those with a disability to share their pictures and stories.

“I just think it’s really particular because disabled people have spent centuries and centuries being de-sexualized and being removed from these conversations, and not even being considered in sexy or hot ways. And why can’t we be,” Gurza said in an interview with the BBC. “This is just a fun way to really amplify that and say yeah, we can be sexy, we can have agency over our bodies. It goes a lot deeper than just being hot; it says that disabled people have agency over their sexuality, over their bodies and who they are, and why shouldn’t we celebrate that?”

At least 15 percent of people around the world have a disability, whether that’s intellectual, physical or psychosocial. In the US alone 56.7 million people have a disability which is nearly one in five people. Yet, on most occasions, people with disability are infantilized and regarded as asexual beings. In the media, they are often portrayed as weak and ill.  The representation of disabilities remains insufficient in the media, which contributes to the stigma towards differently-abled bodies. Many disabled actors face discrimination during auditions and the majority of characters with a disability are played by able-bodied actors.

With a preconceived notion of people with disability being nonsexual beings along with the media’s negative and inadequate portrayal of disability, the topic of sexuality is usually shoved under the rug.

Having been born with cerebral palsy and being part of the LGBT community himself, Gurza pushes for wider representation of differently-abled individuals in the queer space. He is the co-creator of Deliciously Disabled that hosted a sex-positive party in Toronto back in 2015, and currently hosts the podcast, “Disabled After Dark.”

In an interview with them, he explains how being deemed invisible to society affects one’s dating life.

“Ableism works its way into the queer community because we have a very specific aesthetic that we adhere to very rigidly. The disabled body doesn’t follow that, so we’re not seen in magazines. We’re not seen in queer porn. We’re not seen in the queer clubs on the go-go dance box.”

In fact, the majority of queer spaces are not disabled-accessible, lack of ramps, elevators, and disabled-accessible bathrooms restricts people with disability to access the space. Even if it’s a safe space for the queer community it cannot be accessed by a differently-abled queer person.

Emotionally, these spaces are not accessible either, as people with a disability feel excluded or not noticed by other individuals.

There is a popular sentiment among able-bodied individuals that they might hurt the person with a disability during sex. Moreover, most able-bodied people are unaware of the different types of disabilities, ranging from chronic to mental. The only way to tackle this is through greater inclusion and education.

Positive representation of people with disabilities as complex and diverse is immensely necessary, and the #DisabledPeopleAreHot hashtag is a step towards making that inclusivity exist.