What Women Don’t Want

Mukta Lad has over 13 years of experience in writing, with a special focus on advertising, marketing and media. She has extensively covered the Indian advertising and marketing communications industry as a trade media journalist and is currently the Assistant Editor at Brand Equity.

In a country that expects marriage and kids to be non-negotiable aspects of a woman’s life, you’ve chosen to go solo and live life on your own terms. What are the questions you get asked in this regard (and that you wish people would stop asking!) and how do you respond to these? 

Me choosing to walk out of my marriage and live independently has been a lot of privilege coming together – the privilege of being financially independent, having a well-paying job, no children, the agency to live by myself and have the lifestyle I want, supportive parents who’ve raised me in a progressive environment, and a now ex-partner who has been nothing but amicable and understanding throughout this process; not once has he tried to be difficult or delay any legalities. 

Any one of these privileges, if missing, would have made my life look completely different. I feel it’s important to acknowledge this at the outset. It’s much easier to chart the course of your own life when you have so much going for you. 

In terms of the questions I get asked, they are mostly a combination of the following and some random advice. I’ve taken the liberty to put together a bit of an advisory: 

“OMG are you okay?”

Yes, relax. I’m getting a divorce, not a death certificate. I understand people’s concern, and that it can get awkward when someone says “Oh, XYZ and I aren’t together anymore” but there’s no need to be this dramatic. 

“Are you happy?”

I genuinely love this question. It’s the perfect way for someone to gauge where someone is at mentally with their separation/divorce/break up and decide further course of conversation. 

“How much alimony are you getting?”

I’m not getting any alimony, thank you. And even if I were, why would I discuss the financial nuances with anyone and everyone? 

“Are you marrying again?”

Perhaps start with ‘have you gotten your divorce yet?’ If I marry right now I’ll also have to serve a prison sentence for having two husbands. Kindly stop springing this question. A person who’s getting out of a marriage or has just gotten out of one might not want to answer questions about returning to the very same institution. If you must know their thoughts on marriage, maybe an ‘Are you open to ever marrying again?’ might be a more sensitive variation. 

“Sign up on dating apps already!”

Finding yourself suddenly single can be disorienting. While some people may want to find a partner immediately, others might want nothing more than casual sex. And some others might just want to be alone for a while as they process the end of a long-term relationship. There’s no saying who’s ready when. Friends and well-wishers should stop pressurising people to date/hook up with people on apps. We know apps exist and we’ll do it when we’re ready.

“Don’t commit quickly!”

To me, this is really bizarre advice. When I met my now partner on a dating app six months ago, we decided to be together exclusively in about 2-3 weeks after we met. Questions from friends ranged from “Why did you commit so soon?” and “Keep swiping nevertheless” to “You should have played the field first for a while!” As if partners are refrigerators you might get a better deal on if you wait for a couple of months. Or is there a Big Billion Sale for boyfriends no one told me about? 

We know people mean well, but it’s also not our burden to think of everyone’s intent behind the unsolicited advice. And no one wants to feel judged – like it’s ‘uncool’ to commit but casual sex is ‘cool’. It’s all cool to whoever’s deciding, just stay out of it! 

What are your thoughts on the depiction of women in advertising today? In what way would you like to see it (the way women are depicted) change? 

I could write a book on this. I have been covering advertising for a while now and there’s so much that needs to change when it comes to depicting women. Having said that, advertising also reflects society and its mindsets, so well, it’s natural it’s not going to become ideal overnight. 

My biggest bone of contention with women’s portrayal in ads is the absolute lack of understanding of the everyday woman. She’s either a sanskaari mummy toiling for the well-being of her husband and children since dawn (wearing a full-sleeved salwar kameez) or she’s straddling a Bullet and going off on long bike rides. There seems to be no relatable in-between for the everyday woman – the one who manages her home, feeds her family but also holds a full-time job and looks after the elderly in her house. As if her routine struggles and rebellions aren’t ‘cool’ enough for TV.

I did a story recently for Women’s Day, where one advertising veteran I quoted said, “The worshipping of a woman’s many roops is a burden she carries. You can make lots of cute ads about lazy fathers but never an ad about a forgetful mom.” I think this sums this up very well. That it’s always nice to see women doing virtuous things on screen as far as possible. If she’s doing ‘rebellious’ things – the other end of this stereotype, it’s to make a statement, of course. And don’t forget to show she has coloured hair, tattoos, multiple piercings, a bike, a drum kit, and an electric guitar to complete the look.

Leveling the Playing Field

Surabhi Date is a Strength and Conditioning Coach and the former captain of the India Women’s Rugby team. She has led the India Rugby team at the 16th Asian Games (Guangzhou), and at other prestigious tournaments like the Singapore Sevens and the Borneo Sevens. She has also represented Auckland Rugby for two seasons. She currently offers speed, strength and power training for elite and sub-elite tennis players preparing for national and international competitions.

As a professional sportsperson, what are some of the questions you’ve been asked that you think a male athlete would never be asked? How do you respond to these?

“How long will you play for? I was a mother already at 23! When do you plan to settle down?”

Good for you. I captained the India rugby team when I was already 19. I continued playing for the country till I was 23, played rugby for Auckland at 24 and now I am busy training athletes to win medals at the Olympics. Reckon my plans of when and where and how to settle down are clearly different than yours.

“You have such big thighs. Are you doing anything about them?” (They basically mean reducing!)

Yes, I squat a 100 kilos and sprint at 6.6 meters per second. I can probably save you when you’re in trouble. But I probably won’t. Joking. Maybe not! 😏 


“Playing sport especially when you’re on your period must be hard, no? Do you take days off on during such times?”

Have you ever heard of a world champion draw out of competition when she was on her period? What will you do when a female person from your circle wants to make a career in sport, or is already facing the same problem? Will you teach them to back off when things get hard (every month for her entire sports career), or will you help them to deal with it and get stronger?


“This is such a rough game for a woman. Why do you even play this game? Why didn’t you choose a gentler game?”

Because rugby chose me. I never went out of my way to get into the game. I was meant to be here. It just happened to me. FYI I did try other sports like football, athletics and tennis. I really wanted to make it big in tennis.  But somehow life just kept bringing me back to rugby, effortlessly.

Because I’m the most alive when I’m on the field. And I would do whatever it takes to feel alive again and again. I’d rather live a fearless life and enjoy it with all my heart than live it with the fear of being hurt and end up staying in a cocoon. Injuries are a part of every athlete’s life, every sport, every gender. Sport has and continues to shape my life in a better and more meaningful way, every day. All these scars I have were important for my growth and I am extremely proud of them. Also, when I turn 50 years old, I never want to say, “When I was young and able, I had a lot of opportunities to play, but I chose my job instead.” I don’t want to regret. Sporting career is short. I want to live it fully with no regret. Asking a sportsperson why they play is such a ridiculous question.

What has kept you going on tough days? What advice would you give aspiring female athletes?

My main pillars to keep me going on my tough days are discipline, self-belief, a good support system and developing endurance. 

Discipline
Nothing unique about what I say here. It is quite known that discipline is much more impactful than motivation. It is a constant choice between choosing what you want now, and what you want the most. You will get uncomfortable and you will get used to it over time and you will do what is supposed to be done every damn day, no matter what. That is discipline.

Unbelievable faith in myself and my dreams
Self-belief is perhaps the most important aspect in an athlete’s life. When the going gets tough, my belief gives me hope and this hope keeps me going.  However bad it gets, there has to be something that you could do that’ll push you at least an inch closer to your goal. That push will only come when you have hope, which brings us back to— how much do you actually believe in yourself?

A good support system
No matter how strong you are, your family, mentors, friends are your pillars so don’t feel shy to reach out for help. Winning medals and in general succeeding in life is a team game. Although you are at the coalface, you win because of your support system. So, making sure you have your emergency dials and pin cushions and advisors ready is paramount.

In the Spotlight – Neha Panchamia

Postcard Spotlight is an interview series showcasing young leaders and creative minds who are making their mark with their unique talent and drive.

In the Spotlight, this week is Neha Panchamia. She’s an animal rescuer and the founder and president of RESQ, an organisation aimed to minimise human-animal conflict and provide relief to animals in distress. Read more to know her journey.

Tell us about yourself – how did you get into wildlife rescue?

My love for wildlife began when I was in boarding school. It was located near Bhimashankar, Maharashtra. I often felt like an intruder, watching and observing them in their home for hours on end. Once I came back to the city, it became infuriating after a point to keep watching people rescue animals, keep them in their homes or dump them in zoos or rescue centres permanently. I remember thinking to myself that ‘There has to be a better way of doing this and ensuring that an animal is not rescued only to be subjected to further suffering!’

I moved to Pune in 2006. There was a phase where I would constantly end up witnessing scenarios where a lot of wildlife would end up being subjected to unnecessary handling, captivity and mismanagement, all in the name of  ‘animal rescue or welfare.’ Pune District and the areas around it is home to a multitude of wildlife. The landscape that surrounds us and the amazing wildlife that thrives in it has greatly changed over the last decade. The growth in urban development, shifts in agricultural patterns and climatic changes have led to an increasing number of animals getting endangered, which started getting reported to our 24-hour animal emergency helpline at my organisation, RESQ. I decided that I wanted to change the way animal rescue and rehabilitation was done and since then, there has been no looking back.

What’s the story behind your initiative, RESQ?

“Are you just going to complain that nobody provides emergency rescue for animals in distress or are you going to just do it yourself?”  That’s what I asked myself back in 2007, one month before I founded RESQ. That’s where it all began. Fast forward to today;

Species no bar. I run RESQ Charitable Trust (RESQ) as the Founder and President, which is a not-for-profit that works with all kinds of animals – domestic and wildlife. Powered by human connections, we tackle problems hands-on with a smile every day! Over the years, I’ve rescued and rehabilitated hundreds of animals myself but collectively, as an organization that thrives on teamwork, RESQ has changed the lives of over 1,00,000+ animals since inception through its ‘response’ and ‘prevention’ verticals which include:

– Distressed Animal RESQ Teams (DART)

– Wildlife Rescue and Treatment Transit Centre

– Companion Animal Veterinary Hospital, Rehabilitation Centre and Sanctuary

– Disaster Relief and Rescue for Animals 

– Rabies Response and Testing Facility 

– Human-Animal Conflict Mitigation, Education and Awareness 

– Research and Training Programs

What are some of the biggest challenges you faced in your journey and how did you overcome them?

Our biggest challenge has always been finding a steady source of resources for our work. Especially in a country like ours, where there are so many social causes that are in dire need of attention and help, animal causes lie way below most people’s list. These challenges have often been overcome thanks to community support, but in recent times, we feel the need, even more, to stabilise this so that we can continue the work we do for animals, who are greatly dependent on the support we provide for them. 

What advice would you give to someone who’s looking to adopt an animal? 

I think it is extremely noble if one chooses to adopt an animal instead of purchasing one of pedigree from a breeder. However, there has to be a complete absence of bias when looking to adopt. You cannot justify adopting a Husky or a Pug because these are actually your favourite breed of dog and you’re just patting yourself on the back for saving yourself the trouble of paying a hefty amount to a breeder. Animals who have been re-homed from previous owners and are in need of a new loving home are looking exactly for that, love. You have to be patient, loving and firm because every animal that you choose to take home will also come along with its own endearing qualities but also some challenges. You need to ask yourself if you are at a time in your life and career where you can put aside enough time, energy and other resources to give your pet a fantastic quality of life; one that you would love to enjoy. Can you give your pet the best nutrition from the options out there? Will you commit to exercising them or spending time with them enriching their minds? Will you be able to afford veterinary bills if your pet falls sick? Will you be patient enough to work through house training or any challenging traits or temperaments?

Bringing pets home is a lifelong commitment and not a decision to be made lightly.

How does Social Media help you in building awareness around wildlife protection?

Social media has a large role to play when it comes to creating awareness. Documenting the various rescues that the team does shine a light on the various ways in which wild animals can be injured or trapped because of human activities. For example, nestlings and fledglings who become homeless and orphaned due to tree felling or marine animals which get trapped in fishing nets and hooks.

It is also a great tool to bring attention to vulnerable animal species and the risks they face due to industrialisation, urbanisation or changes in land-use patterns. When more people recognize how threatened or vulnerable certain kinds of animals are; that’s when moves can be made in the right direction to bring about their conservation. Social media can impact change in small yet significant ways, too. Even if a single person understands the right way to respond to coming across a snake and does not kill a snake fuelled by a knee-jerk fear or panic-based reaction; that’s one life saved.

How can people volunteer to help rescue animals?

If you have the time to dedicate to rescuing animals, you can do so on your own or alongside a network of like-minded people. It is not difficult to find and join forums like these online. No two rescuers are expected to be exactly as committed. If you cannot open your house to foster animals and can only offer to transport a sick or injured street animal to a veterinary clinic or shelter, that’s fine too. Often while rescuing an animal, stress and poor handling of the animal during rescue is what leads to more damage. So rescuing an animal safely using the right technique and equipment is just the first step. Thereafter, ensuring a swift release or minimum stress during transportation to a rehabilitation centre is the next. Go about rescuing animals responsibly. Do not trespass into private property. Always be up to date on your inoculations, especially vaccines against rabies and tetanus. Take care of yourself first. Never extend beyond your means. Temper your compassion with rational logic.

Tell us something about your ‘wildest’ rescue story.  

It is literally impossible for me to pinpoint one as the wildest! The funny thing is that even the wildest and most improbable stories wind up comprising just a regular day at RESQ

If your life were a book or movie, what would it be called?

Life the way I love it! 

Which are your favourite accounts to follow on Social Media accounts and why?

Dr. Joel Alves @the_conservation_vet and Dr. Heinrich Vollgraaf because the work they do for wildlife is incredible! I also love following Justin Mott @askmott because I think the images he captures of animals are simply powerful! 

Where can people get in touch with you?

Email [email protected]

Twitter @nehapanchamia 

Instagram @nehapanchamia

LinkedIn – Neha Panchamia

In the Spotlight – Pavandeep Singh

Postcard Spotlight is an interview series showcasing young leaders and creative minds who are making their mark with their unique talent and drive.

In the spotlight this week is Pavandeep Singh, a travel blogger and an entrepreneur. A foodie by heart, he’s the founder of Tadka Singh and also the co-founder of Tasty Tales. Read more to know his journey.

Tell us about your journey – how did you get introduced to the food business? 

I was always fascinated with food and its flavours. I was running my automotive business and started learning how to cook just as a hobby when I happened to take a barbeque class. In 2012,  I went to one of the flea markets in Bangalore called Kitsch mandi. It was then that I decided to set up my own stall in one of these markets to serve barbeque food. Just a couple of days prior to the event, I was told that no cooking equipment and gas would be allowed within the stalls, so barbeque was out of the question.   I went to my mom, who also loves cooking, and asked for her help to cook some dishes. To my surprise, everyone loved our food and we got sold out. That’s how it started. While still being in the automotive business, I started doing more of these flea market stalls. We were called the ‘Keema pav’ stall because of its popularity. Then we did NH7, October fest and other big music festivals. That’s how I realised this is what I truly wanted to do and started my first restaurant, Tadka Singh.  

What’s the story behind your ventures Tadka Singh and Tasty Tales?

I co-founded Tasty Tales with Rinka Banerjee who’s a food technologist. She’s a veteran in the food space, involved in  R&D for companies like Hindustan Unilever for 16 years. She had this idea to create a natural, ready-to-cook paste that would not only be preservative-free but would taste just like your grandmother’s traditional recipe. We got to know each other through our investors who also happened to be my mentor at Tadka Singh. Rinka and I connected. It took us about a year to do our research and our investor was kind to give us some money for it. We got our first 2 recipes from our mothers. The Amritsari Mutton Curry was my mother’s recipe while the Bengali Mustard Prawn was Rinka’s mother’s recipe. We took it to our investors and they loved it. That’s how we got our first pre-seed. 

Apart from being an entrepreneur, you’re also a travel blogger. Tell us the story behind Hungry Travellers

My wife and I share a love for travel and food. In fact, Hungry Travellers was my wife’s brainchild. Even today, she’s the primary reason for its success. During our college days, we used to discuss how our life and travel will be after we get married. Right from our marriage, we had this idea of blogging. Capturing our happy moments for ourselves seemed a fun idea. When platforms like Instagram and Facebook became mainstream, we started putting our stories, Initially, the audience was just our friends and family. But we started growing over time and amassed a lot of followers. 

What are the challenges you faced during the pandemic (as a restaurant founder as well as a traveller) – how did you overcome them?  

As a restaurant owner, I had a tough time. There were times when we had no revenue coming. We had to dig into our personal savings to pay employee salaries. During this time, we decided to help others around us. Through a hotline number on our Social Media, we offered free food to all Covid patients who showed their RT-PCR reports. We served thousands of meals through this initiative. 

My wife started Project Passion where she interviewed different people on the internet who followed their passion and made it their careers. She talked to a lot of people from a DJ to a dancer. This idea was well received and we also got a lot of new followers.

What advice would you give to an aspiring entrepreneur? 

In your entrepreneurial journey, always believe in yourself. Never lose sight of your goal and keep persevering. Your resilience will keep you going. 

What’s your favourite travel destination and why?  

 I like Bali a lot. We went there many years ago before it became a touristy place. I like the place for its food and culture. My trip to Leh-Ladakh was also a memorable one. Besides these, my most favourite city in the world is New York. I love NY for its energy. The buzz is second to none. 

If your life were a book or movie, what would it be called and why? 

No guts, no glory or Good Grit. 

Name the top 3 things on your bucket list.  

  • A pan India food tour exploring the country through its food – from the streets to the fanciest restaurants 
  • Travel to Japan 
  • Bungee jumping and sky diving  in NZ

Which are your favourite accounts to follow on Social Media and why? 

My favourites are food-related pages. So I like  Chef Zac and his  Chef on the road series on Instagram. I like Hungry Travellers because it’s great memories for me and Anushree

Where can people get in touch with you?

Hungry travellers 

Tadkasingh 

Tasty Tales

5 Best Podcasts To Listen To Right Now

Podcasts have transformed the way we consume content. They have become an important part of our routines as much as a favourite TV show or book. From entertainment on-the-go to informational content that keeps our mind occupied, podcasts provide a diverse range of topics to suit everyone’s interest. So, we have put together a list of our favourite podcasts that you can listen to. 

  1. Let’s Do Shots!

How humans made computers smarter by solving captchas? How Starbucks functions as a bank? How Pepsi’s marketing campaign caused riots in Philippines? Find answers to all these curious questions in this engaging podcast presented by Siddhant More from Mad Over Marketing. From unknown business anecdotes to some of the best marketing success strategies, the podcast puts them together in short and crisp episodes that everyone can consume. This one is worth giving a shot! 

  1.  Cyrus Says 

A comic, satirist and video jockey – the legendary Cyrus Broacha has done it all for decades. In his bi-weekly podcast Cyrus Says, he brings his infectious wit while delving deep into topics like life in urban India, politics, sports, food, films, civic sense, traffic, kids, and more. The podcast features guests from different walks of life – from actor Taapsee Pannu to stand-up comic  Abhijit Ganguly. Highly recommended! 

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  1.  Casefile True Crime 

If you’re a fan of true crime, then this podcast might be of interest to you. Narrated by an anonymous host – popularly referred to as Casey – the critically acclaimed podcast is known for its well-researched episodes that feature some of the most thrilling crimes, both solved and unsolved. The podcast features episodes ranging from 1 to 2 hours, and is regarded as one of the best most successful true crime podcasts ever made. A gem any true crime fan shouldn’t miss! 

  1. Maed in India 

Founded and hosted by Mae Mariyam Thomas, the podcast is truly a one-stop shop for indie music. The podcast has featured over a hundred bands and artistes, introducing listeners to some of the best independent musicians from India and overseas. With interviews from artists who also bring renditions of their original music, this podcast is a delightful combination of story and music. If you’re someone who likes to discover new music, Maed in India is the one for you. 

  1. The Michelle Obama Podcast

Debuting in her eponymous podcast, Michelle Obama features open conversations between her and guests like Conan O’Brien, her mother, former US president Barack Obama and more. The podcast is a deep dive into various meaningful topics to encourage users to open up to new conversations with people who matter to them. 

We hope you have as much fun listening to these podcasts as we had while curating them for you!

In the Spotlight – Vidhi Tamboli

Postcard Spotlight is an interview series showcasing young leaders and creative minds who are making their mark with their unique talent and drive.

This World Mental Health Day, we have Vidhi Tamboli in the spotlight. She’s a counselor and the founder of The Mood Space, an online counselling platform offering mental health therapy to South Asians across the world.

Tell us about your journey – what inspired you to start The Mood Space

The journey started when I and my colleague, Rhea, moved to Virginia to do our undergraduate studies together. Moving to a new country, away from home, was a challenging experience. In those instances, we felt that there was a lack of support in terms of being able to talk about our emotions. Having grown up in a typical Indian family, where there was a stigma around mental health,  we weren’t taught how to express our feelings. I later went on to pursue my Masters in Counseling Psychology from Columbia university. During my time in the US, I witnessed how people openly talk about their mental health. We wanted to bring mental health awareness in India, to demystify the stigma around therapy. This gave birth to The Mood Space in 2019. 

How does your venture help meet mental health needs of South Asians globally? 

We’re tackling the lack of awareness and building awareness through relatable content that everyone can understand. We use our platform to create communities, to create a familiar space where people can come and feel comfortable. We share recovery stories to not only motivate the ones telling them but also for others to see and understand that they are not alone. Through The Mood Space, we’re creating a larger impact for South Asians across the world, making therapy more accessible to them while matching them to a therapist who understands their specific needs. 

What are some of the challenges you faced in your career as a mental health professional and how did you overcome them? 

Starting a company in a space that’s highly stigmatised comes with a fair amount of challenges. Be it accessing people, to talk to them about something that they may not feel comfortable about or making them aware about the resources available, was a challenging experience. However, we tackled every challenge in our journey by taking one step at a time and creating solutions that make therapy more accessible to everyone. 

What are some of the misconceptions around mental health that should end? 

I think mental health, as a term, has been really misunderstood. Using terms like ‘ you’re crazy or ‘this is insane to someone taking therapy are traditional stereotypes of mental health illness that have been used widely around the country. Second is, thinking mental health illnesses are rare, which is not true. Every household, especially after the pandemic, is experiencing some level of stress, anxiety or relationship concerns. Another misconception is thinking that people with mental health illness can’t function well in a community. According to me, tackling this lack of understanding and creating awareness that mental health therapy is beneficial to everyone, is important, and that’s what we’re doing through The Mood Space

How does Social Media help you in building awareness about mental health? 

It’s a great platform to build awareness about mental health. There are some amazing pages where therapists talk about different areas of life. There are pages like The Mood Space where we post information and stories about mental health warriors who are battling with daily concerns but at the same time finding hope in the smallest of things that they do. Even when the pandemic hit and people were finding it difficult to express themselves, social media was the place that helped us to connect to them, to help them realise that they are not alone. 

What are some tips people should follow to mindfully consume Social Media? 

Social Media comes with a lot of positive aspects as well as with some negativity. One suggestion that I would like to give is, pick and choose who you’re following. For example, if you follow news or media channels that constantly throw information at you or influencers who make you feel insecure about how you look or feel,  you can become anxious. Long hours of scrolling, comparing yourself to others on social media creates a lot of pressure. Having said that, there are also many pages on social media that help you gain information and alleviate your stress. So, being able to draw that line and understanding how you’re consuming social media is important. 

Which are your favourite accounts to follow on Social Media and why? 

There are many accounts that are doing good work, However, I think people should make a personal choice about the kind of content that works best for them. For example, I follow  Satvic Movement that can be useful for people to understand health better and connect to mother nature. Another account is Good Vibes that many love to follow. 

Since many people are working from home now, what advice would you give them to stay mentally well and healthy? 

  • Focus on nutrition 
  • Focus on your hydration levels
  • Find your focus in the present. When you find yourself overthinking about the past or your future, bring yourself in the moment. 
  • Develop self-care practices depending on what you like, be it reading, working out, playing a musical instrument, etc. 

Where can people get in touch with you?

Website: www.themoodspace.com 

Instagram: The Mood Space 

Facebook: The Mood Space

In the Spotlight – Sahil Makhija

Postcard Spotlight is an interview series showcasing young leaders and creative minds who are making their mark with their unique talent and drive.

In the spotlight this week is Sahil Makhija, a musician and the frontman of Demonic Resurrection, a Mumbai-based Blackened Death Metal collective. Read more to know his journey.

Tell us about your journey – when did you first get introduced to metal music?

I got introduced to heavy metal during school. I think my first brush with the genre was in the 6th grade. A friend made me listen to Iron Maiden’s self-titled album on his walkman. I distinctly remember being blown away by the song Running Free and my brain could not wrap itself around the song ‘Phantom Of The Opera’ but I totally enjoyed it. However, that was a one off incident and I deviated to more commercial music before being drawn back into the genre around the 9th grade. I was given a bunch of Metallica and Iron Maiden CD’s and cassettes to listen to and I remember I thought it was ‘too heavy’ at the time but something about it stuck with me and I dived deeper and deeper into the music. Pretty soon I was listening to bands that my school friends, who introduced me to metal, found too heavy. 

What’s the story behind your stage name Demonstealer?

As I explored deeper and deeper within the world of heavy metal, I fell in love with black metal. Bands like Dimmu Borgir, Cradle Of Filth, Old Man’s Child, Behemoth, Emperor and so on and so forth. In this genre, everyone seemed to have a stage name, and that concept really resonated with me. I loved the idea of a different persona on stage and having that kind of larger than life image. While most of the black metal musicians got their names from norse mythology or books like Lord Of The Rings, my 16-year-old brain wasn’t as well read. So after much thought and deliberation and realizing my love for demons and all things fantasy, I thought of Demonstealer and Demonslayer. The latter was too cheesy, so I went with Demonstealer

A guitarist, a vocalist and a drummer – you don many hats. Which aspect of your musicianship do you think describes you the best?

 I think I would best describe myself as a songwriter. Lyrics and music, I put that together to express myself through music. I’ve always looked at instruments as a means to an end. The end being the song. I never wanted to be the best guitarist or drummer or singer. I wanted to write music that resonated with people, that people wanted to listen to, that I wanted to listen to. For me, it was always the bigger picture. I started out as a vocalist so that would be my primary instrument so to speak, but I think now I enjoy playing the drums the most.

Tell us a little about your most memorable performance to date. 

I think just from an experience point of view it would be Inferno Festival in 2010, which was Demonic Resurrection’s first international performance. After 10 years of bursting onto the scene, we finally made it not just to the international stage but to the festival we used to dream about. It was really a dream come true moment. Of course, we have plenty of shows which are memorable for not so nice reasons like getting stuff thrown at us or being heckled and so on and so forth. But Inferno 2010 was a dream come true. 

Headbanger’s Kitchen has become quite popular over the years. How did this thought of bringing food and music strike you? 

The show is actually ‘accidentally popular’. I started it because I just started to get inspired by watching cooking videos on Youtube, and I was already posting and kind of writing out recipes on Facebook for fun. So when DR shot our first music video, I asked the director Srinivas if he would help me film my recipes. He said he would, but he felt just a recipe was boring and we should do something more exciting and that’s how we came up with the original concept of the show which was me cooking a dish inspired by a band who I would interview on the show and then they would taste the food I made. I did this for almost 4 years but the channel didn’t see any success and I felt it was best to devote my energy to making more music. However, I still enjoyed cooking so I started shooting videos on my own in my kitchen as and when I felt inspired. In December 2015, I got started on the Keto diet and seeing that I was making pizza out of cauliflower, my mind was blown so I filmed those recipes and that’s where the channel found success. I was one of the first channels doing Keto recipes, and it was just being in the right place at the right time. Next thing you know the channel has blown up from 5k subs to 10k in a few months and within a year I was nearly 100k. It was never planned or ever dreamt of even, it just happened. 

If you had to bring one artiste to the Headbanger’s Kitchen, who would it be and why? 

I’ve had the pleasure to interview some real legends on the older format of the show, and meet some of my heroes as well. I would love to have Nergal and the rest of Behemoth on the show. I’d love to make them like a whole roast pig or a leg of lamb or something quite meaty. 

What advice would you give to an aspiring musician, especially a metalhead? 

Keep your day job and play music on the side as a hobby. 

How do you like to spend your free time? 

I spend time with my wife watching shows or movies. Sometimes I take a nap but honestly, I don’t have much of a life outside of food and music. Like if I’m not working on either of those, I don’t know what to do with myself. 

Which are your favourite accounts to follow on Social Media and why? 

Some of the music accounts I like following are Metal Drummers United, Metal Drummer Nerdz and other extreme metal drumming accounts. I also follow all my favourite bands and musicians. When it comes to food, once again, I follow many accounts that I barely remember the name of, but they post lots of food porn. It’s just eye candy. 

Where can people get in touch with you?

People can find me and my various projects on almost every single social media platform. Depending on what you use, search for Headbanger’s Kitchen, Demonic Resurrection or Demonstealer. These are the 3 profiles I handle. 

The Creators’ Den with Vaishnavi Giri

Vaishnavi is a children’s illustrator and a mompreneur. She is the founder of Wildpaper, a venture that creates nature-centric learning products that help children develop their cognitive skills. She talks about her journey as an illustrator,  how being a mom gave her her business idea, learnings from the pandemic, and more.

Tell us your story— how did you decide to pursue a career in illustration? 

I feel I have always been an artist. It was my passion, so couldn’t think of a career that did not involve art in it! I used to work as a UI/UX designer. Illustration is something I started concentrating on in the last few years while creating my own brand. Since I was already an artist and had a background in communication design, it was an easy transition but there was a  lot of learning involved. 

What inspired you to start your venture, Wildpaper?

My children of course. Having them made me realize the beautiful world that I wanted them to know, but there was a big gap in the Indian market to teach nature to kids. I remember not being able to find the right products for my children. They were not available in the Indian market or were overpriced. I realised not many people were creating such products in India which was a shocking revelation to me. This is when I created my first card game which became a success. Post this, I worked on a couple of more products. When I realised that there is a need for these products in the market, it made me realise this is something I’d love to work on. That’s how it led to a full-fledged brand. 

Growing up, which were your favourite books and authors? 

I have always been a fiction reader. So growing up, my reading largely bordered around Dan Brown and John Grisham. But as an artist, I loved the Marvel and DC comics. Before I entered the world of children literature, these comics were my source of art. I’m a huge fan of graphic novels because of their ability to convey powerful stories, which takes you to a whole new world. I started reading these novels for their intricate visuals and storylines. Eventually, as I grew and studied design, it was about understanding how these ideas were interpreted visually. 

I think my favourite illustrator/author  (non-children) today would be Osamu Tezuka. If I have to pick from the children world literature, they would be Oliver Jeffers and Quentin Blake

We know your kids are an important part of your creative process. What’s the kind of feedback you usually get from them? Are they harsh critics? :p Any memorable stories you would like to share?

There’s a genuine honesty that comes from them, which I cannot ignore. Children are not conditioned to respond in a specific way. Usually, if I’m trying to draw something and if my son isn’t able to recognise it irrespective of the visual style, then I feel I lost it. If my son, who’s exposed to a vast collection of children’s literature, doesn’t relate to my work,  then I feel I’m going wrong somewhere. My children’s ability to connect to my work is usually a benchmark for me since my target audience is children. 

What’s the best compliment you’ve received for your work so far and from whom?

There are a few that come to mind., especially from parents (and it wasn’t about their children). I remember parents who wrote to me that their love for nature was revived because of my products. When their kids get curious and ask questions about nature, they feel my books give them a second chance to rediscover this learning experience along with their kids. 

If you could illustrate any classic children’s book, which one would it be and why?

I think I would love to illustrate Little Red Riding Hood. I like to interpret things in a different way. Lately, I’ve been working on a series where you see the world through the eyes of wildlife. Little Red Riding Hood had a lot of duality in terms of its story which is something I would love to explore by using a very limited colour palette. 

Any tried and tested tips you would like to give to parents of young kids on how they can make their lockdown-life easier? 

After a year of lockdown, one thing I’ve learned is to be patient, to slow down. We have so many ways to cope with everything that’s going around us but we can’t expect our children to react in a similar manner. So,  this is a reminder for us to be present and listen to our children because it’s the need of the hour. 

What’s the one thing you’ve learnt through your entrepreneurial journey that you would like to share with artists aspiring to start their own business?  

Be patient. You cannot become recognised for your work overnight. You have to put in a lot of hard work and keep learning. The learning should never stop because it allows you to grow. All good things come in due time. You cannot rush a creation process. So, take your time and pace yourself. Don’t create something out of FOMO (fear of missing out). Although Wildpaper was started in 2018, it’s the compounded learning that I gained over the years that helped me immensely in my journey. 

Which are your favourite accounts to follow on Social Media and why? 

My favourite accounts to follow on Social Media are artists and authors due to their positive outlook on life. Some of the accounts I follow are: Brain and hear, green humour, Alicia Souza, Gemma Correll, Fowl Language Comics and Awkward Yeti

Where can people get in touch with you? 

Email id: [email protected] 

Website: https://wildpaper.in/ 

Instagram: https://instagram.com/makingwildpaper?utm_medium=copy_link

Instagram saves are the super likes

Over the years, Instagram’s algorithm has undergone several changes to give its users the best user experience while using the app. It has stopped showing posts on the feed in chronological order, offering only the content they think users will love the most on their feeds. For brands and content creators relying on organic interactions, it has become a challenge to gauge the kind of content their users want. However, there are certain elements of the Instagram algorithms that help brands to determine their success in engagement. One such metric is the Instagram ‘saves’.

Saves was given the super-like term by James Nord— Fohr CEO. He says, “Saves has become an incredibly powerful way to see how engaged an influencer’s audience actually is.” Instagram saves are a key signal for knowing how the Instagram algorithm works – the more the saves on your post, the more people it will be shown to. That’s why focusing on getting more saves is a great way to grow your Instagram account. 

What are we talking about? 

Instagram changed for a whole lot of people a while ago! But not for all, as most of us are not even aware of this new algorithm. What are we referring to?

It’s the SAVE feature a.k.a super LIKES!

Let us dig deeper!

Instagram ‘saves’ have been around for a while, helping us save posts for revisiting later. They are no more just a bookmark icon below your posts. Instagram has promoted ‘saves’ to a new; very important position. 

In our last blog, we spoke about the 6 key factors Instagram algorithm uses to rank posts on feed. Although not one of the key factors yet, ‘saves’ is said to be the 7th one soon.

Currently, according to the algorithm ranking, the more saves your post gets, the more likely it is to be shown on the explore tab and higher on your audience’s feed. 

Why are ‘Saves’ bumped up to a higher position?

Saves are a strong indicator that your content is relatable to your audience. So much that they find it valuable enough to save it. When someone saves your content, it tells Instagram that it’s high-quality content and that it should probably be sharing it with more people so everyone can benefit from it.

Along with that, Instagram is experimenting with removing likes on posts in many countries. As this new change is being considered, other engagement metrics like comments, shares and saves are gaining more focus.

The new engagement rate calculation has also changed.

= (Likes + Comments + Saves) / Impressions x 100 

Let’s get to the “How to” factor.

Are you looking for ways to get more saves on your post and save it from falling prey to low ranking? Our research says that these are the following reasons audiences are currently saving posts.

  • IGTV videos, long-form video content they want to watch later
  • Reel challenges, to hop onto the trending challenges
  • New/Creative post types
  • Review/Recommendation posts to remember 
  • Inspirational/Motivational quotes

How to tap on these reasons and gain ‘saves’?

#Tip1: Infographics

If you have information that sparks people’s curiosity, they may want to save it for later viewing. Thus infographics! Heavy on information, infographics make it to the ‘saves’ list as users want to check back on it or save it for later use.

#Tip2: Captions

When you’ve got the image right, it’s time to get the caption right. The best thing to do is to write a long-form caption that truly encapsulates the spirit of the post whilst giving out genuine information. Writing a caption with new and valuable information gets you ‘Saves’ from your audience.

#Tip3: Quotes

You can easily turn quotes into visually compelling content that gets saved again and again. Make sure you choose quotes that are relevant to your business and industry. Don’t go crazy with your content strategy, consider mixing it up so your feed looks intentionally curated. Instagram is a great place to find inspiration.

#Tip4: Videos

Long IGTV videos with a product review or a movie recommendation will definitely make it to the save list. You can repurpose videos you’ve posted on YouTube and Facebook into IGTV videos. Short tips and listicles are always great for sharing, so share your blog posts into the video as well and let your audience save them.

#Tip5: Reminders

Sometimes, your users may forget to save the posts they like. Simply add a reminder on your image/video or in your caption reminding them to save the post for future reference. If you’re not sure what to do with the likes and comments, include a call to action in your post caption. It serves as a pleasant reminder to your viewers that your information is worth saving when done right.

Track your Saves!

You obviously want to know whether your efforts have reaped the benefits. Won’t you?

Saves are not reflected on the post. However, there is a way to check them – The page insights!

Follow these steps:

Insights > Content tab > Feed Posts > See All > Filter option > Saves.

There! You have it.

The secret to getting more saves, among other things like replying to your posts’ comments or building a relationship with your users, is to create content worth revisiting and convincing your users that it would be useful in the future.

In the Spotlight – Pooja Sharma

Postcard Spotlight is an interview series showcasing young leaders and creative minds who are making their mark with their unique talent and drive.

In the spotlight this week is Pooja Sharma, a celebrated dancer and choreographer. She’s an accomplished Bollywood and belly dancer, who talks about her early training, her inspiration and exploring the world through dance. Read on to know her story.

Tell us about your journey; how did you get introduced to dance? 

Dance comes very naturally to me. I grew up in a family which encouraged me to dance. Television was my only source to watch and learn dancing. When I was in 6th grade I got my first opportunity to dance on stage. That’s when I realised my passion for dance, which has only kept growing ever since. Over the years, I performed every chance I got. During my college life, I decided to start training professionally and joined a few classes. It was a life-changing decision for me because I got the opportunity to understand the technicalities of Dance. After a few years of training in different styles, I got introduced to belly dancing and fell in love with it instantly. I was smitten by the ease at which a Belly Dancer moves and wanted to dive right into learning it.

I started taking lessons on belly dancing in the year 2010 and the journey still continues with the same amount of passion. Bollywood and contemporary also remain very close to my heart because I believe dance understands no boundaries and being versatile is my biggest strength. It not only allows me to move with a sense of freedom but also opens up my mind to infinite possibilities in the world of creativity. 

Share the story of your most memorable performance. 

I miss stage performances. Although social media has become our platform today, performing on stage has always been a special experience. Every performance I’ve given on the stage has been a memorable one for me. 

As a dancer and choreographer, what excites you the most about the digital medium? 

Being inspired constantly, watching people’s art on digital platforms, looking at creators and their lifestyle, new ideas and concepts, all this excites me a lot. Even an amateur dancer can teach you new things. I get my students and clients from social media, and they keep me inspired in different ways.  

Who is that one artist you can’t wait to work with? 

I think there are so many if you ask me. There were different phases in life where different people inspired me. So, it’s difficult to pick a person. From my friends to even a stranger, anyone can be an inspiration for me. My inspiration keeps changing and is different for different reasons. So, it’s difficult to pick a person. 

If you had to pick just one dance form to do all your life, which one would it be? 

I just want to dance. I want the freedom that doesn’t ask me to pick just one dance form. I like to lead a life without restricting myself to one dance form. I have always been creating fusions with my choreography so that I do not have to stick to any one form and restrict my expression.   

What kind of brands do you like to collaborate with, as a Social Media influencer? What are some of your considerations when a brand approaches you? 

I like brands, big or small, that are respectful with their approach. If I love the cause behind the brand, I’ll collaborate out of my love for dance. Transparency and kindness are also important factors for me to be able to say yes for a brand collaboration. 

Name the top 3 things on your bucket list.
I do not have many, but there’s this one thing I’ve always wanted to do.

Travel, dance and teach. I’ve been trying to do it for years now. Keep moving to different places, keep dancing and find myself in that journey. Hopefully, I’ll embark on this journey soon.

If you could go back in time and give one piece of advice to your younger self, what would it be? 

Nothing. Let it happen the way it has and have no regrets. I would say, I’m grateful for how I have evolved to become what I am today.

Where can people get in touch with you? 

Instagram

YouTube 

Gmail

I teach Belly Dance, Bollywood and Creative movement for kids. Available for one on one sessions as well, currently online via Zoom (Due to the pandemic)