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from India Insight:

First pictures of Taj Mahal to ‘Hairy family of Burma’: subcontinent photos from 1850-1910

A new exhibition in India’s capital showcases some of the earliest photographs from South Asia, taken between 1850 and 1910 when the region was under British rule.

Around 250 images from India, Sri Lanka, Myanmar and Nepal are on display at the “Drawn from Light: Early Photography and the Indian Sub-continent” exhibition in New Delhi.

Dr. John Murray’s images of the Taj Mahal are recognized as the first-ever photographs of the monument. The surgeon, who was employed with the East India Company, took the pictures between 1858 and 1862.

“[The exhibition] shows there was great conflict. We’ve got photographs of the famine that was hitting India while the elite cultures were developing. On the other hand they showed a kind of confluence of cultures because there were European artists or photographers who were documenting the royalty and the rising middle class,” said Rahaab Allana, the exhibition's curator.

from India Insight:

Indian eatery run by murder convicts praised for politeness, hygiene

As India's capital baked under a heat wave this month, banker Gaurav Gupta sat down for lunch at a new air-conditioned restaurant, and was greeted by a smiling waiter who offered him chilled water and took his order -- a traditional "thali" meal of flatbread, lentils, vegetables, rice and pickle.

Nothing unusual, except that the employee, like most of his co-workers, is a convicted murderer serving time in South Asia's largest prison complex.

from Photographers' Blog:

Surviving as a garment worker

Phnom Penh, Cambodia

By Damir Sagolj

Like a true professional, Maen Sopeak sings to the audience of seven people who sit on the bare floor of her room in a Phnom Penh suburb. Her singing is soft, at moments almost a whisper, but her beautiful voice is clear. In a country even slightly richer than devastated, impoverished Cambodia, she could be a star. She could perform to packed halls, wearing only the best clothes.

Maen Sopeak is, however, just a poor garment worker. There will be no sell-out crowds or fancy dresses for her anytime soon. She shares a single, hole-in-the-wall room with six other women, who all work at a nearby garment factory producing clothes for Western brands.

from Global Investing:

For luxury, all that glitters is gold

The year has certainly got off to a good start for luxury companies, with firms like LVMH, home to Louis Vuitton, reporting stellar results for the first quarter. No wonder -- according to CLSA Asia-Pacific Markets analyst Aaron Fischer, resurgent emerging market consumers are fuelling a strong growth in the global luxury goods market. Growth in the sector was  double its long-term average last year, Fischer says.  He has updated his bullish 2011 report “Dipped in Gold” and is particularly optimistic on established brands, predicting global growth of 10% in 2012, slowing slightly from last year’s 14% rise:

However, we expect leading brands to continue to outperform, rising 15%, compared with the street’s estimate of 12%, which seems far too low.

from Breakingviews:

Quality of life may one day dethrone NY, London

By Martin Hutchinson

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

The quest for quality of life may one day dethrone cities like New York and London. They’re still the most global cities, according to A.T. Kearney’s biennial ranking, with Paris and Tokyo next. But Vienna, rated only 13th among global cities, tops Mercer’s current quality of living survey. As technology makes location less critical, life quality may matter more.

from Oddly Enough Blog:

Welcome to Rock Bottom…

Honestly, I don't even know why we cover stories like this.

It's another one of those lists ranking living standards in various cities around the world. Vienna is in the number one position, while Baghdad ranks dead last.

No kidding.

"Honey, the company wants to transfer me, does it matter to you and the kids whether we go to Austria or Iraq? I told them I had no preference..."

from Oddly Enough Blog:

Ma, do you do my shorts on hot, or warm?

washing machine 490

Hey Ma, my clothes seem different somehow. Are you using a new laundry detergent?

RUSSIA/No. Same detergent.

Hmmmm. New fabric softener?

No. Same fabric softener.

I just can't figure it out. Seems like when you do the laundry in the summer, it comes out a little better. Oh well, can I make a small suggestion?

from Africa News blog:

Was Zuma right to reveal HIV status?

SAFRICA/ South African President Jacob Zuma has disclosed that he is HIV negative after his most recent test for the virus that causes AIDS.
 Zuma said he wanted “to promote openness and to eradicate the silence and stigma that accompanies this epidemic” in a country which has more people infected with the virus than any other – an estimated five million.

 Some South Africans had been calling on Zuma for a while to release the results of HIV tests and not just to take them. But critics now say Zuma could be sending the wrong message by saying he is HIV negative because of a lifestyle that has involved numerous affairs as well as marriages (he currently has three wives and a fiancée).

from India Masala:

WIFW 2010: HIGHLIGHTS – Ranna Gill

Highlights from the Ranna Gill collection at the Wills Lifestyle India Fashion Week 2010 in New Delhi. Actress Minissha Lamba walked the ramp for Gill.

from India Masala:

WIFW 2010: HIGHLIGHTS – Varun Sardana

Highlights from the Varun Sardana collection at the Wills Lifestyle India Fashion Week 2010 in New Delhi.

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