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London’s sky pool- swim in the air

You’ve seen infinity pools that add a touch of Palm Beach-chic to luxury condos and five-star resorts. Now comes the “Sky Pool,” an outdoor swimming pool dangling 10 stories above London.

Swimmers will be able to look through the transparent pool — which will be 82 feet long, 16 feet wide and 10 feet deep — at the bustling city life on the streets below.

A “sky deck” will include a bar, a spa and bird’s eye views of the Houses of Parliament and the London Eye, the city’s giant landmark Ferris wheel.sky2

Developers in London are building what they claim is the world’s first “sky pool” — a 25-meter-long swimming pool suspended 10 stories in the air between two blocks of luxury flats. The transparent pool at Embassy Gardens will be three meters deep with a water depth of 1.2 meters, and will be constructed with the help of aquarium designers using 20-cm-thick glass. The pool will allow residents to swim between the development’s roof-top bar, spa, and orangery (a walkway will be available as well), with prices for apartments and penthouses in the complex starting at £602,000 ($942,572).

 

sky1

Although the sky pool is certainly architecturally striking, the project can also be seen as symbolic of London’s housing problems, with developers in the city often promising to build affordable homes in central areas only to focus on luxury apartments instead. Embassy Gardens itself is part of the larger Nine Elms development in southwest London, which is intended to regenerate the inner-city district of Battersea. Instead, say critics, homes in the $23 billion development are being marketed primarily to wealthy buyers in Asia and the Middle East, with locals simply priced out of the market.

 

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20 things to think about when visiting Thailand

Here are 20 things to think about when visiting Thailand

1. Bring a cell phone “unblocked” and buy a Thai SIM card for it on arrival, they’re cheap (apprx. 50 baht) and include some credit already on them – e.g. – International calls to Oz/UK are about 5 – 8baht per min…Phones are cheap too – and unblocked

2. Money – Bring ATM and/or credit cards. – check fees and tell your bank your are going abroad. – Take Travellers cheques only as back-up. Bring very little cash (Baht) – you tend to get a better rate of exchange here than any home country. You can change money on arriving at the airport…(keep some cash in reserve in case of flight Miss-Grand-Thailanddelays/diversions etc)

3. Booking – there is usually no need to book rooms before you come as there is plenty of cheap accommodation. Exceptions would be in high season if you want a particular place and maybe for your first one or two nights just to get orientated.

4. Bring very few clothes – they are cheap here and you’ll only bring stuff that is too warm anyway.

5. Very little luggage – this makes you more mobile if you need to be and less vulnerable to taxi touts and undesirable men….Before you go home you can buy any extra luggage (cheap) to take souvenirs etc.

6. Internet access is everywhere – even on the beach… you can get all your photos copied to pendrive – If you have a lap-top you can connect it (broadband even wi-fi) at most cafes.

7. Food – Thai food is very unlikely to give you food poisoning but can contain more chillies than you ever thought possible….Street food is usually safe (and delicious!), check for numbers of customers and general looks of the stall. Western (“farang”) food is much more likely to give you food poisoning – fridges are not part of Thai cooking lore yet…beware of Western Fast Food outlets and hotel buffets – food that has been out for over an hour or so. Thailand is not used to fridges/chill-serve etc.

8. Always carry a pack of tissues – they don’t supply free tissues (if there is a vending machine at all!) – learn to use a “bum-gun” !!

9. Drink bottled water – not tap water. Even consider not brushing your teeth with tap water. Ice is usually safe in drinks and for anything else.thailand

10. Use common safety sense – it is easy to relax too much here…when it comes to petty crime the rate is certainly lower than in places like the US/Europe etc…but every country has its share of con-men and psychopaths…..beware of fellow travellers!

11. Don’t be afraid to go to Pattaya – it is the sex capital of Thailand but they don’t jump out at single women and couples and it has good, cheap hotels, shopping and food. Not a bad place to start off for Koh Chang, Koh Samet or Cambodia.

 

cabbages-and-condoms12. Bring an international driving licence – although most national ones are accepted by motorbike and car hire companies and anyone else who wants to hire you something….you may not be insured without an IDL! In Thailand they drive on the left – cars are Right-hand-drive. However driving is really only for the experienced. Be especially careful on a motorbike – Samui has the highest accident rate in Thailand.It is not recommended to hire bike as if you met any accident your holiday will be ruined.You will have to pay for bike’s damage and third party’s medical bill as well as yours.No matter whose mistake caused accident.You will be held responsible.

13. Public transport is cheap- Planes, Trains, Buses, Minibuses, Taxis, from town to town. If you’re in a minibus or taxi, tell the driver you’ll tip him if he keeps the speed below 90/100 kmph! National speed limit is 90kph (120 on motorways)

14. Around Bkk try to use meter taxis with the meter on...it’ll be cheaper than the tuk-tuks. Take a tuk-tuk once for the experience then use meter taxis. Don’t let the drivers take you out of your way…they’ll try to take you to some (relative’s) store where they get commission.

15. Medical – Check out a few “jabs & medications” – Hep “A” & “B” require a long course before leaving and are a pretty good idea – don’t bother with the malaria ones – too heavy! You can get tetanus or rabies here if you’re bitten by a dog – it’s cheap. Most medicines (including antibiotics) can be bought over the counter without prescription and are cheap. A pharmacist will give you what he considers right for your symptoms but you can just as easily see a doctor at a local clinic for a couple of hundred baht. They usually speak a little English.

16. Check up on Thai manners and customs – this will earn you more respect from the locals. – Keep up some dress sense – how you dress in Thailand is quite important. Don’t go topless without checking out if it’s acceptable where you are – usually it’s frowned upon. You’ll notice that Thai women (even sex workers) are very modest in public –they usually swim fully clothed. Table manners – Thais tend to eat from communal dishes in the centre of the table – don’t pour everything onto your own plate!

17. Don’t knock the Royal family – even in jest.

18. Body language – Don’t point your feet at people – the body is seen as hierarchical and the feet are the lowest part and should not be waved about (this is like a “fingers up” sign. Before entering someone’s home you must take off your shoes; this also applies to some shops and businesses. – Never take a shoe off and wave it at someone – this could lead to violence.
On the other hand it is impolite to touch people on the head.

19. It’s not necessary to “Wai” people – the Thai greeting – as you’ll probably get it wrong. If they Wai you, you might try a wai back.

20. Remember, this is the Land of Smiles and you will find everything goes much better when you have a smile on your face – whatever the situation….

NB – In the current climate of political unrest the wearing of yellow or red shirts in some circumstances could be construed as showing support for either of the main political factions. – consulate your own embassy for latest advice on visiting Thailand

Iran- Marriage that lasts for few minutes

In an unusual tradition, in Iran you can specify the length of your marriage, from a few minutes to 99 years. It is a way for single men and women, divorced Iranians and precocious teens to date—and even have sex—in a way that is acceptable in Shiite Islam. Under Iranian law, unmarried couples who have sex or even date and hold hands can be arrested, fined or even flogged.

So how does a temporary marriage work?

For each union, the groom must pay a predetermined sum to his short-term wife. The duration is set out in the marriage contract, almost like an apartment lease. Both the duration of the marriage and the dowry must be agreed upon in a private contract in advance. The marriage can last just a few hours or several years. When the time is up, a woman must wait two menstrual periods before marrying again. The bride-to-be cannot be currently wed to another man. She also must be Muslim, or at least monotheistic.

Mohsen is looking for his temporary wife on a new site called Hafezoon. Male users can sort through potential partners by “veil status,” or the degree to which women cover their faces and bodies in public. Users can also filter choices by character, socioeconomic status, financial stability, beauty or other criteria. Both sexes can search for their Iranian ethnicity of choice: Persian, Azeri, Kurd, Lur, Baloch, Arab or Turkmen. They can also search by car price, as one’s car is among the most important status symbols in the country.

Which is why Mohsen mentions his vehicle in his profile. “I’m only looking for a companion and would be open to move from temporary marriage to permanent marriage if all goes well,” he writes. “I don’t spend too much, but I’m also not cheap. I’m not religious, but I think people should be responsible for their behavior. …I listen to music and cook occasionally! I like independence. I spend most of my time on the Internet or watching TV.” Mohsen doesn’t drink, but he’s OK if others do.

(Mohsen)

Leila is a widow with two children, the oldest of whom is 20. She’s on Hafezoon because she’s searching for financial security. She currently lives with her family in northwest Isfahan. She’s a Shiite Muslim, and like Mohsen, she’s fine with smoking and drinking. She doesn’t wear her veil often and has no car or income, but she’s healthy.

(Leila)

“I want a dowry of 400 and someone my age or older, this is very important for me.”

Fearing social stigma, many women opt not to use their photos. Hafezoon lets them search for a mate anonymously.

While a site like Hafezoon may seem unusual for a conservative nation like Iran, in some ways it’s consistent: Signing up requires gender selection, and once a profile is either male or female, access to same-sex members is restricted.

According to the Hafezoon’s Facebook page, the site currently has more than 100,000 users. Of these, only 11,000 are female. The Facebook page is used by many in much the same way as the site itself, though they don’t have to go create a profile. Some women are particularly mercenary about the arrangement. In one post, a woman simply set her dowry at $40,000, a huge sum in Iran, and posted her number for any suitor who could match that price.

In one post, a woman asks how everyone is doing, and in response receives multiple phone numbers from men.

Sunni and Shiite Muslims have long had differences—and temporary marriage is among them. From the Shiite point of view, temporary marriage was practiced before the advent of Islam and was accepted by the Prophet Muhammad. The Sunni orthodoxy, however, quickly abolished it, accusing Shiite Muslims of encouraging prostitution under the pretense of marriage.

Only Shiite communities today practice temporary marriages, mainly in Iran and occasionally in Iraq. Originally, temporary marriage in Iran was geared toward widows. It would allow them to remarry, often with a wealthier man who could care for them. In fact, the most common type of temporary marriage occurs between a wealthier man and a poorer widow or divorcee.

Although frowned upon by society, temporary marriage has survived centuries of scrutiny. Islamic legal scholars source the practice to the sayings in the Hadith and the Quran.

It’s not for everyone, though. A large and growing number of Iranians are meeting and dating through Facebook and Instagram, and are rejecting the more conservative rules of the state. Competing with temporary marriage is Western-style dating, and even cohabitation, though any couple that makes this choice is taking a legal risk.

 

 

What is VOIP

VoIP (voice over IP) is an IP telephony term for a set of facilities used to manage the delivery of voice information over the Internet.VoIP involves sending voice information in digital form in discrete packets rather than by using the traditional circuit-committed protocols of the public switched telephone network (PSTN). A major advantage of VoIP and Internet telephony is that it avoids the tolls charged by ordinary telephone service.

 
VoIP derives from the VoIP Forum, an effort by major equipment providers, including Cisco, VocalTec, 3Com, and Netspeak to promote the use of ITU-T H.323, the standard for sending voice (audio) and video using IP on the public Internet and within an intranet. The Forum also promotes the user of directory service standards so that users can locate other users and the use of touch-tone signals for automatic call distribution and voice mail.

In addition to IP, VoIP uses the real-time protocol (RTP) to help ensure that packets get delivered in a timely way. Using public networks, it is currently difficult to guarantee Quality of Service (QoS). Better service is possible with private networks managed by an enterprise or by an Internet telephony service provider (ITSP).

Using VoIP, an enterprise positions a “VoIP device” at a gateway. The gateway receives packetized voice transmissions from users within the company and then routes them to other parts of its intranet (local area or wide area network) or, using a T-carrier system or E-carrier interface, sends them over the public switched telephone network.

Black Money – India

Black Money in India: Meaning, Concept, Magnitude and Measures to Control Black Money!

Meaning:

Black money is both an economic and a social problem. In the latter con­text, it is perceived as a problem with adverse sociological effects on society, like social inequalities, social deprivations, etc.; in the former con­text, it is perceived as a parallel economy, an underground economy or an unofficial economy that is the consequence of the economic policies of the government and has damaging effects on country’s economy and na­tion’s planning development.

While a problem like poverty affects those who are poor, unemployment affects those who are unemployed, alcoholism and drug abuse affect those who consume them, black money is a problem which does not affect those who have black money but it affects the common man in society. No wonder, it has been described as a prob­lem with a difference.

Concept of Black Money:

Black money is tax-evaded income. It can be earned both through legal and illegal means. Its legitimate source is that the income-earners do not reveal their whole income for tax purposes. For example, government doctors earning money by private practice even when they get non-practising allowance; teachers earning money through tuitions, examinations and book royalty and not including it in income-tax returns; advocates charging much higher fee than shown in their account books, and so forth.

Its illegitimate source is bribe, smuggling, black-marketing, selling commodities at prices higher than the controlled prices, taking pugree for house, shop, etc., selling house at a high premium price but showing it at much lower price in the account books, and so on.

It is possible to convert black money into white money and vice versa. For example, when a person manages to get the receipt from the shopkeeper by paying sales-tax for a commodity but does not purchase it actually, he generates black money as reimbursement is made to him against the receipt.

The money not actually paid is the black money in this case. In such case, the shopkeeper sells the same commodity to an­other person without giving him any receipt for it. On the other hand, if a person purchases second-hand car and pays Rs. 90,000 for it out of white money but gets a receipt of only Rs. 60,000, the balance of Rs. 30,000 be­comes black money for the seller. In this case, white money becomes black money.

Magnitude of Black Money:

It is not easy to calculate the magnitude of black money in any society. The economists in the United States, the United Kingdom, Norway, Swe­den and Italy adopted different measures but could not estimate the amount involved in black money.

Norway and Sweden used question­naire method for eliciting answers from persons whether they had participated in illegal activities as buyers or sellers. Italy attempted to esti­mate the underground economy by finding out the difference between the size of the labour-force officially reported and actually employed. This enabled the authorities to determine productivity in the under­ground sector.

The United Kingdom tried to assess parallel economy by comparing the official estimates of the Gross National Product (GNP) made from the consumption side with those made from the income side. In the United States, Guttman assumed that only cash is used in illegal transactions. He tried to find out the difference between currency re­quired for economic transactions in a fixed period and actual currency held outside banks in the same period.

In spite of the varied methods used, it is not possible to estimate the magnitude of black money in a society, even though it is described as a world-wide phenomenon. It is said to be in operation not only in the de­veloping countries but also in the developed countries like the United States, the United Kingdom, Russia, Japan, Canada, France, Germany, etc.

A study conducted by the IMF about a decade and a half back showed that in regard to the size of the underground money, India holds the first rank followed by the United States and Can­ada having the second and the third ranks.

In India, black money or unaccounted wealth estimated by Prof. Kaldor in 1953-54 as Rs. 600 crore was estimated by Wanchoo Committee as Rs. 1,000 crore in 1965-66 and Rs. 1,400 crore in 1969-70. Rangnekar placed the figures of black money at Rs. 1,150 crore for 1961-62, Rs. 2,350 crore for 1964-65, Rs. 2,833 crore for 1968-69, and Rs. 3,080 crore for 1969-70.

Chopra’s estimate (Economic and Political Weekly, Vol. XVII, Nos. 17 & 18, April, 24 and May 1, 1982) showed that black money in 1960-61 was Rs. 916 crore which increased to Rs. 8,098 crore in 1976-77. According to Gupta (Economic and Political Weekly, January 16, 1982:73), the amount of black money in our country was Rs. 3,034 crore in 1967-68 and Rs, 40,867 crore in 1978-79.

According to his estimate, black money which constituted 9.5 per cent of the GNP in 1967-68 swelled to nearly 49 per cent in 1978-79. In 1981, black money was estimated by one source at Rs. 7,500 crore (6.8% of the national income at 1981 prices) and by an other source at Rs. 25,000 crore (22.7% of the national income at 1981 prices).

The National Institute of Public Finance and Policy estimated the quantum of black money in economy in 1985 at around Rs. 1, 00,000 crore or about 20 per cent of the national income. The Planning Commis­sion study, however, estimated it to be in the range of Rs. 70,000 crore. Further, it is generated at the rate of Rs. 50,000 crore per year.

The flight of capital has resulted in an overseas stash which government officials conservatively place at $50 mil­lion (about Rs. 1, 30,000 crore). In 1996, the estimated black money in our country was believed to be more than Rs, 4, 00,000 crore {The Hindustan Times, January, 20, 1997).

Recently, Prof. Arun Kumar of Centre for Eco­nomic Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi has authored a book on black money in India (1999). He holds that black economy is equiva­lent to 40 per cent of the GDP out of which 32 per cent is in the legal sectors (business and professionals like doctors, film-stars, etc.) and 8 per cent in the illegal sector (narcotics, etc.) (The Hindustan Times, September 12, 1999).

Some scholars have pointed out that of the total black money in our society, about one-fourth (26%) is from the tax-evaded income. In the United States, black money is expected to be about 8 per cent of its Gross National Product (GNP). While in India, black money is more from legal sources (about 80%), in the United States too it is more from legal sources (about 75%).

Measures to Control the Black Money:

Over the past 50 years, the government has at various times announced several schemes offering opportunities to bring black money overboard. Some of these schemes are: introducing the scheme of special Bearer Bonds, demonetizing high denomination currency notes, stringent raids, and scheme of voluntary disclosures.

In July 1991, the Union Finance Minister proposed a new scheme—National Housing Bank Scheme—to woo black money back into the legitimate operations of the national economy. The scheme offered possessors of unaccounted money an op­portunity to deposit any amount of money (with a minimum limit of Rs. 10,000) with NHB without disclosing the source of funds.

The offer remained open for seven months and closed on January 31, 1992. It permitted the account holders facility to withdraw 60 per cent of their de­posits from the account while the remaining 40 per cent were impounded to be used for projects such as slum clearance and housing for the poor.

The withdrawals were to be made after stating the purpose for which the money was proposed to be used. These people were taxed at the rate of 40 per cent while the balance amount was channeled back into the open economy. In 1997-98 budget, amnesty was proposed for legitimizing black money by payment of 30 per cent as tax.

Some scholars have maintained that all these measures have touched only the tip of the iceberg. All the schemes have hardly fetched Rs. 5,000 crore over a period of fifty years. The main drawback in these schemes is that they touch the problem of black money already created but they do not go into the root cause of generation of black money and that is why a person is prepared to take the risk of keeping black money despite so many problems.

Unless this problem is tackled, the menace of black money will continue to increase. It has been suggested that the problem of black money and parallel economy can be contained by reducing taxes in some areas, giving incentives for voluntary disclosure of income, over-hauling the economic intelligence unit, curbing administrative corruption at various levels, exempting tax op money spent on house construction, doing away with control policies, and so forth. Isolated attempts may not yield much but a package of mutually reinforcing measures, along with a strong political will and the commitment of political elite may prove to be successful to a large extent.

Trip to Nuwara Eliya

Although I have been to Sri Lanka many times,this was the first time I got chance to go to Ashok Vatika known as Sita Eliya.

The place is far away from city so I always felt lazy to travel there alone.This time I was with my wife and she too insisted to go there.

We left our Hotel in Mount Lavinia for Rathmalana Airbase which is just 5 minutes drive from Mount Lavinia Hotel (Famous hotel facing sea).We took Chopper from the Airbase and reached Nuwara Eliya Helipad in about 50 minutes.Before I carry on further here are few tips for international travellers.

Tips on saving before any international travel

1).Compare flights and hotels (http://www.showmyfares.com) visit site displaying lowest fares and see reviews so as you can gauge your comport and money.You can book from any site of your choice.But this is one of best sites to compare flights/hotels

2). Save on international calls (https://www.panktel.com) There offer retail pack only on reguest which is damn cheap.Contact them for best offers.Wifi is FREE in most hotels, you just need to download PANKTEL app and start calling.Skype/Whatsapp calls are yet to fully replace regular phone calls.

 

sita temple

Nuwara Eliya is very beautiful place on the hills full of greenary.Inside Sita temple photography was strictly prohibited and I respected the rule.I am posting here the pictures of the temple and surroundings.

 

 

sita hanuman

There is a small statue of Lord Hanuman with mata Sita symbolizing the place where lord Hanuman showed her ring of lord Rama as identification proof.nearby is some cavities on stone ( it is said that those are footprints of lord Hanuman.

 

 

 

 

gregory lakeThere is famous Gregory lake near Sita Eliya temple, a must see place.You can hire speed boat or simple boat and enjoy the natural beauty of the area.Be ready to negotiate fares as they will try to charge you hefty amount knowing you are a tourist.

 

 

 

 

 

 

hunuman feet

To be continued….

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