Ski chic on Berlin catwalk as Fashion Week kicks off

BERLIN (Reuters) – Comfy puffer jackets, brightly printed tops and sleek goggles gave Berlin a cool start to its fashion week late on Monday, with German brand Bogner mixing ski and clubbing for its latest looks.

Models strutted in oversized jackets teamed with tops printed with the logo of the brand founded by ski jumper Willy Bogner in 1932. They paired the looks with cozy hats and shiny tie up boots in the “Alpine Clubbing” fashion show, which drew inspiration from mountain sports and Berlin’s clubbing scene.

“Bogner…has always been involved in sport fashion,” Bogner Chief Executive Andreas Baumgaertner said, adding this was the second time the brand, which has dressed the German Olympic team for Winter Games, was showing at the Berlin event.

“This year we have to do even more and are excited…we are bringing sport and fashion together but with a new interpretation.”

Berlin Fashion Week, which runs until Friday, is known for its edgy mix of shows. On Tuesday, Sri Lankan designer Amesh Wijesekera presented a bright collection, filled with vibrant colors.

Reporting By Petra Haverkamp; Writing by Marie-Louise Gumuchian; Editing by Alexandra Hudson


Millions expected to throng Indian city for world’s largest religious festival

PRAYAGRAJ, India (Reuters) – Pilgrims from across the world are gathering in India for the Kumbh Mela, a heady mix of spirituality, politics and tourism that begins on Tuesday, garnering extra attention ahead of a general election in the Hindu-majority country this year.

A Sadhu or a Hindu holy man looks on during a religious procession ahead of the “Kumbh Mela”, or the Pitcher Festival, in Prayagraj, previously known as Allahabad, India, January 13, 2019. REUTERS/Anushree Fadnavis

During the eight-week festival at Prayagraj in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, authorities  expect up to 150 million people, including a million foreign visitors, to bathe at the confluence of the Ganges, the Yamuna, and a mythical third river, the Saraswati.

Devotees take a holy dip at Sangam, the confluence of the Ganges, Yamuna and Saraswati rivers, during “Kumbh Mela”, or the Pitcher Festival, in Prayagraj, previously known as Allahabad, India, January 14, 2019. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui

Devout Hindus believe that bathing in the waters of the Ganges absolves people of sins and bathing at the time of the Kumbh Mela, or the “festival of the pot”, brings salvation from the cycle of life and death.

“Belief is what brings us here, to bathe in the waters despite the cold,” said Ram Krishna Dwivedi, making his way back from the shore dressed in flowing white robes.

More than 80 percent of India’s 1.3 billion people are Hindus, many of them deeply religious despite an increasingly Westernized middle class.

On Tuesday, millions of pilgrims, led by naked, ash-smeared ascetics, some of whom live in caves, will plunge themselves into the cold waters during the first Shahi Snan, or Royal Bath, that begins at around 4 a.m. (2230 GMT).

A Naga Sadhu or a Hindu holy man gives blessing to a devotee ahead of the “Kumbh Mela”, or the Pitcher Festival, in Prayagraj, previously known as Allahabad, India, January 13, 2019. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui

With less than 24 hours until the festival starts, the last of the arriving ascetics paraded towards temporary ashrams, or monasteries, built of corrugated iron and canvas, many bedecked with fairy lights, on the east bank of the Ganges.

Pilgrims poured in to the site, which is closed to traffic around bathing days, carrying bundles on their heads, while vendors peddled balloons and candy floss, as security men stood guard, with priests and police seated side-by-side.

Authorities have set up temporary bridges, 600 mass kitchens and more than 100,000 portable toilets in a pop-up city at the confluence of the rivers, which is known as the sangam.

Those with cash can stay at luxury campsites on the river banks that offer ayurvedic spas and yoga, and cost up to 32,000 rupees ($455) a night.

Most pilgrims make do with more modest lodgings, sleeping in big communal tents or out in the open.

“I don’t know where I will stay yet, but you do not often get to meet these saints and sadhus,” said Rajendra Singh, a retired soldier and now a security guard, who came by bus from the state capital, Lucknow, about 200 km (124 miles) away.

On Monday, a small fire broke out at one of the camps, though there was no report of any casualty, according to Reuters partner ANI. Authorities later warned pilgrims about open fires.

A Naga Sadhu or a Hindu holy man arrives to take part in a religious procession ahead of the “Kumbh Mela”, or the Pitcher Festival, in Prayagraj, previously known as Allahabad, India, January 4, 2019. REUTERS/Jitendra Prakash


This year’s event comes at a critical time for Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), expected to face a tough contest in a general election due by May.

It lost power in three key states in assembly elections in December, and will want to avoid a similar result during the general election in Uttar Pradesh, a state of 220 million where a good showing can often decide the outcome.

The state’s chief minister, Yogi Adityanath, is a firebrand Hindu priest from the BJP, who has championed policies that play to the party’s core Hindu base.

Slideshow (17 Images)

This year Adityanath has transformed a smaller Ardh, or “half” Kumbh Mela, into a full version of the festival.

He has also lobbied to build a Hindu temple on the site of a former mosque, and renamed several cities with Hindu names – including Prayagraj, which was Allahabad until October.

Modi and his rival, opposition Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, are both expected to attend the festival before it wraps up in March.

Reporting by Alasdair Pal; Editing by Krishna N. Das, Robert Birsel


Meghan takes royal roles at UK charities for women and animals

LONDON (Reuters) – Meghan Markle, wife of Britain’s Prince Harry, announced on Thursday she would become patron of four organizations to champion causes close to her heart, including the National Theater and charities supporting women and animal welfare.

Queen Elizabeth, 92, has passed on her patronages of the National Theater and the Association of Commonwealth Universities, which she has held for decades, to Meghan, who married the queen’s grandson last year.

Known as the Duchess of Sussex, Meghan will also become the patron of Smart Works, a charity helping long-term unemployed women, and animal welfare charity Mayhew.

“The Duchess is delighted to become Patron of both national and grassroots organizations that are part of the fabric of the UK, and is very much looking forward to working with them to bring wider public attention to their causes,” Kensington Palace said in a statement.

The National Theater said it was a privilege to welcome Meghan, an American former actress who starred in television drama Suits before she married Harry.

“The Duchess shares our deeply-held conviction that theater has the power to bring together people from all communities and walks of life. I very much look forward to working closely with Her Royal Highness in the years to come,” Rufus Norris, the director of the National Theater, said.

Meghan, who is pregnant with her first child, will visit Smart Works on Thursday.

Reporting by Alistair Smout; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne


On Woodstock’s 50th anniversary, double the peace, love and music

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – The 50th anniversary of the Woodstock music festival, one of the watersheds of the 1960s counterculture movement, will be celebrated in August with two competing events.

FILE PHOTO: Janet Huey displays her original ticket at the site of the original Woodstock Music Festival in Bethel, New York, U.S. August 14, 2009. REUTERS/Eric Thayer

Michael Lang, the co-producer of the 1969 Woodstock festival, announced on Wednesday that the official Woodstock Music and Arts Fair would take place from Aug 16-18 at a motor -racing venue in upstate New York.

Last month the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts, the current owners of the field where the 1969 festival took place, announced it would mark the 50th anniversary with a “pan-generational event” on the same dates.

“The original festival in ‘69 was a reaction by the youth of the time to the causes we felt compelled to fight for – civil rights, women’s rights, and the antiwar movement, and it gave way to our mission to share peace, love and music,” Lang said in a statement.

“Today, we’re experiencing similar disconnects in our country, and one thing we’ve learned is that music has the power to bring people together. So, it’s time to bring the Woodstock spirit back, get involved and make our voices heard.”

The August 1969 Woodstock festival, billed as “three days of peace and music,” is regarded as one of the pivotal moments in music history.

Over three sometimes-rainy days, more than 30 acts – including Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, The Who, The Band, and the Grateful Dead – performed around the clock to a 400,000-strong audience, most of whom watched for free and camped onsite in the mud. The festival was documented in the 1970 film “Woodstock,” which won an Oscar.

Lang did not announce the 2019 performer line-up but said more than 60 musicians would take part on three main stages at Watkins Glenn International, the site of car racing events including NASCAR.

“It will be primarily contemporary talent, but the legacy acts will be represented and honored,” said Lang, referring to the surviving musicians, now in their 70s, who continue to perform.

Although it was known as Woodstock, the 1969 festival actually took place in Bethel, some 70 miles (110 km) south of the village of Woodstock and 90 miles (144 km) north of New York City.

Watkins Glen has a larger crowd capacity and is some 150 miles distant from Bethel and about 250 miles north of New York City.

Reporting by Jill Serjeant; Editing by David Gregorio


China kicks off month-long winter festival in northern city of Harbin

HARBIN, China (Reuters) – Swimming enthusiast Yu Hongtao, 50, trained for months in the freezing water of the Songhua river to compete in a winter ice swimming tournament held annually in China’s northern city of Harbin, known for its bitterly cold weather.

“You have to start swimming from autumn so that the body can conquer the sudden icy impact on one’s cardio-vascular system,” said Yu, a Harbin resident. “The feeling of diving into the water is very cool.”

More than 300 men and women, wearing just ordinary trunks and swimsuits, on Saturday braved the bitter cold waters in the ice swimming meet, part of Harbin’s annual winter festival, among the biggest in the northern hemisphere.

Temperatures can plunge as low as 35 degrees Celsius below zero (minus 31 F) in the city in China’s Heilongjiang province.

The festival, which began on Saturday, has drawn millions of visitors from around the world every year since its inception in the early 1980s.

Highlights include sled rides on the Songhua river, mass weddings, and towering sculptures of ice and snow carved by thousands of artists and workers.

Visitors marvel at the mini ice replicas of the Colosseum and of the Milan Cathedral, particularly in the long evenings when soft, colored lights illuminate the sculptures.

Slideshow (21 Images)

The festival also attracts hordes of domestic tourists.

“The ice castles and sculptures made by workers are very impressive,” said Lin Renlong, who was visiting with his girlfriend.

“It’s like Disneyland, Disneyland in winter,” said the 22-year-old from the northern province of Hebei.

Reporting by Joyce Zhou and Ryan Woo; Editing by Clarence Fernandez


Lady Gaga goes old-school on color-filled Golden Globes red carpet

(Reuters) – Bright colors were back on the Golden Globes red carpet on Sunday, with pop superstar Lady Gaga, dressed in lavender, leading a trend for old school glamor.

76th Golden Globe Awards – Arrivals – Beverly Hills, California, U.S., January 6, 2019 – Lady Gaga. REUTERS/Mike Blake

Lady Gaga, the front-runner for a best drama actress award for “A Star Is Born,” graced the red carpet in a Valentino lavender gown with puffed sleeves and a long train, with her blue-dyed hair pulled into a tight bun, and wearing a stunning Tiffany’s diamond necklace.

“I discovered something working on this film, and it’s something called alchemy, that you are essentially creating a character but you are really becoming the character,” Gaga said about her first role as a lead movie actress.

Gaga’s dress drew a comparison with one worn by Judy Garland in the 1954 iteration of “A Star Is Born.”

Last year’s ceremony saw an all-black look on the red carpet as celebrities showed support for the #MeToo movement that roiled Hollywood.

This year saw blues, golds, reds and lots of metallic, but several stars wore bracelets and pins in support of the Time’s Up movement against sexual harassment and inequality in the workplace.

“Killing Eve” star and co-host of the ceremony Sandra Oh donned a long white gown, while People magazine’s “sexiest man alive” Idris Elba chose a dark green and black tuxedo.

Glenn Close, who is also vying for best drama actress for her role in “The Wife,” was among the few who opted for darker hues and wore a black gown adorned by a diamond ribbon at the neck line.

Veteran actress Julia Roberts, a frequent suit-wearer on the red carpet, chose black pants and a tan top for the awards, in which she scored her first nomination for a television role for “Homecoming.”

“The Assassination of Gianni Versace” star Penelope Cruz chose dark colors, stunning in a black glittery dress by Ralph & Russo that featured a big bow on the back.

Nicole Kidman, who played a troubled detective in “Destroyer” that has earned her a nomination for best drama actress, appeared in a long burgundy sequin dress.

Both Amy Adams in a shoulder-revealing dark blue gown and Laura Dern in long-sleeved red gown chose vibrant colors for the ceremony, which officially kicks off Hollywood’s awards season.

Reporting by Maria Caspani in New York, Editing by Jill Serjeant and Rosalba O’Brien


Fairouz Cafe brings Levantine nostalgia to southern Iraq

BASRA, Iraq (Reuters) – Mohammed Abdul Ameer’s nostalgia for better days and his roots in the Levant were what inspired him to open Basra’s first mixed-gender cafe since the rule of Saddam Hussein, and themed in honor of the Lebanese singer Fairouz.

An Iraqi woman reads a book at a cafe called Fayruz Cafe after the famous female Lebanese singer Fayruz, in Basra, Iraq December 29, 2018. Picture taken December 29, 2018. REUTERS/Essam al-Sudani

The southern Iraqi city, the home of Abdul Ameer’s father, has since Saddam was toppled in a 2003 U.S. invasion seen conflict, unrest, religious conservatism and an acute lack of jobs and services.

Abdul Ameer hopes his customers, mostly young Iraqis, can temporarily forget that and lose themselves in the Arab literature stacked on bookshelves at his cafe while they drink coffee out of cups imprinted with Fairouz’s face.

“Fairouz songs are associated with good memories. This place will bring people back to the past, to better days,” the owner said at his new Fairouz Cafe and Bookshop in central Basra.

“We learned Fairouz’s songs during school days so we associate her name with nostalgia.” Mugs picturing Fairouz, whose soothing voice emanates from car radios in Iraqi cities and throughout the Arab world, are also sold at the cafe.

The 29-year-old grew up in his mother’s homeland of Syria but fled for Basra in 2012 near the beginning of the Syrian civil war.

The conflict, which began more than seven years ago with protests against President Bashar al-Assad, has killed hundreds of thousands and driven millions from their homes.

“Life in Syria became tough. Snipers and kidnappings became common. I decided to leave and find a new life in Basra,” said Abdul Ameer.


The economics graduate’s dream project – to open a cafe that emulates the Damascus cafe culture – has come to fruition, and many locals are delighted.

“What I love about this place is the library and the good service. This place is quiet and free from people who try to restrict our freedom,” said Samana Sajjad, a 23-year-old woman who works as a local radio presenter.

“After a long day, it’s a place where you can forget your worries by listening to Fairouz and reading a book.”

Located where the Euphrates and Tigris rivers merge near the Gulf, Basra was for centuries a melting pot of Arabs, Persians, Turks, Indians and Greeks who left their cultural imprint.

After Saddam was toppled, conservative Shi’ite-led parties took power in Basra, bringing with them a religiously restrictive lifestyle.

Slideshow (4 Images)

Young people in Basra took part in protests in September which turned violent, complaining of unemployment, lack of services and corruption.

Basra’s oil fields bring in the vast majority of Iraq’s oil wealth but the city suffers from power and water shortages like much of the country.

Iraq’s population is predominantly Shi’ite Muslim, and much of its society in the south is conservative, with many women wearing the black head-to-toe abaya and public mixed-gender socializing often frowned upon.

Writing by Ahmed Rasheed; Editing by John Davison


Theresa May vote: PM’s ‘astonishing’ body language shows opposition ‘need to look out’

Theresa May’s, 62, Brexit deal was crushed tonight, as 432 MPs voted ‘no’ to her plans to keep the UK tied to the EU customs union and single market. The Prime Minister suffered the worst commons defeat in British history, following a tense five days of debates over her withdrawal agreement. She told colleagues before the vote she would respond “quickly” if her deal was rejected, and according to body language expert Judi James, Mrs May treated the crushing situation as if “it was just another day”. As she addressed parliament following her defeat, the PM showed signs of “someone who just wants to get back on with the job”.

The government might have suffered the most crushing defeat of modern times but – astonishingly – Theresa May’s delivery and body language during her brief speech that followed the vote suggested it was just another day at the dispatch box for the P

Body language expert Judi James

Judi James explained to “The government might have suffered the most crushing defeat of modern times but – astonishingly – Theresa May’s delivery and body language during her brief speech that followed the vote suggested it was just another day at the dispatch box for the PM.

“She looked neither crushed, tired and defeated nor delivered her speech in the kind of show-boating, over-congruent style that is often used when a politician is only pretending a blow hasn’t hurt. 

“For the few moments that she spoke it was almost as if nothing special had happened.”

However, the Prime Minister did seemingly show a flash of “growing anger” toward the opposition before focusing her attentions back to her speech.

Judi continued: “May jumped up after the vote, speaking with the kind of accelerated speed of someone who just wants to get back on with the job. 

“Her head pecked backward and forward to suggest urgency and she threw her signature baleful, one-eyed stare at the opposition as she spoke.”

Theresa May's Brexit deal was crushed

Theresa May’s Brexit deal was crushed (Image: GETTY/EPA)

Theresa May addresses parliament

Theresa May gave an impassioned speech to Parliament (Image: PA)

Mrs May also appeared to show signs her original Brexit plan is still in place.

“Her tone and delivery suggested that plan A was still firmly in place apart from a small and annoying hiccup,” Judi said.

“She even threw a rueful half-smile at Corbyn before gathering herself emotionally, wobbling her head to suggest growing anger before vowing to carry on.

“Although she spoke quickly there were none of her usual verbal stutters that she uses when she lacks confidence.

“Her final words were delivered with an eye-squint micro-gesture that suggested it was the opposition that needed to look out.”

Theresa May vowed to 'act quickly' after defeat

Theresa May vowed to ‘act quickly’ after her defeat (Image: Sky News)

Jeremy Corbyn addresses the PM

Jeremy Corbyn called for a vote of no confidence (Image: PA)

Meanwhile, as Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn faced the PM, it was he who lost his patience.

Corbyn triggered a vote of no confidence against May, saying: “On the most important issue facing us, this government has lost the confidence of this House and this country.”

However body language expert Judi explained: “Corbyn rose to deliver some heavily incongruent body language with his tie askew and one eye nearly closing but at the end of his brief speech he whipped off his glasses like Superman to deliver his real message.

“Shouting and spitting his words with his vocal tone rising out he called for a vote of no confidence.”

Corbyn said the confidence vote would allow the Commons to “give its verdict on the sheer incompetence of this Government”.


Juggle struggle

What seemed like an impossible job for the world, even a few decades ago, is now the reality for many women. The modern superwoman starts her day at 7AM sharp –some even earlier– drops the kids to school, aces that meeting at work, calls during lunch to remind her mother-in-law about her medicines, works on any assignments till 6PM, and then comes home to cook dinner. Finding the perfect balance between work and family life- or the juggle struggle as you may call it- is a dangerous journey with a never-ending task list. So, how do they do it? The secret lies in extraordinary organising skills and keeping their cool at all times. 


“Working after marriage becomes difficult mainly because of the social stigma related to women working outside. In-laws are often not very supportive of their daughter-in-law’s career goals. Whatever people say, you need to stop feeling guilty,” explains Parvin, who teaches at a college. “Remind yourself that your work goals will not only benefit you, but also inspire your kids to reach for the stars. They’d be proud to have a supermom like you!”

So, don’t feel guilty for putting in extra hours right before that big promotion, and definitely don’t feel guilty for not checking your emails while at a family dinner during weekends. A successful career mom must be able to come to terms with her shortcomings, and focus on immediate priorities. Perfect balance is a myth, just don’t stress out trying to meet unrealistic goals.


Without excellent organising skills, you’ll often find yourself in a rut! Make a calendar marking important dates for home and at work. From meetings to bill deadlines to the birthday party your child needs to attend, having everything at one place will make tracking events easier. Set aside an hour during weekends to plan for the entire week. You could opt for Google calendar so that you can add things instantly on the go and sync them with your partner’s. Alternatively, opt for the old-fashioned planners to avoid rushing things. For example, pack lunches, decide on breakfast, pick out clothes the night before so that you don’t wake up in a frenzy. Try to avoid multitasking since that might just make you even more inefficient. 


Whether it’s at work or at home, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Talk to your supervisor regarding flexible work hours and sick days. Ask a co-worker to cover for you in a meeting so that you can go watch your kids perform at school. Every superhero needs sidekicks, and you are no different! Handing someone a bit of your workload will make it much easier for you to focus on your priorities.

“I had a reliable helper from my village when my kids were growing up. She would pick them up from school and cook for them. At night, we’d also have someone come to clean the house and do the dishes,” explains Khadija, a government official. “Relatives are a great source of support, but even they can be busy sometimes. So, having paid help is necessary. Of course, for quality service, you have to be generous with salaries, and also provide other facilities and bonuses.” 


Kids grow up fast, and before you know it, they are moving to a whole different continent to chase their dreams. While you don’t want to miss any moment in your child’s life, trying to make it to every big moment might be too much for the working mother. But, don’t despair! Thanks to technology, you can stay connected, even when you’re away from them.

“I’d always make it a point to call my kids during lunch break. They’d just come back from school, and a phone call would assure me that they’ve had lunch, and also let them know that I’m thinking about them,” says Tanzina, a banker at a private bank.

Making time for your kids is crucial for nurturing your family dynamics, and allow everyone to bond. Arrange weekend activities or make it a point that the whole family must have dinner together. While you are together, avoid talking about work. Instead, focus on your kids’ interests such as friends, classes, and hobbies. This will let them know that they can come and talk to you about anything anytime.


Trying to juggle multiple roles can take a toll on your partner as well. With the massive workload, you tend to forget to focus on your partner and nurture your relationship. This can lead to you two drifting apart. Monthly dates or weekend getaways where you focus solely on each other are perfect ways to bring back the spark. If you two are too busy for that, then at least set aside ten minutes at the end of the day to just talk to each other. Communication is key in any relationship and if your partner has your back, you’ll be much more confident tackling whatever comes your way!


The Green Lounge experience

The restaurant stretches 22,000 square feet, with a seating capacity of 500 patrons. The Green Lounge team comprises of 80 staff members who are experts at providing top class customer satisfaction, and 3 chefs who are internationally certified to bring you the best of nature in a platter. They have a Thai and Afghani chef to provide you an authentic gastronomic experience. The menu includes seafood, Afghani Kebabs and Afghani style barbeque, karai, variety of special breads, dessert items, tropical smoothies, milkshakes and mocktails and different types of coffee. If you ask for their chefs’ favourite, it is consistently the local seafood items, from the a la carte menu like the pomfret and the crab bhuna, and of course the grilled tiger prawn. All the seafood items are served with three types of chef special homemade sauces. The Green Lounge offers buffet throughout the day, featuring a large selection of multinational cuisines, and the a la carte menu is offered only between 4PM to 10PM. They also provide party booking and catering services. For parties, you may request a menu of your own choice that the chefs can prepare for you. Make sure to follow their Facebook for special Ramadan offers. You should know that The Green Lounge encourages calling for reservation so that their team can provide you the best experience. They truly consider every aspect of your visit to make it special for you.

On that note, The Green Lounge has seven different sections, designed to give you a unique memory to take with you. The Park Harbour at the entrance of the rooftop is meant to make you forget that you are on the 18th floor, and instead, makes you feel like you’re near a waterfall with the fountain running through the middle. The Chilly Tale is the garden patio that covers the perimeters of the entire restaurant. It can accommodate up to 100 green loungers. In fact, it is reputed to be the best seat in the house, as it oversees the city. You can even catch the sunset from Chilly Tale. Lime Land is curtained by rich green plants and a fun fact about the Lime Land is that it is the only spot in the building that will give you an uninterrupted view of the Ramna Park. The Gozari Valley is set apart from the rest of the dining sections with an over-hanging balcony with walls made of actual Gozari wood. The Water-Lux provides a luxury setting for special occasions like exclusive corporate meetings and also intimate family gatherings, and it can hold a capacity of 24 guests. While the Chilly Tale is the best seat in the house for its amazing view, the Sky Deck can give you a more intimate experience as it hides away from the rest of the sections. And lastly, if you want a combined experience of indoors and outdoors, there is the Telescope section with a moon roof, a wonderful way to experience the rain.

Visit The Green Lounge Facebook at

Location: 18th Floor, Rupayan Trade Center 114 Kazi Nazrul Islam Avenue, Banglamotor, Dhaka

Call for reservations at: 02-55138615/ 0241030212

Lunch Buffet Sunday to Thursday- 12PM to 3:30PM

Lunch Buffet Weekends- 12PM to 4PM

Dinner Buffet- 6:30PM to 10:30PM

A la carte menu- 4PM to 10PM

Photo Courtesy: The Green Lounge