Some positive stories that came our way
Cooking up a peace plan
Diplomacy: A restaurant in Israel has hit upon a novel way to try and end years of conflict. The Hummus Bar in the small village of Kfar Vitkin, north of Tel Aviv, offers a 50 per cent discount at tables where Jews and Arabs sit together.
Announcing the special deal on its Facebook page, the restaurant declared, "Scared of Arabs? Scared of Jews? We do not have Arabs! But we also have no Jews… we have people! And real excellent Arab hummus! And great Jewish falafel!"
Manager Kobi Tzafrir said that the offer was meant as a response to growing intolerance by extremists on both sides and had so far proved a great success. He believes the powers of the humble chickpea paste, popular amongst Jews and Arabs alike, should not be underestimated. "If there's anything that can bring together these peoples, it's hummus," he said.
Oslo to go car-free
Environment: While Delhi experiments with car-free days in an attempt to cut pollution, Oslo is taking the idea a step further. The Norwegian capital has announced that from 2019 it will ban cars completely from its central area, where around 1,000 people live and 90,000 work.
The move is part of a plan to slash greenhouse gas emissions by 50 per cent by 2020 compared to 1990 levels.
By the time the ban comes into effect, the city council plans to have constructed 60 km of cycle lanes and will also subsidise the purchase of electric bicycles. It said investment in public transport-both buses and trams-will be massively increased. "We want to have a car-free centre," said Lan Marie Nguyen Berg, lead negotiator for the Green Party in the city. "It will be better for everyone."
A platform of empowerment
Equality: A surprising but rather heartening sight awaits passengers getting on and off the metro at Jaipur's Shyam Nagar station. From security checks to supervision of passengers and general upkeep of the premises-it's an all-women show here. A first in the country, the station is being hailed as the "Pratham Mahila Shakti Railway Station." And rightly so.
Rajasthan, where the sex ratio is even lower than the dismal national average, seems like an appropriate choice to send out the message of women empowerment from. And the recently launched public transport service has proven to be a springboard for the first-of-its kind initiative. "The Jaipur Metro is already a role model and the only railway organization to have up to 30 per cent women employees," N.C. Goel, CMD at Jaipur Metro Rail Corporation, told The Times of India. The corporation intends to add more women workers in other operation- and maintenance-related services too.
A striking gesture
Former Manchester United stars Gary Neville and Ryan Giggs proved magnanimous when squatters moved into the former Manchester stock exchange that they are converting into a boutique hotel. Their response? They told the squatters they could stay over the cold winter months. They also made sure the building was safe to live in and paid for showers, toilets and hot meals. "I burst into tears when Gary Neville said we could stay," said one.