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MYSTICLAND PRESENTS THE WEEK THAT WAS: Episode 2

MYSTICLAND PRESENTS THE WEEK THAT WAS: Episode 2

After episode 1, let's move on to what news MysticLand World Discovery has in store for us this week!

 

Verum took a deep breath. She could smell the fragrance of various flowers from Felix’s garden. It felt absolutely divine. Suddenly, her crystal ball summoned her. It was time for some world-gazing.

She said, “Sorry, Felix. I have to go. I have a feeling that my crystal ball has some news for me.”

Verum rushed back to the dorm room and sat in front of her crystal ball. Sure enough, it had important news for her. She closed her eyes and tried to understand what it meant.

Verum said, “Today’s news is about Afghanistan, a country in crisis. The Taliban’s takeover has left the country in a deep economic crisis which has led to a food crisis.” 

The Taliban, an extremist group ruled Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001. The US invaded Afghanistan and overthrew the Taliban from power. It mostly kept the Taliban at bay for nearly 20 years. But in 2021, US President Joe Biden started the process of withdrawing US troops from the war-torn country. And now, 20 years later, the Taliban took over Afghanistan once again in August 2021.

“A food crisis?” cued Orak.

“Afghanistan has a population of 40 million. Over half of these people are predicted to face acute food shortages. Meanwhile, nine million people are already said to be on the brink of starvation,” replied Verum.

“Pakistan, Iran, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) are among the countries that have helped Afghanistan with food and medical supplies,” added Verum, “Even India was trying to send 50,000 tonnes of wheat to the war-torn country. However, there was a barrier.”

“What was it?” said Orak.

“Pakistan,” answered Verum, “Pakistan lies between India and Afghanistan. To get to Afghanistan, the Indian trucks carrying wheat have to pass through Pakistan. However, the relations between India and Pakistan are strained.”

“Oh, no,” said Orak, “Will Afghanistan have to do away with the grains?”

“No, Afghanistan had requested Pakistan to allow the trucks to travel through its territory a month ago. Fortunately, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan permitted the trucks to enter Pakistan through the Wagah Border,” said Verum.

“There is something to be learned here,” said Orak, “To help someone in need, it is a good idea to amend ties, even if it is momentary.”

 

Recently, a large tea project has been launched to spread the aromatic and soothing Darjeeling tea experience across India. It also wishes to save a family’s tea business. Darjeeling is a city in West Bengal. It’s located in the foothills of the Himalayas and is one of the prettiest hill stations in India. The climate of Darjeeling is suited for tea production.

 “Tea! Tell me everything about this news piece, Felix. I absolutely love authentic tea from Darjeeling,” Scorch said. She enjoys the refreshing tea, especially its soothing fragrance.

 “I’m talking about 23-year-old Sparsh Agarwal’s family-owned Selim Hill tea garden. The garden is 150 years old! The Agarwal family has owned it since 1990. However, since the majority of the Darjeeling tea market depends on international sales, they were suffering a loss every year.

 The specialty of Darjeeling tea is flush. Flush is the period when tea plants grow new leaves. The best flush is the first and second. The first is summer and the second is spring. Tea harvested during these seasons is sold at a premium price because they’re the best. A majority of it is left to be sold at international markets. 

 But the international customer base is small. Also, the domestic market isn’t given importance. The best Darjeeling tea isn’t affordable to Indians.

 Another reason why Selim Hill wasn’t earning enough is climate change. Rainfall duration has changed over the years due to poor climate. Tea can be grown in Darjeeling for over seven and a half months. But climate change has reduced rainfall time to five and a half months. This has affected tea leaf quality.

 We could also say that tea garden owners don’t market the other two flushes: monsoon and autumn. These teas result in a loss,” Felix explained.

 “So, what is Agarwal doing about this?” Scorch wondered.

 “He and his friends Ishaan Kanoria and Anant Gupta decided to save the family’s tea garden business,” Felix said. “They came up with a unique subscription plan. They offer an entire year’s supply of fresh, organic tea at a meagre price of Rs. 2,100. It’s a great idea!

This way, Selim Hill is getting more customers. It’s also ensuring that its own country - India - is enjoying its homegrown tea.

Dorje Tea offers teas with a special taste. And that special taste is added by the insects that attack the tea bush! Thrips, or tea mosquitoes, trigger a lovely aroma and muscatel (fruity) flavor. When thrips partly damage young tea leaves, the leaves produce a substance called terpene as an insect repellent. Terpene is responsible for tea’s aroma!” Felix explained.

 “This tea sounds incredible. I’m going to go to Darjeeling and ask Dorje Tea if they’ll accept Mystos and give me the tea subscription,” Scorch said and left the room.

 

“Guess what! During the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdowns across the world, the sale of physical books increased,” Scorch said. 

“Really?” Orak said, looking up from a book, “I am so happy people are buying books and reading.” 

Scorch said, “In 2020, over 200 million paperbacks (books bound in paper covers) and hardbacks (books with stiff, hardcovers) were sold in the United Kingdom (UK). In the United States (US), there were sales of over 750 million!” 

“Excellent! These are record-breaking numbers,” Felix said, “But I wonder why did the sale of physical books increase?” 

Scorch answered, “Since people were at home, they had more time to relax and grab a book to read.” 

Verum said, “But weren’t the bookstores closed due to the lockdown?” 

“You’re right, Verum,” Scorch said, “But the independent bookstores didn’t give up. They delivered books to their customers’ homes. 

Independent bookstores are bookstores that are owned by individuals or a group of owners. They mostly have a single store. On the other hand, a chain of bookstores is one company in the business of selling books having its bookstores in different locations. They are owned by large corporations.”

“Anybody in the books business is the best!” Orak declared, clearly delighted with the news.

Scorch rolled her eyes and continued, “Bookshop.org also played a major role for the independent bookstores. It is an online retail bookstore. It is a website where readers can order books. Retail is a business that sells goods to the public for use. 

Bookshop.org first started in the US in 2020. It donates 10% of its profits to independent physical bookstores every six months.” 

“Even Amazon, the online shopping company, offers books, right?” Felix said. 

“It’s not the same as buying in a bookstore,” Orak, the book snob, complained. 

“Yes, Amazon dominates the online sales of books,” Scorch said, “But it also allows other sellers to put up new and old books on the website.”

“Don’t worry, Orak,” Scorch added, “the physical independent bookstores in the UK are also on the rise. It saw 50 more bookstores added to its list last year, raising the count to 967 bookshops!” 

“I hope the trend continues,” Orak smiled. 

“Yes, a few booksellers are hopeful it will!” Scorch said. 

 

Stay tuned for episode 3 next Friday!

Click here to gift your child the MysticLand 5-in-1 kit via The Nestery, that includes a 3 month subscription to the daily newspaper and save Rs.500/ on the MRP.

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