#ShareTheLoad

While women have achieved remarkable success in entering and conquering male dominated roles and jobs, we are still lagging when it comes to traditional gender roles in the home. Men may help around sometimes at home but it is women who still do the bulk of the housework. And we have data to prove that!

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Yes, gender inequality in Indian homes is alive and kicking.

I believe, our household is pretty progressive. KG and I have split the work at home. The domestic chores at our home are not labelled as ‘His and Hers’. They are done as per the time availability, convenience and passion. I can watch my favourite movie on the television without worrying about the dinner or work on my presentation while KG irons the clothes for the next day. So, right from cooking, washing dishes, dusting to doing laundry, we do it without labelling it as one person’s domain chore. Of course, I have the upper hand in finding faults in his laundry and it is his prerogative to pick on the food that I cook.Laundry room rules

KG does laundry at home only when I am traveling for a week or more. And that’s because, the house looks like it is hit by a hurricane with clothes lying anywhere and everywhere (seeing that look of the home, brings out my OCD for cleaning the house big time and he hates my tired and haggard look at the end of the day!) or when he wants to wear his favourite shirt/tee which is lying in a heap of dirty laundry.

The cleanliness/orderliness freak in me hates his laundry for he has no patience to handle different clothes differently. The delicate and fine dresses and the sturdy jeans all get washed and tumbled dried together! Aarrgghh! I remember, a few months ago, he had ruined a whole lot of wash load because of the colour bleeding from one of the dining table mat. Double Aarrgghh!! So, one of my instructions before leaving for a tour is ‘Stay away from the washing machine!’

I read about the “Share the Load” campaign from Ariel, which is a call to action for people, men in particular, to share the burden of household chores. I thought that it was the best opportunity to share the tips and tricks of doing laundry with the man, when I am at home. And like always, he was a big sport!

As I gave a running commentary on how to sort the dirty clothes in different piles along with my expert comments from years of experience, to the amount of detergent to be added, the timer for washing and rinsing clothes, the man followed all the instructions to the tee.

He took the lessons pretty seriously just like his look in this pic. DSC_0227

Am I proud of him?! Totally! Completely! ♥

Hopefully, we will have sparkling clean and stain free clothes even when the washing machine is used in my absence!

I believe, gender equality just cant be enforced after marriage, it has to be inculcated from the childhood. I am glad that as parents, KG and I are teaching and fostering gender equality by example to our child.

KG took the #WashBucketChallenge and is inspired to #ShareTheLoad. Are you?

I nominate my friends to get any male member in their family, to pledge to #ShareTheLoad by taking the #WashBucketChallenge with Ariel India.

This review is a part of the biggest Sponsored Review Program for Indian Bloggers. Participate now to get free Products

Askme.Com Foodies Meetup

Last weekend, Askme.com, organized their first ever Foodies Meetup in Jaipur! I went for the meet with my blogging buddy Chicky Kadambari and sister Aashima. The venue chosen for the meet was Oopper Restro Lounge.

The idea was to Discover. Eat. Share.

Discover all about Askme.com and tips and tricks of Food Photography.

Askme.com, which is termed as the Bapp of all apps is a disruptive new age consumer brand.ask-me-app It offers a platform that seamlessly ties search, classified (post an ad), deals (buy now) and commerce. It helps users to have access to hyper-local information 24×7. I liked the concept of communities on Askme. At present there are 6 communities on Askme.com, which are very informative and interesting. They are related to Travel Wellness, Education, Interiors, Weddings and Fashion.

Jaipur Photographer’s Club conducted a 45-minute food photography workshop. Food Photography is in my bucket list so, I was keenly looking forward to learn the basics, tips and tricks when clicking food. Though 45 minutes is too short a time for this vast subject, but it was wonderful to gain some insights from the professional photographers.

Eat the yummy food that they served at Ooper Restro Lounge. The food was good, the service was prompt, the decor was contemporary. The lighting inside was a bit of a dampener, though. It was so dark inside with minimal lighting, thank God for the light from the LCD projector!

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Share the experience on our blog. It was a wonderful experience to network, learn and grow. Met bloggers from Jaipur for the first time and it was awe-inspiring that one of them,  earns in lakhs per month from his blog. And he was kind enough to share his experience too.

Askme Foodie Meet

This is the group pic of all of us at the meet. Did I tell you that Aashima and I won a box of Ferrero Rocher chocolates for answering a few questions. And we all got a coffee mug as a memento. Thank you Askme.com and Jaipur Photographer’s Club!

Nashta with Guptaji’s Family

A.A. Milne in 1925-1928…

“When you wake up in the morning, Pooh,” said Piglet at last, “what’s the first thing you say to yourself?” Breakfast
“What’s for breakfast?” said Pooh. “What do you say, Piglet?”
“I say, I wonder what’s going to happen exciting today?” said Piglet.
Pooh nodded thoughtfully. “It’s the same thing,” he said.

Cut to late 1970s-late 1990s…

“Mom!! What’s for breakfast?” asked one of the three sisters.
“Aloo da parantha”, said Mom.
“What will you make tomorrow?”, asked the second one
“Gobhi da parantha”, said Mom without missing a beat.

You get the drift! Stuffed paranthas. It was THE breakfast that was made and served everyday at our home! We Punjabis love our paranthas and our breakfast is incomplete without it! Crisp golden brown paranthas with a dollop of butter and curd is sheer divinity.

Cut to late 1990s to the present time…

KG on weekdays (on weekends, the kitchen is all his), “What are you making for breakfast?”
“It’s methi  (or paneer or mashed peas or radish or besan or egg….) ka parantha”, I would inform him.

You see, if there’s one thing that is difficult to change in a Punjabi is their breakfast of paranthas. And this does not change even if you are married to a Marwari. We believe in eating breakfast like a king, ie a meal that is rich in calories, is full, tasty and heavy. And we believe that this can be achieved only through paranthas.

But since the last few months, both KG and I have been thinking of cutting down on our early morning high calories intake and opting for a lighter, healthier fare. Also the ghee, butter and oil has started showing at unflattering places.

And then we saw, Guptaji’s family.

They sure know how to whip up the perfect breakfast for any occasion. We’d like to go to their house for nashta! While we are stuck to a pattern of paranthas as breakfast, they have such a huge variety of healthy and nutritious breakfast on their dining table. I was amazed to see the number of breakfast recipes Mrs Gupta makes for her family. I liked the breakfast recipes for Almond Strawberry Cornflakes, Apple Cornflakes Pancakes,

PancakesCornflake Walnut Chocolate Muffin, Banana Milkshake, Basil Curd Dip, Choco Cornflakes Peanut Chikki, Chapatti Cornflakes Chivda, Cabbage Corn Salad in Basil Curd Dressing, Cornflake Sesame Modaks/Dumplings,Cornflake Dahi Upma, Cornflakes Anjeer Porridge, Cornflakes Sheera,Grilled Cornflake Polenta Sticks,Oats Veggie Omlette, Narkeler Bonda to name a few! All these recipes are so simple, yet so healthy. These dishes are packed with the goodness of a well-balanced diet as they contain, grain (whole grain, whole wheat, brown rice, oats), fruit, vegetables, proteins and dairy!

Also, all these breakfast recipes are low in fat, which helps to manage weight and heart health. And these certainly should be on our agenda, after all we are not getting any younger!

The breakfast cereal used in all the recipes is high in fibre and is essential in promoting health, aids the digestive system and prevents diseases viz diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, colon cancer, anxiety and depression. Also it is high in complex carbohydrates, which provide vital energy to the body. Cereals are usually fortified with vitamins and minerals, thereby helping to meet the daily requirements of these essential nutrients. And last but not least, they are mostly consumed with milk which helps contribute to your calcium and protein intake.

Needless to say that all this not only gives a lot of energy to start a new day, but is also linked to many health benefits, including weight control and improved mental performance. It’s high time we make way for this powerful breakfast, in our daily schedule.

We are going to have Nashta with Guptaji’s family. Kya aap aayenge? #KelloggsWaleGuptaji

A to Z Theme Reveal

This April, I will be participating in the A to Z Challenge for the third time in a row.

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For the first, I took each day as it came and wrote about random subjects from A to Z.

By the second year, I had gained some experience and during that time there was quite a buzz about to theme or not to theme. So, I decided to go with the theme. Last year, my theme for the A to Z Challenge 2014 was Marriage from A to Z in exactly 55 words! Yes, I wrote about the ingredients that make or break a married relationship and packaged them in 55 Fiction. It was a fun and a challenging experience.

Having written without a theme and on a theme from A to Z, these last two years, I spent some time on whether to theme or not, this year. Mind you, both are quite challenging in their own way. Writing on a random new topic almost every day or writing on a planned subject(which could be restrictive) from A to Z has its thrills and chills.

I did an extensive 5-minute research and decided to go with a theme for the April A to Z Challenge 2015.

And the big moment has arrived. It’s time to reveal my theme for this year’s challenge.

Drum rolls please…

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My Theme for the A to Z Challenge 2015 is : Emotions and Feelings from A to Z in 55 Words.

Emotions and feelings are an integral and essential part of our life’s experience. They drive us and even drive us astray. Healthy and unhealthy expression of emotions comes naturally to us. So, this April I will be exploring the varied positive and negative emotions and feelings in the form of short stories expressed in exactly 55 words!!

Why 55 words again, you may ask! Well, it’s a win-win situation for both you the reader and I the writer and I’d not like it not any other way :D

Hope you’d enjoy reading the 26 stories on emotions from A to Z as much as I’d love writing them. See you around!

And did I tell you that I am in AJ’s team (one of the Co-host for this year’s challenge) as wHooligan and that’s second year in a row!! Joining me are LuAnn Braley, Kripali Kulkarni, TaMara Sloan and Sue McPeak. We will be watching you and of course doing all the ‘hard work’ behind the scenes!

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Happy reading, writing and connecting all through the April! Cheers ♥

Little Happy Things

Happiness in life is one thing that everyone aspires to have. It is seen that most of us, in our restless search for happiness through something significant to happen, continuously miss the insignificant, which may not be insignificant at all.  Over the years, it has been observed that true happiness is found in simple and seemingly unremarkable things. It’s the small and simple pleasures throughout the day that give us more  happiness than that one big achievement. And it is the sum total of all these little things that make life more enriching, and beautiful.

Here’s my list of little things that fill me with happiness and bliss. littlehappythings

  • Reading a well told story. It is sheer happiness to be transported into the magical worlds the written word takes me to, the experiences that it leaves me with, the feelings it evokes me with, the beauty that stays with me long after the last page is turned.
  • Baking a perfect cake and seeing it wolfed down with appreciative ‘Oohs and Ahas!’
  • Learning is happiness. The excitement of learning a new skill is incomparable. Yesterday was a happy day when I got to attend a food photography workshop, which was on my bucket list. Aah! The joy of growing, learning and changing!
  • Happiness is getting-together at home with family and friends. Ooh! The fun and banter that comes with laughing and sharing stories over food and wine, with friends.
  • The other day, I was standing in a queue at the airport shop and buying a box of Karachi biscuits. A stranger (a foreigner) holding a similar box but a large one of the same brand was standing just ahead of me. What a happy coincidence! Seeing me hold a medium sized box, he turned back, smiled and in a mischievous conspiratorial tone while pointing towards my box, said, “There’s a big box too.” Without batting an eye, I matched his conspiratorial tone and said, “I have a small family” and we both burst out laughing! Happiness is a fun conversation with a stranger.
  • The theatre lights go down, the salt and butter dusted popcorn is waiting to be devoured and the opening credits roll in. Aah! The joy and happiness of watching the much awaited movie of your favourite actor in the cinema hall.
  • Happiness is getting that comforting and solution driven message from a friend in the middle of the night when I was panicking on seeing my laptop infected with malware!
  • Last week, as I turned in the key to open the door of our home, the aroma of food wafted through the air! The bliss of being treated to a delicious dinner  cooked by the husband after a long day at work!!

Happiness is not ready made.  It comes from our own actions. It is found in small positive experiences in our day to day life that makes us feel contented and at peace. It is found in being thankful for all the little things which happen around us and to us every day. Happiness is looking for the hope and light even when it seems hidden. All said, the little things matter. Even if they don’t seem like it at the time.

What are the little things that make you happy?

Me, Myself and I

Drabble

The long day at work added more misery in my already heavy heart.

All I wanted was you to listen to me.

Or maybe just hold me and let me cry if the words made it all the more painful.

Our eyes met and my heart smiled as you understood my silent plea.

A sudden realization dawned when I saw you reaching for the keys.

You wanted it to be left unsaid and unacknowledged.

You knew that I’d’ve told you everything.

And that didn’t fit in your scheme of things!

Aah! Everyone is self-centered; it’s just the radius that differs.

Linking this to Wordy Wednesday at Blog-A-Rhythm

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Thoughts on Thoughtbuzz

Social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter have become integral elements for companies and brands seeking to develop better customer relationships; also, for the consumers, as they provide a great way  to communicate with the brands. Today, the consumers share not only their  issues and problems with the various business products and services but also share their experiences and expectations from both new and existing products. It’s a win-win situation for both the consumers and the businesses.

While all this sounds great however it comes with its own challenges. There’s a big challenge of interpreting volumes of data available out of these social media interactions.

The answer to the challenge of making sense of the bulk of data available on social platforms is  called social media analytics. These platforms sieve through bulk of data gathering meaningful insights and help generate reports for the businesses and brands capturing various aspects like people sentiments, connect with the brand, determine personas, provide competition benchmark and target brand influencers, etc. These insights help the brands to make meaningful interpretation of the social data and take informed decisions.

ThoughtBuzz was established in 2008 to provide organisations with actionable insights, through big data and business analytics. Headquartered in Singapore, ThoughtBuzz has a network of offices in India, Manila, Jakarta and Kuala Lumpur, providing leading technology and methodology for businesses worldwide. It serves clients raging from small enterprises to government bodies, from risk management to marketing management. Today, I am checking out Thoughtbuzz as a part of an activity at BlogAdda.

After signing up at the site, it took me a while to figure out what to do on Thoughtbuzz. But once I got the hang of it, it looked cool. The interface is simple and easy to navigate and overall the look is neat and appealing. One can track the profile and data on the various social media platforms viz Instagram, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn.

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I used my blog’s Facebook page and Twitter account to check how it worked on Thoughtbuzz. Here are the graphs and charts from data of one week (11th March to 18th March, 2015) for my Blog’s Facebook Page.

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Gosh, some people unsubscribed too. Wish I could get their names. LOL :D2015-03-18_14h12_06

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Apart from this, one can also generate data for average interaction per post, interaction rate, interaction rate/hour, interaction rate by weekday, interaction distributions, interaction rate by post types, post by dates/hour/weekday and even user posts by date.

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For Twitter, I generated the following graphs and charts.

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Another interesting feature is that one can reply, comment and engage with the fans on the various social media platforms at a single place, all you have to do is switch between various  profiles.2015-03-18_17h02_27

I liked the feature where one can import contacts from any of the social media profiles to find the followers and fans who engage with you the most. For brands, this could give the data on loyal and happy (and unhappy too) customers, influencers etc.

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Thoughtbuzz allows scheduling of Tweets and Facebook updates all from the same page. I have scheduled one Tweet. Cant wait to see it going live.

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And it went live moments ago. Aha!!

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My overall experience with Thoughtbuzz has been a good one. I found it to be a simple, easy and user-friendly. It can be used by experts and beginners alike. It is a wonderful web-based platform that provides real-time social analytics for organisations, brands and products. It can helps the brands discover, measure and engage with customers across the net. Available as both basic free and premium plan, Thoughtbuzz can add a lot of value to a company’s media and promotional campaigns and strategies.

When She Smiled

Title: When She SmiledWhen she smiled
Author: Ritoban Chakrabarti
Publisher: Notion Press
ISBN: 978-93-84878-25-2
Number of Pages: 217
Price [INR] : 215
Genre: Fiction

Mrityunjoy Roy is a fifteen year old Bengali who has spent the last ten years of his life growing up in Shimla. While his family is completely academically oriented, he wants something more.
Finally he meets Akanksha in school, who turns his world upside down with her gorgeous looks and mind boggling smile.

As fate would have it, she joins his tuition, and thus begins the torrid year of puppy love, romance, heartbreak, tragedy, and self discovery.

Set among the scenic Shivalik hills of Shimla when mobile phones and internet were non-existent, this is a story of how an average young teenager comes to terms with his destiny.

The story in When She Smiled is set in a quaint little hill station of Shimla. Mrityunjoy or Roy as he is called by his friends joins his old school DAV in class 11 after a two year stint in an Army School. He meets Akanksha, his classmate and falls in love with her. When She Smiled is a coming of age story of this fifteen year old boy. It is his journey from being naive to wise as he navigates through studies, love and life.

Shimla is very close to my heart. I loved the sights, the places, the food and the beauty of the land that came live in front of my eyes, through the author’s words. In fact, Shimla is an integral part of this story, it is almost like a character of the book. The realistic representation of the times during the 1990s is interesting. The story takes you back in time when the parents were really strict with their kids and their sole focus in life was their academic success. It is story of a period when entertainment was only through television and pocket money was less; when internet, social networking sites and mobiles had still not entered our lives.

While the incidents and anecdotes in When She Smiled make for an engaging read, there is virtually no story line in the book. There are hardly any twists and turns and the story mostly reads like a young boy’s daily journal. I could not understand Akanksha’s character, she seemed like a sweet nice girl in the beginning and was made into a negative character towards the end. As I was reading the book, I was looking for the rationale for the title of the book. And I found it on the last page (OK, second last page) of the book and it didn’t seem convincing enough. Another oddity that I found in the book was the usage of ‘Ram sake’, instead of ‘God sake’.

The climax was totally unexpected and very abrupt and one that leaves you disappointed and disconnected.

When She Smiled is an okayish one time read… not great but not boring either.

This review is a part of the biggest Book Review Program for Indian Bloggers.Participate now to get free books!

It All Happens For a Reason

We dont meet people

We were the best of friends in school and then we were together in college too. That we stayed close by and our parents were friends too, helped to strengthen our bond. Not a single day passed without our meeting and chatting for hours about just anything and everything.

And then life happened and we moved to different cities. We stayed in touch, initially through letters and an occasional phone call but then it all stopped as schedules and priorities changed. Thanks to the social media, which reconnects old friends, easily. Last year, we ‘met’ each other on Facebook and that helped in re-kindling our dormant friendship. She was visiting my city for some work. I was keen to catch up with her and asked her to stay at our home. She gladly accepted the offer.

When I opened the door for her, we looked at each other for a moment and then without a word, fell into each other’s arms and simply hugged each other tightly. We hit it off like nothing ever changed. We cracked jokes, we laughed and we talked non-stop as we cooked together, sipped tea, went shopping down the apartment for a few things… And then it struck me, something had changed! She had changed!! She always had a smile on her face and a kind word for everyone she had met … my maid, the neighbour we met in the lift, the security guard, the cashier at the store… I was seeing a new side of my friend!

We talked all through the night, remembering and reminiscing about the old days; re-living and revealing the years of life that we spent away from each other.

And it was then I got to know about the series of cruel blows life had thrown her way. She had to deal with several hardships, including the sudden death of her husband in a road accident, her husband’s business partner cheated her out of money and filed some false cases against her, her part-time job which paid peanuts then, the struggle to pay the EMIs for home loan and car loan and then her own accident which kept her bed-ridden for five months. As I shed tears at how unfair and brutal life had been for her, she calmly told me that all these tough times had made her learn lessons she never would have learnt otherwise. The trying times had changed her perspective about life and people.

During those trying times, she experienced it all… pain, tears, grief, anger, frustration. It was during those trying times, she started doing what was necessary for her to survive and then what was possible and soon she found herself doing the impossible. With her grit and determination, with her attitude of gratitude and perseverance, the bumpy road eventually turned smooth again.

During those few hours that we were together, she taught me all about perseverance and the importance of getting back up after a fall (a series of falls in her case). She proved that one not only survives the unexpected and challenging times but also grows from the experience. And that we didn’t meet that day by accident. We were meant to cross each other’s path for a reason!!

Usual Places, Unusual Sights

During our last visit to Mussoorie, we halted our journey to visit the Bhatoli village. We parked our vehicle on the road and trekked a few meters down the hill. We were to visit a temple there.

The golden yellow coloured hundreds of corn cobs hanging outside the homes in the village was the first thing that caught our attention.

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No, these corns are not used as decoratives but is the harvest of the season.  After the corn is harvested in Sept-Oct, they are hung outside the homes and plucked off from the string as and when needed for consumption. It was raining that day and these corns on the strings were dripping wet. I wondered, if the damp corn would rot. My query was laughed off and I was told that the next day’s sun would dry it and it would be good to use. I found it strange but then that’s how the villagers are preserving and consuming their harvest of the year for ages!

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I was reading a book while waiting for the flight to be announced at the Dehradun airport. As I turned the page of my book, my attention wandered a bit and I looked around. Seated behind my row of chairs was a foreigner. And I was surprised to see her doing what she was doing. No, she wasn’t doing anything out of ordinary. But the unusual about her was …

Well, see it for yourself…

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Yes, she was reading Half Girlfriend by Chetan Bhagat!!  Soon enough, we got chatting and she told me about her love for India. This was her fifth visit to India and she had visited Jaipur twice. Amazing isn’t it! Her Indian friend recommended CB’s book to her and she quite liked his writing style. And guess what, she loves Sudha Murthy’s books and has read quite a few of them. Double amazing!! While we were discussing about Indian authors and books, she mentioned that she’d be buying books in bulk from Flora Fountain at Mumbai as they are pretty economical there!! Triple Amazing?!? Nah, I was simply floored!!

Oh yes, this picture was clicked with her consent!

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While, I was browsing through the books at the airport book stall, I saw these 4 books in one corner.

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As you can see these are the Hindi editions of the Mills & Boon from Harlequin. Looks like the king of romantic fiction has forayed into Indian regional publishing market. And there’s a huge market for this, the bookseller informed me. Aah! Well, may be! But the titles of these books in Hindi will put me off Mills & Boon, forever!

What do you think?

The #CreateFearlessly Experience

I like the ridged grilled sandwiches that they serve in restaurants and cafes. They are different from my regular sandwich maker which makes plain triangle sandwiches.

When I got the Hamilton Beach Panini Press and Indoor Grill, through Blogadda, I was simply thrilled. I was thrilled to visualize the look of the sandwiches on our dining table from hereupon. And of course, KG loves grilling meat and vegetables, so I could see that this appliance would be part of our kitchen buzz, a lot!

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The first dish that we tried on our new Panini Press and Indoor Grill was Marinated Grilled Chicken. And next we made was Cheese Aloo Tikki Vegetable Sandwich.

We simply loved the #CreateFearlessly experience of grilling and making sandwiches.

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After preheating the Hamilton Beach Panini Press and Indoor Grill, it starts its magic. It comes with a detachable top and bottom non-stick grill plates which are pretty large (216 sq cm says the product manual!). Four large bread slices can be grilled simultaneously.  And the bread comes out perfectly and evenly toasted. The contact grill is good for cooking and grilling fish fillets, steaks, chicken breasts, sausages, patties,  hamburgers, sandwiches and vegetables. Did I tell you that I am simply in love with the wonderful ridged grilled marks on the sandwiches.

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The floating hinge and height locking feature in this Panini Grill is suitable for making sandwiches of all thicknesses and varieties. Yes, the sandwiches that we see on Eat St. via Fox Traveller can now be made in our very own kitchen.

Hamilton Beach Panini Press and Indoor Grill is a no fuss appliance. It is simple to use. All that needs to be done is simply plug in the machine and red light starts. When the correct cooking temperature is reached, which is a few minutes later, the green light turns on. Place the assembled sandwich, press down the grill and about five minutes later there’s a perfect sandwich – toasted on the outside and hot inside. And that’s because of the 1200 watts of power which ensures heating of the grill plates quickly and evenly.

The non-stick grill plates are removable so they can be easily cleaned with soapy water which is a big plus for a cleanliness freak like me. My expenses for kitchen napkins would come down substantially as I would no longer be using the bulk of paper napkins to clean up my earlier sandwich maker! The removable drip tray is another thoughtful addition in this appliance. So, all the butter or oil or the marinade drips into this tray and the kitchen counter stays non-greasy and non-messy.

The 2 skewers with Hamilton Beach Panini Press and Indoor Grill can be used for making kebabs and paneer tikkas. We have not used the skewers as yet. I just told KG about it and he says that this weekend it would be the day for kebabs! Can’t wait for the weekend!!

I simply loved this activity. Thank you Blogadda and Hamilton Beach. :)

This post is a part of #CreateFearlessly activity at BlogAdda in association with Hamilton Beach. Check out exciting videos and recipes by following #CreateFearlessly on Twitter.

Moving On to Start A New Life

Friends are family we choose for ourselves. Edna Buchanan

Yes, we chose X and Y as our family. We were blessed to have them in our life! Who knew that a chance meeting at the park would make them an integral part of our life! They were the among the best things that ever came in our lives.

Meeting them made us realize what true friends are. We connected so well, that sometimes I would pinch myself to believe it was true. We could count on each other. We’d rejoice in each other’s joys and victories. We knew each other’s stories and struggles.

And then it started changing… slowly at first. It was so slow that we didn’t realize it for a long time! Our friendship turned into a little bit of good and a little bit of bad. They were good to us a lot of time but would be mean, I mean oh-so-mean, sometimes! All this disturbed us but we forced ourselves to attribute it to the mood swings or ‘in the heat of the moment’ thing. We were surprised to find barbs in our conversation and I actually saw them looking not too happy when something good happened to us. How and when did it get this way?

While we were sad at the way our friendship took a turn, it was all the more difficult to live with somebody trying to pull us down or hell bent on putting salt on our bleeding wounds. Their acts on the sly made us sick to the stomach and tired to the bone. Their lies and back stabbing drained us out and never before we felt so trapped in a relationship. Repeated attempts to understand, sort, and ignore, failed.

Finally, a day came when a realization dawned. Yes, gracefully ending a difficult relationship might just be what the doctor ordered for us.

Yes, it was time to move on. It was time for a fresh start and leave all the hurt, negativity and past behind. It was time to distance ourselves and leave this toxic relationship once and for all. It was time to accept the ugly truth – yes, the truth that we can’t change the other person, but we can certainly change ourselves. It was time to let go of all the pointless drama, after all life is too short to be anything but happy!

It was not easy, initially. But then we deserved better. Today I am glad that that we decided to get out of that unhealthy and toxic relationship and we can see that it was for the best.

Sometimes life takes unexpected turns. Sometimes we hide the very core of our existence because we fear the judgment of others. Sometimes the universe shifts and we are provided with a brief moment to begin anew. These moments allow us to become fearless and let our perfectly created souls shine. Cori Garrison

It is a fact that it is never too late to #StartANewLife.

No, this is not the beginning of a new chapter in my life; this is the beginning of a new book! That first book is already closed, ended, and tossed into the seas; this new book is newly opened, has just begun! Look, it is the first page! And it is a beautiful one! C. JoyBell C.

#CreateFearlessly with Hamilton Beach

When Celebrity Chef and Restaurateur, Bobby Flay,  said “Grilling means good times, good friends, and hopefully, great food”, he must have seen KG grilling and barbequing on our charcoal grill outside in the garden or terrace. Grilling meat and vegetables as starters is always on the menu when we have get-togethers at home. While grilled food is a hot favourite during any time of the year, the weather is far from perfect for grilling outdoors, most of the time.

So, when I got the Hamilton Beach Panini Press and Indoor Grill, through Blogadda, I was simply thrilled. I knew that this is one appliance that would be used extensively at our home, all year round.

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The day we received this Panini Press and Indoor Grill, we had a dinner party at our friend’s place. We decided to unbox and use this product at their place. Yes, we are pretty cool that way!

So here’s the unboxing video that we shot at our friend’s place.

The first dish that we made using this appliance was Marinated Grilled Chicken.

Here’s how it finally looked.

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Needless to say, that it was so delicious that we polished off every last bit in few minutes!

Recipe for Marinated Grilled Chicken

Ingredients

  • 1 cup yogurt
  • 2 tbsp red thai curry paste
  • 2 tbsp ginger-garlic paste
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • 1/8 tsp ground cloves
  • Bone-in chicken breasts with wing bones

Directions

  1. Spread chicken pieces in a shallow baking dish. In a medium sized bowl, stir together yogurt, red thai curry paste, ginger-garlic, lemon juice and spices. Pour yogurt mixture over chicken and stir to coat. Allow chicken to marinate at least 2 hours (up to 24 hours).
  2. Preheat Panini Press and Indoor Grill. Place the marinated chicken pieces on the cooking plate. Grill for 5 to 8 minutes each side until juices run clear when chicken is pierced. Serve with dressing, if desired.

The second dish that KG made the next morning was Cheese Aloo Tikki Vegetable Sandwich. You know he is the resident master chef of our home!

Recipe for Cheese Aloo Tikki Vegetable Sandwich

Ingredients

  • 3 thick slices of bread
  • 2 Aloo Tikki
  • 2-3 tablespoons Basil Pesto
  • 1/2  Red and Yellow Capsicum
  • 1 tomato sliced
  • 1/2 cup shredded red cabbage
  • Few rings of onion
  • 2 slices of cheese
  • Butter

Directions

  1. Preheat panini press.
  2. Grill the red and yellow capsicum, skin-side up, for 10 minutes or until charred and blistered. Transfer to a sealable plastic bag. Set aside for 5 minutes (this helps lift the skin). Peel skin from capsicum and cut into 1cm-thick strips.
  3. Grill the aloo tikkis too.
  4. Spread butter on one side of each slice of bread.
  5. Place 3 slices of bread, butter down, on the panini press.
  6. Place 2 aloo tikki, pesto sauce, shredded cabbage, tomato slices, onion rings and capsicum strips, and cheese slices on each slice of bread and make a two layered sandwich
  7. Close panini press.
  8. Cook for 3 to 5 minutes or until desired brownness.

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Different types of sandwiches are making an appearance on our dining table and so are the grilled vegetables and meat. And we are so loving it!

This post is a part of #CreateFearlessly activity at BlogAdda in association with Hamilton Beach. Check out exciting videos and recipes by following #CreateFearlessly on Twitter.

From Surviving to Thriving

Fiction

Tough and challenging times come calling for everybody at some point of life. They usually twist, turn and knock us around and are inherent part of living life. And they are something that cannot just be done away with.

They did come calling for me too.

The global economic depression pushed the company to give me the pink slip which forced me to give up my high paying mid level job. Like it is for most of the people, high paying jobs are usually accompanied with high (or higher) cost of living. And it was no different for me. As expected, the industry layoffs resulted in a downturn in employment for the overall economy as well. For the available jobs, I was either under-qualified or overqualified. I took up odd jobs but they didn’t work out for long.

Two steps forward and three steps back! Yes, that summed up my life. Every time I thought I had found a solution to my financial worries, something would fall apart and I would end up feeling worse than before. The latest blow devastated me. My current job was offered to somebody who was willing to work at a lesser pay than me!

The setbacks demoralized me and it was tough to stay positive. The troubles seemed to be never ending just like the bus ride back home. I was having a tough time coping with the bad hand that life threw my way.

A lone tear escaped my eye as the turbulent mind wandered far from where I was.

So lost was I in complaining to God about my life and my circumstances that when a warm hand touched my hand, I nearly jumped out of my skin. I turned to look into the compassionate eyes of a co-passenger. Warmth and life radiated out from where the stranger’s fingers touched my skin.

Before my brain could process a reaction, the stranger lady said, “I don’t know what’s troubling you. But I want you to know that you’ll get through it. Whatever ‘it’ is!”

I looked at her as fresh tears began to well in my eyes. She patted my hand comfortingly and said, “Though you may fear that you won’t make it through. Though you may wonder if the grey sky would brighten again. But believe me that it will work out eventually. All the life’s challenges are not without a purpose. There is a grand design hidden behind them. The Universe is signalling you to evolve to a higher plane. It is time for you to explore your latent power and talents. You can do it. Have faith.  And remember that faith and hope never fail.”

Her words were exactly what I needed to hear. Those few simple words comforted me. Her words filled me with optimism and hope. I pondered over what she told me and asked myself questions like, “What do I really, really want in life?” “Where am I going?”…

The answer made me realize for the first time, my true calling in life… Yes, a home baker.

Today, my life is smiling back at me. I have come a long way from merely surviving to thriving. But it was all because the Universe showed me the light at just the right moment through that lady in the bus.

Since I was young, I have always known this: Life damages us, every one. We can’t escape that damage. But now, I am also learning this: We can be mended. We mend each other- Veronica Roth

Classified Chats with Quikr Nxt

Web sites that showcase classified ads have grown over the last few years. They have truly made life easier for buyers and sellers. I have posted many ads in the recent past on these online classified sites and I was surprised by the number of leads that got generated through these free ads. The initial euphoria of getting calls for the ads that I had placed soon died down as I faced an issue that was seemingly going out of hand.

It was a deluge of calls. It was overwhelming and that they came at all hours was bordering on irritation! Also some callers were just seeking information with no intent of buying and some were prank calls!!

And then, I came to know about a new feature from Quikr which is called Quikr Nxt.

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When my sister was thinking of replacing his existing car, I suggested her to do it through Quikr Nxt. We sat together and posted the advertisement for the car at Quikr.com. The MSP feature helped us to know whether there was synergy between our expected price and the maximum price our car would fetch.

Soon enough an instant message popped up on the screen. It was a message from a prospective buyer. He asked for some more car details which we provided instantly in the chat message. I liked that when we used Quikr Nxt, we didn’t had to share our phone number /e mail id on the website. (We clicked ‘Maintain My Privacy’ in the ‘Your Contact Information’ when we placed our free ad. )This new feature gave us complete online privacy. Also we could chat with multiple buyers in parallel chat windows.

Unlike the earlier hassle of entertaining calls at all hours, with the chat feature at Quikr Nxt, one can chat at our convenience. So, no more excusing yourself in the middle of a meeting or no disturbance during your afternoon siesta!

Another fabulous feature of this instant messaging is that one does not have to refer to the notes or remember the exchange one had with so many prospective buyers. It’s all there in the past chats histories. This is a life saver, actually! No more confusion and not much strain on the grey cells too.

Now, while posting the ad, we shared 5-6 pictures of our car, which were the view of the car from the front, side, back etc. One customer wanted to have a close-up of the upholstery and another wanted to know the speedometer reading. No problem there, all we had to do was click a few additional pictures of the car and share it with the customer. I think, this sharing of photos by addressing the specific customer query helps to close the deal better.

Soon we had a buyer whose expectations matched with ours. Thanks to Quikr Nxt, selling our car was so easier and hassle-free.

This post is written for Indiblogger and Quikr.com

The Little Things

Drabble

“Hey sonny boy! Let me tell you something big, today.

It’s the little things in life that matter most. You know, without the water drops, there can be no oceans; journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step… without little things, there can be no big things.  The little things are important, even if they don’t seem like it at the time.

Now look at this… a seed like this has the power to grow into a big forest…”

“Aah! As usual you are not paying attention. What are you doing? Will you stop licking the dirty ground?”

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Linking this to Wordy Wednesday at Blog-A-Rhythm

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Book Blitz : Metro Diaries

Metro Diaries 

By 

 Namrata

Touching, amusing and deeply moving, Metro Diaries – Love Classics are tales that will hold you from start till end.

Blurb 

Love is one of the most amazing feelings on this earth, one that makes you the most powerful person or the most helpless person in a split second. These stories capture those feelings of despair, longing, love, lust, desire, want, dejection and admiration to create deja vu. Hold onto your hearts as you flip through these pages and take a walk down the memory lane as “Metro Diaries” will revive your innermost feelings and imbibe in you the magic of love. Touching, amusing and deeply moving, Metro Diaries – Love Classics are tales that will hold you from start till end.

Grab Your Copy

About Namrata

Namrata is a prolific blogger known by the name Privy Trifles in the blogosphere who romances life through her writings and aspires to make love the universal language. She dons various hats between that of a contributing author to 6 anthologies a reviewer for leading publishing houses an editor to various books and a columnist. Apart from that she is also the editor for an online magazine called Writer’s Ezine. Having mastered the nuances of finance till recently she also held the title of an investment banker closely to let it go to embrace her love for writing fully

Stalk her @ Website | Twitter | Facebook 

Book Launch by:

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Rapescars

Title: RapescarsRapescars
Author: Gaurav Sharma
Publisher: Petals Publishers
ISBN: 9788192982748
Number of Pages: 151
Price [INR] : 150
Genre: Fiction

Rapescars… They never heal 

A girl is raped! Her parents insist to report. Police tries to scuttle the case. Her fathers influence works! Doctor, the fourth man, sees her bare. The defence lawyer encounters with obnoxious questions.

As if, she had inveigled the innocent boys. As if, she’s the one accused and her violators are seeking justice against her. She feels & experiences being raped in public again. Her lawyer manages to seek conviction!

Akriti wins the case but refuses her culprit to have imprisonment.
Why does she do this?
What does she decide then?
Is this the decision of ‘her’ or ‘raped mind’?
Rapescars is the voice of a rape survivor who thrives to stand against the violation of her persona.

Rapescars is a chilling, haunting reminder of the heinous crime of rape that are inflicted on too many women in our society. It is a heart-breaking story of Akriti who has to deal with the physical, mental and emotional scars of rape. This book brings to the fore the long lasting effects on victims of assault, the struggles with shame, alienation, and the eventual fight for justice.

After the assault she has to deal with the trauma she has just endured again when she reports it to the police and later in the court of law and relives the whole attack all over again. This is of course tough not only for her but for her family as well. It is a story of coping with one of the life’s worst nightmare, of survival, of courage and of moving ahead in life.

What I liked about Rapescars is that it is a bold attempt on a sensitive subject like rape. The research done by the author on the subject especially on the legal procedures/laws and medical aspects of rape is commendable. The retribution sought by Akriti is a bit unusual but not unheard of. Some of the dialogues in the book are profound and worth pondering.

What could have been better in Rapescars is certainly the editing, word-choices and sentence structuring. The climax seems to be a bit hurried.

Rapescars is about a burning issue that needs to be addressed by the law and by the society. It is a survivor’s story who had risen above the stigma, victim blaming and physical and emotional trauma to reclaim her life. A must read.

This book review is a part of The Readers Cosmos Book Review Program and Blog Tours. To get free books log on to thereaderscosmos.blogspot.com

She Loves Me, He Loves Me Not

Title: She Loves Me, He Loves Me Notindirom covers III
Author: Zeenat Mahal
Publisher: Indireads Inc.
ASIN: B00S1HKGIK
Number of Pages: 260 (Estimated)
Price [INR] : 150
Genre: Fiction, Romance
Type : eBook

Zoella has been in love with Fardeen Malik, her best friend’s gorgeous older brother, since she was ten, but he’s always seen her as a ‘good girl’—not his type—and he can barely remember her name. Besides, he’s engaged to a gorgeous leggy socialite, someone from the same rarefied social strata as the imposing Malik family. In short, Zoella has no chance with him.

Until a brutal accident leaves Fardeen scarred and disfigured, that is. Suddenly bereft of a fiancée, Fardeen is bitterly caustic, a shell of the man he used to be, a beast that has broken out of the fairy tale world he once lived in. And a twist of fate lands him his very own beauty—Zoella.
This man, however, is a far cry from the Fardeen of her dreams. Stripped of her illusions, Zoella creates her own twist in the fairy tale, beating him at his own game.

Zeenat Mahal explores themes of love, longing and arranged marriages in this modern, unusual interpretation of the old-age fairy tale.

I really loved ‘Haveli’, which was Zeenat’s earlier novella.  When I got an opportunity to beta read the manuscript of She Loves Me, He Loves Me Not, I was thrilled and keen to get my hands on it. And am I glad that I picked it up!

How would it be when you marry the man you have been pining for since you were ten? It would be a dream come true. Right?! But what if  the dream is a far cry from reality?

Zoella, has a crush on her best friend’s brother Fardeen ever since she was ten. While he has never given her more than a cursory glance, destiny binds them together as husband and wife. An accident leaves him scarred both physically and emotionally, making him all bitter and harsh and behaving like a jerk most of the time. Zoella’s Miss Sunshine and Mother Teresa avatar helps her sail through the trying times.

She Loves Me, He Loves Me Not, is a contemporary beauty and the beast story set in Pakistan!

This book has everything a reader could ask for. Witty dialogues, clever humor, a handsome but imperfect hero, a strong heroine, a little turmoil and a heart-breaking love story, all of which make for a good recipe. You could not help but love the characters in She Loves Me, He Loves Me Not. I wanted to shake Fardeen at times and hug Zoella and wanted to high five Salaar, Swaba and their parents. The interaction between the characters is engaging and entertaining.

The vulnerabilities of Fardeen and Zoella have been brought out well and that helps the reader to understand their point of views. But their insecurities went on for a bit longer than necessary which kind of makes you feel like pulling your hair out. It takes time for them to overcome their prejudices and realize their true feelings.

And how did it finally end? Aah! I love closing a book with a smile on my face.

She Loves Me, He Loves Me Not is Fardeen and Zoella’s journey toward each other… and love… with some drama along the way. A must read! And did I tell you that I’ll be picking it up for the third time very soon!

Rating : 4 Stars

Compassion in Everyday Life #1000Speak

Dalai Lama famously once said, “Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them humanity cannot survive.”Compassion

Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. Everyone around us is fighting some or the other battle. It doesn’t take much to reach out and lift people up. No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.

We all have witnessed this. Whenever someone offers his seat in a bus/train to somebody else, this small gesture positively affects not only the giver and the receiver but also the people who have witnessed this small and simple act. The giver feels generous, the receiver feels gratitude and the onlookers feel good on seeing a good deed of compassion and kindness. It is said, if you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.

Compassion is the chief law of human existence.― Fyodor Dostoyevsky


We all can make a difference in lives of people around us. We can intentionally be kind to others and make it a daily practice and a way of life. Here are some small compassionate acts that we can do and change the world around us :

  1. Eat lunch with somebody who is sitting alone in the office /college cafeteria.
  2. Encourage someone who needs it.
  3. Be generous with compliments.
  4. Write a note of appreciation for the employee who offered excellent service at the cafe or the hotel.whether-one-believes-in-religion-or-not
  5. Give someone recognition for something they have done with a pat on the back.
  6. Buy coffee or a snack for the security guard outside your apartment or a cab driver who is driving you around.
  7. Cook a meal for the sick neighbor.
  8. Let someone go in front of you in a queue, especially a parent with a cranky child.
  9. Help someone find a job.
  10. Help someone who is in a financial trouble.
  11. Acknowledge the people you meet in a store or fellow co-passengers with a smile.
  12. Speak kindly and listen attentively especially to those who are going through a tough time.
  13. Say something nice to someone.
  14. Be someone’s cheerleader.
  15. Surprise friends and family by sending them cards, flowers, or small gifts for no reason at all.
  16. Ask others what you can do to help.
  17. Donate blood, books, toys, clothes, your long hair, money for victims of disasters or charitable organizations.
  18. Help people who have dropped things, hold doors and elevators open for people and help elders/children cross the street.
  19. Say “thank you” to someone who made a difference.
  20. Spread the word for those who need referrals, like a wow photographer, a creative interior designer, a wonderful accountant, a new home baker…

This is not an exhaustive list, but it is a list to focus our intentions on making it a kinder, loving and beautiful world for ourselves and others around us. I believe in karma – it comes after everyone eventually… what goes around comes around, truly.  Your everyday good deeds are never in vain for they shall return to you even when you’re not expecting it. So, keep your circle positive and practice small and random acts of kindness and compassion, everyday! Spread the cheer ♥

I am participating in the 1000speak movement by writing about Compassion. Do join us. Link your posts here. Stay updated by joining our Facebook group and our Google+ Community.

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The 1000 Voices For Compassion #1000Speak Campaign

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Cover Reveal : Sangita’s Dilemma

 Cover Reveal

SANGITA’S DILEMMA

by 

Sundari Venkatraman

Sneak Peek

Sangita Sinclair is applauded at a special function where she receives an award for successfully heading an NGO called Penn Urimai. She’s married to Gautam and has three children. A reporter wants to interview Sangita about her passion for setting up an NGO for downtrodden women and making it a huge success. Her questions take Sangita down memory lane….

She had been a widow with a small son when she met Gautam Sinclair. Being from a conservative family, Sangita had had the devil’s own time recognising her love for Gautam for what it is. Only her troubles don’t end there….

About the Author

Sundari Venkatraman has four novels and a short story collection to her name. Sangita’s Dilemma is her sixth
book. Her books are self-published under the banner Flaming Sun and are often found on Amazon’s Top 100 Bestsellers’ Contemporary Romances list.

A great fan of Mills & Boon romances over the past four decades, Sundari has always believed in ‘Happily Ever Afters’ and all her books promise joyous endings.

Sangita’s Dilemma tells the story of Sangita, a young widow from a conservative family in Chennai, Tamil Nadu. Her parents wouldn’t hear of widow remarriage and all hell breaks loose when a half-American falls in love with her and proposes marriage. Sundari deals with different issues in society in her books without preaching anyone. The characters speak for themselves.

The author says, “I wrote this book with a lot of love and passion; I hope you enjoy reading it.”

Sundari Venkatraman would love to hear from you @

Bedtime Rituals

Sleep is very important to a child’s well being, that’s what my mom believed in. I remember, it was mandatory for us, as kids to sleep in the afternoons after coming back home from school and likewise we had a fixed time to sleep at night too. She believed that when we have had a good rest, we were more alert and in a better mood (read less cranky and irritable for her to handle the three of us) and of course it was good for our overall physical and mental development as well. She learnt from experience that a sleep deprived child cries at everything and nothing makes her happy. The child is not able to cope with life around her when she is tired and this in turn makes her and even those around her miserable.

So, a good bed routine is important and crucial because no child will ever come and say, “I am tired and I want to sleep!”

When Aaryan came in our lives, fortunately my mom was with me. Her experience of bringing up three kids coupled with my acquired knowledge from baby books and internet, we teamed together to bring up the apple of our eyes!

When Aaryan was as young as 6 weeks old, we started with our bedtime rituals for him. By that time, I had some experience as a young mom and knew how to handle my child too.

Swaddling and Aaryan

Swaddled Aaryan with his Dad

When he was a toddler, a massage followed by a nice warm bath and feed would put him to sleep for long hours during the day. And in the evenings, after freshening him up and taking care of his food needs, we’d again put him to sleep. Aaryan was born in Mumbai. His Maharashtrian massage maid after giving him his daily bath would tie him up in a cloth so that movement of his limbs were restricted. She said that this process, which internet told me is called Swaddling, settled and soothed the child and helped him to sleep longer with fewer awakenings. This was a boon for us. We practised this till Aaryan was old and strong enough to wriggle out of it on his own and/or would not let us swaddle him at all.

As he grew older, we changed the sleeping schedule but the naps in the afternoon and a fixed sleeping time at night were a constant.

After coming from play school/school, he’d have his lunch and sleep for an hour and a half. A quiet and a dark room helped him to sleep faster. When he was very tired, he’d sleep immediately, if not, indulging him in a chat about his day at school for a few minutes and/or sharing a story would put him to sleep soon.

The evening bedtime routines were a bit elaborate though. It started with a bath /wash after the evening outdoor play followed by dinner and then half an hour of Cartoon Network.

By 8 pm, he would be sent to brush his teeth and change into night wear. He would then pick up a book which he’d want me to read to him. I would then read him stories from a large collection of books that I was buying since he was a toddler. Usually, he’d sleep before one story got over but there were days, which were many actually, when he’d say, ‘one more story’ and that could go on up to 4-6 stories! Sometimes, he’d tell me his version of stories which were very imaginative. I remember once he asked me “Why don’t you sing me a lullaby. Hitesh’s mom sings him one every night”. I was taken aback. I didn’t knew a single lullaby. But then internet came to my rescue once again. I practiced one the whole day and sang one for him later in the evening. My then 4 year old son, sweetly stopped me and asked me to read out a story. That was the first and probably the last lullaby that I ever sang to my child!

I have realized that setting bedtime rituals for a child is very important. It adds to the consistency and predictability in a child’s life which is so very crucial. And also because a good night sleep,  in fact is as important as nutrition.  It helps him to grow well and boost his memory, cognitive skills along with creativity and energy level. Also a well rested child is always a happy child!!

So, what bedtime rituals do you follow with your children?

This post is written for Indiblogger and Pampers

1000th Blog Post Today…

This is my thousandth post! It is so hard to believe that I have written 1000 posts at this space since May 2009. The more I think about this number, the harder it is to believe.1000posts

Whether my foggy grey cells comprehend it or not (I am in Shimla which has an overcast of clouds leading to a terribly cold day, hence the fog might have settled on my grey cells too!), but the fact is that the numbers do not lie.

So, here I am with 1000 posts live on my blog. If I look back on my blogging journey, I realize that when I first started writing at this space, it was all personal. I shared my daily happenings or interests and life in general around me. And then like unexpected things that happen in our life, the unexpected and never explored before, happened on my blog too. Yes, I expanded my horizon to writing 55 Fiction, Drabbles, book reviews, photo challenges, social causes, lists, Ten on Tuesdays etc. I am glad that I forayed into diverse topics as doing the same thing again and again often leads to boredom and fatigue. I am glad that I changed the tone of my blog over a period of time and evolved its voice. Of course, all this was shaped by the readers and commenters as much as it was by me. I’d like to believe that all this change worked for me. What do you think about it?

These past few days, I was reading my old posts. While some brought smiles and some revived old memories, some made me go wow! Yes, I loved what I had written! And some were totally cringe worthy too. I was like, “Gosh! Did I write this?” And such posts were not one or two but so many of them.  This made me realize that on your blog you not only get a second chance, or a third… or a fourth…  in fact a lot of chances to make errors, learn and grow. How wonderful is that!

I’d like to take this as an opportunity to sincerely thank you, the fellow bloggers, commenters, regular /occasional readers for being with me at different points of my 1,000 posts journey. I can’t write without a reader. It’s precisely like a kiss—you can’t do it alone! Thank You for all your support and encouragement! It means a lot!

I don’t know what lies ahead in between now and the next 1,000 posts. Yes, I am being too ambitious and optimistic. I have an idea of some things that will happen but then that’s the fun part – taking it as it comes.

Thank you all for the first 1,000 memories – here’s to continued reading, writing, learning and growing ahead.

Enjoy the Spotlight!

I met a friend after a long time and excitedly told her, “Hey! You have lost weight. You are looking great!”

She said, “Oh, that’s not true!”

I felt very awkward. Here, I was giving a genuine and sincere compliment to this lady and she didn’t accept it.

While I was mulling over her reaction, another incident flashed in front of me. I had congratulated a colleague for giving a fabulous presentation. And he had said, “Oh, it was nothing. Anybody could have done it!”

Both these incidents took me a few years down the memory lane. We were sitting in the office cafeteria and a senior colleague said something good about me in front of the whole team. I mumbled something under my breath and had a feeling that what I just heard was something outrageous and the earth should simply swallow me in. As I was recovering from the sudden rush of emotions, a friend whispered, “Learn to enjoy the spotlight!”

Fumbling, mumbling, feeling embarrassed or uneasy on hearing something good about us? Do they sound familiar? Well, all these episodes clearly show our inability to accept compliments!

Why do we feel uncomfortable on receiving some genuine praise or admiration? Why do we reject the positive vibes to come our way? Why we do not allow this positive energy to warm us up from inside?

While it is ok to be modest about our accomplishments, it is important to acknowledge the compliments we receive.

Not accepting a compliment graciously reflects bad not only on the receiver but also on the giver. As a receiver it signifies that we don’t value or recognise our talents or achievements and/or are suffering from low self esteem or are self-conscious. When we deny or reject the compliment, for the giver, it implies that his/her opinion was incorrect or that we don’t value his/her remark or we are doubting his/her sincerity.

All it takes is a simple ‘Thank you’ or a nice smile to accept a compliment graciously! Of course, one can explain more and add something positive to it.

Everybody likes a compliment. But generally, we underestimate the power of an honest compliment. A genuine compliment has the power to add smiles, give the motivation when we need the most and yes, it has the power to turn a life around. Why, Mark Twain even said, I can live for two months on a good compliment!!

So, go on give compliments and spread some cheer and smiles around and also accept that compliment graciously. Enjoy the spotlight!

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How do you accept compliments?

Breach

Title: Breach Breach
Author: Amrita Chowdhury
Publisher: Hachette India
ISBN: 978-93-5009-855-4
Number of Pages: 337
Price [INR]: 350
Genre: Fiction

How secure are your secrets in  the virtual world?

Weeks before pharma-giant Acel is ready to file a global patent application for cancer wonder-drug Colare, its offshore data center in Mumbai is hacked. The charismatic young leader of its Indian business, Dr Udai Vir Dhingra, finds himself blamed for negligence and the breach of security.

Battling market pressures, media scrutiny, livid American bosses and crumbling relationships, Vir must find the perpetrators or see his career – and his life- spiral downwards. But the deeper he gets dragged into the shadowy world of masked online identities and muddied digital footprints, the more Vir discovers that nothing is easy or obvious, and everything has a price.

Set across Mumbai, Washington DC and Guangzhou, Breach is a compelling and edgy thriller that explores the dark and dangerous underbelly of our increasingly virtual existence.

I had read some good reviews about this book and after having read it, I must say that it truly deserves it. Breach is a well researched, page turning, slick cyber thriller that keeps you glued till the very end.

Short chapters, each running into not more than two to three pages spread across various locations bring in multiple characters and take the story ahead at a fast pace. I have seen this style of writing in Ravi Subramanian’s books. It took me a few chapters to grasp what was happening, but soon it was easier to get into the flow of the story.

The information on hacking into a safe server, counter surveillance, crisis management and incident reconstruction to uncover the modus operandi and business motives of the cyber-criminals and shady activities done esoterically and covertly in the pharma industry, cancer research, global corporate affairs, patent laws, is pretty interesting and informative. All this tech knowledge is shared in a language that a layman can understand is a plus in Breach. Also these tech details are woven in the plot in such a way that they don’t overshadow the story.

Breach is an intelligent and flawlessly executed crime thriller which excites and agitates till the last page. A must read.

Rating : 4 Stars

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