Travel with Kids

One day, a friend M who was in her family way lamented with a sad and desolate look on her face, “I think, I’d be losing all freedom in a few weeks from now. I’ll be tied down with baby care for a long long time. There’d be no cozy dine outs, movies in theatre and even the vacations would be on a back burner! What have I got myself into? For how long will this state last for me?”

Seeing her having baby blues before the baby arrived, we tried to cheer her up. And then another friend S, remarked, “Oh, you’ll be able to do all these things, whenever YOU are ready!

This made M sit up and listen. S could see an attentive audience, so she elaborated… Sharing some entertainment ideas, survival strategies, and practical advice, S shared that make travel with kids, magical and happy.

Agree that traveling with kids for a vacation is not as easy and simple when compared to travel that is solo or with friends. But it is not all that difficult and in fact having them around makes for some great fun times, with some beautiful memories.

The most important thing that needs to be taken care of is the needs of the children. Yes, that’s right!  If we pay attention to their needs which are actually 6Es, we are sorted, yes, even on a vacation.

Enthusiasm. Check. When we plan and talk about the forthcoming trip with excitement, it kind of rubs on the children too. After all nothing is as contagious as enthusiasm. Disinterested and uninvolved children can dampen the holiday cheer. Let them help in packing. I know, how much of a help that is, but still! The idea is that they too should be looking forward to the fun and exciting times. And half the battle is won.

Expectation Matching. Check. Going for a trek or a visit to a fort on a hill with toddlers can exhaust you physically and mentally.  (Of course, such excursions are pretty do-able and manageable, if you plan well!) Going for a vacation and doing things that all in the family enjoy and love results in happy smiles all around.

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Engage. Check. What do kids love the most? Playing games, obviously! Bored kids can be very cranky. So, how about taking their favourites along with you, like UNO cards or Beyblades or Chess or whatever interests them. For example, on one vacation with our friends, the kids played UNO and we too learnt it from them which graduated into marathon UNO sessions involving all the adults and children. Needless to say, who had fun beating whom… initially!!

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Enjoyment Galore. Check.  With our modern lifestyles, indoor culture and addiction to technological gadgets, our children are far more removed from nature than us. Vacations are perfect time to relax and let children be children and let them  recapture the simple pleasures of dancing in the rain or climbing trees or playing with sand.

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Explore. Check. Children are such curious creatures. They explore, question, and wonder, and look at everything with a different perspective. A trip to a museum was such an enlightening one, only because we had two ten-year olds with us. Their steady stream of questions made us read up and hire a guide and that was truly enriching.

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Expect the Unexpected. Check. Not everything goes as per the plan always. There would be surprises and there would be surprises. Like once a child had a tummy upset, so we had to take frequent breaks during our road journey. While the parents took turns in taking care of the child, rest of us made the best of our time by capturing memories in our cameras and chatted with the villagers around and soaked in the beauty around.

Rumi said, travel brings power and love back into your life… and children pack it with more power and love along with fun and happiness and lots of magical moments and memories!

See the world, with your children. It’s more fantastic than any dream made or paid for in factories. So where are you heading these vacations?

This post is written for Indiblogger and Teddy Travelogues from Club Mahindra

All the pictures used in the post are personal.

Hygiene is Two-Thirds of Health

Hygiene is two-thirds of health.

2/3rd of our health?! Hard to believe??

It is a true fact.

Hygiene is a basic human need and we know that it is common sense to practice it in our day to day life. But the number of diseases that are spread by the very lack of this ‘common sense’ habit, is staggering!

Sanitation and Hygiene play a big role in our everyday lives. With the kind of health risks that pose a threat to us today, it is more important than ever, for us to maintain good hygienic habits. And it all starts at home!

Hygiene, which is basically practicing certain activities in our life that lead to maintenance of health and prevention of diseases, is divided into three categories:

Personal Hygiene : Studies show that, 80 percent of infections are transmitted by direct and indirect contact, thus, hand washing is the most important thing we can do to protect our self! And others!  Every hand we shake, every hand rail we touch, every door knob, every light switch, every counter top, every dog we pet…simply everything we touch can place dangerous germs on our hands.

The importance of hand washing can be assessed by looking at the spread of germs found on human hands. Given below are a few examples:

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Here’s a checklist of times when we need to wash our hands. I know, this may sound so petty and trivial and something that we all know. These are the basics… right! But mostly the basic rituals are the ones that are most often forgotten and ignored! Just check, how many check marks (✓) you get…

    • After using the washroom at home or at any public place. 6 Steps of Washing Hands
    • Before as well as after eating food.
    • After visiting a patient at the hospital.
    • Before and after one starts cooking food.
    • After changing a baby’s diaper.
    • After touching pets or cleaning their faeces.
    • Before touching young infants and children.
    • Before and after touching injured areas and changing the dressing of a wounded person.
    • After collecting and throwing out garbage.
    • After sneezing, coughing and blowing our nose.
    • After cleaning around the house.
    • After being outside (playing, gardening, walking the dog, etc.)
    • After handling dirty laundry.

Also hands should be always washed with a soap. If that is not done then we are actually  smearing the germs all over our hands and giving them a wider surface area to operate and/or if we are not washing well or long enough then we have got live germs on our hands ready to transfer to our foods, friends’ hands we shake or even people we hug…

Home Hygiene : We love keeping our homes clean. But are they really clean? However clean a home looks, the deadly little germs can still be lurking around. The door knobs, the handrails, the upholstery and bedding, the TV remote, computer keyboard, toilet brush, soap dispensers, kitchen napkins, vacuum cleaner are all hotbeds of bacterial and viral activity. Take a moment to check this cleaning time-table. If you are managing your home as per this schedule, you are doing great!

Several Times in a Day Once Every Day Once -Twice Every Week Once a Month

Wash dishes and cooking utensils after each meal

Sweep the floors

Wash the floors

Clean cupboards, windows and walls

Clean kitchen slab before and after food preparation

Empty the kitchen rubbish bin

Wash the bed linen

Clean refrigerator, gas stove

Clean toilets

Dust the surfaces

Get rid of cobwebs

Food Hygiene : In a survey, 15 per cent of squeaky clean-looking fridges were heavily contaminated with bugs. Hard to believe. Right? But then it’s true. How many of us wash the milk packets and then keep them in the fridge. And what about the vegetables and fruits? Mostly, a refrigerator is used as a cold cabinet. So the vegetables and fruits are kept either without washing or in the carry bags we got from the market. Imagine the dirt and the germs that we are allowing to stay and thrive in our refrigerators.

How about washing the pack of bread or the eggs or a juice tetra pack or a cold drink can or the pack of chips… just about any eatable pack? And is it hygienic to pack food in newspapers or letting the newspaper soak the oil as we fry hot yummies?

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Sanitation and hygiene begins at Home! Implementing good hygiene practices, personally and at home has both health and social benefits. What is your take on this?

Swachh IndiaThis post is written for Indiblogger and Banega Swachh India #SwachhIndia

The Mouse Charmers

Title: The Mouse Charmers – Digital Pioneers of IndiaThe Mouse Charmers
Author: Anuradha Goyal
Publisher: Random House India
ISBN: 978-8-184-00492-2
Number of Pages: 299
Price [INR]: 334
Genre: Non Fiction

The advent of Internet has been a significant game changer for our generation. Mouse Charmers are a new breed of entrepreneurs in emerging India powered by the Internet and the opportunities that it offers to create new markets and to cater to old markets in new ways. Some of them have already achieved success where they can be called iconic and inspiring while others have powerful ideas that put them on the same path.

Anuradha Goyal tells the stories of digital entrepreneurs like Flipkart, Zomato, ImagesBazaar, IndiBlogger; how they started out, the innovations and technologies involved, their business models, and unique marketing strategies. Inspiring and useful, The Mouse Charmers is an essential guide for aspiring entrepreneurs.

Internet has changed our life enormously. It has influenced all spheres of our life and has changed the way we live, interact, work and do business. Today, life without our multiple communication devices is unthinkable. Websites like Flipkart, Make My Trip.com, Zomato have become an integral part of our lives.

Thanks to the internet we have a new breed of entrepreneurs in India who have used the power of internet and have created new markets and also cater to the old markets in a new way. These young entrepreneurs have changed our image in the world from that of Snake Charmers to Mouse Charmers.

In her book, The Mouse Charmers, the author profiles the success stories of 12 companies which are the digital pioneers of India. These 12 companies are categorized under :

  • Commerce : Flipkart, Make My Trip, BigBasket, CaratLane
  • Content : Zomato, Games2Win, ImagesBazaar, Chai with Lakshmi
  • Connectors : Shaadi.com, Rang De, CommonFloor, IndiBlogger

The book gives some detailed insights on the business models of these companies, the innovation they brought about in their field, the differentiating factors, the journey so far and their future plans. It also shares the challenges and opportunities these first generation entrepreneurs faced during the course of time.

Reading The Mouse Charmers was an enlightening experience. The success stories, the strategies these young entrepreneurs used, what worked for them and what didn’t made for a fascinating and an inspiring read. Anuradha’s voice in the book is clear, concise, organized, and jargon-free. The book has facts and figures, tables and charts, graphs and infographics along with content that is taken from company websites, news articles, and in a few cases, conversations with key personnel of the companies.

The Mouse Charmers will not only charm and inspire the budding entrepreneurs but is a must read for all cybernauts out there!!

The review is part of IndiBlogger Book Review initiative.

Explore Dream Discover

The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page. – St. Augustine.

Being a zodiac sign that symbolizes travel, it comes as no surprise that exploring and discovering new places comes naturally to me.  Travel can mean differently at different points of time. Sometimes, travel is to get lost in a new place, explore its heritage, culture and cuisine, meet new people and learn about their lifestyle and traditions.  Sometimes, it is to relax in a serene and quaint little place or to immerse in the lap of luxury.  And sometimes, it is to expect the unexpected.  Whatever is the objective, to me travel is always a thrilling, exciting, inspiring, rejuvenating and an enlightening experience.

I dream of exploring a lot of places and be a real wanderer. Today I’d like to share a few places that are on my wish-list, places where I’d like to spend our holidays…

  • Tranquility in the Rice Fields @ Ubud, Bali, Indonesia : For a quiet and a relaxing vacation and to spend quality time with family, I’d like to go to this beautiful, tranquil home which is far from the madding crowds and away from the hustle and bustle of the tourist destinations. Located at Penestanan, a lovely rice field village, I liked this serene and tranquil haven which also has flora, fauna and wild-life. With full grown coconut and bananas trees… even in the bathroom; with flowers, butterflies and birds around, this is one place, I can’t wait to be there!

Tranquility in the Rice Fields

  • A Fairy-tale Gingerbread House @ Geyserville, CA, United States : We’ve all grown up reading fairy tales with beautiful and magical places. How about living in a house that is straight out of a fairy tale!! I loved this uniquely constructed Gingerbread House at the Isis Oasis Retreat Center which looks so cozy from  inside. Two people can sleep downstairs and one can comfortably sleep in the loft and that is simply perfect for us!!  Earthen trees are wrapped around the hut making it feel as though it were being embraced by the trees. It has a wood-fired oven outside which will be put to good use by KG, with a picnic table. Close access to the pool, sauna and hot tub sounds heavenly! Aah! Would love to be a part of this earthen adventure!

Fairy-tale Gingerbread House

  • TRULLO “Black Cherry”, Putignano @ Apulia, Italy : Who doesn’t love history and old houses with a centuries-old history! This old historic house in the heart of Itria Valley, promises just that! The beautiful scenery of the countryside characterized by a succession of trulli and country houses and the paved country roads that allow long walks on foot or by bicycle is so inviting and alluring!

TRULLO Black Cherry Putignano

  • Treehouse at Lush Permaculture Farm Miami, FL, United States : After seeing Treehouse Masters on Discovery Channel TV for so long, we have this dream to make a Treehouse on our farm too. Till our lil sapling grows to a real big tree and until we make our own Treehouse, how about living in a Treehouse that is nestled within the pithocilobium tree! This place is an urban oasis and a permaculture farm.  We can enjoy goats, pigs, emus, chickens and a colorful community of people. and can get fresh veggies, eggs and honey! How wonderful is that!

Treehouse at Lush Permaculture Farm

  • Solar Powered Palapa w/Ocean View @ San Jose Del Cabo, Los Cabos, Mexico : KG always talks of going back to roots! Don’t know when that would happen but in the mean time we can explore this rustic home in this unique setting overlooking the break at Shipwreck’s Beach and check whether we can survive at a place that is simple and basic! This little hut overlooks the sea which has great waves to surf when they’re rolling in…great beaches, swimming and wind surfing when they’re not. The desert meets the sea here so there’s burros and sea turtles on the beach, and cactus, wildflowers and beautiful arroyos to explore. Now that’s the best of all worlds!

Solar Powered Palapa Ocean View

We must take adventures to know where we truly belong. Hope we get to explore and soak in the beauty of all these places soon.

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”- Mark Twain

This post is written for Indiblogger.in and Airbnb #AirbnbWishList

Lucky 6 by FatCat

The below post was written by me for Fatcatgaming for a campaign run on Indiblogger platform. The company Fatcatgaming is promoted by one Sulim Malook and his sister who acts as his PA Natasha Malook. They made us write the post and offered us their company shares and told us we could encash the same after 6 months (the same were worth 100 Euros). Eventually the collected huge sums via crowdfunding from the Asian market and duped one and all and shut shop just before they were to encash the shares.  Hundreds of people were cheated for one of the largest online scam. These people have also tricked all to give their account details which they may use at some point in time. Requesting all to be aware and careful of these cheats.

I have seen a lot of people who are just plain lucky. FatCat-Logo_thumb.jpgThey keep winning in  games which are actually games of chance and has got little to do with skill viz bingo games, tambola, raffles, cards, etc. I am never lucky with such games. But there’s this new gaming app from FatCat, which says that ‘getting lucky has never been this easy!’ Really?

I decided to check it out.

I downloaded the FatCat’s Lucky 6 app on my smartphone and within minutes, I was ready to explore it.

After signing up, and a tutorial of how this gaming app works, I was ready to try this fun game. There are just 3 steps to play this game.

Select six brands : One has to select 6 brands which is an impressive list of big Indian and international brands viz Adidas, Adani, Amazon, American Express, Apple, Asian Paints, Bajaj Electricals, Bharti Airtel, Blackberry, Canon, Castrol, Coca-Cola, Dabur, Facebook, Ultratech, Twitter, Vodafone, Walt Disney to name a few.FatCat-1_thumb.png

Check your tickets : Then, one has to check how their tickets are doing by opening the menu and clicking on My Tickets. Green tickets are for the game in play or future games and grey for completed games and it will give rank of your selected brands, your score and the current top six.

Check your score : To check how your tickets are doing, open the menu and go to scoreboard. View your score, the top ten players and select a player to view their full profile. View players profile and select back to return to the scoreboard. Then, swipe the scoreboard downwards to refresh your score and the current top ten players.

Lucky 6 seems to be an easy game that is free to play. There is cash and luxury holidays to be won by playing this game. All this can be won by playing on your own or by challenging your friends and that increases your chances of winning even bigger.

Lucky 6 is based on a simple lottery format, but with famous brand names. After you pick your six favourite brands all you have to do is watch the game progress over the course of the day.  During the game, the rankings of each brand are constantly changing, based on the positive movement in their share prices. Watch as your brands move up and down the leader board and you move in and out of the money.  Post your rankings to friends, challenge them to see whose combo ranks the highest. At the end of each game, the six top ranked brands are the winning combo.

Lucky 6 by FatCat has been launched by Crowdfunding! Since getting funds for a revolutionary idea is bit difficult initially, so the smart people at FatCat have based their business around a new attitude in social gaming and lottery. What’s better than to raise capital and awareness,  to open minded individuals who are keen to make a small investment in something they believe in. This gives the man on the street the opportunity to be part of what could be ‘the next big thing’! Exciting and enterprising, isn’t it!

This gaming app, works on the concept of Sharing. Sharing with your friends increases your chances of winning. And the best part is… even if they win, you still win! The Fat Cat guys have their own way of summing this up, they call it “He who shares, wins”

Lucky 6, in a nutshell :

      • Win cash : There are no points in this game just big money.
      • Challenge your friends : Competing against friends is great, but winning even when they win is the super interesting.
      • Brands you know : There’s no research involved because every brand is a household name.
      • Huge jackpots : Fat Cat jackpots are huge because it’s more fun that way.
      • Share with your friends : When your friends win, you win. Every friend you invite increases your odds of winning.
      • Easy to play :Playing is as easy as tapping the logos of your favourite brands.

With substantial prizes and major incentives for sharing, this really is a game changer in the making. Are you ready to play, Lucky 6?!

This post is written for Indiblogger.in and Lucky 6 by FatCat

Toilet for Babli

Imagine this. Women and young girls, waking up before dawn, every day, leaving their homes while it is still dark and walking for a mile or so to find a remote or a secluded place. And all the while, hoping to stay away from any prying eyes as they finish their daily ablutions in the open.

With this act, they are not only adding to the estimated 100,000 tons of human excrement that Indians leave each day in farming fields, on river banks that are used for drinking and bathing and along roads jammed with scooters, trucks and pedestrians but also experience shame and embarrassment along with exposing themselves to a lot of diseases.

More than 200 million tons of human sewage goes uncollected and untreated, fouling the environment. Each gram of feces can contain 10 million virus particles, 1 million bacteria, 1,000 parasite cysts and 100 parasite eggs. The germs in the excreta contaminates the drinking water, food and soil and increases the number of flies and insects carrying excreta and spreading disease.

Open defecation and lack of sanitation are the leading causes for water-borne diseases like diarrhoea, cholera, dysentery, intestinal worms, trachoma, hepatitis A and typhoid and stunted growth in children. While over 300,000 children aged below five years in India die each year due to diarrhoeal diseases, 44% of children younger than 5 are underweight! Malnourished children have poor immunity and are more susceptible to diarrheal disease, and with more diarrheal disease they become more malnourished!

20% of deaths among children under-14 are due to diseases caused by poor sanitation and hygiene. In young girls, open defecation during menstruation causes a lot of health and hygiene issues viz reproductive tract infections and sexually transmitted infections. Almost 28 million school children across India do not have access to school toilet facilities. And this results in dropping out from schools by girls on reaching puberty, depriving them of opportunity to learn and grow in life and a hope for a bright future.

By stopping open defecation and improving sanitation, there will be lower mortality among children, better nutrition, reduced stunting and increased height among children, due to the reduction in diarrhoea and other life-threatening diseases. There will also be better learning and retention among school children due to reduction in worms and other sanitation related diseases.

By building toilets and ending open defecation, it can have a  BIG effect on the health, safety, education, prosperity and dignity of a lot of children and women in India.

Domex has taken an initiative, which is called #ToiletForBabli to make villages in Maharashtra and Orissa open defecation free zones.

You can be a part of this noble initiative too!

Just visit http://www.domex.in/ and click on Contribute Now. For every Click- contribution received on this website, Domex will contribute Rs.5 for making villages open defecation free.

Domex cover

This post is written for Indiblogger.in and Domex #ToiletForBabli Initiative

My Dream Home

Home is not where you have to go but where you want to go; nor is it a place where you are sullenly admitted, but rather where you are welcomed – by the people, the walls, the tiles on the floor, the followers beside the door, the play of life, the very grass.”Scott Russell Sanders

Few things in life are as challenging as designing and decorating your home. I remember the time we bought our first flat some 14 years ago and the myriad emotions that we experienced in those few months. The tiles for the kitchen seemed perfect for us in the design magazine but it was nowhere to be seen in the shops near our home. Websites of design companies and online shopping had still not entered our lives then!

The amount of time we spent in scouting the lanes and by-lanes of Mumbai to “shop around” as we wanted to keep options open before making decisions, was bordering on obsessive. We spent hours and days, searching and comparing, until we were exhausted. We, the husband and I, truly wore ourselves out. Oh, it was an overwhelming experience and we truly suffered from decision fatigue!

But today, all that you need to create your perfect dream home is available at one place. Designing and decorating ideas are available at a click of a mouse. And I came across, one such one stop shop solution, some time ago, PORCELANOSA!  PORCELANOS offers a wide product range that includes kitchen and bathroom equipment as well as state-of-the-art building solutions for making contemporary homes.

Today, if I were to make my dream home, PORCELANOSA would be my destination. Their comprehensive catalogue helped me to decide the look I’d like to give to my dream home.

For the Floor Tiles, I’d pick the Natural Wood. I think nothing comes at par with the warmth of a natural wood floor; it is a noble and stunningly beautiful material that instantly decorates a space.

parquet-piccola-1-l-scuroRevival-1L-Beige-22x220x2.1

For Wall Tiles, I’d go for Mosaics. Mosaics are compositions formed from small pieces, or tesserae, and add energy and richness to a space by combining different materials or breaking the monotony of one sole wall covering, also being used as decorative borders or to frame different zones.

Silver-(2,3x9,8)-29,6x29,6x1Tribal-Pearl-White-(1x2)-28,6x28,3x0,8

Kitchen is truly the heart of our home as it is dominated by the chefs and foodies. It is our workshop where aroma intermingles with lovely conversations. I like these so very functional kitchens which also have versatile spaces and large storage spaces that make cooking tasks easier.

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A bathroom is the smallest room of a home but it has to be a serene and pretty oasis. I liked the contemporary look of this bathroom with it’s elegant furnishings and fittings. And I absolutely love this rain shower!

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This is how I visualize our dream abode… less fancy, more comfort; less house, more home!

This post is written for Indiblogger.in and 24KLiving

Staying Healthy Can Be Fun

Over the years, I have realized that if I am passionate about doing or learning something, I would obsess over it for just a few days or may be a few weeks. And soon enough, I would move on without ever looking back. Yes, I get bored really easily!

And this is especially true when it comes to sticking to a fitness or a workout program. Usually, work, travel, home, family and life in general can derail my fitness plans but even without these ‘hindrances’, I am pretty quick to throw cold water on it. Why do I resist my exercise time? Is it because, I have made my exercise regimen hard. I mean, what’s the point of having a leisurely stroll on a treadmill, it has to be power walking, isn’t it? And that power walking can be very lonely and boring for an easily distracted person like me!

So does that mean, I am doomed to forever starting and giving up on my workout plans?

No, this love-hate relationship that I share with staying fit, can change. After all, there is always a way! And like they say, ‘you are stronger than anything standing in your way!’

The way was shown in the new Sunfeast Farmlite advertisements. These advertisements share a very important and pertinent message that staying healthy can also be fun.

Instead of resorting to conventional methods of exercising/walking in a park, staying fit can become an enjoyable outdoor activity when it is done with family and/or friends. Biking, Hiking or Walking Holidays or Trekking can be a fun and delightful adventure time with a group of people bound together by a common goal of staying healthy.

This fun and enjoyment can be translated indoors with friends as well. Aerobics, Zumba, Yoga are wonderful alternatives to traditional fitness programs. And of course 9 days of Navratri are a great way to stay fit. They say, about 956 calories are burnt while doing Dandiya for 2 hours. What could be better than this… fun, festivity and fitness, all rolled into one social activity.

Taking up any sport quite literally makes a game out of working out. A brisk game of Badminton or Table Tennis or Squash not only will get the heart rate up but will also burn a lot of calories, and not to mention the feel good factor of playing a good exciting game.

I liked the Goodbye Bai video which shows that when the maid does a disappearing act, which is pretty often! *Sigh*, doing the household chores yourself (and involving the whole family) is a good idea to stay fit. It kills two birds with one stone. Not only does one gets a spotlessly clean home but a lot of calories are burnt too. And as shown in the video, loading the playlist to some peppy music and dancing while doing the chores is a lot of fun. This ‘mundane chores’ workout can be made more exciting, by doing squats or sit-ups, push-ups, or crunches whenever a new song starts playing! Cool, isn’t it?!

Of course, complementing the daily workouts with healthier cooking and eating habits has an overall positive impact on life. So, we should opt for healthy food choices when planning and preparing meals.

The advertising campaign from Sunfeast Farmlite advocates the concept of health in a fun way through everyday regular tasks. Sunfeast Farmlite, is a healthy and tasty cookie available in two deliciously healthy variants – Oats & Almonds and Oats & Raisins.

It is said, if we enjoy what we do, we do it better. So if we can enjoy our fitness plan, we are more likely to stick to our commitment to stay healthy! Truly, staying healthy can be fun!

I am planning to include some fun activities in my quest to stay healthy. What about you?

This post is written for Indiblogger.in and Sunfeast Farmlite

Sorting Out Sid

Title: Sorting Out SidSOS
Author: Yashodhara Lal
Publisher: Harper Collins
ISBN: 978-93-5029-691-2
Number of Pages: 332
Price [INR] : 250
Genre: Fiction

Siddharth Agarwal a.k.a. Sid has it all a fifteen-year-long marriage, a bunch of devoted friends, and the chance to be the company’s youngest-ever VP, all at the age of thirty-six.

But, behind the scenes, his life is slowly falling apart, what with his marriage on the rocks, parents who treat him like a delinquent child, and overly-interfering, backstabbing friends. And that’s not even counting the manipulative HR vixen and the obnoxious boss he must tackle in office.

So, when lovely, spunky single mom Neha materializes in his life, she brings into it a ray of hope. But will she cause the brewing storm to finally erupt?

Who said it would be easy sorting out Sid?

I have read Yashodhara’s debut novel, Just Married, Please Excuse which is a hilarious account of life in the first few years of marriage. When I read about the launch of her second book, Sorting Out Sid, I was keen to read it too. I knew that it would be a delightful read.

Sorting Out Sid is  all about Sid and the people who have a role in his life… his wife, friends, boss, colleagues, parents. These are the people who force Sid to don various masks in his life –Sid@ Work, Party Sid, Sid Uncle- and behind all these masks, the real Sid is hidden and struggles to come out. Sid’s story is lifelike and realistic. We get to see the slice of everyday life in Sorting Out Sid… broken relationships, people stuck in career rut, friendships and misunderstandings, son-parent relationships, mother-daughter relationship. These are the people all around us who have their failings and imperfections. All these are packaged with the right emotions, sparks and undercurrents.

So does the depiction of different every day situations and next-door characters, read like a sad and a dull story? Far from it! Sorting Out Sid has large dollops of wit and humor along with satire that gives you a lot of laugh out loud moments, many smiles and quite a few chuckles. Weaving a story which addresses the serious issues of life but are masked behind the smiles and laughter, speaks a lot about Yashodhara’s skill as a writer.

In the storyline, there are a few loose-ends and a few twists seemed very rushed. While, all that is ok, what I really wished was to read more about Mandira. I wish her character was explored a bit more. One never gets to know things from her perspective. All one gets to see is the cold treatment or derisive remarks she makes at Sid. The story is all about their relationship which has gone sour, so much so that Sid thinks of ‘replacing her Colgate Toothpaste tube with a tube of Odomos’. But how did that happen? What made their marriage of 15 years (it was mentioned 10 years at another place) fall apart? And what efforts the husband-wife put in to make it work, is simply missing from the story.

Having said that, there isn’t a dull moment while reading Sorting Out Sid. A simple plot which keeps you smiling and laughing till the very end.

Sorting Out Sid is a light, funny, breezy read. A perfect read during a travel or a lazy weekend! Go for it!

Rating : 4/5

The review is part of IndiBlogger / HarperCollins Book Review initiative.

The Flavour I Caught : Jamaican Passion


Catch The Flavour!

This dates a few years ago. A friend V, husband KG and I went to a lounge bar for a party. We were meeting some more friends there and had reached the venue pretty early. In fact we were the only occupants in the lounge at that hour. We found a place with a nice view and got chatting.

The boys being boys, suddenly felt ‘thirsty’ and couldn’t wait to quench it in this beautiful oasis for parched throats. While they were discussing what should be ordered, the bartender joined us on our table and suggested that we play a game. We agreed readily, after all we were here to enjoy the evening!

He placed a dice in front of us and shared the rules with us, which were pretty simple. Each player rolls a dice in turn.  The first person to get a 6, names the drink. The second one to get a 6, drinks it. The third, pays for it! So, when V rolled the dice and got a 6 and it was his turn to order a drink for me, he studied the menu very seriously as he wanted a ‘simple’ drink for me (Men!!!!). His intensive 2 minute research resulted in him ordering a Passion Lemonade for me!L

The drinks arrived and we had our first sips, of course after the mandatory drinking toasts! You know, drinking without it is blasphemy! And 2 pairs of curious eyes (and one was concerned too) were focused on me to see my reaction to a new drink.

Since I didn’t know what to expect, I took the first sip gingerly. And it brought a sparkle to the eyes and a smile to the lips! The boys were intrigued by my facial feedback and immediately asked the bartender about the recipe for this cocktail.

We could see the pride in his eyes and he gladly shared it with us.

The recipe for  Passion Lemonade :

Add ice to a tall glass. Add Breezer – Jamaican Passion (275 ml). Add lemonade (30 ml). Dress with a lemon wedge.

And since then, I am a fan of Breezer – Jamaican Passion, though have tried all the other flavours too. And our mini Bar at home is testimony to that!

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If I were to look at why Jamaican Passion is THE flavour for me, I’d base my reaction on the 4Fs. These 4Fs define and bring to the fore the reasons that makes Jamaican Passion my drink of choice.

    • Fragrance : Smelling Breezer – Jamaican Passion gives a waft of sweet, fruity aroma on the nose with a hint of passion fruit. I always take a moment to savour it.
    • Flavour : After a sip of Breezer – Jamaican Passion, I get a crisp tingling tang with unmistakable coolness which is also reminiscent of a tropical drink.
    • Feel : Breezer – Jamaican Passion tantalizes the taste buds and leaves the palate tingling, much after the sip too! Oh! I love that tingling feeling!
    • Finish : The finish with Breezer – Jamaican Passion leaves a tingle which lingers for a while.

Breezer – Jamaican Passion is a refreshing drink with its distinctive aromatic flavour. I love it best when it is served really chilled. Breezer – Jamaican Passion is certainly a delectable drink that turns any occasion into a party.

Which is your favourite Breezer flavour?

This post is written for Indiblogger’s Catch the Flavour contest in association with “Breezer”.

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