31 Dec 2012

New Beginning


 

Its new year..!! A time for new beginnings.. A time to be thankful for the good things that happened last year, to be thankful for the bad experiences which taught us valuable lessons.. A time to welcome a brand new year..

Wishing you all a very happy 2013!! :)

19 Dec 2012

Wedding Woes

Up till now, marriage was a distant concept that I didn't really give much thought to. " Marriage is for grown ups, I am just a kid ",  was what I had in mind. After my college ended, slowly the concept of  marriage started looming large. There were news of my friends getting engaged and some batch mates marrying. I watched it with amazement. "Why are they marrying so early?", I often wondered.

Today, my close friend got married and I haven't really got over the shock. Of course I am really happy for her. She got a really great person as her husband and she is very happy. But the concept of my friend growing up and becoming a responsible wife, is scary. How is she bearing the stress of leaving her parents and going into a strange house, how is she going to adjust with the people there. I guess I am more tensed than her. Marriage, for me, is scary!More so because, " when are you planning to get married?", has become the new favorite question of people around me.


Wedding Woes


Most of the girls I know have taken to the idea of marriage like its the next most natural thing. They don't even question if its a necessity in life. They are the lucky ones who can be happy with the idea of marriage and a settled life. For the rest of us, marriage is not the next big thing. Some people might find it surprising to know that we girls do have dreams that do not involve husband and kids.

If you are in India and did not doz off for the last few years,  you would be familiar with the Indian marriage market. Every girl (and guy) is put up for a selling price that is directly proportional to the background of her family, her education and looks. I have friends whose sole purpose of earning a degree was to win a better groom and up their value in the marriage market. Some others were asked to take down their pictures from social networking sites (specially ones involving male friends) to project a clean image in front of the prospective groom. I even had a guy remark, " My brother's bride is a very good girl, she doesn't even have an fb account". What the hell? If you believe that having an fb account is a negative mark, then you ought to get your head examined, Mr.

Of late, the bar for marriageable age has come down significantly. Men and women marry young at an age when marriage is nothing but a fascinating concept. I remember an episode of a reality show involving mother-in-laws and daughter-in-laws where, a girl asked her husband's mother why she let her son marry at a young age of 22. Her concerns were genuine, the guy wasn't mature enough for marriage and it was the girl who had to bear the brunt.

When I was talking about my concerns of people marrying at a younger age, it was my cousin who enlightened me on the biological aspects of it. With changing times and changing lifestyles, the fertile period of a woman's life is coming down to a period between the age of  20-30. Beyond the age, child bearing becomes increasingly difficult and complicated. So, doctors recommend women to marry young.

Now the question arises, what should we give importance to, the biological aspects or the psychological ones. Should we marry young and immature for the sake of fertility concerns or should we take the risk and wait till we are ready for marriage. I will go with the second option any time.

As with most of the things, its a personal choice, whether to marry in early 20s or early 30s or whether to stay single forever. There is no right and wrong in marriageable age. The right age is when you are ready.

I have to say this on behalf of thousands of girls like me. Society, you can force us as much as you want. But we have dreams and aims and wide blue sky to soar. Prince charming can wait till we say we are ready. Because, we respect the institution of marriage so much that we are not taking  lifelong commitment in the rush of a moment.


3 Dec 2012

Questions and Answers


"Do you believe in love?"

I was startled by the question that was being posed.

"Yes, I do"

I didn't have to pause even for a second to answer the question. But in my heart I knew, I wasn't being 100% percent honest. It hurts to believe in love but it hurts even more not to believe in love. But at the moment, my intense philosophy wasn't what my friend needed. I gave the answer he needed to hear.

"How do you know when you meet the person for you?"

Next question was trickier.

"I wish I knew " was what I thought. But, I quoted what Paulo Coelho would say.

"By taking risks. By risking failure, disappointment, disillusion, but never ceasing in your search for Love. As long as you keep looking, you will triumph in the end."

Words are so much easier than the real thing. I don't even know if he believed me. But he had got an answer.

"If I had to choose between giving up on Love and trying once more to make her fall for me, what do you think I should choose?"

"Follow your heart. What do you really want to do?"

"The second option?"

"Good choice. Give love a second chance. It might not work out in the long run, but then you won't have to live with the regret of not having tried your best. "

Love is the weirdest thing in this world. Its simple yet so complicated. Who can know all the nuances of Love. Yet, I keep answering questions hiding the fact that I am as clueless as the questioner.

30 Oct 2012

Ways To Help Women Stay Safe

October is my second favourite month (December comes first by the way! ) and it also happens to be the 'Violence Against Women Awareness Month'. So, this post is about a rabid and disgusting disease that is plaguing India - violence against women, and on how to ensure our safety!  India has been crowned the worst place to be a woman (among G20 nations) and I'm not surprised. Everyday, newspapers bring news of women being molested in different parts of the country. And true to our motto of 'unity in diversity', women all over India are united in suffering from eve teasing and violent forms of sexual abuse.

Kerala is supposed to be a state of educated and socially aware and responsible people but we are not better off in providing safety and security to the women folk. Infact, Kerala has surprised everyone by topping the list as the state with the most number of crimes being reported against women. We try to convince ourselves by saying that its because the crimes get reported here unlike in other states. But no one can turn their heads to the fact that in Kerala, women are getting raped in trains, homes and workplaces. A few days back there was a shocking story of a sick, bed ridden mother and her daughter who were raped in broad day light by two men who broke into their house.

There is also another form of violence that often goes unreported - eve teasing. The word 'eve teasing' itself  is very misgiving. It sounds like some kind of mild amusement, which its not! Any form of abusive action committed against women which falls short of rape, comes under 'eve teasing'. Almost every girl I know have at least once witnessed or experienced some form of eve teasing. That is how rampant it is.

Talking about our problems and worrying is not gonna make much difference, its time to act.We cannot always expect the men folk to come to our aid. Understanding our weakness and overcoming it is what we have to do. So, I've made a list of things that women can do to ensure their safety at home and while outside.

1.  Be Vigilant
I know that sounds a little scary, but better safe than sorry. Especially when you are traveling alone, be aware of the people around you. And whenever possible tell your family and friends where you are going and when you are expected to return. Keep police control room number and the number of a friend or relative on speed dial.

2. Dress Appropriately
Remember, what might seem normal in certain circles of the society might be provocative in more conservative sections. Don't invite trouble by dressing inappropriately.

3. Appear Confident
Criminals tend to target scared and lost looking women. So, don't look lost, be confident.

4. Carry Sharp Objects
It is very good if you know some form of martial arts but not everyone has the time to learn it. So, Plan B is to make use of the things you carry with you. Small sharp objects can be a very good weapon. Drop a sharp pin or pen into your purse when you step out of home. It might come handy when you need to distract the assailant and escape.

5. Water Bottles, Umbrellas , Torches and Sprays
We all know of pepper spray and how it can be the single most effective tool in the arsenal of women. In case you can't get hold of one, use deodorant, hair spray or air freshener instead. They are all very effective. Carry them whenever possible.
You can slip in a water bottle, umbrella or if you are traveling at night, carry a torch. All these can be used to strike down your opponent.

6. At Home
Always lock the door properly and don't open it for strangers. Know your neighbors and maintain a good relation with them. If a mechanic or plumber is due to arrive, request a neighbor to be present at the time.

7. Trust your Instincts
Always trust your instincts and common sense. If you think something is not right, flee immediately.


Every woman has her own methods to ensure safety. So if you have any such methods, do share it.
Lets take our safety into our own hands!!




13 Oct 2012

Happy B'day To Me..!!

Today is my birthday! So yeyy..Hapy birthday to me! I've lived through 21 very beautiful years of life. And every single birthday was special. But this time around something has changed. The childish joy with which I waited for October 13, is no longer there. Maybe its because I've grown too much. ;) What is age but a mere number and birthday, a reminder that you are one step closer to death.. Very pessimistic,I know.

Wish I could freeze time, or better still, go back in time. I remember when I was a kid, all my friends wanted to grow up and go to college. But even then, I just wanted to remain a kid. Always playing, laughing, running to parents when something hurt, crying shamelessly, being silly, not trying hard to be politically right, not bogged down by responsibilities, not worrying incessantly about future.. I guess I knew then itself that life can't get any better.

But we still live with the hope that next year will be better and that better things are yet to come. Of course, lot of good things happened in my life. I can say with confidence that I have lived 21 years to the fullest. But I wish I din't mature this fast. I wish I could be that kid again without worrying about people staring at me and asking, "Are you crazy?". I wish people could all forget living right and live by their heart. I wish everyone could just go back to being kids in their heart.. I wish everyone could throw away the garb of false pretenses and twisted notions about right and wrong and just be themselves.

There is an interesting story about an African tribe that I heard from my friend. When a lady of the tribe gets pregnant, all the ladies go into deep forest and meditate.They meditate till the pregnant lady can tune herself to the heartbeat of her yet to be born child. Then as she listens, she can hear a song from the heart of the child. She sings the song and all the women sing along. That song becomes the song of the child. When the child grows up and commits any mistake, everyone in the tribe sit together and sing that song to him, to remind him who he really is. Isn't that beautiful? Isn't that the way we all should be? Connected to our hearts, always remembering our true selves?

So, here is my birthday wish,
Let everyone listen and understand the song of their heart and never loose themselves in the madness of this world! :)
 


8 Oct 2012

Date A Girl Who Reads

seongyosa . Interestingly, she herself had read it in coypatalagsa‘s blog. In short, this article has been going around a lot. Its not surprising that it gained so much popularity, just read it and you will see why. I really couldn't resist the temptation to re-blog it!!So, here it is..


Date a girl who reads. Date a girl who spends her money on books instead of clothes. She has problems with closet space because she has too many books. Date a girl who has a list of books she wants to read, who has had a library card since she was twelve.

Find a girl who reads. You’ll know that she does because she will always have an unread book in her bag. She’s the one lovingly looking over the shelves in the bookstore, the one who quietly cries out when she finds the book she wants. You see the weird chick sniffing the pages of an old book in a second-hand book shop? That’s the reader. They can never resist smelling the pages, especially when they are yellow.

She’s the girl reading while waiting in that coffee shop down the street. If you take a peek at her mug, the non-dairy creamier is floating on top because she’s kind of engrossed already. Lost in a world of the author’s making. Sit down. She might give you a glare, as most girls who read do not like to be interrupted.

Ask her if she likes the book. Buy her another cup of coffee.
Let her know what you really think of Murakami. See if she got through the first chapter of Fellowship. Understand that if she says she understood James Joyce’s Ulysses she’s just saying that to sound intelligent. Ask her if she loves Alice or she would like to be Alice.

It’s easy to date a girl who reads. Give her books for her birthday, for Christmas and for anniversaries. Give her the gift of words, in poetry, in song. Give her Neruda, Pound, Sexton, Cummings. Let her know that you understand that words are love. Understand that she knows the difference between books and reality but she’s going to try to make her life a little like her favorite book. It will never be your fault if she does.


Lie to her. If she understands syntax, she will understand your need to lie. Behind words are other things: motivation, value, nuance, dialogue. It will not be the end of the world.

Fail her. Because a girl who reads knows that failure always leads up to the climax. Because girls who understand that all things will come to end. That you can always write a sequel. That you can begin again and again and still be the hero. That life is meant to have a villain or two.
Why be frightened of everything that you are not? Girls who read understand that people, like characters, develop. Except in the Twilight series.

If you find a girl who reads, keep her close. When you find her up at 2 AM clutching a book to her chest and weeping, make her a cup of tea and hold her.You may lose her for a couple of hours but she will always come back to you. She’ll talk as if the characters in the book are real, because for a while, they always are.

You will propose on a hot air balloon. Or during a rock concert. Or very casually next time she’s sick. Over Skype.

You will smile so hard you will wonder why your heart hasn’t burst and bled out all over your chest yet. You will write the story of your lives, have kids with strange names and even stranger tastes. She will introduce your children to the Cat in the Hat and Aslan, maybe in the same day. You will walk the winters of your old age together and she will recite Keats under her breath while you shake the snow off your boots.
Date a girl who reads because you deserve it. You deserve a girl who can give you the most colorful life imaginable. If you can only give her monotony, and stale hours and half-baked proposals, then you’re better off alone. If you want the world and the worlds beyond it, date a girl who reads.

Or better yet, date a girl who writes.

4 Oct 2012

The Krishna Key



Book:    The Krishna Key
Author:  Aswin Sanghi
My rating: 3.5/5


I had heard about this anthropological thriller by Ashwin Sanghi long before BlogAdda put it up for reviewing. So when I got an opportunity to review it, I was really excited. I haven't read Ashwin's previous books,The Rozabal Line and Chanakya's Chant, so I din't really know what to expect. The Krishna Key is a result of the author's extensive research and references alone take up 11 pages of the book.  I really appreciate the author for all that research and hardwork, its simply mind bogging. As for the story, it has a story line clouded by facts, but still manages to keep you hooked.


Backdrop:
The story of Sri Krishna forms the backdrop. Intertwined with history and supported by archeological evidences and vedic literature, the book embarks on uncovering secrets hidden away for centuries.Was Krishna just a mythological character or is there more to him? Is it time for the prophesied next avatar of Krishna, Kalki? Was ancient Indian knowledge far more superior to our present day technologies? These are some of the questions which are posed in the book.


Plot:
The protogonist Ravi Mohan Saini is a historian accused of murdering his close friend and leading symbolist and linguist, Anil Varshney. Anil was on the verge of a path breaking historical discovery when he was gruesomely murdered in his bedroom. A special seal believed to be linked with Krishna's era, one of a set of four, is stolen from Anil's room. It is upon Saini to prove his innocence and solve the mystery behind the seals. With the help of his student Priya, Saini embarks on a journey tracing the paths of history, while staying clear of the cops behind him and outwitting others who are desperate to get hold of the seal.


Analysis:
Ashwin can aptly be called Dan Brown of India. The book will totally change our perspective on the puranas. Through simple and effective language, Ashwin manages to keep the readers hooked. But the author is so eager to list out all the fantastic historic proofs and conspiracy theories that he discovered during his research that, the plot slips away. This book is excellent as a documentary but doesn't impress as a fiction thriller.There are a lot of errors in the book and it could have gone through better proof reading. If you have an interest in the Vedic era, our mythologies and like a lot of facts and conspiracies, this book will be an engrossing read, go for it! If history and facts bore you to death, you might want to skip this book.


Summary:
A very well researched and well marketed book which could have turned out better with a stronger and more impressive story line.The author Ashwin Sanghi really deserves applause for his research! :)

This review is a part of the Book Review Program organised by BlogAdda.




17 Sep 2012

A Food Pilgrim's Trip to Melbourne

This post is a part of the Indiblogger 'It's your time to visit Melbourne NOW!' contest conducted in association with Tourism Victoria. Here I am blogging about the experiences I would like to bring back from Melbourne.

Think Melbourne and my mind conjures up pictures of food food and more food! Delicious, mind numbing and awe inspiring kind. I'm the kind of person who will transverse scorching desserts and wade through oceans in search of the rarest and most exquisite delicacies. In the foodie paradise called Melbourne, I wouldn't have to travel a lot for that perfect latte or a sensational Potted Pork. Every nook and cranny of Melbourne is brimming with amazing restaurants, cafes, bistros and bars. Melbourne is also a place where some of the greatest culinary experts and my food heroes cook to their heart's content.What wouldn't I give to step into George's (Chef George Calombaris) chic restaurant,'The Press Club' and taste his Granny's Baklava, to wander into the iconic Shannon Bennett's 'Vue de Monde' restaurant and savour art on plate or Gary Mehigan's 'Fenix and Maribyrong Boathouse'.

So with food on my mind, I would like to explore the streets of Melbourne. Some of my stops en route will be:


Street Art
 
Melbourne's streets reek with their passion for art. For an artist in Melbourne, their canvass is as
big as our neighborhood wall!!Known as one of the world's greatest street art capitals, the streets of Melbourne is lit in color by vibrant stencils, paste-ups and murals. Artists create their colorful masterpieces in approved outdoor locations throughout the city. The colorful and vibrant artistic splendor provides an urban touch which is a stark contrast to the overall chick and cosmopolitan look of the city. This very same fact, makes it hop to the top of my list.



Indian touch to Melbourne Street


Food + Architecture = Melbourne Arcades and Laneways

I have already established myself as a foodie but a lesser known passion of mine is architecture. Melbourne has ways to satiate my hunger for food and architecture. Each arcade and laneway of Melbourne has a personality and charm of its own. From Block Arcade’s Italian interior splendour to Melbourne’s oldest trading Royal Arcade, these historical icons will be a feast to any admirer of architecture. Every street here is like an unexplored territory. Walking through the lanes, we might stumble upon small, interesting shops with some amazing products! You can always find the perfect coffee or snack in the many cafes and eateries around. Munching on a freshly baked cookie, you can sit and enjoy the beauty of the laneways winding their way through the heart of this city!



A Melbourne lane


Eureka Skydeck 88

If you are looking for an out of the world experience, like me, you will appreciate this one. Eureka Skydeck 88 is the highest viewing platform in Southern Hemisphere.The switchable glass cube enclosing you will slide out from level 88 of Eureka Tower, giving you a terrific view of Melbourne. Now that's what I call, a room with a view!


Eureka Skydeck 88



State Library of Victoria

I have a thing for libraries. I just love looking at rows and rows of books. State Library of Victoria is not just another library. It is a Melbourne city landmark and cultural icon, a magnificent 19th-century building with some of the city’s most beautiful heritage interiors. It has an octagonal La Trobe Reading Room designed to hold over a million books and up to 500 readers. Its majestic domed ceiling, is an architectural delight. Yes, and it does have rows and rows of books amounting to over two million books, thousands of pictures, newspapers, maps, manuscripts, masses of audio, video and digital material –all reflecting the culture of Victoria over the past 150 years. The icing on the cake is the free exhibitions.



State Library of Victoria


Greek precinct 

So, I took a flight to Melbourne, but what if I landed in Greece instead? That is the feel that is promised when we step into Melbourne's Greek precinct!This is the perfect place for all my Grecian food fantasies. Lined with an array of restaurants and cafes the Lonsdale Street is a perfect destination for all the foodies. Among the innumerable Greek restaurants of the region, Stalactites restaurant is an essential stop for all. Winner of the Dine Out Award and Australian Achiever Awards for best Greek Restaurant,Stalactites's delicious menu includes mouth-watering dishes such as the famous Stalactites giros souvlaki, home made fresh dips, tasty grilled meats and rustic home style dishes from the Peloponnese region of Greece. And the latest Greek music is free with every meal! What more could one ask for!


Food at Stalactites


WineYards

This is yet another place I'm dieing to visit. Yarra Valley is famous for their wineries which produce some of the country's best cool-climate variety of wine. To enjoy the scenic beauty of the valley and sip a nice glass of wine while brewers explain the story of the exquisite drink is going to be a an amazing experience. Cellar wine tasting is offered in many of the wineries and you can dine on local produce at winery restaurants.I'm so looking forward to this one!



Interior of a winery


Queen Victoria Market

How will my trip be complete without shopping! Queen Victoria market is the right place to shop till you drop! Spread over 7 acres, this open air market has everything. Clothes, shoes, accessories, tiny curios to take back home and the most amazing food market! Melbournians always try to make use of local produce in their food.The shops reflect this attitude and are stocked with all sorts of fruits and vegetables, meat, poultry, seafood and some special delicacies. The market is famous for its special jam donuts sold in doughnut van. I would love to visit the food session and walk through aisles and aisles of fresh produce, feasting my eyes and tastebuds!



Farm fresh delicacies from Queen Victoria market


Hot air Balloon Ride  

No surprises there! Everyone visiting Melbourne will definitely find time for this one. Floating high above with the clouds, looking down at the beautiful Yarra valley and watching the sunrise.. I am already feeling all warm and fuzzy!! MUST SEE!! MUST SEE!!!

Balloon Ride at Sunrise


Great Ocean Road

Its time to soak in the natural beauty of Melbourne. Great Ocean Road is one of the world's most scenic roads which winds through the coast of Melbourne.The famous 12 Apostles, which is a huge rock stack formation rising from the Southern Ocean, is along this stretch. The beautiful beaches of the region brimms with a variety of recreational sports like fishing ,diving and surfing. But I have my eyes on the excellent restaurants and heritage hotels of the coastal region. There is nothing like fresh seafood. Combine it with a beautiful beach and warm and friendly people and there you have a magical concotion!
For all those Pirates of the Caribbean fans (like me), there is a real Shipwreck coast here! ;)


12 Apostles
Seafood Market


Melbourne Cricket Ground

My friends and family will be terribly dissapointed if I'm in Melbourne and don't visit the hallowed ground of MCG! How many times have we watched with bated breathe as Indian Cricket team took on Aussies at MCG! This stadium has witnessed the tears and victory dances of millions of Indians. I would like to pay homage to Indian Cricket by stepping into MCG and taking a few pics to show off back at home! :D



Melbourne Cricket Ground


And yes, I almost forgot to mention, I'll be skipping through the Melbourne attractions on a TRAM!! Wuhooo.. Isn't that awesome?? :D I'm all ready with my camera and backpack for a customized Melbourne experience and it's your time to visit Melbourne NOW!

There are umpteen places to visit in Melbourne and hand picking a few is a huge task.. To help you plan your very own Melbourne experience, visit www.visitmelbourne.com/in.


Image Courtesy :
http://whatkatieate.blogspot.in/2011/08/melbourne-report-and-a-little-hiatus.html
http://choieevon.blogspot.in/2010/12/hello-from-melbourne.html
Google Images




5 Aug 2012

Is Beauty an Excuse for Mutilation?

Last day during a casual talk with a friend, he mentioned his dog. He was telling me how smart and loyal his Rottwieler was and proceeded to show me a picture of the dog. My knowledge of dogs and their breeds is very limited but I found the picture of the dog a little weird. "Is there something wrong with his tail? It looks a bit weird", I enquired.
The answer he gave, shocked me.The dog had been docked when it was a puppy. Its tail was cut in order to make it look more appealing. When he had bought the puppy, its tail had already been docked and he even mentioned that he had never seen a Rottweiler with its full tail intact!

I was intrigued by the prospect of a tiny little puppy's tail being cut off.. Surely, there must be some other reason for docking other than the appearance factor??

I did a little research on Google and came to know that docking has been carried out for centuries. It was primarily done on hunting dogs to prevent tail injury.While running through thick vegetation and brambles, a dog's tail could easily get torn. A tail injury was extremly painful and difficult to treat, so they docked the end of their tails. Another reason was hygiene. Tails could get very dirty and cause infection inspite of regular grooming. Docking was also done to maintain the breed standards. But nowadays, docking is done mainly for cosmetic purposes.

There are two methods for docking a dog's tail. In the first method, an orthodontic band is placed over the end of puppies tail when they are very young. The blood supply to the tail is cut off and the end of its tail falls off within a few days. The second method is surgical removal of tails using scissors.

People who do docking claim that it is a painless procedure when it is done on a puppy. But researchers feel that docking can effect the balance and the ability of the dogs to communicate. A dog who can't wag its tail?? Isn't that horrible? Whatever excuse people give, it won't justify this inhuman act fueled by our aesthetic tastes.

Thankfully, Animal Welfare Board of India(AWBI) has banned docking and has instructed veterinary surgeons not to carry out docking of tail, cropping of ears and other cosmetic procedures. It is treated as an offense as per Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1960 and if found guilty, a person can be fined and sentenced to jail term of up to 2 years.

But as is often seen in our country, out of ignorance or out of disregard for the law, some people still carry out this procedure.
In case you find anyone still practicing this cruelty, inform AWBI and pet owners please do understand how cruel you are being to your pets. Say "NO" to docking and stop this mutilation.

Dedicated to my friend's Rottweiler, Rocky!!

26 Jul 2012

Best Way to Commit Suicide, Eat Shawarma from Kerala!!


You read it right, the Arabian delicacy has become a killer in Kerala. Though the unhygienic methods of preparing food items in the hotels isn't a big secret, officials got the wake up call only after a young man died from food poisoning. The 21 year old victim, a hotel management student had consumed shawarma from a hotel in Thiruvananthapuram on the way to Bangalore.Next day he fell ill and was later found dead. Two of his friends where hospitalised following severe food poisoning.

As customary, the incident caused a lot of stir in the media and among the people. The incident became the topic of discussions and debates. Everywhere in Kerala, startled people where seen discussing the matter in the, 'I knew this would happen one day' tone. My mom wasn't far behind. She gave me one hour lecture daily on my habbit of skipping meals at home and eating from outside. Anyway,  Food Safety Wing decided to take notice atlast and declared a one week ban on shawarma in Ernakulam District. A chain of frenzied raids began with Food Safety Officers marching into hotels all over Kerala.

The next shock wave came with the startling discovery made by the Food Safety Department. Many of the hotels were functioning under highly unhygienic conditions. In one of the hotels, there was a toilet right in the kitchen and the whole kitchen was stinking with the smell of latrine. Many of the kitchens where filthy and the food materials where stale. Coloured food grains, unwashed utensils, meat with worms in it, excessive use of tastemakers including aginomoto.. the list of things found out by the Officials is horrifyingly long. Many hotels where shut down and many more where given notice to improve their condition within 14 days. If you thought all this was happening only in the small and medium scale hotels, you are wrong. Stale food was found in many of the star hotels too. Ironically, the officer who conducted the raids in star hotels, was given transfer the very next day. So much for responsibility and honesty!

Several actions were taken by the Food Safety Department to curb this issue.The Food Safety Commissioner called in the hotel owners for a meeting (which turned out to be a shouting match) and reminded them that the deadline for restaurants to obtain licence under the Food Safety and Standard Act 2011 was nearing and that strict actions would be taken against those who fail to obtain licence by then..Authorities also warned people from eating street food and said that they will not allow Shawarma counters to sell food made in the open without any protective covering .

Things dint stop there. It was now turn of hoteliers to protest. The Hotel Owner's Association protested against the raids by shutting down all the hotels for one day.  The drama has ended for now.. Every one has gone back to their normal lives. The shawarma incident and the unhygienic condition of the hotels is slowly fading from the memory of people!Hope it doesn't fade away from the memory of the Officials. Routine checks by officials and enforcing the law strictly could have saved one life. At least from now on, I hope such incidents are prevented and that hotel owner's learn the seriousness of the issue and ensure that quality of food isn't compromised.

24 Jul 2012

My Most Memmorable Childhood Vacation


This is the first guest post here. Yeyy!! Cheers to Stephanie Fisher from Closet-13 for her beautiful post. This is written as a part of the Blog Swap organized by 20 Something Blogger. The topic was 'Childhood Summer Vacations' and you can read my post for it here.



Most of my childhood summer vacations were spent in cottages in the English countryside, however in 2003 we went to Spain for 2 weeks. I was so excited to be going abroad for the summer. We visited Costa Blanca, which is along the south east of the country.




We arrived at Alicante Airport and hired a car to take us to our villa (called Casa Nina) in Moraira. We were loaned a silver Renault Clio which was nice and small, but unfortunately wasn’t very reliable as it kept breaking down (we found out later that the heat was evaporating the petrol!) The weather was beautiful and the journey showed us some of the amazing views of Spain. We passed Benidorm, which was huge and very busy, and a giant black bull in the mountains along the roadside.


The villa was very nice. We had our own pool, a balcony and a sea view. It was wonderful to be able to walk to the beach, relax in the sun and go swimming whenever we wanted, however it was important that we stayed out of the mid-day sun so that we didn’t burn (as this is when the sun’s at it hottest), so when I wasn’t able to go outside, I would watch Spanish television or read a book. The beach and harbor were beautiful. The sea was crystal clear and a vibrant blue that glimmered next to the pure white sand

In the evenings we were able to walk around the area and explore the town, as it wasn’t too hot. The number of restaurants there were along the sea front astounded us. There was such a wide variety that we were able to have something different to eat every night, including pizza, Chinese food and even fish and chips. We eventually managed to find an English restaurant with air conditioning and we returned here every so often when we got too hot in our villa!
The nights were extremely hot and we were all unable to sleep. Apparently, the summer of 2003 was the hottest summer on record in Europe since at least 1540. We had heard that the temperature had reached
over 101oF/39oC in England and so it was even hotter for us in Spain! We had no air conditioning and there was not a single fan for sale in the country. Every single shop had sold out. So, most nights were spent, windows open, sitting in front of the freezer with cold drinks and ice cubes, trying to cool down.
One night we found a street market (we learned that most shops and markets open in the evening to avoid the heat of the daytime). It was filled with people selling handmade crafts and gorgeous materials. I bought all my friends handmade bracelets and bought myself a necklace. The most impressive display however, was a man who made and sold amazing pictures with spray paints. We had never seen anything like this before and were so fascinated by him that we watched him for hours until we decided to buy one. He finished each picture by ‘sealing’ it with heat, creating a giant flame with a lighter and an aerosol can.



It was a wonderful holiday and although at first I wanted to come home because it was so hot, by the end of the two weeks, I didn’t want to leave! I would definitely go back to the area again as it was a great experience.

TwentyTwenty

22 Jun 2012

A Week without Mom

No one would ever recommend me for the title of 'Best Daughter'. I was never the perfect, caring or considerate daughter. Lazy, good for nothing and selfish would be a better description for me. I used to snuggle up in front of the tv for endless hours while my mom cooked, cleaned and did all the household activities. Kitchen was not my area of interest. Cleaning was tiresome and I had no time for any of it as I had to study! I never had any shortage for excuses. But all my excuses couldn't save me on that fateful day. My grandmother was sick and hospitalised and Mom had to stay with her.

Being the eldest daughter of the house, I was put in charge. For a day or two I will have to cook breakfast, lunch and dinner. That sounds easy, I thought! It was easy, initially. Mom had made arrangements for everything. She cut up the vegetables, made dough and kept it all neatly in the fridge. I just had to put them all together and my Dad being the perfect Dad, was always there helping me. Two days went by and everything was fine. I made breakfast or if I was late, Dad made it. He and my sis would be off to work and school and I would make lunch, wash the dirty clothes and hang them in the line. Then I would relax in front of the tv or read something. In the afternoon I would pick the clothes, make tea and wait for everyone to come home. We would have tea, chat about the day's events and then I will be off to make dinner. We would merrily have dinner, clean and go to bed. Simple and perfect.


A week without Mom


But then my grandma's situation dint improve and Mom had to stay at the hospital longer than we expected. All the supplies that she had made and kept, had exhausted. Now I was on my own. I had to plan the three meals of the day, buy the ingredients, cut, chop, grind and make it.I would prepare and keep the things for breakfast ready, the previous night. Most of the days, Dad would make breakfast. I had to make lunch. What a tedious task it was. By the time I made lunch, it would be time for tea. Once tea was over, I had some time to relax before I had to start making dinner.I dint have time for anything else. Often I would skip lunch and concentrate on dinner. It dint help that I knew to make only a handful of things. I would be puffing and panting making something and when finally I present it to my sis, she would yell, "What? Again this same old thing? I don't wanna eat it!". My patience was being tested to its limits. I would glare at her controlling my urge to slap. Thank God for Maggie Noodles!All my health consciousness and diet management were thrown out of the window. Maggie was one thing that my sis would never say no to and it had become my new holy grail. By now, I had no time for washing clothes or cleaning house.Everything was in a mess. My temper was flying out of the window. To top it all, I caught a terrible cold. I thought I was gonna have a nervous breakdown. I just wanted to scream for Mom. Everyday I would pray hard for my Mom to come back and turn everything back to normal. After one long week she was back home. I was never this happy to see someone. I was crying in happiness at the sight of her.

I had learned my lesson! Mom is a miracle! Never ever under estimate her. I am still in awe of her. How the hell is she managing house and work so well? That too without complaining, even once?? I regret not having realized her importance earlier. But from now on I have decided to fully respect her and help her with all the work at home. One week without Mom was hell and it taught me a very important lesson- No one can ever ever replace the angel called MOM! She is simply the best!! :)


18 May 2012

Prayers that Inspire and Change You

Have you ever noticed the effect that your thoughts have on you? If you are always worried about getting sick, you eventually fall sick. If  you always think about being a strong willed person, you eventually become it. Many great people have talked about the effect that your thoughts have on you. As Vivekananda said, if you take up one thought, dream about it and think about all the time, it will become true. The power of the mind is unquestionable. So is the power of prayer done with complete faith.

Whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them and you will have them.
                                                                                                             Mark 11: 24

Whether you believe in God or not,you should believe in the power within and its ability to change us. Over the years I have come across a few prayers or wise words that really inspired me. I usually read them before bed and it has a very profound effect on me. I thought I'll share them with you guys. Read them slowly, taking time to understand their meaning and then think about it. It will definitely touch you.



1) Discourse on Good Will
                 -The Sutta Nipata

This is one of the most beautiful prayers I've ever come across. Every time I read it, it fills me with joy. Its taken from the Buddhist scripture and talks about loving everyone and everything around you.

May all beings be filled with joy and peace
May all beings everywhere,
The strong and the weak,
The great and the powerful,
The short and the long,
The subtle and the gross.


May all beings everywhere,
Seen and Unseen,
Dwelling far off or nearby,
Being or waiting to become,
May all be filled with lasting joy.


Let no one deceive another,
Let no one anywhere despise another,
Let no one out of anger or resentment,
Wish suffering on anyone at all.


Just as a mother with her own life
Protects her child, her only child, from harm,
So within yourself let grow
A boundless love for all creatures.

Let your love flow outward through the universe.
To its height, its depth, its broad extent,
A limitless love, without hatred or enmity.

Then as you stand or walk,
Sit or lie down,
As long as you are awake,
Strive for this with a one-pointed mind;
Your life will bring heaven to earth.

16 May 2012

Fun in the Sun!!


"California girls, we are unforgettable
Daisy dukes, bikinis on top
Sun-kissed skin, so hot
We'll melt your popsicle"


Fun in summer


Katy Perry's voice blared from the stereo system as we sped through NH17. Kyra was singing along drumming her fingers on the steering wheel. As usual Kyra looked great, in her mint green knee length strappy dress. I really envied her. How could she wear such clothes in summer and not worry about the sun? I looked down at my long sleeved shirt and long pants and wondered. Monica was slumped at the back seat, her head resting on a cushion and slighty bobbing to the rythm of the song.Her baggy jeans and tank top looked a bit oversize but that was her way of beating the heat. I looked at the map on my lap for one last time and folded it up. "We are on the right path, we should reach Goa in around two hours!" I declared. "Yeyy.. we are gonna have so much fun! The sun, the beach, the boys..wuhoo..here we come Goa" Kyra cooed excitedly. "Brrr.. don't remind me about the sun. I hate the sun. I don't know why I decided to come with you guys to Goa in this sweltering summer", Monica grunted." Come on Mon, I promise, you are gonna love it!" Kyra winked at me. "Ky, even I'm not comfortable with the 'sun' part! I wouldn't wanna have fun at the expense of getting a tan", I said. " Come on you two, don't be such spoil sports. Haven't you heard anything about using sunscreen?". " Oh yea, but sunscreens don't seem to work on my skin. I get tan even after applying them", Monica said. " I agree with Mon, even my sunscreen isn't really effective. It has this greasy texture and it is so heavy that it makes me look like a doll."I supported her. " Yea, exactly. Some of the sunscreens have this shine and after I apply them, I start looking like Edward Cullen in sunlight. All shiny shiny." Monica complained. We couldn't help smiling at her comment. "Choosing a good sunscreen is as important as using them. You have to consider a few factors while choosing one", Kyra said.

1) Sun Protection Factor (SPF) 
    Its the measure of effectiveness of a sunscreen against UV B rays of sun that cause sun burns and tan. The more the spf, the better the sunscreen. Indian skin requires an spf of 30 or above for effective protection.

2) PA
  It is the measure of effectiveness of sunscreen against the dangerous UV A rays that cause skin aging and cancer. Depending on the effectiveness, they are graded as PA, PA+, PA++,PA+++. The latter being the best. A sunscreen which provides protection against UVA and UVB rays is called a broad spectrum sunscreen. 

" Its also important to choose a sunscreen which suits your skin type and then applying them liberally on your skin about 20 minutes before going out in the sun. You also have to make sure that you reapply it after every two hours. " Kyra concluded. "Pheww.. it looks like a huge task selecting the right sunscreen." I exclaimed. "Nope. It’s not. I'll tell you the easiest way to choose the right sunscreen- use Lakme Sun Expert! It is a broad spectrum sunscreen with non greasy, non shiny formula that is light and easy to apply. Try it on and you are gonna enjoy summer like never before!!" 

Lakme Sun Expert Range
Lakme Sun Expert Range

Kyra was right. Lakme Sun expert changed our summer vacation to one long party in the sun. Now we could wear breezy, short dresses without second thoughts. We played around in the beach chasing each other, building sand castles and playing volleyball with hot foreigners ;) We swam in the sea for hours and bathed in the sun. Speed boat rides, jet skiing and endless hours of shopping in the chic Goan shops added to the fun. After every few hours, we would relax with a nice cold drink from the beach stands. We rented bicycles and drove them around the city, the breeze blowing our hair and sun kissing our skin. We drove to beautiful Goan churches and different beaches. At night, we would attend the night parties on the beach, dancing all night and having fun. The Goan food was mouth watering and the people bright and warm like their beaches. We laughed and played around meeting new people and having fun.The beaches even inspired me to start writing poetry, something I had long forgotten I could do. I jotted down a few lines and here it is
 
Out on the sunny beach
Amidst the playful crowd
Watching the waves kissing the shore
I lay down and watched the world.

Sea is blue, the sand pearly white
Sun is bright and is staring down
Swimming and splashing people are playing
A few are building castles on the shore

Tiny tots holding their parent’s hand
Chasing the waves lapping at their feet
The waves are big and surfers few
All around, people are laughing and having fun

Camera clicks and funny poses
Flying hair and the salty air
Bright bikinis and naked torsos
Cool cocktails and beach chairs

World is happy and sun is bright
Its fun in the sun, it’s the beach time!

 We left with the promise that we would be back next summer. Monica got a brand new tattoo on her hand in the memory of our summer fun - A shining sun! " I've changed my mind, I love the sun" Mon screamed as she brandished her new tattoo. We left the beaches with our skin beautiful and supple, the way it was. Thank you Lakme and thanks Kyra for the fabulous summer!! :)

( This article is written as a part of Lakme Diva blogger contest. For more details log on to http://www.facebook.com/ilovelakme  )

3 May 2012

Being Perpetually Happy

To be happy always, isn't that what everyone wants? Imagine if you could be perpetually happy.. life would be heaven. If there was some medicine for being happy, everyone would have bought a bottle. But unfortunately happiness is one thing that keeps eluding us. Of course not for all but that would be true for majority of us. Sitting at home practically doing nothing, I figured out a bit about happiness.

Being Happy@Mirror of Enlightenment


I have always thought that all I ever want to do is lie down on my sofa and watch TV all day long , read some good books in between and sleep sleep and sleep-my idea of a perfect happy life. And I got just that. I got to sit at home and watch tv for endless hours, got a few interesting books to read and I could just crawl under my blanket and sleep all day. But here is the surprising part - I hated it! Two days into my supposedly perfect happy life and I felt like I could smash the TV and get out. I thought I knew myself but I was wrong, I thought I knew exactly what I wanted, again I was wrong. I've got this feeling that life is all about figuring out yourself. You learn a lot on the way.. make a lot of mistake and when you think you have finally figured out yourself..BANG! life throws another surprise at you and you are stranded..confused..wondering who you really are.. the game of life! The first and the most important rule of this game is NEVER BE AFRAID TO MAKE MISTAKES! Everyone makes mistakes, truck loads of them. Making mistakes is ok, good in fact, but not learning from them is the big mistake. One of the most sensible things I've ever heard anyone say is not to take yourself seriously.

Being happy is theoretically very easy - Connect to your heart. Every time your brain and heart quarrels, let your heart win. Don't listen to anybody else but your heart. Dream, dream and dream and never be afraid to chase them to the end of the world. Don't worry about the people warning you against this and that. If you want to do it, you got to do it. When you start living by your heart, giving wings to your dreams and your passion, happiness follows. You might not always succeed, but the journey is way too better than the destination. Take your time and enjoy it. Happiness is in the small things of life. Being happy is a lifestyle that you have to commit to. It takes courage and faith. So that's why I have decided that my days as a couch potato has ended. I am gonna follow my heart religiously and right now it is pointing towards my kitchen. ;) I am gonna master the art of cooking. I don't care if I don't become the next master chef or if I don't succeed in baking a cake to perfection. The joy of taking time and perfectly cleaning fish is way way better than watching my favourite serial! Because that is what my heart wants! :)

1 May 2012

Sing You Home

'Sing You Home' is a beautiful book which addresses some serious moral issues. Contemporary fiction is my favourite genre. So I was delighted to get hold of this book by Judy Piccoult. Though I couldn't read the same author's ,'My Sister's Keeper',I have watched the blockbuster movie based on the story and I simply loved it. It was one of the most touching stories I have ever come across.

Sing You Home Review @ Mirror of Enlightenment


So, with a lot of expectation, I sat down with 'Sing You Home'. It revolves around a music therapist, Zoe. Zoe is married to Max, a landscaper. Max and Zoe have some fertility issues due to which Zoe is unable to conceive a child. In spite of undergoing several fertility treatments, she fails to give birth to a child and bears the history of two miscarriages and a still born baby. Zoe is desperate for a baby and is ready to go to any extend for it. But the long and tedious procedures and the emotional and financial strains involved with the process has drained out Max. He finds it unbearable to carry on his relationship with Zoe and files for a divorce. To overcome the pain of the divorce and birth of a stillborn, Zoe devotes herself completely to her career. Working with a suicidal student at the local school, she becomes close to the school councilor, Vanessa. The friendship between the two grows and blossoms into love. Zoe realises that it is Vanessa that she wants to be with forever and they get married. Zoe's desire for a child is rekindled when she realizes that there are three still frozen embryos from her marriage with Max stored away at the fertility clinic,which could be used by Vanessa to bear their child. Meanwhile Max has found redemption in an evangelic church and he is accepted into his rich and religious brother Reid's home. Max is happy and content living with his brother and sister-in-law and being the right wing man of Pastor Clive, a staunch opposer of homosexuals.Zoe approaches her fertility clinic with the request that the embryos be gestated on Vanessa. But she has to get permission from her ex-husband Max for using the embryos. So she approaches Max seeking his consent. Max who hadn't given much thought to the embryos is suddenly confused if letting his child grow with two moms is gonna be alright specially now that he believes homosexuality is a sin. Things get out of Max's hand when Pastor Clive finds him a lawyer who is also a homosexual hater to sue against Zoe and prevent her from having the embryos. Clive and his lawyer argues that allowing homosexuals to raise children will spell doom for traditional family system. Fight for the embryos take up an ugly form as media and church is dragged into the scene by Pastor Clive and his lawyer. Soon the court is thronged by media and people from church. Max is appalled by the turn of events and is torn between his desire to win the case and give the embryos to his brother and wife(who also suffer from fertility issues and haven't been able to conceive) and the knowledge that no one could ever want the embryos more than Zoe did. The nail biting climax ends in a series of unexpected events.

I found the tag line of the book, 'you can't choose who you love' very interesting. The whole story of Zoe can be summarised with the line. Being a homosexual isn't anyone's choice. As the author rightly points out, no one would choose it,knowing about all the hurdles that they will have to overcome just because of their sexual orientation. Judy has succeeded in conveying the pain and insecurities experienced by homosexuals in a society where they are seen as outcasts.The story is told through the eyes of the different characters and the plot is beautifully crafted. Life would have been easy if there was an absolute right and absolute wrong. But its rarely so.

I have always wondered how these writers can get into the shoes of other people and write it from their perspectives penning their emotions. Its easy to write an autobiographical work but its damn difficult to write about things that we are not so familiar with. I guess its all about understanding human emotions and minds and then doing lots and lots of research. I truly respect writers for this very reason.


7 Mar 2012

For Her

She is a Best Friend

 

She is a Charmer

 

She is Beautiful


She is a Mother

 

 She is a Fighter
 
 

She is a Hard worker
 
  

Every woman is a Princess

 

Dedicated to all the wonderful women who have blessed my life with thier presence..
To my ever so loving and caring mom.. 
To my stupid,irritating sister..
To my three best friends,, Rinku,Shradha,Emilin
To the teacher whom I respect above all.. Sheela Miss
To my mentor and philosopher.. Sindhu Miss
To my selfless friend..Amy
To my cousin who never ceases to amaze me..Anju chechi..
To the umpteen strong ladies I have always admired and loved..

International Women's Day 2012
 Connecting Girls, Inspiring Future



13 Feb 2012

Generosity Day!!

Wanna do something different this Valentine's day??


Join the MAD Rise Campaign and Celebrate V' day as GENEROSITY DAY!!

 One day of sharing love with everyone, of being generous to everyone, to see how it feels and to practice saying “Yes.” Let’s make the day about love, action and human connection





9 Feb 2012

Valentine's Day Bash..

Valentine's Day @ Mirror of Enlightenment

Feb 14 is fast approaching and so is the excitement surrounding the day. Lovers have already started making plans for the special day and those 'not so lucky singles' have either taken to fantasizing about a secret admirer or have decided to celebrate their single status. Whichever the category, everyone, even the people who call the day rubbish have started noticing a change in the atmosphere. Just look at the shops.. they are the first to get ready for any festivities.
During Onam, you can see the beautiful floral arrangements and pictures of 'maaveli' adorning the various shops.. Some even have these pot bellied, umbrella holding big guys waiting outside textile shops, ready to invite you in.
During Christmas, its colorful stars hanging in front of the shops that catch your attention. And of course Santa will be hanging around, entertaining the little visitors while their parents engage in Christmas shopping.

During Valentine's day, one shop everyone should make a point to visit is the gift shop. All the cute 'I Love You' teddies, heart pendants, heart clocks, picture frames, heart shaped squishy pillows.. these shops are filled with sooo many V day goodies that even people without any one special would start wishing for one. The magic of these shops.. Isn't it amazing how these people trick us into buying things that we never thought we would want? :D Sensible people have always argued that all this hype regarding valentine's day is nothing but a marketing trick of gift shops and greeting card industry. Why do we need a special day to celebrate love?? A very good point indeed. But does it matter if the card guys or the gift shop guys get some extra bucks by making us feel special and happy?? I wouldn't mind that! By spending money on gifts, cards or on setting up some gala party, if we can make someone feel special or if we get happiness out of it, I would call it money spend wisely.
Its the small things in life that make us happy.. and V day is a reminder of our love for each other. Sometimes in our busy lives, we forget to make the people we love, feel the intensity of our love  for them. Valentine's day is a day to remind them how much we love them and admire them. Its not a day for lovers alone.. its a day for friends, family..for everyone we love and hold closely to our heart. Its a celebration of warmth and love..a gentle reminder of everything that makes life worth living. Joy of giving is more pleasurable than joy of receiving. If a single rose can cheer up someone and make them feel special, why hold it back by slamming V day?? Laugh, love and live life without holding back your heart..