Friday, March 6, 2015

Holi Hai!

Holi day - Morning

We usually get up early. You know, because who starts to play Holi in the afternoon? You just have to start by 10. So we get up and grab something to eat which would give us instant energy. The rest of your calories you can get from ghujiyas, samosas and kachoris that you will be served all day!

Holi day - Mid Morning

We go in the wash room and apply oil in every part of the body so that the color comes out fast. I don't know the logic behind it. And frankly, I have never played Holi without applying oil, so I don't know if it is just an illogical tradition or it really works.

But festivals are about traditions. Some of them you follow without questioning. Just like eating ghujiya on Holi and no other day! Anyway, we then wear old clothes and basically get ready for the day.

Holi day - Late morning

We play songs, the Holi songs in particular. The same Rang Barse sounds totally boring on any other day. But on Holi, Ang se Ang Lagana is not cheap. I, for one, put on loud music as soon as I get up. My favorite is the Anu Malik number - Do me a favour, let's play holiiiii!! LOL!

We start with putting color on our close family members - parents, siblings, spouse, kids.. and then the party begins.

Holi day - Early afternoon

Me and the Boy, we have lived in the Middle East for 6 years now. Ever since we have been playing Holi here. Thankfully we have a building which is not particularly rigid about rules. So they give us a permission to mess up their pool side. Every year, some 20 of us gather at the same spot and play Holi like jokers. I am telling you, even my family members back in India don't play the kind of Holi we do.

Apart from the regular gulal, someone sneaks in some eggs and tomatoes. Someone would be nasty enough to get pakka colour from India. This year, however, we were saved from eggs and tomatoes because we told people that the manager of the building will not let us play next year if we make that mess again. Somehow it worked!

Holi day - Late Afternoon

Your patience is tested. You go in the bathroom and scrub yourself for hours only to look like a clean monkey. The bathroom is dirty. Your clothes need to be washed before you give them away. And well, you are dead tired. All that scrubbing and hot water makes you feel very, very sleepy. Not to forget, that thandai you had while playing Holi starts to show its true colours!

Anyway, I don't mind all this. Holi is one festival that I totally love. It really does make you forget everything in the world. I had a terrible pain since the last two days. So much so, that I could not even walk around for long. But this Holi, my pain has vanished!! You shed inhibitions and just go for things. You eat, drink, dance, and paint each other red, blue and green. Sometimes I don't even know the person I am putting colour on. But this is what Holi is, it lets you make friends easily.

Everyone should celebrate this festival. It really is a day when you can forget all past hate and renew your relationship. Here is a snapshot from our day. Be scared!

Dimple Chin, Rosy Lips!

The following post is written for a promotional activity for Pampers.

Babies are the cutest. When they smile, you forget everything in the world. It’s clich├ęd, but it’s true. Haven’t you tried for yourself – whenever you are near a baby, you try your best to make her/him happy. And God forbid if he starts to cry, you just try to find the mommy so that you can hand the baby over to her.

So what are the things that can make a little one giggle and show their innocence? For starters -  a peek-a-boo session. I think all babies are born with a liking to peek-a-boo. No matter who, a sure way to make a baby happy is peek-a-boo! We’ve all done it – from behind the curtain, from under a blanket, from behind a door, you name it. No matter how many times you repeat the same thing, a baby doesn’t stop laughing. Even when he gets tired he puts on his fake smile and makes you happy!

Sometimes I feel babies laugh just to make the adult stop acting like a joker! Like when we do that sneezing action – I really don’t understand what it is in that jerky motion that makes a toddler laugh. Even when we laugh out loud they think something is funny and so they should laugh along. If a kid could think at that age, I am sure he would think we are crazy! And oh, playing with the baby like a ball - I’ve seen babies roll with laughter when an adult takes one in his hands and makes him fly like a ball and catch him back. Frankly it makes my heart skip a beat, but somehow babies seem to enjoy it.

Babies find happiness in little things as well. When we put them in a bucket full of water, I think they can play there for hours. Or, when you give them a rattle. When they are tiny, even switching on the fan helps. I’ve seen that most kids get bored with their own toys. For them, the ultimate playground is the kitchen and the best toys are the utensils in the lower draws! They are even born with an OCD – haven’t you seen babies running around with a dusting cloth in their hands and cleaning everything in sight? I am sure you’ve snatched a broom from them as well!

But nothing makes a baby more happy than a good meal, a good-night’s sleep, and a clean, dry back side. After all, those are the only things babies do till a particular age. And they do need that to be perfect! Only when a baby is well-fed, well slept and absolutely dry can he enjoy the fun activities mentioned above.

Do you know of any other quirky things that make your baby happy?

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Acts of Kindness,Hope for the future

Everyday we hear stories of pessimism, hate, regret, and general gloom. Our newspapers are filled with stories that make us look like a world full of negative people. Stories revolve around terrorism, rape, theft, bribery and the works.  Basically, we dig such stories. No one wants to hear happy tales. People take joy in someone else’s sorrow.

In such times when you hear stories of compassion, your heart fills with optimism. You realise that the world is not all that bad. You realise that it is only a fraction of people who make this world stink. There are a billion others who are trying to make this world a special, wonderful place. These are the people who give you hope for a brighter tomorrow. I know of several such people, trying to spread joy.

One of my aunts comes from a modest family. The husband works hard to make ends meet. They have saved hard earned money to educate their two sons. Only recently I came to know that no matter what, they give 10% of their annual household income to the needy. When I got to know about this gesture, I was filled with pride. And hope. How often do we come to know what is going on inside a person’s house?

I was browsing through my social media website recently. An Arabic woman had posted a video. In that clip, she was giving presents to her maid. The maid had no idea what the lady had got for her. She was literally howling with joy. Frankly, we just hear stories of how Arabic households exploit their help. This was indeed a ray of sunshine.

I know of a charitable organization that takes care of young boys who are abandoned by their parents. This place takes only 1 re. per day from anyone who wants to give. You give just 365 Rs. in a year, and they care of the rest. Thousands of people have joined hands with this organisation which is doing a really good job in bringing up these boys.  It was started by someone I know. There are people who sacrifice a big career to do something good for the world. Don’t they just inspire you to do the same?

I keep coming across random acts of kindness. I’ve seen my mother give her savings to anyone who needs it. The help in my house has bought everything from land to fridge to a gold chain by borrowing money from her. Sometimes, when she doesn’t need the money, she doesn't take the money back. I’ve learnt the same from her and so, I keep giving whenever I can.

These are stories selflessness. They fill you with hope for a brighter tomorrow. There is no better joy than giving someone else happiness. These are moments I look up to when I feel how terrible our world is.

Monday, March 2, 2015

The Weighting Game

I was an extremely happy person till about a couple of years back – exercise wise. I sat on my couch all day long doing things on the laptop. I made a couple of meals. I read. I wrote. Sometimes I went out. And then I went to the gym for like half an hour.

That was good. After I came back from the gym I hogged on food like an elephant. I thought my body will start sucking on muscles if I didn’t eat that much.

Then I read the bad news – after coming from the gym, you should eat only like half the calories you burn. What a bummer! I think I was eating about ..umm.. 4 times!

That was not it. The smart phone pedometer started the trend of 10,000 steps in a day. Since my phone was in one place all day, it showed close to a 100 steps in a day. I was walking only 1%!!!

But who walks 10,000 steps in a day? Really! Even if I walk 4 kms on the treadmill, which is a lot by the way, it is only around 5000 steps. The only days I walk 10,000 steps are when I am on a holiday in a European destination. And that is only because hiring a taxi is so expensive and to get other modes of public transport you do need to walk a bit.

All my notions about exercise and burning calories have changed drastically over the years. I don’t know what is right and what is wrong. There was a time when people said walking on the treadmill is good. Then when the elliptical came, they said treadmill causes joint pain and so we should use an indoor cycle or an elliptical for cardio.

Even Yoga has had its friends and foes. Some postures in Yoga cause back pain. So people with sensitive back like mine should take a lot of care while doing that. Certain breathing exercises in pranayama have repercussions on your ear and nose. Doing weights in the gym and using other machines can harm different parts of the body. Phew!! First you push yourself to exercise, and then you think of getting a trainer!

Someone rightly said, ‘Lose your weight, don’t lose your mind’. I lose my mind after every unsuccessful experiment. Then I get up and start again with another. That’s what I love about myself though.

Anyway, I’ve learnt two things from all this. One, some exercise is better than no exercise. So even if it is 5000 steps, it is better than a 100! And two, wrong exercise is better than no exercise – because you fall, you learn, you get up, and then you’re so proud of yourself!

So, how many steps did you take today? Tell, tell, and then drown yourself in a droplet of water. Or, whatever! 

Sunday, March 1, 2015

On The Road of Life

I started learning how to drive a car when I was 19. There was this school run by a family. They had cars with two sets of brake/clutch and accelerator – one was regular, the other was in front of the passenger seat.

This school got me a licence in the weirdest way. I was ecstatic. The day my classes ended, my driver came to pick me up. I sat on the driver’s seat and tried to work around the driving bit. I could do nothing!

So now I had a licence but couldn’t drive a normal vehicle with just one set of brake/clutch and accelerator. A few months later, we found this gentleman who came to our house and taught me how to drive in my own vehicle. Thanks to him, I was able to drive.

I was always a very darpok driver. The Boy was studying in my city, so it was me who took him around. He use to make fun of me when I use to let cycle and rikshawalas pass by me. I was sort of being considerate. You know, just because I was in a better mode of transport did not mean I ruled the road!

In a span of some 3-4 years, we had to change the clutch of the car 3 times. This was because I had difficulty in moving my foot from the clutch to the floor of the car. And so, I use to permanently keep my foot on the clutch. That’s when I realised how supportive my father was.

He never complained about taking the car to the garage every few months to change the clutch. I had weak muscles but that didn’t give me the privilege to ruin things often. But he never mentioned anything about it.

I was always afraid of driving on the road lest I would lose control but he was always confident that I would not have any problems. Thankfully, I never had an accident, except that one time.

I was driving to my MBA institute at 7 in the morning. The music was on and I was driving on an empty road. I am sure my speed wasn’t that much because I was always careful about that. As I was passing the Taj hotel in my city, someone from the other side of the road decided to take a right turn and enter the hotel gate without looking who was coming.

I tried my best to stop the car. But there was no time. I banged into the Indica cab’s left door. Even the road had my tire marks because the car screeched so badly.

A lot of people came down from the hotel to see what had happened. Thankfully, no one got hurt. My bumper was pushed back and that Indica’s left door was flattened. I locked my door and took a deep breath. Then I took out my phone and called my elder brother. I told him that there was a small accident and I wanted him to come.

The guard was sweet enough to tell me that everything is ok and I should go now. The cab driver was sort of hinting that it was my fault. I decided to stay in the car and say nothing.

Within a few minutes, my dad, my brother and a servant came to the spot. My father got pillows for me in the car!! My brother took my car home and dad dropped me to the college in his.

I broke down in front of my friends in the college. It wasn’t a bad situation, just that I was in shock. At around 11, we were having breakfast in the canteen. I received a call from my father. I thought I wouldn’t be allowed to drive for a long time now.

It was surprising to hear what he said next. He told me that the car was now in the garage and that it would be repaired soon. He said that I would be able to drive it again in max two days.

That made up for everything. I cannot forget my father’s words that day. He doesn’t say much, but his actions meant a lot. That day I became more confident and more self-reliant than ever.

Thank God for such fathers! 

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Buying a better car has never been so easy!

The following post is a part of Happy Hour campaign on Indiblogger sponsored by Quickr. Bloggers have to write on how to buy a better car using the Quikr website.

When our car becomes a few years older, we all wish to upgrade it with a better one. All of us do wish for a new one but sometimes our budget doesn’t permit us to do so. Not only that, sometimes it is more feasible to buy a second-hand car than a new one. One can find great deals and budget friendly options all around us.

Now instead of going to a car dealer in your neighbourhood, we now have the option of going online and choosing from a wide variety of cars. Quikr allows us to choose the brand, fuel type, and the locality you are looking in.

Not only this, you even have sub categories like sub-models, price range, year and color. You can look at ads posted by dealers or individuals, you can look at ads posted from the last 24 hrs to last 2 months, and you can look at pictures.

But that’s the easier part. After you’ve chosen your car online, you need to see if pictures and description actually match the real car. For that, first you can contact the person selling the car through online chat.
Quikr Nxt is an excellent platform from where potential buyers can contact sellers via the chat application. Buyers can ask all sort of questions from the seller before actually meeting him in person and seeing his car.

Usually a person who wants to buy a second-hand car would like to know the car’s accident history. He would also want to know the car’s mileage, if it has been maintained by authorised dealers or the local garage, how many people drove that car,and  if it is a very old car then does it have new tyres/brake pads/etc.

Once a potential buyer is satisfied with all the answers to his questions via chat, he can call up the person by finding his number through Quikr and get in touch. They can meet at a pre-decided venue and the potential buyer can look at the car by himself. They can go on a test drive and see if it actually meets the buyer’s requirements.

This is actually a very good way of communicating with the seller. It removes the hassle of calling up a hundred times or meeting in person more than a few times. It saves time for both the buyer and the seller. The buyer may have random questions in his mind all the time. He can just open the chat app and ask the seller directly without having to call him. Only when all his queries are answered that he can call up and fix a meeting.

I think buying a better car has never been so easy in our country - kudos to Quikr for bringing buyers and sellers together at such a user-friendly platform. 

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

The Days of our Lives

Every morning, I wake up around 6:15 in the morning to make breakfast for the Boy. I pack his lunch and a box of fruits. He likes to eat all kinds of things in the morning - except something that is easy to make. Like he despises cereals. But I'm not complaining.

I just love to pamper him and get pampered in return. I feel super guilty if I don't make a meal. He's okay with eating outside, but I'm not. Not on weekdays that is. Weekends are something I look forward to. We eat atleast 3 meals outside and that makes up for the week.

Our weekends are special. We laze around at home and watch a tv series or a movie. We go on long drives, from one end of the country to the other. We go for breakfast, coffee, lunch, dinner, drinks, brunch, everything. And we never plan. We kind of just get up one moment and go out the other. Sometimes we decide where we will go only once we sit in the car.

I love our time in restaurants/cafes. I don't know how, but we always have things to talk about. We've been together for 12 years now, and it is surprising that we still find things to discuss. And when we don't have anything, we play scrabble!

There will be times you will find us both glued to our screens trying to beat each other in a game. I love to make good words, and he, he just finds the scoring tiles and manages to fit his tiles in them. Sometimes he wins more than 3 games in a row. That's when it gets nasty. I beat him, bite him, and try everything in my control to just make him resign. But he doesn't.

We even play ball - you know, the catch catch kind. It's funny how we manage to keep the enthusiasm going.

It is in moments like these that I touch wood. Sometimes I feel if it is all too good to be true. I love him so much. And I feel so loved when he is around. I wait for him to kiss me in the morning before leaving for work. I wait to hug him when he comes back. When it is evening, and he is home, and if I have to go out at that time, I absolutely hate it.

It's a beautiful feeling - this love. You've got to feel it, dear reader. If you haven't felt it yet, find that someone. Don't just sit around waiting for it to happen. Go to a book club, go to a park, go online - just do it. You've got to make these days the days of your life.

P.S. I got all mushy after seeing this video. There is a little bit of me in this. There is a lot of him in this too. And I wish all of us find a piece of our story in this as well.