Wednesday, 31 December 2014

My Resolution for 2015

So, it's the last day of 2014 and I just remembered I still haven't told you all my resolution for the new year. I have decided that in 2015, I will reignite my passion for travel and put a new life into my travel articles.

This year I wrote on and off. I did go to a lot of places, but I was either too lazy or too tired or just did not have the time to write about my trips. I have planned to block some hours every week in my schedule to fit in exciting travel posts on my travel blog. I want to bring back my passion of travel writing and also do it on the go. I have always wanted to blog while I'm on the train or in a hotel, but I only managed that once this year. I can't blog in transit because I either find the internet too slow or the touchscreen of my cellphone too small and inconvenient.

They say it's easier to keep your resolution if you have a companion nudging you towards your goal. I've screened most of the people I know, and they just don't seem to fit the bill. So, I have turned my attention towards gadgets. And I just may have found my travel companion! :-) Any guesses? Well... here it is:-

The Micromax Canvas Tab P666 with Intel Inside will be the perfect friend on all my solo trips. Thanks to its lightning fast interface, I will no longer have to wait umpteen seconds for every new article-draft to be saved. Afterall, it comes with Android Kitkat 4.4.2!

I like to look stylish for all the pictures that will find their way on my blog. Good thing, the tab has a smooth glass finish and a sleek design. Talking about pictures, I almost forgot how I love to capture all my travel-memories in pictures! The 5MP rear camera will work just fine and the 2MP front camera will get me awesome travel-selfies! And, while I take pictures, I shall also like to record a couple of videos for my new video blog on Youtube. The Canvas Tab's 1080p HD video playback and recording is just what I will need!

Every story I experience must be written. Next year, I will make sure I blog instantly to capture every moment in as much detail as I can. Writing about past trips hogs a lot of brain power and I fail to remember vital facts at times. This tablet's 3G connectivity will make sure I'm always ready to blog!

Finally, my resolution can only sustain if I have the energy to travel, write, and repeat! With my 24*7 commuting schedules, I will really need a co-traveller that can last long. Micromax Canvas Tab P666 has 4400mAh battery, 6h browsing time, 15 hours of talktime and 325 hours of standby time. Need I say more? Let's all hope I'm able to keep this resolution in 2015!

Happy New Year to all!!! :-) Keep reading and stay happy!

Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Jignesh Swallows his Pride

Mandira crept out of the tent she had made out of 2 umbrellas drying in the drawing room. "Papa! Papa!" The toddler scurried to her father and clung to his feet. He was early that evening, and was delighted to find his little daughter awake. He plucked her off his leg and planted a kiss on her forehead. As soon as Mandira held her dad's cheeks to kiss him, she recoiled.

Jignesh put his daughter on the sofa and examined his beard. It had become quite sharp. No wonder his only daughter refused to kiss him! But he was a proud Gujju! He would never get rid of his beard or moustache. They were symbols of power and confidence. He looked again at his daughter. Mandira was his dream. She was a blessing that brought him joy every day. And nothing mattered more than his daughter's wish.

Jignesh immediately headed to his bathroom and shaved off his beard. He let the moustache be. His wife called out to him for dinner. He sat down at the table and broke the thepla to satiate his hunger. Right then, Mandira came crawling up to him and tugged at his trousers. Jignesh lifted her with his free hand and asked, "What is it, my little girl?" Mandira immediately kissed her daddy dearest on the clean shaven cheeks and said, ""Good night, Papa!".

That night, Jignesh decided to try and get home early on a regular basis. He would wake up early if there was more work. But he would not let all the precious time fly. The precious time that he could spend with his daughter. Mandira would grow up one day and not want to spend as much time with family. She would be closer to her friends, and then to her boyfriend. It won't be long before she would want to move out. Jignesh would make the most of these years when his daughter truly had the time for him. He would make time for her.

This post is part of the #WillYouShave activity at BlogAdda in association with Gillette.

The Interview

Disclaimer: This post is not about the controversial movie of the same name. ;-)

Raj was a tall and confident young man from the graduating class of 2013. He was the captain of the varsity football team and a fairly bright student. He skimmed through his resume for the umpteenth time as he waited his turn outside the interview room.

Raj was interviewing for a boutique investment firm. He had thoroughly researched the company and prepared well for the interview. He had spent months keeping himself abreast of the current affairs in economics. He quite adored the world of finance and loved to read about new theories that were disproved by still newer ones. He looked dapper in his crisp white shirt and stainless steel cufflinks which he had borrowed from his dad only for the big interview. His dark blazer rested folded on his left forearm as he was sweating from nervousness. He checked his shoes - perfectly polished. His father had told him how a man is often judged by his shoes. If that rule was anything to go by, a glance at Raj's shoes would give the impression of his belonging to royalty.

A volunteer from a junior year finally waved at Raj. That was his cue to enter the room. As if by a miracle, Raj lost his nervousness and confidently strode in. He greeted the panel with a practised smile. Once seated, Raj fluently answered all that they had to ask him. After almost an hour, when Raj walked out of the room, he was delighted. The decision would be announced the next day, but Raj was very happy with his performance. He immediately called up his father and said, "Papa, thank you so much! I cannot believe how brilliant I was at the interview. If you hadn't convinced me to shave the goatee that I always thought was cool, I'd probably have looked like those other guys in my class who seemed kind of unprofessional. If I get this job, you get the first treat!" Raj finished his message for the answering machine.

This post is part of the #WillYouShave activity at BlogAdda in association with Gillette.

Saturday, 27 December 2014

The Birthday Party

Last night, I was watching TV and I came across the latest Kinley TVC. It is about a girl who can't sleep without telling her parents the truth about her whereabouts. Take a look:-

This reminded me of how cowardly I actually am. I have lied a hundred times, and blatantly in many occasions. However, I remember a few instances when I spoke the truth, and was proud of it. I will tell you one such story from last year.

It was sometime in early September when my friend (who was also my colleague) invited me to his birthday party. As was the norm, the party would start after 11:30pm and go on till the wee hours of the next day. I must tell you now that despite being in my early 20s, I stay with my parents and am bound by their rules and curfews. I was sure my parents would never allow me to stay at any party that late.

While I finished my dinner that night, I tried to come up with good excuses to leave the house. I felt guilty and uneasy all through the otherwise delicious meal. I finally put my fork down and asked my parents to mute the TV. I told them the truth in plain words, without lying about the time I would be back. I explained to them how all of my friends usually partied that way, and that there would be plenty of girls at the birthday boy's place. I waited with my heart in my mouth to hear what my parents would have to say to all of that.

All that my dad said was, "Take the keys when you leave. Don't wake us up in the middle of the night when you are back." And then he added, "Don't drink too much. You have office tomorrow morning!" My mom piped in, "Don't wear short clothes. It's cold outside." (I almost laughed at that. It's never cold in Mumbai, least of all in September. But I knew they'd never let me out in a skirt in the dead of the night.)

I smiled in delight. My parents were not so bad afterall. They really thought it was okay for me to leave after 11:30 and get home after 2am! True to my word, I wore chinos and a top. At 11:20, the birthday boy called me to say he was waiting in the car in front of my building. We drove to another friend's penthouse apartment and waited for the others to arrive. I was a little sad at that point as my truth was turning into a lie. I was the only girl in that flat full of 5 guys. I did not knowingly lie to my folks. The guys shared a couple of beer bottles among themselves as the man of the night poured me some some wine (he knew my taste ;-) ). A few minutes later, the girls arrived with the birthday cake. I was really happy to see them (for more reasons than one). And quite pleasantly, the women outnumbered the men in the flat. I had, after all, spoken the truth to my parents! I knew I would enjoy the rest of the night in peace.

After what was a lovely night of celebration and dancing, I finally decided to leave at about 3 in the morning (or night, depending on how to look at it). The birthday boy accompanied another girl and me to our residential complex. I was quite surprised to find an auto rickshaw at that unearthly hour (especially since most autos refuse to ply in broad daylight).

When I got home, it was past 3:15, and everyone was asleep. It didn't take me long to hit the bed as I was quite happily tired myself. Next morning, after oversleeping, when I finally got to the breakfast table, my mum asked me what time I had gotten back the previous night. I was honest again, and she did not mind. And this is how I started telling my parents the truth about late night parties. They have faith in me and know that I will take care of myself. And I, on my part, know I will do what is right, and deserve the trust they have in me. In my opinion, truth works best in the long run. Your parents may be worried or angry the first time, but they will come around and understand that social spheres work differently these days, and will respect your choices. Besides, honesty brings people closer.

Monday, 22 December 2014

The Luxe Café - A Site for the Elite

India is seeing a rare wave of consciousness course through the veins of its haut monde and upper middle class - that of luxury consciousness. And to give wings to this luxe awareness, Manisha Mayur Shekhar has launched The Luxe Café - a website dedicated to the pursuit of the high life.

The site has a fine collection of curated editorial pieces straight from the horse's mouth. The Luxe Café features advice from luxury experts such as Rosita Missoni and JJ Valaya. In fact, this e-platform is a JJ Valaya initiative. The hard work and experience of design specialists, writers and artists has given birth to this business-to-consumer podium. The site aims to reach not only the top tier metropolitan cities, but also tier-2 and 3 cities such as Nashik and Udaipur where fine living is on the rise.


"Luxury must be comfortable. Otherwise, it is not luxury."
- Coco Chanel

The Luxe Café brings you vital information about the ultimate comforts that your money can buy you, and shows you how to live la dolce vita, which not even money can show you. Take for example the guide to buying your first yacht or a glimpse into a superyacht. The site has an exclusive corner for aviation and boating. Opinions and tips are sourced from industry experts only. (Check this guide to owning a business jet.) For lovers of the fast lane, there is a section for luxe cars. The Luxe Café currently has handpicked articles on the Rolls Royce, Audi and Ferrari


Once you know how to get to a place (yacht, private jet or car), you must decide where you wish to go. To help you solve your dilemma, The Luxe Café has a tab committed to cater to your travel needs. It features destinations in both India and abroad. You may also access useful reviews of high end hotels for your vacation. From boutique hotels to luxury camping and living in houseboats - this site has something for every type of traveller.


One cannot visit a place without being appropriately dressed for it. This is why The Luxe Café has fashion advice to suit your elegant taste. You will learn about the latest trends in haute couture. There are suggestions to dress you from feet up. Articles on jootis and wedding trousseau to watches and jewellery grace the pages of this electronic guide.


A true purveyor of luxury never ignores her food. It must speak of her royal choices. The Luxe Café brings you wine pairing tips from sommeliers and shows you how to enjoy your bubbly. Tea, cupcakes or sushi - your taste buds will come alive at the vibrant pictures and descriptions of fine dining spreads.


Luxury is not a summation of discrete elements. It is a holistic experience and a permanent way of life. This young online magazine guides you on home decor and real estate, and brings you stories of celebrated personalities who have been living the sweet life. This entrepreneurial venture will catch the interest of both young and mature readers who appreciate the finer things in life.

Overall, the site has a neat layout and is easily navigable.The simplistic design of its pages reflects the thought that elegance lies in economy. For readers without the luxury of time, the editor's picks make for a quick read on the right hand panel. The Luxe Café has arrived at an opportune moment. India is embracing wealth and the style that comes with such splendour. Don't forget to visit the site -

Sunday, 21 December 2014

The Forbidden Fruit

"All is fair in love and war."

We have been hearing these words since school, but how true are they? Is everything actually fair in love? I think not. Love is one of those few emotions that makes you feel a million feelings but comes with even more restrictions.

"Do not meet him after dark."

"Don't lose your virginity before marriage."

"Don't talk to that guy."

These and many other sentences are hurled at young people who sense that love is in the air. And because "love" and "lust" are uncontrollable, the society exerts all control on "sex". I wonder what business the public has in matters so private. They have unspoken (and some explicitly writ) laws on matters concerning everything - from sexual orientation to sexuality to sexual intercourse. And more often than not, expressions of love and affection are forbidden... in public and otherwise.

Our Indian people can be quite hypocritical. They wish to uphold the ancient cultures and traditions on the one hand, but condemn the same practices in the daily lives of humans. Case in point: Kamasutra - the holy grail of sex, is considered sacred and regarded as the ultimate guide to sexual exploration. However, possessing sexually explicit books and other media is frowned upon. In fact, there have been cases of wrongful detention of people in possession of adult content. Or consider the temples of Khajuraho where sex is on display in 3-D. This temple complex is on the list of World Heritage Sites. In contrast, sex is a taboo topic in most of India - especially schools. School is where sex education should begin. Unfortunately, these classes are limited to discussions on health and nutrition. It is assumed that students will practice abstinence until they are married.

Premarital sex is a tricky topic and it is very hard to take sides. It is not all black and white but has many shades of grey that one has to take into consideration before pledging one's allegiance to  or condemning sex before marriage. If you ask me, I will say at first that sex is a personal decision. If you and your partner are ready for it, by all means, go ahead and "do it"! But then, my answer will change if you tell me you are only thirteen.

I don't think it is wise to become sexually active at an age when you cannot take decisions without your friend circle's approval. Sex is good. But it is even better when you are in control of what is happening. Young couples in junior high school may not have the same level of access to contraception as adults when they have sex. They are also unprepared for the consequences. The biggest risk that sex brings is sexually transmitted diseases and infections. And only barrier-methods of contraception can protect you from those. The next big risk is that of unplanned pregnancy. And even condoms can fail you in 4% of the cases.

Physical risks apart, there are a lot of emotional and psychological changes that sexual intimacy brings with it. Age and maturity play a significant role in how much you will enjoy sex (or be scarred by it). Sex, like all other things in life, is best initiated only if it is by desire and mutual consent. If there is any element of force (societal or domestic) or fear colouring the act, it weakens the soul.

That said, if I have to talk about premarital sex in the context of consenting adults who lead independent lives, I would say it is a necessity. We don't live in times when people marry by 18 or 21. Today, we put our careers and aspirations ahead of marriage. Most of us tie the knot when we are well in our 30s. We cannot ignore the fact that sex is also a primal need and cannot be shelved until our 30s. In such cases, it becomes impractical to stay celibate until we are married. Sexual urge reaches its peak when we are in our 20s. If sex is not enjoyed in the prime of our youth, it is a wasted opportunity. Our career choices demand that we have sex before marriage. The benefits of sex far outweigh the negative consequences of social glares.

The feel-good hormones (serotonin, dopamine and endorphins) often keep negative emotions in check and even cure the meanest of headaches. The calories burnt in a hot session of sex is similar to that expended in an hour-long cycle-ride. And if you try different positions every time you have sex, you end up exercising all your muscle groups. Much better than hitting the gym, don't you think? Sex also increases immunity and keeps that nasty cold away. But most importantly, it helps you bond better with your partner. Sex works best when you are in love with the person you sleep with.

It is not my place to comment on or advise people on their sexual preferences and choices. Each of us has her/his own reason for choosing to wait or give in to lust. But I personally feel premarital sex is the answer to the modern lifestyle choices that we make. Marriages in India require the consent of entire families, the feeding of entire villages and loans that can take a lifetime to repay. But making love only requires two consenting lovers and some privacy.


I love you
But I cannot sleep
With you or with my own belief. 

The neighbours
Will think ill of me.
If I lose my virginity.

So, we'll make do
With holding hands
And kissing at empty bus stands.

But how long
Will we keep this up?
Ask our beating hearts to shut up?

This hypocrisy
Must stop now!
Let's unite 'fore taking our marriage vow.

For another interesting take on love and sex, read Poonaam Uppal's True Love - A Mystical True Love Story.

Monday, 15 December 2014

The Road that Should be Taken

I read the paper this morning and I learn of yet another accident on the Mumbai-Pune highway. I turn a few pages and there's an article on how an underage driver rammed his car into a tree. By the time I read the last page, I have already read several stories of innocents dying due to the recklessness of one or more people on the road. The horrific accounts of motorists and pedestrians becoming victims of road accidents has compelled me to blog about the importance of road safety.

Today, I'm going to show you a road that you should be walking on. After deep deliberation with my parents, colleagues and friends over this matter, I have made a list of measures that would improve road safety by leaps and bounds in India. Many of these are inspired by the systems in place abroad. I have hand-picked those that I have found are simple but very effective in the long run. Here they are:-

1. Separate the main roads from the footpath and cycling lanes by a "green lane" of trees or bushes


Other than making our roads a lot greener and cleaner, this measure will keep the cars and trucks from injuring pedestrians. I have noticed that in majority of our residential areas, we don't even have footpaths, let alone cycling lanes or trees!

2. Let pedestrians have the right of way

I'm sure most of us haven't even heard of "the right of way"! Before the driving examiners finish each driving test, they should test whether the candidate knows about the pedestrian's right of way. Pedestrians could be gullible, they may break rules, but nothing gives a motorist the justification to ride a vehicle over them. Even if somebody crosses the road on the wrong traffic signal and avoids the zebra crossing, the cars and bikes must stop to let him/her cross. No appointment/movie/exam is more important than somebody's life! Always remember that you can make another appointment, book another ticket, take the exam later... but you can never get a lost life back.

3. Automate fine-collection from speeding vehicles


This one's straight out Dubai! My parents told me about this amazing system they have there - every road has a speed-detecting camera tracking the speed and registration numbers of each vehicle. Every time a vehicle breaches the speed limit, the fine is automatically collected from the credit card linked to the registration number. It will be expensive to implement this, but if done properly, this will deter all the rash drivers.

4. Make helmets mandatory for pillion riders also

If there is any law that I find incomplete, it is the one that only requires the biker to wear the helmet. The pillion rider is often ignored. Another thing people need to understand is that helmets are for their own protection, not for keeping them cool or their complexion un-tanned or their hair untouched. "It will ruin my hairdo" is a poor excuse to not wear a helmet. At the end of the day, it's a choice between losing your hairstyle and losing your life.

5. Overtake only from the right... and only after flashing an indication

The thing that scares me most about driving is being taken over from the left. I often wonder how some drivers get their licence. It's maddening enough to drive in the city traffic, but when an errant vehicle overtakes me from the left, I know my life is not in my hands but in the hands of a greater power. It is not wrong to overtake, but there is an etiquette. One must only overtake from the right and only after using the dipper twice to indicate the wish to overtake.

6. Wear the seat belt!


This golden rule is flouted so openly that even the fines that a traffic police collects does not deter people. Tragedies can be a lot under control if we all wear our seatbelts. The seat belt holds your body so firmly that it protects you from any unexpected jerk. Many parents in India carry their toddlers and babies on their laps when they travel in a car. This can be dangerous for both the kid and the parent. Every person (even babies) should have their own seat. Car Seats come for less than your smartphone, and is more precious. It is easier to buckle up a baby when you install a car seat.

7. Ditch the phone


It is a bad idea to answer calls while you drive. The call is not more important than the lives in your hands - yours, those of your passengers, and the pedestrians and other motorists. Even handsfree mode is not of much use as the interaction distracts your attention from the road. The best thing to do is to stop the car somewhere on the edge of the road and then take that call.

8. Don't drive when you are drunk


Nobody is asking you not to drink. Just do not drive when you have had alcohol. Take a cab back home. You can always collect your car when you are sober the next day. Many drunk drivers forget that when they drive in an inebriated state with reduced cognitive abilities, they play not only with their lives but also the lives of many innocents who perhaps always follow road-rules. Don't you think it's unfair for a law abiding person to die when the defaulter is the sole culprit?

9. Mind the gap

Indians are so pressed for space that they scramble to occupy every tiny inch of space available on the road. On my trips abroad, I have been impressed by the high levels of law enforcement and how the drivers respect those laws. There is always at least 3 feet gap between two vehicles. In India, I always feel claustrophobic when I see cars and autos fill every little gap around me. The fear aggravates when this happens on a slope. Not leaving 3 feet gap can dent the car waiting behind as there is always a lag in the transition between brake and accelerator, and this makes the vehicles slide backward.

The nine commandments above have a tenth partner - "do not honk unnecessarily". At times, Indian drivers honk more than they drive. Noise pollution apart, this incessant and mindless honking can actually intimidate people behind the wheel and cause them to make driving mistakes.


I hope the news I read will gradually change. I want to hear more stories of success, not sorrow. I recently read about the Nissan Safety Driving Forum. This is a wonderful initiative by Nissan to change the mindset of the masses. Since 2012, NSDF has been covering different cities across India and promoting safety driving. They conduct very immersive safety drives through interactive sessions, car crash simulations and even a 360 degree turn over! Don't miss their sessions in Kochi this December!

Sunday, 14 December 2014

How I Rose To The Occasion

I met a friend from school last evening, and she told me how amazed she was at all the things I've been doing lately. Her compliment made me reflect on my past, and I realized how far I've come today.

I used to be a bookworm who finished her homework or read novels during the sports period. I was terrible at running. To add to that, I had asthmatic bronchitis which did not allow me to do any strenuous activity for more than a few seconds. In fact, I would have to rest for some time after climbing a flight of stairs. I would be breathless after just a few metres of running. Such was my physical stamina and respiratory health!

Fast forward to 2014. Today, I'm one of the fastest women in my office and amongst my friend circles. I always keep an eye out for any long distance running event in my city. When I start, I hit the ground running... and finish with a sprint! This transformation did not happen by a miracle. I fought my fears and geared up to face the biggest thing that had always tormented me!

When I was in school, I was literally scared of asthma. I had had horrible sleepless nights when I would sit crouched and try to breath with a lot of difficulty. The inhaler was my 24*7 companion. I would shudder at the images of marathoners striding across tarred roads. But I told myself one day, "I have to conquer this disease!"

When I reached 12th class, I started walking daily in the mornings. That served my lungs very well. The fresh oxygen of the mornings was free of vehicle exhaust. I realized I actually loved brisk walking! In a few months, I would break into a run after a few miles of walking. When other walkers at the park asked me why I ran, I'd tell them I was preparing for a marathon. I never actually registered for any marathon. But deep down in my heart, I knew I would someday.

I ran my first long distance run at Pinkathon 2013. I only ran 3k which can hardly be called long distance. But that was the first step. There was no looking back! I gradually ran 7k, then 10k and 10.5k. You will be startled to learn that I am writing this post right after returning from a 10k run at the Pinkathon 2014. I have run in winters and also in the summer when the sun was burning my back. I have run on flat, tarred roads, and also in the middle of a forest with rocks and mud for a road. I have run with the rain pouring down on me and with dogs chasing after me. And from 2015, I will be running half marathons for the first time in my life!

My journey will never be over. My goals keep increasing as I reach each of the ones I've set for me. I dream of running the full marathon, then ultra marathons, and perhaps a 100k run someday. I also yearn to participate in triathlons - the ultimate test of a complete athlete! It's okay to be scared. It's okay to have fears. But it's not okay to give up. For only when we try do we taste success! Let's draw some inspiration from these three adventure enthusiasts in this video:-

Friday, 12 December 2014

Hygiene Should be in Our Genes

Charity begins at home. So do many other things. Good sanitary practices and hygiene are a couple of those. I don't want to sound like a school teacher giving her kids a long and boring lecture, so I will tell you a story instead. Are you ready?

This is the story of Shammi. Shammi is a college going boy who has his exams in a couple of weeks. He lives in a shanty with thirty other families, but they all have just one toilet in their locality. To avoid being late to his classes, Shammi usually decides to defecate and urinate at the nearby dumpyard. "This is a dumpyard and all of my waste will be treated or decomposed anyway!" he thinks to himself. Some flies buzz about Shammi as he does his business. But Shammi decides to ignore those as he imagines he is probably immune now that he is nineteen.

He leaves for his college on a local train. As he stands near the door to avoid the smelly armpits of the men inside the coach, he witnesses scores of people defecating out in the open along the railway tracks. Shammi can't help but wonder which smell is worse. He has no escape from his predicament until he reaches his station. When he walks towards his college, he sees again a string of kids squatting on the service road (which has now become an open toilet). Shammi's days are so tiring that the stench of poor sanitation magnifies it tenfolds. He sulks when he gets back home. His mother lovingly strokes his hair and shrieks in alarm, "Son, you are burning! Let me get the thermometer."

Now, we can only hope Shammi has not caught something terrible, such as malaria or dengue. What does this story tell us? And more importantly, how many of us can identify with the protagonist?  Don't we all see poor hygiene when we commute across the city? What do you do then? Do you only retch at the sight and click your tongue at the sorry state of affairs? Or do you actually put your foot forward and do something about this situation?

I, for one, cannot be a silent spectator or a fierce commentator who refuses to lift a finger otherwise. So, earlier this year, I joined hands with Milaap to fundraise for building toilets across rural Tamil Nadu. My first campaign ( received a good amount of support from my friends and colleagues, and we were able to cross the fundraising goal well before the deadline. I did not just create a page and forget about it. I would actively ping and persuade people to loosen their purse-strings a little to contribute to my cause. To raise awareness, I participated in the Mumbai Monsoon Marathon and ran in the 10.5k category.

The experience was so rewarding that I decided to fundraise for my birthday ( also! My birthday is over, but my spirit isn't. I continue to run and raise awareness of the need for safe sanitation, especially for women. And I am delighted to see so many leaders and brands take this issue seriously. Dettol's Banega Swachh India initiative makes me very happy for the way it is tackling the cause (of hygiene) across India. The campaign aims to build toilets in areas with poor sanitation, and it is taking on one town at a time. The publicity around handfies and washing hands is another interesting way to make cleanliness a "cool" thing!

Cool quotient apart, India is in dire need of proper sanitation. Not only for public health, but also for public "wealth"! Lack of safe sanitation can be economically disastrous for our country. The statistics below indicate that India risks losing upwards of $50 billion if it fails to improve the sanitary health and practices of its people.


Honestly, we shouldn't need a genie to tell us how important hygiene is. It should be in our genes! Come, let's wash our hands off health and economic troubles as we promote this cause across villages, towns and cities!

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Let Us End Classroom Hunger!

You are probably reading this as you munch on your ninth snack for the day. Have you ever given a thought to our not-so-fortunate brethren who go without 3 basic meals on a daily basis? The last time I checked the official stats, I found out that about 60% of India is below the poverty line. And may I remind you how low the poverty line is?

It is heartening to see what Akshay Patra and Blogadda are doing together. They have joined hands to feed as many kids for a year as we blog! So, I'm going to put in my blogpost tonight and pray this article feeds a young soul for the rest of her/his life.

Not all of us may be in a position to contribute financially, but there are many other ways to ensure every kid goes to bed on a full stomach. Here are my ideas:-

  1. If you have excess food that you know nobody has the capacity to eat, share it with school kids. You can be a tiffin-Santa and cater to lesser privileged children who do not bring their own meal at school.
  2. Contribute to midday meal programs. You can't always sit back and complain about the poor nutrition that the subsidized school-meals sometimes provide. Step out and help the authorities plan a wholesome meal. Contribute towards a portion of the meal.
  3. When you go out to picnic, share your food with those little, hungry children who only get food if their parents manage to make enough money for the day.

Food is a major expense for daily-wage earners. And in India, we are unfortunate to have the highest inflation in dietary consumables. This makes it very difficult for many to afford their daily bread (or roti?), even for their kids.

Food is also an important reason why many villagers send their kids (especially daughters) to schools. They know their children will get atleast one good meal a day, regardless of the knowedge they gain there. A full stomach also ensures the kids are alert at school. This automatically improves the literacy rate of the country and brings down cases of school dropouts.

This video below shows what a child should not have to go through for food. Let our kids be kids. Let us feed their hunger!

I am going to #BlogToFeedAChild with Akshaya Patra and BlogAdda.

Monday, 1 December 2014

Stubble Trouble

This is the story of my boyfriend. To preserve his privacy (I doubt we can do that now :-P ), let's call him HairyHunk. HairyHunk was a very jolly man. He would hum as he went about his work through the day. He was quite a hardworking fellow! He would stay till late at work and grab quite a lot of awards for his intelligence. He was also a fine cook! He would whip up pancakes and pakoras with ease. He was quite the go-to person for his friends, and they always crashed at his place to recover from hangovers and breakups. His talents knew no bounds - he could paint like Picasso, sing like Stevie Wonder, and dance like Deva (Prabhu Deva). But his girlfriend was still not impressed.

Picture Courtesy

HairyHunk wondered where he went wrong. He would sing mellifluous melodies, dance her to dinners, and bake her delicious delicacies. But his girlfriend wouldn't budge. And then, one fine day, when we was checking himself in the mirror, he admired his manly beard and smoothened his maharaja-moustache. He remembered suddenly that his girlfriend had once mentioned - "Oww! Your pointy beard! It's pricking my soft cheeks." HairyHunk then thought, 

"Oh! So, that is why she never kisses me,
But licks the curry off her dish;
She twirls to Latin music,
But gives my face a miss.

She adores all of my paintings,
But never puts her hand on my cheeks;
She taps her feet to my music,
But hasn't stayed over for weeks!

Picture Courtesy

As HairyHunk stood there admiring his facial hair one last time, he decided it was time to bite the bullet and took his shaving foam out. He squirted some on his shaving brush and lathered it on his chin.

He took out his shiny new razor -
Gillette Mach 3,
And got down to business till
His face was hair-free.

He patted some aftershave lotion
After he had rinsed his face.
He looked at his reflection in wonder -
He now had so much more grace!

Picture Courtesy

HairyHunk was hairy no more,
But only a hunk from now!
He took his girlfriend on a date,
And all she said was "WOW!!!"

She immediately grabbed him by the face
And smooched him in the lift.
He could not contain his joy further.
He had finally received his gift!

This post is part of the #WillYouShave activity at BlogAdda in association with Gillette.

I now nominate my friends Purujeet and Amrita to take the #WillYouShave challenge and blog about their experiences.