Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Every Girl Must Watch This!

I have hardly ever spoken about what I watch on TV. It is quite unfortunate now that I just don't have the luxury of time to watch my favourite shows, but there used to be one time when I would watch a lot of things on the telly....

As a kid, I grew up on American cartoons, series and sitcoms. In my teens, I was especially influenced by "Ginger", the lead character from "As Told by Ginger". That was a cartoon series on a pre-teen girl who would go through the usual rigmarole of having to deal with pre-teen-girl-problems such as keeping her friends happy, avoiding getting into the bad books of the popular girls, having crushes and getting guys to like her, having mixed feelings towards that guy-friend, the first kiss, puberty, make-up, shaving the hair off her legs, dressing well, keeping an annoying brother out of her way and having a love-hate relationship with her parents. Phew! That girl did have a lot on her plate. I completely loved her story! And I watched this during my formative years and most of my early teens. Here's the title track for you:-

This was the only cartoon series in which the characters would have their own wardrobes! They would change clothes every day and even repeat them! This was the most realistic cartoon show ever! I was terribly upset that it stopped running in India after a few years, perhaps because the average Indian cartoon-viewer preferred action-sequences and mystery. Back then, I did not have Tata Sky+ Transfer to rescue me from my situation. If I had had it then, I would have recorded every single episode so I could watch it anytime - even now. This amazing technology lets you carry your entertainment anywhere! I can now actually watch my favourite episodes up in the air when I'm flying on a long haul flight, or when I'm stuck in a slow moving traffic. I can watch it on a tab, a laptop or my phone - or good old TV!

"As Told by Ginger" is one show every growing girl must watch. It teaches one how to handle life and deal with being at the cusp of childhood and adolescence. It taught me to be a better teenager when I finally turned one. And it made me think through the consequences of my actions, so I rarely acted on an impulse. I hope it will teach you (or your daughter) a thing or two too!

Monday, 28 September 2015

My Home Needs a Makeover

I spend most of my waking hours in my office. Or if I can take some leaves, I whisk myself off to some beautiful far off location for a quick vacay. On those weekends that I am not travelling, I find it utterly boring to stay in. So, I step out for lunches and dinners and shopping trips with friends.

I have been wondering why I don't like to stay at home, and I think I have finally struck gold! I don't find my house appealing anymore. It has been almost six years since I last painted my house. And the colours have started to feel dull and monotonous now.I don't find the same excitement I used to when it was freshly painted. Oh, how I loved inviting people over on the pretext of coffee or dinner. The real reason was to show off the lovely interiors! I guess it is time again to get my home a nice makeover.

Dull, brown walls are cutting no ice with me anymore

Just the thought of a house-makeover was giving me the creeps. I recalled how the paint swatches would soil the floors and clothes and we would still not be able to decide on a colour we all liked at home. But I am lucky this time. Bed Bath & More lets one select paint shades through their interactive app. You can actually pick out the rooms and fill their walls with the colours you choose. Once you are done deciding, you can straightaway buy the paints online! How convenient!

My bedroom

I started with my bedroom. I use my bedroom only to sleep. I am not in school anymore, so I don't need orange or yellow paints for concentration and creativity. I need something that soothes my nerves and helps me sleep well. Blue seems to be the perfect colour for this. The shade I have picked out has an element of the sea. I can imagine how I will fall asleep thinking of the waves crashing against the rocks or washing up across the shore.

My bathroom

My bathroom will also have to be a relaxing place. That is where I take long baths and sit while my face-pack dries. I like the concept of aromatherapy, and love the notes of lavender that are used to calm one's nerves. This is why I have selected a shade of lavender for my bathroom.

My kitchen

Finally, I decided to keep yellow for the kitchen. Yellow is a bright colour that helps you feel energetic. Kitchen is where all the energy-giving food is prepared. For tasty and exotic dishes, the cook must feel creative. And what better colour than yellow to stimulate your creative juices!

I have all my colours saved and slotted. Now, all I have to do is actually get the walls painted! :-)

I am participating in the #PaintFinder activity in Association with BlogAdda & Bed Bath & More.

#SachchiAdvice from Dad

Most affluent Indian parents treat their daughters as delicate dolls, mollycoddling them and not letting them lift a finger. Daughters of doting fathers are usually brought up on unlimited access to clothes and accessories. They are gifted cute VW Beetles on their graduation and a new phone every birthday. Most of my girlfriends have been living a fairytale. They never repeat outfits, always have their daddy or a driver to pick them up and drop them to sundry parties and hobby classes. Now that they have jobs, they are not even expected to save any of their income! They still get their pre-job privileges and have all of their salaries available for splurging on binge shopping and parlour treatments.

Unfortunately, I had none of the above. Even though my father loves me very much and earns enough to give me the life of a princess, he has ensured that I have a simple upbringing. I have never received pocket money in my entire life. Whenever I needed money, I would have to tell my dad the reason, and he would hand out a sufficient sum to me - not less, but certainly not more than what I would require. While many of my friends had cellphones at the age of 13, I was lucky to get his old mobile when I was 17. I spent most of my childhood thinking I was adopted. Afterall, my mum got to go on lavish shopping sprees (even to Dubai!), so we certainly did not have financial problems, right?

My father would extoll the virtues of hardwork and self reliance. He would tell me that one day I would be richer than those people with pocket monies, and he was teaching me how to be independent. I did not understand much of it back then, but all of that makes perfect sense to me now. I look back and feel proud of the fact that I bought my first bicycle at the age of 9 with my own savings. I would keep all of the gift-money (which I received from relatives on birthdays and festivals) in my little piggy-bank.

That habit of saving money had made me independent in a lot of ways. When I turned 16, I could fund my dates without having to ask for anything from my parents or having to lie to them in the process. I did not have to be a high-maintenance girlfriend who would literally rob their boyfriends of the very last penny that they managed to save. I saw the biggest benefit when I started working. My finances were impeccable! While most of my new colleagues were spending on expensive labels, fancy dinners and exclusive parties, I was carefully slotting my monthly salary away into retirement funds, bank deposits and mutual funds.

The king (my dad) hangs out with his princess (me) in Moscow (March, 2015)

No, I did not turn into a miser. I just learned to manage my money better. Even after saving aggressively, I have enough left to buy myself nice outfits and shoes. I also managed to visit 6 countries this year (yes, you read that right! :-) ) with my own hard earned money. And I do a trip within India every month. Sometimes, even I cannot figure out how I manage to globetrot and save so much at the same time. But I know, it is my father and his excellent child-rearing skills that has made me this successful and independent woman I am today. I cannot thank my dad enough for all the #SachchiAdvice he has been giving me all this while. I know how to stay physically fit, but my dad has taught me the art of staying financially fit!

I am participating in the #SachchiAdvice Contest by MaxLife in Association with BlogAdda.

The Best Gift was your Advice

Most of my friends who meet me for the first time since school or college tell me I have changed a great deal. It is almost as if I have undergone some sort of transformation - an image makeover, if you will. What they think is absolutely right. I have changed. But this has not been an overnight miracle. It has taken me several days, weeks and months of consistent effort... and following some priceless advice.

Before I tell you about my present, I must acquaint you with my past. I have always been ambitious, but limited in my imagination to dream. I used to think dreams should be reasonable and within reach. Anything too big was just fantasizing and a waste of time. I was also quite introverted, though not shy. I had a few talents - I could write and compose poems, but I never looked at those skills as anything more than hobbies.

Cut to the present - I am an international half marathoner with a world record up my sleeve; a published author and a rising blogger. Most of my new colleagues would classify me as a seasoned extrovert without a second thought. I dream a lot. And I dream without limits or boundaries.

I am elated after earning my finisher's medal at the Vilnius half marathon earlier this month.

All of this did not happen by magic, with a fairy Godmother turning me into some kind of Cinderella with a flick of her wand. It happened when I met a colleague (Purujeet) at my first job after graduation. We became fast friends over our common interests and love for books. He told me to think like men do. Men are usually fiercely competitive and ambitious. They take risks without the fear of failing. They do not worry about what the world thinks of them. They lead and succeed in whatever they set their eyes on. It is on his advice that I started aiming for a better life and career. A few months later, I switched my job and landed something far more glamorous (well, as glamorous as a banking job can get :-P ). I also discovered that ambition, the ability to take risks and be fearless are gender-blind.

Purujeet would also take me to various gatherings to meet his friends and colleagues. He seemed to have hundreds of them. That really put me out of my comfort zone. I did not like meeting new people or talking to people I did not have anything in common with. I would usually stay quiet or just give short answers to what his friends would ask me. I never made an effort to keep up the conversations. Later, Purujeet would ask me why I wouldn't open up. He told me I wouldn't get far if I let others take control of the conversations. I would have to be attentive and socially aware. I would have to put in some hard work and get to know people better, and also get them to know me better. Purujeet's #SacchiAdvice has made a very big difference to my life and my outlook towards life.

Step by step, I changed the way I thought - about myself and about the people around me. I realized I used to pay too much attention to how others perceived me. I was shaped by what I thought the world would approve of. I gradually stopped doing that. I learned to live for myself. I pursued hobbies I had never pursued before - ballroom dancing and running.

With Purujeet - my best friend, advisor and mentor

With time and practice, I got better at my craft. I ran at several long distance running events in Mumbai across 20 months. And earlier this month (10th September, 2015), I happened to be the first and only Indian to run the half marathon at Vilnius (Lithuania)! It brought tears to my eyes when I thought of how I would never participate in any sport or athletic activity as a kid due to my problem with asthma. I had conquered my respiratory condition and shattered my boundaries. My boundaries were never physical. They were only in my mind.

Today, I have another feather in my cap - my first published book! I never thought I'd get to that level so quickly. I still have a long way to go, but that friend's advice has been my guiding light... which will light up many more pathways to success for my future. 

I am participating in the #SachchiAdvice Contest by MaxLife in Association with BlogAdda.

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

AskMe about Salt Water Cafe

Have you ever had that sudden craving for food? And that too from a particular restaurant? Being a foodie, I get that craving quite frequently! A few days back, my tastebuds were itching to taste some Italian. So, I caught a friend, grabbed my phone and started for Bandra. Now, Bandra is a huge place dotted with hundreds of little eateries that serve multiple cuisines. My friend particularly wanted to go to Salt Water Cafe. Not wasting any time, I fired up the AskMe app on my Android phone.

It automatically picked my city - Mumbai, and let me search for what I wanted. As soon as I keyed in the name of the restaurant, the app showed me two entries, only one of which was in Bandra.

The app is quite neat and shows related deals along with the outlet list. I tapped the restaurant we were eyeing, and the next page had a crisp summary of the place - the address, menu and description.

The copy of the menu was quite helpful as we were really hungry that night. We almost shortlisted our orders before we reached Salt Water Cafe.

There is also a cute phone icon on the app that lets you call the outlet directly. How convenient!

Finally, when we reached the restaurant, we were please to see that there was ample space to sit. It being  a weeknight, we did not find the crazy rush that this place otherwise witnesses. The place is quite spacious and has a soothing decor. The interiors are mostly of veneered wood. After we placed the orders, the bread course was brought to our table first.

The breadsticks and pieces of bread arrived in a jute sack - a very interesting presentation style! The soft cotton lining inside the jute bag kept the breads free of moisture. The butter was not flavoured though. I would have liked some kind of herb infused butter, which a lot of eateries provide now a days.

The soups arrived right then. Mushrooms are my favourite and I always end up ordering dishes that have mushrooms in them. The soup naturally had to be mushroom based - and really delicious! They used shiitake and champignon de Paris in our broth.

The main course was a creamy and very appetizing risotto. The quantity was so good that we couldn't finish it together between the two of us. I noticed that this place uses real arborio rice and not just any similar looking Indian variety. The dish was garnished with thinly sliced toasted bread. I really loved the big pieces of button mushrooms and cherry tomatoes in the risotto!

Finally, we ordered a couple of mocktails to spend some more time in Bandra over our conversations. My drink was a light ginger and lemon mix - very refreshing after all that cheesy food! My friend ordered a blackcurrant smoothie which was served in a cute jar. Restaurants these days are making good use of jars to serve their guests, I have eaten desserts and pickles and even a salad in a jar so far!

All in all, it was a day well spent, and special thanks to! This newly launched app is a really nifty tool!

I’m participating in the #RnMOnAskMe activity at BlogAdda.