Thursday, 29 October 2015

What to Gift Men

Disclaimer: This article is meant for audience over 25 years of age.

With so many birthdays and anniversaries around the corner, you must have a lot of gifts to pack and give away. I personally find it very therapeutic to shop for presents. When gifting women, we have a plethora of options at our disposal. I have noticed, however, that most of us feel challenged when we are faced with the task for buying a gift for men. To help you keep the men in your life happy, I will share some ideas to help you select gifts for men:-


1. Ties and Cuff Links

Every man likes to look like a gentleman every now and then. Ties and cuff links nail the look like nothing else does! These are the perfect accessories for when a man wants to suit up. Gift him a classic silk tie in a solid colour or go glam with satin. You might want to throw in a tie pin while you're at it! ;-) Cuff links are accessories which can only be worn with double cuffed shirts. So make sure the recipient of your gift has those kind of shirts before you invest in a pair of cuff links. Ties and cuff links can be versatile and can suit every budget. You can get a tie for anywhere between Rs.500 to several thousands. Ditto for cufflinks! If you really want to splurge, get platinum cufflinks with solitaires studded on them. (Yes, that will set you back by a few lakhs.)

2. Electronic Gadgets

I don't know one man who does not like technology. Boys just love their tech toys! Buy them a nice pair of headphones, fitness bands (especially if they love to workout) or smartwatches. Let me warn you now that gadgets can burn a hole in your pocket. So, tread with caution and budget well. If you feel you don't know enough about the latest thing in the market to buy him something, take him along and let him choose his own gift. Better safe than sorry.


3. Fine Wine or Scotch as a Gift

Alcohol is to a man what diamonds are to a woman. The good thing about wines and scotches is that they taste better with time. Even if you spend very little to buy a young wine, years later, you will have in your bar shelf a fine, mature wine! So it is with scotch and whiskey. If you are feeling generous, spend a little extra on single malt. And finally, you know your premium scotch deserves a set of nice drinking glasses or a hipflask, so buy those too!

4. Spa Treatment

Nobody can resist a long session of pampering and grooming! Your gifts for him do not have to be tangible. It can be an experience too! Men probably need spa sessions more than we women do, because we will inevitably take care of ourselves but they tend to neglect their skin and hair. Gift him a nice massage therapy or some facial to get his dead skin cells removed and his pores unclogged. Let him have his body moisturized and his hair masked in a protein pack. Men must know that it's not just whey protein that they need for their muscles! ;-)

5. Adventure Trip

I always save my favourite for the last. You would have guessed that a travel blogger (that's me) would not get sound sleep without talking about travelling just once. I would certainly recommend that you take your significant other or your love interest to a trip to the mountains or forests. Men love things that get their adrenalin flowing. And trips are experiences they will always remember.

Let me know if you have more interesting gifting ideas for men!

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

5 Baby Steps to Safe Skin

Don't you just love cuddling cute little babies and toddlers who look like they are made of jelly? :-) I absolutely adore those tiny tots! I have seen so many cousins, nephews, nieces and babies of friends and colleagues gurgling incoherently and making squeaky sounds. We all love to see them happy, but do we know what most mothers (and also fathers) should do to keep their babies that way?

One major reason why kids cry (other than when they are hungry) is when they are uncomfortable or have skin issues. It is very important for parents to keep their babies free of rashes. They mostly occur if the nappies, panties or diapers are not changed frequently when wet. Also, cloth snatches the softness of the babies' smooth skin. From my observations, I bring you five ways to keep your baby's soft skin safe:-

1. Bathe babies in sterilized water and use only baby-soap and baby-shampoo.

Young children have very sensitive skin which reacts immediately to anything which is even remotely harsh. The common soaps for adults must never be used on babies. Invest in safe soaps meant for babies. Also, take care that the water temperature is comfortable and it is sterilized.

Healthy babies love to play!

2. Keep your baby dry.

Babies are quite leaky creatures! They salivate, suckle on their thumb, pee in their pants and cry. It is important that parents and caregivers ensure that the baby is cleaned and dried with a soft towel or washcloth. Buy some wet baby wipes for when you travel with your baby. Keep changing their nappies, diapers or diaper-pants as often as you can.

3. Clothe them in cotton.

If babies are gifts from God, then clothes are gift wrappers from humans! For skin so sensitive, the clothes must be breathable and light. Cotton is easily the best material for your baby. For winters, sweaters must be the next layer. Avoid dressing your toddlers in fancy materials such as satin an silk. That will only irritate their skin.

4. Moisturize well.

Babies are naturally soft and supple. But they too need protection from the atmosphere which robs them of all moisture. Before bathing your baby, give her or him a nice massage with baby oil. Use this time to bond well and flex and exercise their muscles. Babies absolutely love oil massages! Use baby moisturizer after bathing your kid.

5. Take care of their diet.

What you eat reflects on your skin. So it is for babies! After your babies are weaned off mother's milk, what you feed them plays a big role in how they grow and how healthy their skin looks. Make sure you follow age-approved diet plans for your growing child.

Once you have followed all of the steps above, you can rest assured that your baby's skin will stay soft and safe! :-)

Pampers brings you the softest ever Pampers Premium Care Pants. Its cotton-like softness is #SoftestForBabySkin and allows it to breathe, thus keeping baby’s skin soft and healthy, and your baby happy.

Sunday, 25 October 2015

Food for Smiles

In our socially connected world today, we are digitally close but perhaps our hearts are miles apart. We tend to compare more - who looks better on Facebook? Who has more followers on Instagram? Who tweets from the most exotic locations? We tend to have thousands of friends, but we know few of them closely. We appear to be superficially happy, but are we really content from within?

The latest fashion fad will tell you it is the "in" thing to be skinny. How else will you fit into that pair of super-skinny jeans or string bikinis? You know you cannot lose all of that stubborn fat just by gymming and running, so you will also start following a strict diet of only freshly squeezed or cold pressed juices, fat free milk and high protein meals. In doing so, you will steadily reduce your production of endorphins, serotonin and dopamine - the "happy hormones". And ultimately, you will sit there all alone - sulking at your life and scrolling through your social media newsfeed.

I used to be that person a few years back. But I cut out all of the negativity from my life and now I love to stay happy and keep people happy! It is nice to go out for a jog in the park and eat green veggies. But you must not starve yourself of that occasional glass of wine, bar of dark chocolate or plate full of McCain snacks!

When my friends from Poland and Brazil and I shared some delicious snacks...

If I throw a party for my friends, I would have an array of delectable finger foods to go with the craft beers and soft drinks and fruit juices (for those health freaks ;-) ). I'd serve McCain Smiles to the sullen guests to help them forget their worries, McCain Potato Bites to the skinny fellows who haven't eaten carbs in ages, McCain French Fries to the angry old ladies who think the West is trying to hijack our culture, McCain Veggie Fingers to the snooty non vegetarian who things vegetarians only eat leaves, and McCain Aloo Tikki to the snobbish foreign return who complains about everything that is wrong with India.

When all of my eccentric friends dig into their deep fried goodies, they will lose themselves in the cheesey flavours and stop groaning about their lives. They will know that it is time to put aside their smartphones and tablets. They will find friendship once again as they smile and laugh through the evening and into the night.

Thursday, 22 October 2015

The Dance Bible - Website Review

Coming from a Bengali family, I was introduced to dancing fairly early in life - at the age of five. I started learning Bharatnatyam first, and then moved on to Kathak, Bollywood dancing, Latin ballroom and salsa. With so much love and interest for dancing, I always wondered why there was such a dearth of dance-networking sites. But then I came across The Dance Bible - a platform that connects people who have dance in common.

Newly launched, this site is a treasure trove for dance enthusiasts. The website is organized into fifteen sections:-

1. Dance Styles - a repertoire of popular dance forms, both Indian and Western, the pages explain the nuances of various dance styles

2. Dance Anatomy - the articles under this heading have useful information on how to use your bodyparts effectively for dancing. You can also learn to take good care of your feet and other areas which bear most of the brunt of dancing.

3. Dance Blog - as the name suggests, this section has multiple informative blogposts on the topic of dance

4. Dance Videos - this one is for people who like to learn by watching online videos and do not have the time to travel to dance classes

5. Dance Audios - looking for some nice tunes to grove to? Have your pick here!

6. Interviews - a peek into the techniques and lives of the stalwarts of dancing

7. Dance Portfolio - This one is unique. You can create your dance profile by listing the dances you know, about yourself, your contact info and even a picture of yourself. There is a place of people to comment also. Don't forget to check out my profile.

8. Dance School - a very useful tool to search for dance schools across the world - by country, city or name. I would have liked to see a filter for dance styles too.

9. Dance Freelancers - a place where you can browse through dance teachers and freelance dancers and view their charges.

10. Dance Quotes - a nice collection of some inspiring words by dancing luminaries such as Michael Jackson and Marta Graham.

11. Dance Memes - I did not find this very useful, but I guess you could enjoy the humour.

12. Biographies - Life-stories of some very famous dancers, and also their videos!

13. Dance Diaries - This is where you can blog about your own dance journey for others to read

14. Dance Events - I did not find any upcoming events, but this is a useful tool if well maintained.

15. Dance Forum - This is where you can post questions and interact with others. The admin is pretty quick in answering your query (I speak from experience).

The site is quite responsive and neat in its design. I found it easy to navigate through The Dance Bible. Overall, the site is quite a useful one for those looking to learn, teach or talk about dance. The dancer in me is delighted to have this avenue and I will certainly keep coming back to this website for more dance tips. If you love dance or wish to start, you must visit this site.

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Together with Nature

I was at a party the other day and I noticed something very disturbing... instead of mingling with one another, the guests were busy staring into their phones! Common etiquette tells us that we must not use our cell phones in the company of others unless there is an emergency. It is extremely rude to answer phone calls without excusing oneself, check messages under the table while on a family dinner or surf the net when you have your friends around you who need more of your attention. Our society is becoming increasingly impolite when it comes to social interactions. I really think we should start a revolution to stop this social nuisance.

One way to get everyone to talk to each other face to face is to take their gadgets away - all of those from iPods, tablets and smartphones to smartwatches and bluetooth earphones. I feel that we cannot be together unless we remove all distractions from around us. Once we have all the gadgets out of the way, we should get people to play some games. It could be an outdoor sport such as cricket or football, or just a good old run in the park. Getting outdoors does a lot of good things to us. Nature helps us break silos like nothing else does.

Recently, my bank took us out to the Phasanwadi village, a little away from Mumbai. And we spent most of the time frolicking in the rustic huts, planting saplings of mango, lime and cashew. It gave me a different sense of achievement to dig out earth, clear the stones and finally place the saplings. We were sweating under the sweltering sun, but we all loved every bit of that experience! It felt amazing to realize that we were planting oxygen givers for the villagers.

Playing around trees and plants can be really good for those with respiratory problems. I myself have asthma. When I was a kid, I used to stay cooped up in my house and I hated playing outdoors. This only aggravated by asthmatic attacks. But once I started working, I got outdoors and started running. Today, I find it very easy to ignore my phone and laptop and I only focus on my surroundings when I go on my runs. I have run at several long distance running events, the most recent one being in Rishikesh. This has also won me many new friends, other than the obvious benefit of having great health! At the Rishikesh 15 kilometer run, most of the terrain was on the mountain tail. I even passed some mountain goats on my way! It was amazing to see the lovely Ganga River flowing all along the route.

I like Kissan's latest initiative. How cute of them to have a tomato topped cap for the sauce bottles and to hand out tomato seeds to all! :-) I love tomatoes! My grandmum used to grow them in her garden, and I distinctly remember plucking a ripe tomato one summer. Growing veggies and planting trees is a great way to get together and have a social gathering!