Monday, 24 March 2014

When our kid shied away with the surprise

If you are a regular reader of my blog, you must be knowing about how much I love to give happy surprises to my family. Last year in August, I gave my husband a romantic birthday party at Cherai beach, Kerala as a surprise. He was totally stumped. And this time, we had decided to bowl over our kid, Ashmit. We thought to give him a surprise birthday party this year.

Basically Ashmit's birthday is tomorrow but given the fact that tomorrow is Tuesday, there would be no guarantee that people could come early from office. Even if they came, they wouldn't be able to enjoy themselves till late. Thus we decided to plan the party last Saturday, four days ago of the actual day. The party was small as it was majorly a kids' party. We had invited only those friends who have kids. We had planned everything without telling it to our son.

On the party day, I took charge for the snacks that would be serving with the cake. I browsed and selected two super delicious and duper quick recipes that are extremely perfect for any party. While I was busy in getting everything ready in the evening (before our son could come home), Sumit decorated the space. We were hurriedly finishing our tasks and finally called Ashmit from our neighbor's house. We are also thankful to our wonderful neighbors for co-operating with us. When Ashmit entered into the house, he got skeptical seeing our grinning faces and finally when he spotted the Happy Birthday banner and the table loaded with cake and other delicacies, believe it or not, he shied away. His face was worth clicking and Sumit was quick in such moments. Do check out his priceless expressions by yourself :)

Ashmit shying away :)

He, happily looking at the banner

Then we had cake cutting. We all sang Happy Birthday song for him. Funny thing happened when he forgot to blow off the candle before cutting the cake. Anyways, it happens with others too. Then we served snacks along with cake pieces. The snacks I rolled out were heavily adulated during and after the party. Everyone loved it. I surreptitiously danced inside my heart. Then we had some fun, gifts were on spot opened and we all played them. Then we had dinner. We had ordered Hyderabadi Biryani which is all time delicious. I had also rolled out the dessert. It is called Shahi Toast. It is a bread dessert garnished with cream and chopped cashews over it. It turned out mouth-watering as well. Everyone appreciated the party at the end.

Friday, 21 March 2014

We can help regardless of the distance

Last night a very interesting or should I say, an eye-opener incident happened. First to set up the background, let me explain. My uncle (whom I call Tau ji) has recently got operated for mouth cancer and now after spending few weeks in Mumbai hospital, he is back at my native. There he is getting all the care about food, and daily life things. Now the real part. Surgeons had to incise his cheek and take out all of the infected flesh. Then they used some of his chest flesh to repair the cheek. Now my tau ji is having two stitches; one on his cheek and another on his chest.

Since few days, there was pus formation in his chest stitches which was being treated and dressed every day. But last night, pus started to come out of his cheek stitches also. And not only in small but in good amount. Everyone got very upset and worried for him, seeing the incoming of pus from his cheek stitches for the first time. They started trying to reach good doctors. In all of this worrisome situation, Sumit called up and came to know about the real situation. I too heard and I also got worried. I in fact got tears into my eyes. I love and respect my tau ji a lot and now such operation has happened with him, I feel awful given his old age. I thought, we are living in South while my native is in North, we can not do anything from here. When Sumit saw me teary eyed, he comforted me and started googling about 'pus formation post cancer operation'. There he found some meaningful insights. Apart from this, he knew one of his friends is Oncologist (Cancer specialist). He searched for him on Facebook but could not found. Then he got his younger brother. Sumit called him and took his friend's number. Then he talked to his Oncologist friend and he said that if the pus color is green and red, it is good because it shows the immune system is working fine. The body is trying to heal and the incoming pus is the part of this healing process.

Sumit instantly called up to my mother and told her not to worry, stating his friend's conversation. Then my parents and everyone relaxed and their worry level went down. They even praised Sumit for taking up actions immediately and letting them know about the facts. Later on, when my father took my tau ji to the local surgeon, he too said the same thing that this is the part of healing process and you should not be worried.

There I was sitting on my sofa and watching all of this. I realized that no matter what the distance is, we always can do something. It is just we think we live too far and by sitting here we can not help but it's wrong. I realized it deeply last night. Even this morning my parents and other family members were praising Sumit to think fast at the moment when everyone was so much occupied with worries and tension.

Forget the distance & focus on actions

Sunday, 16 March 2014

Let the Holi hues stay after the fest

Faces are turned red, yellow, green, orange and hands are busy in squirting pichkaaris at others. Teeth have attained multiple hues while joy is refusing to die! That is the spirit of HOLI. The festival is huge in North India and being North Indian myself, I know how intricately it is being celebrated every year. Every year, we love to throw buckets of colorful water at others, squirming each others' faces with gulaal and running behind to get that only-cleaned-face-left painted with Holi colors. Loads of special Holi delicacies are made in advance. One of them is Gujhiya which is a sweet dish best savored when eaten slowly (if you don't know, click HERE to get the picture). But living in South India for years now, the loving embracing state has not let me forget the festival. People and kids around are enjoying it at the fullest. I was on my way to the doctor this morning when I spotted few super excited children playing colors in the society ground. I was scared and was making my way out very carefully. I surely did not want to reach to the clinic looking like a cocktail of colors but one little kid grinned at me and triggered a good shot from his pichkaari regardless of my constant instructions. At the end I always realize that no matter where you live in India, every state, every city has its specialty in embracing the festivals of others. I guess which is why we call India, the country of unity, in terms of culture, religion, language, people and many more.

While playing Holi is fun, its aftermath worries too. The skin gets dry. Itchy sometimes too. Increased number of hair fall, hard to maintain the softness of the skin during the cleansing process and what not. But no matter how much you succeed in getting that cleaned face and body, you still give others a reason to laugh at yourself because of some blotches and spots of color still lingering to the cheeks or forehead. Yeah! It is fun too.

Today, let's talk about the precaution measures so that fun lasts till the end of the fest. Here I am giving you some tips to handle those blues happened due to excessive color playing.

Pre-Holi set ups

  • First thing first, always apply plenty of oil to your hair and a good amount of sunscreen on your exposed skin before playing colors. Doing this will ensure you at least less color mixing to your body.
  • Try your best to use Organic colors. These colors are harmless. Thus, leaving you with minimal harmful effects on your skin. And if you can not get it, try to use gulaal or dry colors instead of wet ones. Wet colors pierce deeper into the skin while dry colors are rather easier to wipe off.
  • Holi makes you go dehydrated. While playing, we do not realize how much time has lapsed in between. Our skin also gets rubbed and dried during the play. So make sure you drink plenty of water before starting the fun coloring. Also, keep juices (Orange, watermelon etc. juices are perfect) and water nearby to the play area to keep yourself hydrated during and after the fest. Try to stay away from alcohol and sugary drinks (like cola). They will make you harm more than they benefit your body. 
  • Play in shade. Sun dries the skin fast and if it is mixed with colors, the drying process goes even faster.

During-Holi set up - Enjoy as much as you can without harming others :)

Post-Holi set ups 

  • When you are done with hours of playing Holi colors, DO NOT start rubbing soap on your skin immediately. In fact, do not use soap at all! First, apply and massage with cleansing milk on the skin. Then using soft cotton balls, wipe it out. This way your skin will be moisturized as well as kept safe from harsh rubbing.
  • If you are still keen to use soaps, use mild and moisturizer contained ones like Pears (mild) and Dove (mild and moisturized both). Such soaps take care of your skin while being in use.
  • Try to bathe in shade or in bathroom. Wash your hair with plenty of normal water first, allowing the gallons of color to drain. Then using mild shampoo, wash your hair. 
  • For the last rinse, use lemon juice + water or Beer + lemon juice mixed in water or just beer. Wash hair lastly from any of these concoctions and leave it for few minutes and then wash your hair with just water. Lemon juice will balance the acid-alkaline balance of your scalp and beer is always known to bring shine to the strands.
  • For face, try the mixture of curd + Turmeric powder + wheat flour + oats. Make a smooth paste and apply on your skin. Do not rub. Gently massage your skin. This will make sure your skin is being treated gently with soft ingredients. You can also use just curd as it is an optimum cleanser known for removing blemishes and dark spots from the first use.
  • For face pack, try Honey + Curd + Turmeric powder. Make a smooth paste and apply to the exposed colored skin. Again, be gentle and massage. Do not rub.
  • Do not drink tea or coffee. They will only make you dehydrated even more.
  • Remember, colors are impossible to go from the day one. It takes few days to get a color-free skin. So even if you use all of the above, stay ready to have some colorful cheeks, chin or the eyes. After all, what would be the fun of playing Holi, the festival of colors, if you come out of your bathroom all cleaned like you haven't played at all?
  • Accept all the consequences and enjoy the festival. Let the Holi hues of joy, happiness, greatness and fun stay till the end.

Last but not the least set up - Enjoy the delicacies. On this day, verity of dishes are being made at home. So enjoy all of them while you keep amusing seeing the colorful faces around.

Happy Holi! Enjoy the festival with friends and family. :)

Saturday, 15 March 2014

What makes you a feminist or the contrary?

Last Sunday on March 9th, there was an event for my book, It's Never Too Late where I got to meet some readers and conversed on some topics like publishing industry, getting published, marketing your book, things about my book and all that. The theme was simple yet touching. It was - When it's never too late. All the people present were thoroughly enjoying the session while I enjoyed my own corner with some sincere and some fun remarks. In short and whole, the evening was packed with some beautiful interaction.

There was also a Q & A round after the discussion. I was answering each one of them patiently, savoring their verity of course. I remember mostly all the queries but one question curdled into my mind, even at the spot. There was a college going girl. She asked me,

"I believe you are a feminism. As your novel is based on a woman's story and talks about it only, I can assume that you are genuinely a feminism. But do you really think it's women who are always being tormented but not males?"

She sounded more like she believed that I only speak for women's rights/things. I listened to her patiently, nodding in between (nodding does not conclude that I was agreeing to her point of view). When she was finished, I explained,

"First of all, I am not a feminist. Just because I have written a woman oriented book and I also happen to be a woman at the same time, that does not culminate into a vision that I am a feminist. If you read my book, you will also find one male character who has also suffered. I have shown his pain and tragedy too. Before being a woman, I am a human being. As human being, I focus on the pain of each and every one of us. I do not focus on women only. The pain through which males have to go through, I totally understand and respect that"

She went quiet. Obviously I had addressed her vision to the right direction. But her such particular point of view still lingers somewhere. I still think that when we writers focus on our protagonists (same gender as we are) and naturally prefer to show their various emotions on the plot canvas, does that make us feminist or the contrary? I agree that being a woman writer, it is easier for me to showcase a woman's various emotions and expressions but my comfort should not be mistaken as a particular stand to a specific gender. Men writers also pick their protagonists as males because for them as well, it is easier to pin point several perks and downs of a male personality. But no one should say that they are standing for 'Males only' rights.

To understand what feminism basically is, click HERE.

I do not hesitate to speak on women related issues like increased number of crimes against them. I choose to speak not because I am a woman but because...crimes are bad and wrong. Even if it happens with a male figure, it is still wrong. Taking a stand on something that is hurting humankind should be unarguably dismissed. If I have to speak on women's rights on valid points, I do not mind to be tagged as feminist. If I have to speak on men's right on valid points, I do not mind to take their stands. The thing is, I am taking my stands on right sides. I am speaking for something that is wrong, not narrowing down my perspective for a specific sex. Being a feminist basically means a woman trying and fighting to retrieve opportunities and rights as equal as men. And in my view, speaking for righteousness and equality is not wrong. Rather, it is good and shows your personality and thought process. Trials for equality can bring necessary positive radical changes in the society. You need not to be a part of a specific gender crowd.

I believe the girl asked the question out of a curiosity and I was more than happy to clarify her perspective. I guess from now on, she would understand at least one front of being a writer. :)

Friday, 14 March 2014

Wonderful Women's Day/Week

Last week fell Women's Day and I got busy in several activities. My book, It's Never Too Late, is a woman-centric creation and as it talks about one of the major woman issues and that is...crimes against women, Women's Day proved to be a perfect occasion for me to talk about it.

Here I am listing all those activities that I got to do. First was a Talk at Biocon. The organization is owned by Ms. Kiran Majumdar Shaw (who happens to be in Top 100 most influential business leaders in India). It was an honor meeting her and listening to her motivational speech on Credibility and Self-belief. I had prepared a presentation on Contributing Factors on Crimes against Women and below is the collage of some shots. The ppt I had prepared was thoroughly acknowledged and well appraised. It was a really nice experience speaking at Biocon.

March 7th

The same day (March 7th), I had to give out an interview for Kolkata's one radio channel, Friends. There was also one Twitter chat organized for me in the afternoon. The entire day was scheduled in such a way that I hardly had time to breathe. I was constantly switching from this schedule to the other one. This all was making me appear like a crazy person but I was truly enjoying all of it. Being busy is my scene. Sitting idle..uhh...not my cup of tea somehow.

Then the same night we had to leave for Hyderabad for some book signing sessions. We reached there in the next morning (March 8th). Here are few more collages for a quick glance. Hope you will like it.

The same night we left and reached back to Bangalore next morning (March 9th). You can see and easily guess how much I was on constant run for these events. When reaching back in the city on Sunday, there was one more event at another bookstore, Atta Galatta. Check out the shots below.

At Atta Galatta, Bangalore

The session went really well. People asked me some nice questions about the publishing industry, my journey towards my book, marketing strategies and what not. It was good to speak about it all.

Finally at night, after two days of constant run, I got some time to relax. But next day in the afternoon, I fell sick. The 3 days/4 night hectic schedule had surreptitiously taken a toll on my health. I was in a very bad shape. Weakness was the major symptom I faced. Now after few days, I feel better but still I feel like getting some rest for few more days. When you are thrown to a hectic schedule out of luxurious comfort, somewhere your body reacts. The same happened with me too. But it's all good now.

Few more activities are lined up and I will keep my blog updated as per the time allows. Till then, ciao. 

I can say that I had a really nice Women's Day this year. I loved it by all means. :)

Thursday, 13 March 2014

कुछ - A poem

कुछ लम्हे तुम जियो कुछ लम्हे हम 
कुछ कदम तुम चलो कुछ कदम हम 
ज़िन्दगी यूँ ही 'कुछ' के पन्नों की बनी है 
न समझो तो ग़म और समझ लो तो सरगम !
याद है सफ़र में चलते हुए, कम्बल के अहाते से ढके 
एक सन्देश भेजा था तुमने जो आज भी साथ है 
कितने भीगे से शब्द थे वो कुछ 
कितने नरम कोमल से पल थे वो कुछ 
उन्ही 'कुछ' के ताने बाने से बनी ये ज़िन्दगी 
आज भी चलती चली और बहती चली ।
लब थे कि सिहरते हुए शब्द 
स्पर्श था या नाज़ुक सा सम्बल 
'कुछ' तो था जी आज भी है 
और वही 'कुछ' ठहरा हुआ सा है कहीं बरबस।
मन कुछ यूँ ही सम्हल सा रहा था 
होठ कुछ यूँ ही गुनगुना से रहे थे 
कानों में तुमने शहद सा जो घोल दिया था 
और वही टप टप सी मिठास आज भी
कहीं हमें खींच ले जाती है।
समय बदला, लोग बदले और बदला ज़माना
मगर कुछ नहीं बदला तो 'हम'
'हम' तब भी यूँ ही पूरे थे और आज भी
खालीपन का निशाँ नहीं और 'कुछ ख़ास' से विदा नहीं।  

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

As I's good to be too busy

As Women's Day (March 8th) is round the corner and my book, It's Never Too Late, is supremely based on women related issues, this week is gonna wrap up with some real amazing events. Here are the details in a quick glance ~

March 7 - Crossword sponsored Twitter Chat at 2 pm. Get a chance to ask me anything you like about me or my book. Please don't be personal. Join me on my Twitter account HERE.

March 7, Corporate talk @ BIOCON, Bangalore - Will be conducting a corporate talk at India's largest biotech organization, Biocon. The theme would be...Contributing Factors in Crimes against Women. Will be discussing the subject on two grounds - Societal as well as a woman's view. Personally speaking, I am honored to get such a wonderful chance to speak there.

March 8, Mind's Bookstore, Hyderabad - Will be in Hyderabad for one full day on Women's Day. Will be doing book signing sessions at some bookstores plus an event at Mind's Bookstore in Dulsukh Nagar during 6-7 in the evening. If you are around, drop by. The theme would be from my book to discussing various issues with women of this era. It's going to be one such wonderful event. See you there! For more insight, click HERE.


March 9th, Atta Galatta, Bangalore - An Interactive and Book reading session at one of Bangalore's leading bookstores, Atta Galatta, Drop by at 6 pm and enjoy the evening for one full hour. The theme would be...When it's never too late. It is an interesting topic coinciding perfectly with my book. Fpr more details and insight, click on the title above.

Phew! Lots of things are on the roll and I will constantly be on the run. So I may not be able to answer your comments on my pages or my blog but will do my best to stay connected as well as updating my profiles.

Wish me luck! And please come and join me at open events. It will be wonderful to meet all of you personally.