Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Kellogg's Waale Guptaji ka Nashta


We have neighbors next door - Gupta's - I always smell aromas from their house, especially during breakfast. I wish to go to their nest one day and find out what's cooking, literally!

One day, we had a building function, an informal one. As Mrs Gupta asked me about my life and college, I decided to ask her about her breakfast, foodie that I am!

"Breakfast is the first meal of the day, it should be eaten well. Breakfast first, rest later - is the rule at my home," Mrs Gupta said. "I want happy hellos and smiles on my table every morning rather than sad grumpy faces of my husband and kids. Hence, I choose to pep up the breakfast each day without compromising on the nutrition value."

"My main issue is with the breakfast aunty," I told her.

Surprised she asked me, "How come?" I replied quickly making a sad face, "I don't like omlet and often I get bored with regular bread and butter too."

She said, "It is simple, beta! Start your day with a healthful bowl of Kellogg's cornflakes in the morning and you’ll be on your way to a great day."

"Really aunty?"I raised an eyebrow. "All that aroma daily from your house belongs to cornflakes?"

Amused to hear that, she said, "Not just Kellogg's cornflakes but many things added to it, to make the breakfast royal."

"Tell me aunty, I want to know the mystery today!" I urged her.

"We treat our tummies with Kellogg's cornflakes and added garnishing. You know, fruits are the best for your health. And fruits combined with healthful cornflakes make your breakfast salubrious."

"Sounds yum, aunty. Please continue." I said.

"See, I have named few recipes myself, according to the situations at my home. For example, if my kids have homework to do along with the breakfast - I have something called 'Homework Wala Nashta' - easy to hog with basil curd dressing and cornflakes." 

She removed her tab to show me the pictures of her recipes she had clicked. I will share a few in my post here.


"Check this one! Cornflakes with honey and almonds - I call it 'Chup Karane Wala Nashta' as everyone is utterly happy with this one and eats without making any noise!" and she pointed to another, "See this is 'Movie Wala Nashta' -  with cornflake popcorn clusters!"




I was simply spellboud!

She continued as she swiped the images on her tab, "See this is cornflakes with some banana and walnuts. You can use other fruits like strawberry too for variety." It looked yummy. My mouth watered and I was all nom nom!



"I'll show you my favorite - 'Nakhre Wala Nashta'," she said. She swiped to another image. "Chapatti Cornflakes Chivda - the one I simply love, we can use leftover chapatti's with corn flakes and some spices over it! I pamper myself with this one." She winked!



"Wow, aunty, all look super delicious!" I said.

"You can come over someday to our house for a power packed nashta! I'll share some easy recipes with you too!" Mrs Gupta said.

"Oh, that will be my pleasure, aunty! I'll come soon to experience your hospitality." I replied quickly!


*     *    *    *    *     *

With over a 100 mouthwatering recipes, Guptaji’s family sure knows how to whip up the perfect breakfast for any occasion! This is why I want to go to their house for nashta. 

Saturday, 21 March 2015

Bleaky Future Of India

Hello readers!

Before you begin to read my post, have a look at the video below, if you still haven't come across it! You will be dumbstruck, I bet.


I was just brought across this news video by a dear friend. Initially, I couldn't believe what I was seeing.

Today, from where I see, the future of India is bleak.

"515 students caught during Bihar board exams, minister says can’t stop it."

Recently, images of youths climbing atop an examination centre went viral. Bihar HRD minister Prashant Kumar Shahi says it was beyond the state government to curb mob cheating in Class X board examination. Following mass expulsions the blame game begins. According to him,  “We cannot control or curb unfair means…when we are conducting a large-scale examination. There are four-five persons to help one student”.

Most of the incidents of cheating this year have been reported from Saharsa, Chhapra, Vaishali and Hajipur districts.

The clear proofs, news clippings and subsequent police inaction have put a question mark on the administration’s efficacy.

The incident has received widespread attention after Indian television footage showed parents and friends of students scaling the outer walls of school buildings to pass cheat sheets to students inside taking class X board exams. Teachers and state education department officials supervising the examination caught hundreds of students who had smuggled in text books or scraps of paper for cheating. Witnesses said local police accepted bribes to turn a blind eye.

India's image is getting tarnished globally. Where will mob cheating really take us?

One can get a certificate by using unfair means in examination but will not gain knowledge. This large-scale and blatant practice will not help in any way.

Our education system is in serious need of reform. Former Bihar School Examination Board (BSEB) chairman AKP Yadav believes that this incident was a result of irregular and poor teaching quality and a shortage of teachers.

Parents are the ones who teach us the difference between right and wrong. This kind of parental guidance will drown India. You can never progress on the basis of certificates of such exams. You need talent. 

This is no window of opportunity. Education experts say that cheating is just a symptom of the deeper problems that plague India's education system.

In Bihar, exams are a family affair, where each member is a Spiderman. Oh, we Indians have left behind Peter Parker!

Education system must produce not only knowledge but also morality in student's minds. This incident is really shameful and shows how corrupt we still are. Knowledge is power and it will open many doors, people will respect you, only if you earn it.

Cheating doesn't suit Indians. We have such a rich culture where we are known for parenting and cherishing values. Honesty and integrity may seem old fashioned to others, but they are our treasured values. 

Children learn from what they see. Parents and guardians : Please know what's right and what's wrong yourself first. Refrain from Bihar style parental guidance! Indian culture is all about appreciating and doing good deeds.

With modern approaches, we need to have 'moral education' in place too. Many modern things maybe against the Indian culture, but being corruption free and honest in all exams of life is definitely not.

REMEMBER "LIFE IS THE MOST DIFFICULT EXAM. MANY PEOPLE FAIL BECAUSE THEY TRY TO COPY OTHERS, NOT REALIZING THAT EVERYONE HAS A DIFFERENT QUESTION PAPER".

P.S: 1. Thank you, Bharat Kumar Tak for enlightening me about this issue and urging me to post about it and making me feel that my pen can make a difference, after all. :)
2. Linking this post to IndiBlogger's IndiSpire Edition 57 #IndianCulture

Friday, 20 March 2015

Broken Up

Curled up in bed,
Pillow wet, night cold,
Cried all night,
Strongest person in the morning!

You're no longer my cure,
This feeling is like,
A plane crashing.
One day, I hope, you wake up to find,
I was worth the fight.
I hope.

That special place you had,
Terrifies me now.
I hope we never stay broken up.


Saturday, 14 March 2015

Together

11th September, 2014. My daughter was born. The most memorable day of my life.

As I regained consciousness, the nurse brought her to me. She couldn't speak, just the usual crying that newborns do. But as I held her, she gripped one of my fingers with her tiny hand, tightly.

Probably, a lot of people would feel that this is an ordinary moment of joy of being a parent. But this day was more than that for me. My life got a sense of purpose that day.

Perhaps the day was mixed with joy and fear. I named her Ashika - she was my  'hope', my reason to #lookup to life! It was the first day of the rest of my life. I too was born with her.

That was the day I figured out my plan for life. 'Being a single mother wasn't going to be easy,' I pondered. I was overwhelmed, but I would be lying if I said I wasn't unsure - unsure of her future, the questions people would put up to her, about her daddy.

This day was a milestone in my life. The time I spent with her taught me a lot. It gave me the strength and motivation I needed to go on with optimism, and look up to life with a new hope.

Mine was an abusive marriage. Raghav would beat me up. The day I took a stand against him, he divorced me. Just a month later, I realised I was pregnant. That didn't melt Raghav's heart. He didn't even care about it. He shattered my 'Cinderella syndrome'. Initially, I was heartbroken, why it had to be me? A hopeless romantic has this end to her marriage. I developed self doubts. Why me? My family was my backbone in the difficult time.

When I first held Ashika - I got the courage to give her a good life. Ashika completes me. She can hardly understand even when I cry as I put her to sleep, but whenever I cry, she starts crying with me too. That's how maybe daughters are! Hence, I have started staying happy for her. We are #together since then, each other's strength.

I feel bad as she doesn't have someone to call a 'father' to. But at the same time, I try my best to cover up for a father figure. Maybe one day, maybe, I'll have to answer all her 'why's', 'how's' and 'when's'. Bit I'm ready for it, not ashamed.

Society is cold to a single mother. The absence of a man in the house sometimes haunts me. But they make you strong when they abandon you, isn't it?

Ashika is so special to me. My marriage did me no good, except her birth. Lucky is the woman, whose first child is a daughter. The map of my happy future is hidden in the crease of Ashika's smile!

Sometimes not the advice people give, but a company is all you need. Ashika's company although she can barely understand my pain - is a blessing! That's the power of being #together. Wordless conversations with her that mean the world to me!

A positive attitude is everything. If you don't indulge in bouts of self-pity and depression, you can handle single parenting. Never turn back to bad things, something good always comes out of it. You were simply not put through the storm for nothing.


P.S: This post is for Housing.com. Housing believes in the inimitable power of optimism. See here for details: https://housing.com/

Thursday, 12 March 2015

De-stress and #SlowDownZindagi!


Stress is one of the biggest reasons for losing sleep. There are so many concerns, troubles and deadlines that snatch away our sleep.

5 ways in which I de-stress and #SlowDownZindagi when it all becomes too much to handle:

1. Create spa like relaxation room at home!
Oh our lives are so busy that we don't end up having time for the luxurious treatment at spas. So what?! Spas can be recreated at our homes too. A special room or simply a special corner where you feel cozy and comfortable is enough to calm you down and relax you. I have a special corner in my home where I de-stress, a quiet corner with a good comfortable chair, a resting pillow, dim lights and candles nearby. I leave behind my cell phone, books, etc, so basically I leave behind deadlines, commitments for a while for some 'ME time'! Believe me, doing this unclogs your mind and refreshes you.

2. Music
Slow tempo songs calm me down, relaxes my muscles and frees my mind of stressful thoughts. I call it the 'music therapy'.

3. Scalp massage and a hot bath
I self massage my scalp with my eyes shut and thumbs behind my ears while spreading my fingers on the top of my head. I move my scalp back and forth slightly by making circles with fingertips for one full minute with Parachute oil. A long hot bubble bath follows that relaxes my muscles and soothes my mind. I have my favourite handmade apple soap, its sweet odour brings me joy and makes me feel as if I'm at a spa!

4. 20 minute exercise
After a hectic day at work, I usually feel lazy to exercise. But my parents have instilled a good habit of exercising atleast for 20 minutes daily to keep in good health and reduce stress.

5. Reading
Again in my special corner, with a coffee mug in hand and a book in another, I feel blessed and empowered. That's what reading does to you! It sharpens your mind. This activity lifts my mood and slowly I drift to a peaceful sleep as I pay gratitude for the day! Remember, "When sleep is sound, health and happiness abound!"

Btw, just a fact: Did you know that Friday of the second full week of March is celebrated as World Sleep Day!

Reclaim your zindagi! De-stress! Enjoy life, more!

There's more to this post. Hey, wait, listen! I want you, my readers to comment below about how you relieve stress. I will then select the best comment, which will then win vouchers! Exciting no?! Get going!

P.S: This post is for #SlowDownZindagi activity with Parachute Advansed Aromatherapy Oil hosted by Blogadda!


I am going to try a new quick way to De-stress & #SlowDownZindagi using Parachute Advansed Aromatherapy Oil in association with BlogAdda! See this ad to de-stress - https://youtu.be/eIJygZdlL6g

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Book Review: Rise Of The Grey Prince- Book 2 The Saga of Agni

Title: Rise of the Grey Prince
Author: Arka Chakrabarti
Publisher: Srishti Publishers
Binding: Paperback
Number Of Pages: 232


Blurb:
That cursed night at Nisarga had revealed the true reason behind his father's sacrifice and his own dark past. Each revelation now draws Agni into the sublime world of secrets. With Vrish and Guru Sidak by his side, fighting the daggers from the past and winning over the opponents of the present, somewhere deep down, he knows that his journey has just begun.

The other scarred prince walks the ashes of his reality. Haunted by the glimpses of truth the same night, Yani had but one choice – to survive. His unknowing steps, trapped in cruel games of ancient powers had led him to a truth, a truth which shall mould a good man in the clay of misfortune, hate and lust.

Such is the world of Gaya, and thus shall be the Rise of the Grey Prince – the one torn between the darkness of evil and a lone ray of hope.

******************************************************

Rise of the Grey Prince throws the reader in a world of fantasy, with an indifferent story written to astonish, scare and lure readers where the supernatural goes in hand with realism. 

The story is about Agni, and his moving world of secrets. He fights with evil that terrorizes his being and that of his family when he comes to know the reason behind his father’s sacrifice. He endears over the foe of the present, for which he knows that his journey has just begun.

The storytelling picks up a swift pace as the story progresses and I realise there's a whole lot happening. The story is fast-paced, develops rapidly, and is enthralling once you get into the story, and begin to make a connect with it.

The characters have not been properly filled out in this book. The start of the book should ideally give a list of characters and the basics of those characters, which is vital given the length of the story, and its complexity and number of characters.

A neatly drawn map of the land at the beginning of the book becomes an interesting element in the book. 

Arka Chakrabarti's style of storytelling is smooth and fluent. There are many layers to the story and the author has made a great attempt to tell it all. Probably in a hurry to finish the take the story from one level to the next, I imagine he has restrained from launching into elaborate descriptions. He has left a lot to my imagination.

The epilogue is riveting and smartly written, leaving great scope for the third book!

There is a link back in the book, with a short prĂ©cis on what happened in the first part; but it does not suffice. It is not presented well.

It is fictional story where the writer mixed fantasy with horror. With no big words/sentences, it is an easy read for anyone. The author has made a very good attempt at constructing and deconstructing before our eyes with his words.

All in all, this is a very promising concept, and could be a top-notch fantasy thriller. All it requires is attention to detail and proper presentation so that the ones who haven't read the first part can also connect!

Recommended. Happy Reading.

Ratings - 3.5/5

P.S: A review copy of this book was provided to me as part of the Book Review Tour for the series of books conducted by b00k r3vi3ws.


Book Review: The Secrets of the Dark - The Debt of Blood is Never Repaid

Title : The Secrets of the Dark
Author : Arka Chakrabarti
Publisher : Srishti Publishers Distributors
ISBN : 978-93-80349-90-9
Number of Pages : 342
Price [INR] : 195
Genre: Fantasy Fiction


Blurb:
Is one born with his destiny or does he forge it?

In the mystical land of Gaya, two prophecies bind the fate of men and empires alike. The Destroyer born from the royal seed on the Land of the Setting Sun shall bring the empires down, or so has been foretold.

In between the Destroyer and the world stand the Seven Guardians of Gaya, guarding the realm of man. A king, a father, defies the Seven and fate itself to save the last drop of his blood and prince Agni grows in the Land of the Rising Sun, exiled from his own people, unaware of his past.

Losing the woman he loved most to the shadows in the dark, Agni is thrown into a whirlpool of events that he neither knows, nor understands. His quest for vengeance brings him to the doorstep of a secret that will shatter the very foundation of beliefs of a world.

Can Agni avert his destiny? Can he uncover the truth about the Seven and the prophecies, now hidden behind a veil of ignorance?

The secrets of the dark are sometimes so terrible that they are better left unsaid.

*********************************

The detailed map of Gaya in the beginning and the details of the fictional land of Gaya and the list of characters in the end is good.

I liked the world of Gaya. Well set up and well described. The author indeed has an eye for detail and gift of painting very vivid images through his words.

The effort put by Arka is evident from his writing. There's a good control of language and pace of narration that kept me interested in it from start to finish. The characters have a certain depth to them, and the ending to this first part of the Saga of Agni series is not something we expect to happen.

An interesting beginning in what promises to be a riveting series involving prophecies, end of world predictions, kings, kingdoms, wars, princesses, bravery, chivalry, valour and the 'prophesied one' who could either make or break it all. The first book sets things up quite well and is quite packed with a tearing narrative which takes us across important happenings on both sides of Gaya, viz, the land of the rising sun and the land of the setting sun. It introduces us to Agni, the 'one' and to Princess Lysandra and her bravery on the battlefield as well.

The battle narrations are good. I think a little more effort on the design of the cover might have attracted the attention of the readers what the book reserved. Even the tagline - the debt of blood is never repaid - on the cover page is blunt.

I like Arka’s narration. It’s right there with the sort of language I’d expect in a fantasy genre novel, something that’s not direct enough to tell what is happening, and just enough to show it. Like Agni, soft-spoken and sensitive one moment, brave and valiant later and having the sense to understand the people around him as well.

The writer should be praised for creating a visual platform for his characters. There are places where he absolutely keeps the readers spell bound with each turn of events especially when the real identity of each character is revealed. 

The Secret of the Dark is author’s debut novel and at no point it looks like one. This being a historical fiction, Arka has done a lot of research to share the various facts, concepts, mythological characters and all about the period they lived in, which is truly fascinating. This is not the genre that I read regularly, still I was hooked to this book right from the very beginning. The credit for this goes to the author and his remarkable story telling abilities.

Since this is the first part of the series, his future book will solely depend on the success of the first book. Quite a risk, but will be highly rewarded too. Indian authors are waking up to explore different types of writing.

Overall, I feel the book was quite engaging and can’t wait to see what part 2 of The Saga of Agni will have to offer. Go for it for the book will keep you entertained!

Recommended. Happy Reading.

Ratings - 4/5

P.S: A review copy of this book was provided to me as part of the Book Review Tour for the series of books conducted by b00k r3vi3ws.



Tuesday, 10 March 2015

A Bold Step - Start A New Life

Tell us about a time when you took a bold step, and brought about a big change in your own life. Share your story with the world using #StartANewLife. 


It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop - Confucius.

A right step in the right direction can change your life for the better.

No step is bolder than confidence. A leap of faith can change your life.

I didn't manage to get admission to Medical College. I had two options - either wait for a year or pursue Engineering, as I had done well in that entrance. So I decided the latter. And trust me, when you take the leap of faith and take all things in good stride, nothing can stop you.

You are stronger than you think and made up to be resistant to everything life throws at you.
God makes you that way. 

So today, I have not only cleared all my exams but also came in the top 10 at the Mumbai University exams.

Just take a plunge and dive into it, you'll sail through it. I trust destiny and what God throws at me.

I took this bold step and it has led to a good place for me. Now I even continue my masters at Engineering. A girl who feared engineering, now pursues masters in it.

When life throws you at the rock bottom of the sea, it has ways to teach you how to swim.

Like how it taught me to come up in life even after entering something I was least interested in!

I struggled initially to cope up with Physics and Maths, but slowly - I managed. You ask me - How? I would say I never gave up. Yes, there were moments where I felt like quitting. But you must know each one has a struggle of their own, nothing worth keeping comes easy!

Work hard, believe in yourself and let your life start afresh - even from where you felt it has no scope left. #StartANewLife. 

This big, bold step today has made me feel secure about my education and soon I'll be teaching Engineering to aspiring engineers. This big change makes me feel happy as I look back to where I started. And somehow I feel proud of myself to have taken the big leap of faith and landed here.

All I would say is, acknowledge the situation and don't run away from it. A new beginning can be started any day. You just need to have the faith to move ahead and make it happen. You can and you will.

Take bad times as a fuel and work on. Because life has more for you than you planned. It has big plans.

Every day is a new hope, a new start. Believe in yourself, take bold steps. Life is all about taking risks.

So, stay positive, start your new life today!

At Housing, they love change - good change! Change signifies that we're moving forward, living better, and giving ourselves the chance to be the best we can possibly be. So ring in positivity and bring good changes to your life.  See here: https://housing.com/.

See this lovely colorful Housing.com Video Ad 

Thursday, 5 March 2015

Dry Baby, Happy Baby

What are the things that make your baby happy? Write a post about the sweet, silly and fun things that make your baby happy, and how a dry diaper contributes to your baby’s happy moments.


Another post for babies! IndiBlogger prompts/topics make you wander your mind and come up with such posts! I never thought I would be writing about babies and diapers! :D

What makes my baby happy? Well, many things. To list a few -

1. Consistent sleep at the correct time
Babies love to rest. If you don't allow them to sleep in the time they need to, they become cranky and irritable. Getting proper sleep for good duration helps them wake up happily and calmly.

2. Cuddle sessions
Brief cuddle sessions make my baby know how much I adore her and makes her super duper happy!

3. Hot water bath
It is a soothing experience for my baby as she feels comfortable when I put her in new loose, dry clothes after a warm bath.

4. Massage
A long massage stroking her limbs gives my baby relaxation and helps her sleep better without any battle.

5. A good diaper
While other diapers focus on keeping dry on the outside only, the new Pampers Baby Dry Pants promises dryness on the inside too. The magic gel in it locks the moisture and prevents leakage for up to 12 hours. Which is why I chose it for my lovely daughter - it truly pampers her and keeps her happy.

6. Playful game sessions like peek-a-boo and hide and seek (without instructions)!
Such sessions help me connect and bond with my daughter, Alia. Playing is good for baby's soul. Don't instruct them frequently, just let them be.

7. Lullaby  
My voice to her is melody. It puts her to sleep instantly as I rock her in her cradle.

8. Dancing to 'London Thumakda'
This has become her favourite song off late, so whenever it comes on TV/Radio, she starts jumping and dancing. It is heaven to see her so happy.

9. Feeding her on time
This is  a very simple strategy to keep babies happy. Feed them at correct times and they will not be bad tempered.

10. Tickling
I tickle Alia by making funny faces. When I say 'Boing' it makes her giggle! And it is adorable to see my little one burst into laughter.

11. Visiting parks
Alia loves parks. She gets super excited and chirpy as she knows she will have the best time of her life there!

12. Toys
Alia loves toys. All kids do, they love to spread all their toys in the house and play with them endlessly.

13. My attention
Yes babies love when they are given attention, especially by their mothers. Mother's smiling face makes the baby happy too. I invest time in talking to Alia, maybe she is too young to understand my words, but I still do, it helps us 'connect'!

These are a few sweet, silly fun things that make my baby happy! But all these things work only when she is dry and comfortable. Pampers Baby Dry Pants promises dryness, hence it promises happy moments to your little one! Indeed, dry baby, happy baby. :)

P.S: This post is for IndiBlogger Happy Hours. See here for details: http://www.rewardme.in/tag/Pampers.
See the new Pampers Video Ad :D