Sunday, November 25, 2012

Creating Masterpiece

Creating Masterpiece

I wanted to have kids and play with them even when I was a kid myself. No wonder when I had children of my own, I loved painting, walking and playing with them until cancer happened. The shock of being diagnosed of Breast Cancer, Stage III at the age of 29, took some fun out of me. Chemo, picking up broken pieces of life, dealing with relationships took its toll and I was not the same person I used to be. Somehow the fun activities were pushed into background, despite the fact that I was always there as a caretaker for my kids. Though not a big deal, coping with total hair loss was tough on me.
One day my son, who was sitting alone and creating some painting on his own asked me, "Maa, is our lives changed forever? Can we never paint together again?” That was the day I snapped out of my self-pitying role and climbed out of the pit. Nothing was going to stop me from having fun and living my life, especially I was determined not to allow Cancer to steal the love and enjoyment I could share with my children.
It was time again for long walks, games, carom, book reading, and off course painting.
This picture is my favorite photograph because it was captured unknown to us, when we were drowned creating our masterpiece and were totally unaware of the world around us. This still inspires me to snap out of tough times, as I had done earlier. It tells me that happiness lies in small things we enjoy with our family. Since then I have never allowed anything to stop me from having fun and enjoying life to the fullest.
PS: Some part of the hair in the picture is artificial.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

The Odd Couple

A handsome young athletic, boy works as a helping hand in the farm of a person who has a beautiful niece. He was sent there because he was unmanageable in his home, and his parents could not tolerate his tantrums anymore. He came from a family of hakim, who gave medicines mostly for free and therefore never had enough to feed his family of 8 children. The girl was 2nd among the 4 sisters, who did not have any brother in their home. To replace the missing son, her mom would seek help from the boy for manly chores. In the filmy style they both fall in love with each other. No other love story has ever inspired me more than theirs. In my childhood, I would hear some family members narrate incidences of their love story. As the love was filmy, there had to be the usual filmy style of people opposing to their love. The girl stood strong for her love, even when the boy was intimidated by her huge family of rich people.  
They were the epitome of the adage ‘Opposites attract’. They both had different attitude towards their lifestyle, as against the rich extravagant ways of the girl, the boy was one who saved bus fare by walking miles. Even physically they were poles apart, the boy was athletic, tall muscular man who had a lean appearance, where as the girl was short and rounded up with long flowing tresses. They went through tons of ups and downs in their love story, but nothing could ever tear them apart. Their everlasting odd love which lasted the onslaught of many social divisions inspires me to write to and share their story with the world. But nothing lasts forever. How did they finally part ways?
This is my entry for the HarperCollins–IndiBlogger Get Published contest, which is run with inputs from Yashodhara Lal andHarperCollins India.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Yummy App Tasting with Loads of fun thrown in

The Nokia Apptasting IndiBlogger Meet

After a wonderful Sunday evening, at the Indiblogger Nokiaaptasting event, I am now back at doing what I am good at – blogging. Now Rajiv Makni and Vikas Khanna, please read my whole blog because you promised to. The post is long just because you had too much offer; I loved them all and want to share every bit of the evening here.
 Whoever came up with an idea of bringing together Rajiv Makhni and Vikas Khanna together for promoting the dropping market of Nokia really needs a standing applause. The entertainment value of the presentation is good enough to erase those memories of hanging Nokia phones, and come back having a good feeling for the brand in your heart.
The event kicked off with the bloggers registering, and sharing their ideas about new great apps that would make a difference. I had heard enough about Rajiv’s wit and Vikas’s good looks from bloggers who attend the previous meet to land a bit early and take seat in the front. I did not want to strain my eyes  ogling at the guys from a distance.
Anoop started off the event with a weird kind of gesture and hurr hurr cry, which he says was started at the first Indimeet held in Bangalore. Somehow, it worked in shutting down our minds to rest of world and bring us right into the event; to have fun and enjoy it to the fullest.
The real happenings of the Nokia event kicked off with Poonam Kaul, Director Communications,Nokia walking on the stage to give a brief account about the brand Nokia and event they were hositng. She explained how they had first organized the Apptasting events for celebrities, success of the Mumbai meet with bloggers .. when with pounding hearts bloggers (especially women) waited for the two stars to walk in.  
As the two men walked in and took the stage, I knew within seconds that Rajiv is going to bring out the best out of Vikas to entertain us to the fullest. After a brief introduction how food and Apps got together, he began with those hilarious digs at the Vikas, who he says told him he is making Apps for twenty years, LOL. Carrying on with the humorous trait, Vikas won hearts of Indibloggers by fumbling to find the right word for Apps, first he said appliances before finding the right word. That was the beginning and there was no stopping from there. The stage remained vibrant with fun and entertainment all through the night.
Vikas Khanna reached right into my heart, when he mentioned how he got to sing bhajan in Udupi Krishna Temple. Here was a master chef who had cooked for President Obama, coming from Amritsar, but talking about a town near my native village and its culture. I was cleanly bowled over when he narrated the Kanakadasa Keertan “Nara janma bandaaga, Naalige iruvaga Krishna enabarade” in impeccable Malanad accent. It made me feel so proud and happy to hear that a celebrity had worked hard to perfect his accent just to get a chance to sing in the temple of Udupi.
After being won over for the evening, nothing was going to make me feel bad about the event for the rest of the evening. Not even RajivMakhni looking at me and making up his mind there and then that he is never going to allow me to share the stage with him. Being a smart guy, he had immediately noticed what a show stealer I could be, and decided not to take a back seat. That is how I never got to climb the podium and claim a Nokia lumia. It was all because I made Rajiv Makhni insecure.
The event now moved on to make the bloggers happy (at least some of them), by calling three of them at a time over the stage and allowing them to have a shot at fame in 30’s seconds. The smarty Rajiv handed over the tough task of selecting the winners to Vikas, while he, in his immaculate debonair style went on to entertain us, sometimes at the expense of the bloggers. I am sure not even Rajiv was prepared to hear what he had to from Tyger, when he asked him, Why does he blog? The answer was Blog had given him fame and life, 4 girl friends, a wife and he was going to be a father in six months. Nothing could beat that for sure! Here I was feeling happy to have won few goodies on contest, when unknown to me a real great star of blogging world existed.
Though we did not get to hear all the bloggers introduce themselves, some of those who did could tell the world what bloggers are all about. It is about people who are trying to make a difference to the world in their own way, about the things they are passionate about. There was the farmer, a senior citizen, 10 year old expressing his feelings and many others among those people who went there and told us why they blog. The introductions made me feel humble as a blogger and proud for being a part of their team.
As for the actual Apptasting: we were allowed to taste new Windows App, and all I can say is  technically we are moving ahead at lightning speed. From the days of my first 3310 Nokia phone in 2001, we are now having X-ray visions of our surroundings with Nokia City Lens, movie making of 1920’s with Creative Studio, find the right wine and dine with right combination with Cocktail Flow and many more amazing wonderful advantages just in matter of 11 years. 
Blind folded Soup Tasting.
Technically speaking I am not a techie, but there is no doubt I love the progress happening in technology and the new gadgets techies churn out from the ocean of science. When I am allowed to taste an app like in the App-Tasting Indiblogger meet, I can lick the plate clean. I was not born as a romantic person who believes in love at first sight, at least not until I touched a keyboard. Unbelievable, but it did happen finally, the fairy tale love at first sight and that too with a computer.  I love gadgets and new applications to be added to my mobile, including games, no wonder with his wit and sense of humor Rajiv’s presentation this part of the event the most interesting one to me.
The show steal-er of the event was the Gangnam style dance performed between the cookies and techies. Rajiv even had an app which could train bloggers to dance. To top it all we had a Raj- Simran love story with a great twist presented in his own witty style by Rajiv again.
Rajiv like usual had all the drollness and showmanship at full flow, while Vikas entertained by just being himself. He smilingly allowed Rajiv to lure every ounce of adorability out of him most willingly. I wonder why no one swooned with those hot guys on stage and wine to go.
There were quite some Lumia’s at stake for cutting onions with a technique taught by Vikas, quiz which included soup tasting to identify the ingredients, and other fun filled events which kept me entertained. Rajiv here came to the rescue of the Vikas when bloggers took advantage of his pleasing and agreeable nature and tried to argue or interfere with him. The tact he used left the bloggers who were subdued, not knowing what actually hit them.

 He also went on to demonstrate the breath analyzing qualities of our mobile phones. We have to applaud the two volunteers, especially Nabanita, who walked up the stage to take the test. There is no doubt that Rajiv and Vikas were attracting the women folk like light attracts moths, and the girls were willingly becoming gullible to the pranks being pulled on them.
We had some more entertainment for bloggers, where they had to shoot three spots selected by Rajiv Makni and present it to him. The best photographer won another Lumia.
As a Grand Finale, we had the bloggers who had been chosen by the jury to present their “My wish is your App” ideas. The scene was conducted with Vikas being a judge along with Poonam and five other members (three bloggers included), to whom the bloggers had to present the ideas in 60 seconds. The ideas were great, ranging from snatching phones from kids without making them cry, clicking pictures of products and trying to find the product in shops nearby with discounts, to filling potholes on Bangalore roads.
A precious moment to remember
As the event winded up, I wanted to talk to the stars, especially Vikas because I had heard his inspiration story of having trouble walking in earlier days, which had led him to kitchen and later becoming Master Chef and twice winner of Michelin Award. I hesitatingly approached him only to find out he was much better human being than he appeared there on the stage. I mentioned about Farheena’s trouble walking and surgeries she had undergone, when he gracefully walked up to her, sat down beside her and allowed us to photograph him with her, with the same grace he had carried throughout the evening. I am touched!

Then it was time for dinner. When walking back after my dinner, I had my chance of revenge on smarty Rajiv who was giving an interview. I walked up to him and interrupted his talk, because there was no way I was walking away from the event without personally talking to him. I told him about my blog, my daughter and introduced him to her as a TV personality. The girl just loves stars and people on TV. I am sure Rajiv was highly impressed by me and was glad that he did not allow me get on the stage and steal the show from him. So with a satisfied smile of having made right decision he went back to his interview, and having my own revenge of making him a bit uncomfortable I walked away. I did not have my camera man (who was enjoying the dinner) to take pictures of him with Farheena. Next time!
I would not call this Indiblogger Meet, but rather a grand event organized by Nokia exclusively for indibloggers.
I met our own Indiblogger team of Renie, Kartik, Vineet, Nandita and other fellow indi-bloggers. Though people were complaining of not having interaction with other bloggers, I found a way because I had will. I connected with many new bloggers, and did not even spare the celebrities nor Nokia team. It all depends on what attitude we show. Kartik made sure we got into the right indiminibus and reached home safely. The sweetheart even called me up next morning to know if everything had gone all right the previous day. Awwww so nice of him.
Finally I demand Indiblogger correct my broken relationship with Nokia because they were the ones who sent the other woman(or phone to be precise). Nokia was the first mobile phone I owned in 2002. Back then, even the Nokia 3310 was a treasure.With the advent of Camera phones, I wanted a phone which would allow me to take color photographs. That is when I got my N70. We clicked everything that caught our fancy back then.  One fine day, with heavy heart, I gave my up N70 and finally took the N73. Again when my husband brought me an E63, I refused to change because I was used to N73 and comfortable with it. The only problem I had with the phone was, unlike Kasab, it got hanged too often.   I used the phone for a long time, by changing the panel from silver to black and replacing the keyboard when the buttons wore out until Indiblogger interfered and broke my relationship with Nokia by giving me a HTC wildfire S phone as prize on their contest. It is now left up to Indiblogger to go ahead the repair my relationship with Nokia by giving me a Nokia Lumia.

For those who have great ideas to share with Nokia, the brand has come up with a contest called “Your Wish is My app” which will lead you to fame and money if selected.

Thank you Nokia, Indiblogger, Rajiv Makhni and Vikas Khanna for giving us a special Sunday evening to cherish forever.  

A smiling Farheena means a day well spent.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Our own Mystery Novel -The Bankster

People around me have always dreaded my MNS (Mystery Novel Syndrome) more than my PMS. I was hooked to reading mystery novels from a very young age, when I started with Hardy boys. Later I moved to Nancy Drew, Agatha Christie, Alistair Mclean, Sidney Sheldon, Dan Brown and many more authors. Sorry to say, but I always avoided reading Indian authors when it came to mystery novels because I did not believe they could ever match the skills of the authors I was already exposed to. I loved reading Indian authors when it came to non-fiction or books like Malgudi days, but mystery novels were always a big NO.
When I held the book ‘The Bankster’ in my hand, I heaved a sigh thinking why I decided to read this book. I could recall all the employees of the banks I have visited coming into a mystery novel and shuddered at the thought of them acting as James Bond or Sherlock Holmes.
With some effort, I pushed out all the negative thoughts and prejudices I held against Indian Mystery Novel authors and decided to have a go at this novel. Unbelievable, I raced through the 358 pages , nd 47 chapters, holding my breath, only stopping in between to attend some absolutely unavoidable work. Even for a reader who has enjoyed books like ‘The Firm’, this financial crime proved enough saucy and interesting.
The attraction lay in the Indianized English used by author, which is subtle but will not escape the Indians, who will love it for a change. The sub plots of the story are well knitted into the main story, with a speedy narration building up the mystery before unraveling it in with a twist. Yeah! What is mystery novel without a twist in it?
I have to admit that banking is not something I knew until now, neither it is something held inside those small offices I walk into to make deposits or withdraw cash. The intricate process of real big time banking is explained in great detail by the author, which is going to change the perspective of many simple readers like me who have had no previous knowledge about banking. The author has chosen to explain and put stress on what he knows best, i.e. Banking, while not getting into complex details about diamond industry, weapons or nuclear reactor plants. Smart guy I would say.
Instead of a detective , we have a journalist and ex- banker -  Karan (at least we can easily pronounce the name)donning the role of hero, who goes on to unravel the mystery of series of bone chilling murders that shakes the foundations GB2. The novel has Global conspiracies, interesting plots,  secret dark characters, and race against time, all essential ingredients for a chicken soup for mystery novels.
I am kind of scared to discuss the plot over here, because being a woman I may talk too much revealing the Bankster (a cross breed of gangster and banker) to the readers. The thrill of reading the novel lies in guessing what to expect, while knowing deep within your heart that what you expect to happen is going to be replaced by the unexpected.
The story begins in Angola, where a secret CIA agent exchanges weapons for raw uncut diamonds making some big bucks in the process.  Right then we is airlifted to Kerala where an elderly man, resort owner Krishna Menon is trying to avert a replica of Chernobyl in his hometown.  He had lost his son to the accident that took place in the power plant. The next subplot appears in the form of mysterious deaths of GB2’s key employees, which comes out as suicides or accidents. How are all these people connected to each other? The answer is unraveled by Karan Punjabi, who loses his close friend to the conspiracy and is hell bent on discovering the truth hidden by lies and treachery. I was shocked that the bankster turned out to be none other than #$%^&&&.. ha ha there….. just stopped myself in time.
I would recommend the book for readers who enjoy mystery novels, and those who do not feel upset with a sneaking Hindi word here and there.
Finally I would like to thank Ravi Subramanian for coming up with a good book that has allowed me shed my inhibition against Indian authors who write mystery novels in English. Wish you all the best!

The Bankster

Author – Ravi Subramanian
Publisher – Rupa Publications, 2012.
Price – INR 250/-
ISBN – 978-81-291-2048-9

This review is a part of the Book Reviews Program at . Participate now to get free books!

Ravi Subramanian's presence on website(s) and social networks

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Shopping experience at Jabong....

This blog post won a second prize gift of Jabong Gift Voucher worth Rs. 2000

I confess I am an internet addict. I love the world of internet, where I can shop, earn, blog, win contests, watch videos, movies and have fun playing games. Not long ago, internet shopping was the elusive option for me, because none of the online shopping sites offered COD options to Byndoor, the village where I lived. After shifting to Bangalore and getting a debit card with which I can shop online, my world has changed completely and I love it for now. May be the trend will continue until the chair will break under my lazy weight. J
There was time when I enjoyed window shopping in shops because I love to have a look at all products available for me to purchase. Now window shopping has become easier with the window right in my bedroom on top of my desktop. Unfortunately, when surfing websites like Jabong which has nearly 50% discount on some lucrative products; the window shopping drills quite a big hole in my debit card. It is with great difficulty that I have to hold myself back from creating a black hole in my bank account. J
A few months ago I was introduced to the online shopping website Jabong from where I purchased lovely anklets for my daughter Farheena. She wanted silver anklets with some color in them, and which would tinkle when she walked. I had been searching for the right anklets for quite some time but did not find something she liked. When I saw the perfect anklets for her on Jabong, I decided to go ahead and purchase it from the website. The only problem was I could not make out much from the picture and was not sure of the size.
Online shopping websites always have 30-DAY RETURNS policy, but the problem is when I shop through COD offer, the money goes into my wallet on the website and I do not actually get the money back. Some sites, though good with price and discounts, have the policy of not involving the balance in wallet and COD shopping going together, which makes it tough to properly utilize the money in the wallet.
I got in touch with the customer care of Jabong to discuss this problem, and I could not believe that I had an option of opening the box, checking the product before paying the delivery man. WOW! Online shopping was very close to real life shopping now. I ordered the lovely Payal for my daughter through the COD option and eagerly waited for it.
The delivery man arrived with the anklets and when I tried making payment for it, he insisted that I should open the box and check if I am satisfied with the product, if not I could return it to him and make no payments. He actually insisted to make sure the product is right for us before taking the payment. I really loved this option Jabong gave me and since have been shopping there often products I need. It is also easy for me to sit at home and purchase things for my family by just changing the shipping address for them.
The recent messed up experience with Flipkart makes me appreciate this facility more now. I had ordered a  Firefox Alloy Mini Bicycle Pump from Flipkart, but unfortunately when I opened the package, the product shown in the picture on their website and the one sent to me did not match. It was totally a different product as you can see from the pictures below.
Buy Firefox Alloy Mini Bicycle Pump: Pump

Now I have to wait for the reverse pickup which may take weeks, and another 10 or more days for a refund. If I had chosen COD option that the money I paid will be transferred to my Wallet which I need to utilize when I am buying another product from the website. Not something I appreciate. As for compensation such trouble for customers, Flipkart pays Rs.100/- which I refused to accept. 
But with the check before you collect the delivery by Jabong, In case I am not satisfied with the product even after looking at it once, I can always return the item for getting a quick refund.Typically the refunds are initiated within 2 business days of receiving your items. Receipt of the refund would depend on the mode of payment chosen by you. The expected timelines are as below:
Refund Method
Refund Receipt Time
(After Initiation)
Jabong.Com Vouchers
1-2 business days
Bank Transfer/NEFT
2-4 business days
Debit Card
5-7 business days
Credit Card
7-21 business days
The great fashion megastore has 1,00,000+  for me to ogle at when I don’t have money to buy them.
Like all the people who hesitate to buy products online, I started that way too. It was my visit to USA that changed all of my perspective when I watched in awe when people bought even TVs and Laptops online, finding huge discounts on the product.
After coming back to India my luck had got me some wonderful shopping vouchers from online sites, therefore the hesitating period had to be over. Other than one bad setback, all of my shopping experience has been good, saving me a lot of time which I spent searching for the right brand, color, or size in the shops.
Gone are the times when I hesitated to shop for myself, now I shop even for my family from the comfort of my home. Recently my sister wanted to buy a surprise gift for her son on his birthday, and she found the perfect Football Set for him on Jabong. 
As she had tough time shopping for it from her mobile (she is not a net savvy person) she asked me to shop the item for her. Within 5 minutes, I had placed the COD order for her from my account choosing ship to a different address option. Imagine the Auto rickshaw fare, time spent in searching the product in shops and then having trouble slowly sneaking it in without the kid watching us if I had to do it the offline way.
I love the various designs of Kurtis from which I choose for Farheena. 
As to answer the question WHY I LIKE SHOPPING AT JABONG, here is my list:
Savings: I can save money on good offers they have on products, not to mention the travel, expenses on food and time I save. It came to me as a surprise that online stores have better prices on products than the conventional stores. The savings, and special offers for occasions make it much more lucrative for me. 
Convenience: I can surf through thousands of products online, moreover the search options make it easy to find the specific item I am looking for. 
Check delivery option: It makes me feel good to have a look at the product before I pay on COD.
Choice and Variety: When I purchase a sandal from shop, I may look at 10-15 products before buying one, but when I shop on Jabong, I can surf through 100 of products before making a choice. There are products are many top brands like, Catwalk, Fila, Rocia and many more to choose from 
No rush or crowd: I can shop without the rush, crowd and noise troubling me while I make my choice
 Absence of Promotion: I am not fond of hearing about the glorification of the products by the skillful sales people. I love making my decisions without being pushed to buy a product. 
No Worries about Checking Products: Many may consider this silly, but I do feel bad when I make the salesperson show me all the shoes, dresses or other products, but then walk away without buying them. I regret that they have to pack all of it back and without benefits. I usually hesitate to look at more products because of this reason, which does not hold me back when I shop online. 
Easy Shopping: It is easy to shop not only for me, but gifts for any person in India through online shopping. Not many sites have shopping accessories under Shoes, Clothing, Sports, Bags, Jewellery, Accessories, Beauty, Home & Furniture under one roof. 
Our Sale DealsThose who like offers can always click on the ‘Sale%’ to view the best sale deals Jabong has to offer. Some of the offers are unbelievable where you may find products with 73% off. Under the Premium you can select from well known brands like DKNY, ELLE, ESPRIT, CALVIN KLEIN JEANS, TRESMODE, CLARKS, TAMARIS, VOGUE, MEHRASONS JEWELERS, LAVIE, HIDESIGN, FCUK,and  SATYA PAUL for women and FRENCH CONNECTION,TIMBERLAND,GAS,CLARKS,SATYA PAUL,TOMMY HILFIGER,CITIZEN,NAUTICA,ESPRIT,MARC ECKO, and FOSSIL for men

A pioneer in online shopping in India, is a fashion hub of the latest trends and styles. promises to fulfill all your style based needs through its wide range of products including clothing for men, women, kids, shoes, accessories, bags, jewellery, sports, home and living products, beauty, fragrances and toys.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

A Season Of Hope

Details of the event:

Date of the event : November, 4th, 2012

Venue : Ulsoor lake, Bangalore

Time: 5:30 PM

Dear All,

Every year the month of October, globally is observed as International Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Last year to create awareness on breast cancer,  the HCG Cancer Center Bangalore,  formed the largest human awareness ribbon, where 6, 583 people stood in the form of pink ribbon. This event is recognized as National Record, by Limca Book of Records.

This event drew mass publicity in the media and drew a lot of attention in the city. Moreover, when you do such large activities it takes the brand to a different level.

This year we are planning to form the Largest Human Chain in India, to create awareness on cancer. More than 7000 people will hold battery illuminated pink light 
to create awareness on cancer around Ulsoor Lake, at 5:30 PM, November, 4th, 2012. This event would be recognized by Limca Book of Records.  

So friends, join us on this spectacular evening and lend a hand in making this event a grand success.


Rayyan Lost in Laptop

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