Present-Able

Image Source

I work in a team of three people, two guys and then me. We work on setting up an end to end system for buyers of a reputed supply chain market in the world. We worked country wise, taking up data and the requirements for the portal, setting up a user interface and then training the people of the company how to use this so that their buying gets easy. It is just like Flipkart and other e-commerce sites, except that, they but for the needs of their own company. Products on the website would be owned by different manufacturers. We would be making buying for the company so easy that all they need to do is login to a site and click the items they need and check out. The manufacturers will get their order and get them delivered to the company. Earlier, the client and the teams would go shopping from town to town to pick up merchandise to make their products. This includes raw materials for products, card boards for packing, toiletries, water cups and paper for invoices etc. Now all of that would be made simpler.

Making the portal and setting the end to end system is not as tough as training the users of the client company to work on this portal. First, the client has spent a lot of money by getting our company to make this system for them. Next, they have spent a lot of money on us too by sponsoring our travel and putting us up in acclaimed five stars hotels and having a luxury car at our disposal during our stay there. And like all clients, even these people were hard to please. They would go out of their way to try to make our product look bad. It was all about how you present the product to them and help them use it, so that they will get used to it and start enjoying the buying experience. Each training session lasts for a week with about twenty buyers in one session. Twenty is a large number to impress and this has to be done every single day for a week with twenty different sets of people each day.

The first day, my colleague took it upon him to take the session. Since we were away from home in a different country for more than a month already, he was dangerously home sick. He looked unkempt and shabby. His clothes were branded and his suit was freshly pressed. Yet, he looked like he had just woken up. My other colleague and I looked at each other wondering what was to happen. If the crowd was looking to make an impression, I knew that it was no way going to be a good one. He started the session with a joke but everyone remained grumpily seated. When he began the actual presentation, the people around looked away from the screen and started talking to themselves. They were looking all around and did not pay any attention to my colleague who was sweating to make them understand the product. He was visibly upset and itched his beard feeling the irritation.

Next day, it was my chance to take up the session and it went surprisingly well. The people payed good attention and they even understood quite a lot. No, it was not because I was girl that I got all the attention. I spoke really well and had ample help from my colleagues who were now put in the backseat. The next day, my other colleague took the session and that too was good. The crowd was eager this time and we had quite a few interactions too. I was feeling good but my other poor colleague was deeply hurt. I tried to console him by saying that it is okay no problem, but the pain was already rooted deep and the male ego had been stumped. I looked at him and then at the other colleague who was currently taking the session. Honestly, his use of language and presentation skills were not that great, but people still found him interesting. The guy next to me was polished and spoke really well, yet they booed him off the stage. I looked at them one after the other and the difference became very obvious.

"Oh, don't be silly." He shouts.

"I'm not being silly. I'm sure this is what it is." I say.

"Nonsense. Just because I have a beard doesn't make me a bad presenter." He argues.

"No, it doesn't. But people get the impression that you are not serious about your work. Look at us, here were are in one if the best countries of the world representing our company and the least we can do is show the client that we can look after their product much better than we can take care of ourselves. For that we need to look good and feel good. If we look unkempt, they think that we were shabby with their work too. I changed my entire wardrobe before I could come here, you know. Look at him, he is clean shaven and doesn't know the language well. Yet, he manages to make a much better impression than you." I say pointing to my other colleague who seemed to agree to what I was saying.

"I don't understand. I don't feel like myself anymore. I miss my family, I miss my home cooked food. I hate these continental breakfast and dinners. I miss everything back home and I do not feel like taking care of myself. I just want to get out of here at the earliest." He melts down.

"Okay, relax. We have been here for over a month now. All we did until now was make the product. This is our last week here and now we have to sell and present the product to them and train the buyers on using the product. Get a grip and groom yourself for now. After that, you will notice the difference. Please, for the sake of finishing this project successfully, listen to me." I try to make him understand.

"Okay fine, but I still think that this is silly." He looks up and smiles and walks away.

The next morning he is all clean shaven and looks years younger suddenly. He is in his best suit and shining shoes and had a bright smile on his face. He looked really fresh and happy today. I was glad. When he took the stage, there was a murmur in the crowd. His face grew sad for an instant but after a while the crowd was eagerly listening to him devouring every word he was saying. I smiled in my seat. People were calling out to him, asking doubts and explanations. Some girls were calling him way too often. He was always a good looking guy, but all he needed was a good shave to bring out the professional in him. You see only when you take good care of yourself is when people believe that you can take good care of others. That is how it works for me and the world. I see him standing up on the stage smiling away in joy and speaking like a dream. During the tea break, he takes me to a side and thanks me for helping him out. He said that he now felt really light and realized that it is not looks that matter, but how you present yourself that matters. 

We took turns each day for training and everyday was smooth sailing. Soon, the project was successful and we came back to India. I'm sure, now, my colleague his befriended his razor for life.

This post is a part of #WillYouShave activity at BlogAdda in association with Gillette

I now tag the below bloggers to take up the #WillYouShave Challenge:

4. Swathi
5. Nisha

If you guys decide to write a post to carry on this tag, please mention that you were tagged by me.

Silence Will Not Help #AbMontuBolega



Cleanliness is both the abstract state of being clean and free from dirt, and the process of achieving and maintaining that state

This is how Wikipedia describes cleanliness. The Prime Minister of our country has stressed upon this fact right from day one. Remember the ads by Aamir Khan called 'Athithi Devo Bhava'? Are we actually a clean nation? Are we setting a good example for our visitors? But then again what does cleanliness mean? It has a different definition for each one of us. For me cleanliness is being pure and true to oneself from outside and the inside. This should be shown in our actions and our behaviour. And most importantly it should come from ones own thought and from within. And how do we achieve this? But creating awareness. And how do we do that? By raising our voice.

I would like to address this issue on two grounds. One, by cleaning the literal filth from the streets of our country. Two, by cleaning the filthy thoughts from the minds of people.

On my first wedding anniversary I visited Delhi and Agra. The first thing that welcomed me as I stepped out of the Delhi airport, was the unbearable stench. There was a pile of garbage, open garbage mind you, waiting to welcome visitors at the capital of the country. We hailed a taxi to our hotel and the streets of our capital city surprised me. The streets were narrow and they were lined with filth. I could see garbage cans at the corner of almost every street, but more than half of them were empty, thanks to the garbage strewn across the length of every street. There were street vendors sitting beside such filth and selling their merchandise that ranged from clothing to food. Imagine the diseases that would plague us and them from eating and selling at such unhealthy environments? They are unaware of such things, but we being the educated youth can make them understand right? Waiting for the government to intervene and do something about this is not going to help. A celebrity nominating his famous friend for the Swachh Bharath campaign is only going to provide fodder for the media camps and photos for Instagram. Nothing else is going to happen after that.

I live in a posh suburban society in Bangalore, in a colony. Recently, the municipal council of our area has announced that they will not collect the waste from our homes until it is segregated. I applaud the initiative by these guys. So from last week I see every housewife of our area, promptly placing two bins outside their house. One for dry waste and one for the wet ones. It takes only two minutes of every individual's day time to do so. One neighbor can inform the other and then form a chain regarding this. The area is clean and so is the house. It sounds hard only in the mind. All it takes now is to have two bins instead of one and drop items into them accordingly. If every single house around a vicinity decides to adopt this, then just like how the Prime Minister said, no soul can come visit us and tell us that we live in a dirty country. 

Now coming to the filthy minds of people and the filthy intentions of society and their blatant norms. India is a free country where everyone is allowed to do what they want to. They call her Mother India and worship her twice a year, once in January and once in August. But sadly no woman is given the respect she deserves till date. A lady wearing jeans is frowned upon and then she is blamed for seducing the men around her. If she gets raped, then point the longest finger at her and treat her like dirt. A lady not wanting to bear a child is treated like an criminal and god forbid if she gives birth to a daughter then she is termed as the devil. Where do all such things come from? How are such thoughts embedded in the minds of people? It would take a while for people to figure this out. But you know what, now it is too late to figure it out. Instead, we need to focus on getting such thoughts out of their minds. 

Some people find their excuses by saying that they are uneducated and are unaware of how to behave? But don't they have eyes to see what actually happens around them? Let us give them the benefit of doubt and believe that they actually do not understand about what is going on. But we, the educated youth have the eyes to see such things and we sure do not have the strength to digest such things. Let us not keep quiet any more. There lies a Montu in every one of us. Let us wake him up and do something for our future generations. Speak up! Being silent is not going to help anymore. Scream your thoughts out. We are the children of technology and let us put that to good use. Create forums on Facebook and post pictures of everyone who is seem dirtying the country or committing a crime. Make him an outcast until he realizes what he has done and apologises. Make the forum so strong that people should think twice before doing anything heinous.

Start a campaign within your street. Go home to home, explaining the importance of a clean area. Grow some patience and help them understand the need to segregate their garbage. Help them understand and change their thoughts. I know it is not going to be easy. But it is not impossible either. If one of us tries to make a difference somewhere, I am sure hundreds of us can make a difference to an entire state and thousands of us can make a difference to a country. Keeping quiet has only added to more filth, in the nation and in the minds of the people living in it. There is no need to be tolerant anymore. There is no need to sit quiet and wait for the government to come in and do something. What about individual thoughts? What about individual responsibilities towards the country we live in? You thing you can make a difference only if you have money of form a party? You would be surprised at the things you can do once you make your mind up. Can you write? Pick up the pen and spread awareness. Can you speak? Pick up a mike and make your point. Own a camera? Take pictures and tell your story. Bring the unsung heroes in front and put them on a pedestal. Start a revolution with the simplest of tools. Just begin, and then you shall see how many people shall follow you. Speak up today, or be prepared to stay silent forever.

The #AbMontuBolega campaign lets you voice out your opinions and be heard. This is an initiative by Strepsils to speak up and make your voice count. If there are places that need cleaning, people who deserve your attention & authorities who need to hear your opinions, then don’t be a silent spectator. Raise your voice and make a difference. We have the power to raise our voice against all that is dirty in our country. Let us put that power to good use. Report anything and everything that you have to say and try to make a difference to clean India.

This post has been written as a part of Indi-Happy hours on Indiblogger in association with Strepsils.

Follow Strepsils on Facebook and Twitter, to make a difference today.

Anger On Canvas

Image Source: Snowstorm by Maurice de Vlaminck 

For years it remained within
This anger of losing it all
Holding it within myself
Has been a reason for my downfall

But I had no one to talk to
Nobody seemed to understand me
I was left to battle it out
They don't see what I see

I was asked to not hold on to it
Everyone asked me to let go
How I could do it I wasn't aware
Would it help me, I didn't know

I chose paint to express myself
Poured out all my feelings with a brush
My anger slowly flowed out of me
Spreading across the canvas in a rush

This is what the outcome was
The aftermath of fire blowing smoke
It looked messy in every way
But to me this painting spoke

My anger was strewn all across
Within myself I now felt light
It is important to let go of the past
There is no point of an endless fight

As I see this painting here
I see how messy my life has been
I should have done this earlier
Instead of being all grumpy and mean

Now I'm ready to embrace the new
Will start life on a new happy note
I shall preserve this one for ever
This art work shall now be my life's quote

Written for Magpie Tales: Mag 247.

Frozen

Image Source

Maybe the cold has gone to my head, but I feel frozen inside. Suddenly every emotion and every heart beat tries to strangle me pulling me down with the pressures of maintaining a relationship that was wrong from day one. I feel the walls around are watching me with multiple eyes and judging me in a crass manner, without hearing the full truth that my heart wants to cry out. Every smile is fake and I hate myself for conforming to the regular juvenile norms of the society. I am drowning in this gargantuan space without someone to look at or talk to. I don't even know if I am alive anymore. Robotic routines, painful socialization, household chores all have started to get to me now. Trapped, is what I feel. In every phase of life and maybe within myself too. Do I break out? I'm not too sure if I have the strength to do it.

A myriad emotions plague me. Each with a different tinge and different hue, leaving me whitewashed and devoid of any color in my life. I feel empty, hollow; almost like life was drained out of me in an instant. It doesn't hold any meaning now, nor any importance. I don't know why am I still tied to the shackles of this meaningless liaison. One with a lover and the other with a husband. Which of it doesn't make sense, I'm not sure of. The man I live with, walks in with different girls in each arm every night. He mocks me and spends the night with them in my very own bedroom. I am left alone in the huge space of the empty house with the freedom of enjoying every fantasy that I can think off. The affair started because of loneliness. Everyone needs someone, don't they? Its not about sex alone, in fact it is never about sex. It is about having someone to talk to and knowing that someone is there who cares for you. Love, maybe. But forbidden.

I feel ashamed, raped and mutilated. All inside my mind and yet so painful. My bones are devoid of strength and my blood reeks of guilt. He was never loyal, but I did not have to get back at him. Believe me, that was not the intention but just the thought of having someone to talk to got me carried away. It would have been easy to walk out of this marriage and start a new life, but it will never be easy for him. Everything he has worked on until now will be taken away from him, but he will not kill me for it. He will keep me as his slave and torture me to death daily one nerve at a time. It does not matter to him if I live or die, but for his career I must live and put up a happy facade as the perfect wife. I must look gorgeous and be soaked in luxury. My words should be sugarcoated and I should ooze charisma as I talk about my lovely husband. For I am, the beloved dutiful wife of the country's biggest superstar. 

He is addicted to fame, I would be lying if I said that I did not enjoy the perks. I like being famous, even though it is secondary. But what happens when the greasepaint if wiped and the cameras are off is more scarier then what happens in the movies. He loves me, he says. Rather said. But I'm the one who lives with him outside the house as a wife to paparazzi. But inside he lives with women, who I see eye to eye in every party and every occasion. They smile and pass by me in my own house almost as if I'm the visitor here. My husband doesn't care two hoots about how much he is hurting me. Why am I hurt? It is not because I love him, it is because he doesn't seem to notice what I'm going through. I'm his arm candy in all functions and he is the best husband in the world for those four to five hours. After that he turns into a stranger.

I met my lover on one such occasion. He was the only one who could see the pain behind my beautiful smoky eyes. We started talking as my husband was busy trying to woo a top shot director and we ended up having a good time together. The worst part of it was that my husband never realized that I was talking to someone else. The first time he came home and stayed the night with me, my husband was away. The next time he was home, they saw eye to eye but never said anything. What aches me the most, it is the fact that he knows that I'm having an affair and it does not matter to him. I tried to speak to him about it one day, but he said he was not interested in what I did with my life and walked away. Probably I feel the same about his life too. Actually, I don't. The women I see in this mansion drive me crazy constantly reminding me of the fact that I'm only the wife and not the lover. Or the soul mate. Maybe some of them are that to my husband, or maybe he never never really bothers to have a soul mate. Or a lover.

This morning I called it off with my lover, not because I did not like him. But because I know it is not right. There seems to be still some emotion left in me that I do not want to hurt another person. And that's all there is to it. Everything else is empty filled with a vacuum that drowns me within myself. I have forgotten who I am and what I have become. I have no strength left to fight it anymore. Not that I ever tried before. I know there is nothing that I would get from this. Be it if I'm in this deadlock or if I try to get out. People know me as the wife of the superstar and that is all my identity is. Apart from that they know nothing nor do I. So what do I do now? Nothing. I just don more makeup and get ready for the launch of my husband's new movie this evening. And yes I shall wear the diamond necklace I was asked to purchase for this very event. I shall smile, pose and pretend to enjoy the evening while I await death within myself. For him.

Worded Colors

Image Source

I'm swept away by a tornado
Lost in the chimes of the purple fountain
I walk along the lanes of blue leaves
Finding my way up the red mountain

I'm awed by the floral path
Pink sunflowers sing me a song
The sun seems to be shining bright
I pat them on their head and walk along

Leaving me yellow with their touch
The bumblebees cross my way
Then I hear sweet giggling tones
I see orange unicorns laughing away

I sit beside the green stream of water
The fishes come up and glare at me
I smile at them with utmost joy
Like a mirror in their eyes I can see

The lemon tree bows down at me
Offering me its ripe plump fruit
A single bite of it tastes so sweet
Then I'm carried away by a parachute

I find myself in the turquoise clouds
A flock of birds come along to greet
I feel like flying without wings
As butterflies now caress my feet

I'm taken away to a different planet
Everything here seems to work by magic
It has a hint of every word I've read
Joy, love, lust with a note of tragic

My black and white life is long gone
I now find hidden colors every where
The feeling within is so serene
As I sit and read in my floating chair

This is the world I belong to
A world so deep beyond its looks
I die often and am reborn everyday
This is my magical land of books

Flight To Success

Image Source

"He is a sissy, I do not want him in my team", their voice echoed in my ears every time I set foot on the playground.

Yes, I have always been a timid boy but that doesn't mean that I need to be picked upon or ridiculed. Time and again, they made fun of me and made me feel like I am disabled or incapable of doing anything. It took all the patience I had to hold on to my self confidence and not fall prey to their attacks. 

Today I think about all of them and smile, every time I get ready to pilot a flight that carry people like them.

This five sentence fiction is written for the topic 'Flight' at Lillie McFerrin Writes.

Book Review: The Fault In Our Stars

Image Source

Title: The Fault In Our Stars
Author: John Green
Publisher: Penguin Books India
Genre: Romance/Drama
Price: Rs. 399
Pages: 313

Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel's story is about to be completely rewritten.

I know that almost everyone of us have heard about this book and the wonderful things that people have been saying about it. Almost every Facebook update had a quote from this book and almost everyone spoke about how much they cried when they read the book. I bought the book only for its hype. I loved reading 'A Walk To Remember' and that is a stand out book for me. And I knew deep within my heart that nothing can surpass that book. But since everyone around egged me to read this one, I fell prey. The book is about Hazel and Augustus. And Peter Van Houten and his book 'The Imperial Affliction'. Hazel has thyroid cancer and Augustus has just been declared NEC (No Evidence Of Cancer). Hazel is sixteen and Augustus is seventeen. They meet at a cancer support group led by a certain Patrick, who has lost his nuts to testicular cancer. No, I'm not trying to be rude here, but that is how they say it in the book. Augustus falls truly, madly and deeply in love with Hazel after knowing her for a week or two. Hazel reciprocates too, just like the way it is expected to happen in any book. But she has cancer and her days are limited. Augustus has lost his leg to cancer and Hazel loves him inspite of that. Sweet! Soon, as expected Augustus's cancer returns to plague the lovers and their newly found bliss. What happens next? If you know what a cliche means then you would have guessed the ending by now.

The first time I read the book, I yawned like a hundred times before I could finish ten pages. No it was not past bed time, it was a bright shiny afternoon. The story started off with a drag and continued to drag. I put the book aside and pick up other books that I had to read and review. Normally I wouldn't put a book down until I had finished it, but this one did not show any promise to go on with it. Then again after more positive reviews and cajoling from my dear blogger friends, I picked the book again after assuring them that I would throw the book at them if I still did not like it. I started re-reading the book. This time with 'A Walk To Remember' out of my mind and with zero expectations. Nothing changed in the story and my feelings. The story was boring than ever and cliched beyond any comparison. But this time I noticed the beautiful English used and the wonderful narration by the author. And sadly, that is the only good thing about this book.

The book is all about cancer yes. And it boasts of not showing it in a disastrous way or with an angle of tragedy. Cancer is dreadful disease and it is disastrous to the human affected by it and the people around. There have been a myriad of movies and stories revolving around this disease and this book is just another drop in that ocean. Yes, the book doesn't show cancer as a tragedy. The author takes a very nonchalant approach towards the disease and the use of sarcasm/humor in the plot feels like mockery instead. The way the concept of Augustus's friend Isaac losing his eyes was handled was pure callousness. One more thing that bugged me throughout was that the protagonists were too mature for their age. They are teenagers for God's sake. But they are shown to be so wise that it put the twenty eight year old me to shame. And it comes out so fake that you think that Hazel and Augustus have been through centuries to understand the beauty of life and death. The book claims to have staccato bursts of humor and tragedy. I could not find both. More than anything else, the book borders on mockery and cliche. And boredom.

This did not happen to me!

I have seen cancer every closely. My maternal grand mother struggled for more than a year with thyroid cancer before she finally left us. If anything, cancer is about pain. The pain of the victim is much lesser than the pain of the people who have to see the victim go through it. This book hardly talks about pain except for the regular shedding of tears by Hazel's father. The whole angle of Augustus using his wish to take Hazel to Amsterdam to meet Peter Van Houten, so that she gets to hear how his book actually ends, was a bit too much to digest. Silly actually. Infact, the whole angle of Peter Van Houten was unnecessary. Yes, he is the one who culminates the book, but if it was something else then probably this book would have been better. Every word of the story was predictable and after I finished this book, I had new found respect for 'A Walk To Remember' and the movie 'If Only' (I don't know why, but the ending of this book reminded me of this movie. Spoiler alert?). There are a few good lines/quotes in this book though. The only time I smiled while reading this book was when I came across the line 'You gave me a forever within the numbered days'. That is a brilliant line and I wish it was a part of some other book.

The only time that I shed a tear while reading a book was when Don Vito Corleone dies in 'The Godfather'. And it is status quo until today. I did feel sad and borderline depressed after 'A Walk To Remember' and 'P.S I Love You'. They are books of true romance and love. I loved every word of them and have lived their characters. This book could not do any of that for me. Hazel was a girl who walked around with her oxygen tank without which she could not breathe and whom she called Philip. She is shown to be too intelligent wise for her age, as she understands and accepts death, and yet she sleeps with her teddy bear whom she calls Bluie. Augustus or Gus is the charming elf who sprinkles Hazel with pixie dust and gives her hope even when he loses all of it when his cancer returns. He walks around with an unlit cigarette. I don't know why he did not light it, since it was not lung cancer that he had battled and survived earlier. The story continues to drag till the end. Maybe this is not a bad book. Maybe I have just read better ones.

You will get this if you have read the book.


Verdict: Great writing and narration. The hamartia of this book, is its story and its characters.

Rating: 2 out of 5.

Love On The Highway

Image Source: Magpie Tales

I feel sorry for missing it
But work has come my way
I know you will never forgive me
For not being there on your birthday

The distance already is too much
I know how much it means to you
Such an important day for you
And here I sit alone, feeling blue

In six hours it is the big day
You shall wake up without me around
I'm feeling pathetic inside
Feel like burying myself in the ground

The work on my desk is piling high
In stress and pressures I am lost
Its your love that is keeping me going
But all this at what cost?

Screw it, I am coming to you
Even if it means driving all night
Weakness has now spread all over
But seeing your face I'll be alright

I might be blamed at work
But I am willing to take that chance
As I'm driving alone on the street
My heart sings a song of romance

You are the only one who matters
Everything else shall come and go
Love is what binds us together
Nurturing us and helping us grow

I shall make it on time
To wake you up with a kiss
I want to see you smile bright
That is something I'd never want to miss

Here I am racing against time
Zipping along the dark highway
Today I make this promise to you
I'm never gonna miss your birthday

Written for Magpie Tales: Mag 246.

A Basic Right #ToiletForBabli

Image Source: Indiblogger

The first time I visited my native place in Kerala, I was eight years old. I was only there for a short vacation with my parents. Having being born and brought up in Bangalore, the concrete city, the simple life and the natural ambiance of Kerala was a welcome surprise to me. There was lush green forests and farms all around. The place we stayed was a huge house right in the middle of three acres of farm. It was a sight to behold, but only for a while. When I woke up the next morning, I saw the female folk and children of the house walking in a hurry with a small plastic bucket in their hands. When I asked them what were they up to, they told me that this is how they begin their morning routine. The huge farm house did not house a toilet and hence people urinated and defecated in the open, right alongside the place where they grew their own vegetables and fruits! The word shocking would be an understatement here. Twenty years have passed since then and sadly nothing much has changed. And I see that this is not only in the villages of Kerala but this happens in almost every village in India.

Today in India more than two lakh children die from diarrhoea and India has the highest number of under five deaths globally. Today six hundred and twenty six million men defecate in the open, putting at risk the next generation and themselves. Forget the men, even a woman has her dignity compromised by not having toilets to use. They are forced to urinate and defecate in the open, which puts their hygiene and health at a big risk. Some people think that building toilets is a waste of money as they have the entire open space of the world to cater to their excretory needs. Till date, there are people, both men and women rushing to a nearby river for defection and to take a shower. In the same water of course. If this does not cause diseases then what does? This same water is then used for cooking and drinking, causing dangerous epidemic diseases like cholera and diarrhoea. Two lakh children dying in a year is a a very bad statistic. And that too why? Due to lack of toilets. This is the lamest of reasons and one that everyone of us should be ashamed off.

A lady is expected to be covered from head to toe in our country in order to prevent crimes like rape. But when the same lady is expected to shed her self respect and defecate in the open, no one calls that a crime. I remember watching an ad on TV where children from a rural school were asked to wish for anything they wanted and a local NGO granted it for them. Most of the girls there had only one thing to ask. Toilets for them. A man urinating in public is ignored and hence he does not feel the need for a toilet at his house. But what about his wife? Is she expected to sit out and defecate in the open too? While on a train journey to Shirdi last year, I saw a line of women from children to grannies sitting alongside the railway tracks to finish their morning routine. The sight was depressing to say the least. The smoke from the train enveloped them completely and so did the dust and mud they were sitting upon. Some women actually walked away without washing their hands or themselves. Aren't they aware of the basics of hygiene? It is a sad thought.

This must change. People need to be educated about such basic things and the cons of their doings. Just imagine a woman defecating in the open while she is on her period. This thought makes me shudder. Or what about a woman who is pregnant and is asked to go through such humiliation just in order to attend nature's call? Isn't hygiene a basic human right? It is sad that the concept of open defecation has not been addressed until now. We need to do something about it and the first think to do is talk. Talk to people around and educate them on the importance of hygiene. We are not asking them to use sanitizers and tissues, just asking them to fight for their right to use bathrooms and toilets. Some years ago the Indian government built toilets in various cities. They were called as 'Sulabh' in Bangalore. They were pay and use toilets for both men and women. But a few months later they looked like a garbage dump with unbearable stench. When the government is taking measures to improve sanitation, people need to adhere to it and keep it clean. It is not only about building toilets for people, it is also about taking care of it by regular washing and cleaning. 

Domex has taken a stand and decided to do something about it, by starting 'The Domex Toilet Academy'. This was launched on November 19th, 2013 and has resulted in bringing a change to the villages of Maharashta and Orissa. They make affordable and accessible toilets and let people know about the importance of clean toilets and good hygiene. They are doing a brilliant job so far and aim to build around 24,000 toilets by the end of 2015 so that every person is given their basic right of hygiene. Let us join hands with them and help make our country free from open defecation and the diseases associated with it. #ToiletForBabli is Indiblogger's way of contributing to the Domex initiative. I have made a contribution already and so can you.

You can bring about the change in the lives of millions of kids, thereby showing your support for the Domex Initiative. All you need to do is “click” on the “Contribute Tab” on www.domex.in and Domex will contribute Rs.5 on your behalf to eradicate open defecation, thereby helping kids like Babli live a dignified life.

This post has been written as a part of Indi-Happy hours on Indiblogger in association with Domex.

Engraved!

Image Source: Engrave.in

They say that when you truly love someone their name is engraved in your heart. Engraved means it is for ever. Engraved means it is deep. So when someone contacted me to review the Engrave group of products I was stumped. First, because I had not heard of them at all. Second,because whatever they do seemed too good to be true. 

Engrave is an India-based design collective engaged in the pursuit of creating unique lifestyle products with fine craftsmanship. They believe that personalised gifts are the ones that are cherished the most. Therefore they are committed to offering an ever expanding range of simple to create canvas prints and laser engraved products. They combine the finest materials with a master craftsman's eye for detail to produce top quality products and gifts, perfect for any occasion. The Engrave studio utilizes only the highest quality material and state-of-the-art instruments capable of producing high quality engraved and printed products. Their products are made to last a lifetime. This makes an Engrave gift one of a kind, something genuinely unique and personal.

These are some of the products they offer:


Image Source: Engrave.in

I'm a bit old fashioned when it comes photos. I like to have photos framed and hung rather than display them on a digital photo frame. These plaques from Engrave can be customized to include your own pictures or anything else that you like. They look personalized and tell a story. Every product is unique and the options are plenty. From rewards and recognition to zodiac signs, love, humor and my favorite poetry, you can choose anything that you want to get engraved. These plaques can change the look of a room instantly. And the best part is they can be customized the way you want. First you choose the plaque size and then the layout, next you upload the image you want and the text to be engraved. You can even choose the font for the text. If you are looking to gift this to someone else and have no idea what to get engraved, this site even offers sample texts for major life events, holidays and festivals. They even have plaques of celebrities. My favorite among them was the Joker one, that is shown above. There are plaques of celebrities like Marilyn Monroe, Elvis Presley, Audrey Hepburn and many others. Priced moderately, these are surely worth every penny you pay for them.


Image Source: Engrave.in

Before they print, their design team works with each of their customers personally till the picture's perfect. Once they are satisfied with the digital proof, the photos are then printed on archival grade canvas using the giclee printing method that's used by artists and galleries. Each print is given a protective finish to ensure that the colours don't fade over decades. The canvas prints are then hand-stretched, framed and inspected to ensure the highest standards and attention to detail. This is why these canvas prints look so bright and full of life. Like plaques, these too come in multiple options that include vintage art paintings, chalkboard art, kitchen art, celebrity posters and more. My favorite here was the Insomnia by Coffee Canvas Print. If you do not want to pick any of these standard ones, you can again go in for the customized ones to include your pictures or anything else that you want. They last a lifetime, making this the perfect gift for a loved one.


Image Source: My Own

When they asked me to pick any sample piece from their collection, I decided to choose a name plate. My husband and I will soon be moving to a place of our own and I wanted a name plate that includes both our names. I did not want too much fuss so I got a simple one. But this is not how all the name plates are. This again can be customized the way you want. The wooden name plate that I received was smooth and handy. Not too heavy and not too light either. Engrave even provides the screws to attach your name plates on your desired surface. There are hand painted name plates to cartoon ones that surely are pleasing to the eyes. There are some adorable name plates for kid rooms too. You can even get a name plate within the logo of your favorite football club.

Apart from these items they even have their own collections of paintings and wire art. They also have the feature of 'Gift Ideas' where you can choose gifts for your boyfriend, father, mother or anyone else. In case you are confused regarding what to choose, they even have an 'Ask the Expert' option who would help you choose the perfect gift. The 'What's New' feature allows you to check all the newly arrived items under a single page. You can even choose to have your picture printed on the front page of a mock magazine like Filmfare or Time. With all these options here, this is definitely the most personalized site that I have ever come across. Everything you want can be customized the way you want. And all you have to pay for is the product and nothing else. 

If personalized items and gifts are your forte, then look no further. This is the place for you.

Check out their site here and their Facebook page here.

Spoonful Of Health

Image Source

Age Seven: My first migraine attack. I remember the day so clearly. I was in class and my head started throbbing all of a sudden. Everything around me went blank and I could only see yellow shapes in front of my eyes. A call was made to my parents and they rushed to pick me up immediately. Not expecting a young child to have migraine, they were hurt when the doctors revealed it to them. The pain was intolerable in itself to me, but the fact that my parents were so worried added to the pain. The house became glum all of a sudden. I was always an overactive naughty kid but due to these headaches I was constantly under medication and was asleep. All my friends in the neighborhood missed me and would come to visit often. I could see the sadness in my mother's eyes. But there was nothing that I could do about it.

Age Nine: Whooping cough. I don't know how it happened. I remember gorging on gooseberries during the winter vacations and before I knew it I was constantly coughing like there was no tomorrow. The cough was accompanied by phlegm and it drained me out completely. I couldn't sleep at nights due to the cough and hence it kept my parents awake too. They took me to all possible doctors in the city but nothing helped me. They were sleep deprived, but yet rushed to me with water and cough syrup every time I got a bout of cough. I missed my final exams due to this, but my teachers were cooperative enough and agreed to let me take my exams during the holidays. I was a good student and hence I cleared it. But my mother was seated right outside the exam center with medicines handy. The cough lasted for more than two months and my parents were drained out. They left no stone unturned to heal me, but for some reason nothing seemed to work. 

Being the younger of two daughters I was always doted upon by my parents. But me falling sick meant silence in the house. The house always felt empty even though everyone was present. My parents were constantly worried about what is happening and prayed to all the Gods they could think off. Finally someone told us about a pediatrician in one remote corner of the city and my folks took me there. Thankfully the medications proved to be good and my health started improving. My cough subsided and I regained back my lost strength. I was already a thin child, but the sickness made me look like a stick insect. My mother went out of her way to help me put on weight. I was given the best of fruits and vegetables. There were juices with every meal followed by iron and calcium supplements. I was irritated with all this, but since it made my parents happy I took them anyway. My diet was soon filled with fruits, meat, vegetables, milk and two other important things. One was Chyawanprash and the other was a tonic that was supposed to make me feel hungry often. Surprisingly it worked.

They say that a child fills the house with happiness, I agree. I do not have children of my own but when I visit the homes of my friends I can feel the magic. There is noise at all times and the environment is very jovial. Their squeals, chatter and giggles fills the air with warmth and happiness. I like naughty children, there is something very adorable about them. They are hyperactive and thrill you with their antics. It might seem too much at times and get annoying, but when it is taken away you notice the difference. A happy child is the sign of a happy home. If a child is sick, the house moves to the black and white era and is depressing. A child has the capacity to draw color into every ones lives and homes. And for that a child needs to be healthy. With both parents working these days they hardly get anytime to spend with their children. But no compromise should be made on the health of the child. A tight hug, assurance of being there and a spoonful of Chyawanprash mixed with love come close to making up for it.

With so many children dying of poverty, the responsibility of taking care of our own doubles up. Its not games, fancy toys or gadgets that make a child happy. Or healthy. Knowing that their parents are always there for them is what they need. Take a leave when the child is sick, one day of not working is not going to stop the world from moving. Concentrate on the physical health of the child, but do not ignore the mental health. Most children these days hardly know their parents, as they are left under the care of a maid. Make up for the lost time and do not miss on watching your child grow up. Give importance to small things in their lives and live your childhood through them. Every child deserves a happy and healthy future. 

Happy Children's Day!

This post is part of Indiblogger Happy-Indi Hours in association with Dabur Chyawanprash.

Determined

Image Source: Google

People will try to put you down
Insecurity is all around
The more higher you try to reach
They will pull you to the ground

Jealousy is not hard to find
Just look around, evil eyes you can see
With a calm facade they curse you
Some people cannot just let you be

Do not get trapped in their web
They will say a million things
When you are soaring high
People will try to clip your wings

Learn to be your own motivation
Hold on to faith and do your deed
Ignore the others and follow your heart
With envy let the haters bleed

Do not doubt your chosen path
With head held high you march on
Once you reach the destination
You will know for great things you are born

Believe in yourself and move ahead
Do not get consumed by their grind
Nothing can come to stop you
Once you are strong and determined


Envious Wish

Image Source: Google

I was seeing him after years, but yet the thrill he caused within me was still the same. We had been madly in love years ago but it had all come to an end in an instant, when he proposed. Since I came from a broken family, the concept of relationships scared me. It was really hard, but we had to move on. But today when I see him with his wife, I feel a pang of jealousy and cannot help but wish that I was in her place.

This five sentence fiction is written for the topic 'Envy' at Lillie McFerrin Writes.

New Dawn

Image Source: Google

A tough day gone by
I rest tonight with a smile
Feeling satisfied

Feeling satisfied
On having won this challenge
Set for tomorrow

Set for tomorrow
I lie down feeling content
Awaiting new dawn


Try To Pretend

Image Source: Absolutearts

It was a combined dream of ours
To venture into the world of art
Holding hands along the way
We nurtured the passion in our heart

I always wanted to be a writer
Your passion for words added to it
Working closely day and nights
We realized our dream bit by bit

Our love gave us the strength
As we scribbled away in joy
Nothing else gave us this much pleasure
Writing is one thing we both could enjoy

While I was stuck, you comforted me
You encouraged me to never give up
My words took time to take shape
You nurtured me like a mother to its cub

And then one day it all ended
Success chose to only come my way
I was waiting for your appreciation
But your eyes said what you couldn't say

A part of me died that day
But the words continued to flow
I was climbing higher in all the charts
But life had dealt me its blow

I understand your pain and hurt
But you can live your dream through mine
I do not understand your anger towards me
Why treat me like I committed a crime

With each passing day, you crept away
In jealousy your love was lost
Why did you have to prove
That success does come at a cost

Tomorrow is my big day
A book shall finally hold my name
Would you come to be a part of it?
Or would you continue to hate my fame?

Darling, this dream belongs to us
What is mine, is yours too
This doesn't change anything for me
My love for you was always true

How could you do this to us
Is this how our story shall end
Even if you don't feel it inside
At least can you try to pretend

Action Replay - October

Image Source: Google

I haven't updated my blog in more than a week and I'm feeling miserable about it. I try to write at least five posts a week, but October kept me so busy that I couldn't take out time for anything. Since Internet is now permanently blocked on my client network, I cannot even read other blogs! Yeah, tragic. Somehow I managed to write fifteen posts in October and two of them were mandatory book reviews. I feel sad that I haven't been able to take out time to update my blog, but I wanted to give most of my time to my regular job as it was in a critical state and it was my responsibility to get the work completed. Yes, I managed to get it done in time but the next phase of it started immediately keeping me more busy. By the time I get home from work I am really exhausted and do not have the strength for anything else. Mostly these days once back home, I log in to work again to check on a few things. So well, now you know why I was away from this space.

Almost the whole of October went away with me buried in work. Weekends and late nights too. Thankfully Cal was supportive of it and helped me sail through easily. I hate compromising on the time I get to spend with him, but this time there was nothing else that I could do. He understood that and on the rare weekends that I was free, we made the most of it. This month I read two books to review. Once sucked and the other one was decent enough. Some Indian authors make you lose faith in the entire concept of books. And a few others let us know why good authors are hard to find. One thing I am sure of, I would not be reading Indian authors for a long time to come. I have a lot of books pending to be read and I just hope I would be able to take time off to read them. 

I watched 'Happy New Year' and I actually liked the movie. Although it was cliche personified, it was entertaining. I am a die hard Shahrukh Khan fan, but I have hated some of his movies as well. 'Jab Tak Hai Jaan' and 'Ra.One' topping that list. I enjoyed 'Chennai Express' too, it was funny in a weird way. 'Happy New Year' clearly lacked a dialogue writer with dialogues being amply borrowed from other movies, but somehow it was chuckle inducing. Deepika Padukone looked so gorgeous and hot that I have finally begin to keep a watch on my waist line and eat healthy now. That girl is so stunning and I completely respect her for her growth as an actress. Yes, she still had a south Indian accent but that only adds to her charm and her dimples. Abhishek Bachchan is clearly suited only for comic roles. I loved him in 'Yuva' and 'Guru', but roles like that come only once in a life time or once in a Mani Ratnam. His comic timing is impeccable and he was superb in 'Bol Bachchan'. Yeah, I'm a crazy fan of Rohit Shetty movies. And I can't believe that this post is getting so bollywoodish. Have I lost my touch of writing? 

October finally ended with a trip to Kerala. Road trip with Cal's family for a religious occasion. It all went in the blur as we traveled to Palakkad and Wayanad and back to Bangalore in two days. We left on Friday night and were back on Sunday night, leaving me exhausted to the bone. Sadly, I did not have time to de-stress and I had to get back to work the next morning. As much as my work is taking a toll on me, I love the rush and the responsibilities. I'm being appreciated big time and I'm getting to learn new things everyday. But from now onwards I am not going to let it take all of my time. I'm consciously going to set aside some time for my blog everyday. I'm gonna get back to the five posts a week and I have promised myself that I should have at least twenty posts for the month of November. And I'm going to do everything I can to keep up this promise.

I miss writing poetry the most. I see so many wonderful prompts around me, but do not get the time to put it into words. A lot of words crowd my head as I lie down to sleep, but by then there is no strength left in me to write them down. Even the rhyming scheme is perfect in my mind, but I am unable to put it on print. So I'm going to get over this and write a lot of poetry this month. For myself first. I want to prove it to myself that I can do this. I want to push the envelope and do justice to both my work and my blog, as these are the two things that define me as a person today. Hopefully I should be able to live up to my own expectations.

November started with a bang as I won the WhatTheBlack activity on Blogadda. This is my first big win and I get an iPad. I have stayed away from tabs until now, but this would surely be a prized possession. I hope the lucky streak continues in everything I do. But more than anything, I just want to master the art of time management and multitasking, so that I can devote more time to my writing and reading. 

So tell me, how was your October?