Rejuvenated: Part 1

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Aaaaannnd I'm back! For those who have no idea what I'm talking about, I was away on a break for the last five days. And by a break, I mean a vacation. And by a vacation I mean an actual vacation and not like the break that went wrong last time. I've been overworked since the past few months. But I clearly suck at taking breaks. The last time we took a holiday was in May last year. We have been so happy at out own place that we did not feel the need for a vacation then. But wanderlust struck again and we decided it was time to do something about it. We went and came back. After spending five days in temperatures under sub zero, Bangalore welcomed us with its blistering heat. I can't believe what has happened to Bangalore these days. Winter lasted for exactly two days and then boom! The scorching sun is back with all its prickliness. I miss the good old Bangalore at times and yet there is no other place in the world where I would want to stay. Bangalore was and will be my home for life.

Cal and I have never seen snow in our life, so we decided it was about time to strike that off our bucket list. We planned an almost impromptu trip to Shimla and Manali. Immediately tickets were booked and an itinerary was drawn up. A week later, we were on a flight to Chandigarh. We had a customized trip planned out for us exactly the way we wanted and hence we had a driver waiting for us at the Chandigarh airport. I was surprised when I walked into their airport. There was hardly anyone there. Apparently it is a new airport and still a lot of services are yet to come in. We drove to Manali from Chandigarh. Chandigarh city is absolutely beautiful. It is very well planned with wide roads and disciplined traffic. The helmet rule for pillion riders is implemented so well that every one I saw riding pillion was wearing a helmet! The traffic rules are stringent and people follow it to the tee. The air is clear and chilly. The city welcomes you with open arms and that was the best start to a vacation.

The drive to Manali was picturesque to say the least. The temperature was around 5 degrees when we began and kept falling rapidly. By the time we reached Manali, it was night and the temperature was -3 degrees. My teeth were chattering and I was smiling looking at the snow clad mountains around me. Our resort was on an elevated spot and the view from there was splendid. Wrapping ourselves in two layers of winter clothes, we hit the bed and slept off almost immediately. We woke up to dewy windows and scenic beauty. The snowfall was less this year and occurred only at a few spots. Apparently the whole city of Manali will be covered with snow during this season, but this year God decided otherwise. We traveled to a few spots where there was quite an amount of snow and enjoyed ourselves.

Gulaba snow point was covered with snow and we tried out hands at skiing. It was disastrous but we did have a wonderful time. They gave us an entire costume to don, that looked like we were going to the moon. Boots, jumpsuit, gloves included. We even tried on the local Himachal attire and looked funny in it. In the middle of the snow clad area, there was a guy preparing maggi and tea. The best maggi that I have ever eaten all my life was here. The feeling of eating piping hot food while being surrounded by snow was something else altogether. Next, we went to Solang valley. This spot had more snow when compared to Gulaba. The scene here was straight out of a movie and was magical.

At the peak of a mountain here was a Lord Shiva statue that was naturally formed out of snow. And you had to get there barefoot. Yes, on the snow! Among the thousands of people present there, only around twenty people dared to do it. And guess what, Cal and I did it too. Barefoot on the snow, walking up quite a few steps. For me it was not about being religious and praying to God, it was the walk up there that excited me. It was painful to say the least. My feet were completely frozen after a few steps and I couldn't feet my fingers at all. Yet, we kept going. The snow was slippery and for every step we took, we came back five steps.

Finally after a while, we were standing at the peak with the Shiva statue. Ah what a feat that was, walking on bare feet. But then it is not only about going up, it is also about coming down. Climbing down steps is normally easy. But not when it is covered with slippery snow. We slipped, fell and got up a hundred times. But we never stopped. When we got back to the spot where we had left our shoes and looked up at the peak we felt so thrilled! We had done it! The fact that we couldn't feel our feet for the next 48 hours is something else altogether. The shooting pain that comes with it is inexplicable, but when I look back at what I did I know that it was worth it!

To be continued.


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See you when I see you!

Book Review: Gone Girl

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Title: Gone Girl
Author: Gillian Flynn
Publisher: Orion Publishing Group
Genre: Thriller/ Drama
Price: Rs. 144 on Amazon (I'm surprised as to why it is priced so less!)
Pages: 422

I was surprised by how cold Rosamund Pike was as the character of Amy in the movie. But when I read the book, I knew. I had loved the movie immensely and have been wanting to read the book since a very long time. Very rarely do I feel like reading the book after watching the movie. I mean when you know the ending, what is the fun in reading right? While the movie has shown Amy's character brilliantly, Nick's character wasn't explored much. I wanted to know what went through his mind during all the drama that unfolded. After all, there are always two sides to a story. The screenplay of the movie by the author herself, was so perfect that I went ahead and bought a collection of her books to be read on my Kindle. Sharp Objects, Dark Places and Gone Girl. I started with the one that I always wanted to read.

Nick Dunne and Amy Elliot meet each other at a party, fall in love and then get married. A few years later everything between them changes. Amy realizes that she is not the "cool girl" that Nick fell in love with. That was only something that she was pretending to be when she met him. Nick is in love with an Amy who no longer exists and fails to see the actual her. This causes a weird stagnancy in their marriage and one fine day on their fifth anniversary, Amy disappears. Gone, just like that!

What happened to Amy? Was she killed? If yes, who did it? If no, where did she go? All these questions take myriad shapes around a psychotic back ground and become answers themselves. The author explains the minds of the two protagonists absolutely smashingly just like Nick's desire to smash open his wife's head and look inside to understand what she is thinking. Since I saw the movie first, every time I read Amy and Nick it was Rosamund Pike and Ben Affleck who came to my mind. But the brilliant writing did not distract me even once. The revelation of the truth is disturbing, depressing at times too, but it is happening word by word. The human mind is such a complex thing. At times, the desperate need to exist takes precedence over everything else. Even if love is left behind.

The book describes a scary marriage. Between Amazing Amy (the 8th and the lone survivor child) who has had a troubled childhood as her parents were busy cashing in on books based on their survivor daughter and Nick, the mediocre man. The short lived love, the hesitant dialogues, the missing, the grand realization and the final desperation - all these together form a story that is as beautiful, poignant, disturbing and shocking at the same time. Love is a very beautiful emotion, but it is dangerous too. Especially if you are only in love with the idea of that person. The ending was weird and too hard to digest, but somehow justified thanks to the eccentric personalities of the characters.

Read the book even if you have watched the movie. If you haven't watched the movie yet, then you are in for one hell of a ride.

Verdict: Absolutely mind blowing! My first Gillian Flynn book and now I'm a fan for life.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Watch Your Back

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Many of them admire your lithe frame
While some secretly undress you
A bunch of them would claim to be your friends
Only a hand full of them will remain true

Many will envy your deep dark eyes
And yet praise you every time
Your hoarse husky bold voice
To some will sound like a chime

They will always smile at you
Watching you through your bone
As much as they throw their love at you
Some just wish you turn into a stone

You'll be called names one too many
Ignore them like you always do
Nobody like the ones who speak the truth
And it's not only hatred they feel for you

They talk about your style non stop
They think that you dress like a whore
Your independent streak they cannot handle
They cannot believe that you're your own oar

The world has become a very weird place
No respect for those who live their own life
While many may applaud your choices
Quite a few are wielding a knife

You're popular, no doubt about that
Even if you only see things in white and black
Embrace the people who come to you
At the same time, watch your back

Written for Magpie Tales: Mag 302.

What Not To Wear

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When it comes to clothes, I'm very particular about everything. Right from the color, to the fabric, to the cut to the pattern - I want everything to be perfect. I have been very particular about fashion since I was very young. When I was not earning, I used to dress in anything that was wearable. I have had enough of my share of faux pas. But once I turned eighteen and started taking up promotional jobs, I used to save up money to buy good clothes for myself. No, I was not an ardent fashion follower, I just wanted to wear something that suited me and what I was comfortable in. This continues till date. When I was a size zero around 5-6 years ago, almost anything I wore used to suit me. But once I started gaining weight, I became more conscious of the clothes I wear. That was when I started dressing according to body type, keeping in mind the current trends. Today I know what cuts suit me best and what colors and patterns I can carry off very well. I'm pretty open to experimenting with the clothes or accessories I wear. But there are a few things that I would not want to be seen dead in.

Palazzo Pants
Ever since skinny jeans came into vogue, it caught up with me very hard. Earlier I tried to get all my regular fit jeans modified to look like skinny jeans. While some of it worked out, the others made me look like a circus clown. But when I started making my own money, I invested in good skinny jeans. I am used to my trousers fitting me like second skin and yet giving me enough room to breathe comfortably. The same goes with my formal trousers as well. They are narrow bottomed and fit me like a dream. Wide legged pants is something that I cannot bear the sight of. I once tried one just for kicks in a show room and it did feel very comfortable, but I thought it looked hideous. My doubts were confirmed by my husband who was rolling on the floor and laughing once he saw me. Since then, I have stayed away from palazzo pants and am very happy with my skinny jeans. But I must admit, some women look wonderful in palazzo pants and carry them off so beautifully. As for me, it is not something that I would ever wear.

There is a reason why this particular piece of garment is named so. It is only to be worn during the nights while sleeping. But there are so many women who hibernate in it morning, noon and night. Some even take walks in it or walk out to buy stuff while clad in it. According to me this is one garment that shouldn't have existed at all. I find it extremely clumsy and tent like. Agreed it is loose fitting and airy to help you sleep comfortably, but why wear it during the day? I hate the look of this and I feel that women look unkempt when ever they are wearing one. While some women think that it helps them cover their whole body, they have no clue how their body looks in it. I cringe every time I see a woman in this.

While I think these look very beautiful on every woman, I would never be comfortable in wearing one. Give me the shortest of shorts and I'd wear it, but a skirt or a dress is a big no no. I probably wouldn't know how to sit comfortably in one. No matter how long the skirt or dress is, this will always be a problem to me.

Bras with transparent straps
Nothing defines the word tacky more than this. I have seen women wear this over tube tops, halter tops and spaghetti tops and it looks very cheap to me. To start of with, it is a transparent strap. Not invisible. There is a reason why some one has invented the strapless bra. Women seriously need to think about it.

Caged neck blouses
Yes, the very blouses that are completely open at the back with tiny ropes of fabric tied together to make a cage out of it. I always wonder what would happen if a strap suddenly broke on it. This for me is a desperate attempt to look sexy. I'd rather go backless, instead of this.

Boots in summer
Yes Sir, this is very existent and causes me an eye sore every time I see someone tuck their jeans into a tight leather boot during summer. I start sweating and hallucinating when that happens. Bangalore has beautiful weather throughout the year. Even the winters here do not require boots. But for some people it is something to be worn any time and in any season. Just writing about this is making me sweat. I'm travelling to a snowy place this weekend and I'm still having second thoughts about whether I should buy boots or not.

Jeans folded up to look like capris
Seriously? When one can buy a jean why not buy a capri too? The fold looks so thick and cumbersome that I wonder how some people move their legs in it.

Anarkali salwar kameez
I'm very uncomfortable in Indian wear. Sarees I love to wear once in a while and I can pull it off well. But the great Indian salwar kameez has always posed a problem for me. Especially the anarkali one. The minute I see a lady wearing it, my mind goes to Mughal-E-Azam. Exactly why I haven't owned a pair until now. Normal kurta and pants is some how okay for me to wear even though I constantly feel that I'm looking funny in it.

Matching everything
I love matching accessories to the clothes I wear, but there is always a line that I draw. I either match my top and shoes, or my shoes and bag. I do not wear accessories much apart from a watch. I have seen some people match their tops, bag, shoes, watch, bangles, ear rings, hair band and every thing else that could be possible. It is such a turn off.

Ill-fitting anything
I have an innate hatred for clothes that does not fit well on me. Be it trousers, a top, a jacket or anything else, it needs to fit well and complement my body type. Frills and lace is something I absolutely hate. Loose fitting clothes and tight fitting clothes are a big no for me. The fit has to be just right and thankfully I know enough sewing to alter my clothes if need be.

Almost every one has a peeve when it comes to clothing and fashion. Tell me what is yours.

Monday Musings #8

Scarlet Rose

photo by Ed Ross

Scarlet Rose, that's what she was called
In fact nobody even knew her actual name
Her beauty stunned man and woman alike
The very beauty you see in this frame

She was like a gift from God
Always smiling and spreading joy
Some men wanted to capture her
But she refused to be any one's toy

She loved people for what they are
Helping everyone and sprinkling pixie dust
As long as one had a heart
Falling in love with her was a must

She never spoke anything about herself
But her eyes always said a sad tale
She made up for it by smiling too wide
And singing beautifully like a nightingale

She always wore a dozen roses in her hair
They remained strong in their desired place
Many longed to be her silky tresses
And yet she turned them all away with grace

Nobody knew where she stayed
But when she sensed troubled she was here
Laughing along making others laugh
Helping people let go off their fear

No one was sure if she was an actual person
People were just happy having her around
And one day she just disappeared
For years she was no where found

All that remains is this sole picture of hers
Her presence is still felt like she left never
Scarlet Rose, that's what she was called
She'd be remembered today and for forever

Written for Magpie Tales: Mag 301.

Eat, Pray, Debate

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I am a feminist alright. The good kind, not the male bashing ones. I think that women are equal to men and need no special privileges or reservations. I am a pretty cool person when it comes to feminist issues. I just express my view and stay still. But there are a few things doing the rounds on the Internet which would offend every woman on the planet. The above image you see, came to me via a whatsapp message. Before I could get over adjusting my eyes to such stupidity, I saw the same thing on Facebook as well. Out of curiosity and because I wanted to, I checked the comments on the picture. While most women have expressed outrage over it, most men have laughed and agreed with what the image is trying to portray.

Love marriage is still somewhat considered a taboo in our country. Some people would go on to demean the concept of love no matter what. Even my marriage was said to be a love+arranged marriage to some guests. Most parents can't get over the fact that their children have grown up enough to choose their own life partners. Most mothers more often than not think that their sons have chosen the wrong girl. Do women who arrange marriages for their sons, check out the roti making skills of the girl before they let their sons meet them? What about vegetable chopping skills? And dish washing skills? You know no matter what it is, a love marriage or an arranged one, women are always reduced to someone who needs to do the cooking and get it right no matter what. This is what angers me the most.

I had a love marriage. There was absolutely nothing arranged about it. Our parents had to agree to the wedding, because we did not give them any other choice. I am a working lady and lead a busy life handling my work and a zillion passions. Thankfully cooking is one of them and I do very well at yet. Yes sir, my roti's are perfectly round, soft and puff like the ones they show on TV. I knead the dough myself and roll it out myself too, in case you planned on asking. I also can make a variety of curries and even though you think that I must be gloating, they turn out to be delicious. My cooking skills would have been the same, no matter what kind of marriage I had or whom I was married to. It is an interest and a passion that I give time to. I watch cooking shows, read a lot of recipes online and invest time in trying them. That makes me a good cook. Not my marital status.

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While I was searching for images for my previous post, I came across the above one. Believe me I was so angered after seeing it that I was shaking. What makes people think that a woman needs a man to buy her stuff. Why can't she buy things herself? Stuff like these are insulting to say the least. Now that most of the women are working I don't see why they should have to depend on a man to shower gifts on them. I make enough money to afford all the things that I want. Am I not called successful then? Or should I only consider myself successful if I marry a wealthy man? Well, I did that too. So what does that make me. Twice as successful? Ridiculous. If money is a criteria for success, that explains all that is wrong with this country.

There was this issue in the news recently where some fellow made a comment about woman having to let go off fashion and style, in order to be successful in life. Why do they even let such people come in to the spot light I don't understand. So a woman is not expected to take care of herself and just stay devoid of make up and new clothes to get ahead in life. Seriously, who comes up with stuff like that? How does what you wear affect your life? How does wearing lipstick hold you back from attaining what ever you want to? The guy also mentioned that guys must give up addiction to succeed. Addition to girls who are fashionable and wear make up is what he meant I think.

Finally the Supreme Court has found its voice and asking the Sabarimala officials while women are not allowed in the world famous temple. For those who don't know it yet, there is a rule that women in the menstruating age are not allowed to visit this temple. So basically a female who is between the age of eight to fifty is not allowed. Why? Just because she menstruates. This is a debate that has been going on since ages and is not only limited to temples. This is a regular affair at most homes too and I was subject to it first hand. For the nth time, a period is a natural thing that a girl has to go through three to five days in a month. That doesn't malign her in anyway or make her impure. Why is a woman on her period not allowed to pray? Is she not a child of God on those days?

Women are as human as men are. Women are as strong as men are. Let us respect them like we would respect any other human being. Jokes about her cooking skills and shopping interests just generate a laugh or two for juvenile idiots. Dictating rules for a woman on her period is inhumane and absolutely disgusting. Surprisingly, some women do agree to the Sabarimala rule themselves. If some women think that they are dirty and impure during their period, then that is their choice. In my opinion they should think the same about themselves even when they are not on their period. As for me, I think that I am awesome and fabulous all the time. When I'm on my period, when I'm cooking or when I'm just being me. I do know that such images and memes are made solely for the purpose of humor and entertainment, but they clearly are in poor taste.

Or is it just me who thinks so?

Show Me The Money

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When you have worked in the IT industry for as long as I have, you will know that almost everyone here is craving for money. While 99% of them work their ass off filling documents to get a chance to go onsite, the rest 0.9% percent are cribbing about not having a decent salary. I on the other hand, happen to be one of those rare 0.1%, who is not bothered about either. I think I get a good salary and am more than content with it. My work place is a stone throw away from home, I love the work I do and I get enough time to follow all my other passions. That is more important to me than a big fat pay cheque. Going onsite to the US of A is something that has never fascinated me. I have had my share of travel years ago and I'm sure that I do not want to do it again. I do not want to leave my husband and family behind to go earn in dollars. If a hike comes my way, I graciously accept it with a smile. If it doesn't, I just let it be. No point in cribbing anyway.

The reason I'm writing this post is that almost every where I see, I see that every thing has become only about money these days. Every one wants to know the money the other is making and compare themselves. And then there are people who have all the money in the world and yet want more of it. And they do not hesitate to go to any extent or even beg for it. Yes, inspite of having millions back home. But the species that kind of interest me the most are the ones who are pretty well to do and yet cringe at every given opportunity. Don't get me wrong, I'm a very thrifty person myself and think twice before spending a penny, but some people surprise me with their level of frugality. I see a few of them in my work place as well. Senior folks who have very good experience and make good money, but they cringe on their basics. They are shoddily dressed and think a hundred times when they have to give money for a celebration at work.

These people try to save as much as they can, even if it means letting go of the basic comforts. They wear torn shoes/socks and carry old bags that is almost ripping off. They stay away from team dinners and lunches and do not carry a wallet unless absolutely necessary. But if the company is paying, they come in full attendance. If alcohol is involved they drink like a fish even without knowing how to pronounce the drink. I'm do not know what exactly their circumstances are, but I am not sure why people have to compromise of their basics just to save a few rupees. Food, clothing and shelter are the basic needs of a man and yet some people are willing to let go off that in order to maintain a steady bank balance. I mean if you cannot live your life today, it will be too late later. Money, money and more money. This is the only thing on the minds of a few people, who accept anything that comes to them free. I have seen people standing in line twice or thrice to get a free meal coupon or a T-shirt. I don't know what to call that. But then again, people and their choices. But what I do not understand is why such people pass comments on others who are spending money for a comfortable life. Every one works really hard to earn money and spending it or keeping it is their choice.

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Kids these days have no value or understanding of money at all. Some parents don't bother to teach them either. Recently I heard a boy not more than eight years old, talk about the lakhs and millions that his father has in his bank account and how nobody could harm him because of it. If I could, I would have shot him right there and see what his dad's millions did to bring him back to life. Last week a bunch of kids had come in a brand new Hummer to a place where we frequent. The kid driving the car was clearly under eighteen and so were his bunch of friends who were smoking like there was no tomorrow. A credit card was handed when the bill was given to them and they drove away screaming in joy. Parents need to teach their kids the value of money and how to use it. But this shall only happen if the parents themselves know the value of it.

One of the kind of people I hate are the ones who have never earned a penny all their lives and yet demand luxury at every step of life. If you haven't made a single rupee in your life, then you are just existing and not living. Existing, thanks to the effort of some one else who is obligated to take care of you. Celebrations and festivals have all become only about the money now. Crores are spent in weddings just to show the world how much money the families have. Crackers are burst for three days at a stretch to show the status of the family during Diwali. Children flaunt their parent's money like it is their birth right and some rich soul is spending more on luxury even though he has more than enough of the basics. At the same time, there is someone who is compromising on his basics even when there is absolutely no need to. The world has become a place where misers continue to be misers, the rich continue to get rich and the poor are struggling to have the basics.

It is very sad that a person's status in the society is judged by the amount of money in his bank rather than the experience he comes with. No wonder everyone is hell bent upon joining the rat race to come first and win the jackpot. But the thing about a rat's race is that even if you win, you are still a rat.

Save for tomorrow, but not before living for today. You need to spend a little to get past today peacefully. Do not cringe on that. Those who think money can buy them everything, great going! Just wait until you are gone to see where it takes you.

Monday Musings #7

Leaving On A Jet Plane

PHOTO PROMPT © Melanie Greenwood

"Ram, what are we doing here?" I ask him again.

"I'm taking you for a holiday, Reema." He says casually.

"But we can't leave now. What about the kids? And mom and dad? Who will take care of them when I'm gone? I haven't informed the maid either." A dozen thoughts were plaguing my mind.

"Darling, I have asked my sister to stay with them for a few days. You have been working so hard all these years, you need a break. Come on now, else we'll miss the flight."

I smile and walk with him to the boarding counter.

This drabble (100 word fiction) is written for Friday Fictioneers, 8th January 2016.

Live It Up In Style With The #ASUSZenpad7.0

The ASUS ZenPad 7.0 with the Audio Cover

I got an early Christmas gift this year when ASUS sent me a brand new Zenpad 7.0 and asked me to review the product. Straight up, I'm not a really big fan of tablets. The Ipad I have has been hardly used ever since I got it. I find it difficult to type a blog post on a tablet, or to watch a movie on it. Also, the Ipad is pretty huge and it is not very easy to carry it around. I had attended the launch of the product a few months earlier and I was surprised to see that it looked sleek and compact. Only after I was sure that this is something that I could use, I asked the ASUS guys to send me the product. I did not want another gadget lying around at home without any use to me.

As promised, I got the gadget within a week and the package held two boxes. It was completely sealed and came in straight from the company. One box held the Zenpad, while the other held the audio cover. It was pretty easy to set up the gadget as I followed the instructions to the tee. The ASUS ZenPad 7.0 Z370CG is the latest mainstream 7 inch tablet device from ASUS. It is sleek and easy to handle. The first thing that I noticed was that it worked on both WiFi and 3G network connectivity. My Ipad works only on WiFi and it does get difficult to use it while travelling. Thankfully this one would not give me such a problem. Before I get into the details of how I used the gadget, let us talk a little about its specifications. I know you would find this on every other site, but there are a few things that stood out for me.

1. At just 272 grams, this is one of the lightest tablets that I have ever used.
2. The HD display with 72% view area (the diagonal length of the screen) and corning gorilla glass keeps it free of scratches and dust.
3. DTS-HD premium sound.
4. Dual Camera.
5. The long battery life.
6. ASUS Splendid app.

As a creative blogger, a million thoughts pop into my head every single time. I string them later together to make a post out of it. I jot down these thoughts as a note on the Zenpad's SuperNote as and when I'm travelling. Since it is so light, it is easy to be carried around. Why, my phone weights more than this! Since it has the gorilla glass, I just drop it in my hand bag when ever I travel without worrying about it getting scratched. I have been using this instead of my phone for quite a while now and I'm very happy with it. The 64-bit quad-core processor is very fast and enables me to work on multiple tabs without slowing the performance down. I can check my mails, publish comments on my blog, check Facebook and read something on the kindle app without worrying about the gadget slowing down. The Zenpad is great as a reading device as it doesn't strain your eye. The Zenpad offers up to 200% wider contrast levels and real time HDR for sharper text and increased screen refresh rates for reduced blur.

Garlic and Chilly Fried Rice With Hunan Vegetables - Picture taken on the ZenPad 7.0

Banofee Pie - Picture taken on the ZenPad 7.0

As a food blogger, the first thing that I look for in a tablet or a phone is the camera quality. The ASUS VisualMaster has been designed to take advantage of both the hardware and the software in the ASUS ZenPad 7.0 Z370CG to optimise its display. The ASUS Tru2Life feature enhances the color, contrast, sharpness and clarity of the food photographs that I take. The inbuilt camera comes with a bevy of filters that make photo editing a breeze. Tru2Life is able to detect different lighting conditions and automatically adjusts the display to make it easy to view even when outdoors in bright sunlight. I even take videos of live cooking in some restaurants and the Zenpad gives me awesome video quality. The ASUS Tru2Life intelligent settings know if a user is playing a game, watching video, looking at photos or on social networks and adjusts the contrast accordingly. Pictures and videos definitely look better with the ASUS Tru2Life feature of the Zenpad.

The ASUS Splendid App

The ASUS Splendid app on the Zenpad can be used to automatically enhance and adjust the colors on screen. Hue settings can be adjusted along with the brightness while the color temperature can be set from cool to warm based on your preferences. Most phones and tablets only allow to customize the brightness, but the splendid app is something that you have to use to believe it. It stays true to its name. The battery once charged fully lasts up to 8-10 hours without any issue. This enables me to get a lot of work done on the tablet, without having to charge it again and again.

You can see the speaker here that delivers great sound!

The 5.1 Channel audio cover that comes with it is a boon. A DTS-HD Premium Sound speaker is built in to the CA71 ASUS Audio Cover, which snaps simply onto the rear of the device. It is perfect for enhancing the enjoyment of movies, YouTube videos and music. The single strip speaker is six in one, incorporating four main speakers, one Center and one Subwoofer and delivers sound in an upward direction. It has six hours of battery life. The case also allows the ASUS ZenPad 7.0 Z370CG to stand neatly on a flat surface in landscape mode for watching films or other footage. It also acts as a protective case/screen cover for the device. You can use the Audio Wizard app to adjust the levels to suit your specific tastes for movie, music, gaming and vocal sounds. There’s also a Smart button to do it all automatically. When paired with the Audio Cover, the app allows you to manage the virtual surround function. What's not to like?

For the twenty days that I have been using the Zenpad, I can safely say that it has successfully managed to replace my phone and has made my life more easier. With multicolored changeable back panels, this device can be changed based on your mood or style. Priced at just Rs 12,499, the Zenpad ticks most of the mid-range tablet boxes. It looks great, has great performance and is affordable. The audio cover is priced at Rs. 2999. While it might seem like an extra cost, it surely is worth its price. It makes the movie watching or listening to music come to life with its four speakers. The audio cover can be charged too. This is quite an interesting concept I must say! For this price and the features it offers, it sure is worth a buy.

You can buy it on Flipkart here.

The ASUS team sent me this product in exchange for an honest review.

This is not a paid post and the views expressed are solely mine.

I'll Come Running To You

Charing Cross Road, 1937 by Wolfgang Suschitzky

I know you are going through a lot
I want to help you get over it
I know you do not want to talk about her
Holding your hands, I'll quietly sit

I know the pain is too much to bear
A broken heart takes time to heal
I'll offer you my heart until then
Maybe then you'll know how I feel

She broke your heart and left
That is something I'll never do
I have loved you since forever
Look into my eyes, you'll see its true

You were way too good for her
I wonder how this you couldn't see
My heart bled every time she used you
And now you have to pay the fee

I'm aching along with you
Let me stand by your side
You can share some of my strength
I'll help you sail through the tide

I shall always be here for you
Together, we shall get past this
I'll show you how to find happiness
In tiny moments of unexpected bliss

No matter what time of the day it is
Call me when ever you are feeling blue
I'll fight the sun, snow or the rain
I shall come running to you

Written for Magpie Tales: Mag 300.

In Sickness And In Health

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I'm currently reading a book called 'Lightning' by Danielle Steel. The story is about the protagonist Alex Parker who is one day diagnosed with breast cancer and how she and her family come to terms with it, especially after the perfect family life that they have been living until now. She's forty two years old and has a four year old daughter who is the apple of her eye. She has a mastectomy where her left breast is removed and she has to go through chemotherapy for the next six months. This takes a toll on her body as well as her career as a successful attorney. Her body has become shapeless thanks to a missing breast, she's gaining wait due to the chemo and is losing her long red locks by the day. But the biggest loss for her during this time turns out to be her husband.

Sam Parker is in complete denial about his wife's ailment. He doesn't want to come to terms with it and begins avoiding her completely. After losing his mother to cancer, he doesn't want to go through it again. He now finds his wife ugly and impossible to talk to. He blames her for her disease and even asks her to suffer through it silently without involving him or their daughter. Also, he doesn't want his daughter to notice the changes in her mother and asks Alex to always dress up and wear a wig in front of their daughter to hide her shortcomings. He is disgusted to such an extent by his wife that soon he is having an affair with a young girl with perfect breasts. I'm yet to complete the book, so I'm not too sure how it would end.

The reason I'm talking about this is illness or a disease is something that none of us can avoid. Within a couple if one of them has go through some health issue, it is not easy. Lives can turn upside down at times. In the case above it is very easy to take Alex's side and sympathize with her. I did that initially too. But when I saw her husband's point of view, he was right in his own way too. Alex doesn't make it easy for anyone around her. She is constantly whining and crying about what is happening to her and is expecting to be treated like a patient. She makes no effort on her own to stay strong and console her husband by assuring him that she is going to be okay. Instead she is angry at her husband for not understanding her pain or rather not being a part of it. Her husband on the other hand wants her to act normal and go through her medications silently. He wants to support her in her plight, but she wants something else altogether.

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Sickness is always dreaded. Be it some big disease or a common cold, it always comes with a share of emotional despair. But it is also something only the couple must handle together and in a dignified manner. No fingers have to be pointed and no blame games. The person going through the illness has to stay strong and help the partner come to terms with the issue at hand. The partner too must stay strong and motivate the other to get better. It is a two way street. It is not something where one should suffer and the other should watch. Last year I was diagnosed with kidney stones. Twice, within a week. The pain was excruciating and I thought I would die. My husband had left to office and I was just about to leave to mine when the pain started. I knew that this was not some normal stomach issue and when the pain became unbearable I called him.

He came home rushing with fear, concern and panic on his face. It broke my heart to see him like that. I told him that I'm in pain and I had to go to the hospital. Since an ambulance would have panicked him even more, I sat on his bike and we went to the hospital that was just a kilometer away. I had to be given medicines via IV and I had needles poked into me. He was worried and I was too. This was the first time something like this was happening to me, rather us. But he held his cool and consoled me, telling that it would all be fine. And I held my cool and assured him that I was feeling better. I was in the hospital for half a day and we both stayed strong for each other and got past it smoothly. Two days later, I had the same pain again and we repeated the same procedure. Just the two of us and both of us kept our composure and we survived it together.

I have seen cases in which a woman in pain expects sympathy more than support. Within a marriage or a relationship, you need to assure the other that you are going to be okay. But in some cases, that is just not the case. Some of them lie in bed for the entire day without the intention of waking up or wanting to get better. They complain about the pain non stop and argue with the husband when they do not get adequate support. I have seen woman expect special treatment during their periods too. I find it completely unreasonable. We as women, have a higher threshold to pain. We do not have to bear it all alone and act like wonder woman at all times, but the least we can do is try to get better for our own good. There needs to be a confidence that I will get better. This same confidence needs to be rubbed off on the partner as well. He needs to know that you are going to be fine, and that is when he will help you get better. Constant brooding will depress him too.

In my experience, men are childlike when they fall sick. They get cranky and angry at the same time. But then again, they need to hold their cool and want to get better as soon as possible. It will help their partner take care of them better. If they constantly sit and whine about being sick, it is not helping either of them. Falling sick is natural, and just like any other phase in a relationship this is something that needs to be handled with love, care and affection too. Together. No matter who falls sick, both of them need to put in the effort to get the person better. And there needs to be constant communication about what is happening and how to get past it. There should be no room for sympathy. It should be love and concern only. And lots of tender care and following the instructions of the doctor. What ever it is, a couple needs to go through it together. It is not easy for the patient to go through it. But is not easy for the other person to watch you go through it either. The least one can do is make it easy for the other and get past it as smoothly as possible.

The words "In sickness and in health" was not added in the wedding vows for no reason.

Writing Goals: 2016

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The first post of 2016 had to be about writing as that is the most important thing for me this year apart from my regular job. The new year started off with a bang and not much of a hangover, so I have been thinking clearly and know what all I want to do this year. No, I'm not listing down my resolutions here. Hell, I don't even have them. My writing has gone through a lot over the past seven years (yes, it has been seven years!) and I need to start taking it more seriously now and be true to myself and what I think. I see a lot of discussion on Facebook regarding blogging and what are the changes to be made for the new year. I read every comment like a silent spectator and I did nod when I agreed with what someone had to say. Blogging somehow has become a way of life for me, and I'm going to make the most of it this year.

So the goals for 2016 are:

Write what I want: More than 1000 posts on my blog and every single one of it has my heart, blood and soul. Actually, except one. There is only one post on my blog that was written with a gun pointed to my head. The rest of all is my opinions and my thoughts, no matter how silly they were. This year I'm going to focus on what I want to write and write about it only. I'm not going to follow a trend or do what others are doing. I have never ever done that and I will not do that this year as well. I'm going to write about what I want and I don't care what people think about it. Over the years I have learnt that no matter what I write, there is at least one person who gets offended by it. In that case, I might as well as do it right eh?

Personal posts: Sometime last year I decided to not write much about my personal life. It was a momentary decision and not something that I believe in now. My blog is a personal blog, and its needs to have a personal touch to it. Like I said above that I'm going to write what ever I want to and this would include personal posts as well. I have nothing to hide in my life as I know what I'm doing and why I'm doing it. So this year there will be a lot of personal posts on the blog about the wonderful and the moronic people in my life. And as usual if you feel that a character in the post strikes a chord with you, please go through the LOL Disclaimer before picking the phone and creating havoc.

Washing dirty linen: As much as I am not a fan of washing dirty linen in public, some people get on to every last nerve of my body making me want to trash them. I am a firm believer of tit for tat. I treat people the way they treat me. So if someone is talking dirty about me behind my back, I'm not going to be worshiping them either. But this year I'm going to show them the finger and keep them away from my blog. My blog is too precious to be tainted by eccentric characters. Also, there are other ways of giving it back to people.

Book reviews: I plan to read at least thirty books this year, but I will only review books that stand out for me. In a good way or in a bad way. I'm going to continue writing my book reviews the way I always have. I cannot do a simple review. I always do a detailed review and talk about what I liked and what I did not. The most important thing while it comes to book reviews for me is honesty. My review is always a honest take on what I felt about the book. I cannot sugar coat my words or cut down on what I have to say just to please the author. I know a review is like a huge motivation to an author, but if I'm spending my money and time on reading a book it needs to be worth it. If not, I obviously am going to complain. A good blogger friend of mine had recently reviewed a mediocre book and raved about it. Which is funny because I had had a talk with the same person regarding the book and we had laughed about the zillion shortcomings in the book. But apparently the author was a friend and hence the blogger was bound to give a five star rating. Safe to say, I lost respect for that blogger. Which is a pity because there was some decent writing on their blog. But this thought doesn't let me click on their blog link when ever I come across it. I don't want to be someone like that. My views, my thoughts, uncensored. That's how my book reviews are and shall always be.

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Fiction & Poetry: Poetry has always been the USP of my blog. I'm very happy with my poetry but this year I want to explore more of fiction as well. Be it a stand alone piece or a series. I want to give it good thought and write great stories. I need to complete my pending series soon and move on to other tales that are crowding my mind.

Contests & Sponsored posts: It is no hidden fact that I write sponsored posts and for contests. Contests are fun but more than 90% of the time, the topic doesn't appeal to me. I have never written about anything that I have no clue about just to win a contest. And that will be the same this year too. Unless the topic is good enough and I have something to say about it, I don't find a point in writing about it. As funny as it sounds, my criteria for sponsored posts is the same as well. Unless the product is not something that I know about or have used before, I know that I cannot do justice to it. Yes, I get paid well for writing about a certain product or promoting it but that doesn't mean that I'd do it for everything that comes my way. It needs to strike a chord within me and make me want to talk about it. Else, thank you for the offer but no thank you!

At least 15 posts a month: The target that I had initially set was 20, but I never know when work shall pile up again. So being realistic, I shall be writing at least 15 posts a month. Weekends are for my husband and my home, so I do not write during weekends. I shall try to make the best out of weekdays and come up with some good posts.

Different topics: I usually write about myself or about love. Most of my fiction and poetry revolves mostly around it and I love it that way. But this year I want to write about a wide range of topics. Social issues, travel, fashion, lifestyle, entertainment and random stuff too. I have always noticed that I have a lot to say about a lot of things, but not all of it make it to my blog. But this year, let us see how it looks on the blog.

So there were the goals for my blog for the brand new year. I also want to read up on a lot of blogs and regularly visit and comment on them. Most importantly, I need to de-clutter my reading list and remove the blogs that have become stagnant over the years and also get rid of the blogs that only write posts for contests or promotions. Me liking a blog post doesn't depend on the fact that I like the person or not. Or I know the person or not. Sometimes a complete stranger's writing leaves me in awe while a good friend's post leaves me cringing. Such is the magic of the blogging world and I am so proud to be a part of it. My advice to all the bloggers out there will be the only advice that I myself follow.

Stay true to yourself and write what ever you want.