Thursday, October 29, 2015

How To Celebrate Your Baby's First Birthday?

Now this is what you call a HAPPY birthday for a one-year-old!!! :D :D :D

This video reminds me of my nephew Yuvraj's first taste of an icecream!

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Friday, October 16, 2015

Foto Friday: Happy Navratra!

It's that time of the year again when Indians are busy worshiping females, so that they can continue harassing them, in all possible ways, all the rest of the year round, without guilt. No, I don't celebrate Navratra. I don't keep a fast or do any kind of pujas. I stopped doing all puja-paath three years ago. Even sold my wooden temple on Quikr. (Got a good price for it too.)

The rest of the country does celebrate this festival with great enthusiasm though. Daily Dandiya practice has started in my building. They do this every year. Right below my bedroom balcony. I get a bird's-eye view of all the proceedings. Took this picture from my cell phone the other day...

It was the very first day. So it was a small gathering. It gets bigger as the days go by. Last night, I saw four distinct Dandiya groups practicing below:

  1. Ladies (the more active married females of my building)
  2. Big girls (those who use pen at school)
  3. Small girls (still using pencils at school)
  4. Boys (haven't yet figured out why they had their separate group)

I feel very tempted to go join them. (It's only Dandiya after all, not Ballet!) Alas! I'm just too lazy to step out of my home again after I return to it at night!

I did notice one thing though... Falguni Pathak's "Yaad Piya Ki Aane Lagi" (among other songs by her) is still one of the most favorite Dandiya songs in the country. So is "Dholi Taro Dhol Baaje" from Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam. They play these songs every year!

Meanwhile, I'm busy doing this at my shop...

Those are gift packs for the Kanya-Puja ceremony during Navratra. Nine small girls are invited for breakfast or lunch, on the Saptami and Ashtami (some even do it on Navmi), and they are given small gift items along with some cash (usually Rs. 11).

The first time a customer came to my shop asking for gifts for Kanya-Puja, I was completely unprepared for it. I had very few items in that much quantity at that time. The next time, I made sure to stock-up before Navratra, but, I had to face a different kind of challenge on that occasion. More people turned up than I had expected, so there was quite a bit of a holdup, as I showed them all the stuff one-by-one and they selected the items and got them packed.

This time, I've done some pre-planning. I have made such gift sets, of 10 packs each (9 girls + 1 tag-along), of varying price range. Most people prefer this quicker method of shopping. Plus it's also easier for me to keep a track of what is getting sold to whom. I keep making new packs as these keep getting sold.

In another two months, my shop will complete two years. In all this time, I have realized that running a business is a continuous learning process. Sometimes you learn from your past mistakes. Sometimes you learn from other business owners. Sometimes you learn from your customers. Does this learning ever stop?

Seems like I'm in a reflective mood today. Good for this blog, I guess. At least, it got updated finally. I have ignored it too much for the last few months. I've been going through a state of blogathy, I suppose. (You remember blogathy, don't you? We learnt this word during my A to Z of Blogging series.)

Anyway, I think I'll wind up for today now. (Foto-Friday's are not meant to be so long.)

I have no idea when I'll blog again.

. . .

Here's more in Foto-Friday!

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Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Book Review: The Apocalypse Trigger by Douglas Misquita

Review: The Apocalypse Trigger by Douglas Misquita

The Apocalypse Trigger
Author: Douglas Misquita
ISBN: 978-9351960379

Buy from:


The Apocalypse Trigger, by Douglas Misquita, is the third consecutive action-packed novel by this author, after Haunted and Secret of The Scribe. From his very first book, Misquita emerged as a skilled storyteller, setting high expectations among his readers, and this third book only adds to his credibility as an author.

Blurb from The Apocalypse Trigger:

In 1947, a freighter in the Malacca Straits sends out a macabre distress signal. When help arrives all the officers and crew are found dead - with no visible signs of injury.

Present day: An environmental disaster in British Colombia pits Billy Bradford against Future Energy Group and its ruthless head of security, Luc Fortesque.

A devastating terror strike on the world's grandest luxury hotel has the globe clamoring for the head of the mastermind, Sebastian Gardner.

But the three men will soon become pawns in a plot that dates back to the end of World War II and the collusion between a powerful, centuries-old cabal and a rogue priest.

I was supposed to publish this review a couple of months ago actually, but, then I got caught up with work and health issues, so never got around to it. This book deserves a shout-out on my blog though. It is another one of those rare gems that I would LOVE to see as a movie!

The Apocalypse Trigger, by Douglas Misquita, is yet another fast-paced adventure thriller with excellently scripted action scenes. The plot spans across time and international borders. The story revolves around struggle for power, world dominance, terrorism and vengeance. There are a lot of characters in the plot, some with slightly bigger roles than the others. They are all important to the story.

Written in Misquita's signature style, The Apocalypse Trigger introduces a lot of seemingly unrelated characters and events in the beginning of the narrative, and then goes on to connect them all in the latter part of the book, in a gripping climax. Now that I know this is how he writes, I make sure that I pay attention to everything, right from page one, because otherwise, I'll end up flipping back through pages, looking for the missed "dots".

Misquita's attention to detail speaks of research well-done. You can almost visualize the scenes unfolding in front of your eyes. As a matter of fact, I'm quite surprised none of his books have caught the eye of any Hollywood producer yet!

Anyway, coming back to the book, it has good paper quality and good printing. The only thing it doesn't have is good proofreading. There are innumerable typos in the book. Minor ones, but many. (Again, Mr. Misquita? Why?)

My rating: 4.5 out of 5. The Apocalypse Trigger, by Douglas Misquita, is a must-read page-turner for all action lovers. It will be almost impossible to put this book down once you've started on it.

Buy more books by Douglas Misquita from: Flipkart | |

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book for reviewing, but that has, in no way, affected my rating and opinions.

Here's more in Books.

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Friday, August 21, 2015

What's Worse: No Net or Slow Net?

What’s the one thing standing between India and Modi ji’s dream of #DigitalIndia?

We all know the answer to that one, don’t we? It is “affordable high-speed internet connection”!

Every time I go for stock purchasing for my store, I have to make a list on paper, despite the fact that I maintain a complete up-to-date inventory in an Excel spreadsheet, and that spreadsheet is saved in my Dropbox folder, which makes it accessible via my phone from anywhere. Regardless of that, I cannot use that spreadsheet directly for ordering, because it just doesn’t download fast enough when I’m at the market!

Every internet user's worst nightmare... that dotted circle in the center!
(Screenshot captured from

And the one TV show that I like to watch – Dance India Dance – starts from 9 pm every Saturday and Sunday. Saturdays are okay, as it is my weekly off that day, but on Sundays, I always get held up at the shop. Schools reopen on Monday, so naturally the kids have last-minute stationery shopping to do on Sunday! As a result, I always miss at least two dance performances every Sunday. I try to catch up later on Zee TV’s website, but again, it takes AGES to stream the video!

Oh and Google Maps! It is of absolutely no use without a high-speed internet connection! So many times, I have failed to give correct navigation instructions to Dad, just because the app wouldn’t update my current location on a real-time basis! One missed left-turn, and we’re forced to take a U-turn after another kilometer or so. What does that translate to? A grumbling Dad! (Naturally!)

Recently I saw this new Airtel 4G TV ad... (embedded below)

I am so impressed by this Ad! Looks like FINALLY there might be a solution to my internet woes! Ever since I’ve seen this Ad, I can’t stop dreaming…

What will it be like to have that kind of internet speed at my fingertips?

  • No more list-making for sure! I will smartly produce my smartphone from my handbag, and rattle off the names of all the items marked in red.

  • No more getting lost either and being scolded at by Dad!

  • And missing part of Dance India Dance won’t be so painful anymore either.

  • I’ll be able to watch all those speeches of Modi Ji, on Youtube, that I miss when I’m at my shop!

  • I’ll also be able to watch all those Pakistani TV serials on Youtube, that my sister is so crazy about these days!

  • Online shopping would be so much cooler. No more waiting for product images to show up. No more repeated refreshing of the screen.

  • Online banking would be a piece of cake, with no more “Session Timeouts” and “Please login again” messages.

  • I’ll be able to actually see all those videos my friends share with me on whatsapp. (Right now, I don’t even bother clicking on them!)

  • I’ll be able to have proper voice conversations with them on whatsapp or viber, without having to repeat everything at least 3 times!

  • Oh and video calls on phone! That’s one thing I haven’t even tried yet because of the pathetic internet speeds in most parts of our country! How awesome it will be to actually use the front camera of my cell phone for something other than taking a selfie!

Ahhhh! So many beautiful dreams…. all seem possible now because of Airtel – the first ever company to roll out 4G services in India… and that too at 3G prices!

I wonder if it’s available in my city already…

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Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Windows Downgrade: Old Really Is Gold!

Last month, my work laptop got severely infected with virus from a pen-drive that belonged to one of my kiddie customers at store. After spending more than a day in trying all possible ways to remove the virus manually, I realized that I would have to go for a complete format-reinstall.

Sighhhhh! That meant one more unproductive and eye-strenuous day of continuous long hours with the laptop. I didn't look forward to it, though Dad was very pleased. This is his laptop actually, and I'd been holding off this format-reinstall for over 2 years. He was glad I couldn't hold it off any longer.

So I backed up all the data and then thought maybe I should try an upgraded version of Windows finally. This laptop came with Windows Vista and I never bothered to change it in all these years. On Dad's persuasion, I installed Windows 7 on it this time.

First thing I noticed after the installation... I had at least 3 GB less free space in the hard drive partition, as compared to a Vista installation. I said to myself - "Okay, it's just 3GB. That doesn't amount to much these days. Small price to pay for the extra features that I'll get with Windows 7."

So I decided to look for those promising "extra features". I spent that entire day exploring the Operating System in depth, setting it up to my liking, and checking out what new stuff it brought to the table.

I did find one new feature that I really liked - the Desktop Utility called "Snipping Tool". Up until now, I had been taking screenshots by using the "Prnt Scrn" button on the keyboard and then cropping the required screen area in Photoshop. But with the "Snipping Tool", I could simply drag my mouse around the required area and save it as an image file. It was very cool.

So I thought to myself - "Maybe I'll upgrade my PC at home to Windows 7 too." (I'm still running XP on it!)

Alas... it wasn't meant to happen! My relationship with Windows 7 couldn't last for more than a few hours!


Because of these Desktop Toolbars!

You see those toolbars on the top of the first image and on the left of the second? They were the "deal breakers" with Windows 7.

I have been using these toolbars since 2001. (I had Windows ME back then.) The one on the top has all the icons from the "My Computer" folder. All the immovable drives show up here, as well as any removable storage devices connected to the computer at any time. The one on the left has shortcuts for all my frequently used folders, files and programs.

These toolbars make ALL these things just one-click away. LITERALLY ONE-CLICK AWAY! I could have any number of windows/applications/files open... I just need to move my mouse to the specific edge of the screen (top or left) and then click on the required icon. (Both the toolbars are set to "Always on top" and "Auto Hide".) Not only that, but they also leave my desktop totally uncluttered from icons. So you can actually SEE the wallpaper I've set on it!

These toolbars have been just classic. Revolutionary, even! They completely changed the way I worked on my computer, ever since I came to know about them in 2001! I have owned and used so many different computers in the last 14 years, but these toolbars have ALWAYS been there, making life that little bit easier for me.

Unfortunately, this Desktop Toolbar feature has been discontinued by Microsoft after Vista. There is no way you can get these toolbars back. Sure, there are other "dockable gadgets" available now, mostly third-party, but none of them are as sleek, unobtrusive and easy-to-use as this. :(

I realized that I could live without the 3GB disk space, but I couldn't live without my precious desktop toolbars! Windows 7 had to go.

And what about that "Snipping Tool"?

LOL! You won't believe this, but it was there in Vista all along... hidden in the Accessories folder of the Start Menu! Talk about having your cake and eating it too! :D

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Monday, August 3, 2015

Quote Challenge - Day 3 of 3

Thirty posts in June, and then only three posts in July! What can I say? Erratic blogging at its best?


I'm afraid I'm going to be this irregular here for some more time. I'm a bit tied-up with my body's needs at the moment. A whole lot of deficiencies are cropping up one after the other, and it is making me cranky and very asocial. Thankfully, the shop is keeping me busy, at least on days when it's not raining! And for those idleness induced blues, I'm glad to have the company of my childhood best friends -- books!

As Amitabh Bachchan said in the TV commercial for Reid & Taylor in 2009... "A book is really a machine for time-travel."

This quote, while it is not from a book or an author, or even one of mine, is, nevertheless, among my most favorite.

Losing yourself in the pages of a good book is perhaps the second best thing you can do when you wish to take a break from reality. Traveling is, of course, the best thing, but, it might not always be possible due to financial constraints, time constraints, health constraints or various other responsibilities.

Books, on the other hand, are always the cheapest and least demanding mode of travel... not just across distance, but, also across time. Movies are good too, but, for the more imaginative minds, books offer a greater freedom of visualization.

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With this quote, I've finally completed your tag, Princess! On Day 3, I pass this challenge on to Sheethal, Mayuri, and Shilpa Gupte.


This is what the 3-Day Quote Challenge is all about.

1. Post one of your favorite quotes (different quote on each day) on three consecutive days. The quote can be from your favorite book, author, or your own.
2. Nominate 3 bloggers to challenge them.
3. Thank the blogger, who nominated you.


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Friday, July 10, 2015

Crash Dieting: To Do Or Not To Do?

NOT TO DO! Obviously! There are so many delicious things to eat in the world! How can anybody even think of NOT eating them? How can anybody think of dieting… ANY type of dieting?

That was the foodie within me, expressing screaming out her extreme views on dieting!

See, for me, food is akin to life itself. A taste of good food is a taste of life. It’s like you get to experience the different flavors of life through the variety of food you eat. If you have eaten good food in your life, then you have lived a good life. In short, food is a spiritual thing for me.

I wasn’t always so “enlightened” though.

I have been prone to be being overweight since the day I was born. So there have been a few brief phases in my life when I’ve fallen into the trap of “dieting”. (Thankfully, never “crash dieting”!)

Why do I call it a “trap”? Because that’s what dieting is. It is a trap to keep you permanently overweight! And crash dieting is even worse!

Come summers and so many people across the world (especially females) start looking for ways on Google to lose those extra inches fast, so that they can look good in their swimwear. And the wedding season! That’s another time of the year when Google searches for “crash diets” peak.

Here’s what really happens when you go on a “crash diet”.

Picture Credit:

Your body goes into “famine mode”. It is an inbuilt mechanism of the body. If you regularly eat less than what your body requires, it starts believing there is a famine in the area, and so it starts conserving most of what you eat. The body metabolism rate decreases. In simple words, it starts storing more and burning less. And it continues doing this even after your 2-week crash diet is over. So you regain all the fat and weight you lost… PLUS MORE… faster than before!

Not only that, since you don’t get sufficient amounts of fiber, protein, carbs, calcium and other minerals and salts from your food, you start feeling extremely low on energy. You are unable to concentrate. You feel drowsy all the time and irritable. Oh and you also start losing proteins and water from your own body. That means your muscles become weak. (Imagine what will happen if your heart or lung muscles get weak.)

Not good, right?

I realized early on that a week or two of crash dieting really isn’t the healthiest way to lose weight. You need to make it a long-term commitment. You need to work it into your regular schedule… a balanced mix of nutritional food and exercise.

You know what’s the one formula that has worked for me in the past? It’s a simple 3-step program:

  1. First thing in the morning, (i.e. empty stomach) drink a glass of warm water with a teaspoon of honey mixed into it. (If you have more time to plan out your meals, you can also check out this Honey Diet section of Dabur, where you can find other healthy honey recipes.)

  2. Follow it with a 45-minute session of brisk walking and a 15-minute session of Yoga (I mostly did some stretching and back exercises in the latter, including few push-ups.)

  3. Stay happy throughout the day. (I used to do this by singing, something that I have stopped doing for the last few years.)

I followed this program for about 3 months, and I lost around 8 kilograms during that time, feeling more energetic than ever before! I think I seriously need to start on it once more.

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Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Quote Challenge - Day 2 of 3

So the 3-day Quote Challenge was to be completed in 3 consecutive days, but then life happened, and as stated in the Day 1 Quote, it was not at all like what I had planned!

Oh alright then. I'll be honest. I can't really blame life this time. It was a miscalculation on my own part. I knew schools reopen in July, which means busy days at the store for me. Yet, I signed up for this challenge, over-estimating my own capabilities. Sighhhh! What can I say?

I guess I'll just plead guilty and get on with Day 2 of the Challenge! It's raining heavily here at the moment, so no customers until the downpour stops. Perfect time for me to update my blog... that is if the laptop battery doesn't die and the internet keeps working. Here's Day 2 then...

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I've heard people say that "life is unidirectional". That is almost like saying that "You've entered a one-way lane, from where no left-turns or right-turns or U-turns lead out!" That sounds too bleak for my liking, so I don't completely agree with it.

Yes, life does move forward only, but, it never blocks those turns along your path. It never takes away your right of choice. You can choose to change the course of your life if you are not completely happy with the way it is at the moment. Or, you can choose to remain on the same course that leaves you feeling discontent or short-changed.

As Chico Xavier said... "Though nobody can go back and make a new beginning... anyone can start over and make a new ending."

It is not possible to undo your past (unless you have a car that travels through time), but you can always choose to create the future that you've dreamt about.

I think this is what "moving on" truly means... when you forgive yourself, for all your wrong choices in the past, so completely that you start believing you deserve a second chance in life... and then you stop living a compromise, a lie... and consciously start making choices that take you closer to your dream life.

That's when you start over... to make a new ending for your life.

- * - * - * - * - * -

Once again, thank you for tagging me, Princess! On Day 2, I pass this challenge on to Cat Graham, Maya, and Aditi.


This is what the 3-Day Quote Challenge is all about.

1. Post one of your favorite quotes (different quote on each day) on three consecutive days. The quote can be from your favorite book, author, or your own.
2. Nominate 3 bloggers to challenge them.
3. Thank the blogger, who nominated you.


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Thursday, July 2, 2015

Quote Challenge - Day 1 of 3

It's now over one and a half years since I opened my store. Life seems to have become pretty much stable now, or "settled" as my friend G would have said (the one who died last year).

When I first decided to relocate to Jaipur, I had never imagined that I would finally be able to start my own business here... at this totally new place, with no local contacts. Yet, such is life.

As Allen Saunders puts it... "Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans."

The Little Princess tagged me in this 3-day Quote Challenge. I have been seeing the other bloggers do this for a while now, hoping somebody would tag me, 'coz I have always loved quotes. Back in school, a big chunk of my pocket money was spent on collecting quote books. They also made excellent birthday gifts in those days, for giving as well as receiving.

The quote shared above has been one of my favorites for many years now. Once upon a time, when I had newly discovered about email signatures, this quote used to be my signature on all outgoing emails. And it is just so true, isn't it?

So thank you for tagging me, Princess! And I pass this challenge on to Sanch, Arpita and Nabanita.


This is what the 3-Day Quote Challenge is all about.

1. Post one of your favorite quotes (different quote on each day) on three consecutive days. The quote can be from your favorite book, author, or your own.
2. Nominate 3 bloggers to challenge them.
3. Thank the blogger, who nominated you.


[Continue Reading...]

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

My Favorite Hobby

I strongly believe that everyone must have at least one constructive hobby. A hobby that helps them express. A hobby that helps them release excess energy in creative ways. A hobby that keeps the mind busy, so that it doesn't get time to dwell on negativity.

I am a person with a hyperactive mind. Therefore, I have been involved in a lot of different hobbies over the years. I love making new stuff, be it through art & craft, or needlework, or cooking (occasionally), or some designing on the computer. Blogging is one of my current favorite hobbies. Watching English movies is another. I also love listening to music.

So what's my most favorite hobby? What's that one thing I like doing more than anything else?

It took a while for me to figure this one out. Eventually it was Dad who helped me realize this.

My most favorite hobby is reading. It is that one thing that I'm addicted to... the one thing that I simply can't control! If I start a book, it becomes impossible for me to put it down without completing it. I no longer remember to eat or drink or sleep or work. It's almost as if I don't even exist here anymore... as if I'm in some other world - the world of the book.

My Dad now gets terrified the moment he sees another book in my hands! To be honest, even I am scared now of picking up another book to read! I have got so many awesome books sitting in my books almirah, waiting to be read. And then there are so many more on the kindle app on my phone! I probably have enough reading material for two years of continuous reading! I seriously need to work on my self control regarding books!

Do you have any favorite hobbies? Do you have any such "addictions" that scare the hell out of you?

Please DO join in this month-long marathon of sharing about ourselves. If not on your blogs, join in the comments below each post, here or on Facebook!

This is my last post for KBL Jun 2015: My Favorites.
Link to the previous post: My Favorite Extra-Curricular Activity In School.

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