Jun 2013: Photo A Day Challenge

Hope you enjoyed going through last month's daily photo blogging on miss_teerious. In case you missed any of it, you can find it all here - "2013 May Photo A Day Challenge".

If you'd also like to check out what photographs I posted in the daily photo challenge of last year, please click on this link - "2012 March Photo A Day Challenge"

And finally, I'm starting on another exciting month of photography! The daily prompts for June 2013 are given in the picture below. If any of you would like to participate, just leave a comment on this post and let me know. You don't even need to have a blog for participating. You can share your daily photographs on Facebook, or Twitter, or Instagram, if you use it.

"2013 June Photo A Day"

Once again, I will keep updating this page, with links to the posts in this series, as I complete them.

Day 1 - Photo A Day: B is for... - Basket
Day 2 - Photo A Day: A Moment - Washing Hands
Day 3 - Photo A Day: On My Table - Glass Painting Lamp
Day 4 - Photo A Day: After Dark - Desertion, Loneliness... Desolation?
Day 5 - Photo A Day: Environment - Think.Eat.Save.
Day 6 - Photo A Day: Transport - Boat In Goa
Day 7 - Photo A Day: Bright - Orange Sunshine
Day 8 - Photo A Day: An Animal - Suicidal Cricket
Day 9 - Photo A Day: From Down Low - Green Canopy
Day 10 - Photo A Day: You! - My Shadow Self
Day 11 - Photo A Day: Something Funny - The Junior Janitor!
Day 12 - Photo A Day: 11 O'Clock - Chef In A Rush
Day 13 - Photo A Day: Kitchen - Morning Ritual
Day 14 - Photo A Day: Texture - Feather On Handmade Paper
Day 15 - Photo A Day: From Above - Empty Playground
Day 16 - Photo A Day: Family - Shiv Parivaar
Day 17 - Photo A Day: Centered - Center Of Attraction
Day 18 - Photo A Day: Street - Elephant Ride
Day 19 - Photo A Day: Currently Reading - Celestial Bodies In Orbit
Day 20 - Photo A Day: Cute - Junior Radha Rani
Day 21 - Photo A Day: Lunchtime - Lunch With Dad
Day 22 - Photo A Day: Enjoying Life - In Goa Again
Day 23 - Photo A Day: Last - Little Hearts Biscuit
Day 24 - Photo A Day: Negative Space - Hibiscus On the Wall
Day 25 - Photo A Day: Sharp - Pencil Point
Day 26 - Photo A Day: Empty - Swings in the Playground
Day 27 - Photo A Day: Into The Sun - Taj Mahal at Agra
Day 28 - Photo A Day: Red - Red Chilli Powder
Day 29 - Photo A Day: In My Bag - Shopping
Day 30 - Photo A Day: Handwriting - Mom's Recipes

My Fairy Pen Holder: Photo A Day - Four Things

Day 31 of "May Photo A Day Challenge" : Four Things

This is the last post for this month's challenge. So I'm keeping it short and sweet today.

That's the fairy pen holder on my computer table. I have a separate one (with my zodiac sign on it) for all the different pens I keep on my table. So this pretty fairy holds all the other stuff, i.e. -

  • an anti-static brush for cleaning the keyboard
  • a CD marker pen
  • a pencil
  • a wooden acupressure jimmy

P.S. - My computer table is not so uncluttered usually. I removed a speaker, a writing pad, the zodiac pen holder and my camera from this space, to take this photograph! :|

This is my 31st (last) post for 2013 May Photo A Day Challenge.
Link to the previous post: "Photo A Day - Tool"

My Camera: Photo A Day - Tool

Day 30 of "May Photo A Day Challenge" : Tool

For today's prompt - "TOOL" - what else could I post but this...

... the tool that helped me complete the May Photo A Day Challenge!

While some of the pics I posted in the series were scans of old reel-camera prints, and a few were taken by my cell phone camera, most were a product of my Canon Powershot A610 digicam.

It's old... but it's still gold! :p

P.S. - Dad took this picture from my cell phone, while I held my digicam in my hand.

This is my 30th post for 2013 May Photo A Day Challenge.
Link to the previous post: "Photo A Day - Kiss"

Kissed in Red: Photo A Day - Kiss

Day 29 of "May Photo A Day Challenge" : Kiss

Today's prompt was the toughest in the entire month! It had most of us totally stumped!

Earlier, I was going to re-post the old photograph of this poster I had in my room back in Patna - "Memorabilia-I: The KISS". But then I happened to check the FMS blog and saw this...

29. Kiss: This is our charity prompt. We’re going to kiss MS goodbye. So wear red, or pop on some red lipstick and show us a ‘kiss’!

MS stands for Multiple Sclerosis, by the way. They are creating awareness about the disease and collecting donations to finance research on it. You can read more about the cause here - http://www.kissgoodbyetoms.org/.

Anyway, the problem was that -
1. I don't have a red lipstick (couldn't find one from my neighbors either), and
2. Even if I did have one, I would've probably needed to call a beautician to apply it on my lips! (I'm hopeless with makeup!)

Eventually, I decided to take my sister's help...

She, fortunately, had a red lipstick. (She has items in her makeup-kit that I can't even pronounce properly, let alone knowing what they're for! As for my makeup kit... well, I'd better let this post do the talking about it!)

So anyway, she's the one who puckered her lips for this cause yesterday, and sent me that photograph of a tissue paper "kissed in red" by her!

This is my 29th post for 2013 May Photo A Day Challenge.
Link to the previous post: "Photo A Day - What You're Doing Now"

Recycling / Flower Making: Photo A Day - What You're Doing Now

Day 28 of "May Photo A Day Challenge" : What You're Doing Now

I'm not doing this like exactly "this minute", but the prompt said we could choose any moment of our day and take a picture of it. So I took this photograph yesterday evening...

As you can probably make out, I'm recycling some Ferrero Rocher wrappers into handmade flowers, for my craft site. I still don't have a suitable vase for those flowers though. I'm going to try recycling an old bottle with some golden paint. Or maybe some hand-painted pottery will look good too...

Let's see what it turns out to be like when it's all done.

This is my 28th post for 2013 May Photo A Day Challenge.
Link to the previous post: "Photo A Day - Can't Live Without"

Music: Photo A Day - Can't Live Without

Day 27 of "May Photo A Day Challenge" : Can't Live Without

I'm sure this prompt isn't about the basic necessities of life, i.e. food, water, air, shelter, clothing etc. So, leaving aside those absolutely essential things, here's one thing that I can't live without...

My daily dose of music! (Though not necessarily from my cell phone!)

I need music while I'm cooking. I need it when I'm ironing clothes. I definitely need it during my walks. I prefer to have music playing in the background (rather than some movie or news or serial on the TV) when I'm doing some art/craft work. I also need some music to lift me up when I'm feeling low, or calm my nerves when my mind goes in a state of hyper drive.

In my family, our day begins with music. We still have the old 2-in-one music system (the one with FM and audio cassette player), and every morning, Dad turns it on and tunes into Vividh Bharati on All India Radio. The radio remains on as long as there's good music being aired. The moment they switch to skits or interviews or something, I promptly turn it off.

Back in the 90s, when we used to have those portable walkman's for playing audio cassettes, you could never find me cooking in the kitchen without my earphones plugged in! Then the world became digital, and people started using iPods. I was a bit slow to catch up with technology. So I bought this. Finally, thanks to my sister, I became "smart" too (i.e. "a smart phone user"). Now I don't need to carry around a separate device, for listening to music during my walks or train commutes etc.! [grins]

Here's more in Music!

This is my 27th post for 2013 May Photo A Day Challenge.
Link to the previous post: "Photo A Day - Fave Thing To Do On Sunday"

He Came. He Read. And He Commented.

And that's how I met my current best friend.

Friendship isn’t about whom you have known the longest... It’s about who came, and never left your side...

That's the theme for this week's WOW on blogadda, and I've decided to write on it this time.

Now, I don't know about the "never" part in the given theme, but at this stage in my life, I wouldn't be wrong in saying that my blog buddy, Abhiroop, is my closest friend. At a time when all my old friends have got caught up in families and responsibilities, I find that I can share a lot more stuff with him than with them.

And our first interaction happened on this very blog!

24th of February, 2009. He left a comment on one of my posts and I replied. Then he left another one and I replied to that too. (I always reply to ALL non-spammy comments.) Many more comments followed, on many of my old posts that he had dug up from the archives! And then those comments gave way to emails, that got lengthier day-by-day!

Him being as prolific a writer as I am, exchanging emails with each other was an activity we both equally enjoyed. (Think of us as "pen-friends" of the email age!) And the fact that he is almost a decade younger than me, ensured that there weren't any of those unnecessary complications between us that usually tend to arise between close friends of opposite sex.

We've met only once in all these 4+ years... and I had to throw him out of my house on that occasion 'coz he just wouldn't stop pestering me for aloo-jhol! Although you've probably seen me brutally ragging him in the comments here... which, by the way, is nothing compared to how much I bully him on phone!

He used to blog once long ago (i.e. in 2009), but now he just reads and comments! He is also an above average photographer (or at least, he "used to be", back in the days when he blogged), but he still hasn't been able to clear the Color Junction board even once! And yes, he has promised that one day he's going to write a book on me! :D

This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda.

Book, Bed & Coffee: Photo A Day - Fave Thing To Do On Sunday

Day 26 of "May Photo A Day Challenge" : Fave Thing To Do On Sunday

It was difficult picking just one favorite activity for Sunday. Sometimes I like going out for lunch or dinner. Sometimes I get in the mood of cooking something new at home. Sometimes I just hijack the TV at our home (which is usually under Dad's control) and watch English action movies back-to-back. Or, if it's the season of SaReGaMaPa or Dance India Dance, then I glue myself on the couch and watch those.

Then I dug deeper within me, to try and find out what really is my MOST fave activity on a Sunday. After much soul searching, I came with this...

The bed, a good adventure thriller book in my hand, and a cup of coffee... or tea... or juice... or an ice cream sundae... or whatever is available... I'm not that picky.

How do you like to spend your Sunday?

This is my 26th post for 2013 May Photo A Day Challenge.
Link to the previous post: "Photo A Day - Us"

Book Review: Toke by Jugal Mody

Review: Toke by Jugal Mody

Author: Jugal Mody
ISBN: 978-9350293409

Buy from:




Toke, by Jugal Mody, is a surprisingly well-penned debut novel in the arena of contemporary Indian fiction in English. It is youthful, creative, funny, unclichéd, and... different.

Blurb from Toke:

So Lord Vishnu showed up one morning when I was really stoned and asked me to save the world from turning undead. How did I save the world? I didn't. We did. And while saving the world, I got to forcefully kiss the girl of my dreams. Many times. My best friends got to smoke a lot of good stuff. A lot more than they would have otherwise smoked in that much time. They also got to crash an airplane into a slum outside Santacruz airport. But don't worry, there were only zombies around when that happened. We were joined in our quest by two Japanese girls who can kill people with their pinkies, one of whom forcefully kissed Danny. Yes, there was a lot of non-consensual kissing in this adventure. With tongue. Hi. I'm Nikhil. This is my story. And I swear I have a T-shirt to prove it.

I'm always a bit skeptical when it comes to Indian fiction in English. And the above blurb did nothing to encourage me about this book. I thought it was going to be yet another attempt to make some money out of Indian religion mixed with fantasy. But, I was so wrong!

Toke, by Jugal Mody, is a brilliant no-brainer story, about Nikhil... a typical average Indian guy, stuck in a mundane job, with a 'hitler' boss, parents who are always disappointed in him, and this huge crush on a girl (called Suparna) from the HR at his office. The other characters, in this part of Nikhil's life, include Alok (his colleague who's always sucking up to the boss), Danny and Aman (his rebel friends from college, who are apparently perpetually stoned), Lord Vishnu (dressed up in a costume straight out of B. R. Chopra's Mahabharat), a talking junkie crow (who claims to be a Hollywood star), Chiaki and Yatsuha (the Japanese twin sisters, whose Kung Fu reminds you of the old video games), and some zombies. Also starring, in guest appearances, Tarzan (who provides our protagonist and his friends free transport in this adventure), Monty Singh (a newly married Jatt with a SUV and a gun), a giant eagle called Swami (the son of Bird King - Garuda - Lord Vishnu's mount), Billie Joe Armstrong (the lead singer of the American punk rock band called Green Day), and Lord Shiva.

Toke is the story of all those young rebels who dream of turning into superheroes overnight, and saving the planet from disaster, also flying an aeroplane in the process. It is the story of strained family ties, unfulfilled work-life, undeclared love, self-worth issues... typical modern day life that we can easily relate to. Everybody smokes a lot of marijuana and hash in this book, including the celebrity crow. Yes, there's also a lot of non-consensual kissing in the story, and yes... they do save the world from turning into a planet of zombies. There's even a lot of Kung Fu fighting that will probably remind you of movies like Drunken Master.

The book cover of Toke reminded me of my school days and my very initial stints with graphics-designing in GW-Basic, on Intel x86 processor machines. Editing and print quality are okay. Writing style is contemporary all the way, without turning into SMS-speak. The book is witty, fast-paced, unpretentious, with liberal doses of humour. Kind of like a typical Priyadarshan movie, complete with its implicit disclaimer - "Leave brains at home."

The author's take on Hinduism reminded me of a skit we wrote in school, to enact in the farewell party for our seniors. It was a humorous modern-day take on Ramayan, and our dramatics teacher totally loved it, but advised us not to go ahead with it, as it would probably "hurt the religious sentiments of some of the audience members". So we replaced it with a politically correct (read: boring) skit that nobody watched. Similarly, Toke is also not for the faint-hearted and creatively-challenged readers.

My rating: 4.75 out of 5. Toke, by Jugal Mody, is not your typical grammatically correct and morally upright story. (How can it be? It is based around the theme that taking drugs is cool!) But, if you're someone who likes a bit of fun and an occasional break from reality, then this book is just perfect for you.

Buy from: Flipkart | Amazon.in | Amazon.com

Disclaimer: This review is a part of the IndiBlogger and HarperCollins book-review program. I received a free copy of the book for reviewing, but that has, in no way, affected my rating and opinions.

Here's more in Books.

Papa & Daughters: Photo A Day - Us

Day 25 of "May Photo A Day Challenge" : Us

We see a lot of business firms in India with names like 'XYZ & Sons' (representing family owned businesses usually, that are handed down from fathers to their sons). But today's picture here is dedicated to 'Papa & Daughters'.

That's Dad, my sister and me... or, all of "us", since 1997, when mom passed away. It's one of those rare family pictures in which Dad is in the photograph with us, and not behind the camera.

No story today, friends... just some personal memories. Have a good day... :)

This is my 25th post for 2013 May Photo A Day Challenge.
Link to the previous post: "Photo A Day - Go"

Grand Prix Junior: Photo A Day - Go

Day 24 of "May Photo A Day Challenge" : Go

Whenever I hear the word 'Go', the only image that comes to my mind is that of a Monopoly board, and the big "GO" on the starting cell, instructing us to collect $200 as we pass. I used to have the Indian version of the game, which told us to collect Rs. 2000 as we passed. And it had the names of Indian airports and Indian cities, which we owned and then built houses and hotels upon.

As my sister and I grew up, we handed down all our games to our cousins, including our Monopoly set. I last played this game in 2010, with my cousin in Guwahati. And the one memory of this game, that stands out for me, is when I landed in jail three times in a row! "Go to Jail. Do not pass 'Go'. Do not collect Rs. 2000." Brutal. My cousin had a field day! I actually had to mortgage some of my property to continue in the game! :(

I was originally going to post a picture of the Monopoly board for today's prompt. Rather, a picture of my monitor with a Monopoly board image opened in full screen on it... as I don't have the actual game anymore. But then I noticed that quite a few participants, in this month's photo-a-day challenge, were posting on the same idea today. So I decided to go with plan B... i.e. my backup...

Yes, that's my backup... my little knight in shining armour... my nephew UV... rising to the occasion once again! LOL! :P

Since his Dad rides a motorcycle, he obviously had to get one too... complete with a helmet! The picture above was taken on 26th January, 2011. He was five at that time. And he didn't much like that Spiderman helmet. He wanted a black one with a full face cover... like a grown-up helmet, you know... the kind worn by grown-up riders! Unfortunately, we couldn't find one like that, to fit the little head of this 5-year-old Grand Prix Junior Champ! Hence, the Spiderman! :P

This is my 24th post for 2013 May Photo A Day Challenge.
Link to the previous post: "Photo A Day - PJs"

Expressions Galore!

Wish I could change my submission for today's prompt in the May Photo A Day Challenge! :P

I clicked these new pictures less than 2 hours ago. They are of the same kid who was featured in the "Smile" prompt of the challenge... the one with the "Toothy smile". I went to see his mom for something, and he was sitting there on the bed, dressed in these super cool PJs, with his freshly-combed hair all spiked up!

Unfortunately, the dark back-rest of the bed doesn't give that good a view of his hair, but his expressions are just priceless! I took five pictures from my cell phone, in like less than a minute... and in no two pictures did he repeat the same expression!

Amazing, isn't it? Can us grown-ups manage to give five such spontaneous and such completely different expressions in five pictures?

Anyway, my official entry for today's prompt (PJs) is here... "All Girls' PJ Party!: Photo A Day - PJs". Cheers...

All Girls' PJ Party!: Photo A Day - PJs

Day 23 of "May Photo A Day Challenge" : PJs

I had to do a lot of digging through the old picture folders in my PC, for today's prompt, to find what I was looking for. I knew it had to be there somewhere, but it kept eluding me for a long long time. Finally remembered where it could be just this morning!

That is my sister, in her pretty red floral PJs, in October 2006. She is a bit shy, so she prefers that I don't post pictures of her on my blog. For that reason, I've cropped the picture to hide her face from "public eyes", but, I have left her beautiful smile in, 'coz smiles are infectious, you see... and there are so many people out there who need one...

As for me... well, I'm not really a PJ person. My preferred nightwear is night-gowns. So, taking the "creative liberty" to bend the rules a bit here... I would also like to share some pics of one of my all-girls PJ party, back in the late 90s...

Those are my school friends (S, A, G) and me, at my best friend's (S') place. Yeah, the same best friend who used to call me over to arrange her cupboards! (Refer to the comments in the post - "Orderliness..."!) She's the one in pink. I'm the one in the white cardigan... the only one wearing any woolens. (Remember, I'm hypothermic?) A is the one in checks. And G is the 4th one.

Technically, this probably won't qualify as a PJ party, as none of us are wearing pajamas. S, G and me are in nighties, and A was apparently planning to crash in her day clothes. (Don't remember why though.) But, it sure as hell was one good sleepover! (As can be made out from the looks on our faces!)

By the way, these were all printed pictures (film-roll days) that I scanned and made a rough collage out of, in Photoshop. I decided to leave out some of the more... ummm... crazy pics. You can click on the collage to zoom in.

The day these pics were taken, my best friend's parents were out of town. It was just her and her younger sister (T) in the house. (These pics were all taken by her younger sister, by the way.) So the 5 of us... all girls... had the entire house to ourselves, which used to happen very rarely in those days. Like... very VERY rarely!

For one whole day and night, we were totally FREE! We cooked our own food... whatever junk we wanted to... and we stayed up as late as we wanted to... and made as much noise as 5 young carefree girls could possibly make... until finally, the neighbors started complaining! No kidding!

Alright then, I am kidding.

Or, not exactly kidding... just 'exaggerating' a little.

Those 'neighbors' were just my best friend's uncle and aunt, who lived in the ground floor portion of the building, while S and her family had the first floor! :P

Well... what can I say? We bloggers HAVE TO spice things up a bit, in order to make it an interesting read for you guys... it's part of our job! :D

This is my 23rd post for 2013 May Photo A Day Challenge.
Link to the previous post: "Photo A Day - Change"

Best of Waste: Photo A Day - Change

Day 22 of "May Photo A Day Challenge" : Change

There were lots of ideas in my mind for today's prompt.

I could show a change of seasons with a collage of various pictures taken from my balcony... foggy, cloudy, clear sky, monsoon. Or I could show the change in me... from when my hair was really long to when it was practically in a boy cut.

I could show the change in my nephew Yuvraj... from the day he was born to the day I last saw him in Patna. Or I could show the change in a cooking process... from the ingredients to the finished dish.

I could photograph an old chip of soap placed next to a brand new bar of soap. Or I could simply take a picture of my wall clock, to show the changing time.

Buds and flowers from the gardens downstairs, or a nest full of pigeons and their eggs/baby pigeons. I could even photograph the recent alteration marks in some of my tops, to show my expanding waistline!

Eventually, I decided to photograph this...

Best of Waste: Recycled Glass Jar

A best-out-of-waste art-work that I did a couple of months ago. Some old wool and an empty chilli sauce bottle... recycled into a pretty vase with some handmade flowers.

Here's how I did it, in case anyone wants to know... Snowy Alpines: Recycled Jars with Wool Pom-Pom Flowers.

This is my 22nd post for 2013 May Photo A Day Challenge.
Link to the previous post: "Photo A Day - I Care About This..."

Orderliness: Photo A Day - I Care About This...

Day 21 of "May Photo A Day Challenge" : I Care About This...

Unfortunately, I don't have any social cause I care much about currently. Neither do I have any pets or kids. :( But, there's one thing I've always cared so much about that it wouldn't be wrong to refer to it as an Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. And that's my fanaticism for orderliness.

Be it books in my books almirah, or clothes in my wardrobe, or the crockery in my kitchen cabinet... everything must be in its proper place. I cannot stand disorder and chaos... where I have to hunt for things.

This OCD has subsided a bit in the last few years, but when I was in school, I was such an order-freak that everything even had a fixed linear order! For example, my clothes. Dress G had to be after dress F and before dress H, so that I would tell my sister from the other room that "please give me the 5th suit from the left in my cupboard", and she would bring me the correct suit. Same with books or audio cassettes or anything else, for that matter. You could blindfold me, and I would still be able to pick the right item from the stack, just by counting.

My old Farmville neighbors will probably remember... even my farm was subjected to this particular OCD of mine! For those of you who never got into virtual farming, or couldn't make it into my neighborhood, here's an old screenshot of my farm loooong ago... (even before I saved enough money for my mansion!)

Beautiful, wasn't it? And naah... don't worry... I have no plans of getting back to online farming! I care about my eyes too! LOL! :P

This is my 21st post for 2013 May Photo A Day Challenge.
Link to the previous post: "Photo A Day - Light"

Diwali Celebrations: Photo A Day - Light

Day 20 of "May Photo A Day Challenge" : Light

What could be more fitting for today's prompt than our very own festival of lights... Diwali!

I took this picture in Patna, in the year 2010... another one of my candid "balcony shots". The two buildings, lit up with Diwali lights, were at the far end of my lane (to the right of my balcony). No fancy equipment was used. Just my 5MP Cannon Powershot on 'night mode' without flash. I have cropped and water-marked the photograph in Adobe Photoshop.

Also, here's some more recent night-time photography. I'd already blogged these pictures last month, so didn't use them again for today's prompt, but please DO take a look... I quite like how they've come out. :)

This is my 20th post for 2013 May Photo A Day Challenge.
Link to the previous post: "Photo A Day - My Favorite View"

Sunrise: Photo A Day - My Favorite View

Day 19 of "May Photo A Day Challenge" : My Favorite View

This one was easy to figure out... not as easy to photograph though... for the simple reason that I don't wake up that early now! So posting an old picture to portray my take on today's prompt...

That's a view of the morning sun peeping out from behind the leaves of a tree in Guwahati, India. I took this photograph from my uncle's balcony in Guwahati, in April 2010. Here's another picture from the same collection - "Sunrise in Guwahati".

The day begins so early over there 'coz it's in the East. And the mornings were just so lovely and cool. Completely in contrast to the weather here in Jaipur... temperature being over 30 degrees Celsius at like 7:15 in the morning! LOL!

I suppose I'll have to start waking up at 4:45 am again, if I want to see the Sun playing peek-a-boo with the trees here! :P

This is my 19th post for 2013 May Photo A Day Challenge.
Link to the previous post: "Photo A Day - Want"

Plants: Photo A Day - Want

Day 18 of "May Photo A Day Challenge" : Want

Oh there are loads of stuff I want...

  • a German shepherd called "Steele"
  • a fish bowl with two gold fish called "Gappu" and "Gappi"
  • a walk-in closet with clothes and accessories like Princess Amelia Mignonette Grimaldi Thermopolis Renaldo's
  • more books
  • some sacks full of mad money stashed away somewhere (like in the movie Mad Money)
  • a farm in real (like my old FarmVille farm on Facebook)
  • my work on KraftyFingers selling like M.F.Hussain's paintings

... but for today's prompt, I'll keep it a little more down-to-earth...

Plants... if I could only have lots of plants... or, better yet, a small garden of my own. But that's totally not possible in an apartment unit. So I will just have to make do with potted plants... the first item on my "shopping list" when we move to our own place! :D

P.S. - This was a "blind shot" taken from my cell phone camera, 'coz the screen was completely blacked out in the sunlight.

This is my 18th post for 2013 May Photo A Day Challenge.
Link to the previous post: "Photo A Day - Season"

Summer Sandstorms in Jaipur: Photo A Day - Season

Day 17 of "May Photo A Day Challenge" : Season

What can I say about the summers of Jaipur? They are extremely hot and extremely dry (just the kind I like!)... with regular sandstorms (the kind I don't like!) that cover everything in your house with a thin layer of dust and make your neighborhood look like this...

Summer Sandstorms in Jaipur

Despite the fact that you have to spend so much more time in cleaning the house, and that you get severely sun-burnt if you step out of the house, during afternoon, wearing short sleeves, there's still a lot of fun to be had in Jaipur summers.

You can satisfy your mango mania, without worrying about pimples and acnes. You can skip cooked meals and just fill your tummy with watermelons and cucumbers and litchis (WOW!).

You can replace hot tea and coffee with so many different varieties of summer coolers and shakes!

Summer Coolers

Enjoy a glass of chilled homemade lassi (recipe here) with breakfast, or make a mint raita for lunch.

Have freshly made aam panna / mango mint cooler (recipe here) for a mid-day snack, and keep a jug of iced lemonade or lemon tea in your fridge, for when you return from your evening walk.

When my sister and I were kids, we used to love having Rasna and Roohafza in summers. Another of my personal favorites was the khus sharbat, while my sister was more crazy about cold coffee. (She used to have cold coffee in a huge beer mug! LOL!)

So what's your favorite drink for summers?

And do you see such summer sandstorms/duststorms where you live?

This is my 17th post for 2013 May Photo A Day Challenge.
Link to the previous post: "Photo A Day - Mailbox"

Homemade Aam Panna or Mango Mint Cooler

Aam Panna, or mango mint cooler, is a very popular summer drink in those Northern parts of India that experience the strong, hot & dry loo winds. Exposure to these loo winds can cause fatal heat-strokes, and this refreshing combination of raw mango and mint helps in preventing those heat-strokes.

My mom used to make this aam panna regularly in Kanpur, because Dad used to come home for lunch from his factory. I didn't bother much about it in Patna, as Patna is not a loo-prone area, but, now in Jaipur, aam panna is once again a part of our regular summer diet. Here's how I make it (this is one of the few recipes that my mom was able to teach me before she passed away)...

Aam Panna or Mango Mint Cooler Recipe

2 large raw green mangoes, peeled
2 tbsp mint leaves' paste
4 glasses of water
4 tsp sugar
2 tsp black salt / rock salt (kaala namak)
2 tsp roasted & powdered cumin seeds (jeera)
crushed ice


  • Pressure cook the mangoes in 2 glasses of water, for about 7 minutes.
  • Allow to cool, and then squeeze the pulp through a strainer, adding the remaining water.
  • Mix in the mint paste, sugar, salt and roasted cumin powder.
  • Serve chilled with crushed ice.

My blender doesn't work with very little quantities, so I usually buy an entire bunch of fresh mint leaves, and run the whole lot through the blender, storing the paste in the freezer in an air-tight container. The mangoes, I prefer to boil fresh every time. The sharp tang of the raw mangoes, combined with the coolness of mint, makes this a very satisfying summer cooler drink in this extreme North-Indian heat.

Here's more in Recipes from miss_teerious!

Array of Mailboxes: Photo A Day - Mailbox

Day 16 of "May Photo A Day Challenge" : Mailbox

Today's topic did not make an interesting prompt for us Indians at least. Very few (if any) of us have those fancy mailboxes that we see in Hollywood movies and Google images.

I remember when I used to live in a house in Kanpur, the local postman delivered all our mail personally. The envelopes were usually slid under the door, but on every festival, he would ring the bell, deliver the mail in our hand, and then demand his 'baksheesh' (unofficial festival bonus)!

Then we started living in apartment units. And since then, all our regular mail is delivered to the building's security (usually the guard room at the main gate), while registered posts and couriers are delivered in person, directly to the recipient.

So, while we have these arrays of mailboxes set up in our building here, they are hardly used by anyone. I suppose that's already obvious from the condition of the mailboxes. Most of them have their locks broken. Some don't even remain closed anymore!

This is my 16th post for 2013 May Photo A Day Challenge.
Link to the previous post: "Photo A Day - 7 O'Clock"

Ramp Ready... with TRESemmé!

After two fortunate extensions in the deadline, Renie (of IndiBlogger) informed me that 15th May 2013 was indeed the final "last date" for submitting my entry in the TRESemmé Ramp Ready Hair contest.

Why "fortunate" extensions? Because my hair was not ready for the ramp then!

Why wasn't it ready? Because I'm a complete dumbo when it comes to makeup, fashion and anything related to styling!

Here's the story from the beginning...

There was this email announcement from IndiBlogger, about a TRESemmé Ramp Ready Hair contest. We had to apply for a free sample of the TRESemmé Shampoo + Conditioner, and once we received it, we could check out the interactive TRESemmé India Youtube channel, follow any of their awesome hairstyle tutorials on it (to style our hair), and then post pictures of our ramp ready hair for the contest.

I got my free sample kit, and then opened their youtube channel with much excitement and anticipation. (Till then, I had no idea that you could even learn to style your hair on youtube!) Their DIY hairstyle tutorials were categorized according to hair type -- wavy, curly and straight. And even though I have straight hair, still I went through ALL of those tutorials... wishing I had a magic wand, so I could change my hair type from straight to wavy or curly, anytime I wanted to! But, as they say, if wishes were horses, we'd all fly... right! (Sigghhhh)

So, after a lot of day-dreaming, I eventually decided to get down to work on my straight hair. Their video channel had 3 hairstyles for me...

  • The Twisted Hairband seemed too twisted to even try, for someone who has trouble using a hair clutcher properly!

  • The Balloon Ponytail wasn't going to work with my shoulder length hair.

  • That left the Butterfly Ponytail then, and it seemed quite simple too... at least in the video. Here... you also watch it...

See... it really is simple, isn't it? I figured I'd start with this, and once I got a hang of it, then I'd give the Twisted Hairband a shot too. But, gosh! I'm so embarrassed to even confess this... I couldn't even manage to work out this simple hairstyle! The ponytail refused to go inside the "parting" created above the rubberband!

I tried and tried and tried! First one "last date" was extended. (Not because of me though... it was just some fortunate goof up by the courier company!) Then the second "last date" was extended too. Finally, it was set to today. All this while, I kept thanking my stars for giving me more time to get the Butterfly Ponytail right. And all this while, I still kept failing miserably at it! In the meanwhile, I browsed through more DIY videos in their youtube channel, hoping to get something (gulpp!) simpler than the Butterfly Ponytail, but that was totally unrealistic, right?

Finally, today being the last "last date", I just decided to go with the usual "boring" styles. And let me clarify here... they might be "boring" for other girls, but for me, even these were quite an adventure!

Here's the first one... the "most daring" one...

As you can see, I lost control of the "braid" somewhere in the middle! Then I fumbled with a clutcher...

Usually, I have some hair sticking out from the top of the clutcher, giving my hair a very disheveled kinda look. Or the clutcher refuses to settle in the center of my head. Today, I got it in place in just one attempt! It was almost as if the usual friction in my hair was missing... like they'd become obedient all of a sudden! Miracle!

Encouraged by my success with the clutcher, I decided to try this hair comb that I'd purchased 3 years ago, but had never been able to use it 'coz... well, I don't know... it just looked so "messy"!

This is how it looked today though... not bad too, haan? :D So maybe I'll get some fancier hair combs now! :P

And finally... the "raw material" available to me for all this styling...

My hair left open to shine on in their full glory! Hahahah!

While taking these pictures, Dad commented that my hair has become straighter and smoother than it used to be. Obviously, I had to verify this with my own eyes! So I hunted in my "photographs" folder and found this picture taken in January this year...

See the difference? See all those strands of hair sticking out in all directions? All that frizz? Well that's practically gone! Not only that, I noticed that my hairfall problem has reduced by at least half since I started using the TRESemmé Shampoo + Conditioner! But those are the "after-use" effects.

During the use, I noticed that the hair feels clean after just one wash with TRESemmé, while I had to wash it twice every "shampoo day" with my regular shampoo. And the conditioner spreads through the hair so easily that I needed only one third of the quantity I use of my regular conditioner.

Bottomline is... I'm quite pleased with the results of this testing kit of TRESemmé Shampoo + Conditioner. I might make it my "regular shampoo and conditioner" now. As for the hair styling... I've decided I'll leave the more artistic styles for a professional stylist... or my pillow!

For those of you who missed the post about my "hairstylist pillow", this hair style was done for me by my pillow... and it looks just perfect for the ramp, doesn't it? Oh alright then... at least it would be a "winner" on a ramp meant for "sleepy heads"! :D :D :D