And The Blog Gets Another Makeover

I have been very inconsistent in blogging lately. Just 11 posts since July. I finally decided to give a makeover to my blog, in the hope of getting inspired to write again. The gray-black theme had started to feel as sickly as my physical health. So I wanted some color here. I wanted 'yellow', to be precise. And so, my blog is yellow now.

Have a look...

By the way, it's not just the aesthetics that have changed. The sidebar on the right has a tabbed section now, for "Trending posts", "Tags", and "Archives". It makes the sidebar look even less-cluttered than it was earlier. Here's a screenshot...

Most importantly, this new template is responsive in design.  It means that the content will adjust automatically to the screen-size of the device you're viewing the blog on (i.e. laptop/desktop/tablet/smart phone etc.) I haven't got a screenshot for this though. So you'll have to check it out.

In other news, this blog completed nine years earlier this month, my shop completed two, and I have completed four years in Jaipur.

I really wish I'd start blogging regularly again. In fact, I wish I'd blog daily in 2016. Wouldn't that be just amazing? Ok maybe it would be a bit too much for my readers, but it's one of the things on my "10-things-to-do-before-I-die" list, and I wish I'm able to strike it off at the end of 2016.

Anyway, you guys check out my new blog design in the meantime, and tell me how it looks.


The two sisters were finally reunited yesterday... up in the heavens... after almost 19 years.

My mom and my mausi...

#ChennaiRains Trigger Memories of #PatnaFloods1975

Chennai is flooded. All those visuals of the city, on TV news channels, reminded my Dad of similar floods in Patna in the year 1975. So, as we sipped our morning tea today, he took me on a walk down his memory lane.

1975 was the year my Mom and Dad got married to each other. Unfortunately (for my Dad!), when Patna was hit by those heavy rains, Mom was not in town. She'd been visiting her parents that time. She was supposed to return the night before the city got flooded, but Dad didn't find her on the train when he went to pick her up from the railway station. Apparently, my nanaji (Mom's Dad) chickened out at the very last minute and didn't send her off! Dad is still very sore on that point [grins], but aside from that, he thinks of the whole experience as "the adventure of a lifetime"!

Flooded Boring Road Chowraha, Patna in 1975.
This is where I used to stay before I moved to Jaipur!

The Patna floods of 1975 were different from the current Chennai floods in that they were not entirely "nature-made". As Dad recalls, the heavy rainfall had caused the water-levels in the Sone river to rise above safe limits, but that flood was mostly the result of dam waters being diverted into certain parts of the town, in order to keep the Danapur cantonment from getting flooded (because that would have led to serious military losses, destroying millions of dollars worth of artillery) and also to ensure that the excess water exited as quickly as possible into the Ganga river.

So loudspeaker announcements had given prior warning to people in most of the affected areas. Dad doesn't remember hearing any such announcements though. A family acquaintance, who lived in some other part of the city, tipped off my Dad's family about the flood warnings, before the phone lines went dead. And my grandfather (Dad's father) took immediate action.

First thing he did was to get the 200 liter drum filled with clean drinking water. This one action alone saved them from a lot of severe hardships that other families had to face back then!

Next, all the furnishings that could be moved up to the first floor, were moved. Dad remembers there was a mattress on the floor. As soon as they lifted that mattress off the ground, to carry it upstairs, water started entering the room through a drain hole in the corner. Total filmy, right? [grins again]

They started emptying all the cupboards and almirahs too then, starting from the bottom shelves first. By the time, they got to the top shelves, the water-levels had risen up to their waist. Within another few hours, the entire ground floor had got submerged under water. Dad's elder brother (and wife) had refused to empty their cupboards. So, by the time the water levels went down (several days later), a lot of their stuff got destroyed.

Big houses also flooded in Patna in 1975

Phones lines remained cut for days. They didn't have any TVs and cell phones back then. And with all that water, naturally, the electric supply was cut too. They had no water supply either. So they collected the flood water by hanging out buckets from the balcony, mixed some alum in it, and used that for washing purposes.

My grandma's brothers were very well off. (They own a couple of cinema halls in the city.) One of them had rented a boat. He ferried over to Dad's house to ask if any supplies were needed. But even with that boat and all their money, those relatives still ran short of drinking water. Eventually, with no water supply, they were forced to filter and boil the stagnant water from their air coolers, and use that for drinking!

In the meantime, back at my Dad's place, the son of their landlord, who also stayed on the first floor and is still a very good family friend, came up with the idea of putting together a makeshift raft by tying a couple of empty plastic drums together. Their resident servant, one Mr. Ram Udit Mehto, used this "raft" to get vegetables from the higher areas of the city that were not flooded. Fortunately for them, their kitchen was on first floor. And they had all that drinking water. So they were able to cook proper meals. Gobhi ke parathe is what Dad remembers most clearly. Long sessions of card games on the terrace is another thing that he vividly remembers.

Streets of Patna during the floods in 1975

When I asked Dad about rescue and relief operations, he couldn't remember much, except for these helicopters that were dropping packets of bread and gud-chana (jaggery with roasted bengal-gram) on rooftops.

Dad's younger brother was drying some of his documents on the terrace, when one such helicopter flew over and started dropping these food packets. He tried to wave it off, in a vain effort to save his papers from the chopper's wake turbulence. Alas, the rescue/relief team in the helicopter misread his "wave-off" as a "plea for more food packets"! So they promptly made a U-turn and flew over a second time, to drop more bread and gud-chana! Hahahah! :P

Dad recalls that their terrace was strewn over with so many food packets, which they didn't need. They couldn't let it go waste though, particularly in those hard times. So, once again Mr. Ram Udit Mehto was set a-sailing (or wading perhaps) with their ingenious "drum raft", loaded with as many food packets that the humble raft could carry, and sent off to deliver those packets to other families stranded in nearby areas, with no access to direct roof-top deliveries from the helicopters!

For my Dad's family, the 1975 flood was mostly one extended picnic on the terrace. Yes, they did suffer some losses. And they had to stay upstairs for weeks even after the water-levels went down, because of the dampness and the smell of all the muck and rotting stuff. But it was nothing compared to many other families who couldn't move their belongings to higher ground in time.

There was no social media back then, to coordinate relief and rescue operations. In fact, there were no means of communication at all. There weren't even so many vehicles during those days. People were mostly stranded in their own houses, unless they could afford to rent a boat! Some did manage to catch fish from the flood waters though, sitting on their roof-tops or in their balconies! Now that's something you don't get to do too often, do you?

Fishing in Hathwa Market, Patna

Dad is greatly impressed by the way people are using Facebook and Twitter for coordinating local relief operations in Chennai currently. I keep telling him about all the little stories I read on my Facebook timeline, about how people are opening up their homes for strangers, about the various teams set up to give and receive aid (both rescue and relief) in different parts of Chennai, and about how people are sharing information on a real-time basis through social media.

Relief teams are able to tell people exactly what is needed at the ground level, and people are donating stuff accordingly (last I read was the request for fully-charged power banks). This direct communication is minimizing wastage very effectively. Pick-up points and times are also being closely coordinated. Rescue teams are reaching exactly where needed, within hours of "SOS calls on social media", when earlier, it would have taken days!

All this, because of technology and social media. I bet even Mark Zuckerberg had never imagined *this* use of Facebook when he first conceptualized it!

And the real "stars", of this whole chain of events, remain, hands down, the people of India, especially the people of Chennai. While the media, the parliamentarians, and the celebrities keep debating over "Growing Intolerance", the "real India" shows the world once again that it remains as united as ever!

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!

. . .

Here's more in Videos!

Foto Friday: Happy Navratra!

It's that time of the year again when Indians are busy worshipping 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 my balcony:
  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 billed and 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-Fridays are not meant to be so long.)

I have no idea when I'll blog again.
. . .

Here's more in Foto-Friday!

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. I was supposed to publish this review a couple of months ago, 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!

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.

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 that 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 that 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.

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 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…

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

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.

- * - * - * - * - * -

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

3-Day Quote Challenge : Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3


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.


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 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 search for the keyword “crash diets” peaks.

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.

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 (In India, rains and power cuts are always part of a package deal.) and the internet keeps working ('coz 3G is dependent on weather conditions). Here's Day 2 then...

- * - * - * - * - * -

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. And I think it's only then that you truly really "move on".

- * - * - * - * - * -

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

3-Day Quote Challenge : Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3


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.


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 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.

3-Day Quote Challenge : Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3


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.


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?

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

My Favorite Extra-Curricular Activity In School

In my school, there were dozens of extra-curricular activities we could choose from and attend in our bi-weekly activity classes. There were different sports, including Boxing, Table Tennis, Gymnastics and Horse Riding. There were DIY classes like Needlework, Doll Making, Flower Decoration, Batik, Carpentry and even Home Science & Food Preservation. Then there were the Music and Dance classes too, as well as Debate and Elocution, and a lot of other things that I don't remember now.

In my 12 years of school life, I have attended a lot of different activity classes and learnt a variety of stuff. My mom once went and told my class teacher to put me in Dance. Imagine a fat 10-year-old with two left feet, trying to do Kathak and Bharatnatyam! Catastrophe, right? Nevertheless, I got selected as one of the dancers for the Varsha Mangal Utsav that year! As one of the extra dancers, okay, but I did get selected! LOL! :D The Dance teachers at my school refused to take me in their activity after that one year!

I once tried to enroll myself for the Gardening activity, but they refused to take me saying that there weren't any other females in that activity. That was a bummer. Oh and my teacher in class five automatically put me in Computer Science activity because of my marks in Mathematics. That was the year Computers were introduced in my school. That was actually one of the best things to happen to me in school. It turned out to be my favorite subject after all. It wasn't my favorite extra-curricular activity though.

So what was my favorite extra-curricular activity in school?

It was Western Music.

I was first put into this activity in class two, I think. Back then, we used to have these classes in the senior building, in a huge hall that later became our Bio Lab. I remember the big piano in the corner. All of us would gather around it and sing in chorus.

I chose this activity several times after that. Our Western Music teacher changed. The classroom also changed several times. The piano stayed though.

I really enjoyed singing all those English songs, including the Christmas Carols. I remember there was a crazy song that went "Did Charlie make a monkey out of you? Do you think you should be living in the zoo?" It was absolutely crazy! Was on human evolution, I think. Then there was another one - "All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth!"

We used to note these songs down in a diary in beautiful colored pens. And then we would decorate that diary with stickers and crystals and sequins and whatever else we could lay our hands on. I still have mine somewhere in one of my cupboards at home. One of these days, I will dig it out and see if I can remember the tunes of all the songs in it.

This was my favorite extra-curricular activity in school. Not only did I love the singing, but I also enjoyed those occasional "special events" that we had to prepare for, like the Christmas Day celebrations. I was in the school English choir. So we prepared a whole bunch of Christmas Carols for the School Assembly, and we also got to decorate the School Christmas Tree! It was fun! :D

Did you have extra-curricular activities in your school? If yes, then what were your favorite?

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This is my 29th post for KBL Jun 2015: My Favorites.
Link to the previous post: My Favorite TV Show.

My Favorite TV Show

And it's back! My favorite TV show is back! Dance India Dance, with its brand new Season 5!

The telecast of the auditions started this weekend. Last year, I couldn't watch this show because we were keeping the store open till 9:30 at night. This year, I decided to cut myself some slack. We now try to pack-up for the day at 8:30 pm, so that even if there is a last-minute customer, we still reach home before 9 pm.

It's a good thing I made this change in time for D-I-D Season 5. Looks like there are going to be some really awesome dancers in the show this time. And the judges seem hell bent on having super fun on the set. I thoroughly enjoyed Master Puneet's ragging on the show yesterday. As a matter of fact, I was quite surprised to find out that he's going to be one of the judges this time. He was a contestant in Season 2! He's come a long way, hasn't he?

Anyway, I haven't yet decided whose team I'll be supporting this time.

Are you guys planning to follow this show? Do you have any favorite TV shows? Which ones?

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This is my 28th post for KBL Jun 2015: My Favorites.
Link to the previous post: My Favorite Animal.

My Favorite Animal

Yesterday, I wrote about my favorite bird. So naturally, it is only befitting that today, I write about my favorite animal, which is...

Yes, the mighty elephant!

Well, I like the big cats too, but I have always been in special awe of this great creature - the elephant. It is huge, yet gentle. It is intelligent, and it seems solid like a rock all the way through. Plus, it has such a cute smile.

I once found a picture of a smiling baby elephant in my webshots wallpaper software. It was too cute. I have posted it on my blog earlier. Take a look - There's Something About The Way You "Smile" Tonight...

Oh and don't forget to read about my baby elephants in Farmville!

Actually, while you're at it, you might also like to check out pictures of this mommy-and-baby-elephant pair I have in wood.

Which is your favorite animal?

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This is my 27th post for KBL Jun 2015: My Favorites.
Link to the previous post: My Favorite Bird.

My Favorite Bird

My favorite bird has always been the house sparrow. It is tiny and chubby, and it keeps on an incessant "choon-choon"!

This was the most common bird in our house when we lived in Kanpur. We had an equal number of crows there too, but they are not my favorite. Their "caw-caw" sounds too shrill and aggressive. This little bird's "choon-choon", on the other hand, sounds more like music.

I didn't see this bird in Patna for many years, but they are abundant here in Jaipur. In fact, I'm sure there are at least three nests of these birds on top of my shop-shutter. So yeah, I get to hear that "music" all day long now! Sometimes, it turns into noise too though. I find it quite surprising that such tiny little things can make so much noise, but they usually turn it down if I go out and tell them to shut up. Oh yes... communication is the key, after all. LOL!

Do you have favorite birds? Which ones?

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This is my 26th post for KBL Jun 2015: My Favorites.
Link to the previous post: My Favorite God.

My Favorite God

I am not a religious person at all. I don't do the daily puja and stuff. I used to till a few years ago, but then I realized suddenly that all this ritual worship is just not my thing. That doesn't mean I don't believe in God though. On the contrary, I'm a very firm believer in the existence of God.

The way I look at it, all our Indian Gods simply represent different energies of the Universe. They are like symbols, that connect us with their respective energies. For example, Lord Hanuman is the symbol for protective energy and courage. Goddess Saraswati is the symbol for wisdom, knowledge and creativity. Lord Ganesha is for removing obstacles. Whichever energy we lack at any point of time, we can think about that particular God and invite that energy into our life.

So who is my favorite God then?

With no disrespect for the other Gods (and I'm sure they won't take any), my favorite God is Lord Krishna.

To me, Lord Krishna represents the beauty and depth in all the different relationships possible. As a son, as a friend, as a lover, as a healer, as a guru, even as a foe. And it's not just his relationships with humans, but also with plants and animals.

He was naughty, but he wasn't cruel. He was kind and helpful, and he kept his promises. He was a never-ending source of wisdom. A patient teacher and a considerate lover. He was a complete "all-in-one". I bet Raymond's "complete man" tagline was inspired by him!

Anyway, do you have any favorite God? If yes, then who? And why?

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This is my 25th post for KBL Jun 2015: My Favorites.
Link to the previous post: My Favorite Cookies.

My Favorite Cookies

I like cookies a lot. As in a LOT lot. I could gorge on them all day if a genie would grant me the wish of being able to eat whatever I wanted to without gaining a single extra pound in body weight! Alas, I haven't found such a genie yet! So I'm forced to stick within moderate limits.

My all-time favorite cookies are coconut cookies and ajwain (Carom seeds) cookies. They come in various shapes and sizes. These are the ones I like the most though...

Coconut Cookies

Ajwain Cookies

It is one of my wild dreams that someday I would make cookies at home. And bread too. I say wild though, because with my store, I'm most certainly not going to get any time for baking!

Never say 'never' though, right? 'Coz you never know when things change! :D

Anyway, do you like cookies? If yes, then which ones are your favorite? Do you bake cookies at home? Do you wish you could?

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This is my 24th post for KBL Jun 2015: My Favorites.
Link to the previous post: My Favorite Flowers.

My Favorite Flowers

Some people like roses, some like tulips, my mom used to love rajnigandha flowers. I don't have any such favorites. I just like yellow flowers.

Picture Credit:

They can be sunflowers or roses or tulips or dandelions or a field of mustard flowers, or any of those thousands of different varieties whose names I don't know. As long as they are yellow, they are my favorite.

Once upon a time, when I was young and carefree and absolutely naive, yellow flowers were like sunshine for me. They would make my soul light up with joy. They seemed warm and friendly and full of good cheer. Kind of like me. And I used to rush to hug them. Even if there were people watching. (Seriously!)

Now, I've become older, more practical, and too much of a cynic perhaps. Yellow flowers don't fill my heart with overflowing happiness anymore. They just remind me of the person who once was. I don't rush to hug them anymore. Instead, I just make a silent wish that the world doesn't steal their sunshine from them.

I don't know if I'll ever be like yellow flowers again, but they are still my favorite flowers.

Do you have any favorite flowers? Which ones?

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This is my 23rd post for KBL Jun 2015: My Favorites.
Link to the previous post: My Favorite Outdoor Game.

My Favorite Outdoor Game

I'm not really an outdoorsy person. Never have been. Used to bunk games classes in school whenever possible. The only outdoor game I did take a slight fancy to was...

Yupp... badminton.

In senior school, we were allowed to bring our own badminton rackets when we had games periods. That's when I finally stopped bunking those classes!

Actually, this is one outdoor game Dad used to play with us (my sister and I) when we were kids. Maybe that's why I developed a liking for it. He taught us how to play this game at an early age.

What about you? Did you enjoy outdoor sports more than I did? Which one was/is your favorite?

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This is my 22nd post for KBL Jun 2015: My Favorites.
Link to the previous post: My Favorite Cartoon Show.

My Favorite Cartoon Show

I've seen so many different cartoon shows as I grew up. Yet, my all-time favorite still remains Tom & Jerry. Even today, after all these years, I can get stuck on a channel if it's showing an episode of Tom & Jerry, especially one of it's classic episodes.

Here's a collection of some scenes from the show. Watch and enjoy

Which one is your favorite cartoon show?

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This is my 21st post for KBL Jun 2015: My Favorites.
Link to the previous post: My Favorite Indian Street Food.