Sunday, September 27, 2009

Being Clean - 2

Lots of thoughts crisscross in my mind as I studied the comments that some of you stated about the first post, Being Clean.

These are my thoughts to my dear friends who shared theirs:

@Bharathy: Yes, its appalling to think about all those millions of dust bugs inside the pillows. Public sanitation is very poor all around the country. There is so much to be done to make things better. In Delhi, I heard about street plays that go from village to village teaching one concept at a time to the villagers and in urban areas. Simple concepts like 'Wash your hands' form the basic essence of the play. I think such endeavors need to be endorsed by parents, teachers and educational institutions to inculcate a better sense of hygiene and cleanliness.

@Nishita: Totally true! We are all very clean when it comes to our homes but talk about our surroundings and its a different matter altogether. You won't believe it but I've got neighbors spitting on the balcony of others.

When I pointed it out, I was told by them this is so common in UP. Pets shitting in lifts is permissible by the owners who look the other side and don't bother to clean up. Kids throw eggs and leftover food from their balconies and parents don't bother to scold.

Out on the roads, I saw three giggling college girls with fancy, branded clothes and I envied them for a second till I saw one of them spitting chewing gum on the road!

@Shilpa: You know, its funny but I've been called stuck up by a lot of people when I refuse to eat from street vendors. It's really not about being snobbish. It's actually fear of getting an infection, falling ill and then taking a long time to recover. Like you, I've always avoided eating anything from street vendors.  And, naturally, I don't let my three year old eat any street food either.

@Nanny Dee:  Yep, I know what you mean. It's always been something I carry too wherever I go - hand sanitizers. They are a must-have!

@Lavanya:  I totally agree with you. People need to feel an urgency to love their surroundings, take ownership seriously and make initiatives work to make their premises clean. There is very little the Government can do. At a grass root level, I really wish this begins in schools so that kids of all ages and their parents learn to follow good, hygienic habits.


Like Miss Kriss, who has a fetish for cleanliness, I think its something we need to develop too, in the society. To read what Miss Kriss has to say, click here.

It's been really great to share thoughts with all of you. Waiting to hear more comments soon!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Being Clean

When I began reading Shilpa's post "Wash Your Hands" I found myself remembering snippets from my life. Some values and habits that we hold dear are a reflection of what we believe is important to our existence. It is something that connects to me as I am now, a part of my personality and beliefs, and is ultimately a vital factor that will make me the 'real' you. I am not a cleanliness freak but I strike the right balance.

How many times have you refused something because you are worried it would not be clean? Well, you can refuse if you believe that. But that doesn't solve the issue, does it? 

People say, "I want my house to be clean" and dump the dirt on somebody else's doorstep. That isn't cleanliness. We need to rethink our cleanliness mantra, make it long term.


                                                                  (Image: Unsplash)

I use a hand sanitizer and scrub my son's hands every time we travel by train or plane. My worst fear about traveling by train is that I lose peace of mind imagining the  germs one would pick up by using the loo. It is so filthy and I can't understand why people don't even make an effort to keep it clean. I love traveling by train than plane but the filth scares me. Food scraps, sweet wrappers and snack packets are thrown around the berth itself. I always insist that my three year old son put garbage or rubbish in the bin. Now he does it without being told.

I keep asking my friends to share their 'cleanliness quirks' and here they are:

A bachelor friend I know is so obsessed about cleanliness that he would wash and scrub onions like crazy before chopping them. Not bad at all.

A colleague I knew once confessed that even in the coldest winter mornings, she could not imagine skipping her head bath because it was so engraved in her routine of cleanliness. That too, she used cold water baths, not even warm or lukewarm water.

Another friend confessed that whenever she had friends staying over at her place, she would change the bed linen in the bedroom because she couldn't bear to pick up germs by being in contact with those sheets in any way. 

Yet another friend confessed that even when she stayed in five star hotels, she would use her own clean bed sheets to sleep in because she didn't completely trust what hotels provided. 

An 'unholy' instance: In a small mandir, it shocked me to see that the priest wore dirty sandals inside the mandir where devotees sit and pray. My shock turned to disgust when I saw that the priest, who doesn't look like he has regular baths, is smoking inside the temple when no one is around and worst of all, plucking stuff out of paan stained teeth! URGH!

When I ask regular devotees why they don't point this out, they look at me like I'm an alien and tell me, "He's a priest, what can we say?" That leaves me dumb founded. Really. 

Read what Angela, an international teacher blogged and you may be wary of baby sitters forever. Click here to read this post

What's your cleanliness mantra? Do share it here with suggestions.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

STOP Plagiarism! Act NOW!


Beware of this online cancerous growth of Plagiarism!  

It sounds like a silly, repetitive goofy gimmick to talk about but its not. Committing plagiarism is very common online. It is growing and we need to tackle this growing problem by facing it and joining hands to eliminate it.  If your purse, bank account or belongings were stolen, would you just let it be as is? Would you not want to do something about it? This is more serious than we can possibly imagine. We can't sit back and sympathize but we need to take action NOW!

Malar's blog, with its most delectable range of recipes, has been completely copied by a very focused, dedicated plagist. Can you begin to imagine what that means to a writer, who is one among us? Years of hard work, effort and invaluable quality have been stolen just like that! Including the beautiful photos! Tomorrow, it can happen to you and me.

You can make a difference by reporting this plagist blog http://hot-kitchen.blogspot.com
as
spam by clicking here.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Secrets & Lies - A Book Review

We all have secrets. Over years, they become memories, a little jaded, a little faded but definitely there.

Lots of memories that are stashed away come alive when you read Jaishree Misra's latest novel, Secrets & Lies, a book that grabs your attention from page one till the end. I

The novel revolves around the age of innocence and the growing up of a bunch of school girls who studied in St Judes', one of Delhi's most famous Convent schools with an Irish Principal, Miss Victoria Lamb whom the girls christen as Lamboo. The four girls in the novel are great friends but their dreams are shattered with the entry of a new girl called Lily. Later, they try to move on with their lives, hoping to forget Lily but haunted by her forever. 


There's Bubbles, who had been fat and bad at studies but hails from a wealthy business family. Her ambitious parents arrange her marriage to Binkie, who is the only son of a multimillionaire in London. What touches your heart is that Bubbles doesn't want to marry a millionaire's son because she's totally lost her heart to her best friend Samira's very handsome brother, Haroon. The dashing young man has no clue about this and treats her with fondness just as his sister's friend. Bubbles has her dreams shattered when a new girl joins their batch and Haroon falls hopelessly in love with her.


Samira, the class monitor in their batch, is considered to be an ideal student and friend. She is Miss Lamb's favorite. Every student respects her. She is happy till Miss Lamb ushers in a new student to their class.  An unfriendly girl who has no respect for relationships in a girls' school and treats everyone with scorn and disdain. She thwarts Sam's attempts to become friends and insults her in subtle ways.

Anita is the brightest student in the class, with great ambitions about winning the annual scholarship that will take her to pursue higher education in London. Her position in class is threatened by a new girl who joins their batch that year.

Zeba is the most breathtakingly, beautiful girl in their midst. A girl who knows how to extract favors from men by using her sensuality as the enticing bait. She is an enchantress who has decided to make herself immortal by acting roles in life and on reel. Her dreams too are thwarted by a newcomer who turns out to be more intelligent, ambitious and beautiful than she could ever be. 

There is nothing extraordinary about the story's plot. Its dash of mystery surrounding Lily's death and how the four girls feel guilty all their life about it is the main thread that carries the story forward and makes a reader want to know what happens next. It also helps that the narrative switches between their growing up years in Mumbai (1993) and London  (2008). The conversations and phases that occur between the best friends are so thoughtprovoking as it gets you nostalgic about the days when you had similar conversations with other girls. 

I loved the way Jaishree Mishra tells the story of four girls and engages the readers with some serious issues that affect Indian women such as:


1. The social need to find a good husband with a highly enviable family background, preferably NRI.

2. The importance attached to being fair, slim and beautiful in the Indian marriage market and needless to say, a virgin.

3. The facade of most Indian marriages wherein couples feel trapped in a relationship and endure each other for the sake of kids and family honor.


4. The infidelity aspect that has crept into most Indian marriages and yet spouses pretend it doesn't even exist. They go about it secretly.


This novel tries to explain how girls are always bonded more strongly by their friendships with each other than with their parents or spouses. With friends, they can unwind, tell their secrets and lies without feeling afraid of being judged and they can give each other convincing answers about the choices they've made in life. 

Some questions to consider:


1. Why do we feel able to let down our defences with our friends from school days and not with those whom we meet now and are generally close with?


2.  Girls have secrets, even the good girls. But why do we have secrets? Is it fear? Is it to do with the opposite sex? Is it to prove you are better than the rest? What were your secrets about when you were growing up?


Think about it. Go back to your school days and think about those little moments in your growing years when you think you had secrets of your own that you could discuss with your friends but not your parents and perhaps not even with your spouse. The possibilities of understanding yourself better seems immense if you look within and tread carefully across memory's lane.


That's the very reason why I think Jaishree Misra's Secrets & Lies is a book that's definitely worth reading.



Friday, September 18, 2009

The Sept 2009 Award Fest


Lots of love and prayers to Baba, for being the most powerful presence of love and goodness in my life, right from the time I was a kid till now. Of course, He drives me mad by forcing me to be good, making me a people-person who cares for others to the point of exhaustion and lots more cranky stuff that secrets between God and devotee are made of. I'm sure none of you want to go there! It's dynamite, literally. Still, thanks so much, Baba, I love you more and more. 

Nothing in my writing life is complete if I don't thank Sanand, the tall, dark and handsome guy who swept me away into a world of love, rains and poetry, his dark eyes and melting smile turning my life into magic and now as we grow older and wiser together, we cherish and savor every moment we have together, touch wood. 



Heart felt thanks to Shilpa Garg, for bestowing me with this One Lovely Blog Award. It's such a wonderful feeling when some one you hardly know sends you this expression of love and consideration because of the 'blog bonds' that are growing as strong as blood bonds. Isnt it really amazing? What makes this gesture a powerful, almost God like medium is that it is love, goodness and learning that gets passed around, inspiring more and more people to strive for better and meaningful things on the blogosphere. Thanks, Shilpa, I truly appreciate this gesture.

More than anything, sharing your happy moments is therapeutic, it's the start of a more meaningful bonding and a perfect opportunity recognize other talented and highly creative individuals. Which is why, I am going to follow the Award Rules. 


The Award Rules

You can accept the award and post it on your blog together with the name of the person who gave it to you with his/her blog link.

The next thing to do is to pass the award to other blogs that you’ve newly discovered. Don't forget to contact the bloggers to let them know they have been chosen for this award:Abhilash, Aparna, Eshwari and Uma.




Lots more winners for this Award and they are:

Friday, September 11, 2009

It's a Rainy Day...what would you eat?

Growing up in Kochi where rains are an everyday affair, my first concern was always to find creative ways to enjoy it like walking in the rain, feeling the raindrops slide down my face and believing this is what it means to be one with Nature. I always love shopping in the rain so that its a great excuse to get drenched! Of course, I get scolded for it, even now!

When I was a kid, I remember my mother teaching me to sing, "Rain rain, go away, Come again, another day" and now I teach my son the same rhyme. Watching the rains with my parents and sister is now a distant memory but it is the memory that springs to mind all the time. Relationships are always based on love, but in today's times, love itself has become an abstract concept. (Shobit whose blog is titled Mindzspeak has an interesting post on this. To read it, click here.)

Rainy days make me hungry. I am so used to munching on something hot and having some hot tea while enjoying the rains.

In the pic below taken at Hotel Abad's Pavilion Restaurant in Kochi, you will find Adi is ready to enjoy a bowl of sweet corn chicken soup. He loves the corn pieces in the soup and asks for more corn.


Guess what I had? I just couldn't resist their special fried chicken with a coleslaw like sauce. It was just awesome. The chicken tasted very crisp, subtle and so delicious that I can go into a trance just thinking about it. The sauce enhanced its flavor.


It's a rainy day. Tell me what you'd love to eat, the memories that come alive as you think of your favorite food and how the rains just bring back so many nostalgic moments into our mind.

Swaps Top 3 Reccos

The Consummate Hostess
Homesick Texan

Heartcrossings

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Patch of Green @Abad Plaza, Kochi


A patch of green, even in the middle of Pavilion Restaurant's dining space, feels nice. Of course, if you look closely, you will notice the green leaves are artificial. The first thing I noticed when I walked into one of Kochi's popular dining places, Hotel Abad, was this patch of green. Once I saw the menu they offered, everythingelse, even that enticing patch of green, blurred into oblivion. It was just so delicious:)

Swaps Top 3 Reccos

Blueprint Bliss
Wideopen Spaces
Perfect Sentiment

Display at Cafe Coffee Day, Khan Market



The pic above: I love coffee cups that were so neatly arranged at Cafe Coffee Day, in Khan Market, Delhi.



The color tones are perfect for this eclectic space. Check out the different colored coffee glossies that just tempt you to pick it up. Of course, I got out of the place before my3 year old kiddo became tempted to shoot them down. The only place where he isnt tempted to try that happens to be McDonalds!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Happy Teachers Day


(Nature is the Best Teacher. My awesome friend on Twitter, @ksekher, permitted me to use this photograph he took from his stunning collection of the Grand Canyon landscapes.)

Happy Teachers Day to all

Today is a day that we are cherishing our days in school and perhaps remembering the teachers who truly contributed to the full fledged individuals we are now.

While in school, it didn't hold any significance for me because I didn't really have teachers who cared deeply enough to make a lasting impression. They had their favorites, which can be quite demotivating for the other students who don't make it to the top list.

However, that doesn't mean I don't value the teachers who taught me. I do. I also believe that we are constantly learning good, insightful things from people around us, from the little things they say and do.

Having said this, I want to thank a really important teacher in my life because she didn't teach me these things from a classroom. Today seems like a perfect day to pay tribute to her memory.

Sister Illumina


Its hard to talk about this once beautiful Dominican German nun without remembering her unconditional love to all her students. Her twinkling eyes and beautiful smile still remain with me though she passed away many years ago. She was beautiful and full of love.

Beyond the History classes she taught us while I was studying in Africa, she was my best friend, my guide, my everything. She taught me to love the Lord, no matter what the form. We had endless discussions on Krishna, Christ and Baba. We loved sharing our crazy thoughts with each other.

I was amazed to meet such a beautiful nun. I remember asking her why she chose to be a nun. I knew she missed her father's farm in Germany. I also knew she loved a young, handsome man who had even proposed to her.

Sister Illumina told me, "I loved that young man but I loved Jesus more. If it was a choice between the best of husbands, there could be only one winner and thats Jesus. He owned my heart."

The way she said it, it sprang from love than devotion or religious fervor. She truly believed Jesus to be the love of her life. Not God, not son of God but her love. I've never met a more love-filled nun. She would celebrate her wedding anniversary with Jesus in a grand way even though the Church dissapproved of her ways and warned her to 'behave.'

She did so many things. She used to farm with the African kids. She would sing love songs. She would give counseling to African AIDS patients. She lend her love to unwed, pregnant teens. She did not see the world in black and white. She simply loved everyone. She had a huge crush on our Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and used to say, "If I had met that handsome Prince, I would have proposed to him."

I think I was blessed that she loved me like a mother and always told me she would be watching over me even if she was gone. She was always there for me. She taught me to believe in the voice of God, guiding me always. She told me to trust the Lord and love others no matter how they seemed outside. Its amazing but I've never met a true Christian like her. I believe she was very special to Jesus. I think Jesus was lucky to have some one who loved him with such purity and unwavering love.

When I left Africa, she wrote to me month after month. She sent me photos of the places she traveled to. I always waited eagerly for her letters. Those were the times when the Internet had not even caught on. When the letters stopped reaching me, I knew. She had gone.

I miss her terribly but I've never cried for her because I believe she is happier being with Jesus and I want her to stay there in her world. Today, after many years, I hold her memory close to my heart and just hope that she knows I remember and value the good times we had together.

Happy Teachers Day.

Note of Thanks for the Honest Award

Thank you, Baba.

I've run out of words to describe my happiness in getting this Award. A big, heart felt thank you to Faiza Ali for encouraging me with this Honest Award. It means so much to me because I'm an ardent admirer of her awesome blog, Faiza Ali's Kitchen.


Requirements:-
  1. I must thank the person who gave me the award and list their blog and link it
  2. I must list 10 honest things about myself
  3. I must put a copy of Honest Scrap logo on my blog
  4. I must select atleast 7 other worthy bloggers and list their links
  5. I must notify the bloggers of the award and hopefully they will follow the above three requirements also.
10 Honest things about me:-

1. I am very proud of being an Indian.

2. I am very thankful and humbled by my parents', their unconditional love, sacrifices and amazing support and the way they brought me up.

3. Good books are my life.

4. I love my Twitter friends.

5. My favorite place is Puttaparthi.

6. I am a shopaholic.

7. I am a 'people person.' I love to help people to the best of my ability and without expecting anything in return.

8. I avoid wearing blue and I don't know why.

9. I want to serve my country and I'm still figuring out how to do so in the best possible way.

10. I want to win the Booker some day

The 7 Honest blogs are:

1. Life is Beautiful

2. Me and the BOYS

3. Whats on My Mind

4. The Pleasures of Home Making

5. Stephanie's Written Word

6. Grumbly in my Tumbly

7. Diary of a Pink Princess

Those who want to check out my top 10 picks in the food blog category, click here. Cheers to you all. I truly hope you will continue writing.

Followers

FEEDJIT Live Traffic Feed

India is my Country & my Pride