Friday, March 31, 2017

People Who Make the World a Better Place

Often, it is not the one who is sitting on the throne that brings about change in a country. It is the minions who work at the grass root level who are the causative agents for all the changes that happen in this world.

Image Source

Yet, we forget them conveniently and all the praise gets garnered by the politicians and the top brass in any community. 

The daily wage workers who sweep our streets, takes away our garbage and toils in the hot sun at construction sites and farms make this world better place. We usually forget them conveniently.

Among us, some do recognize this and treat them with dignity. The old lady who lives on the ground floor of our apartment always keeps a plateful of food to feed the municipality worker who comes to empty our garbage bin in the morning.

There are also those who take care of the homeless and the street animals. There is a house in the block next to ours which is a shelter for all street dogs.

The owners of the house, keep their gates open and at any given time there would be at least ten street dogs relaxing in their compound.

I have seen this man who distributes blankets to the homeless in the streets during the bitter cold season in Bangalore. 

The man who lives in the apartment on the opposite street feeds crows daily in the evening. The ruckus created by the crows are not out of greed, but of happiness. 

He gives them small pieces of dried coconut. Crows by nature are very suspicious creatures. But, they trust him completely and he is their friend. Every evening, while the rest of the birds are returning home after their daily wandering, I see a large flock of crows flying towards this man’s terrace.

Yet another news story that impressed me recently was about a Bengaluru MBBS student who drives an autorickshaw after his classes to fund a charity at the hospital he studies, which takes care of medical bills of poor patients. 

Source: ScoopWhoop

His father died early in life and his elder brother is paralyzed. He has two young sisters. The autorickshaw was a gift to him from the hospital superintendent for passing his exams with good marks. You can read his story here.

All these stories convince me that there is definitely goodness left in this world. The media shares such stories but it gets drowned in the negativity that floods it.

Do you have any such story to share? I would love to hear them.

 Linking this post with We Are The World Blog Fest, aiming to infuse social media with all the good stories that are out there, the stories that show kindness, compassion, hope and the resilience of the human spirit.  



Tuesday, March 28, 2017

5 Kitchen Products I Love

Image Source

In my home, the kitchen is where only I can rule. I spend hours daily, cooking and cleaning for the family.
There are many products appliances that I really love in my kitchen. If asked to choose among them, I would select the following without much ado.

Prestige Grill-Toaster:

I purchased this using the winning coupons from the Game of blogs conducted by Blogadda. It is my savior during many hectic evenings where my fussy eight-year-old demands something yummy. A few slices of vegetables, cheese, and bread gets grilled and toasted to perfection within minutes. It vanishes from the plate within seconds. It is very compact and user-friendly.



LG Oven:

I am a reluctant baker. But I love making cakes on special occasions. The rich chocolate cake I make is a hit among my relatives and friends. I love it when the aroma of the cake wafts through the house. I use it also to cook one pot meals during emergencies. I have been using it since the last six years with zero complaints. 

 

Borosil Mixing bowls:

These lovely bowls come handy when making cakes, biriyani or other special dishes. Whenever I take these out, my family immediately guesses that some special item is going to be on the menu. Good to mix cake batter, marinating and also serving.



Pigeon Induction Cooktop:

This is another one of my saviors. All my cookers are induction type and hence my cooking gets over quickly. An LPG gas cylinder lasts over six months for me as I use it only to make tadkas, deep frying, dosas or other slow cooking items. Its timer helps me set the time to cook boiled eggs, veggies, noodles and other special items that have specific time requirements. It doesn't use too much electricity and increase our electricity bills. I use this to boil water for bathing. We don't use geyser anymore.


 

La Opala dinner set:

This is something which brings in nostalgia. When asked to select a dinner set, I had gone for La Opala as this reminds me of home. I even searched for the exact design that we have at home. Was not successful, though. My husband jokes that even rasam-rice tastes yummier when served on these white pristine plates. 

 

The House



Nobody understood why he had built a typical Kerala-style house next to his huge palatial mansion in the south of France.

He had specially ordered and hand painted several of the furniture. Curtains and cushions had been imported from Kerala.

 He stayed there on weekends, listening to old Malayalam songs, immersing himself in memories. Expecting to hear the sounds and laughter of his parents.

Fate had rendered him an orphan years ago. Greedy relatives had usurped their house. 
A French couple had adopted him.

Now, he often received calls from them, requesting their long-lost billionaire cousin to help survive poverty.

Word Count: 100


This post is part of Friday Foto Fiction being hosted by Tina and Mayuri 

Thursday, March 23, 2017

5 Little Joys



Most of the joys I have experienced came to me unexpectedly. Nothing was planned. I guess happiness always comes exactly that way: in tiny packages.

My home library:

 I have a small home library which contains my favorite books.

 I am adding to it every now and then. I can spend hours in a bookstore searching for more books to add to my collection.

 Books by my favorite authors like Anita Nair, Chitra Divakaruni, Julia Quinn, Nicolas Sparks, Dan Brown, Nandita Bose, Nora Roberts, Cecilia Ahern, Jojo Moyes, Rainbow Rowell and Anuja Chauhan dominate my collection.


Over the period of the last few years, I have created many paintings, portraits, and sketches which had given me joy while I had created them. Art still continues to cheer me up. When I feel a need to cheer up, I pick up my pencil.


My iPhone:

I didn’t want an iPhone ever. I was smitten by my smartphone with a large screen and hence every time my husband attempted to gift me one, I refused.

 Then after a particularly bad experience with a smartphone which had to be returned days after it was purchased, he asked me to try an iPhone, promising he would exchange his smartphone with mine if I found the iPhone not to my liking.

Now my iPhone is my joy. It helps me plan my day, write, take super clarity photos, videos and makes me exercise. I have become a fan.


My Laptop:

My laptop is a mini encyclopedia which stores records of all my favorite things in the world. More than anything, all my writing is done on my laptop and hence I can say it is the origin of my joys. With the amount of time I spend online, I can’t imagine being without my laptop for even a single day.

My Debut Novel ‘Without You’:

Like every author, I consider my first novel my baby. It has given me so much joy from the moment it germinated in my mind. 

All the appreciation I have received from complete strangers through emails, messages and reviews make my day. 

I do not market it excessively and most of the publicity it got was from mouth to mouth publicity. 

Yet, it has become an Amazon best seller. It was #1 best seller more than twice on Amazon India and has always remained in top 50 from the time it was published. Today it is #3 on Amazon India Best Seller List.

#1 Position on Jan 11, 2016
Thank you, Universe for the little joys that you send my way.


 This post is written for #ThankfulThursdays being hosted by Amrita, Tina, Mayuri, and Deepa.

Yay, it is voted as a top post!
Indian Bloggers

Monday, March 20, 2017

April A-Z Blogging Challenge: Theme Reveal



This is my third time doing the A-Z blogging challenge. Both the times I did random posts from A-Z. And in 2015, I did it on two blogs.

This time though, I am planning to follow a theme.

I believe that as writers, we need to learn something new every day. We grow with every word that we write.

We need pointers to guide us in the path that we tread. We need a clear idea as to how to accomplish what we are aiming at.

Many of us lose confidence midway because we face multiple hurdles in our path.

One of the major hindrances in the path of writing a novel is that many don’t have a clear idea about how to put together a 60K-80K plus manuscript. 

We all can write a short story. 

But writing a novel often feels like an uphill task.

There are many aspects that help us to easily put together a good novel.

I wish to inspire aspiring writers to go on this very interesting journey of discovering the various aspects of novel writing with me.

I am sure by now you would have guessed what my theme is, still here you go. My theme is:

A-Z Journey of Writing a Novel explained with examples from Literature

Daily, I will focus on one essential element of novel writing with the help of letters of the English alphabet. I would mention other important aspects as well for each letter.

Why this theme?

I am a published writer, with an Amazon best-seller novel and a few anthologies to my credit.  I took a Master’s Degree in English literature for the sheer love of it though I am qualified and worked as a Civil Engineer for more than a decade. 

My second novel is in the process of getting published and I am a few chapters into my third novel. 

(Another incomplete manuscript lies unattended in my word folder since last year)

So, this theme is very close to my heart. I love writing fiction. Yet, I consider myself a beginner. 




Friday, March 17, 2017

Morning Pages : A Quick and Magical way to Creative Recovery


If there is one routine that has changed me as a person, it is the Morning pages.

 It has given me clarity of thought like never before and made me see the big picture in life.

 I write faster now, with clarity and often solve many confusing conundrums while doing this daily ritual.

What are Morning Pages?

Julia Cameron calls the morning pages as ‘the bedrock tool for a creative recovery.’

Morning pages are three pages written in longhand immediately after you wake up. That is three handwritten pages.

It can take around half an hour to complete.  

It is a stream of consciousness way of writing where you just transcribe the thoughts that are hovering in your mind early in the morning.

 It is to be done without putting much focus on the grammar or the topic you are writing about.

 It is in a way making your brain vomit on the pages. 

And *most important* don’t reread them.



Why morning pages and not afternoon pages or evening pages?

Early in the morning, your monkey brain is half asleep and hence you can easily make it voice the venom it is preparing to spew out on you, once it becomes fully awake.

 Your anxieties, your fears, your dreams, your ideas, everything gets captured in these three pages that you write.

There are people who do this ritual in the afternoon or evenings and find the same benefits.

I, personally, prefer to write them first thing in the morning.

Can I type the morning pages?

Some people do the morning pages on their laptop or computer. 

It is then 750 words of stream of consciousness way of writing.

It keeps tracks of the number of words and alerts you when you reach the word limit.

Morningpages.net  allows users to write their morning pages online and save them. You don't even need to register at the site if all you want is to just write.

Again, I prefer to write longhand. There is something very satisfying about writing in longhand.

My experience with morning pages

I started writing morning pages in the first week of December. 

It is a routine I have religiously followed since then and I plan to stick with it.

The morning pages have made me more confident about my creativity. 

I don't get writer's block anymore.

They also gave me different ideas that I could implement in my life.

 Other Personal takeaways?
  • I got ideas to blog about.
  • I have written difficult scenes in my WIP that were troubling me since long after I dissected them over in this morning ritual.
  • I have tried out techniques of writing by attempting them in my morning pages.
  • I plotted an entire book idea one morning.
  • I have become more conscious about the little things that matter in life.
  • I completed one short story, which had been going nowhere, within one week of beginning the morning pages.
  • I have vented my anger and sadness in these pages.
  • I am more perceptive and grateful to the gifts that I have in my life.
  • Synchronicity has become commonplace.
I can go on and on about the benefits I have experienced after I began this routine.

How to write the morning pages?

As Julia Cameron herself says,

" *There is no wrong way to do Morning Pages*– they are not high art. 

They are not even “writing.” 

They are about anything and everything that crosses your mind– and they are for your eyes only. 

Morning Pages provoke, clarify, comfort, cajole, prioritize and synchronize the day at hand.

 Do not over-think Morning Pages: just put three pages of anything on the page...and then do three more pages tomorrow.”

The only important thing to remember is, do not re-read your morning pages. At least not for the first eight weeks.

Write them and keep the journal away.

 If you find it difficult to begin you can even write things like,’ I don’t know what to write here’ repeatedly and fill the three pages.

Trust me, you will get enough material to write about even if you are not a writer by profession.

Morning pages are for everyone. It is like meditation on paper.

Are you ready to unleash the magic of morning pages in your life?

Have you tried this technique? Do tell me what you think about it in the comments section.






Indian Bloggers

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Make a Sound Investment with Cochlear

Hearing loss is considered to be the most prevalent congenital abnormality in newborns. 

360 million people worldwide have disabling hearing loss.


 1.1 billion people worldwide are at risk of hearing loss due to unsafe listening practices. 


50% of hearing loss is preventable.


The above statistics are provided by the World Health Organization. Check some more disturbing data as well.

Hearing Loss

    

Most of us are unaware of these facts. Like every mother, I go into panic mode when my child exhibits any sign of illness. 

We celebrate the milestones they achieve at every stage of their growth. The first smile, the first step, the first word… everything becomes moments to cherish.  

If they exhibit any delay in attaining these milestones, we approach the pediatricians with our never-ending questions. We become paranoid and start troubling our Gods with fervent prayers.

I do make sure that I take my kid for regular health checkups. Be it for eye tests or any other test prescribed by the pediatrician. 

But I had never taken him for a hearing test. I guess it is the same story for the majority of Indian mothers.

Hearing ability is the most neglected among all our senses. Hearing loss is mostly silent and gradual.

 According to doctors, early detection, reliable diagnosis, and timely intervention can help us protect this precious gift that we take for granted.

Causes of hearing Loss?
Image Source

The major causes are:

·         Ear infections
·         Birth defects
·         Aging process
·         Head or ear injuries
·         Ototoxic reactions to drugs
·         Exposure to excessive noise


According to statistics, five out of 1000 infants are born with or develop disabling hearing loss in early childhood. 

Nearly 1 out of 3 people over 65 years suffer hearing loss. Over 90% of deaf children are born to hearing parents.

The Impact of hearing Loss:

When you are deaf, it impacts your functional, social, emotional and economic abilities. You are suddenly unemployable.

 Hearing loss is also associated with depression and poor self-esteem.

 Your social and emotional interactions become affected. Infants who suffer hearing loss face difficulty in learning languages. 

How can someone speak a language when they haven’t ever heard it?


I was completely unaware of all this until I attended a meet by Cochlear India on 3rd March, World hearing day. 

Cochlear is celebrating 30 years of hearing revolution. 

We met Brett Lee, the global ambassador of the brand, who talked about the importance of timely detection of hearing loss and the happiest sounds we might lose if we don’t give attention. 

Through the #SoundsofCricket Campaign,  Brett Lee aims to spread awareness of how Cochlear implants can help individuals lead a normal life.

Brett Lee with Komal and her doctor

At the event, we interacted with nine-year-old Komal and her mother.

 Komal was born with a severe hearing disability and didn’t speak or make any sound other than a few syllables unlike other children of her age initially. 

She received the Cochlear implant at age two and then underwent speech therapy for a year. 

She is now a happy and normal child who enjoys regular school and other co-curricular activities like any other kid of her age. 

Her sound processor KansoTM was barely visible as the design camouflaged it efficiently.

 The surgeon who operated on her told us that the Cochlear implant surgery is a minor surgery done under general anesthesia.

 I also talked with her mother and congratulated her for taking such a smart decision for her child.

At the event, both of us (me and my son) underwent hearing screening. To my relief, we had normal hearing.

Hearing Test

(My son undergoing the TEOAE test)

I was tense when my son sat for the hearing test. He underwent two tests. 

Transient evoked Otoacoustic emission test (TEOAE) and Pure tone audiometry test (PTA). It hardly took two minutes to complete it and was completely painless.

 Otoacoustic emission test measures an acoustic response produced by the hair cells or cochlea, which in essence bounces back out of the ear in response to a sound stimulus.

 A small probe that contains a microphone and speaker was placed into his ear.

In the Pure tone audiometry or PTA, a machine called an audiometer was used to produce sounds at various volumes and frequencies (pitches). 

He had to listen to the sounds through headphones and respond when he heard them by raising his finger. It was easy and hassle free.

Can’t we dedicate a few minutes to ensure that our little ones lead better and efficient lives?

What can you do when hearing loss is detected?
Ear Anatomy 

The treatment differs according to the type of hearing impairment you have. 

For slight hearing loss, hearing aids are enough. 

Hearing aids capture sound, amplifies it, and send the sound down the ear canal, through the middle ear to the inner ear where the hearing nerves receive it and transfer it to the brain.

A cochlear implant is the easiest solution when there is severe damage in the inner ear or cochlea.

 A Cochlear implant is an electronic medical device that does the work of damaged parts of the inner ear (cochlea) to provide sound signals to the brain.  

Check this video which explains how it works.



A bone conduction implant which bypasses problems in the outer and middle ear by sending sound through bone directly to the inner ear would be the solution if you have defects in the outer and middle ear.

KansaTM:


The main reason why many dislike wearing hearing aids or sound processors is that the associated wires and devices are often a proclamation that they have a hearing disability. 

Children get bullied in school and adults attract sympathetic glances.

KansaTM the latest sound processor from Cochlear is tiny and discreet. 

It comes in various colors to match your hair color, is wireless and worn away from the ear, camouflaged under the hair.

Dear parents, let us take a vow that if a loved one is exhibiting any symptoms of hearing loss, we will not hesitate.

 Let us visit the nearest clinic and get a test done. May our loved ones hear now and always. 

If you wish to know more about Cochlear, visit them at,


Cochlear.com || Twitter Handle: @CochlearIndia || Facebook page 


Monday, March 13, 2017

Five Womanly Quirks I am thankful for



A quirk is a peculiar aspect of a person's character or behavior. So, what are the womanly quirks that I am thankful for?

Time management:

I am a fanatic when it comes to managing time. I try to squeeze in maximum activities in an hour. While I am writing this post, two sets of cookers are on the stove, one with rice and one with dal. By the time they get cooked, I will finish writing my blog post.  Organizing daily activities give me enough time and energy to accomplish what I set out to achieve. I don’t create a physical list, only a mental one. Even if a few activities do not get completed, most of the important ones do get done. I prioritize them accordingly.

Pulling my hair into a top knot:

My neck needs to breathe is my answer to all those who ask why my hair gets pulled into a tight top bun the moment I return home. I love to go for a bob cut once in a while just to allow my neck to be hassle free.

Nails worry me:

I envy women who sport shapely, manicured nails. I can’t tolerate if my nails grow even a few extra millimeters. I like them clean and buffed, free of any nail polish. Not a feminine attribute surely. I can only dream about getting nail art done. Perhaps a few false nails can help me. Or suddenly one fine morning I will start growing my nails gracefully long by virtue of some miracle. Never mind! 

I love experimenting with my hair:

Permanent straightening, curling, ironing, coloring… I have done it all. I love experimenting with my hair. One of my friends used to say that a good hairstyle makes up for 75% of your total look. My hair is always messy, to begin with, and gets messy easily too. So, if I have to attend an important function, I take the help of professionals to fix my hair.

I love folding clothes and making beds:

I become happy when I see a load of clothes to be folded or beds to be made. Both chores are equally therapeutic to me. Even if I am tired like hell, I can easily agree to fold clothes or change a bedsheet. I like seeing the clothes in organized piles. I like the perfection of a bed made neatly.

Phew, the list makes me sound half crazy. I assure you, I am quite sane.
Tell me about some of your quirks.




This post is a part of #ThankfulThursdays hosted by Tina, Mayuri, Amrita and Deepa.

Tina Basu - Being Real Not Perfect

The Dinner



The corner table beside the aquarium had been booked for four by a Mr.Sharma. Must be a family outing.

This, a family restaurant in central Kolkata, had always been my dream. I had sacrificed many things to attain this.

 Love among others. Saurav and I had wanted different things from life. 

He wanted marriage while I wanted to become a chef. I had gone off to culinary school. 

He had married someone hastily to punish me.

Very soon, Mr. Saurav Sharma and his wife walked in accompanied by their twins. 

He looked careworn. Clearly, not the man I had loved.

Word Count: 100

This post is part of Friday Foto Fiction being hosted by Tina and Mayuri 
Indian Bloggers

Friday, March 10, 2017

The Secret Behind Creative Blocks



According to Julia Cameron, the author of Artist’s way, when we open ourselves to creativity, we open ourselves to the creator’s creativity within us. Creativity is God’s gift to us. Using our creativity is our gift back to God.
When we are blocked creatively, the in-dwelling creative force which is the purest form of life energy gets blocked. Life doesn’t seem worth living. Nothing seems interesting.
Why then do we face creative blocks?

Reasons behind a creative block:

There are many kinds of artistic blocks including limiting beliefs, fear, sabotage, jealousy and guilt. The reason varies from person to person. The most common underlying emotion behind all major creative blocks is usually fear. Fear of failure, fear of criticism or fear of shame. You can find fear arriving under all sorts of masks and personas.
Some of us self-sabotage our creativity. We make U-turns just about at the point where our efforts are beginning to show promise. We give up too easily.

Are you blocking your creativity?

Even the most prolific artists, writers, and dancers sometimes get blocked. Their creative juices stop flowing mysteriously. But in reality, there is nothing mysterious about it. The creativity block usually stems from fear. Creatives then find innovative ways to block their creativity which had created the cause for the fear.

For example, an established writer might find herself blocked after a particularly nasty review. An aspiring writer might find himself blocked after a beta reader, who doesn’t understand what he is trying to bring out through his work, labels the work as half-baked with no promise.

A painter might find herself blocked after a particularly unsuccessful show. A dancer might face creativity block after a disastrous stage performance.

After that, they would find ways to distract themselves from being lured by their own inner creator.

Most of them would find solace in the creativity of others.
They might go on reading binges, watching movies endlessly or might find comfort in food and alcohol. Anything to numb the creative energy that demands to be given an outlet.

The first major step you have to undertake to unblock your creativity is to confront your block.

What is it that you fear? 
What is the payback from being blocked?
How are you blocking your creativity?
Are you bingeing on something to numb your creativity? What is it?
Who is your worst critic?

Answer these questions as honestly as you can. Then we can find ways to eliminate the block.
Do comment below if you are facing a creative block and want to remove it.

The next post will deal with the ways to unblock creativity.
If you haven't read the first part of this series on creativity, read it here:



Indian Bloggers

LinkWithin

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...