The jitters, the jabbers and the joys of a soon-to-be bride

bridezillaThe bridal countdown is on! My D-day is right around the corner, almost ten days to be precise and everyone in the family is an emotional wreck! I can literally feel my mental clock ticking away, tick-tick one, tick-tick two, it is like a freaking time bomb that is waiting to explode and explode it did. The stress of running around, looking after every minute detail finally got to me. The dress, the accessories, the decorators, the priests, the pujas, the guests and the list just goes on…

Not to forget the impending stress of leaving my beloved family and friends behind, the people that I grew up with for almost three decades or even the ones I met recently and have grown so close to my heart. The thought of seeing them only sporadically has made me very anxious. Slowly I am growing into one Bridezilla, irritable, ranting and unwell for most of the times. Headaches and loosies caused due to nervousness have taken over the last threads that were holding me. Honestly, if someone was acting like me I would have probably killed them with my own hands. But everyone around me was so loving and patient.

That is when reality really dawned upon me. What do you really need in life? Other than a quintessential pair of lovely shoes and a hot LBD that flaunts your curves right, you need a set of people around you who accept you even at your worst behaviour. I thank God for bringing such angels in my life; they’ve been with me through thick and thin. Now that I’m ready to start on my new journey, moving into a new place I can do so with a light heart and a deep breath. I hope I will meet people who are just as nice, loving, accepting and non-judgmental as my friends and I’m just as accommodating for letting me in their lives. However, no one can replace you peeps. I love you so much and this blog is a tribute to all your loveliness and the friendship I’ve shared with you for years.



Are you a shopasaur?

anti shopping

anti shopping series

The sleeping giant has woken up from his extinction and is already multiplying in millions. Yes I’m talking about the new breed of dinosaurs that have cropped up from nowhere? They are called the shopasaurs and are growing within you, getting larger by the day! What’s worse? They’re invisible and the only way to detect them is with the symptoms mentioned below:-

1) You get excited like a monkey whenever you hear about a new mall or shop that has opened up in any corner of the world!
2) Words like SALE, DISCOUNT, PREVIEW and SPECIAL OFFERS give you an adrenaline rush that gets your heart, brains and eyes pop out with exhilaration.
3) So many things to buy and so little time is the mantra you live by! You want to have everything that is displayed in front of you and if you don’t get it, you feel emasculated.
4) 24/7 shopping may seem impossible for others but for you it’s just a number.
5) After your every shopping stint, you wonder why on earth you purchased certain items! The mixed feelings almost range from confusion to almost brainwashing where you barely know what you’re doing. Plus, within seconds of purchase, the adrenaline rush has disappeared leaving you with a longing to have more.
6) You are mostly visited by credit card collection agencies who love playing the game with you, “Knock knock guess who? And guess what, you don’t want to answer it!
7) Your favourite books and movie series are Sex and the City and Confessions of a Shopaholic!
8) You justify your shopping thinking that you are improving the economy of your country. But what you don’t realise is that with your lifestyle choices, there is a higher energy demand, higher prices and the climate change gets more drastic than before. And all this is not mentioned in the finished product as ingredients. What you don’t realize is that you are in fact contributing to the global warming!
If you may be suffering from any of these symptoms, then you’re officially a shopasaur! If you want to get out of this state of being which let me add is not undergoing retail therapy as buyers suggest, do join the Anti-Shopasaur movement! Coming soon….

Lessons of life from the wildlife of Leh Ladakh

There have been endless articles describing the beauty of Leh Ladakh. And rightly so, the mesmerising place known for its diverse and picturesque landscapes looks something straight out of a postcard. From desert to mountains, ponds and lush greenery, the place has myriad locations and unique topography that are absolutely breathtaking and synonymous to the place. But what really caught was my attention is the wide range of beautiful birds and animals that add to the beauty of the region.
Each one absolutely stunning, taking my new found love and respect towards wildlife many notches above. I realised each and every animal or bird has something unique to teach us about life and its complexities. All you need to do is open your eyes and learn.

Pass the family bill for the black billed magpies
As soon as I stepped into this heavenly place, the black billed magpie was the first to greet me with its loud cackling sounds. Commonly seen in the Himalayas, the black billed magpie is local resident in northern and central Himalayas. Black and white in colour with a long tail and a dark bill, this magnificent bird can teach a lesson or two about life to human beings. Absolutely homebodies, this bird is monogamous and mates with one partner for life. That’s not all, they even raise several offspring together, further exemplifying the importance of a happy family. To ensure the family is safe and sound, the birds built nests that are considered strong as a fortress and what’s more? They even decorate it too with loads of bling. Pretty neat, right?

Defend yourself like the Marmots
We sighted the marmots at the Hemis National Park on our way to the Pangong Lake. Literally cute balls of fur on first sight, they seem friendly and quite playful. In general they are but if these adorable ground dwelling rodents sense danger from you, beware! They can even bite you, which is likely to cause rabies. Unlike to their dorky appearance, they are quite intelligent and use lookouts to watch predators. These lookouts use the medium of whistling as communication to warn their community.

Adapt like the double humped camels
What could be more fascinating than sitting atop the double humped camels in the oasis of Hunder, famous for its breathtaking sand dunes? Nothing really! It may have been a bumpy ride on these camels, especially for me because I was seated on the youngest and the most playful ones. However, you can’t stop but be in awe of these mild mannered animals who preach a very vital lesson life. They are one of the few animals that can adapt to changing weather conditions and that too without complaining. These camels grow a thick coat of hair each winter that sheds off every spring when it gets warmer. Not to forget, they’re amazing reservoirs of energy that teach us the importance of savings and that when things get difficult, we have to learn to survive and move on.

Romance like the Lammergeier
On our way to Khardungla we sighted the lammergeier or the bearded vulture. This absolutely breathtakingly beautiful scavenger has the wing span of about nine feet and only preys mainly on the bone marrow of animals. Other than its hunting skills, this bird is also known for its wooing skills and display of affection. During the breeding season, courting pairs put up a spectacular show, swooping and soaring together, and occasionally interlocking their talons and spiralling downwards almost to the ground. Love definitely can give you wings holds true with them as an example. What say?

Together we can says the kiang
Is it a horse or is it a donkey? No, it’s a kiang or the Tibetian wild ass as it is popularly called in the Leh Ladakh region. Though, it belongs to the ass species, I noticed at the Hemis National Park, it has a very noble like appearance, similar to the horses. Their light brown coat and their long tails blend fabulously with the camouflage. What sets them apart other than their elegant looks is their teamwork and energy especially when they come face-to-face with their predators. Usually moving in packs, the manner in which they navigate the landscape and defend themselves by forming a circle is mind-boggling. All you can do is stay awed with their skills!

Protect like the yaks do
On my trek to the Rumbak valley, I had a face to face meeting with this glorious animal. With its exotic appearance comprising handlebar horns, buffalo humped shoulders, horse-like tail, and a long hairy skirt reaching almost to the ground; it’s quite pleasing and intimidating the same time. Especially, the yak mothers are exceptionally protective of their calves and even the ones in the herd and can go to any extent to protect them from wolves, coyotes or even human beings. More to female power! We likey!

Picture Courtesy: Shankar Seetharaman & Pratik Kothari

Pagdandi book chai cafe-Where happiness meets creativity and good food!

What is a place where you can read, listen to live music, meet interesting people and bite into delicious food that’s healthy- a haven right? Well, that’s Pagdandi-Books, Chai, Cafe for you, an extension of your home as conceptualised by the beautiful couple Neha and Vishal Pipraiya.

What strikes you first as soon as you enter is the very welcoming sunshine yellow door with a signboard that’s made of recycled plywood! Not to forget, the eclectic lights made at the doorway that scream cool in an underlying manner, if you know what I mean! The lazy Indian sit-outs, the bamboo ceiling and bookshelves, cane chairs, guitar, quirky accessories, and the wide array of the re-circulated old books that smell close to heaven for any bookish geek. Lastly, the very beckoning food -counter with desi interiors like blackboard menus on the walls, sum up the ambience of this place. In short, this place wraps up pretty beautifully in an eco friendly manner. I likey!

This book cum cafe caters to all audiences, right from the tiny-tots to teens, middle aged and even senior citizens with the various activities that they have in store here. While for the younger audiences, they have book clubs and appreciation of reading sessions, the older audiences can enjoy drum circles or even get nostalgic at a retro Hindi music karaoke night. It’s amusing to watch how people from different walks of life come together and get along seamlessly well. Probably, the barriers are more in the mind which Pagdandi has very successfully broken through with their far sighted vision. Probably, this foresight comes from their own personal experiences as these ardent backpackers who share an envious zest for life gave up their corporate jobs to come up with a concept like this.

Now let’s get down to business, the food! My most favourite are the frozen flavoured yoghurts ranging from wild berry to green apple and even the very healthy musk melon, savoured with delicious waffles or even the yummy sandwiches here. Especially, the aloo chatpata is yummy served in bio degradable Areca Nut Palm Plates and Bowls, Very eco-chic!

All you do is take a bite, grab a book and take a corner to be whisked away in a different world together!



Unloved yet…

I have never felt the tingling warmth they describe,
Or experienced the feelings in the heart, romantics scribe!
The touch of the one you’re fated to be with,
In life something seems amiss, I will admit it.
Why has no one ever looked into my eyes,
Gasped at my beauty and lovingly sighed!
Or tell me that I would like to be with you till eternity,
You are the one that completes my life and destiny.
This feeling of being unloved lingers in my mind,
Reminds me of my helplessness even when I unwind.
I feel I’m in a tunnel which seems like a deep, dark dead end,
The emotions that emerge are difficult to comprehend.
They seem to belittle my enter existence,
Making me weak with their constant persistence!
I seem incomplete without the love of this ‘one’ I dream about,
With whom I’ve envisioned my entire life in paramount.
Inspite of my previous failures, I’m hoping and wishing,
That soon I will meet the one to share memories worth cherishing.

Is there anything such as a failure?

Every year, your success quotient is measured with your list of achievements which is so proudly flaunted on your social media platforms. Be it the accolades you received, the travel plans you made, the promotions you deserved, they all your personal and professional trophies that are meant to be shared with the ones you love.

However, have you ever listed your failures, the times, when things didn’t go the way you expected. Not many people realise that your failures are just as important as your successes. This topic actually came up when I was having a heartfelt conversation with a friend about his life. An absolute stud muffin, he is known in several circles as a relentless heartbreaker. However, instead of telling me about his recent endeavours, he was nursing a broken heart but surprisingly with happiness. I really liked his non-sulking approach towards the entire situation. He confessed that in his life he had never experienced any setback. He always got everything that he wanted but the fact that this time, his love life had taken a different turn got him introspecting. The reversal in roles gave him a perspective of how others must be feeling and instead of being sullen about it; he decided to look at the setback as energy to move ahead in life in a positive note.
Similarly, I wish everybody looked at failures as stepping stones to a successful road ahead rather than a permanent road block and stop trying. Like you cherish your successes, it’s vital to embrace your failures as well and learn to celebrate them. They are very important milestones of your life that determine the person you become.
Most of us deal with failure indulging in extreme misery, an ugly state that is like an abyss where only sadness awaits them. While some choose to take it in their stride, deal with the challenging situation with a positive note, overcome it and eventually are happily successful.

The lesson to take from here is that you have to seek happiness at any given time or situation. It should be the only goal in your life and you have to go all out to achieve it.


New Year resolutions to keep for life

Every New Year begins with resolutions. However, there are some that have to be kept invariantly whether you believe in this yearly custom or not. I am listing four of my favourites that should be kept every year.

1) Spring cleaning in winters
How about spring cleaning your life this New Year? And this doesn’t have to be confined to your clothes, shoes, makeup, home or more. Take the action a notch further and deeply cleanse your feelings or even your negatives emotions that you have been hoarding for long. It could be about someone or even the thoughts that you harbour for yourself which can be quite damaging. Unknowingly, they are impacting your life’s decisions tremendously. Therefore, the slate has to be swept clean. Leave the past behind and spruce it up for a bright tomorrow. All you need to do is list down things or people that have affected you. Once you are done, burn the paper and bury its ashes somewhere. If you believe in this ritual without any doubts, the catharsis can be rejuvenating.

This exercise is an excellent passage to make way for the new things to come in your life. Every year, people make resolutions to bring about changes in their life. But what we do not realise that unless we wash off the unwanted things in our life; it is difficult to make way for the actual things, aspirations or dreams that you really want.

2) Demystify with detoxify
The holiday season starts from Diwali and ends on 31st December. Other than the cheer, your calories are also getting piled up, courtesy bingeing, drinking and partying. There is nothing wrong with indulgence, after all the season calls for it. However, unnecessary baggage of any kind can leave you tired, sluggish and nobody needs it! What better way to kickstart a healthy you than a new day of the year with new beginnings! Chalk out a fitness schedule derived from your simple common sense. Get some exercise, avoid fatty foods, lay off the booze and drink lots of water to wash off your festive excesses. Detoxification of your mind and soul from stress and anxiety which may have caused due to negative energy and people around you is just as important. One word of advice, meditate and stay far away from these emotions. Within no time, you will be soon heading to your healthier old self and well-being. And while you’re at it, don’t forget to remain self-motivated.

3) Actualize with visualize
You’ve read about it in the “Secret”. So how about implementing it in real! Create a vision board of your objectives and goals of 2014. Be clear about them and start visualising and believing in them. And once you’re done with them, mark them as done. This checklist idea is even a great practice to follow on daily basis. It spells success and how!

4) Thank You!
Last but not the least, one of the great ways to move forward in life with a positive note is

thank you

to take a bow and be thankful about everything in your life. Your successes, be it your personal or professional and even your failures because they are responsible for who you are today. Because in the longer run, you will realise they are the real triggers to your happiness which makes you appreciate the emotion better. Most importantly, don’t forget to thank the people who’ve been there for you. As cliché as it may sound, they are responsible to get you up and moving for a fun-filled 2014!



Shanta amma: Cooking up a storm of success

Opportunity knocks at everyone’s doors. But how rare is it that someone grabs it wholeheartedly and makes most of it. Honestly, very few but this is a story of a woman, Shantabai Sariyam or Shanta Amma as she is fondly called at the Pench Tiger Reserve, Madhya Pradesh who with her innate potential, grit and determination defied all odds against her, challenged her adversaries and triumphed as a true winner at the end of it! Read on to know more and get inspired by her riveting tale.

Her journey…
Shantamma belongs to the tribal community of Gonds in Madhya Pradesh. The only doting daughter of her parents, she was married with high aspirations to a supposedly suitable man who lived in a village located at the Pench Tiger Reserve. However, her happiness was crashed soon after. Instead of the rosy picture painted in front of her family, there was something else in store for her. Her husband seemed a far cry from what she envisioned. He had a drinking problem and tended to get physically abusive at times. Soon after, she had children and inspite of the grievances meted out on her by her in-laws, she had to live with them due to the societal pressure. She faced abject poverty and humiliation and hardly had money to feed her little ones. Every day, she would go to meet her parents and borrowed food from them. Her condition was so bad that she didn’t even have any clothes to cover her modesty properly. Until, she decided she had to do something about her situation.

The tables turn
To meet the grave conditions at home, she took up all sorts of work that came her way and that included helping the forest department at the Pench Tiger Reserve. Initially, she would help them with odd jobs like collecting the people from her village and extinguishing the forest fire in exchange for money. At times, if need required she even served them food. The officials were very impressed with her honesty, hard work, vigour, cooking skills and business acumen. They propositioned her with a deal, hoping it would help her to break through the shackles of poverty and lead a financially independent life. In 1995, they offered her Rs, 3000 as a loan to start a canteen at the reserve. Along with her, there were few other men who were given resources to open a cycle and a grocery shop and start their life afresh with the reserve.

Initially, she was reluctant due to social restraints but then decided to seal the deal as she knew that probably this was her last chance to make things right for her kids.

Ace the service
Shanta amma bought vessels and ingredients with the money and started doing what she does best, cooking. However, instead of sticking to Gond palate, she started experimenting with recipes that were more standardised and targeted a wider audience. Slowly and steadily, her financial condition improved. While her business flourished, the others who were given the same opportunity closed down due to bad decisions and even exhausting the money owing to their drinking problems.

To ensure she doesn’t meet the same fate, she constantly tried to evolve, adapting to the changing demands of the market by interacting with the people she met. To cater to her guests needs, she customised it as per their requirements, taking into account their tastes, culture, likes and dislikes. Additionally, she also whips up dishes with interesting tiger spotting tales to make the dining experience more interesting. In fact, few naturalists and tourists whom she mingles with like renowned wild life expert Anuj Khare vouch for her deep insight and experience about the forest. What’s more? If need required, she takes a step forward and also plays the role of a doting mother who looks after guests with alternative home remedies and comfort food when they are sick. Because of her heartfelt efforts, the result is that she has a lasting impression in the minds of the people who meet her and thereafter adore her unconditionally.

Shanta’s pay off
Like an astute businesswoman, whatever profits she has earned, instead of spending it, she has reinvested it in the business. At the same time, her efforts and hard work were supported wholeheartedly by the forest department. Whenever required, they would extend a helping hand to her, to ensure that she doesn’t suffer from any pitfalls. When she needed more money to buy a restaurant at the reserve, they helped her with the financials though with time she has repaid the money.

Slowly and steadily her business expanded and flourished. She even bought a gypsy for one of her sons, who works as a driver in the reserve during the peak tourist season. That’s not all, she has invested in three more homes, two motorcycles and even indulges in farming, making sure that all her five children are married, happy and settled.

The best part about her success is that it has worked like a chain reaction. It is not just confined to her and her family but also the forest department who believed in her business acumen. She has even extended her good luck to her community, helping them to empower themselves by employing them within the department. For example, she has helped a lame man of her village to set up a grocery store. She even makes it a point to visit the young men in her village, instilling the qualities of hard work and honesty in them to ensure they work for their livelihood instead of resorting to stealing and bad habits.

Seeing her good work, she has been set as an exemplary example for the rest of villagers to follow her lead. In fact, she is the Head of Eco Committee and Van Surakshan Committee, aimed to promote eco-tourism and protect the environment. And in all her endeavours, she means serious business and has the constant support of her family, the villagers, the forest department and even the tourists who love her unconditionally.
When asked, what her secret recipe to her success is, she quipped immediately that it was only ‘hard work’ and believes there is no alternative to it. She is a prime example that if someone sets their mind onto something; they can achieve it if they have faith in themselves and toil in their stride.

However, the only regret she has in her heart is that her parents who died soon after her marriage couldn’t see her success. But we’re sure that they are looking down upon her from the skies with pride at their only daughter who made it as the most successful entrepreneur in her village and how!

Could the real gentleman please stand up?


Making of a gentleman

Making of a gentleman

In today’s Pune Times, we have Shah Rukh raving about how his son is the perfect gentleman. Well, the father should definitely be proud because in today’s day and time, well-behaved men are truly a rare breed. Especially in India, where women are gawked at, objectified, humiliated, and even raped without apologies, this is one quality that Indian parents need to imbibe in their children. Men today of all age groups are immature boys who are increasingly becoming indifferent to basic manners. Alas! The era of chivalry is over.

With this statement, I don’t mean to sound regressive, hoping that men start opening doors for me or pull my chair when I’m sitting. However, I believe chivalry is not just confined to romance and extends to common courtesy and manners, regardless of whether you are romantically inclined towards the person or not. This means dropping your old neighbour aunty to the nearby grocery store or helping someone even cross the road. But sadly, the breed of well behaved men is a dying one. Some may deem it as a pretentious behaviour but I believe it is basic good manners that every human being must exercise. I remember brooding over my sprained arm resting on a sling and carrying a heavy luggage at the same time. But nobody around me had the courtesy to help me or even offer a hand.

Unfortunately, kindness to strangers has become a rarity, with people sporting a care-a-damn-attitude to the world around them. In this world of fast technology, fast cars and even faster relationships, who has the time for anybody or put the needs of others in front of theirs? Slamming doors in people’s faces or pushing people in line at the railway counter and shushing them is a common sight. Both men and women are guilty of this, because common courtesy doesn’t exist as much anymore.

What’s the sad part? Because we are so attuned to the lack of it, we tend to get suspicious even when we do receive kind gestures from others. Instead of being receptive towards it, we reject it assuming someone must be having ulterior motives. It is sad where the world is coming to! Sometimes, I wish I was born in the simpler times where the only inheritance that people prided about was their culture and etiquettes that were passed on for generations. Maybe, it’s time for a gentleman’s refresher’s course, where we teach a boy what being a man is being all about. Any takers?


Smile :-)

Have you ever felt the magic of a smile?

Especially, if you haven’t done it for a while.

It can help you brace your past emotions,

The very ones that set your life in slow motion.

It can transcend you into a different space,

Abridge the complexities that seemed like a maze.

A smile can instantly brighten up your spirits,

A therapy tried and trusted and without any limits.

Experience it and unravel in its truest sense,

Only then, will you be able to enjoy life’s real essence.

That’s why you need to practice it more often,

After all, many suggest it’s the only gateway to heaven.

Have you ever felt the magic of a smile?

Especially, if you haven’t done it for a while.