Thursday, October 29, 2015

The College Search Engine - Collegedunia

Even before a student enters tenth grade, they are bombarded with a cloudburst of information that is utterly indigestible. Everyone – from a distant uncle, the neighbour, the doodhwala uncle to the rickshawallah guy will pass on unnecessary feedback (direct or indirect) on what course is best, or which college is better. Sometimes, even the best of friends can advise us out of good intention on why one should go for a particular college. But let me tell you, only choosing a college for one’s friends or the distance from one’s home is a seriously fallacious choice.

More importantly, taking such backhanded advice into consideration and being influenced by it can be detrimental while making the right career choice.

Then again, the dearth of knowledge can lead to assumptions taking control of our decisions. A student who has lived all his life Chennai, Tamil Nadu would not be able to know the nitty gritty details of a college that offers a course in BioTechnology in CBD Belapur, Navi Mumbai.
I graduated from engineering in the year 2009. Let me tell you, there were only a handful of websites back in 2005 where such a gamut of information could be accessed.

This is where websites help students out to become aware and get all the information on their fingertips. However, it is only when such information is segmented and structured systematically and the access is made easy, is when one can actually digest the facts and eventually take decisions.

Collegedunia.com is one such website having a repository of 20,000 colleges across courses from various colleges and universities in India. Students can also keep abreast with various competitive entrance exams, events in the city and college festivals.

What feature I really liked is that one gets to know about all the top colleges and comprehensive information at a glance.

For example: If you need know the top universities in Chennai, you will get details of all the types of universities and can be further refined by streams, fees, duration, course type and more. And each result with have substantial information including the fees, the faculty, the placements and the companies that have provided placements.
(And if Chennai is you choice of study destination, it is a good one. Did you know the average rate of literacy in Chennai is 90.18%, as of 2011 Census?)
You can also stay updated of the various entrance exams for different streams and updates and news if any.
So you are in capital of Tamil Nadu for studies and want to know the various events in Chennai to unwind, you can find out that too.

Collegedunia.com acts like an extensive search engine for a student to narrow down the college of their choice and get all the information. Its website is seamless and easy to navigate as well.
With Collegedunia.com, arm yourself with knowledge and be better well informed of all the aspects whilst taking a life changing decision. 

Good luck to all students reading this to make a smart career choice!

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post, though all the views expressed in the post are factually correct and belong to the opinion of the author.

My 5 tips to keep my baby's skin soft

There cannot be anything softer than a baby's skin. The bundle of joy of one's lives are cute, cuddly and adorable akin to a big ball of cotton!
Who doesn't love to touch, cuddle and caress them?

No wonder, right from birth, a baby's skin needs a lot of tender love and care, just like the baby itself. As they grow up, babies starts moving around by sitting, crawling and walking - the skin transforms to become more tougher, but not as tough as an adult's skin.
It is no surprise that babies answer nature's call frequently and their stool is often loose, till a certain age. And during this time, their skin becomes wet and damp and is prone to rashes and irritation. Even with the use of cloth nappies (or langotis), their skin is prone to rashes.

This not only puts the baby at discomfort but also the mother is agonized to see the baby irritated.
Yet, one would use diapers or nappy pads till babies grow up and potty train themselves; at about 2- 2.5 years. And some babies' skin is particularly more sensitive, that just any product - be it talcum powder, oil, diaper, moisturizing creams or baby wipes - won't agree with their skin.

How do I make playtime softest for my baby's skin?

Some tips I would recommend:

1. Use of cotton clothes
By and large I make her wear clothes made of cotton. Cotton clothes are best for humid weather of Mumbai. This works best at playtime as there is a lot of movement, and cotton clothes help in the air circulation & dryness - thereby letting babies skin breathe.

2. Avoid too cold or too hot surfaces
After a bath, when my daughter is ready to play, I place her toys on an cotton quilt and make her sit there. I do this, especially during winter as floors become cooler. Sitting on a cold floor can make babies' skin can get too dry and even a tiny scratch can hurt their soft skin. During summers, I make sure she is well hydrated and keep replace her clothes if wet from sweat.

3. Discard sharp & broken toys
Sometimes babies can get hurt during playtime due to sharp and broken toys. I make sure to rid her broken toys and avoid toys with sharp edges and points. Overall, toys need to be kept clean and dry as well.

4. Apply a moisturizer
To keep her skin soft and supple in winter, I always apply a mild moisturizer to her arms and legs post her bath, to prevent her skin becoming too dry and scaly. This is best when a baby is crawling.

5. Use soft diapers
I have largely used Pampers Pant style diapers only at night time. Now as my little one is an energetic toddler, the need is more.  She is more mobile now, often running around the house during playtime and always wants to go out for a walk. So when she is in her discovery mode with a diaper on, I do not want her skin to bear the brunt.




Pampers Premium Care Pants does exactly that. These diapers from Pampers give babies the comfort to play and discover, while it does its job protecting their skin and keeping them soft.

Switch to Pampers - #SoftestForBabySkin!


"This post is a part of the Pampers #SoftestForBabySkin activity at BlogAdda

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Adding Smiles - How I turned a frown upside down!


As a Mom, I am very particular of the food my daughter eats. And I refrain her from snacking on food that is served in restaurants as the hygiene, nutritive value, freshness and oil used is questionable. Also, with the gamut of stomach-related illnesses around the corner, my level of protection in her food choices has quadrupled.

And thus I have made it a habit to make nutritious home food more delicious for my little one and the rest of my family.
On afternoon, just the other day, my nephew brought home burger and fries from a local restaurant. Looking at her cousin snacking on the greasy burger, my little one pestered me to give her the same. I refused, and tried to distract her, but alas! but kids will be kids and she threw a fit. Somehow I managed to calm her down to her nap.

It was then I recalled the website of McCain India I had visited earlier, that an idea popped to my mind. I rushed out to get a McCain Smiles pack, some egg-less mayonnaise, a head of lettuce, burger buns and cheese slices. I was going to make a yummy vegetarian potato McSmiley Burger.


Following are the step by step instructions:

McCain Smiles
McCain Smiles
McCain Smiles are mashed potato goodness into the shape of smiles. 

Preparation:
Open the McCain Smiles pack, prepare them by following the instructions on the pack. I deep fried them. You can cook them in the convection oven as well.
When I opened the pack, I assumed the frozen pack needs to be defrosted, but to my surprise, the pack specifically mentioned does not required to be defrosted. That saves time.

The McCain Smiles getting ready in no time.
As I popped the smiles in the kadai with heated oil, I was glad that they did not splutter the oil out. I waited till they were evenly golden brown on both sides. And then the smiles were ready within 3 minutes!

McCain Smiles fried
Look at them smiling!
I whipped up an easy peasy burger spread:

For the Burger Mayonnaise:
Take 1-2 tbsp of egg-less mayonnaise
Add a 1sp of olive oil to it.
Add a pinch of pepper & salt each.
Add 1 tsp of tomato sauce.
You can add finely chopped coriander.

Assembling the McSmiley Burger
Assembling the McSmiley Burger:

Now I cut the burger bun in half.
Buttered both sides of the bun. You can even toast them.
To one side I added few torn leaves of lettuce,
Over the lettuce I spread the burger mayonnaise I made.
On that, add cucumber slices, tomato slices and onion ringlets.




On top of this arrangement add the smiles.
Then add a slice of cheese.
Top it with some more burger spread or lettuce if you wish and add the other half of the bun on top.
And voila!

McSmiley Burger
The McSmiley Burger
And with this yummy smiley snack on the plate, my little one's frown turned upside down! All smiles as she bit into my McCain tasty and magical creation. And in my daughter's smile reflected my big smile as I basked in the glory of my creation, thanks to McCain!
More so, my nephew came up to me and demanded this colourful version of his favorite snack. And I was glad to be adding more smiles to snack time.

Before you dismiss it as an unhealthy snack, take a look at it's nutritional content, with more details <here for a pack of 100g McCain Smiles.



Well known for the art of snacking, McCain has brought a wide variety of snacks for the Indian Platter. Their website has many creative recipes to suit the Indian palate and many dips to just snack away. 

Source: www.mccainindia.com

Watch this video for another recipe using the McCain Smiles.





About Brand McCain: 

McCain Foods (India) is a wholly-owned subsidiary of McCain Foods Limited in Canada. Since 1998, McCain has been engaged in agriculture R & D and in development of frozen food market in India and subcontinent countries. Not only are McCain products used by leading fast food chains, hotels, restaurants, catering companies but are also very popular for in-home consumption.

Do try my recipe and let me know how you added a smile with this snack!

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Real promise towards Real Togetherness


I saw this excellent comic by Bizarro and it cracked me up. Will it not be any truer?

Another shared message through WhatsApp comments that today's generation is smart only through their phones. Not only the teenagers (now known as the 'Millennials') but Gen Y too are very much social in the confines of our smart phones, iPads, Tablets, smartwatches and headsets! 
It got me thinking:

We rarely move out of the confines of our homes albeit only for work.
We may just WhatsApp/ comment on their wall and wish the person instead of calling them.
We seldom meet anyone in person, not even on their birthday, even if it’s a national holiday.
We don't have our loved one's phone numbers by heart.

Our lives are more online than offline.
We depend on Google for general information, Facebook for recalling friends, Twitter for #news and YouTube for how-tos.

Don't get me wrong, I am as social online as it can get. After all I'm blogging 'online'. But I feel we need to realize that there is no real connection is' through wires, plastic and microchips. 

Fact is, we do know this, maybe realize this and acknowledge it. Even participate in campaigns that talk about being in the real world. (can you notice the irony?)

Let me share something. Before I gave birth to my daughter, I made a promise to myself, that I would make her experience the real togetherness with nature that I had experienced when I was a small girl. Away from the gadget menace, I promised that I would help her understand nature by reading to her bright coloured picture books on nature, take her to local botanical gardens, go to sanctuaries/ national parks and watch animals in all their magnificence, grow a plant and look after it as our own, take a trip to a farmhouse and learn about domesticated animals and more. That is togetherness in my mind.
I want her to experience all of this what now-a-days children do not experience - the real togetherness with nature. This is how I intend to teach my little one about nature and to be together with nature.

Now as a mom to a growing toddler who absorbs information like a sponge, I have this growing fear that down the line, if addicted to technology, she will brush me off for smarter technology quicker than the next software update on Android.
So I’ve taken slow steps towards how I can keep the childhood alive in me and enrich her childhood years. I want to keep our real togetherness alive. 
I want to embrace technology when it is needed the most, but not replace our bond with nature.

Similarly, Kissan is keeping the spirit of togetherness alive with their own destination – Kissanpur. I can still recall the packet of tomato seeds in the newspaper Kissan had shared to help us nourish our wonderful little tomato plant.
Check out Kissan's wonderful new TVC for us to relish the oneness with nature and then head to Kissanpur to discover real togetherness.




Saturday, October 17, 2015

My #FrizzFreeHair Dabur Vatika Women's IndiBlogger Meet Experience


Happy Navratras to all my readers. Just yesterday when I was picking a green coloured outfit to wear as Navratri colour dressing, I remembered last Saturday when I was also rummaging my wardrobe for a green outfit for another event - an IndiMeet. And this IndiMeet was all about hair.

Let me tell you, I have had a tough experience with my hair. It just doesn't be the way I want to.
Frizzy, dry and flyaway, I have unmanageable hair, to put it lightly.

So to find solution(s) to one of my hair problems, I was invited to The #FrizzFreeHair Vatika Women's IndiBlogger Meet on October 10, 2015. It was a women bloggers only meet at B J hall, NMIMS Campus, Vile Parle, Mumbai.


The good folk at IndiBlogger hinted us to wear something green for the meet. And so on a rather hot Saturday afternoon, I reached simply dressed in my green tunic and jeans at 11.30 am (so as to not miss any of the action) and seated myself at one of the tables and waited for the meet to begin. As the venue filled with more women bloggers, I looked around to witness a sea of ladies dressed impeccably in green outfits with fancy hairdos. (To which I realized I was under-dressed)




The event opened to a rocking performance - just like the last one I experienced -  by the IndiBand, Blunder in the Code. The band played to a enthusiastic crowd of women bloggers who didn't shy from letting their hair down to head bang (well not really, they didn't want to ruin their hairdos) and the eager-to-experience-a-brand-launch management students of NMIMS.





Good folks from the Dabur Vatika Product Team talked about the hair, hair oils, how they narrowed down to a concoction by trying to get into women's heads hair, the science behind frizzy hair, the lineage and popularity of Dabur's Hair Oil products (Fun fact: Did you know Dabur's Hair oil goes way back to 1940s?) and all about the goodness of the new Dabur Vatika Jasmine Non-Sticky Hair Oil.

Whoa! Dabur Hail oil goes waaaaaay back to 75 years! #didnotknowthat @Oilopedia #FrizzFreeHair pic.twitter.com/BkyOyGz77B
— Gauri (@missalpao) October 10, 2015

Next up, was the unveiling of the brand - Dabur Vatika Jasmine Non-Sticky Hair Oil onstage, in a grand manner.




We proud to launch Dabur Vatika Jasmine Non Sticky Coconut Hair Oil. #FrizzFreeHair pic.twitter.com/p4J1WNeOBh
— Dabur Hair Oils (@Oilopedia) October 10, 2015


After all that information and download, we played this ingenious IndiGame that I named it as: "How to lose your BFF in 30 seconds?" So for this game, we were asked to pair up in twos at our tables and play rock, paper, scissors.
Simple? Well, here's the catch.
The winner has to mess up the loser's hair!
(Genius game for Dabur Vatika's goal here. Frizzy hair? No problem! they tweeted during the game.)

Yours truly on the extreme left, busy tweeting away, not bothered about the cameraman.



After almost every female in the house had her hair ruffled a bit, towards the end of the meet, we were asked to share our combat mechanism to prevent frizzyness. And now I was receiving an education on hair.
I can still recall the tips, (but may or may not have attributed to the right woman blogger who shared it). And to share this helpful tips to my readers, especially ladies, I have illustrated the tips I gained:







These are most of them that I could remember. Another golden nugget by a lady was to keep smiling, stay stress from to have enviable, frizz free tresses. 
We were invited to pamper our tresses at Dabur's Champi station right outside the event hall too. How comforting!

The Champi Station

And then we had lunch. Sweet endings to a fun meet:

Yummy desserts - Shahi Ras Malai and Cheesecake bites with Blueberry jam

And after a lovely event, education and lingering enthusiasm, I was heading home, not only rich with my blogger BBFs but also an awesome goodie bag from Dabur Vatika & IndiBlogger which included the new Dabur Vatika Jasmine Non-Sticky Hair Oil and Dabur Vatika Coconut Hair Oil.

Shalini of @baketitude, Me and Priyanka @prankyy. Clicked by Shaivi @shaivisharma
All smiles with Sujata @sujatatawde, Manisha @manisha_topale, Nimi Arora

Awesome treasure trove of a goodie bag.
My jaw dropped when I saw something on my wishlist was now in my hands - A Philips Hairstyling Iron.


As I write this blog, I have jasmine scented #FrizzFree hair thanks to Dabur Vatika and fond memories to cherish with my new blogger buddies thanks to IndiBlogger.
Until the next meet!













Sunday, October 11, 2015

Paper boats

This post has been published by me as a part of Blog-a-Ton 56; the fifty-sixth edition of the online marathon of Bloggers; where we decide and we write.


Paperboats
Photo courtesy: Ranaji Deb (https://www.facebook.com/ranajideb/photos)



Paper boats 
Blinking back tears, the pages of her diary
were soon filled with her heart’s voice.

It was diary he gifted on the day she left.

As she closed her eyes for the journey away,
she made sure, 
that every rainy day
a paper boat floated away
with a secret message.




The fellow Blog-a-Tonics who took part in this Blog-a-Ton and links to their respective posts can be checked here. To be part of the next edition, visit and start following Blog-a-Ton. Participation Count: 06

This is a 55 Fiction post which is basically a fictional story in 55 word or less (including the title). My post includes 52 words, inclusive of the title. Do help me with your comments - bouquets or brickbats - in the comments section below. 

Friday, October 9, 2015

The Champ of SmartPhones


Ever watched Rocky? The movie of a boxer turned boxing champion, through the struggles and the trials and tribulations. That movie defines Sylvester Stallone as a champ. And so did the subsequent movies.

Then there is Gladiator, one of my favourite movies of all time. Russell Crowe's powerful performance in the duel scene just gave me goose bumps. The whole movie is a powerful story that shows Roman General Maximus rises through the ranks of the gladiatorial arena to avenge the death of his family by just and fair means.

Then there are a string of movies that celebrate the victory of the victor. Those powerful movies stay within our memory for long. More so, they return to celebrate their victory once more. They are Champs.

Apparently the #ChampisBack. (No I'm not talking about Sylvester or Russell)



I'm speaking about the Champ of SmartPhones - LG NEXUS 5X - A sleek, lightweight phone that belies its powerful performance. Backed by a technologically supreme giant – Google – the Nexus 5X promises a championing all round performances of all its features.

The phone is due for release in sometime in October 2015, but here's a sneak peak of its features. In my opinion, the 3 features that set it apart from competition are as follows:

Marshmallow Android 6.0 O.S. Sweet goodness of a smooth and the latest operating system from Google.

The fingerprint sensor – A one touch fingerprint sensor to make your phone personally yours. Cool eh? And helps you keep it secure from data theft even if your phone get stolen. I’d like this, as my current phone does not have this feature. 

Primary Camera - The 12.3 MP, laser autofocus, dual-LED (dual tone) flash camera can capture great pictures in any light thanks to 1.55┬Ám pixel size accuracy.



I could go on and on, instead why don't you check out the champ yourself?

I am participating in the #ChampIsBack activity at BlogAdda.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Book Review: Yes, my accent is real - Kunal Nayyar


It has certainly been a while since I reviewed a book. My last review was on The House that BJ Built in July! Whoa! Long time.

So the Flipkart Book Review program had a book with an interesting title on review. Turned out it was Kunal Nayyar's aka Rajesh Koothrapaali's memoir book. And the Big Bang Theory sitcom fan that I am, I instantly signed up for the review.

So here's the review:

Book Title: Yes, my accent is real and some other things I haven't told you
Author: Kunal Nayyar
Pages: 272 
Genre: Memoir
Price (Paperback): Rs. 375 262  (Flipkart)
Publisher: Simon & Schuster

In the beginning I wondered why a man, all of 30 would like to pen down his memoirs when there's still so much of his life to go about. I mean, he isn't very famous for a TV star - Not an Oprah or a Ekta Kapoor. Yet, I was intrigued to know the backstory of the guy who made it big on TV with a hit sitcom and the journey of how he got there.

Overall this book is easy to read at one go, even in a single sitting. Simple, lucid language has been used throughout the book so that it appears that Kunal is talking to you through the book. 

I never did research behind Kunal, so I was surprised to know that he was India born and like everyone else, he headed to the states for his studies. So overall, Kunal shares his experiences from his childhood, his time in India, his time in the U.S. for studying, his calling as an actor and how 'luckily' he bagged Raj's role on the show.

Before you pick the book, let me burst your bubble. Big Bang Theory fans like me might presumptuously assume that there would be A LOT of references and experiences from Rajesh Koothrapalli time on the show - the behind the scenes, the deep secrets, gossips and the would-have-beens - et. al. Let me tell you, your enthusiasm will be kinda dampened.

(But there is a whole chapter and more dedicated on how he made it to Big Bang Theory, so there, happy? BTW, Kunal's character was earlier named David Koothrapaali, did ya know that?)

Throughout the book, Kunal initially sees himself as an underdog in every aspect - while making friends, academia, acting abilities, getting girls - until he grows out of those presumptions and eventually finds his ground. He finds his father his source of inspiration, and has a dedicated chapter to his dad and many references throughout the book. In the end, he talks on how he hit it off and finally fell in love with a former Miss India, albeit after several misses.

One must read the chapter on how he realized that acting was for him - the ssssssssss moment - his calling.

I specifically enjoyed reading his 'A Thought Recorded on an Aeroplane Cocktail Napkin' as the idea appealed to me - to have one's thought recorded then and there. 




Let me tell you, I have not read a single autobiography/ memoir book before this, as I find them to be rather self centered and dawdling about themselves on and on. But after reading this book, I kind of changed my perspective or rather presumption on how "boring" memoirs can be. Because in this book, there are certain events and experiences that one goes through in life - the trying times - that I could relate to and could certainly pick a trick or two.

So all in all a good read.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Health is where the Healthy Heart is


Image source: www.swansonvitamins.com

I have always been a chubby kid. 'Plump', 'curvy', are other adjectives that I've been called to soften the blow.  Most of my life, I've been the size that is one size larger for Zara but one size smaller for an aLL clothing. Stuck between neither here, I'm not ashamed of it, but yes there have been moments that I felt I need to get in better shape, towards the more Zara size.

So like every other female species on this earth, I have gymmed and dieted on and off, even before my wedding day. Post marriage though, everything kinda went out of balance. New place, new home, new people, new habits, new grind - I adapted to the new me. But I was not the me, that I was.

I don't blame the whole marriage experience. It's not depreciating, though I felt in the process of adapting I kinda let go of my earlier control and habits.

And then reality check hit me hard on my face as soon as I gave birth to our little one.

Post-partum I realized that I had completely let go of my body, so much so I could feel it. My earlier stamina was lost, I was more inactive or lethargic and was eating unhealthy that I had put on oodles of weight. And no it was not because of the pregnancy as most mothers tend to blame. Here I was 27, looking and feeling like 37.
I had to get rid of this state. Any more delay and I would not recognize the woman staring back at me in the mirror. 

I am fixed on my resolve and have already started on making habitual changes, I took up the Saffola Weight-Heart Test.

Keying in a few metrics, I realized how much an extra few kilos can affect the health of my heart and my risk to Cardio Vasular Diseases.


The SaffolaLite Weight Heart test interface


The Results!

Like a kid who damn sure of flunking and is terrified of knowing the results, I was nervous. I found out that I had 13% risk for CVDs and needed to lose 3 inches to ward off that risk.


Saffola highlights some astonishing facts on Women and their hearts

And here I was under the popular notion that heart diseases are genetically for men, not women. 

I shared the results with my hubby. He was intrigued by this test and wanted to check it out for himself. This test was an eye opener for both of us on how our weights are affecting the health of our hearts.

We want to work towards our happily and healthily ever after. We want to be there for our daughter in all the milestones in life and not be struck off the earth as early as mid forties by a heart attack. The thought is simply indigestible. Not happening!

With a firm resolve my hubby and I pledge the following to #ProtectMyHeart and #ProtectHisHeart:

  1. To walk for an hour, if not at least 30 minutes daily. No excuses.
  2. To reduce our sugar intake. (I've incorporated Lipton Green Tea in my diet, and R has dropped one cup of tea from his.)
  3. To reduce fast food intake to once a week, not exceeding 400 calories in a day. (Considering our cravings for junk) That's one samosa or one KFC Chicken Zinger Burger only once a week.
  4. To switch to rice bran oil for home.
  5. More protein that carbs in our diets. 


To push it further, we're using tools on our mobile device through apps to keep a check on our progress:


  • For walking, I find using a pedometer through Google Fit app is really handy.
  • For diet, I maintain a chart of what I ate through HealthifyMe app.

This how we are making the first step. It's going to be a long journey together, but as they say a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step - this is our first step to a healthy life together.

Image source: www.aloeverancl.com

“I am joining the Saffolalife #ProtectHerHeart initiative and pledging my support to better heart health in Association with BlogAdda.”
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