Sunday, November 22, 2015

No Toilet Humour please

It was a normal routine morning and I was tuned into Disney Junior Channel with my kiddo whilst having breakfast. In the commercial break, Disney played a three minute filler animated series called ‘Nina Needs to Go’.
Nina Needs to Go
PC - Disney

As the name suggests, it was about a girl called Nina who ultimately needs to use the loo when in different scenarios and how she manages to relieve herself. I was mildly surprised of the content of the filler cartoon, which was uncanny to the rest of the content on the channel. It  turns out it is aimed at preschoolers to develop and get accustomed to toilet manners.

But in fact, it dawned upon me on how this is an important issue and how it needs to be rightly addressed. Nina was addressing the need of the hour – clean, hygienic, easily available sanitation and access to water. In India, where toilets are not easily accessible, and even if they are accessible, they are either unclean, lack a continuous water supply or lack safety, especially for women.

If you are under the misconception that toilets are only inaccessible in the rural areas, next time, ask your house-help about the long queues they have to stand outside a common toilet with a bucket of water to go for their daily ablutions. Even those who live in a chawl system type house more than one of these issues – unclean toilets, irregular water supply, and lack of safety for women (no source of light / no latch on the toilet doors), and disposal of waste. Especially for women, during the time of menstruation, there is more often the need to use a clean toilet.

Unclean toilets are said to be precursors to infections and diseases spread by unclean surroundings. And those diseases when spread rampantly can ultimately result in affecting the overall nutrition, especially for women and children.

And that is why #wecantwait to get clean toilets as a basic need.

World Toilet Day It's no Joke

To combat this, there are some actions being taken:

The United Nations declared November 19th of every year as ‘World Toilet Day’ in a bid to draw attention to the alarming fact that more than quarter of the world’s population cannot access sanitary facilities!

World Toilet day is about the 2.4 billion people who lack access to improved sanitation. It is about the nearly 1 billion people who have to defecate in the open.

“Equality, Dignity and the Link Between Gender-Based Violence and Sanitation” is the theme for this year’s World Toilet Day, which seeks to put a spotlight on the threat of sexual violence that women and girls face due to the loss of privacy as well as the inequalities that are present in usability. Toilets generally remain inadequate for populations with special needs, such as the disabled and elderly, and women and girls requiring facilities to manage menstrual hygiene.

This initiative has been activelyt In fact this very day, last year, Hindustan Unilever’s Domex launched a campaign to drive this thought and to everyone’s attention on the importance of accessible sanitation through Toilet For Babli. They highlighted many stories, induced by social sharing on the plight of village women and how then combatted building a toilet near their home. In fact, I read up on one such story of a bride refusing to go to her husband’s place, on finding out about the lack of a toilet around his home. To which, to woo the lady of his life, the man eventually built a toilet for her and all was good.

So take a moment to feel lucky to be among those who have toilets installed inside or near their homes rather than having the need to walk a mile outside of their home in the wilderness just to answer nature’s call. After all, it is no dirty joke.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

#madeofgreat - Steve Jobs

If you were to ask me what greatness is and what constitutes a person to be anointed to be #madeofgreat I would say, it is their never-say-die attitude in the face of adversity.

These greats are made of sterner stuff than most of us. One of them is Steve Jobs.
What made Steve Jobs great?
Was it because he was a bright mind?
or was it because he built Apple - the iconic brand that all look up to?

Let me share why I feel Steve Jobs was #madeofgreat.
Though I had never met the man in person, yet the stories about the events in his life are so impactful. Some people leave an indelible mark on you that you weep silent tears when you hear the news about their untimely passing.

The Start to Greatness: 

Early in life, Steve took a major risk by dropping out college to build Apple Computers Inc with his friend Steve Wozniak in 1976. He was just 21 then.
Though computers did exist then, Apple Computers revolutionized the way computers interacted with the users by making it more user-friendly. Some fine details like fonts, typefaces and styling that Steve introduced into the Operating System changed the way people used computers. And so Apple churned out products and the investors were happy to invest into the company.

Post the meteoric success of Apple in the following 3 years, the company was met with fierce competition from IBM. In addition, Apple products met critique of not being IBM-Compatible. Under the pressure of IBM breathing down Apple's neck, a disgruntled CEO of Apple (Mike Sculley) believed Steve Jobs to be hurting Apple and made him feel insignificant in the company that he built.

In 1985, Steve Jobs was made to leave from the same company he built from scratch.

Simply, he was kicked out of his own compay.

In the face of this adversity and challenge, Steve started NeXT a software and hardware enterprise and subsequently purchased George Lucas' animation studio- which later became Pixar. It was because of his foresight of realizing the potential of Pixar, he invested $50 million of his own money into the company.
I am sure many would've laughed at the decision of a recently kicked-out founder investing heaps of his own money into another entrepreneurial plunge that may back-fire.
But it was Steve's gamble that paid off. And Pixar generated truck loads of money by belting out wildly popular hits like Toy Story, Finding Nemo and The Incredibles.

Steve is revered to be one of the greatest inventors and creators of modern technology. I don't doubt that for one bit. He made no compromises in designing the iPad or the iPhone as sleek and user friendly at a time we just couldn't think of a phone that could fit into the palm of our hand.

His achievements have sown the seeds for belief that an entrepreneurial journey can be rewarding regardless of the hurdles that one faces. He has left a technological legacy that many will cherish for decades and more.

What drives you from within is what makes you great!

The most powerful part of his life that made a lasting impression on my mind was him regaining the confidence to build another company from scratch after being kicked out of his own venture. I felt it was remarkable how he did not let the setback affect his belief system in the darkness of adversity, but re-instated his confidence and determination to move ahead to build another great company and keep making marvels.
Steve's life incident is a worthy lesson to me as I draw strength from the way he moved on without cribbing, without any hesitation in taking risks, keeping the passion to excel alive and most importantly NOT GIVING UP.

It was Steve Jobs' self-belief, perseverance and never-say-die attitude in the toughest of times that defined him to be #madeofgreat.

Like a man who embodies qualities like excellence, perfection and never-say-die attitude to be attributed as #madeofgreat, a brand like TATA Motors is displaying these qualities since decades in the motoring world. TATA Motors is an epitome of a brand belonging to the India's globally renowned group TATA, that has now partnered with another renowned brand - football phenomenon Lionel Messi to be their global ambassador.

What do you think of Tata Motor's Association with Lionel Messi?
The best answer will win an Amazon Voucher worth Rs. 750!

Note: Contest closes on November 26, 11.59 PM.
So comment with your answer soon!

Book Review: Kissing Frogs for a While

Book Title: Kissing frogs for a While
Author: Pavan Tarawade 
Pages: 136 
Genre: Romance/ Chic-Lit 
Price: (Paperback): Rs. 150  (Flipkart) 
Publisher: NotionPress

Pawan Tarawade is a first time blogger-turned-author of 'Kissing Frogs for a while'. The book revolves around Ayesha,  a successful career girl at the so-called marriageable age, who is pressured to get hitched, primarily from her parents and partly because she's the only one among her friends who's yet to find her soul mate. She reluctantly explores the option of arranged marriage while trying to heal from a bitter break-up which is what the story is mainly about - the five guys she meets. Will she find the right guy and get over her past or will the past continue to haunt her?

Frankly, I felt this book was written in a hurry. The character build up is not thorough and could have used a lot more details. Ayesha's  thoughts, her expressions, her actions could do with more reasoning and decription. The initial flow of the story was sketchy and half baked at some parts and could do with much more finesse. Though the story can be related to more than half the girls out there, overall it leaves nothing to imagination. What I liked was the end, which was nicely tied though expected.

I have read and reviewed many a book by first time authors - be it Rishad Saam Mehta, Upendra Namburi or Prtihvin Rajendran and found them living up to the mark in terms of language, story, flow and narration. All I can say it is an early start for Pavan and he needs to hone his literary pursuits and I wish him all the very best.

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. 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. 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, 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. 

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. 


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.

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