Friday, December 18, 2015

Your Child's Career Planning- Are you on the same page as your child?

Once we become a parent, when someone asks us the best moment in a parent’s life, we would most probably say the day our child was born. And some years down the line, if you were asked what the next best moment in your life is? You would most probably say, the day you saw your child well settled in life.

And as parents, you would want nothing but the best for your child. Be it a shiny new toy, the best clothes, the best schooling, the best locality to live in – you will desire all the best things in life that you can afford for your family. And you always strive to do the best. Even when one fine day your child comes to you and tells you that he/she wants to become an Astronaut. You smile and say to your little one, to keep dreaming that dream and that one day you will make it happen for them, come what may. Your child continues to pursue on their passion and dream of becoming an astronaut one day when he grows up.

But have you thought about the best higher education for your child yet? Have you started planning for the finances for your child’s education? Did you #DoYourHomework for your child’s future?

Is your version of being future ready for your child’s higher education a mere education loan?

These and more questions were addressed through an interesting exercise for the new investor education awareness campaign called #DoYourHomework by Axis Mutual Fund.

A while back, I was invited to Axis Mutual Fund’s Blogger’s Meet at Axis House, Lower Parel in Mumbai to do my homework for my child's future.

About the Exercise:

The spacious room where the meet was hosted, had lined up six pairs of easels with their backs to each other.

Parents and their children were invited over and were asked to paint what they thought their child wanted to be when they grew up. Likewise, their children were asked to paint what they wanted to be when they grew up.

When they were done, their paintings were displayed for all to see.

Through the results, parents realised how different their opinion of their child’s ambition is from their child in most cases.
Through this experiment, parents realised whether or not they were on the same page as their child when it comes to their child’s aspirations.

In conclusion, I came to understand that children of this generation have the complete freedom to choose the career of their choice and keeping this in mind for my child - though I will undisputedly support it emotionally - I’ll have to also support it financially as well.

Try it out for yourself!

In case you found this interesting, just try this exercise with your child. You might just be surprised by the results!

After reading this post, you can head to the #DoYourHomework micro-site and explore the fun side of doing one’s homework with story books, colouring books for your kid and the #DoYourHomework calculator for parents.

Alternatively, you can also download the Homework App on your mobile.

You and your spouse work hard day in and day out. Now is time for your money also work hard for you. Get started on planning for your child's future, because it's is never too early!

All the best! 

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Book Review: The Bestseller She Wrote - Ravi Subramanian

Book Title: The Bestseller She Wrote
Author: Ravi Subramanian
Pages: 391  
Genre: Thriller/Drama
Price:   Flipkart: INR 266 | Amazon: INR 180
Publisher:  Westland Ltd

Prior to reading this book, I have read and reviewed ‘God is a Gamer’ by the same author. In my opinion, it was a great read. So I was naturally inclined to read this book as well.  But it was slightly different from the genre of his earlier books - fast paced thrillers. This time, author Ravi Subramanian decided to take a shot at romance thriller kind of genre. And he does well. 

A combustible cocktail of love, betrayal and redemption reads the by-line. And so with trepidation, I delve into the book.

One look at the book cover and one would get a hint of the story and the eventual dalliance that would unfold in the book. The cover is nice, with snapshots of the book’s trailer and is designed by Think WhyNot.

Coming to the story of the book, in short the book is all about Aditya Kapoor's life as a bestseller author how on meeting Shreya Kaushik, a bull-headed opportunistic overambitious IIM Bangalore (also Ravi Subramanian’s alma-mater ) graduate, puts his personal and professional life in turmoil and promises to wreak havoc and irreparable damage in his life. How Aditya tries to put back the pieces and find redemption is what the story is all about.

Initially, a couple of chapters down, it felt like a page out of an author's life and more so perhaps akin to a semi-autobiography. This is proven by references to real life authors like Ashwin Sanghvi and his book Private India (an attempt at cross selling, perhaps?) and even BlogAdda’s Nirav Sanghavi! And even a backhanded mention of a certain author who is concentrating more on judging Bollywood dance shows over his writing. Very cheeky, Mr. Subramanian!

Overall, the story is a potboiler, with the right mix characters, conversations, twists and turns.  The chapters are short and engross the reader, making it difficult to put the book down.

The book also gives a sneak peek into a writer’s life and in a way guides the reader of the process of writing, editing, publishing and marketing the book. For a novice writer like me- who wants to understand the nuances of the publishing world- it is like a blueprint.

There are some gems like: "A lottery gives you a better chance at success than getting a book published."

“The vestiges of the past, unless buried, will always keep cropping up and impact relationships”
“Without these bookstores, there will be no books, and without books, there will be no culture”
“In relationships, particularly those that are adulterous in nature, the first time is always the most difficult. That’s the point in time when one’s conscience makes its presence felt the most and people are consumes by regret. Once that bridge is crossed, regret is often forgotten”

All in all, this book is well written like his earlier books, Ravi Subramanian keeps the reader engaged throughout without prematurely revealing the suspense.
Special thanks to BlogAdda for sending me an author signed copy of this book!

You can take a look at the book’s trailer:

I am reviewing ‘The Bestseller She Wrote by Ravi Subramanian as a part of the biggest Book Review Program for Indian Bloggers. Participate now to get free books!

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Amchi Mumbai - My favourite city

I have visited and stayed at many places across the length and breadth of India. And of course I have my favourites in every zone of India. Yet there is one such city that stands out amongst all, the one place you call home.

Mumbai (erstwhile known as Bombay)
Amchi Mumbai (means Our Mumbai)

Let me describe my city on the basis of three attributes: Drive, Design and Connect.


It holds a special place in my heart since it is where I was born and brought up.

More dreams are realised and extinguished in Mumbai than any other city in the world

More so, it is a place that thousands from various parts of the country throng to, with a dream in their eyes and hope. After all, it is said to be the financial, commercial and entertainment capital of India. A hope that the city will absorb them like one of its own. If you look around the city, you will see the inhabitants are not only the originally inhabited Marathi folk, but there are people settled from all over India.


In my opinion, the mere basic instinct of survival of the fittest is what drives the inhabitants of this mayanagari. This instinct is either in the DNA of the citizens or has to be cultivated into one’s DNA. And by this instinct, Mumbai can either make you or break you.


From the Gothic architectural craftsmanship of the British era in the Gateway of India, Asiatic Library… to the modern marvels of the Sealink or the Reclamation, Mumbai has a distinct design for all.
For instance, this island city that originally constituted of seven islands, has now been redesigned to a bustling metropolis that stretches from Churchgate to Virar. An aerial view of the city and you can see that this city has the structure to accommodate the teeming, crammed hutments but thriving local business of the largest slum in Asia: Dharavi – to the spacious inhabitants of one of the busiest railway stations in India – Dadar. And one can still easily navigate their way through the arteries and the veins of this mahanagari through local train, BEST bus, kaali-peeli taxi, autorickshaw and of late, the Metro.

The design does not limit to the infrastructure or heritage of Mumbai, it is prevalent in the food as well. Be it affordable local fast food like vada pav for a poor labourer's sustenance or the Indianised chinese food fare in a suburban mall, the city has designed its elements to satiate the hunger pangs of each of its inhabitant. Even at 3 am your sudden craving for pav bhaji can be doused.


Bombay was renamed to Mumbai after the Goddess Mumbaidevi fairly recently in 1996. And the Bombay-ite became a Mumbai-kar. Regardless of its name, the soul of any city lies in the people.


It is natural for every visitor coming to the city for the first to get lost. But it is unnatural for them to not receive any help. Ask the dabbawallahs - the tiffin connection of the city's hunger. Their's is a symbiotic relationship like any other Mumbaikar - they depend on the city for sustenance as the sustenance depends on their time of arrival. 

The widespread connect across languages, classes, sects, and nationality even is displayed in the times when Mumbai was in distress. Be it the dreadful 26th July downpour and eventual floods that paralysed the city network, but not its spirit. Not even the November 2008 terror attacks on prime locations in the city squash its never-say-die attitude. And neither did the dreadful terror train bomb blasts dent humanity. After each and every incident this city has faced, it has bounced back like a phoenix rising from the ashes.


Through these key attributes, I feel amchi Mumbai is indeed #madeofgreat.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Stop the shaming!

I recently came across this article which really perturbed me. It talks about this woman - Mona Joshi's- experience when shopping at a designer trousseau store in Mumbai. On further inquiring about a size which was not in stock/ unavailable, she asked what should women of her size do? "Go to the gym" was the shocking reply from the salesperson.
Mona left the store with disbelief of what she had heard and with the help of her rakhi brother sent a complaint email to the store owner, that was shared on social media and which drew a lot of support for her and negative reviews for the fashion house.

It eventually became a PR disaster for the emerging fashion house, once the story in Indiatimes was shared 5k+ times. A blot on their customer service with social media sharing the story like wildfire, just added the fuel to the fire on the brand's bad PR.

Sure, the guy could've courteously said "Sorry ma'am we do not have the size you are looking for" or any other alternate answer and we'd not have read about this incident. But I'm glad she stood up and took action and did not take it lying down.

If you think the salesman was doing her a favour by giving her some harsh advice or joking about the whole thing, then I feel you are a special kind of idiot and need to move on to the blog for common sense. If you think his comment was blown out of proportion and Mona was making a mountain of a molehill, then read on....

Frankly, I don't really blame they guy. He's every other guy. And ever other lay person, as a matter of fact, does think the same way - that a woman must perceptibly fit into a particular size mould.

But in fact, this is about a larger issue at hand. It is just not the fight against fat-shaming a slightly plump woman coping with medical issues, but it is about the fight every tall, short, thin, fat, curvy, more specifically, an Indian woman goes through the pressure from the society of being fit into a particular pre-notioned acceptable shape. It's about body-shaming.

Victoria's Secret's campaign being slammed for body shaming
PC: etonline

If you think I'm being a feminist here? I'm not. It is a well known fact that women receive more flak than Indian men who are who are over weight or plus sized. And more so, Indian women in particular, thanks to our patriarchal society. Don't believe me? Just open up the newspaper and count the number of advertisements that feature weight loss stories of women or a showcased slender model for a gym ad. Nobody wants to know the real reason behind their weight gain or shape or size. No one wants to know about their struggle behind battle inner demons and the constant ridicule the face from their dear ones to random stares and sneering from on-lookers on the street. Right from little girls to elderly ladies, no woman is spared!

'87-89 born, Slim, Fair, Tall'  is common to be demanded in the matrimonial sections for the want of slim and slender brides. We all know celebrities are always under the constant glare of the paparazzi and the constant scrutiny of fans and critics alike. But the scrutiny and criticism goes a tad too far when it comes to ridiculing their sudden weight gain. Be it singer Adele, actress Kim Kardashian and more such celebrities have been subjected to some or the other spotlight on their weights. Closer to home, the minute the news of Aishwarya Rai Bachchan giving birth to daughter Aradhya hit the streets, tabloids had already writing on when weight and her 'double-chin' to her original pre-pregnancy shape.

Then again, ordinary, everyday women are not photo-shopped to hide their cellulite and make them look more slender and thinner.

Then again, words like 'fat' are not openly used (unless it is your naughty five year old nephew/niece). The term is watered down to many synonyms make if palpable for perfect-figure challenged. Thinly veiled words like 'plump', 'slightly on the heavier side', 'curvy', and even 'chunky' are used - not just from the salespersons, but from our loved ones. Ironically, women are subjected to other women's comments on their weight and sizes, regardless of the latter's size!

More importantly, this body shaming puts all the more pressure one to look thinner than what they are. Even if they are already meeting their ideal weight for their height and body type, the want of looking spectacularly slim like supermodels or unrealistic weight loss stories over-weighs the reasoning of having sound health. And when they struggle from peer pressure to drop a particular size or look a particular shape, their social esteem takes a huge beating, so much so they are driven to depression and worst even suicide.

What we really need to blame, is the stereotypical mentality that has been cultivated about women's shape and sizes. That women are intended to be at certain figure. Not too thin, not too fat. Not too short or not too tall. Why can't we accept anyone's shape as they are? Why must they have to be slim and trim?

And it is perhaps for every woman in every age group. Just as a girl hits puberty, she has to look a particular size. The transition from teens to the twenties, she is under the constant peer pressure to be in a particular size or shape. On getting married, she has to look perfect on her D-Day, regardless of how the groom looks. Then she gets pregnant. Instead of basking in the joy of the upcoming motherhood, she is silently mulling in the back of her mind, what her mother, sister, best friend, neighbour wali aunty told her about weight gain and losing that weight after her baby is born.
Right from the beginning of her pregnancy, she is worried on how she will lose all the pregnancy weight after the delivery of her baby. Even a mother who has just delivered her baby and who has is just acclimatizing the newness and experience of motherhood, is gradually hammered and drilled, albeit passively to lose the weight she put on.

Like every other girl out there, have struggled with my weight like many other women. I have been to to be blessed with a good height and therefore, my weight does not show. Comments like "You are tall, that's why you don't look that fat" Which makes me wonder, is being taller than the average girl, also a problem?

I dissent even now to be compartmentalized into this box that defines the perfect figure.
I have been compared to other guys' for my height, who felt a pang of jealousy as I was taller than them. I have been gasped at when the needle of the weighing machine pointed in another direction. I have been constantly told by people, that constitute my near and dear ones, to shed those excess pounds before marriage. And have been at the receiving end of a barrage of comments on my shape and size as a comparison to other girl's shape and size. My figure has been like a stencil to compare other girl's figures, "She's plump like you, but not as tall as you" or "She's slightly plumper than you" And I have been guilty of feeling comforted when another woman has been plumper than me. And that I eventually felt is wrong.

Why couldn't there have been a bigger size in clothing? A size that is for real women. Who has flabby arms, but drop dead gorgeous legs. One who has perfectly sculpted shoulders, but has a plump waistline. Why can't fashion accommodate for all size and shapes in one store without having the need to go to another 'plus size store' that is for some excluded sect of people all together?

But there are steps being taken. Take for instance, Facebook taking down the 'feeling fat' emoticon and a movement towards acceptance of body diversity. More so, more and more people are opening up and taking action against shaming and bullying. I support Mona's stance. It is because of her, more women will open up and take matters into their hands.

So can we stop body shaming? Can we overcome the societal norms and perceptions on the size of women? Can we create a change in perception?

Not everyone is perfectly sized, whatever the reason may be. It is that uniqueness that sets everyone apart. The clothes should fit the person, and not the other way around!

P.S.: I could've easily responded to the comments on the post and argued with a couple of people. But as it is said ' Never argue with a fool, they will drag you down to their level and beat you by experience'

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.
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