26 January 2014

Love, Religion and other such things

A new year, a new post and a new future. That's what we all hoped when we brought in the New Year, with our loved ones or maybe for some of us, with our not so loved ones. It doesn't take long for the disillusion to sink in and for you to realize that, really it's just another over hyped day.

Why so sour, you say? Maybe because I've been questioned. My religious faith has been questioned, and more importantly by myself. For those of you who know me, and for those who don't, the simple answer I've ever given anyone who's asked me for my beliefs is that I respect all religions and I belong to none. If I had to belong in one (some forms require that you put something in there), I'd be a Buddhist.

And in time I've come to believe that that's the best religion for me. A form of Baha'i mixed with an agnostic atheist. So imagine the surprise, when I get told that I may, for love have to convert into another religion. And suddenly, I found myself in a defensive little corner.

To calm myself, I told myself that it's the institution not the religion that asked me to do this. That the reason I was being told to do this, was a  practical one and had nothing to do with my partner being a religious zealot. That what I had to do or say, was just for one day and it could be done quietly, without the knowledge of anyone.

Inside me, my conscience rebelled and told me that doing so, would mean that I abandon my own personal beliefs. That I would be a traitor to myself. And I know that above and beyond everything I have ever thought, I've believed to truly respect any one religion, you should belong to none. Or belong to one, that didn't care about being the best religion in the world, like Budhism or Baha'i. And I know conversion would mean that I would've found a new religion to hate.

The kind of hate that makes you grate your teeth. The kind of hate that would make you look at your partner, and feel betrayed. The kind of hate that makes you look at yourself, and feel like you let yourself down.

This is new for me, and surprising too. I've always been for religious freedom, but I don't think I've realized how much this freedom meant to me, till I've had to question my faith. This New Year, I've learnt something about myself and the nature of freedom. I've learnt that freedom still means your chained to a belief system, that for me, my beliefs are more precious to me, than love could ever be. 

14 July 2013

A Candy Sweet Mental Roadtrip.

A road trip. A trip taken on a vehicle through roads, with the company of your best friends. Carried through by wonderful conversations, sighting beautiful sceneries, living and breathing the same space and air for an undetermined period of time. Yes, a road trip, the most awesome road trip that one can imagine. Absolutely top notch.

Rivers of sticky sugar syrup, trees of gold, light streaming through the leaves, in solid bars of delightful warm ecstasy. There we drove in our beautiful car, candy pink and purple, to the wild scent of the Thai Dragon. A field of chips, crispy and golden, hard to the touch, delightfully powdery to the push. As it breaks, we brake to stop solid at a candy house.

This was junk food heaven, and we were there together, me, myself and I. The view of a chocolate fountain greeted us, as we prepared to skate on lemon tea ice rink only to be distracted by the sight of giant marsh mellow trampolines. I took out a finger and punched in a hole, only to find that a hole could not be made, in this perfect dream marsh mellow, as it gently knocked my finger back in resistance and then invited me to have a bite.

But no, I resisted. For there were giant Jilabe wind mills, turned by the smell of the sugar stream, churning jars of hung curd, leading to a rashgolla carnival, with M& M smarties dotting the middle of this wild game of rashgollas rolling down hills made of hard sugar candy.

Oh the resistance, the courage and the will to say no, disappeared on the touch of sweet cotton candy, when I took a bite and ended right back where I started with the key in the ignition of my dull blue second hand car. As I lifted my head from the steering, it was right back to now, waiting outside my best mate's house. The scent that let me escape, to a valley of the Thai  Dragon hovered heavily around my head. Time to hit the gym Saro. Time to hit the gym.

Thai Dragon Fruit: New Scent from Ambi Pur. Click here for more.

03 June 2013

Shoes of the Dead- Kota Neelima- Book Review

Shoes of the Dead is many things, but what it is not, is a light read. With words carefully string together, Kota weaves a story of our country. A story I suspect, may be more familiar to some, and for city brats like myself, be eye opening.
The story focuses on a small group of individuals: a journalist, a farmer, a politician, a money lender, a village leader, an industrialist's wife.

Together the story investigates, the relationship between these various individuals, and their roles in shaping the world of compensations for farmers who have killed themselves, due to rising debt. Keyur Kashinath is a politician in whose constituency, there has been a rise in farmer suicides. When exploring the reason behind this rise, he meets Nazar a journalist who's had his good days and his bad days, but someone who lives by old-school journo rules.

The reason for the increase in farmer suicides, is just one man. Gangri, who wants to do the right thing, and not play cover up in the name of politics, one man who fights to provide the families of these suicides relief funds, that which was denied to him. Using clever manipulation he swings the committee members into, putting aside their personal agendas to do the right thing.

The dynamics of these leading men, along with the anti-heros, Lambodar & Durga Das and the small but important wife of a business magnate- Videhi forms the premise of the story.

The story is refreshing, and it's poised objectivel, and is definitely recommended for anyone who wonders why years pass in India, with little changing in terms of issues. It may also work well for those who have an opinion on the way this country has almost remained stagnant in the rural areas and gain a little bit more insight into the reasons this may be.  Yet another aspect to commend is the way the author manages to envelope various themes, from hope to cronyism into this tight little book.


Some of the negatives about the book is that at times it reads a bit on the boring side, and it's a hard genre to classify. George Orwell adopted the satirical writing style to provide political commentary in an amusing, candid manner in Animal Farm and used science fiction in Big Brother. I wish that what was used was some other form of fiction, as the pacing of the story moves unlike a thriller and reads like a cover spread article in a magazine, with no clear end or beginning and more importantly lacking clear clinchers at the end of every chapter to carry you through to the next chapter. Another area where the book could have been better, would have been in thie ending.

***Spoiler Alert***  Gangiri dies, Nazar resigns, Videhi is sympathetic, Keyur resigns and decides to go NGO on his father and actually do something for the sake of doing it, as opposed to doing it because he'll gain more supporters/votes. Lambodar & Durga Das turn over a new leaf, so to speak, by deciding to be fair, to honor Gangiri's memory. I find this hard to believe, the book shed some light on the brutal politics in villages, I think that this type of conclusion, leads the reader away from the reality, that the whole book has driven at from the start.

Conclusion: This book will leave you with much to think about and begging to jump into this world.
Price: Rs. 495
Rating: 3.5 / 5
This review is a part of the biggest <a href="http://blog.blogadda.com/2011/05/04/indian-bloggers-book-reviews" target="_blank"> Book Review Program </a> for <a href="http://www.blogadda.com" target="_blank">Indian Bloggers.</a> Participate now to get free books!

20 May 2013

Modern Health Care- No longer a dream of a few

A few years ago, waiting outside a hospital meant several things. That you would invariably be approached by someone professing a loved one needed immediate help, usually either by donating some amount of money or by obtaining medicine from the closest medical shop.

As Indians we learnt early on to not believe these stories at face value and to treat it as yet another case of people weaving more stories to try and help us part with the money in our pockets, and in addition the notion that doctors and medical care is simply too expensive for the common man was born.

In the 70s liver, heart transplant were experimental, need based surgeries that had a minimal chance of surivival. They were also the purview of the Western nations, where science married the occult, so to speak, to play on Franken characters. Ideas that had hitherto been restricted to the realm of science fiction or in some cases, horror, were now in practice and as the success rates grew, confidence grew.

There was demand for good medicine, need for good medicine and a need for afforable medical care.What were people to do, not everyone could afford a trip to overseas for a transplant!

If anyone remembers the Jeans movie, with Aishwarya Rai & Prashant in... a few years later, the sucess of Munnabhai MBBS- was a symbolic of the complete makeover the industry had undergone. One of the trusted names, is Apollo Hospitals founded in the early 80s that grew in prominence to approximately generate a total revenue of 31.73 Billion rupees in 2012. For most of us, we read that as so much profit. The way I look at it, if the average cost of a surgery is 1 Lakh, think of how many people's lives have been touched.

One of the key reasons behind the success of these hospitals is the relative affordability of medical care. If one had to compare the cost of travel, stay & medical expenses to a foreign country, however close to India, they'd realize that as expensive as it may be seen to be in rupees, the actual cost outside the country is far greater.

Insurance had also made a swift entrance, and allowed the working class families to have access to clean healthcare, where as prior to that many were at the mercy of doctors, who went by their reputation, not necessarily cure rates. Neighbourhood family doctors were not in large replaced, but prioritised for simple ailments, and larger hospitals were thrown into the limelight for acting as service centers for complex and complicated procedures. Doctors with experitse and cutting edge technology.

International Accreditations, also allowed staff to be trained, enhancing their practices and bringing their practice of those medical techniques to new levels by ensuring compliance with Internationally recommended treatment & care. With the gap between local and international care, rapidly closing, a strange phenomenon called Medical Tourism began.

Suddenly, India had hospitals that were of good quality and cheap to boot, and our local hospitals became bigger, and spread their wings to other countries. They marketted the unique Indian brand of Affordable Modern Health Care.

Healthier people walk our streets more than anyother time in our history. Yes, there have been an increase of lifestyle diseases like Diabetes, Blood Pressure etc. But think about it, there's a choice now. A choice to get cured. And the buck won't stop here, good is the enemy of better.

Who knows, to borrow from Revolution, a science fictions series, perhaps tomorrow will belong to nanomites and their ability to grow a new heart :)

For more information on what the future holds: http://www.apollohospitals.com/cutting-edge.php

Anirban Bose- Mice In Men- Book Review

I got this book in our last Indiblogger's meet and well, this rainy weekend had to arrive before I had the intent to actually pick out this book from my magazine rack of books that I'd bought, hadn't read and what a surprise!

This must be one of the best collection on Indian short stories I've read, and I'm surprised that I haven't heard of this author until ofcourse I  got the free copy.

Anirban writes with a free flow of language, uncomplicated by words that show more than they mean, the prowess of the authors vocabularly, often messing up the story. And the stories themselves little pearls ranging from comical, to heroic, to thoughtfull to sentimental.. what a good book!

I dare say that the content is not gender or genre specific, just go get a copy of this book the next time you're at the book store or online. Retailing at Rs 199, definitely worth your money.

What I didn't like: the short story format. I think Bose writes like a charm, and would love to read a full fledged novel from him.


Rating: 4/5

24 April 2013

An evening in Agrara

I found myself a piece of hidden land this evening, away from the ring road, where one couldn't hear traffic.

Instead there was the desolate noise of the solitary hammer for a home being built.

And yet this home already belonged to little chirpy birds, hovering eagles with their stark cries.

All reaching a feverish pitch as the night crawlers meet their fellow day breakers, in a rushed fluttery of activity.

Who said this land isn't already a home, to so much more than just you and me. And who ever said peaceful nature only meant that which is already dead.

It is not so, amongst the swaying trees, the movement of open air, from the growth of the smallest blade of grass, to the firmness of sun dried mud, it can be felt all of it. And you know, this too I'd already your home.

And that hammer is the sirens cry, of those that come to destroy.

19 April 2013

Tres Semme- J'taime!

I got my sample, and I have to admit it was a bit of a surprise because I'd forgotten I'd applied! But, I'd seen the bottles in the shops and distant memory told me that I remember it to be a brand that was well known outside our country and well had apparently made its entry into the Indian market.

First things first, the smell of the shampoo is beautiful. It resonates the whole day, and you hair smells light and flowery- the whole day out. Yes, even in this summer heat, with sweat & the air conditioner.

When I tried the shampoo- it already smoothened my hair to the extent that it had turned silky and smooth. With the conditioner, it then turned heavier, in a way that I suppose only this product can- heavy but not by reducing the volume of hair.

I have frizzy hair but also have a lesser volume of hair. Most other products, work the frizz but flatten my hair. To the point where I honestly feel like there's nothing on, but this product somehow manages to add volume..

I suppose this could be because the conditioner feeds your hair, in a such a way as to make it stronger, more relaxed as opposed to other products that might just work on the frizz, with no regard to the health of your strand of hair. 

I'd like to relate to it as being similar to when you apply coconut oil/almond to your hair and then wash it off, properly. Imagine that, but without the fear of not washing all of the oil and a more pleasant fragrance.

It proved itself in application, but now I needed it to prove its worth in duration.

I straighten my hair using a hair iron: and it took barely a minute. Almost one fifth of the time it usually takes.

Then I went to work, walked over to our office to have wind mess it up a bit. Usually, this calls for a trip to the bathroom to re-set my hair, but when I got there, it was mostly in place, despite the fact that it had been rushed about a bit by the wind. I saved the comb a trip, and instead ran my finger through my hair, and it was done.

By the end of a long day, I got home, forgetting to review my product, but I didn't have to.... Given when I got home and looked at myself, it was as it was in the morning. Almost twelve hours later.

That's done then. This product isn't kidding when it says anti- frizz! For more illustrious ramp styles
 

25 February 2013

Off Products Available in India: Not Tested on Animals- India

 
 
A while ago, I turned vegan. It took me three months, to turn myself out of it, but I can safely say, that that experience changed the person in me. It started off with this documentary  and hit me hard. Possibly, owning a dog made a difference, the fact that I know him and have realized that 'they' deserve better.

Anyhow, I've never looked at a piece of chicken the same way. I couldn't keep myself vegan, so I've done the best that I can do, given my shoddy will power. It's not much, but it is something, and honestly, it's not debatable. No camel, elephant rides. No zoos or circuses, wool, leather, feathers or shells. I'm leaving them alone, materially.

And the most recent change has been with cosmetics and toiletries. I was luckier when I started off a couple of months ago, that I am now. The stock of products that I've had, has run out, and where before I was looking for shampoo/conditioner/body wash, I find myself looking for kajal, mascarra and others that have not been tested on animals. I hate to say this but there isn't much information out there, for someone like me, atleast not that I could find on the net, and this is my attempt for those out there, that may be facing the same conundrums.

I'm listing down some products who's personal product statments mention that they do not test on animals. As Tejaswee quotes, I don't want to blind a rabbit for 'beauty'. It's not worth it for me.


Some products to consider:

Avon: has the whole range of cosmetics, bath and body, male & female. I don't really use make up as much, like shimmer and what not. Shampoo/Conditioner/Shower Foam/ Hand/Body Lotion - honestly, they aren't that great. Another pain area is the fact that it generally takes my office Avon Girl a few weeks to get it, not as convenient, say when she's not around or I forget etc.

Oriflame: I remember using some of their products when I was younger. Haven't used any recently, considering this as an alternative, though now I'll have to rely on the Oriflame girl.

Body Shop:  So Body Shop is possibly one of the most well known companies. Also one of the few brands that offer Vegan products (Vegan: to understand Vegan, watch the documentary, no a dictionary meaning will not suffice). While I can't say much about their body wash, I do love the creams & the scents. Again, don't use make up as much, so I'm not too sure on their cosmetic wing. The only problem is, that in 2006, they were bought by L'Oreal, which is one of those brands that does indulge in animal testing. Again, this would be a personal call- I'm saving Body Shop as a final alternative.

Organic Surge: Saw this in the shop near my place. Thinking I'm going to give the brand a shot, given that it's animal testing free.

Biotique: Unfortunately I could'nt find a link for the company, which is odd. But, they've got their statement out on the Facebook page. An old favorite, I stopped using Biotique a while ago, because their products don't always smell all that nice. I suppose, this is one of the easier options :D

Lotus Herbals:  Pleasant surprise, I did not know that this was true of Lotus Herbals. Definitely another of the easier, cheaper alternatives, also read that they have a few vegan lipstick. Now I just need to find the shade I use from Maybeline...

Himalaya as a brand is also a good alternative, For make up there's Chambor. that are also vegetarian/ vegan. This is quite awesome news, the product is on my list of good makeup brands.

And have just realized that I've stumbled onto gold on the PETA website. Free catalogues of brands that are animal free available, put the address in and your own catalogue shall arrive in the mail. Damn.. another necessity: hair colour. I suppose Wella it will have to be, until there's another alternative.

Still Looking for: Deodrants/ Anti- Prespirant Roll Ons- If any of you has suggestions, please drop it as a comment!
 

18 February 2013

Empty Space- A Eulogy to Nothing



Empty space in a coloured photograph. Don't you just love empty space. The possibility of filling it with all the things that are loved and that you love, that stand clear of all the objections and the clutter of isms and ideas, thoughts and conscience.

Oh purge, as you will. Purge all your worries and sins, and your teeth and claws with your weapons and guns. Into this empty space that will welcome all that fills it up. Be aware then as you are now, that everything that you put in there were only crowd it up.

With pollution and pollutants, that do not belong here with us today or ever. So embrace this space, this empty space, for what it is not for what is is not, never will be or hope for it to be anything else but what it is right now, as it stands.


10 February 2013

What Men Want!

I thought I'd keep it simple and list it down. Like most things,this doesn't apply to everyone out there, and I hope not to have offended anyone, if I have know that it's me that's doing the 'talking' and it's up to you to do the listening. Of course, comments and opinions are always welcome.

1. I think men like lists, that are worded to the meaning. Throw out the symbolism and the double meanings, just say what you want to say.

2. They want to know that they are attractive. And it isn't enough when just one person (their gf/wife) says it 24/7. In this case, the more opinions, the better! I don't think it's only a man thing though, we all like compliments.

3. A lot of men believe that they only really fall in love once, which is why when they fall in love with a woman, they give her EVERYTHING they can. And when that fails, he believes the worst about ALL women and that becomes THE reason behind everything bad he does in every relationship after. That means, essentially men like to fall in love once, and get the person they love.

4. When they do get the woman that they love, they have an imaginary ideal marriage in their head. And when that fails to mature, they try to make up for the lack, in many creative and some not so creative ways~ Men want happy marriages too.

5. A happy marriage for a man, is at most, living their life the way they did before they got married. Especially true of men out there, who got married, but loved their lives before. The smoother the transition, the happier the man. This generally means, that they still want to have their Friday night drinking sessions or their Saturday morning football sessions. They want to breathe.

6. A man in love, will overhaul the wishes and whims of his friends for the woman that he loves. But what he will always want is that his woman, respects his decision and respects his friends. This goes for his family. Often we women, interpret this us a fight, that we won and we like to gloat. But it wasn't that to him, it was him negotiating his happiness and there's a part of him, that still loves them for still supporting him and helping him when it was needed.

7. Trust and commitment, for a man isn't given away that quickly. When it is, be suspicious. When it isn't know that you've earned it, and you now have the responsibility of upholding it, ensuring there's never a reason that's good enough to break either of the two.

8.  They like their jokes. Always laugh, even if it's not funny. It's like our 'fat' question, they can't ever agree to us being fat, we can't ever agree to their jokes being lame. Any feedback on the joke front will not be appreciated and will hurt his sentiment.

9. When it comes to the people they don't like, rationalize. Most of the time the rift was caused because someone hurt someone. Sometimes your man has already forgiven them and misses them, and just can't get past his ego to talk to them..here, intervene, wisely if you feel that the same is true of this other person too. If not, support him in his hate. Men don't like complicating things remember, so while they're definitely open to hearing you say, "I still want to be friends with XYZ because he hasn't done anything to me,".. they don't necessarily understand your need to pick XYZ over them.

10. This applies to all genders, appreciate in public reprimand in private. Yes, sometimes people do funny things, crazy things that make no sense. Know that it can happen, and when it does, try your best to reign it in and wait till there's a time you have their ears. No point making it a public affair, when there's 'face' involved.

Here's a video you have to watch, it's hilarious and I think he has it right.