September 25, 2012

The Shiva Trilogy part I and II


I just finished reading the very exciting first two parts of the trilogy by Amish Tripathi- The Immortals Of Meluha and The Secret Of The Nagas.

What if Lord Shiva who is worshipped as God was only just a human being like you and me but was elevated to the status of a God due to his sheer karma? This is the basic premise of the trilogy which mixes fiction with historical facts very beautifully to send across a far deeper message. Shiva is portrayed as a ordinary person who is faced with the enormous challenge to rise to the call of his destiny that may elevate him to be called as the God of Gods or the Mahadev. The story is set in the period after Lord Ram, with two set of clans-the Suryavanshis and the Chandravanshis- fighting a moral battle. An age-old battle between the good and evil unravels through the life of Shiva, the path he chooses and the decisions he makes that makes him an extraordinary power.

The plot, the characters and the details of the story-line have been etched out brilliantly by Amish Tripathi. The riveting twists and turns in the story are a creative mix of the legendary faith and fiction, bringing out the larger message in an intriguing manner. That, the good, bad and evil are forms of our perception. Who is to say you are good and I am bad? We all fight the moral battles everyday. But is it really a battle with an outside force?
These are just a few things that you are forced to ponder upon when you read these books. Simply un-put-downable, my husband and I finished both the parts in three days flat. In fact we were competing with each other to finish first :-)

If you are interested in mythology or fiction with a mix of history, I'd strongly recommend both the parts. In fact, I suggest you to get both the parts at one go because after the first you'll surely crave for the next and you don't want to wait too long :-). As for me, I am eagerly waiting for the third and final part in this series to be launched soon.

September 24, 2012

A library for toys

When we think of libraries, sights of neatly stacked books for various age-groups encompassing a variety of genre, in an airy room tucked away in our friendly neighbourhood fills our mind. A great concept that allows for sharing and reading endless books without having to spend a fortune, yet satiating the desire to devour the girth of knowledge and experiencing the joys of reading. Now, by extending this thought, think of the possibilities when you replace books with toys. Interesting, isn't it?

A toy library is not a foreign concept. It is perhaps a lesser known concept that has not been fully exploited. I first came across this concept when I went to Mumbai last year. My sister is a member of a toy library and it was through her that I got introduced to this interesting idea. It works in the same fashion as a book library would. A deposit fee and a rental fee is all you need to get a membership and lo! a plethora of good quality activity toys that caters to a wide age group of kids is available to explore. Pick a toy that fancies your kid's interest, let the child play with it till he or she fully exploits the interest, concept and fun behind it and once the child seems to lose interest, return the toy in exchange for yet another new one. No heart-burns over an expensive but short-lived toy and no worries of storing similar kinds of toys too. The benefits could be many; this being a small step towards a more green and eco-friendly environment too.

Come to think of it, kids today are spoilt for choice with the eye-catching and extremely good variety of branded and even non-branded toys that are available in the market. While toys form a great educational tool in the formative years, what is the shelf life of any given toy? 6 months-1 year, sometimes even less or more. It highly depends on the nature of the toy and the kid's aptitude and disposition towards toys, isn't it? Doting parents may not think twice before showering in the best of best on the apple of their eyes but when you look at it objectively, there is an angle of too-much-too-soon. Children do not understand the value of money unless it is taught by example. With the number of kids fast reducing to one per family, the concept of sharing is also quite difficult to inculcate.

However, when a toy comes with a pre-limit on the time that can be spent with it, the benefits to be derived from it can be maximised; a simple demand-supply theory, here too. The child can be taught the importance of handling a toy correctly and carefully in addition to putting a cap on the attachment value to a particular toy. Of course, while this need not be a rule for every single toy that comes into the house, a toy library can largely widen a child's horizon by exposing him to as many toys as possible yet at the same time not run the risk of spoiling the child's behaviour.  And, what better, when these libraries are available online too? Just select the toy and have it delivered to your doorstep!

While, there may be quite a few toy libraries in Bangalore, I'm not sure how popular they are because I have not heard of these being advertised or discussed around where I stay. Hence, when Anupma, founder of  LearningLadders.in, contacted me with the details of her online venture, I thought I could contribute in just spreading awareness about this concept. Learningladders.in an online toy library, Bangalore, which offers an exclusive range of Branded, Educational toys on rent for kids (0 - 8 years of age). Since, I'm not a member of this online library, I cannot describe my personal experience. However, the concept is not something alien to me and I do subscribe to the idea behind it. The website and features seem promising, so I might just go ahead and give it a try.

What do you think of this concept? Would you like to be a member of an online toy library? Do share your views :-)

ETA: Most of us have concerns over the hygiene quotient and as one of you correctly pointed out, the toys are cleaned, sanitised and shrink wrapped before it is handed over for the next circulation.

September 19, 2012

When I shopped at Jabong.com

I have never shopped online except for buying movie tickets or travel tickets. The sheer experience of feeling the products with bare hands and looking at the various options at a store outlet gives me more confidence about the shopping deal. However, when I got an opportunity to shop with Jabong.com, I decided to give it a try since I had heard positive reviews about their shopping portal.

The portal did not disappoint me. From watches, shoes and wallets to clothes, jewellery and toys, this portal has something for everyone-men, women and kids. You can even buy home furnishing and decor items. You can view the product from various angles, including close-ups, to give you the actual feel of the product. The clothes section also displays the range of colours in which the displayed piece is available along with the sizes. You also have the luxury of choosing between multiple brands for the line of products.

I am wary of purchasing clothes online for the fear of ordering a wrong size. Yes, they do have a 30-day return policy during which the product can be exchanged. Terms and conditions apply. However, I was not ready for even that kind of a risk and decided to go with a safe bet-bags/wallets. I found this smart wallet which was priced at a little higher than the amount of the gift voucher I had. I hesitated just a bit and went ahead with the purchase. The payment interface was to be completed in 3 easy steps. I punched in the code and opted for cash on delivery for the remaining amount. However, due to some technical issues, the order could not be placed. But, the customer service promptly called me in a couple of hours, rectified the issue from their end and sent the product on its way to me.

I was quite impressed with the professional manner in which Jabong.com handles their product delivery. I was kept updated of the shipping details and its status through timely SMSes. The icing on the cake was the time of delivery. Although the site gives a window of 2-5 working days, I received my parcel the next day itself. The actual product matched the pictures on the site perfectly, giving no room for any complaints.



As a first-time shopper, I would rate the experience as quite good. I quite liked the hassle-free procedure. Online shopping is definitely a boon for people who like to browse and shop at their own convenience without the hassles of juggling through a crowded mall or market and the standing in long queues to bill the products. Do give it a try.

P.S: The views are completely based on my personal experience and is not a paid review.

September 11, 2012

The buddha in my life

Talking to some people even after a long gap brings a smile to your face. You, somehow connect to the person from where you had left off. And, the interesting part is, this is so even though you were never the thickest of pals in that sense where you practically knew everything about each other. Just simply, comfortable friends. So, I met one such friend online the other day, after what seems like ages. We chatted on happily, catching up on each others' lives.

Misery always seeks company. Well, misery may be a strong word here, but any situation that is not (seemingly) worth boasting about to the world, seems better when you find others for company. The thing in question is the nature of husbands. Women all over the world can join hands in feeling empathy for the lady crooning "main kya karron Ram, mujhe Buddha mil gaya" on screen. Buddha does not mean Gautam Buddha here or even someone with his qualities. It also does not mean an Old man in the literal sense. The song pokes fun at the man who cannot keep up with the romantic gestures required (supposedly) to keep the flame of love alive  between a couple, or more so reflects the frustrations of a woman married to such a man.

Every woman, however practical she considers herself to be, does dream of her man in shining armour bringing her flowers once in a while or surprising her in a small way sometimes. Something that the Bollywood has exploited in more ways than one, needling even those without ample imagination, to match up to the standards. When the man in question however has a blase attitude about these petty outwardly notions of love (that's what he feels, of course) even when subtle hints give way to in-your-face demands, the outcome can vary between sour and funny, depending on the woman's disposition.


So, as we got chatting, we hit upon this topic and discovered to our surprise the similarity between our respective other halves with respect to romance. We women do like to confer brownie points on the men who score high on the charts of romantic gestures. In general terms too, when the report card doesn't look too good, one refrains from bringing it up on the table of conversation. Especially when the other's card looks very promising. But, if one has met his match, it's a different story. So, as one of us typed, "the only surprise my husband has given is to buy me some samosas from the corner shop", the other excitedly typed back saying, "Really? the husband here too does not believe in such outwardly show of love". A camaraderie of a new level was struck between us and we laughed at our situations and joked about me blogging about it, for we were sure that for every romantic dude out there must be plenty of nerds who couldn't care less about gifting roses to the lady in their lives. They do care, but cannot for heaven's sake do the mushy rituals.

So, are we missing out on something important? Probably not. For, the poor guys are not villains. They only don't feel comfortable being the Hero.Then, why complain you may ask. Well, because yeh dil maange more! But since we are nice souls too, we'll try not to resort to petty comparisons and restrict ourselves to just singing this song...



Kya karen..tedha hai par mera hai ;-))))

September 7, 2012

My dream house

Living in a rental house comes with its limitations. You need to toe the line drawn by the landlords. Also, you tend to be frugal in your decor needs, saving it all for "the own house". However, of late, I've been dreaming of setting up my own house quite a bit. I have been spending ridiculous amounts of time glued to the computer screen drooling over the gorgeously done up homes that get featured on these wonderful Indian decor blogs (stalking the interior decoration blogs can be quite addictive!). It is such a pleasure to have even a glimpse of the featured lovely corners, exquisite artworks on the wall, the furniture, fabrics that have been used to perfection; and most importantly to understand how much of thought, passion and effort has gone in to provide the personal touch that truly makes a house a home.

I have come to realize that I love the Indian ethnic style the best. The ethnic decor with traditional brass and wooden artifacts adorning the nooks and corners, give a very warm and inviting feel to a home. As I give my imagination wings, I can visualize the dream house in my mind. Before I cut my imagination flight short citing practical or logical reasons and lose the picture entirely, I thought I should put it down here. For, who knows, this could just become a reality!

My dream house is one that has:




Warm hues of Orange and Yellow- I think I'll have different shades of these on my walls or have a single wall painted in bright Orange against other Yellow walls for a dramatic effect.






Brass and wooden artifacts-My dream house will have plenty of these, complete with consoles, side tables, book-racks, bells, vases and trinkets.


Ethnic furniture- a mix and match of stuff that don't overpower the space, instead add up to a cozy feel, yet adequate enough when people come over.


Lots of green corners- Ok, now I do not have a green thumb but I'd definitely like to surround my balcony and interiors with some lovely flowers and green plants.

A nice traditional swing- yes, even if it is a small one, I do want to own one that adds charm and glamour to my living room.

Whether I am able to translate the dream completely or in part, only time will tell. I also know that it is the people in flesh rather than the pieces of art (however good ) that make a warm home. However, I hope I'm able to put my best efforts to create a visually appealing home too :-)

*All images are courtesy google.com. 



“A house is made of walls and beams; a home is built with love and dreams.”-Unknown


Completely agree!

September 2, 2012

Of book-reading and crafts exhibition- a satisfying weekend

We had reason to smile a lot this weekend. I had planned on attending a book-reading/launch session by Arthi Anand Navaneeth, also known as Artnavy of The not-so artful dodger. This was being done a second time in the city and since I missed the previous one, I was keen on attending it. I am glad we made it inspite of the horrible traffic which made an anxious me grate on the husband's nerve and also causing us to miss the introduction. But, the fun we had compensated us for all that.


The book "Have you seen this?" written by her (published by Tulika publications) is an imaginative read for children aged 3+. But, am sure, most parents present there would agree, it was a hit among us adults too. The book just piques on the curiosity and imagination of children who at that age are never afraid to imagine and dream things which may seem ridiculous to the logically trained older (in terms of age) brains.

The illustrations (by Roomani Kulkarni) are colourful and just apt for the interesting and breezy book that was narrated just as fabulously by the author herself. She kept the children (and the parents) in splits and engaged through the session. The ideas from the little ones that came out in the open as a result of imagination that was left to run amok during the hour spent was something that left me smiling long after the session was over.

The book comes as a bilingual (in 8 language combinations) with English being the common language along with one other regional language. By the time we got around to buying the book, the Tamil-English combination were sold out. So we ended up buying the English-Hindi one, also personalised for R by Arthi. Thanks, Arthi. It was a pleasure meeting you. Wish I'd remembered to take my camera along, I could have treasured the experience even better!

Needless to say, R loved the book and the entire journey back home (a long one at that) was spent going through the book over and over again.

That was Saturday evening. Another reason to smile was the famous Dastkar exhibition. Each year it comes up at Palace grounds which is way too far for us but this year it is being held at a place very near to where we stay. Obviously, I had no reason to stay away. So, I hitched up with my friend, to have a go at the exhibits on Sunday morning. Although, I hear that the entire spread this time is at a much lower scale owing to the last minute change in the venue, I completely loved the gorgeous display. Only, wondering how much better it usually is. We had a lovely time wading through the stalls that stocked everything from lovely hand-made jewellery to exquisite pieces of home decor to beautiful fabrics. We made some happy purchases, lapped up the visual treat and returned satisfied, albeit with a lighter wallet.

Do visit, if you get a chance. It is only upto the end of next weekend.