Monday, 31 December 2012

Closure to 2012

2012 is done and we are entering a brand new year - 2013. Even a year-ending, like everything else, needs a proper closure. We as a family are closing this year by taking the last week off from routine and spending some good family time together.

This post is a closure too, to year 2012.

In retrospective, 2012 has been a very good year for me, personally and professionally. Some major milestones reached this year.

I maintained my weight this year but I was not so great in exercising regularly. I could do better definitely. 

I completed a 10K run(technically, not a marathon) with a better timing compared to 2011 run. I developed a faint numbness in my ankle after this year's run. I am hoping that with regular exercise this could be tackled.

Blogging has been in my mind since a long time which I achieved in 2012. I started of with a private blog about my daughter. I then started writing for a parenting website called parentous. Inspired by parentous, I started this blog - Potpourri.
Find my articles on Parentous here.

Learn something new:
I learnt threading - an ancient method of hair removal. Indian women are blessed with luscious thick black hair, and unfortunately even facial hair for some. I am one such lucky person. I disliked those bimonthly visits to a beautician, it takes time and effort. After I learnt threading I can do this by myself and it is such a freedom. I don't have to wait till the end of 2 weeks to get rid of that unwanted hair! In the end, I save some time too.

Visit to Indonesia:
We visited Bali in August of 2012. Bali is very scenic city of Indonesia. Majority of people in Bali are Hindus, they worship hindu male gods - Ganehsa, Shiv, Vishnu and the like. With every street and shop named after a hindu god, people with hindu names I felt like we were travelling within India.
I was not very impressed with Bali - I have visited better beaches and cleaner cities in south east Asia. The beaches were dirty and not well maintained. The city doesn't live up to the expectation its name sets - Bali Paradise.

2013 is another year full of promises.
I have set my resolutions for the new year and looking forward to a new start.
Here is hoping that the new year will be a good mix of joy and sorrow - Happy New Year !!

Friday, 14 December 2012

Slow down!!

While growing up, I was mostly clumsy. I tried to do too many things at a time or tried to do things very fast! 
My hubby is at the other end! He is too slow (to me). He is the master of doing one thing at a time, slowly and carefully. He takes his time to complete a task and does it thoroughly.

Lately, I am learning to slow down. I have come a long way.

Few things where I slow down in my day-to-day routine:
1. After I am awake, I take time to get out of bed. I lie there, enjoying the sounds of early morning and the warmth of cozy bed.
2. Drink my morning cup of coffee without doing anything else, just gazing out of balcony.
3. Take time to exercise slowly.
4. Take a slow, long shower.

Anything after this becomes a bit rush. My office culture doesn't support doing one task at a time! 

After coming home in the evening, I slow down again.
5. Enjoy and sit-down to spend time with my 3-year old being completely with her - no cooking, no mobiles, no laptop, no TV.
6. Take time to slowly go to bed following all the night routine.

Image source:
Slowing down doesn't mean being lazy. It's just an effective way to get things done efficiently in the same time. By multitasking, you are not doing justice to any task at hand. There is a whole website dedicated to slowdown and to take it easy! Go ahead, get some tips to slowdown. Ah, right! That website gives exception to women stating that women have superior brain function and are capable of multitasking! Most women who multitask are frazzled and exhauseted. That's exactly why women should slowdown too.

I am seeing a reflection of my childhood in my daughter. She wants to do too many things, all at once! I am trying to teach her to be patient, to do one thing at a time. I am sure we both will learn together to slow down, to be patient and to only do one thing at a time. 

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Sale Sale!

Today Starbucks was crowded with people queuing up, obviously, to buy something. I thought it must be their usual lunchtime rush and decided to return back later. I don’t have the time to wait in such a long line on a weekday! When I went back, after lunch hours, there was a bigger queue!! I wanted to know what it was all about. Turns out that it is Starbucks’ 'giving gifts' offer time. Today's offer, in Singapore, was ‘buy one get one free’.

Personally, I don’t get this! Wait in such long queues on a weekday at 3PM! The people, who had lined up for free drink, were all those who worked in neighboring offices dressed in their swankiest formal clothing. They had lined up to get a free cup of drink!!

Note that you have to buy Starbucks’ tallest cup venti whose capacity is 590ml. You are buying a size, which you generally don’t buy, and get another similar sized free! Claiming the free drink might save you a few dollars. But what about the 20-30 minutes you spent in the queue. Time is money after all!! And what is Starbucks’ strategy? Assuming people all around the world queues up to "buy" the free drink, Starbucks gets a big boost in sales on that day! This one day sale is more than what it sells probably in the whole month!

I remember reading this article sent by one of my dear friend some time back. It details the marketing strategies malls use to lure customers. It explains Starbucks strategy:
  “Marketers observed…that discount offers such as ‘buy one, get one free’ or ‘three for the price of the two’ – a concept I am very keen on because this is how bookstores often package up their offers—tend to be more effective in boosting sales than the exact equivalent price reduction on a single purchase. The amount of money which is paid for the bundle of products is identical in each case, but more will usually be bought if they are packaged under an offer than if there is a simple equivalent reduction in the individual prices.”

I have fallen victim to few such marketing strategies. Once I had been to a nearby mall to get a haircut. There was a sale in the neighboring shop selling T-Shirts. I didn't intend to buy a T-shirt in the first place. But I went in to just browse. A really nice looking T-shirt was on sale with ‘1 for 20$, 2 for $30’ offer. I bought two similar T-shirts for 30$. In my defense, they were in two different colours. I went to the billing counter and the lady there told me about another offer. With purchase over 25$ I could buy a pair of flip-flops for just $5. Hey come on, that was a good deal! I bought a pair of flip-flop too!! It was not exactly loss to me. I used all of those. But, if they didn’t have that offer, I wouldn’t have bought any of those at all!

Another marketing strategy that I have fallen for a few times is collecting stamps at grocery stores. The scheme usually is that for every X$ you spend you get a stamp. If you spend 3 times X, you get 3 stamps. And this scheme runs for a specific period of time. I used to go to that store every time for my grocery shopping to earn more stamps. Also I would buy extra things to meet that multiple of X$, so as to not fall behind, by couple of dollars, to get a stamp!! By the end of it I would get a ceramic plate, bowl or something stupid like this!! I collected stamps twice and realized I was getting obsessed with collecting stamps and spending only at that store.

I, now, leave home with a list of things to buy, stick to the list and not look at any offers no matter how tempting it is. Because, simply, I don’t need it! The only time I look for offers is after I have had that item on my list of things to buy. It took some time to reach this stage. What I haven’t learnt, yet, is to get better deals for things that I have to buy. I am better at this while shopping online. Otherwise, I still have a long way to go!!

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Just one failure ..

Few things happening over past few days that makes me really think, really doubt myself as a mom ... makes me wonder if I am doing a good job .. those days when I read too much into what I am doing .. those days when I am all consumed by guilt ...

What is right? what is wrong? who decides that?
May be I should relax a bit, after-all, who do I care more for?
Why do I judge myself? Why am I harsh on myself?
Why do I try to be perfect? Its OK to fail ... once in a while!

All my stress shows on kiddo too ...
The more stressed I am, the more upset she gets..
My irritation becomes her anxiety ...
My self doubts becomes hindrance to her self esteem ...

Its as if she is still attached to my umbilical cord ..

I hold my breathe, she gets suffocated ...
I go hungry, she cries ...
I am sleepy, she gets cranky ..
I am tired, she feels the pain ...
I am unhappy, she is gloomy ...

I am  happy, she is a bundle of joy ...
That all I want for her ...

Its just one of those days ..
just ...
one ..
failure ..

I promise you baby ... I will give you little more than my best!

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Ban of mobile phone usage by women!!

A village council in the eastern Indian state of Bihar has banned the use of mobile phones by women. 

Women, I tell you !! They are using the deadly weapon, the ultimate technology - mobile phones to disturb the social harmony that men has worked so hard to achieve.  Yes, it's women who lure the innocent, hardworking men to elope. Such helpless clan of men, what can they do when women tempt them!! 

The reason for ban - "Its always gives us a lot of embarrassment when someone asks who has eloped this time". This is the brilliance of one Mr Manuwar Alam, a troubled man, who heads the newly formed committee tasked with enforcing the ban. After-all, how long can the men-folk take the atrocities of women?? Its so "shameful". Finally, someone to save the man-kind!!

Even married women were eloping with lovers. How dare you ask if those lovers were married too? It doesn't matter. The culprit is decided - women of the village. 

Why are these women eloping? No, not because those married women were unhappy in the relationship. Not because those unmarried girls were just idle at home waiting for some  groom to come by. Not because the father of those girls didn't have the money for dowry. Do not look any further. Its quite obvious isn't it? It has to be because of the mobile phone!! "They are debasing the social atmosphere".

How can you ban the men from using mobile phones? Its so unsafe for men these days! They need it so that they can call for help if they have a problem. They can use it reach their family members when they are in trouble. They need it because it is so dangerous for them to freely roam out and about alone. 

If the women are banned from using mobile phones, men do not have to deal with being  blackmailed, at gun point, to elope with women. 

Idea of a genius !! Deserves accolades of highest order!!

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Its that time of the year!

How is the performance review going to be?
Bonus or no bonus? Is the bonus worth the hard work? 
With recession bonuses are less these days .. But is it motivating enough?
What else is better than a dilbert comic strip for the situation?

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Thankful on Thanksgiving

A friend asked at lunch table "Some say life is good while others say its tough, why is that?". Everyone pitched in with their answers. However, we all agreed that the basic things that you need to lead a good life are love, money and health; not in any particular order. Having all of these is the key. Abundance of one and absence of the rest doesn't balance your life.

Family love and support
Supporting parents/in-laws/siblings, loving husband, content and happy kids who love you and are there for you through good and bad times form the backbone of your life. Like-minded cousins and friends who can be reached at any time of the day, who are ready to give you a shoulder to cry on, who are sometimes the punch pad for all your frustrations contribute to the happiness quotient of your life. Support of family and friends also translates to freedom of thought, expression and decision-making. Close your eyes and think of all those people you would reach out first to share an important news. Imagine your life without these people! 

A healthy body, free of any life threatening ailment is a basic necessity. A healthy body free of aches, pain and discomfort gives you time and energy to spend on meaningful activities. A fit body helps you lead an active life even after growing old.  
A healthy mind, free of mental stress and pressures of work is also important to increase the quality of life. Having a positive attitude takes you a long way. Getting regular exercise keeps your body fit and helps to relieve mental stress.

This one is debatable. Some argue that money should not feature at all in this list. However, I believe that money is essential to lead a stress-free happy life. You cannot be happy when you are struggling to get yourself a plate of meal!
But, how much is enough money?If your family income is good enough to make ends meet, chances are that you will lead a good life. More money does not necessarily mean more happiness, but lack of money definitely lowers your quality of life. Food, Clothing, job ambitions and material comfort are covered under this broad umbrella.

On this thanksgiving, I am thankful for having all the above - lots of love, good health and money. I am thankful for a whole lot of other things in my life too. It's an astronomical effort to list all the things that makes me happy and those that adds quality to my life.

However, a couple of things deserve special mention in this post. 

I am a hard-core iPhone fan. I could give you 100 reasons for why I love my iPhone. Call me addicted to mobile, but a smart phone does make your life easy. You no longer have to wait endlessly in the bus stop, you don't have to wait to reach a computer to do that quick google search or to make a reservation, you won't forget a birthday again, you don't need pen and paper anymore. Most commendable is that you can talk and give orders to your phone!! 

Morning Coffee
Strong filter coffee(/kapi) freshly brewed early in the morning awakens every cell of my body. There isn't a single day that starts without filter kapi routine. And I have managed a continuous stock of filter kapi powder supply in our fridge. I am a cranky person to talk to before I have had my dose of caffeine.

How many things like these do we take for granted? It's these small things that make difference in life. A plate of simple meal at your favorite joint, a walk in the rain, a book, an extra serving of dessert, a good workout session - a few little things that gives immense happiness.

Aaj mere paas building hai, gaadi hai, bank balance hai. Tumhare paas kya hai. Kyaa hai tumhare paas................. 
Mere paas ... Maaa Hai.

Saturday, 17 November 2012

10K Run Experience

Just 3 years ago, I remember calling a friend crazy for running 10Km at such wee hours of the morning. I couldn't fathom why one would want to run such long distance for nothing in return! And here I am today, having completed two 10Km runs and looking forward to take part in many more. I finished my second 10Km run last week. I am glad that I completed it with better timing compared to my first run. And yes, it’s just a run, not a marathon. Only 42Km and above is considered a marathon.

I registered for the first run because my lady boss called to sign up; it was obligatory. At the start line, I didn't believe in myself that I would complete all of 10Km. I had resolved that I would return back in 15 minutes. But,I was in great spirits even after 5Km. This was the moment when I started believing that I would actually complete 10Km. I was halfway there. I decided that I would finish it, even if I have to crawl back the remaining 5Km. I took my own sweet time to complete the race. I didn't set any targets. I completed the run in 2:10hrs.

The environment of a marathon is usually loud, cheery enough to lift your spirits high. There are comperes motivating you on loudspeaker, warm-up sessions from fitness experts, elite athletes intimidating you with their pre-race preparations and hordes of ladies in identical T-shirt waiting for flag off. The motivational quotes at each level mark really works.
"You made it to the START, you will make it to the FINISH" “Think bragging rights".
Volunteers cheer you to run faster “Come on, you can do better”. There is nothing more disappointing than letting a group of old women take you over. I even spotted a pregnant woman with “baby on board” proudly displayed on her T-shirt. What excuse do you have to not complete the race?

The second time was easier as I believed in myself. I had targeted to complete within 100mins and I achieved that. I did feel high again; I did feel proud of myself. I was smiling wide when I reached the finish mark. The very thought of completing 10Km gave me runners-high. The feeling after completing the race is something that has to be experienced. It’s exhilarating. It empowering. It gives you a sense of accomplishment.
"The person who starts the race is not the same person who finishes the race."                   

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Deepawali decoration

I have this tradition of picking up new diyas every deepawali and make an elaborate rangoli/flower decoration with new and old diyas.

Here is this year's deepawali decor. Inspiration: Here

This below snap is from last year decoration.
I bought this lovely lamp from a diwali mela. I used a rangoli stencil for the rangoli design.

May the joy and merriment Of this divine festival surround you forever.
Hope the year brings you luck and fulfills all your dearest dreams!


Thursday, 8 November 2012

Four more years: Barack Obama

Obama is the commander-in-chief for four more years.

The whole world debated, waited and witnessed the reelection of Barack Obama as the president of the U.S. Every major news paper scrutinized the election strategies of both sides, weighed up what went wrong for Romney and, of course, his political future. Major newspapers in every country carried editorials on the subject of what four more years means to them.

On the other end of spectrum, the fashion critics analyzed what Michelle Obama and Ann Romney wore on that day. Spoof video of Mr. and Mrs. President’s Gangnam style dance went viral on the internet. Obama’s office tweeted the picture of Barack Obama embracing his wife celebrating his victory. This has become the most re-tweeted picture till date.

What interests me is that there is so much limelight on Michelle Obama as the companion. Why is it not the case in India? I don’t remember seeing Mr. Singh’s wife at all. For the sake of this write-up I goggled about her. I don’t have to make that effort for Michelle Obama or even Ann Romney. I just have to read newspaper headlines to know about them.

To run for presidential, or for that matter, any elections in the US it is very important to have that family-man image. A broken marriage or even a casual affair is enough to tarnish the image of the candidate. Talking about candidate profile with a fully functional family, this holiday photo of our ex-chief minister with actress Radhika floats in my memory. 
He has a fully functional family. 
And a fully functional second family?  
Source: Here

Monday, 5 November 2012


My sis buzzed me, the other day, while I was having dinner. She told me that mom wants to video chat with my kiddo. I assured my sis that I will go online once I am finished with my dinner.

One thing led to another, and it completely wiped out from my memory that I was expected online. What’s worse, I didn't even recall it until mom reminded me the next day when I called her. She told me that she waited for a long time. I was helplessly overridden with guilt.

My sis called it absent mindedness. I termed it preoccupation. That incident bugged me a lot. How could I not keep track of what had happened just 5 minutes ago? Can’t I survive without my lists and reminders?

It haunted me, that night, in my dreams too.
My flight to, err somewhere, returned back and landed just 5 minutes after takeoff, to desert me back at the airport. The captain of the plane had received signal from the ground that a certain passenger was flying in that flight without a valid visa to enter destination!!

Now, that’s expensive - to be thrown out of a flight. It’s time to write reminders on my body, a la Aamir Khan from the movie Ghajini.

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Gambling : Diwali Taash

It’s a tradition in few parts of India to gamble as part of Diwali festival. The tradition is to play gambling games around the time of Diwali, only once every year, to get attention of Goddess Lakshmi.

I got an invitation to one such party. The culture in which I grew up considers gambling as taboo. So it was a bit awkward when I got the invitation to gamble as part of festival celebration. I accepted the invitation to be open about other cultures. We accept mothers’ day, Santa Claus, Halloween and other such western practices. After all, Diwali taash is a tradition of people of India. The stakes were low and I was going to play just for fun with a group of friends.

I saw it as just another experience. I enjoyed the game.

There was one game that we played, a game of probability, which was real close to serious addictive gambling.  It was a game where luck matters and nothing else, no brain required. I realized how alluring it is to gamble at higher stakes, how easy it is to get lost in the game hoping to win more.

Oh, by the way, I did win a game. But overall, lost some money.
Losing gets attention of goddess Lakshmi or winning does? 

Friday, 26 October 2012

Nehru Dynasty: Past, Present and Future


I read an article recently about the Gandhi family, the other Gandhi, Indira Gandhi. The article raised a few questions.
Married to a Muslim, how did Indira get the surname Gandhi?
Who is the father of her son Sanjay Gandhi?
What is Sanjay’s real name?
Who killed Sanjay Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi?
How did Sonia Gandhi get to power?

The article bases all these questions from below references:
1. “The Nehru Dynasty” by K. N. Rao
2. “Profile and Letters” K Natwar Singh
3. “The Life of Indira Nehru Gandhi” by Katherine Frank
4. “Assassination Of Rajiv Gandhi — Unasked Questions and Unanswered Queries” by Dr. Subramanian Swamy.
5. “Persons, Passions & Politics” by Mohammad Yunus

I am curious to find out about the politics of Nehru dynasty. 
I plan to read books 3, 1 and 4; in that order.

Wednesday, 24 October 2012


I have recently discovered the pleasure of writing. And so here we go .. 
Like the name says, this blog is going to be a cocktail, a concoction of diverse topics - A potpourri of my thoughts.