Archive | July 2013

Day 31: Lessons Learned

Phew!! So July is over today. Last few days I have not blogged due to two reasons. Firstly I have been busy at work with the new semester starting on 1st August and second, the lack of comments and/or readers discouraged me to write 😦 But on the other side, a lot of gratitude is due from my side to Rajesh of Destination Infinity fame to comment on each post during this challenge. Thank you so much DI for being there!

Quoting an article ,

There are four key components that lead to blogging success:

  • quality content
  • frequent updates
  • blog exposure
  • direct interaction with readers

If any one of these components is missing, the blogger is unlikely to maintain the connections and momentum necessary to garner success. While the onus of quality lies entirely on the blogger, the other three components can easily be satisfied by participation in blog challenges.

So I took up the daily posting challenge for the entire July month. I have not been entirely successful in fulfilling my challenge. Out of 31 posts that I should have written, I have written only 23 posts including this one. I tried not to write any run of the mill posts giving daily updates from daily life just to post daily. And writing non personal posts need research and time. Not to mention that UBC thing is useless. They send mails (with blog post prompts) with one day delay according to IST and in that also they miss several times!! Anyway so here are the lessons I learned from this one month exercise.

# A blogger must take up this challenge at least once. It renews and re-energizes the creative juices. One has to forcibly put an end to the writer’s block.

# One must keep some posts scheduled especially over the weekend when one needs to spend time with family in real life. This challenge hones your planning, time management and prioritizing skills.

# Take advantage of photo post themes like Wordless Wednesdays etc when one needs a break from thinking and typing so much.

# Quality of writing improves with regular writing practice. One gains more confidence and knowledge both by writing and researching.

# The pressure of daily post leads to inspiring ideas and topics for blogging. But the same pressure is sometimes frustrating. It starts to feel like a chore and one stops enjoying. Sometimes instead of serving a lavishly and painstakingly prepared dish, one ends up serving a quick fix dish.

# This challenge requires a lot of time commitment. I was able to write 23 posts only because it’s a slow month at work due to semester break. Blogging daily (as well as a day job and chores at home) without a break can be exhausting some days, which explains the breaks I took 🙂 It is my first time!

# Support, blog prompts and comments are essential to keep up the momentum.

# There was a noticeable exposure of my blog ( more internationally than nationally) and Increase in blog traffic. I gained 30 followers on WordPress reader for my blog.

Now the million dollar question – Will I take up the challenge again? Not in recent future and without planning it thoroughly 🙂

I crossed the finish line! Bhaag Reema Bhaag!!

crossing_finish_line_2

Further reading:-

A good read and I agree on all the points. And t think she had taken up 366 days challenge!! Phew! Read it here :-

The 7 advantages and 7 disadvantages of daily blogging

Day 26: Indian Humor

A resident of Panvel filed an RTI after he was fined Rs 100 for a traffic offense but was not given a receipt for it. That made the police tense and they tried to pacify him and what not. Fine. But what  that guy said is a joke. Speaking to the newspaper Mid-Day, he said, “At the time we crossed the signal the lights had turned orange, so this is not precisely a crime. Blah Blah. Blah Blah.”

India is the only place where the orange signal instead of signifying “go slow” means “press your accelerator and go before signal becomes red”. 😐

So our politicians and bureaucrats have a very good sense of humor.

Our Planning Commission has estimated that anyone who spends Rs 33.33 in cities and Rs 27.20 in villages per day is above poverty line!! 🙂

I think our esteemed members of Commission do not go to buy vegetables and staples from the market themselves. With onion at Rs 40/kg, potato at Rs 29/kg and cauliflower at Rs 25/kg (According to today’s HOPCOM price) and then rice or flour and dal, I wonder what can a person do with Rs 33.33 in my hometown, let alone metros like Bangalore! To go from home to office will cost more than Rs 15 in bus and if it’s a Volvo then …..!!! So that’s Indian humor. But wait it gets better! 🙂

After this, ex actor and now politician Raj Babbar stated a full meal could be had for Rs 12 in Mumbai!! Wow! Apparently he also provided a break up of his estimate – Rs 6 for two rotis, Rs 5 for half plate of dal and Rs 1 for a spoon of vegetable. But where all this is available that he kept it as a secret. Was he talking about real nutritious food for filling one’s stomach or just having a morsel/ an idea of it? Do these people actually live in India or some other planet? So again a very good example of Indian humor. 🙂

Now I suspect what to be the outcome of an eternal Delhi – Mumbai fight, Congress leader Rasheed Masood said a meal could be had in parts of Delhi for Rs 5. He said further that “You can eat a meal in Delhi in Rs 5, I don’t know about Mumbai. You can get a meal for Rs 5 near Jama Masjid.” Maybe we should leave Bangalore and move to Delhi!  * Sets a reminder – Have to search for houses for rent near Jama Masjid, Delhi* By the way which hospital in Delhi will be best after having that Rs 5 meal, dear politician? So again a very good example of Indian humor. Our politicians beat the hell out of famous stand up comedians!! 🙂

And now I am going to die of laughter!! After Raj Babbar and Rasheed Masood, Union Minister for New and Renewable Energy Farooq Abdullah has said that one can have the full meal for Re. 1. 😀 Firstly we know it is extremely hard to get a Re 1 coin (Read my post – Killer Chillar) and secondly even if we get the precious coin, the question arises again where? Mr. Abdullah says it depends on the common man – how much they can afford and they have to manage in that only.

So now they are going to teach us financial management so that we can have a meal at Re 1. Isn’t that an absolutely delightful example of Indian humor? Did you think we Indians are a serious lot? Humor is the only thing that is making us go on with our daily lives!!

Further reading

A hilarious cartoon by Jiggyasa

 

 

Day 25: Bad Day At Work

There is this colleague, a PhD and Professor nonetheless, who has some serious anger management and ego issues. Both are inversely proportional to his height. He has shouted at some colleagues for small non issues and today I was his target. I also didn’t stay quiet. Nobody shouts at me and gets away with it. But as one of my friends used to say – “Whether mud falls on you or you fall into mud, you are the one who will get dirty”. So I left before the scene got worse.

But I couldn’t stop myself from crying. All my female colleagues rushed to console me. And as a result of crying, I got a headache. Humph! Later I let the Director know.

Whenever I am in a bad mood, two things cheer me up surely.

1st Eating any chicken dish.

2nd Listening to this song.

Though scientists swear by chocolates, somehow eating chocolates never cheers me up. What cheers you up? And please don’t say alcohol.

“If you know someone who tries to drown their sorrows, you might tell them sorrows know how to swim.”― H. Jackson Brown Jr., P.S. I Love You

Further reading

13 Tips for Dealing with a Really Lousy Day.

Day 23: Bhaag Milkha Bhaag Review

Four of us, D, I, MIL and FIL went to see Bhaag Milkha Bhaag. It was the first movie in a multiplex for our group. Here goes my review:-

Story – The story is inspired from a true life as per the credits. The movie is a biopic of a famous Indian athlete Milkha Singh or “The Flying Sikh”, a title drawn from a comment of General Ayub Khan. The movie attempts to give an account of the ups and downs in the life of one of India’s greatest sprinters, showcase his failures, his victories, his grit and determination. The movie tells the tale of a person’s journey from witnessing the massacre of his family during Indo-Pak partition and becoming homeless, to joining a gang of thieves and falling in love, followed by recruitment in Indian Army from where he goes on to become one of India’s most iconic athletes.

The Good Points –

# A successful attempt at inspiring the audience to overcome the odds and do good in life instead of giving into crime.

# Very good acting by Farhan Akhtar. He has done justice to the character and the director’s vision of the same. And the way he has built up his physique!! His portrayal of mental and physical prowess is awe-inspiring.

# Shooting locales, computer graphics, cinematography, accuracy etc are good.

Image

The Bad Points –

# Awfully long movie. 3 hours and 7 minutes! It has been a long time since I watched such a long movie. 2 or 3 songs and some unnecessary scenes could have been removed from the final edit.

# The bits and pieces from Milkha’s life have been sewn together yet they do not form a good taut screenplay together. The aim and objective of the movie is somewhat lacking. There is no building up to the climax scene in the movie. I missed that.

# Excessive repetition of past events from Partition. And the haunting image of a phantom killer on horseback reminded strongly of Zanjeer.

# 90% of story is being told in flashback by Milkha’s coach. And flashback within flashback isn’t good for audience. Audience like MIL and FIL are not so movie savvy to grasp such different time zones. They tend to get confused. And what is with Bollywood showing song and dance sequences in flashback? Does the narrator actually sing the song or do the dance? and how can he tell what talk/song/dance happened between two persons when he was not there? Bollywood should really get over this flashback narration drawback and stick to facts.

# Humor is misplaced and bland in the movie and is poor in quality. All that was missing was a Sardar joke!

# A make out scene and an implication of sex taking place with moaning caused a bit of discomfiture as in-laws were there. Thankfully the movie was so long that the scenes didn’t stay for long in their minds.

# There is a gaffe. In a scene Farhan hums lyrics from the famous song “Nanha Munna Rahi Hu” to charm Beeru (Sonam Kapoor). This was before he joined Army. But the movie which has that song was released in 1962.

Overall – a good effort by Mehra and superb acting by Farhan Akhtar. If you are interested in biopics, inspiring movies that showcase a person coming to terms with his traumatic past to better his future, to excel in his chosen field by hard-work and can bear a long movie, go for it.

Day 21: Sad Day

On July 21, my sister, BIL and my niece were on their way to Italy from Copenhagen. They had two bags as hand luggage. One of the bags which contained two laptops, one tablet, one mobile and two pen drives was stolen in the most professional way from the inside of the airport building. All the important data, passport, resident card, research work, photos..everything gone. A loss of Rs 2 lakh at least. Add to that the fact they had to cancel their flight to Italy and lose money in that process. Denmark being a country with very low crime rate has low staff in law and order. The airport has no CCTV cameras and public can enter the airport building! The police and staff are themselves saying “There is a slim chance of getting the stuff back”. They and the public just blame the East European immigrants for these sort of organized theft and crime in their country, but don’t seem to do anything about it.

So it was a sad, tensed and shocking day for all of us. It was like 5 years of their lives has been wiped out. I was not in a mood to post anything. So I am posting now and backdating it.

Day 20: Letting It All Go

I don’t remember the first book I picked up….I think it was an Archie 🙂 After that I moved onto Enid Blyton, Carolyn Keene, Franklin W.Dixon, Erle Stanley Gardner and so on. Our book collection expanded like anything with more contribution from my sister as she is a bookworm!
Many timeless books like Malory towers, St.Clares series were passed on to me by a very dear friend.

Continue reading

Day 18: Killer Chillar

Location : The Supermarket

I buy some grocery items and cosmetics. I stand in queue at the billing counter and when my turn arrives, the person at the counter scans the items and tells me the amount. It is 439 INR. I give him a 500 INR note and he hands me back 60 INR and one eclairs toffee instead of Re 1.

WTH!! Many of you must have faced a similar situation. Why am I unhappy with one of the most popular chocolates? Because

# It is not a fair exchange

# In reality I am being forced to buy something instead of getting money due.

# You know how a pot of water fills by drops of water. Similarly losing change at grocery stores and other such places regularly is actually creating a big difference.

# Chocolates and candies are bad for teeth so there can be an increase in dental bills

# Chocolates and candies are high in saturated fat, and a large part of the calories in this food come from sugars. This food also has Trans Fat.

# Most importantly I want my change and I DO NOT want an eclairs!

A survey conducted in 2012 by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), in response to complaints from the public, found that 44% of people in 12 Indian cities had the same experience; candies instead of coins for change.

According to The Hindu dated 4 April 2013, 18 bank branches have been identified to distribute coins daily and tide over the shortage

1. There is a dearth of Rs. 2, Rs. 5 coins in many cities across India

2. Banks say they distribute 10-30 bags, each containing 2,500 coins, every month

3. RBI has pumped in coins worth nearly Rs. 16 crore over the past year

After RBI’s decision, coin counters in banks have closed down and the shortage of small-denomination notes and coins has hit the roof. Small-time traders and merchants depend heavily upon these coin counters at banks. There is a huge bottleneck in the circulation of coins in the market. For my research for this post, I came to know that shopkeepers and retailers are forced to pay 8% premium to get 100 Re1 coins in the black market. This means they pay Rs8 to Rs10 extra to get 100 coins in Re1, Rs2 and Rs5 denominations. But why do they do that? Because of customers who want their change back and they are not wrong in doing that. But due to insufficient coin circulation, customers are not able to give change but want their due change. Moreover, customers are choosy about which coins they want; the 50-paise coin being the least popular. Though RBI has not discontinued 50 paise coins, people refuse to accept them including beggars. But there are some places where they are still in use.

Some shopkeepers blame the ATMs that churn out only notes of large denominations, some shopkeepers allege that the coins are all taken to Tamil Nadu, melted and made into razor blades.  Confused? ’The one rupee coin after melting can yield six to seven blades, making its total worth over Rs 50. The shopkeepers are turning to beggars and eunuchs for help! But even the beggars are refusing to part with the precious change and if they do, they charge extra for it. Shopkeepers also procure coins from temples and churches, who also don’t give it for free.

Some of the coin counters still functioning are predated by agents who are actually into this very business..they have an understanding with bank officials at the counters and get coins easily instead of shopkeepers standing in queue. Later they sell these coins at a profit to desperate retailers.

A possible solution to this problem, the note to coin change machine made by UK-based Thomas Automatics has been acquired by the government and 150 of those have been installed in banks, railway stations and temples across India since 2003 as of 2007. But it has its own set of issues like equipment failure, low public acceptance etc.

That day is not far when we, the consumers, have to start giving eclairs toffee to toll booths, shopkeepers etc. Toll booths have not started giving eclairs toffee yet but I think they are the ones who should. Maybe the toffee will have some calming effect on drivers and help prevent accidents. 🙂

or maybe RBI can just declare the eclairs toffee as the new Re 1 coin.

P.S. Chillar means change in Hindi. Candies as change can kill us with diabetes hence the name “Killer Chillar” 😀

Appeal to the Public from RBI Website

The Bank, with active co-operation from various agencies, has endeavoured to distribute the coins in an equitable manner to all parts of the country. The mission cannot be successful without unstinting support from the people at large and the various voluntary agencies. Members of public are requested to avoid holding on to coins and instead, use them freely for transactions to make sure that there is a smooth circulation of coins. Voluntary agencies are requested to educate the public about the various facilities available in their areas for distribution of coins, exchange of soiled notes and proper handling of notes.

P.P.S I missed again on Day 17. I was physically and exhausted due to a tiring day at work.

Day 15: My Current Favorites

Just a list of my current favorite things

My Favorite TV Show : The Big Bang Theory or TBBT as we fans call it. It is a MUST watch for everybody who loved ‘FRIENDS’, love science, all DC/Marvel etc comics and those who are geeks themselves. The humor is different from  that of FRIENDS and the romantic stuff is very cute. And who would not love Sheldon Cooper and his idiosyncrasies?

tbbt

My Favorite Rcent Movie: Barfi! The romance, the sentiment, the emotion, the acting, the story, the songs…a super-hit movie. I cried at theater and at home. Again a must watch but not for the unromantic people. But one thing – the super thin bony Ileana D’Cruz portraying a Bong girl..the Bong neighbors and relatives must have hounded her mother like anything saying “Eyy Maa! Eto Roga Mey Ta. Bhalo korey khawan na? Harr jirjire chehara! Ishh!” 😉 translation – “oh my god! the girl is so thin. Don’t you feed her well? such a bony figure!”

Barfi_poster

My Favorite Song :- Kaun Mera sung by Chaitra from the movie Special 26. Such a melodious song.

My Favorite Dessert :- Brownie with Ice cream and that too the one US Pizza has on its menu. Its simply awesome and has made me like chocolate sauce!!

brownie

At this point, D is insisting that I should mention “My favorite Husband” with his name 🙄 I suspect he liked reading about himself on my famous blog. 😀

Day 14: Feeling of Accomplishment

Horrors of horror!! The unlucky number 13 again struck the innocent victim. And made her forget about her vow, her challenge completely! 😦 😦 😦

So should she give up the challenge or continue with it as if nothing happened ?

Well I think I will continue with it. Yesterday with chores and shopping trip, I completely forgot the challenge! 😦

Continue reading

Day 11: Fishy Talk

So I have completed ten days of daily blogging which is around one third of the month!! Phew!! and Yayy!!

Now coming to the topic, let me narrate an incident.

One evening, on our way to a shopping complex, I stopped at a pharmacy store. While I was inside, my Dad called on my mobile and we conversed in Bengali. After the call ended, the shopkeeper asked me ” Are you a Bengali or Oriya?” (Now the population of both Bongs and Oriya people is high in Bangalore and Kannadigas can’t tell the difference). The conversation proceeded like this

Continue reading

Day 10: Movie Review – Despicable Me 2

Yesterday we went for the sequel of the movie “Despicable Me”. D and I try not to miss any animation movies that are released 🙂 But since he didn’t like Monsters Inc., he was reluctant to go for the prologue type sequel Monsters University. Now I have to watch it on DVD. 😦 In recent times we have seen The Croods, Epic and Hotel Transylvania and out of my laziness I have not written any reviews.

So Despicable Me was good and though I remember posting a review, I couldn’t find it in my blog. So again laziness is to blame. “Despicable Me 2” is the much-anticipated adventure comedy sequel to the first installment that came out in 2010. Despicable Me 2 starts where Despicable Me left off.

Despicable-2-Gru and his three adopted orphan daughters Margo, Edith and Agnes are a happy family now. Gru has left his villainous ways and  has started a new business of producing jams and jellies (which taste horrid) with the help of his cute yellow minions and Dr. Nefario. Meanwhile a top-secret research facility in the Arctic Circle is “abducted” by a villain using a huge magnet for a dangerous serum which has the potential to turn a harmless living being to be ferocious and invincible.

The AVL (Anti Villian League) sends one of its agents, Lucy Wilde, to bring Gru to headquarters to recruit his help to find this bad guy. Meantime, someone starts abducting Gru’s minions for a devious purpose.  The main narrative has the subplots of Gru trying to protect the teenager Margo and Gru finding love. Does he succeed in completing his mission, saving his daughter and wooing his lady? Who is this bad guy? What does he want with Gru’s minions? To know all that watch the movie!

The yellow gibberish-speaking, goggle-eyed Minions had won the audience’s hearts in the first “Despicable Me” and the sequel takes their role to a higher level with a major part of the plot centering around them. And they succeed again!! Like the penguins in Madagascar series, they are the real show stealer. Animation is great but I feel 3 D was unnecessary. Or if it was going to be 3 D, then enthralling scenes should be incorporated. Also crude humor and fart jokes could have been avoided. The movie could have been more witty and the story more taut with little more suspense. The character of Agnes is endearing. But overall it is an enjoyable movie. And soon market is going to be flooded with Minions merchandise 🙂

Don’t just leave after the movie is over. Wait for the end credits. There’s a hilarious little sequence which hints at a spin-off movie to be released starring the Minions.