Wednesday, April 23, 2014

She loves me more.

"Siblings fight, pull each other's hair, steal stuff, and accuse each other indiscriminately.

But siblings also know the undeniable fact that they are the same blood, share the same origins, and are family.

Even when they hate each other.

And that tends to put all things in perspective."
              ----Vera  Nazarian.



My two children (my son who is 16 and daughter who is 12) are no different. They fight, tease each other, bicker, play together and  have their own secret language, which all siblings who are close do. Sometimes I eavesdrop on their conversation, when they think I am not listening. I enjoy it immensely.

Overheard yesterday:

My son to my daughter: You know what, mummy loves me more.
My daughter: Of course not, she loves us both equally.
My son: No, she doesn't. They haven't told you, you are actually adopted.

My daughter pauses for a few seconds. I hold my breath.

Then she says " At least they chose me, but they are stuck with you."

Yes, I am still smiling, and this one is straight going into the memory box :)

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Monday, April 21, 2014

An interview with Kiran Manral on her new book

Though I have known Kiran Manral for many years now, from my early  blogging days, it was only in January 2013 that I met her, during the launch of my book 'The Secret Wishlist'. When we got talking, it felt as though I have known her all my life.

 Kiran is  wonderful, sensitive and warm and she did an amazing job of my book launch.




 She is a superb orator too, and spoke extremely well. You can watch the entire video of the launch here.

I  love her witty writing (from her blog and numerous other places that she writes)  and picked up her first book The Reluctant Detective , which I thoroughly enjoyed reading.

Kiran has also starred in the Dove ad, as well as in tangerine colours of life. Here is Kiran Manral's short bio:

 Kiran Manral has worked as a journalist before she quit to be full time mommy. Her blogs, www.thirtysixandcounting.wordpress.com and www.karmickids.blogspot.com, are both in Labnol's list of India's top blogs. She blogged at Tehelka Blogs on gender issues. She is also considered a 'social media star' on twitter by the TOI and IBN Live named her as among the 30 interesting Indian women to follow on twitter and among the top 10 Indian moms to follow on twitter for 2013.
Post 26/11, she founded India Helps, a volunteer network to help disaster victims post 26/11 and has worked on long term rehabilitation of 26/11 Mumbai terror attack victims and 13/7 Mumbai bomb blast victims, amongst others.
She is part of the core founding team behind CSAAM (www.csaawarenessmonth.com) and Violence Against Women Awareness Month (www.vawawareness.wordpress.com), two very well received social media awareness initiatives across twitter and the blogosphere.

Kiran is now out with her second book 'Once Upon a Crush' which is to hit the stands soon.

So I spoke to her, and asked her some fun interesting questions. Here is what she had to say:

1.       How did you become a writer?

I think I always was a writer. Ever since I can remember, I was busy writing out elaborate stories, with magic driven plots and interesting characters and since back then, I loved sketching, I would even sketch out episodes from those stories. I think my mother even has some of those stories still with her and showed them recently to my son. I think more than a writer, I was always a story teller, and nothing pleased me more than to lose myself in either reading a story or writing one out.

2.       What according to you are three absolutely essential qualities to be a writer?
Three absolutely essential qualities to be a writer according to me would be curiosity, compassion and the ability to communicate. All in equal measure. If you allow me a fourth, I would add a sense of wonder, because if one doesn’t have a sense of wonder, one wouldn’t find anything worth writing about.

3.       Your book involves office romance. And in present day scenario, it is very common to develop crushes on someone which may develop into a full-fledged relationship. What is your advice to both parties, in case they are committed or married?
I’ve heard of this strangest new phrase “work spouse” wherein folks who are married or committed, have folks in the office they are so close to that they almost consider them spouses. I haven’t been working full time for over ten years now, but I would like to state that it is very easy to develop an emotional or romantic attachment with someone in the workplace, given one is spending long hours together with them, and is probably getting from them the attention one perceives one isn’t getting from a spouse. In such a situation, it might be good to step back a bit, examine why there is a gap in your committed relationship to allow a third person to enter between the two of you. And an office relationship can get very messy, it is best to stay away. Or keep your relationship and PDA outside the office.

4.       How important is in love in real life?
I think love is very, very important. We all need validation as persons, and the only thing that does this is the love of another. What is life after all, but moving from one love to another, the love of a parent, to the love of a spouse or a partner, to the love of a child.
As a writer, I think all of what we write is driven primarily from love or the need of it or lack of it in our lives.
If it is good and fulfilling, it fills you up with joy and makes you creative. If it is despairing and dark and torturous, you will still write to deal with the angst.

5.       Favourite movie/movies?
I am a horror movie buff and catch watch The Ringu movies umpteen times, Exorcist, The Amityville Horror, and so many more. But not slasher movies, movies which involve the paranormal fascinate me. I am also fond of sci-fi and fantasy films.  I am also a sentimental fool who sobs when I watch tear jerkers so I tend to avoid those.
6.       Music that you like?
I run the gamut from Naina Devi’s thumris to Lady Ga Ga to 80s and 90s Pop and Rock to Gregorian chants to modern Bollywood music. I think I am an equal opportunity music lover, but I really don’t get rap.

7.       If you weren’t a mother, writer, blogger, CSA activist, what would you be?
A television anchor. I’ve always wanted to be on television. Somehow I never got down to fulfilling that dream and have always regretted it.  Interesting because I am basically a very introverted person, so this is something completely contrary to my nature.

8.       What authors do you read? What kind of writing do you enjoy?
I read anything I can lay my hands on. I bore quickly of reading that is very high brow and demands I dip into a dictionary constantly to figure out what the author is trying to say. I like the writing of P G Wodehouse, Dave Barry, Terry Pratchett, Jane Austen, Charlotte Bronte, Mark Twain, Haruki Murakami, Jodi Picoult and Stephen King amongst others. I must say I am a sucker for an interesting turn of phrase, or a thought presented powerfully in the most innocuous looking sentences. I like writers who can deal with most mundane topics with a sense of wry humour. Like Erma Bombeck for instance.

9.       If you had to do one thing in the next 3 hours that would make you very happy what will you do?
I would do a long leisurely lunch with my friends. It has been so long that I’ve done a long girly lunch that I miss it so.

10.   Could you give us your favourite part of the book?
My favourite part from the book is the part where my protagonist, Rayna De goes to get a haircut. She has long hair she’s rather proud of, but the hair cut is kind of symbolic of her wanting to shake things up in her life, and it is more than just a hair cut for her in that sense. It a casting off of what she perceives as her ‘image’ and an embracing of a new her.






You can check out (and pre-order!) the book using the links below:

The book can be pre ordered here:
The twitter hashtag is #OnceUponACrush

If you have any questions for Kiran, do leave a comment in this post!
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ps: My latest book has been getting  some fabulous reviews. Buy it from Amazon just Rs.99/- for a limited period!



Friday, April 11, 2014

Waste to Garden Gold!

Have you ever thought of what happens to that plastic cover that you chuck into the dustbin? Or the potato peels? Or the leftover slice of Pizza? Do you throw them all into the same bin or do you separate them?

 If you aren't segregating your waste at home--you really should.

Pic courtesy : Dailydump.org


The fact is big Indian cities produce about 3000 tonnes of waste a day, at the very least. Most of them are dumped into illegal dumps just on the outskirts of the city. Organic waste from your kitchen is 60 percent water. The municipal department spends money transporting this waste! If  we do our bit, we can manage our waste at home, thus saving resources and time, that can be utilised better for other things like education and infrastructure.

Organic waste  really does not need to  travel. Also, thousands of people in our country are rag-pickers who make a living out of scavenging in the waste bins and selling the plastic dumped there. If the plastic is not covered in rotten food, left over chicken curry, vegetable peels and other things, they can earn more.

If you cook at home regularly, then your kitchen itself generates about 750 gms to 1000 gms of raw material every day. Of course you can segregate it and throw it out ---but there is a better way to manage it. How?

You can make your own compost! And it isn't hard at all.

I started doing it almost an year back and I am super pleased with the results.
This is how I do it:




 First I invested  in the above kit. It is not very expensive and also it is a one time investment that is going to pay you rich dividends. If I remember right, I paid around Rs.1200 for the above three containers. However, if you do not want the containers, you can also use pots.(They are a lot cheaper)

 I bought my kit from Pelican Biotech. In Bangalore, there is also Daily Dump. (from which the above information has been condensed).   Do check out their website --they do some fabulous work. Do find out the organizations in your city that are similar.

One also needs to buy comp-absorb, which costs around Rs.125/- for a 5 kg bag. The bag will last you for more than 2 months.

Next, you line the bottom of the first pot with newspaper. Then you add a layer of comp-absorb.


 Now you are ready to go.

You begin by adding the organic kitchen waste. Do not add rotten food.


After a 2 inch layer of kitchen waste is added, you add the comp-absorb. The process continues till the container is filled. Then it goes right to the bottom and the next container comes to the top, and the same process continues. There is absolutely no smell if you do it right.

If you have any questions  do check out both the links above, which answer in great detail, the process for home composting.

By the time the third container is full, the first container (that you placed right at the bottom) will be full of dark, rich organic compost! Look at the compost I made.(Have planted sunflower  and Bhindi in it)



 This is a superb medium and you can put the plants right in. Even if you do not have a garden, trust me you will want to, once you see the compost that you have made! (In any case, even if you just chuck it outside, you are still doing the environment, society and yourself a massive favour by composting!)

Here is one of the plants that I have grown in my compost:




And here is the rock-garden that Satish and I made. (Many of the containers have the compost that I made)




Inspired?

You are sitting on a mine of garden gold. Don't waste the waste It isn't that hard. It just takes five minutes of your time to segregate and dump right, once it is set up.


Now, go do it!


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Monday, March 31, 2014

A step in the right direction

A good friend of mine has this quote as his status message on gmail:

"Sometimes a step in the right direction may begin with a thousand steps in the wrong."


 This picture I clicked, when I went on a walk. It reminded me of the quote.

No matter what the past, you can always begin anew.
All it takes is a step in the right direction.

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