Thursday, January 28, 2010

The CUTEST plan in the world!

I found this in my daughter's room long after she had left for school. (She is eight.)
This was too good to not share!

She has made a plan which  also shows a map from her room to our bedroom. If you look at it carefully (click to enlarge), you will see that she has drawn herself  and her brother , right at the bottom and she has labelled it 'us'.

She has drawn me (and I love that luxurious mane of hair, like a Lion's which she has given me. :-)) and my laptop is very prominent, right next to me. In fact it is drawn larger than me! (Sigh--she sees the laptop as an inseparable extension of her mom!)

The best part of the plan was its strategy and the minute details including footsteps on the 'path to be taken', that  she has drawn, that includes a place to hide! :-)

And the absolutely super part which makes me grin wider than a Cheshire cat are the lines
"Before you enter, see that pop is not there. Then slowly walk in, talk to mummy and come back." :-)

Have you ever seen a cuter plan than this? :-)

Monday, January 25, 2010

Confessions of a Happily married husband--a guest post by Satish

A guest post written by Satish 

It’s been a long time since I wrote a Guest post and decided to give it a shot today since I had some free time and also given some news that we recently received. It’s Preeti’s blog and therefore thought I would write about what it is to be married to an author, a poet and an artist.

When I was a child I always wanted to be a Doctor. I could not however stand the sight of blood and therefore
took the easier way out and decided to get married to a Doctor, instead. Now life does not go the way you normally want it to. To cut a long story short I fell head over heels in love with Preeti who was not a Doctor and got married to her. On my part, I ended up being an Accountant – an Accountant you would be aware is one who doctors the books of accounts and a good one is he, who when asked the question what two plus two is gives you an answer – what do you want it to be, instead of four. Therefore I did manage to do a bit of Doctoring myself, after all!

Being married to Preeti, I must admit is very different to what I expected her to be. She has evolved from what she was, into something I would never in my wildest dreams have expected. She had always been the talented part of the family. However the extent of the talent is not something I had foreseen. Starting off with paintings, she was able to draw, sketch and paint (in a variety of mediums) and did it so easily that I used to feel a bit of a fool sometimes. I got back my own, by handing over the responsibility of getting all the kids art related projects to her, much to the teachers delight.

Her Dad’s death, whilst a catastrophe, did in a way bring out something in her which would otherwise probably never have come to prominence – her writing! When she started blogging it was more as an emotional outlet and I never thought it would lead to her being an author or becoming as famous as she has. She was always conscientious about writing blog-posts and responding to every comment she received and would faithfully give me an update about how many comments she had received that day, how she needed to write a blog-post, which part of the globe the comment came from and which award she had been given in the blog-world and by whom. This invariably happened at 1 a.m in the night when I was fast asleep and she was working on the computer. Things have definitely moved on since. Her blog is now considered amongst the top fifty thousand blogs in the world, she receives more e-mails from people all across the globe (even more than what I get officially and I get a lot!) and she still wakes me up and provides me commentary during the night, though now anytime of the night and not just at 1 a.m!

I was ecstatic when she told me that her book was being published. This was a dream come true for her and for me too. At least this way, I would figure in a book (she put my name in the acknowledgement list and gave me the first copy with a deeply personal note to me). I must have done something right, I guess. I am not so much of an optimist as regards betting, and did not know what to say when she asked me to read the initial manuscripts of the book and predict how it would be received by people. However after reading the book I did tell her that it would no doubt do well and be a best seller. For a change I bet on the right horse and guess what – her book has just been declared a NATIONAL BEST SELLER !! She has also been receiving tonnes of mails praising her writing skills from people who have read her book and  like wine she is indeed becoming better each day. I am certain that her second book will be even better than the first and the third even more.   

In the news you keep hearing about people being awarded Doctorates. Jayalalitha, Amitabh Bachchan , Akshay and Shah Rukh among others. I am no one to say if they deserved it or not, however  have decided to institute and award my own Doctorate to Preeti. She not only deserves it in her own right but also ensures that part of my own desire gets fulfilled – i.e. being married to a Doctor. (Should have waited till 2.30 in the night to award it, but did not know the technicalities of feeding the post into her blog, nor her password and in any case she would have been awake. So what the hell, I might as well award it now and await my turn to be woken up at night)

It’s been 15 years since we got married and if I had to rewind the clock again and decide whether to marry a Doctor or Preeti, I would choose her again and again a hundred times over.

Preeti, the kids and I and all your friends are extremely proud of you, your achievements and the fact that in spite of everything you still remain the same person you were 15 years back. And while we are here, let me take another bet which again I say without any doubt in my mind– you will soon become the author of an International Best Seller and I may be able to write yet another guest post.

Guys – this post is not all about Preeti. Let me tell you I too am artistic. I have painted a wall sometime in the past where the colour had come off (did look a bit like what Michelangelo did I must say but this wasn’t on the Sistine chapel but on the garden wall) Besides, I did write  this post too and given the fact that the blogosphere is large and Preeti’s fan following is great am willing to take the risk that the post would be a hit. So there!!!

Friday, January 22, 2010

40 nosey questions answered. (a tag)

Shimmer tagged me. Earlier Jyotiajay had tagged me with the same tag. One tag and I feel uneasy. Two tags and it becomes difficult to breathe till I get it off my chest :-) 

So here goes (you asked for it, you got it!) :-)

1.What is your current Obsession?

Human Portraiture--and I must add I am getting very good at it. (yeah humble me :-) ) You can view my portaits here.

2. What are you wearing today?

In what department? ;-)

3. What’s for dinner?
Something hot :-)

4. What’s the last thing you bought?

Artists Acrylic paints and they cost a small fortune. Well, that wasn't exactly the last thing I bought, but if I told you, you'd never believe it! :-)

5. What are you listening to right now?
Happy together—Turtles. 

6. What do you think about the person who tagged you?

Both are pretty young girls  cheeky enough to tag me :) .

7. If you could have a house totally paid for, fully furnished anywhere in the world, where would you like it to be? 

It would ideally be portable with wings, large enough to hold my books and my art stuff and small enough to hold my dreams,  so I could fly to wherever I wanted :-)

8. What are your must-have pieces for summer?

A great pedicure, nice perfume and perfect arms and legs :-) Oh yes--and a scrunchy too to tie up my hair in a pony tail and my sun glasses.

9. If you could go anywhere in the world for the next hour, where would you go?
Into that place between black and white, into that unexplored area inside my head,  into that space where souls dwell. But since I can't, I think I will go into my children's room and watch them sleeping-- The feeling redefines the word contentment!

10. Which language do you want to learn?
Unspoken language of two minds in perfect sync and the sparkle in the eyes when you see true love.

11. What’s your favourite quote?

Quotes I like are too many to list. Let me share my favourite poem instead..It is this 

12. Who do you want to meet right now?

Realio Trulio little pet dragon :-)

13. What is your favourite colour?

Used to be yellow. Now it is  probably black.

14. Give us 3 styling tips that work for you.

What do you think I am—Cosmo Mag? :-)

15. What is your dream job?

My present one—Author, Artist, Poet, Mom :-)

16. What’s your favorite magazine?

I read everything except Filmy mags.

17. If you had $100 now, what would you spend it on?

Only $ 100? This is just about 4000 Bucks..Too less!

18. What do you consider a fashion faux pas?

Oiled plaits with ribbons, Bangles and jhumkis with Jeans. Please!!

19. Who according to you is the most over-rated style icon?
All those crazy hags who go around telling people what to wear.

20. What kind of haircut do you prefer?

On whom? ;-)

21. What are you going to do after this?

Read and then really listen to  my characters in my second book book which will soon be complete. They talk to me, you know. They never go away. :-)

22. What are your favourite movies?
Too many to list. I LOVE movies.

23. What inspires you?
 Triumph of Human spirit over adversity

24. What do your friends call you most commonly?

Preeti, Prits, Ps. I cant tell you the other names ;-)

25. Would you prefer coffee or tea?

Any, but I love south Indian filter coffee

26. What do you do when you are feeling low or terribly depressed?

I write, I paint, I call up close friends.

27. What makes you go wild?

Ahem ahem—it should be who—not what :-) No—I aint telling.

28. Which other blogs do you love visiting?

Gillian’s, Nancy’s  and Suma’s. They  have something terrific almost all the time

29. Favorite Dessert/Sweet?

I hate sweets and desserts. I like bitter things :-) Not kidding!

30. How many tabs are turned on in ur browser right now?

31. Favorite Season?

32. If I come to your house now, what would u cook for me?

Would make lovely hot dosas—there is batter in the fridge.

33. What is the right way to avoid people who purposefully hurt you?
Is there a ‘right way’? Just chuck them out of your life. They are not worth your precious time.

34. What are you afraid of the most?

Of losing the ones I love.

35. When you looked at yourself in the mirror today, what was the first thing you thought?

I always think I look haunted.

36. What brings a smile on your face instantly?

My 2009 birthday memories.

37. A word that you say a lot?

My baby with an emphasis on my :-)

38. When was the last time you did something nice?

 I cook, I clean, I raise two kids, I blog, I paint, I write EVERY single day—and you ask me last time?!!

39. What would you do if you were made President of India for one day?

What powers does the President really have? I want to be Prime Minister.

40. Do you Know who Master SHIFU is?

Now I do. :-)

As per the tag I am supposed to tag eight people.
Here goes:

1. Meira

2. Suma

3. Gillian

4. Rayne 

5. Niall

6. Deepti

7. Sparkling

8. YOU!! (yeah you have read my answers and now you are tagged! Trapped! Caught ya!! If you don't have a blog, use my comment box!) 

What are you waiting for? Gimme those answers now! (ok, just kidding. If you do the tag I'll surely read)

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Friends, more friends and how blogs help!

People who blog and people who do not blog, rarely understand each other! (and if you dont blog but read blogs regularly, then I am not referring to you!)  This post by Adi Crazy sums up what I feel  (and I feel very strongly) about blogging beautifully.

There are many who don't blog and who think that blogging is for 'vela people'.(vela can be loosely translated as those who have no better things to do in life. I find it offensive) They say they don't have time. I think what they really mean is they don't have the inclination or the ability) which is fine, as long as you don't make sweeping statements, that too derisively about people who blog.

You connect through blogs. Your minds have met before your physical selves have. There are many who hide behind virtual identities and use the blog only to vent out frustration. But there are many more really talented  and genuine people too. The important thing is to sift out who you really want to connect with. Sometime back, I had written an article 'How real is Virtual'?   I had wondered about the validity of online relationships then-- whether they are genuine or whether people simply leave comments which they don't mean.

I have got my answers now. I have met some really amazing people  who I am proud to say are good friends with me now and we have connected only because of our blogs. I met one of my closest friends Niall only through my blog.

This time in Mumbai, I met Guru and Shru too.It was marvellous! I felt I had known them all my life! It was like meeting old friends. I shamelessly devoured dosas and Idlis (alongside them to be precise.Shru just watched me gobbling and Guru pretended to eat, to be very precise :-)) as I had just arrived in India, and couldn't wait to eat Indian food. Guru got along marvellously with Satish too, as did Shru.

In Bangalore I met Prashant.(Now better known as the Chief blogger RCB) We had been exchanging mails regularly  for a few months and we had also spoken on the phone. It did feel like I have known him for ages , when I met him. He too said the same.(He also said  really some lovely things about me and I still smile remembering his expression as he said them :-))

Then a group of us (Dhanya, Varun, Guruprasad (who comments regularly on my blog) , Prats, Prashant, me and the kids and Satish too!) who have again connected only though our blogs met at  Cafe Coffee day in Indiranagar. We had such a great time that we spent more than two hours! Time simply flies when you are having fun!

My birthday (which was on 21st) was fantabulously terrific--one of the best I have ever had! It was spent with my family and my closest friends, one of whom  had flown down to Bangalore, all the way from Delhi, just to spend the day with me.

It makes me believe whole heartedly, in the following quotes on friendship

"Two may talk together under the same roof for many years, yet never really meet; and two others at first speech are old friends."
- Mary Catherwood 

"Life is partly what we make it, and partly what is made by the friends whom we choose."
- Tehyi Hsieh 

  Friends do uplift the soul. You just have to choose the right ones.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Beat those Blues!

This morning I read in the newspaper that the third and fourth weeks of January, sees the highest number of  suicides and depression cases. Some Psychologists have even declared the 3rd Monday of January, the most depressing day of the year. Living here in the UK, it is easy to see why.

Christmas and New year festivities have died down. The new year resolutions have been broken by now and getting back to work after all the 'happy times' is not exactly joyous for most people. To top it ,most people have put on weight as well. The weather in UK and in many parts of North India too has been grey. It has been at least 5 days since I have seen the sun. The snow has long melted and it is dreary, dull, wet, cold and grey outside.

Want to beat the blues and don't know how? Gillian has written this amazing post which I instantly loved.(Even though she wrote in December, I discovered it only now and it immediately appealed to me) Gillian lives in Canada, runs her own beauty spa and is also an amazing Artist, a marvellous photographer, an avid traveller and a great mom. She is also one of the most positive and inspiring individuals I know.

Like Gillian, I too have my own ways to beat the blues. My favourite way is to do something creative. Recently I discovered an old art--making wooden peg dolls! A bit of googling told me that Wooden stump dolls date back to the 16th and 17th century. Grodnertal area in Germany produced many wooden peg dolls --a type of doll that has simple peg joints and resembles a clothes pin. I started with a simple peg as is shown in the photo. I glued on her hair with scraps of black wool. I made a skirt for her with a bit of cloth that was left over from my children's school project, last year. I drew her eyes and smile with permanent markers. A discarded pipe cleaner became her hands. (I just twirled it around) and a bit of satin ribbon gave her a gorgeous waistline. Now I plan to make a family for her. I will be making a a partner for her and some friends and maybe I will make some children too. :-)

Right now she stands on my window sill as I type this.Isn't she lovely?!

If you want to know more about wooden peg dolls and want to know how to make them, these links  will help you.

What do you do to beat the blues? Especially the nasty, horrible oh-god-it's-Monday-so-soon kind of blues? What inspires you and keeps you going?If you're sharing, I am listening.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

A haiku and a picture. (wordless wednesday no.18)

Snarled tangled We

Mangle inseparably

Pleasure Pain and Love!

© 2010 Preeti Shenoy

For more poems click here. Some poems have already appeared in print. Kindly do not reproduce without permission.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

5 things you can do for 'Instant weight loss'


So, the holiday season is over and we've all heaved our protesting bodies and groaning minds back to work and back to the start of a new year, a few additional kilos in tow (for most of us) due to Christmas feasts, New year feasts, extended vacation and sheer laziness. Many of you have written to me asking me to write about my fitness routine and how I maintain my weight and what is my 'secret'? :-)

I don't claim to be an expert and I'd recommend checking with your Doctor if you have any health issues. These are the simple things I do to maintain my weight.

1. Say no to Sugar: Sugar in your tea and Coffee are really big culprits when it comes to gaining weight. These are really unnecessary empty calories that you are loading your system with. Refer this article for further information.The same is applicable to the Indian Diet  and food habits as well.

2. Say NO to fizzy drinks:  I really think the colas are one of the worst things invented on Earth. Clever advertising brainwashes people into believing it is 'cool' to be seen sipping one.The only thing it does is fattens (apart from you) the company who manufactures it and gives the Actor who models in the advertisement a huge pay packet.
Look at this site. I am sure you won't reach for that cola can again. :-)

3. Eat a balanced meal: Balance your meal with fresh seasonal fruits, vegetables, Protein and Carbs. In UK, the Government is making a big effort to promote '5 a day' for staying healthy. Click here for more information.

4. Count your calories. Losing weight is simple math. If you burn more calories than you consume, you lose weight. Else you gain! See this calorie counter. If you eat one medium sized samosa be aware that you would need to walk on the treadmill for 30 minutes at a high speed to burn it off, depending on your body weight and speed chosen. Choose to eat foods that are healthy and low in calories.Be smart and read the labels for nutritional information and amount of fat it contains. See this very useful article to interpret labels while making healthy choices.

5. Yoga and exercise : Personally I am a big fan of both Yoga and exercise. I don't have a fixed routine but I ensure that I get some kind of exercise every single day. Similarly I have been doing Yoga ever since my school days. If you live in India, it is really not hard to find a yoga class and enrol.

The above tips are really simple and 'obvious' tips. But the key is to follow it and adhere to it. You should ideally begin seeing results in about 10 days. Be patient. Yo-yo diets really do not work and if you starve you will only gain back all the weight you lost when you go off the diet.

I had written earlier too about weight loss and fitness. This and  also this are the two earlier posts I wrote.

I just re-read them and I feel good to say that I still weigh the same as I did back then. :-)

All I have been doing are the above five things.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

A Warm Wintery Wish :-)

(2,-3), (1,-3),  (1,-2) and  (3,-2)
For the mathematically inclined among you,let me clarify-- these are NOT the values of co-ordinates in a Math problem. These are temperatures prevailing today and the temperatures forecast for the next three days in the place where I live, in the UK. It's funny how stark contrasts hit you in a big way and make you appeciate Nature and Life.

We just got back from an amazing vacation in India .(And yes I met all the wonderful people I mention in my last post. It was truly marvellous.) In the evening, I was in Chennai where the temperature was 26 degrees and in the morning when I landed at Heathrow it was zero degrees. :-) I was excited.

As a child, growing up in the early eighties in a small Indian town, 'snow' meant a white facial cream that came in  little white jar with a light pink lid, manufactured by Ponds. My mom used it every single day as a part of her beauty routine. By late eighties as "Colour TV" ('Humare ghar mein colour TV hai' was the ultimate status symbol statement in those times) penetrated Indian homes--among which was my own home--I discovered that snow could also mean tonnes of white icy stuff that fell from the skies and covered everything in sight. I saw people wearing coats and boots in movies. I saw pictures of Snow men,Skiing and snow-sledges. Winters like these  was what I saw in picture books.

During the good old Doordarshan days, sometimes on the   much awaited 'Chitrahaar' (on Wednesdays) I'd see  Shammi Kapoor and Saira Banu lying in the snow with Shammi yelling "Yaaaahoooo, Chahe koi mujhe junglee kahe.." (click on link)

It is only now, after nearly quarter of a century that I have understood his excitement and why he yelled that way. Because this morning when I opened my door and saw miles and miles and miles of snow covered roads, it was exactly what I felt like doing. I refrained though, as I don't think my English neighbours in UK would have related to Shammi Kapoor or my palpable excitement in seeing so much snow for the first time in my life. Besides, the English are a peace loving sort and thrive on quietness unlike Indians whose DNA is encrypted with a loudness gene. (and I don't mean it badly. I love everything about India and am indeed proud of my country ) :-)

I touched it, walked in it, made snowballs (the picture below shows my first snow ball), and even went on a snow sled. It was thrilling, fun and inhaling the cold air feels even better than a shot of espresso drunk neat.

The television news is full of reports of how more snow is expected and how many of the Arterial roads are closed. Many Airports too are closed. The children's schools were closed too and  they made the most of it having snow ball fights and making snow angels.

The weather is  truly freezing with sub zero temperatures. Some people hate winter. They complain about short days (it gets dark at 4.00) and blocked roads and slippery Black Ice (which can be very dangerous).

But me--I am smiling so much! I am dressed up like the characters I saw in movies as a little child, wearing a coat, gloves, hat, scarf and boots. I am enjoying walking in the snow, and seeing the sparkling white brightness for miles around. It feels like magic. It feels like my mom's jar of snow got magnified a thousand fold times and then tipped over covering all the landscape for miles around! (I'd have truly believed it had I seen this as a child :-) )

Now I am going to make a nice cup of tea and watch through my window, the snow flakes outside, gently falling down.

And yes--Wish you all a very happy new year! 
Warmth and Cheers!