Sunday, 10 January 2016

Manju Devi - Coolie No. 15

Strong women don't play victim, don't make themselves look pitiful and don't point fingers. 
They stand and they deal.

While this quote from blogger turned New York Times best-selling author and speaker Mandy Hale inspires and motivates thousands of women across the world, Manju Devi from Jaipur has gone ahead and given her flesh and blood to Hale's words. In our society where patriarchy is deep-rooted and a woman venturing to work in male dominated sectors is considered a blot on the family's name, Manju Devi is defying the odds working as a porter. Yes, you read that right. Manju Devi is a porter at the Jaipur railway station, she's the only female porter at this station, and the first female porter of the entire North Western Railway Region.

Porter Manju Devi | Photo: Point Blank 7

A rural home-maker, Manju was left to fend for herself and her three little children when her husband Mahadev, a porter at Jaipur railway station died of liver failure. Illiterate and a widow at just 33 years of age, she had no one to fall back on, to help her cope with the seemingly hard and harsh life that lay ahead of her. Her in-laws were poor and going back to her parents too was out question, for there too her many siblings were trying to make ends meet though odd jobs.

It was under these circumstances that she decided to approach the porter union to help her claim her husband's job. With the help of the union and the railway authorities, Manju finally got her porter's license in March 2013. Armed with her porter badge no. 15, she joined the porter service at the Jaipur railways station, setting a huge example of courage and determination in the face of adversity.

We've all travelled by train and we know that life of a travel porter is not easy. Besides physical strength, one needs a lot of stamina to run around the platforms all day long. Quite naturally settling now in her new job was not easy for Manju. She would often break down and spend more hours crying instead of working. She had left all her kids back home with her mother, so their absence too added to her sorrows. But she knew that crying would not help her in any way and so gradually started immersing herself more in her work. With the help of some supportive porters at the station, she learnt the basics of her job, understanding the techniques of carrying heavy luggage on her head and shoulders. Today, she proudly says that she is happy with the work she does and is able to take care of her family with her earnings.

While many women in Manju's place would have given up and cursed their fate in the face of such misfortune, Manju's will of steel led her towards a braver path. She did not just break into the male bastion, but is also going stronger and steadier by the day.

People like Manju Devi deserve admiration and accolades. It's heartening to see organisations like Youth Ki Awaaz taking the initiative to recognize people like her - ordinary people, who possess extraordinary will power to tackle the toughest challenges that life throws at them. May the force always be with her.This post is a part of Youth ki Awaaz's #SpreadTheVibe campaign in association with Indiblogger.

Sunday, 13 December 2015

Chandigarh - The City Beautiful!

TataMotors' latest #madeofgreat campaign is making headlines everywhere. With football icon Lionel Messi as its new brand ambassador, the brand has got the perfect man to reiterate what they stand for - strength and greatness.

Check out this video of Messi showing his mettle on the field and there's no missing the grit the mettle that has helped him become the icon that he is!


In a recent blogging campaign, Tata Motors asked bloggers to write about their favourite city in terms of design, technology and connect, and the moment I read the theme I knew which city I was going to gush about - none other than Chandigarh, the city beautiful!


Chandigarh is the best-planned city in India,with world-renowned design and architecture and a healthy and beautiful quality of life. As the capital of the states of Punjab and Haryana, and the face of modern India, Chandigarh, is the manifestation of a dream that Pt. Jawahar Lal Nehru envisaged and legendary French architect Le Corbusier executed.


Certainly one of the best cities in India, it is neatly planned and divided into sectors which are nicely connected to one another. Adding to that, every sector has a park and a shopping street with plenty of greenery all around. Along with the neighbouring cities of Mohali and Panchkula, it is known as the tricity, though it's difficult to tell where the boundary of one ends and another begins. India’s first planned city, it is a rich, prosperous, spic and span, green city rightly called - The City Beautiful!

Serenity and a city are two diametrically opposite concepts, which however, get belied in the 'City Beautiful'. Chandigarh is a rare epitome of modernization co-existing with nature's preservation. It is here that the trees and plants are as much a part of the construction plans as the buildings and the roads.

Chandigarh is well connected to almost every small and big town in northern India. It is also conveniently located within motor-able distance from a number of major cities of north India. National Highways 21 and 22 run through the city. Near perfect road condition and breath-taking views on either side of the road offers a pleasant drive. So the next time you are planning a trip to the mighty mountains up north, make sure you explore Chandigarh too - and you would sure agree that this pretty city is different from the rest of the country - cleaner, greener and beautifully planned! And if you don't know already, there's a lot to explore here - from the serene Sukhna Lake to the intriguing Rock Garden, from the pretty gurudwaras to the lovely Rose Garden, from museums and art galleries to pubs and bars, Chandigarh has something of interest for all kinds of visitors.

This post is a part of Tata Motors' #madeofgreat campaign in association with Indiblogger.

Sunday, 23 August 2015

Kids Showcasing Their Dance Moves! #MaxFreshMove


There is a bit of insanity in dancing that does everybody a great deal of good.
-- Edwin Denby

The aforementioned quote by Edwin Orr Denby, American writer of dance criticism and poetry so beautifully brings out the very essence of dancing. I have always believed that dancing involves a kind of frenzied passion and reckless abandon - Denby used the word 'insanity' instead. There's no denying the 'does a great deal good' part of the quote either. Dancing so fills the surrounding with happiness and positivity, both the dancer and the audience look pepped up and this happy energy positively impacts others too.

For this post, I particularly picked up Denby's quote because this write-up is all about insanity in dancing. If you have come across Colgate's Taazgi ka Dhamaka video, you must have noticed how the song is all about mad fun around singing and dancing. The reckless abandon showcased in the video is so infectious that anyone who listens to this foot tapping number gets energised!


See how fun the video is! Burst of energy actually!

And this precisely is the reason the kids in my neighbourhood has blast showcasing their dance moves on this peppy number! While 10 year old Gauri seemed in sync with the beats of the song, the bigger group of children opted to go freestyle! And it was INSANE, to say the least! Here, check out both the videos - Gauri first, for this little girl is a natural dancer! Watch her grooving to Taazgi ka dhamaka!


While Gauri is a natural when it comes to dancing and prepared her own steps, her brother and other friends opted to go freestyle instead. And what followed was a series of goofy videos with them dancing and teasing each other in a fun way! To say that it was crazy would be an understatement! They danced, they laughed, they giggled, they acted silly and finally I decided to capture all their amusing antics in this video! Click on it and I am sure you will have as much fun watching it as I had recording it!


I am sure you will agree that this one was a cracker! And before I wrap this post up, I will repeat the dance quote again - with the hope that it inspires you too to dance!

Photo courtesy

These videos are based on Theme 3 - Kids dancing to the music.


I am dancing for #MaxFreshMove activity at BlogAdda. If you are not blogging, you can join me by participating in this #MaxFreshMove facebook activity.

Friday, 21 August 2015

Airtel 4G - The Fastest Network Ever

I am a mother of two grown up kids and have only recently discovered the magic of WhatsApp and other applications on my mobile. Thanks to technology, I am mentally not too far away from my kids, who both live in different cities. However many a times, because of terrible internet speed on the phone, it gets difficult to share something with them via Whatsapp or Skype. Especially if I have to buy something and want their opinion immediately, then if the connection is slow, it becomes very annoying to keep staring at the phone to see if the network bars are full or not. Many a times, even the 3G speed is so slow that investing more money on a recharge seems like a huge waste of money. But now with the commercial launch of Airtel’s high speed 4G services (also called LTE), it looks like my annoyance about slow phone speed would soon become a thing of the past.


I had been hearing my kids discuss about the 4G launch and now with the kind of buzz the launch has created, it looks like people are really looking forward to get their hands on the free 4G SIM – yes, if you already have an Airtel 3G pack, you are entitled to a free 4G upgrade, and get the same data benefits as your 3G pack. So in effect, if one has an Airtel 3G pack, they will get to enjoy high speed 4G speeds at no extra cost.

The new Airtel TVC too has listed down the features of 4G connection in a fun manner and needless to say I cannot wait to always remain connected with my children through Skype and Whatsapp. The idea of super-fast 4G internet it's impressive and what's adding to the fun factor is the fact that Airtel has put up a challenge too - if your other network is faster, then they will pay your mobile bill for life! 

Airtel 4G SIM is Just a Tweet Away!

The 4G services have been commercially launched in 296 towns across India, and Airtel customers can enjoy 4G services at 3G data prices, with packs starting at Rs. 25. And the icing on the cake is the fact that Airtel is offering a unique 4G SIM delivery service wherein any Airtel user with a 4G compatible handset can tweet using #GetAirtel4G to get a 4G SIM delivered to their home for free! Once a user tweets #GetAirtel4G he gets a reply from @AirtelIndia handle directing the user to a link where a user needs to enter his details for SIM delivery.

To know more about Airtel 4G services, and the other aligned products, you can browse through the Airtel website. The brand's new website will take you through all the offerings of the new services.

Thursday, 20 August 2015

Team Godrej Interio, My Living Room Needs a Makeover!



My home is my haven,
My favourite place in the world,
In it my family blossomed
And my little joys unfurled.

HOME, the four letter word that means the world to us. It's our little kingdom, of which we are the rulers. It's our safe refuge from the harsh world, a space that is ever ready to welcome us with love and warmth. We all love our and cherish our homes but there are times when we wish our home was a little more beautiful, a little more spacious and little more well planned. Quite often I come across friends and acquaintances who express discontent with the way their house is built or designed. I believe this discontent every now and then is quite natural because as human beings we are always seeking to improve our life and surroundings. 

Though I live in a reasonably well designed home, still there are some glaring shortcomings in the layout, especially when it comes to storage space. One of my major grouse is that fact that the dining and lobby area has no wall unit to store the crockery nor there is any dedicated area for casual sitting. And this post is specifically dedicated to all these shortcomings.

Dear readers, in this post I am going to share with you my idea of a dream living cum dining room and how I wish my dining room gets transformed into a more bright and engaging space. Popular home furniture and interiors brand Godrej Interio is giving bloggers an opportunity to get their home/favourite room transformed, and since I have been contemplating about renovating my living-cum-dining room for a while now, I thought this was a good time to write about my dream room and who knows, may be the good folks at Godrej Interio's office will like this post enough to pick it up for the miracle makeover!

Now before I go ahead with my living room woes, here are a couple of photos of the room in question, to give you a perspective about my concerns.




It has been more than a decade that we shifted in our house and in all these years, my house has hardly any seen any major makeover. Though I love my home, but of late there are a few things about it that have started to bother me. One of the major concerns is the bland look of the house and lack of creative shelves to display curios. Also this area looks more like a dining space rather than a lobby or living room. Even when some acquaintance comes over, I have to pull out the dining table chairs for sitting for there's no other sitting option. 

I understand I can invest in a small settee to keep on one side of the room but then that would block the area in front of the refrigerator. So for now there's no quick-fix solution for the sitting problem. Another major issue is lack of storage space for crockery. The fine china is all stocked in the store-room and bringing it out and keeping it back is quite a cumbersome task.

While browsing for ideas to redesign the lobby area, I came across some really handy designs that fit my lobby area to the tee. Godrej Interio's website is loaded with quite a few interesting design ideas matching a variety of space layouts. From the many designs available, I picked up two that look just perfect for replicating.  



Since Godrej Interio is a pioneer brand in home furniture, I browsed through their website to get a more in-depth idea about living cum dining room designs and I was left amazed at the variety of designs the website has on display. Browsing the living room section of the website, I have come across so many layout and designs ideas that look like an exact replica of the dream living cum dining room I have in mind. Check out the designs above - they are precisely what I am looking for  - neat and sorted space with a very contemporary and vibrant look. How lovely it would be to have a designer space such as one of these. With this kind of makeover, all living cum dining room woes would be taken care of. 

So this is how I want my living room/lobby to look like - modern, spacious and cheerful! I hope my humble lobby gets lucky in the #HomeCanvas campaign and gets picked up for a makeover by the Godrej Interio team. Fingers crossed. 


I am participating in the Upload and Transform #HomeCanvas activity in association with Godrej Interio and Blogadda. If you are not blogging, you can still be a part of this activity. Here's how.

Team Godrej Interio, Design My Kitchen Please? #HomeCanvas


I am a home-maker and love cooking for my family and friends, so quite naturally most of my time is spent in the kitchen. My kitchen is indeed the heart of my home - for it's here that I plan all the meals for the family, it's here that I work on new recipes, chart out the week's menu and where many a times my husband sits and has his meals and gives me company as I cook. Moreover, my husband too is fond of cooking and loves to experiment in the kitchen   whenever he has spare time cook in hand. 

It has been more than a decade that we shifted in our house and in all these years, my kitchen has hardly seen any major change in design. Though I love my kitchen, but of late there are a few things about it that have started to bother me. One of the major concerns is the problem of termite, which is eating into most of the wooden storage spaces. Another big issue is the lack of enough storage area to keep little knick-knacks that keep making their way into the kitchen - little bottle of spices, new tea mugs and other sundry kitchen items. I understand the kitchen is in need of a major overhaul, but the idea of moving everything apart seems so daunting that I keep postponing it altogether.




But given the condition of the kitchen, inwardly I know that I will have to get it sorted sometime soon now, and this has had me dreaming about the changes I would love to incorporate in my kitchen. As you must have guessed from the many things stocked up on the tiny shelf and the big marble shelf, storage is indeed the primary of concerns in my kitchen. Plus the layout and design too looks dated, so my priority is to go for a design that offers space, style and convenience and at the same time is easy to maintain.

I would love to have this kitchen transformed into a modern modular kitchen, for they are not just more sturdy and functional, but also more durable in moist kitchen environments. The icing on the cake is that modular kitchens are termite free, thanks to the use of stainless steel instead of wood. So if I opt for a modular steel kitchen, I would not have to worry about keeping an eye out for the termite control spray or getting the cupboards changed every few years. Also after all these years of a boring kitchen design, it would be exciting to experiment with a contemporary and colourful look for the most used part of the house.

Since Godrej Interio is a pioneer brand in home furniture, I browsed through their website to get a more in-depth idea about modular kitchen designs and I was left amazed at the wide variety of kitchen accessories that website has on display. And since the brand is also giving bloggers an opportunity to get their home/favourite room transformed, I will just cross my fingers and wish the Godrej team picks up my humble kitchen for the miracle makeover!



Browsing the kitchen section of the Godrej Interio website, I have come across so many layout and designs ideas that look like an exact replica of the dream kitchen I have in mind. Check out the designs above - they are precisely what I am looking for in my kitchen - neat and sorted space and very contemporary and vibrant to look at. There is another design that I came across while looking for kitchen design ideas and this one shared below too seems to mirror the kind of kitchen design concept I have in mind. How lovely it would be to have a kitchen such as one of these. With this kind of makeover, all my kitchen woes would be taken care of. 


So this is how I want my kitchen to look like - modern, spacious and convenient. I hope my humble kitchen gets lucky in the #HomeCanvas campaign and gets picked up for a makeover by the Godrej Interio team. Fingers crossed. 


I am participating in the Upload and Transform #HomeCanvas activity in association with Godrej Interio and Blogadda. If you are not blogging, you can still be a part of this activity. Here's how.

Photo credits : Godrej Interio, Yabeen.com

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Zingy Chifferi Rigati Pasta Salad!


"But, you must remember, whatever you eat, make sure you have at least one bowl of salad with it." 
-- S.A. Tawks, in The Spirit of Imagination

I love salads. They are not just appetising but also very cheerful, and of course one cannot rave enough about salad's health benefits! The days when my family gets bored of eating the routine rice, roti and veggies combination, I rustle up salad spreads for them. Most of the times I love putting together sprouts salad as a side dish with lunch and it gets devoured even before we are half way through eating.

Besides sprouts salad, another item that is an evergreen favourite is the pasta salad - there are so many ways one can prepare this Italian gift to the world. Pasta is one ingredient that is so versatile that you can team it up with anything - with fruits and vegetables and different dressings, and it will taste delicious every single time. Moreover there are so many varieties of pasta available that one can keep experimenting with the different types, and never complain of boredom! So when I heard of Del Monte's Italian Escapades campaign, quite obviously I decide to make a pasta salad!

Zingy Chifferi Rigati Pasta Salad!

Since it is still pretty hot in many parts of the country (despite the rains), I decided to make a cold pasta salad which is refreshing as well as healthy. The idea was to stay away from cheese and heavy ingredients and make a salad dish that could serve as a filling substitute for full-fledged meal. I used Del Monte's Chifferi Rigati pasta for the salad, which is small-sized and goes well for salad dishes. Here's the recipe for you.


Cooking time: 30 minutes

Serves: 4 

Ingredients for salad
  • 2 cups durum wheat pasta (I have used Chifferi Rigati)
  • 1 bowl of cherry tomatoes, cut in halves
  • 1 bowl of sweet corn kernels
  • 1 bowl finely chopped cucumber
  • 1/2 bowl of almonds (pre-soaked in water for an hour and then sliced)
  • 1 bowl of fresh mint leaved
  • 1 bowl of curd

Okay I tried my hand at making a video of the ingredients, my first attempt at video. Do tell me how it looks.


Here's a quick photo of the ingredients -


Ingredients for salad dressing

Besides the above mentioned items, these are the items that you would need for salad dressing - 
  • Extra virgin olive oil (2 tablespoons)
  • Red chilli flakes
  • 1 chopped de-seeded green chilli
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Salt as per taste
Here's a video of the dressing ingredients -


Here's a photo of the dressing ingredients -


Preparation

  • Heat 4 cups of water in a deep saucepan and when the water comes to a boil, add pasta, 2 spoonful of oil and a pinch of salt in it.
  • Cook the pasta until it's soft and then drain in a colander. Now the run the pasta through cold water, drizzle a bit of olive oil so it does not stick together and keep it aside.
  • Take a deep pan or bowl and mix the cooked pasta, cucumber, sweet corn, almonds, cherry tomatoes and green chillies.
  • Add 2 tablespoon of lemon juice.
  • For the dressing - Add curd and mint leaves in a mixer grinder and blitz. Pour this over the pasta mix and toss well.
  • Now add salt and red chilli flakes as per taste.
  • Sprinkle a little extra virgin olive oil and toss again.

Lo and behold! Your Zingy Chifferi Rigati pasta salad is ready! Garnish it with fresh mint leaves and cherry tomatoes and serve cold.

Here's the video of the making of the salad.


"What is more refreshing than salads when your appetite seems to have deserted you, or even after a capacious dinner - the nice, fresh and crisp salad, full of life and health, which seems to invigorate the palate and dispose the masticating powers to a much longer  duration."

-- Alexis Soyer, 19th century French celebrity chef

Time and again, chefs and food connoisseurs across the world have shared their take on the importance of salad in our diet. Traditionally they were generally prepared out of raw vegetables like cucumber, onion and cabbage, but with time, now we see there are so many varieties of vegetarian and non vegetarian salads where one can customise them according to their taste and availability of ingredients.

I am really happy how my Zingy Chifferi Rigati psata salad has come out. The photos here are not of great quality, but everyone who's sampling the salad has only superlative things to say about this preparation, and needless to say, their response is making me super happy!




And before I wrap this post up, did I tell you about the secret ingredient that I added to my pasta salad? No?
Okay then here it is - half a bowl of sugar coated raisins! They are all neatly hidden underneath the pasta!


So now when you are preparing your pasta salad, after you have added the key ingredients to the pasta, before dressing it up, add half a bowl of dry raisins or you can also soak them up in water for 15 minutes if you want. This adds a lovely dash of sweetness to the pasta and tastes better than sugar. Hope you enjoyed this twist in the recipe!

If you are trying this one at home, I would love to hear how it came out.  And before I say bye, here's another lovely food quote or rather salad quote for you! Happy cooking!

"Salad freshens without enfeebling and fortifies without irritating." 
-- Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, French politician and gastronome

This post is a part of Del Monte India's #ItalianEscapades campaign in association with Indiblogger.