Happy Independence Day

What does Independence Day mean to you, my dear reader?

I woke up at 9.30 am, ate Mysore  Bajji my dad lovingly brought from our regular thela near my home and spent time with kids teaching maths tables and how to mix colors in the color palette. I think it was a good morning.

While I was on with my daily chores, I kept wondering what Freedom means to be at an Individual level.  Don’t mistake me for a dumb girl, since I’ve acquainted myself with the nuances of how independence plays at national level, the perils around it. But, the best reaction I can give to news like that – SIGH and IGNORE. You would ask – why cant you do more than that ? I can,  the time has to come and I’ll surely do something near me that bothers me day in and day out.

Back to the Individual sense of freedom.  I am a strong believer of science, and I have read books that affirmed by belief that happiness is nothing but high doses of oxycotin. Which is a chemical our body manufactures, and less of cortisol ( the stress harmone) -which is also a chemical our body manufactures.

So, on this independence day – I wish you all the freedom to maximize the oxycotin manufacture and minimize the cortisol production in your body. Simplest way to achieve this is to stop dancing to the tunes life throws at us, rather play our piano at the pace and the song we wish to play.

Have a good day and keep rocking!

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9 Things in 37 Years

So,  I turn 37 today.  7th August.  A very happy space of mind, as of now 🙂  I am not a fan of celebrating birthdays and doing anything special, but my husband treats it like a kumbh mela 😉

I would like to note down the 7 things that life taught me in these 37 years, in no particular order –

  1. Stop blame and playing the victim card :  For long, I thought I never had any hobby because my parents never enrolled me when I was young and now that I am old, I cannot enroll in any.  What a stupid assumption that was I realized, when I enrolled into Hindustani Classical music classes 3 months back. In fact, I ordered a Harmonium which will be delivered to home in a couple of days. My trainer told me I picked up quite fast for my age!   As I introspect, I realized that I was independent and earning since the age of 22, and I had my first kid at the age of 29. I had 7 years of life –  with money, freedom and brain. I did absolutely nothing to create a hobby. Now I realize –  there is no better time to do anything than NOW. And there’s proof – my singing Bhairavi Raga, something that I thought I will never pull off in my entire lifetime!!!

2.    Give before you ask :  I’ve  always been of this attitude but there are plenty of life               experiences that affirmed my belief in this.  I’ve seen in professional and personal              life that the acute understanding of the context you are in, the natures of people around you and what their values systems are – should pretty much give an idea of what they are missing in their lives and careers. You should aim to give exactly that, and keep giving selflessly.  Results will come – happy marriages, promotions  but the emotional chord you will strike with them is priceless.  You will be surprised how they will choose you to tell their pains and deepest secrets just because you chose to be just there.

3.  Action over Thoughts :  I’ve always been the “theory” type,  and that has worked wonders in my career.  Never thought that has been adversely impacting the things I desperately wanted to achieve in my life.  Meaning to lose 20 kg off my body since the time I can remember, but I would have read more books, fitness blogs than the number of times I hit the gym or mat.  I told myself and everyone around that I have stubborn fat which is hard to lose. While that is partly true, I used that as an alibi not to hit the gym.  Now that I have taken the 100-day exercise challenge – I realize how flexible my body is, and how it is responding to the exercises I do on the mat. And how good I feel after I did it.

4. Focus, Focus and Focus :  I learnt this the very hard way. Learnt is incorrect, for I haven’t’ applied it in any area of my life. To achieve anything, you cant spread yourself too thin. Cant have new goals every other week.  Need to focus, be patient and persistent with the most important thing you want to accomplish. So, while the list to achieve is pretty long, I did not manage to strike off a single one off it – just because I have no focus. Hopefully, can do atleast one by next birthday!

5. Life is in the little moments :  I’ve always been a big bang person.  I am good only if I have accomplished something newspaper worthy or a president medal worthy. As the life passed on, I realized that watching my daughter recite her rhymes without blinking an eye,  or watching my husband ace his go-live in the project or my sister sending her unbelievable yoga poses –  heck, drinking filter coffee undisturbed.  Long shower. There was soooo many things that made me happy and fulfilled. Ofcourse big achievements still lure me, but now that I know the improvement area – FOCUS, atleast I stopped beating myself over it.

6. Happiness is a state of mind  :   I learnt this from my mother in law, who maintains exactly the same state of mind regardless of situations and how the people behave around  her.  It’s not easy for someone like me who likes to respond to every small stimulus life gives her. This goal is aspirational for me.

7.  Look after yourself first : As someone who takes pride in taking care of other people – this one was a tough learning for me. Take care of your physical appearance, your mind , your soul before attempting to repair or suggest anyone else what to do.  Workout for the body, Reading for the mind and Hobby for the soul.

8.  Financial Discipline & Awareness :  Despite earning for 15 odd years, I never cultivated the awareness and financial discipline. It still looks like a maze to me  – FD, PPF and other stuff.  This goal is aspirational to me.

9.  People do things from their context, not yours :  Someone stops talking suddenly. Some one bitches about you in your circle. Someone doesn’t share stuff  when you have been giving all along.  Earlier, I used to attribute these to something I didn’t do or talk or behave. Now, I am pretty clear that people do things to please themselves –  not you.   I have made peace with not being the center and reason for all of their actions and responses 😉 You can be the center only for your actions, and not anyone else.

So, I clearly know the areas I need to improve on, and will be patient with myself while I make baby steps towards the same. And will keep celebrating every small victory and treat myself like I would treat everyone else!

Happy day and keep rocking!

 

 

 

 

Stuff I Love : Food Fitness Fun Youtube Channel

There is lot of experimentation I do with my diet, moods and daily routine.  I like to shuffle things around in the house, in my head so they don’t look or feel the same. Having gone through few dozens of youtube channels on food – mainly for simple, easy and  nutritious food, finally I stumbled upon this one. While self made  is good, a little qualification doesn’t hurt.

This youtube channel Food  Fitness Fun is run by Manju Malik ( Nutritionist) and Satvanti Singh. Their videos are short, and contain more information in each video( e.g. 5 barley recipes).  The entire recipe is written down in the  description of the video – so you actually don’t need to play it.  Manju likes to play around with Oats  a lot, they have a special section with Oats Recipes.  So far, I tried her Multinut Chikki, Overnight Oats and Oats  Sprouts Chilla and Banana Oats French Toast They were easy to make, and came out extremely well.  Kids  loved it, and I will have to keep making them on demand.

There is no fluff, advertisement and name calling. These days Youtube channels  are a muck and this one comes along as fresh air. There  are talks on nutrition and she gives us a lot of detox drinks, pre and post workout drinks. Being  a healthy eater, I have all the things in my pantry.  Looking at her recipes, you would feel most of them have been invented  by her and hence won’t be found in regular youtube channels.

Guys, give it a try. If you have kids – try this out first 🙂

Oats Banana French ToastOats Banana French Toast

Have a good day  and keep rocking!

 

Stuff I Love : The Ken Subscription

Starting with this blog post, I will try to tell you the  stuff I like and why.  This is more of a personal chronicle, but I would  strongly urge you to scan the source I mention here. These will include websites, youtube channels and obscure books. The  people I love.

Starting today is a digital media subscription I took recently – The Ken Website subscription. It costed  me Rs. 3,245 for an entire year. I have read about the founder Rohin Dharmakumar, when I was working in the startup space, dabbling in a startup media startup TheTechPanda. Things went differently, and I was out of it, but thanks to my good memory – I remember the names quite well. When I saw they were launching a digital media startup,  I was one of the first ones to express interest.  While The Ken formally launched in October 2016,  I read their free piece and kept waiting. Ever since, they have sent me one email everyday – exactly at 08.05 am.  I would have read hardly 10 pieces from them – until I subscribed.  Now,  the first thing I read is the article from The Ken, before I start my day.   So, why did I subscribe?

  1.  The cover letters that come in email everyday.  Written by the author of the piece, they set an excellent tone and to me, it feels as if the author is sitting in front of me, and is now about to start their story telling.  They have recently started weekend posts as well, and the first one is just tooooo goood.
  2. Well researched content and long form journalism. After you read the piece, you feel you have achieved something – it gives you that high, that sense of satisfaction. It’s very close to drinking a cup of  Filter coffee 🙂
  3. No Agenda, No mud slinging and no hiding of  Investors. I have seen them mention Vijay Sekhar Sharma as an investor everytime  PayTM is mentioned.
  4. Narrow Categories and in depth coverage. They write on Technology, Business, Startups, Science  and Health care.  I love these  guys for staying away from Politics.
  5. Consistent quality.  It’s not easy to maintain the quality of the publication – when you are running purely subscription based and not showing me the nasty google ads everytime I come to your home. Recently, these guys became profitable and I was cheering for them from my home desk.

The Single most reason why I subscribed  –

Reading The Ken makes me happy.

It’s has its place in the list of habits I like to build really long term.  They have a free read every week, please read it for a few weeks – I promise you will be hooked, just like me.

Have a good day and keep rocking!

 

Web TV Series Review : Sacred Games

I wasn’t tracking this one down , but my recent netflix subscription gently coaxed me to watch it. How? By showing the star cast.  I subscribed to Netflix only to watch Dhobi Ghat, and ended up watching a lot more – Dhobi Ghat, Masaan, Waiting, and finally The Sacred Games.  Couldn’t binge watch all the 8 episodes, despite my best try. Instead, spread it over 3 nights and finally was done yesterday night.

First things first. Lifted from Wikipedia – 

Sacred Games is an Indian web television series by Netflix based on Vikram Chandra’s 2006 thriller novel Sacred Games.[1][2] The series was produced in partnership with Phantom Films. All eight, hour-long episodes are directed by Anurag Kashyap and Vikramaditya Motwane, who are co-founders of Phantom Films. The production wrapped on 28 January, 2018, with first look released on 23 February, 2018. The show is one of the seven Netflix Indian Originals in production.

Saif Ali Khan, Nawazuddin Siddique and Radhika Apta don the key roles, with the most interesting characters played  by Luke Kenny, Kubra Sait , Jatin Sarna,  Jitendra Joshi and  Neeraj Kabi. It has the talented Rajshri Despande and Anupriya Goenka. The show has two directors – Vikramaditya Motwane ( Remember, Udaan) and Anurag Kashyap( If you need intro, please stop reading here) – one shooting the past and other, the  present day.

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The story starts with a honest but unsuccessful police officer Sartaj (Saif)  receiving call from gangster of the decade(Nawaz)  – only because of his dead constable father.  They have 25 days to save the city of Mumbai, and everyone will die – except Trivedi. Sartaj starts his  hunt, and what he uncovers is chilling. Extremely realistic and dark, My personal favorite is the past episodes.

Every character has several layers  and in the end it is hard to conclude if anyone is perfectly black and white.  They can’t – just like in real life.  The web series is about the rise of a gangster, about a honest police offer finally giving in to the pressures of  the system, about a lady RAW agent in the “area” of men. More than anything else, it is how Religion is used to make idiots out of perfectly normal people like you and me. The rise of politicians, the dirty marriage between law and politics, how movie stars can get involved in shady stuff and how everything can be brought for money.

Filled with expletives, watch it with headphones on.  Out of all, the thread that is perfectly etched in my memory is Constable Katekar. Happy go Lucky and always available for Sartaj( Saif) – he dies the day he tries to do his duty.  The web series is a pleasure to watch, because all the actors know exactly where to stop. There is no glorification, over dramatization – everyone fails. Everyone disappoints themselves and others.  Even with the most notorious criminals – you tend to have an empathy for what they go through in front of you. On the small screen.

I’m not a fan of mainstream bollywood and have sat through exactly one Saif movie so far – Hum Tum. He put on weight, and his mannerisms as a defeated police officer to somehow redeem himself are excellent. All the supporting cast – treat to watch.

Do yourself a favor –  watch this web series and soak in the city of Mumbai : “Anything is possible here!”

Rating : 10/10

 

Movie Review : That Girl in Yellow Boots

I couldn’t sleep that night. It was 10 days and my cold hadn’t come down, and the new exercise routine I started was aching. But, more importantly – I just finished watching this movie and was wondering what the central character in this movie must have gone through.  Enough said, there was no sleep for me that night!

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The people whole likes to watch good cinema must be indebted to Kalki koechlin. She is the main character in the movie, and has co-written it with her ex husband Anurag Kashyap.  The plot is wafer thin. A British lady comes to India to find her father, who left them when she was 5 years old. She has no photos since her mom tore off  everything, after the elder sister kills herself.  How Ruth struggles in passport office,  her ways of earning money by illegally working in a massage parlor and her tumultous relationship with her boyfriend.  She doesn’t speak much.  Her treatment of her boyfriend, how she develops a nice bond with the elderly guy who comes for Massages, played by Naseeruddin  Shah show the tender side of Ruth. Come what may, she is determined to find her long lost father, and keeps donating the hard earned money to the institutions she needs the details from.

When Ruth discovers who her father is, you wish she never came. You wish she never took the pain. I personally wanted to shut out the laptop and go for a walk.  The film stays with you for very very long time, on how inhuman people can be, and what a crime for a dad to be that.

Watch it, only if you can handle stomach churning endings. For the rest, we have Sallu bhai anyway 😉

Rating – 10/10

Have a good day and keep rocking!

 

Snacks : Whole Wheat Carrot Muffins

It was monday and I was full of energy. We had a good weekend and I was all done with my afternoon routine. So, me and vihu were waiting for the elder sister – bored. I had two options – force the kid to sleep or make her afternoon interesting by baking with her.  Why I say Interesting, because she does the major part of mixing for me.  Sits cross legged in kitchen and keeps commanding why the flours are coming so late to her mixing bowl. I just love the excitement she has in her eyes when she peeps through the oven door and says – “Mummy, look cup cakes are growing!”. So, I went for the fun option and baked whole wheat carrot cupcakes for the kids. Entire process end to end took me 45 minutes.

Verdict – 5/5 ,  kids ate it up in 10 mins flat.

I picked up the recipe  from here, because  I had no eggs and had  ready made flax seeds powder in the  pantry.

Recipe here – https://www.archanaskitchen.com/whole-wheat-carrot-cupcakes-with-cream-cheese-frosting

Didn’t do the cheese frosting because  I was too lazy for that – still they turned out super duper awesome.

 

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Have a good day and keep rocking!