Saturday, 31 January 2015

The Pimple Saga

       This incident happened few months ago. It was the month of celebration. My cousin's wedding was fast approaching and I was having a gala time shopping and celebrating with my cousins. Wedding seasons are always fun time and if there happens to be someone to enjoy with, the fun multiplies in magnitude. It was the same with me. We were a group of teenagers having the most awesome time of our life. Our days passed shopping, selecting the best for the occasion and the nights were spent partying, watching movies, playing pranks and pulling the groom's leg.

       All was fun and happening until the traitor made its appearance. One day we woke up to the shrill voice of my cousin sister who was shouting like the entire house was set on fire. As I woke up and sat straight with a jerk, everything was looking normal to me. At first, I couldn't find anything that could explain my cousin's behavior. She was standing in front of the mirror, looking sad and angry at the same time. It looked as if she was about to cry or punch someone if need be. Confused, I kept staring at her. Slowly, I understood what had brought out the drama and when I did, I burst out laughing, much to her irritation. There, sitting majestically on her forehead was a pimple, which was the root cause of all the drama.


       Everything changed soon. Our shopping trips were cancelled as my fashion lover, Ms Perfect cousin hid in her room. She didn't agree to go out, for she didn't want to show her pimple clad face to anyone. "What would people think?", "How would I face anyone with this pimple on my face?", "What happens to my image?" the endless questions made her sulk even more. As it happens always, when someone is suffering, people start offering free advises. Everyone assumes the role of a doctor as they start suggesting remedies and the same happened in my cousin's case too. "Apply some turmeric" said one. "Wash your face multiple times and avoid going out in dust" said another. There was no cream that wasn't suggested and no remedy left unsaid. But nothing worked. If anything, the tension seemed to make it worse and the small pimple had now swollen in size and my cousin was in hysterics! I tried to pacify her by saying she need to maintain calm, for tension would make things worse. I suggested her to breath in and out evenly. She made a great show of breathing calmly for a minute and burst out with rage. "As if I can sit calm with this wretched thing on my face! The function is so close and now my life is doomed" wailed my drama queen.

       Though I pitied her, some of her antiques were fun to watch. She decided to get a new perm, a front cut, so that her hair can cover her face. I thought it was ridiculous. "How would you know my pain?" she said as I kept on turning down all her so called brilliant ideas by saying they were stupid. Of course I knew how she was feeling. I had experienced it a few times myself. There is nothing great about pimples. If anything, they make you feel so low and make you lose your self confidence. You don't feel like going out or interacting with anyone. Even if there is nothing going on, you feel like everyone is staring at you and laughing at you. You just wish the earth would split up and swallow you. Those little demons are like parasites, which live off you and take away your life. Okay, that was an exaggeration. They don't take your life but they take away your happiness and peace of mind and it is almost the same. How frustrating that feeling of helplessness is, I know it all. But I wasn't going to say it out loud and make her wail even more. Instead, I tried to pacify her.

       Finally, a friend of her's suggested her to use Garnier Neem Face Wash. She assured my cousin that she had used it herself and felt the results. With a couple of days still left for the wedding, she had nothing to worry if she started using it now. Lapping up every assurance she gave, my cousin religiously followed her friend's advice. As days passed, her dramatics became less and finally to the point that there were none. Her antiques had stopped. She was again going on and on about how we would have an awesome time at the wedding. Was she the same one who was planning schemes to hide herself backstage during the whole function? It didn't look like that. Now that she had got rid of the wretched pimple and was confident about herself, she seemed like a totally different person. This transformed one was oozing with confidence as she planned various mischiefs to enjoy the wedding. 

       The pimple had brought unexpected turn of events. But once it was gone, needless to say, we enjoyed the wedding function to the peek.

PS: This post is written for IndiBlogger in association with  Garnier Pure Active - No Pimples No Marks.

Until the next post,
Keep Smiling :)

Love,
Swathi :)

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Mom and Facebook!!

       Facebook is a fun place when you have right kind of friends. The socializing, sharing, getting to know what is happening in each other's life, chatting; everything seems good. Sometimes, it is the best option to pass time. Everything looks good and happening. But what happens when your parents join Facebook? Well, that is when the real trouble begins!



       It all started when mom started learning computer few months ago. In the beginning, she used to say "These computers are not for me. I can never learn it. Leave it, it's a waste of time" My brother and I used to have a difficult time convincing her to learn. To make learning fun, my brother taught her how to use Facebook, so that there will be something interesting and motivating. After all, the thought of getting to know what her friends and family is up to, ought to pique some interest.

       Now, fast forward a few months.

Me: Mom, I want to use system.
Mom: Can't you see I am using it now? You go and read.

       After a few minutes,

Mom: Swathi!! Didn't I tell you to read?
Me: Mom! I am reading!
Mom: Don't lie to me! If you are reading, then who is liking pictures on Facebook?

       Oops!! Now I can't use Facebook as and when I want when reading. Were we wrong in teaching her? I wasn't sure.

       Few more days and she knew how to use Facebook perfectly. And started the endless questions.
  • Why are you online all the time?
  • Who is that who liked you status?
  • Why did he like your picture?
  • Why does he comment on everything you post?
  • Who is this friend of yours?
  • Why are you tagged in this post?
  • (When a friend posted a Thank you video on my timeline, which was so popular few months back) Why is he thanking you? Why video?
  • (When she saw me liking a post of  a blogger friend, which said she was selected for an anthology) Why don't you put status like this? If you don't tell anyone about your achievements, who will?
  • (And the best/worst - when/if I put a new DP) Don't you read the posts? It's not good for girls to put pictures on Facebook. How many times should I tell you this?
       When mom first started using Facebook, I thought it was so cool. But now? I feel like smacking my brother for teaching her! He told me few minutes ago that he is planning now to teach her how to use Whatsapp!! What? Why? How? I couldn't even think of a proper response for that! If my occasional Facebook usage can cause so much trouble, what will happen when she starts using Whatsapp? Well, I just know one thing for sure. I will never be able to fake sleep and chat with friends till late! God save me!

PS: I do love my mom. But sometimes, just sometimes, the questions are difficult to answer.

Until the next post,
Keep Smiling :)

Love,
Swathi :)

Monday, 26 January 2015

Angelic Beats - Book Review

Title: Angelic Beats  

Author: Sarita Singh
Publisher: Leadstart Publishing Pvt. Ltd
ISBN: 978-93-84226-50-3
Number of Pages: 247
Price: 175 [INR]


Blurb on the Book:


Angelic Beats is the story of a boy in his late teens who falls in love with a married woman. Both defy their ages; the woman for her looks and innocence and the boy for his confidence and clarity in life along with integrity. The journey of the boy for his passion also becomes journey of love for both that finally takes them to more meaningful destinations. It unfolds the changing perspective of a young boy and a married woman in various situations of life treading the path of love and success together. How they carry on with love and friendship as a responsibility is quintessence to their journeys.

Love can make one completely blind or it can candle all the darkness in life.

Sometimes destiny becomes the greatest magician. It brings two opposite people, Sahil and Aakanksha, on one platform. Even their personal statuses do not match for one is married and the other single. One is confident about making choices in life, whereas the other is always scared of making a choice. One is always positive, and the other is negative in outlook.

Unlike mathematics, where "+" and "-" always make "-", sometimes in real life, "+" and "-" do make a "+" together.

On the road leading to his passion, he happened to meet the first love of his love too. Before going to the National Defence Academy for the journey to be a commissioned officer in Indian Air Force finally, he introduced "love" in her and his own life and pledged his heart to her. The arrows of Cupid struck her also.

Do their final choices engulf all other relationships like a storm and rage and bleed their self-esteem? Or are they able to carry their choices gracefully through their quest for happiness?

My Review:

The protagonist Sahil is a 19 year old whose dream is to join the Airforce. He  is strong, determined and follows his dream passionately. On his journey to the NDA, he meets Akanksha, who is 24 and married! But this doesn't stop them from falling for each other and the story there after is how they carry on with their lives while nurturing this love of theirs.

Amidst all the odds, Sahil and Akanksha find a way to be each others strength, love providing the necessary support needed. But how long will they be able to carry on this love? Will they be able to face the society and their family?

I liked the positive approach of Sahil towards life. His confidence and his perseverance are something that can inspire you. The story starts well and is fast paced till a certain point but from the middle of the story, the pace slows down and it gets a little boring. While it is interesting to learn about the life at NDA, too much details slows down the story pace and the reader loses interest slightly.

Here are some lines that I liked from the book:

  • Love is never planned nor does it happen for a reason. It just happens.
  • When you are bitten by bug called Love, everything seems perfect.
  • With strength comes clarity of thoughts.
All in all, I felt the book was OK. The language is simple and straight forward. Apart from few additional details which slows down the plot, the story makes a good read.

My Rating: 2.5/5 stars




Buy @

Meet the Author:

The author, Sarita Singh, is a post-graduate in chemistry with a post-graduate diploma in mass communications. Born and brought up in Panipat, Haryana, she has been married to a doctor and is blessed with a son. The author is a state civil services (allied) officer, who has also taught in various institutions earlier. Reading and writing have always been a part of Sarita Singh who used to write her diary from a very young age. Like many others, she too loves gossiping and enjoying with friends and family as she loves spending time with them. The author believes in a few optimistic thoughts: “I am alright, I am happy where I am now, but I wish to be somewhere else. And I will try for it.”


You can stalk her @
                          

       

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Until the next post,
Keep Smiling :)

Love,
Swathi :)

Saturday, 24 January 2015

For the Love of Gadgets!

       Finally here I am, in the final semester of engineering life! I can't believe it's been three and a half year already since I joined engineering! While I am excited about completing my degree, I also know that this semester is important, with project playing a key role. It also means I have to carry laptop almost every day to college. Whenever I think of this, a sigh escapes my mouth before I can stop it. Though it is not a big deal, I don't fancy carrying 3.5 kg laptop with me everyday. I was trying not to dwell too much on this fact but when I saw my friend's ASUS EeeBook X205TA, all my resolve crumpled. Let me tell you why.

       First of all, it's so light. It just weighs 1 kg! Can you believe it? 1 kg? It has a sleek and compact design. I could feel myself drooling over it. It's not just the looks though. It indeed has a good configuration. 12 hours battery life which will be really helpful when I have a full day, 500 GB free web storage for 2 years, highly sensitive touch pad with accuracy as good as smartphone, 2 GB RAM, Windows 8.1 OS, all that and many more. And the best part is, it just costs Rs. 14,999. I was totally blown away. It was love at first sight. How good it would have been if I too had an ASUS EeeBook X205TA! My life would be so much easier and I wouldn't have to complain about carrying my laptop to college every day. It's a win - win situation!

Image Source
       As if on cue, my friend took me to the hall to show off her desktop. Either my face displayed my longing or my friend was a very good reader. She was clearly enjoying all this. She proudly pointed at the ASUS All In One PC ET2040 that was perched on the table in the corner. "If you think the EeeBook is amazing, wait till you see this" she said as the desktop sprung in to life. I was already impressed with the looks of it but when I saw the features, you can say I was clean bowled! 

Image Source
       I had always seen ads about gesture control devices but had never seen one in real. I was like a kid with shiny new toy. The gesture controls were fun, like holding up forefinger to indicate mute, thumb, like the FB like symbol, to indicate play, and few more. Once I was done playing around, my friend showed me other features. It had a built-in 1-hr UPS that prevents data loss. I grudgingly thought about my own desktop, whose UPS has stopped working long ago. It was incredibly fast and responsive too. Again, the picture of my desktop flashed before my eyes, mocking me! My friend was still talking, but I wasn't listening anymore.

      I was resolved. I had to get these gadgets. Probably the ASUS EeeBook X205TA first as that is what I need most at the time and it is really affordable. And after a few months, the  ASUS All In One PC ET2040 too. It would be fun to say goodbye to my old Grandpa computer after all! Once the decision was made, I felt quite happy. Maybe some wonderful shopping is just around the corner.

PS: This post is written for IndiBlogger in association with ASUS.

Until the next post,
Keep Smiling :)

Love,
Swathi :)

Playing Cupid

   When I read this question from Closeup Cupid Games 2015 asking "If you had to propose to your crush on Valentine's day, how would you do it?", I was a little confused. Well, if I am being completely honest, I was totally clueless. First, I don't have a crush, unless you count all those actors I have crush on, say, Lee Min Ho! So, I guess that's a moot point. And second, whenever I thought of proposal, I always imagined the guy doing it! Isn't that what all novels and movies tell you? So, if I had to propose my crush, what would I do? Well, I am back to square one - being clueless! After some thought, I decided to sketch a plan. After all, it might come in handy someday.

        Having a crush on someone is a sweet torture. You don't know if your crush likes you, but you can't stop feeling excited every time you get a glimpse of them. So first, I would talk to him, make friends and pay a lot of attention. It's always better to know your crush's likes and dislikes. It helps you prepare for the D-Day! After all, I don't want to spring him in a situation where he gets all uncomfortable. So, after a lot of getting to know, I will devise my plan! Meanwhile, I will drop little hints to let him know I like him. But not the grand plan! I want the proposal to be a surprise for him. A day both of us would cherish forever. And what better than Valentine's day to express my love?

       OK. The date is set. But what would I do? How would I propose? I want to do something special. So I start writing down the ideas which I think will be good. 

  • Maybe I can paint his portrait on a huge canvas. Will it be good? Of course it has to be. Though it might look simple, there goes a lot of effort in creating a masterpiece. I can pour all my love for him in the painting.
  • Next, maybe I can arrange a romantic dinner, perfect with wine and candle light. I know the old saying which says "The way to a man's heart is through his stomach". Maybe I can prepare a delicious course for dinner, with all his favorite items on the menu.
  • Put a vase with flowers on the dining table, maybe red roses. It always sets up a lovely environment.
  • Maybe prepare a video with all our pictures and some sweet messages to him. I can play it before I propose him. Maybe I can even write a sweet poem for him and add it in the video.
  • And, of course, get down on one knee and propose to him, when I finally express my feelings for him.

Image Source
       Now, don't ask me what will happen next! I don't know. This was the planning part and it was under my control. His reaction, on the other hand, is not something I can predict. I will let you know the rest, when it happens. Till then, enjoy the season of Love!

PS: This post is written for IndiBlogger in association with Closeup Cupid Games.

Until the next post,
Keep Smiling :)

Love,
Swathi :)
       

Thursday, 22 January 2015

The Great Indian Litterbug

      Have you ever heard of 'The Great Indian Litterbug'? Think before you answer. Because, when I introduce to him, you will definitely say that you have known him all your life! Still confused about his identity? Okay. Let me introduce you to him.

       There is a saying that 'Whatever you take from the society, you have to give it back to the society' The Great Indian Litterbug is the person who has taken this way too seriously. But alas! He has a twisted sense of humor and what he gives back, is not something that I am happy about! He has made friends with so many Indians, and everyone influenced by him is taking part in his grand Littering campaign, the sole purpose of which is to enhance the beauty of the roads, walls, streets; basically everything!

       Do you know the contributions of this Great Indian Litterbug? Take a break from your busy schedule and look around you. Lets look at the walls first. You might have seen pictures of walls decorated with graffiti art and admired it. You might have even wished there were such beautiful creations near your place. Though there isn't graffiti on your wall, if you look closely, you will find another kind of art there, thanks to the Litterbug. People chew paan and spit it on the wall. You should see them in action. They even take bets on who will spit it the farthest. The trajectory plays an important role. 

       Oh, that isn't all. Have you ever dreamt of walking on red carpet? Did you ever wish you could someday achieve that dream? Don't worry at all. The litterbug is here to help you. Take your eyes off your mobile when walking and look at the ground. By chance, if you are in a public place like bus stand, then even better. Look around you. Every inch of the ground will be covered with spit. Just when you think you spotted a clean space and are about to move towards it, someone infected by the Litterbug will squash your hopes and spit right on the spot of clean land you were eyeing. There, you got to see him in action! Now tell me, do you still wish to walk on the red carpet?

       Spitting isn't the only thing! The maids are also highly affected by this litterbug. The other day, my neighbor's maid, after finishing her work at their home, came out and threw the garbage right in front of our home! I asked her why she threw it there and she asks me back "Does the road belong to you?" I couldn't quite answer that question! Across the globe, rain is seasonal. But in our country, it is always wise to carry an umbrella whenever you are walking in some residential area. You never know when the Litterbug will be pleased and decides to bless you. You are walking in front of a house and the next moment you know, you are standing as a victim of the garbage rain pouring from the balcony, courtesy - the Litterbug!

        I would rather not elaborate about the condition of the public toilets. Because, they are the safest, for the Litterbug seldom visits there. Instead, he goes out and stands in front of the wall or a pole, like a dog, and does his work. So much for the 'Don't urinate here' boards, for they are the places which attracts the highest number of Litterbugs!

       All places of scenic beauty are now under the mercy of Litterbug. Last year I had been to a beach. Litterbug had reached there before me and what a welcome he had prepared. It was like he was telling me "I am the king of this land and you people are under my mercy!"



      There is no stopping him. Every one of the ten people you meet is a Litterbug. If there is one person who stands true to the 'No discrimination' principle, then its him. Public places, roads, foot paths, walls, glasses, cars, shutters; there is no discrimination at all. There isn't a single place which is spared! If there is such a place you know, then think again! Because before you know, The Great Indian Litterbug will reach there too. Beware!!

       Read more about The Great Indian Litterbug here.

PS: This post is written for IndiBlogger and greatindian.timesofindia.com

Until the next post,
Keep Smiling :)

Love,
Swathi :)

      

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Canvas of Dreams - Book Review


Title: Canvas of Dreams
Author: Jaya Siva Murthy 
Publisher: Indireads Incorporated
Number of Pages: 102
Price: 119 [INR] on Amazon.in
Genre: Romance
Format: E-book

The Blurb:

Riya seems to have lost everything - the man she loves to another woman, her husband to death and her soul to fear. An unexpected meeting with her first love, Ryan, stirs up long repressed feelings but also allows her to move out of the long shadow of the past. Unburdened, she feels free to pursue her dream of opening an art gallery and the handsome and intriguing artist Rehaan. But memories of her marriage refuse to fade away and then suddenly, Ryan shows up in her life again. Now, Riya must find the courage to reconcile her past and present. For Riya, life is a canvas of dreams. Can she distinguish between reality and fantasy?

My Review:

Riya is an art curator, who goes to Singapore on work. Unexpectedly, she meets Ryan, the love of her life, whom she had lost to another woman years ago. Riya finds that she still has feelings for Ryan and things seem to fall back in place instantly. But before they could go further, reality hits her and she makes an escape; again!

The story is woven around Riya's dreams or rather nightmares. Since the death of her abusive husband, for which she holds herself responsible, these nightmares continue to haunt her every single night. She is terrified and lost. When Rehaan comes to her life, will she be able to accept his love? Will she be able to forget her past and give herself another chance?

The story  portrays the struggle she goes through to let go the past, face her fears and embrace her dreams. The story is about dreams, love and friendship. I loved how the story is woven, showing the soft as well as tough side of Riya at the same time. The language is simple and the flow is smooth. Till the very end, the suspense is well maintained as with whom Riya will end up. Amidst all the confusion in her life, her will to pursue her dreams is praise worthy. I just wish there was a little more about the male protagonist.

Here are some of the lines I liked from the book:

  • Love is complex, like a pani puri. It's hard outside, yet can contain so much. That's a relationship for you. You never know what happens and how, and before you know it, it bloody ends.
  • When life gets tough, you get tougher.
  • It's not about how similar or how different two people are. A relationship is about whether they are able to celebrate and enjoy those similarities and dissimilarities.
All in all, it is a short and refreshing read. I would suggest it to all romance novel lovers.

My Rating: 3.5/5 Stars



Buy @


Meet the Author:

Jaya Siva Murty is a business writer and social media manager from Visakhapatnam, India. Fascinated with the written word since the age of ten, she would file away her poems and short stories in a secret diary, till some were finally published by ‘Times of India’ and ‘Savvy’. She has written for the Economic Times and now provides India-relevant stories for a Hong Kong based magazine. When she’s not designing content for websites, or writing technical blogs and articles for clients worldwide, she spins yarns with unusual twists and turns through her works of fiction.


Jaya holds a business management degree and has taken creativity lessons at Stanford University. ‘Canvas of Dreams’ is her debut foray into novella writing.



      You can stalk her @
                          

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Until the next post,
Keep Smiling :)

Love,
Swathi :)


Tuesday, 20 January 2015

A Visit to an NGO

       Last year, our PU College lecturers prompted us to form an Alumni Association. Many students, irrespective of the year of passing, came together and finally in the month of July, when most of us have holidays, the Association was officially inaugurated. We were all ecstatic meeting old friends and having fun together after years. At that time, our Principal Mr . K. V. Raghunath Rao gave us a piece of advice. I would like to quote those words here. He said, "You can always have fun - going for trips or getting together to celebrate. It's all fine. But never forget your duty towards the society. Try to do some good deeds; help others. Learn to take responsibilities, for you all are grown ups now. Help the needy in whatever way you can. We are always there to help you if you need any assistance. Don't let this association be just another group formed by students to have fun but let it be something that works towards the good of the society" 

       Inspired by his words, we decided our plan of action. This January, we planned to visit Taranga, a school of deaf children. When we shared this idea with our lecturers, they were happy. They encouraged us to go ahead. Next, we expressed our desire to help in front of the Head Master of Taranga school. Like our lecturers, he too was happy seeing our enthusiasm to help those kids. So, finally the date was fixed and we decided to visit the school on 9th of January 2015.

       It is one of the most memorable days of my life. When we reached there, I noticed that many of the students were kids around 10 to 15 years; some probably even younger. They were all busy in their own work, but the curiosity in their eyes was evident. I didn't quite understand it in the beginning. But as time passed, it all became clear. We had planned a small formal function in one of their classroom. When the program was about to begin, they were instructed to sit in this room by their teachers and what a discipline they follow! There were nearly 60 kids and they all came and sat in rows without the teachers having to guide them. Since we were visiting the kids, we had decided to take chocolates. We distributed them while waiting for the guests to arrive. By the time we were done, we had missed one boy. When his friends noticed it, they all started calling for us and it was only after their friend got his share, they felt happy. There was so much unity among those kids, which even we adults lack sometimes. They always looked out for each other!

       We kept the formal program short for obvious reasons. Even during that time span, they didn't show even the slightest trace of disinterest. We find it so difficult to sit through speeches, that too when we are provided with all comforts. But sitting on the ground, never did they once made us that they were bored. If anything, their faces showed only enthusiasm. By the end of the program, we donated few chairs to the NGO. When we had asked the HM if there was anything we can do, he had said there was a shortage of chairs and asked if we could arrange them. When we saw the joy on the kids' face when we donated the chair, we knew why he had asked that one in particular.


      We even had arranged that day's lunch, thanks to our college Treasurer, who helped us. I was seriously amazed, yet again, seeing how well disciplined they all are. Before we reached the first floor, they were all sitting in a row. Instead of the cook doing it, we decided to serve them ourselves. In that time, we got to know them a little more. They were after all kids and naughtiness comes second to them. There were particularly two little girls, who were very naughty and drew our attention. We so enjoyed their antiques and before we knew, we all had fallen in love with them. One of the staff of that NGO, seeing our fascination, told us one of those girls is a heart patient! We just couldn't believe it. She was so full of life! How can something like that happen to her!



       After lunch hour, (Trust me, they all wash their plates themselves!) we spent some time with them. Children are pure and innocent. They don't ask for much. All they need is love and care. When you make them feel cherished, their joy knows no bound. Though they couldn't speak, their happiness rang loud in our ears. Their HM told us that they don't get visitors much. Even parents, who drop them off, don't visit the place. So they were happy when we spent time with them.


       When it was time to leave, all of them dispersed. They came to each one of us and started shaking hands with us. It was their way of expressing their feelings, thanking us for the day. We all clicked a lot of pictures with them. They were so eager to pose for cameras, we couldn't deny them the pleasure. It was a long and hard good-bye. Neither were they ready to let us go nor were we ready to leave.



        There is a certain joy in spreading smiles and it is beyond words! That day, I learnt the true meaning of happiness. Happiness is when you help others and make them smile. Happiness is the knowledge that you have done a noble deed. That day, we all had felt that. There couldn't have been anything better than this event to start our association. We all left the NGO with memories to last for a life time and a silent promise as this wouldn't be our last visit to this place.

Our Team
       Have you ever done something like this? If not, take out some time and do it. Trust me, it's an awesome feeling; one that you can never forget.

Until the next post,
Keep Smiling :)

Love,
Swathi :)

Saturday, 17 January 2015

Is Compromise the only Solution?

       It was a few weeks before my interview. I was just a little nervous, for the obvious reasons. Cousins, who visited home used to give me tips to boost my confidence. It was one such occasion when one of my cousin had visited. After speaking to me about my plans and he left to speak with others. I was on my way out, when I overheard their conversation. They were in the adjacent room and were obviously discussing about me. I would have let it pass and went on my way, when I heard the person he was talking to mention my blog. I paused, wondering what it might be they were saying and strained to hear clearly. What I heard next made me wish I hadn't stopped.

       That person was telling my cousin how I have my hands full with so many things and as if that wasn't enough I waste all my time in useless activities like blogging instead of devoting my time to studies. Two words stood out for me - 'Waste time' and 'Useless'. How can someone call it useless. Sure, it wasn't that bad, was it? It felt like someone had punched me hard. My limbs seemed to forget the fact that they were capable of walking and I stood rooted to the spot, fighting tears. After what felt like an eternity, I slowly made way to my room, wishing to stay alone for sometime. Once I was alone in my room, I let the cool composure crumble and let the feelings take over.

       I was a bundle of emotions; I could hardly think straight. I took deep breathes to calm myself and tried to analyse the situation. Once I was calm enough to think, I tried to see reason in the whole conversation. Sure, it was an important phase in my life and carelessness would affect my future. But I was careful. I hadn't avoided my studies and devoted all my time to blogging. In fact, I had written considerably less at that time. But why the accusation? Was academics everything? Was there no place for passion? Did dreams mean nothing?

       It felt like deja vu. Years ago, I was made to choose. Initially I had resisted and tried to keep living my dream but soon the younger me had felt defeated. I had given up everything; all the hobbies I dearly loved and devoted all my time to studies, trying to play the good girl role. Though I was fine over time, I had missed a certain joy in life. Now, after all these years, I had picked up writing and my life was slowly getting back on track again. I was doing something I loved, something that made me happy. But why were they making me choose again? Was compromise the only solution?

       The answer came quickly - 'No!' The thought of giving up itself caused so much pain. So, that was not an option to consider. I was old enough now to take my own decisions. I knew the difference between good and bad. I knew how much it would hurt if one lets go of their dreams. I had done it once and paid the price. I wouldn't do the same mistake again! There was no studies 'or' blogging. There was studies 'and' there was blogging. I wouldn't choose one. I wouldn't compromise for anything this time. I wouldn't let words like 'Time Waste' and 'Useless' affect me anymore. I would follow my heart and work towards realizing my dreams; of this, I was positive.

PS: This post is a part of #UseYourAnd activity at BlogAdda in association with Gillette Venus.


Also linking this to the Write Tribe Pro Blogger Challenge.

Until the next post,
Keep Smiling :)

Love,
Swathi :)

Friday, 16 January 2015

The Aryavrata Chronicles, Book 3 - Kurukshetra - Book Review

Title: The Aryavrata Chronicles, Book 3 - Kurukshetra
Author: Krishna Udayasankar
Publisher: Hachette India
ISBN: 978-93-5009-718-2
Number of Pages: 427
Price: 350 [INR]
Genre: Mythofiction


Blurb on the Cover:

War is upon the realm, but is Aryavrata prepared for what it will bring?

The empire that was Aryavrata fades under the shadow of doom. As a botter struggle ensues to gain control of the divided kingdoms, Krishna Dwaipayana Vyasa of the Firstborn and the Secret Keeper of the Firewrights both watch from the wings as their own blood, their kin, savage and kill on the fields of Kurukshetra. Restraint and reason have deserted the rulers who once protected the land and they manipulate, scheme and destroy with abandon - for victory is all that matters.

At the heart of the storm stands Govinda Shauri, driven by fickle allies and failed kings to the very brink of darkness. He may well be the greatest danger Aryavrata has faced yet, for he is determined to change things forever. Reforging the forsaken realm in the fire of his wrath, he prepares to destroy everything he loves and make the ultimate sacrifice for the sake of one last hope: that humanity will rise, that there will be revolution.

In this spectacular, gripping episode of The Aryavrata Chronicles, Krishna Udayasankar's recreation of the world of the Mahabharata establishes her as a storyteller of formidable power and imagination.

My Review:

The book Kurukshetra is the third and final installment of The Aryavrata Chronicles. The first two books in this trilogy are Govinda and Kaurava. The first book 'Govinda' deals with Govinda's plot to destroy the Fire Wrights and make Dharma (the name of Yudhistira in this trilogy) the emperor of Aryavrata. The second deals with the after math of this; the dice game and the consequences that follow, leading to the big war. The third book, as the name suggests, is about the great war of Kurukshetra.

The story of Mahabharatha, though similar to the epic we have read, is still different in many ways. In the very beginning, the author writes "We are the stories we tell. The Aryavrata Chronicles are neither reinterpretation nor retelling. These stories are a construction of reality based on a completely different set of assumptions" Here, the characters are not divine. They are all ordinary people. There are no miracles; instead the author has given logical explanation to events which were termed miracles.

The story begins with Govinda's peace proposal, which is rejected by Syoddhan (Duryodhan). What follows is the series of events, where both the sides try to form allies with other kings, trying to expand their forces. Though they prepare for the war, there is still hope in everyone that it wouldn't come down to war and the other side would surrender. But when peace proceedings fail, it leads to the great battle.

I was waiting to see what form this war would take, as the author has mortalised all the characters. What would be the war like without the divine astras used during the wars? But by hinting that the arrows were coated with nitre, which caused such massive destruction during war, the author has managed this part brilliantly. The war takes the centre stage of the book and almost 200 pages is devoted to the 18 days war, but never once does the reader loses interest. The author has managed to narrate the whole story with precision keeping the reader engaged throughout.

The author has done justice to almost all characters, without letting just some dominate the whole story. Even Syoddhan has been portrayed as a Just ruler, who fights for what he believes is right - The Divine Order and their way of life. By showing compassion to Abhimanyu during the battle, he wins the hearts of the reader. On the other hand, Dharma fails to do so. Dharma was supposed to be all great but reading this book, one cannot stop themselves from harboring ill feeling s towards him. Reading about his reactions during war councils, his pushing Abhimanyu towards the chakra formation, even when he knew the chances of Abhimanyu returning back safe is almost nil, his behaviour towards Hidimbya and even toward Govinda; they all make you wonder if he is really the same Yudhishtira whose praises are sung with devotion! I didn't like this part of the book where Dharma was downgraded.

One more story line, which I enjoyed was that of Abhimanyu and Uttara. Stuck in a marriage which both weren't happy to begin with, there is a barrier between them which both fight to keep and break at the same time. But eventually, love finds its way. There is particularly one line which Uttara says to Abhimanyu "If a woman is truly your equal, prince, then there is no need to talk about it. The more you spout these declarations and postulates, the more you reveal the truth of the matter - that in your world, women are not equal to men, and so rhetoric to the contrary is required" It speaks volumes about Uttara's courage. One cannot help but feel the pain when Abhimanyu is so brutally killed later in the war.

There are many mytholgical incidents, which Krishna Udayasankar deals with reason. She has managed to give attention to even minute details, to keep the readers in loop as to why things are the way they are. For instance, when describing the war arrangements, she says there were different kitchens in each units and sometimes more than one in each sub unit. This arrangement was to reduce the risk of poisoning the army either accidentally or deliberately. A simple yet effective approach. It was easy to keep up with the story. Her writing is eloquent and engaging; her narration skills exceptional.

Here are a few quotes from the book that I loved:

  • In every story, there are heroes. But it is not always the heroes who move the tale forward or do what needs to be done. There are others and their story is hardly told.
  • True rebellion takes courage of different sorts. True rebellion takes letting go.
  • No one person can save the world. But the fact that we all try, against all odds, is what the world is worth saving for.
  • What amazing creatures we are, to carry this very essence of existence within us. Hope -  the undefined potential of all creation, the power of the creator itself.
  • No one person is the cause for or consequence of all that happens. I am just the tenth man, the threshold, the turn in the tide. I stand here on the shoulders of humanity, a mere instrument of Time.
The book makes a great read. Without miracles and just logical reasons to support the events, it seems more believable. The pace is perfect, slowing down only when need be, without exaggerating anything unnecessary. I will suggest this book to all mythology lovers.

My Rating: 4/5 Stars.

PS: This review is a part of the biggest Book Review Program for Indian Bloggers. Participate now to get free books.

Until the next post,
Keep Smiling :)

Love,
Swathi :)

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Quicker... Quikr!

       I have never relocated in my entire life! I was born and brought up in the same city and same house! That doesn't mean I don't want to relocate; trust me, I am waiting for the day when I can finally do that. After all, everyone desires a change and so do I. I guess my prayers have been answered finally for I got a job recently and the chances are I am getting posted in Bangalore, the Garden City. Oh, I cannot wait for the day!

       But as much as I am excited about the whole thing, I am also scared. I know relocating is not an easy thing, especially for someone who is doing this for the first time. Living in the same place for all your life and suddenly you have to move to a totally foreign place; it does sound scary. But thanks to technology, it's not going to be as difficult as it was, say, decades ago. With everything delivered at door steps, how difficult it can get?

       I have already planned my course of action. Few days back, I had shopped on Quikr and am really satisfied with the experience. It is so easy to connect with the seller and buy the product you like. So I have decided to take the help of http://bangalore.quikr.com/ to set up my new home when I move to Bangalore.

      With the size of the city, travelling from one place to another within the city feels like travelling between different cities. Not to mention the traffic, which can kill your happy mood! Taking all this into account, going out for shopping, that too for someone who doesn't know the place, is sure to be nightmarish. After all, how many shops can one roam in a day without losing interest? This is where Quikr will come to my rescue. I don't have to go out in the hot sun, roaming from shop to shop to find the things I like and end up spending a big fat amount on autos and taxis. All I have to do is take my phone and search the Quikr website for what I want. They have a wide range of products on sale. I can choose the product and then select a seller nearest to my place. That way, I can save the money I would have otherwise used for roaming from shop to shop.

       Oh, I forgot to tell you. Quikr has a new feature which is 'Quikr Nxt' where you can chat with the seller instead of calling him up. This one truly sounds amazing to me because I don't like calling people I barely know. Also it's easier for the seller, as they can send pictures to satisfy the query of the buyer instead of explaining about the product. It's a win-win situation.

       So, I am all set for the relocation to Bangalore, if need be, thanks to http://bangalore.quikr.com/.


PS: This post is written for  IndiBlogger and Quikr Bangalore.

Until the next post,
Keep Smiling :) 

Love,
Swathi :)

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Things That Define Me

       The one thing I find toughest is to write the 'About Me' section. Let it be writing an introduction in a social media site, or setting up my profile in a new site, or introducing myself in a group or writing the 'About Me' section of my blog; I always find it hard. I would be happy to say 'Hi! I am Swathi Shenoy' and end it with that but I can hardly do that. Introductions are meant to let people know more about you and such introductions would have been easier if there were only few things that define me; few things to let people know who I really am. But that is surely not the case. Let me tell you why!

      I am a writer. I pour my heart out through writing. When I fail to express my feelings out loud, writing comes to my rescue. When there are things I cannot share with anyone, they take the form of stories. People read it as fiction but many of them are inspired by the things happening around me. When something good or bad happens, I have to write about it, else I cannot sleep peacefully! I am an introvert and writing is my Knight in Shining Armour!

       With writing comes, the interest in reading. And I am not immune to this. I am an avid reader. My day isn't complete if I don't read at least a few pages of a novel. Reading helps me live a different life in a different world altogether. How can I not love it? Here is a sneak peak of my library:



       I am a singer. It was my mom's dream to be a singer but she couldn't achieve it (Oh, she has a very sweet voice). So, I was sent to music classes since the age of six and I have always enjoyed it immensely. Music is the magic that can soothe your mind like nothing else can. I count it as a blessing to have been trained in this field.

       I love dancing too. Though I always wanted to join a dance classes, I never got a chance to. That didn't stop me from learning. I am a self trained dancer and a good one at that. I never missed an opportunity to step on the stage.

       I am an artist. I love sketching and painting. People who are regular to this blog know that. What started as just a small hobby to pass time, soon turned into a passion and before I knew, I was in love with it. Capturing the beauty of the world through my pencils or paint brush is something that I love a lot. Though I am a little slow at it, the satisfaction I get when the art work is complete, makes it worthwhile.

 

       It's not just the sketching and painting, I love crafts, stitching and Quilling too. I always keep looking for something new to make; painting on tiles, pots, glass, making something from ice cream sticks... anything. Whenever I see something interesting at my friends' or relatives' home, I bug them till they tell me how to do it.


 

       I am a cook too. I love experimenting new things. Internet is my teacher and I always keep trying new things. Oh, I promise you they are all edible. My friends and family love them, so I trust my experiments are good.



       I love sports too. I learnt Swimming, Volleyball, Chess and Karate when I was in school. I used to find it difficult to make time for everything but that never stopped me. They say 'When you want something, there will be no excuses. You will always make time for something you love' and I can't agree more to this. It has always been like that for me.

       Oh, I am a student too, currently pursuing Engineering in Computer Science but that's not all. I am an enthusiastic student in the journey of life, always eager to learn new things. My varying interests and the things I keep learning are a result of this enthusiasm.

       Does it end here? Not at all!! There are many more things that define me - I am a dreamer, a friend, a daughter, a sister, an enthusiastic traveler, a perfectionist and much more. But how can I explain all this when someone asks my introduction in brief? I fumble and stammer to get the right words. To say all these makes me feel like I am showing off. But trust me, that is not the case. It is who I am. Take out even a single thing out of the list and the introduction is incomplete. 

       I still remember an incident from my interview. The hardest thing for me was preparing my resume. I had tried to keep the 'interests' and 'achievements' column as short as possible. Still, during the H.R. round, I was asked "How is that you do all these? How will you manage your time?" I just smiled and said "It is because I love what I do" There, that is the answer. I love each and every thing of these activities and they as a whole, define who I am. But it is difficult to make everyone understand. 

       So, whenever someone asks about me, I just smile and say "A girl with lots of dreams" Now, doesn't that  sounds simple enough for the first time? So, ladies and gentlemen, that's Swathi Shenoy for you.



PS: This post is a part of #UseYourAnd activity at BlogAdda in association with Gillette Venus.

Also linking this to the Write Tribe Pro Blogger Challenge.

Until the next post,
Keep Smiling :)

Love,
Swathi :)