Thursday, December 7, 2017

#594 : Me Time @ 11PM

The clock struck 11 as I entered my bedroom. It was one hectic day filled with tons of technical discussions which made me want to pull my hair apart. On the home front, the husband wanted some help with his project work. The in law wanted me to help her with some grocery shopping. All of that was finally done! Looking back, I realized I had hardly spent time for myself in the entire day. I woke up at 6AM and I’ve probably spent all of 1 hour to wash, eat and dress! My in-laws are asleep and the love of my life is snoring softly already.

Finally! It was time to clear my head out and un-wind for the day! I sat down with the journal and began penning down my thoughts randomly. I lost the habit of journal keeping after my school days. Engineering and a business degree didn’t give me the luxury to write, nor did incessant travelling to remote factories. Marriage however, seems to have made me find the time to write. I know this isn’t going to last with plans for raising a family soon on the cards. Ought to enjoy while I can!

30 minutes down and I felt relaxed. The feel of a rich ink pen gliding over a smooth paper when words flow like there is not tomorrow is unparalleled. Just as I shut the journal, I heard a weird rumbling noise. I burst out laughing as I realized the origin of the sound – It’s was my own tummy! The husband stirred a bit on hearing the noise. I decided it’s time to raid the cupboard! Mid-Night snack it was.

It’s been ages since I ate something post 11PM. I used to sneak about and munch on biscuits while studying in the wee hours, during my college days. I grew up and my sleep cycle changed. Plus to manage weight, I started cutting down on anything other than vegetables, fruits and nuts! My stomach rumbled again as I tip-toed to the kitchen caring not to wake up the people.

I slowly opened the lower rack of the shelf. That shelf contained all snacks. I wasn’t much of a snack person. That was my husband’s forte. He stocked the snacks for the week. This week, much to my surprise, I found a couple of packets of Kurkure!  It was unlike of him to buy any form of chips, that’s of course partly because of me. I tend to binge eat any fried form of potato. He swears by fried grams, puffed rice and peanuts. Kurkure was a complete surprise. I was craving for something tangy. There was one pack of Lime Pickle triangle and one pack of Masala Munch. The choice was easy! Lime Pickle triangle it was.

I slowly opened the pack ensuring not to make any noise. A tangy citrus smell filled my nostrils. I slowly popped in one triangle into my mouth and savored the flavor. Yum! Just the tangy taste and right amount of crispness like I wanted. I tip-toed back to the bedroom, munching away my perfect mid-night snack. Just as I took another bite, I suddenly remembered the video that had gone viral some time ago. It had been something about Kurkure burning and containing some form of plastics. Must be some competitor at work I mused. After all, my really picky husband wasn’t going to stock a snack which was rumored to have plastics. While eating I got a distincttaste of corn.

 I turned the packet and read the contents just as I always did. Being from the manufacturing services industry it intrigues me to no end to know what it takes to manufacture something. It read just the basic ingredients as does for any other traditional snack. I couldn’t find one chemical name or a preservative. I decided to fire up my tab and do some Googling. What I found thoroughly surprised me. It was common knowledge that anything which contained a form of carbohydrate when combined with high quantity of oxygen can burn if ignited. The traditional kurkure is light and puffy. Evidently, Kurkure contains Corn, dal and rice. All the three ingredients are high on carbohydrate. Thus when ignited, it burned. This didn’t imply that it contained plastics. I also found a good video of their manufacturing process. Given it’s my own domain, I decided to dig deeper. I found out a very basic outline of the process which goes as follows,

1. The raw material – Corn, Dal and rice, is first cleaned, ground and mixed in a specific proportion.

2.  It is then sent via an extruder to bring in a shape.

3. It is fried in oil and then seasoned with spices in a rolling drum for uniform coating.

Having never worked in the FMCG domain before, all this interested me a lot. I powered off the tab and went back to munching the snack. With my mid night pang satiated, I slipped into the bed, thinking about how I could come up with such a formulation and prepare my own snack. One can dream to achieve greater things. After all, for all we know the snack I just had would have been one such formulation!

Friday, November 10, 2017

#593 : My Tryst With Murakami - A Review Of Men Without Women by HarukiMurakami

I've been evading reading Murakami for a long time now. My bibliophile friends have tried their best to coax Murakami upon me with little success though. It is a popular opinion that his writing is simple yet complex and soulful. That wouldn't have made sense if you aren't a voracious reader.

What exactly quantifies as good writing? The grammar might be all correct and would please a grammar Nazi, but would that suffice as sole parameter to quantify a literary piece as well written? The very definition of good writing is an individual perception. While the whole world seemed to like Arvind Adiga's - 'The White Tiger', but I found it rather mediocre. JK Rowling's Harry Potter series, in spite of being immensely successful and selling tonnes of copies, has a lot haters. I wrote off Murakami's work as one such case where the whole world went gaga and I simply didn't like it. I had attempted to read his  immensely popular work - Norwegian Wood ages ago. I had crossed just a couple of pages and I found his writing simply boring. I ditched the book and forgot all about it, until a conversation with a fellow bibliophile sparked my curiosity again. I scoured Google for his best works to start. I realized, there was no such thing as a best work. On an impulse, I decided to pick - Men Without Women. I've always loved reading short stories. I connect well with a small story with crisp characters and a compact story line. This book changed my perception of a typical short story.

The scope for elaborate characterization is practically limited when you wanted to write a 5000 word short story. The reader would end up feeling crammed and overloaded when the character is elaborate. Or so I thought would be the normal case, until I read this book.

This writer solved that problem with ease. He simply built the story around characterization and not the other way around as done typically. The central theme of the stories, as the title suggests, is about men without a women in their life. What happens when that feminine touch is lost? Does he become desolate? Is his balance thrown off? The writer brings out various possible line of thoughts when a man is left without a woman in his life. There are 7 stories, each depicting one line of thought. The characters, all of them, were just regular people, whose vulnerabilities were crux of each story's plot.

Picking a favorite is next to impossible, but one story that stood out was "Samsa in Love". The story is set in Prague, Gregor Samsa wakes up with no recollection whatsoever of his life or life in general. A girl who repairs locks visits him, upon the request of his parents who aren't found in the house that Samsa lives. The setting is mildly dystopian, though the protagonist doesn't realize this. The story was so unsettling that it rattled me thoroughly. Most of the stories were like that - the kind which would pique your curiosity and you would end up devouring it, but it would rattle you to no end when you are done.

What was more surprising was that this book is a translation from Japanese. I cannot phantom how powerful and emotional his original writing would have been.

I rarely highlight lines when I read. It annoys me to no end when you have to mark something on a beautiful paperback or for that matter color the screen of your kindle. It it were worth remembering, I would remember it. This book was the only exception. There were too many beautiful phrases which I was afraid of forgetting. I ended up highlighting a lot. Below are extracts from the book I loved.

"Just thinking about her made him warm inside. No longer did he wish to be a
fish or a sunflower—or anything else, for that matter. For sure, it was a great
inconvenience to have to walk on two legs and wear clothes and eat with a knife
and fork. There were so many things he didn’t know. Yet had he been a fish or a
sunflower, and not a human being, he might never have experienced this emotion.
So he felt." - Samsa In love.

"And once you’ve become Men Without Women, loneliness seeps deep
down inside your body, like a red-wine stain on a pastel carpet. No matter how
many home ec books you study, getting rid of that stain isn’t easy. The stain might
fade a bit over time, but it will still remain, as a stain, until the day you draw your
final breath. It has the right to be a stain, the right to make the occasional, public,
stain-like pronouncement. And you are left to live the rest of your life with the
gradual spread of that color, with that ambiguous outline." - Men Without Women

Is two days before tomorrow,
The day after two days ago." -  Yesterday

" If nothing else, you should feel grateful for
having been able to spend twenty years of your life with such a person. But the
proposition that we can look into another person’s heart with perfect clarity strikes
me as a fool’s game. I don’t care how well we think we should understand them, or
how much we love them. All it can do is cause us pain. Examining your own heart,
however, is another matter. I think it’s possible to see what’s in there if you work
hard enough at it. So in the end maybe that’s the challenge: to look inside your own
heart as perceptively and seriously as you can, and to make peace with what you
find there. If we hope to truly see another person, we have to start by looking
within ourselves " - Drive My Car

You can read more about the book (and buy it too) from Goodreads

Monday, November 6, 2017

#592 : To my long lost Best friend - A letter

Dear Best Friend,

I'm not sure if I can call you that any more - It degraded from being a best friend to friend to a nobody now. You were the one person I reached out to, in times of happiness or melancholy or peril. You were my rock solid pillar who stood by me and put me together when I lost faith in myself. Together, we enjoyed reading, writing and talking about food. We achieved new heights in whatever we did as a single unit, until one day it all came tumbling down like a set of dominoes. I choose to believe that the chips were pushed by a mutual ill-wisher. It took me ages to realize that the force wasn't external. That realization shattered my heart to pieces. The shards kept picking and wrecking my brain until I decided to sit down and work backward. Working backward has always been my strength. It didn't come tumbling down in a day. In fact, I realized it was a grand illusion I was trapped in.

When I reached the first important milestone in my life, I really needed your support. I was anxious, you decoded my anxiousness as show off and almost quit talking to me. You shut me out completely and I felt lost. Then some how we patched up and went about as if nothing happened. Life went on, we both found love and got jobs. Life turned serious all of a sudden. That's when I decided to escape reality for a while by doing what I always did. I wanted you to be the partner in crime just like old times. Things moved in a break neck pace. That's when the second misunderstanding happened. We fell apart. This time it hurt me more. I missed those endless conversations we had. I missed being us. What happened next shattered me totally. Social media interactions aggravated my depression. Snide remarks, indirect statuses, stream of people asking me what was wrong with me and our relationship in general. Worst of it all, a lot people simply moved away from my life without notice. I never understood why, nor did I bother to find out. We again some how patched up. Or so I kept cheating myself. Little did I realize, it was jealousy that crept in. Right from the start it was jealousy. The snide remarks never died down. The indirect taunting never went away. I felt boxed and suffocated. You always picked me up at my lowest, but sadly you were the cause this time. I was such an idiot that I didn't even realize that. To me, you were incapable of causing me any grief. Yet, I was still depressed and our relationship was still bitter, sugar coated bitter though. How long would this last? Too many things were a reminder of the good times we had. I gave up on activities I loved doing the most because it was a bitter reminder of what I lost.

I had other people who picked me up from my misery and tried their best to put me together. I'm truly lucky to have found them. However, all of them were of a consensus that I am the only person who can pick up myself and get going. As a matter of fact, they made me realize that every time life gave me lemons, it was me who managed to make a lemonade out of it. I am the only person who can find my own happiness. I can either choose to move out completely ignoring all the taunting and mind games or confront sit down and talk it out. What would the latter yield? A broken mirror can never bit put back. At the risk of this sounding cliched, our relationship is like that mirror. A relationship built on a myriad of lies would never last. The lies had finally manifested. I choose to move on and come out of the delusion that I was in.

If you decode this letter to be my attempt in salvaging my name and garnering sympathy, think again. You've  always complemented me for my thick head. I am thick headed. The name or the sympathy never mattered to me and it will remain to be so. I needed to get that toxicity out of system. That's just about it.

I have to thank you for teaching me the most valuable lesson of my life and making me a better person.

Hope you find all the happiness you've ever wanted. I bow out.


A person who once believed was your friend

Note : Is this a work of fiction? If this my life story? Is this the story of someone whom I know? Some things are best left unsaid. This is one such thing. For all you know, this might have been your story too.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

#591 : Glam Ego Box - A Review

Beauty and me, we share a hate love relationship. My teens virtually passed with me being nose deep into books and nothing else.  In sense, I spent a good part of my teenage years looking like a bumpkin - a loosely worn shirt, fit jeans, artificial ear rings and a mop of unruly hair sans any kind of makeup. My mother never used cosmetics much back then and didn't encourage us to use them as well. The max we used were lipsticks when we went out for special social gatherings. Skin care meant gram flour and herbs. Coconut was the moisturizer and vaseline was the lip balm.

Stepping in college opened up a new world for me. My friends educated me about the basics of makeup and skin care - The kind of skin care I wasn't used to. Moisturizers, face-washes, skin care serums, face packs and what not! Using all that meant I had to either spend time at home or hit the parlor. Not that there was something wrong with my regular routine, just that all this seemed effective and excited me initially. I realized that I was no good with applying make up. Make up literally confused me for a long time and still does some times. What shade of foundation do I pick? what's the right way to apply it? The behind this state was simple - I didn't care about appearances much. I don't bother much now also, but I learnt the importance of raising up the occasion.

Fast Forward to adult hood - I had gained enough knowledge and experience. On an impulse (Thanks to tempting Instagram ads) I decided to order a beauty box. I had that sudden urge to be surprised and pampered. The box landed in a couple of days.


The box contained the following products

  1. Bella Voste  Ulti-Matte Lip Crayon

  2. Aroma Magic White Tea and Chamomile Face wash

  3. The Nature's co - Vanilla Lip Butter

  4. Neemli Green Tea Lip Scrub

  5. Bio Bloom - Hand & Body Lotion.

The packing was perfect barring the Lip Scrub's lid which seemed to have come off. No damage by it really. The lip crayon was sent randomly as I hadn't responded to their choice mail. However, no complaints there as I liked that color and don't own such a color.

Bella Voste Ulti-Matte Lip Crayon - I got the Whipped Caviar Shade. It had a satin-ish matte finish and not the typical matte which I prefer. The shade lasted for about 6 hours sold before I went on to gorge on delicious food! Given that it is in the crayon form, I found it very easy to apply. I normally struggle with regular lipstick application as I don't really use a lip liner.

Aroma Magic White Tea and Chamomile Face wash - My skin is oily around the T-zone and a bit dry in the rest of the face. I used this face wash just after I came back from office with all the pollution on my face. Post wash, my face felt soft and hydrated and also looked fresh.

Neemli Green Tea Lip Scrub - I didn't really know of the existence of something called as the lip scrub until I saw the ad for this box. With hesitation, I rubbed a tiny bit of it over my lips and massaged gently. It was obviously granulated. I washed it off and my lips felt smooth. After an hour or so, it was completely soft and felt moist.

The Nature's co - Vanilla Lip Butter -  The cover over this product looked a bit shady. Not the best lip balm I have used.

Bio Bloom - Hand & Body Lotion - Again, the packaging looks a bit shady and the lotion felt like that of what you would find in a 3 star hotel. Not the best body lotion I've used.

There were also a couple of discount cards in the box.

Verdict - The lip crayon, the face wash and the scrub was certainly worth the money I paid!

The box was priced at INR 399 (For one month subscription). You can order yours here - Glam Ego.


Friday, October 27, 2017

#590 : People Called Shillong - A Review


Shillong has been on my bucket list of places to visit since forever. Nestled between never ending blanket of trees and cloud, this place is every writers dream destination. Nothing like using the help of nature  to bolster your creativity. This  book provides a unique perspective of Shillong. It talks about the flora, the fauna, the culture, all via it's inhabitants.

First Impression

The cover, the introduction, all of it reeks the flavor of the North Eastern part of the country. The stories have evidently been carefully compiled based on various aspects of Shillong. Of the 10 stories, I read, I learnt about the Shillong tryst with Rock music, the hottest pepper - Raja Mircha, their food, their cultural music, their tribal culture and a lot more. The stories were followed by a beautiful and a meaningful sketch of various things related to the city and it's culture.


As stated earlier, the stories have been very thoughtfully compiled to give a complete sense and feel of shillong. These stories are not typical ones with a proper plot and a conflict. They are stories about people, things, culture and what not. Essentially it's all things Shillong. However, if the prime focus of these stories had been to highlight the facts, then the book would have been a boring collection of nothing but facts. Also, it can be safely said that these stories aren't fact based fiction either. They are just the lives of people who live in the place or have been to the place narrated in a such a manner that they don't become as boring as plain facts. The human touch is what made the facts and facets more interesting to read.

Writing & Editing 
The writing is as simple as it can get. No fancy words, no fancy phrases. Yet the stories were so effective in terms of feel, visual imagery, characterization and what not. The people felt real, the scenery felt surreal. If reading this book wouldn't induce you to travel to Shillong, nothing else really would enthuse you to book that ticket and go backpacking.

The editing also was just perfect given that the book is a compilation. It is extremely hard to understand the mindset of a diverse group of people and bring out a single theme from all the stories. The editor and the compiler surely has done a stellar job of it.

Though the stories were way too good, it would have made a bit more sense to talk a bit about how the author of each story a bit in the end of respective stories. It would have given a insight into what made these stories that they are.

My favorite stories were Tale of Interpretations, The haunted valley and Conversations around a Phuga.
Note : I received a sample copy for review from The People Place Project. Do check them out! You can buy the book on Amazon!


Monday, October 2, 2017

#589 : Milk Delight!

With Diwali around the corner, it's high time one experiments with sample recipe so as to perfect making them during the actual festival. Preethi appliances gave me one such opportunity. I got to attend their very informative blog jam event last month which was conducted to introduce their new range of Wet Grinders which brought back the traditional mechanism of wet grinding. Apart from the introduction, there were two other informative sessions - One on SEO by the famous food blogger - Archana of Archana's Kitchen and the other by Chef Umshankar Dhanapal on Food Styling. The company also introduced their range of choppers including the Turbo Chopper.


The Turbo Chopper is one kitchen appliance that I swear by. I've been using this chopper long before I went to the event. In fact, it was one appliance that my mother personally gifted me for my wedding. Given my very limited chopping skills, I would probably take eons to chop one onion and in the process would also probably cut my fingers. Onions and my eyes don't really go well. I'm ultra sensitive to strong fumes and tend to water up at the slight exposure. She wanted to make sure I didn't shed tears. Literally.

It's compact, it's easy to use and it gets the job done very quickly without much effort. Peel off the skin, slice into half, dump it into to the chopper, press the motor and voila, you have finely chopped onions without shedding tears. This is one appliance that every woman needs in her kitchen.

This chopper is essentially a cross between a full fledged mixer grinder and a traditional vegetable chopper. However, this appliance is not as versatile as a chopper, but serves the purpose it is intended for rather well. Here are the tech specs

  1. A 450 Watt motor as the head. You need to gently press the motor to operate it.

  2. Stainless Steel blade ( 2 wings)

  3. An adapter to interface the container with the motor

  4. A sturdy container with level graduations

Here is a little tutorial I found online just in case you are in doubt as to how to operate this simple yet very efficient machine -

I've been using the chopper extensively for chopping onions, making tomato/steamed carrot puree apart from the occasional chopping of cabbage. This time around, I used it to chop nuts for the experimental recipe - Basundi.


What you need :

  1. A heavy bottomed pan

  2. A liter of Full Fat Milk

  3. One Tin of Sweetened Condensed milk

  4.  Nuts - Pistachio, Badam and Cashew - Not chopped too finely.

  5. Strands of Saffron - Optional

  6. A lot patience!

The method :


  1. Boil the milk well over the heavy bottomed pan.

  2. Keep stirring over the edges initially so that the milk solid doesn't stick to the pan

  3. Keep stirring a bit more

  4. Stir a little more - Gently there!

  5. Yeah, you need patience for this.

  6. Now add the condensed milk.

  7. Give it a quick stir and let it settle.

  8. Now add the nuts/Saffron. Here is where the chopper comes handy. Chopping nuts can drive you nuts. Throw them into the chopper and press gently to chop coarsely.

  9. Finally you are done :-D

You can slurp away all the milk goodness once you've transferred the contents to a nice bowl and refrigerated it. A milk delight truly this dish!

Note : Thanks to my colleague and friend Ramakrishnan! You know for what I'm thanking you :-D


Friday, September 1, 2017

#588 : #FaveFridays - Fave Five Book to TV Series/Movie Adaptations


I'm not much of a movie/TV series person, but I always sit up and take interest in if they are adapted from books I've enjoyed. Curiosity gets the better out me and I end up matching my visualisation from reading the book to the visuals from the movie/TV series.

  1. Heidi - The cartoon - This is my earliest memory of enjoying an adaptation. The cartoon is simply delightful and totally mind- blowing. The creators of this show have done quite enough justice to the book. Though I have read only an abridged version, I intend to read the unabridged version in German. I also intend to learn German for this very purpose. Heidi_zpsyauojrqs.jpg

  2. Sherlock - BBC TV Series - Benedict Cumberbatch - Need I mention more? Though the makers have tweaked the story a bit to adapt to the devices of new generation, that thrill of having read a good mystery is there upon watching the series.

  3. Harry Potter Series - We've all whined enough as to how the movie adaptation doesn't do enough justice to the book, but on the retrospect, is it even possible to reproduce visually something as grand as the original book. I think not.

  4. Game of Thrones - I've just started reading the book. The TV series is actually way too good. It's always been the other way round with me - I've always read the book before I watched the series. This is the first time I picked up the book after watching the show till date.

  5. The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown - Tom Hanks totally suits my image of Robert Langdon, Sir Ian McKellen as Sir Leigh Teabing was also very convincing. Of course, as expected, the movie makers didn't do enough justice to Dan Brown's writing.


Friday, August 25, 2017

#587 : #FaveFive - Book Siblings

When I was in my kindergarten, I used to bug my parents to bring home a baby so that I could play with her. Yes, I was that specific. I wanted a sister. A brother would be too difficult to handle, I reasoned apparently. My mother still laughs about it till date. God answered my prayers and I was sent a perfect package in the form a tall and witty human being - my sister. She is younger than me by 8 years, but that never translated to a mature relationship. We've fought just like any other pair of siblings, but at the end of the day, we are thick as thieves and  I miss her dearly.

The books I read during my childhood, upon me the kind of relationship I ought to have with my sister. Here are some of my favourite book siblings

  1. Jack Trent And Lucy-Ann from Enid Blyton's Adventure series : My first exposure to fictional siblings. Lucy-Ann cannot just stay away from her brother and he doesn't mind her tagging along wherever he goes. The beauty of an innocent relationship between siblings when they are young - This series and this pair of character would be the perfect example.

  2. Fred and George Weasley from JK Rowling's Harry Potter Series - The quintessential example for siblings who just stick to each other no matter what. It is worth pondering if this nature of theirs can be attributed to the fact that they are identical twins. The need to elaborate about this pair diminishes from the very mention of their names.

  3. Thor and Loki from Norse Mythology- Loki is Thor's adoptive brother and also is the trouble maker out of the pair. Reading Neil Gaiman's Norse Mythology changed my perspective about the brothers. They are the perfect example of how not to behave with your siblings!

  4. Anjini, Binodini, Chandralekha, Debjani and Eshwari from Anuja Chauhan's Those Pricey Thakur Girls - This is one relationship I wish to read upon. I read the sequel to this book - The House that BJ Built. These girls sound like fun and typically Indian. I ought to have the first book before reading the second.

  5. Mycroft And Sherlock Holmes from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Works - Sibling rivalry at it's best. 'The Final Problem' would my favourite work where Mycroft is featured.



Monday, August 21, 2017

#586 : The search #MondayMusings

This weekend, the plan was to sort out a few things - The electrical wiring in my home, the bookshelf, my to read pile and my finances.

The Electrical writing - God bless my electrician to have sorted out the mess of a wiring some other harebrained electrician did. Can't possibly thank them enough for giving me time to finish off Erich Segal's Love story.  The frequent toggling of electricity had made it impossible for me finish off the work I carried from office. I was in no mood to do it on Sunday. However, the mess he left behind took up most of my time. I spent a good hour picking up cut wires, sweeping and moping off all the dust accumulated.

The Bookshelf - I still hadn't arranged the pile of book I brought back from my mom's place. I haven't emptied my book shelf there yet. It's been 8 months since I've been married and a piece of me still can't believe that I ought to move everything here. I've left behind enough clothes, books and some of my accessories too. These books finally found a place below my tiny side table.

The To Read Pile - I have this habit of taking screenshots/pictures of books other people read and talk about. My social media feed is filled with posts about books. I had accumulated about 78 such photos. I decided to sit down and write it all down in my journal so that I can actually look up, buy and read. I had debated between making a note via Evernote and writing it down. Writing won hands down. The prospecting of using the beautiful ink pen and feeling it glide over the perfect journal I own seemed way too much enticing to give up on.


The Finances - My mother has this habit of maintaining a journal to keep track of all our family's investment. However, long gone are the times when she used to keep track of daily expenses. It's become too tiresome to keep track of cash and card bills seperately. Her habit has rubbed off to me and given that I've been employed for the past 5 years, I decided to sit down and check my finances. I concluded that I needed an App or some way to track my money. Here are some features which I wish were available

  1. Picking up expenses from SMS alerts - I own an iPhone, iOS wont allow apps to read message texts unless I've jail-broken the iOS and installed the app as a system app. I do not want to connect my bank accounts by giving out my net banking credentials.

  2. Multiple account tracking - I need all my money in one place. Not that I own much, but I need to see what little amount is left cumulatively.

  3. Cash Expense - I need to track expenses into two categories - Digital expenditure and Cash expenditure. Having multiple categories like grocery, movies, food, fuel etc will really help.

  4. Receipt management - I have this habit of stashing away all receipts into my wallet. Would be nice to store them as photos before trashing them.

  5. Expense Report - Money in, Money out - Just numbers will do. Fancy charts would be a plus.

  6. Budget controls - I would like the data to shout out to me if I exceed the budget!

  7. Multiple users - It's just essential if your partner is also working and you split the expenses.

If you look closely, I've not mentioned savings tracking to the list. Thank god for my financial adviser Mr.C Ravikumar to have partnered with an app development company to come out with the perfect savings tracking app. That app can help track SIPs, Insurance. stocks, Bonds. PPFs. RDs, FDs and what not! You name it, the app has it! He updates all the paper work done to invest on the app very regularly along with reminders to renew. I'd probably be all lost and confused trying to track complicated funds.

I couldn't find a single FREE app for iOS which satisfied all this criteria! If you know of any, please do let me know!

PS. Thanks to Corinne @ Write Tribe/ Every Day Gyaan for inspiring me to write today :)


Friday, August 18, 2017

#585 : #FridayReflections - Of Reading Books and Elitist Behavior

Beautiful photographs with books as subject seems to be the fad these days. Instagram particularly, is abuzz with 'book lovers' uploading 'styled' photographs of books. These photos typically center books with pretty covers processed along with rich looking fabrics or props or even merchandise like candles, key chains and Funko Pop. Long gone are the time when the adage - Never judge the book by its cover made sense. These days, the prettier the cover, the more the book sells or so its fast becoming. Then there are these PR events in the name of book launches which specifically happen in one part of the country as that part is known to have a hip crowd, which can potentially make the event go viral with live videos, funky selfies and what not.

As a matter of fact, it has become fashionable to carry around and read books. It has also become fashionable to put up a picture or status about the same. Eventually, that thread will contain a lot of comments which gush at books or probably some full blown argument will happen criticizing/favoring the book.

The direction at which the whole business of books and literature is heading, seems dangerously  elitist. Even the publishing houses prefect that very segment of people who are online and can increase their visibility. At the end of the day, it's just another business where everyone wants to mint money.

Fair enough, but what of the experience of reading a good book? All this feels like gas inside a helium balloon. The balloon which stays afloat as long as the gas is still in there. It is err to stereotype that the beautiful cover, the promotions and the pictures are for books which aren't that good, however, the point is that, not all people can be a part of this group. This is where the elitist behavior creeps in. If one hasn't purchased or read a certain famous book or even a classic for that matter, they are looked upon with a tinge of mockery. It's hard to differentiate between the pretenders and genuine bibliophile these days. Some people read for the sake of it while others, read to click pictures and boast about it.

The purpose of reading or writing or any other form of art of that matter, is to satiate the soul. That was how it was looked upon earlier. Unfortunate people who don't belong to this borderline elitist group often wilt under the pressure and try hard to belong, thereby losing the very purpose of reading a book. Reading is not like eating, one cannot possibly acquire a certain taste over night. It takes time to read certain genres of books. It is okay to not have read a certain popular book. It is okay to read books which drives you into a different world. A world, one truly likes.

Note : This write was inspired by an article I read and a discussion that happened on Facebook. I've chosen to be superficial for the sake of leading a peaceful life.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

#584 : Rare Book Collection - A Bibliophile's heaven

It was just another day off for the likes of me - the working class. With all cleaning, dusting and shopping done over the weekend, I had a day for myself yesterday. As I scoured my social media feed for book recommendations, I stumbled across this article about a rare book collection shop based out of a garage in Chennai and la! My evening plans were made. After a quick call to the person running the shop about the direction and working hours, I set out with my husband with feverish excitement. We reached the place and the found the store locked. The watchman of the building offered to call up the store owner who lived in the same building.

As we waited for him to come down, I spotted a Premier Padmini (the car) parked a few. meters from the store. An octogenarian, clad in a simple white dhoti and a shirt walked up to us slowly with a smile and opened the store for us, beckoning us inside. Just as I stepped in, the smell of old books hit me with a blast. A simple parking garage was converted to a bookshop using a couple of steel doors. I fell in love with the place immediately. It was one big chaos with books literally everywhere. His smile widened when he noticed my dreamy expression. I timidly asked him if the books were for sale. With a throaty laugh, he replied that the whole place were for sale if I could buy it! Stunned by his reply I went about silently, picking and reading books in no particular order. I just couldn't decide what to pick. There were books of all subjects - Literature, Poetry, Spirituality, Law, Politics and what not! After much deliberation I picked two Readers Digest condensed editions and one book by William Faulkner. The books were reasonably priced and he gave us a fair discount. Just as we were paying, I noticed that he was carefully pulling out a picture Ad of Raymonds featuring Nawab Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi and Sharmila Tagore. Curiosity got the better of me and I decided to sit down for a conversation.

[gallery ids="5341,5342,5343,5344,5345" type="slideshow" orderby="rand"]
The owner of this shop, Mr.Govindraju is a qualified lawyer and has worked primarily in Personnel Department. He has been collecting books for the past 40 years. His craze for books began when Penguin Publishers first started publishing paperbacks which were affordable and easy to carry. He managed to collect all the books published by Penguin back then. He sold his entire collection few years ago, but has begun collecting rare books and editions not in print again now.  Upon prodding a bit he reveals that his sources are primarily hawkers who source books which are discarded.  His present clientele include people from all walks of life including students, established professionals and actors too. He collects not just books, but rare paper clippings, comic strips, magazines and articles.

To know more about what we spoke, please listen to the audio below! This conversation can't be possibly transcribed.  Please do visit his store. It is totally worth the effort. You can reach him @ 044 24936152 or email to plan a visit. He simply wishes that his books reach a owner worthy of it.

PS. It's my first audio interview. Constructive criticism welcome.

[soundcloud url="" params="color=ff5500&auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false&visual=true" width="100%" height="450" iframe="true" /]

Friday, August 11, 2017

#583 : If We Were Having Coffee

For starters, I've managed to kick the caffeine addiction and have switched to healthier and fruitier options. Baring the perfect cup my dad brews when I visit him, I hardly take coffee these days. More over it's just hard to get that beautiful perfect flavourful filter Kaapi. Oh yes, I am a proud Tamilian who loves fliter Kaapi! 

Then I'd probably make you talk. That's who I am. I am a listener. It takes time for me to be emotionally attached to a person within days of knowing somebody. 

Tell me about your dreams, I'd lend you a hopeful voice.

Tell me about your sorrows, I'd lend you a comforting shoulder. 

Tell me about your happiness, I'd celebrate with you. 

Let's ponder over differences and similarities.

Let's bond over mutual love for things. 

Beware, flattery and gossiping will not beg you anywhere! I'd rather close my ears and gulp down the coffee (or any drink). 

Oh and if you talk about books, I'd sit and talk all day long! 

PS. Just completed a week for write tribe's festival of words! 

Thursday, August 10, 2017

#582 : Writing a Short Story - Guest Post by Bragadeesh Prasanna

If I had gotten a dime each time this question is asked, I would have enough to buy a milkshake today. I mean, this is a question that is not being asked a lot. People just pick up the pen or open a word document and start writing. This is a very good thing.  If you want to become a musician, you don’t just listen to the masters of the instrument. You actually pick the instrument and practice it. I think it is necessary for all the acquired skills. There has to be enough practice and trial and error.

But before that, if you are planning to get into creative writing field, or to become a story teller, it is really important to read. You might have heard this often, in order to write, you should read. What does reading teach us? The different genres? The vocabulary? Or the use of the language? I guess the important part of reading is too, it makes us observe. Reading gives you perspective on how you look about things outside as well as inside.

So if you plan to write short stories, read a lot of short stories. If you plan to write novels, read a lot of novels. That is how it works. I would recommend “Cathedral” by Raymond Carver and then reflect on it and then if you still feel like writing, pick up your pen. You are good to go.

Have a Grand Opening:

I don’t mean to say you have to have a fifty car chase or a helicopter crashing on some mountains. Your short story opening paragraph is the gate pass for your readers. You need to make it interesting. This first paragraph should have your characters and the setting, at least partially and make your reader get intrigued. It can be anything. In his short story “Drive My Car” Haruki Murakami (You will be getting lot of examples from this author. He is my God Father. Of Course he doesn’t know it), starts off with a sweeping generalization. “Based on the many times he had ridden in cars driven by women, Kafuku had reached the conclusion that most female drivers fell into one of the two categories: either they were a little too aggressive or a little too timid. Luckily – and we should all be grateful or this – the latter were far more common. Generally speaking, women were more cautious than men behind the wheel. Of course, that caution was nothing to complain about. Yet their driving style tended to irritate the others on the road”

If you were a man reading this, you may have read it with a smile on your face and occasional nod. If you were a woman, then you may have found this little annoying. Either way you read it further.

Make your first paragraph count.


Short stories need character of their own. With all due respect a man who goes to office everyday at 9 in the morning and return at 5 in the evening and his family history, should be only used in novels. Short stories do not have time and space for ordinary characters. For a short story to be great, you need your characters a bit more than ordinary. Like the blind man who teaches a normal man to draw cathedrals, like a man who befriends another man who slept with his wife, like a man who wants his friend to pursue his love interest because deep inside he feels that he is inadequate for her. The reason is simple. Short stories are short stories by word counts. You will have very less time to establish a character arc, so just make them bent at first and then straighten them up at the end. Or not.

Who tells the story?

Who tells the story is very important on how the story comes out later. If you are a very organized person, you will have corkboards with sticky notes with small markers which mention what happens first and in the middle and the end. But if you are like me, who writes with the flow, you should just chose how you decide to tell the story. You can use first person, it will help you divulge a lot of information of the character, his inner demons and secrets that nobody had known before and that will bring a certain kind of vulnerability to the character. Which means, the character will be more or less real. Unless you write, “I picked up the eye-liner from my cupboard and with a single stroke drew a perfect wing in my right eye. And it was my first attempt” Nobody will believe that, unless you are a fairy.

Second person takes intimacy to another level. If you are writing about a story which has too many intimate details like a stalker and a victim, or a policeman tailed by an assassin or a break up, second person narration works like a charm. It has been the favourite story telling technique of the political leaders around the world. Pay attention next time, when they truly trying to get on your side, they talk more about what you do than what they are going to do.

Third person is a very tricky space, you need to have a lot of practice to do that. The common pitfalls is to make sure which character has the mike or camera in their hand, when your reader follows the story.


This is an optional one. But if you think you are going to include dialogues in your story make sure the dialogues are not forced. If your story is about a driver who is driving a cab at the airport and covers double shift, make sure he sound tired. Use the words you use when you are tired. If you are writing about people who are not in your own social and financial status, research on the words they use and the witty comebacks they have. Even when you have a good plot, characters and an ending people would die for, if your dialogues are forced, people will lose interest.

“What did you have for dinner?” She asked.

“I had idlies” He said

“I had dosa” She said. This is bad dialogue. This can be covered in a single sentence which won’t bore people out of their minds.

Use dialogues in moderation. It will automatically become your strong point of the story.

Conflict – or build up – or simply the story:

So you have characters, dialogues and narrative technique but what are they doing? Where are they doing it? Short stories are something we come across every day. When you listen to gossips in office canteen or the excuse of your peon on why he was late, everybody is telling a story. It is how they string up the facts and add some more to make it more believable for you. The best of these story tellers always have our attention. This brings us to the way we structure our stories.

Hook – An opening or a hook. It can be a weird character or a weird setting. Anything to grab the attention.

Conflict – Something that disrupts the normal course of events

Exposition – Background information, back stories.

Complication – Make it tough for your characters

Transition – Let the characters put up or brave the complication.

Resolution – What changed at the end of the story?

If you think about any of your favourite movies or books, you will find them abide by this structure. Once you mastered this structure you are allowed to play with it, bring non-linear narration into play or you can even simply tell the story backwards. But you should know the structure.

Short stories are not about flowery language or bamboozling plot. It has always been about coherence. If you can tell a story in a coherent way that appeals the leaders, you won.

As said earlier in this long article, read a lot of short stories, write and submit to peer groups, gather critiques and then work on your short story. Any good short story you have read should have gone through numerous revisions. And that is how it should be. Don’t get bogged down if your plot is already a story. It is not about what is told, it is always about how different people tell the same story.

About Bragadeesh  


Avid book worm, Brilliant Blogger,Published Writer - That's how I know him! Oh and watch out, he is soon coming up with his second book. To know more about him, do visit his blog .


Wednesday, August 9, 2017

#581 : A Letter to my Older Self


Okay, starting with a 'Hi' sounds so cliche, but what's life without a bit of cliches! I hope you are doing good and are staying positive. I'm sure you probably have a kid now and don't have enough time to even think about being positive or any kind of emotion for that matter. Or may be nothing has gone according to the grand plan! Relax, it's okay. You've learnt that lesson the hard way, don't you remember?

Just refreshing your memory here, your plans after college went astray but you still made a career out of what you got and you kicked at it. A person whom you thought was your soul sister and best friend did cheat you and taunt you for a couple of years. You survived that. You survived living in a village working for a factory which didn't have a proper restroom at all. You managed to work 10 hours a day, cook, clean and find time to write, all like a boss. You've held yourself together well all the time your heart broke piece by piece due to disappointment. It will all be right. Haven't you learnt from all your lessons? Isn't that what all life is about?

Listen to music, read that book. Clear off that To-Read pile. You need time for yourself as a person. Kids, work, in-laws, parents, sister, husband - all of them are important, but of them all you are most important. You need that inner strength to prioritize them all. That strength won't jump from the sky and dive into you. You need to find that yourself. All the negativity that haunted you in your early twenties, you do need those again. Don't succumb to it. It's okay if you suck at adult-ing. Do you seriously think others are great? Your 26 year old self doesn't think so. When in doubt, open this damn post and read. Yeah. Save the link, bookmark it, etch it off somewhere and remember to read it. You will surely need this kind of self motivation. Remember, you aren't the type to be motivated externally. You need that internal drive. All would be well if you don't cave in to the pressures of the mortal world, but if you do, please cheer yourself up. Motivate yourself. Doesn't matter if shit hits the roof, you can always escape via the basement or something. There is always a way in the end. Just that you need to wade through the shit pile.

Remember, Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.

With love,

Your 26 year old self who is not great at anything or doesn't believe in catching up with the world!