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Thought and Reason

Snow… snow. . Magical snow!

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Food and recipe

Welcoming you with food! !!

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A huge welcome to you! !! I’ve been very irregular here but for once I do have valid reasons for this hiatus!!!

You know I’ve been bombarding you with some really interesting info on the Community Radio project that I’ve been supporting. I hope you took a couple of minutes to read about how radio can be a wonderful instrument of change. I will not deviate from today’s post which is a lovely recipe from the very talented Shubha Shashikanth.  My little prince had been asking for spaghetti with veggie balls for some time.  It looked complicated so I avoided it until Shubha posted her recipe on facebook. Made it this afternoon and it was absolutely brilliant.  Do try it.

Ok, my version of Shubha’s recipe:

1) Spaghetti: As always, Boil lots of water, add a pinch of salt, throw in the spaghetti and cook until semi-soft. Don’t let it get squishy please! Drain the water and keep this aside.

2) The yummiest veggie balls EVER: I grated 1/2 carrot, 1 potato, 1/5 cabbage, about 100 gms paneer and added salt and white pepper. Add breadcrumbs. I didn’t have any, so I added a spoon of ‘sage and onion stuffing’. Added about a tablespoon each of rice flour and whole wheat flour. Make lemon sized balls from these and deep-fry in hot oil.

3) Sauce: Ideally, I would have fried onion, ginger, garlic, tomato and spices to make the sauce. But it was a busy day, so I used ready-made Bolognese sauce. And it was yum!!!

Tada!! This dish doesn’t take more than 20 minutes if your sauce is ready. Do try, do try. It was a huuuuuge hit at my place, especially because we are vegetarians. We loooooved it.

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Nilanjana Roy’s BRILLIANT article

A brilliant article by Nilanjana Roy. A must-read for any Indian. Particularly, those who resort to ‘behind the Lakshman Rekha’ paradigm.

nilanjana s roy

(Published in the Business Standard, 8th January 2013) 

In times of trouble, turning to the great epics is always useful: their ancient bloodstained lines are reminders that we do not have a premium on violence, rape and corpses.

Over the centuries, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata have become India’s default epics, eclipsing the Rajatarangini, the Cilapatikkaram and other equally powerful legends in the mainstream imagination. While this is a loss, both epics offer an insight into the way rape works in India.

Five stories of rape and sexual assault from the epics are particularly useful. The Ramayana has the abduction of Sita by Ravana, and running parallel to it, the disfiguring of Surpanakha by Rama and Lakshmana—two atrocities, not one, that trigger a war. The Mahabharata has the public assault on Draupadi at its heart, the abduction and revenge of Amba, and and the sanctioned rapes of Ambika and…

View original post 1,425 more words

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Thought and Reason

Please Give 40000 families a voice!

Hola People,

First, listen to this AWESOME trailer of ‘Mountain Echoes’

And now, I’ll come to the point!!

Villages/rural areas in India are hardly connected the way we are. There is no question of Internet/Google/Facebook. They live in a ‘media dark’ area.

One really strong medium of communication is RADIO. It changes the way people live. Local radio stations, in particular, address local needs, local information/entertainment/education/etc. and bring about social change in many ways.

Lots of rural communities are incredibly passionate about making Community Radio happen, but are strapped by funds and lack of technical know-how.

My college friend, Saritha Thomas – who has a strong background in Radio – has set up a NPO called People’s P.ow.er Collective, that will help rural/isolated communities build and run their own Community Radio station.

In 2013 they will be building a Community Radio station FROM SCRATCH in Uttarakhand.

We are fundraising for this project, and ANY contribution from you would be awesome!!!!

Even the littlest amount that you can spare would go a long way. You will be helping 150000 people find a ‘voice’ that would influence their lives in a great way.

So please, please do contribute. Even the tiniest amount would do.

To donate from India: visit our page on Wishberry
To donate from UK/other countries: visit our page on Buzzbnk
And please, help spread the word. If you are a blogger and are reading this, then would you consider helping by adding a Widget in your blog?
Thank you SO much, folks!!!
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Thought and Reason

Five tips for effective social media strategy

I spent much of Christmas tweeting and re-tweeting posts on micro-blogging platform Twitter in the hopes of winning a Sony Tablet or iPhone (none of which came my way, in any case!) But yes, the use of social media was extraordinary!! What was more interesting was the fact that retailers did not ‘PUSH’ their products by ‘Selling’. To the contrary, they ‘PULLED’ a huge audience by ‘NOT selling’ but ‘engaging‘ the vibrant online buyer community!! Apparently, research has also proved that products recommended by friends/acquaintances on social networks fare better than those that aren’t!

Social Media platforms

There is no denying it. Social media is here to stay. So all you lovely entrepreneurs and independent retailers, please do consider these points in your strategy:

Don’t just sell!

1) Back to basics – Integrate your social media channels to speak in one voice. It should brandish your USP (unique selling proposition) that can be as simple as ‘hand-made jewellery’ or as exotic as ‘Himalayan rocks’!

 

2) ‘Engage’ and ‘brainstorm’– As a customer myself, I would be annoyed if a retailer used social media to ONLY Sell. Simple community engagement initiatives like seeking feedback/opinion using Polls and posting pictures of not just celebrities but even the common man endorsing their brand make you endearing!

‘Brainstorm’ with your audience – they are a storehouse of ideas! For example, hold a Twitter contest to solicit brand TAGLINES, thereby ‘engaging’ customers with more than a mundane sales pitch.

3) ‘Extra’s  – Can you use social media to offer that ‘little something extra’? For eg., a Facebook offer of 20% discount or ‘Cash on Delivery‘ could be a deal breaker.

4) Financial and non-financial targets – Let’s face it. You are not running a charity. Ensure to set targets, eg, 500 new Twitter followers.

5) Don’t stop –Most retailers/small scale entrepreneurs do not have the bandwidth to persist with social media initiatives. But do keep the buzz going. Cross-posting a Blog post a week could do the trick.

Social Media strategy is not to ‘sell’ but to ‘Engage’. Speak the voice of the customer, and they will look after you!

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Thought and Reason Uncategorized

King-size Chess, anyone?

At a time when iPads and Nintendos rule the roost, it can be quite difficult for a parent to get children to sit down and play a ‘real‘ board game. I have always had a soft corner for board games like Othello, Monopoly, Connect 4, etc. because I feel they enrich us. Games like Chess, for example, help us develop not just concentration but also strategic thinking. And what better age to introduce this, than childhood?

Believe it or not, I did not have the fortune of learning to play Chess during my childhood. A neighbour once offered to teach me, but I guess I found it intimidating! Add to it, a problem of ‘butter fingers’ and this game was out of my league!

I definitely wanted to introduce my 6-year-old to this timeless classic!! However, as you can imagine, expecting a child of this age to sit still and understand the complex rules of Chess can be quite challenging!

Therefore, what better way to do it, than present him with a KING SIZE version of the game?

I was very excited when I came across ‘Big Game Hunters’ (specialists in garden/outdoor toys and giant play equipment). Their ‘standard chess set’ is actually rather huge! My son’s eyes lit up when the box was delivered. He couldn’t wait to arrange the pieces (as per the very handy instruction leaflet) straight away.

As a parent, I am glad that this set has rekindled interest in playing real (touch and feel) board games, as opposed to a rather sedentary Temple Run and Subway Surfer!

The child in me was reminded me of the wizard chess that Harry Potter and Ron Weasley played 🙂 Just that in this case, the magic was not a ‘philosopher’s stone’ but the exciting life-size experience of the game itself 🙂

However, do be aware that (as displayed in the website and Facebook page), the sets are quite big, and take up space, even when they are boxed.

As regards the product review goes, I would rate this 4.0/5.0, the rationale being as follows:

Pros:

  • Sturdy and robust pieces, especially for little hands. Butter fingers welcome 🙂
  • An innovative take on a classic game, definitely kindles interest, especially for kids.
  • Excellent delivery (super fast timeline and efficient tracking)

Cons:

  • The mat is a little thin and slippery, and crumples easily. Realised it only when a toddler crawled over it, and by the time we could yank him off, the mat had already crumpled. Perhaps a matte finish would have worked better?

I would definitely recommend this product (if you have the space, that is), both for its intrinsic value, and also as an alternative to watching TV indoors or smashing insects on an iPad!!

(PS: I received a chess set from Big Game Hunters for the purpose of this trial. No other consideration was received for this review. The review is entirely personal and not influenced by Big Game Hunters in any way whatsoever).

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MBA to Cashier?

Hi All,

My apologies for the hiatus once again!! Hope you’ve been well. The last few weeks have been absolutely manic, and I hope to get back to routine by the end of this month (*Fingers crossed*). In the meanwhile, do head over here to read my article.

Have a great weekend folks!

…..Pal..

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Monday’s child in 2012

Image courtesy: http://www.littlefolkspuzzle.com/

Well, many of you would have heard of the Monday’s Child poem/rhyme before. For those who haven’t, here it is:

Mondays child is fair of face,
Tuesdays child is full of grace,
Wednesdays child is full of woe,
Thursdays child has far to go,
Fridays child is loving and giving,
Saturdays child works hard for his living,
And the child that is born on the Sabbath day
Is bonny and blithe, and good and gay.

Now I have to admit that my sibling and I actually believed that rhyme to be true, and would often use it to tease each other. It took us many years to realise those were not ‘predictions’ but only a rhyme!!

My Little Prince has learnt a new version at school this week. I have been asking him to repeat it for me all weekend. Because I LOVED it.

Read this, and you will most probably agree:

Monday’s child is red and spotty,
Tuesday’s child won’t use the potty.
Wednesday’s child won’t go to bed,
Thursday’s child will not be fed!
Friday’s child breaks all his toys,
saturday’s child make an awful noise.
And the child which was born on the seventh day…
Was a pain in the neck
Like the rest Okay?
I’m pretty sure this was written by a harried mom!
You can’t not empathise with her now, can you?
(PS: God bless all children, they are truly precious, no matter how annoying they can be at times :-))
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Uncategorized

The good wife

Just came across a very interesting creative writing initiative by Auset. She gives a prompt for each day, and you have 10 minutes to write about it. And write anything 🙂

So, Writing Prompt #1: Opening Line

Her mother always said she would make a good wife.

My take – as always, a 55-er, as that is the easiest way out 😉

———

‘Her mother always said she would make a good wife.
She was pretty, docile and had no bad habits. Atleast, no boys!
Years passed. Prince Charming hadn’t arrived.
Finally. ‘Mum, I’m getting married. I love Sam’
’Sam who?’ Mum asked excitedly.
‘Samantha’
‘What? You can’t!!’
‘But Mum, you always said I’d make a good wife!!!’’

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Incidents Thought and Reason

Sizzling South Indian Mela(m)

It is always tricky to plan weekends here, thanks to the lovely British weather (by the way, I do like cold n grey weather!). The last weekend was thankfully sunny, though a little chill. That didn’t deter us from making a quick trip to see what the South Indian Melam (an initiative by ‘INDIA NOW’) was all about. Actually, blame the TV adverts for luring us to it! All those pictures of steaming hot dosais/vadai, and ofcourse the cultural events 🙂 (lest I sound too shallow ;-)) were so inviting!

We reached the Mela venue by around 2 pm, and had originally planned to leave in a couple of hours, but ended staying till the very last show, which was a completely dhamakedaar performance by Shiamak Davar‘s team in London. (Will come to that later, as one sentence in passing simply doesn’t do justice to the amazing performance that it was!)

We were greeted with a mellifluous rendition of ‘Vaishnava Janato‘. Sadly, there was no encore 🙂 The compère Ms.Ambika, conducted a lovely little music exercise with all the children. There must have been atleast 20-30 participants, who sang along to Sa-Re-Ga-Ma with gusto.

It was a delight to hear, and an eye-opener too, about an art that we must not let die, but instead try to pass on to the future generations.

There were more performances – vocal, Bharatnatyam, etc. (I can’t review those as I’m not much of an art connoisseur) and an impressive ‘Kalari Payattu‘ performance too, that the boys were particularly interested in!

There weren’t as many ‘stalls’ as one expected. However, there was a great little massage offered at very reasonable prices. Another hot-dog/fries/coffee booth, that served awesome french-fries at delightful prices 😉

The stall for the ‘Save the Tiger‘ campaign, in my opinion, could have benefited with more prominence. The Diabetes UK team was strategically placed a few stalls away from the one with the droolworthy hot South Indian food 🙂

State Bank of India who were one of the Sponsors, held an exciting Raffle contest, with the prize being an iPad!!! Sadly, the winner of the raffle wasn’t around. Sigh!!! I wish…er.. never mind!)

Hot Dosai in the making… and different varieties of chutney to go with it… yummm…

Needless to say, the ‘food’ staff, hosted by Turmeric Spice (I hope I got the name right!), saw an endless queue 🙂 And it was well worth the wait. We ordered hot dosais and simple yet delicious lemon rice!

As they say, the best things in life come to those who wait! The last event was a Bollywood dance performance. I wasn’t expecting much, and the delay was putting me off.

However, when the troupe finally arrived, they took us by storm!!! The Shiamak Davar team in London pulled off a spectacular performance, making even the audience dance to the tunes of Chikni Chameli and Chammak Challo!

The compère /host, Rohan, did an OUTSTANDING job of drawing the audience into the performance.

Even the man behind the show, Mr.Manish Tiwari (Managing Director, Here&Now365) couldn’t escape grooving to the tunes of Chammak Challo 🙂

The audience learnt some easy steps, particularly some Shahrukh Khan motions, and the delightfully funny ‘nodding Indian head‘ 🙂 Team Shiamak had the entire audience spell-bound, and hungry for an encore (which again, they delivered beautifully).

We truly believed their quote – ‘Have Feet – Will Dance’. Add to that, they gave a gift voucher (‘free dance session’) for all the participants.

So, that was a truly scintillating finale to an exciting event.

Well done Team South Indian Melam 🙂 I think this was a good start, and do hope we see many more such events, that bring us closer to ‘home’ and help showcase our arts and culture.