Friday, January 31, 2014

Re-invent yourself!

i know that people who know me personally would know the motivation behind this post. They may say that i am sending out this advice to others because it worked out for me. But i know there’s a way it can work out for everyone.

For people who have been wondering what all this about, here it is. You know how we were all excited about even simple things in life when we were teenagers. Movies with college friends or a getting a new top made us so happy. And then we grew up. Real life took over, we got busy with our jobs and just forgot to do things that make us happy. Even things that we might not have done before. Our sense of adventure definitely went down with age and responsibilities. And it does come to us as a surprise when we see others probably do something drastic to their looks or their clothes. Some of us even wish we could be that brave and try different things out.

So today’s post is about - why not? Go ahead and re-invent yourself. This is as important as anything else that we do in our life. Probably more important because this is just for You! A caveat tho - trying different things isn’t a one time thing. You may have changed your hairstyle 10 years ago and thought you were cool. But you left it at that. And now you think - gone are those days when i could do crazy stuff. i am grown up and responsible. Well, we all are! But should that stop us from doing things that will us happy. And trust me, when you look around, those things might not even be as expensive or crazy or time consuming as you think.

i have been doing that every couple of years. For me, it’s mostly my hair. i feel the best way to make a difference to how you feel - and look - is to play around with your hair. My fantasy has always been to have really short hair. But i always chicken out and decided go as short as it would suit me on the eve of hitting the 3rd decade of my life. i wasn’t generally too brave above short hair in the front but i did it. And it looked and felt awesome. And since then, it’s been something new every couple of years. Straight hair to now, bangs! i never thought i could get this adventurous but i guess the part of the fun is in stretching our limits.

i understand that if you are a management consultant, you may not want to turn up at a client meeting in hair that’s streaked red. But i am sure there can be other crazy things that appeal to you. How about getting on to the bandwagon of coloured pants for men? Or getting some fuchsia pink lip colour for the women. They are not permanent but can definitely brighten up your day. And you can go around with a spring in your step because you just got cooler than you were!

All i am saying is - stop dreaming and go do what you always wanted to but just chickened out. It wont cost your life. It’s just little changes in your hair, clothes, shoes (remember the pencil heels you wanted to always own?). Anything that makes you hold up the finger to life and say - you can be unfair and stressful and demanding, but that will not stop me from finding the time and the inclination to do what makes me happy!

Saturday, January 25, 2014

My Bhaaji wala in my ipad!

Who would have ever thought that onions and potatoes could be bought at the click of a mouse in the comfort of one’s home? That the ubiquitous bhaji wala and the friendly neighborhood grocery store would converge into your computer? Neatly lined stacks of products from all categories. Widest possible choice. Shopping at the convenient time of your choice. And much easier to pick up and dump in your trolley. Just click! It’s heartening to notice (which i did recently) that something as mundane as grocery shopping has gone online and so smoothly!

Even though it is a very convenient way of quickly finishing an otherwise time consuming task in a woman’s life, i have mixed feelings about online grocery shopping chains.

First the good. There are a lot of such websites to choose from. Popular ones include bigbasket.com, Nature’s Basket from Godrej and (newly discovered today) localbaniya.com. And you can find pretty much everything you would in a full fledged supermarket. Sometimes more! So rest assured that shopping online for groceries isn’t some new fangled gimmick for a privileged social strata. But very housewife-friendly activity that can get you the most mundane of articles required in your household.

Online shopping also saves the huge trouble of having to lug the monthly supplies to your car to carry them home. Or worse still, like in my case, find an auto rickshaw and put all of it into the vehicle and then carry it to my apartment up the stairs. Too much hard work, that.

Now, the bad. Despite all these good points, i still have a few pretty strong reasons why online shopping doesn’t really work for me. (In fact, i placed my very first online order only today and i am waiting to see how my experience goes when the supplies arrive tomorrow). Utility of online shopping aside, i think the very rush of adrenaline when you enter a supermarket and look around at neatly stacked brand new items on aisles is replaced by nothing. The joy of personally picking up items, turning them around in your hand and reading labels before you toss them into your basket is totally lost with online shopping.

i am still willing to forego the tactile experience of the real shopping world if it wasn’t for my next two problems. Online shopping is really useful when you have the whole month’s supplies to order. It is not at all ideal to order a few things that might be out of stock along the way. You have to step out right then to get them from your local store. And i actually prefer the local store that’ll help me fill that in-between gap to jing bang of online shopping. And the last of my problems is related to this very time frame. The time slots in which they deliver aren’t usually when i want them to the stuff i order. If i order this evening, i prefer to have my it latest by tonight. And not having to sit at home at some random time slot the next day when they are available to deliver. So, for their time slots to work for me, i need to plan in advance so that my things arrive before the existing stock is over. And I am not sure it is possible to do that all the time.

So, online grocery shopping has is definitely a revolution in a county full of conservative shoppers. Yet there can still be more to improve it and make get skeptics like me into its fold. i am not suggesting that my suggestions be put to practice. i am just saying that even though the concept is great, it still doesn’t completely work for me.

Long live Internet!




PS: Just an update, since this post couldn't go live last night - It's 11am and my eggs and bread from localbaniya.com haven't arrived yet forcing me to have last night's leftover pizza for breakfast. Well, the slot ends and 12.30, so fingers crossed!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

The joy of being a student!

i count myself so lucky to have been gifted with a natural disposition to want to learn new things. Not just about things that will help me in my profession but also general topics that might have a bearing on everyday life. With the internet explosion, knowledge is available through multiple media at the tip of my fingers. You name the topic and you have got it. And i am glad that i have started my new year by being a part of a course which adds to my knowledge of a topic i never thought would be a subject of formal study - a course on morality! It is called Moralities of everyday life.

The website coursera.org offers free courses from renowned universities  from across the world on every conceivable topic on earth. Anyone can join in and there isn’t like a minimum eligibility criteria to join them except for knowledge of english language and the technological paraphernalia to view online content.

Coming back to the course, even though it is just week 1, it is quite intriguing in the issues it raises. All of us have an inherent sense of right and wrong. It could be genetic, cultural or intuitive. But are there a set of rules that govern that? Or do we just follow gut feel? Or do we decide between right and wrong based on just how we feel at the time of decision making? Week one of the course looks at historical and philosophical approaches to morality. It talks about whether emotion guides us to our sense of right and wrong or reason - it turns out that passion wins over reason!

Apart from the lectures and reading lists, there are these forums where you have people starting posts and putting up ideas on every conceivable aspect related to the course in question. Going through the forum posts alone could hugely satisfying and learning experience in itself. To know what ideas people from different parts of the world think about depending on their demographics like age, gender, culture and their views and preferences on the course being studied.

i find a medium like this very interesting to continue to study. Since this doesn't have a formal admission process, i don't have to decide in advance. i just enroll at the spur of the moment because something appeals to me. It not just brings back the joy of learning something new but also the school girl in me on her toes trying to catch up with all the material. There is this surge of happiness and positive energy in me when i think of writing notes and trying to assimilate the news things learnt. It's almost like my happy place (apart from, of course, the books i read). i also think it's a great way to keep my mind away from idling away and ill the empty hours of my day.

i have joined other courses on this website but haven’t managed to complete any of them. The work load per week turns out to be a lot more than they casually mention in the course guidelines. But i am up to the challenge this time and hope to keep up with the engaging content, week after week, for just 6 week!!

One down, five more to go! :)