Friday, June 12, 2015

5 Ways to Gorgeous Skin

Who doesn't want soft, supple and growing skin? There are some who are blessed with flawless skin and there are many like me who have to take care of it. But, irrespective of your skin type, a good skin care routine and taking care of your lifestyle goes a long way to maintain it. Being a Himachali, almost everyone in my family has a perfect skin. And there are many things they all do to maintain it. Here are few of those tips which have been tried and tested by many generations, as my mother say -

Using Milk as a Cleaner
Long before the washing-cleansing-moisturizing routine became famous, ladies in my family stick to the readily available milk as a cleanser. My grandmother says it does all three things which all high priced products claim to do in one go. Even I have used it during my commute years and trust me, it takes out all the dirt from your skin. It’s natural, chemical free and is always available in your fridge.

Add Rose Water to Your Routine
Rose water is one thing that adds glow to any skin type. It soothes the skin and help retain the softness of skin. I use plain rose water in summer and when it is humid and mix it with cream during winters. Diluting face cream with rose water helps in massaging it deep in the skin layer and gives a supple effect. Rose water has been in my routine since my college days. It’s the most effective thing I have used so far and I recommend it to everyone.

Paste of Dry Neem Leaves
A family friend suggested it to my mother long back. It’s the best pack to get soft skin. Many say neem is good for acne, pimples and skin rashes, but even if you don’t have one, you should try it. No cream can give this much softness. Take dry neem leaves and crush them into a powder with your hands. Mix it with water and apply. It will be little grainy and won’t stick to the skin, and you might have to work with it on patches, but the result is extra-ordinary. Wash when it the paste and dry and voila, you are done. This is one of the best packs I have tried in my life - free, all natural and great results.

Curd for Sun Tan and Rashes
Of all the ways I have tried to remove sun tan, curd gives the best result. Apply curd paste with any of the flour/face pack that suits your skin type and you can get rid of nastiest of sunburn. It also helps when you apply on rashes from a skin infection. It is a great and natural way to get the harsh red color from your skin and gives you soft skin.

Ayurvedic and Organic Products
There are endless products in the market that claim to give the best of results. Few months back, I read that most scrubbers have plastic beads in them and many states in the USA have banned them. Now, I feel all the cosmetics and creams we use should be natural - either Ayurvedic or organic. They give better results and have no side effects. My mother used VICCO Turmeric Cream for a long time - an all natural and Ayurvedic product. And, she still vouches for it. Using natural products is the best way to maintain skin in the long run.

These are some of my ways to maintain good and healthy skin, what are yours?

Thursday, May 14, 2015

One App, Many Benefits

Mobile connectivity has played a major role in my personal life. You see, my parents live in Himachal and not all mobile providers have service in their area. Even with the ones that are operating, there is always some or other problem, barring Airtel. So, no prize for guessing, Airtel is my favorite when it comes to cellular providers in India. In fact, I have tried all the companies, but eventually came back to them. So much so, that I have used their internet and TV packages. They have great service and their products always have an edge. No wonder, the new #MyAirtelApp has many awesome features, which can change the way one use their cell phone.

Though all the features of this app are good, but there are these three that suits my lifestyle and they will surely enhance my smartphone experience. What tops my list is ‘I Want To’ feature - a shortcut of features that one uses most. A list of features that someone uses more frequently are stored on home screen. This will definitely help me to save time and will also serve as a gentle reminder of things to be done… like - recharging cell phone balance, bill payments and checking the data usage. I have the habit of making ‘things to do’ list, but with this feature one thing will permanently go off it, as I will have a visual reminder on my cellphone.

Next feature is the coolest of all. Shake feature that gives you great offers available for your number simply by shaking your phone. I think everyone must be using this feature for sure. With 'shake', there is no need to store those text messages or ask your local shopkeepers about the recharge offers available for your number, just shake your phone and there, you have it. Adding to it, now you can recharge your account instantly through this app. This app comes with secure payment system and will allow you recharge, check payment history and check data usage wherever and whenever you want. There is no need to open your account and check these details when it is just few clicks away. Out of all these easy recharge, easy payment options, best for me is - recharge your DTH. It’s like managing almost everything with one simple app.

Last is Airtel Surprises - this is a unique promotional way to get the best offers and discounts on your preferred brands. After every recharge, there flashes a coupon that you can redeem against your purchase. There are coupons of various categories - shopping, food, health, wellness and entertainment. Best is these coupons are of well known brands. What else a shopaholic like me can ask for! These are indeed some happy surprises by #MyAirtelApp.

Also there is one feature that I would love to explore in my free time - Wyk. Wyk’ing’ allows users to search, stream and download their favorite songs. We all download songs to our system and then, on our phone. With Wyk’ing’ we can directly save our favorite songs on my phone, which we use 24X7. You see, #MyAirtelApp can be used for many purposes, it is useful and can keep us informed and entertained. If you are an Airtel user, download it on your devices and make the best use of it.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Smartphone 2.0

I love technology, it has made our lives super easy and fun. One can connect and work at ease, without the restriction of time and place. But, there are certain downside to it too, like - battery takes too much time to charge, pictures from phone camera are not as good as we would expect, phone hangs in between browsing. It is exactly in such moments we wish for a better smartphone than what we already have to redefine our smartphone experience. Don’t we? So ladies and gentlemen, don’t bother, there is a phone to answer all your problems - ASUS Zenfone 2. It's such an incredible phone that it can give all other phones a run for their money and make your smartphone experience totally rocking. Here are few things I love about this phone -

Fast Charging - This phone has 4 GB RAM and apparently the first smartphone to have this much of it. Now, I don’t understand the technical mumbo-jumbo but in simple words, it makes the smartphone really smart. We can charge this phone up to 60% in less than 40 minutes. For me, that makes it a complete stellar. Imagine you get up late and forget to charge your phone at night and you have only half an hour to get ready. Now, till the time to take a quick shower and breakfast, your phone is charged enough to last the day. Totally amazing!

Brighter Pictures - Last year we went to Rhode Island and I was looking forward to capture the pristine landscapes of this beautiful state, but wait, as luck would have it, our camera stopped working. Then, we had no other option but to take pictures from our phone and the pictures were not of good quality, especially the ones at dusk and dawn. With Zenfone 2, you can make any picture come alive and brighter as it has this low light mode for such moments. This is what I call a real smartphone, the one that redefines the whole experience of a smartphone. It also has many other camera features for selfies and panoramic clicks.

Dual Action - I like to carry two numbers - one for family and one for work. No, Zenfone 2 is not a simple dual sim phone. It has this lucid feature, where you can switch between two calls between two numbers - place one on hold to answer another. You can answer all the calls and keep everyone happy. How cool is that? They call it ‘Dual-SIM capacity with Dual Active technology.’

Bling it on - We girls love to accessorize and this goes for everything, even our phones. We love to flaunt a jazzy phone cover and fashionable stickers. With Zenfone we can add technology to our fashion statement, like having a PowerBank of the size of a credit card, that would store all our information. Or have a smart phone cover that is useable and fashionable at the same time.

Great Looks with Comfort - Unlike some box-like smartphones, Zenfone 2 is designed to keep style and comfort in mind. It has 5.5 full HD display and a smooth metal finish. Even the buttons for sound and control are placed for comfort, just in place for index finger making it easier for us to navigate and feel in control. With my earlier phone, I had the trouble of finding the volume control. I face the same issue with my iPod too.

With such an amazing list of features, I feel Zenfone 2, can redefine the smartphone experience for me. Comfort, style, speed and better performance - four things that makes a smartphone really smart and Zenfone 2 has all these in abundance.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Kellogg's waale Guptaji

I love cooking - trying my hands at different type of cuisines and posting pictures on Instagram. I am kinda addicted to it. Last year in November I took a 30 day challenge of cooking different breakfasts daily. I tried a few new recipes, perfected some I already knew and as my family joked, made them fat. I agree, it was not something very healthy. When I saw Kellogg’s Anaaj Ka Nashta’s pictures on Facebook, I found healthier version of many recipes that I cook. I wish Guptaji invites me to his house to taste and learn a few of the sumptuous dishes they savor on a daily basis.

I love chivda and it was one of the dishes I cooked in my 30 day challenge. But in Guptaji’s house, they make a crisper and a healthier version of it - Chapatti Cornflakes Chivda. They add crushed cornflakes to make it crispy and add left-over chapattis to give it whole-grain-nutritious effect. It can be served hot and stored for munching later. Simply mouth watering, I tell you! After looking at this dish, I am dying for an invite. I so want to binge it with a hot cup of tea and bring some back for my husband.

Just after completing my challenge last year I started dieting, for obvious reason of course. I started making salads for dinner, but eating chopped vegetables and fruits is beyond my taste buds. I like my food punjabi style - high on masala and taste. And in Guptaji's house, they make this amazing Cabbage Corn Salad in Basil Curd Dressing. With a perfect mix of herbs, vegetables and fruits,  it looks so yummy. If we get invited on dinner some day, I will ask them to make this super-healthy salad as a starter.

Have I told you I love eating sweets? Since I am on a weight loss routine these days, I am staying away from all high calorie delicacies, but there are some lip smacking and low calorie sweets in Guptaji's house that I want to try - Cornflake Walnut Chocolate Muffin and Cornflake Coconut Ladoos as dessert, Apple Cornflakes Pancake for breakfast and CornFlake Popcorn Clusters for snacks. Even the names of these dishes are heavenly and one just wants to dig in. I hope, Mrs Gupta will share her recipes with me. So, I can get into shape without comprising on my sweet tooth.

There are so many other healthier versions that I want to learn and eat at their place like -

Oats Veggie Nurti Cutlets instead of Potato Cutlets
Apple Cinnamon Soya Shake instead of Normal Milk Shakes
Basil Curd Dip instead of Sauces

I want to go to Guptaji’s house for nashta to munch all these healthy, delicious and new dishes. And to learn a few of the recipes and cook it later. Who wouldn't want an invite at a place where food is served to cater both the taste buds and health? They serve a perfect meal with fancy names, gorgeous presentation of quick-fix low-calorie dishes.

P. S. - Kellogg's waale Guptaji  apne ghar nashte pe zaroor bulana.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Little Pleasures of Life

It is not how much we have, but how much we enjoy, that makes happiness - Charles Spurgeon

There will always be a bridge between ‘what we have’ and ‘what we want’, but we can’t be sad while we try to bridge that gap. Happiness is not about the destination, it is about the journey, someone once said. It is those small moments which make us laugh, wet our eyes with happy tears and makes our heart sing that make life worth living. There are many small yet meaningful things that bring happiness in my life.

I love listening to old Bollywood songs. I go for a walk whenever weather and time permits. Listening to songs on my iPod during walk brings immense joy to me. I can walk for hours with music on. Walk with music lighten the stress of work and makes my day happy. There is nothing more relieving to me than going on long walks alone. It releases negativity from my body. It is the best therapy for me. I am not very particular about where I go. All I need is a pair of shoes and music and I am all set to charge myself and return completely happy. 

A good fragrance makes me extremely happy. It doesn’t technically fall into small things as I have to spend a lot of money and energy to find a good fragrance, but I love it. A good perfume, talc, deodorant just lifts my spirits. A whiff of Liril talcum powder, Gucci Guilty, Versace Yellow Diamond, Johnsons Baby Powder and Lomani is enough to make my day. I don’t know if there is any scientific explanation to it, but a good fragrance releases many happy hormones in my body. That’s why in my free time I compare notes and main accords of perfumes. It won’t be wrong to say that I am addicted to fragrances. Even researching perfumes on the internet is thrilling to me. It is one of my favorite pass times.

A good stimulating conversation is among the things that bring instant cheer. I don’t mean simple chit-chat. A good conversation that brings solace and has a dash of humor. It’s really difficult to find someone with whom you can start a meaningful conversation. And when you do, you feel very happy. I am one of those who not only derive happiness, but a good conversation has an intoxicating effect on my senses. If I chat with someone and it is good, I save it and read it later. I have a list of chats that I like to read. Humor, sarcasm and for that matter, even healthy flirting has a positive effect, don’t you agree?

Reading a good book never fails to add joy to my day. Be it a soul stirring piece on love or philosophical passage on life, I love reading. It’s like an instant dose of happiness. Instant reminds me of - a cup of coffee. I love a good cup of coffee - little strong with a right amount of sugar. These are few of the things that bring happiness. So, what is it for you - a good meal or an action movie?

Saturday, March 14, 2015

We Are Together

Family is not an important thing. It’s everything - Michael J. Fox

No matter how hard your life is, one day with your family and you feel things can work out. They are your pillar of strength and the ones who help you sail through the rough times. You feel secure, loved and hopeful when they are around. I live very far away from my family. Yes, they are just a phone call away and I call them whenever I feel low. It cheers me up - they give me advice, shower their love and tell me repeatedly not to take stress. But still, I feel a vacuum, as if  something tangible is missing. May be, it’s their physical presence.

Last to last year, I was in Ambala on my birthday. It was a tough time for my family. My father-in-law was bedridden for over 8 months. My father was not keeping well. Nothing we had planned turned out as desired. There was not even a single moment of happiness for many many months. All of us were under a lot of stress, but my family was adamant about celebrating my birthday. Inspite of my repeated requests and constant reminder of my age, they went ahead and planned an intimate event. My parents came from Himachal a day before my birthday. So, everyone except for my brother was there.

It was nothing fancy, we had lunch at my favorite restaurant. I felt sorry that my father-in-law  couldn’t accompany us. But what we missed during lunch was lavishly substituted in the evening during the cake cutting ceremony. It was the most memorable and fun birthday for me. With all the people I love in one room, I couldn’t ask for more. Though we all terribly missed by brother. I was showered with gifts and blessings. We ate our favorite snacks and enjoyed the blissful company.

We all were very happy. I felt, we all needed a break and that small celebration infused dollops of energy in all of us. Now, I feel that we all should celebrate all the birthdays and anniversaries. Life gives very few big moments and to lighten up life, we must indulge in such small and intimate celebrations with our loved ones. My father-in-law got from his bed and joined us in the living room for celebrations and this little change brought a smile on everyone’s face. We felt hopeful of his recovery. My parents, who were missing both their children found comfort in all of us. They were more than happy coming down from Himachal to join us. Most importantly, I had this warm feeling on that day, like - life is beautiful. That day filled me with joy, hope, and optimism. It motivates me to count the good things of life and look up. I get a positive vibe even flipping through the pictures of that day. Here’s one of me and Alok. 

Apart from the invaluable bliss, wishes, hope; I also got valuable gifts - money, cards and diamonds. The day vouched that I am not alone, me and my family are always #together in this journey.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

To a Better Future and a Better Me

If there is no struggle, there is no progress - Frederick Douglass

This quote summarizes what I went through when I wanted to start my life on my own terms 16 years back. I had many dreams and those were not possible to achieve in a small town. Hence, I wanted to move to a bigger city, but all of it came at a price - financial, emotional and physical struggle, coupled with stress from near and dears. Who sends a girl to another city for high school? Why can’t she take up a hostel?... And many such questions were thrown not only at me but also at my parents. I was adamant. I wanted a bigger canvas to paint my future and moving to the next big city seemed so right. So, at 17 I moved to Chandigarh to #startanewlife.

At first it was not easy as a teenager to embrace the changes. It rattled me - new environment, no friends and a very conservative school was very intimidating. I was at a loss for a couple of weeks. Kids were smart, they knew everything about computers, they knew everything that was happening in the world and they were good at studies. All was fast paced and I was struggling to fit in. Yes, fit in initially. Even that was a daunting task. There were many moments when I regretted my decision. My friends were living a comfortable life with their families, in a very protective environment. And as a teenager, I couldn’t even understand all the feeling I had that time. Was I scared or failing, I asked myself many a times. Now I think - both. I was scared and because I was scared, I was failing.

The first good thing happened when I became friends with Anila. She helped me with many things. She is a dear friend till date. Slowly I started understanding the culture. I took computer classes at NIT, which helped me to regain my confidence. I studied extra hard, burnt midnight oil to be among top 5 in my class. I started socialising outside the school and made new friends who taught me finer nuances of big city life. It may sound very small a move to anyone but moving to Chandigarh imbibed strong character values in me. I am independent, confident and cosmopolitan because of it. It turned out to be that moment when I formally took charge of my life - where I wanted and where I landed is a result of one decision of my life.

I discarded all my inhibitions from then on and was surprised to discover a side of me, which I never knew was there. I think even my parents were happy. In retrospection, it looks overwhelming - meeting school principal on my own, buying everything I needed, commuting on Roadways buses, negotiating with rickshaw-wala for five rupees to save for one hotdog. But I am happy I did all that and I hope my parents are proud of me. Oh, did I tell you, my Principal who hardly met anyone, called my parents to meet with him and I won many accolades for my writing in my new school.

Life became better - challenging but more fulfilling. Ending with one of my favorite quotes -

Life begins outside your comfort zone.