Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Rediscovering my passions with P666

New Year is just around the corner and the time is here to make some resolutions to improve your way of life in the upcoming year. I have been travelling a lot from the last six years, coupled with work and family responsibilities, I hardly get time to pursue my hobbies and passions. I have lost many of the things I enjoyed because of my schedule. And as many of you know I don't carry a mobile, my only companion during my travel is my outdated iPod. If I have Micromax Canvas Tab P666, I feel I can bring back those things which I miss now. With this tablet in my hands, I can surely reignite my passions and discover some new ones.

First I would just go back to playing games, which I miss so much. I was addicted to playing video games few years back. With 1.2Ghz Intel Atom Processor and 1 Gb Ram inside this tab, I am excited to see how those guns would blare and the speeding cars would turn in my favorite games. Speed is the word when it comes to any gaming device and this tablet can bring back that action in my life and help me rediscover my passion on the move. Now, I won't be sitting in front of my computer to do that. I can do it while travelling and that too in style. Have you seen the looks of P666? It's smooth glass finish and shape is to die for. A sleek gadget will add to my fashion quotient as well.

Coming to my another passion - watching movies. I hardly get time to watch, with this tab I can watch them on the go. I always envy all those who watch movies on their tabs as it is not possible for me to do so on my tiny iPod touch. I can get back to my love for movies on P666. And also I resolve to rediscover, rather rekindle my love for reading. I have read only one book since April. With this tab, I make a resolution to go back to reading more. I have missed so much on literary front in the last many months. I can read during long travels. With this tab's amazing battery life, I can read, watch movies and surf net for many hours continuously. It will make traveling a boon for me. I can use the spare time and rediscover my passions.

Last but not the least, the top thing on my resolution list is to be more dedicated to my blog. With Micromax Canvas Tab P666 as my buddy, I can click awesome shots to go with my blog posts. With its 5 MP and 2 MP front camera, I need not borrow pictures from Google. Well, I will also join the selfie craze. I can make videos to go with my posts. And what's best is the 3G connectivity in this tablet, I can publish my posts while travelling. Rocking, isn't it?

This new year with a Micromax Canvas Tab P666, I resolve to discover and rekindle my passions. While travelling, I can update my blog, watch movies, play games and be the perfect multitasker. I hope I don't get addicted to this mean machine. 

Here's have a look at this tab and its tempting features - 

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Moment of Truth

As a teenager, we all are a little rebellious. We don’t see the logic behind most of the rules set for us. At that age, breaking those rules gives us a sense of freedom...later followed by guilt, of course. I was in tenth standard and our school cancelled the Children’s Day celebrations. The entire school was agitated as that day marked casual wear, stalls and loads of fun. But being the senior most class, we decided to celebrate the day outside the school. So, a mass bunk was planned by our class.

Plan was to wear the casual dresses, meet at a place close to the school and keep it a secret. We all decided not to tell our parents. Most of the class went along with the plan but some backed out and went to school. We had a great time - we went to park, zoo, played games and ate at the restaurant with our pooled-in money. For us, it was the best Children’s Day ever. We took pride in this little rebellious act. But the joy lasted till afternoon. As we reached home, we started getting calls that there was a huge scene in the school and we all were asked to report to principal’s office in the morning. I was really scared. I was the monitor of my class and I knew the blame would eventually fall on me. I was pretty angry on all those who backed out. I lied to my parents about the mass bunk and I knew, they would have never approved such an outrageous thing in the first place. But, I had to tell my parents, before they got any communication from the school. I was in a mess. And I knew telling my parents meant I would be grounded for at least a month. But this time I wanted to speak the truth, without caring about the consequences. Some of my friends thought of telling it to their parents only if the situation worsens. Some lied, again. They were too scared. For me, all of the tension and guilt was too much to bear. So, I decided to tell everything to my mother and was ready to face the punishment. Truth seemed to be the only way out of that guilt of lying. Telling truth to my mother seemed to the right thing to do.

I waited for mom to come back from Office. I collected all the courage I had and told her what happened. To my surprise she didn’t scold me. She simply said to speak the truth again in front of the Principal and never do anything without telling her first. And never be a part of such adventures. I promised her that I would say away from all such things in future. Honestly, after telling her about that, I was not scared to go to school and face the consequences. Speaking truth to my mother unburdened the guilt. It was very relieving. From that incident onwards, I never lied or hid anything from my parents. It was the one incident that taught me two things - breaking rules means trouble and speaking truth is the best way out of it. I still follow that. No matter how hard it seems, speaking truth is always the best thing to do. And, there is nothing more relieving than speaking truth in tough moments.

*This post is written for ‘Kitna chain hota hai na sanchai mein’ campaign sponsored by Kinley

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Vacation Redefined With Kids

Vacations are always fun but what makes it all the more enjoyable is the company of kids. They bring an extra dose of cheer to any trip. Their energy level is unmatched and with them, you never have a dull moment in your vacation. There were few places which we covered with our friend's children and without doubt, those vacations were the best. Our trip to Point Pleasant on Jersey Shore this summer scores high on fun quotient, courtesy the presence of children with us and around us. Instead of sitting and soaking sun or strolling on the beach, we participated in all the fun activities. I felt as if their presence have redefined the meaning of vacation. We had truck loads of fun riding these along with our friends' kids - Moby Dick, Super Himalaya and Swing and Wave Swinger. Had we gone alone, we would have strolled and ate pizza. In their company, I revisited my childhood that day!

Moby Dick

Super Himalaya

Swing and Wave Swinger

And the Train Ride which goes along the entire boardwalk area just adds 'Alice In Wonderland' effect to the whole experience. You have to stop when the train passes in any interaction. This trip to Jersey Shore was just magical, with kids bringing music with their laughter and their excitement keeping the fun level always on the high. This is without a doubt the best vacation I have had till date. All because of the presence of children, which added a magical effect to it.

Train passing through the boardwalk

Not only in the amusement parks or in arcades, children add a whole new meaning to the vacation with their presence even in places like aquarium. With their never ending desire to learn more and never ending question list, they can make even 'Seal Feeding' a complete activity in itself. When we went to Jenkinson's Aquarium, we had the most fun at 'Seal Feeding' activity, where children were asking questions to the trainers. It kept us hooked to that place for nearly half an hour. 

Seal feeding at Jenkinson's

But it's not as easy at is seems. When you are planning a trip with children, you have to keep them occupied and entertained so that you can also enjoy yourself. When we went to New York City along with our friends and their kids, we made sure to visit the Bryant Park before going to Times Square or shopping at Macy's. We spent enough time in the activities they enjoy - we let them skate at the ice skating ring in Bryant park, gave them carousel ride till they had enough and fed them ice-cream. In addition to the games and rides, one must treat the kids with their favorite food, that will make it a perfect experience for them and for you as well. 

 Ice skating at Bryant Park

Carousel ride and ice cream at Bryant Park

If you take them to the places where they don't enjoy, then your trip won't be that much fun. In fact, it will be more of a task, then a vacation. We went hiking with our friends and their daughter, it was so boring for her that we had to bribe her with a chocolate even to pose to the picture. It was a task to keep her moving and entertained. 

Bored Nakshatra during our Blue Hills trip

Afterwards, whenever we planned a vacation with kids, we made sure that we did all this -

  • Keep them occupied in the fun activities. Even if you are going site seeing, make sure to take them to some kids places, like we did in our New York trip.
  • Bring their favorite toy or gadget to keep them busy during the travel. Else they will be bored during the travel time. And pack their snacks too.
  • Choose interactive games and activities, where the entire family can enjoy. It will make it all the more memorable and fun.
  • Feed and pamper them with their favorite food, like ice cream, candies and pizza.
  • Keep on asking them what they want. Keep them involved and let them choose
  • If possible, choose hotels which have some play area in them. There are many resorts and hotels which have special swimming pools and parks for kids. Make even the stay enjoyable for kids.

If you take children on any vacation and make sure to keep them entertained with their activities, even your vacation experience will be amazing. You will feel that your vacation experience is redefined with more fun and laughter in their presence.

*This post is written for #TravelWithKids campaign sponsored by Club Mahindra.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Road Safety - A Collective Responsibility

When we read such headlines in the paper, we feel sorry for those who lost a loved one and criticize our system. Little do we realize that to change any system, all of us have to make a contribution. The responsibility is collective and we all have to do our bit to make roads safer to drive and for pedestrians. Here are some of the ways I feel can bring positive changes and lessen the number of accidents on Indian roads -

Separate Paths for Rickshaws and Bicycles -

I grew up in Chandigarh and I love the road network there. I feel, every city in India should have a separate lane for man pulled rickshaws and bicycles. This way we can reduce the traffic congestion on main roads. As the speed of manually operated vehicles is far less than the motorized vehicles, it creates chaos on the roads. By making a separate lane for such vehicles, there will be smooth flow of traffic and will add to the road safety. This has regulated traffic in Chandigarh and if other cities follow the suit, we can definitely have more safety on roads in other parts of India. 



Improve and Build More Footpaths -

Footpath system should be improved and more footpaths should be added. Though we already have footpaths but they are not maintained. Also, road-side vendors and street hawkers should not be allowed on busy interactions during peak hours. I understand that they have to earn their bread and butter, but if they take a break during peak hours, there will be less chaos during that time. Since not all footpaths are maintained or are in a bad state, pedestrians have no option but to walk on the main road. This causes a lot of confusion for both the driver and the pedestrians. A separate and marked area for pedestrians can ease off the congestion on the main city roads and lessen the number of accidents.



Zebra crossing and Push Button at Major Intersections -

Zebra crossing should be added to all major points of the city. I have hardly seen zebra crossings in India. Most people cross the roads when the signal turns red. This causes a lot of accidents. There should be more zebra crossings in each city on major intersections and most importantly, there should be a push button which the pedestrians can press when they want to cross the road. This way there won't be any mishap which occurs when pedestrians try to cross the roads through busy traffic. I've witnessed a fatal accident when a lady was trying to cross the road amidst traffic in Delhi. Had there been a proper zebra crossing and a push button to help her get passage, it could have saved her life and hopefully many other lives which are lost while attempting to cross roads through busy city roads.



Special Laws and Regulations for Construction Zones -

Special emphasis and rules should be made for construction zones. When Delhi-Chandigarh highway was under construction, I lived very close to one of the construction zones and I witnessed at least 4-5 accidents every week and most were fatal. There must be special laws and regulations for driving in construction zone. When Delhi Metro was under construction, there used to be a lot of accidents in the city. Better safety measures, such as better and more warning signs, diverting traffic to other routes and construction during night can minimize the risk to the motorist and pedestrians. 


Cautionary Signs and Boards -

This may sound a bit normal but it has a lot of effect on the people. I have witnessed drivers becoming more cautious after reading the warning signs. These days signs have become interesting and bring better influence on the driver, not to forget the amusement to the journey. Such sings not only bring more awareness among the drivers but also alert them to reduce their speed and take necessary precautions for that particular terrain. Cautionary posters and signs are very useful in hilly terrains and it reduces the roads accidents, specially the ones suggesting the road type, intersections and steep curves. Warning signs do help to reduce the number of accidents and the civil authorities must place them at accident prone areas and also in crowded areas.



Mandatory Training for Experienced Drivers -

We all know how easy it is to get driving license in India. I have heard many stories where people boast about getting license without even appearing for the test. Not only we need strict regulations while issuing new licenses but we also need to make 'Road Safety Training' a regular feature even for experienced drivers. Let's say, in a gap of 3-5 years, they should attend 2 hours training lesson to update their knowledge and learn more about road safety. This way we will have better drivers on the roads and a significant reduction in the number of accidents. It would be better if in addition to the theoretical training, they also have a stimulation training to improve their driving skills.



Automatic Fine and Challan System -

We all know how easily we can avoid challan in India. We bribe the traffic cop and pay him a lesser amount. Many people don't shy away from breaking rules on roads as they know they can get away with it by paying as low as 50 rupees to a traffic cop. We need an automated fine system where the traffic cameras will capture your offense and people sitting at the back-end can spot them and send the fine to the address where the vehicle is registered. I heard this system being effective in Chandigarh. When people will know that they can not escape their faults on roads, they will be more responsible and there will be fewer to very less accidents on roads. Now, this system is present in some metros in India but we need to implement it on a larger scale.



Strict Rules for School Zones -

Sadly, there have been many accidents in school areas where many children have lost their lives. Most of our schools are inside the city where there is huge traffic. My school was on the main road connecting Ambala with the main market area. I have seen the chaos and sadly, many accidents due to the jam and rush of peak hour. We have incorporated some rules regarding the school buses and vehicles carrying school students. I think, it would be better to have better rules when the school is open. It will help in regulating the traffic and making roads safer for our children.



Campaigns by Automobile Companies -

When those we belong to the particular industry raise an issue, it is all the more effective. It would be great if automobiles companies can conduct programs to educate people on road safety. Even when someone is buying a car, they should give them a small introductory program on road safety. One such initiative - Nissan Safety Driving Forum is introduced by Nissan India where they are educating people on road safety measures. The program which was initially launched in three cities - New Delhi, Mumbai and Chennai, has expanded to 8 more cities in 2014, including Chandigarh. After their awareness program, they have witnessed a whopping 126% surge in the number of sensitization of wearing seat belts. What's interesting is that - they conduct stimulated experiences to show how safety measures help during a car crash. I personally feel that such an experience would have greater effect on the minds of drivers. NSDF is a part of Blue Citizenship Corporate Social Responsibility, Nissan's vision and commitment to enrich people's lives while spreading awareness about road safety.

Safety Driving Stimulator

Rollover Stimulator

Implementing these changes will make our roads safer to drive and lessen the number of accidents on it. We have to educate people, bring awareness, bring strict regulations and do our bit to the cause of making roads safer. Bringing safety on roads is not a one man or one agency task, it is our collective responsibility. 

*This post is written to support Nissan Safety Driving Forum.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Darr Ke Aage Jeet Hai!

Few things are simply hard to do. Something in us pulls us back when we try to attempt them. We call it 'fear', a feeling that simply overpowers us. I too had a fear of few things. Gladly, I have overcome some of them and working on the others. In my journey of conquering the fears that I have had, adventure has played a major role. I love doing new and exciting things, anything that sets my adrenaline high would be best to deal with my phobias, I thought. With the help of few adventure activities, I have overcome two fears - fear of being in the dark places and fear of swings. 

I had an acute Nyctophobia, fear of darkness. I couldn't go out in the dark or do anything in the dark. There has not been a single day in my life that I have slept with lights off. But in January 2014, I made a list of things I wanted to do and purposefully included many such things which would help me overcome my fears. So, in October 2014, I did cave exploration at night. It was the most daring thing for me. I did the Lost River Gorge and Boulder Caves Tours in New Hampshire. We were a group of 22 people including 2 guides. We only had a head lantern to guide us through the woods and find our path on the broad walk alongside the river. We had to pass through those caves which ran along the river. A part of the caves was underground where the river mystically disappears from the surface of the earth. And, as you might have guessed, that's why the river is called - Lost River.

There were close to 16 caves that we had to cross before reaching the camp ground. While some of the caves were easy and we just maneuvered our way through them, others were so difficult and tiny that we had to crawl on stomach to reach from one end to another. One cave was so intricate that we had to find our passage all by ourselves - we climbed the steep stairs, ducked many a times to avoid hitting the sharp hanging rocks and walked sideways for most part of it. What made all that extremely difficult for me was the eerie darkness inside those caves.

Our guide explained the techniques to be used before we entered each cave. Like to enter Squeezer Gauge, we had to take the upper body first. Also, he also asked if anyone wanted to skip any cave. Some caves looked so scary in that secluded New Hampshire cold that I was so tempted to say no. But then, I asked myself - wouldn't you not be disappointed later on? And I knew, I would be. So, with courage from my husband, I just entered each cave, braving through each and every fear I had about darkness. Since I am claustrophobic too, I was doubly scared. It was pitch dark and the caves were so small that we had to squeeze ourselves many a times to fit into the opening of the caves. I can't explain in words, how good it felt when I exited each of those caves. It was like a big big victory. Now, I know why people say - Darr Ke Aage Jeet Hai! There is no other word than ‘victory’ to describe the feeling of joy when you overcome your fears.

Here are some pictures from the adventure - 

Our Guide explaining the details

Walking down to the river from the grounds

On the board walk

The most difficult cave

Squeezer Gauge 

Walking down to the underground caves

Me, quelling my fear

Celebrating at the end with fire and marshmallows 

Though I still sleep with lights on but now,  I can go out at night and I don't panic when there is a power cut. Fear, I realized, is a state of mind. Braving through it, you have to risk few things but conquering your fears brings many happy changes in your life. If you have any fear, face it and win over it. That's the only way to quell them.
*This post is written for #RiseAboveFear campaign sponsored by Mountain Dew India. Check their Facebook page for more action.