Thursday, August 21, 2014

ALS Challenge FAQ

Read the following articles for a great overview of this phenomenon. I have tried to summarise key points below with a dash of some of my own opinions.


Is it the first time this has happened?

No. Viral social media campaigns have been doing the rounds since ages now. Google ‘No Make Up Selfie’, ‘Kony’, ‘Chillin4Charity’ (which actually is the predecessor of the current ice bucket challenge.)

Does this really help?

Well, from a philosophical point of view, there are different approaches to what deserves more attention, which charities are high up on the priority list and how people should be made aware of more pressing causes first. But simply put, we are in a dynamic, competitive market place, and it is no different for charities. This one snow-balled, like few others in the past and more good things are coming out of it than the bad, so yes, it is making a difference. To start with it has raised millions for the ALS charity based in USA, it might help fund more research to help cure the cause and it is spreading awareness about this disease.

Is it really spreading awareness now, I think people are ignorantly joining the bandwagon.

Well, it could be that some people are not aware of what they are up to, they might not be donating either. But again, I would rather believe those who are aware and donating are exponentially higher in number than those who are doing it only for some random attention. And personally, I believe any PR is good PR. If nothing else, they are adding to the digital voice of the campaign, one tweet, one video at a time. So you end up with the following main actions:

-         - Do the challenge and don’t donate
-         - Do the challenge and donate
-         - Donate and don’t do the challenge
-         - Don't do anything 

Who knows which charities are all the donations being made to, personally as far as an ALS charity somewhere is benefiting it is great. Actually, even if people are donating to any local charity it is a positive ripple effect of this campaign. Not that there will be many in this category but then like any PR is good PR, any charity is good charity.

But they are wasting water.

Wasting? Didn’t we just establish that there is a 'good' by-product of this madness? I call this madness as we all know that in today’s times social behaviour has changed manifold. We need something that entices us, makes us feel important and helps us be a part of a group, all working towards something special. And that’s why we need this action of throwing a bucket full of iced water and sharing it on social media. People live by these rules and so organisations and campaigns use this to their benefit.

Do you think a basic call to action would help ALS raise the amount of money they did in such a short span of time? I don’t think so.

I digress, sorry. So coming back to the water-issue. You feel we were better off using that water and all that money used in buying the ice and the carbon foot print of making all this ice for a more worthy case? In my opinion it is not wasting a resource, there is a clear value exchange. It all depends on what perspective you are looking at this from.

Remember obesity and malnutrition? Droughts and floods? Oh wait, rich and poor?

Anything else?

Random, but not sure if the effect of the campaign would be even more if in medical terms there was one term used to describe this disease. I know ALS is a type of MND and different medical terms are prevalent in different countries. Many people might be aware of MND only, many are now aware of ALS only, but it would be great to have everyone aware of MND and ALS to join the movement.

Friday, May 30, 2014

How much time do we all have?

What is your aim in life? What is the purpose of your existence? Where are you now? Where do you want to be? How much time do we all have? Make a positive difference in everything you do, as a result of your thoughts and actions.

Happy to share the template if you want chart your own life and take stock of all the things that consume your time, just comment or get in touch.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Eggless Charlotte Royale

A house warming party was a great excuse to stay up till three in the morning, figuring out how to make an eggless Charlotte Royale! For those of you who don't know, a Charlotte Royale contains two very egg-friendly elements - swiss rolls and custard!

With a few tips from the internet and some help from ready made custard I managed to pull together a cake that did finally put up a good show and leave everyone happy. Though there is lots of room for improvement but really chuffed for now that the eggless sponge cake did roll into spirals and that the eggless custard did set into a jelly like blob. To be on the safe side I did put it all into the freezer which turned it into ice cream - that did not go as per plan!

As for the whipped cream and strawberries that were left out from the garnishing, there is always a next time! This debut eggless Charlotte Royale did well satisfying all tastebeuds! It can only get better from here...

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Have you heard of rennet and tallow

Everyone is entitled to their own way of life. For some, like me, it is more so a way of reducing one's harmful impact on all other living beings in whatever way you can.

In this quest I came upon, what according to me are, two best kept secrets. World over people have unknowingly or mistakenly purchased good containing these ingredients without really knowing where they come from.

First up is rennet! So when I went to the cheese and wine festival on the Southbank I came across this cheese owner who took the effort to explain to me that in the western world most cheese is made with rennet which comes from the inner lining of a calf's stomach. This is used as a starter culture or cheese culture and is a bacteria that helps curdle the milk to separate it into solids and liquids. The solids are then compressed into cheese! 

You will find some cheese that uses microbial rennet, which uses rennet which was once upon a time extracted from a cow's intestine but thereafter is cultured in petri dishes. So to say, the source comes from a cow but thereafter lesser cows are used to produce this bacteria, instead they are reproduced in a laboratory.

And lastly, you get vegetarian or vegan cheese that uses starter culture bacteria derived from plant sources like thistle and milk sourced from coconuts or soy. This is the type of cheese I would prefer to have. The sad part is most manufacturers, sellers, retailers are not aware or not able to answer where their cheese comes from and how it was made. In that case, if in doubt, don't eat is the mantra that I follow.

The second secret is tallow! An animal by product that has made its way into candles, soaps, cosmetics, shampoos, shaving gels, inks, paints, lubricants, adhesives, deodorants, chewing gum, toothpaste and the list is endless. It comes in many forms and names - stearic acid, palmitic acid, glycerin, glycerol, polyglycerol, glycerides, oleic acid, myristic acid, lauric acid, palmitoleic, linoleic, stearyl alcohol to name a few. All of these can be produced or replaced with plant based acids and humectants. And there might be more derivatives with different names for tallow being used in your everyday products. Again, the only best solution around this is to always ask or enquire before you buy a product. And if they don't answer just make you own. 

Why I made my own shampoo

'The thought of tallow in my hair made me cringe a bit. Besides most high-street shampoos are full of nasty chemicals
They make the scalp prone to dryness. The more you use them, the more you need to use them.
You hair and scalp become reactive to them. 

Human hair has a self-cleansing property. However living in polluted cities it is not possible for us to just wash our hair 
with water and wait for the natural oils to work their magic. And so we depend on shampoos and 
cleansers. But even then why compromise for some mish-mash of toxic ingredients, sometimes hidden, 
always beautifully marketed? Besides they are all so expensive too, even the vegan one's out there are pricey.

So I decided to give making shampoo at home a try and it feels great!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

How to avoid an arranged marriage

I don't think there is a definite answer to what works better - arranged marriage or love marriage or no marriage. But if you think an arranged marriage is not your cup of tea, here are ways to ensure you are off every hunter-dad's radar who is looking for his daughter's perfect match!

1. Don't learn how to drive a car
The thought of his daughter will have to tow you around the city for now and forever will give him nightmares. You'll be slipping down to the bottom of his prospective grooms list with élan if you convince the dad that you plan to hire a chauffeur 24x7.

2. Work for a charity
It is bad enough that you are not a doctor, engineer or chartered accountant, but working for a not-for-profit organisation is even worse. It is a direct sign that his high-maintenance daughter will never be happy. Because apparently career growth within charities is slow and they don't pay well.

3. Live abroad
The first question he will ask is, 'Where are you planning to settle?'. Say you're confused. If you are not sure about your future plans he is not sure if he wants to give you his daughter's hand.

4. Rent a house
So you don't own a house? End of story. He wins, you lose. But secretly you know you win!

5. Be a perpetual student
Any mention of exams and university even when you've crossed 25 on the age bar signifies you must've failed a few years or skipped university. How can his daughter marry someone who is still studying at university? That's just not allowed.

6. Say you play no sports
No interest in cricket or football? That's a disgrace! Occasional running and swimming is just not good enough. And volunteering at sports events to help with mundane organisational tasks is outright unacceptable.

7. Adoption plans
Be forceful and lay it bare. Tell him you definitely want to adopt a child in the future.

8. Bake-off
Bake a cake for for him when you first meet him. When he asks if your mom made the delicious cake, be adamant and say, 'NO! I did!'.

9. Friendship overdose
Weave an extravagant picture about your social life. Don't cover up about you being a social butterfly, either travelling to new places, befriending strangers or planning things-do-to with your ever-expanding circle of close friends. And if you let slip by that most of them are from the opposite sex, even better.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Travel quote

Bollywood's message that can change your life

What will you get if you remove all the cheesy item songs, done and dusted story lines and re-hashed dialogues from all these new-age Bollywood romcoms doing the rounds over the last few years? What remains when you remove all the drinking games and skimpy clothes, the late night parties and live-in quirky houses, the sleaze and the on-screen lip-to-lip kisses?

It is no new formula. We've all seen it in our heydays with Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayengay, Dil Toh Pagal Hain, Kaho Na Pyar Hain, Dil Chahta Hain and Hum Tum to name a few. And most recently we've enjoyed the boy meets girl or boy meets boy or lots of boys meet lots of girls stories in Love Aaj Kal, Zindagi Na Milegi Doobara, London Paris New York, Anjana Anjaani, Ek Main Aur Ek Tum, Break Ke Baad, Cocktail, English Vinglish, Cheeni Kum, I Hate Luv Storys, Yeh Jawaani Hain Deewani, Rockstar and in the latest addition to this list - Queen.

Whether it is a doting daughter asking her strict father for permission to live her life on her own terms before she settles for a family of four or it's three lads living their best life and shirking away all responsibilities or a typical Indian housewife's struggle to be accepted and loved just the way she is, we have all laughed and cried, cheered and hooted with these on screen characters.

Whether it's the story of love lost and reclaimed across different eras or undertaking dares with your best mates or standing on the edge of life ready to cut it short. Whether it is a drunken marriage escapade or an escape from everything to do with marriage itself or a humble young Indian bride's attempt to get over a wedding that never happened.

There is only one remedy to all these celebrations and problems. Only one answer to all of life's most pertinent questions. It will solve your most pressing issues. Give you the independence you were afraid of dealing with. Help you value those individuals you depend on. Make you realise that there is much more to the world than the bubble you live in. Gift you experiences you never thought existed. Give you courage and make you humble. And most importantly let you know that you don't have to know someone forever to befriend them. That strangers are not always weird and that there is so much good in the world to share.

Do you still not spot that holy grail? That one single strand running across all these movies? That one big message that you should have taken back home after you saw them?

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Wedding sangeet song list

With weddings popping up left, right, centre and diagonal and with me not being able to attend many, I thought I’d put together a list of appropriate songs for a filmy stellar Indian wedding sangeet and contribute to the celebrations remotely.

Don’t expect too many item songs or any songs with nonsensical lyrics. A wedding sangeet is in effect a way of expressing your emotions of love, gratitude, happiness, joy and good wishes by way of song and dance to and for the bride and the groom. Just lose all your inhibitions to join in the spirit. Thus, it is only appropriate that the theme of the sangeet is ‘wedding’ and not anything else.

Remember, you could shuffle the songs across the different dancer-categories and some could be just for the couple or solo performances.

Punters - Couple's male friends and male family members
Girlies - Couple's female friends and female family members

Here is a living breathing list of wedding songs that I regularly update. Please comment with any more additions you would like to add. Do let me know if you can't find any of the songs below.

Punters and girlies
Tumhi ho bandhu
Radha teri chunari
Dama dum mast kalandar (remix version may be)
Rang rang mere rang rang main
Khud ko kya samajhti hain
Twist (from Love Aaj Kal)
Marjani (from Biloo Barber)
Jhoom barabar (title song)
Uff teri ada
Desi girl
Ainvayi ainvayi
Bole chudiyan
Jootey do paisay lo
Chumma chumma dey dey (ahem ahem…)
Shubh arambh
Disco deewane aha…aha…(from Student Of The Year)
Daflee waaley daflee bajaa
Ladey nain to munday tera chain gaya (from Zor, love the song)
Dhoom tana
Hawa hawa aye hawa khushbu luta dey
O sanam (by Lucky Ali)
Chaiya chaiya
Dholi taro dhol bajey
Teri ooor
Aji din chadaya
Naam ada likna (from Yahaan)
Aankhen khuli ho ya ho bandh (from Mohabatein)
Tu yaar tu hi dildaar tu hi mera pyaar – Tera jogi (from Phir Bhi Dil Hai Hindustani)
Chura liya hain tumne jo dil ko
Mera dil dil mera(from Salaam-e-Ishq)
Chunari chunari (from Biwi no. 1)
Yeh ladka hai allah (from Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham)
Suraj hua madham
Bahara (all versions)
Ishq Sufiyana (from the Dirty Picture)
Inha lamhon key damaan main (from Jodha Akbar)
Tujhme rab dikhta hain
Balam pichkari
Ruk jaa o dil deewaney

Groom and his punters
Batameez dil
Mauja hi mauja
Mere yaar ki shaadi hain
Kaali teri choti hain paranda tera laalni
Yeh chand sa roshan chehra
Dil dance maarey
Dil haara (from Tashan as a starting song of how the groom was so depressed before he met the bride)
Gori naal ishq meetha
Subah honey na de
Tenu leke main jawangaa
Main nikala gaddi leke
Dilwale dulhaniya le jayengey
Mehendi laga key rakhna
Hum tujhko utha kar ley jayengay, doli main bitha kar le jayengay
Talli hua talli hua yara dekho yara mera talli hua (avoid if possible)
Boothne ky tenu ghodi kinay chadaya (same as above)
Ranjhana (groom’s entry song)
Main rang sharbato kaa tu meethay ghaat ka paani
Bhai Bhai, bhaley more rama bhaley torey rama (from Ram Leela)
Dilliwaali girlfriend
Munda Punjabi dil lay gayi kudi Gujarat ki
Badan pay sitaary lapeytey huay
Channa vay ghar aja vay
Bachna aye haseeno (old or new)
Yeh tune kya kiya
Pee loon

Bride and her girlies
Lathey dee chadar
Mukhada piya kaa
Kala sha kala mera kala hain sardar
Genda Phool
Nagada sang dhol bajey
Maar udari ne kugeeyaay maar udari (from Pinjar)
Chalka chalka (from Saathiya)
Mehendi hain rachnay waalee (from Zubeida)
Morni baga main bole
Maiyan Yashoda yeh tera kanhaiya (from Hum Saath Saath Hain)
Dholna (by Shubha Mudgal)
Jhalla (from Ishaqzaade)
O re piya (from Aja Nachle)
Dhunki dhunki dhunki lagey
Mai nee mai mundayr pay teri
Aja nachle (title song)
Taarey hain bararatee chandni hain yeh baraat (Merlin’s beard, how did I miss this out, but use only the start till just before the slow part starts, that gets a bit of a drag, you could have the start twice on loop)
Maiya yashoda mori ghagri say Jamuna key tat par makhan chura ley gaya (from Jhootha hi sahi)
Yeh rishta kya kehlata hain (from Meenaxi)
Yeh Ladka haye alaah kaisa hain deewana
Deewana hain dekho
Radha kaisey na jaley
Dola re (from Devdas)
Paalkhi main hokey sawaar chali main
Kesariya hain roop maro

Brothers and sisters
Navrahi majhi
Mere brohter ki dulhan
Chotey chotey bhaiyon key bade bhaiyan
Lo chali main apney devar ki baraat leke
Waha waha Ram ji

Aunties, uncles from both sides
Key nachey muday di…Key nachey kudi da…
Yaha dulha hain baraati hain feeling hot hot hot (from Bride and Prejudice)
Rock and Roll Soniye (from Kabhi Alvida na Kehna)
Gore gore gore gore (from Main Hoo Na)
Auntyji auntyji get up and dance
Kawa kawa kawa & Aja nachle nee aja nachle (from Monsoon Wedding)
Hai Jama lo (Sindhi song)
Jai jai Shiv Shankar
Jaha teri yeh nazar hain
Chod do aanchal zamana kya kahega
Mehboob mere (from Biwi No. 1)
Say Shava Shava
Tumsay milkay dil ka hain jo haal kya kare hey hey ho gaya hain kaisa yeh kamal kya kahey
London Thumakda
Lo aa gayi Lodhi vay
Laaraa lappa laraa lappa lahee rakh daa
Elojee sanam hum aa gayein 

Toddlers, nephews and nieces
It’s the time to disco
Too tooh (for kids only)
Chingam chabake (same as above)
Where’s the party tonight?
I hate luv Storyz (title song)
Chakde Chakde Chakde sarey gham
You are my Sonia
Koi kahey kehta rahe
Prem ki naiyeaa hain ram key bharosay apni bhi naya Ko paar tu lagayee de

(can include family, friends, uncles, aunties, toddlers – everyone depending for appropriate parts in the song)
Mahi ve (Love this one…)
Salaam-e-ishq ishq ishq, salaam-e-ish
Om Shanti Om (title track)
Mujhse dosti karogey parody
Hum Saath Saath Hain (title song)
Hum Saath Saath Hain parody

Happy dancing. Remember "Sing as if no one's listening and dance as if no one's watching."

Sunday, February 16, 2014

London does a thumka

It's wedding time and I'm missing it! But to help me be there in spirit at the Sangeet-Cocktail party a few of my friends came to the rescue and we made London dance to the Queen's tunes to celebrate her wedding. 

Piccadily Circus, Buckingham Palace, Trafalgar Square, the red telephones, souvenir shops, street artists, the London Eye, the Houses of Parliament, Queen Elizabeth Tower and many more showed their thumkas and dance moves!

Have a magical wedding and the best life you two!

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Hashtag disasters I can't cope with

If you don't know how to use hashtags, please don't use them. I mean it is just silly to do so. They don't get activated, you miss the whole point of why they are there, what their purpose is and it just looks daft!

1. #Don't#Use#Hashtags#Like#This#Without#Leaving#Spaces#Between#Different#Hashtags

2.Writing.Words.In.A.Line.One.After.Another.With.A.Full.Stop.After.Each.Word.Will.Not.Serve.The.Purpose.Of.A.Hashtag.So.Please.Stop.Doing.This. Also including special characters like $, %, & will render your hashtag invalid.

3.Punctuations ruin hashtags. #Don't #Hashtag #Don't or #You're or similar contractions. Well, don't hashtag contractions ever actually! Why would someone want to search tweets or posts tagged with #Don't in the first place!

4. #If #You #Use #More #Than #Three #To #Four #Hashtags #In #A #Post #Like #I #Just #Did #You #Will #Clearly #See #That #It #Turns #Into #Spam Why not write a full sentence instead?

5. #Spellin #Wordz #Incorrectly #In #A #Hashtag #Is #Da #Mozt #Ridikulus #Thing #U #Can #Do

6. #Spelling #Amazing #As #Amazzzziiinnnggggggg #In #A #Hashtag #Is #More #Ridiculooouusssss #Than #Number #5. #Above

7. Not every post or tweet needs a hashtag. Remember, you are allowed to write normal sentences too.

8. A post or tweet such as this makes me want to scream - " I love chocolates #Chocolates #Love " Couldn't you have simply stated - " I #love #chocolates "

If you have come across anymore #Hashtag disasters, comment and share the joy!