Is Google trying to make privacy a thing of the past?

I’m tired!! Tired of having to ensure my privacy is maintained in the online world. I am not someone who is fond of making my life a public display nor am I interested in sharing every detail of my life with the world. I feel Facebook and other social networking apps really don’t add much value to relationships or life. They are probably some of the best ways to kill time when you have it in plenty. People can sometimes look down on me for being so fussy over technology. But I simply believe everyone should have their own personal space and privacy.

I’m sure there are people out there who can relate to me when I say it’s annoying to have my privacy intruded. My irritation reached the peak a few months ago when I discovered that Google is determined to keep minting data from my personal devices, force me into using their software, which I can any day live without and leave me with zero online privacy.

Who would have thought that the once-so-useful Google would one day become a blood-sucking leech? I for one never imagined it. From being a reliable search engine and a decent email provider, Google has become a mere spy, one that keeps track of everything I browse and do online and tries to get more and more information on me so that they can run relevant ads on pages I view. I get the jitters knowing I’ve got my personal email account with Google. But to change to another provider now would mean informing too many people, which is too tedious a task at the moment.

My Android won’t work without Google. How pathetic! Unless I key in my Google credentials my expensive phone is nothing but a dummy that I can stare into. Recently I installed a firewall on my phone. The log explicitly shows the number of times Google keeps trying to connect to its servers though I never open any of their apps. The moment my Wi-Fi goes on, all of the Google apps installed on my phone (by default, which I can’t get rid of either ARGH!!!) are lined up to connect.

A month ago I had to quit using Chrome because my Google account would get linked to it every time I logged in to check my emails. What a nuisance! I tried to turn it off but failed. There was only one way out, to switch to another browser that wouldn’t disturb me so much.

I wonder if it’s too much to ask for privacy in today’s world. None of the data we have online is secure. Anything can be accessed by programmers who know how to get to it. It makes me want to stay away from the online world. I would love to stay in touch with my nearest and dearest but not at the expense of my privacy. I’d rather stick to the old traditional way of calling them up every now and then.

With Google it’s the heights. They’ve got their tentacles everywhere and it’s not easy to escape. The best thing to do is to be watchful and not get entangled in their traps and schemes. I’m glad we still have alternatives available. We’ve not been encaged yet!!

In his own sweet time…

lazy garfield

A very familiar, honest and funny fact. Well, everything is fun and funny, until you get MARRIED. Till then, you see and hear everything people say about marriage and married life, compare it with your own folks, laugh your head off and walk away. But when you’re the one in the spotlight, need I say more? :)

Is this a bad thing? Should I think twice about getting married? If you singles out there are asking such questions, then I would say, CHILL!! After all, it’s not the end of the world. There’s a lot more to marriage, than meets the eye. And men, in general, take their own sweet time to do everything (this excludes their office work, their own leisure time activities and falling asleep).

Nevertheless, if you’re planning to get married, you should definitely keep this list with you and remember to take these items.

1. Toolbox
2. Tall Ladder
3. Tape
4. Drilling machine (if you can handle one, if you can’t, tough luck, you gotta hire a carpenter!)

I can’t tell you the number of times, after marriage, that I’ve missed my dad’s tool box (yes, luckily he had one, wise man!). Unfortunately, I stay miles away from him, so there’s no question of borrowing it. I’ve frantically hunted through every nook and corner of my present home, just to get my hands on some handy pliers. All was in vain! I then learnt that my husband had no idea about basic carpentry or any kind of repair work. Yet, he still managed to have a fully functional home. That’s because whatever needed mending was concealingly tucked away and wasn’t obvious. But it was obvious enough for me, a keen observer and within a month of  our marriage, I had a list of existing repairs and some new stuff I wanted done around the house. There were times when I just wanted him to help me stack things on the uppermost shelves, which were hard to reach.

When I was single, my dad was already quite old, so most of the repair works at home were either done by me or we hired a professional for major ones. I was so happy when I thought of marriage; finally an able young man in the home, all the tough maintenance work would be taken care of, life would be a breeze. Sorry to disappoint you ladies, but for some of you, the only breeze you’ll ever get to experience is your guy’s snore (luckily my guy doesn’t, at least not yet!).

I’d have been wiser, if I had spent the time I lost myself in such blissful thoughts, on developing my biceps and triceps and shaping up those legs. Now that, would have made my life a breeze! Coming back to my list, well, I’ve been clearing it off myself. I’ve also stacked the uppermost shelves using a stool. To say it all in one go, I’ve set up my home to the best of my ability.

You see, my husband never said he wouldn’t or couldn’t help. He’s a very helpful man. But the problem is he is a MAN. His tomorrow could mean a year or even more. As for me, I’m an impatient perfectionist and I wanted the house set up properly ASAP. So, I just bucked up and got started on the list. After all, nothing helps you better than your own hands clubbed with your creative mind.

Each day, my husband would come home, see whatever was done and say, “O honey, why did you trouble yourself, I told you I’d do it, right?” Married women, I can hear you laughing right now!!! ;)

In India, when it’s wedding time, we ladies go on a shopping spree just to stock our wardrobe with the best clothes in town. I think we should spare a few hours to shop for some downright handy tools and emergency supplies. Frankly speaking, the tape and screwdriver I found under many piles of junk was a life saver. It was like unearthing hidden treasure!

But hey! Marriage isn’t as bad as many people make it sound. Like I said, there’s more to it than meets the eye. Albeit my husband knows nothing about home maintenance and management, he’s an amazing person at heart. He’s good at a lot of other things like cooking a quick meal, designing, helping people in general, motivating me, patiently listening to my stories and tolerating me (no choice there!). He’s one person who knows me inside out and still loves me. I really admire his patience the most, it’s unbelievable. So there you have it, the happier side of marriage.

Finally, ladies, don’t assume that you’ll do away with tough maintenance work after marriage just because there’s a young man in the home. Chances are he’s more clueless than you are about such things. Never underestimate yourself either, you never know what you can do until you try. It never hurts to be the man of the home every now and then (now and then??? whoa, who am I kidding there!!! I meant every other day). To all the married men out there, yes we do trust your words but not when it comes to home maintenance. ;) Experience has taught us better! Next time we need your help, we expect your TIMELY action to outdo your assuring words.

Commitment

You say you love me, but will you…

When I’m not the person you expected?
When you’ve got too close to me to see all my flaws?
When I don’t look as appealing as when we first met?
When I’m too tired to respond to you?
When I’m shabby and my hair is a mess?
When my grey hairs are visible?
When I don’t feel like cooking any meals for the day?
When I choose to spare time for my friends?
When I’m angry at you without cause?
When I’m wrong and I still think I’m right?
When I yell?
When I apologize after doing something wrong?
When I’m expecting a lot from you?
When I don’t approve of certain things you do?
When I’m scared and I don’t want you to leave my side?
When I’m dependent on you for a few things and don’t want to do them alone?
When I simply want you to hug me?
When I keep asking you to take me out?
When I expect you to say ‘I love you’?
When I get emotional often?
When I want to dress up in my own style?
When I say no to where you request me to come?
When I make wrong decisions and end up with consequences?
When I oversleep and don’t get you coffee?
When I cry over little things?
When I expect appreciation?
When I am forgetful?
When I think weird?
When I am stressed and I talk about it with you?
When I do things differently from you?
When I like to have certain things my way?
When I don’t enjoy watching the things you watch on TV?
When I make mistakes?
When I act childish?
When I don’t keep the house sparkling clean?
When the food I cook doesn’t satisfy your taste buds?
When I keep on talking about things that may not be of interest to you?
When I have mood swings and you don’t know what’s wrong?
When I’m depressed?
When I couldn’t make your family happy?
When I couldn’t become the person you expected me to be?
When I’m angry and I push you away?
When I seem heartless and cold?

I know it’s hard for you to love me through all these things, but all I expect from you is to say “I’m committed“; because commitment goes a step ahead of love and makes together forever possible.

Death Penalties

It’s not rare to hear of condemned criminals being awarded death penalties for their horrendous crimes. However horrible the crimes committed, I have a more eerie feeling when I read of how executions are carried out on such condemned criminals and how they struggle to breathe for a while before they pass away.  Life is precious and everyone agrees. What makes it okay to put an end  to someone’s life because they’ve done something terrible? Punishment and confinement  is understandable. Being charged guilty and life imprisonment is bad enough. Maybe horrible criminals can be shut up in a dark room for good. But death penalties are nothing but brutal murder and killing them eliminates the chance for them to repent, to set things right with God. This also means that their eternity is doomed. God decides when life enters and exits the earth. What makes man worthy enough to decide? All humans are bad, no one is perfect. Each one has flaws, some worse than the other. Shouldn’t everyone get a chance to repent? I’m sure many may disagree with me. But I think no human has the right to take away the life of another man. We already have many perishing in different ways every single day. Life is precious, it is to be preserved and protected. Jesus gave His life to pay for human sins. What He did should never go in vain. What the world actually needs is Jesus Christ, His love and the Word of God. It’s this love that redeems all humans from sin and brings out the good in them. Take it away from the world and you have let all hell loose. Finally, to punish one sin another one is embraced. How pathetic!

Why I enjoy Christian music… and you should too!

I was reading the local newspaper this afternoon, glancing through the numerous articles, thinking of how there is more of bad news than good: flight crash reports, man cheating with 4 wives, social networking woes, deaths, suspicion, incurable diseases, and for that one moment the only word that felt real to my mind was “hopelessness”. There is hopelessness all around us. Everywhere we turn, we hear more and more of the evil that’s happening around the world.

I was also listening to the local radio, which once upon a time was my favourite station, playing all those peppy, top-hit Bollywood songs and Bollywood news. Thinking of Bollywood, I was reminded of Jiah Khan, the actress who ended her life last year. Her story was one of hopelessness, a hopelessness that takes over when the one person they trust lets them down. I’m sure each person bumps into such hopelessness at one point in life. Most people get through it, sadly Jiah didn’t. And here I was listening to those Bollywood songs, merrily singing praises of that doomed human love.

Then I realized, if we look for hope in the world, in a human, we are never bound to find it. Through the most difficult moments it’s been God and God alone, who’s been that anchor of hope in my life. So I turned off the radio, went back to listening those soothing Christians songs that bring words of “HOPE” all the time. There is hope, happiness and joy in Jesus Christ, one that the world can never give.

I remember how in November 2013 I had my first vertigo attack. Back then I didn’t even know what Vertigo was. I was struggling to live a normal life. My neck and back used to grow stiff and I had walking imbalance. I lived that way for more than a month. I was crippled and spent most of my time in bed. But through it all, God gave me the strength to do whatever it was that I had to. The ENT sent me home with a truck load of tablets. One doctor took CT scans to identify issues with the brain, but nothing. I refused to ingest those poisonous pills that were prescribed, simply trashed all the medicines and went through the pain and unrest. At the right time, God healed me. Today I’m normal again and I know it’s only because of the blood of Jesus Christ. Thank you Lord!

So I think if you ever feel hopeless in life, you should turn to Christian music, because it is full of hope and happiness, unlike this world and its hopeless songs.

 

No thanks, I’ll pass!!

I turn around and see technology engulf me. Sometimes I wish I was born in prehistoric times, dressed in animal skin, living in a cave, starting a fire with stones, eating raw vegetables, feasting on roasted meat and most importantly living a technology-free life. Why you ask? Well let me elaborate…

Around a year ago, communication technology had its latest addition to the family: WhatsApp!! And the whole world got hooked onto it instantly. SMS has now become a thing of the past.  Somehow, I never liked the app, and that with good reason. Now, let me tell you why I’d rather try a dozen other applications to stay in touch with my near and dear instead of using WhatsApp.

Ban Whatsapp

Reason 1: Peek-a-boo, I see you!

Lack of privacy is the biggest downside to WhatsApp. Not only does everyone in possession of your mobile number get to read your status and view your profile picture, you also get to view status updates and profile pictures of some people who are on your contact list, only because you should never ever pick up their call, no, not even by mistake!

Reason 2: Guru of emoticons!

I agree emoticons are a good way of expressing one’s feelings in the virtual realm, but 651 emoticons?? You gotta be kidding me! I think I’d have to be forming new feelings and emotions just to put WhatsApp’s smileys to good use. For e.g. there is a kissing smiley with a heart, and another one without the heart. We send kisses only out of love, so what does the emoticon without the heart really depict? A fake kiss? A sly kiss? A formality kiss? I wonder to whom I can send a kiss like that! The only set of emoticons I find appealing in the technology world are the ones on Skype; they are few and fantastic! Dear WhatsApp users, let’s see if you can use all the WhatsApp emoticons at least once in your lifetime. Take it as a challenge!!

Reason 3: Adamant Application!

I don’t know how WhatsApp works on other phones but on my phone, it’s one application that can never be shut down. It keeps restarting automatically every time I kill it through my phone’s task manager. Talk about being adamantly annoying!! The only way to keep the app under control is to restrict internet access on my mobile or use a firewall.

Reason 4: Tracks Activity!

WhatsApp displays either your online status or the time at which you were last active on the app. This is absolutely unnecessary. I hardly respond to messages or emails instantly, though I check them regularly. I take quite a while to respond, especially when I’m busy or preoccupied. This means that I maybe active only to glance and watch out for any urgent or vital messages. People could misunderstand thinking I’ve been active but I’ve not responded to their messages. The iPhone version has an option to switch off this activity tracking. But what about people like me who have a Nokia?

So far, the only good thing about WhatsApp is that I’ve not seen any ads whatsoever. Now all that’s left for us to do is to wait and see how long this lasts.

Don’t you wish you could get those good old days back, when meeting in person was the only way to communicate? How easy it was to express feelings while talking face to face.

The next generation will only experience the virtual realm. They will never know how life was before the internet came along. I think that’s really sad.

As for the present, for latest technology, for WhatsApp and what it has to offer, I’m relieved as I say, “No thanks, I’ll pass!!”

An Alien on Earth

Ever imagined how an alien would feel if he grew up on earth for the first 25 years of his life and then returned to his planet? Well I think I know how that feels! Chennai was my home, but I never got a chance to live there. I had spent 25 years of my life living in a stranger’s land. That eventually became my home… until… suddenly one day I was forced to return to my real home.

This real home was a lot more different; a lot more messier, a lot more sicker and a lot more hopeless than I had ever imagined it to be. But now, 6 years down the line, I have mixed feelings. Why do I feel different now? What has changed? When I got to this city, I was thinking of a thousand places that I could rather be than here. But now, I wouldn’t mind living here if I had to.

I’m still trying to figure out what makes me feel this way. Because there are many times when I still say I hate the place and even the people’s mentality.

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The one thing I didn’t get in Dubai after living there for 25 years was good friends who really wanted to stay in touch and had a sincere concern over my well being. Out of all those years out there I got only got one friend who stayed in touch regularly. I remember the many festivals and functions that were spent lonely and cold, with no one to celebrate with. Even relatives were like strangers there. It was cold. I had the best lifestyle I could have ever had, yet, I was so empty.

6 years here in Chennai and I have the sweetest dog on earth (something I could have never had in Dubai), good friends who stay in touch and a kind or freedom amidst the daily madness. Day in and day out I meet sincerely concerned people, who are happy to show kindness.

I keep thinking to myself, Dubai gave me a lifestyle but Chennai taught me how to live. From the crazy times at the beaches, eating bajji from roadside shops, to the local train rides, to pani puri on the streets, it added a special flavour to life. A flavour that was missed at the posh restaurants in Dubai, the fancy malls and in the clear and clean environment that was just so beautiful.

I sometimes watch big groups of girlfriends huddled together enjoying at the beach, or just hanging out, or shopping for fun and I can’t deny that I’ve missed out on a lot of real living. More than anything else I missed the opportunity to befriend some good people who may have been with me for a lifetime.

I still can’t say I love Chennai, but I’m coming to terms with its state. But yes, I do love very dearly some of the wonderful people here who have made me feel so special, loved and cared for. And after all, what is life without love? :)

Drivers That Drive Me Insane :)

So now I’m riding to this new place every day and the route is extremely chaotic. The roads are decorated with pot-holes and stones. I’ve been driving in Chennai for the past 2 years and I think I’ve ended up having to take worst route in town. The roads have no separators (which is the biggest disappointment) stopping vehicles going in the opposite direction from barging into my way. The crazy drivers on the roads nearly make my heart pop out every day. Nevertheless, I’m trying to look at the humorous side of things. So, what if I were to classify these skilled disaster masters by the abilities and talents they display on the roads? I gave it a try and came up with these…

1. The Hysterical Honker – He is happy to honk all the way. He honks if you drive slow, or fast. He honks when the signal is red or green. He honks if he is blocked in traffic, or driving wild and free. He honks even when the road is empty and he’s the only person driving. His skill lies in making maximum use of the horn button. I wonder how mad he’d get if his vehicle came without a horn! The only way to get around this type is to pretend being deaf.

2. The Steady Speeder – He risks his own life and those of the people around, but never reduces speed. It is Greek and Latin to him. He zooms by like lightning and disappears by the time one takes notice of the flurry he created. He covers distances in half the time that others take. Speed breakers along the road make him fly but never intimidate him. The best way to deal with this type is to give way and save one’s own life.

3. The Networking Navigator – With his phone resting on his shoulder and his head tilted to hold it, he’s the one who stays connected come what may. He also specializes in texting while manoeuvring his vehicle. He’d make a good fit for a circus act. His concentration is divided and therefore he navigates unsteadily and sluggishly along the road. So it is best to overtake this one.

4. The Rebellious Rider – He drives to break the traffic rules. He skips red signals, never slows down where required, does not use the indicator signals, overtakes rashly, turns into the wrong side of the road, scares the life out of other drivers, and is an absolute menace on wheels! The highlight here is that he’ll yell at other people for every mistake of his. The only way to deal with this rogue is to be patient and let the tornado pass.

5. The Possessive Pathfinder – He is selfish and does not like to share, no, not even the road! He drives without giving way to others. He may go at snail’s pace and yet drive right in the middle of the road. All the honking at this fellow falls on deaf ears. He assumes he’s taking a stroll in the park. Overtaking this fellow is a bit of a challenge but has to be done somehow to reach one’s own destination on time.

6. The Jaunty Journeyer – This fellow is unpredictable. He doesn’t know where he is going, so he keeps slowing down, gazing at places or people, taking unexpected moves or turns and has a lost look on his face. Either he is on a casual fun ride or he is seriously lost and doesn’t know what to do. It is best to steer clear of his path.

7. The Confident Cyclist – Although he isn’t really a driver, he is high-minded enough to be considered one. He pompously rides his cycle on the road like the road’s been laid for him. He will not drive on the extreme left, giving way for bigger vehicles. Also, because he doesn’t have a side view mirror, he cannot check to see what’s approaching him from behind before he makes a particular move, thereby making it complicated for those driving behind him. Honking does not disturb him and one better not disrespect him. He’s a dignitary on the roads.

So that was my attempt to look at the funny side of things despite the pathetic situations that prevail on the Indian roads.  And amidst all this chaos, I drive, I ride, with utmost insanity!!

God’s Love Remains The Same!

Psalm 34:19, 20
Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the LORD delivereth him out of them all.
He keepeth all his bones: not one of them is broken.

These verses have always been true in my life and I’m sure that all who love the Lord can say Amen.

It has been a long time since I blogged. I’ve been so busy with day-to-day life that I don’t take the time to sit online for long. But today, I really thought that I should contribute whatever I can to keep my blog alive. I did give some thought as to what I should write about and only one thing kept coming to my mind, and that was how wonderful and kind the Lord has been to me over the last few months.

In this world we have troubles and tribulations. Jesus never said we’d have a cake walk if we trusted Him. But, when we trust Jesus, we can always see the hand of God work in every situation we come across and His grace help us cross each hurdle.

As humans, it’s very difficult to stay cheerful all the time. There are times when we lose focus and start to look at our burdens and cares as huge, immovable mountains. But, Jesus is so good, that He remembers our human frame and helps us anyway.

Psalm 146:3-5
Put not your trust in princes, nor in the son of man, in whom there is no help.
His breath goeth forth, he returneth to his earth; in that very day his thoughts perish.
Happy is he that hath the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the LORD his God:

Recently, one of my aunts passed away. Though I wasn’t very attached to her, I still felt a very big void engulf my heart, knowing that I won’t be seeing her again. I sat and thought about what a great teacher she was during her lifetime. She was so good at art and craft work and she was well know at her school for that very reason. Yet, in her final days, she was forsaken. She was lost, lonely, unhappy and the very people she had counted on turned out to be selfish. So, she left us all of a sudden.

All of us come to a point in life, where we realize that we came alone into this world and we must leave alone as well. Only Jesus remains a faithful friend till the end. The Bible puts it so clearly, saying not to confide or hope in men. But, I’ve learnt all these lessons the hard way.

It is a fact that no one has helped me in life as much as God has. Every step, every breath, every moment is a testimony of His love for me. I don’t know why He chose me, I don’t know if I deserve whatever He has blessed me with, but I know He’s there and He’s watching over me.

Sometimes I’m amazed at my mom’s faith. She trusts God 200%. No matter what storms come our way, she’s the still one. I wish to get to that level soon.

Often our worries are for tomorrow and for what the next minute holds. But tomorrow has its own grace from God and nothing ever goes according to our plan, but His. And then when tomorrow becomes yesterday, we can only see how good God has been and how faithfully he has led us all along the way.

Last week, I was travelling with my aunt. I wore a pair of ear rings that I had got from Dubai. They weren’t expensive, but I liked them a lot. As we were getting ready to get off the bus I noticed that both my ear rings were missing and had fallen off. I found one, but I searched everywhere for the other one and I couldn’t find it. My aunty also looked around but couldn’t spot it. I sat there and said a small prayer, thinking that God’s not going to be bothered about this. After a while I saw something shiny under the opposite seat and there it was, my missing ear ring. That’s when I realized God’s bothered about everything, even the tiny details.

As each day passes, somehow, I’m just drifting away from this world into a closeness with God. How I got here, I don’t even have a clue! But when God has a grip on someone, I guess he never lets go. Now, this world is just a meaningless nothing, compared to what Jesus means to me.

Some moments seem darker than ever and it feels like it’s the end. However, it’s just that with our human eyes we don’t see the mighty hand that holds our life and protects us from every harm.

Psalm 34:8-10
O taste and see that the LORD is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him.
O fear the LORD, ye his saints: for there is no want to them that fear him.
The young lions do lack, and suffer hunger: but they that seek the LORD shall not want any good thing.

In my life, I’ve seen that God’s love has never changed. People have changed, promises have changed, situations have changed, times have changed, the entire world has changed but Jesus has remained true, loving and faithful. This is an experience. One simply cannot understand it through words. It needs to be experienced from within.

You can only realize how precious Jesus is when you realize how empty the entire world around you is, when you have a void that nothing on this earth could fill. Some boast about their education, their wealth, their status, their might, their power, their goals, their ambitions, their abilities, their achievements; but these are all nothing, for if tonight, the Lord were to ask for their soul, they go back empty-handed.

I came across this beautiful verse a couple of days back and I had to say Amen to it.

Psalm 13:6
I will sing unto the LORD, because he hath dealt bountifully with me.

Whatever I am, my health, my strength, my happiness, my hope, my education, my position, I owe it all to Him. Because I know that I am nowhere without Him. I couldn’t do a single thing without Him. If it weren’t for His patience and love, I should have long perished.

May the name of Jesus Christ alone be glorified, now and forever! His love remains the same forevermore and He’s the best help you can ever have in your time of need.

Psalm 50:7
For the Lord God will help me; therefore shall I not be confounded: therefore have I set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be ashamed.

I will sing unto the Lord…

Psalm 13.6

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The Greatest Romance…

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A World Of Our Own

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Footwear Focus

Beautiful footwear

Today, as I carried a pair of footwear to the cobbler I was in deep thought. It’s been 6 years since I’ve moved to India and I’ve bought so many pairs of footwear, both non-branded and branded, and none have lasted long enough to satisfy me. Put simply, Indian footwear sucks big time!! I got a 500 rupees footwear from Bata sometime in June. I would have hardly worn it a couple of times since then and there it was with the strap sticking out of the base. So I carry it to the cobbler.

I ask him what the problem is with these footwear, they can’t even handle a wee bit of water; all the straps are coming off, the soles are falling apart and what not! He told me that I need to get it to him as soon as I buy it from the store. Whoa! I thought in my mind, “Dude, I paid money to buy this stuff and you want me to bring it to you immediately?” He continued saying, “You need to get the extra stitching done before you can make rough use of it.” He charged 30 rupees to get the stitches done on my almost new footwear.

Now is this a mutual understanding between the footwear manufacturers and the cobblers, to leave the last set of stitches undone so that the cobbler survives? I don’t have an answer to that yet! All I know now is this, when I buy footwear, I must now add 50 rupees to the actual cost, to pay for the cobbler’s final touch.

Well, at this point, you may think I’m crazy to be cribbing on a blog, about footwear that cost me only 500 rupees. Well, last year I got a pair of pretty sandals from Metro, one of the biggest footwear brands in India. I wore it only 10-15 times and the entire sole fell apart. I was shocked! I spent almost 1000 bucks on that one. I spent it happily, thinking it would at least last for a year.

The story doesn’t just end with Metro. Two years ago, my cousin who was visiting from abroad went footwear shopping. She got several pairs of footwear and one particular pair stood out among the rest. It was from Kobbler, another famous brand. Kobbler is surely the cobbler’s friend, for the very next day, the dangling stone on that beautiful sandal fell off and from what I heard, what was left of the footwear didn’t last all that long either!

I find it very upsetting really! Decent footwear is a basic necessity. I can’t believe that it is non-existent in such a big city, where people are flaunting so many other accessories, without which one can very well get by.

Oh and before I forget to tell you, one pair of footwear did outlive all the others over the last 6 years, it was the very durable 100 rupees sandals that I got for the rainy season. Unfortunately, it looks too cheap to wear everywhere.

So, here I am in a big city, where I need to do a lot of walking every day and yet no proper footwear to make me feel comfy and secure as I walk. Every moment, as I take the next step, I walk in fear. What if the strap comes off suddenly? What if the sole just falls off? What if it makes an embarrassing noise as I walk past people? What if I have to limp because one of the sandals tore away? What if there is no cobbler nearby to instantly repair my damaged footwear?

As always, I have found my very own solution to this fear. I carry an extra pair of footwear wherever I go. As the saying goes, “Better to be safe than sorry!” Going forward, I’m also planning to befriend the cobbler. Till I was in Dubai, a single pair of footwear lasted a good year or even more, so the cobbler was one person I haven’t watched closely or even been to for that matter. Today, he was the hero of the day, performing a surgery on my footwear that would save it from dying in the garbage bin. I must admit, I enjoyed watching him do his work so skillfully. Now, I realize that he will be a faithful friend in this country of unfaithful footwear manufacturers.

The Old Idiot Box

With TVs getting more slimmer and fitter than us, I cannot deny that they look very attractive. However, I still love the good old idiot box.

They say that old is gold and I concur with that statement on many aspects of life. I do have to admit, I think in an old-fashioned manner quite often because I acknowledge the fact that my grandparents had a better quality of life compared to mine.

The old idiot box gave any room a cozy effect. They were small, portable and easy on the eyes. The new ones are so big, they make me feel like each eye needs to look the opposite way to view the entire screen. Also, the bigger the TV, the bigger the room needs to be, only then does one get the feel-good effect of viewing the big screen.

I remember that when I was very small, I used to think that if I got into the TV I’d actually meet all the cuddly characters I so loved watching sing and dance. Maybe we can expect something like that in the future, who knows! I also wonder if theaters would lose their business a few years down the line, considering the fact that at present it’s a competition between people to see who owns the biggest screen. Soon everyone is bound to have an in-home theater.

But there is a feeling of happiness and warmth that comes with thoughts of the old TV. Memories of so many cousin huddled up in front of one to watch something interesting or just gaze at it while having dinner together. Till date, nothing beats the black and white comedy of Charlie Chaplin or Laurel & Hardy. Glorious days those!!

I am still very content watching programmes on my old TV and I wouldn’t trade it even for a free big screen. Also, I have no plans of throwing it away once it becomes too old to function, because some day I’ll be the proud owner of antique technology, an old-fashioned idiot box! ;)

Bow-Vows!

Some of the experiences that Bruno (my pet dog) puts me through are hilarious. I must be bonkers now, for I seem to readily accept the insanity as part of my sane life. Sometimes, I feel like I’ve signed a contract in agreement to terms and conditions laid down by my paw pal, which may go something like this:

1. I will chill, relax, stretch myself and sleep in places where you can stumble over me and fall. It is your duty to watch out! I shall not be responsible for your bruises or broken bones.

2. If my toy ends up in unreachable spots, I have the right to keep whining till I get the toy back in my mouth. No, I will not be pacified with another toy!

3. I have the right to stare at you pitifully and drool barrels of saliva when you eat or snack; if you do not share, you’re likely to end up with a tummy ache. The choice is up to you!

4. I will tear paper, tissue, cartons and cardboard boxes into bits and garnish the floor. What do you expect? When you keep staring into that light emitting machine of yours for hours together, I’ve got nothing better to do, than to do what I do best.

5. I must be fed only the finest quality food. If I ever suspect a decline in quality, I have the right to walk away from my food bowl, without eating so much as a tiny bit.

6. I have the right to sniff everything in sight. I have a massive smell database which I must keep updated.

7. I will welcome your friends and guests with a slurpy kiss (licking, as you humans inappropriately term it). I am after all an amiable creature.

8. If your socks go missing, please check your vacuum cleaner thoroughly before your fiery rays of suspicion fall on me.

10. When I’m happy or pleased I shall wag my tail mighty hard, regardless of whatever stuff it sweeps to the floor.

11. I will not entertain any other cuddly pets you bring into our home. I strongly condemn such acts.

12. I shall bark like a mad dog when you are about to leave home, simply because I don’t want you to go.

13. I will hide and seek refuge behind your skinny legs when a street dog advances to attack me. I know I provoked him with my bark, but it’s your duty to defend me.

14. When bored and not sleepy, I shall simply stare at you while you do your chores. It’s funny how you worry about so many things and keep running around. Look at me, I’m always relaxing. I think you have a lot to learn from me.

15. I will follow you around the house, everywhere you go. Haven’t you read about how faithful dogs are? Where you sit I sit, where you sleep I sleep, where you go I go (even if it’s into the loo).

16. I will chase my own tail, spin round and round like crazy, even when there is no space in the room and I’m knocking a couple of things off. You see, it’s like a dream come true for me to have my tail in my mouth. And you know what they say, to never give up on dreams!

17. When you take me out for a walk, I will eat dirt, scraps, junk and other useless stuff I find along the way. I know you feed me fine, but what is life without a little treat every now and then?

18. If I ever do something wrong and you find out and summon me, I’ll come with a highly deceptive innocent look and pretend I don’t know what you’re even talking about.

19. I will run away and hide when you call me for a bath. I hate water and cleanliness doesn’t really appeal much to me!! I do lick my paws clean every now and then, so could we please avoid this cleansing ordeal as much as possible?

20. When I’m fast asleep at night, I shall not wake up even if I sense something unusual. I do not like to be disturbed either. It would be nice if you could keep a watch for anything strange, you know just in case.

21. I don’t like hugs and cuddling; I would appreciate if you could keep those to yourself.

22. When somebody rings the doorbell, I will bark incessantly. Irrespective of who they are, the moment I meet them, I will befriend them and wag my tail in great pleasure, as I would if I were reuniting with a long lost friend.

And I’m sure I would have missed to point out several other conditions here. So, now you know who’s the real boss! I guess this happens to every dog lover who brings home a four-legged child. They’re so charming, how could one resist pleasing and pampering them?

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As you can see, Bruno is having a gala time with his bow-wows while I’m faithfully keeping up my “bow-vows”. :)

Deep & Still…

She bears a love,
So calm and still;
For deep it runs,
Her soul it fills!

Each breath calls,
His name aloud;
Yet, he revels in,
Passing cloud.

Waves beat rough,
But shores wash dry.
Currents of love,
Ne’er cease nor die.

Care he felt,
Are noisy waves.
But silent prayers,
Are what saves.

All he asked,
She held not back.
Yet, in all his words,
True love did lack.

The rains then cry,
In bitterness,
“He loves you not;
Not even less!”

He cared not,
But for his gain;
Left her to loathe,
In searing pain.

His sorrows she felt,
Into her twine;
Yet, her heart,
He trampled fine.

Alas! Broken soul,
Thrown as waste!
Her love was true,
But poured in haste.

Her tears then flow,
To ocean wide;
As he leaves,
Forsakes her side.

She felt he’d love,
To infinity.
A hypocrite was he,
Dared humanity.

All his lies,
And piercing wounds,
She gives to God,
Whose love abounds.

A sower sows,
And he reaps.
He’d sown his seeds,
To gather heaps.

To God he’ll run,
Abhor his harvest!
Shed his tears,
Plead for rest.

His words harsh,
Couldn’t be erased.
Yet, her love, her dear,
Can’t be replaced!

She bears a love,
So calm and still;
For deep it runs,
Her soul it kills!

Bolly’s Follies

For all of us who grew up with Bollywood as our prime source of entertainment, we’ve been duped!! Why? Because we were taught to believe in dream-come-true type of love, happy love, puppy love, never-ending love, the happy ever after love, magical love and any other kind of love that best describes what we watched on-screen, and still watch for that matter. So, after watching all that, we thought and dreamt and hoped for that one right man who was going to love us the exact same way; fight the villains, stand up for us against the entire world, pamper us, protect us, preserve us and most importantly be with us at heart level forever more. Eventually the inevitable happened; reality hit us like a heavy metal ball on the skull, made our brains vibrate rapidly and irrepressibly, until it came to terms with facts, placed several danger signs before the pit of love and sent neuro-signals to the heart instructing termination of all feelings and emotions of love towards the opposite gender.

I wonder why Bollywood always made fancy love stories? Because a dream is often better than reality? Because it wanted to give us a feel of what we could otherwise never experience on earth? Because it wanted to make people happy for the moment? I want to know why!! Well, whatever the reason, it doesn’t justify the damage it did to some of our hearts and brain cells, a damage that took ages to heal, leaving behind a prominent scar. We became paralyzed, our time stood still at that one point when our colourfully painted dreams shattered beyond hope of reconstruction.

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When Bollywood depicted love, the challenges were almost always about overcoming the couple’s unyielding parents or warring against either one of the families, who unfortunately were “dakoos” (gangsters) and were against the couple getting married, or proving to the world and society how genuine their love for each other was, or the couple going separate ways initially and reuniting in the end, somehow in a miraculous way. But between the couple it was a smooth ride and after they united they lived happily ever after. And then there were those beautiful songs with picturesque sceneries that would warm the heart and lyrics that would melt it. Yet, it never showed a hint of reality, of how easy it is to fall in love and the perpetual difficulties we have to confront patiently, to remain in it. Little did it tell us about the number of sacrifices that had to be made to self to drive a love-car to its destination, the importance of a forgiving nature coupled with a forgetful one, the significance of the attitude to accept a person as a whole – inclusive of the good nature and the bad, the vital role of patience and humility and last but not the least, fuel for the love-car which is commitment.

As we matured, we realized that true love isn’t really in love stories but in little things that happen every day. Love is God’s grace, a mother’s packed lunch, a father’s instruction, a brother’s protection, a sister lending her ear, a pet cuddled on one’s lap, a friend helping with studies and so on. Why were we so lethargic in appreciating the truer forms of love? Because we were never taught or shown what love really meant and we were blinded till experience became our teacher.

Now, I’ve become bored of watching the same fairy tale stories of Bollywood over and over again, especially when the real world has a lot of other important stuff going on. I think directors should really consider portraying more of reality in their movies. Agreed that movies are just for entertainment, but that can’t be used as an excuse to make movies a planet away from reality, especially when we have an audience that consists of all age groups, including children and adolescents. I recently watched a movie in which the protagonist was a drunkard and eventually ended up killing himself because he couldn’t stop drinking, even for the sake of his girlfriend. That was a really pathetic movie and it added no value to the 2+ hours I spent watching it. Movies are an art and have a social responsibility to inspire in a positive way. However, Bollywood never adhered to it before and I don’t see them bothered about it at present which indicates a future of obnoxious productions.

Sadly, a group of us had to learn the hard way about reality, about love and romance, all thanks to Bollywood. But this is what I have to say, “Better late than never!” On the brighter side, we are way more experienced than our peers and that gives us a chance to be better teachers for the future generation. So again I say, “All’s well that ends well!” Cheers to all who’ve sailed with me on the ship of experience through the sea of reality. I heartily salute you! :)

Hyderabadi Dum Biryani

I had a desire to cook this dish for a long time. When I started looking it up on the internet, I found a couple of recipes but I didn’t find one that was crystal clear when it came to the list of ingredients or the preparation method. So I tried to combine all the recipes and create one of my own, which I am sharing here. I intend to make the recipe clear and understandable so that novice cooks can also give it a shot. This recipe appears complicated, but it is very simple to prepare if you go step by step.

INGREDIENTS:-

SET 1 – MARINATING THE MEAT (to be done a day prior to cooking the Biryani)

Chicken or Meat (cut into bite size pieces) – 1.3 kgs
Garam Masala (preferably freshly ground at home) – 3 teaspoons
Red Chili Powder – 1 tablespoon
Coriander Seed Powder – 3/4 tablespoon
Turmeric – 1/2 teaspoon
Youghurt (thick) – 2 cups
Ginger-Garlic Paste – 7 tablespoons
Juice of 1 big Lemon
Green Chilies – 8-10 (adjust according to the required spice level)
Mint Leaves – a big cupful, chopped
Coriander Leaves – 1/2 of a big cup, chopped
Onion – 12 nos. sliced and crushed
Tomatoes (optional) – 5-6 Nos.
Salt – 6 teaspoons

Marinate the chicken or meat with the above ingredients and load it into the freezer. Next day, let the marinated meat mixture reach room temperature, then, in a thick-bottomed vessel add 2 tablespoons of Ghee, throw in 2 Bay Leaves, 2 1″ Cinnamon Sticks, 4 Cardamom Pods, 4 Cloves, 1 Mace, 1 Star Anise and when they start to release their aroma, empty the contents of the marinated meat mixture into the vessel and heat it, stirring continuously, until all the water content evaporates and only the thick masala remains along with the meat.

SET 2 – COOKING THE RICE

Basmati Rice – 1 kg
Bay Leaf – 1 nos.
Cinnamon Stick – 2 1″ sticks
Cardamom – 4 pieces
Cloves – 4 pieces
Mace – 1 piece
Star Anise – 1 piece
Cumin Seeds – 1/2 teaspoon
Salt – 8 teaspoons
Mint leaves – a few sprigs

Wash the rice well and soak it in water for 10-15 minutes. Boil water, add the rice and all items from SET 2. Once the rice is half-cooked, drain and set aside.

SET 3 – LAYERING AND DUM COOKING

Onions – 12 nos., sliced and deep-fried in oil till dark-brown and crisp
Raisins & Cashew Nuts – quantity as desired, roasted in oil
Coriander Leaves – a big cup full, chopped
Juice of 2 Lemons
Saffron – 15 strands, soaked for 3 hours in 1/2 cup of lukewarm milk
Ghee – 3 tablespoons

Once the marinated meat mixture is ready after removal of its water content, it’s time to start layering. Take a large, thick-bottomed vessel and place it on a heavy-bottomed tava, turn on the stove and add 1 tablespoon of Ghee into the vessel, once the Ghee is hot add a teaspoon of Garam Masala and turn off the stove. Now place a layer of meat in the vessel, next layer the rice, sprinkle some Lemon Juice and Saffron-soaked Milk over the layer of rice, then spread a layer of fried Onions, now strew half of the Coriander leaves, Raisins and Cashew Nuts and also add some Ghee on top of this layer. Next, repeat the layering with the remaining meat, rice and other layering ingredients. Once done, seal the vessel well with aluminium foil, this ensures that no steam escapes. Take a thick cloth and place over the aluminium foil, over this, close the lid of the vessel tightly with binder clips (if the vessel doesn’t have a tightly-closing lid). In another large vessel heat water till it starts to boil, place this hot vessel over the vessel sealed for cooking. Now you are  ready for dum cooking. Turn on the stove and leave it on low flame for exactly 30 minutes. After 30 minutes switch off the flame and do not disturb the setting for another 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, open the lid, mix the layers and yummy Hyderabadi Dum Biryani is ready to be served. Serve with Onion & Cucumber Raita.

I was so happy when I tasted the Biryani. It was perfect and tasted exactly like the ones from restaurants. Hope this recipe simplifies the steps of preparation, motivates you to make this lovely type of Biryani and enjoy it with your family and friends. Below are few of the photos I clicked while I was preparing it and after it was done. 

Saffron in Milk

Saffron in Milk

After layering the meat, rice, onions, corriander leaves, raisins and cashews

After layering the meat, rice, onions, coriander leaves, raisins and cashews

Dum cooking... my style, lol ;)

Dum cooking… my style, lol ;)

After dum cooking...

After dum cooking…

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Tantalizing & Delicious!! Yummy!

Lessons From My Life

  1. Believe and trust in God. Give Him first place in everything.
  2. Enjoy every minute and each moment, for life is in the journey, not in the destination. Don’t lose today’s peace by worrying about tomorrow.
  3. Be good to everyone.
  4. Forget those who hurt you; it’s very difficult to be good to them again, but rather than saying nasty things about them, it’s better to forget them completely. Keep those who make you happy in your thoughts.
  5. Be patient. The fruit of patience is always perfect.
  6. Do anything and everything to keep your family united and peaceful.
  7. Don’t give up on people you love because of a few unhappy incidents. No one is perfect. Chances are we may be equally difficult people to deal with, just that we are unable to comprehend it.
  8. There are always two sides or even more to a story, so don’t believe anything you hear and pass judgement.
  9. Keep your expectations from men at 0% and your expectations from God at 100%, this is the only way to a happy today and a blessed tomorrow.
  10. Love without any conditions.
  11. If you feel lonely, raise a dog.
  12. Confess positive things and keep the faith, they bring sure results.
  13. Encourage your children; never discourage them or let them down in front of others.
  14. Don’t stay angry for a long time with people you love, forgive them easily and patch up quickly because lost time can never be brought back.
  15. Life is short and we don’t know how much time is given to us, so keep speaking kind and loving words to your near and dear ones, hug them, kiss them and love them up like there’s no tomorrow.
  16. Don’t raise your children with too much luxury. Let them grow up learning the value of money.
  17. Money can fetch you some vital things, however, it cannot bring peace or happiness.
  18. One should neither spend all his earnings nor save it all up, there should be a balance between both.
  19. Help the less fortunate and be a blessing to them whenever you have the capacity to do so.
  20. Every morning don’t forget to thank God for the greater blessings: the ability to see, hear, speak, feel, move; in general for your good health. There are many who are struggling daily without these.
  21. Never compare yourself with others, they have a different journey altogether. Be content with who you are and what you have.
  22. Be humble always.
  23. Be cheerful, because people enjoy the company of a cheerful personality. Cheerfulness is like a magnet.
  24. Stay in touch with all your friends, they are the pretty flowers you come across on the path of life.
  25. Never compromise on your dreams, because you have only one chance to pursue it, to make it reality and to revel in having done so.
  26. Be thirsty for knowledge no matter how old you are.
  27. Fall in love at least once, for it will be an eye opener.
  28. Don’t depend on relatives for help or support.
  29. Have self-respect.
  30. Have a grateful heart. 
  31. Show appreciation. Remember appreciation is always greater than a reward.
  32. Don’t trust anyone easily. Never share your deepest thoughts and secrets with too many people.
  33. Pray frequently. Never underestimate the power of prayer.
  34. Don’t be envious or jealous; we brought nothing into this world and it is certain we can carry nothing out.
  35. Don’t be lazy. Stay brisk and active physically and mentally. 
  36. Don’t be so health conscious that you’re eating yourself to death.
  37. Love doesn’t exist without sacrifices! Be willing to make sacrifices.
  38. Don’t let your ego destroy precious relationships. Be willing to say “I’m sorry” to those you love, even when you’re not in the wrong, because the people we love and the relationships we have built are way more important than our ego.
  39. Respect elders and never despise them.
  40. Respect people, their choices, their views and their decisions. Refrain from forcing them to do something or trying to influence them.
  41. Be strong-willed, determined, work hard and always motivate yourself. Believe that you can. Don’t let people put you down by what they have to say. Never give up!
  42. Be independent. Learn to pick yourself up, prepare yourself, encourage yourself, help yourself, push yourself, support yourself, accept yourself, appreciate yourself, see the best in yourself and love yourself; for in this journey the best person to uplift you constantly and keep you going is ultimately going to be YOU. Others will quit somewhere in between.
  43. Speak less, think less and do more.
  44. Don’t be a hypocrite. 
  45. Never lie. Honesty is very difficult but it saves you from a lot of unnecessary trouble and makes sure no one is hurt.
  46. Don’t backbite. It is better to provide negative feedback or comments on a person’s face rather than talk behind their back.

A Living Miracle

My dad turned 68 today and this reminds me to be thankful to Jesus Christ for his unfailing grace and mercy. His birthday every year becomes a day of thanksgiving rather than a day of celebration. My dad is nothing less than a living miracle.

4 years ago, he was diagnosed with severe blocks (90%) in all major arteries in his heart, his heart was pumping only 30%, whereas a normal human heart should pump somewhere around 60-65%. He couldn’t take two steps, he used to grow breathless instantly. In October of 2009, suddenly my father started experiencing breathing difficulty and we were in a relatively new country with no knowledge of any good doctors, where to go, whom to approach and the worst part was that my father didn’t tell us what was happening to him for nearly 3 days. Yet, Jesus was faithful, my mom and myself were always praying for my father, and those very prayers kept him alive and allowed no harm to befall him. Finally after many struggles, on my birthday in 2009, after an angiogram, we find found out that all major blood vessels in my father’s heart were 90% blocked. Bypass was the only way out, which is what doctors said and since his heart was not functioning properly, they would have to put him on an artificial pump till such time the surgery gets over post which if my father’s heart wouldn’t respond, there was nothing they could do.

The doctor who was leading the diagnosis was rather heartless. Once he gave us the final reports, he sternly instructed me never to bring my dad back if we decide against surgery. He also said that this was the 3rd attack and that the other two had been silent since he was diabetic, so another 6 months is the maximum time he would have despite all the medicines he would be taking.

There were tears in our eyes as we got dad back home, deciding not to go ahead with the surgery. My relatives who were doctors went through the detailed report and said that his condition was too complicated and too critical to revert. But all we had were prayers and those prayers in Jesus Christ have brought us thus far. Yes, he does take medicines, but my mom and I know that it is something supernatural, beyond the medicines, that is giving him the ability and strength to live each day. He was advised not to climb stairs or lift weights but he’s been doing both. He’s being doing much more than any of us expected to see. The last 4 years of his life are a miracle, a miracle without which my family would have been shattered and devastated.

I learnt two things from all this:

1. Prayers never go in vain.

2. Life is God’s to give and take, man has no say in it. 

So today, I just want to thank Jesus Christ for extending my dad’s life so graciously and I glorify His name. Jesus is alive and He still does miracles today. How many I have experienced and witnessed in my life!

I have another dear aunt who has crossed 11 years with her heart ailment, by the grace of God, though doctors gave up on her and declared that she wouldn’t last longer than 2 years; in fact, they asked her to throw away all her medicines because they were of no use to her anymore.

I thank God for being so gracious and merciful and sustaining these wonderful people.

I leave you with a verse from the Bible:

Jeremiah 30:17 KJV

For I will restore health unto thee and I will heal thee of the wounds saith the Lord.

Amen Jesus! Let your healing power flow and touch the lives of the sick and ailing and let it transform them forever!

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