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5 tips for brides-to be

April 16, 2014

All my life, I have survived on my mom’s homemade simple beauty treatments and bare make-up essentials. Therefore, when the wedding bells rang for me, I thought to myself, “Let me get introduced to beauty necessities for this one-in-a-lifetime event”!

I spoke to knowledgeable friends, read up beauty blogs, talked to shop girls in beauty stores and at the end of it all, got thoroughly confused! If you are a bride-to-be or any young women (between 25-30 years age) and are clueless about beauty and makeup yourself, you may find the following tips helpful. They have been compiled from my personal experience and have proved beneficial to me. I have grouped them under various heads –

  1. Weight loss
  • Drink lots of water. It will keep you full and prevent you from munching on potato chips as evening snacks!
  • Eliminate rice from your diet, especially from dinner. If you happen to be a Bong and a machher jhol lover like me, you will have a hard time having the fish curry with chapati but trust me, I personally benefitted from it.
  • Eliminate sugar from tea and other beverages.
  • Drink lots of green/herbal tea.
  • Exercise for at least 30 mins every day for 6 days a week. I know it is difficult to follow this but if you mix and match your exercise routine, it will not get monotonous. So jog on Mondays, swim on Tuesdays, do yoga on Wednesdays, do squats and other tummy exercise on Thursdays, do arm toning exercises on Fridays and a full body exercise on Saturdays. Look out for exercise videos/ celebrity workout videos (Bipasha Basu/Shilpa Shetty) on Youtube and chose the one you like. Suryanamashkar is an amazing yoga which can be done every day alongside your other routine. Usually, the first thing that brides-to-be looking to lose weight do is enrol for expensive gym sessions, but trust me, all that you can do in a gym can be done at home for free. Moreover, exercising early morning in open air has its own health benefits.
  1. Skin
  • Again, drink lots of water! It works wonders for the skin. I have experienced it myself.
  • The cleansing, toning and moisturising routine is an absolute must twice a day.
  • Start to tackle problem areas early on. If you have dark circles under the eye, apply potato juice/ grated cucumber/good under-eye cream (in my case, I used Forest Essentials Under Eye Cream and got fab results). If you have dark elbows and knees, apply sugar in a lemon-half. If you have heel cracks, scrub them thoroughly and apply Vaseline/heel cream regularly. If you have acne, then try applying multani mitti with rose water every day – I do not have oily skin but I have seen a friend benefitting greatly from it.
  • Exfoliate your body once a week.
  • Don’t make the mistake of ignoring your hands and feet while you take care of your face and body. Mehendi will attract a lot of attention to these parts of your body, so put your best hand/foot forward.
  1. Hair
  • I have personally not subjected my hair to hair-spa too much, but I have heard friends swear by it. If you want to get it done, please go to a reputed salon so that you do not return with reverse results!
  • For me, henna paste with curd and dried amla-shikakai powder once a month was good enough hair care routine
  • Just six months prior to my wedding, I began to suffer from terrible hair loss for the first time in life! After I broke down post-shower one day, my mother took the reins of my hair in her own hands. If you are also in the same boat as me, start taking very very good care. Oil the night before you shampoo, wash once every two days with a shampoo which suits your hair and try home remedies like onion juice which is known to stop hair loss and promote new hair growth. As for me, I used this wonder product called Keya Seth’s Aromatherapy Alopex Penta Hair Solution and Hair Oil, which arrested the rapidly decreasing volume of my mane.
  1. Make up
  • If you are a pro in this area, then there’s nothing new that I can tell you, but if you are a newbie like me and plan to do a few make-up by yourself on the associate ritual ceremonies of the wedding, then you may read on.
  • Read up on a few make-up tutorials on the web to get a hang of how things are done. My favourite beauty blogs are Peaches and Blush, No Vanities No Apologies (won the best beauty blog by BlogAdda) and The Beauty Department (links are given in the “I Follow” page).
  • Build up your make-up kit with some essentials. Do not blindly buy if your friends or family or the shop assistant say that a lash curler/lip liner/luminizer is a must-buy for every bride. You decide what is good for you. If you have naturally full eye lashes/well-defined lips/healthy glowing skin, you will not need these stuff.
  • Try two-three brands before you settle down to buy something. You may not necessarily fall in love with MAC/Bobby Brown foundation like others claiming to be beauty experts – these are expensive and if you make a wrong purchase, you may end up feeling super-guilty about spending all the cash and not using the product.
  • Don’t be like me and buy lipsticks in nude shades only! Experiment and try on other colours.
  • From what I have seen, the following may be used as a guide when you go shopping – a good foundation, pressed powder, blush, eye-shadow pallete, kajal, mascara, lipstick, lipgloss and a few good brushes for application. Do not forget cotton balls and a good make-up remover. You may add eye-liner, eyebrow pencil, eyelash curler (some beauty experts say that it is a must-have), bronzer etc depending on your use and preference.

         5. Last minute touches

  • Get facial and waxing done at least 3 days in advance. That way, any unfortunate rashes or hair ingrowth can be taken care of.
  • Schedule the manicure and pedicure as close to the event as possible, especially if you are notorious for chipping your nails within an hour of your mani and pedi.
  • Organize your make-up stuff yourself in a bag and keep it handy. That way, you can avoid being a bridezilla, shouting at others who are attempting to find your favourite kajal.
  • In case of last minute hitches, keep calm and smile on. At the end, all that will enhance your beauty is a smile on your face, twinkle in your eyes and natural glow on your face :)

The Vicious Cycle of Editing!

April 16, 2014

Have you ever looked back at older posts and cringed for any reason?

I have, many times, for almost all my posts.

I have a habit of reading my old stories, every now and then. Almost always I end up editing them, and that too, multiple times. Sometimes, the stories become altogether different. I change the narration, pace and even the ending. I groan at the language mistakes and the use of too many unnecessary words. I look at ways to tighten the language, shorten the paragraphs and lengthen the important bits. I remove a comma here and add a semicolon there. I even change the names of the characters at times! I usually save the versions in my folder but on one occasion, I published two versions of the same story in my blog, found here and here.

Sometimes, I rewrite the whole story with a different POV. Then I delete it and attempt again. The same stories crowd my mind for days. Some of them are so close to my heart that I am always trying to perfect them.

Every now and then a contest comes up. Each time, I decide to participate at the last moment and end up recycling one of my old stories rather than writing a new one from scratch. I know I am being a lazy, completely unimaginative writer but where is the time?  I edit, re-edit and further edit till the last second before the deadline.

Many times, I continue editing even after submitting! I don’t know why but I can’t help but change things all over again. Recently, during the editorial process of my contest entry which was published by Rupa Publishers, I suggested new changes from my side, despite the tight timeline! I just can’t seem to be able to forget the old ones and let them be.

I wonder whether it is a good thing or bad! This process has resulted in multiple variations of the same story, each better than the last one (according to me). But this has prevented me from attempting new ones despite having half a dozen plots in mind. Whenever I open a new blank document, I end up navigating towards the other documents containing my words; my eyes are drawn towards the sentences which I do not like any more; my mind starts thinking about the different narrative style I could adopt for that story and the time flies!

My blank document fills up with familiar words.

How I discovered Food Panda

February 22, 2014

Since the day we moved into our rented apartment in last week of December 2013, I jumped headlong into “proving to all that I can also cook despite never doing so earlier”.

Despite not having appropriate supplies for a proper meal, I continued my culinary experiments with quite success and little disaster! I diligently photographed all that I cooked and sent them to both set of parents with a message – “I am feeding both myself and MH (aka My Husband) very well and stop worrying about how we will starve to death in the absence of a cook” :-) My culinary journey can be a blog post with lots of pictures, which I shall post another day.

Then, I had to start bringing work home in the evening, since I could not stay at office late in the evening (the reason being I stay in Gurgaon and commute via auto). On days there was nothing in the fridge and loads of office work to finish, I would be tired from preparing a meal and would drop off to sleep without finishing any office work. On such days, MH would suggest eating out while being extremely lazy (especially when it comes to dressing up and going out in the night just to eat dinner), I would opt for ordering in.

But I hated to order in pizzas.. day after day!

Then, Food Panda came to my rescue. This is a website with lists of restaurants in the neighbourhood from where I could order a home delivery online, free or for a nominal delivery charge; and sometimes avail of the discounts that are offered.

And much to my delight, it had a variety of restaurants apart from pizzas and sandwich joints. North Indian, South Indian, Italian, Oriental, Desserts – seek and you shall get them all from a choice of 3000+ restaurants!


On days and nights I did not cook, I logged into,  typed in my location, selected my restaurant, browsed through the menu and decided on my order. Then I could either pay online or cash on delivery and enjoy a hassle-free meal without having to step out of my track pants. The site also gives the option of picking up the order after the designated time given or schedule a pre-order for a certain date and time.

Their mobile app is also available in the Google Play and Apple stores, giving one the convenience of ordering on the go.


Food Panda delivers in 19 Indian cities (including Delhi NCR, Chennai, Kolkata, Ahmedabad, Jaipur, Pune, Chandigarh etc) now and expanding to more in near future. It is also available in 20 countries worldwide and expanding to eight more including Croatia, Bulgaria, Tanzania and Uganda this year (Source this news article).


For me, this online food ordering website has added more variety in my life without compromising on the convenience. :)    

My book is available for pre-order!

January 17, 2014

Or more correctly, the book which has my story, chosen from entries in a nation-wide contest by Rupa Publications in collaboration with Anuja Chauhan, is now available for pre-order at great prices! Check out the following links -

1. Flipkart

2. Homeshop18

3. Amazon

4. Ebay

5. Infibeam

Look forward to hear your feedback on my story, titled “The Unseen Boundaries of Love”.


10 Tips to the Brides-to-be

January 17, 2014

After going through endless planning and preparation as a bride-to-be for 9 months, I have decided to offer 10 pointers for all the brides-to-be (among my blog readers) so that their wedding can be a little more hassle-free than mine. Whether you are a control-freak bride who loses sleep over the organisation or a laid-back no-tension bride who has an army of brothers/sisters/aunts/uncles etc to take care of all the not-so-fun aspects of the wedding, these few tips will save you from big worries and big fights during the most important event of your life.

1. Start early – It will help you to a great extent if you finish shopping for all aspects of your bridal wear and trousseau as early as possible. Later, you will have to make many trips to the shops to buy stuff for innumerable relatives and then you will lose sight of what you need. I had to make last-minute dashes (as last-minute as 2 days prior to the wedding) to the shops to get small yet important items, which greatly increased my BP level. Same goes for beauty treatments – facials a day prior to your wedding does not help. Eat healthy, drink loads of water, exercise regularly and do necessary beauty treatments from as early as possible. Then you will be able to gorge on all your favourite mom-cooked dishes or attend lunch invitations from relatives on the last few days without upsetting your weight loss/skin treatment plans.


2. Finalize photographer and make-up artist quickly – If you want to go for a candid wedding photographer (the one who would capture all moments without asking you to smile and stare at the camera endlessly) instead of the studio ones and a professional make-up artist (who will not make you look two tone whiter) instead of beauty parlours, you must do your research fast and grab the ones you like quickly. Get quotations from 3/ 4, talk extensively to know what the quoted price consists of (and if need be, record in emails), meet them in person to see if you are comfortable with them, get trial makeup done  and then seal the deals. I finalized mine within a month of knowing my wedding date; even then, I did not get my photographer for the reception as he was already pre-booked. Another thing which is a must and which I did not do (despite getting many months of prep time!) is to get trial make up and discuss your look and accessories with the make-up artist. Thankfully, I did not get any nasty shock on the D-day but it’s always better to be finicky than sorry.


3. Remember small things can make a huge difference – There are innumerable small things which, if not paid attention to, can lead to mayhem. When choosing a venue, keep in mind factors like adequate parking space, easy accessibility for the majority of your invitees, enough room where dinner buffet would be served, ample chairs for the aching feet etc. Ask the pandit to bring all the required items for the various rituals and pujas, which, if left to you, is a huge hassle. Organise adequate means of transportation. Be clear about every small detail of the decoration so that on the D-day you do not have to complain about the colour scheme of the mandap and the flowers.


4. Delegate as much as possible – This was not completely possible in my own case, but I have realised that delegating responsibilities to different people is the key to your peace of mind. You cannot be at every location at the same time overseeing everything, so request others to do so. Or else, on the D-day, you will end up stressed out with frayed nerves just like me. No amount of Mac foundation will then be able to bring out the blushing bride in you.


5. Be organised – Decide a method to store all the required items in a certain manner so that anybody can find them. There are tons of items that will be required for various rituals on various days and if you or your parents are the only people who know where they are, chances are that you all will tire out soon from “Where is the lamp?” “Where are the flowers?” “Where are the dhaan durba?”, “Where are the sweets?” etc from other people. Store them in a place which everybody can access and can take out by themselves. Another helpful thing to do is to make a list of the contact numbers of the people who matter e.g. caterer, car rental, decorating agency, pandit, marriage resgistrar etc and distribute to the people to whom you have delegated responsibilities.

6. Get your own things – You will require many personal things before, during and after the marriage – some of them so insignificant that you would not even consider them earlier. So think hard, plan ahead and keep your things readily available with you. From my own experience, I have made a not-so-comprehensive must-have things -

  • nail polish so that you can fix last-minute chips (I made my best friend hunt down the same shade after applying the parlour’s nail colour and subsequently chipping my nails)
  • similar shade of lipstick/gloss for touch-ups (I suffered hugely as I did not have any to control the quickly fading lipstick)
  • safety pins (For all types of emergencies)
  • straws to drink water/soft drinks without ruining the lipstick (Again, I sat for hours with a parched throat and fading lips)
  • band aids in case the new bridal shoes bite (Bengali weddings are quick and the rituals happen without shoes, but you never know!)
  • perfume/deo (The make-up artists may not have any and even if he has, you may not like it).

7. Maintain a list for your invitees – I am sure every household makes a list for invitees, but have your own list for your own circle. You may want to send email invites to some and paper invites to others. You would want to give out-station invitees adequate notice for them to make travel plans. In any case, maintaining a list is helpful. In my case, I had created an Excel sheet (my first, since I am usually Excel-averse) with different pages for different categories – friends, my colleagues, parent’s contacts, relatives etc. As you finish inviting, go on striking them from the list. It will ensure no heartburn with regard to forgetting to invite some friends and contacts.

8. Participate – I firmly believe that the least you can do as a daughter is to participate in the planning, organisation and execution of your wedding. I have seen my parents go through sleepless nights on account of the myriad hassles that are associated with a social marriage. Even if there are others to take care of the wedding, your parents will feel elated if you can lend a helping hand and take some of their burden off. As a bonus, you will get some extra bonding time with them. No one wants the bride to work but I personally find the concept of making others run around in your wedding a bit selfish!

9. Indulge, but not over indulge – Believe me, there are only a few things in a social marriage whose expenses are justified. It is up to you to identify them according to your preference and cut down on the others. You may choose to go easy on the Rs. 4 lakh worth venue or the Rs. 1.5 lakh worth lehenga or Rs. 50 lakh worth gold jewellery or Rs. 12 lakh for an evening’s catering. Instead, you may invest that money and send your parents for a trip to recover from post-marriage fatigue.

10. Listen to everybody, but do what you want – This is, undoubtedly the most important advice I can give you. In our country, our marriage is not only ours. So many people, apart from your parents, get involved in planning a wedding that ten different advice for one thing are voiced at the same time. Everybody would want to have a say in big or small matters. You may be unwilling to hurt the feelings of your aunt/uncle/grandmom’s sister/grandfather’s brother/cousin/parents but believe me, it should be you who should be taking the final calls in your own wedding. Know that you will not be able to please everybody, so do not try. The only people whose wishes should get priority over yours are your parents. Otherwise, if you want a less expensive venue, do not hesitate to take it up just because some of your relatives think it is not upscale enough. If you have a certain menu in mind, do not alter it only because one of your colleagues think that is not good enough. If you are cutting cost in certain areas, do not get waylaid by people advising how wedding is a once-in-a-lifetime event and how your parent’s whole life savings should be wiped out in one day. Needless to say, you must first be an active participant in organising the event so that you can voice your opinion and get heard by the elders.


Happy getting married! ;)

P.S. My photographer was Samik Ghosh (Jonak). My make-up artist was Sayanta Dhali. The wedding happened in Kolkata.

Looking back at 2013 and ahead at 2014

December 30, 2013

2013 has been one of the biggest milestone years of my life till now – a year of change and new beginnings.

I met my husband, had a fabulous first appraisal at my current job, got engaged, asked for a transfer and got it, planned for my wedding, saw my second law book in print, won 2nd prize in a country-wide short story writing contest as a reward for which my story will be published in an anthology, got married, shifted cities, started working at a new office, got my first royalty, settled in a new locality, started setting up a house from scratch and last, but not the least, began cooking all on my own!

Personally, professionally and creatively – this year has been one of the best!

My goals for 2014 –

1. Set up the house completely.
2. Meet more people.
3. Learn and be better at cooking.
4. Indulge in more creativity in the form of writing, art and craft.
5. Blog more
6. Waste less time and stop procrastinating.
7. Go back to exercise regime.
8. Stay healthy and keep others healthy and happy.
9. Do at least one thing which I have not done before.
10. Remind myself constantly of the ’30 things to do before I am 30′ list.

On that note, I wish all a very happy 2014. Stay healthy and cheerful!

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Marriage – First Few Thoughts

December 9, 2013

I got married on 18 November 2013.

Ever since, people have been asking me, “How does it feel to be married?”

And I answer different things to different people at different times! They range from “It feels great” to “It doesn’t feel anything special”, depending on my mood and the person asking ;)

In fact, I really do not know the answer. On the day of my marriage, I did not realise at what precise point of time, I became married – whether it was during exchange of garlands or putting of vermillion on my forehead or walking the seven rounds or signing on the marriage registration form!

Earlier, everybody told me that a wedding was like a fairy tale. Friends prodded me to enroll myself in bridal beauty treatment packages and enlightened me about chocolate waxing, gold facial and pearl dental treatments! I was advised to get blouses stitched by designers, buy saris from boutiques and invest in diamond jewellery (apart from the traditional gold)! I was told to get 8 hours of sleep and drink 8 glasses of water every day! I was also informed about special diets which would help me lose weight but not my natural glow! I was even gifted eye gels 6 months prior to my wedding to cure my dark circles.

A variety of people deluged me with questions like – “Who is doing the catering?” “Will you have fish and chicken or prawn and mutton in the menu?” “Where will you go for your honeymoon?” “Will artificial or real flowers be used for decorating the venue?” “Are you arranging for transportation for the close relatives?” “Are you quitting your job since you are now based in Calcutta and your husband is based in NCR?” “Who else have you invited from our group (so that I can co-ordinate with them for a joint gift)?”

At the end, all it took was me, my husband, the pandit and the marriage registrar to finish it off and our parents and elders to bless us!

After it was all over, I wondered whether it was necessary to spend lakhs and lakhs of rupees, endure sleepless nights, worry about every minor details of organisation, listen to advice from different people and then endure their displeasure, for something which could have been completed so simply and easily?

Or was it so nerve-wracking for me because I almost single-handedly organised and planned my own wedding? From deciding the photographer, make-up artist, traipsing all over Calcutta for buying not only my trousseau but stuff for everybody else, arranging transportation, planning timelines, deciding the venue, its decoration, the caterer and the menus, checking whether everything was in place every five minutes to ensuring that my parents do not collapse from exhaustion – I did it all.

Now, I am back in the blogosphere, with a new location, new office, new house, new family and a new marital status. ;P

I am still in the process of settling down in my new life. I will soon come back with my views/notes/opinion/advice on the process, planning and execution and the feelings associated with the most important event of one’s life – marriage.


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