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Confessions of a cricket-aholic

April 23, 2014

I was born to cricket-crazy parents, who, during their brief courtship period, had spent 80% of their very few telephonic conversations discussing their favourite cricketers – Kapil Dev and Sunil Gavaskar and analysing cricket matches! When I was young, I would bawl my lungs out in an attempt to get their attention, whenever they were glued to a cricket match! To avoid my tantrums, they briefed me about the rules of the game and inducted me into their team so that they could not enjoy their games peacefully!

I started following the game from World Cup 1996, when I was in class IV and just 2 weeks away from the Annual Examinations! I assured my parents that I was on top of the syllabus and just needed one more revision the day before the examination, sat between them in front of the television set and bombarded them with questions about the rules, players, match, teams etc. My parents were too happy to oblige, thinking they had passed on their best combined gene to their only daughter.

That series was my initiation into the religion named cricket! I fell in love with Ajay Jadeja’s ballistic 25-ball 45 in the semi-final against Pakistan and declared to my alarmed parents that I would marry only him.

Examinations, results, studies – all went for a toss the days cricket matches were to be telecast. The television used to face the sofa and the living room door. My mother would be sitting on the sofa with her back towards me and would not notice my small head peeping through the door. Every time she got up, I would run back to my room and pretend to be deeply engrossed in solving the same arithmetic problem for 2 hours!

However after few years, we shifted house and I lost this advantage. My mother, by this time, had become wiser to my antics and she would ensure that I close the study room door before she switched on the television. I had no other way but to stand crouched with my ear pressed on the door to be able to catch the commentary. After all, how could I concentrate on the intricacies of English language when my mind was buzzing with curiosity about fate of the game?

By this time, I had moved on from Jadeja to Shahid Afridi, just after his world record of fastest ODI century in 1996. Apart from all matches featuring India, I now began to follow matches played by Pakistan too. If there were time constraint in terms of homework, studies and class tests, I would beg my mother to let me watch at least the first 15 minutes of a Pakistan batting innings since most of the time, he would last in the crease for those few minutes only! I gradually lost interest as his game and age remained the same ;-)

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During the 1999 inaugural Asian Test Championship, I did the wackiest and craziest thing of my life with respect to my craze for the game. It was the first match between India and Pakistan being played at Eden Gardens. I was studying in class VII then. The first four days were on weekdays, which meant the day’s game would be over by the time I reached home at around 5 pm. On the second day, a friend and an equally crazy cricket lover [who now blogs about mouth-watering recipes at Guilt-free], brought a portable radio to school to be able to get updates about the match during class breaks (and to appear cooler than all of us ;-)). That week, luckily both of us were sitting in the last row (our classroom had a policy where students would change rows on a weekly rotational basis). During a very boring Mathematics class, I requested her through sign language to pass on the radio to catch a quick update about the match. Shocked, she mouthed, ‘It’s HER class’, referring to our stricter-than-Hitler Maths teacher. I shrugged, trying to appear totally nonchalant about any consequence of getting caught by her with a radio inside the classroom. My friend passed on the radio and I lowered my head, put one earpiece close to one of my ears and tuned into the commentary of the on-going match!

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Imagine the thrill of being able to know match updates, sitting in school, that too in a Maths class! As a favour, I passed around chits to my classmates whenever any wicket fell or an Indian batsman scored a six (and managed to up my cool quotient ;-)). During the class breaks, the radio would be passed around to others, but during the next 6 periods, it remained with me. No one could muster enough courage or rather, had enough enthusiasm to listen to radio when classes were going on. I did not stop even when we had to do our Biology practical class in the last period in an open lab and snuck in a few minutes of commentary every now and then. At the end of the day, my friend told me that she was not going to bring it back the next day for fear of discovery and seizure of her precious radio due to my reckless acts! I pleaded but she stood her ground. I cajoled her with ice-cream but she still would not listen. Finally I promised a poster of Anil Kumble, her favourite cricketer (which would wipe away whatever remained of my allowance for that month) in exchange of her radio for the remaining days of the test match.

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That particular test match will be remembered by other cricket lovers for all the wrong reasons – Sachin’s run-out, Wasim Akram’s refusal to call him back, the frenzied Eden Gardens crowd erupting in disappointment, Sachin’s personal appeal to resume the game peacefully,  the crowd being driven away from the grounds  by the police and ultimately ending in Pakistan’s win. However, for me, this match will always be memorable for the risky and daring acts of defiance committed by a 13-year old me for the love of the game of cricket. Since then, I have done many crazy acts like requesting for an adjournment of a matter (remember, I am a lawyer?) to catch the India-Pakistan semi-final in the 2011 World Cup, refreshing cricinfo.com every two minutes on my newly acquired smart phone during client meetings, shamelessly grabbing every opportunity of going to Eden Gardens to witness a match, even if it meant taking favours from not-so-favourite people, defending my team (Kolkata Knight Riders in case of IPL) in an anti-KKR crowd, losing my voice from cheering and then faking a cough next day in office and so on and so forth. But to me, nothing beats what I did way back in school!

For the children of 1990s like me, the game has changed so much over the years – the format, players, playing nations, rules, even ease of viewing! Star Sports now has free video streaming of the ongoing Pepsi IPL 2014, which allows me to enjoy the matches over internet, even if I am nowhere near a television set! It seems that I have come a long way from radio commentary to internet viewing! Such interestingly innovative times we live in!

This post is a part of  Cricket just got better! Activity by starsports.com in association with BlogAdda.com.

P.S. At the end of the post, I realised that I have confessed a little too much! I just hope my parents and my Mathematics teacher will forgive me for these crimes of past. If not, I can always cite the law of Limitation :-)

P.P.S. I had mentioned about this ‘radio activity’ while writing about my classroom antics in this post in 2010.

Mind Blowing Monday – IX (It’s back!)

April 21, 2014

The feature Mind-blowing Monday was started by me at a time when I used to read a lot of blog posts on a variety of topics and wanted to share the ones I found particularly awesome. After all, Monday morning blue is best beaten with the help of some blog love.

As my blogging dwindled, I stopped after featuring 8 MBM posts. Guilty I am, as always!

However, I never stopped reading blogs. So, I am back and this time, I have a huge list of awesome blog posts on a wide range of topics in my arsenal.

This week’s Mind-blowing Monday is a post on balcony. Ever since I have got a blank canvas in the form of an empty home for myself, I have discovered a new-found love for home décor, crafts and DIY blogs. My most-loved blogs have been linked in the “I Follow” page. This MBM post has been published in Housedelic, an Indian blog where different contributors write on beautiful homes and related topics. This particular post is close to my heart since it is about my most favourite spot in any house, contains drool-worthy pictures and has been written by a very close friend, Parama Ghosh. We go back almost 16 years!! Even in school, she was one of the best in writing (both English and Bengali) that I knew of. Today, she is storming the blog world with her personal blog Potpourri, holds a successful day job as a lawyer and is a talented painter, craft-whiz and style diva! I do not know a more multi-talented woman than her.

Enjoy the post, read the blog and share the love.

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
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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!

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On days and nights I did not cook, I logged into foodpanda.in,  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.

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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).

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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”.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Happy getting married! ;)

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

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