Monday, November 28, 2011

Penny Wise, Pound wiser!

Confession....Im a chartered accountant, Im supposed to be doling out financial advice by the kilo everyday, but this is the first time Im actually doing it.

Disclaimer.. The advice in this post is not going to make you a millionaire. (It may however help you take an unplanned vacation)

Listed below are everyday tips, little snippets of advice to make your money work harder for you.

1) Say NO to plastic: This advice is as good for you as it is for the planet. As convenient and comfortable as it is, credit cards are the invisible monster under the bed. Majority of us shy away from taking loans (bank or otherwise) but dont mind paying an interest of almost 36% on our credit card outstanding balance. Make it a rule to use it only in an absolute emergency...And no, "I will absolutely die if I dont have those Aldo heels" is not an emergency.

2)Save first: When I was battling with sky high rent and cost of living and partying in Mumbai I learnt a valuable lesson. As soon as your salary is credited into your account, put some away. The best way to do it is a recurring deposit. Same amount every month.Pre- decide what you can save and stick to it, so that you are not tricked by the gleam of that Tissot watch. Another way to do it is to hike up your contribution to PF, do it, so when your salary comes to you itself you have saved. Its all sitting quietly in a corner earning away interest @ 9%.

3)Cash and carry: Especially when you are going out with a huge group and its likely to be a Dutch affair, carry cash. As much as you think you will need to clear your share of the bill. In the alcohol and friendship induced stupor you clear the bill with your plastic and tell yourself you will collect from others,but its a huge pain for your sober self to do and very often doesnt yield the required results.

4) Shop smart: This is a rule I cant follow myself. Silly as it sounds shopping for food is what makes me broke sometimes. More so when I walk into a store with the colourful peppers, the imported chocolate and cheese and fruit preserves and pasta sauces and balsamic vinegars, I just cant seem to stop. If food is my weakness, shoes or watches or clothes maybe yours.What I have decided to do is make a list of what I want, never shop when Im hungry/ emotionally unstable (the former can induce the latter for me though) and allow myself one thing thats not on my list.

5) Waste not: Often we spend on things that we dont have to or even want to, like paying bills late,unused club/ gym memberships, delaying the maintenance on your vehicle, letting your insurance lapse. Organise your monthly/ anuual payments by setting reminders for yourself. Keeping things up to date will ensure you dont spend on late payment fees and that you dont find yourself vulnerable in an emergency!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Sisterhood of Travelling Umbrellas!

When three chuddy buddy women decide to go on a vacation to coffee country, three things are bound to be there…gossip, shopping and pictures (tonnes of them). We had a fabulous trip, the highlights of which are listed below!! 

  •  The super spirited language students from EFLU who travelled with us. Within the first half hour of the journey we got chatting and giggling enough to annoy our neighbours.
  • The ‘no English, no Hindi only Kannada’ auto that we rode in to the bus stop. We were not sure we liked him till he voluntarily took us to a tiffin centre and let me have my morning cup of coffee!
  • Venkata in Sankata, I think I have the worst luck with bus-movies. One of Sandalwood’s very forgettable offerings.
  •  Mysore Palace; the Kushti Akhada and the Wedding hall especially, made me want to live in those times.
  • Brindavan Gardens; full of lovers holding hands, sharing umbrellas and mirchi bajjis. Was a really picturesque bus ride though.
  •  One of my favourite parts of the trip; the bus ride to Kushalnagar. A really empty, clean bus, fantastic roads, a gentle drizzle, Antakshari, goofing around with the bus driver. Have new respect for KSRTC.
  •  Ismail (if i remember correctly), the friendly neighbourhood spice vendor. His wares were as delightful as he was. Locally grown Cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, pepper, tea, coffee and honey; fragrant and fabulous.
  •  Bylekuppe; watching a shy young Tibetan monk squirm in his seat, trying in vain to concentrate on the prayer being conducted.
  •  Dubare Forest Reserve; our close encounter with the mighty elephant, the gentle giants who stole our hearts.
  • Prasanna ; the auto driver who took us to Dubare; he also took us down memory lane with Bollywood songs from the 90s. Such a sweet, good natured guy, we have his phone number if anyone is planning to hit Coorg in the near future.
  •  The mighty Kaveri in all her fury, cascading down a hill, to become the glorious Abby falls. We could not take our eyes off her, and try as we might, we could not take a picture that did justice to her splendor.
  •  Madikeri; with the rain as our constant companion, we walked the narrow streets, got laughed at by auto wallahs, shopped in the tiny stores, rode a toy train and went to a view point with no view at all.
  • Returning to Namma Bengaluru in the wee hours of the morning and trying to find a place to crash; something I never ever want to do again.
  • Shopping our hearts out in Bengaluru, cherishing the lack of rains and relishing the good food.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Good old days!

About a month back, I wandered into a Hallmark store looking for a greeting card because I wanted to keep a tradition alive, and I was shocked and disturbed by the standard of cards on display in the store. I had to go to four different stores before I found one that I liked enough to pick up. I also found that I was one of the only dinosaurs walking through the greeting card aisles in these stores.

It got me thinking of how life and our expression of it has changed with the advancement of technology. Much as I love my Blackberry and worship the internet, there are a few things I miss from life before the 'great leap of technology'.
  • Greeting Cards: There was a time when I had just fallen in love that I would want to buy a card but would find three that conveyed so beautifully what I wanted to say. Ones that did not have garish red hearts with gold trimmings. Well, now there are e-cards which can sing and dance like my humble little paper cards could never, but I miss them. I miss sending them and I miss receiving them! Same is true for emails substituting postcards and letters. Its definitely not as much fun to kiss the computer screen as it is to kiss the letter your lover wrote to you.

  • Non- digital photography: Its true that digital cameras have made photographers of every one and lots more wonderful memories are being captured, but remember the time when you only got one shot at a particular pose, when you had to take your reel to a studio, wait for it to be developed and then hold the pictures in your hand and pass them around for everyone to see and make little notes on them to detailing where and when it was taken and who was in it. This is something I love so much that even today, my favourite pictures get printed and framed.

  • Phone calls on landlines: They were just called phones back call drops, no call waiting, no checking who smsed you in the middle of the call, wondering if your girlfriend's mum will answer the phone when you call, remembering all your friends phone numbers by heart...

  • Board games: Sunday afternoons meant scrabble, ludo or pictionary which slowly gave way to Super Mario, who slowly gave way to the current era of the Counter Strike. Will our grandkids not recognise a carrom board I wondered, as I watched my parents beat us hollow at a game of carrom.

  • Paper: Novels, official documents, recipe books, encyclopaedias,every thing now has an e-version. I loved reaching for the World Book on the high shelf and then leafing through it to find the pictures needed for a school project, having to cut out and keep nice recipes you found in magazines, buying beautiful diaries to pour out your heart, holding an old classic in your hand and enjoying how it smells as much as the beauty of its content.
Would love to hear if any of you have similar thoughts or any thoughts you have on the subject!!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Of Palaces, Lakes and Lal maas.

Udaipur..a trip that was dreamed up by two friends over coffee, which turned into some of the most heart warming memories.

  • The Aravallis covered in a carpet of lush green, altering my perceptions of Rajasthan and making me question my high school geography books. 
  • Thamla Haveli, our cosy hotel, with a window overlooking the lake and the little naked revellers splashing around in it. 
  • The little step near the window on which we sat for long hours, chatted, laughed heartily, clicked a million pictures, drank beer and 'got a life'!
  • The 'delicious' pink spagetti which would have made any Italian proud!
  • Long walks through the winding streets, trying to dodge the cows and the digested remains of their food.
  • City palace-remarkably well maintained and a photographers delight in many ways!
  • A vibrant display of colour everywhere you look..the intricate pattern on the jutis to the bohemian charm of the harem pants.
  • Every other restaurant screening the famous Octopussy because their beloved Udaipur is the star of the movie.
  • The delectable, lipsmacking, fingerlicking fabulousness of the Lal Maas. The undisputed God of all mutton ever cooked or eaten.
  • Udaipur, like an eagle would see it, from the SajjanGarh Fort. Breathtaking!!
  • Discovering a tiny bakery that served the most delicious apple pie I have ever eaten..
  • Wonderful little Yashoda, who makes little stone figurines to pay her school fees.
  • Sitting on a lake side restaurant for hours, with the gentle rain and endless conversation for company.
  •  Looking around you and realising how lucky you are to have such genuine warm relationships in your life.
This post is dedicated to Misha, Minnu, Philippe, Aishu and Zubin. Love you all and thanks for making Udaipur magical for me.

All lovely images courtesy the fantastic Philippe Martin.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Musings of an aspiring Yogi!

Ever since I did my first Chakrasana when I was like 10 yrs old, I have loved to twist and contort my body into various shapes. As I grew older I realized that for the kind of hyper-active brain that I have been cursed with, yoga was a wonderful release. So when I decided to take myself to a god-forsaken part of karnataka for a Yoga Instructors Course, it seemed natural.
In order to keep my darlings abreast of my discoveries of myself and my surroundings, I sent them an SMS everyday. This post is a compilation of all those SMSes...a window into my tryst with Yoga.

Day 1: Introduction to our fellow aspiring Yoga instructors, and our uniforms for the month. A sky blue kurta and deep blue tracks. I'm not sure I like it  but I love my pink yoga mat.

Day 2: Discovered some new muscles in my body when they started to hurt, and my taste buds are going to be dead by the time I leave here but I'm loving it!!

Day 3: I'm a nerd in yoga school too. People are making fun of me for taking it too seriously! Also I'm not built for meditation. Snooze Festival!!! :D

Day 4: My taste buds made a narrow escape from the jaws of death!..yummy hot Pongal for breakfast! Plus i met a firecracker of a woman from Taiwan!

Day 5: Introduction to Power Yoga...the most invigorating thing I have ever done. Plus Im trying to make friends with a doggie.(Ramu)

Day 6: Met a wonderful lady from Kerala who is teaching me to do Chakrasana with one leg in the air. Feeling like I'm rediscovering my body.

Day 7: Sutra neti and jal neti day today. Feel like  more air is going through me now.And I'm in awe of our instructor, hes 6 feet 4 inches and so bendy. hehe!

Day 8: A spellbinding lecture from a 80 yr old man and the first time I laughed like crazy since i came here! Lovely day..

Day 9: Saw fireflies for the first time in my life..felt like i was in a fairy tale.

Day 10:  Had a conversation in 'Nalla Tamil' with someone today. I miss home  :(

Day 11 and 12 : Preparations for the Silver jubilee celebrations and the mid course exam! Lots of free time..bored and not liking it.

Day 13: Mid course exam day...was weird to write exams after long. Also had an awesome conversation with a wonderful Columbian woman married to a Kashmiri.

Day 14: Learnt to do the Sarvangasana with my legs in Padmasana today! Felt fabulous..soo much to learn.

Day 15: Learning some really crazy stunts from a super cute guy from Nepal! Plus my article will come in the paper tomorrow! Happy me!!

Day 16: Stomach cleansing Kriya today! What a puking symphony it was... feel light and energetic though.

Day 17: Was shown a beautiful spot on the campus..windy and wonderful..and I had a heartwarming conversation with our Nepali Yoga expert and a super sweet girl who is a masters in Sanskrit and Music.Impressed by the diversity of the group.

Day 18: I find myself at the center of controversy and my first day of teaching the yogasanas..was good fun and a lot of laughs. Love the group i have been put in :D

Day 19: A horrible dark day for a super sweet woman and women in general. The world is full of conservative bigots!!

Day 20: Had a completely new perspective of Bollywood from a fantastic woman from Chile.She said "I wanna get married and live in London."

Day 21: Frustrated by all the chanting and bhajans, a bunch of to be yogis grooved secretly to Sheila ki Jawani. Was pure uninhibited bliss!!

Day 22: Restless energy resulting in doing repeated Suryanamaskaras at a fantastic location looking at the sunset.

Day 23: Got a campus tour with Mowgli (as she is fondly called), a fantastic free spirited seeker of berries and fruits in this gorgeous place.

Day 24: What a lovely day! Vented some of my pent up frustration, someYah-Yahs in the making and my first group hug in this place..I love women!! We are awesome!! Plus learnt some fantastic games..laughed till my stomach hurt.

Day 25: The most uplifting day ever!! Was in a wonderful bhajan session..singing and dancing! My body is still tingling from the vibrations!!

Day 26: Shoving things up your nose and puking exam!! Was alright..cant wait to get done now.

Day 27: Spending most of my time having conversations with the people I have grown close to and giving exams.

Day 28: Report presentation day..reunited with my love for public speaking. Plus our group conducts the asana session tomorrow, so preparing earnestly.

Day 29: We do a fabulous job of conducting the last asana session of the course and visit to Art of Living Ashram. Cant wait for tomorrow!!!.

Day 30: Saraswati Homah and distribution of certificates. We are officially Yoga Instructors now.!! Yay!!!

It was a tumultuous journey..the 30 days and 30 nights.. but something I can cross off my bucket list now!!

Saturday, April 30, 2011


This post is dedicated to my best friends in Mumbai,the ones who helped me stay sane despite the fact that I'm miles away from my family and loved ones!


Zoobi: My first friend in the city, who instantly made me feel at home in the area I had found my new home in! Her infectious enthusiasm and energy have turned around quite a few terrible days of homesickness!! In one and half years she has grown from a fiesty firecracker of a puppy to a fine young lady, surprising me and making me fall in love with her all over again!!

Lalu: My boisterous possessive local boyfriend! Whenever we met, he demanded undivided attention, finding his way onto my lap and ensuring that he was all I saw! And what could I do other than feebly accept defeat! I was a sucker for those big brown eyes!!

Lalu after a hearty meal!!

Captain Jack Sparrow: My dear one eyed darling! He would wait patiently for my possessive Lalu to get distracted and make his move! Come for a quick hug and a kiss, fill my heart with joy and walk away! I love him more for his subtlety and poise!

Caramel: The little fluffy little creature who warmed me towards my new house after the shift! In just two days we developed a bond so strong, we would run towards each other like estranged lovers everyday for a warm embrace! I hear that these days she is chilling in a plush Colaba home! What can I say, u deserve it darling!!

Bujji: I don't know if she has a name, but that's what I call her and that's what she is! A tiny little jack in the box! She adores me and I adore her even more! On days when I have felt like i have no loved ones in this crazy city she has laid down at my feet, not letting me go home, smothered me with love, knowing that's exactly what I need!!

 This is a heartfelt thanks to each one of you and I hope that I will always be there if u guys ever need me!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Mission 2011

I made a bucket list two years back. I have not even checked off one and already I feel like somethings on them are not important to me anymore. So I have decided to make a list for things I want to do before 2011 kicks the bucket.
1) I HAVE to stop biting my nails. Grow them long and paint them deep red.
2) Learn to whistle with my fingers in my mouth.
3) Become fluent in Japanese
4) Learn to make lip smacking Maharashtrian sea food.
5) Stop being stuck up and allow Kush to teach me to ride a motorbike.
6) Start driving again and take Layla on long drives.
7) Learn a new Indian language.
8) Make yoga a way of life, teach maybe.
9) To let my hair grow to waist length.
10) To get some friends together and kick start a street doggy welfare initiative in Hyderabad.