The Little Shopper

littleshopper

One of my friends is due to deliver a healthy baby next month and I was searching gifts for both baby and mother. Maternity shopping has only recently been popular in India with various websites and stores. Even few years ago, it would all be about buying oversized clothes for the mother and stuffed toys for the baby from regular departmental stores. I bumped into thelittleshopper.com and the website managed to enthrall me a lot. It’s a one stop shop not only for maternity shopping but a lot more that comes later with the package of having a baby.

The first step for a successful website is its look and I think The Little Shopper has nailed it perfectly. The interface is very soothing and clutter-free. There are separate tabs for all stages of maternity and all kinds of shopping needs, from footwear to diapers. What’s amazing is the range of categories to choose from – baby sleeping bags to bottle warmers, you name it and you’ll find it on The Little Shopper. It’s hard to find such consolidation in regular online stores, especially for babies and parents.

The content is superbly curated to suit everyone; the fathers will find it easy to pick a gift for babies and their mothers. The onesies for little ones and lovely maternity dresses are to die for! Talk about brand building and The Little Shopper has roped in a lot of international and Indian maternity brands like House of Napius, Toffyhouse, Zeezeezoo, Little West, Como Tomo and Kidology. It’s easier than ever to shop from these brands with a few clicks.

There’s something else that I loved a lot – The Little Shopper blog or magazine as they call it. There are a plethora of wonderful and useful articles for the newbie or would be parents. I particularly liked the ‘5 Gluten free recipes’ article as I have quite a few friends with Gluten allergy. If you know a new mother with such an allergy, you’ll surely need more recipes to add to her nutrition. Tutorials and important counseling videos from renowned doctors will help you solve a problem or two without striving for a visit to the doc this summer. Tips and tricks, a little advice on how to deal with pregnancy, infertility or new babies, and expert articles have added much value and sparkle to the website.

Overall, it’s a great place to shop for your bundle of joy and yourselves. Oh, and are you looking for great offers on Mother’s Day? Anyone who signs up now will get Rs 3000 worth coupons that they can use to buy lovely stuff from The Little Shopper. So get on with your Mother’s Day shopping!

Book Review : The Honest Season

the honest seasonBlurb View: 

Sikander Bansi, an unlikely political heir in Delhi, secretly records politicians in Parliament as they haggle to become cabinet ministers, bag defense contracts, dodge criminal charges and collect corporate largesse. Among them is a rising leader of the People’s Party, Nalan Malik, whose success has come through unscrupulous means. When Sikander suddenly disappears, Mira Mouli, a newspaper journalist with an unusual gift of knowing people’s thoughts, receives the controversial Parliament tapes along with clues to find him. She is attracted to Sikander’s principles and is wary of Nalan’s deceit. But her powers of knowing tell her a different story, one that she can unravel only at the cost of her life. From the bestselling author of Shoes of the Dead, this is disturbing political fiction that reveals why Parliament functions behind gates closed to the public.

Review:

It gives me immense pleasure to let you know that I’ve read one of the finest books by an Indian writer in 2016. Yes, it’s a political fiction and I’m quite wary of politics in India. Yet it is the apprehension that egged me to pick up this book. A Twitter chat with the author prior to start reading the book confirmed that her novel is worth every minute. In this month of Assembly elections in four crucial Indian states, the book comes as a necessity. It aims at exposing what happens inside the ominous white Assembly buildings – the shady dealings, the breach of trust, the whispers that never escape those marble pillars into commonality.

The story begins with a glimpse of the protagonist Mira’s super powers. She can read thoughts while listening to a person and knows what they’re thinking. So she’s a know-journalist. The book is based on utilizing her powers, but never misusing them. Mira is involved into a dangerous game of hide and seek by politician Sikander Bansi that spills the secrets of the Parliament. She can’t escape without solving the clues and in the process only gets hurt. The author has made great efforts to build the character of Mira, word by word, and we are let into her dark and gloomy world. There are other politicians like Nalan Malik who is hard to gauge, Sikander Bansi in his various avatars, Mira’s boss and editor Bidur Munshi, her colleague Salat Vasudev, and the rain. I think it’s the rain that drives the story forward and gives it such a poetic aura.

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IndiPR – New Kid On the Block

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Image Courtesy: IndiPR

I have never published a Press Release before as most of them turn out to be boring. What would you do with dry information and specifications about a new product launch? Thousands of businesses, products and services are launched everyday across the world. When these products go live, a Press Release is usually the first order of business. These are sent to media professionals, PR agencies, bloggers, influencers and a sundry lot. Most of them have nothing to do with the product/business being launched. They are bored, go ahead and delete the invitation via mail. There are a few influencer platforms that target specific bloggers for different kind of products. IndiPR has arrived with the idea of making Press Releases cool and connecting businesses to influencers seamlessly.

Businesses of various sizes, including start-ups, can now have their Press Releases published by relevant influencers in less than 72 hours. Isn’t that great?

The Process

IndiPR.com was built to make it extremely simple for a business to get their Press Releases published by top bloggers. All a business has to do is upload their Press Release and the ‘Automated Influencer Targeting Engine’, or ‘AITE’ for short, proceeds to accept applications and automatically shortlists bloggers based on various factors including internal ratings and rankings. Once shortlisted, the influencers do their research and publish their articles.

Anoop Johnson, Co-founder & Director of Marketing at IndiBlogger, adds, “With a starting budget of just USD 150, a business of any size will be able to get their press releases published by influential bloggers with a few clicks.”

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Book Review : That Woman You See

Image Courtesy: Amazon

Image Courtesy: Amazon

Blurb View:

The book attempts to explore the heart and mind of the modern Indian woman; who is tired of suppressing her true nature, dreams and desires (in the largely patriarchal society) and wishes to express herself and do her own thing even at the cost of appearing odd and unconventional in front of her family and society at large. The flavour of each story is different. And the author has experimented with narrative style and form. The themes in the book include: humour, pathos, love, infidelity, arranged marriage, colour bias, hope and joy. Giving it a whole new twist, the collection ends with a poem titled – ‘That woman you see,’ which is also the title of the book and gives out a brief description of the collection.

Review: 

Women-centric books are flavour of the season, with March hosting International Women’s Day on 8th. Keeping aside the debate on futility of celebrating womanhood annually and not everyday, let’s just concentrate on this book. It is a themed one, an anthology of nine stories, each about a strong woman. They are symbols of love, courage, strength and everything that we overlook in a woman we see around. The protagonists of this book are not superwomen, but those entrapped in each of us. Sujata Parashar is an exceptional woman and a writer who has always presented stories that touch our hearts. This is another such attempt by her.

Each story has a different flavour, a different perspective, but all of them united into the common theme of womanhood and its celebration. Written in simple, lucid language and quite engaging plots, each of them has their own appeal. But, of course there are ones better than the others. I particularly liked a few and would mention them here.

Ganga: She Who Is Pure – The book begins with this one, and it’s a strong yet subtle story. Ganga has a past and an equally difficult present life of a call girl. Her pride and the haplessness of the male protagonist are contrast to each other and create a painful story. It is well written, though slightly distraught at places.

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Book Review : Life Mantras

Blurb View:

lifemantras“After having gone through the book, you will definitely and convincingly realize that to achieve peace, true happiness, contentment, satisfaction and also to attain continuous progress in life in terms of material gains, respect and love, you need not depend on anybody in this world. It all depends on you. It is all in your hands.”—‘Saharasri’ Subrata Roy Sahara “Nobody does anything for anyone. All do for themselves either for more and more material gains or to save and escape from any kind of material losses or from mental-emotional dissatisfaction or for getting more and more mental-emotional satisfaction. Therefore, no one sacrifices for anyone. When no one does anything for anyone, there is no justification in expecting any returns.” The author goes on to explain that to make life truly beautiful, one also needs to understand the basic truths with which we are born or the basic instincts inherent in us all. So for a positive outcome one has to learn the psychological or the emotional aspects of life, in other words, the realities of life or the entire philosophy of life. As you get immersed in the potent energy of these ‘Life Mantras’, you will slowly find a change, a sense of fulfillment, a self-motivation coming in you. You will thus be led to the ultimate realization that the journey of life is indeed a truly blissful and an enlightening experience.

Review: 

In Life Mantras, India’s top corporate honcho Mr. Subrata Roy shares real-life lessons by touching upon many aspects of human thoughts and emotions. Right at the outset, he begins by saying that every human is unique by himself. Thereby, he discusses the psychological and emotional aspects of life. Gradually he moves on to ways of achieving happiness, satisfaction, content life and more. While he talks about motivation, he boldly puts it forth that money does motivate just as esteem and love. He further grabs attention by saying that we only work for ourselves and our own advantages. Gradually as the book progresses, the reader learns that there are seven health stages of human being and four types of knowledge. And of course at the end, he writes about ego and its woes. Overall, ‘Life Mantras’ gives us a deep insight into the basic realities of life.

Mr. Subrata Roy Sahara laid the foundation of Sahara India Pariwar with mere 2000 rupees with three workers in the year 1978. But today his company boasts of 12 lakh fellow workers. Presently, he is in Tihar jail, from where he has written this book. To write a book in the prison isn’t an easy affair but for him this isn’t the end. Life Mantras is the first one in the trilogy, ‘Thoughts from Tihar’. As of now, this one is an exhaustive amalgamation of his experiences, observations, interactions and more.

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That Which Must Not Be Named

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This piece was pending since long. No, it isn’t about a blogging contest or a product/book review. I don’t believe in creating a Utopian blog that oozes paradoxes in the paradise of blogosphere. You’ll find them aplenty and you’re free to hop off in search of gayer blogs. Each of us has secrets, including writers. And since most of them are shy people, it is often exemplified in their works. A line here or a passage there, opening up small attics of memories and secrets in the stories they write.

But this isn’t about writing. This is about – not writing. I think the last time I wrote fiction goes back to two years ago. Well, I have plots brewing in my head but they haven’t been converted on paper since long. There’s a reason why not, and that is the whole crux of this article. I have diagnosed myself with what I call LD (Literary Depression), and I’m already tired of it. I know friends, people, writers, bloggers, who have serious LD but are ashamed to admit it. It is definitely considered downmarket. In our country, you’re still not allowed to talk about any kind of depression – be it literary, personal or professional. While we still don’t come out about personal reasons for depression unless we’re celebrities/film stars, LD is probably worse. If you are diagnosed with LD, you’re doomed as a writer. The publishers would trash you (sooner), your family would abandon you, readers would steer clear of your blog, and friends/fellow bloggers (the worst part of it) would PITY you.

Let me make it clear in the beginning – LD is not what we call Writer’s Block. It’s worse, the worst, actually. In the latter case, you are just unable to write. There are stories and characters swimming in your head, and you can’t catch them to make a good stew. But in LD, you lose everything – your confidence, conviction of being a writer, plots, characters, stories, twists, sentence construction – all of it goes on a toss. And you’re left with naught. The very feeling of naught, void, of being unworthy of a single printed word. Every article you read, every book you touch, every newspaper you pick up, every film you watch gives you a dump. A well constructed sentence in an otherwise poor article makes you realize that you probably can’t write better than them. You read nincompoops and feel it in your bones that you haven’t written in eons, they have books and you don’t. Trust me, LD is all encompassing. It affects your writing, your reading, your perceptive abilities and your sensibilities. You not only can’t write, you can’t even read. Every book makes you feel inadequate, every article invokes that sense of loss (of writing) inside you and you take solace in staples – like I have, in reading Bangla books, my childhood favourites.

LD is a slow killer. It takes eons to even detect it, and when you’re done, it probably gets too late to recover. I’m not ashamed of LD, just tired of it. But, there is hope, always, that someday you’ll be able to write again.

I’m certain that I will write again.

Memories In March

Image Courtesy: BlogAdda

Image Courtesy: BlogAdda

Memories are best served cold. They are created while you’re young, so you can carry them inside your head till it is alive. As you grow old, day by day, it’s time to ruminate on the memories, warm them up and have them served apiece within a mundane daily routine. There are some that don’t taste the same after days or years, and then there are others that sizzle up with time and fill your senses with longing for loved ones.

Watching young ones in the family grow up is a beautiful process that enriches one and makes for endless memories. I’ve had the scope to witness my young sister-in-laws (SIL) transit from school to college and transform into beautiful ladies from cranky teenagers. For a large part though, we’ve been living in radically different cities and corresponding through occasional phone calls, text messages and holidays. The moments spent there would be hurried and sporadic, in a frenzy over a few days to soak away the minutes slowly into our togetherness. We’d catch a movie, hop off to lunches, meet at their places, our place and any other relatives nearby, sneak away time for a chat on the terrace while mothers and aunts carried on their chitter-chatter. Each holiday would remain a collage of these moments, with images popping up in our minds months later, causing roars of laughter on either side over a call.

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