A Tale of Odd and Even Shares

Image Courtesy: BlogAdda

Image Courtesy: BlogAdda

Do you remember the candies that you shared with cousins during a summer vacation, the ice lollies called golas on the streets with your college beau, or a plate of crispy pakoras on a rainy evening with the entire family? If you can share these and create memories, why not share a bucket of laundry with members of opposite sex in your family.

ariel

Sunkissed washing machine on a summer morning

Not getting into the nitty gritties of laundry duties in India (like I did in a previous article on #ShareTheLoad ) – I’d suggest, and may be coax you with my stories to jump into the bandwagon. The very basic and important household chore of laundry is often seen lonesome waiting upon women of the house. It was pretty common among my peers to heap trunkload of unwashed clothes all through their semester and carry them back home to be washed. A humongous task of washing was gifted to the mothers, sisters and domestic helps during the college kid’s semester break. Times are a’changing now, with washing machines costing cheaper than decades ago and invading the middle class household. High school kids and freshmen are just a button and few clicks away from washing their soiled jerseys and fancy jeans. What about the other chores though – drying, folding and stacking the clothes? The most arduous part of laundry.

Generically, an atomic family of a couple like us need to perform laundry twice a week with mini washes (without the machine) in between. Since Pune is facing a drought this summer, we’ve decided to keep the laundry minimal and accumulate them to maximum twice a week. Hence the #LaundryGoesOddEven becomes easier to implement with the better half (M) going gung ho on Sunday – first day of the week, and me choosing the fourth day (Wednesday). This has actually been working since the advent of summer this year as water became scarce and came in batches of hours each day. We chose Sunday and Wednesday mornings for laundry as they suit our leisures perfectly well. M jumps about as a hyperactive school kid in glee of just operating the gadget, laundry seems an excuse for him to play with the washing machine. Since he leaves early morning on working days, Wednesday works fine for me to wrap up the midweek laundry. We have been able to fine tune the chore to almost mechanical precision, and try not to miss our preferred days of the work. It’s a seamless process, each doing their own on time and saving rest of the day for important work like writing and blogging!

M & me on a Sunday and Wednesday respectively

M & me on a Sunday and Wednesday respectively

‘I am taking part in the #LaundryGoesOddEven Challenge by Ariel India at BlogAdda.’

Watch this video to #ShareTheLoad.

The Legacy of Sunday Mutton

tangytuesday

To elucidate the aroma of mutton curry wafting from the kitchen, especially on a Sunday afternoon is nearly impossible. It’s easier to cook the mutton than even give a try to illustrate the labyrinth of emotions it evokes in me, and most people of my race. It’s a phenomenon evolved over a hundred years and a tradition well worth preserving for. Before drifting (and delving) into the history of Sunday mutton curry, let me add a cheeky disclaimer that ‘mutton’ refers to goat meat for every instance I write about it. Being raised in Bengal, I had no notion that red meat in general (lamb, goat, pork, beef) is referred to as ‘mutton’. For me, goat cannot be replaced with any other animal for ‘mutton.’

Image Courtesy: Neha Banerjee

Image Courtesy: Neha Banerjee

From lores narrated in both of my families over years and reading old Bangla stories, I’ve formed a hypothesis on the origin of Sunday mutton. In the early 20th century, educated folk from rural Bengal migrated to Calcutta (the only city then) in search of clerical occupation. They stayed mostly in rental accommodations, hostels and as paying guests for five working days. Come Friday afternoon and they’d venture for the ancestral home in different districts of Bengal. When they’d arrive home, mostly late at night, their jholas would carry fruits, candies, sweets for the children, an occasional piece of jewellery or saree for the wife and daughter, and – on frequent weekends – mutton for the entire family. Children would rejoice; I have a sneaking suspicion that they’d root more for the meat than frugal candies, like me. The wife would blush and begin preparations for the mutton curry the night itself or the next afternoon. Of course in monsoons, the mutton is replaced with Ilish, but that doesn’t take away its glory in the other seasons.

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Why Read Manto?

Image Courtesy: Google

Image Courtesy: Google

That’s a fairly easy rhetoric with complicated reasons as answers. There’s been a lot written in recent years about Manto and his writings, which would make you feel pseudo-erudite and jump into the bandwagon of discussions. Manto’s writing is a revelation, yes. He’s been working on such gems of stories while my father was still a kid, and I was just initiated into the realm of his existence about a decade ago! Now I will confess that most of my puny knowledge bank is stuffed with inputs from Bangla Literature, including Manto. I read about him in some Bangla short story, as being referred to what a great writer he was, and was interested in finding out about his writings. It is this lack of awareness I’m not happy about. If an average Indian like me takes two decades to find out about Manto, when will we read and discern his work?

Manto is not just a writer, he’s a phenomenon. The way he did unclad our ‘modern’ subcontinent society of its taboos and prejudices is not only rare, but revolutionary. If we could, even after 5-6 decades, accept a chunk of what he wanted to convey, life wouldn’t have been so difficult. Most importantly, he lived in our favourite Bollywood and thrived there for some time in its initial prime. His views on the then stars of Hindi film industry expose a lot and yet again the hypocrisies that they couldn’t conceal beneath snow, Pometom and kohl. It’s astonishing that he is described as Pakistani in the Wiki page – you can’t contain Manto within the thin air boundaries of greater India. He has been able to shred and imbibe pieces of him through Toba Tek Singh into the hearts of all. He is indeed, the Toba Tek Singh that neither countries can digest even after decades. Banned, discerned, condescended, abused – he went on writing to his heart’s content. I think that’s what any writer dreams of, not in these bloody days of slaughter though.

41oEIR9oh3L._SX317_BO1,204,203,200_I’ve read more about him than actually his stories as they’re in Urdu. The English translation by Aatish Taseer was brilliant and yet lacked the little something that makes Urdu resplendent. Since I believe in reading as many books in their original languages as I can to grasp their flavours, especially the lyrical Urdu, I will read Manto’s books in Hindi now. And may be someday in Urdu too. I’ve learned Hindi (actually Hindustani as a language) in school and college for 14 years and the beautiful Urdu words mixed in Premchand or Nirala’s stories made me fall in love with the discourse.

I’m not an expert coaching you about why read Manto. Just read, get a sneak a peek of our society some odd sixty years ago, which still hasn’t changed much.

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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