China travel.

China is one country I wanted to visit from a long time. The thought started when I was in the design school, for getting easy and cheap prototype for my brilliant idea. The same persisted in 2008 August when I wanted to go to watch Olympic live. Finally, the same materialized in December 2008 as I got the chance to travel with one more country added to the Places-I-Have-Traveled map.

take-me-around

The Shanghai city
Shanghai, the largest populated metro of world is somewhat similar to Mumbai. Busy fast life and tall buildings and so much lost in that fast pace. Maglev is just one example- a magnetic train runs from Shanghai’s Longyang Road subway station to Pudong International Airport at the maximum speed of 431 Km /H. Here cab system is also good, as long as you are careful to be able to explain to them that they have the meter on and running.

midnight-magic

People
People are very colorful in all senses – right from their clothes like colorful jackets, wrapped mufflers and colorful shoes to their colorful actions. One very interesting fact was to see the young people and teenagers holding their favorite gizmo (PlayStation mainly) and playing while having a 10 min ride either in metro train or bus.

color-trendsstreet-life

Food.
Getting vegetarian food is a challenge and I don’t count leaves as food. The problem gets compounded because of the language barrier – explaining something is real hard task. Even for non vegetarians, if you don’t eat beef or pork then choices are limited. But one must try Hot-Pot, it’s very nice especially on a chilly day.
Be careful of timing- here dinner starts getting served from 5:30pm and get finished by 9:30 or so.

hotpot-near-people-square-shanghai

Shopping
Bargain, bargain and ask for more Bargain. 🙂
Being a foreigner in their land, you must master this art else you will get cheated (that you will anways, but you can avoid the extent of it). And yes, don’t expect original or all stuff working when you come back home. The idea of bargaining is to master the art faster as compare to martial art. 😀

shanghai-with-my-chinese-friend

So much to explore that words would be few so check the picture gallery.

The Beijing City
China’s capital that recently hosted the Olympic 2008, is really a city with a difference. On one hand, you have great structures like Great Wall of China, Forbidden Palace and Temple of Heaven and on the other hand, smell of awesome tea and herbal medicines attracts many to visit this city. This city has better signage system as compared to Shanghai. Of course lots of development happened in recent past to make it bit tourist friendly.

olympic-nest-water-cube
You would definitely like the old monument and new structures like Water cube and Bird nest. For night out, you could try Kung Fu show at Red theatre. Its worth watching if you don’t have great expectation.
If you are taking guided tour, she will take you to tea house, pearl market and where not. And if you don’t buy anything, be prepared for a cold look.

chandni-chowk-to-china

I will end my blog with a line about The Great Wall – it’s really a wonder. We were awestruck with the grandness that it offered, it has taken humongous effort and has been well worth it – possibly more.

Home solutions.

If the role of color in any industry is very important than so is reading a consumer mind and coming up with a color forecast that will be liked my many (if not all) is very difficult.
Recent issues of design & interior magazines shows how new technologies and inventory features and interesting lighting and new materials possibilities making a Home much more trendy than ever.

Here are some home trends hints.

White and vibrant– From pure white to ivory and adding colors in accent, like, saffron is something that will make the interior to stands out. Apart from this Black and white theme is something that’s always green.

living & more

living & bath

Metals & wood – Hardness of metals and soft, warm feel of wood is something that can gel well with artifacts and furniture. Even the metallic finishes and rough old wood types are happening.

Dining and decor

Natural & organic– It’s more than just green décor. Adding a jute matt either as a castor or spreading a chatai or furnishing with natural colors prints are something talking loud. Anyway eco design is something that’s creating vibes from sometime and now when India also taking stands in green building than why not atleast green décor that we can think of when designing & decorating.

bedroom & more
kitchen and more

Leather & luxury– Leather is hot with soft touch and just a right level of use. The yellow, black or browns will look good. And yes, luxury is in! No more minimalism.

kids room

Wallpapers & graphics– other than in kid’s room its something that can be added anywhere to make that place stands out. Its simple, it’s easy and can be change as desired.

Light & bright– How could light be missing in any décor. Put it purposefully or just for adding a style element, with neat & clean designs and use energy efficient CFL or LEds.

Images Source– Internet (Design Sponge specially)

Shifting Paradigms

Home shifting is always a big task that makes you to worry even from the first day you got to know about it. Either it is moving from one city to another or inter city only moving a home is not simple if you are not prepared well or have enough man power that carry each and everything of yours 🙂

Its not just about moving stuff from one place to another but safely & organized way so that when you are standing in new home with cartons lying here & there could arrange back easily.

An easy list :

: Count the stuff.
beds, furniture, appliances, crockery and gamla (flower pots) etc.

: Don’t carry anything that you don’t need.
start disposing or sale the stuff you don’t need like cloths, newspaper.

: Stop buying the bulk grocery items.
like wheat, rice etc even new furniture / appliances

: Ask for address change & bill collection.>
Postal department, insurance papers, bank & credit cards. As well as give the payments to newspaper man, cable wala, milkman etc.

: Mark it to remember.
When packing the stuff in cartons, put a label to simplify what’s inside. Do this even if packers & movers are helping.

: Visit it and arrange it.
Go to new place, have an idea so that can make a visual map to arrange back the things.

: Be there, and love it.
While the things are in transitions and unpacking, be present. Gradually start arranging the things and start liking the new place though attachments with old place is natural.

And many more things you will learn after the move.

Let’s make a brand!

There is so much talk about Social Networking as hottest thing in 2007, even a network (Orkut) chosen as MTV youth icon 2007. It’s like making YOUR presence, staying in touch with people either for personal or professional growth.

And there was Time magazine (early 2007) cover page saying ‘Person of the Year is YOU’.
Recently I read an old article ‘Brand you by Tom Peters.
That made me to recall a quote by Isabel Allende “
You are the story teller of your own life, and you can create your own legend or not.

Quite true.
Whatever you are doing (or going to do) is reflecting in your personality.
Either the way you dress up or the way you hold the fork. Your very individualistic style to signature to the favorites programmes on T.V. Everything is composing you.
It’s not a simple system. One might feel it’s a single entity, but it’s a whole complex system that is composing the YOU.
And as Mr. Peters the management Guru says, there is no way to escape from the Me Inc. One has to create own brand. Now up to you how you do.
So,

How to get BRANDED?

 The Brand You. How to stand out in similar looking crowd! Picture taken by Paavani

Compile- Strengths, Weakness, Power, External factors, Risks, Time (very important).
Just to make you stay focused on goals, how to achieve that.

Compete-
Learn & Improve, Keep yourself updated.
What you learnt was past. Think future, work in present scenario. And for that updating skills and being informative is a need.

Stay Tuned
–  Meet others, Talk, Discuss, Argu, Laugh & Enjoy.
Express yourself. It not only gives attention but makes you happy too. And getting noticed among in crowd is important if you really thinking of Branding yourself. So either blog or upload a video on youtube but do something to shine.

Balance-
Work, Family & Networking.
Don’t be you only, be the complete person. Know how to equilibrate everything. Getting the right rhythm to balance everything is making the real you.

Rejuvenate- Mentally and Physically.
Pamper yourself either with music, books or join health club. Keeping fit will make you more fresh and full of energy.
And come out with new innovative visionary ideas. After all you are the brand. Be Brand new in every stage of life.

There are so many How would you rise and shine in same and similar people.

A call: on Mobile.

It has been long time since I blogged about anything. What was it means: nothing new happening or was I so busy that didn’t get time. No, nothing like that. It was just that when there was over information flow, one get lost what to talk.
Silence is golden at times. )

BTW I was quite active in my Flickr (earlier I was not), I even wrote a guest blog article for Ping Mag (one of the best design blog, from Japan).
In my work place, I am learning many new things. And try to understand much more.
Any way, what’s happening in World? Especially in Design sector, that too in India? Always make more sense to Indian Designers.The Digital design experience or people in User interface design would be happy to know about Nokia’s first satellite design studio in India, Bangalore...will explore a range of design trends and themes, including detailed research into colour and material trends in India. It will also study use of mobiles for Internet in India and its implications for design, and examine innovative new features and uses for mobiles.
[Source : Hindu]

I expect, soon I will get a handset for elderly. Last month only I was looking for a mobile for 60+ in not so urbanized area, which has basic functions and easy to navigate interface. Sorry to say I didn’t get a single mobile handset which fit the bill.

Talking about mobile:

I would like to say– few models are so sleek & smooth that it can look good only on an executive hands. While a field worker continuous sweating hand will make it uncomfortable to hold.

So many features- do we really need it? Few don’t even want to send & receive SMS.

Price range versus features. If it is a 2K mobile, is it really helpful in getting what one want? Don’t compromise quality by adding too much.

So many models, with little difference, so much of confusion. From Samsung to Nokia to new Bleu. A sliding cell phone with similar looks.

Total money expenditure- a 3G phone with cool features. But your current service provider gives you all that good service to operate those? If yes, how costly is it? Or you have to change your years old mobile number.

Even if you browse internet on your blackberry and check emails after every 10 min. Is it comfortable or just leave you more frustrated?

Your mobile is more of FM/ Camera to click pictures secretly or more to mobile blog?

Once you are comfortable with your current handset. It got stolen/broke, and you switched to new model of same company. Do you feel ease to operate it? If no, why so much complexity to understand all navigational system of a handset.

Why mobile buttons are so small? Why no models catering to those who don’t have such sleek fingers to press the right tab?

Regional language settings are there- but how many really needy use it?

There are many more concerned areas; these are many more simple questions other than styling & color of cell phone.

I am really disappointed when I visited Nokia exclusive showroom and did not get a cellphone which display text/numbers in good contrast on a reasonably good screen size along with basic features that work in a small town. Like FM. I hope, new Nokia design studio work in more user friendly way and come up with designs that really cater to the person who need it for basic functions not a gizmo. As number of mobile users in India are more than other parts. And these maximum numbers of users don’t work in corporate offices of a metro.

End of summers: Monsoon Calling.

When the canvas of life is becoming faded and dull and one is eagerly looking for a thrill; what could be better than adding few strokes of water with the long paddle brush and a palette called Kayak.
Go adventurous was the motto this weekend. And with our office team we went for River Rafting. Expedition was expended with rock climbing & trekking on the next day.

 Shivpuri, uttranchal.

White water rafting along the Ganges in Shivpuri near Rishikesh, Uttranchal was the agenda. We were supposed to cover 12 Km and do grade 3 & grade 4 rapids.
Through it was not a favorable season to do the rafting as water current was high and rapids could through you.
As I do not know swimming so I was among the afraid all group and was hesitated to do dip and being more adventurous. But when you are already inside the deep water, and paddle as a life line in your hand and you are just blindly following guide instructions than there is so much to have fun.

Preperation-river rafting Life jackets & helmets
We started from Silver sand beach and moved forwards in lush green when sun rays were perfectly accurate to brighten up the mountains in golden hues. The real adventure happened when at the 3 blind mice rapid 3 people from our 2nd boat fallen down! When boat went upside down and 3 persons were not found on right place on the right side. One of them was pulled back immediately, 2nd was saved by kayak and 3rd one who seemed to be panicked was also pulled by the life guard after few minutes.
2 pairs of slippers and 2 paddles were missed and other boat went back to get paddle while we rested on the side. Then our journey started again. I was asked to sit in front as we accommodated 1 more person from the other boat. Sitting in front of the boat, and when waves hit my face occasionally and I got thrilled with every up & down. It was a different experience.
Kayak RiderTents on silver sand beach

Next morning started with drizzling. And when I woke up and saw the awesome view of nature where the pure nature water accumulated on the balcony railing, and small white clouds were trying to push each other on the dark green mountains and translucent green Ganges was floating with little higher voice.
All that made me feel energetic to go out and capture some nature luxurious, soothing musical moments into 2-D, silent frames.
 What a wonderful morning! 
Rock climbing was not going to happen still we wore our comfortable foot wears and started journey towards the mountain peak. In that narrow round & round lanes I got tired number of times, feet slipped but there were will to climb. It the halfway like wanderers we all got dispersed and after certain period of time I realized lets go back and do some more clicks while getting mesmerized by nature beauty.

After a quick lunch we proceeded for Haridwar, from where we had train to Delhi. And we reached with an exhilarating experience to kill the Mondays blues and show more of creative and adventurous side.

Check more pics.

Wear it naturally

Crafty Story -II (A series on Indian Crafts)

Have you ever noticed what are the colors used for your favorite blue shirt? Are they natural or synthetic and artifically made? How much are they harmful to the enviroment or our body? Yes, I am talking about the colors and its impact on health and environment.
Dry colors, vegetable colors or natural dye colors are more skin friendly, and good. Its more like a family, region based business for making colors and implementing the same on products like-carpet, toys and printing etc.
The color that you are wearing, using will not only have colors to soothe your eyes but fragnance of the ingredients will also smells nicely. Colors derived from nature have some depth which chemical dyes lack.

China, Rome, Brazil, East Indies, France and many more countries are coloring the world in natural way. In history, India is painting naturally approximately since 327BC and has been a metaphor of excellance.

Natural colored dyed and handspun Carpet.
Natural colored dyed and handspun Carpet from nomadrugs.com

These natural, hand made, eco-friendly dyes are biodegradable and non-carcinogenic. They are obtained from dried flowers, leaves, seeds & barks and from stones at times from insects also! These are soft and low toxic colors generally non-allergic.
And use for dyeing of Textile like fibre, wool, yarns or garments etc. Paper coloring, on Toys and other Wooden products, making handmade Soaps, Candles; possible areas are unlimited.
From Indigo dye used in ‘Ikat’ (textile from Orissa, India) and food colors added in the form of Indian spices like Turmeric.
Nature colors.
Natural colors and dyes are extracted by the process of fermentation, boiling, and treatment with chemicals. Colors can be obtained from a single dye by the use of different mordents with which the fabrics to be dyed are treated.

 Indigo Dye and wool dyed
Indigo Dye and wool dyed in same. Pictures taken from http://www.aurorasilk.com/

Naturally Printed.
Fiber has cellulose and it will easily absorb natural dyes. Indian textiles are famous for naturally dyed cotton cloths. Gujarat, one of the major center for dyed and block printed textile. Rajasthan tie & dye (Bandhini) is worldwide famous so are Kasmir carpets that have interesting patterns by using vegetable dyes colors and Bihar Madhubani paintings painted delicately in natural colors.
Both western & eastern coast of India have beautifully printed cotton but technique is bit different. If south indian artists uses brush to paint then Gujarat uses wooden blocks for printing nice patterns.

Techniques
Printing blocks are made of teak wood, on one side design is etched. Other side has a wooden handle for holding and drilled cylindrical holes to pass the air and allowing the release of excess colors. New blocks are soaked in oil for 2 weeks or so to soften the wood grains.
In south a bamboo pen is used. That’s how Kalamkari- kalam (pen) and kari (means Work) method of painting on cotton or silk happen. Andhra Pradesh in India is famous for Kalamkari work.
Natural Dyes are supposed to use but gradually artificial and chemical colors are replacing the Indigo blue and Turmeric yellows.

Fabrics
Images courtesy- http://www.fabindia.com/craftsProfile.asp

Dyes making
Most of natural dyes are produced in situ means the coloring substance is extracted form the raw material and used. Which has disadvantage of non-reproduction, mass production, storing is also limited and it’s not standardized.
If techniques are used to produce in powder form than these drawbacks can be remove. Power would be available for long period of time, easy to carry & use and can be standardized by following the guidelines. Color variations in different lot can be also minimized.

Chemical Connection.
One side Natural dyes are organic, eco friendly, bio degradable and much more alive other side synthetics or chemically composed colors are inorganic, flat, and dead. A quick difference can be seen by checking the tonality, depth of naturally dye fabric to flat and unchanged artificial colors used textile.

But natural colors are now fading towards artificially made commercialized colors as it’s easy to get, ready to use. It is impractical to restore all our age-old practices with the versatility of man-made products still it s more about making a right choice and going nature way. To create a good and healthy and more alive work, natural dyes made work is better any day. It is not about saving time and producing quantity its more about retaining the craftsmen identities and making a greener and eco friendly choice.

Tags: Natural dyes, Vegetable colors, Indigo, Indian natural dyes, eco-friendly colors, handicraft, craft, Textile

Crunchy Crispy flavors*added.

Potato chips are all time favorite junk food. Earlier there were classic salted. Now more flavors are added. Even by considering the Indian spices and tastes. If MacDonald is making burgers in different choices by adding naram panner and tandoori chicken. Than our plain salted potato chips are also learning.

1st it was Frito Lays which come with flavors like Spanish tomato tango etc. After countries they brought the flavors of Indian chat – like golgappa style chips.
Fritolay – India’s followed by Uncle Chips, Kurkure (quite popular, now going to launch in
USA), Lehar Namkeen and Chittos (which were very famous among children as they came up with a new pokemon character gift with every pack). BTW Frito lays is owned by Pepsi Co so definitely in terms of marketing and advertising they would not leave behind. Either its brand ambassadors like Cool Saif Ali Khan and Pretty Preity Zinta.
And there latest launched is wafer style chips. In India, potato chips are made at home by cutting potato slices and keeping in salted water and then drying in sun for few days and when want to eat fry them. There are many more version and methods to make chips in Indian kitchen by Indian Grandmothers.  

Frito lays wafer style- paavani.jpg Lays chips 

Now come to the latest ad of Bingo- if you have seen the advertisement either on Television or heard on FM (and yes, not to leg behind on web world too they launched website). You might not understand what this ‘Mad angle’ is. Yes, there ads are ‘no confusion, great combination’. After SunFeast biscuits and pasta, the company is now venturing into the Rs 2,000-crore fast-moving branded snack market. They say: “Chips come in experimental flavours such as bindas masti chaas, chatkila nimbu achar and tandoori paneer tikka. Yet another product launched is “Mad Angles”, which according to the company, is inspired by the Gujarati snack khakra and comes in tomato and chilli flavours.”

Even Parle (a very old name specially for Parle G biscuits) is now bringing different flavors of cheese with a new brand name Musst bytes which have flavors- Tangy Tomato Or Garden spices.Let’s see in battle of crispy, spicy chips who won. I heard a mixed review about Bingo, where Paneer tikka is not at all advisable to taste. But people are trying different flavors for different type of ads, names and punch lines like ‘aajkal yeh bahut chal raha hain’ (for Parle Musst bytes) which means roughly – Now days very much in demand.

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Need an earthy treatment!

Our earth, our home has a day – 22nd april to celebrate and think and do some good actions. It was started by US Senator Gaylord Nelson in 1970.

Someone is asking for help badly. Yes, our dear earth is in pain and need help from her 6.5 billion children. But are we listening, and / or doing something?

earth day- designed by Paavani

Not many of us have really thought of what we can do other than having long discussion or talking about ‘green design’ or sustainability to global warming etc.
Well, you can do some really basic things: 7 days and 7 tips !

1. Think about plants & trees as your lungs, whenever you smoke!2. Use your brain when trashing garbage or even a coke can.
3. Carry your bag when going to buy grocery.
4. Use technology but don’t let technology consume you!
5. Show your creative side, reuse the products.
6. Have/use water as it the most expensive liquid.
7. and last Being gadget freak is geek, going green is coolest!

After all, our earth is not well and we all are doctors and it’s high time that we show dedication for this single yet precious patient!

Play of Colors

Festivals means joy & celebrations but what about a festival ‘full of colors’. In India, especially north India this festival is celebrated with the name Holi or festival of colors. It falls in the early march month. This time it is on 3 & 4th march.

holi

Holi has a significant role in Indian history and meaningful reasons to celebrate it with colors but with the changing time the way to play is also changed.
Yes, I am talking about the colors and it impact on health and environment.
Dry colors which are called Gulal or abeer (containing colorant + chips of Mica) are harmful for health specially if it go inside eyes or inhaled. Any artificial color or mud, grease are again very dangerous, so is throwing water filled balloons from certain height.

In old days dry flowers of flame of forest or tesu were used to make red & orange colors, Commonly find Indian spices like Turmeric, Saffron or Sandal wood, Henna leaves or Rose petals and Jacaranda & Marigold flowers etc can be use to make natural & safe colors. Which will not only give you joy to play with colors but also play a role in improving beauty.

on the name of Holi

Picking and smacking artificial colors from roadside vendors or Holi parties by drinking bhag (picked from Cannabis leaves), Thandai (a drink again) and eating lots of Holi special sweets just on the name of ‘Bura na mano holi hain’ which means don’t mind its Holi.

The after effect of Holi comes with uncleanness and visiting the doctor. But still you would love to play holi when you are in India and this festival of colors which denotes energy & passion towards life; you might love to stay and contribute for a Color, the ‘green color’ which asks for help from you by just not doing anything harmful to you. And you mean your surrounding environment. Go green- Play holi.

friendship with colors

And yes, don’t forget to watch this colorful video, which has a song and an eye opening message in the end.

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