It’s a HOLI day time.

Festival of colors is around. It is one of the special festivals of India. I am not going to talk about this festival in details; you can read my old article on same that came on PingMag.

holi colors festival India
From past few days, I have been missing my childhood days. Is it the Holi fever or am I just getting nostalgic on few things, especially when I see children in park running around and playing with squirt and splashing water on each other? Today children are much more aware of simple facts; they use herbal, natural colors. They don’t play holi in such harsh way as it used to happen in our time. I still remember the days when putting silver paint on face and throwing each other in mud was quite common. Few activities like throwing water balloon in some streets are still a practice. Let me compile holi’s different types / styles.

Temple Holi- It is a traditional form of playing holi. Pandits and people play holi with Lord Krishna and Radha. It is like – 1st god play holi and the color that touched their holy feet will be used to play holi by their devotees.

Rural holi– a bonfire is set up by using the cow dung cakes and fresh harvest is offered to fire. In morning people put colors (gulal) on each other face and play with water colors, and in the evening they dress up nicely and visit the nearby fair.

In a city – people from the same location (apartments/ colonies) gather in park, and put colors on each other. Some snacks are there to eat. Of course, you have to pay for the same.

Page 3 holi– Music, dance and drinks. It is more like a party, either in a farm house or in a banquet hall, where people dress up in style and play in style. Entry is strictly by invitation!

Campus holi– it is full of fun. Best part is that students from different states, countries play together. It is complete fun. Even if you don’t like to play, anyway you will get pulled from your hostel room.

Street fashion– Some naughty boys will freak out on bikes and throw water balloons, harass people on street and make life difficult. It’s a non-decent form of holi. In small city and rural areas it is common. That’s how people avoid going out on road, using public transport like trains, buses & rickshaws.

Office holi– As HR has to do some event, so, a small event in office premises happen. Where little bit dry colors or flowers petals are allowed. You will get some munchies or holi special lunch.

Family get together– Family members and close friends will gather at one home. Some special dishes, specially gujiya, pakodas & thandai and lots of chit chat. Good time in today’s nuclear family time.

Bollywood holi– Indian cinema and a holi song in Hindi film is forever in demand, from classic film era to today’s niche class movies. If you are alone and nothing great to do just switch on TV (or search in You tube) and watch bollywood best holi songs 🙂

Get set go– It is actually a vacation time. One can escape from colors and have some relaxing time. It could be having a long vacation by using holi holiday plus some extended holidays.

holi, colors, people, festival, India

So in whatever way you are celebrating it, I just want to wish you a very HAPPY HOLI – day!

Shopping in recession time!

Being a Delhite, I am also fond of Sale time. The spring time generally comes with good deal on clothes, shoes and bags etc. But like weather, our economy has also changed and this change is pretty harsh.
This year the sale season started quite early. It came so early that it didn’t wait for 2009 to come. I could get my New Year party dress at great discount in December month only.

Splurge was the keyword early last year. People were spending money on decorating their home or buying branded stuff to buying new stylish vehicles. Then all of sudden various companies started to cut down on the expenses, thereby causing people to lose job. Home loans, car loans and insurance installments were same as before but shopaholics could not resist themselves from 50% to 70% discount.

Shopping in Recession timeShopping in recession time!

After all, just because there is slow down time, people do not necessarily stop pampering themselves. The joy of buying something always makes us feel good. In recession time, when we are more into depression, we need to shop. We just need to be a wise shopper.

Those ‘aspirational’ rich, metro residents and mall going people could not resist themselves by spending little less on their favorite Reebok sports shoes or Louis Philippe formal shirt. Even Bodyshop, Revlon etc are giving discount, and some brands like Lakme are coming with exchange offer on old lipsticks etc. It’s really hard not to shop, even in this hard time.

Future group ventures like Big Bazaar, Home town and Pantaloons are already giving great deals and people are really rushing to buy.

china-shanghai-nike-store

These cases were even seen in USA to China. When I visited China last December, things looked fine (at least from outside) but in USA major electronic stores (Circuit city) and few more were going out of business and were running huge store closing sale.

So how are retailers / store owners working on the mathematics of 50% + 50% discount. That’s something I will figure out. Till then happy shopping!

Toy story.

Other day I was having a conversation on recent ban on China toys, suddenly someone questioned, who is a toy designer? I recalled my post graduation days, when I was doing specialization in Toy design. Everyone thought it would be like making soft toys. It took long for me to explain that a toy designer does not make only soft toys or toys for babies. There is much more to explore, when we use the word TOY.

Apart from sewing soft toys, a toy designer works with many materials – wood, plastic, metal, rubber, bamboo, steel, paper and natural materials (like weeds, leaves, flowers) etc. If the material possibilities are not limited, then how the possibilities of areas could be?
It could be designing toys for sports, fun and education, special children, for teenagers, for adults (Sex toys!), toys for corporate (team building etc), stress busters, meditation and exercises, and even toys for old age people.

It could be anything from a social initiative to a fun filled activity to source of money.
And mind it designing a good toy is far more difficult than designing consumer goods. Money once spent on a gadget will not make you throw it even without using it. But if a toy is not attractive and not able to capture the attention of child; s/he might not play with at all.

Why there is URGENT need.
In early 2009, a lawsuit was filed by Consumer welfare of India on the basis of finding lead (and occurrence of Lead Poisoning*) in Chinese toys. India has banned the Chinese toy imports for six months. And as China was one of the major importers of toys this is going to provide Indian toy maker ample opportunities to take Indian toy industry at a different level. The global turnover of toy market was above $110 billion in year 2007 where China has 35,000 crore global market share where as India stands nowhere with 700 crore.
BUT China has grabbed 60 per cent of the domestic toy market. So are we ready? Can we grab this opportunity and show the world, our talent and skills to make these toys? It’s a difficult one. We have a Toy city in Greater Noida, we have many localized toy makers (Wooden toys from Uttarpradesh, Karnakta) but we need more conscious toys makers. Who takes this challenge and make toy more child’s friendly.

Let’s make a Toy Plan!
Being a country with a lot of diversities, we have a lot to offer when it comes to designing. One should just target one area from making toys for edutainment to fun to ecological and the possible ideas will come out by own.

Use of recyclable material, natural colors and more eco-conscious will not make a toy buyer happy but also keep a child healthier and happier.
There is one such cool example of greener toy- Fastronauts – Powered by Play

After all, what fun is a toy if you can’t play with it?

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.

Diwali Dash.

The most important and the most delightful festival of India is Deepavali or Diwali. I am not writing the story behind it, that is available here.
This festival is celebrated for 5 days, where 3rd day is the main festival but the preparation and celebration of it started much earlier.
And if you live in a joint family or the kids are at home, it’s more of a fun activity to put lights and making sweets.

This year Diwali is on 28th oct. and we all have been busy getting geared up for Diwali. In New Delhi, many Diwali fairs are already on, including my all time favorite fair- Diwali mela at Blind School, near Oberoi Hotel, New Delhi. Many schools and residential societies too have variations of the fair. The stress is really on having a fun and good time spending money rather than earning money by putting food / handicraft/ dress/ Candle or chocolates stalls.

It is interesting to check the list of stuff people are buying this Diwali to decorate one’s home.

I have a cool list starting from:
Decorative Diyas: Just go for earthen or bamboo diyas- its green, its cool.
Rangoli- Buy ground white powder and colors or also go for flowers. I also have sticking sticker one.
Vase – Buy some glass vase, you can use it to put candle/ diya.
Platter- From a range of wooden to glass to steel and variable sizes, you can pick what you like and for what you need. Like for putting dry fruits, sweets & Namkeen.
Planter- How could you miss those cute little plants with interesting planter made of terracotta.
Ganesh Laxmi- depends on your budget from terracotta to silver.
And lights- those small LED lights to hang on outer walls & balconies.

And yes celebrate a cracker-less Diwali to keep the place pollution (noise and smoke) free.

Wish you a very happy & prosperous Diwali. 🙂

Chal Chalein Himachal (Lets go to Himachal)

After having a hard time at work, a break is very important. Not only does it help unwind, it also gives exposure to other parts of the country. We also took a similar break, from the heat of Delhi to the cool weather of Himachal.
Manali, Himachal pradesh, India
Manali-Abode of Manu (Manu, who recreated the human) in Himachal Pradesh, India. This town also has a way to Ladakh via Rohtang Pass. It’s a peaceful place famous for apple orchard and woolen shawls and nice cool excursions.

We started our journey from New Delhi National Highway -21 via Panipat, Chandigarh and Kullu. Taking a Volvo bus has advantages as you could relax in the night, and you would be somewhere in Himachal when you wake up the next morning for having a cup of hot tea. You will reach the city shortly thereafter.
Temples, manali
Shooting in temple

We reached Manali at 11am and after check-in to our hotel (Manali heights, which we found very good) took brunch and cab to see city attractions.
The local attractions, namely Club house, Tibetan Monasteries are just ok type. It is advisable to carry an extra pair of cloth, if you plan to go to Vashisht Hot water springs. Hadimba temple is nice specially for taking a walk around. It is apparently also famous amongst film-makers and we also witnessed shooting of a film when we were there. Manu temple in old Manali is also worth a check-out, to see old homes and walk down on narrow lanes.
Mountains and more

This place and its surroundings have loads to offer in terms of activities like para-gliding and skiing. Solang valley is a must-visit place, do indulge in paragliding other than good sightseeing. And if you are on a long trip, just keep half day time solely for this so that you can do this from greater heights (3-4 hours activity in total).
paragliding in Himachal
The road to Rohtang pass has lots of Nallas (or waterfalls) and you will like to stop there while driving on the broken narrow roads. Once you reach the destination, you can take a walk around, climb the snowy mountains or do skiing. Ginger tea and noodles is a good way to relax after a tiring walk. This place has small local shops for all these. Just beware of Kesar (saffron) and Kasturi seller, who will go all out to con you.
rohtang Pass, Himachal Pradesh
Rohtang Pass, Himachal Pradesh
When we visited, snow was there but not enough to really excite you (particularly if you have seen snow before). But it was more of wholesome experience, the journey that made it interesting.
On the way back, some dynamites were kept to clean up the road and our cab stopped right before that, so that way it was bit real adventurous. While coming down, we stopped at Mandi (which is a small village) and saw sunset.

And yes, before I forget to mention, I must advise you on keeping one day just to explore market and have lazy lunch at Johnson café or Casa Vella café. Both these places are highly recommended to have good food.


Point to keep in mind- don’t buy Chingu (kind of quilt but it is all a fraud) though the locals have pretty interesting story about the same, don’t buy saffron (you can’t get 15gm for Rs. 100 anyway).
Carry enough cash- there are just 2-3 ATMs and they hardly work.
Wake up early- go for walk, have nice food with tea/coffee, do activities- there are many options (trekking, rafting, paragliding, skiing etc)
flowers, Himachal Woman
And yes, don’t forget to carry woolen clothes. It’s cold there in any season.

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.

Start acting. Save earth.

It was World Environment Day on 5th June.

So what special you did, forget about the other day through Every day is earth day.

Did you grow some plants? Save water by not wasting while bathing or cleaning cloths and took a bicycle to go to nearby place and pooled car with office colleagues.
Few simple things can make our earth SIMPLER.

I am not asking about what children will see in future but I am saying what WE will have in present even.
Fuel prices are going high, cooking gas price and electricity bill increasing. Do we really need Air conditioner life every time we step in (home/ office) and step out (Car). So many small things can make big difference.
Think and act. Time is now.

Please take care!

And here, my take on artificially created environment for animal’s survival.

Do we really need a showcase or a real show window to save our earth

Man must feel the earth to know himself and recognize his values…. God made life simple. It is man who complicates it.

Please Take care!

Where were thou.

Ages, yes ages back I used to be a blogger.
Now if I look back I won’t find any blog post of mine written in the past few months. All the words got lost in the busy-ness of day to day life. I would like to mention that because of the database corruption in early 2008, I lost all my blog posts & comments; I tried to retrieve it but those precious comments are still missing.
Life was exhausting yet exciting in those days.

But change is inevitable, and professionally and personally changes happened with me too. Best was my wedding! Knowing someone and then growing old with that one. Ahh. A strange feeling if one thinks on same. Many questions come in wandering mind. But soul mates are made for each other so they don’t grow old with the passing years instead they live the moments as it come.
And to me, he is the one whom I can believe when I don’t want to. He is not always good but he is what he is; a great listener, sensible talker and brilliant mind with a tender heart whom I would cherish throughout life.
After all He is my soul mate.

So back to blogging; I will try to be active. Infact I was reading/skimming all my favorite blog in past. But now I will blog more frequently. At least, I hope so 🙂