Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Love Story with a difference

A positive love story

By Darshana Shukul

As a journalist, we are always in search for unique stories. And it is sheer luck when we come across people and stories that create the ripple effect. Covering NGO beat I met this affectionate, smiling and spirited lady Mansi Shah (name changed) who was a founding member of  AP+ society, an association of people living with AIDS and HIV. I thought she must be one of those patients battling with HIV with a smile and purpose. What surprised me was that I was going to witness a rare love story where she was a heroine and her hero sure deserves a standing ovation.

Masi was happily married. But her marriage changed her life for the worse. Within a year she contracted the HIV virus from her husband. What she did not know was her husband was already HIV positive and was in the last stage. Her husband eventually succumbed to the virus and left Masi to handle the deadly virus and uncooperative in-laws.

She was forced to move back to her mother’s place where she began to rebuild her life and spirit. Mansi took up a job and in the process came in ‘contact with volunteers of voluntary counseling and training at SSG Hospital. Mansi came in contact with other HIV-infected persons and they formed the AP+ society, an association of people living with AIDS and HIV.

Life, will they say there is the sunshine,after a dark night, Mans’s life too was going to change for better. She ended up meeting a long lost friend whom she met for matrimony nine years ago. Raju (name changed) was happy to reconnect with Mansi and both of them ended up reviving their friendship. Soon Raju started falling for Mansi and ended up enrolling in an English speaking class near her house. And eventually, he proposed her for marriage.

Masi refused his proposal and explained that she was HIV positive and there is no point in thinking on those lines. Raju did not give up and succeeded in convincing Mansi to marry him. Even her in-laws were happy to welcome her with open arms and mind. When Mansi had asked Raju why is he taking the such a big risk, to which he replied, “ If we met after so many years, then there is a purpose. We could not marry each other then. But now that I am getting a second chance to be with you, I just cannot let you walk away.”

In today’s time, when love has become so commercial, superficial and hallow, such love stories reaffirm your trust in love and companionship. Mansi was all set to end her life, but it was Raju, who came as a ray of hope and magically transformed  her life. Her life, not only inspires, but also makes love divine and beautiful. It would be apt to say that when love blesses, life shines brighter than the sunshine.
 This post was written for the 'The first real love story I watched unfold' blogging contest by http://www.bonobology.com/ and http://writersmelon.com/a

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

You will be missed sir – en era of academic brilliance ends with your sad demise

My message, especially to young people is to have courage to think differently, courage to invent, to travel the unexplored path, courage to discover the impossible and to conquer the problems and succeed. These are great qualities that they must work towards. This is my message to the young people.” - Dr APJ Abdul Kalam 

You will be missed sir – en era of academic brilliance ends with your sad demise

In this world of glamour, overhyped publicity and larger than life stature that people maintain, you remained aloof and untouched with this make-believe world. Where people with fake smile and below average talent rose to become ‘celebrity’, you with your supercomputer brains and knowledge bank became our much loved ‘President’.

There is not one person in India and abroad who would not have wept after hearing your demise. Dr

APJ Abdul Kalam you will continue to be our shining star and blazing sunshine. You have indeed left an indelible mark in the lives of millions of people across the world. A man so simple, modest and ever smiling, Kalam sir those of whom had the privilege of meeting you are lucky souls. In some way your aura might have rubbed on them too.

Your intellect, humility and calm demeanor don’t just inspire but motivate us to strive to become like you. The unconditional love and respect you held for education has been highlighted in all your speeches and interviews. In the time that you spent on earth you might not have spent one second in despair or anguish. Each second you sowed the seed of positivity, enthusiasm and encouragement in the young minds of the nation.

The world owes you a lot. It is not just the contribution you have made to the world of science and technology that makes each of indebted. But the gift and gumption that you have given to each of us - to dream, to ignite the power within and to dare to work towards attainting higher goals.

I wish we all can imbibe even one percent of what you were. I wish we burn the lamp within us and work towards enlightening the world with your thoughts and belief. I wish we worship you and offer our efforts in helping to build India 2020.

May our souls reverberate to your tunes and teachings.....

We love you and will keep doing so......

Sunday, July 26, 2015

For a Perfect Sunday Lunch

For a Perfect Sunday Lunch
The rains finally made their presence felt in Delhi. It was as if god finally decided to answer our prayers and sent the rains over on a Saturday evening. The surprise monsoon spell set the mood to make a perfect Sunday lunch. So I and my daughter-in-law decided to prepare our signature dish – Dal & Bafala along with some crunchy salad and plain rice. So here goes the healthy recipe for all those who wish to make Sunday’s lunch an affair to remember.

This one is the main dish and so care must be taken to make the dough properly. Follow the steps to make perfect dough.

  • Four cup wheat flour
  • One cup suji
  • One tablespoon salt to taste
  • Three tablespoon oil or ghee (prefer to use olive oil in keeping the health factor)
Preparing the dough
Mix all the given ingredients mentioned above using warm water. Ensure when you knead the dough, it is hard and mixed well. Then leave the dough for 15 minutes in the vessel with a slightly wet muslin cloth.

After 15 minutes or so just run a hand over the dough and even it out. Then divide the dough in small equal portion in the form of small balls. Once all the balls are ready just flatten them a bit and pinch a hole in the middle of the flattened ball.

Boil some water in the meantime. Once the water is boiled and you see steam coming out place a strainer on top of the vessel. Then place the entire rolled out ball on the surface of the strainer. Steam them for 10-20 minutes till the bafala look well cooked. To get an idea just use a toothpick to check if they are cooked.

While these bafala are steamed, pre-heat the microwave at 180 degree for about 10 minutes. Then get the baking try, apply olive oil on the surface and keep the bafala on it. Brush some olive oil on the surface of the bafala before keeping the tray in the convention oven.

Keep the tray in the oven to bake for about 10 minutes. Once you see the surface turning crisp red and glazed, it indicates that the bafal are properly cooked and ready to serve.

For accompanying Dal
Buy the mixed dal packet from the department store. Soak them in water for about 15 minutes in normal water. Till the dal is soaked, make a nice tomato gravy for it. Just pressure cook the dal to ensure it is properly boiled and ready for preparation.
Ingredients for gravy
  • Two tomatoes
  • Some ginger shreds
  • Black pepper
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • Small cinnamon strip
  • One cardamom
Preparing the gravy
Mix all the above listed ingredients in a mixer grinder and make a paste of it. Add a little water while grinding it.

Then take a pan, add some oil or ghee and pour the tomato puree in it. Let it cook properly till the oil begins to appear on the surface. Then add boiled mix dal into it and all the masala that include red chilli powder, turmeric powder, coriander powder and a pinch of garm masala as well as salt as per the taste. Let the dal shimmer and pressure cook it for about 5 minutes.

For the crunchy salad

Check your refrigerator cabinet and see what all fruits you have. I had fresh kiwi, green apple, pomegranate, tomato and a small onion. Cut all of them in thin slices or as you want, then mix them in a bowl and squeeze in a lemon and some salt.  

 Try this simple, healthy and tasty dish and let us know how your experience in preparing and devouring it was. A little piece of information, this legendary Dal & Bafala dish belongs to Malwa region in the area of Indore, Ujjain and Ratlam. 

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Mommies go shopping at Jabong.com

I recently celebrated my daughter’s first birthday at a hill station near Nanital. In the excitement to travel I forgot to buy gift from my little one, and a surprise mail from Jabong.com made me smile and there my worries vanished in thin air. A gift coupon of Rs 1000 was waiting for me to claim and I was overjoyed. Thanking the team at Jabong.com I went ahead and checked out kid’s collection on the shopping site.

Usually sceptical on buying stuff online, the chance to shop for my little princess made me go for this online shopping stint. I was given three brands to choose from that included fashion labels like Zucchini, Evolve and Gini & Jony.  Having purchased cloths from Gini & Jony I wanted to try out the other two brands.

My journey began as I logged in at www.jabong.com and once in the kid’s corner I was easily able to browse through the entire range of Evolve and Zucchini brands. The collection for both girls and boys was fairly good. One has to spend some good time checking out the entire range. In my case it was a one year old girl, so I ended up liking stuff displayed in the Zucchini brand. Like a little child I went on hopping from one t-shirt to another. Do check out those refreshing frocks showcased on the online shelf, I plan to buy one once my daughter begins to walk.

For those who are not aware about Zucchini brand, let me give you an overview. Zucchini is to go brand for your smart kid. With a motto of discovering new fashion with trendy and stylish dressing the brand showcases the same in its collection. Get an eclectic mix of trendy Tees, stylish bottoms, printed dresses and smart shirts. Choose from brighter yellows, creamy whites, cleaner greys, sea blues, rosy reds and cheeky pinks colour pallet.  

Mothers who always want to dress their kid with the trendiest brand of cloths then this is one label to check out for sure. The designer of this wonderful collection believes that Zucchini kid has a mind of their own and expresses themselves through the smart collection. Those of you who still have not checked out this brand can do so by going on this link -http://www.jabong.com/zucchini/ .

Once there mothers can apply filters and check out those stuff they would want to buy. For me I had a wonderful time browsing almost all the things displayed by Zucchini. One reason for picking this brand was the there is a lyrical feel to the name of the brand and being a music lover it was easy to relate to it.

But when it comes to shopping there are no limits, try out other brand like Evolve and Gini & Jony too.

Now let me share with you my buying experience. Buying from Jabong.com was as easy as fixing a cup of tea for yourself. Just go to the virtual online shopping store www.jabong.com and select the kid’s category. There is a Jabong app that is easy and free to download from the site or Google play store. Then look for various brands, discounts if any and then hit the buy button.

When I went about shopping on Jabong.com I ended up browsing a lot many brands before selecting Zucchini. I ended up buying two really cool girly t-shirts and a woollen frock (keeping in mind Delhi’s winter’s). My shopping kart was ready and all I had to do was enter the coupon code and there you have your goody bag ready to be delivered.

Once the shopping process is complete, the buyer will receive a SMS and an e-mail from the Jabong team as a confirmation message. This will also include the date at which the stuff will be delivered. In my case I got the package two days earlier. So this felt really nice and I was impressed with the prompt service.  Even the products were properly packed, ensuring there is no damage in transit.

Now the crucial aspect was to check the quality of cloths delivered. I knew that I made a smart online shopping. The validation came from my mother-in-law who touched the fabric of the t-shirt and said ‘This one is good quality cotton and the kid is going to be comfortable in it. Even the woollen frock is very nicely designed and the wool is soft so it won’t be harsh on the kid’s skin.’ I had this huge smile on my face and was really a happy and satisfied customer.

So all Mummies and Daddies dearest if you haven’t shopped at Jabong.com, then do so now. There are some really awesome brands and deals waiting to be explored and shopped. Happy Shopping Parents!

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Pamper your taste buds to fight depression with these 10 yummy treats

The word ‘Depression’ has become one of the biggest enemies in today’s life. As per Centre for Disease Control, 1 in every 5 person in America is battling depression. Worldwide people are facing this problem owing to stressed professional life, sedentary lifestyles and nearly absent personal life. In fact in 2004 British Journal of Psychology came out with a startling finding that placed depression as the 4th leading cause of disability (this is in context of disability to perform tasks at personal and professional levels).

This psychological problem is like that evil Joker in ‘Batman series’. A sadist that is slowly killing the person each day where one tends to lose interest in life, work, food and most importantly sex. The clinical depression as health experts’ state is the worst form of depression that lasts longer with the patient’s ending up as silent spectator with no reaction. One tends to remain lonely and hates being part of social circles, it is like locking oneself from the entire world. There are no reasons to be happy and all that one does is cry in despair.

But it is time to see the brighter side of depression. Hold your breath as there is one thing that people suffering from depression tend to ignore ‘Food therapy’. Yes this very evil can be fought with a smile by devouring some really good stuff. Instead of popping pills and spending hours crying or lying on the bed, get ready to treat yourself. Forget the weight gain problem, just learn to be happy by eating some really mouth watering dishes to kick the depression away.

So here is a wish list that you got to fulfill and smile your way out of depression by eating the best food available in town. Health expert feel that it is important to eat right and spread the meal five or six times in a day instead of one heavy meal.  Here goes the list that promises to make you happy and gay (pun intended):

1.       Turkey is the way
Time to ring in those Christmas celebration once again, Turkey is one dish devoured during this festival. Those of you who seriously want to kill those depressive strands from the mind; they should eat Turkey more often which is rich in tryptophan source. This particular chemical works to stimulate serotonin creation which is regarded as a natural ‘feel-good-chemical’ produced by the body. So invite friends at home or head to the nearby restaurants to enjoy your share of ‘feel-good-food’. Turkey has what is said ‘happy hormones’.

2.       Fish and fatty it should be
Those of you who love seafood should dig into it more often since fatty fishes help in combating depression. It is one of those foods that elevate mood and send happy signals to the brain. Fish is the one of the richest source for omega-3 fatty acids that has abundant brain enhancing capabilities and is also good for the entire health of the body as well. Devour wild salmon, tuna, bluefish and mackerel to help in improving blood circulation and reducing inflammation, ensuring that you don’t suffer from any heart problems. Enjoy fish and chips to ward off those depressive pangs and keep the heart healthy and happy.  Have just two serving per week else it might lead to some other problem.

3.       Be on a Low-Fat Dairy diet
Did you know that low fat milk, yogurt, cheese and other dairy products have unique peptides (proteins) that can offer relaxation of senses and induce a feeling of well-being in the mind? Well if this piece of information was not known to you then better start making use of this to counter depression. Enjoy a chilled glass of low fat milk or a low fat cheese sandwich to feel good and fight gloominess with a power packed dairy diet.

4.       Dig in those dark chocolate bars
       This bit of information is sure to bring a smile on the face. You might wonder that can    something as good as chocolate act as a tool to deal with depression. Well the good news is that dark variant of chocolate are considered to be a mood booster. When one takes a bite of dark chocolate, the body release the chemical serotonin that works its way to relax the blood vessels of the cardiovascular structure in the body. It is said that with higher percentage of coco is better as chocolate contains endorphins along with serotonin which give signal to the brain of feeling joyous. Take a bite to feel relaxed and out of that dejected feeling inside the head. The higher

5.       Green tea to greener mind
Green tea is a rage these days as it is consumed to build stronger immunity and to lose those extra kilos. A nicely brewed tea (green) does wonders by sending positive stimulants to mind thereby nurturing a relaxing feeling in the mind. Tea is rich in flavonoids and it helps in improving mental health and dealing with depression and anxiety by just sipping on to this concoction every day. Researchers have stated that green tea is an extremely rich source of antioxidants, but the other fact is that it has depression-fighting properties can be traced to amino acid known as theanine. This theanine has stress relieving attributes that offer relaxation feeling to those who consume green tea.

6.       Citrus fruits magical twist
Fruits such as oranges, grapefruits or lemons should be included in the diet to deal with depressive traits. These citrus fruits are rich source of flavonoids which are also referred to as antioxidants are great way of chucking those depression signs. As per a study that China completed in 2005, it stated that flavonoids can inhibit the symptoms of mild depression.

7.       Include brown rice and potatoes
If you are suffering from depression then chuck that junk and processed food as refined food is linked to depression as per a study conducted by University College London in the year 2009. It showed that having brown rice is good as post consumption glucose is slowly released in the body, leasing to relaxed state of mind. Rich in Vitamin B and essential folic acid brown rice and potatoes are healthy way of dealing with this mind related issue.

8.       Go green with your diet plan
Green vegetables like broccoli, spinach, asparagus, lettuce and Brussels are good source of vitamins that help in fighting depression. Even avocados, mushrooms, green peppers and pumpkins are known to be amazing source for vitamin B and folic acid. A diet rich in green colour will help in keeping the depression at bay.

9.       Meat rich diet
Often iron deficiency leads to depression and the best way to deal with it to eat meat or include it in your diet. It is better than popping pills. Meat as it is widely known that it is a rich source of iron and should be consumed in healthy way by prepare by reducing the carcinogens levels. Other vegetarian source are that are rich in iron are green leafy vegetables, kale, legumes and quinoa. Meat in any form is good but should be cooked in healthy way using olive oil which is again is a known to help patients suffering from depression.

10.   Go for fibre rich whole grain food
When one talks about food that help in dealing with depression then whole grain food that are of high fibre carbohydrates that does good to the entire body. These are food contain complex carbohydrates that are known to do wonders in enhancing mood swiftly and improves the set of mind too. Plan the diet in order to ensure that you consume oatmeal and whole grains stuff (food like biscuits and breads) to pasta (whole wheat variety) that will help in maintaining a good mental balance.

The above list of magical food list is a double edged sword as at one end you deal with depression in a healthy way and on the other side; you end up with a leaner body. With a changed diet aimed at improving the mind, it can also have constructive impact on the overall health of the body.

Sometimes small changes in lifestyle can turn life into a better venture. For something as common and deadly as depression it is best to adopt a healthy diet plan that is rich in vitamins and minerals needed to deal with signs of depression and other health problems. Eating good food is the key to dealing with any problem. 

Apart from the food therapy doctors and health experts would recommend patients to be in a group of friends or people who make them feel good and positive about themselves. It is important to socialize to be able to overcome the dark shadows of depression. Music too helps in dealing with psychological problem as it aids in soothing away the tension and taking mind to a relaxed state. This ensures good sleep and better mood when one wakes up in the morning.  

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Dress to dazzle in best wedding gown

Back from lavish engagement party and already dreaming about the wedding gown. With wedding destination being Singapore, the event can only be a grand one with all fanfare and pomp. There will be confetti, wine, cakes and whole set of entertainment provided by best wedding planner in Singapore. The very thought of all the revelry brings a smile on the face. One that rules the mind is the wedding gown.
Most important factor
Ask a girl what is on her mind when she thinks of wedding and the reply will be the wedding dress. While make-up, accessories and other things come later, the first thing is to get affordable wedding gowns in Singapore. There are many wedding gown package offered by retail stores and online ones.
How to start the search
It is advisable to start looking for good stores at least six months before the wedding day. Search on the internet various wedding gown collection. Look for the designs, patterns and styles of each gown and see which one will suit your personality and budget.
If possible make a trip to the wedding destination and meet the store owners personally. Try getting some advice, try sample gowns and check fittings of each of the affordable wedding gowns in Singapore. See if it can be custom made within a certain time frame.
Speak to a designer
To get help from an expert on wedding gowns is a must for the to-be –bride. Fix an appointment with designers who offer affordable range. Tell them what you are looking for. Further they can help in selecting the design and material that suits best on you given height, weight and features.
Don’t forget the cocktail dress
While the wedding gown has to be decided with utmost care, you must keep in mind the post wedding events too. A nice cocktail dress is needed for the evening ball dance or get together where pleasantries would be exchanged over wine and cake followed by a musical gig. If you have hired best wedding planner in Singapore then it’s important to be dressed to perfection.
Keep the trail date in mind
So the wedding gown is finalised with all small little details. The test is when the trail session goes perfect. Don’t miss the trail date as the gown stitched might need some tweaking and fitted as per the latest size. Usually designers keep a little space for correction since the to-be-bride generally lose some weight by time they are getting married to look picture perfect.
Check on the deals
With gown selection being based on a pre-determined budget its best to check out online wedding gown package deals offered by stores across Singapore. There are discounts, coupons and exciting offers that are given to esteemed customers. Some even give gifts to the couples like a cosmetic gift hamper, free spa sessions to discounts on other services. Compare the price of the gown as well the deals and then opt for the best out of the whole lot

Ring in some tranquillity inspired by Zen elements

An eclectic blend of Japanese, Chinese and India interior ideas, Asia now inspires designers worldwide.
Asia is the flavour of the design and so are its lifestyle and pattern of homes and interiors. Today Asian designs are most sought after with interior designers highly impressed and inspired from the concept of Zen, Indian motifs and influences of China. It’s like creating this beautiful fusion of various Asian concepts to design homes that oozes comfort, class and serenity.
After long working hours you will want to come back to a home that offers some sort of blissful ambience. And Asian inspired bedrooms make for a perfect setting. 
Asian Themed Bedrooms
If the idea is to create tranquil, soothing and calm retiring bedroom play along with organic ideas. It’s about being modest and minimal reflecting ravishing room done tastefully.
 Here are some Asian concepts that have found wide acceptance:
  • Use of potted plants inside the bedroom as well as blinds made from bamboos to using rocks and stones to do up the room. It’s all about bringing a piece of nature inside the bedroom.
  • Adding a dash of oriental touch by having Buddha statues or popular Chinese vase to wind chimes will make way blissful interiors.
  • Follow the ancient practise of Feng Shui that promote balance and proper use of space as per Zin Zang criteria.
  • Go different with colour palates like tangy orange to bold pink to turquoise blue.
  • Give attention to lightings and opt for candles, paper lanterns and artistic installation lamps to wall hanging one with intricate design inspired by mythological buildings.
  • Use Indian motifs and icons depicting cultural flavour. This will bring certain ethnic touch to the room which will different from other contemporary styles.

It’s not just Asian food by now Asian inspired bedrooms are getting popular big time.