LOCK DOWN HONEYMOON…

Lockdown – Once in a lifetime happening – a la Honeymoon!

Never witnessed anything like this before even during wars, pandemic says my nearly 80-year-old mother.

en PM Narendra Modi asked citizens to remain indoors – a self-styled lockdown for Sunday – March 22, I was one of the first ones to tweet – What will happen with just one day’s lockdown that too on a Sunday? Little I had known that was just the trailer – the film is going to be nearly 3 months long, well almost!

This is how our new life began where there was no morning rush of jogging, gymming, exercising, instructing maids, cleaning cars, managing children, cracking heads what to wear today, rushing to catch the local, bus, dancing to clock’s needle…meetings, discussions, writing, editing withstanding. It seemed life had come to a standstill.

Now the worries had acquired a different dimension – no newspaper, just e-newspaper which we were not used to. When you read the newspaper, the family thinks you are acquiring knowledge, getting informed, when you read a newspaper on mobile you are wasting your time – new revelation. Now, the cleaning, mopping, dusting rigmarole followed by making breakfast, cooking lunch, planning dinner and to top it all – office work – which no one realised it was some work. Could never imagine a life without house help, watching movies, visiting family, friends, chit-chatting with building friends, train friends and most favourite – Shopping!

Life took a 180-degree spin for many who never knew what to do at home for 24 hours with the same set of people. But as you say – The show must go on! It started moving on!!

Amidst all this and more, the travelling time saved for work was a big boon, we had nearly five hours extra every day to ourselves, which family thought was for them!

Social Media became mother, father, brother, sister, teacher, mentor…all rolled into one telling you what all you can do during the lockdown and how technology can help you in staying connected. How you can conduct and attend meetings, yoga classes, painting classes, dance classes, cooking classes, motivational speaking, self – improvement, spiritual, religious, talks, dialogues, monologues, webinars …what not to keep you occupied.

For the first time, I realised that I can learn so many things online even at this age, though there is no age to learn. So much so that how to roll chapatis, how to knead the dough, how to mop the floor, how to surf channels, how to iron clothes, how to drape saree, except how to pass time.

Now another breed started emerging on social media who would post pictures of their activities right from leaving the bed to retiring on the bed. They are posting pictures of what they cooked for breakfast, what they will make for lunch, snacks, dinner beside their paintings, throwback photos, work-out sessions, beauty sessions, saree sessions, attending webinars, video calls of friends, family, gardening, view from their window, their children activity and what & what not to do during the lockdown.

fitness, home and diet concept – smiling teenage girl doing exercise on floor at home

So as soon as you reached out to phone early morning, you saw a friend working out for that hour-glass figure, and you were like OMG! The day started with a huge inferiority complex!!

Another hour passed and you see pictures of well-garnished well laid outspread with fresh fruits, juices, oats… other so-called organic (read: healthy) dishes in the name of breakfast. And here we gorged on our makhan wale aloo, mooli, gobi parathas. The pleasure of yummy parathas evaporated in a moment and you started brooding on eating such middle-class breakfast.

Now as the day progressed you watched people singing, dancing, writing, reading or pursuing upmarket hobbies. Again, you start cursing yourself for not doing any such activity. As the day moves towards the end you are enveloped with guilt, oh GOD I am not utilising my lockdown honeymoon like other privileged mortals.

There was gyaan all over – enjoy the time you have got to spend with your family! We have always been enjoying time with our family in spite of being so busy. But this statement gave us celebrity wali feeling!

Media made the most of this time by feeding us with innumerable & useless panels discussing some godforsaken topics. We had no choice but to watch these.

Now the webinars – the new kid on the block – became a fad, every Tom, Dick and Harry was doing webinars. If you are not doing or attending the webinar, you have no right to live in this lockdown.

My advice would be: Enjoy your lockdown, keep moving at your pace, in your style, nothing will happen if don’t pursue a hobby or don’t attend a webinar, dance, sing or paint. Life would be just as beautiful. You will have the satisfaction of leading a peaceful life in your own way without being under any pressure. You couldn’t have asked for more from this lockdown.

This is how I watched the lockdown – Covid19 from the periphery!

How I am spending my lockdown would feature in my next post.

 

 

 

The more you sweat in peace, the less you bleed in war!

Wondering why this quote today? There is no WAR, there is no PEACE, only CHAOS, CONFUSION & UNCERTAINTY.

Actually, I heard this phrase from my dear father who put it in the context of studies like if you study round the year, you would not have to slog during the exams. How apt it falls today when there is a war, well almost!

Indeed, one needs to prepare well for war in peace. You have to prepare, practise & perform round the year so that you bleed less when war happens or a war-like situation arises.

There is no war, but we are facing war like situation which is not fought by armies but every single individual living on this planet – COVID 19. These are trying times when we are overwhelmed with the annoying presence of unwanted guest in our lives. It has sent our world in a tizzy.

The organisations, institutions, business groups, individuals and celebrities who did good PR, maintained good relations with their stakeholders and communicated consistently are standing in good stead. We can’t say that as times are trying so we will stop all this and when times improve, we will restart. This is not going to work for anyone. You need to work during peace, to stay peaceful in war.

Hence, the role of PR becomes even more critical for enhancing the ‘Connectivity quotient’ as people are holed indoors and seeking information outdoors during Covid19.

To bridge the gap is the critical part of PR and Communications. Till now you have been talking to your target audience through Press- Releases, Media Communiques, Authored articles, product write-ups, product reviews what not!

Now, these have little relevance as people are under stress and are not receptive to such information. They need to be served information which is relevant to them during Covid19 while communicating the message which you want to send across.

Though content is the king, the medium is its chariot.

It is very important to look for mediums which can cater to the audience of the global village, where everyone is reaching out to each other through technology. You need to gauge the news you have coming up in the pipeline, which can be adapted to be more in tune with the issues.

The type of communication you deliver as a brand across your various channels needs to be sympathetic, compassionate, and sensitive to how people may be feeling during this difficult period.

Technology to take the lead not only in times of COVID19 but also in POST COVID19. The world would never be the same again…

It would be PRE COVID & POST COVID19 ERA.

In the post-Covid era, PR Mediums like Digital Newspaper editions, Digital Magazine editions, Digital Outreach through Blogs, E-Newsletters, E-Zines, Strong Social Media presence, Webinars, Thought Leadership, FB / Twitter Live / Regular articles/ reactions and News Website/organisation Website with chat lines would rule the roost. Traditional media would take the back seat as this war-like situation is not going to subside anytime soon.

So how can you achieve this?  

You can replace conventional PR with digital PR, where human angle/touch should hold the key. As we have noticed that conventional PR has limited audience vis-à-vis Digital PR which caters to the audience across the globe. There is a need to maintain a steady flow of information for which you can deploy new age media to connect with your target audience.

Another powerful tool which can send your message across in an effective manner is thought leadership. It would go a long way in establishing your brand as you can communicate through insightful articles, not necessarily about your brand.

You need to generate content which is compassionate and relevant with the time and with your audience.

Covid19 should not deter you from talking to your audience, you can use live video on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram to engage your audience. Take time to produce regular videos that will benefit your strategy in post Covid19 era as well.

Peace doesn’t teach us that much, which war or a war-like situation can teach. So, what we have learnt with the onslaught of global pandemic Covid19? Never say Never – Keep communication channels alive, Even this Shall Pass Away – Prepare for the good times ahead, Explore new technologies/ outreach methods, What did not work then, will work now, One size doesn’t fit all – Tailor your content, Draw insights from the past to develop a strategy for future, Accept the new normal – say work from home and connect with like-minded people for the way forward.

Post-Covid PR needs to be more digital-savvy and Social media would drive the two-way communication.

Keep sweating! Keep communicating!

 

 

 

Lock down and some unusual revelations!

Lockdown is quite a revelation in many respects like how to stay indoors, what to do indoors, what takes how much time and what is the deadly combo of “Work from Home and Work for home”. But for the first time closely observed swift movement of day & night, the cycle of 24 hrs. Was life always like this? Were days and nights moved in the same cycle? Or was there something amiss? 

I marvel, how time was passing then, hectic mornings, rush to office, the mad rush of work, train travel back and amidst all this, we were cooking, cleaning, reading…what not! We were attending functions, visiting friends and relatives, hanging out at malls, shopping sprees…now all this has come to a grinding halt.

Life is certainly more peaceful with its leisurely mornings, lavish lunches, evening tea with snacks with tea time tales along with some business-related work and some worthwhile dinner discussions.  Aren’t we enjoying this life when there is no pressure of dressing up, rush to catch 8:20 local, board a cab to office and to follow the official rigmarole! A repeat performance in the evening. Till now we never knew when mornings started, when the day ended! Everything happened in a jiffy!

It was time when we wanted to admire this soulful number from movie Mausam – Dil Dhoondhta Hai…

But I have noticed that many people are devoting time on their long-lost hobbies, exploring hidden talents, spending time with family and children, connecting with old friends, watching the news, Ramayana, Mahabharat, playing instruments and if not all these, picking up quarrels/ arguments with spouses!!

Some are blogging like me!!

Never knew when mornings started, when the day ended!

Everything happened in a jiffy! We were wrapping so much in a day!!

We need to question ourselves, are we ready to embrace that life again? Not me certainly.

There is an aura of positivity, though this is the most overused word today. Every other person teaching others to remain positive.  Still, all of us feel that we are enveloped in some kind of negativity. What will happen to our lives post-COVID? Which way we are heading to?

Some days productive, some Uff…

The scenario is owning to spread of COVID19 which forced nations world over to force lockdown to arrest community spread of the deadly virus which has claimed lakhs of lives world over and still counting…

Corona…please have mercy on us humans!

Please gracefully exit from our lives!!!

Work from HOME, Work for Home: Sita Aur Gita Style!

I heard this term “Work from Home” for the first time when I worked with Apna Paisa a Sequoia funded venture – the new-age start-up. This was the official term used for “Working from Home” where I was one of the privileged ones to avail “Work from Home” periodically. I loved this arrangement especially in monsoon, by avoiding clumsy travel and enjoy rains with tea and pakoras in the company of my laptop.

This motivated me to create a small work station in the living room from where I could watch nature in its full glory. This was many years ago but work station remains, I am superstitious that most great ideas for writing emerge from here. I would admit that I have done some great pieces from here and call it “Sinhasan Battissi” So whenever I needed to work on a stressful rather challenging assignment, I would tell my boss, Mr Harsh Roongta, WFH on SB. He would laugh it off…

Coming back to WFH – It’s not that I never did office work at home but it was charitable work, it was never accounted for. In the 90s it was unthinkable – not to go to the office at 9 AM. Going to the office was sacrosanct. It used to give us a different high altogether.

WFH returned in my life again after a gap of four years with a prestigious project in IIT Bombay where I anchored and edited a book – Energy Swaraj. Author Dr Chetan Singh Solanki gave me full freedom/flexibility to plan it all including – WFH. And I must admit that it turned out to be such a rewarding experience and Dr Solanki would acknowledge that with the result in the form of his book and blogs.

This time my approach was very disciplined: Work from 10:30 AM to 1:30 AM (Peak productive time, of course, domestic helps withstanding) followed by a course full meal, not tiffin, two-hour rest back at work around 4 with tea and snacks, till 7:30 followed by a two-hour break and then night shift. It worked well and this is how I realised the importance of WFH. It is a great way to exploit the potential of senior employees in the creative field who have the skillset and expertise but not the energy of fighting the crowds of Mumbai locals and official grind.

Now, WFH has proven to be the lifeline of the corporate world. I knew it will become something very big someday, but this way, never imagined. This time, it is not out of flexibility or a new corporate culture where you can be at home in office and vice versa while working for global companies, it is out of compulsion.

WFH is the new normal, trend favoured going forward ( WFH  resurfaced again in my life with me joining corporate sector briefly). This time we are holed up indoors, with no chance of meeting anyone, visiting friends or relatives, it’s just you, your family and laptop. The only difference being “You are working from home and Working for home” simultaneously. It is like playing the double role of 70s movie “Sita Aur Gita” – when the boss calls, you timidly say “Yes Sir / Maam, no problem, I will do it just now! With Jhaadu in one hand and mobile in the other, you don’t know which to bang first. When the husband calls for tea, you become Gita: Can’t you see the boss called, I have to finish that report. Prepare tea and give me too!

Life couldn’t have been busier than this! All domestic / household work – teamwork completely at a toss, cooking, dishes, washing, cleaning, attending phones – personal, official and then humongous office work. Then there are webinars/ FB Live Shows/ Hobby Classes and full-time FB and Twitter. Not to forget regular bantering by husband and children who think mummy/wife is at home to dole out dishes and dance to their tunes. This is when we take over the role of Geeta! Thanks, Sippy ji for giving us endearing Hema Malini ji as Sita and Gita, my all-time favourite.

WFH is the nectar from Covid19, let’s not let it become: Nectar in the sieve.

Let’s exploit its full potential Covid or no Covid.

 

 

Mera Naam Joker: My first window to the world of Films!

आज का दिन अविस्मरणीय … अत्यंत दुखद

आज मेरे प्रिये अभिनेता ऋषि कपूर जी ने इस दुनिया को अलविदा कह दिया
कभी सोचा नहीं था जिनसे मैं कभी मिली नहीं, देखा नहीं उनका जाना इतना बड़ा दर्द दे जायेगा

उनकी फिल्में मेरी ज़िन्दगी का अहम् हिस्सा रही हैं …शायद ही उनकी कोई फिल्म हो जो मैंने न देखि हो, वह भी पिक्चर हॉल्स में

उनकी फिल्मों का जो सिलसिला मेरा नाम जोकर के साथ शुरू हुआ वह आज तक कायम है.

मुझे याद आ रहा एक किस्सा जो में अप्पके साथ साजा करना चाहूंगी. मम्मी मुझे यह फिल्म अपनी सहेलियों और उनके बच्चों के साथ ले गयीं थीं.  मेरा नाम जोकर शायद जीवन की पहली फिल्म थी. बहुत छोटी होने के कारन मुझे फिल्म तो कुछ समझ नहीं आयी और फिल्म क्या होता है वह भी कुछ ख़ास समझ नहीं आया लेकिन भोपाल के पिक्चर हॉल में मैं अपनी मम्मी और उनकी सहेलियों से बिछड़ गयी. मैं अकेली नन्ही बच्ची ज़रूर घबराई पर मैं हिम्मत से अपनी मम्मी को ढूंढ़ने पर मझे नहीं मिली. इधर मम्मी और उनकी सहेलियों ने जब बस में देखा तो मझे न पाकर शोर मचाया. बस रुक गयी मम्मी गुड़िया गुड़िया ( मेरा प्यारा नाम) करके मुझे ढूंढने लगी. आज मैं समझ सकती हूँ उनकी हालत.

मैं ज़रा सी बच्ची इधर उधर भटकने के बाद, एक यूनिफार्म वाला पुलिस को देखा. मुझे लगा यह अंकल मेरी मम्मी को ढूंढ सकते हैं. मैंने उन्हें बताया की मेरी मम्मी भी मुझे ढूंढ रही होंगी और वह आएँगी. पुलिस वाले ने मुझे ऊपर दीवार पर मझे बिठा दिया जिस्सकी मम्मी मुझे देख सकें. थोड़ी देर बाद मैंने मम्मी और आंटी को अपनी तरफ आते देखा. फिर मैं पुलिस अंकल को बाई करके अपनी मम्मी के साथ हो ली. पुलिस वाले ने मम्मी से कहा आपकी बिटिया बहुत समझदार है! मम्मी का अब तक रो रो के बुरा हाल हो चूका था.

मम्मी आज भी इस किस्से को याद करके दर जाती हैं…और मैं …

तो चिंटू जी यह था जीवन की मेरी फिल्म और आपकी पहली फिल्म का आमना सामना

मेरा आपके व्यक्तित्व एक्टिंग करिज्मा स्टारडम के प्रति लगाव सर्व विदित है. आपने ही पहली फिल्म से मुझे फिल्म का साक्षात् कार कराया…यह सिलसिला थमा नहीं …

बॉबी पिक्चर की कहानी भी इसी का हिस्सा रहेगी

आप बहुत याद आएंगे!

Dekh tere sansar ki haalat kya ho gayi bhagwan?

देख तेरे संसार की हालत क्या हो गयी भगवान

आज जब पूरा विश्व कोरोना संक्रमण से ग्रसित है, सब पूछ रहे हैं की मैं क्यों कुछ नहीं लिख रही.

क्या लिखूं सब तरफ कोरोना का ही रोना है. ह्रदय विदारक दृश्य हैं . न्यू यॉर्क देखो, इटली देखो, स्पेन देखो, ब्रिटैन देखो और भारत तो देखो ही देखो.

घंटो के अंतराल से कोरोना फैलता जा रहा है. बहुत सी बातें बोहोतो की समझ के परे हैं.

वायरस क्या है? कहाँ से आया? कौन लाया? कैसे फैला? कैसे इतना विनाशकर बन गया?

इन सब विषयों पर अभी तक चर्चा जारी है. चारो और होड़ है, मुझे जो पता है वही सत्य है, वही सही है.

एक छोटे से जीवाणु ने बड़े बड़ों को धरा शाही कर दिया. देखा दिया कभी किसी को काम मत समझो.

जो यूरोप, अमेरिका, ब्रिटैन अपनी प्रगति की धाप जमाते नहीं थकते थे आज उसी टेक्नोलॉजी के आगे घुटने टेक चुके है. बेसिक गिनती गिनने पे मजबूर हैं वह अपने देश के मृतक देशवासियों की.

क्या इससे बड़ी कोई विडम्बना हो सकती है?

समय चक्र बड़ी तेज़ी से घूमा है.

जब लंदन, टोरंटो, पेरिस देखा तब सोचा के हम कितने पिछड़े हैं. यहाँ के लोग कितने मज़े में हैं. हर तरफ सुख सुविधाओं का अम्बार, एक बटन पर सब हाज़िर, कितनी सरकारी सुविधाएँ. मैंने सोचा हम तो इनसे १०० बरस पीछे हैं.

एक गुजराती परिवार में विवाह होने पर पहली बार पता चला की अमेरिका का स्थान उनके दिलों में भगवान् से ऊँचा है. हर परिवार में से एक बच्चा अमेरिका लंदन या टोरंटो में हैं. उनकी बड़ी शान है …और जो यहाँ है चाहे वह जो भी हों – ला हॉल बिला कुवत. लानत है उनपर. उनके लिए भारत वर्ष में कुछ नहीं, आप आईएएस हों, डॉक्टर हों, मीडिया में हों, एडिटर हों, इंजीनियर हों, टीचर हों, कोई भी हस्ती हों

लेकिन अमेरिका के डॉलर के आगे कुछ भी नहीं,

यह कुछ परिवारों की कहानी नहीं, अनेक गुजराती परिवारों की गाथा है.

अमेरिका के प्रति प्रेम की अंतहीन सीमा, शायद अब कुछ जाग्रति आये. हिंदुस्तान की हस्ती समझ में आये.

जो डॉलर नहीं कमाता उसका जीवन व्यर्थ है.

सारा परिवार दिन रात इसी आशा में जीता की कब अमेरिका की फाइल खुलेगी और हम अमेरिका जायेंगे. वीसा के लिए जाना एक त्यौहार के सामान था, और वीसा रिजेक्ट होना मातम.

खैर कौन गया, कौन रहा, कौन ऊपर गया, कौन अब भी इसी आस में जी रहा था, की कोरोना ने ऐना दिखा दिया. मुझ अकेले ने इतने वर्ष समझाया की – अपना घर फिर अपना घर है पर समझ नहीं आया.

आज देख लिया उनके लिए व्यापार सबकुछ हमारे लिए इंसान सब कुछ.

कुछ कड़वी सच्चाई: भारत में रह रहें ७००० अमेरिकी में से सिर्फ ८ अमेरिका जाना चाहते क्यूंकि पता है भारत सेफ है, यहाँ की मेडिकल केयर में इंसानियत है, डॉक्टर्स, नर्सेज भगवान का रूप है, मोदीजी को हर जान की कीमत है.

जिस मेक्सिको से इललीगल माइग्रेशन रोकने के लिए दीवार बनाई थी आज वहीँ अमेरिकन वहां इल्लिगल्ली माइग्रेट हो रहें हैं.

आज भारत का ज्ञान, ध्यान, संस्कृत, दर्शन ही एक मात्र सहारा लग रहा है. इस जीवाणु को मारने में हल्दी, तुलसी, आवला, हॉट वाटर, साफ़ सफाई,  भगवान का नाम ही कारगर हैं. अब कोई दवा काम करती नहीं लग रही है.

और तो और विषमता देखिये – जानवर हमारे बनाये रास्तों पर, बढ़िया टेक्नोलॉजी वाली सड़कों पर, गलियारों पर, हमारे आँगन में बेखौफ घूम रहें हैं और हम पिंजरों में बंद हैं. कब तक कोई नहीं बता सकता.

कोरोना चीन के वहां शहर से आया वायरस है जिस पर उन्होंने काबू प् लिया है. आज जब सारा संसार मूक द्रष्टा बना हुआ है इस महामारी कई बड़े बड़े देश इस ज़्याददति पर आवाज़ नहीं उठा प् रहे है. मौत का तांडव देख रहें हैं, कितनी तस्वीरें ह्रदय विदारक हैं.

शेक्सपियर की पंक्तयों से अंत करना चाहूंगी: A man with a sword perishes with a sword

Please watch this lovely song…

 

Shri Thal, Jaipur: A great place of everything Rajasthani, fun, food, peace, ambiance, music, hospitality!

Amidst all these stressful times when there are talks of Covid19 all over, round the clock, it is difficult to keep yourself aloof from the surroundings. We are confined at home 24×7 for many days, which for people like me who like to talk, host tea, lunches, dinners and most importantly taking morning and evening walks are feeling the heat beyond measure. Travel is out of the question, don’t know till when.

Hence, I decided to share with you the wonderful evening with my cousin Aarti and her husband Mohit in Jaipur. When I expressed the desire of eating daal, baati, choorma, she planned this outing for me. I fully trusted them for their choice and voila! What a choice it turned out to be!! It became a memorable evening!!!

Around 8 PM on 25th January we reached Shri Thal which looked to me mini chowki dhaani. Incidentally, the place belongs to Aarti’s good friend Ms Nidhi Upadhyay, a first-generation women entrepreneur with many prestigious awards in her thaali. We were accorded a very warm and traditional welcome at Shri Thal with their service staff. The seating arrangement was informal – Moodhas and Manjis and we were served raab as a welcome drink.

Shri Thal Village Restaurant, Jaipur is a Rajasthani Village in the City. This concept & idea of Village Theme Restaurant in the City came to Mrs. Nidhi Upadhyay’s (Managing Director – Shri Thal Village) mind looking at the busy lifestyle of Jaipurites, where it is practically not possible to get out of the city to experience the village ambience. For them, Shri Thal Village is an ideal place to enjoy ethnic Rajasthani Food, Village games & fun etc. The Restaurant is located on Queens Road in Vaishali Nagar, which is in the heart of Jaipur accessible from anywhere within 15-20 minutes of drive.

So, something about the ambience, it has a mini fort-like façade and a huge entrance door with a mud wall village structure with traditional mandana painted all over the walls, dry grass clad huts, water bodies & fountains. It is lit up in the night lit up with traditional lamps & village statues.  It has Entrance Munim (Cashier) Counter Hut, Gaming Zone Huts for Shooting the Baloon, Ring Game, Chai Ki Thadi etc. There are 3 dining halls named after Rajasthani Folk Dances as Ghumar, Ghorbandh and Panihari.

What to say of Rajasthani cuisine meticulously designed by Nidhi herself who is a culinary expert and a passionate food presenter which included Jaipuri Aloo Pyaz ki Subzi & Dal Panchmel, Bikaneri Papad Mangdi, Jodhpuri Gatte, Traditional Dal Bati Churma, Bajri ka Khichda, Rajasthani Kadhi, 2 Types of Chutneys (Coriander & Garlic), Snacks like Moong Dal Kachori, Kofta, Mini Samosa, Jalebi, Rabdi Malpua etc. Wow! I was confused to the core, what to eat, what not to eat. Aarti helped me with that, I had a great time relishing food and hospitality of the people there.

I and Aarti danced to the beats of Dhol and some other traditional instruments, watched Kathputli dance sitting on Manji with childlike enthusiasm. It was an evening, where my mind was empty and heart full…there is so much to be enjoyed, which we waste in unnecessary complications of life.

No wonder, Nidhi Upadhyay has been awarded “Corporate Diva Award” by FM Tadka – Rajasthan Patrika Group for Shri Thal Village Concept in an award ceremony at the Hotel Marriott, Jaipur.

idhi came to Jaipur after 14 years of marriage from Jodhpur, originally belonging to Kota. During these years she received many job offers from hotels & schools, as word had spread about her talent for cooking, but she could not take it up due to home priorities. But as kids had grown up, thus her husband Ajay, who had been admiring her talent all through, thought of opening a restaurant for Nidhi in Jaipur by the name of Shri Thaal Village. It was gifted to her on her 14th wedding anniversary i.e. 9th May 2011.

What a tribute from a loving husband for her talented wife!

Way to go Nidhi!!

If you are in Jaipur, mark it in your itinerary.

 

From ‘Mature’ look of 80s to ‘Youthful’ look of 2020! From Rs. 85 to Rs. 850 & near three decades!

Circa 2020, March 15, Place: Nahar’s Amrit Shakti,

Location: Chandivali, Mumbai, Activity Point: Shivas Salon  

Nahar’s Amrit Shakti is a sprawling integrated township developed by renowned Nahar Group in Chandivali, which was once a quaint village near Powai. Today is it is buzzing with enormous activity and home to over 4000 lifestyles loving Mumbaikars and NRIs.

More on the township in some other post, but what transpired there brought me some vivid memories of the day when I had joined my first job in BHEL in the late 80s.

The Club-House in NAS – Nahar’s Nectarfield deserves special mention owing to its excellent amenities catering to sports and fitness enthusiasts, children, Senior Citizens and family. The club has a swimming pool, kids play area, basketball, tennis, squash, banquet, executive rooms and Shiva’s Salon…

After finishing the round of the inimitable clubhouse, I decided to get a hair-cut at Shiva’s Salon, which was long overdue. Shiva’s is a celebrity Spa and Saloon and is home to many celebrities when it comes to hairstyling and other such needs. I would be sharing the picture of the wall featuring celebrities who are their client. Excitedly, I entered the Salon, welcomed by friendly and smiling Farzana, who allotted a stylist to me. My brief to stylist was: Give me a youthful look!  

He gave it a deep thought and started working. Probably it looked to him a daunting task considering my profile and hairline. He started working as an artist, first wash, conditioning, sharp-cut, blow-drying and setting. The result was satisfying, he did his best with the available resources. It was not that I didn’t have a cut in such a salon earlier…but…

My brush with Styling salon dates back to the late ’80s when I had just started working in BHEL, New Delhi. Once I and my colleague – Anita Roy visited Lodi Hotel in New Delhi for some official work. A young working professional and fashion & Lifestyle enthusiast, that I was, my eyes could not escape a Hair Styling Salon in Lodi Hotel premises. I requested Anita di to visit the place as it looked different from my regular parlour – Much upmarket, lifestyle-oriented and was in a five-star hotel – all merits to fulfil my fancy.

In those days, I had long, lustrous and beautiful hair which were well taken care of by my mother with her home remedies. So, I decided to go for a hair wash and cut. The salon was of none other than Mr Jawed Habib’s father – Mr Habib Ahmed. He excitedly welcomed us for our lost looks. Here my brief was: Give me a mature look, as nobody takes me seriously for my girlish looks.

And here I was with my head bent and eyes closed in complete surrender mode…Oh yes, hair-cut was not done by girls without parent’s permission. So, you could imagine what was going in my head – Internally, Externally – Double whammy.

I was shocked to see my beautiful tresses biting the dust!  

Final shock came with the bill: Rs. 85/- (10% of monthly salary) Anyway, I walked out with my new cut and style in the office with apprehension, I and Anita knew it will call for some sharp reactions. Forget that, but the price of this hair cut looked too much to colleagues as 10% of my salary and 80% of my hair had gone. Indeed, it was not a good bargain!

Cut at Shivas

At Shiva’s I paid Rs. 850/- (100% salary of the 80s) and only 20% of my hair, probably I recovered in the bargain lost some 30 years ago.

The drama which unfolded amidst my family members and friend circle is another story. I loved being at both the places, though lots of water had flown in between while transcending the journey of 30 long years.

If you are in Chandivali, don’t miss on visiting Shivas Salon at Nahar’s Amrit Shakti’s Club Nectarfield for your hair styling, hair-cutting, hair spa and some great ‘me’ time. Don’t miss on courtesies extended with a hot cup of coffee and smiles all over, which makes you feel important.

Shiva’s is owned by Shivaram K. Bhandary.

Glass Apart: My LOVE for Glass Bangles!

मेरे हाथों में नौ नौ चूड़ियां है…

The precious leave of Holi was utilised in a very unusual activity, taking account (Style, Design, Colour, Numbers – Total Audit) of the Bangles I have in my cupboard. I wanted to organise these as I was repeating my bangles quite often…

…& I don’t like doing that! I am a self-confessed bangle freak!!

I love to wear new bangles every day, matching it with the outfit, though it doesn’t go that way. So, cupboard cleaning and organising took a few hours but it was worth it. For the first time, I noticed my collection of glass bangles, bought from the length and breadth of the country. They were parked the same way as offloaded carefully from the flight, without even checking what and how many bangles I had bought.

My personal collection

My love for glass bangles dates back to my childhood when an old gentleman used to come to sell glass bangles in his daliya (cane basket), neatly tied by a sootli (thin rope) in such a manner, so that design colour etc. was clearly visible. My mother use to buy lots of bangles from him whenever he came. (Maybe it is genetic). I was a very curious child always, so I asked many questions from bangle seller – Naccha! So, what is Naacha now – Mummy use to call him chacha, I called him naana, so he became Nachha (Naana – Chacha) for all ladies in the colony! I don’t know what he thought about this new nomenclature.

Questions like: Bangles are made of what, how do you colour them? How do you put sequins on them? Why do you bring these in cane basket? Are these heavy? Why do you sell bangles? He patiently replied all my queries while selling his bangles to colony aunties, sipping hot tea. Once his sale was over, he will give me a few free bangles and my joy in knew no bounds. Probably, the love dates back to the incident, which I suddenly recollected while sorting my bangle collection today…real nostalgia!

My glass bangle collection has travelled from far-flung areas, across the length and breadth of the country right from Katra, Jammu to Hyderabad, AP traversing Delhi ( Pracheen Mandir Bangle Bazaar, Delhi Haat, Janpath, Sarojini Nagar, Lajpat Nagar) Jaipur, Varanasi, Allahabad, Lucknow, Dehradun, Rishikesh, Hardwar, Chennai, Hyderabad, Bhopal, Kolkatta ( Shankha Poda), Assam, Ahmedabad, Surat, Baroda, Kutch, Bhuj…

Even international destinations are not spared: London, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, Guangzhou, Bangkok…I have bought whatever in the name of bangle available there! (needs a separate post)

You will be surprised to know that I always carry a sheet of bubble wrap to pack my bangles so that they can survive the wrath of airline people. Before planning a trip, I never forget to check from where I can buy bangles. Over a period of time, I realised that bangles are becoming my passion, rather obsession! By nature, I am a very content person, I don’t like to hoard stuff for the heck of it, but I can’t control when bangles cross my eyes. I want to shop, come what may and most of the time I do that. I remember my bua saying: बिंदी, चूड़ी के लिए क्या सोचना!

That has stayed with me. I never give a thought to anything while buying bangles. I am sharing a few pictures from my collection. I love wearing them especially with traditional outfits on all occasions, on all festivals. Sometimes I decide the bangles first and then match the saree or dress. If I something misplaced, I feel very agitated.

The history of bangles dates back to Mohen-jo-daro days, 2600 BC when these were found in excavation and statues were found wearing them. In India Ferozabad in UP, near Agra is very famous for glass bangles and supplies to the world. The bangles of Firozabad are exceptionally made, so intricate, so colourful, so fine… It is one of a kind cluster producing bangles and catering to the growing demands and requirement in India, there is approximately 150 bangle making in the city.

We Indians love bangles, the love of Bollywood for bangles is part of the folklore, haven’t we grown up hearing songs like:

चूड़ी नहीं मेरा दिल है, बिंदिया चमकेगी चूड़ी खनकेगी, मेरे हाथों में नौ नौ चूड़ियां है, बोले चूड़ियां बोले कंगना

No celebration is complete without bangles, No Shringar is complete without bangles! Life is a celebration, celebrate it with anything you love!

My special thanks to Sai Vandana, Aarti Mohit Mathur, Aparna Chaturvedi and Hemlata Didi who have patiently tolerated my madness, added to the collection in whichever ways possible.

Last but not the least my dear Mummy, Usha Varma for introducing to the finer things in life!

 

 

 

 

 

She is Oprah Winfrey of our lives! #SheInspires

I can’t recollect when she quietly entered my life, And voila! My life has never been the same again!

Mrs Smita Mehta
Tarot Card Reader

I had a chance meeting with her at The Village (Restaurant) in a Mall at Kandivali where she was doing some predictions with cards in front of her. The curious cat that I am, I went to her to know what she was doing. She explained with patience what Tarot Card reading was all about. I didn’t know anything about Tarot Card till then.

I took another round of the place and watched her reading cards and talking to people. Somehow, I felt very drawn towards her because of her peaceful and spiritual, of course, beautiful demeanour. Considering the happy-go-lucky person that I am, I never believed much in astrology or any such thing. Still, I tried cards and she gave me answers, to which I didn’t pay any heed to, even forgot about it.

Few months elapsed and things started following the pattern, which she had predicted. Now, I frantically started searching her card for her contact details but no luck. But जहाँ चाह वहां राह, the card resurfaced and I called her. She invited me to her place, this is the first time, I visited her house, which was a simple Gujarati household.

I had something more to ask, one thing followed another…we could see the line was diminishing between client and reader, we were becoming friends. I started opening up with her, we started sharing our joys and sorrows. A bond started developing and as time passed, we became united by a unique bond of love and respect. I turned to her advice for even the smallest of things!

She is Smita Mehta who has inspired me in many ways.  From her humble beginnings with early marriage in the late 80s in ordinary Gujarati family burdened with societal and financial norms, she fought it all with elan. Her calm & peaceful exterior tells the story of the storms inside her. Fighting the financial odds early in life, she thought of supplementing the family income. Now the big question was what to do and how to do with a full family to boot? It was then she realised that she had a very good way with making future predictions.

While in school, she would read friends’ palm and tell them things, which turned out to be true many times. Probably, what she was doing for fun in school came handy when she was to choose the career. Now her struggle started with collecting information, studying, doing courses in Astrology, Vaastu and Tarot Card Reading.  She started doing it all free for her friends and relatives and word spread. This was the time when her friends told her to use her talent and charge a modest fee for it. Probably since then, there has been no looking back! Her struggle has been so inspirational, with two children and extended family dependent on her, she paved the way for herself.

Smita Di has climbed one ladder after another, she has done studies in her field ( She just took exams, when she is a grandmother) and boasts of international clientele in the US, Canada and UAE. I am close witness to her immense achievements in life, but she is just the same Smita Di for me. Always ready to help, always ready to listen, always ready to advise and what to say of her predictions! She has so many of us in her fan base! Her assurances are so motivating, so enlightening. An out-an-out-people’s person, she has a deep understanding of her client’s psychology.

Her struggle has taken her places literally!

From an unsure housewife of yesterday to the well-known astrologer, tarot card reader and Vastu expert of today, she has seen it all! She has faced it all!!

She is the Oprah Winfrey of our lives!

 

 

 

 

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