Monday, October 26, 2020
Sunday, October 25, 2020
Ayudha Pooja is extremely special out of the 9 days, and also marks the final day of Navaratri. Books, tools, and all the important things concerning education and career and neatly stacked up in front of Goddess Saraswati to seek the blessings of the Goddess of knowledge, learning, and all forms of art. We used to love and look forward to this day as kids because the books that are stacked up on the day of Saraswati Pooja cannot be removed until the next day, which is Vijayadashami. So, we used to stack up every single book, notebook, and all forms of homework into the pile so that no work needs to be done! This was one day when we could legitimately get off from doing even a single productive activity (and not be told to be more productive)!
This day is also called Ayudha Pooja, and it is a big, special day for all shopkeepers and businessmen. It is the day they honour their tools and their shop that make their living, and they honour their vehicles of transport. Even inside the house, you honour every significant item in the house, and all your personal vehicles, and even the house itself. Usually, when we went to our school classrooms on Vijayadashami (the day after ayudha pooja), we would see marks of 'chandan kumkum' tikkas on top of the boards, and on every classroom door! Every single person honours any and every tool that give knowledge, business, and art.
Vijayadashami is the day of 'vidya arambha', means beginning of learning. Usually, on this day you have all the subjects taught a little bit in school, and they start new chapters, new kids are enrolled in whatever extra-curricular classes that they want- like music, dance, sport, art, anything at all. It is believed that starting to sincerely learn something on Vijayadashami can lead you victorious! This is also the day you honour your teachers. On the day of Vijayadashami, we used to always go with a traditional plate of fruits, betel leaves, and a small gift to my music teacher's place, and she always taught us a small new song and had a return gift for all her students.
This day of all beginnings definitely gives you a chance to finally start what you want to, if you haven't already. It's a day of spirit, enthusiasm, a lot of learning, and new beginnings! So, if you have something that you really wanted to start, then tomorrow might be a great day! Don't forget to follow it up on the day after Vijayadashami too!
Happy Ayudha Pooja, and advanced happy Vijayadashami to all of you! Let's have a great year until next Navaratri!
Saturday, October 24, 2020
I have some great memories when it comes to Golus. I have been a regular to all the Golu houses of my friends and neighbours, and have always been made to sing something from my Carnatic music lessons. I remember I used to sing the same song in every house (because that just makes it easier), while my mom used to try and make me sing different songs in different houses.
We used to really love going to the Golu display in Ayodhya Mandapam, in my locality, and enjoy the themes and stories on display for the year. From 2012 till 2014, I put up a series of photos on the blog during Navaratri every year. You can see them here: http://sandhya.varadh.com/search/label/Navaratri
In school, we celebrated every festival, and Navaratri Golu was no exception! I remember in Class V, we actually made a three-steps Golu set-up in our classroom in school, and each of us brought a few dolls to collectively celebrate. Some of them even prepared and got sundal every day!
I miss going to the Ayodhya Mandapam Golu this year, and putting up lovely pictures for all to see, but we shall look forward to it next year!
Friday, October 23, 2020
Today, I am with my new Lenovo Ideapad Duet Chromebook, the third one in a row since 2014, and I feel the happiest. I bid adieu to the Asus Flip Chromebook that I absolutely loved and adored the last three years. When I had to think of another laptop to buy, I just had one thing on my mind: I want a Chromebook again.
That's the charm of Google's Chromebook. It's probably one of the most brilliant products they ever made. Having had Chromebooks through the last 6 years, in a way I have seen it grow. My first Chromebook had just ChromeOS. My second(previous) Chromebook could run android apps- which was the most helpful thing ever when my phone failed during this pandemic lockdown. And, my latest one can run both android and linux applications. And, all of this comes with the most user-friendly, minimalist design that amps up your productivity like nobody's business.
A vast majority of us literally use just the browser on a laptop, and maybe store some files on the local storage. That is it! Why do we need a laptop with a ton of things that we would never get to know and use? I heard in an interview talking about Chromebooks, where Mr. Pichai explained how Chromebooks were launched by Google to actually give only what the users need and use. I think that's brilliant, and I love it. I have been using it smoothly for the last 6 years, which proves that anything more isn't really needed.
I love it because of so many reasons. They are usually sleek and light, so it makes it carrying it around so much easier. They have auto-backup to Google Drive, so everything is always safe. I have truly realized the power of a cloud back-up when my phone failed a couple of months ago. Also, for the last six years, Chromebook and its auto-sync on Drive has sorted my life out in a way that's beyond amazing. I think a Chromebook is one of the best laptops for student life, especially (and even beyond that).
These cute, sleek, minimalist Chromebook have charmed me to no end, and it will not fail you either. So, next time you are thinking about getting a laptop- do think about Chromebooks. I promise you, once you try it you are going to fall in love with it.
6 years, and I don't see myself wanting anything other than a Chromebook. And, I don't hope but I am very sure, that I will love my new, third one too!
Also, I wish I could write an actual ode- because this one deserves an ode. But, thanks to my lack of poetical skills- you just got an ode in prose.
Thursday, October 22, 2020
Wednesday, October 21, 2020
Today, I tried the new capacitive stylus, for my Chromebook, that I bought for trying to take all the notes-making digital. So, I thought I could write my post today to check it out, and also share with you all how it feels. So, here's the hand written digital post with my new stylus!
(I hope my handwriting is legible enough!)
I look forward to using these tools more extensively- thanks to having a digital cloud copy, and also saving paper! This felt really good, and I am looking forward to more! If you have any suggestions on stylus-friendly note-taking apps that you have tried and had a good experience with, then please do let me know in the comments!
Have a nice day!
Tuesday, October 20, 2020
This is a really nice poem, and I have been reading my copy of The Complete Poems of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. I am not a big reader of poetry, but this book and his poems have been incredible. Some of them are extremely simple, yet really honest and beautiful- like the one I have for you today. This poem is called 'The Rainy Day', and it was never before felt this good accepting the truthful, dreary side of rains.
Monday, October 19, 2020
The Secret of the Unicorn is one of the best of the entire Tintin series. Tintin buys an antique ship(which he later discovers to be known as the Unicorn) model to present to Captain Haddock, only to be pursued by three different sets of people who want him to sell it to them. But when Tintin refuses to sell it, he finds it stolen when he comes back to his place one day. But a scroll that falls out of the mast which Snowy had broken earlier, reveals a puzzle to them. There's the enemy, there's the prize, and there's the puzzle- all you get to see is a phenomenal plot and action that leads up to the young investigator sorting things out plain and proper.
This book brings some of Tintin's best game ever. Tintin is on top of the world, and so is the plot of this unputdownable adventure. And, that is probably why this was chosen to be made into a movie by Spielberg. The only problem with it is the differences it has from the original book- especially when it comes to the villains. Sakharine is made the main villain, and the Bird Brothers barely exist in the movie. While in the book, the Bird Brothers are the main villains. While the plot line has been retained about the ship and the puzzles, the change in the villain does lead to major differences in the story with respect to the backgrounds and scenes with the antagonists.
However, even with all the differences, it has to said that the movie stayed true to the spirit of Tintin. The character was as intelligent, kick ass and smart as our favourite comic hero, and you actually end up liking the movie. Tintin is definitely a character who is involved in stories that can be visual. The movie has some amazing action sequences, and I definitely did not regret watching it even one bit. It draws heavily not jusr from The Secret of the Unicorn, but also from The Crab with the Golden Claws and Red Rackham's Treasure.
The movie is great even with all its differences. One reason for that could be that it's Spielberg! I read somewhere that Hergé and Spielberg were great fan of each other. The adaptation is beautiful, fun, and as good as a Tintin book to me. It feels great not to be disappointed when a book gets viewed on the big screen.
Which is your favourite Tintin book? Did you like the movie? Share in the comments below!
Sunday, October 18, 2020
Saturday, October 17, 2020
It got me thinking how much I have learnt throughout so many years, and particularly this year. I am not going to make a list right now about the lessons, we can save that for another day. But, what I was thinking about today was how having a blog or a platform opens up so many portals of understanding, reflection, and constant learning. The whole process just makes you better, and pushes you to keep going.
The best part about doing this is how it turns out to be a learning process all the time, including the times when you're not really doing a great job of it. You learn to value your thoughts, your environment, your activities, your time, your life, and yourself. It ensures that you keep learning, and you are never stagnant. It feels really beautiful to have this going for yourself.
And, the learning doesn't stop there. You learn from what you run your blog on. You learn from books, movies, writers, poets, bloggers, other services, and literally anything that you can grab on to. The process is so powerful that when you look back at your learning it looks like you are scaling a mountain, but all you do is take a step each day! The list is endless.
I felt really nice reading Popova's post. And, I thought I should do something similar at a later time, when I have really assimilated more through consistent learning and sharing. You should definitely take a look at this post. Just like everything else in that favourite blog, this one too is absolutely beautiful!
Friday, October 16, 2020
"Take it as a lie—or a prophecy."
“A straight line is not the shortest distance between two points.” ― Madeleine L' Engle, A Wrinkle in Time
But as Wells puts it again, we have a beautiful way of travelling time at present while we wait for a prophesied future when we figure out how to actually travel in time.
“We all have our time machines, don't we. Those that take us back are memories...And those that carry us forward, are dreams.” ― H.G. Wells
We have already developed tools to preserve memories- photos, albums, video tapes, journals, letters, so many! But, it is also true that the more we focus on recording them, the more the forget to keep them in etched in our minds forever. We have memories at all points and all phases, only that what a 'memory' is changes over time. So, when we time travel in the future, what do you think would a 'memory' really be?
If you have a favourite sci-fi novel or a time travel classic- please share it in the comments below, I'd love to try them out!
Thursday, October 15, 2020
Wednesday, October 14, 2020
Writing on a whiteboard is fun. Well, at least, initially. I once brought up a pending list of things I discovered particularly as "pending" so that I can just write them on the board. Green, red, blue, black- nice colours. But once you write it, it sits there until you actually do it. I feel really guilty wiping off something which I haven't done. The whiteboard makes you feel that way, doesn't it?
Somehow, finally wiping off an ever-pending item on the whiteboard gives me immense satisfaction. I feel like getting the job done just so that I can wipe it clean off the board. Well, looks like I love writing on the board, and I also love wiping what I wrote off the board. Well. I should give it due credit- it definitely makes me work.
I am not really particular about buying, collecting, or using stationery. But, these definitely do give a sense of comfort, an order among chaotic schedules, and something that can slightly push me towards sticking to the plan.
It's not the whiteboard for all of us, I guess. For some, it is diaries. For some others, small notepads. I have seen magnets, and sticky notes, and one sided papers. But, they all serve the same purpose. They push us to get the job done so that we can wipe/strike/tear it away from the list of to-do things. How about you?
Tuesday, October 13, 2020
“No, no—there are depths, depths! The more I go over it, the more I see in it, and the more I see in it, the more I fear. I don’t know what I don’t see—what I don’t fear!”
Monday, October 12, 2020
Edgar Guest- the People's poet- just like his many other poems, gives you some of the most cheerful insights on the fellowship of books. This is definitely a favourite. Here's the poem!
Good books are friendly things to own.If you are busy they will wait.They will not call you on the phoneOr wake you if the hour is late.They stand together row by row,Upon the low shelf or the high.But if you’re lonesome this you know:You have a friend or two nearby.The fellowship of books is real.They’re never noisy when you’re still.They won’t disturb you at your meal.They’ll comfort you when you are ill.The lonesome hours they’ll always share.When slighted they will not complain.And though for them you’ve ceased to careYour constant friends they’ll still remain.Good books your faults will never seeOr tell about them round the town.If you would have their companyYou merely have to take them down.They’ll help you pass the time away,They’ll counsel give if that you need.He has true friends for night and dayWho has a few good books to read.
If you want to experience other poets, writers write about what reading is to them, then try these poems, which are also my favourites: There is no Frigate like a Book by Emily Dickinson, Read to Me by Jane Yolen (she says, read to me- and when you are finished, please read them again!), and Happy Chimney Corner Days by Robert Louis Stevenson. I love all of them!
Hope you enjoyed it!
Sunday, October 11, 2020
"Nowhere is the human being more truly revealed than in his letters."
That is what the foreword began with, and there are no truer words to describe this book. Mark Twain has always had a profound way of capturing mammoth-like concepts in life into words so simple that it leaves you wondering how he managed. He has a style that is so distinct, and so strong that once you read, you cannot escape the lasting impression it will have on you. And, these letters open a portal further into Twain's thoughts and understanding of the the subjective human nature- the vast, un-written life within him.
Six volumes- it'll last me for long years to come, to read them. A letter each day, and keeping Twain with me all along is probably one of the best things. If you are an ardent admirer of Twain, do pick this up if you already haven't!
Saturday, October 10, 2020
Each post in the series will carry an illustration by me, as we discuss and dive into the fair share of Wodehouse that I have read. So, if you are a Wodehouse fan- I am sure you will enjoy the ride. And, if you have never read Wodehouse, you'll probably pick one up that has been mentioned or discussed in this series!
If you have a favourite Wodehouse book, let me know in the comments!
Friday, October 9, 2020
1. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho: Fiction, fable, philosophy- all in one!
2. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald: Fiction, tragedy, romance. And, it is considered one of the greatest fiction ever written!
3. Animal Farm by George Orwell: Satire, allegory, finding a whole depth of meaning in words so simple that we'd never have thought to find it. This is perfect.
4. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury: A dystopian science fiction from one of the greatest sci-fi writers ever? Go for it!
5. The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde: How would you like a play in the list? And, a comedy? And, a short one in that? And, if possible, then by Oscar Wilde? Just when it starts to feel like you're putting too many filters in your search demand for books to read, there comes up one guaranteed response: The Importance of Being Earnest!
6. The Trial by Franz Kafka: It's gritty, it's gripping, it's horrifyingly eye-opening, and it's Kafka all the way. Pick it up if you are ready for something that'll leave you thinking about it for a long time after you are done with it.
7. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck: You want a tragedy with its lovely moments filled with joy and hope? Pick this. It's a beautiful tale.
8. Black Beauty by Anna Sewell: This enchanting, sweet tale of a horse is an evergreen classic, and a must read. And, all it takes is less than a day!
9. Daisy Miller by Henry James: We need at least one book with one of the strongest female leads in the history of literature!
10. The Motorcycle Diaries by Che Guevara: Adventures that explore the beauty of Latin America on 'La Podersa' in the real-life story of Che Guevara. Need I say anymore to convince you to pick this up? Well if you need: it comes with beautiful original images of this trip of Guevara!
This list has everything legendary from every genre that you can read under a day, comfortably! There is fable fiction, romance, adventure, science fiction, satire, a real life memoir, hard hitting classics, modern feminist female leads, non-stop comedy- anything you want! Pick your choice, pick it up, and read for the next two days this weekend!
Thursday, October 8, 2020
I worked with the Blogging team, and my main contribution was writing entrepreneur-oriented articles with sound legal research on a law that they assigned for me. I wrote two articles on Agricultural Laws in India for entrepreneurs. If you actually look at it, new generation farmers are looking to many avenues that have a huge potential for commercial entrepreneurship. For example, one of my articles was on the seed industry, an avenue that is becoming increasingly privatized in India. And, another one of my articles was on the opportunities of intellectual property rights and recognition for farmers and their plant varieties! There really is so much opportunity to innovate, grow, and contribute as an entrepreneur in any field today!
Another project that I was involved in during this stint with Lexavant was preparing checklists. This is something that I had already done extensively when I interned with corporate firms. One of the widely appreciated and used checklists that I had prepared during my previous internship was of compliances that need to be followed in Related Party transactions under the Companies Act, SEBI (Substantial Acquisition of Shares and Takeovers) Regulations, SEBI (Listing Obligations and Disclosure Requirements) Regulations, and SEBI (Prohibition of Insider Trading) Regulations. I had also dealt with checklists for arbitration procedures under HKIAC rules.
But, these checklists that I did with Lexavant were more fun to do for me because they were things that we as people deal with and see in our day-to-day lives: like the compliance list for making an app, and the compliance for someone to build a residential township! I really had a nice time writing those articles.
Overall, the internship was a very different experience because of 3 things:
1. It is the first time I am interning online. So, there wasn't much of the usual brainstorming or face-to-face idea-sharing that usually happens when people work on a project.
2. This was a very new start-up, and they had just begun. So, they are still working on their website, and content, and putting their things together. So, the extreme professional air was not really there- at least on the online front. But, that also made us more comfortable to talk to them any time we needed something without second thoughts.
3. This was a blogging internship. So, there was actual finished product to the legal research that I did through that week. This is rarely the case when we intern under lawyers in a firm, or otherwise. So, I really liked being a "blogging" intern.
I had a very different, fresh experience with Lexavant. The best part was that I was learning, and so were they! Internships like these definitely give you a fresher perspective even if you go back to interning with big corporate firms. I enjoyed it!
Wednesday, October 7, 2020
"Let x denote beauty, — y, manners well-bred, —"z, Fortune, — (this last is essential), —"Let L stand for love" — our philosopher said, —"Then L is a function of x, y, and z,"Of the kind which is known as potential."Now integrate L with respect to d t,"(t Standing for time and persuasion);"Then, between proper limits, 'tis easy to see,"The definite integral Marriage must be: —"(A very concise demonstration)."
What' s not to love about this poem! There's algebra, there's life, there's love, and there is a whole lot of mathematics! I have rarely stumble across such poems, and I really enjoyed this one even as I had just started reading it! Please do read the whole version in the hyperlink I have provided above. The story-poem has a really witty twist that I will not spoil for you! I absolutely enjoyed this poem. Is there a science/math poem, or any poem that goes high as 'nerdy'? Do share it with all of us in the comments below, I'd love to read more of them!
Tuesday, October 6, 2020
Monday, October 5, 2020
So, this is a way I observed and learnt when I once went to get my long hair cut off till my chin, many years ago. And, since then- I have never ever had a problem in removing tangles in my hair. I just use a basic comb that has two rows of teeth- one slightly wider, and the other with narrow gaps. I have had even the most terribly tangled hair removed smoothly and easily by doing this- so, check it out!
Sunday, October 4, 2020
1. Consistency. I have been in phases where I had a couple of posts going every month, and I have been in a phase where I had like 1-2 posts a year. But, right now, I am in the phase where I write every single day, and I have seen my blog and the response it gets on all three of these phases. The more you write, and the more you share, the more traction your blog gets. So, you can start with two or three posts every week, or whatever number you are comfortable with. Start by writing regularly and consistently.
2. Editorial. Before you start your blog, have a set of 10-20 posts written and ready, so that you are covered for the first 3-5 weeks of blogging, and during this time you can keep writing more. This is called creating an editorial that can ensure that you always have content for your blog, and it helps your blog be consistent. Consistency is very important for your blog to be recognized. The key to a good blog is writing regularly, and no amount of emphasis on this point can be considered as over-doing.
3. Taglines. Have a tagline for the blog. For example, my blog says "Sandhya's Blog: What To Read". Now, a tagline is supposed to help anyone who comes to your blog know what they should expect from the Blog. My blog focuses mainly on books and book reviews, and hence gives the readers insights on 'what to read'. Hence, the tagline. Decide the wide theme of your blog, and keep a suitable tagline that lets people know what to expect!
3. Use tags or labels for every blog post. Labels are like keywords that categorize your posts. Try to categorize what you write and put them in their particular labels, this will help you to maintain the profile of your blog, or what your blog is for. It also helps in search engines pick up your post as a result if someone searches using those keywords(after your blog gets sufficient traction, of course).
4. Let people know. Share your content across the social platforms that you are active in- Twitter and Facebook are some of the usual ones that give your post a good reach. You can ask your friends to read and give you suggestions/feedback. You can use services like IFTTT to automatically share your new blog post on social media as soon as it is published.
5. Check regularly if someone has left comments on your blog, and always make sure you reply to them. And, keep writing- your blog will automatically grow!
There are many, many more points that I can keep adding, but these are absolute basics that we need to keep up till as long as we blog. The moment we get into the groove, I can assure that we'll be learning much more soon enough on what kind of posts you want to write, and what kind of posts get the most views! If you want ideas for creating your editorial and on what to blog about (if you haven't already decided), check out my post on 10 Things You Can Blog About.
All the very best, and write confidently! Blogging has been one of the most enjoyable activity for me, and I have found myself reading and writing more than ever before! Do share the link of your Blog after you set it up! And, if you have any doubts, questions, or anything at all, do feel free to ask. I'll definitely try to help you out to the best of what I have learnt over these years!
Saturday, October 3, 2020
So, what all can you make with the idli-dosa batter?
1. Idli: famous, fluffy, soft, nobody needs an introduction to this one.
2. Dosai: Thin roast that takes you to heaven, and I haven't met a single person from India who actually didn't know about dosas. Also, we call it dosai.
3. Kuzhi Paniyaram: This dish has a sort of flat base and a deep, semi circular shape on top. The flat side is soft while the rounded side is roasted. This is one of the tastiest dishes that you can make with idli-dosa batter when you want a change, or if there is left-over batter.
4. Uttappam: This is not as thin as dosa. It is much thicker, smaller, and softer instead of the crisp dosas. Top these uttappams with onions, tomatoes, and some coriander leaves- it's just yummy!
5. Idli Upma (or Podi Idlis/Fried Idlis): Do you want idlis but in a spicier, tastier form? Or do you have left over idlis that have gone a little cold? Idli upma is the dish to go to! The left-over idlis suddenly turn into something that people will crave for! In this, we break the idlis into small pieces, or grind them like a powder- add podis, add some spices, get creative and make it tasty! You can also add tomatoes and onions, and give it all nice fry with the idlis. I just love this one!
Looks like it's not just a cherry on the cake, rather cherries. I have listed some common ones that you can do just with the plain dosa batter without any modifications. These are not even including the infinite sub-types of dosas that you can make with the batter- masala dosa, mysore masala dosa, paneer dosa, ghee roast, and once again it can be as creative as you can get. My college once served us noodles dosa, and it wasn't bad at all. Idlis also give you a wide range: podi idlis, rasam idli, sambar idli, curd idlis, and mini idlis. Do a little bit of research, and with some slight additions and modifications to the batter, you can do much more with it! They are all absolutely tasty in their own way!
Like my mom says: Idli-dosa batter is the saviour. You get taste, you get variety, and you have an all-in-one batter.
I bet I got you hungry, why don't you try one of these next time? And, those (mostly South Indians, I'm guessing) who have these dishes as a staple part of your life- is there anything more you make with idli-dosa batter, or any particular favourites? Let us know in the comments!
Also, do you know why molagapodi is called gunpowder in English?!
Friday, October 2, 2020
Thursday, October 1, 2020
“Ukridge was the sort of man who asks you to dinner, borrows money from you to pay the bill, and winds up the evening by embroiling you in a fight with a cabman.” - Ukridge
Most of the stories of Ukridge are narrated by Ukridge's friend Corcoran, fondly called Corky. Ukridge is a striking young man often involved plots and schemes to get rich quick. The lengths that he would go to make some money are short of nothing but infinite, except of course to actually work and earn. The hilariously comedic short stories of Ukridge leave you in a fit of laughter as you watch his desperate, comic ways to cash in some capital!
Ukridge is actually Wodehouse's longest-running character although he was only featured in the novel Love Among the Chickens and in ten short-stories in the omnibus Ukridge. I think Ukridge is also one of the most entertaining character ever of Wodehouse, though he is not as famous as Jeeves or Mulliner.
I love Ukridge for the interesting specimen that he is- a seemingly rude fellow to those who are not familiar with his weirdly informal air, a man whose persona is so gripping and charming that people give out credit- only to never get it back again, a man who is all about thinking on how to make money in all ways except the right ones! He is a riot of a character- who'll storm in to the pages and make you laugh, and leave you giggling at his get-quick-money schemes.
You love him, and you are exasperated by him. He seems too charming to ignore, and too difficult to understand. He is one beauty of a character that Wodehouse has ever created.
The best part about the Ukridge stories is that they are short, and give you a full spectacle of a comic tale in less than half an hour. It's the kind of reading that you can do after a busy day, and get back your cheer again!
I say, why don't you try one story today?