Light and hope

Lord Shiva Temple on the last day of Karthika maasa
I was walking on the street and noticed the lights at the entrance of the Shiva temple and clicked this pic from my iPhone. People light the earthen lamps during the last day in the month of Karthika at the Shiva temple. According to the Hindu calendar, Karthika maasa is an auspicious month and is favourite of Lord Shiva.

Pic via Instagram

Australia travel tales

I have loads of travel tales to be written on Australia where I lived for an year and 5 months. It has been the most memorable time visiting the most adventurous country. Though, continent with 22.8 million population and 8 states, one can never forget the beautiful beaches and the animals, which cannot be found in any other parts of the world.

As I write this, I am wondering where do I start off my travel tales from? I lived in Melbourne, the capital of Victoria (VIC), travelled in and around VIC. Did some sports and adventures in Queensland, roamed around in Sydney, saw the islands in South Australia, learned the history of Tasmania and the prisoners. Oops, I missed Uluru, and the Kalgoorie on the other side. Never mind, there is always a second chance, I would visit the Southern hemisphere again!

Many people ask me if there is racism and I was never treated in an inhumane way and I never felt so. Australia is an amicable country and people from other countries are equally respected. 

All the travel and living on Australia can be found here

Follow me widgets

I have been working on revamping the header and the template of this blog. I am an admirer of the colour "White" and want to retain the same. Also, managed to add few widgets for Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Flickr, YouTube, Pinterest, 500px and Instagram, on the sidebar for easier contacting.

Follow me Widgets on the sidebar

Off late, I have been checking in quite often on Foursquare. Hope to add one soon. 

My life, my rules :: Book Review

Title: My life, my rules.

Author: Sonia Golani

Genre: Inspiration

Publications: Westland Ltd

Pages: 226

Price: Rs 250
Cover page of the book
The cover page of the book is a bright yellow with a colourful topography. As the title suggests, the book contains the stories about eighteen people who decided to chose their passion as a full-time profession. The author has provided a disclaimer that the book does not tell you how to take up alternative career path or become become successful entrepreneurs. It is interesting to see the sketches of each person at the beginning to the story.

Sonia has picked up few of the celebrities in her book and has interviewed them. Each story is about a successful entrepreneur and the hurdles they have faced to reach the top level.

A story about Rahul Akerkar, a Biochemical Engineer and while pursuing his PhD in the USA decides to become a restauranteur. He realises that his passion was cooking and not PhD. What made his take such a step being an engineer? Was his family happy about his decision? What were the challenges he faced while setting up a restaurant. The other stories are about the famous people whom we see on the television and have admired them. Nikhil Chinappa, an architect turned VJ, RJ and a DJ. Most of us are always surprised to see him on MTV while he holds a professional degree from a reputed college. Likewise, Aditi Govitrikar, a doctor by profession who worked hard day and night to get a medical seat turns into a model and actor. Most of them would end up thinking, how can someone with a pretty face, who struggled so much would get into modelling. Being an MBA from the top B school, IIM-A, Harsha Bhogle turns into a commentator though his childhood dream was to become a cricketer.

Other stories are about:
1. Nalin Khanduri,
a Chemical engineer and an MBA from Narsee Monjee, now a Managing Director of Great Indian Outdoors Private Limited.
2. Latika Khaneja,
an alumni of IIM Calcutta is a founder of Collage Sports Management.
3. R. Madhvan,
an Electronics Engineer turned actor.
4. Rahul Narasimha Ram,
a PhD in Environmental Toxicology from a top US university turns into a Bass guitar player and Vocalist, band Indian Ocean.
5. Manohar Parrikar,
an alumni of IIT Bombay now the Chief Minister of Goa.
6. Ashish Rajpal,
Founder and CEO of iDiscover Education
7. Rajeev Suresh Samant,
Founder and CEO of Sula Vineyards.
8. Krishnamachari Srikkanth,
Legendary cricketer and Chairman of the National Selection Committee.
9. Ingrid Srinath,
ex-secretary general, CIVIVUS - World Alliance for Citizen Participation.
10. Tarun Tahiliani
Founder of Tarun Tahiliani Design Studio.
11. Amish Tripathi,
Bestselling author of Shiva Trilogy.
12. Praveen Tyagi,
Managing Director, IITians PACE Education Private Limited.
13. Rashmi Uday Singh,
Food Critic, Author and TV Host.
14. Minal Vazirani
Co-Founder, Saffronart.

After completing the book, I felt that the author had chosen each celebrity carefully and spent a considerable amount of time on their childhood dreams, how their family influenced them, how their spouses were supportive and most important, if they ever regret over making such a major decision which has has a huge impact.

I felt the book was written on the similar lines as Stay Hungry Stay Foolish by Rashmi Bansal. At some point of time, the author has given too much information which the reader would lose focus.

About the author: Sonia Golani is an alumna of Lady Shri Ram College, Delhi and a Post Graduate from Delhi University. She has been managing her recruitment consulting firm Management Consultants Group since setting it up in 1998. MCG specialises in recruitment of professionals (MBAs and CAs) for Banking, Financial Services, Insurance and FMCG sectors.

My Rating: 3/5

This review is a part of the biggest Book Review Program for Indian Bloggers. Participate now to get free books!

Australian Women Writers Challenge

I am signing up the Australian Women Writers Challenge in 2013. As per the challenge, the reader has to complete reading the books written by Australian Women writers.

There are 4 levels of challenge and I am signing up for Miles 
Level of challenge: read only, or read and review 
Stella: read 4 – if reviewing, review at least 3
Miles: read 6 – if reviewing, review at least 4
Franklin: read 10 – if reviewing, review at least 6
Create your own challenge: nominate your own goal

My dad, my hero

Dear Daddy,

You taught me to talk holding me in your arms and walk when I was a child, holding my tiny fingers, when I had a fear of falling. You were always protective even while I was in the mother's womb without any discrimination on a girl child. 

You always dropped me to school and ensured that I would be on time to the class. Even during the exams, you motivated me to study hard and fulfill my dreams. Whenever I was low and cried, you consoled me that best things would come to him who waits. 

You gave me the self-confidence and always stood beside me, at times good and bad. You shared a laugh, when I was happy and have shared more of my sorrow when I was sad.  

You have always been the best friend and supportive always. Without you, I would have never been able to climb every step carefully, up the ladder and for what I am today!

Thanks for being a great dad and protecting me from this evil world. You have been a great soldier to your daughter no matter how old she grows!

This post is a part of #Soldierforwomen in association with

The soldier in a stranger

It was the first visit to Chennai on my own to attend a friend's wedding at Mylapore. The wedding reception was on a weekday, in the evening. Another friend familiar with the Chennai streets and local trains would accompany me during the journey since I hardly knew the place and could not converse in Tamil fluently.

The reliable friend was caught with some problem at office and the last moment surprised me that he would not be able to join. He instructed from where I can catch the bus to Chennai and reach the marriage hall by evening. I was disappointed but did not want to miss the chance to travel alone. I finished my work by noon and started to Chennai from the Electronic City office in Bangalore. Thus the plan was Electronic City -> Hosur -> Chennai -> Mylapore.

I reached Hosur in a short time along with my backpack containing the DSLR and lens along with the clothes and jewellery. I made my mind that I would not speak to any stranger on the bus to Chennai.

At Hosur, there were hardly any AC buses and all I could find was a private bus with no other options left. I bought a ticket and sat with my luggage. It was hot summer and no fresh air circulating, people in a rush to travel, slowly got in and the bus started.

I enquired the conductor how long it would take to reach and how far is Mylapore from the bus stand, whats the best way to reach the wedding hall. The conductor said he did not know any details and gave a blank look. Two guys who were seated behind were conversing in Tamil and seemed to be college students. They seemed to hail from Chennai and knew nook and corner of the city. One among them was happy to provide me all the details.

The bus reached Koyembedu at 8 in the evening. I was checking on the auto rickshaw who could drive to the venue. No one uses an auto meter there and you need to bargain on the price before boarding the rickshaw. I was unsure on how much I have to pay them. Conversing in tits and bits of Tamil, I would ask, "Mylapore, .. hall vareengala [will you come to Mylapore]", he would reply in turn, "noothi.. something something" the Tamil numbers sounded Greek and Latin to me.

One of the two guys whom I met on the bus, came to my help and spoke to the auto driver and fixed the price. He told me how long it would take to reach the venue, how much I should be paying the autowala. In case of any emergency, I could give him a ring and noted down my mobile no.

It took 40 minutes to reach the wedding hall in the peak traffic in an auto. He would ring or sms every 10 minutes and ensured I was safe in the auto. On reaching the hall safely, I called up and thanked him for the help. A stranger can be a hero no matter what the situation is.

This post is a part of #Soldierforwomen in association with

Rock with silky, shiny, straight perfect hair

The hair is the richest ornament of women, says Martin Luther.

The statement holds good to any woman be it short or long hair. Most of us, would have tried umpteen products and experimented on hair which would have damaged in a long run. Having a waist length wavy hair, I am afraid to experiment any new products or even go for a cut at a new parlour or even try permanent straightening, blow drying or colouring. When I thought of getting a permanent hair straightening, the experienced beautician would suggest it would only damage my hair and would take at least 8-10 hours of effort! One of my roommate advised to try a temporary straightening and I bought myself a Remmington hair straightener which and loreal ion cream.

Remmington hair straightener
I straightened my hair using the rod and the whole process was cumbersome for a long hair. The worse was hair fall during the straightening which disheartened me after spending 3-4 hours. :(

I received the the purple coloured Sunsilk Perfect Straight  shampoo bottles along with the conditioner with straight-lock technology for review. The co-creator of this shampoo and conditioner is Yoko Yamashita who is a world expert in straight hair. I was happy to see the packing and couldn't dare to open the packing without clicking.
Sunsilk perfect straight shampoo and conditioner 
Sunsilk promises that the hair would be straight as it dries. The shampoo is a light pink glittering with a good fragrance and gentle on the hair. The conditioner is white and acts as a good detangler on my hair.
Note: conditioner to be used only after shampooing and washing the hair. The conditioner has be to applied only the hair and NOT on the scalp.


I found the hair fall to be minimal after using the shampoo and conditioner unlike using the straightener.   Hair is soft and straight after the usage and has a great fragrance. The hair is not heavy. With the daily usage I am sure, the result will be much better.

I had earlier used Garnier Fructis Silky Straight 24/7 Shampoo and reviewed it here. But I found the Sunsilk to be much better compared to the fragrance and hair fall. While Garnier still left the hair wavy, Sunsilk had good result at the first usage. The quantity would last long for a month in case of a long hair.

Net Vol: 180 ml
Price: 110 INR

Net Vol: 90 ml
Price: 56 INR

My rating: 4.5/5

Thus, I kiss a good by to the hair straightener and other brand shampoos and continue to use Sunsilk.

This post is a part of Sunsilk perfect straight host by Indiblogger.

Aussie Author Challenge 2013::Books

I am signing up the Aussie Author Challenge 2013 under the category TOURIST. Details of the challenge are given here.

Hoping to be a TOURIST reading and reviewing 3 books by at least 2 different Australian Authors - Fiction or non-fiction, any genre.

What are you signing up for?

Aesop's Fables::Book Review

Aesop's fable is a collection of short fables each having a moral. Each narration is based on the animals and every story is about a page. It is similar to Panchatantra.

Aesop's Fables: Audiobook review
I listened to the audio book containing 26 fables. However, there are more than 600 fables. Most of us would have read these fables during school days as a part of syllabus in Kannada or Sankrit languages. Panchatantra or even Aesop's fables is a recommended children's reading. It teaches the little ones to be honest and the one who cheats can always escape.

Some of the famous fables which we would have listened to:

1. Crow and the Stones
Crow and the Stones

A crow is thirsty and stops seeing water in a container but the container is half filled and it cannot reach its beak. It picks up few pebbles and drops it in the container and the water level rises to the top of the container. The crow drinks the water and flies.
Moral: Necessity is the mother of invention.

2. Mercury and the Woodcutter
Mercury and the Woodcutter

This is another popular story which every child would have learned during the school.
There was a woodcutter who was poor and went into the forest to cut the wood everyday. One day his axe fell into the river while cutting the wood and he could not get it. He called out for help and no one came. Suddenly, God Mercury appeared before him.

When Mercury heard what had happened, he went into the river and found an golden axe.  "Is it your axe", asked Mercury and the woodcutter replied "No".

The Mercury jumped into the river again and got a silver axe.  "Is it your axe", asked Mercury and the woodcutter replied "No".

The Mercury jumped into the river again and brought an iron axe. The woodcutter was happy to see his axe. The Mercury said, "You are an honest man and here is your axe. I give you the golden and the silver axes, too".
Moral: Honesty is the best policy.

Likewise, there are many fables that can be found here. I am sure children would love listening to these stories.


Samvastara in Sankrit language means "an year". According to the Hindu Calendar, there are 60 years. Therefore, a person who completes 60 is considered to be auspicious event in lifetime.

Here is a sloka in Sanskrit on Samvastara in an ascending order

Prabhavo Vibhavaha Shuklaha Pramodotha prajapathih
Angiraha Srimukho Bhavo Yuva Dhata tataiva cha.
Easwaro Bahudhanyascha Pramathi Vikramo Vrushaha
Chitrabhanu Swabhanuscha Taranaha Parthivo Vyayaha
Sarvajit sarvadhari cha Virodhi, Vikruthi Kharaha
Nandano Vijayaschaiva jayo manmatha dhurmukau
Hevilambo vilambotha vikari sharvari plavaha
Shubakrucchobanaha krodhi vishwabhanu parabhavau
Plavangaha keelakaha soumyaha sadarana virodhikruth
Paribhavi Pramadhi cha Anando Rakshaso Analaha
Pingalaha Kalayuktascha Siddarthi Raudra Durmathi
Dhumdhubi Rudhirodhgari Raktakshi Krodhana Akshayaha

Ugadi::Sri Vijaya Samvatsara

Today is Ugadi or Yugadi, a Hindu festival, celebrated in the three states of India, namely Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra. In Karnataka and Andhra, it is known as Ugadi and in Maharashtra known as Gudi Padwa. Ugadi is a combined word for "Yuga" meaning age and "adi" means beginning, thus, the beginning of the new age and this year is "Sri Vijaya" naama Samvastara [meaning year] as per the Lunar calendar.

 As I woke up this morning, I listened to the astrologers predicting the pros and cons of this year. The name "Vijaya" means Victory and this year is expected to bring success in whatever you do, as per the Panchanga.
I hope this year is going to be better than the last.

Panchanga worshippd before being opened.
Panchanga is worshiped and read today. Panchanga is a Hindu calendar. A copy of Panchanga in Devanagari, Kannada and Telugu is available on Sri Raghavendra Swamy Mutt, Mantralaya, website and is available for download. Link: .
An android app for Panchanga is available for your phone for day to day usage.

Bevu (neem) bella (jaggery) is shared and eaten among family and friends. It denotes life is full of ups(bad) and downs(good) and one has to face it with courage. I ate the mixture of BevuBella and prayed this year will shower success in every step I take. I visited the Balaji temple in the evening and it was crowded with people of all ages who had come to seek the blessings of the Lord.

I had written a couple of posts on Ugadi in the earlier years and below are the links:

I found the popular Kannada video song, Yuga Yugadi kaledaru, by Dr. Bendre which every Kannadiga would love to hear umpteen times.

Behing the Silicon Mask::Book Review

Title: Behind the Silicon Mask

Author: Eshwar Sundaresan

Pages: 302

Publisher: Westland Ltd

Behind The Silicon Mask-Eshwar Sundaresan
The title of the book sounded interesting especially seeing the word "Silicon Mask" and I requested for a review copy from blogadda. The cover also makes you feel that it is a suspense story seeing the pistol in the hand.

The story starts about the Indian techies, the software professionals, who are sent "onsite" to the USA to work at the client location from an Indian top company called CIKS. Most of them from CIKS are on deputation to work for a client, Mayflower Mercantile, at Milwaukee, in the state of Wisconsin. The author narrates how software engineers struggle working day and night, on high pressure projects, even working on weekends, staying late night at office to fix the bug and during the releases. Their co-ordination with the offshore counterpart, how would they handle the situation during the escalation being at the client location. Some would want to have a better standard of living abroad saving nothing while others want to pay off their family debts staying for a long term.

The live seems normal until a serial killer targets killing the immigrants which brings chill through the spine, in the winter snowfall at Milwaukee. His earlier targets were a Canadian (a teacher) and a Chinese-Singaporean, a student. The serial killer was clever enough to find the nationality of the former though none of his colleagues knew the truth. 

The book has many characters explaining the kind of people working for CIKS. How one has to please his boss to remain onsite, how one wouldn't care if he would remain at Milwaukee or not. Partho Sen and Varun Belthangady are close buddies ever since their offshore days in Bangalore. Both have given their best which makes the client happy. At the same time, you can not expect a boss like Laks Deshpande or Rahul Varma, who would give you good appraisal score. While Varun is happy that he can pay off his father's debt, his girlfriend is extremely unhappy that they are away. Partho, on the other hand, also has some problems with Rashmi, who is very much American. Kamaal, is another techie, who was forced to leave his job since he could not impress his boss. He had come to Milwaukee with a hope, that the dollars earned, would save his home in Bangalore from mortgage but it turned out the other unexpected way, leaving the country without any money. 

The news channel wants to alert the people being targeted and Vishnu working for CIKS gives an interview to an anchor revealing the employee strength at Mayflower Mercantile which puts the lives of Indians and their families in danger. Meanwhile, the Milwaukee Police Department is on high alert working hard day and night to find the killer. They manage to find the killer, who he is, what the motive was to kill the innocent.

The first 200 pages of the book seems to be slow moving on the day to day work and the love life. The later 100 pages are interesting and I could not keep the book down until I read it completely though I had eyes operated and it strained sometimes.

Will the cops get hold of the killer or he escapes? Will any immigrant be killed? Will they be able to protect the hundreds of techies and their families? Read the book to know more.

My rating: 4/5.

This review is a part of the biggest Book Review Program for Indian Bloggers. Participate now to get free books!

The Serpentine Locks

I was looking at my childhood photographs and reminds me the effort my mother spent on getting me ready to school. The 3 or 4 year old girl with boy cut with a little "juttu" and flower decorated. I was a very naughty brat and would make my mother run around to get me ready. She thought the best way to reduce her time is, getting me a boy cut just the way my neighbouring kids had!

My cousins who were much elder to me had long hair and would make hairstyles on each other to show off. In South India, at least, every little girl or a boy would have a photo posing for the "moggina jaDe"[made of jasmine] I would cry to my mother that I need a photo of Moggina jaDe with my real long hair. She decided not to cut it any longer.

Image downloaded from internet from the movie: Moggina jaDe in Kannada
I started going to the school with my waist length hair, thick and black and made me proud. The school had the below rule for long haired girls. If not adhered, thou shall be fined.
Anything below the shoulder was termed "long":

Steps for braiding:
1. Hair should be partitioned into two equal halves.
2. Each partitioned has 3 legs (of hair)
3. The hair is braided till the end and then ribbons are attached
4. The braided hair is then folded and the ribbons are tied up and knotted.

The braiding was so time consuming that I would reach late to school sometimes and be punished. :(
But my mother patiently did it everyday and I started to learn from it. Soon, it wasn't as boring as I thought and started experimenting new hairstyles.

Until school, my hair was oiled everyday. Most of them at school would ask, "which hair oil or shampoo do you use?" and I would blush and tell my mom after reaching home.

This is how I looked while I was in primary school with the red ribbons. :) This is the only photograph that has been preserved with the red ribbons. :D
My school pic with the long braids and red ribbon :D

As I started attending college, I no longer had two braids but only one. My waist length hair had now reached my knees. I could not find a swimming cap matching my hair length. My swimming instructor would admire my long hair. :)

Applying oil at college grown up was out of fashion. It was only during the weekend or else hair would look messy on weekday. Soon, the hair ends started to split and looked ugly when the ends were not braided. I could see trimming my hair as the only option. The beautician would reluctantly cut my hair and was disheartened,"why do you want to cut your beautiful hair just for the split ends?" and she would cut less than an inch. But the problem did not solve.
My long braided hair (present)
It so happened just the way Rapunzel (a famous fairy tale studied at school) had to cut her long hair reluctant for no good!

Rapunzel: Fairy Tale
I hope my waist length hair grows and kiss a good bye to trimming my hair with the use of Dove Split End rescue shampoo which brings the split ends together and your hair has 4x lesser split ends. 
I received the samples, used them and found both the shampoo and conditioner to be gentle and soft on my hair. I hope the split ends would soon disappear with the regular use. :)

Dove Split End Rescue Shampoo and Conditioner
Edited on 24th May 2013: This post won runners-up for the contest

Spring colors

That's my look this spring!!!! Love the nail paint from CVS and the shades are just $2

Every soldier is a hero

April 1998, Bangalore:

I was in class 8 and my final exams were scheduled. My granny fell ill all of sudden and my mother had to travel to her native to see her. I am the only child to my parents and my mother was reluctant to leave me alone at home especially during the exams since my father would arrive only late evening from work. She has been the best teacher to me and would help in revising the syllabus during the exams and the results would always be flying colors. She advised me to study well and not to trouble dad while she was away.

R~ was my new neighbour and hardly acquainted to him. We were just "hi, bye" friends and I never got a chance to interact during the busy exam schedule. I would reach home from school early and he would advise me to lock the doors while I was alone preparing for the exam.

"Never open the door until your father arrives," he would say. And I nodded "Yes" in agreement.

Be it a salesman who would constantly bug to buy products knocking the door or any stranger, he would enquire the purpose of their visit and shoo them. He always kept an eye.

When my mother returned, I explained to her, how R~ took care of her little daughter and mother was happy to know about my new found brother. :)

He had even told me to let him know if anyone bullied me at school or on my way home, I would inform him. I never felt an absence of a brother.

In 2001, he left to Sydney for higher studies and the absence of a brother was felt very much.

March 2012, Australia:

It was my first time travel away from home to a foreign land where I had to live for an year in Melbourne. My parents would sometimes worry, their only daughter is safe or not, whom would she approach if she needs any help in Melbourne that was 5,000 miles away from Bangalore and this friend always assured that I was all good.

My good friend was in Sydney guiding me on several things like taking a house on lease, obtaining a learners license, professional environment in Australia and many more things. I was confident this friend would always be there at times good and bad and would help even without asking.

R~ has been a soldier to me all times and a real hero, unlike those shown on silver screen.

As I write this post, I am sure this soldier will always protect no matter where I am.

This post is a part of #Soldierforwomen in association with

Britney Spears::Perfume review

It was a Rakhi gift from Sudipta who got it all the way from US. I like the strong fragrance and loved this. Thanks for wonderful gift. :)

The bottle is a cute round shaped pink colored and I never felt this throwing it though it is empty.

Fragrance: 4.5/5

Britney Spears Perfume