The One Threat That Lurks Unnoticed Inside Our Homes

“Oh, you’re from Delhi! How on earth do you manage to BREATHE in that city?!”

This was an acquaintance, sipping coffee while sitting in the chair opposite me, airing her views on everything about the world around her. She had lived all her life as “an international citizen of India” and really wanted nothing to do with the “filth that lurked everywhere” back in the country where she was born.

She displeased me – oh, a lot – but somehow, I couldn’t think of an appropriate response. What she said wasn’t untrue. Over time, Delhi had become this potboiler of dust, chemicals and grime; it had achieved notoriety as the home of all things evil – from air pollution to crime. And yet, it didn’t seem all that long ago when the air in Delhi had been fragrant with shiuli flowers on Durga Puja, chicken cooking deliciously in the neighbourhood, fresh leaves sprouting in spring.

I came back home that evening and looked around my home. My conversation with that irritating acquaintance had made me feel unsettled. But now I was home. And home is where nothing can get at you, right? Not the monsters who lurked in drains, not the smoke that lurked in Delhi’s air and triggered hateful diseases. Home is safe…

And yet, every other day, I hear of someone suffering from a disease triggered by pollution, when many of these people spend most of their time in the safety of their homes. Women, little children, senior citizens. Scores of people coming down with an eye irritation or a nose congestion every now and then. Nursing an allergy or a flu. Getting hospitalised for bronchitis, pneumonia and even heart problems. People who don’t walk around in traffic and on crowded streets, or inhale the smoke from factories. Continue reading

A Celebration like No Other

~* Winning Post in Kolte Patil Developers and Blogadda’s Celebrate Life at Ivy Contest

Home

On summer afternoons, sometimes, I watch the sunlight streak in through the window and drop onto the floor. It is usually golden. It reminds me of sitting on the floor surrounded by sketch-pens and drawing paper, accompanied by a glass of lemonade, a bowl of mangoes and a very excited Mom. She laughs when I tell her about my reminiscence. “That is a nice and subtle way of saying you miss me. I had warned you as much when you were busy buying wedding saris.” To make me smile, she sends me pictures of the potted plants in our backyard. The colourful new blossoms dancing in the wind instantly cheer me up.

To be honest, nostalgia can be immensely absorbing.  Continue reading

Four Months on the Dose

Yes, I have been on tablets. In the singular, actually. The nifty device has come in handy for several maladies of my existence.

In the first month, when Dell very thoughtfully initiated the Blogger Review program, I found the tablet does a terrific job of Tuning out Noise. Loaded with music, movies and other A/V delights, I found the noise of the Delhi Metro fading into the background.

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Hi-Tech Children

“My little one has over 600 Facebook friends. Fifteen of them are even foreigners, isn’t that so darling?” chattered away an aunt I am only – and thankfully – distantly related to. We were having coffee in one of those plush Delhi cafés that have in-house Wi-Fi and live tweeting areas. The coffee excursion had been the aunt’s idea and I am too wise to give up on the opportunity to partake of some hot, creamy and hold your breath, branded coffee.

I was intrigued by how our foreigner-philia is still very much alive. I was also intrigued by the sheer size of her little one’s friend circle, considering the number was about 60 times his age.

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5 Symptoms to Diagnose If You Need a Tablet

  1. You get called to meetings you never knew had been organised –Before you substantiate your I-am-being-framed theory further, you might like to get some help with planning your day (read here for how). In the crazy life we lead, it is entirely possible to muddle up your dinner date with your appraisal meeting.
  1. Your laptop has started crumbling at the edges from being pushed around in public transport –They didn’t make laptops to be carried around in arms or kept on the floor of Delhi Metro coaches. For that matter, editing, restructuring and commenting on intricate work documents on a phone is creepy, if you’re like me on this. And sigh, this elementary situation is what the boss chooses to be ignorant of.

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Bottle-Green Plans

Bottle Green Diary

*Picture from http://www.amazon.com

I had a bottle-green diary in school. The first few pages had the national anthem, the school anthem, and good thoughts to see us through the day. As the school term progressed, the subsequent pages would fill up with time-tables, exam date-sheets and assignments. Mom and I would highlight key portions in fluorescent colours, and make mnemonics and symbols in the margins. The bottle-green diary is now all full. Of writing…of memories. Though good old paper and pen can never cease being endearing, let me tell you how my Dell Venue is pretty neat when it comes to planning my day. Even though it’s black.

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5 Lessons by Calvin and Hobbes on Tablets et al

Let me start by giving you some context for this lesson. I would urge you to please bear with the madness that the monster of a Delhi summer is driving into me. It so happens that in this relentless heat, with rain nowhere in sight, Calvin and Hobbes playing with snowmen is my best bet at relief. Each morning, when I tune into music on my Dell Venue and slip into the artificial cool of the Delhi Metro, I visualize a snow world. The trees topped with white icing, the courtyard windy and chilled, and a cup of hot chocolate the closest thing to heaven. Gradually, my favourite music attempts to soothe my frayed nerves, and the air conditioning pats me comfortingly on the back. I am drawn deeper into this wonderful world – of snow, music and interestingly, a non-intrusive electronic device. It is then that I wake up to a spate of interesting things about my new tablet. Here goes.

1. The world has really learnt to entertain. For all our cribbing about contemporary television, there continue to be a host of good movies, documentaries, games and songs. What’s more, there’s no need to hunt around in a ram-shackled video-tape store in a sultry afternoon to access them. For instance, you could go here. Delve into the HD graphics and have a fun time being a critic.

Calvin and Hobbes

2. No one need be cursed for being dis-organized anymore. The world has moved beyond sticky-notes and chits of paper that are prone to being blown away in the capital’s heat wave. Aside from basic organizer facilities, the tablet is compatible with several other apps that let you manage your time better. That aside, the battery backup rarely catches you unaware, storage space is ample (and extendable), and notifications ring out loudly enough. Yeah, it works great even if you micro-manage.

Calvin and Hobbes

3. Sometimes, it is essential to actually walk to the other side to see how green the grass is. The neighbour’s lawn-mower could be fancier or you could be in a rain-shadow area. It helps to slip into the other side’s skin, viewpoint and language to understand the scenario. Dell Venue, for instance, lets you pick the language you prefer most. It also offers neat customization settings and an intelligent playlist.

Calvin and Hobbes

4. There’s an optimal time to philosophize. When all your work worries are attended to, say you have no fear of missing an important e-mail, or can steal an early evening out since you can work on the go, you turn philosophical. This is the juncture when you can observe a fellow passenger, click pictures of the faraway skies, debate a new route to take using the GPS location tracker, pull together the courage to browse through a new recipe on the internet, and wonder where your life is headed in general. Finally, you can address issues more pressing than extending a deadline at work.

Calvin and Hobbes

5. Role-play and make-believe can be your best fall-backs in life. It’s good to believe you have a great deal of strength and walk into the world with a song on your lips. It’s okay to conjure up some happiness – some comfort food, a childhood book – and pretend you’ve been just told God is in his heaven. For instance, I feel all charged up to wrap my Dell Venue in its waterproof case, venture out into the front porch and play raindrops-are-falling-on-my-head in full steam. Bring it on!

Calvin and Hobbes

While I am out looking for rain, you might like to check out Dell’s Facebook Page. Or, you could also tweet tagging @DELL_In and use #DellVenue. Last thing I heard, people love getting surprise gifts at their door.

Stay tuned for more on this, shortly.

*Written as a part of Dell Blogger Review Program

 © Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Watterson

Dwelling on Dell

Closet

While sifting through some stuff in my closet the other day, I came across the thinnest phone mankind has ever known. Okay, that may not be entirely correct, but the mere sight of the malnourished phone took me back to an era when slim was completely in. Companies vied with each other to produce a phone thinner, yet packed with more features, than the adversary. We eventually moved to larger screens till they became so large they ceased fitting into pockets, purses, handbags and suitcases. We are still confused; the markets abound in all shapes and sizes of cellular devices. And then we have tablets, phablets and goblets.

Do we really need a tablet? What can it achieve that a phone today can’t? Is it wise to introduce kids to electronically manufactured delight early in life? In the light of recent queries I have received on my new Dell Venue 7, I intend to dwell on some answers.

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Tuning out Noise

In the course of a Delhi day, there are few silent moments. The sun rises on a busy street, several cars and their owners already enroute their destinations. Birds complain of the smokey air, their song laced with grievances. Onboard the Delhi Metro, I tried several methods to tune the noise out. Excuse my non tolerance, but it continued to get to me – the endless chatter, the people sitting on the floor despite instructions not to, the wailing children, the sleepy morning faces, people announcing their Europe trips to all the people in the coach! My phone hasn’t exactly been designed to play/store much music; the poor network connectivity impedes conversation with anyone I feel like talking to at that hour. To cut a long story short, the Dell Venue tablet came to me as a gust of lifting wind, breaking right through the layers of dust a Delhi day puts on my being.

I received the tablet a week or so ago, as part of Dell’s Blogger Review Program. Now, I am not your typical gadget freak.

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When Work Takes Centre-Stage

*Second Prize Winning Entry in Mia by Tanishq’s “As Beautiful as Your Work” contest*

*Picture from Tanishq Mia – studs in three tone gold

Life comes up with quirky afternoons. There are ones when you sit fidgeting over the presentation the next day, wishing time would either speed up or stop. And then there are ones when memory brings up discrete moments from the past, punctuated in neat little rows – times as fluid as a set of pearls.

There was that time when I was a neat-grey-uniformed girl in high school and would return home with a bagful of assignments and a mind full of chlorophyll, Akbar and Arithmetic. That pigtailed school-goer moved on from green ribbons to green rubber-bands, from grey-pleated skirts to work formals, from glasses that touched her nose to ones that are visibly smaller in size. The confines of ‘work’ may have changed but in spirit, little else has.

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