Not feeling the Diwali cheer? Entering the kitchen might help…

Barfi-Diwali_sweetI have grown up hearing my mother and grandmother’s stories about how in their time, Diwali was a month long affair. In the years bereft of Amazon, Myntra, Snapdeal, and the one-click-retail therapy,  Indian households would start the preparations in advance. Much like a military operation, there was a strategy . The season began with  kachori’s, mathhi’s, namak para’s, ajwain sticks and namkeens and nearer to the Diwali, the kadhai would witness a makeover and out came the barfi’s , halwas, ladoos and other sweet delicacies….

So this year, to get into the festive mood, I decided to encourage the feeling by engulfing myself in the kitchen, to make a traditional sweet.

Enjoy my grandmother’s badaam (almond) barfi recipe. ( the recipe is so easy that you can replicate the almond with pistachios, cashew or any other dryfruit)

Almond Barfi Recipe

Ingredients: 

1kg almonds ( soaked overnight and peeled)

1kg sugar

1/2 tsp gulkand essence

1tsp almond essence

1/2 a cup of water

Method: 

Coarsely grind the blanched almonds ( instead of mixie, use a hand blender so the almonds don’t get pasty) Boil the water and dissolve the sugar. Once done add the almond paste , gulkand and almond essence. Stir for about 5 minutes till it is mixed well. Even out on a platter and leave to cool. Cut in pieces and serve !

 

 

 

 

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TAKE SACHIN’S FREE MASTERCLASS…TO ACE YOUR GAME !

 

I have heard various criticisms from professional film reviewers, cricket fans and Sachin worshippers about SACHIN- A BILLION DREAMS.

What’s new they say? Yeh toh hamme pata hai!

40 cricketing years squeezed into 140 minutes- ofcourse fans wanted more!

But for a cricket by-stander like me, whose love begins at the start of the match and ends with it, I loved the film- because it means every ordinary person with a dream has the power to rock the world.  

So, Sachin fans are disappointed I get that, but here’s the best of a billion reasons why you should watch the film…

                                  BUILD DREAMS NOT BANK BALANCES

I had a dream growing up, and I totally understand how a dreamer fuels their passion,beyond all odds.  Hardwork feels hard without a dream. 

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‘MAIN KHELEGA ‘  PLAY THE NO QUIT POLICY

Life is not fair. Choose who you want to be. Physical pain, Mental trauma, Emotional setbacks, are just some of the roadblocks en route to being the best in your trade. A broken nose in his debut test series match, did not stop him from playing.

 

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PLAY THE OPPONENT, NOT JUST THE GAME 

Take the best practises from industries other than yours. A fresh perspective, helps not only strategise, but also change the game.

 

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BREAK DOWN UN-ACHIEVABLE GOALS

Not all targets can be dealt the same way. Sometimes, spin the target on its head and attempt it using smaller goals that add up .

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                                     INDIA VS SRI LANKA WORLD CUP FINAL                                                                                TARGET OF 251 RUNS WAS BROKEN DOWN  → 50 boundaries ( One boundary in each over ) + 51 singles

 

Accepting defeat, being the centre of fans ire during bad performances,  having every move scrutinised by experts and couch potatoes, sacrificing family time that will never come back, keeping your cool, never doubting yourself and dealing with team politics shaped Sachin Tendulkar from a middle class poet’s son to a cricketing superstar…. and for that I salute the legend.

-Mansi Mehta 

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Hey Girl, Are you killing yourself ?

TL, CYB, IMHO, BRB – Our life, is fully governed by anything and everything that can help save those teeny weeny extra minutes in the day, so that in our daily fight with time, some day we can celebrate a win.

Recently as part of a research, I was to interview women from age 20 to 55 about their daily struggles. By the time, I finished my 15th call, I didn’t need to write- my pages looked like carbon copies of each other.

 

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From some I got the cutest answers –

Can you turn my nagging husband into a more co-operative one?

Can you get my children to respond to my texts instead of calling me in the middle of my meetings to ask if they are allowed eat ice cream?

And my favourite- I want a clone, to cover for me at places I can’t be.

Most women I spoke to, start their day supervising kitchen duties, aiming to whip up the most nutritious, fresh meal for every family member just like Jamie Oliver, a tall task in itself, it doesn’t end there.  Support Staff absenteeism,  Chores undertaken en route to work and parental supervision all gets checked in the first half of the day.   At work, multiple calls, texts, whats apps to ensure kids have eaten their meal, their after school itinerary is moving like clock work, maintaining the ever failing equilibrium between support staff, dictating the evenings dinner menu, all in a single 18 hour cycle.

Women are dying under the pressure of getting an A+ on their Mother/ Wife / Daughter in law Report Cards. The beauty is, this pressure is self inflicted!

Why?

Why must you excel in all 10 spheres of your life? Isn’t excellence a virtue of mastery in a single field?

Every young mother I know, teaches her children ( girls & boys) to experience life, take up hobbies that free their mind, learn what they desire, ignite their passion and most importantly arms them with all the tools for – Self Survival.

So why is it that these same mothers have forgotten to apply the same tool to themselves.

Here is where things get interesting, as I was talking to the better half regarding my conversations and repeating the heroic acts of these Multi-tasking Super Women, he asks me-

‘ Do you think women understand multi-tasking ?’

‘Ofcourse! Look at how many things all these women are doing in the course of a day’

That’s where you are mistaken he says, Muti-tasking is a product of Delegation. Women don’t delegate, they effectively like to do each thing, to be involved in each thing, to be able to control each thing. That’s not multi- tasking , thats Multi-doing.

As I recover from this statement, I realise how we have set ourselves up for failure on multiple accounts. Most importantly failure to make ourselves priority.

Like men, why are we unable to dis-associate emotional and practical, work and home?

I wonder if in our bid to own the personal and professional front, have we taken more than we can chew?

Will this guilt of being responsible for everything, always be felt by women?

 

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A day in the life of Modern India #isthisyou?

It din’t hit me till I went to spend a night at my parents house last weekend… but I am a prisoner of technology. What you are about to read is going to be so familiar, that I expect your eye widening and blush deepening!

So here’s recounting a normal Friday

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#Fitbit beeps into my dreamy state ‘ It’s time to wake up, our goal for today 8000 steps, Let’s Go!’ 

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#Mydietcoach reminds me that today’s breakfast options are boiled egg or fruit smoothie.

Damn! takes all the fun of waking up in my mum’s house, see you later cheese omelette and gobhi paranthas!

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#Uber checks in with me ‘ Heading out? Use #work for discount’

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#DailyWater worriedly reminds me ‘You have not had any water since morning, you have 8 glasses to go ‘

“Uh-oh! As my board room meeting develops into a war zone, I would be lucky to get a pee break. Water must wait!”

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#Mydietcoach is back with my lunch options- Grilled sandwich or a bowl of daal.

“Little did it know, lunch was actually 6 cups of masala chai and 8 Bourbon biscuits!”

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#BigBasket notification beeps. ‘Out of rice? It’s time for your weekly grocery replenishment’

“Out of rice? I am out of my mind right now! My laptop just crashed on me ….and no I had not saved my file!!!”

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#DailyWater sends me a pic of a wrinkled fruit ‘You are dehydrated, have a litre of water to remain on the daily goal’

“Well actually my friend I am demoralised, dejected & depressed. I am sure you agree dehydrated is the least of my concerns”

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#SportsSocial pings me ‘ Playing Badminton today? There are 3 confirmed players for a 6pm play. Confirm you?’

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Phone alarm goes off ‘Don’t forget to pick up the drycleaning ‘

“Drycleaning? With this crazy traffic I will be lucky to reach my court on time”

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#Mydietcoach send me the dinner menu. I look at that and the butter chicken the husband is devouring …as I click Remind me Later.

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#Fitbit says ‘It’s time to rest, Goodnight’

“If it wasn’t for the fact that its soon going to be Saturday, I would be crying!”

After failing my daily app goals, its time for me to work harder… after all it all begins again at 830 am Monday morning!

 

Download the apps you like below

GET FIT WITH FITBIT

FIND YOUR FAV SPORT &PLAYER

THE WATER GUIDE

STOCK YOUR CUPBOARDS

 

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THE ‘DO-NOT GIFT THIS VALENTINES’ GUIDE

Of course, it’s not easy! and Of course, it requires weeks of research. So if you don’t want your bu** kicked make sure your Valentines Gift does not feature in the following list!

FOR HER

PERFUME– Seriously are you trying to comment on her personal hygiene? You can imagine yourself whats its gonna sound like, when you gift her a fragrance.

Hi baby here’s a perfume coz I don’t like how you smell.

 

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ROSES- This is so passe, that it’s not even funny! At the fortune you spend on a bunch of 20, you could get ride free on Uber for a month. What could give you an advantage however is plating a rose tree named after your loved one in the neighbourhood park. Wat an #IDEA Sirji!

 

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CHOCOLATES–       ‘Kuchch meetha ho jaye ‘ sounds great on TV, but you really don’t want her spending all her extra time at the gym. All thanks to your chocolate gift box!

FOR HIM

SHIRTS-

‘The closest you can get to your boy freind when you are not around him’

Sure it sounds ultra romantic, but it’s a piece of mass production! Mother’s gift Shirts, Colleague’s gift shirts , Girl friends DO NOT gift shirts!

CUFFINKS– Another classic Valentines blunder! First no one wears cufflinks anymore, unless they are quirky like a camera cufflink for a photographer etc . Secondly every man I know has at least 10 cufflinks in their wardrobe, for the 5 occasions in the year when they need to wear them! I hope you get the point.

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GADGETS– Now we all know why this is a bad idea. If you are tech challenged like most of us, you will end up getting him something that is rated 4.8/5 ! Blunder no 1. You may further end up picking a model that has only 49 features, 2 less than his current device! Blunder no 2.  I hope you cancel this thought before I have to list Blunder no 3.

 

With so many No No’s what should you get your Valentine this year ?

Well, if you are naive enough to think beauty queens can help achieve World Peace, I guess you thought reading this article could answer the million dollar question

‘What’s the perfect gift to buy for your Valentine  ‘

Up , Up and away my darling Valentine…

COVER PIC CREDIT: ONEINCHPUNCH – FOTOLIA

If you just heard the word Valentines on the lunch table today and are totally shitting bricks of what to do – Pack your partners bag and surprise them with one of these holiday breaks this 14th February weekend

***BANGKOK, THAILAND***

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Why not I ask? Tickets will be equivalent to travelling within India . Visa is on arrival . With domestic air traffic it takes the same time to fly to Goa as to Bangkok.

Massages, Cocktails by the pool,  Weekend markets. This south asian holiday ticks all the right boxes.

 

***TREE HOUSE RESORT, JAIPUR***

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Super relaxing and magical. Living in an actual tree house will take you back to your childhood. The romantic setting and secluded space is perfect for workaholics to rekindle the love.

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BOOK YOUR TREE HOUSE GETAWAY NOW

 

***LUXURY CAMP, RISHIKESH***

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6 hour drive from Delhi, turn this weekend into an adventure. Camp by the river in the night, bunjee jump, raft or kayak in the day. This holiday promises to rejuvenate you in more ways than one.

PLAN YOUR OWN ADVENTURE NOW

 

***KANHA NATIONAL PARK, MADHYA PRADESH***

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One of the most sought after Tiger Reserves, Kanha National Park has been portrayed by Rudyard Kipling in his novel ‘The Jungle Book’.  A personal safari, could show your partner how much you love them.

COMPILED BY MANSI MEHTA

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How I steal 90 minutes ‘Me Time’ everyday

Did you know that we spend a minimum of 120 minutes everyday of our life mostly cursing someone, pushing our blood pressure to new levels and sometimes even experiencing mini heart attacks?

Don’t know what I am talking about?

Time spent on the road going to work, fetching kids from school and even the otherwise happy shopping trips to the mall. From point to point we waste anything from 30 minutes 180 minutes of our time on the road. So heres’ how I cheat the city life for my 90 minutes.

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SPEAK TO MY PARENTS                                                                                                                                  Hi , Is it urgent or can I call you back?                                                                                                 How many of us start the conversations like that when at work. Their guilt of infringing on my corporate time  restricts our conversation to mundane factual communication. Ever since I started calling them on my way to places, without a time bomb ticking over my head, I feel far more connected to them.

ORGANISE MY THOUGHTS FOR THE DAY  If you are as forgetful and scattered as I am, this works wonders. I find recording my thoughts on audio notes an easy way to prioritise making me more in control of my day

CALL A FRIEND I HAVEN’T SPOKEN TO IN OVER 6 MONTHS This is more difficult than you think. At first, it’s not easy to come up with who to call if you haven’t been in touch with, simply because you don’t have a starting point for the conversation. But once you make the call to 2-3 friends you will be surprised at how refreshing and energising those conversations are.

ORDER THE MONTH’S GROCERIES, ORGANISE PLAY DATES AND OTHER HOME CHORES If you are driven around, this is the biggest ROP ( Return on Phone!) I love how I can line up all the boring chores during the least productive part of my daily life.

YOUR PERSONAL CONCIERGE ON AN APP

CATCH UP ON MY FAVORITE BOOK Audio books are a blessing if you’re an avid reader constantly craving book time. Sigh! the countless times I have sat in the parking lot finishing a chapter whilst citing traffic as the reason for my delay!

MEDITATE Clearly this is not everyone’s cup of tea! But I truly believe that 10 minutes of meditation or pranayam ( breathing yoga exercises)  a day gives you 10 hours of battery life.  The trick here is to put noise cancelling headphones so you can hear your internal voice.

BUY YOUR 10 MINUTES OF SILENCE

PAINT MY NAILS Tell me how many times you have chipped your nail polish the morning of your big meeting? I have a standard manicure set handy for any nail emergency !

BUY A PAINT REMEDY SET

NURTURE A HOBBY   The phrase ‘I don’t have the time’ is a result of bad delegation, control issues and lack of task prioritization. Whether you are in a taxi, metro or auto learning a language, art , recipe or even origami will transform your mundane boring journey to one you wouldn’t trade for anything!

FIND YOUR HOBBY ONLINE

Now,I can’t wait for the day to finish, so I can start mine on the journey home!

Only Shah Rukh Khan can make DD’s so sexy

Movies- a reflection of our environment, characteristic of society’s new trends, steeped in the coolest words of the month, Director Gauri Shinde masterfully brings all 3 components together in her latest ‘ Dear Zindagi’

How else would a psychologist become a DD- Dimaag ka doctor and the pursuit of THE partner be explained as the journey of finding the right chair.

Mental illness has always been a taboo, sometimes I think even more than HIV. In true Indian fashion, it took a Deepika Padukone recently to bring the matter to the forefront,  and now its SRK and Alia Bhatt who are helping add style and cool quotient to the  otherwise stigma.

The funny thing about the Dimaag ka Doctor is that in life, we all ‘need’ and actually should ‘visit’ every once in a while. Like the customary eye test, the standard blood tests etc why should our dimaag not get the routine makeover?

The brain- a reservoir of feelings, emotions, thoughts, wishes is well guarded by our personal watchman- the Ego and while we think we can handle it all, there are many hints our bodies give us to tell us otherwise… And that’s what I love about Dear Zindagi. It takes a bout of sleepless nights, a physical symptom, for Alia Bhatt aka ‘Kaira’, to gather the courage to go to SRK aka Jehangir Khan, a therapist.

 

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The setting of the film is perfect- a young woman cinematographer trying to make her way in the big bad world of movies, constantly in and out of relationships topped with a strained relationship with the parents having to move out of her Mumbai apartment because she is ‘single’.

Reality depicted in reel did you say? Yes.

As Kaira, moves to Goa for a break, the director takes a leaf from every parent’s book and so start the interrogations

‘Are you Lebanese ?’ asks Uncle

‘Oho! Lebanese nahi Lesbian !’ chides the Aunty followed by the usual suspect

‘Why don’t you settle down ? ‘

The interrogation dinner is enough to send Kaira running off to stay with her friend away from the family madness.

Cut to sleepless nights and the entry of the DD ( Dimmag ka Doctor)  SRK.

ShahRukh’s casual demeanor , cool clothing, super hot beard and most importantly toned down over-acting makes him not only a delight to watch, but also makes one wish for a therapist like him who can help you with the small things in life.

As the film continues to dwell into Kaira’s past, her innermost fears and how it has affected her life, Dr Khan not only helps her de-clutter her life, but also makes her fall in love.

In my personal case, over the last couple of years my partner and I seem to have automatically become each other’s therapist. Long  drives that started as exactly that, long drives, have now become our dimmag ka doctor sessions- a space where neither judges, scolds or tries to offer solutions to the other on problems or those ‘life’ questions that keep popping up. It’s a time that we use to bare our soul, not to the other but actually to ourself. And the fact that it’s done out of the house, actually makes us more vulnerable  to open up but less vulnerable to feeling hurt.

In the end, the film reminds us yet again, if we don’t learn to ‘ Love you Zindagi’ it’s going to be the most miserable journey you have ever been on!

 

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Marketeer’s guide to Gandhiji’s 3 wise monkey’s 2.0

How many times have you sat behind your desk and let a marketing docket go without reading through it, signed on a marketing alliance without reading the fine print? It’s so easy difficult to envision the repercussions of your actions in your concrete facing cabin.

I feel something similar happened at Yauatcha this week.  It’s one of my favourite places- The dimsum heaven, stir fry lamb haven, and the place you can always go to and it never disappoints, except this time.

I recently saw a digital campaign about their anniversary celebrations, the promise of a great menu at a super affordable price. So off we went on Monday night . So as I was given an option between the Taste of Yauatcha special 5 course meal and the Anniversary menu,I  realised other than the inclusion of a glass of sparkling wine the menus were 85% same. How could that be? Why would a Michelin star restaurant not have enough to differentiate the two menus? There was no answer. But that got me thinking of how the lack of vision, and part disinterest in one’s team can lead to destructive marketing.

 

As Marketeers there has to be a version of Gandhiji’s three monkey rule that must be adhered to

Screen Shot 2016-11-15 at 3.44.11 PM.pngKeep your eyes open. blind. You have to know that each marketing activity has a different reaction, but don’t insult the customers intelligence. EVER

Screen Shot 2016-11-15 at 3.44.03 PM.pngKeep your ears open. I have seen companies spend millions of dollars in research. Research of what the consumer wants. Ironically, if you think about it, we are given that information first hand everyday, we just have to have the right mechanism to internally share that data

 

Screen Shot 2016-11-15 at 3.44.18 PM.pngOpen your mouthBe vocal. Interacting with the real customer on the shop floor is the best way to know if your marketing is working. On Paper and in reality the trademarks of a successful campaign are very different.

ARE YOU LISTENING TO WHAT THE UNIVERSE IS TRYING TO TEACH US?

2016: It’s been a great year. I quit my job to follow my passion, travelled around the world, and attended the mind blowing Coldplay concert in London. Just kidding!

2016, has been a path breaking year for many countries. We saw UK vote to opt out of the European Union. We saw President Elect Donald Trump cross the required 270 votes by a mile.

What does this tell us ? There can be a few explanations-

a) Aliens are on the planet and are playing havoc with our mind

b) The world’s a stage and  Karan Johar’s the director.

c) People are fed up of false government promises and can’t be fooled anymore.

I was in London when the Brexit results were announced mid this year, everyone around was shocked, hate mails were flying around, social media was overflowing with rants, arguments and jokes.  Yes it was a shock, but for those professionals, businessmen and new white collars who chose to ignore a whole other segment of fellow residents who were voting to safeguard their present. My personal view, it was a risky step, after all haven’t folk stories told us 5 fingers are stronger than one, but like 2 sides of a coin, neither is fully right or fully wrong.

And that’s what gets me to the point of worry, are we as people slowly forgetting to be tolerant? Tolerant of another man’s view, another man’s policy, another man’s vision.  Yes, we have found our voice, yes we choose to exercise it, yes we think we are right, but that doesn’t mean the other person is wrong. They are just different. And that’s what we do not celebrate anymore, the diversity of voice.

Take this week’s examples- Donald Trump won the elections fair and square, people came out and voted for a change. Are we turning a blind eye to the millions of non-metro Americans who are making their voice felt and voting for the better life, better employment that Trump offers, only because we don’t support Trump?

Could this be a fatal decision in world economics -Maybe.

Could this be the end of a peaceful world – Maybe.

Could this be the lowest moment in world politics – Maybe.

But it’s what some Americans have chosen, and the others have to respect it.

I, for one, am not a Trump fan-  I think he lacks many things that are crucial to be a leader, but I also think with great power comes great responsibility

This is Trump’s hour of learning . Let’s give him that.

Or before we know it, this growing polarisation Tsunami will divide our homes and lives.