Have you tried telling the truth?

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I have been watching a television series called House M.D. since 3 months now. This series is about an anti-social doctor who has great diagnostic skills which he exercises with the help of his crack team of doctors. His wits and ability to do whatever it takes for solving puzzling cases is what maintains the audience’s interest. The fact that he has only half a muscle in his right leg establishes the anti-social behavior and tendency to lie. The real catch here is that he is not only good at lying but also good at reading people. This helps him in getting the truth out of his patients with help of several tricks and traps. This truth may or may not play a role in the diagnosis but it does change the lives of his patients altogether.

So, have you tried telling the ugly truth; or are you waiting to be bedridden for someone like Doctor House to reveal it? What I would like to mention here is that the truth may not give direct results always, but it does have long term benefits against the lie. One simple example I want to share is that of the vegetable market. Following is the narrative:

Me: “How much for these apples?”

Vendor: “70 rupees per kilogram.”

Me: “Last week I bought 1 kg for 60, can you give me the same deal?”

Vendor: “Sorry, these are more fresh”

While making the purchase for 1 kg of apples I handed over a 100 rupee note and he returned me 4 notes of ten. After counting, I realized that he gave me one extra note and gave it back.

That was the little satisfaction of truth which made me feel good about it. Though this may seem quite trivial, I have seen people lying about such things as well. For instance, if I would have simply accepted that extra note to satisfy my urge of getting the apples at the desired price, it would have left a little stain on my soul.

Again, there are examples of people who lied about millions of rupees without feeling any remorse. But that does not justify lying. Just try and imagine a world where everyone is lying to you with the most despicable agenda. How would you feel when not just the strangers but the people whom you trust the most, lie to you?
And this is something that is already happening. So how do we maintain trust? The only answer is, by not lying. Watch this video about a girl who goes on a trip with her friends after lying to her father. Though she managed to fool him, she simply could not enjoy the trip until she told the truth.

You don’t need to rely on blog posts like this to face the moments of truth. Try to face it everyday when you look at yourself in the mirror by asking just one question, “Have you tried telling the truth?”

Did you know that you have hosts in 190 countries?

Where are you going?
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This time the happy hours at Indiblogger introduced me to airbnb. This website is going to help you if you have plans to travel or host. The concept of renting your place on a daily basis might have been there since long, but the way airbnb has created an attractive and easy to use platform for both the hosts and travelers, is commendable. Other than the interface and beautiful images that made me think about my next trip, the website follows a process that is very secure and makes you feel safe while you are looking for a place to stay.

One can feel the seriousness with which things are being verified while completing his profile. And the best part is, you will enjoy doing so because you are given an opportunity to add more details about you from different platforms, ranging from your name to a 30 seconds video. All this information will later help you get legitimate deals both as a traveler and a host.

While browsing the website, I noticed a search box with the caption “Where are you going?”. I started off by typing in New York because it is one of the places that I would like to visit in the coming years. To my surprise, I found hundreds of listings which were within my budget and offered me a private room. And this was not just true for my first search; I started searching for other places like London, Bangkok, Seoul and Paris. For all these places there were listings below Rs. 2500. Ranging from Rs. 989 per night in Bangkok to Rs. 2410 in London, I was happy to learn that if I arrange my flight tickets, I can book my accommodation in any of these places right now; without killing my savings. Thus, I added these listings to my wish list along with some notes which I could use later.

And the best part was that there were enough images uploaded by the hosts to make me comfortable already. And images were not the only things that I found credible, the reviews posted by guests sealed the deal for me. And the reason that I could trust these reviews was that they were connected to real people having profiles at various platforms including facebook, linkedin and more importantly a verified ID (e.g. Driving License). If you consider the amount of details that are being added and verified at each step, spamming and faking any of this information seems very difficult to me. And this is the reason, that I would suggest my friends and acquaintances to try Airbnb while planning their next trip.

And for those who are willing to host and make some friends, make sure you add enough details to your listings while being as descriptive as possible. Once again, the Airbnb tips and tutorials will help you complete the submission process.

P.S.: After you sign up, don’t forget to download the mobile app.

Why do you need a website?

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This is the question that many of us have asked ourselves several times, “Why do I need a website?”; and the answer becomes quite obvious after reading this post.

Individual

If you think that you don’t need a website because you are just another employee, you are wrong! You are special, and you need a special website that reflects your profession and personality. It is obvious that you are going to change your job sooner or later and thus having your portfolio on your website is going to help you during those phases. But this does not mean that you should have a website only when you are looking for a new job. A website takes time and efforts to make it credible and if you want it to be counted as one of your achievements, you definitely need to work on it in advance.

You need a website, irrespective of your profession. But some of the professions have more use of a website than the others. For example, a web developer who doesn’t have his own website is simply wasting his chance to showcase his skills. Same is true for web designers and other related professions. On the other hand, if you are in any profession that deals with anything that can be put on a screen, you need to have a website.

As for prerequisites, I would suggest that every graduate should have a personal website. A good place to start would be about.me. Consolidating all your public profiles on a single page will allow your visitors to learn more about you via different platforms. Following are a few examples:

myWebsite

Software Engineer

Author of 3 books

Author of 3 books

Business

If you are a businessmen, having a website is even more important for you and your business. There can be two kinds of businesses. Ones that can sell their services or products online and ones that can not. With the advent of technology, the percentage of businesses lying in the second category has become very less. Today, you can buy anything online; from a safety pin to a private jet.

Even if your business provides services or goods that can not be sold online, you still need to have a website to create your brand’s identity, to provide a platform where your customers can reach you, to impress them enough so they can visit your store or office; with confidence. Most importantly, having a website will make sure that you have a credible online presence. For example, there are millions of businesses listed on websites like justdial.com. From a customer’s point of view, your business is just another listing until it is connected with a website. This website in turn will showcase your work and let your customers determine, how good you are.

Now let’s talk about businesses that manufacture or market products. With the increasing popularity of e-commerce, it is very likely that you will be selling your products on websites like flipkart and snapdeal. Let us spend us time on understanding why you will be doing so.
No matter how much money you put into the marketing your products, you can not compete with the prices offered on these websites. This is because they are being funded by Wall street. Big investors like DST global and Soft Bank Corp. have been funneling billions of dollars into India’s consumer internet story. In 2014, Indian e-commerce websites raised around 3 billion dollars. These online players are likely to spend around 6000 crore rupees on discounting and  marketing in 2015.

Case-study: During Diwali promotions in 2014, Flipkart, Snapdeal and Seattle based giant Amazon had consumed around half a billion dollars for giving discounts, cash back and flat out sales. Also, they have spent around 1200 crore rupees on advertising via different means including social media, television and newspapers.

By now you must have understood, why it is important for businesses to list their products on these websites. Again, the consumers will have a lot of options while making a purchase and the only way you can make a difference is by having your own presentable website. Have a look at this website created for Ashuraj Plastic Industries:

Ashuraj Plastic Industries Website

Government and non-profit

This is not just true for private businesses, even government has started moving in this direction. One recent example I can quote, is that of Himachal Pradesh State Agricultural Marketing Board. They have now created a website for marketers and farmers dealing with apples and other produces of Himachal Pradesh. This has brought them one step forward as they can now easily brand their produces in national as well as international markets.
The state has been known for it’s production of apples which are being exported to various countries. Apples in fact play a very important role in Himachal’s economy. 9 out of 12 districts produce apple and apple economy is pegged around rupees 2500 crore. The area under apple cultivation has increased from 400 hectares in 1950 to more than 1 lakh hectares today.

The goal of this website is not just branding, but also to make sure that farmers can get rid of the middlemen system. They would not be required to travel outside to sell their produce anymore. Everything can be done online as CCTV cameras are being installed to provide live streaming on the website.

Other than the government, non-profit organizations have also utilized internet in various ways. Collecting funds is very important for any such organization which is only possible by having an effective online presence. Other than social media which allows any one to create a profile and page, having a website makes these organizations more reliable. Mostly, a simple 5 page website is enough to create an impression:

Chandigarh based NGO

Chandigarh based NGO

There is always a scope of improvement when you move your business online. Around 3,027,217,800 people were online when I was writing this post. As for India, around 243,198,922 people have access to internet which are increasing by 14 percent each year. And with this, I rest my case.

 

What is #Movember?

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November – or #Movember, as it’s increasingly known – today came to an end, and for almost 5 million around the world this means one thing: time to shave off the charity facial hair.

MovemberThe Movember Foundation is the leading global organization committed to changing the face of men’s health. They achieve this by challenging men to grow moustaches during Movember (the month formerly known as November) to spark conversation and raise funds for prostate cancer, testicular cancer and mental health problems. Watch this video to learn more:

So if you are reading this and if you appreciate the effort made by me and my fellow men, please donate by clicking https://www.movember.com/ca/donate/payment/member_id/11860033/

Bigger is better – The dawn of a new era

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Living in a country with a population of 1.25 billion, I can understand the importance of bigger vehicles and that is why I decided to write about this topic when I came across the #LufthansaA380 blogging contest.

It is time to celebrate, because the largest commercial aircraft in history is now flying to Delhi.

The most important word in the last sentence is “LARGEST“; and this word has got a huge significance in India. Especially for people like me who have been traveling in over crowded buses and trains since their childhood. I remember a number of instances when Indian public transport had taken perfect care of me. Following are a few of them:

I was traveling from Delhi to Agra in a UP roadways bus. The fact about UP roadways is, that they take complete care of their passenger’s needs; needs that we are not even aware of. For instance, the over-crowded buses make sure that we are in touch with reality and understand the importance of staying slim. Because if we turn obese, getting from a window seat to the exit door becomes a back-breaker. It also makes sure that there are enough passengers standing so that they can sweat and burn some calories. To make sure that the passengers are safe from the threat of broken glasses, they simply remove all of them. This again creates a healthy competition amongst the passengers to grab the window seat during summers. And during this process, many of them even get foot massage and acupuncture totally free of cost.

Another instance that comes to my mind is when I was coming back from Allahabad after appearing for my SSB interview. The funny thing about these interviews is that you don’t know when you will be coming back, because you can be rejected on either 1st or 5th day. So though I had made reservations for traveling to Allahabad, I could not make any advance arrangements for my return. And since I got rejected on the 5th day, my guilt did not allow me to spend extra money on Hotels and Tatkal reservations. Thus, I decided to board the next available train after buying a general ticket. This decision lead to a series of events which played a big role in increasing my patience and tolerance. The Indian railway made sure that I learn these two qualities effectively by making me travel as I was cramped between the coach’s wash-basin, two co-passengers (one sitting on my feet and the other resting on my shoulder) and some luggage. That was the moment when I first realized that there is hardly any difference between the luggage and me. Other than the difference that I can breathe, I realized that it was easier for every moving passenger to push me aside rather than pushing the luggage. Nevertheless, it gave me the perfect opportunity to think about my mistakes which led to my rejection; and I had ample amount of time too, since this journey was 11 hours long.

So Yes! I would say that bigger is definitely better. And though the situations like above may never arise in an aircraft, the Lufthansa A380 will definitely reduce the waiting time and provide a stupendous experience to it’s passengers. Do watch this video and share your thoughts while using the hashtag #LufthansaA380:

 

A healthy child makes a happy home

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The 3 musketeers

Our children can’t just block their senses

I have been volunteering with different NGOs in my country and the one thing that I have learned over the years is that a healthy child makes a happy home. We all must have heard a story or two about the love of parents for their children, but seldom do we talk or write about the happiness that children bring to their parents and other grown ups around them.

The most befitting example to prove this “theory” is that the number of volunteers who visit slum areas or shelter homes to teach the children, has always been increasing. Even if we keep aside the numbers, each and every volunteer’s basic reason for showing up was to experience the happiness that only these children could provide. I have felt it myself when I could easily forget all my worries while teaching the children in shelter homes and slums. Their purity of thoughts and innocent acts, win away your heart in no time.

While on one hand they make us happy, if we get attached to them (which we always do), this source of happiness gets replaced by source of worries, when they fall ill. And this is not just true for their parents, but also some volunteers who cannot stop themselves from thinking about the whereabouts of their student who didn’t show up.

This is the main reason that along with education we keep thriving towards the goal of having better health care facilities in slum areas. We had set up a few health camps by inviting doctors who gave sessions on topics like hygiene and healthy habits. It was beautiful to see how different NGOs who have expertise in their own domains, could work together to create an outstanding result. After organizing a few camps, we soon realized that the increase in awareness is not only required for children, but their parents as well. And that is when we started following the “each home”, instead of “each kid” approach. This meant that our efforts were now targeted towards individual families instead of individual kids; which allowed us to club our ideas into a series of actions that further ensured the overall development of a family.
Because these children are our future, we need to make sure that while we try to educate them, they are also kept safe from health problems that often arise due to simple lack of awareness. Educating parents made sure that diseases like malaria can be stopped from spreading by following the rules and guidelines which were set by these people unanimously.

The most promising results in this field were shown by an organization called DIR which has been working to improve the health conditions by helping pregnant women right till the time their children started going to school. From keeping a weekly record of the mother’s and child’s health data like weight and body mass index, they were able to identify the problems and provide timely solutions which were cheap and often included home made remedies. Today if you visit the slum in which they started working a few years ago, you will find a center which now even provides primary education and job opportunities for housewives. They have managed to bring down the infant mortality rate significantly.

All these examples simply state one fact, the best way to keep a family happy is to keep its children healthy. You can not expect these children to learn or show interest in activities when they are sick. You can not expect a father to work with a piece of mind if he knows that he needs to get back home sooner to take care of his sick kid. You can not expect a mother to cook or take care of house chores with excellence if she is broken from inside. You can not expect a volunteer to teach kids and get good results in a slum where 80 percent of children are malnutrition-ed.

P.S.: This post was inspired by Dabur Chyawanprash blogging contest.

AskMe – The Bapp of all apps

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Options on askme Ranbeer Kapoor for Ask me

Gone are the days when you had to install different apps for taking care of different needs like finding the location of nearest grocery store or the best deal on mobile phones or searching the contact number of the local apple store. Askme takes care of all your daily needs and gives you the smart tips that your smartphone was built for. The smartness with which it finds appropriate results for you is magical. If you have ever downloaded an app which helps you find local businesses, you must have noticed that search results are not very relevant, especially when it comes to businesses which are less common. But Ask me gives you the results which you were looking for. To make this possible, the results have been divided into three sections:

Search results for askme Coupons page Share options

ASKME: This section only displays the list of businesses which are searched from within the database of askme. Millions of businesses across various cities have been added to this database which makes sure that you are provided the best results.
FREEADS: This section only displays the advertisements that have been added for free by various businesses or people like you. Keeping them in a separate section makes sure that your primary search results are not hampered.
DEALS: In the age of discount coupons, finding a deal can be more important than simply finding the nearest business or store. For instance, if you want to buy a mobile phone, finding the nearest mobile store will be less important than finding the best deal available in the market.
In spite of the above results, if you are still unable to find what you need, all you need to do is tap on the last option available on your search result screen and AskMe experts will help you further. This facility might be quite handy especially when you are not able to think of the relevant search terms which are most important for finding the best results. This scenario is quite common in India due to the variation in ways different languages are used.

Once you have the list of businesses, you need to identify which one of them suits your needs. Even the list of relevant results can be pretty long which makes the task of narrowing it down quite tiresome. Hit and trial, may not always work in case of common businesses. But don’t worry, Askme is not going to leave you there. It also provides its users, the ability to add reviews and these reviews help you determine which business is most suitable for you.

The next step after finding the required business is to call them up. Askme makes it fairly easy to make that call by providing you a call option right next to the listed item. Also, you can share your findings with you friends via Facebook, Whatsapp, Email, Google hangout or Bluetooth. The fact that this particular app has replaced 3 apps on my smartphone, indeed makes it the Bapp of all apps. And yes, this application can be installed for free. I think now I am getting it, why Ranbir Kapoor is so confident about it.

Inspired by fragrance

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When I woke up this Sunday morning, I got inspired by the fragrance of rain. Right then I decided to go for a short trip on my bike and celebrate monsoon.

It started with an hour long delay which gave us the chance to visit Chandi Mandir.
Then it was followed by another hour of haphazard turns and rather U-turns while we tried to figure out an alternative route to Barsati nadi. (A river that flows during monsoon)

As we took the 4th U-turn; finally we decided to choose a simpler destination and headed towards Kasauli. With numerous stops and click breaks, we reached the point in Kasauli, where our bikes were stopped by the army soldiers and we were advised to walk.

The walk turned into hike, and hike turned into a trek, which had a few moments of mountain climbing too.
Mountain ClimbingOn reaching the top of the hill, we realized that we were surrounded by clouds and the air was so fresh that we even enjoyed breathing. Moved with the beauty around us, we started clicking more pictures in different poses. One of them is called, “Sab Idhar Udhar dekho” pose; AKA Everybody should look in different directions.

After exhausting the camera’s battery and storage limit, we came back while having bargain burgers from Hot Millions; accompanied with tea from Sharma Dhaba.
And while we were discussing, how come it didn’t rain since morning; it started raining cats and dogs!

It was an adventurous and memorable trip with my wife, school-mate and 3 musketeers. 🙂

P.S.: This post is a part of #InspireAFragrance contest at Indiblogger.

My Beautiful FIFA Food

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I was following a strict diet last month and had to stop myself from eating candies or drinking popular beverages. But I got off my running schedule this month and as a result I have discarded my diet plans too.

Gone are the days of resistance and it is time to let my taste buds go wild. This sunday, I decided to eat some beautiful FIFA food which will not only kill my hunger but will also make me excited like a forest fire. Thus I looked up the recipe for a mouth watering dish.

Guess what I started with? Greasing a square pan while the oven got pre-heated to 350F. Then I opened my newly bought butter case and melted 1/2 a cup of it into a bowl. After adding 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa, I kept stirring while I enjoyed seeing it dissolve into the butter. Next in line was 1 cup sugar, which I was devoid of since a long time. Mixing this was literally adding water to my mouth.

Now to make sure that I still get some proteins, I used the last 2 eggs I had, by adding them to this mixture and stirring till they were combined well.

Then I opened the cupboard and took out some vanilla and added 2 teaspoons of it. This was followed by addition of 1/2 cup flour and 1/4 teaspoon salt.

It was now time to fold it with chopped nuts, raisins and chocolate chips before spreading it in the greased pan which was then put inside the oven for 25 minutes.  In the meanwhile, I watched the FIFA world cup which made the time fly away.

When I executed the knife test, it came out with moist crumbs and told me that I have nailed it. I let it cool for a while and then cut it into squares for serving these brownies in a designer borosil plate.

BrownieThe rest of the football match was accompanied with such a delicious serve, that even if my team was loosing, I was not getting disappointed.

P.S.: This post was written as a part of indiblogger contest for http://www.myborosil.com

GOT LEH’D IN JUST 109 HOURS

Leh
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Disclaimer: Such trips exhaust you enough to get mountain sickness and insomnia.

We all respect the fact that getting Leh’d is considered one of the most adventurous events of one’s life. While I do like long trips, this time I went for an excursion which was fast and rather super-fast during night hours.

I would like to thank Aamir Hussain for helping me by giving tips and sharing updates about road conditions, right till I lost my phone’s signal. 😀

PFB a log of the most interesting 109 hours of my life:

12th June, 1600 hours  Left from Infosys Chandigarh with my Dad, Mom and wife in a Santro Xing – We got late as we were unable to get clutch plates from any of the authorized service centers in ChandigarhClutch Plate
12th June, 2330 hours  Reached Jammu – Looked for hotels but instead of staying in one, had dinner at bus stand and continued the journey.
13th June, 0600 hours  Reached Srinagar – Refilled the tank and went around the Dal Lake. (We were using LPG till Jammu)
Dal Lake
13th June, 0800 hours  Breakfast at river bank – Overpriced but delicious Paranthas.
River Bank
13th June, 1030 hours  Reached Sonamarg – Had Lunch – Trekked up the hill and rested under tall trees.
Sonamarg
13th June, 1400 hours  Left for Zojilla Pass – Got stuck in a jam for another 2 hours on the way due to land-slide – Had supper in Drass
Drass
13th June, 2200 hours  Reached Lamayuru. Finalized a hotel quickly as the house-keepers kept warning us that the electricity will be cut off in the next 15 minutes for the whole night – This was our first night stay in the last 30 hours.
Lamayuru
14th June, 0900 hours  Left for Leh after eating self-cooked noodles and soup – We were carrying a gas stove with utensils and enough grocery to survive an earth-quake for 5 days while having full meals.
Hills
14th June, 1130 hours  Reached Leh – Refueled – Had Lunch – Left for Pangong Lake
Leh
14th June, 1500 hours  Reached Chang La Pass – Took out the oxygen cylinders and started eating candies.
Chang La Pass
14th June, 1930 hours  Reached Upshi – Found night stay in a room with glass walls and bamboo roof – Drove back 14 km to the petrol pump for getting more fuel in containers.
Upshi
15th June, 0900 hours  Had breakfast – Packed more eatables after being warned about the terrain towards Manali – Left for Keylong.
Sarchu
15th June, 1500 hours  Stopped at Sarchu Check-post – Forced to stay in tents as the road was blocked till midnight – Had delicious Dal Chawal in a dining hall which was inside a white tent.
Tents
16th June, 0800 hours  Left for Manali – Said adios to Spanish mountain bikers – Got mesmerized by the BRO signs which are talked about in an article at DNA
BRO
16th June, 2000 hours  Reached Manali – Got stuck in jam for 2 hours – Continued after having dinner in Bunthar.
Rohtang Pass
17th June, 0130 hours  Went through a ditch – Tyre rim got damaged and passed out the air – Changed the tyre while leaving the lights on – Battery got drained and push-started the car.
17th June, 0500 hours  Reached Chandigarh – Left half the luggage inside the car – Took a bath and slept for 5 hours – Joined office at 11 AM – Saw signs of exclamation on my friend Harsh’s face who claimed that I can’t cover Leh-Manali road in less than 3 days.

Little Secret: I was only able to do it while changing the driver’s seat with my Dad for few hours.

I am glad to be able to conquer the top three scariest roads in Ladakh: Zojilla Pass , road to Chang-la top and Rohtang pass section. So the next time you feel like going on a trip, go get Leh’d.

Random clicks available at: Facebook
Read more car trip stories at: www.carconnect.in

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