Look up to optimism ^

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Have you ever tried looking up at the sky when you are feeling low?

Well, I used to go to my roof at night, lay down and look at the stars as I thought about my life and its complexities. Quite often, these serious discussions with myself would start with a pessimistic approach and all my problems would get stated one by one. As I tried to establish the fact that my life is miserable, I soon reached a point where there was no hope left and I would simply start cursing. And just when I was done with the reiteration of all my failures, I would realize that its a waste of time and energy to think about things that have either ended badly or are anyways going to end badly. In a few moments I would start dis-regarding my problems. It started with the most significant ones. The problems that could make me lose my mind during the day were now being pushed aside as I decided not to care. This process continued till I learned that in fact all my problems could be shrugged off, if I chose to.

Now was the time for my optimism to check in. Since I had already gotten rid of my problems, all I could think of was present; since present was the only time period which I had control over. My mind which was earlier full of destructive thoughts started thinking about creation. I was now in the cool dude zone. I simply wanted to enjoy my life and live it to the fullest. Thus, I decided to to call up my friends and plan a night out.

Night Out In Patiala

Now that I think of it, these night outs were never actually planned well. Since most of the times we would either end up on a highway with no petrol or one of us would get hurt. Nevertheless these incidents were always enjoyable and rather created memories which helped me move from the pessimist to the optimist zone. After a few hours of drive on the highway, having sweet tea at truck stops served with regular leg-pulling and fresh PJs; life simply got a new beginning. And the next time I looked up at the sky, I could admire the beautiful stars while not thinking about the darkness.

As juvenile as this narration may seem, such instances had a huge impact on me, my way of thinking and my way of life.

Backdrop:

This post has been inspired from the Look up stories happy hours contest by Indiblogger. Though the idea of writing an inspiring story from my life in itself was intriguing, I wanted to first have a look at the website to which I will be sharing a link to. Even though I have worked on various websites based on similar looking bootstrap templates, I have to admit that the photographs and color schemes used to create the theme were attention grabbing. If you are looking for inspiration or simply want to browse through a good looking website, check out https://housing.com/lookup

Movie Review: Don’t Underestimate Shamitabh

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Shamitabh Poster
Don’t underestimate this movie as another Bhoothnath flick. If you don’t believe me yet, check the IMDB rating. The story is good, acting is better and Amitabh Bachchan is the best. This movie made me laugh and enjoy several moments that includes sarcasm and egoistic remarks shared between Dhanush and Amitabh. Some things did fall apart for me like the lessons given by Akshara in a primary school and the chemistry between Dhanush and Akshara. But I guess it’s ok as per Bollywood standards. What I liked though, is that the movie also had an important appeal with it which makes us think about people who work behind the scenes and never get the recognition.The fact that you will see the names of the corresponding valets in the credits at end, establishes this further.

It also explains how ego can hurt us all if not controlled at the right time. Some of the sequences were simply excellent and succeeded in sparking the targeted emotions. The theme set for Dhanush as a die-hard movie fan, plays an important role in justifying some of his extreme actions. The child like playfulness, the fun loving personalities and the human bonding is portrayed very well.

I also felt that what Dhanush was trying throughout the movie while acting as dumb, Amit Ji pulled off right at the end with much more perfection.

TRAVEL TO OCEAN PARK HONG KONG (Guest post)

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Marine life is a vast area and the variety of creatures living in it are beyond our imaginations. Hong Kong Ocean-park is a marine mammal park, also known as oceanarium, which houses more than 5000 species of fishes. The total area is spread across 91.5 acres and has over 80 rides and attractions to visit.

Ride at Ocean Park

This magnificent structure was created in 1977, but was renovated according to new standards in 2005 and is housing over 1 million visitors every year. Being a huge park, it is divided by two big mountains: The summit and the water-land. The areas are linked together with two car cables stretching at up to 1.2 Km.

MAIN ATTRACTIONS IN OCEAN PARK HONG KONG

There are numerous attractions to indulge into in this land that includes 4 giant roller coasters, animal exhibits, Chinese sturgeon aquarium and many more. Below mentioned are some of those locations in Ocean Park that you must visit-

  • Marine World

This area again have two main regions: Marine land and Headland rides. There are many habitats for marine life like seals and sea lions, where you can experience their natural living attributes. There is also an Ocean park tower which is 200 meters high and is the second largest building in Southeast Asia.

  • Thrill Mountain

This section was opened in December of 2011 and is a carnival themed park with over 222,000 acres of land. You can indulge yourself into its festive season and enjoy its amazing music rhythm and incredible food stalls.

  • Adventure Land

If you are a fan of roller coasters than this area is meant for you. It has some astonishing rides like mine train, raging river and space wheel. This section will fill you with joy and thrill of riding such big roller coasters.

  • The Rain-forest

This came to light in June 2011 and was instantly loved by many viewers for its natural beauty and incredible collection of animal life. You can enjoy its river ride that will free your soul.

  • Aqua City

This section is located in the hill side of “The Waterfront”. Opened in 2011, this area has a span of over 200 thousand square feet and is known to be the largest aquarium in the world. Its sea life carousel and the water-land plaza will give you a feeling of being a part of the marine life.

  • Whiskers Harbor

Attraction like balloon in the air, clown a round, frog hopper, merry-go-round, bouncer house, animal story corner and toto the loco can be found in this particular section of Ocean park in Hong Kong.

  • Polar Adventure

This area features the North pole encounter, South pole spectacular and Arctic fox den. There are also many roller coasters in this area and it houses three species of Penguins at one place.

Ocean park in Hong Kong is a complete tourist destination, which has everything for every age group and will help you create memories of a lifetime.

A Trip to Hong Kong is incomplete without a visit to the Ocean Park!

P.S.: This guest post has been shared by Siddhartha from TravelTours

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.