Friday, November 16, 2018

Fantastic beasts - Crimes of Grindelwald - INOX IMAX Experience

I usually watch movies in the Inox next to my home in Navi Mumbai. For this special screening, we were invited to Imax experience at Inox, Rcity Mall. And I was impressed. It's been ages since I've been to this multiplex. Definitely 5+ years. Entry and security check was seamless, they had a VIP lounge and I was very impressed to see a kids lounge where there was peppa pig playing and a couple of toys. I haven't seen this at other multiplexes. A totally engaging lobby experience in all.


I was super excited about this movie because I am a Wizarding World and Harry Potter fan, have read the books and seen the movies and have read fantastic beasts and where to find them as well. After the part 1, was absolutely looking forward to part 2. And also excited coz I was going to see it before rest of the world, in a special premiere! Couldn't get any better than that. And was looking forward to seeing Johnny Depp, who by the way, you cannot recognize at all. The cinematic experience was just mind blowing. The movie was in 2D but because of the Imax experience, it gave this 3D life-like feel. I don't have words to describe how crisp and clear and brilliant the output was. And the surround sound. Usually corner seats don't give as good an experience as center seats but even though we were towards the corner it felt no different - because of the curve of the screen. 


 I won't be giving movie spoilers but you do know that you get to see Dumbledore during his youth, even Professor McGonagall and Hogwarts! Because the HP series ended, anything that connects with makes me nostalgic. The Niffler (and it's adorable babies) and Bowtruckle are there from the first movie. But apart from that, there are way too many new creatures and it's amazing. I loved the Kelpie, the Zouwu, and even the intense looking Matagots. Oh you'll even know the back-story for Nagini! There is so much happening and so many connections with Harry Potter series.
  

We had the good old movie combo of popcorn soft drinks and samosa. And overall had a great experience. The icing on the cake was the quick Harry Potter quiz after the movie where people won wands, and rest got posters and t-shirts. Which I absolutely loved. Can't wait to catch the next movie at Inox Imax!

Saturday, October 6, 2018

A blind date with the world from @stunningmoon's point of view. #TheBlindList


Top post on IndiBlogger, the biggest community of Indian Bloggers

I have always been someone who plans travels to the T. Right from making travel and stay bookings months in advance, to doing my research on where all to go, places to visit, weather forecast, commute options, what souvenirs to buy etcetera etcetera. My packing list is also ready in advance, as a note on my iPhone - so that I don't forget anything important at the last moment.


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But really, to be honest, where is the fun in that? Once I have already seen the images of the hotel, room, amenities, tourist locations and everything else under the sun, there isn't much left to take me by surprise! In-fact, for all you know, my expectations have been raised to something and I may be disappointed with what I actually get to experience. I am sure that has happened at-least once with all you travellers.


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Hence, for my next travel escapades, I pledge to go on a blind date with the world. Blind dates can be scary, but exciting. Just like you don't know what kind of a person will you find on the date - will he/she be attractive or funny? Will he/she be there on time or will you be kept waiting for hours? Will they share similar interests with you or will you both be poles apart? Just like that - will I love the place I visit or not? Will I find things to do out there that I'll enjoy, or will I not? Will the people at this location I travel to be kind and helpful or not? Will I have the time of my life or will I not?


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The answers may be in my favour or may not, but at-least there will be some suspense, something to look forward to that I do not already know! THAT my friends, will be a trip, a journey I would remember for life. Just pack an overnight bag of the most basic important things, maybe leave my phone behind for this travel? Because really speaking, when we're constantly clicking snaps or selfies, or posting them on instagram stories or going LIVE, we're actually not "LIVING" in the moment, pun intended. 


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I have never traveled solo - something that is there on my bucket list. I would like to believe that just because I am married and have a child, it is not too late for exploring the world solo, and maybe at the same time experience self exploration as well! Solo travels are the best to know yourself better, find inner peace, reflect on life - well, so I've heard!



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So, inspired by this video below, I am absolutely ready to go on a blind date with the world - to some place I had never ever thought I would go - are you? Participate in Lufthansa's competition here and stand a chance to make your bucket list come true!


Saturday, September 29, 2018

5 things that I learnt from #MyFriendAlexa for my blog's health!

All through September I read some 200ish blogs, shared them on Twitter, wrote 10 blogs myself (my average earlier was 2-3 blogs a month) and I have to admit that it was very frustrating or tiring at times to meet the criteria of mandatory reading and commenting on blogs daily. But I did it! I pushed myself and I saw great results! Here is what I learnt in short -


1. Reading other blogs is as important as writing yourself.

We totally love getting comments and views on our blog articles. That's the case with everyone right, everyone likes to get some e-love! So don't be a miser with sharing other's articles and commenting on them. Because, it helps you better your Alexa ranking! Yeah, you read it right. This is something I wasn't aware of. You leave some digital footprint, plus you get to leave your name, email and blog URL too. Maybe the blog on whom you commented, will come visit your blog to reciprocate?

2. Commit to your blog - be consistent.

As I mentioned earlier, thanks to being a working mother, my blog was not a priority and I wasn't consistent. Would only write when there was a campaign or I wanted to review something. But after being a part of Blogchatter's campaign I realised how important it is to be consistent - atleast 2 blogs a week. Even your readers would stick around this way, or else they will loose interest. So now I totally plan to have a month's plan in advance on what I should write on. If you do not have enough content you could write a micro-story, poem or even put up a photo-blog. I saw many people do that. Think of it like you'd be dedicated to your partner and call them daily or meet them every weekend - same treatment to your blog.

3. There are so many topics to write on - lot of inspiration out there.

When I had to read 10 blogs a day, I was mind blown to see the creativity out there. The different topics people write on. Fiction, poetry, photo blogs, DIY's, recipes, experiences, travel. I was totally inspired by a few pieces and took notes to write my own blogs on for instance - 30 things that make me happy or break my travel escapades into parts so that they could be a lot more detailed. So if you have a writer's block, go read a few blogs and be inspired!

4. Don't make your blog just a sponsored portal or full of ads

I'll be honest with you. My blog used to be a very heavily sponsored content portal. Most of the articles I wrote were sponsored reviews or campaigns or contests. When I came across similar blogs written by others - I found it quite irritating. I did not feel like reading them or commenting on them and that got me thinking - Why would anyone want to come on my blog and read my sponsored updates or share/comment on them? I haven't monetised by blog by having ads on them yet, but other blogs which had a lot of ads - I found them very irritating too! So hence, I plan to have a lot more non-sponsored content on my blog. Promise.

5. Add easy-sharing widgets and maintain SEO friendliness

My blog had a in-built share widget but it did not have many options for instance adding my twitter handle to it. Thanks to #MyFriendAlexa I explored many widgets and enhanced the shareability of my blog. Now anytime someone shares my blog alteast I know about it on Twitter! I also learnt many SEO lessons and technical details about blogs. There is a lot of algorithm going on!

Thank you Blogchatter.

Monday, September 24, 2018

How to exit a whatsapp group without making it awkward!

If you're from India and are a part of dozens of WhatsApp groups like "My Family", "Cuzins", "Chaddi-Buddies", "Friends Foreva"and so on... And then one fine day it just gets too much. Someone you don't really like a lot said something irritating/repulsive/borderline demeaning or someone new got added to the group whom you never liked, or the oldies of the family are now a part of the earlier youngsters-only group. You want OUT! But how to get yourself out of this without coming in focus and getting phone-calls or being gossiped about or being asked WHY when you next meet. Here are some tips -

1. The good old "I had to format my phone" -
This always works, exit the group and when anyone asks, reply after a day or so saying phone got formatted, lost all backup yada yada.. No-one can say anything except that you are a li'l technologically challenged. Someone who is extra smart from your group might challenge your explanation - after all if you use the same number to log into WhatsApp again, you stay in the groups - just that you might not have the backup of your chats if you didn't take them. But, this reason works with the older people definitely. ;)

2. The wait is worth it -
Do NOT immediately quit the group when something happened that provoked you to. It looks like a teenager type move then. Instead, wait, hold that grudge, and leave after a couple of days - under another pretext like too many groups or busy with work/studies or something else. That way, noone will link your leaving the group with someone is specific.

3. Ask an admin friend to "remove you" -
Can't get yourself to be the one to exit? Ask any admin who's your buddy or knows you well to remove you. They may have removed you accidentally or may be angry with you (you could cook up a fake argument maybe). That way, it's not on you!

4. Say you're on a "social-media vrat" or as we call it, detox -
This is another popular one, where you have a long message sent to the group, before you hit "EXIT GROUP" button. Something along the lines - "It was great to be a part of this group, but I am taking a digital detox for a few weeks. Shall be back soon. Take care...!!" - And voila! People will not ask anything.

5. Follow the sheep -
Always keep an eye out for someone else to leave the group. If you spot 1-2 people leave the group, just follow the suit. Preferably at odd hours. This way, the one who exited first will be blamed for provoking others to mimic the action, plus because there are more than one, people won't ask too many questions.

Well, these are some tips, hopefully useful. Of-course there is the other way of just being honest to the face and telling the people you dislike being on the group and leave it - AT YOUR OWN RISK!


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Sunday, September 23, 2018

Law of Attraction for Parents - A Must Read!

The Law of Attraction is a Powerful Universal energy bringing you more of whatever it is that is going on within you, this includes your thoughts, beliefs, and feelings. If we understand how this Law works we can use it for great success and fulfillment in our families, jobs, and careers.

As Parents, the first thing you need to understand is that ‘Example’ is not the best way, it is, in fact, the only way to teach your children. So in order to bring about any positive change in your children, you have to yourself commit to using these principles in your life religiously.

Here are 5 ways Parents can use the Law of Attraction to positively influence their children and promote the well-being of the family.

1. Meditate together: As the Dalai Lama said, If every child was taught to meditate, we would not have any wars in the world. Sit in silence daily as a family. The golden rule is if your child is 4 years, meditate together for 4 minutes, if he is 5 years, meditate for 5 minutes and so on daily. Breathe deeply and fully. This is a great way to energize your body and cleanse your Aura. Ask the children if they observed any negative thoughts or feelings while sitting in silence. Encourage them to speak about it and teach them the importance of forgiving everybody and everything.

2. Be happy: In order to raise a successful kid, first, ensure that He or she is a Joyful kid. The Law of Attraction always emphasizes on ‘feeling good’ as the essential key to boosting your ability to Attract and Manifest what you desire. The home should always be a happy place. Challenges will come, it is important however for Parents to remain calm and always expect good things to happen to them. This is a Winning mindset and when they observe parents always holding on to their faith and hoping for the best, children will begin to develop this mindset too. The Family can together repeat, “Only good happens to us”

3. Use positive words: Your words should be such that they inspire and encourage, not hurt and humiliate. Remember, your intentions are no good if your children feel unwanted and rejected. Every word you speak carries energy. Positive words will create positive thoughts, which in turn create positive vibrations. Law of Attraction says You can only Manifest your desires if you are in a positive vibration. So make sure you speak to each other at home with love and respect. As you do this, you will see your children doing the same and grow up to be confident, intelligent adults who can think clearly and stay focused.

4. Appreciation tool: According to the Law of Attraction, the more you observe what’s working for you, the more you begin to draw all things good and desirable. Spend 5 minutes daily at night with your children talking about what went right in the day. Make it fun and light. Encourage each other to talk about the best thing that happened in the day. This can actually help us to break away from the victim mentality and do away with the tendency to blame and find faults. This exercise will help the family develop an attitude of Appreciation, an essential key to powerful Manifestation.

5. Power of I CAN: The Law of Attraction says, If you really want to Achieve something, you got to believe that You can. Teach children about the importance of believing they are powerful creators. Encourage them to dream big. As a family, together with practice speaking the language of I CAN. Whenever someone wishes to do something, let them mentally and verbally repeat, I CAN DO IT. When done regularly, this exercise will raise their vibration and remove thoughts of self-doubt and fear.

-Dr. Karishma Ahuja 
Founder –Mastermind Training | LOA expert
KarishmaAhuja.com
A woman of power and passion, Dr. Karishma Ahuja is a renowned Law of Attraction trainer, hypnotherapist & Metaphysical Counsellor in India with profound expertise in Ho’oponopono.“I help people Dream, Believe, Forgive and Achieve their goals with joy.” says Dr. Karishma Ahuja. An Author, Master Trainer and Life coach, she specializes in teaching people about Universal Laws and the Power of the mind, thereby inspiring them to achieve big and live joyfully by pursuing qualities like self-belief and forgiveness. 

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Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Goodbye Freddie Mercury by Nadia Akbar - Book Review

When I read the synopsis of 'Goodbye Freddie Mercury', it intrigued me. I haven't read many (maybe not any) book based in Pakistan. Afghanistan and other countries yes, there are authors like Khalid Hosseini to thank for that. This book took me by surprise, and how!

Let's talk about the cover illustration first - it's eye-catchy! A hard bound version in striking pink and yellow - anyone who saw the book in my hand or at my desk stops to see the name and admire the cover. Showing both the lead characters - Nida & Bugsy along with a lot of trippiness going on, I guess that's how it is for the druggies in the story. The book itself is written very interestingly - in a dual narration. Half from Nida's point of view and the other half from Bugsy's point of view. I think it's a challenge to change the thought process and style of narration within the same book - but the author has done that well.


Upon reading the book, I feel like a new-comer, unknown person looking into the neighbouring country for the very first time. Whatever I have known till now is from the news, or the cricket team or whatever social media feeds to my ears or eyes. But the life of the people - the stark difference between the rich and not so rich, the language, the lifestyle - is so fascinating.

There is this part where the author talks about how everyone in Lahore shops. Shops to forget their pain, shops to feel happy for some time, shops to forget they are poor or oppressed and so on. It's beautifully written and I somehow feel a lot of us in India are like that too. Maybe, just maybe, we're not all that different?

I personally haven't had a youth like this - with partying, drinking, going out all the time, smoking and so on. Infact didn't even have friends who had such a lifestyle. So it's all mysterious for me - and I guess common for today's generation and youth, unfortunately. I do hope noone tries to adapt such a culture - it shouldn't be promoted and made to look so easily accessible and fun - I personally feel.

Though it's 330+ pages, it doesn't get boring at all - right from the beginning till the end - you just want to keep turning the pages and knowing what happens next. Would definitely read other books by the author in the future.

About Goodbye Freddie Mercury:

Lahore is burning. General elections are right around the corner. The summer city rages with the drug-fuelled parties of the oblivious, the rich and famous, while campaign posters and rally cries dominate the airwaves.

Bugsy, rock RJ, and host of the nation's top English radio show is young and fabulous. Seeking more than wealth, fame and prestige, he performs a dangerous favor for an old friend that plunges him into the dark recesses of desi politics. Nida, a young college student desperate to escape the oppressive atmosphere of her traditional family home and her conservative college, still mourning the death of her brother, throws herself recklessly into the drug-addled arms of Omer Ali, son of the prime minister's right-hand man. As Nida spirals into decadence and Bugsy descends into darkness, their paths cross and sparks begin to fly.

Nadia Akbar's audacious debut has all the makings of a cult novel-parties, drugs, mysteries, love triangles, political intrigue and power struggles-but its lush, sexy writing has the assuredness and precision of the acutest style of our time. Told in alternating voices and brimming with sharp observation, Goodbye Freddie Mercury hits the rocks and trails atwist.



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Saturday, September 15, 2018

Keeping teens safe on Instagram: Tips and Tricks for Parents

Instagram is the most popular, and I would even say active platform these days. I know so many of my pre-teen or teen nephews, nieces and kids of friends on the platform and slaying it much better than us oldies. Whether it is instagram stories, or posts - they love posting and expressing themselves on IG!

This only means parents need to know what the kids are doing, or whom they are interacting with - without being too obvious about it. Teens are a delicate age when kids want and need their own privacy. I believe the diaries and slambooks of our times, the chits exchanged or the sms and even the Orkut testimonials - are all now social media DMs, Stories, Stickers and so on in today's day and age.

Instagram understands this and in the past year, has reassessed priorities, reassigned engineers and researchers, and aligned teams around the goal of fostering the safest, kindest, most supportive global community. As a part of these efforts, they launched A Parent’s Guide today, a new resource for parents with teens who use Instagram to aid them in creating safer online spaces for children.

While the Parents Guide is an additional resource to aid safer online spaces, below are a few tips that can help parents contribute more effectively to keeping their teens safe when they come online:

  • Get your Insta-game on. As parents, many of us don’t understand what Instagram is or what it does – admit it and get online! There’s no easier way for you to understand why your teen is on the platform till you get onto it, and understand its pros and cons. Once this is done – spend time understanding the platform and the variety of tools it offers so you can in turn educate your teen to make sure he/she makes good choices online – thus leading to an overall positive experience. An informed parent will create an informed teen – and that is key. (This would be much easier for someone like me, who is a social media manager by profession, but I too don't get the language the kids use these days - with all the shortcuts and words like dayum, on fleek, my mains and so on... )

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  • Manage your family’s time online together. Setting a time limit for accessing social media can prove to be helpful. An added element is, replicating this with every member of the family and not just your teens. Setting a family limit for time spent online will help in making the field level and showing your teens that you too will get to spend the same amount of time that they do online will help them better understand the value and importance of your decision. On Instagram with the new Activity dashboard – your teen and you can review the amount of time each of you spend on the community – in a day or even through the past week along with an analysis of average time spent. To control the amount of time your family and you spend online you can set a daily reminder, a timer you can set to give you an alert when you’ve exceeded what you think is an appropriate amount of time on the app; and a mute push notifications setting to limit notifications. (This is a brilliant addition to the dashboard. And it's so important to set limits for yourself and other elders in the house too. If we're busy taking candids or selfies all day, how can we ask the kids to do any different!)

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  • Unlearn and learn how to do Instagram right with your teen. Learning how to use the platform and its various features is a great way to start a conversation with your teen about Instagram. This also gives you the chance to talk about making their profile a private profile – thus ensuring that they have full control over the content they post and their experience on the platform is safe! Along the way, not only will you find a non-intrusive way to be a part of your teens Instagram presence but also up your Insta-game! Setting your account to private is simple – go to the “Settings” gear from your profile page, and toggle “Private Account” to the “on” position.
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  • Create a strict ‘say no to bullies’ policy at home. Whether its offline or online, bullyingin any form can hinder your teens wellbeing and if consistent, even have drastic repercussions.To ensure, your teen is not targeted to any form of mental abuse online ensure that you have an open channel of communication with him/her so he/she feels that the first step to address the issue is to have a conversation with you. Then, make sure that the offensive comment filter is turned on his/her Instagram profile. This filter will automatically hide comments containing attacks on a person's appearance or character, as well as threats to a person's well-being or health. If the issue remains persistent or you spot an account, photo, video or comments that is intended to bully or harass someone, you can report it from within the app by visiting “...” on a post and clicking on “Report.” (Absolutely important! You need to have such a comfort level with your teen, that they should be able to come and tell you if someone is bullying them at school or otherwise - instead of being scared of telling you anything).

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  • Comment right. Along ensuring that your own teen has a safe experience, it’s equally important to make your teen understand the importance of ensuing others have a similar experience too. Have an open dialogue with your teen about commenting right and identifying comments that might be offensive/derogatory. Instagram’s offensive comments filter automatically hides offensive or inappropriate comments, so people never have to see them. Additionally, one can also modify/customize the filter to reflect specific keywords and emoji’s that one might find offensive. Beyond this, to make sure your teens have a positive kind experience when they come online on Instagram they can also swipe to delete comments, report inappropriate comments, and block accounts that might be hindering their experience on the community. (I remember this scene from the movie called 'This is 40' where the mother checks out a hurtful comment made by a friend of her daughter's on her social media profile and goes and gives him a sounding. Obviously we are not looking at that, but teaching our kids to be right and moral is equally important to keeping them safe.)

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Lastly, for any last minute advice, help or the right conversation started to kick off a difficult talk with your teen you can always refer to Instagram’s A Parent’s Guide at parents.instagram.com or check out the Help Center for more useful resources. 



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