Saturday, April 23, 2016

Beauty is a Wound by Eka Kurniawan - Book Review

I was pretty excited when this book arrived in the mail, after a long break from reading. And the previous two reads being non-fiction. Beauty is a wound is 'beautifully' written by Eka Kurniawan, a forty year old Indonesian Writer.

I was very intrigued by the description of the book itself! The cover is a work of art too, with the picture of a Carrion Flower (A flower that smells like rotten meat), which totally does with the title and story.

The epic novel beauty is a wound combines history, satire, family tragedy, legend, humour and romance in a sweeping saga. The novel begins with the Japanese occupation of Indonesia, then a Dutch colony, at the time of World War II. The beautiful half-Dutch, half-Indonesian prostitute Dewi Ayu and her four daughters are beset by incest, murder, bestiality, rape, insanity, monstrosity, and the often vengeful undead. Kurniawan,s gleefully grotesque hyperbole functions as a scathing critique of his young nation's troubled past: the rapacious offhand greed of colonialism, the chaotic struggle for independence; the 1965 mass murders of perhaps a million 'Communists', followed by three decades of Suharto's despotic rule. Beauty is a wound astonishes from its opening line: 'One afternoon on a weekend in May, Dewi Ayu rose from her grave after being dead for twenty-one years Drawing on local sources - folk tales and the all-night shadow puppet plays, with their bawdy wit and epic scope - and inspired by Melville and Gogol, Kurniawan's distinctive voice brings something luscious yet astringent to contemporary literature.

About the Author
Eka Kurniawan was born in Tasikmalaya, Indonesia, in 1975 and graduated from Faculty of Philosophy, Gadjah Mada University, Yogyakarta. He writes novels and short stories, as well as non-fiction pieces.

The book takes you through the totally abnormal, intriguing life of Dewi Ayu. It's hard to imagine the things happening in her life, and yet she has a very humorous take on things. The Indonesian point of view and history during the war is totally skipped because of the importance given to all the other countries. And I was in shock page after page to read through the events. Eka has described everything in such detail, that it's not very difficult to create a mental picture of each scene, as if you were watching a movie. One has to read the book for themselves to see the satire, tragedy, romance and comedy all blended into the pages. Grab your copy here. I would not say that it's a unputdownable book like a Sidney Sheldon. It's a 450+ paged book, and because I was soaking in and trying to understand everything, it took me quite sometime to finish reading it. The events that take place are sometimes really gruesome, sometimes astonishing, and it takes time to digest what's happening, for instance when Dewi rises from the dead after 21 years. But I'm glad I did read it!

Ditch the itch this #Summer with Himalaya Prickly Heat Baby Powder

It's that time of the year, when you just don't feel like stepping out of the coolness of your home. And the humidity is touching peaks, temperature is breaking records and you simply cannot wait for the monsoons!

I'm definitely not a fan of the summer season, the tanning, the heat-strokes, travelling is a pain too. Just imagine, if it troubles us adults so much; what about our kids? And who can stop them from venturing out, specially since this is vacation time!

And if you're a parent, you must have surely seen your baby getting irritated by prickly heat and rashes! We've used cooling talcum powder for ourselves, but the one's made for adults usually contain menthol, mint or camphor; which should never be used on a baby's delicate skin! For that matter, they're not really good for adult skin too.

But there is a solution! Another fab product by Himalaya Baby Care: The Prickly Heat Baby Powder. 

What it does:
Himalaya’s Prickly Heat Baby Powder provides relief from prickly heat and protects skin from infections. The ingredients work together to keep your baby’s skin cool.

Key ingredients:
  • Neem has antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, which protect baby’s skin from infections, rashes and inflammation.
  • Khus Grass has antiperspirant and astringent properties, which keep baby’s skin fresh all day.
  • Natural Zinc contains antiseptic properties and has traditionally been used as a wound healing agent.
Pack size:
50g, 100g and 200g

Directions for use:

Sprinkle Prickly Heat Baby Powder liberally on baby’s skin after bathing, nappy change, and before bedtime.
Even though the ingredients are all natural based, it cools very effectively, while retaining the softness and not harming my kiddo's skin! In-fact we've made it the powder for the entire family this summer. Now my li'l one runs around and plays and has fun without getting irritated by rashes and inflammation! Ofcourse, it's very important that they remain hydrated throughout the day, and don't skip bath time. Happy Summers to all!

Friday, April 8, 2016

Urban Vs Rural? Wrong, #SaathiHaiHum.

If someone had to ask me, what do you think villagers do? The picture that comes to my mind, thanks to the stereotypes image taught to us right from our school days; is that the farmers plough the field, working hard from dawn to dusk. The women gather the water for their needs, do the cooking on choolhas and probably have 4-5 children at-least. The kids probably help in the house work or if they go to school, it's far away and they travel a lot. This is what I think is the life in the village.

What blew my mind, was what today's reality is, which obviously is never covered by the media because they have celebrity marriages or suicides to cover:

Finolex Pipes’ video breaks all the stereotypes and makes India echo humongously “Saath Hai Hum”
The long prevailing dichotomy in the Indian civilization has portrayed this nation as the land of Cities and Villages, but not anymore. This video from Finolex Pipes, very effectively, seeds in the fact that amidst all the diversity, every Indian heart still echoes with the slogan of unity, “Saath Hai Hum.”

Finolex Pipes has released its new campaign that aims at highlighting the modern India wherein occupation or the geographical boundaries no longer decide the fate of an individual. Their video served this powerful concept in a very simplistic and yet, in a very thought provoking way.

Finolex Pipes has a strong hold over the rural as well the urban Indian market. Over the years, they have managed to reach out to the remotest of villages as well as the soaring metropolitan cities. However, it was not the striking geographical diversity that drove them to come up with this initiative. Finolex observed that one of the biggest misconception walking along the so-called ‘city dwellers’ was that the force driving the nation came solely from the cities while villagers have only gone as far as the traditional farming. While this could have been a bitter fact in the past, the modern India shows a completely different picture. Finolex was deeply motivated to break this stereotype and bring both the segments together as ONE and that could only be achieved by bridging the communication gap between the people. Thus, was born the #SaathHaiHum” campaign.

In just a few minutes, Finolex Pipes’ remarkable video showed that even villagers are capable and are marching shoulder to shoulder with the rest of the nation towards a successful future. They established very aptly that a mere conversation can be the window to bring the two sects together.
Finolex Pipes, as a part of the #SaathHaiHum campaign has issued an e-mail address through which people, coming from different parts of the nation, can send in their questions regarding the life of a farmer or a villager. These people will then be connected via con calls to villagers. This direct conversation will allow people to look into the life of a modern day villager that will eventually put all their notions to rest and bring the nation closer. If something can bridge the gap between the city and a village, then this is it!

“To those who work in acres, not hours we thank you." - Nitin Kulkarni, President – Sales & Marketing, Finolex Industries Ltd.

Finolex Pipes believes that as a nation, rural or urban, rich or poor, we’re all Indians. As Finolex Pipes works through cross sections of India uniting one another, we believe we are divided & this video states as a gentle reminder that by listening, conversing, communicating & forming a pipe line amongst ourselves, we can allow love to flow.

Further with the Agricultural budget 2016 being one of the highest it’s ever been in years, this is the perfect time to show that a large chunk of the countries investment is going to hard working farmers who are essential for our survival & help improves the country’s GDP through crop exports, further helping India being showcased on an international level. And this can only be achieved if we work together. 

After viewing the video, and seeing what the facts are as of today, the respect I have for the farmers and villagers has grown ten-folds, and I really feel that the next vacation I take should be in a village. In-fact what a fabulous idea it would be, to have village-exchange as a concept during college, instead of foreign exchange, wherein we give village going students a chance to experience city life and college, and urban college goers a chance to live in the village!
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Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Are you ready to #DoYourHomework?

As a new parent, there are so many responsibilities. Growth and development of my kid, all the milestones being witnessed and recorded (he started walking and running, clapping hands and nodding his head to say no recently), seeing to it that he gets proper nutrition, vaccines etc.
In any usual case, this is also the time when the parents are in their late twenties or early thirties, when their career is climbing up and they’re working hard to get themselves established and see to it that they have a comfortable retirement. Me and my husband also come in this category where we’re working hard daily to get make our respective careers strong and climb the ladder. But we get so engrossed and involved in doing our office work, that we have been completely ignoring our homework.

The cost of living these days is high, everything right from groceries to medicines to education, is costly. In-fact most of the parents or to-be-parents will say that they prefer to have a single child just so that they can afford to give the best of the necessities to one, than compromise and make-do with whatever possible in the case of two or three children. That is the case with me too, I would love to have 2-3 kids but I know that I’m no billionaire to afford the luxury of a large family.

Anyway, coming back to the point. My eyes were recently opened by Axis Mutual Fund #DoYourHomework campaign, which talk’s about being ready financially (and emotionally) and plan for child’s future in a organized manner. Kid’s who’re born in this millennia are blessed with so many different career options, it’s not the same old doctor, engineer or MBA routine we saw in our days. But to back their dreams, we parents need to do our Homework. And I vow to start today, with the help of my tutor – Axis Mutual Fund. I really appreciate the way they’re connecting with the emotions of an overwhelmed and scared parent via their video, app and on-ground activations. Have a look at them, and if you’re yet to start doing your homework, don’t be guilty, let bygones be bygones, but do not delay anymore. 

Do share how are you planning to start doing your homework, let's compare are marks later! ;)

Monday, April 4, 2016

Futsal - The new trend in India

Both my brothers have grown up playing and watching football. They still do the latter. I remember them playing football in the society area, in the nearby ground or at school. That was a time we didn't have the turfs and facilities we have today. With the increase in the concrete jungle, there are less and less open spaces for kids to play freely and then there is always scope of Windows breaking or accidents happening. Infact I used to wonder by the time my li'l boy grows up, will there even be any space at all?

It is no secret that football is the fastest growing sport in India but along with football there is one more sport that is catching the frenzy of urban youth. Football’s miniature version popularly known as Futsal.
India's 1st Rooftop Futsal
Futsal is traditionally played in Brazil and Uruguay but later on became a rage world over. It is also catching up in India big time, with active efforts taken by SAI and Futsal Federation of India. Futsal is played indoors and is five-a-side game. The game mainly focuses on player’s technical ability and improvisation.

I was thrilled to know about the concept of Futsal and emerging trends in India. Specially because the youth otherwise have become very lethargic, addicted to their smartphones and other gadgets, a snap chat and selfie generation that needs more exposure to physical activities.

And since there is lack of space in Metro cities and urban India, this concept makes total sense. Bow down to whoever invented it! Cities like Mumbai, Pune, Chennai etc already have turfs with ongoing tournaments. Many more are coming up in other cities too.

The Futsal Field
To take things to the next level, Former Fifa World Player of the Year, Luis Figo, is supposed to arrive in India to explore business opportunities, including the launch of his own football academy in India.

The Portuguese legend tweeted a picture with what he described as "my Indian partners" early this month, and although he did not disclose more details, or identify his Indian partners, sources close to the development confirmed that the Portuguese footballer will make a trip to India next week. If Figo is convinced that India is the right place to kick-start another football venture, it will be for the first time that a leading footballer lends his name to a project in this part of the world.

I can't wait for my kiddo to grow up a bit, so that in a few years he can be playing Futsal too!

Sunday, April 3, 2016

The new way to borrow money: CashE App

I get my salary on the 15th of every month. That already is a odd time, with most people getting theirs in the first week of every month (some lucky folks I've heard also get it on 31st or 1st itself). There are times, due to some technical reasons the salary credits a day or two afterwards. At those times, things get really very difficult because all my bills and payments, savings and SIPs are planned around the salary. And I must confess, it's happened a couple of times when I ended up borrowing money from family & friends, and there is nothing more embarrassing than that.

So when I was invited for the event launching the CashE App, I was genuinely curious to know what it's all about, because I knew it wasn't just another wallet app.

CASHe Re-invents How Millenials Borrow Money with the Launch of India’s First Cash Giving App
  • CASHe is a new lending experience that is innovative, quick and easy and in tune with the times
  • CASHe provides short-term loans to young professionals upto 40% of their salary
  • Instantaneous personal loans with minimum documentation  on a smart phone ( Android only)
The event started with a fun song & dance performing depicting the life of a common urban professional when they're broke and salary doesn't get credited timely.
Mr. V. Raman Kumar, Arjun Kapoor, Dr. Rakesh Mohan, Mr. Suhel Seth & Mr. Yezdi Lashkari officially launching the CashE App. 
India's 1st cash giving app - simply fill your details, attach a couple of proofs, social login and borrow money!
It's a new way of borrowing money, and I'm sure we all have our questions & doubts. But here are a few of them answered by Mr. V Raman Kumar -

1. Credit Cards do the same already, allowing you to borrow money. Why would you use the app? Answer - CashE App has an interest of 1.5% with 15 day return. This interest is less as compared to credit cards. But the processing fee applies, which is a one time thing, and then you can borrow multiple times.

2. What would non-salaried businessmen and entrepreneurs do? Answer - Though the app currently is only for salaried individuals who have proof of payment via salary slips etc, if a business person has sufficient documents to prove his income, he can definitely apply.

I personally haven't used the app yet, and have my own doubts. I mean, one does not want to come to the stage where they have to borrow money by any means. But, when Mr. V Raman Kumar mentioned that this is just the beginning stage, once they get many members installing the app, get the ball rolling, they're definitely looking at lowering the interest & fees. When it comes to that stage, I'm sure I will consider using it and maybe even recommending it to people.

Download the app on Google Play Store today, and if you do not have a credit card, then it makes sense to borrow from here hassle free and instantly.  Do not forget to read the T&C! 

Also, thanks CASHe for the goodies. :)