Start today for a greener tomorrow

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Looks beautiful right? To just look through the window it soothes our eyes to see lush green trees around us and birds chirping into melodious songs of their own. What if all this vanishes gradually? How does it feel not being able to go out in the open to enjoy the fresh air or rather not left with any fresh air to breath at all?

 

Come 5th June and things start flashing all over the social media creating awareness about environmental degradation and the measures we need to take as a society to preserve it. With “Celebrate Biodiversity” as the theme on World Environment Day, The United Nations brings in light for the need of conserving all living beings around us and prevent extinction of species around us. Lately we have been hearing a lot about the elephant death in Kerala (India) caused by humans by feeding a pineapple filled with firecrackers. This inhuman act leads us to stress on it all the more. It is not just limited to plants it includes taking care of the animals and other species as well to sustain the balance requires for survival.

Taking care of rivers and lakes, by minimising use of water and not disposing junk in them is the least we can do and it is easy for everyone to follow. By the way, it is not just harming the life within the water but also us as river water is used for a lot of purposes. So it endangers everyone’s life. Not littering is one of the lesson that everyone should be made to learn. Try to minimise waste and also try to throw in designated bins so that it can be disposed of in the most effective way to avoid pollution.

Kids are involved in activities that take place in schools encouraging them to be the first ones to lead in this endeavour. Not just in schools, they must be made aware of it at home too. Simple act of planting a sapling in a home lawn or in a park nearby can do wonders. It gives innate satisfaction to see it grow in front of your eyes. It is therapeutic as it can get. Youth has a huge role to play at a ground level. Regular clean-up drives across coasts as seen in Mumbai(India) is a major initiative to prevent wastes to enter the ocean and is much appreciated. To highlight, within waste, plastic is the major culprit. So limiting the use of plastic in our everyday lives can reduce contamination in land and degradation of the natural world. Using less of plastic packaging and taking your own shopping (jute)  bags next time you go out for grocery is one more measure that can make a difference. Same is the case with BYO (Bring your own) cups policy which is being adopted by various people these days to reduce disposable plastic waste. For coffee take your own cups so that they don’t add to the pile of junk. Trying to do bulk buying rather than buying many packets can reduce unnecessary plastic is another way every one of us can contribute. Minimising the use of paper and prevent its wastage can cause much lesser cutting of trees as compared to before.

There are various bloggers all over the internet trying to promote sustainable and green lifestyles. From home decor to beauty products all are used thoughtfully, keeping in mind its long lasting effects. This shows how small changes in our day to day living can form a part of much bigger impacts on environment. Going organic is another way as it results in no fertiliser transfer to the soil and retaining its quality. The lesser chemicals will be exposed to the food chain, the better it will be for all of us. In short, we can contribute as per each ones capacity and reap benefits. Reuse, Recycle and Reduce is the mantra we have been reading about since childhood in our science books and applying it in our practical lives has become much more essential at this time.

Last few years have seen numerous floods, cyclones, bush fires, landslides as a result of human intervention in-turn destroying livelihoods all over. Governments of all nations should take care of the fact that constructions take place at risky zones, e.g. which are prone to earthquakes. Reforestation is a sure shot solution to this reducing flooding and landslides. Handling Climate Change , a burning issue can be done by changing the way industries are run. Investing and de-investing are the major decisions to be take by the authorities to promote the right and discouraging the malpractices.

While the government takes care of the bigger things, we as responsible citizens can do our bit in these smallest ways possible but impacting in a huge way. The rising population should become a strength rather than a burden on earth. It is time to give back much more that has been consumed. Sure, it is easier said than done. But this World  Environment day, not just take a pledge like every year on 5th June, but also take action and at least initiate by doing our bit. Also, us along with motivating those around us to do the same. Let us make sure these yearly reminders are not neglected and are carried with us throughout the year.

BECOMING By Michelle Obama : A Fruitful Read

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I am not much of a fan of Memoirs/Autobiographies. Or rather the ones I tried reading  earlier did not interest me much and were left unread. But this one, my latest read Becoming by Michelle Obama , her memoir has proved to be a compelling read and kept me glued till the end.

Before I tell more about the book, for those wondering of the difference between an Autobiography and Memoir, I can give the explanation. Although the difference between the two is blurry, an autobiography is an entire chronological detail of a person’s life events with stress on history and facts, whereas a memoir is one featuring some parts of a person’s life with more importance given to emotions. Both the terms are usually used interchangeably. And this is a memoir of Michelle Obama, the First Lady of United States of America from 2009-2017.

Now I think it’s one of the most useless questions an adult can ask a child— What do you want to be when you grow up ? As if growing up is finite. As if at some point you become something and that’s the end.” 

A laudatory work of reflection of life before and as the First Lady Of United States of America, these words caught my attention in the very first few pages of the book as she narrates pondering how her life has gone back to normal from an extra-ordinary one. I paused for a while when I read this line and realised how true this is. Becoming what you are now has been an on-going process and it is going to continue till the very end for a man’s desire as we take different roles in our personal as well as professional lives. It very much justifies the title of the book because Michelle throughout her journey tried to become something better in every sphere of her life.

She takes along the readers in her journey from her childhood till she made way for the next First family to take the role. This book is a window to her personality. Always making her voice heard and her identity defined right from her early school days till her tenure as the First Lady. Her easy flowing emotions through the chapters makes it overwhelming as well as inspiring for various women out there trying to make a mark in their lives. Her slightest doubts as well as strongest of beliefs, disappointments leading to triumphs and challenges made her excel in every role she played. As much as she has described her childhood memories fondly, at the same time, she has narrated her life as a working mother. Juggling between her job and two young girls with her husband trying to anchor himself into the arena of politics made her life even more complicated during regular campaigns. There are plenty of examples where it shows ambitious side of her personality and character. Her benevolence in manner and deep concern in her relationships shows her warm nature.

I was fascinated by the details of the life she led in the most prestigious address in the world and how her life along with her family’s changed forever. The tall windows, massive hallways, armoured vehicles, security officials making note of their each and every movement, staffers at their beck and call, all of them form one side of the coin. On the other hand, they had to sacrifice their privacy as numerous people had their eyes on them every second for eight years and the world at large with their actions monitored as well as each word scrutinised.

The memoir throws light on her enthusiastic initiatives and impactful work concerning Food and Nutrition of children stressing on their healthy living, empowering young girls, mentoring young women to take up careers by encouraging to chase their dreams and also supporting military families. Throughout her life whether as an executive or by being in the role of the First Lady, she has put her time and effort into working towards the minority sect of the community, making their voices heard for equality and making their lives better.

Making of the First lady came with all the criticism and judgements as much as it gave her the respect she deserved. She carried herself with grace and elegance and went on to achieve her milestones making her one of the renowned woman with substance. This book has definitely encouraged me to look for some more memoirs to dive right into someone else’s world and see the world from their eyes. I would definitely love to read more of such works and enlightening life stories. I felt it was a lot more effective than her documentary available on Netflix. Easy to read and definitely a page turner, this book is highly recommended even for not so avid readers. Not being one, I managed to finish it in a week’s time. So go ahead and grab your copy. Happy Reading 😊

WORK FROM HOME: IS IT THE RIGHT WAY FORWARD?

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While scrolling through my LinkedIn feed, I came across a post of Microsoft allowing its employees to work from home till October 2020. So one more company along with major giants like Twitter, Google, Amazon etc. has made it clear that working environment is in for a huge transformation no one would have thought of in the near past. Not just on a temporary basis, many organisations like these are considering making remote working as a permanent change. Coming to terms with it, it’s going to be the new normal. Tools like Microsoft Teams, Skype, Zoom, Slack etc. have been facilitating regular interactions and discussions among employees at every level all the more ever since the COVID-19 pandemic has gripped the world.

From a company’s perspective, saving on the humungous monthly leasing & infrastructure or maintenance & administrative costs, access to a wider geographical talent due to remote working etc are some of the reasons which tempt them to take such a major decision. For employees too, it seems to be a win-win. Afterall, employees wish for such days.

It can save a lot of their time and energy otherwise wasted on commuting hassles. No more forcing yourself into crowded metros or driving in never ending traffic. They would rather spend that much needed time with family or taking care of themselves. Of course, not to forget, a lot of money is saved. They can have hour or two of extra sleep and no more formal attire that keeps you uncomfortable all day long. Bliss isn’t it? There are various benefits of working from home such as the ones mentioned above and people around the world are currently enjoying these.

What might be considered as convenient by many, I feel it does have its cons too.

There is less of routine and more of activity as per free will. There are no permanent timings of work. I have heard many of my friends complaining of no fixed hours or few of them working late into the night to cover up for the glitches this remote working has brought with it. Weekly virtual coffee breaks have taken the place of face to face interactions which are otherwise a great source of human connection. Conversations with colleagues during lunch breaks, tea breaks etc. keeps employees motivated and hence help in job satisfaction. Earlier people who used to yearn for work from home opportunity, now definitely there must be few who think that working from office was a much better situation to be in. I guess a lot would agree with me when I say that a lot of productivity and efficiency has taken a back seat due to this.

But in spite of all the negatives, if seen as an opportunity then it can give tremendous returns. It’s the way we perceive it. Adjust to the working styles and routines to come up with the most comfortable and convenient one. Flexi-timings, make the best possible arrangement of work and play. It is up to you how to juggle between various activities that you may want to take care of. Also, there can be days when there is not much work pressure, you can channelise that time in something much more productive than sitting idle in office. Also, it is an opportunity for many to pursue something side by side which they always wanted to. It can be a part-time business, higher studies, a hobby which may require some extra time and effort than normal- anything. It will also provide numerous opportunities to take jobs in different parts of the world. So there is no need of compromising on passion and interests. From the comfort of our homes we can explore various possibilities. All it takes it is consistency and discipline on our end.

For companies, there will be large number of reforms and changes which will be put in place to make it a success. They must analyse all the hindrances and come up with their solutions faced during this time to make it a smooth endeavour. Not just one or two aspects but a birds eye view. It will take a lot of planning at the both ends-employees as well as companies. Else for some it might be a profitable deal but for many it may turn out to be a distressing scenario.

I believe it’s the rule of nature to have balance. Hence, the same balance needs to be maintained in Corporate Environments  too. Certainly, WFH is a good idea but if the balance is maintained throughout seeking comfort from both the ends i.e. Employers & Employees. Weekly schedules for availability requirement in office can be set up in offices on rotational basis. Co-Working spaces will get a boost this way by companies investing limited amount of money monthly for a specific number of people. If a job requires face to face interactions co-working spaces come into play in a useful way (with precautions of course). Meetings of highest importance e.g. client interactions can be held at such places. The decision to balance the workforce in offices and remote locations is a crucial one. Once established, it can give good returns to the company and prove to be beneficial to employees.

So is WFH the way forward ? We can welcome it with open arms and make it work for us by working towards it with a little determination so that it proves to be the best for companies as well as employees.

Always a Chocoholic !

IMG_20200511_002002What would you offer a 5 year old kid to get a smile to their face? A chocolate. It’s a no brainer.  Kids love them as much as adults relish them as a part of different desserts. I am myself a chocolate lover and can’t resist it. Not just a simple chocolate but anything in that flavour, be it a chocolate cake, a brownie, cupcakes, ice-cream(of-course), pastries etc.

Experimenting with various desserts with this ingredient has always excited me. Chocolate cakes, chocolate pudding, chocolate custard and brownies. If it was ever an option, I would have chocolate in every meal 😛 . As I was always fond of cookery shows and I still love to watch them, I always look forward to such delicacies and their recipes so that I could put them to use myself. I never liked the taste of milk as a kid but I remember putting a chocolate powder in it just to make it better. In short, if added in whichever form, it can transform a simple dish into a delight.

On a trip to Anand (Gujarat, India) a couple of years back I got an opportunity to visit The Amul Chocolate Factory. The words “Chocolate Factory” are inviting enough. Surrounded with glass, we saw huge machines used to churn refined cocoa beans. The whole process right from grinding, blending, moulding and packaging is a long one and a must visit place for chocolate enthusiasts.

Also, I happened to visit The Chocolate Museum in London. Otherwise not much of a fan of museums, my love for chocolates attracted me to visit the place without a doubt. Not too elaborate, but they describe the history and how things evolved. Next to it was a beautiful little cafeteria with in-house chocolate making sessions which many people including children made use of.

Earlier consumed as a beverage in ancient times , now there is a huge variety of chocolates in various shapes and brands in the form of Milk chocolate, dark chocolate and white chocolates. Originated in Mexico and travelling across Europe and other parts of USA following that, West Africa is the World leader in production of  cocoa.

It’s not just merely a kid candy, as we all know. Made with the seeds of tropical Theobroma tree, chocolates have an industry of their own. Various festivals in the West like Christmas, Easter, Halloween and many others have proven to be lucrative seasons for the chocolate industry. The demand has been on the on the rise not just in the west which forms the major market for this product, but, now also in India.

Apart from its commercial success as a product, Handmade chocolates are also a big hit among people these days as a gift options on various occasions like wedding invitations, festivals etc. It’s different from a regular sweet box which is usually given to relatives and friends and is definitely a great source of revenue for few budding entrepreneurs. There has also been a shift of demand from traditional sweets to chocolates in today’s generation. In Ooty, a renowned hill station in South India , you will find various shops of locally made chocolates in flavours you cannot even imagine they exist. From premium Belgium and Tiramisu chocolate to crunchy-nutty , orange, mango, blueberry etc. You name it and you will be presented with the most tempting flavours you can’t miss out on.

Being sweet, surely chocolate adds a bit to your calorie intake but it does gives a rush to your feel good hormones in your body. Dark chocolate on a positive side has antioxidants and with cocoa butter which adds benefits to your skin .Higher the amount of cocoa percentage, the healthier it will be. But should be consumed in controlled quantities of-course. Its popularity has been lately on the rise among the health conscious lot.

So , go grab your bar of Hershey’s. 🙂

Its Truly “AAMCHI MUMBAI”

WhatsApp Image 2020-04-27 at 17.00.41_2MUMBAI. Not the city I grew up in but came here for my first job and spend almost four years of my life. It was never on my  list of cities to go to. But destiny always has its way. Landed in the city of dreams and was greeted with heavy monsoons showers. After few initial months of hurdles, got adjusted to this new city.

This city grows on you. You can take a person out of Mumbai but can never take out Mumbai out of heart of a person who has learned to live a life in the “Mumbai way”. Always looking for opportunities to leave the place,  but 6 months down the line, I still miss the life that city gave me. It gave me endless memories to cherish, some bonds for a lifetime and experiences that made me who I am today.

Grocery shopping, paying the bills, travelling alone and being responsible and independent made me into a mature adult from a simple college going girl. Celebrating various festivals together and being familiar with new cultures is something which every Mumbaikar looks forward to and had always excited me.

Anyone who has stayed in Mumbai, definitely can’t miss to mention about two places in South Bombay- Colaba and Fort. Holding an ice cream cone and walking on the streets can give way to some memorable conversations. Numerous shopping trips to the Causeway with my girl gang, nights outs at Marine Drive and strolls on the beaches are a part of my fond memories. Several chit-chats with colleagues outside office helped me to explore the foodie in me. The famous “vada pav” and the lip smacking Bombay sandwich is a delight to have on rainy evenings. From dancing to latest hits in a club to trekking to the highest peak of Maharashtra – Kalsubai, we have done it all.

I would be wrong if I say college life is most special phase of your life because living alone in a city with a set of friends can be as fulfilling. And undoubtedly, a city is defined by the people you associate that city with. If you don’t have the right company by your side, may be the same city can turn out to be a nightmare. Well, I was lucky enough to find some craziest set of people who brought out the crazy person in me too.

No matter how fast paced Mumbai is, one should try to spend at least a year or two here , all by themselves to explore  themselves and experience a lot more that life has to offer.

COVID-19 : A BLESSING FOR THE BLESSED

Finished your daily routine of Work-From-Home….. Check.

Watched your favourite series on Netflix…. Check.

Cooked the most relished dishes possible…. Check.

Work Out…. Check.

Grocery Shopping…. Check.

Daily routine phone calls… Check.

Reached out to your long lost college friends…. Check.

Facebook, Instagram, Tik-Tok…. All done!

So what’s next?

Well it’s the story of every person right now because none of the generations have experienced something like this before. A complete lockdown in the entire world.

But the shut down brought with it deserted roads, very uncommonly seen clear skies, pollution free cities, birds chirping and a lot more. Many families got time to spend with each other due to this which is a rare scenario in this day and age. Kids are having the most precious time of their lives with their parents and vice versa. Many tried their hand at cooking favourite dishes. A lot many explored their hidden talents, be it cooking, painting, sketching or any other activity they may take up as hobbies after this lockdown. True, this pandemic has brought everyone’s life to a pause in many ways. But it still brings to us the basic thought that the most basic necessities don’t require us give away our lives to the everyday hustle.

Also, isn’t this the perfect time to reflect on what’s been happening till now and how we want to take things forward? It may be a job, a same old routine, a study pattern or health. Anything that you would want to be in a different way than it is right now.

Of course, not to forget, it is the best place to be in the comfort of our homes. There are those who are out on the streets serving their nations in this time of need and are few among the most vulnerable. There are health workers who have not seen their families for days together. And yet we are tired of being safe, of being blessed.

So make the most of this time. Make memories. Make plans for your new ventures or for future travels. Do a lot of research, read or do what you have been wishing for the longest of time but couldn’t because your hectic lives never allowed you to take an easy breath. Time will again make you run for the crunching deadlines, it will again lead to half-finished meals, again there will be an endless wait for weekends to meet and spend time with your loved ones .So cherish it because it is a BLESSING IN DISGUISE.