February 25, 2015

The Dummies' Guide to The Great Cricket Holiday Destinations

The things we do for the love of Cricket! From sitting on the same chair throughout the match, no matter how uncomfortable, to making halwa, just because making the same led to a win on a previous match day. From waking up at ungodly hours to avoiding those late night meetings. From almost having heart attacks every time Dhoni's playing for a win in the last over to losing our voice screaming slogans. And lately playing a parallel match on twitter on game days, I think there is no limit to the things we can do for Cricket. Or, is there?

Cricket, without a doubt, is a sport we Indians are truly passionate about. Of-course, there is football too but it’s still in the process of being recognized all over India. While Cricket, well, has already made a home in our hearts. Yes, certainly a fact that cannot be refuted. I’m no exception either. Of course, over the years I have found my interest waning a little but somewhere I still know that the passion lives on. Dormant, yes, but certainly lives on. And just like that the moment this edition of the World Cup began, I found myself secretly wishing that India really doesn't give it back this year.

Source: Pixabay

One of the things I love about Cricket, or rather the Cricket World Cup in particular are the countries they are held in. Travel combined with the game of Cricket, an unbeatable combination, don’t you think? In fact, why don’t I tell you about some of the greatest cricket holiday destinations in the world today? And since this year the extravaganza is happening down under, let’s look at that to begin with.

You can’t have a piece on the greatest travel destinations linked to the game of cricket and not mention Melbourne. It is in fact the most livable city in the world with no dearth of attractions for a traveler. However, coupled with cricket it becomes something else altogether. Hence, it’s not really shocking that the MelbourneCricket Ground or MCG is indeed among the top draws in the city. In fact, it is considered to be one of the greatest cricketing grounds in the world. Built in 1853, it is believed to be the birth place of test cricket having held the First Test match between Australia and England in the year 1877. But even leaving all that aside, the sheer feeling of being inside the MCG, they say, is unparalleled.

Now, with Melbourne being in the list, can Sydney be too far behind? Of-course, not. The city of the Opera House and the Darling Harbor, trust me, is not one to be missed. And the Sydney Cricket Ground, believe me, is one of best in the world. Their vision is ‘To celebrate sport, create history, enhance entertainment and share the experience’, and trust me experience it, you must!

God forbid, I make a list of the popular destinations linked to cricket and not mention Lord’s! It is after all called the home of Cricket, isn't it? That ought to be enough to get you on a plane to London for a Lord’s pilgrimage.  Now, I won’t even try to sell London to you on this since it is already one of the most visited travel destinations in the world. And cricket, well, is something that London is very well associated with for a long, long time now. I still remember watching Saurav Ganguly twirling his jersey, having the last laugh at Lord’s. So, just three words for you here, visit Lord’s London! But that’s not all, there’s the Oval too, just saying!

Ben Marsh [CC BY-SA 2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5)], via Wikimedia Commons
I believe you haven’t really watched a cricket match if you haven’t watched it in an Indian stadium. Yes, the atmosphere, electric and passionate. It’s unlikely you’ll get the same anywhere else around the world unless of course India is one of the teams playing. And within India too, you have to be at the Eden Gardens to experience what watching a match at a stadium actually means. Kolkata is a city rich in history and the Eden Gardens too is a treasure house of cricketing history. There are very few places in the world which can compete with this package, in terms of a cricketing destination I mean.

What would you say if I told you I have a travel cum cricketing destination that has the best of both worlds? Would you believe me? Well, you better do because it’s Barbados I’m talking about. The beaches and the cricket, of-course, at Kennigston Oval, I don’t think I need to tell you more. Do I? Well, maybe just a few more points. Barbados is a paradise with beach resorts, fabulous nightlife and beautiful gardens. And there’s more, its capital, Bridgetown, is actually a Unesco World Heritage capitol. Well, that ought to get you interested I think.

I can’t have this list and not mention South Africa in it, can I? After all, it is one of the most beautiful places in the world. Home to two of the greatest cricketing stadiums in the world, there’s ample reason why South Africa should be in this list. The Wanderers, where the 2003 heart-breaking finals were held, for us Indians at least, and the Newlands CricketGround overlooked by the Devil’s Peak are among the greatest sports arenas in the world. A country with cricket in its nature and nature at its best; definitely a must visit.

Well, that was my list. I’m no cricket expert but as a fan I think I have made quite the list. What do you say? I might not know a leg cutter from an out-swing but I do know what makes a good travel destination. At least, I hope I do!

Before you go tell me, which according to you are the great cricket holiday destinations in the world? I really do want to know.

February 23, 2015

How To Treat The Aged & The Elderly?

A few weeks back I was at a socio-cultural event full of people, young and old. From kids to people in their 40s, it was quite a mix of people really. Among all of us though there was an uncle, let’s call him Uncle John. He was probably in his late 60s. For some reason, the very moment I entered the hall I noticed him. As the program gradually got underway everyone started taking part. Suggestions kept pouring in and everyone took turns establishing their point of views. It is then that I observed something; something that, well, ruined the evening for me. Maybe I’m too sensitive, maybe I think too much from my heart every now and then, I don’t know, but I didn't like what I saw and it all went downhill from there on.

It was Uncle John’s turn to suggest something and to my surprise nobody seemed interested in listening to what he had to say. He was subtly ignored, avoided even. It was as though he was invisible, irrelevant to the crowd. These were people making tall claims about contributing to the society, all apparently educated and they couldn't find it in them to lend a patient ear to Uncle John. Is it really so hard to respect the opinion of an aged and experienced person? Is this how the world see’s old age or old people? If so, don’t you think it is wrong? We are all going to be old one day, it’s inevitable. Then why this? Do we have to outgrow our elders? Is this some kind of fad?

“That's the trouble with you young people. You think because you ain't been here long, you know everything. In my life I already forgot more than you ever know.” ― Neil Gaiman, Anansi Boys

That night’s events got me thinking. What if one day someone treats my parents that way? I would be furious, wouldn't you? When I see aged individuals, grandmas and grandpas, uncles and aunts, I think of my parents. One day when they are really old and away from me for some reason, what if someone treats them the way people treated Uncle John that day? What would I feel? What would they feel?

I have always tried to be respectful towards the elderly except maybe towards those who have meddled in my life unnecessarily to make it hard for me. I always make it a point to let them speak. I always lend a patient ear to them; yes whether I agree or not is a different thing altogether. But I let them speak and give them my undivided attention when they do so. It doesn't take away anything from me.

People leave behind their old parents at stations so that they don’t have to bear medical expenses. People send away their parents to old age homes. How can anyone even do this? I don’t think old people need too much from their children and those around. A little bit of respect and a patient ear is all they crave for. You don’t really need to do much to keep them happy.

Give them your full attention.
Listen to what they have to say.

Respond to them when they talk to you.
Look at them when they talk to you.
Ask them how they are feeling, at least once in a while.
Tell them you understand their problems.
Give them a chance to be a part of your lives.
Don’t stop loving them because of their age because remember they won’t.

And do this not because you have to but because you should. I’m not saying you don’t take your decisions or live your life the way you want to. But it doesn't have to entail ignoring and disrespecting the elderly. Just my two cents!

Written for Microblog Mondays #26

February 20, 2015

Why No One Talks About Compassion Anymore?

“Compassion is the basis of morality.” Arthur Schopenhauer

Sad that today the world seems to be lacking in the very basis of morality. Why? Well, that is probably the million dollar question, isn't it?

Read the newspaper, you’ll know what I mean when I say that the world seems to have since long misplaced compassion. On top of that it also seems as though not many are looking for it either. So sometimes, in fact at most times, I’m forced to believe that our world has probably gone to the dogs or very nearly at the verge of it.

When I read about a plane being shot out of the sky, and intentionally too, I feel what more can there be left to see? When I see an innocent pilot being burnt alive to propagate some twisted interpretation of faith, I can’t help but feel disgusted at the levels to which humanity has stooped. When I see people commenting on the apparent lack of character of a woman raped in some part of my country, I feel outraged and defeated at the same time. When I see the world snubbing the horrific attacks by Boko Haram, I lament at the hypocrisy of the modern world. When I see an aged, harmless man being beaten black and blue by police officers in a foreign country, I feel how xenophobic can the world get?

But then I’m reminded of this line by Aesop, No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted. So why give up so soon? That is also the reason why I’m going to take part in this wonderful initiative, 1000 Voices of Compassion. Today over 1000 bloggers from around the world, yes you read it right over 1000 bloggers, will write about compassion. Today we will bring back compassion to coffee table discussions and water cooler talks. Today we will remind the world that it’s time we bring empathy back to our lives, our world. Interested? Well, read on then.

India, my country, is, even today, fighting on many fronts; on a number of social issues. One of those being educating the girl child. Well, with education being so expensive, another topic of deliberation for later, it becomes difficult for the poor to send their kids to school. Yes, it’s impossible even if they want to. Well, the same was the case with the maid who worked at my mother’s. But not anymore. Mom and dad decided to take on themselves the responsibility of educating her daughter. And they are, in fact, still doing it even after the maid stopped working for them. Today that little girl is in the 2nd standard. But why have I mentioned this here? Well, because it shows compassion still exists and so much closer to home. It gives me hope.

But that’s not the only instance that I want to share here. I remember reading about one of my blogger friends too helping out her maid’s daughters with school work. And I know several such people who have decided to shoulder the responsibility for educating girls around India, in their own capacity but still.

Do you know how important it is for girls to be educated? Very. In fact, I can go on writing posts on the significance of it all. But that’s for another day. It’s the silver lining that I want to speak about here. The glimmer of hope that kindness still very much exists.

Look around, I’m sure there are people you can help. Remember it’s not about how much but what. Yes, you and I need to ask ourselves what we can do, then go ahead and do it too. And who better to do it for than the children, the future of the world? What better than educating them?

So tell me will you join hands with me and the rest of the world in this crusade for compassion? Will you?
Join us by using the hashtag #1000speak on twitter here: 

February 19, 2015

Sleep Trap

Bedtime rituals. Do you remember yours, as a kid that is? I don’t remember what my mom used to do when I was a baby. Understandable, I guess, because that seems to be centuries ago. But I do remember this, as the years went by it was all about stories and chitter-chatter with my little sister. That was my bed time ritual.

Source: Indiblogger
And today if I think about what rituals I would follow, in the future, with my child I get a weird feeling in the stomach. ‘My child’, it just seems so unreal and it is so too today. But one day maybe I’ll have, in my arms, a baby to take care of. At that point of time, perhaps, I too will share a bedtime ritual with that tiny, naughty and extremely tiny human being! But what would that be? Well, I’ll tell you.

Now, my friends tell me that babies get cranky when their sleep gets disturbed. Well, it figures. Who wouldn't? So to prevent that the one thing I’ll certainly do is to put the baby, my baby perhaps is what I should say, in the right diaper. Not the cloth diaper mind you. That's a strict no, no. A cloth diaper, I must add, is a recipe for a cranky and crying baby at night; because when it gets wet the baby is able to feel the dampness. It’s important that the baby is comfortable and a cloth diaper can never ensure that. It's itchy too I hear. So what is needed therefore is the right diaper. And to this end Pampers Baby Dry Pants, I hear is the solution. Yes, it certainly fits the bill if I’m to go by what all the mothers in my circle say. So one of my rituals certainly will be using diapers like pampers baby dry pants.

Bedtime stories. Reading to the baby is something that I think I’ll surely do. Now, I know the baby will probably not understand a word of it but as the years go by this can grow into our thing, our very own ritual. And maybe my voice will help my baby fall asleep, in a good way I mean. And everyone likes bedtime stories, right?

Music, instrumental music to be precise. I have heard that music helps babies fall asleep. One of the things, thus, will definitely be music. I’ll play some instrumental music and let my baby drift off to sleep. A little research on the net will tell you that this is an ideal bed time ritual to follow.

I have also seen many mothers sing to their babies, lullabies actually. Well, I have a very bad voice and I’m not even a bathroom singer. But my friends tell me that once I become a mom, I’ll sing to my baby irrespective of that. So, well, I guess then singing to my child will be another thing that I do.

And yes, how can I forget? I’ll also ensure that my baby is well fed before drifting off to sleep. A hungry baby is definitely not conducive to his own sleep!

I’m sure these rituals will evolve as years go by. For now, these are what come to my mind. The bottom line is the baby should feel comfortable and at peace. Of-course, much of what I’ll do will depend on the situation on the ground. I hear it is not easy but then what is? Only time will tell if I do follow these rituals and how well it goes down with my baby. Until then though this plan seems ideal.

February 18, 2015

Fifty Shades of Criticism

I remember reading ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ for the first time in 2013. And again late last year when there was a buzz about a movie being made on it. Now, I must admit that, as a reader, I love thrillers and crime novels more. And when it comes to romance, I’m more inclined towards the kind Nicholas Sparks writes. But that doesn't mean I don’t read other genres. Of-course, I do and I enjoy the variety too from time to time.

With ‘FiftyShades of Grey’ there was certainly a curiosity because of the talk it generated, more negative than positive oddly. So I had to pick it up to see what the fuss was all about. But honestly I failed to understand the burst of criticism for it. Now you might not like the genre or be comfortable with it, but that certainly doesn't make it a bad book with bad writing. Does it?

An excerpt from my review of ‘FiftyShades of Grey’:

“What perhaps is the bone of contention among readers is the quality of the language used in the book. Whether it could have been better? Certainly, there are times when you would wish that the language was superior. Whether it is too kinky to be even called a bestseller? Well, since the genre of the book is erotic fiction it would be silly to expect it to not dwell extensively on the subject.”

My only qualm about the book is, rather was, the female protagonist’s character. I personally would have liked it better if Anastasia Steele wouldn't have been so submissive towards Christian Grey’s whims and fancies. But then, I guess, if that were the case there wouldn't really be any shades to talk about, right? And so during my second tryst with the book I found the characters actually suited the story line. So maybe the book, or rather the tale, had grown on me with time.

But what I don’t understand is the book being widely vilified by critics for its poor use of language. Certainly, there are some mistakes, but for some strange reason critics seem to find a lot of pleasure slamming ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’, the book mind you. What I fail to understand is why every other person has something to complain about when it comes to E.L James’ work?

Due to this the Grammarly team actually took it upon themselves to uncover if these allegations of poor language actually carried any weight. Hence, they went ahead and reviewed the book. Spelling, grammar, and punctuation errors, you name it and they checked it all. And do you know what they came up with? Well, the book has a few mistakes, sure, but certainly not of catastrophic proportions as was being made out to be. In fact the errors are actually similar to ones in many celebrated romances. Yes, believe it or not, it’s true.

In fact, why don’t you check out this info-graphic and see for yourself what I mean?

Grammarly: Fifty Shades of Grammar
Source: grammarly.com/grammar-check

See even Nicholas Sparks, William Shakespeare & Jane Austen feature here. So don't you think that E.L James too deserves a break? Think about it. And while you do just remember that love really isn't dependent on the correctness of language.

PS: Apologies for the Grammatical Errors in this post J

February 17, 2015

One Day I Will...

“The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.” ― Eleanor Roosevelt

To study, get a job, marry and have children, maybe. Then go on to raise the children, educate them, get them married, if they don’t already run away by themselves that is, and finally retire comfortably as you await the end. Yes, that pretty much sums up the conventional notion of life, doesn't it? But I don’t believe it should only be so. Not at all. I believe there needs to be so, so much more to life than merely a routine that needs to be executed. Living life is definitely more than getting that cheque home monthly, though I agree the latter is all too important as well.

What needs to be done is to ensure that the cheques keep flowing in. And once the financial aspect of life is insured, you need to live life doing the things you love. There’s just one life and it certainly shouldn't have any regrets. Don’t you agree?

You have all heard of bucket lists, right? In fact, I’m sure many of you already have one. I too have one, an abstract one at least. There’s so much I want to do. Live like a free bird, if possible. To a certain extent, yes it is possible too. But you and I both know while dreams are important, there needs to be a safety net to it too.

You need to have a plan that could cushion all the falls in life. A carefree life, is only feasible when you have planned for it meticulously. Or, should I say when you have planned for the bad turns in life. It’s a known fact that life can’t be enjoyed on empty stomachs or at the risk of empty stomachs. So once that is taken care off, when the planning for those rainy days is done, the possibilities are limitless.

There are so many things I want to do and I’m sure you do too. If I were to tell you what some of those things are, would you hang around to read? Yes? Well, I hope so. Here goes. These are some of the things that one day I will certainly do.

Freedigitalphotos.net; Photo by Supertrooper
Visit Italy – Well, what can I say Italy is one place in the world that I really want to visit! Last year, we couldn't go as the tickets were too expensive and of-course S had no time. But of all the things in my list, Italy is certainly at the top. I really, really wish to go there; a country I have been dreaming about for years now. And I know that one day I definitely will.

Ditch this IT Job for good – If you have been following my blog, then I’m sure you know I don’t really love what I do for a living. Yes, I know I should have thought about it earlier but what’s done is done. However, one day I wish to bid adieu to this cubicle-centric life of mine and do what I really like. Till then though I’ll try and save up as much as I can, what say?

Write, write & write some more – Yes, you read it right. I realized, only after my engineering was done, that writing is what I love doing the most. It’s something that satiates my soul, as cheesy as it sounds. Writing makes me happy, much more than testing some software product ever can. And honestly, I don’t want to write in between client meetings or cooking meals. No, not anymore. I want to write and do the other chores in between that. Makes sense? Of-course, to devote my whole time to writing I’ll first need to ensure that my future is financially secure. Darn it!

Travel the world – Italy is a destination so dear to me that it had to get a separate mention in this list. Apart from that, I do want to see the rest of the world. I have somehow ticked few of the places off my list. But there are over 190 countries in the world and I haven’t even got through to two digits in my ‘visited’ list. So more travel is certainly something I wish for.

Read every thriller ever written – Now, that’s a huge ask I know. But a girl can certainly hope. I wish to one day have a library of all the thrillers ever written. And that is not enough, I want to be able to read all of them before I close my eyes. Possible?

I know you must be thinking that I have a very strange bucket list. But, hey, what’s a bucket list if it’s not a little weird?

Now, now don’t rush off so soon. Wait and share with me the 5 things, or okay just the 1 thing on your bucket list. Go on, I’m waiting. Who knows I might even lift a few items off your list!


February 15, 2015

One ASUS Zenphone Valentine

Life is too short to be spent being unhappy, or rather to not try and be happy. Makes sense, what do you say? I think it is imperative, thus, to make the effort and live your life the way you want to. No, it’s not selfish at all to do things for your own joy. No, sir. It is certainly not selfish to pamper yourself too. After all, there’s just one life and you need to live it to the best of your ability. It’s simple really, you can be of service to your family, and even the world, only if you love yourself unconditionally. One way of doing that is by gifting yourself things you love.

As a blogger being online most of the time, even at odd times of the day, is a must; a necessity rather. And if you ask me, my phone, thus, is my best pal. In fact, I need it so much that it wouldn't be wrong to say that, in many ways, it’s the companion I take everywhere, every time! Now if the phone turns out to be an ASUS Zenphone, well, even better! So much so that it could also end up being my perfect Valentine! No, really. And I’ll tell you the reasons why.

Source: Indiblogger

S often keeps traveling for work. In fact, just last Valentine’s Day he wasn't in the country. And every time he is away most of my day is spent either on Whatsapp, Gtalk or Skype. So you see how a Zenphone could fit in here? On Valentine’s Days when S is away, it could be my Valentine simply because it would connect me to, well, S!

Now, Valentine’s Day or not I need to be able to update my blog while on the move. And with the ASUS Zenphone I would be able to do it on the go. An absolute must and a perfect date material, don’t you think? All Bloggers would agree!

Twitter! Well, out of habit or mere addiction perhaps but I seem to find myself looking through my twitter time line every few minutes. I know it’s not healthy. But I can’t help it either for I find Twitter amusing and even informative at the same time. And if I’m out with the Zenphone, I can do that too without trouble. Good company with regular, and might I add, witty updates at my disposal.

Pictures. Beautiful moments are meant to be captured. So it’s obvious I could use the Zenphone to capture those wonderful Valentine’s moments. Something that would keep the memories alive for years to come.

And last but not the least, it would be my gift to myself and hence definitely the ideal Valentine. You must agree!

Yes, I know this sounds crazy but then a great phone is, well, a great companion too!