30 December, 2012

Bye bye 2012, Welcome 2013!

Bye 2012.. You have given us many wonderful moments in life and also some sad moments . Now its time to bid you a good bye and welcome new year :)

Hope is such a great thing in everyone's life! We always hope that coming year will be lot better than 2012 and give us more happiness, success and health. 

Bidding the new year with big green teddy bear :) How is it? By the way, this snap was taken in Vermont, USA in a teddy bear factory.

People.. Are you busy thinking of new year resolutions? I never took any resolution all these years, as i basically believe that we don't need a good time to start any good thing. What do you say? If we want to do some good to others or for ourselves, why wait till Jan 1st? Time is always good for good. 

Welcome new year with bang :) I wish you all a happy and prosperous new year 2013.

PS: My last post in 2012.

Until next year,

Second image: http://www.hdwallpapersarena.com/

27 December, 2012

My first Snowfall!

Watching first snow fall was like a life time memorable experience. I don't know how others react, but i was just clapping my hands and curious like a child when i saw snow falling like white flowers. :) It was wonderful.

I was in office on that day, everyone were worried about the snow storm coming by, but i was praying God to see snow fall and the day has come :) It started in the afternoon, snow falling like white flowers over trees and melting slowly. I was a bit disappointed thinking it wont be a heavy snow. But No.. It increased slowly. My heart was not on work at all, i was peeping through glass windows regularly and waiting to leave office soon, while my colleagues were teasing and giving me latest updates on weather.
Initial snow

slowly, green lawn turned white!

Atlast, time has come to start from office. but, storm became severe. While getting into the car, snow was almost falling on our faces that it was difficult to open our eyes. Thanks to our colleague, who drove us safely to hotel in almost negligible visibility :)
In just 2 hours, there was 1 inch snow and see how it looked
Trees leaning down due to snow

Next morning, whole place seemed bright as snow is shining in sun light. All roads were looking as if they were covered with snow carpet.

Roads with snow blanket
Hope you liked the photos :)

Until next time,

24 December, 2012

The Lost Girl - [Book Review]

Book details:
Title: The Lost Girl
Author: Sangu Mandanna
Publisher: Random house India
Genre: Young fiction

Plot: There is a place called Loom in this book, where weavers create echos. Echos are like human beings with life, but not with soul. People who think they cannot live after their loved ones die, order weavers to make echos of respective person they love. Echos will exactly look like the respective person they love and they get all the information about that person, through journals, photos and videos. Echos mimic their behavior, their thoughts and they are destined to live the other's life. When the other dies, their echo is supposed to replace their place. If these echos cannot satisfy the people who ordered them, they will be given a "sleep order", which means they will be un-stiched back and destroyed.

My Thoughts:

I know the story is unrealistic. Anyway, it's fiction. But, the characters and their behavior are very much nearer to real life. Story is about an echo like this. She is an echo of a girl in India called Amarra. She names herselves as Eva. Eva has her own dreams and interests, but is forced to think and behave like Amarra. She doesnt have any option other than this, as she will be destroyed if she cannot do the same. Story is about conflicts in her heart between her life and Amarra's life and how she struggles a lot to replace Amarra. 

What i liked?

Story is an exact definition to word 'fiction'. It has enough twists and turns to attract the reader. Style of writing is impressive and easy to follow.

What i didn't like?
It just couldn't meet my expectations. I was expecting a far better thriller seeing the name and cover. But it is more emotional than a thriller. Story seems to be very slow paced in the beginning  which makes it difficult to continue reading.

My rating:

Until next time,

Image courtesy: booktopia.com
Note: Received this free copy of book from 'Random house, India' for review and this review is my personal opinion.

20 December, 2012

Yay! holiday season :)

Yay! Holiday season started and holidays are coming on Tuesdays :)
So, taking leave for one day will give a long weekend of 4 days. Isn't that a good news? Both Christmas and New year are falling on Tuesdays  So, go ahead and plan the weekends now :) 

                  For children, it's a fun season except the preparation for Half yearly exams in Jan. 2 reasons to enjoy - Christmas holidays in this month and Pongal holidays next month. I used to love this season as a kid. Since i studied in a christian missionary school, we used to get holidays for 15 days for Christmas and Pongal as well :) Christmas celebration used to be very good in school with many dance performances, Christmas carols, chocolates distribution from Santa, decorated Christmas tree and daily visits to church in school.

                 I enjoy this season even after joining work. In my earlier firm, we used to celebrate Christmas season with 'chrisma chris child' game. If you have never heard of this game, here is my earlier post on this game. In brief, it is a celebration by giving and receiving gifts. In my current firm too, we play 'Secret Santa'. How do you celebrate Christmas in your organization? Please do share your experience in comments.

Happy Christmas and enjoy fun time with jingles all the way :) 

Until next time,

Image courtesy: Google images

05 December, 2012

My new phone - Sony xperia Arc Lt18a

Got a new phone recently - Sony Xperia Arc Lt18a. I was excited seeing my first smart phone, its features and wonderful apps. But, also pissed off by some battery and touch problems.
So, thought of sharing my experience, so that people who want to buy this piece will think twice before buying.

Look-wise: It's just perfect and stylish in white colour. No iphone/ Nokia Lumia can compete with this look and it's slim too. That's how i feel, others may have different opinion :) 

Touch screen experience and usability : Thumbs down :( Initially, touch was excellent. But gradually, i started downloading many apps (not more than 20 apps, though). After this, performance seemed to went down. Response time between touch and the action is more. Even to dial a number from call log, it took more time than usual. usability-wise, i can rate 3/5. It is easy to navigate, but it is not easy to search for few important features. 
 Ex: Messages option will show the recent conversation instead of showing the index of all messages, when a new message comes. I need to go back one level to see my recent message and the indication that we have a new message is not very much identifiable.
Some features about organizing the screen are awesome. Ex: If you dont want a short cut of any app in welcome screen, just hold it for a second and drag and drop in trash bin. 

Music: Since it is from best music brand 'Sony', it seems very good. No complaints on the quality of music and calls.

Camera: It has 8MP camera with HD. The best feature in my phone, i say! Image capture is excellent with Mobile BRAVIA engine (colour enhancement). You see perfect colours in the photos. Quality of photos is also good.

Battery: Now comes the worst part. Battery can stay for 2 days without data plan usage. It is an android phone, so Google maps and navigation come by default. Including these, if we have around 20 apps, say around 3 games like temple run, some apps like fb, gmail, whats app, instagram, temperature, torch, saavn, ever note etc., with data plan, battery will come only for one day. Sometimes, screen unnecessarily blinks and brightens when we are not using phone and so battery dries up soon. 

Price: When i bought it 2 months ago, it was $300(Rs.16,200) in amazon.com and now, it is around $350. In India, that specific model is not available. Arc S is available in India for around Rs.26500 in naaptol.com.

I will not recommend this phone to any one unless you need an excellent camera and you use phone only for calls and sms.

Until next time,

Image courtesy: Amazon.com  

04 December, 2012

I've got your number - [Book review]

Book details:
Title: I've got your number
Author: Sophie Kinsella
Publisher: Random house group

This book is different from other books that i read in one aspect. Did you read any story based on sms and emails? that's the interesting thing in this novel! 

Plot: Our leading lady 'Poppy' is a physiotherapist running a private clinic in London with her friends. She is engaged to a handsome professor 'Magnus', whose parents are brainy nerds. Magnus presents a beautiful antique emerald ring while proposing to poppy. (It is a family ring). You know.. Poppy is intelligent, but careless easy going girl, so loses her ring just before she has to meet her future in-laws. Problems start in this lovey dovey story with loss of ring. Unfortunately, she also loses her mobile on the same day and grabs a mobile which she finds in a trash bin. She gives that number to police and others to keep her informed on the whereabouts of ring and so she decides to keep that mobile with her until she finds the ring. That mobile belongs a woman, who is secretary of a business man Sam Roxton of White globe consulting company. To keep the company mobile with her, she makes a deal with Sam that she will forward each and every email and message that comes to that mobile for their company. 

Poppy is a curious girl, so how can she simply forward messages and emails without even opening? Slowly, she reads all of them and story is about how it becomes part of her daily routine, how her friendship with Sam improves day by day and how her life becomes more entangled because of all these.

My thoughts:
I liked the way story is made interesting. Actually there aren't many twists in the story, it looks plain. If you love thrillers and mystery, definitely this book is not for you, as you feel bored. If you like reading easy going stories and read for time pass, you will definitely like this one! Second half of story is better, as it moves fast when compared to first half. Loved the way story is unfolded from emails and messages. The font of text in the book is good and easily readable.

Get the book from flip kart here, if you would love to read :)

My rating: 2/5

Until next time,

Note: Received this free copy of book from 'Random house, India' for review and this review is my personal opinion.
Image courtesy: Google

07 November, 2012

4 days without electricity

Have you ever thought of how our life would be without electricity? I have experienced it due to Hurricane Sandy :)

            In India, we may not have much problem if we don't have electricity, except for water scarcity as we cannot run motors to pump water to over head tanks. We can manage with cooking, washing as usual as we don't depend much on power for these. Office work has to stop anyway and internet also may affect in houses if we are using modems which run by power. I couldn't think of any other major dependency on power. It is common to have power cut and so very common to have generators in homes/ apartments :)

              Here in US, we didn't have power for almost 4 days and it was really hard. The hotel where i stay, doesn't have any generator. Obviously, they didn't need generator till now, until unless there is a hurricane or storm, which may happen yearly once or twice. They might have thought it is not required. Stove is electric, so cooking affected first. No food for 4 days and items in freezer also spoiled after 2 days. Then comes, temperature control system in room. With freezing temperatures around 6 degree Celsius, it is difficult to stay in room for 4 days even with many extra blankets and sweaters. If touching the cold water itself is difficult , think about using it. Since there is no power, no hot water available. Now, comes the part of dealing with darkness. No big candles allowed inside rooms which give smoke as per hotel rules for safety. We received some glow candles which can serve as bed lights and nothing else. I bought some scented candles which doesn't give smoke to take to India. They were very useful at that time. We cannot keep the doors open as rooms will become more cool and it will be difficult to sleep. So, we had to shut our doors and be inside and deal with darkness. 

                Our Indian tv channels are very proactive in showing all bad happening at different places due to Sandy to make people worry more. Fortunately, phone lines were working and we could call to India regularly and inform about our safety. We could charge our mobile phones with remaining laptop battery and save it for whole day by switching them off when not required. These days, smart phones take away too much power due to several apps. The battery of basic model of Nokia used to last more than 2 days :)

                  Now, comes the fun part! we enjoyed a lot in spite of all the above problems. Luckily, we have some of our colleagues who stay in the same hotel and we formed a group. Before storm itself, we all cooked at least 2 bowls of rice, chapatis and 3 varieties of curries, through which we could survive for 2 days. We bought bread and muffins, through which we could survive for 2 more days. We hunted down for any restaurant open after 3rd day and could get some food. Didn't tell you about fuel? we had a full tank in car before storm, which helped us to travel long distances to find a decent hotel :) After storm, there are atleast 2 mile queues before each gas station for 2 days. Daily, we used to watch horror movies together in nights, chat for long time and spend time in darkness. I had an extra laptop that i bought for my parents, which we used to watch movies :) It was fun and also scary, coming outside in the evenings and seeing trees moving ferociously due to storm winds in chilling weather. 

It's completely a different experience being isolated to external world for few days. But, we learnt to enjoy difficult times being together as a group and having fun. Sandy gave us an opportunity to spend time knowing the colleagues who are now dear friends, which might not have happened in our busy daily routines. 
All is well that ends well :)

Until next time,

25 October, 2012

Angel of the Dark - [Book Review]

Guys.. It's  book review time! :) Couldn't read and review any good books recently as i was busy and enjoying my travel to different places. 

Book details:
Title: Angel of the dark
Author: Tilly Bagshawe, Sidney Sheldon
Hardcover: 304 pages
Publisher: William Morrow

After a long gap of reading thrillers, I started this ‘on the edge’ thriller 2 weeks ago and it was very difficult to keep book away until I finished. This is written by Tilly Bagshawe, who is also one of the New York's best-selling authors. She writes in inimitable style of Sidney Sheldon researched from Sheldon's private archives.

LAPD detective Danny McGuire investigates a violent murder case of multi-millionaire Andre Jakes. Mrs. Andrew Jakes (Angela), who is a beautiful looking young wife is also raped and beaten by the criminal.  Lovely Angela is the only clue to find the criminal, but she vanishes from the country. With all the ways closed, Danny couldn't find the murderer and had to leave police department and move to some other place in disappointment. While Danny starts his life in France afresh, Andrew Jakes’s  son Matt comes to him asking his help to investigate on the murder. With his help, Danny could find similar kind of brutal murders happened in these 10 years in different parts of the world. All cases have only one thing in common, elderly multi-millionaires with a beautiful young wife. In all the cases, the young wife, who is the sole beneficiary of will, donates her complete property to charities. What is the motive of the crime? If the young wife is also helping the murderer, then why is she too beaten and raped?

What I liked?
Story seems to be intriguing till the end with enough twists and turns. It is a fast paced story, which is good. Met my expectation as a thriller.

What I didn't like..
Somehow, I feel the characters of ‘Sophia’ and ‘Marcini’ are not convincing to the reader at many points. Court trial at the end seems to be dragging to some extent. I didnt like the ending.

My overall rating: 4/5

Until next time,

Image courtesy: www.bookreporter.com

19 October, 2012

A Journey of Motherhood - Song of my life

I feel motherhood is a journey. It makes you mature from a newlywed girl to a woman. It makes you understand the happiness of giving. It is all together a new experience that only a mother can understand.

9 months of my pregnancy were smooth and happy. I was healthy, doing whatever I like and eating whatever I want except for 2 months when I suffered with morning sickness. I never dreamed how my baby should look like or how I should take care of him. I didn’t get the bonding with my baby boy from the first day of delivery unlike everyone else. May be it is because of suffering and pain that I had due to some complication after delivery. I remember the day of delivery.. my bundle of joy was slightly pinkish and chubby. He was so adorable. I couldn’t breastfeed him for first few days due to my health problems, I was lucky that he felt comfortable and adapted to both breast feed and formula feed. Breast feeding was very tiring and used to make me exhausted most of the times, it was painful. But, that is the time I felt like a mother, I felt like I was complete as a woman.Taking care of a baby single handed, that too first year is un-imaginable. Support of parents and spouse made me enjoy motherhood without any problems.

Every small achievement of my baby used to make me wonder of God’s creation. His first flip, rolling, sitting, first steps, waving bye for the first time, coos and different sounds, giggles and first few words like ‘thatha’ ‘amma’ ‘daa’. Children change the atmosphere around us and make home lively and pleasant always. There are many pleasant memories till now, he is 20 months old now and he is super active and naughty. But, there were also some days or times when it was difficult to manage him, some days when I prayed to God to make him sleep early and there were many sleepless nights too. I think, to get something good we may need to lose something else. Some compromises and adjustments are needed to enjoy motherhood for sure.

I realized my mother’s importance during this phase and my respect to her just doubled :) 
Last, but not the least, this excellent video by 'Mom &Me' made me refresh those mommy moments :)

“The only love that I really believe in is a mother’s love for her children.”

 Karl Lagerfeld

"There is no way to be a perfect mother.. but a million ways to be a good one"
-- Unknown

Until next time,

Hope you too share your motherhood journey through this contest :)

15 October, 2012

English Vinglish – A simple, and good movie

English Vinglish is a simple movie, but screenplay, direction and good performances made it  a good movie.

Plot is about a typical Indian house wife (Shashi) who doesn't know English. She is a dutiful wife, a good mother, but everyone in the family takes her for granted. She is worried when her own family members make fun of her and hurt her without understanding. This being the starting point, story takes a different turn when the protagonist Shashi (Sri devi) has to go to USA alone without her family, to attend the wedding of her sister’s daughter. Shashi joins English classes in New York and rest of the story is about how she learns English and how her confidence improves after that.

Amitha Bachan is a surprise bonus! His character is only for a few minutes, but is good. Other characters in the movie like - people with whom Shashi attends classes, her sister’s daughter (Priya Anand) etc., are good. Sri devi does look older and lost her charishma, but she excelled in the role as expected. There are some sarcastic and good dialogues in the movie like
 If a man cooks, it’s an art and when a woman cooks it’s her duty 
Mujhe pyar ki jarrorath nahin, jaroorath hai thodi ijjath ki
Family is the only place where you get love and respect

Shashi’s character is an example of many Indian women who keep their ambitions and interests aside giving family a priority. We may remember our mother or sister while watching the movie, whom we take for granted in our daily lives. When they cook good for us or help us in taking good decisions, we might have missed appreciating them or we might have hurt their feelings un-knowingly. It may make you think about them at least for sometime. 

A simple speech that Shashi gives about marriage and family at the end of the movie is very well written. The way she makes her husband and children realize her importance without hurting them is good.
Moral of the movie is -

 ‘ If you love yourselves, your life with problems also looks good.’

So, start loving yourselves :)

Last, but not the least, my rating for the movie is 4/5.
Until next time,

Image courtesy: Google images

10 October, 2012

Fall foliage trip - Day 2

Details of Day 1 trip are here.

Day 2 started fresh as we had good sleep. We got accommodation in 'America's Best value Inn' at Plattsburg. Room is not that clean, but manageable for one night stay.

Tour started at 8.30AM to a place called ‘Ausable Chasm’. It is a wonderful place near Keeseville, New york , which offers nature trails, walking tours and treks at different difficulty levels. This place offers activities like rafting, tubing and  rappelling and mining. Scenic and adventure trails offer excellent views of rainbow falls, caves etc., As part of the tour, we couldn't go for rafting, but we went for an easy 3 mile walk which is called ‘RIM walk’. See below excellent views from the walk.
Rainbow Falls

Rainbow falls

Hydro electricity project

View from Rim walk

Our next stop is to Lake Champlain, which is the 6th largest lake in US and Canada. We traveled by ferry to Vermont state from here, which took around 15 mins. 
Lake Champlain

All cars on ferry, even our bus was on ferry :)

Then, we reached Burlington, which is the largest city in Vermont State. We walked to Cherry Street and Church Street and stopped for lunch there. Burlington is a city with population of only around 40000. City seemed to be peaceful and pleasant.
We stopped at a teddy bear factory in Vermont. See wonderful photos from there.. Many big and small cute teddy bears in groups :)

do you see all colors in the same tree?? :)

The last attraction in our itinerary is Maple museum. This museum shows how maple syrup is made from maple leaves and other products based on maple syrup. Museum is very small with an entry fee of $3, which I think is not worth for the money. But, see their decoration for Halloween J Is ti interesting? J

Doesn't he look real?

Hope you liked the photos :)
Until next time,

09 October, 2012

Fall foliage trip - Day 1

Taketours.com offers great trips with the duration of 1 day to 16 days to cover east coast of US. One such tour is fall foliage covering Vermont State.

Fall season in US starts in september and ends by December. This season marks the transition from summer to winter. This is the excellent time to see all maple trees change their color from green to bright orange, red and purple hues. Fall foliage trip is a 2 day tour targeting to cover one place in New England region. New England region covers New Hampshire, Vermont, Maine, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut.

Our tour started from New York, taking us to White face mountain. Scenic Gondola ride which costs $19 is an excellent attraction. Total ride takes around 45 mins to reach to the peak of the white face mountain and return.
Gondola ride to peak of white face mountain

View from Gondola

Welcome Halloween

 It’s fantastic to see all trees with bright orange and red colors from the top view. The peak of the mountain is foggy and too cool. We can have an excellent view of Lake Placid from there. We couldn't stay at the top of the mountain for more time due to freezing cold weather. Gondola ride gives you a life time memorable experience.

Our next stop is Lake Placid. As the name suggests, it is very peaceful. Lake Placid is a village in Adirondack mountains in New york state. It comes under tri-lake region with near by lakes like Saranac Lake and Tupper Lake. Lake Placid is best known as a place which hosted winter olympics in1932 and 1980. The street along the side of the lake, is a good place for lovers of shopping.

After this, we reached the hotel in Plattsburg by 8PM itself. First day of tour ended. 

Wait for the second day updates :)

Until next time,

03 October, 2012

Corning glass museum - Everything about GLASS

I was on 3-day tour last week and this is the place that I liked most after Niagara Falls.
The Corning glass museum, which is in Corning, New York, USA is not only a museum with a collection of around 45000 glass objects but also an institution for glass making with a research lab. It allows you to explore different galleries of glass art from the ancient period to contemporary. Here are some extraordinary glass art designs:

Glass flower

Contemporary art

Unique piece

There are 45 minute live demos of glass making.
Museum also explains the history of glass making and latest innovations with examples.
Broken glass can also be an art?

A large construction of glass bowls

A live demo of glass making.. 
First attempt from man to prepare glass

Near the entrance, welcoming halloween


Hope you liked the photos :) 

Until next time,

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