Wednesday, 11 October 2017

Please don't wear heels, and Don't dance!

Knee story - Part 3
I am happy today, in fact extremely happy and as they say happiness knows no bounds; it holds so true for me at this moment. Guess what? I am sure if you have read the last couple of my posts, you'd have guessed it right. I am talking about legs and knees these days. I must have looked at my knees more times in this month than I might have done in my entire life. So here we go, it's positive news from my doctor and I wish to share with the ones who are following my posts, the ones who are facing medical emergencies or a trying health condition. It's a feel-good post as I am not a doctor but a strong believer in the process of self healing through positive mindset and attitude. The body listens to you, it's your friend, a true one! You spend all your time with it, it's your temple. So if you have the faith it'll work with you giving you the results that you have visualised. Your visualisation has to be powerful, the very best that you can think of. After all the mind is fertile, put it to good use.

Last evening I had to go for a review to my doctor, my elder one came along. We reached the clinic at the appointed time and met Dr. Maheshwari. My son was happy to see him as he already knew a lot about him thorough our conversations. I am happy to see my children showing interest in my recovery, they even remind me to do the exercises. Appreciate the thoughts of 11 and 8 year olds, as a parent I feel blessed. Who doesn't like to be cared for!

Doctor asked me how I was, I told him that I felt superb! He then examined my knee and asked me to bend it. I tried but it didn't bend completely. It was but natural, as I hadn't bent it for the more than one and a half months. By now it was stubborn, anything stubborn needs to be tamed. Which I will and soon. Being a wife, mother, teacher and trainer; above all being a woman this comes naturally to me. I asked him if I could do some yoga, he gave me the permission for that but told me to do the exercises on a bed rather than on the floor. He also advised not to do anything that'll strain the knee much like the Suryanamashkar. He told me not to wear heels and not to dance. I had a hearty laugh, where in the world was I going to dance? Only wish that I had was to be able to walk properly. Needed my mobility back. 
I had a few doubts and concerns that I got cleared from him. I shared a few things I had read on the internet, to which he said, "If you all read everything on the internet what will we doctors do? We'll lose our jobs! On a serious note, each case is different and each patient is different. That can be evaluated, diagnosed and treated by an experienced doctor only." I couldn't agree more, being a trainer I could share my content with anyone but what I deliver and how I deliver it is completely driven by me. Each one of us has vitality that's attached to one and only that self. No one can take it away. That's the value we create for ourselves.

I guess he read my thoughts and told me to take operation off my mind. He reinforced that if I was 20 and very active in sports may be he'd have but not as I was not eligible for that honour. Honour? Again he spoke about Sachin Tendulkar, looks like he's a big fan of the legend. He said, "Even if Tendulkar came to me today with that injury, I wouldn't suggest an operation as he is now retired and at the most would do some coaching." What an example! but I loved it. Tendulkar is called God, who wouldn't like to hear stories of the God! So what if it was just an example to make things clear to a novice.

He told me that the thought or fear was out of the knee but the mind had to be cleared.  So true, a lot of things happen because they occupy a great deal of space in our minds controlling our thoughts. One needs to work on the mind first. He said that I'd be fine in 100 days and then I could wear heels and dance as well. In the meanwhile I had to do a couple of exercises with weights. I could swim or do some cycling on an exercycle. So no more medicines this time and he wrote Better on my file. I started showing him a few exercises basically yoga poses that I was planning to do. He told me to see his online videos that had some exercises, then I realised I was actually behaving like a very happy child, thrilled with what was to come. Felt a bit embarrassed as some patients were waiting but in my heart of hearts nothing else mattered but the feeling of being able to move around without any bondage! I believe that the willpower is a muscle that can be strengthened.

I walked out of the clinic with my son having the Nile sized smile on my face. I am only keeping the walking stick  just as an extra support if need be as the Mumbai weather has forgotten to update itself, we are having extended rains. Today am bending it like Beckham and spirits touching the sky. Feeling thankful and loving myself for being 'gutsy'. I keep showering praises at everyone, once in a while a bit of self praise is okay I guess!

Now on mission 100!

PS Pictures are taken from Google

Sunday, 8 October 2017

Sailor's life

Receiced a forwarded message on my whatsapp and I felt it being so true. Sharing it here with due credits to the author, poet or sailor. Salute to him for beautifully expressing his thoughts and sharing a page from his life, speaking not just for himself but the entire fraternity.  I know they are men of a few words and many can never express what they feel with words. They are the action speaks louder than words people. They'll do, you have to feel! It wasn't just like that the sailor's girl was called the queen. He'll treat you like one. As a sailor' s wife and a blogger I have covered many aspects of our lives from a woman's perspective. It's heartwarming to hear from the sailor in his own words. I say that every word is true and deserves it's weight in forget gold, may be platinum if any value could be attached to it. It's priceless to say the least!

An ode to the true Sailor

My life moves in a circular direction. I come back home to go away and go away to come back.
I have no address except for the name of the vessel yet my passport shows one. My home is elsewhere, where my heart belongs.
I am not like any other man but yet I am the most ordinary person at heart.

I cannot go through the daily mundane stuff of the ordinary man and yet the ordinary man cannot take the pain I go through.
He cannot live away from his home, love and life for months on end.
He cannot be the helpless son, lonely husband or the yearning father.

He will never know the frustration of staying awake for days and many times not getting rest at all, working round the clock.
There are no constant time zones we stick to.
The ordinary man will not know the lonely cabins I come to after work, where as he comes to a house full of people.
He gets to eat what his mother/wife cooks and gets to be hugged by his children daily.
I only see them growing in pictures, he gets to hear them and see them daily, whereas I have to be strong and do my duties.
My wife must be silently wiping her tears, braving the pain & consoling the kids that father will be home soon.
Her hands must be longing to hold mine, her heart must be longing to love me, her lips must be longing to tell all that happens during the day, her eyes longing to look into mine.
Whenever she looks at couples on the way to market, she must be turning her eyes away and consoling herself that just few more days.

I am an ordinary man away, doing my job. I tell everyone to understand that I need to be away.
I am not a Casanova, I go to the shore to step on land because I've not felt it beneath my soles for long.
I am a very lonely man.
The biggest fear that grips my heart is when my family needs me I may not be around.
I fight myself daily, I fight these surging thoughts, I tell myself-not now mate, duty calls.
I look forward to the day I meet my folks at home, pray for their safety and wellbeing and hope they are happy.

I only want them to know, while I stand tall at the bridge, that I love my family and I am proud of who I am and what I do.
The ordinary man I am inside, I shall always be.
But the man I am today, no ordinary man shall be..

My sailor's ways

After being married for 12 years, when I look back so many things unfold that once got me upset were actually his ways of sensitising and preparing me for our lives ahead. I have been like a princess for him from the day we were introduced for marriage, I say introduced as it was an arranged marriage.
He had seen my house and my room during our courtship days which were about 6 months.  In our culture the girl goes to her husband's house only after marriage. So I hadn't seen his. But when I went there our room was a replica of my own at my parent's house, but bigger and more luxurious as it was going to be for the two of us, with stars on the ceiling that lit bright in the night. I could look at them when he was away on work. He got his house renovated before our marriage and a lot of ideas were taken from mine so that I was comfortable and the place had an element of familiarity. I literally felt at home!

My first Karwachauth was during our courtship days. He was home then, my mom in law asked if I would like to follow the ritual which I immediately answered in the affirmative. He called again to tell me that it was never a compulsion, he thought I might not be the girl who'll fast with no food or water. I told him that I loved all the festivities connect with it moreover it was a celebration of our love, which was blossoming then, I'd fast for sure. It was evening almost 10 pm and he hadn't come to see me. I was so very upset visualising all the romance of the festival that our Bollywood films brought. I did the rituals with my mother. He could have come over and made it even bigger than DDLJ but he chose not to as I'd be alone the next Karwachauth.  He didn't want me to miss him thinking of how it was the first time. It did happen that he wasn't home the following year and I celebrate the festival with my mom in law. He called and hearing his voice mattered the most to me.

He has had his ways of making a girl who was cocooned and everything provided for, into a Sailor's Queen. When I go down the memory lane, just like today being the Karwachauth and he busy onboard into a long manoeuvring, I realise how smart he has been preparing me for things without ever dropping a hint. Some of those incidents caused misunderstandings or tiffs but he made sure that I learnt or discovered things on my own. The more I learn about him the deeper my love becomes.
Many sailor' s wives, fiancees and girlfriends follow my blogs and so many write back to me. I felt like sharing a few cherished moments from my life. A sailor has his way of doing things, just be with him with all your love and understanding, you'll be his forever queen!

Love is not looking at each other but looking in the same direction.
Happy Karwachauth, be blessed!

PS Mehendi pic courtesy Nisha Siddarth, a Sailor queen.

Friday, 6 October 2017

Online Reviews - the good, the bad and the ugly!

Knee story - Part 2

If you're booking a weekend getaway, buying a new microwave, or trying to find the best barbecue grill in the neighbourhood, you may first check a few online reviews on your smart phone or laptop and then take your decision. I guess we don’t wait to find our answers we look up online instantly, these online ratings are an example.

We don’t want to remember things in fact we have stopped memorising anything , be it a password or a phone number. I remember before my first mobile phone I could easily remember phone numbers of my friends and relatives easily making more than 30. Not just that but also their birthdays and much similar information that I don't feel the need for anymore. My smartphone has certainly made me dumber in the memory department if not elsewhere. I was talking to a colleague the other day while he was going through presentations sent by students for evaluation. Did see that they lacked originality, the reason is not that they are not imaginative, these days people don’t want to spend time working around things, no one wants to reinvent the wheel.  What you get as a result is  an add-on of what has already been attempted. But who knows while trying they may come up with something that can actually save the planet! Some great inventions and discoveries have been accidents just like some smart people may have been a result of an accident!

Influence of online reviews
We for sure know that one shouldn't believe every review he or she reads. Yet nearly 80 percent of consumers trust online review sites as much as personal recommendations, according to a study by BrightLocal, and almost 75 percent say positive reviews make them trust a business more.
Only about 25 percent believe information available on rating sites is unfair, based on another survey by Maritz Research. As you might predict, both studies found older baby boomers are less trusting of online review sites than the younger consumers, the internet generation who have grown with their smartphones and Google Baba. Instantly logging on, reading and valuing reviews as well as contributing to the sites with their opinions.

My take
I have never really cared about reviews as I feel they are personal opinions of people and a lot depends on their own personalities and liking. Movies are a classic example, what one raves about and the critics giving a 5 star rating may be one of the worst that you have been exposed to. Whereas the one film that you loved thoroughly hardly managed to get a single star. Ratings are there for almost everything, you name a business there is a rating for it. Not just businesses but a corporate office may be rated too. There are many rating sites mushrooming but the bigger players are more trusted such as the Tripadvisor, Zomato or the Glassdoor. When you travel you should make your own memories, the destination is not as exciting as the journey itself. People’s views are helpful but they should not be a deciding factor. People have herd mentality, one thought might result in a biased opinion.  I also have learnt that there are paid reviews, what’s their sanctity then? You must try things and make your own reviews, if reviews are to be used they should be used as references and one must read a few references before coming to a conclusion good or bad.
I recently wrote about my experience with orthopaedic surgeon Dr. Mahesh Maheshwari. While at his clinic on my second visit being extremely happy with the treatment and positivity I got from him; we had a little chat as there wasn’t another patient after me. I discussed my concerns, he had read my blog too and he thanked me for the positive words I had for him. I told him that it wasn’t a rating or a review it was my own experience and I felt that it could help someone somewhere just like I had read a couple of similar experiences. Those stories helped me cope better with my injury, the recovery looked very hopeful. He said a few things that justified my reservations about online reviews.
Reading my blog he said, “I am obliged. I passed my 12th in 1982 and was a meritorious student. It was possible for me to enter any profession. I chose to become doctor. Today I think it was a correct decision. I have 3 businesses listed on Google. If possible please put reviews in them. Some of the patients did not pay my fees and posted negative reviews. Nowadays good doctors and teachers don't get their deserved due respect”.

Infact hearing this I learnt even doctors were reviewed and people used these reviews as references. Everyone must use a second or third opinion if there’s a need, that’s taken. Sometimes a review should not point the sour grapes. To review someone needs a lot of maturity, one has to be impartial and should know how to critique. It’s easier to criticise someone but critiquing is an acquired skill.  I told Dr. Maheshwari that he brought in so much of experience and the way he spoke told me that he knew his job well, where did the reviews come into picture? I have been in the people’s industry for more than two decades and can understand people to some extent.
Dr. Maheshwari did agree with my take on the reviews and he added, “More than experience and professional qualifications, I am happy to say that I have been honest and advise my patients whatever I am likely to advise my family members.  I empathise with my patients. Whenever a special request comes for concession from the needy I never refuse. In last 25 years have treated more than 1 lakh patients and many families still approach me with full faith. This has been the most fulfilling part of my career. Unfortunately I am not competent to satisfy all!”

A point of view can be a dangerous luxury when substituted for insight and understanding.
~Marshall McLuhan

Probably he was referring to the negative reviews; I understood where he was coming from. During our chat I told him what I did and how training, learning and empowering others was something close to my heart and I did programs towards this personal mission. He told me that if I found someone who really needed his help but was poor or under privileged, I could refer the person to him and he’d certainly look after the treatment. I loved what he said and was thankful to him; it’s an empowerment when you can be of help to someone. It made me wonder whether reviews made an individual or was a person more of a whole lot of other smaller essential elements that added to his personality. It is said that the average man's opinions are generally of more value to himself than to anyone else. Nothing can replace you as a person; each one has his own vitality that cannot be replicated. Reviews and ratings won't add up to making that personality!
I care not what others think of what I do, but I care very much about what I think of what I do! That is character!
~Theodore Roosevelt

PS Pictures are taken from Google, with due credits!

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

World Tourism Day 2017

The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.
― Marcel Proust

According to UNWTO, the United Nations General Assembly announced the adoption of 2017 as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development. Tourism can contribute to all the three dimensions of sustainable development – economic, social and environmental.  It can fulfill each of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals set up by UN. Not only does the tourism sector spearhead growth, it also improves the quality of people’s lives. It can bolster environmental protection, champion diverse cultural heritage, and strengthen peace in the world.
World Tourism Day 2017, being celebrated on 27th September, presents a unique opportunity to raise awareness on the contribution of sustainable tourism towards development among public and private sector decision-makers and the international community.  At the same time;  mobilizing all stakeholders to work together in making tourism a catalyst for positive change.
The UNWTO Secretary-General annually sends out a message to the general public to mark the occasion. Many tourism enterprises and organizations, as well as government agencies with a special interest in tourism, celebrate the event with various special events and festivities. This year the message is to celebrate World Tourism Day by taking the pledge to Travel, Enjoy and Respect the Environment.

Different types of competitions, such as photo competitions promoting tourism, as well as tourism award presentations in areas such as ecotourism, are held on World Tourism Day. Other activities include free entries, discounts or special offers for the general public to any site of tourism interest. Government and community leaders, as tourism business representatives, make public announcements or offer special tours or fares to promote both their region and World Tourism Day on or around September 27.

We at the Apeejay institute of Hospitality have been celebrating the World Tourism Day as a day of Community Lunch. The students get dishes from their regions whereas the hostlers make their traditional food at the institute kitchen.  The delicacies are then served to their fellow students, the institute staff as well as the hotel HODs. The celebration is ‘quite a spread’ of the rich cuisines from across India. Everyone not only relishes the sumptuous meal but also learns about the different cuisines of India. Recipes are exchanged between the attending members, people sharing the ‘mother’s secret recipe’ which generally remains within the family. One gets to see and sample dishes such as avial, neer dosa, poran poli, Sindhi kadi, dal pakwan, dal bati churma, gatte ki sabzi, salli murg, biryani, thepla, chhole puri, Goan fish curry, masale bhaat, chokha and sattu to name a few. This activity of community lunch not only creates a bonding between the diners but also people get inspired to learn more about the different regions and their cultures, often prompting them to travel. The main idea of tourism is to create harmony and understanding, isn’t it? It is said that wherever one goes the place becomes a part of him or her somehow. Travel brings power and love back into your life.

Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime.
~Mark Twain
This year, we organized an elaborate program in addition to the community lunch, wanted to use it as a platform to understand sustainable development and drive the message home to our students, staff and guests to travel more, enjoy the destination, it’s culture and food. And respect the environment while doing so. We decided to add elements and events that’d do exactly the same. Mr. Pramod Dalvi, Vice president, Public Relations, Kesari Tours, was invited to be the chief guest for the event and address the students. Mr. Dalvi brings with him four decades of rich experience in the Travel and Tourism sector. He delivered a very powerful and enriching speech, which was accepted very well by one and all present. Am sure everyone is motivated to travel more hence forth. Mr. Ravi Rawat, General Manager of The Park Navi Mumbai, also addressed the audience. He emphasized on the importance and impact of tourism on the hotel industry. This was followed by the Vice Principal of the Institute Mr. Shirish Bokde, who spoke about what tourism meant to him and what he wanted people to start doing from their end. The Cultural program put up by the students was next in the list of events. The finale was the poster designing competition where we received many entries from the students. 
A day well spent amidst good food, enlightening talks and entertainment. 

PS Some pictures are taken from Google, with due credits

Friday, 22 September 2017

Clean air - a must for a beautiful home!

I recently attended the International Housekeepers Summit held in Mumbai. An amazing platform created by Clean India Journal. Where professionals from the fraternity, come together for knowledge sharing, ideating as well as discussing the future trends. The participants are generally hotel General Managers, Executive Housekeepers, Laundry Managers, Purchase and Materials Managers, and suppliers, manufacturers of products used by the hospitality industry. They were extremely fruitful two days. This year everyone spoke about environmental sustainability, that's the need of the hour. The discussions involved the importance of eco friendly practices to going Green. The main focus was on the 3 Rs of being eco friendly, namely Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. These practices not only have a great impact on our lifestyles but also on the environment, which is actually a loan that we have taken from our future generations. It's important for us to protect and preserve it. Going green also is being economic in the long run even when the initial cost may look a bit on the higher side.

In fact this year’s World Tourism Day, held on 27 September, will be focused on Sustainable Tourism– a Tool for Development. Celebrated in line with the 2017 International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development, the Day will be dedicated to exploring the contribution of tourism to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Coming to the immediate issues at hand, the number one concern that defeats the purpose of going green and sustainability is pollution.
When you hear the word pollution, what comes to your mind?  Pollution is making the environment unsuitable for humans or other life forms; that is contaminating air, water or land.
Being a hospitality professional dealing with hotel housekeeping; maintaining the cleanliness and aesthetic upkeep of the rooms has been a part of my professional responsibilities. Now being a trainer it is also important for me to share this knowledge with others. In hotels we try to achieve this level of cleanliness and hygiene with the latest technology, trends and techniques available. But it’s also equally important to achieve that level of cleanliness and clean air at home too. A clean home adds to the health and wellness of the people living there. Healthy home builds a healthy nation.

The air we breathe when we go out of our homes is filled with numerous pollutants from the traffic, industries, domestic waste, sewage and many other sources. It is said that the air inside our homes is almost 5 times as polluted as the air outside. It came as a surprise to me but did check the facts and they were valid. In fact indoor air pollution can be a cause of many health hazards as compared to the outdoor air pollution. These can be allergies, contagious infections, toxic reactions or hazards due to harmful radiations.  Due to these one can experience lethargy, fatigue, respiratory disorders or very serious health issues. Some of the most common home pollutants are Carbon Monoxide, Molds, Pollen, Formaldehyde, Tobacco Smoke, Building construction materials like asbestos. Simpler ways to understand this, common things can lead to indoor air pollution such as dusty furnitures, dust mites in bedding, a poorly ventilated kitchen range, aerosol sprays, strong cleaning chemicals, scented candles, dust mites, pet shedding (hair and skin) and air fresheners.  

Ways to reduce indoor air pollution

Super clean your home
Clean your home regularly paying attention to the dirty dozen. Keep your home clutter free. It is a good idea to use a low-emissions vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter regularly. It sucks pollutants like dust mites, pollen, pet dander, and decreases the concentration of lead pollutants in your home. Dust furnishings regularly with a damp rag or an electrostatically charged duster. To discourage dust mites, encase your pillows, mattresses, and duvets in  dust-mite-proof covers. Use hot water to wash dirty linen, it improves the quality of wash and makes it free of pollutants and irritants.

Facilitate Good Ventilation
Ventilate your home sufficiently to allow fresh air to come in. Fresh air circulation cleans and purifies the  air. Cooking, cleaning, using hair spray, and polishing your nails can release volatile organic compounds that are linked to a variety of health problems. Use exhaust hoods or fans in the kitchen and bathroom to reduce your exposure and minimize humidity that can cause mold and mildew. Poor ventilation can allow pollutants to stay in the air and you are constantly breathing this unhealthy air.

Keep outside pollutants out
Make it a habit to remove your shoes outside your door as people pick up many outdoor pollutants with their shoes and these pollutants can enter your home and make the indoor air polluted. Infact in India culturally we have been doing this.

No smoking
Don't smoke or allow others to do so in your home. More than air pollution it has adverse impact on one’s health. It makes sense to make your house a no-smoking zone. If you are are a smoker, it is certainly a good idea to try quitting it now.

Eliminate odours 
Find the source of bad smells and clean it up instead of trying to mask them. Whenever possible, use a box of baking soda in the area instead of air fresheners, which cost more and can contain VOCs and phthalates. Whenever we get a foul smell we pick up the air freshner and get overboard with it.

Seal what you can 
Seal cracks and crevices and put food away. This will keep the pests away and reduce the need to use pesticides which are harmful chemicals. In case you need to use pesticides use the ones that are environmental and human friendly.

Limit chemical usage
Laundry detergents, cleaning agents and air fresheners can make your house and clothes clean and smell good. But with the repeated use of these products the indoor air quality will deteriorate significantly. It’s a good idea to use fragrance-free or naturally scented detergents and air fresheners to control the release of these chemicals in the air.

Go Green
Use eco friendly products at home specially cleaning agents or air purifiers. Plants can contribute to a healthy air within your home apart from adding to the aesthetics. Indoor plants like aloe Vera, English Ivy , Boston fern, Peace lily etc  are known to purify air naturally. Not only will your house look green but you’ll also breathe purer air.

Paint your home
Paint can purify the air, doesn’t this come as a surprise to you? In fact it can be a solution that you were looking for a long time. Asian paints have come out with a handy solution in maintaining indoor air quality.
  • It’s Activated Carbon technology reduces harmful pollutant Formaldehyde and makes air cleaner.It is tested and proved by third party lab that Royale Atmos can reduce formaldehyde levels by 80-85% in 24 hours under standard test conditions. Further it will continue to reduce formaldehyde for up to 2 years post application!
  • It makes air fresher by absorbing malodors and foul smell.
  • It gives smooth matt finish to walls and has a fragrance, instead of regular chemical smell.
  • It comes with Green Assure Seal which means that it is VOC safer and environmentally friendlier.
  • It is equipped with Teflon which imparts excellent stain and scrub resistance.
Now decorate and purify your home in your favourite colour  with Asian Paints RoyaleAtmos 

#RoyaleAtmos  #CleanAirBeautifulHomes
Visit  for more details.

PS. Pictures are taken from Google

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Navratri 2017

Navratri, the time of the year when I get transported to another world, a world that’s full of hope, love and peace (I believe so!) In the past couple of years I have been dedicating a post on my blog to Maa, Goddess Durga. This year too let me touch another aspect of my life that revolves around Maa.
This is the festival dedicated to the worship of Maa Shakti, Maa Durga, Maa Parvati as she is lovingly called by her beloved devotees.  The word Navratri means 9 nights in Sanskrit. During these nine nights and ten days, nine forms of Maa Durga , are worshiped.  It is believed that Maa Durga visits earth during these pious days. The 10th day is celebrated as Vijayadashmi or Dussehra. 

The nine forms of Maa Durga invoked during the festival 
First day of Navratri we pray to Maa Shailputri
Second Navratri is dedicated to Maa Brahmacharini
Third Navratra is devoted to Maa Chandraghanta
Fourth one is to pray to Maa Kooshmanda
Fifth Navratra is for Skandmata 
Sixth Navratra one prays to Maa Katyayini
Seventh Day of the Navratri is dedicated to Maa Kalratri (Maa Kali)
Eighth day of the holy period is devoted to Maa Mahagauri
The Ninth day is for the 9th form of Maa Shakti, Sidhidatri 

The festival is celebrated all over the country in many different ways 
In the Northern part of India, these days are celebrated by way of fasting for 9 days and worshiping the different forms of Maa Gurga. In Gujarat and Maharashtra it is celebrated by having the Garba and dandiya for the 9 nights. In Eastern part of India especially among the Bengali community, It is celebrated as the Durga Puja. The festivities here are for 5 days and they are community celebrations. The idols are huge and exquisitely crafted. They adorn the huge pandals (Shamiana) where they are worshiped and then the idol is immersed in water on the 5th day. In the Southern part of India Bomma Kolu (Golu) in Tamil, Bommala Koluvu in Telugu, Bombe Habba in Kannada. They do a doll and figurine display in their homes, it is customary in the states of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh .

I look forward to the celebration of the Navratri each year like a lot of other women. Mumbai women have over the years developed their own style of celebrating this festival. They follow the colours for these nine days. Each day there is a different cololur, the list is published in the Maharashtra Times. Among the career women, who rush to their work places by the local trains hardly dress up in their traditional finery. 
Just the other day, I received a Whatsapp message titled ‘Colours of Navratri’ sent by a colleague to all the ladies working in the office. Following this list we’ll be wearing our traditional sarees or salwar kameezs in those colurs. Every office here in Mumbai has a similar story, all women whether married or not will be trying their best to adorn the colour of the day. Some may even buy outfits that they don’t have in their wardrobes. Come Navratri, the moment we step out of our homes we’ll find the women wearing the colour of the day. On reaching the local train station it’s certainly a beautiful sight to see the women adorning the colours of the day and dressing up in their best sarees. Some of them don’t even wear footwear for the entire period of the Navratri.
Evenings are generally the time to visit the local dandiya ground. Where, the dandiya begins in the evening around 7.30 pm with Arti of the Devi and then playing the favourite music, an old classic or just the flavor of the season.
Children look forward to the daniya nights celebrated in their housing societies. They are among the first dancers on the floor. Mumbai is different during the Navratri, dandiya fever is in it’s peak. In fact one gets to hear the music much before the first Navratra, as the bands comprising of college students and working people, practise each evening preparing for the festival. For them it is also a way of enjoying the festivities as well as making some good bucks!
At the Dandiya venues the people generally wear the Gujarati style chaniya cholies and men wearing the trational outfits. It’s fun to see how couples come colour co-ordinated. The jewelery is generally the oxidized one. The young girls pick their jewelry as well as the outfits for the 9 days from Gujarat, or in Mumbai, places like Bhuleshwar Market.

So Navratri is round the corner and I am looking forward to welcome the Devine Mother in my home. We begin the festival with keeping the kalash and sowing  barley in an earthen pot (which will grow till the tenth day and this will be used for the Dussehra puja at home). The Mandir (temple) at home will be decorated with the best of flowers; will light the akhand jyot (the oil lamp) which will be glowing for the next 10 days. Will have a kirtan at home in the afternoon, where we invite all the ladies and they sing the bhajans of Maa Durga and other deities. This will be followed by the Arati and distribution of prashad to all the ladies. Most of the women fast during this period so prashad generally consists of fruits, dry fruits and milk. The women also get the ‘Suhagi’ (bindi, sindoor, mehendi, nail polish, glass bangles tied together with a red ribbon) and anything else the lady of the house wants to give to the women attending the puja.

This year Navratri will be celebrated all over the country from  21st to 29th September 2017. It's the time for fasting and feasting and pleasing Goddess Durga and seeking her blessings! 

Colours for Navratri 2017 

Navratri Day 1
September 21, (Thursday)
Navratri color of the day - 
Navratri Day 2
September 22, (Friday)
Navratri color of the day - 
Navratri Day 3
September 23, (Saturday)
Navratri color of the day - 
Navratri Day 4
September 24, (Sunday)
Navratri color of the day - 
Navratri Day 5
September 25, (Monday)
Navratri color of the day – 
Navratri Day 6
September 26, (Tuesday)
Navratri color of the day - 
Navratri Day 7
September 27, (Wednesday)
Navratri color of the day - 
Royal Blue
Navratri Day 8
September 28, (Thursday)
Navratri color of the day - 
Navratri Day 9
September 29, (Friday)
Navratri color of the day - 

Wishing everyone a very happy and blessed Navratri.

PS: pictures are taken from Google

Monday, 18 September 2017

Doctor Doctor You Could Be God!

Knee story - Part 1

Mumbai was in water on 29th August 2017. It received the highest rainfall after 1997 on one single day. How is it memorable for me?  I was in office along with a few colleagues, there were news updates about how it was going to get worse as the rain had not stopped. Finally people were asked to leave for home. I stay close by barely 10 minutes away. I left around 5 pm and was home in 20 minutes, took longer than usual due to traffic. I stepped into the house with wet feet, failed to notice some water on the floor that had come through the window. There I went flat on the floor twisting my knee so badly that it was numb; I couldn't feel anything. The pain was just too much. My father in law was right there he held me by both my hands. My children saw me fall and cry so much ;they both started crying too. Mom in law rushed  in to check what had happened. They picked me up and made me lie on the bed. There was swelling and intense pain. Decided against going to the hospital as it was raining and traffic was bad everywhere. I thought it was a bad twist so it would take a while for pain to subside. Next morning I went to see an orthopaedic surgeon. The moment he examined me he said that he feared that it was an ACL (Ligament) tear. He said that he was going for the same surgery. I didn't want to hear that. He added that I needed to get an X ray done but that wouldn't show the ligament tear so I had to go in for an MRI too. I was at loss  of  words.  Had not thought of this even in my wildest dream. I told the doctor that I was too scared of the MRI machine. He asked me to tell the technician that; he added that for knee MRI there was no need to get into the machine completely but they'd use an attachment on my knee only. some solace there.

I rushed to the hospital, Xray came normal. Then went in for the MRI, I know if dad or my husband was with me I'd have created a scene but here I was with a friend who was accompanying me. All emotions under check.  It took half an hour for the process. The report was expected the next day. I met the doctor the following day with reports. It said complete ACL tear and MCL grade 2 injury. Doctor said that I might need a surgery but it wasn't something that needed to be done immediately. I asked him if there was no other way, told him that I had a very strong will power and would do whatever it took to ensure that I recovered. He wrote his prescription. I asked him if I could go to work and also told him about an important seminar that I had to attend. He gave me the green signal with an instruction that I shouldn't strain myself too much. I left his clinic and followed his advice. Got in touch with the physiotherapist too but didn't start it immediately. Finally came 8th and 9th September I did summon all courage to attend the International Summit. Took ample rest to recharge my batteries.

Sent my reports to a couple of doctor friends and guess what? Almost all said that it would need a surgery and long rehabilitation. My inner voice kept telling me it couldn't be that bad as I was feeling fine, wasn't experiencing any great pain either. At least 3 friends called me and shared their experience of the same inury and the subsequent surgery. Yet the stubborn inner voice kept telling me that  each one was different..... I was certainly DIFFERENT!
I was to see a physiotherapist on 11th September. Thought of sending her my reports in case she had some other advice for me. She did call to tell me that my injury needed a surgery but for rehab she'd help me. I shared with her what I really felt. Hearing that she advised a second opinion. I cried my heart out thinking of the consequences and outcome of this whole episode. I had to be brave. When the sailor husband is out at sea, old in-laws are taking care of you and you have two children to look after, you have no choice but to be brave. I zeroed on one orthopedic surgeon that my sister in law had visited a couple of months ago and a friend shared his feedback too. Guess what, both of them didn't remember the doctor's name. They told me where they had visited him. I googled him and got his details. Immediately called him to take an appointment. He asked me to see him at 7.15 pm that evening.

There I was well on time to see Dr. Mahesh Maheshwari. Had to wait for my turn. Finally he examined me and the way he spoke made me feel extremely comfortable. He said that I didn't need a surgery. I held his hands and thanked him, tears in my eyes. As if this was what I had longed to hear. I know for sure that one must allow the body to heal on it's own, giving some time. If that doesn't work then surgery can be the last resort. I was ready and willing to give it a try. He wrote his prescription and showed me 3 exercises to do and asked me to see him in 10 days. I am in this phase at the moment. Religiously doing the exercises and taking it easy. Going to office wearing a hinged knee cap and taking the support of a walking stick. Don't know what's happening inside the knee but the person in me is extremely optimistic, looking forward to a fabulous and speedy recovery.

Knee brings some humour
Husband called through video chat the same evening I fell. He didn't show his fear or concern but I could read his expressions and see it in his eyes how worried he was and how helpless he felt. After asking me what had happened he said, "Tum sab jagah apni tang adati ho nah, isliye yeh hua." (You poke your nose everywhere that's why it happened, in Hindi we use leg instead of the nose bit). I gave him one dirty look then but have been smiling thinking of that. He asked me to get second opinion also check with doctor friends. Above all be strong and follow the doctor's advice. He is checking on me every single day to ensure that all's fine.

Where can sons be left behind? They cried so much when I fell down, one kept saying that I was the best mom in the world as if someone would listen to that and not punish one good mother. I continue to feel nice about that innocent expression. The elder one who is into football, the moment he saw my report that showed ACL tear; quipped, " Mumma so many footballers have got that injury Kurt Zouma,  Ruud Van even Neymar Jr. has got many leg injuries:.  I felt as if he took pride in my achievements! I come in the league of such greats. What if the fall was inside the house and not on a football field, It's the spirit that matters after all!

The 50/ 50 Game
The people who are close to me, know me well kept saying that I won't require a surgery. They were even more hopeful than me. That included my parents, in laws, my boss as well as work colleagues and a few friends. The ones who use more logic and referring to case studies told me that surgery would be a good idea. I listened to all but wanted a validation of what I felt from a doctor and Dr. Maheshwari did that for me. I am grateful to everyone for their concern, love and all the caring. Infact a friend who has gone through a similar injury told me that even if I felt good didn't mean that the wound was healing.

Happy to be in the 40s
Dr. Maheshwari said that if I was in my 20s and very active like Sachin Tendulkar, may be he would've suggested a surgery but not at my age and the kind of lifestyle I led. He then asked me how old I was. I said ," 41, infact 41 and a half so that made it 42!". He laughed saying that to avoid sugery I was adding an year. I am glad it was me who had a fall in the house that day and not my in laws or kids as I could  handle it better than them. Also thankful that I am in my 40s though I have never felt older than 21. 

Way forward
It's been three weeks and have a few more towards recovery. I am doing the exercises and feeling better in spirit and have things to look back and laugh at. In fact a friend who is a VP in a company holding a very important portfolio says, "Nazar lag gayee"( evil eye). She also added that everything can't be perfect always. A few ups and downs are a part and parcel of life. Well said indeed. This is a passing phase. Each phase leaves you with something profound. This was probably a message to me to slow down a bit, to value what I had in life and that nothing mattered apart from good health. Lessons taken, in fact absorbed and digested. Thankful for the fact that I have some great friends, colleagues and relationships;  all that's my earning, my rewards!

Doctors are next to Gods
Being a doctor is certainly a noble profession. Doctors play such an important part in our lives specially in the downs, the sorrow and sufferings. They can bring about changes, they were truly called the Gods. It's so important for the medical fraternity to remain true to their profession, cause and mission. They also need to have good counselling and inter personal skills. Which I feel some of them lag. These qualities are so important when dealing with patients and their families. Rehablitation is as important as the medical care, sometimes even more. I am a trainer and I can certainly do something in this direction. In fact I have decided that I'll take up training sessions for doctors and contribute whatever I can towards them dealing positively with patients as well as towards  their rehablitation.

Second opinion
My advise to anyone dealing with a complex medical condition would be to take second opinion, in fact take third, fourth or fifth if need be. Also listen to what your heart and mind says. Being positive always helps and placebo effect is known to all. All things being equal your attitude and your mindset contributes towards your recovery. Each individual is different and will response differently to the treatment. No harm in giving some time and having patience, if your doctor feels so. 

PS: This blog is only a feel good post, it might help some people reading it as some people's experiences helped me. It is not a medical advisory but my experience with an injury and how I am dealing with it. 

Pictures are taken from google with due credits

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

Vishakhapatnam and The Park Vizag- A great combo!

Part of my job profile as a trainer with the Park Hotels is to conduct induction for the new joinees at all levels, top management to the entry level. Its revisiting the vision, mission as well has brand philosophy and standards of the organisation. No matter how many times I do this; each time it's a different expereince and a new take away. As it's not just me talking about the Apeejay Surrendra Group that is 107 plus years but also touching base and exchanging information, sharing knowledge and learning about another brand the new joinee must have worked with. Infact a colleague of mine asked if I didn't get bored talking the same thing again and again. I told him that I meet a new group each time and what I do depends on them as well. Which job is not doing the same thing again and again! The beauty of what I do is that I meet people who have joined with renewed aspirations, bringing in valuable experience and energies with them. I just welcome them and their dreams into the company, the initial hand holding is always valuable. 

One property that I had longed to visit was The Park Vizag (TPVZ), the second one to be added to the collection of luxury boutique hotels and the property that'll turn 50 next year, 2018. The pictures that I looked at kept inviting me. Finally, the opportunity arrived and I had to conduct training sessions at TPVZ, a week long training schedule and a day meant for exploring the city. I was there from June 5th to the 12th this year. Was super excited, felt like a school girl beacuse the city meant a lot to me. My dad did his Commando training there, husband had started his kindergarten and our hotel at Vizag had an impeccable history. And I love history, so there it was! I had to write this blog it's long overdue!

The flight was late from Mumbai itself but the amazing view as we landed made up for that initial  hitch. The hotel car and the driver were waiting for me.  The weather was pleasant, the driver said that it had been very hot and humid the previous week. I told him that I was bringing the rain with me as it happened in almost all 4 places that I visited during the vacation, a fortnight earlier. My first experince of Vizag was that it's such a clean and green city. The walls or barriers along the road were so aesthetically painted. They gave the city an elegant and green look. I was thoroughly impressed. Later I learnt that it was one of the cleanest cities in India, they had their municipal staff working in shifts, so the streets were kept clean throughout. Then we arrived at the hotel, as we entered the porch everything looked so familiar to me; all thanks to the numerous inductions. The property was more beautiful than what I had expected it to be. After the warm welcome, so what if I am a houseguest? we believe in treating our internal customers equally well.

I was taken to the room on the top floor, the 4th floor is the top floor here and another USP of this hotel is that all rooms face the sea. I was given a room that had the view of the sea, the swimming pool as well as the light house. I assumed this was the best view. Housekeeping had given their special touch to make the room; welcoming as well as comfortable. Beautiful flowers arrangements and all amenities meant for a single lady traveller. I couldn't have expected anything more. Everything seemed to be just perfect including the whiteness of the towels. I sat by the window looking out and immersing myself in the serenity of this place, just then it started to rain and I said to myself that Vizag became the 5th place where I took rains with me! Guess what? The hotel staff started giving me the compliments for the same as if I was the Rain Goddess! The weather changed for good, little showers in the morning and evening making it really pleasant. That continued till my entire stay, I guess then monsoons would have reached the city. Let me introduce to you The Park Vizag.

The Park Vizag - Sea, Sand and Clear Skies
Overlooking the Bay of Bengal, The Park Vizag (TPVZ) sprawls over 6 acres of spectacular private beachfront. Sandy beaches complete with a lighthouse underline the romance of the sea with breathtaking sunrises and lovely tropical gardens adorning it.
Staying there, sitting by the beach you can have a dialogue with the Bay of Bengal as the waves splash onto the sandy beach. The sea-facing five star accommodation allows for a breathtaking view as the breeze drifts over the waters of the bay. Take a stroll through the beautifully poised gardens with tiled pavilions and a giant chessboard or enjoy the sunset as it sinks into the horizon. TPVZ gives you an environment that encourages exploration and inner freedom and makes it one of the best leisure five star hotels in the city. This is a place of purity where the red soil connects with the golden sand, blending with the blue sea into the clear sky. You enjoy the sea, sand, sky, sunrise and sunset all alike.

Earthy Styling
The design of this luxury boutique hotel has been influenced greatly by local art and crafts. The craftsmen have used their skills to create the precise detailing that is unique amongst boutique hotels, the ambience reflects and befits the local culture. The Buddhist influence on this region of India has been a great influence to the features and to the tranquil atmosphere that lends an aura of serenity to this beautiful property.
Dining experiences at Bamboo Bay or Vista are enhanced by the orange sunsets in a tropical setting while candlelit tables give a dancing glow to the night -promises of an enchanting getaway linger at this boutique hotel. One can relax at the Someplace Else bar with a traditional drink or a heady cocktail or dance the night away at Tribe, the club. The Park Vishakhapatnam is a  must experience for anyone visiting the beautiful city of Vishakhapatnam.

The USP of  TPVZ
What I liked the most in this hotel was the vast landscaped gardens, beautiful flowers and local art all around in the hotel. It also gave a feel of the swinging sixties, the golden era of art and design, the decade famed for its iconic fashion, ground breaking music and significant moments in history. Found all of that at this hotel. The expectations I came with were met and exceeded. It also added to the sustainability part. All flower arrangements were done with the flowers and folliage from it's own gardens. They have beautiful well maintained gardens and lawns. The hotel was affected by cyclone Hudud that led to a lot of damange, many trees uprooted. The staff found a way to recycle the finds of Hudhud, they created art out of it. I saw some centre pieces for their restaurant tables as well as vases created out of that wood, being used in the entire hotel. Not just creating beauty but also nurturing a gentle reminder of the deadly cyclone. It brought the team together, everyone worked with one purpose and everyone was thankful for what he or she had. Each counting his blessings. Could feel that when I interacted with different staff in the hotel. The team that has one heartbeat is never defeated! this was one such team I worked with.  

The training sessions were engaging and enjoyable, for the participants as well; can say so from the feedback forms. You see am not blowing my own trumpet! The challenge was, I had one participant in one of the sessions who couldn't read or write and wasn't too fluent in the language. Believe me he turned out to be one of the best trainees that I've met in my training sessions. He attended the Supervisory Development Program- a 2 day training session. He ensured that I got the best the remaining days at the hotel! He was the chef handling the Indian Halwai Section (Sweets section) so you can imagine.
I found the hotel team to be professional, had eagerness to learn something new and they had great hospitality attitude! Loved the training room too, it was my den for 5 days. The hotel General Manager took interest in taking feedback of the participants. That's a great attitude and I could see that it did filter down. A team that has a good leader is always motivated and it does well, almost always.

The last one and a half days were to explore the city, chose the weekend for that. Saw all the tourist spots and also the ancient Simhachalam temple. Vishakhapatnam is indeed a paradise, a city I felt people could think of spending their retired lives in. It's small, well connected, has every facility that one requires, clean, green and so very peaceful. A city truly blessed by nature beautiful gardens, beaches, hills and enchanting history.