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Thursday, April 7, 2011

Blogvertising - Blogger Meet to Save Lives

I was invited a few weeks ago for a blogger meet for a stemcell banking launch. And i did go. I think its a nice way to engage the community communicators like us who share stuff they want to share. Without a bias or vested interest. So Here's to  all the women out there who can save their own lives in case they are unfortunate enough to contract a life-threatening disease like cancer.

Stemcell banking is the new trend which young parents are adopting for their new-born babies. And why not. It is the ultimate technology to safeguard their future. But what about us, adults, who lost that chance since this innovation did not exist then? Women, here's the good news then. If you are still in the 'menstruating' age group, you can bank your stemcells through your menstrual blood. Lisa Ray did it and she is is gradually getting back to her usual life. Or she already has. She looked pretty as a peach when she addressed us at the launch. Of course, the pain of those chemos would have been gruelling for her, keeping in mind her glamorous profession. But she was there, and she told us why stemcell banking made sense.

Lifecell's Stemcell banking with menstrual blood is something new they have developed. Once you register on their site, they send a collection kit to you at your adress, with a CD explaining the process. They even take back the collected samples from your doorstep, so you can complete the process yourself, at home. The collection process looks simple, but yes, you should be brave enough to try it. But once its over, your stemcells are locked and safe with them till you are about 60. And in case you get unlucky in health, the cells will rejuvenate you, all back to normal as before. So if you lose your eyesight, it might help you get it back. If you get cancer, it helps get you back to normal. If you lose a limb, it could help you regrow those. Its a miracle, Isn't it? No it's not. Its purely science with some brilliant outcome. With a price, of course. It could anything about Rs 45000 to Rs 75000 or so for life. Most stem cell banking companies have an EMI option to throw in. The price looks steep, but the practical benefits of any stemcell process is worth it. Maybe the prices might just see a revolution with the demand growing.
There are other options available in the market as well like the umbilical cord for kids. And for men, you might ask, who are not lucky enough to menstruate? (wonder why the word begins with 'men' then?)- for them, you have dental pulp stemcell banking as well. Apparently that option is not as effective. Poor guys!

So nett nett, getting periods is good news, says Lifecell. We all knew that however, just wondering why take such an indirect route to communicate the benefits of stemcell? The communication route seems to be a bit 'Whisper' or 'Stayfreee' like. Does not directly talk about stemcell and women, rather more on 'vaginal monologues'. Anyways, whatever the advertising, at least the product is worth the blood, women!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Slumdog Billionaire

The Donate-A-Word campaign kicked off on September 8 which was, by the way, International Literacy Day. We collated some 250 items comprising pens, pencils, crayons, notebooks and all things sweet to donate to the slum kids handled by the NGO Adarshmay on Children’s Day. But since 14th November was a Sunday, we decided to celebrate it on 17th November instead. 17th November happened to be Eid as well as my276 husband’s Birthday! So it was more like a triple celebration for the kids. That and it turned out to be one of the most celebrated event of our lives.

Ashish Pawaskar, who runs this NGO, met us at the Govandi Signal from where we were guided inside the little bylanes of Shivaji Nagar. This is where he runs this private school for some slum kids. When he came in his vehicle, jam packed with the kiddos, they were more than just excited to see us. We were warmly welcomed by the all-decked up pack of 11 girls and boys with some happy ‘Hello teacher! Hello miss and Hi Didi’ greetings. My husband Rahul was almost swept inside as they took him in by hand and shook them vigorously to wish him a Happy Birthday. If we were trees and they were monkeys, it would have been a one big happy family!

308The school’s White Board wished us Eid Mubarak and A Happy Birthday to the Birthday boy. We met with Ashish’s wife and the volunteer, Vandana who have been kind enough to lend their lives to this cause. The kids surrounded us, smiling and pushing each other to shake hands, but not even once misbehaving themselves. ‘Teacher my name is Arshad’ said one. I looked up and smiled a Colgate smile. I felt how a Tom Cruise would on the Red Carpet. Elated, touched and all that.

312 The group leaders pulled up a mattress where they all squat – like a choreographed symphony – girls on one end and the guys seated on the other. Then one by one, some came up to showcase their singing or dancing skills. They sang the Scout & Guide bhajans, some Bollywood hits, and got playing Passing the Parcel. I digged the very dainty very cute Thumbelina-like girl who enacted a Fruit Salad poem....guess can’t really recall her name yet. We were on a complete roll. It was touching to see Ayesha, Muskaan, Arshad, the very little Sania and the other 20 plus paltan on a celebratory mood.

 328Finally, before we departed we donated their little kits to them, from the Donate-a-Word campaign. And in turn they donated to us their love, their respect and their favourite toy – Bluey (we just christened it), the big blue beautiful Dolphin. Now that made us feel like Billionaires. Bluey is now ensconced comfortable in our car boot. How I wish the kids were all that lucky too. But they did get a little ride that day in our car, a scarce privilege for them.

As we said goodbye, they again shook hands and waved out. It was touching. Memorable. Made you want to stay back. And when we sped on our way out, it made me feel enriched. Happier. Like some Slumdog Billionaire.

Monday, October 18, 2010

LOL to Khichdi

After almost 10 and a half supposedly funny films ( I walked out during one of them), I finally was in splits when I watched the 'world-best' Khichdi. It was probably the funniest 2 hours I have spent cackling away now and then. Whether it is the 'all-Parminder' family standing in line to recieve a phone or the Farah Khan shoot scene, the film has stayed true to its flavour.
Made into a full fledged film after a huge success of the teleserial Instat Khichdi, what I liked about the movie is that the script has retained the original flavour of the characters. It is always a risk to adapt an original masterpiece into a different format - whether it is the adaptation of the Mahabharata by Rajneeti or Instant Khichdi for Khichdi. The success of the film means that the fans associated with the film as much as they loved the original teleserial. And they way it has been crafted in a breezy,unconventionally Khichdi style, without getting crass, is simply delightful.
When the half-baked Parekh family goes to fulfill Hansa's father's last wish, the entire Chakravyuh of comical chaos turns loose. Himanshu is about get happily married when he realises that his wish is have a dramatic filmy the family, under the leadership of the ever-scheming Jayshree, conspire to villainise their own man in the eyes of his fiancee (Parminder),her brother (Parminder), her Bhabhi (Parminder), her Dadaji (Parminder), and the rest up and down the family tree, so that they break the marriage. And in the end they would reunite like the typical hero and heroine do in most sagas. Thus begin the ludicrous plots, cracker dialogues, headless hollers and timely humour.
Mind you, if you are not a regular viewer of Hansa and Praful's idiocacies, or Himanshu's culinary capers, you might find this a tad silly. Otherwise Khichdi is a complete riot. Wonder what if your uncle booked you wedding venue in China instead of your own city, just because the name was the same? Or he turned an experienced lawyer into a confused Sunny Deol? Imagine a Hansa playing dumb charades as a lawyer to defend  her brother from a murder case. Andof course, imagine singing a 'Beedi jalaile' spoof bhajan in a Funeral meeting All this can only happen in Khichdi. And enjoyed. Suppak comedy Boss!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Name is Bond. Ruskin Bond.

20 Aug 2010: : As a kid, The Rain in the Mountains is one of the first books of Ruskin Bond which I gobbled up during a Summer vacation. Then came the Train to Deoli, One Night at Shaamli, The Room on the Roof …and ever since I devoured these, it has been a childhood dream to meet this Man who writes this beautiful. And when I met him in his fair flesh and blood at the Vodafone Crossword Awards 2009, I was thrilllllllled. His ever-smiling face, the rotund belly, the gentle persona makes him even cuter. As the chief guest and judge, his presence completely awed the daylights out of me.

It’s not just his books which get me to love him, but the fact that its his inspirational soulful writing which kindled the passion for writing in me. And today, I am a writer. If Gandhi was the Father of our Nation, I hold Bond as the Father of Writing. His simple smoothie style, the play of words, and the disarming humour he manifests in his style make his works simply yummy. Till date I have never hurried to get a celeb autograph in my life – nope, not even Aamir, when I was younger. But it is Ruskin who is the real Bond. So then from the last rows of NCPA where I was seated, I rushed towards the stage, almost ignoring the other people smiling at me, as they walked by…I approached him amidst the other eager fansm handed him my little handmade paper diary and thankfully he obliged. Wish he could have struskin bond0001ayed longer, and the people accompanying him were a wee lesser possessive of him :) But what matters is those two words he scribbled in my book which I shall treasure all my life – Ruskin Bond’ 

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Blogging for Change

The IndiMum blogger meet today did well for us. For bloggers, un-bloggers alike. The agenda could have been tighter involving more people to talk, but the debate about ‘blogging for the next level’ brought some meat.

The good thing about blogging is that it has comfortably slipped in line as a new dissemination medium. We recognise blogs and bloggers and their written word. We take us seriously. The debatable issue about ‘blogging versus journalism’ is quite like that endless Indian law trial, so we choose to leave it at that. What’s important is now taking this phenomenon of blogging to its rightful cadre – as a powerful medium of change.

Blogging as 3 advantages to it:

a) It is a youthful medium, the medium of tomorrow

b) It travels lightning fast, without commercial influence

c) The written word is more powerful and permanent

So, as a blogger community, keeping aside the journalistic tendencies, I believe we have the power to influence people at an individual level, then at a society level. It is a medium of interactive conversations, debates, opiniating – thus INVOLVEMENT of the reader. And if the reader is involved in forming the opinion, he/she might as well be the evangelist.

Most importantly, whatever we write about, we mean to influence readers. We mean to make perceptions, form opinions. So as a blogger if you are empowered to do so, why not use it for a positive change? Writing about relevant issues and translating these into ACTION down the line.

Feel for the Bhopal Victims? Well, blog about it, create a community and fight for justice with your readers’ support. Mad about CWG? Post your opinion, garner support and send out your letters to the Ministry. Maybe go meet them. Hate those potholed roads? Talk to those car owners, pedestrian friends and other spirited friends through your blog and unify them through an offline campaign targetting the administration.

The power of blogging is immense. As responsible, tired and frustrated citizens, its time we channelise the energy into Action through our words. And the first step is blogging about it. So, my dear blogger friends - Keep Blogging.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Peoplee Live

A good watch on the eve of Independence Day. Peepli Live, is a lash of heavy sarcasm on the people of India. On her junta, her politicians, her media and their myopic materialism which leaves the nation in shreds.

The plight of an Indian farmer expressed through the lens of fitting humour. The plot contains the self evinced suicidal plans of a farmer, in lieu of compensation, which catch the fancy of the political and media clowns. Thus emerges a circus of overdramatic journos, bureacratic babus and pathetic police people being used by the narcissistic netas for vested interests.  The naivety of a meagre land owner – Natthu - who has almost lost his land owing to debt, stands out bizarre as the conniving opportunists try to make hay as well as get the sun to shine, where the hay is the benefits of TRPs and vote banks, and the sun is the suicide. The over sensationalising of everything – right from Natthu’s shit to his suicide is used as a breaking news story and to pass the buck.

There is technically nothing wrong with the film – a heavily sarcastic treatment of the common problem of India – over-materialism, politics and mass corruption, using the background of farmers’ suicide. Good actors, simple storyline, a plug in of humour makes the film an interesting watch.

Though, it fails to re-create a Lagaan or Rang De Basanti – both films with a greater purpose. Peepli too had the potential to strike a bigger message home, to put fire under our asses, to inspire us enough to act on it – but somehow it ends a bit bland and less dramatic. But yes it does provoke us to think what kind of a nation we are, what kind of people we are.

Just hope that we all take back something more than just a few giggles on funny situations. Farmer suicides are not a joke, mind you.

Reporting for Peepli Live. Over.

3on5 for this film.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

5 Secrets of Good Writing

What drives a writer to write? The greatest pleasure of writing is in the appreciation. But are we really doing good enough to earn their applause? Creativity without appreciation is like a word misspelt- it feels incomplete, it feels wrong. Passion is not the only thing BROKEN PENCIL needed to write nowadays. Neither is talent. It is the channelisation of these aspects, with a fine balance of a few secret ingredients which help in making your writing look good. Here are some secrets to Good Writing which I would like to share:

Secret #1: If you enjoyed writing it, your reader would enjoy reading it.

Secret #2: Write not with the heart, but with fire in the belly

Secret#3: Focus on adding value, not vocabulary

Secret#4: The right spirit is more important than the right language

Secret #5: Respect the language you are writing in. If you don’t like your name being spelt wrong, why spell any word wrong?

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