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Early Childhood pampered by our parents

This is the time we don't understand the value of money and more often than not, we are also pampered by our parents and relatives.

Education - Key to success

We continue to live on our parents efforts but build a foundation for our career. Education and Graduation dependent on individuals interest and affordability.

We have started earning after graduation!!

Well, we are less dependent on our parents, now that we have started earning. Starting a family and Pampering our children is part of this phase.

Older we are, Wiser we get

We get older, children start schooling.Time to think about loan payments, savings for retirement, we earn, spend on necessities and we save the rest.

Finally the day has arrived and start enjoying retirement

Retirement reduces our needs but not expenses. The extras that we saved supplement the social security and pension and keep us flying till the END!!.

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Choose to Start with Moto E

Today is my first day in my first job. I was up early in the morning got ready, reached to my cell phone ... Should I take it to office? I decided against taking that old phone which my father gave me 2 years back after he used it for 5 years. I have started earning and need a cool phone. During lunch, I started browsing for the cool phone that I wanted to buy as soon as I get my first salary. Since it was already 20th, my salary was due in just 10 days.

I am on a budget, So I started searching for phones below Rs 5000. Nope. Couldn't find anything cool. I increased the range to include phones upto Rs 7000. I saw an attractive Phone .... Its cool, looks glamorous and costs only Rs 6,999 (Moto E 2nd Gen). I decided to look at the features. Frankly I was expecting lot of compromises due to my limited budget but I was surprised there didn't have to compromise on quality or features either.

It is 4.5 inch IPS display 540x960 pixel resolution, 4G LTE phone with Quad core processor and has both Front and Rear camera and comes with an All-day battery. The primary camera is 5MP. The icing on the cake is that it comes with the latest Android (v5.0 Lollipop) manufactured by a leading manufacturer of smart phones. All these great features under Rs 7000? I choose to start my smartphone journey with Moto E 2nd Gen. 

I placed the order for Cash on Delivery. Hope I get my salary before Moto E 2nd gen is delivered. Finally I found a great Phone for a great price.

Note: This blog was written for Motorola's Moto E contest. For more information about Moto E 2nd Gen please click here.

Nashta with Guptaji

After my Graduation, I took  job in Delhi. I was amazed by the broad roads compared to Chennai where I spent most of my life. Soon I settled down in Delhi like any Delhiite from the south by visiting Karol Bagh, Connaught Place etc during weekends for either shopping or for south Indian food or for both. I soon made quite a few north indian friends including a Guptaji and started loving yummy foods like Chapati, Poories, Gajar ka halwa, Jilebis and the like. This is when I learnt that Nastha is very important meal of the day. Guptaji couple were very kind. They knew I loved Chapatti Cornflakes Chivda and invited me whenever they made that for breakfast.

Two years down the line, I got married to Tina in Chennai. After a brief honeymoon, I returned to Delhi with my wife to join my duty again. We reached Delhi on Friday so that we have few days to settle down before Monday. Seeing the lack of provisions in my apartment, Tina wanted to go for grocery shopping (I have never heard of such shopping in my bachelor life). She picked up cartful of stuff including breakfast cereals, Atta, rice, vegetables, spices and so on. She cooked a sumptuous meal. Then I told her that I am going to provide her Breakfast on Saturday. In the night my wife kept asking me what I am going to make for Breakfast. Finally I told her the truth that we are going to Guptaji's apartment for Breakfast. 

Tina didn't like the idea. She said she will make breakfast and may be I can invite Guptaji and his family. Then I told her the whole story about how I came to know Guptaji. There was a riot like situation in Delhi a year back and I was ill-prepared to face it. I just had rice and water at home. Since people were not allowed to go out, I decided I can live for few days with what I have. In the evening Guptaji saw me outside my apartment and asked me how I am managing my food. He then invited me to his house for breakfast next day. I was little uncertain what to expect in the Breakfast with Guptaji. That day, we had "Nakhare Wala Nastha" alias "Chapatti Cornflakes Chivda". It was crunchy with good taste with lots of peanuts and crunchy corn flakes. I started loving north indian food. I loved Chapatti with Aloo subzy. Soon I realized north indians are foody lovers. 

Tina was overwhelmed when she realized Guptaji saved me from hunger when there was trouble in Delhi. Next day morning she was up well before me and when I woke up she said "Let us go for Nashta with Guptaji's". She liked the food at Guptaji's and soon we were inviting each other for weekend Nashtas.

Note: This post is written for Kellogg's India. For additional information click here.

Saturday, 21 March 2015

Simple things that made me Happy

Everyone has one common goal in life. We maybe of different races, castes, occupations or communities but we all have one common goal, to be happy.  Different things make different people happy. That’s the amazing thing about happiness; you don’t have to be rich to feel it. Happiness doesn’t discriminate.

Twelfth grade was one of the most over-hyped years. It, for me was one of the most memorable, yet most annoying years. You know how it goes, parents and teachers expect you to study all day, even though it’s physically impossible. This was the last year of school too. I was finally a senior and loved going to school. School was probably the most fun time of the day when I would be away from my parents and could sympathize with my friends. Thinking back to these years I really miss it. The early morning tuition,  the deep conversations with my friends, after boards plans and so on. Even though at that time I couldn’t wait for boards to end, I really miss those years. I did not have a computer a or TV to while away my time, the simple things in life that made me happy.

I would look forward to nights as I could throw my books away and listen to a podcast or read a book. Anything that wasn’t math or economics made me happy. I would look forward to my breaks as this would mean escaping reality, even if it was for just fifteen minutes. And tuition, oh how I loved my math tuition. We would go there every morning at 6 and do very little math. We would mainly talk about life and how boards were ruining it for us. And then there were a few serious students, who would actually study. Even though the year was full of teachers asking me to study more and parents forcing me to study, it was one of the most memorable years of my life. This is one of the few years where I enjoyed and happy with the simple things in life, like how amazing cold water or lemonade tasted on a hot day. The mid-day ice creams or the occasional coke I had with friends after lunch at school made us all happy.

Even though this was one of the most memorable years I wouldn’t do it again even if I could. I can’t go through early morning tuition and my parents being called to school as I failed a midterm exam. This is however a memory which I will cherish my entire life. And maybe tell my kids when they have to go through it. I sometimes look back to these years and see how much life has changed for me.

Note: This post is written for Coca-Cola India. For additional information click here.

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Singapore Cuisine - Truly International

I lived in Singapore for about a year. I realized that many of my thoughts about Singapore were wrong. I knew Singapore to be very clean but never imagined the number of restaurants in the country. I was most surprised by the number of hawker stalls outside major stations in Singapore. Initially I was afraid to walk-in and eat in one of those till I spoke to my colleagues who confirmed they eat food everywhere. The food in Singapore is truly international and is influenced by various ethnic food primarily Malay, Chinese and Indian and reflects the ethnic diversity of the culture of Singapore. Singapore Cuisine is truly Global.

My favorite food in the hawker stalls is the "Char kway teow" which is a stir fried flat rice noodles with soy-sauce, chilli, bean sprouts and chinese chives. This is cooked on a Wok using high heat and is sinfully rich and tickles my taste buds even now and is really Yummy!

My second favorite food is the Bak Kwa Mac and Cheese. I loved the combination of sweet smokiness of Bak kwa and the creaminess of Mac n Cheese available in Pidgin Kitchen and Bar. This is really rich and I work it out every time I go for it.

I also loved the Chili crab with mini mantou buns and the cereal prawns. Prawns are coated in a batter of oats, fried in butter and topped with fried curry leaves.

I also loved the endless variety of Cafe's in Singapore, different varieties of Pratha's and the ice cream bread in Orchard road.

For a small country roughly equaling the size of Mumbai city in India but with less than half the population of Mumbai, the eating options are enormous! There are hundreds of hawker stalls as well as large restaurants. Singapore Food festival is organized by the government in July to celebrate Singapore cuisine and is a great time to explore the Singaporean cuisine.

Note: This post is written for Takeaway Level: Singapore organized by Far East Hospitality.

Saturday, 14 March 2015

Togetherness and Optimism

My father put me in cricket training when I was 6 years old which helped me be part of my school cricket team. Though I was average in studies, my cricketing skills overshadowed that weakness and even my best friends looked up to me. I got into one of the best colleges in town in the commerce stream primarily based on my sports credentials.

However when I took my Common Proficiency Test to study for CA, I was short by two marks and failed. I was quite disappointed but my father, as ever, encouraged me. He said he had made some plans and is taking me and my mom out for an evening of fun and food.

I invited one of my best friends also to join us and we all went to bowling first. After initial practice we started a game. When the waiter came, we ordered some pakodas, bajjis and sprite to keep us engaged while we bowled. We discussed about the recent movies, actors and politics as we played. I was leading by huge margins which kept my spirits high. I won the bowling game and we then moved on to a movie theater nearby. My father had 4 passes for a thrilling romantic Tamil movie. It has been a long time since we went for a movie together. We all liked the movie and my friend and I had soft conversation during the movie as well as during the break.

After the movie my father surprised all of us by driving into a drive-in restaurant. We ordered food from the car and continued our conversation about the characters in the movie and about the state assembly elections that are due in two weeks time. I was talking to my friend about the CPT exam and how I missed it narrowly. He is currently studying for CA final. He gave valuable tips on how I can do better next time and how important it is not to loose heart over one failure. My friend invited me to meet him every Sunday afternoon so that he can also help me with my studies.

This restaurant is a specialist in local delicacies and the dishes had the right amount of spice, flavor and aroma. After dinner, my father took us for a brief walk along the marina. I could feel the effect of togetherness and the fact that it made all of us feel confident and focus on our future. When we returned I bid goodbye to my friend and thanked my father for a wonderful evening. He advised me that we need to be optimistic. It is OK to have a failure once in a way but we should be optimistic and confident so that we can keep moving forward in life and that he had also been through similar phases in his life. I understood what he meant.

Optimism is very powerful. I can write the exam again in 6 months. What matters most is being optimistic. Being together with friends and family helps in a big way. Three years later when I passed my CA final I took my parents and my friend to the same restaurant for dinner to bring back old memories.

Note: This post is written for For additional information click here.

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

How a Phone call and a bold decision changed my life

It was just a week before my marriage when my ex-colleague called me from US and asked if I could join within 2 weeks to fill a vacant position in his office. Though I had a valid H-1 visa, I am now engaged to this awesome girl and getting married in a week. We had made elaborate travel plans after marriage. Now taking this job means forgoing all our plans and in the event she doesn't get visa, we will have to lead separate lives for sometime. When I broached this topic, my fiancée was very excited.

We decided to take the bold step and I confirmed to my friend. My fiancée got her visa immediately following our marriage. We got our flight tickets booked and I requested my friend to book an apartment in the same complex that he stays. I have never been to US before but we decided to take the challenge head-on. Our flight landed in DFW airport late in the night. We took a cab and went straight to my friends apartment. We picked up the self help instructions to get our key by punching codes as the office was closed at that time. It seemed like acting in a star trek movie after the long flight but it was a cold night and I needed to do what it takes to get into the apartment.

We opened the door to see an empty dark apartment. It was unfurnished apartment, of course, but I expected some tube lights like in India. We managed to pull our luggage and wade through darkness to the Kitchen where we found a switch. We were relieved to see that there is one light in an one bedroom apartment. We sat down on the carpet (near kitchen) with our luggage around us. My wife who was used to all the luxuries in India, was uncomplaining and followed whatever I was doing. Using my friend's mobile which he had loaned me for a night, I called Pizzhut for delivery. While waiting for the Pizza, I apologized to my new wife for the inconvenience but surprisingly she said she is enjoying every bit of this Adventure. We figured the apartment had central heat, found and adjusted the gauge. By the time we finished pizza dinner, apartment was warm but we were very tired and slept on the carpet.

Next day I joined my job, took some time off to get the rental furniture and table lamps to brighten up our humble apartment. I soon settled down, got promotions in the office, bought a house. Two decades later, my son bid adieu before going to join Harvard. My wife and I were teary eyed, looked at each other. It was that phone call a week before our marriage and the bold decision we took that made a big change to our lives.

Note: This post is written for For additional information click here.

Thursday, 5 March 2015

My Happy Baby

Bringing Babies is an art. My wife is well versed in the same. We were in US when we she delivered our baby. Since we did not have any relatives around, I got to play with the baby more often. When she was an infant she was attracted to all bright colors. I made it a point to buy lot of soft bright toys and hang it on her crib. It was fun to watch her small and try to talk to those bright colored toys.
Then we bought some squeaky toys. She loved them. She was very happy and starts giggling whenever we make noise with those toys. She loved outdoors and being carried. When she sees me she will start crying so that I will lift her and carry her. She probably is happy because she could see lot more things over my shoulder then from her crib.

Traveling in car always made her happy. She was happy to get into the car seat as she knows she will be traveling to new places and see new things. She loved grabbing attention when we visited friends who had toddlers. The older kids were all amused to see an infant and like playing with them or make pranks. These pranks excited my baby and she was always happy to visit them.
Some times she would cry and my wife will take care of her. She will cry if she is uncomfortable like hungry, sleepy etc. Initially she used to cry while taking baths but we realized from our friends that we should get some bathing toys so that she can play with them while my wife bathes her. Though I spend lot of time taking care of the baby while my wife is busy with other regular chores, she would always call me a novice with the baby.

One Saturday she needed to go to a nearby college for writing an exam. I did not have office and offered to babysit my daughter during that time. She dumped all the details like where the baby food is, where she has kept milk and other things that it started overflowing my brain. I didn't have any problems for the first 3 hours and baby enjoyed the extra attention and overfeeding she was getting from me. But suddenly she started crying. I could see anything visibly wrong and tried everything from making sound rattles and making faces. All my attempts to cajole her failed and I was losing my patience. I heard my bell ring and I was happy to see my wife back. She asked me why the baby is crying and opened her diaper. Immediately baby stopped crying and I learnt my lesson about dry diapers that day.

With the availability of diapers which keeps the inside dry, newer generation parents will face less problems and babies will be happier.

Note: This post is written for Indiblogger's Dry Baby, Happy Baby contest sponsored by Pampers. For additional information click here.