Sunday, June 30, 2013

7 and 1/2 reasons why you should volunteer

Interact. Rotaract. Victoria and Albert Museum. The Olympic and Paralympic Games. The Queen's Diamond Jubilee. Centre for Performing Arts, University of Westminster. What do these organisations share in common? - Me volunteering with them!

Over the past ten years I have volunteered with these associations and I cannot stress enough on how important it is to take up volunteering from time to time. 

Reason no. 1 - They need you! You are their ray of hope! Their oxygen! Volunteering can turn your dream of turning into a superhuman true! Every cause you support and contribute to will make a huge impact in changing the lives of so many people.

Reason no. 2 - You need them. The experience leaves you enlightened and enriched. It teaches you things no classroom can. Your life needs a break from the hustle and bustle of your hectic life. And volunteering can give you just that! And even better you make a big positive difference in the bargain.

Reason no. 3 - You become Santa Claus overnight. The most precious and pure gift that one can give another is the gift of time. Taking a small chunk out of your quota of life and contributing it to make someone else's life better is a gift unmatched by anything else in this world. 

Reason no. 4 - Karma never bitches behind you. You do good things, good things come to you. You start a good deed and pay it forward, and it geometrically progresses creating ripples of happiness in the air we all breathe. What goes around comes around, you will instantly notice more good things coming your way.

Reason no. 5 - You expand your circle. You meet new people. You learn about their lives. In turn you learn so much about yourself. You meet individuals you would have never otherwise met. You do great things you would have not otherwise done.  

Reason no. 6 - You make the best use of your free time, utilising it for something productive and worthwhile, sometimes even without great effort. It adds on to your experiences. Your CV. Your story. Self-realisation happens. Selflessness sprouts in your heart. Definitely better than faffing away time doing something irrelevant. 

Reason no. 7 - You get to travel the world, and even better most of the times for free. Demand for volunteering is global, join the supply and take off!

Reason no. 7 and 1/2 - Its the closest you'll get to doing magic if you're a Muggle!

So waste no time. Think what your are passionate about. Look out for a cause that matches your passion. Do anything and everything you can to make a difference!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Ywhacky Art

Series of quirky quotes supported by watercolour sketches.

Dangerous Acquaintances

Pond flowers

This one is titled - The mystery of the British taps

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Checklist for moving abroad

Let's start with the fine print shall we?

1. This is an exhaustive but not an all-inclusive list. You might have things not mentioned in here that you might want to take along.

2. This is a reference list. You do not have to take all of this with you. It is a good way to check your list of things against this list to make sure you don’t forget to take anything that you wanted to. I repeat, you don’t have to take all these things.

3. You will be able to buy most of these things at most places where you might end up going.

4. The decision on whether to buy the things in the destination country or take it along depends on a number of factors. When in doubt on whether or not to take something along, do this Ideal Packing Test©
  a.How important is it to my daily life?
  b.What is the price-difference in my country and destination country?
  c.What are the essential things I will need in the first few weeks?
  d.Is it a necessity?
  e.Is it small & light or bulky & heavy?
5.There is a big list of what you can take and what you can’t through customs and across borders. Please check these requirements for your home and destination country and airline before taking anything along.

6. Always pack keeping in mind the available luggage allowance your airline offers and also remember that your suitcase also has weight (approx.3kgs/check-in suitcase, 1kg/cabin luggage) !

7. Also, while packing it is important to decide what goes into the cabin luggage and what in the check-in luggage.

8. I have tried to keep both the sexes in mind while compiling this list, but I know it can never cover everything that a girl might want to pack in her suitcase so I leave it to the fairer sex to suit themselves and add on to this list

So here we go…

Things to do:
1. Learn driving
2. Get local/international driving license
3. Learn cooking
4. Check which immunization/vaccinations you might need to take before going to a particular country
5. Full body-check up
6. Dental check-up
7. Eye check-up

Vanity and first-aid kit:

o    Balm
o    Bandage
o    Cotton
o    Crocin
o    Basic medicines for cold, cough, diarrhea, ear ache (during take-off and landing)
o    Glucose powder
o    Soframycin
o    Dettol
o    Mirror
o    Soap case
o    Tissue papers
o    Ear buds
o    Tooth brush
o    Tooth paste
o    Nail cutter
o    Scissors
o    Soap
o    Body wash
o    Combs
o    Hair brush
o    Spare buttons
o    Black and white spool of thread
o    Needle
o    Perfume
o    Duster
o    Scrub
o    Sponge
o    Hair dryer
o    Shaving gel
o    Razor
o    Spare blades
o    After shave
o    Electronic shaver
o    Hair straightener
o    Make-up kit

o    Tea (or Girnar instant chai packets are brilliant)
o    Turmeric (haldi)
o    Coriander powder (dhania)
o    Red chilly powder (mirch masala)
o    Mustard seeds (sarso/rai)
o    Tamarind (paste or whole, imli)
o    Different dals and rice in small quantity for initial use
o    Coffee
o    Cardamom (elaichi)
o    Clove (lavang)
o    Cinnamon (dalchini)
o    Tea masala
o    Garam masala
o    Sambhar masala
o    Pav bhaji masala
o    Pickle (but very messy to carry, 99.9% it will leak and spoil all your clothes in your check-in luggage)
o    Dried curry leaves (kadee pata)
o    Cumin seeds (whole and grounded, jeera)
o    Asafoetida (hing powder)
o    Snack packets (like Bombay mix, chiwdas)
o    Instant food packets – upma, noodles, rice
o    Ready to eat masala packets (paneer makhani, black dal)

Music & Movies:
o    External hard disk with your favourite songs and movies.

o    Course books (contact your course leader and try sourcing them for cheaper from home country)
o    A4 white paper
o    Pencils
o    Erasers
o    Blade
o    Sharpner
o    Stapler
o    Staple pins
o    Pens
o    Scribbling pad
o    Glue stick
o    Pencil case
o    Ruler
o    Stick on pad
o    Spellotape
o    Safety pins
o    U-pins
o    Clips
o    Envelopes
o    Blank CD’s
o    Blank DVD’s
o    Pen drive
o    Headphone with mic
o    Webcam
o    Files
o    Folders
o    Sleeves
o    Sketch pens
o    Markers
o    Note book
o    Highlighters
o    Removers
o    Executive diary
o    Punching machine
o    Rubber bands
o    Soft board pins
o    Photos of near and dear one’s (to make a filmy softboard or wall in your room)
o    Calculator

o    Big plates
o    Small plates
o    Glasses (any material, one steel)
o    Cups
o    Mugs
o    Bowls
o    Forks
o    Serving spoons
o    Pressure cooker
o    Cooker containers (spares, rings and valves)
o    Non-stick frying pan with turner
o    Tongs
o    Knives
o    Cutting board for vegetables
o    Cooking pans (kadai)
o    Utensils holder
o    Non stick tava
o    Laddle
o    Spatula
o    Peeler
o    Rolling pin (belan)
o    Tooth picks

o    Jeans
o    Shorts
o    T-shirts
o    Shirts
o    Night clothes
o    Formal suit
o    Undergarments
o    Socks
o    Sweaters
o    Cardigans
o    Jumpers
o    Sweatshirts
o    Pullovers
o    Muffler
o    Winter jacket
o    Summer jacket
o    Rain jacket
o    Autumn jacket
o    National costume
o    Windcheater
o    Trousers
o    Skirts
o    Blouses
o    Tights
o    Shrugs
o    Ponchos

o    Sport shoes
o    Formal shoes
o    Sandals/ floaters
o    House slippers

o    Hangers
o    Small napkins
o    Blanket
o    Back pack
o    Sling bag
o    Key chains
o    Card holder
o    Torch
o    Alarm clock
o    Camera
o    Camera charger
o    Mobile phone
o    Mobile phone charger
o    Converted plugs/pins
o    Wallet
o    Gloves
o    Laundry bag
o    Small lock and keys
o    Towels
o    Bed sheets
o    Pillow
o    Sunglasses
o    Caps
o    Umbrella
o    Ties
o    Handkerchiefs
o    Belts
o    Clothespins
o    Iron
o    Laptop
o    Tablet
o    Music pod

o    10th Std. mark sheet
o    10th Std. pass certificate
o    12th Std. mark sheet
o    12th Std. pass certificate
o    Bachelor’s degree mark sheet
o    Bachelor’s degree pass certificate
o    Any other documents of other degrees
o    Convocation certificates
o    Recommendation letters
o    Resume
o    Covering letter
o    Visa
o    Passport
o    Offer letter
o    Any other important letter from university
o    Tailoring measurements
o    Basic prescription from doctor for common allergies / medical conditions you may have
o    1 photocopy of of the above
o    Soft scanned copies of the above (save them securely)
o    Passport/stamp size photographs

Checklist for hand luggage:
o    Medicines for air sickness (No liquids)
o    Novel
o    Sweater
o    Offer letter from university
o    Passport
o    Ticket
o    Boarding pass
o    Landing card (will be given in-flight)
o    Visa
o    Photocopies of tickets, VISA, offer letter
o    Sufficient cash in currency of destination country
o    Address book with important contacts at home and destination country (2 copies, one at home one with you)
o    Phone book with important contacts at home and destination country (2 copies, one at home one with you)
o    You photos
o    Keys to locks attached to check-in luggage

Let me know if you have any comments on things I might have missed out on or on allotting the items under a different category.

Happy packing!

P.S. - Big thank you to a Mr. Madanlal Jain who passed on this list to a friend. I have in essence edited that mega list to write this blog post.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

How to survive a family gathering?

So to bag the role of presenter for Smoke TV's video on Examination Tips I had to submit a demo video. This is what I came up with!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Jet Airways in-flight food experience

I've got a air travel problem. During my Jet Airways return flight this month the tin foil canister that my main course came in was a bit odd. May be its been odd all throughout and I never noticed it as I always eat while watching a movie during the flight. But it did not escape my hawk eyes this time. I noticed that every time I scraped my fork into the canister to take a bite of rice it peeled off a thin layer of white film from the base of the inside of the canister. 

And this was towards the end of my meal when most of the rice was in my tummy and I could see the bottom of the canister from the inside. It shined silver in places where the white film had been scraped off and was a pale white in spots where the film had not been attacked by the tines of my fork. 

Being a self proclaimed OCD I suffered a minor anxiety attack and called for an in flight attendant. At first he told me he will ask his supervisor and get back to me. Thoughts about what it was raced through my mind - plastic, fungus, what have you! But I waited. Patiently. 

Another flight attendant, a 'she' this time, passed by and on watching me sit like a statue with my canister missing inquired if I was all right and whether my main course was missing. I repeated my reservations about the packaging of the food, her colleague who I'd spoken to on noticing the oddity, entered our conversation and backed me up. 

I questioned whether or not the film was edible and if it wasn't what was it and if it would have any impacts on my health. She replied back saying only time will tell as the film was already in my system! And that she was not aware of what it contained. Panic attack again!

After speaking to her supervisor she got back to me confirming that the film is to protect the food from getting burnt when they reheat the food and that it was edible. I felt much better on listening to this confirmation but there was this sense of uneasiness that lingered in my head about what it was. And I am still a bit unsure about it. 

May be you could help me investigate and find out! If you know anyone who will be traveling via Jet Airways please request them to check for this film and observe if the same thing happens when they try to scrape off the base of their canisters. And if they do, request them to question the in-flight staff like I did. Please let me know what they reply!

I wonder how the supply chain of in-flight food works.

On another note, mine was a Jain meal which was made up of a pot of curd, a canister of boiled rice sandwiched between stale smelling palak paneer and a dry vegetable made from cabbage and coconut, which was awful by the way. 

This is another issue, I wonder why chefs confine themselves to sticking to the standard, redundant, tasteless, unadventurous dishes out of all the delicious Jain and vegetarian food that they can offer!

I've traveled by Jet airways multiple times and have always enjoyed their main course and desserts. Even when it has been the standard mixed vegetable and paneer tikka masala with bread. But not this time though, the cabbage and coconut was horrid. 

What has also always been horrid is their choice of fruits and salad leaves in their salad bowl which go brown on the edges from being kept under cling foil for days I suppose. And the fruits are generally moist and swimming in their own juice - they are sweet but are chopped up in big chunks and are soggy!

Policy with any food service should be this - if you can't serve it well, don't serve it. It is a waste of food and all the energy, time and money that goes in delivering the fruits and veggies to our seats.

Being a Jain what I do love is the fact that all muffins served on Jet flights are egg-fee so kudos for that! Though the chocolate chips in the muffins are hard as gravel. Ouch!

Sorry Jet I know I've been a bit too harsh but I love your in-flight entertainment and will always travel with you and am spitting fire because I want you to improve.

By the way, happy twenty years!