All things bright and beautiful…

The World is going digital. Renowned universities and educational organizations all over the world offer various courses in digital format or what is known as e-learning. Generally speaking, e-learning simply means learning educational curriculum with the help of electronic technologies. E-learning cuts out the traditional setup of classrooms. This way, education is not confined to the walls of the organization, but available and accessible to anyone who has enrolled for that course. One would think, what could be better than that?

However, numerous traditional publishers that deal with print, teachers and educationists are against the concept of e-learning. They strongly believe that the traditional way of learning in classrooms leaves a much deeper impact and a much stronger effect in the minds of students, as compared to learning remotely through a computer. Many educationists also argue that by giving the option of e-learning, the university or institute loses its value and authority. There is also the effect of learning alone, without having peers to discuss, compete and encourage and seniors to look up to, which somewhere down the line impacts on the overall moral and ethical development.

While all these are valid points, the fact that digitization increases efficiency and performance rate, along with the benefit of being accessible to all, cannot be ignored. This may be the reason why e-learning is growing exponentially in many countries, especially in the higher education and corporate sectors. Recent studies show that e-learning not only provides learners the freedom and flexibility to choose what they want to learn, but also the pace at which they’d like to learn, which is great for professionals who are time-bound for other things. E-learning also proves to be cost-friendly to its users. The concise, crisp and precise way of e-learning saves a lot of time and energy both for the teachers as well as the learners.

In these times when technology reins all segments of our society, it only makes sense to embrace the concept of e-learning, bearing in mind that it must contain clear schedules, good content, sufficient number of assessments like online quizzes, forums for discussions among peers and that it follows open university model.

Advertisements

A one-of-a-kind Literature and Arts Festival was held in Viman Nagar, Pune, on the 24th and 25th March 2018. The event was a real book-lovers’ paradise, where all things related to books and art were celebrated.

IMG_6751

Several budding authors (Abhimanyu Jamwal, Nuzhat Khan, Writa B, Ashwini Gawde) also participated in this festival in order to promote and showcase their respective projects. The ever-encouraging Pune audience gave a whole-hearted cheering to these writers and applauded their efforts.

The festival was also a wonderful platform for panel discussions between many renowned authors. One such thought-provoking discussion was between Scharada Dubey and Prachi Garg.

IMG_6775

The discussion was rightly termed as, ‘Breaking the Glass Ceiling’, as both the ladies have been truly phenomenon in carving their own paths in the literary world. The audience loved Scharada Dubey immensely for her pleasing personality, her confident yet humble tone and her speaking about the lifelong literary journey that she had taken. She shared with the audience how and what thought process she underwent while writing at various stages of her life. She gave a golden tip to aspiring writers. She said, “the best kind of writing is one which acts as a witness to the plot and story. The writing that does not interfere much and paints one person as good and another person as bad, because that is not real! All personalities have grey connotations, and the writer should keep that in mind.”

Prachi Garg, similarly, was quite impressive in the discussion. Being an entrepreneur and traveller (she is the founder of travel website- www.ghoomophiro.com, which is pioneer in organizing corporate travels and has recently extended to women solo travels as well). Her books also reflect the experiences and journeys of various entrepreneurs. In conversation with Scharada Dubey, she talked about the need to empower women, to make them realize that they are indeed capable of attaining great heights in life if they believe in themselves. She said that her book, ‘Superwomen’ is an attempt at this. The book is a collection of journeys from 20 women entrepreneurs.

Apart from the panel discussions, Books & Beyond festival also organized something called, ‘The Crazy Book Sale’, where books were auctioned, starting from Rs 10 to Rs 100! Children’s story time session, a comedy stand-up about publishing, Haiku recitations by famous poets—these were all mesmerizing parts of this spectacular festival. At the end of it all, everyone had one question to ask to the organizers—when are you coming back?!

IMG_6782

 

 

Eat Right. Read Right.

Not everyone is a professional food critic, or a book critic (although, with media tools like Goodreads, where we are encouraged to write book reviews to our hearts’ content, it is difficult NOT to feel like we are!) so when we feel like going to a good place to eat or when we feel like settling down to read a good book, we get a little lost as to how and what to choose. We are also, at times, not aware what we are eating is worth the praise or the book we are reading is good enough? You must be thinking, what’s the big deal, if the food is finger-licking tasty, then that’s it! Of course, the greatest parameter of judging is always..whether YOU enjoy it or not. It’s not ‘what’s currently popular’ all the time, believe me! But then, you are not always sure that the seemingly tasty food you just had is not going to play any tricks on your stomach later on. It’s important to know which ingredients went into the dish to make it so tasty. It’s important to, thus, be familiar with the ‘know-how’ of things. Being a little more aware can not only help you save time and money but also take care of your health and mind.

Similarly, in order to read, apart from the selection of genre, there is this dilemma of whether what I am reading is going to broaden my horizon in any way? Am I reading something ground-breaking or just mediocre? There are times we need certain pointers that could help us in determining whether or not what we eat or what we read is actually good and worth appreciation. I’ve tried to come up with such pointers here- they are handy, and you do not need to be a pro in the department of gastronomy or a literary genius to grasp these:

  • You know when you are reading a good book-
  1. When the writing is effortless. When you are at your 4th or 5th page and it seems the words have risen out of
    the book and transformed into a motion picture’s scene right in front of your eyes smoothly and effortlessly. It should be the most natural thing to happen when you read. Its like you are going around with a visionary balloon that is two-ended; one is hitched to the book and the other one to your head. The balloon goes around wherever the book goes, and wherever you go. If there is any disruption in the scene, that means, there is something wrong with the writing. Either that, or you are unable to comprehend the meaning! 😛 In that case, Hello  Miss. Dictionary!
  2. Some people think it’s the fact that we are able to relate to any of the characters or to the story itself, but that comes second. If that does happen, then guess who shows up? EMOTIONS! Yup, be it any kind, not always joy, no no, in fact, quite many times, it is our childhood memories (nostalgia), or the struggle in our lives (physical or emotional), pain, achievements, disappointments, or our fantasies!  That is when we CONNECT to the book. We feel we have a part of ourselves in that book. In order to make all of this happen, the plot and narration should be spot-on.
  3. If you are beginning to gain interest in the book, look up the author’s name on the internet. It always helps to build a bridge between you and the author by knowing more about him/her. Go through the life history of the author in brief, and you’ll know if the plot is (fully or in parts) autobiographical. Also check whether there are other books/poetry/short stories written by the same author, then you practically have your ‘to-read’ list ready!

You know when you are eating good food at a good place:

  1. OK, these pointers are not for the time when you are going out simply to meet your huge, loud gang of friends for boozing and partying and being content with (or too drunk to care! :P) gorging down your share of paneer tikkas and chicken lollipops! 😛 These tips are for ‘enjoying the whole experience’ of tasteful eating. When you go to these places, as you wait to be seated, its the waiters of that place that make or break the experience. It is very important for the waiters to be well-informed about the food and the menu. In fact, they should know the menu like the back of their hands.  When asked to suggest a good so-and-so dish, they should do it in a friendly, warm, non-intimidating way. Sadly, many restaurants suffer from the problem of having great food but bad waiters. Their body language suggests lack of interest either in the food or in the people they are waiting upon. In the long-run, it won’t get the restaurant much success.
  2. Once your food is on the table, you know its absolutely heavenly, when you can literally taste the various ingredients of that dish. All of the flavors complement each other to bring out the exquisite complete taste of that dish. It’s like, in one, bite, you can practically see each and every ingredient’s role if the dish is cooked properly. On the other hand, you know when a dish is bad; like a badly made red-sauce pasta. Most of the time I have tasted a red-sauce pasta with the sauce’s flavor being too strong, and all I could taste was TOMATO TOMATO- one single ingredient overpowering and ruining the whole dish. Sadness!
  3. Lastly, you can, with practice, know when the food is freshly made, its when it is not soggy when it should actually be crispy, and when it does not leave an after-taste of oil, ghee, or rotten cheese on your tongue. Because stale food is usually the food that was fully-made and then re-fried or re-heated. Freshly made food, however big in calories, will settle in your stomach with ease and you won’t feel like you have swallowed logs!

Hope these simple tips are useful to you.

Book lovers- Happy reading!

Food lovers- Happy eating!

Be Yourself

be-yourself-source

I believe I am the sort of person who rebels furiously when cornered, pressurized, underestimated, unacknowledged. I am not among those who succumb well. I did succumb at one point of my life. That was when I stopped being myself and tried so hard, so damn hard to be what everyone around me wanted me to be. And let me tell you – it is very disheartening. How can I be not ME? How is that done? What worth is it- not being ME? I am sure we are born to be ourselves and not exactly like each other?! Isn’t it natural that we be different, unique in our own ways? That’s what makes life on this planet so interesting- because everyone is different. Of course, we are from same species, we are all children of Mother Nature, but yet so wonderfully different! That is a good thing!! It’s good!! Then why sometimes, you feel that people around you are hell bent on seeing a “supposedly better version” of YOU? Why do they want to mold you , break you down, tear you apart until they have a little piece of YOU designed to suit their needs? They do not care about the whole YOU. You, as a unique, wonderful human being can go to hell, just mend the part they need from you. YIKES!! Can you imagine what it would be like to physically give away your body parts for their convenience! It is impossible! So why do it mentally?

OK, you’ll say life would be doubly hard if we do not do that at all. To some level, everyone does that, whether intentionally or unintentionally. Like, you are supposed to give your brains and skills to the company you work for. You can’t cheat there. But hey, they at least pay you for sucking out your blood! haha! Its like a necessary evil. (And those who absolutely love their jobs…count your blessings!) And its a completely different topic which I am not going to go into. I am talking about things at personal level- like in relationships.

Research shows that social relationships- both quality and quantity- affect mental health, health behavior, physical health and mortality risk (Social Relationships and Health: A Flashpoint for Health Policy, written by Umberson and Montez, 2010). Undoubtedly, relationships are hard. Sometimes you feel blessed and lucky to have all your loved ones around you. Yet there are times when you feel you have hit rock bottom and just can’t wait to get away from them as far as possible.

What I am stressing here is definitely not that you should shrug all responsibilities out of sheer laziness and falsely term it as ‘being independent’ or ‘living life my style..rest all can go to hell.’ NO. Being an adult also constitutes being able to handle things, to take charge, to learn what life teaches you and evolve as human beings. But what often happens is, you get too engrossed or too eager or even too pressurized in managing the responsibility part that you tend to forget to hold on to your own distinct identity.  Situations do not arise in our lives so that we completely forget who we are and become someone else. This is life, after all. There is no set formula that we can use to solve the problem. We all have our own unique formulas in our heads to help solve all kinds of situations.

That is why I strongly recommend a commonly used phrase- BE YOURSELF. It can be incredibly tricky to be yourself, but it is ALWAYS worth fighting for. Take out time to do things you love- read a book, listen to music, dance, go out with friends, pursue a hobby- just anything that helps you unwind. When confronted in a situation, stand up for yourself if you know you haven’t done anything wrong. Establish a meaningful communication to eliminate misunderstandings. Get help in managing your time better. Make a schedule. Stop killing yourself by trying to be what others want you to be.

Chances are..you may live longer by BEING YOURSELF.

 

First ever attempt

Joining the bloggers’ world with the hope that writing here would lighten up my restless mind. All kinds of thoughts will be posted – light-hearted, funny, entertaining, to dark, unhappy, to even just plain twisted ones – depends on my mood.

Here we go…