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Jan 19, 2015

My Journey from ‘OR’ to ‘AND’- #UseYourAnd

And I discovered there is more to myself!
There is not one but many ways to describe ME and yet there is not one thing that can fully define ME.
I am multi-faceted AND multi-talented.
I feel blessed I am ME.

My story did not begin when I was born. My story began when my mother left me. Forever! Her death gave birth to a new me. My journey of life surely began as the only daughter in a nuclear family  who could choose to be responsible or while her time away. Living the luxuries, being taken care of and being pampered to the hilt, I was my mother's only pet and treasured baby. But the day she died, she left me and my dad a broken mess. I was left with no option but to pick up the threads of my life on my own. I was no more a child or that spoilt teenager. I had transformed, overnight! Jerked out of my comfort zone it was almost like learning to live all over again. I wasn't only the daughter but now also the only lady in the house, my father's soul support. His only and sole support!

The year my mother was diagnosed of her acutely failing health, it had been the last academic year for me to secure a degree in Commercial Arts. I had to quit my studies for it was just my father and I who were battling by my mother's side in her struggle for life, against acute renal failure. Mum loved Pune so we shifted. After a year of neglecting my studies, I enrolled myself back into the university and appeared for my final exams through an entirely new college. I decided I would juggle all my responsibilities. With minimum attendance recorded and almost no training at college because most of my time was spent outside the ICU where my mother got admitted time and again all through that horrible year, I managed to pass with flying colours.

And before I begin to sound like a martyr I wish to bow out and say this post, is not a vanity trip and neither is it because I wish to gloat about my successes. I write to inspire. To tell my friends, LIFE is what you make of it. Get a grip on it and march on!

This is the era of the woman. The woman who will not and need not,submit herself to circumstances.

God had his own blue plan drafted for my life but that did not mean he stopped me from walking the path I believed would lead me to my goals. There were just torturous hurdles that I had to fight tooth and nail to overcome. I was a super ambitious girl with a zest and zeal for life that ran in my veins, like it rushed in my mother's. She had left us physically but haunted me in my dreams, egging me on to pursue my career and make the best of what I had. And what I had, by God's grace was a lot- my talent,a gift from God, my writing skills.

We had shifted home from the hustle and bustle of Mumbai to the more serene Pune, so that my mother's health may improve but sadly, that was not destined. What was in my destiny, was the struggle people predicted that lay ahead of me. When I proposed that I would take up a job in the Advertising Industry, my Puneite neighbours who surely meant well, painted a very bleak picture in front of my eyes.

"Pune lags a decade behind as compared to Mumbai. Don't expect a writing career like the one you would have had in Mumbai!"

"Pune works less and sleeps away most part of the day.Starting a career from scratch over here is bound to result in ziltch!" 

While the aunties had even wiser words for me.
"Darling, without your mother around, your father will be worried for you. Why do you want to go out into a new city and chase a career in an almost non-existent industry? Why don't you get married and settle down? "

Another said, "Look! Your father will not be able to find a nice groom for you on his own. let me help you! We start looking now. We may find someone in a couple of years. Don't waste your time on a hopeless career."

Little did they know that I had always been a rebel. And my father always surprisingly never let the fire in my belly be doused. In fact he gave fuel to it! I refused to cower to this dim fate that all were spewing like venom into my ears and my father was like the antidote, instilling undying hope. I could never imagine my mother patting my back on settling down for a lesser life. I dreamt of making my parents proud. Marriage and kids, the easy life was not a choice I planned to make at that point! Then it would have definitely meant a compromise.

So I rose, intending to stand on my own two feet and began to explore Pune who was a stranger to me. As soon as I secured my degree I interviewed for a job opening and also got selected as English Copywriter at a leading Ad' agency in Pune. I was to be the highest paid fresher at that time but the very first day at office turned out a fiasco. An extremely modern looking girl with western dressing sense was probably indigestible. And sexual innuendos, attempts of harassment were completely unacceptable to me. A loud and tight slap- in-the-old-bugger's-face later, I barged into the boss's cabin. Finding no consolation there from another old lecher, I walked out on the job and floated my own Advertising agency. 

I am happy to share that my passion for writing took me from strength to strength in the following years of dedication and focus. Pune had very few good English Copy-writers in those days and being a small city, word spread like wild fire. I rode the wave like a queen and began to bag big clients and small, big projects and small like no other. Soon I was being hired on retainership by leading Ad' agencies of Pune. The stranger of a city gave me many new and loving friends, who saw the passion in my eyes and spirit in my heart.

One day I was recommended to the Editor of one of the Times Of India Supplements and was called in for an interview. In 2006 I saw myself discovering a new interest and knack for journalism. My feature articles were being appreciated.I brought my father's name into print with a bold byline on the front pages and Page 3 of the leading daily newspaper of India. 

2007 gave me the love of my life and that's another heartening but long story of how I made an uncompromising choice. 

Life was good to me and God was being kind. I was now not only a daughter, I was also a wife and a daughter-in-law. These men in my life are made of another metal I believe. They give impetus to my woman power. They believe in me and I love them for that. God has blessed me with a family of REAL men.   

In 2008 with my father-in-law's blessings and constant cajoling to take another leap in my career, I inaugurated my own Art Gallery that would help me pursue my other undying passion-Art. AND I became an art curator.

The following year I was taken to a whole new level of life. Motherhood! This becomes a turning point in most women's life and usually we mellow down. I am a true Capricorn and family is of utmost priority to me but I also refused to let go of my own singular identity. Like every other new mother I gave my baby my days and my nights. I didn't have the comforting presence of my mother or my mother-in-law by my side. I drew strength from my prayers and meditation. Like mostly all women do, life posed the biggest question before me too. Do you wish to be a doting mother OR that famous writer, you always wanted to be? After much deliberation with my own self, I decided I had to delete that OR and type in an AND. Remove that question mark and make it an exclamatory!

I let my heart rule but made my mind search for a way to make both ends meet. A stay-at-home mum who desperately willed her career not die a premature death. In 2009 I took to Blogging and look half a decade down the line, here I am! Still at it. A happy wife AND a doting mother to two naughty sons.  In 2011 with my very first book titled 'NOT TOTALLY UNBELIEVABLE' I became a published author AND with my own label of hand-painted fashion accessories I became a serial entrepreneur.
Then I was invited to blog at an international portal AND so I am a fashion blogger at http://wearethecity.in/blogs/vibhuti-bhandarkar-virtual-social-blogger/
 I am a social media strategist AND an artist. AND I am also the founder of a Women Entrepreneur's group called 'Amazing Woman Entrepreneurs' where I coax women to rise and shine to show how AWEsome we really are!

So this post is simply an attempt to inspire you all to #UseYourAnd like I did. I have been interviewed and written about in the Pune and Mumbai's leading newspapers, more than many times. I wish you celebrate your AND like I am doing. Push yourself out of the comfort zone of excuses and strain yourself to reach out for your dreams and ambitions. Don't remain debating between the ORs. Don't let that creepy word bog you down. This AND has much to offer. Your dreams, your identity, your happiness!

I am thankful to Gillette Venus and BlogAdda for triggering such a lovely blogging idea where women will be motivated to break out of the shackles of the 'OR'  to wake up and embrace the 'AND' within.

If my story has inspired you enough, watch this video to know more about how you can  #UseYourAnd 

This post is a part of #UseYourAnd activity at BlogAdda in association with Gillette Venus

Jan 1, 2015

CAN discover a NEW me in the New Year!

I am a multi-tasker, with multiple interests, vocations and hobbies. My friends know I wear multiple hats. I am a writer. I am an artist. I love birding and travel Photography. I am a Social Media junky. I have a passion for fashion. I am a movie buff. And above all I am a BLOGGER.

This is the very first post in the New Year 2015 and I am full of hope as I type away. I am hoping this year sees me pursuing and juggling all of my passions simultaneously, if possible! I have a list of resolutions too and I plan to nail them.

I know I don't need magic to make all this happen. It could indeed be possible if my life gets the perfect tools to assist me in it. I am tech-savvy too and I know exactly what piece could prove to be a boon.

I wish to grow beyond my laptop and be able to write even when I am on the go. Who wants to carry that bulky thing around but then you never know when an idea can hit you. And then instead of fumbling around to locate pen and paper while traveling, I could simply, smoothly pull out my slim and light tablet PC and type away to bliss. Doesn't that sound amazing? My writer friends would definitely agree.

Or imagine spotting a rare bird on a low branch right before your eyes and you don't have a camera handy. It has happened to me several times. I'm always on the verge of pulling my hair out for want of a good camera in such situations. It is really very frustrating, losing the chance to capture that moment of spotting a beautiful masterpiece by mother nature. My phone camera is just not good enough. Wouldn't it be most convenient to have a great handheld piece with a sufficiently good lens to click a quick picture? 

Like an answer to my New Year Eve's wishes, I laid my eyes on just the perfect tech-candy, this morning at the IndiBlogger website. It would be like a dream come true to lay my hands on this one.

 The all new Micromax #CanvasTab P666 powered by Intel® Atom™ Processor, looks like its designed to let me discover a whole new ME in 2015! Check out the demo video and I'm sure you will fall head over heels for it, like I did.

It says it CAN discover the Multitasker in YOU! For me, it indeed CAN!

The 1GB RAM makes it a lightning fast thing. So surfing and networking through the various social media sites is going to be easy-peasy! Plus its battery life gives me 6 hours of browsing besides the 15 hours of talk time. That definitely is a super-efficient tool.

Its enabled by this new Intel Burst Performance Technology and very high resolution HD screen display. It would be super-awesome to be able to watch a movie or two while on those long road trips by car. I could also keep the kids occupied with the MicroMax Canvas Tab then. What a blessing that could be!

The more I think about it, the more I am feeling desperate and needy to light up my life with this techy baby. Besides being a luxury item, I would also like to believe the Micromax Canvas Tab can help me get from fat to fit. 

I am a mommy to two beautiful boys and now I like a particular tag added to the title 'Mummy'. I love to hear people call me a 'Yummy Mummy'. Now wouldn't it take all the tedious rigor out of my daily exercise routines if I could watch some great floor-exercise or pilate videos on the vivid display screen. It would light up my mornings immediately and get me geared to go within no time. 

I would like to add a line to the demo video....'CAN Inspire a Fitter, Healthier You!'

I am completely convinced about what I need to include in my life almost right away. If you feel the need for more information, you could always visit HERE and find out in detail about the Micromax #CanvasTab P666 

So if you are just like me, with infinite passions and interests I think I have located THAT thing which can bring more efficiency to all the time management required in achieving all the resolutions made for this brand new year. 

Here's wishing all my friends then, a very HAPPY and Tech-Savvy NEW YEAR 2015!

Nov 22, 2014

Moral Stories- gifts for a lifetime!

I am an avid reader.  Now a published author. And I attribute all that I am today to the stories my parents read to me as a child and the great morals and values I imbibed from them. It was in my parent's laps that I learnt about how the world really is outside my secure home. And about how I can overcome the hurdles that it may place before me.

I still have in my collection the very first book gifted to me by my father- 'The Aesop's Fables'. I must have been a first grader when I began learning to read aloud. The best part of the story, for me, came at the very end- The moral of the story. It was like a sweet confectionery that came as a reward after having done a good deed. It gave a sense of purpose to all the story telling.

As I grew up I found paradise in the local library between piles of books full of wonderful stories. I brought a couple home everyday and devoured them. At school we were given rapid readers and English soon became my favorite subject at school because it was all about reading great stories with lessons and morals at the end. What fun!

There were scores of stories that gave me knowledge and happiness through wise words but there were some special stories that stayed with me all through life. partly because they were my earliest memories of a good story reading experience and partly because they taught me to use the greatest faculty in my body, my thinking mind. They were simple stories that conveyed such powerful thoughts that I salute the one who wrote it in the very beginning.

I am now 32 years old and confess that I still love to listen to some of the stories that have been my long time favorite, ever since childhood. I have two sons now aged 5 years and 2.5 years. They are children who belong to the 'E-age'. Though I have consciously initiated them to reading traditional books, I cannot deny them the biggest boon of the century they were born in- the internet. They love stories too, just like their mother and they listen to them very attentively. My elder son has won many prizes at school in the story-telling competitions. And like me, he loves to reach the very end of the story when he can boldly declare the moral derived from the story he narrated. I have seen great pleasure on his face as he got to give out the moral.

While scouring through many stories online, selecting a suitable one to teach him and prepare him for those competitions I first searched for the ones that were my childhood favourites. And it is absolute joy now to have found the very same stories in a highly creative new avatar, presented by GULSHAN KUMAR's KIDS HUT. The stories have been illustrated so very beautifully and narrated in a smooth voice by TULSI KUMAR. The diction of the narrator is also so very clear that each word is easily comprehensible.

I learnt some very good lessons very early on in life thanks to the wonderful stories that came my way through books. I am happy that my children have also found a way to such great lessons by way of these colourful videos online. Now internet time at YouTube can be a learning experience too.

Here are the videos to two of my all time favorite stories that made a big difference to my life.

'The Thirsty Crow'

The harsh reality of life is that even at an early age, one does come across hurdles which parents may find trivial but for children its very difficult to overcome. The Thirsty Crow was one such story that instilled confidence within me that nothing is impossible to achieve if I used my brains and thought up a way out of a tricky situation. If a small bird like the crow whose brain was definitely way smaller than mine, could be so clever, then I mighty well could be equally clever too. This thought laid the foundation to my strife at school for excelling in my studies. I actually learnt to see each extra point scored in my papers as contributing to the higher scores in my exams, eventually helping me to reach the coveted top rank that I thirsted for!

Pushing the limits became a habit. Making the best out of available resources, a way of life!

 'The Three Little Pigs And The Big Bad Wolf'

Like in the story, I also remember being bullied when I was as small as a Lower KG student. Once a big bad girl locked me up in the bathroom and ran away, leaving me screaming my guts out for help. I was terrified of her. One day my mother read out the story of the Three Little Pigs to me. "The weaker you are, the more you will be preyed upon." She said. The moral of the story said that the third pig could save himself only because he had used his wisdom, to protect himself from the enemy. I wanted to be the third pig too. 

I built a fortress around me by forewarning my class teacher about the bully threatening to empty her water-bottle on my head. Next when she ran after me with the bottle in the recess, I took refuge behind the teacher's table, instead of my own. I had preempted her actions and planned how I would react if things should go the way they were going. My big bad bully had already overturned the bottle intending to empty it on my head but I quickly slid under the teacher's table before the waterfall could hit me. All the water thus went all over the teacher's desk instead, trickling into her drawer and all over the wooden stage atop which the table stood. Out of fright my big bad bully dropped the emptied bottle right there and ran back to her seat before our class teacher returned. However as luck would have it, the bottle was boldly labelled with her name on it. And you can very well imagine what must have followed when my teacher found out about the whole episode. It was a super fun end to  the story of the big bad bully in my life, needless to say that she was expelled from the convent quite promptly.

These two stories are only two of the many wonderful stories, I found at http://www.youtube.com/kidshut. Its an absolute treasure trove, I say!

 I strongly believe that the stories that you tell your young ones can go a long way in their lives. The stories with extremely wise morals imbibe the first few basic values that give your child's character a strong foundation. If the internet is an attractive medium, make it a useful one too by guiding your child to the correct links. YouTube can in fact turn out to be a boon, if you subscribe to the right collection of stories and rhymes. In fact, I have always strongly recommended that every parent dedicate at least one hour of each day to give your child company while watching such educational animated and beautifully illustrated stories. And see your child flourish into an intelligent and informed kid who can decipher between the right and the wrong.

No matter how old I get I will never forget some pivotal experiences from my childhood days. I may even tell them to my grand children, like my grandmother told me. Such is the impact of stories that teach us some profound lessons in life. Let these be stories of hope and joy, that will instill good thoughts and values. 

Thankyou BlogAdda for leading me and my children to KidsHut by T-Series.-for bringing back those wonderful memories to me and for introducing my children to the world of classic stories that will surely give them a Super Fun life ahead! 

This post is a part of Kids Hutactivity at BlogAdda.com

Oct 20, 2014

God is a Gamer: Book review

Author: Ravi Subramanian
Publisher: Penguin Books India
My Rating: ****
About the Author:
'Banker by day, writer by night' as per Forbes, Ravi Subramanian is India’s numero uno thriller writer, having written six bestselling books. An alumnus of Indian Institute of Management (Bangalore), he is currently head of a leading financial institution. A career banker and financial services professional, Ravi has worked with various multinational banks (Citibank, ANZ Grindlays Bank and HSBC) for over eighteen years. As a result of his extensive background in foreign banks, writing about banking comes quite naturally to Ravi. Each one of his books thus far have been set in the backdrop of a foreign bank.

To tell you about myself, I'm an artist at heart and numbers were never my cup of tea. Me and the finance world are like Poles apart. So its needless to say that I wasn't interested in anything or anybody from the banking world. I will therefore frankly confess that even though I'd seen Ravi Subramanian's previous books on the shelves, I'd steered clear off them because of the sheer reason that his stories were based on banking. 

However the mention of BITCOINS - supposedly a software-based online payment system that potentially threatens to replace plastic money, had me intrigued. I'd read before that the concept of Bitcoins had been created by Satoshi Nakamoto whose true identity remains unknown and is a subject of great speculation. It is also not known whether the name "Satoshi Nakamoto" is real name or a pseudonym. Whether this name represents one person or a group of people is also not confirmed. This puzzling background had me wondering what the book may offer as it was touted as the world's first Bitcoin thriller. And thus finally I decided that I wanted to read this book by Ravi Subramanian.

Extremely thankful to BlogAdda for promptly sending this book across. You are truly my book genie!

The blurb on the back reads 'What happens when you cross Gamer, Banker, Politician and Terrorist with virtual money?' And it really gets you wondering how is that even possible? Once you start turning the pages, the reader is definitely going to be hooked for good. You are welcomed into this thrilling world with a prologue that gives a peek into how the plastic money world operates. For a person like me who knows absolutely nothing about the finance world, this book absolutely spares you the rod. There's no jargon thrown at you but in fact this book will definitely educate you on many concepts in a simplified English. 

The thrilling story begins in 2011 where Senator Gillian Tan from Washington DC, an old pal of the President of the United States of America is assassinated using a cycle bomb. Each new chapter is just 2-3 pages long making this book of 310 pages a quick read and giving the story a fast pace in progression. The story moves from Washington DC to the beaches of Rio de Janeiro and Goa. And this remains the style throughout the book where the story shuttles between cities and states in India and USA, from Mumbai to New York. However I did not understand why Chapter 2 had to be based on Prime Minister of India's office at New Delhi? It never found any mention later in the book. 

New names kept getting introduced right up till Chapter 82 in the book. So the book proves to be absolutely 'un-put-down-able'. Not only because of the interesting and well-developed plot of the thriller but also because you may lose track of who is who, if you take a break. I had to spin back a few pages to give myself a revision since I'd taken a break from reading the book to finish my daily routines and chores. In my opinion this happened especially because the story-telling involved so many characters but did not dedicate the necessary  amount of words to describing each character in physicality and mannerisms. I feel adequately detailed character sketches are most essential since it helps the reader build a mental picture of each person involved in the plot and does not land up drawing a blank at the mention of a name some pages down the line. This element was sorely missed!

Initially, I did not see why so many characters were involved in the story telling but when the author began to tie-in and connect the seemingly disjointed people, I was impressed. The plot thickened and began to get a little darker too, keeping me at the edge of my seat and wanting to know how Agent Adrian Scott and Tony from the FBI were to get to the root of all the evil?

Being an avid blogger, Facebook and social media junky all the ideas discussed in this book  had definitely popped before my eyes time and again. WikiLeaks and Phishing cases, ATM heists and cyber crime, drugs and politics, online gaming portals and their downloadable mobile apps are all terms that one is not alien too anymore if you have spent sufficient time online, browsing posts at FB and elsewhere. However linking up all these myriad concepts to build a seamlessly thrilling story of murder and mystery is unfathomable. Hats off to Ravi Subramanian for hatching an unbelievably awesome plot and convincingly weaving it all together, piece by piece. The amount of effort and meticulous research gone into writing this novel, clearly shows.   

Its however very surprising how the author has gone ahead and mentioned such gigantic brand names while portraying them in bad light- Visa and Mastercard, Dell Computers exploding like bombs in different continents. Tanya is gifted a Tanishq ring by Varun, they celebrate Malvika's birthday party at Four Seasons in Mumbai, Tanya carries a Hermes Birkin handbag. Why does it sound more like advertising rather than detailing to build a background to the story? 

Though this book can easily be labelled as an excellent read and a complete entertainer, I did find a few loose ends that could have been given more attention to. The epilogue brings a swift closure on each aspect of the story, giving a glimpse of what each character is going through after Adrian and Dan have cracked the mystery wide open. However, why did I get a strong feeling that the author was in a rush to close the mystery? Also I waited till the very last page for the word God to figure somewhere. How was HE involved in all this? And why has GOD been framed as a gamer in the title of the book, I fail to understand! 

I expected a Penguin book to be much more tightly skimmed for typo' errors. I spotted a couple of grammatical  errors in the first half of the book too but only began to take note in the latter half. 1)  Pg. 236 - 'Three of his neighbours, who has seen the ghastly attack, went along with him and signed off as witnesses.'
2) Pg. 261- 'This in a disaster.'
3) Pg. 286- 'Can you please explain Ms. Tanya Sehgal, how that bottle came to be ('in' missing) your bag?' 
4) Pg. 304- 'They had started seeing each ('other' missing) after the party.

 Chapter 99 finally reveals how the crime was plotted and who the actual Mastermind was. The biggest twist lies at the climax and the enumeration is magnificent. The last few paragraphs sums it all up by showing how despite all the murky business, its the emerging world of Bitcoins that is poised to take over the finance world, making millionaires out of commonplace people if you are intelligent enough to cope with it.

This review is a part of the biggest Book Review Program for Indian Bloggers. Participate now to get free books!

Oct 15, 2014

Jeep And Bourbon - Chapters 1 to 27 for BlogAdda's GameOfBlogs #CelebrateBlogging


Chapter 1: Whose idea was it anyway?
By Avinash Gupta

Chapter 2: Touch-Me-Not 
By Vibhuti Bhandarkar

Chapter 3: The Ignominy of Defeat
By Rahul Prabhakar

Chapter 4: The Pleasure of Pain
By Pankaj Sharma

Chapter 5: The Road Not Taken
By Harsh Singh

Chapter 6: The Silent Confessions 
By Veturi Sarma

Chapter 7: The Unwinding of Events
By Sarath Babu

Chapter 8: Two Lives
By Babitha A. Costa

Chapter 9: Life’s Mysteries
By Romita Dey

Chapter 10: The Peace Before the Storm
By Pankaj Sharma

Chapter 11: A Humble Sojourn
By Narasimha Sharma Veturi

Chapter 12: Desire Ain’t A Mere Coincidence
By Rahul Prabhakar

Chapter 13: The Plot
By Harsh Singh

Chapter 14: Small Pleasure
By Babitha A. Costa

Chapter 15: Beware of Strangers!
By Vibhuti Bhandarkar

Chapter 16: J for Jealousy
By Romita Dey

Chapter 17: The Loss of Innocence
By Narasimha Sharma Veturi

Chapter 18: Knock, Knock, Whose There?
By Vibhuti Bhandarkar

Chapter 19: Midnight Mysteries
By Sarath Babu

Chapter 20: My hunches are always right!
 By Vibhuti Bhandarkar

Chapter 21: Closing In
By Narasimha Sharma Veturi

Chapter 22: Three is some bad company...
By Vibhuti Bhandarkar

Chapter 23: In Confusion
By Babitha A. Costa

Chapter 24: Forgiveness Doesn't Mean Forgetting
By Rahul Prabhakar

Chapter 25: Surfing through troubled times
By Harsh Singh

Chapter 26: Crime and Punishment
By Narasimha Sharma Veturi

Chapter 27: The Term is Licentiousness
By Rahul Prabhakar