Saturday, June 30, 2007

Is there anything better than the smell of fresh bread?

The rains are here and it makes me crave the smell of freshly baked bread. It's something of an automatic reaction for me, the cold weather makes me want to bake and the winters we spent in Providence and Bristol in Rhode Island, I did a lot of baking and experimenting. Some of my favorites were the rugelach and banana bread, both of which came out really well each time. Banana bread recipes are not hard to perfect but when made with some love and affection, they always come out even better.

Something along the lines of Like Water for Chocolate, I guess, emotion felt while cooking food becomes incorporated in the food. So you should only cook food when you really want too or enjoy it, and you'll see the difference in the results. I have to cook to music, so that it feels less of a chore, especially the daily stuff, although I rarely cook the daily stuff now since we have someone who comes in every day to take care of that for us. Music just makes cooking seem more fun and the food comes out better, so its a win-win situation!!

Being ill sucks

Lack of posts during the past few days due to being down with the flu for the past few days. Am better today, but still not up to the mark on the whole. The past week has just been so hectic and its been hard to keep up with work and travel, that something like this was bound to happen. Just glad that it finally on its way out though.

Trying not to think how I'm going to catch up with work though, and I have about a week's worth of work that I need to catch up with, besides sorting through my mail....87 in one account and 23 in the other.....one step at a time I guess!!

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Blaugh funny!!

Priceless!
This cartoon from Blaugh.com is simply priceless! How often have I felt exactly that, I can't really tell!! I'm glad their cartoons are getting more frequent, and each time I find a new one, I think...oooh! this is my favorite one....until I see the next one!

Hats off to their designers and writers!!

Boca Computer Repair

Where to next?

It seems that we can never get enough of holidays. Well, we've barely taken any holidays this year, just the five days in March when we went to Goa and remained completely disconnected from the daily grind. I think it would be great to living in a world of holidays, where one could just go from one holiday to the next. How amazing would that be? We would probably we waiting just to get back to work then.

As much as I love traveling, I'm getting really tired of delayed flights and just sitting at airports. Also, there's nothing like traveling all the time to learn to appreciate your own home and especially the comfort of your own bed. No matter how many luxurious places you might stay in, it's always nice to come back to the comfort of your own home.

Currently reading: An Enduring Love by Farah Pahlavi

I started reading a new book on my trip. Actually, I started two, but left the first one when I realized that I'd already read it before (A year in Provence by Peter Mayle, which I grabbed off my bookshelf as I left for the airport, mostly because of its slim size that would make it fit easily into my bag!). Now I'm reading An Enduring Love by Farah Pahlavi, a memoir written by the erstwhile empress of Iran. It's been very interesting so far because of the way it is written and also because of the fact that my best friend in college was from Iran and she had told me lots about the Shah and the family. Another interesting tidbit is that my father met the Shah's second wife Queen Soraya who was acknowledged as one of the most beautiful women in the world, when he was a child (Farah was his third wife). I love reading books that inter-twine with our lives, where we live etc and this one does all that and more!

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Traveling without worry

Continuing on from my last post, not feeling well when you're traveling is a really bad way to spend a vacation and it's just so important to have access to medical facilities even or rather especially when you're outside the comfort zone of your home. It's absolutely essential to get some medical travel insurance when one travels these days and the process has become so easy that you don't need to go into too much trouble to get it either. That's exactly what Cover My Travels does; take care of all your travel insurance needs while you're travelling. With one of the most open policies, the company covers many medical conditions that are not covered elsewhere, insuring travelers up to the age of 79 on single trip policies and 69 on annual travel policies, which have up to 92 days of coverage and cover multiple trips. It's a really simple way to make sure that you're completely taken care of when on vacation.

Back home!!

Back to Bombay late last night, rather early this morning, after two weeks of a pampered working environment!! I managed to do a lot of work and not worry about anything else at all....no housework, no errands, no chores etc. Must do this more often actually. Now that we're back, my exhaustion and 4-5 hour sleep schedule has caught up with me and I'm completely and utterly tired and it feels like a cold coming on...best solution....an extra large cup of hot chocolate....which is what I'm going to have in just ten minutes or so!!

Monday, June 25, 2007

Melbourne is calling!!

One city that I am eagerly waiting to visit is Melbourne in Australia. There's something about the city that seems really inviting, even though Sydney gets so much more attention worldwide, I'd rather go to Melbourne first. Browsing through some sites I found a site that caters specifically to finding a place to say in Melbourne, that too great deals on Cheap Hotels in Melbourne. At CheaperthanHotels.com.au, there are lots of great places to stay at such as the California Hotel where rates start at A$89.

I would love to go for a cruise on the Yarra River and explore the cafes along its banks, especially in the Southgate Arts and leisure precinct. Some of the other places I want to visit are the Geelong Waterfront that has been restored and is a hot spot for eating out and Queenscliff which is an old town and has lots of beautiful old buildings. Melbourne Hotels and the city on the whole have a great mixture of old world charm and modernity and that's a really winning combination to have. Accommodation in Melbourne can veer towards the expensive, but it is possible to get some great prices here.

Bharti Retail ad account goes to JWT

Bharti Retail has decided to go with JWT for its advertising account which is worth Rs. 50 crore. There has been intense competition for the account ever since the company announced its plans to entering retail. Advertising companies such as Lowe, O&M, Leo Burnett and McCann-Erickson have all been trying to win the account. JWT will also be responsible for building the Bharti brand as well as store design, besides taking care of the advertising.

New pic in the sidebar!

Just changed the pic in the sidebar, to one that I took about a month back on our trip to town. We had stopped at a red light on Marine Drive when I saw these lovely gnarled trees along the side of the road. Surprisingly, the beach behind was empty, which I have never seen it to be before. I like the contrast between dark and light and especially love the sun dappled effect on the road.

Here is a larger and slightly different version of the pic:

Bombay Chowpatty

Living it up in Maui!

There's never a bad time to visit Maui and that makes it one of the most beach popular destinations in the world. It's definitely a place on most people's wish list and a destination that the majority of visitors would want to come back to not only visit but also have vacation homes. How often you return to a tourist place is a great gauge to see how good a trip really was, and with Hawaii, there are repeat visitors there all the time. Personally, when we travel for leisure, we love to stay at different sort of places. While hotels are great, staying in a more personalized setting always makes for a more interesting vacation and these Maui condos offer that and more. HawaiianBeachRentals is a great resource for all types of accommodation and Kauai Travel Info in the ares. If you're thinking about going on vacation there, do have a look at the options available at HawaiianBeachRentals.com first.

Away for a day

I have been away to visit my parents in Chandigarh for the weekend. Well, it really wasn't the weekend actually, since we caught the train early on Sunday morning and returned to Delhi early on Monday morning. But, I guess it was better than nothing at all. Chandigarh is such a quiet relief after the hustle bustle of Bombay and Delhi, but Chandigarh on a Sunday was amazingly quiet. There's been a lot of growth in the city, due to the IT Park that has come up and things are slowly getting livelier. More on the retail scene in Chandigarh later on.

On an off note: The Shatabdi Express we traveled to Chandigarh on was one of the new German coach trains, which is really, very nicely made and is much more spacious and comfortable inside.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Most malls in India not successful

The retail boom in constantly in the news, always with more and more new players entering the field, but could it be more hype than reality. Malls seem to be multiplying on every corner, and while some malls do get large number of visitors, most malls are not successful ventures. According to real estate and retail analyst, Susil Dungarwal, of India's estimated 120 malls, only 10-12% of malls are actually successful.

The novelty factor is yet to wear off, and there still needs to a more of a variety of stores in the malls. Most malls are focused on the young, urban crowd who wants trendy things, but they are only a small amount of the population, with the bulk of consumers looking for more regular kind of products to buy. Other reasons are lack of proper design and tenant mix.

I have seen the chaos happening first hand with several malls in Bombay. PVR Cinema's exit at Nirmal Lifestyle Mall in Mullund is at its garbage dump. At Inorbit Mall in Malad, which was by far one of the best malls in India, all public space has been overtaken by vendors selling everything from cell phones to popcorn and thus the original design of the mall has been completely wasted.

Focusing on a niche target

As the number of baby boomers increases, all products that are focused on them are sure to see an increase in sales. Products such as stairlifts that never got much attention earlier, are one of the hottest products around for senior citizens. The baby boomer generation has been very independent and this product feeds exactly that need. Value Stairlifts have done a wonderful job in marketing their products to their specific audience, besides having great products of their own, including stairlifts for curved staircases, outdoor settings and standing stairlifts as well, all of which are adaptable to the customers' specific requirements.

Test your site for errors

Have you seen this website that can test anything and everything to do with your site? It's called Test Everything and it has a host of utilities that can be tested, from HTML and CSS formatting to the reach of your site on social networks etc. I keyed in this blog url and learnt of some formatting mistakes that are there, even though I don't do any formatting at all on this blog, since it's all done by Blogger automatically. The results of the social media sites were quite interesting and I'm sure to use the information from there to fine tune this blog so that it gets more attention with my target audience.

weekend plans

So, the weekend is finally here!! Yipee!! Unfortunately, we have so much work and errands to do that we're unlikely to get a moment's rest. Still, it is the weekend and there's nothing quite like just having that idea in your mind to get some mental rest, if not physical rest. I don't think we're going to get any rest until we complete our shift and set up home next month.

Its all about the packing material

Well, just this last week of work left and then I get started on sorting and packing for our move next month. We've been in our current apartment for two and a half years and even though neither of us are into shopping all the time, we have managed to add a lot of stuff to our home, which means a lot more packing as compared to our last move. One thing that makes moving easier is having the right kind of cardboard boxes to pack one's stuff in. If you don't have the right equipment and packing material, you're going to end up with one huge mess. The Packing Station has pretty much everything one needs for moving home, from packing boxes to bubble wrap to paper rolls that make packing so much easier. I've got to get my packing material as yet and as soon I it arrives, I'll start packing my things.

Wedding vows for the blog world!

This has got to be one of my favorite cartoons from Blaugh so far! I don't specifically blog about S all the time, but everything around me definitely plays a major role in what I write about. Poor S would freak if I were to blog about him on a daily basis!!

Vowing Wedding Favors

Friday, June 22, 2007

on traveling and vacations

Some thoughts and ideas on traveling and vacations. I love the quote by Elbert Hubbard, about needing a vacation most just when one has had one!! I know exactly that feeling and there is never a more miserable moment than knowing that your vacation is over and the next one might be quite a while away. I also really liked the quote about weekends being like rainbows; looking good from afar and disappearing when near. How true that is!

"Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not."
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

He who does not get fun and enjoyment out of every day... needs to reorganize his life.

-George M. Adams

What do I want to take home from my summer vacation? Time. The wonderful luxury of being at rest. The days when you shut down the mental machinery that keeps life on track and let life simply wander. The days when you stop planning, analyzing, thinking and just are. Summer is my period of grace.
-Ellen Goodman

Weekends are a bit like rainbows; they look good from a distance but disappear when you get up close to them.

-John Shirley

No man needs a vacation so much as the man who has just had one.

-Elbert Hubbard

Air Ninja: finding discount airline routes

As a travel buff and frequent traveler myself, I love finding interesting travel related sites to bookmark for our next trip. This site that I found is no ordinary site trying to sell you its hotel rooms or car rental services, it's actually a site that doesn't sell anything at all! Air Ninja is a site that will tell you which airlines offer budget tickets to your choice of destination. You can't buy a ticket or make a reservation on Air Ninja, but you will find you where you can go to get the best deal on the ticket that you want to book!

I think it's a really fantastic concept, one that the market is absolutely ready for. There's lots of flight booking sites, but no such site that offers such a comprehensive listing of all routes flown by budget airlines, routes that are most times not shown on other travel sites.

The first thing I did when I opened the site this evening was to key in my hubby's route from Bombay to Dubai, from where he just got back this morning, and the results I got were airlines that I had not found on any travel site or even at my travel agent. Both were good airlines but since they don't spend too much on advertising or marketing, one doesn't really realize they have such great deals. The cost was just under half of what he paid, which is a significant difference for a ticket on an extremely competitive route.

I was both amazed and embarrassed; amazed at the fact that a company has come up with such a great and much needed niche and embarrassed that we ended up paying so much more than we should have, just because I didn't do my homework right in searching out Air Ninja out earlier.

Once you key in your current location and your destination, you will see the names of the airlines that offer discount tickets load on the right side of the page. To buy tickets on these airlines, you have to click on the link which will take you to the airline's site where you do your booking. The concept is incredibly simple, and that's what makes Air Ninja such a winning idea.

Tourist Vs Traveler

Are you a tourist or a traveler?

When you travel to a new destination, do you only want to see the most popular attractions that everyone back home has heard about or do you visit off the beaten track places as well? I think of myself as somewhat between a tourist and a traveler, as I want to see all the famous places but definitely like to add some non conventional spots as well. As we get to travel more, I hope to become just a traveler and not a tourist at all.

It's interesting just how different the result is between the two. One can go to the same place, but get two completely different results depending on what one's agenda is. I'm not interested in going to extremes, on either side, so would prefer to have a bit of both perspectives.

Hectic weekend, you say?

Well, the weekend is finally here and we're going to be super busy with a wedding to attend, a trip home to my parents place for just 24 hours, renew our international licenses, a family get together, some work and a bit of fun as well. How we're going to manage to fit all this in the next 48 hours, I don't know, but it has to be done! We head back to Bombay on Tuesday evening and then I have just the rest of the week to finish off all my pending assignments before I get seriously started on sorting, packing, selling stuff for our move.

Cheap accomodation is possible in Melbourne

One would think that Melbourne would be a terribly expensive place to travel to, especially its hotels, but I found some really great deals on a site called CheaperthanHotels.com.au, where you can select from a range of serviced apartments, hotels and hostels. It's possible to get 2-3 star hotels starting at A$50 onwards and a 5 star hotel at A$150 onwards on this site. I found a great place called the Saville City Suites East Melbourne, which was available for just A$85 as a last minute deal. How amazing is that for a 4-star hotel? It's hard to believe but it is possible to get Cheap Hotels in Melbourne such as this one. The great thing about most of the hotels listed on the site is that they are all really great hotels, stylishly decorated and in the best of locations, so it's definitely not a compromise to stay there as it usually is with most budget accommodations. It's definitely a site I have to bookmark for further research.
Comments with ads and unrelated links will not be approved on this blog. Sorry Mark, I had to reject your comment, but will paste it here instead without the link.

In response to my last post on what to do with old cell phones now that the iPhone will soon be here, Mark wrote: "That commercial told me absolutely nothing about the product. I'm still keeping my cell.....Sorry, Apple."

Thanks for the input Mark! There's actually so much buzz and news about the iPhone that I just want to see the real deal now. I think the video clip was really cute and funny, although they are targeted at people who are on the verge of switching or have already decided to switch over. Do appreciate your comments though!

Need a coffee rush myself

Writing about coffee has made me need some coffee as well. This past week has been a total overload of coffee, but the weather is just perfect for drinking coffee and with work piling up to my ears and beyond, I definitely need it to keep going. Not everyone associates drinking tea or coffee with good or bad weather, but that is something that I do all the time. It's best to align oneself with natural systems rather than go against them.

Starbucks by winter most likely!

Good news for coffee buffs. US coffee chain Starbucks’ hopes to open its first store by October this year. The first store is set to be in Gurgaon and a second store will be coming up in Saket in Delhi. Starbucks has set up a team in Gurgaon for research and development, operations and marketing for operations in India. The venture in India will be headed by Anoop Sequiera, the former CEO of Global Franchise Architects, with the licensee being New Horizons, a 51:49 JV between Starbucks’ Indonesian franchisee V.P. Sharma and Kishore Biyani, CEO of Future Group.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Putting your life first!

The stress to compete and perform is creating a dangerous system. Consumers end up putting everything from work to extra curricular activities before their own health and well-being and end up in a far worse situation when they need help keeping up. To be successful and happy, one must learn to put one's life first, to take care of one's self and only then pushing forward to achieve whatever goals one has. An ever increasing number of consumers are addicted to pain killers and drugs due to not being able to keep up with the hectic pace of life, but these aren't the answer at all. Unfortunately, most consumers realize it only once they have got too far involved to help themselves.

Going into rehab is quite an accepted practice, due to the media attention on celebrities going for such programs and it becoming part of popular culture. There are lots of drug rehab centres, but it can be confusing to find the right one for you, and that is where the Drug Rehabilitation Network comes in handy. Being a referral site only, they are not themselves affiliated with any Drug Rehabilitation center and only offer information on them. Interestingly, they are also a great source of information for research projects as they have links to pertinent medical journal and government sites.

On collecting art

I've been collecting art for 20 years now and try to add to my collection at each place that we live. We bought a beautiful still life when we lived in Bristol, RI at a compilation sale of a number of local artists. From Kansas City, I have a simply wonderful and eclectic painting of a parrot that is done in an unusual style with a series of lines in the background. I wish I knew who the artist was, as I would have loved to buy more stuff from the same person. From our stay in Bangalore, I have a dainty little print of a gladioli bloom done from three different angles. This one was done by a student and was at a complete bargain basement price. I have never cared to go in only for the expensive or known names when it comes to art, only stuff that catches my eye. Our stay in Bombay has so far not yielded any results in purchasing art, even though I know of several known artists from my days at the art gallery. So far, it's been more of a hype on the name of the artist rather than the quality of their work. We've got another month to go, before we head out, so there is still a chance that I might be able to get something from our stay in Bombay as well.

List making mania

Don't you just love making lists? Not just the boring grocery lists but interesting lists of places you want to visit, books you want to read etc. I did a really fun meme a couple of days back on 5 things...5 things you have in the refrigerator, closet, purse, car and 5 places you have to see before you die. This was definitely one of the more interesting and do-able memes going around and I jumped at the chance to write my responses on my blog.

Creating great off-site events

We've had a few off-site organizational events that required computer equipment and projectors, but rather than taking our office equipment, we decided to use a rental company to provide all the equipment we needed, so that our settings in the office don't get disturbed. Using a rental company for computers, touchscreen LCDs, projectors etc made it so much simpler to handle and we could focus on the issues to be discussed and plans to be made rather than these logistic details. ComputerRentals.com has a large variety of tech items including plasma rentals, computers, projectors and much more that can be rented. It's even possible to get a 5000 lumen projector rental at ComputerRentals.com, which is often not available at other such places, or they are usually short of supplies. With a nationwide delivery system, ComputerRentals.com is able to take care of all tech requirements for trade shows, conventions, and other events. The most productive and effective product for us was the touchscreen LCD monitor rental that made our work so much easier and quicker.


Yoga sessions are going great

Our morning yoga sessions are going really great, although they've been getting tougher for the past two days. Thankfully, the weather has been cooperating and we have a lovely cool breeze to prod us on just a bit further when we're about to give up. I am quite surprised at myself, I've never had a patience for yoga before and anything that required me to wake up early was automatically considered not worth it. Let's see how long I can continue with this once I go back home and have to try to do it without company and our instructor. Hopefully, it will be long enough for me to get hooked on to it.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Is it the weekend yet?

Halfway through the week, not too far to the weekend, but it still seems to far away as yet. Running a bit behind my work schedule, especially since I bunked work today. Well, I didn't just sit back and relax, but had to do a bunch of errands that had been pending for a while, so that was work too. Hope to catch up with some work tomorrow, to take the pressure of the weekend and the first couple of days of next week, which are set to be super busy.

A new look for the bedroom

When we move next month, we're going to get an entire set of new furniture and furnishings for our home. It doesn't make sense to pay so much to ship our current stuff when we can get new stuff there quite reasonably. Plus, it's going to take too much time to send our things by sea, so we've decided to set up home anew. We haven't finalized an apartment yet, and I want to get one that has lots of natural light, especially lots of morning light. I am really looking forward to doing up our bedroom in an entirely different way and get a completely different set of duvet covers, something bold and bright as opposed to the neutral look that we currently have out here. It is really important for a bedroom to be a safe haven of sorts, a place that one retreats to for complete comfort and sanctuary, and just by selecting the right furnishings, it is possible to convey all this and more. I've been spending a couple of hours everyday researching and ordering the stuff I want for our new home and one of the sites that I have repeatedly gone to is Terry's Fabrics, which has a great selection of sophisticated yet understated home furnishings.

Piramal interested in tying up with international retailers

In the past year, the hottest trend in the retail sector has been to tie up with and international retailer or brand that will give a company an immediate boost. The Ashok Piramal Group is also keen on tying up with international brands especially for specialty retailers. The company will be expanding its flagship brands, Piramyd Retail and TruMart alongside as well. Piramyd has been restructuring its operations for the past year and is now keen to speed things up for its national footprint.

Real estate software

If I hadn't gone into studying retail and marketing, I would definitely gone on to do something in the property market. I have always been fascinated by it and just love the thought of selling people their dream homes. Even though I am not involved in the industry, I still love to follow market trends, analyzing local property prices and figuring out what will be the next hotspot to invest in. Real estate agents have a lot of tools now that were not available earlier, which have made their jobs a lot easier, since the market is so much more competitive now. AgentOrganizer is one such Real Estate Software that lets agents organize all their information on their contacts, listings, buyers and sellers, financing, upcoming appointments and pending tasks. AgentOrganizer also makes it easy to create flyers and letters as well as mail merge for bulk mailings. There is a 15-day free trial available, so that you can test it out yourself.

Catching up with old friends!

Today was a completely no work and only errands day....I got all my errands done and started my pending work only at 730pm, so I've got to catch up with lots of stuff now. It's been a great day though, I got to catch up with one of my dearest friends, whom I had not seen for a couple of years. We used to work together about 7 years back and from there has grown a wonderful friendship. So, it was completely worth bunking work for a day. After all, it is one of the advantages of working independently, the best advantage!!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Some thoughtful quotes on traveling life's journeys

I went looking for quotes on travel and found some really interesting ones, including a couple of old favorites. I am especially fond of Lin Yutang's quote about the appreciating home only once one has traveled. The whole point of traveling is not to see the sights but to open one's mind, to absorb and to take in as much as one can.

No one realizes how beautiful it is to travel until he comes home and rests his head on his old, familiar pillow.
-Lin Yutang

"It is good to have an end to journey toward, but it is the journey that matters in the end."
-Ursula K. LeGuin

That's the best thing about walking, the journey itself. It doesn't matter much whether you get where you're going or not. You'll get there anyway. Every good hike brings you eventually back home.
-Edward Abbey

"I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I intended to be."
-Douglas Adams

"The essence of living is discovering. Indeed, it is the joy of discovery that makes life worth the effort."
-Vijay Krishna

All quotes from Quoteland.com

Have you been to the Philippines yet?

When I made my list of places I must go to in my lifetime in my post on 5 things list, I hadn't seen this site on the Philippines. If I had, i would have added it to my list as well. Very frankly, I have very little information about the Philippines and had no idea how incredibly beautiful it was. I was especially surprised to see that it had so much more than just the beaches that one associates it and so many other countries in that area with.

TravelPhilippines is all about the Philippines with lots of details on how to plan a trip to the country, what all to see, where to stay and much more. Even details such as where to go skinny dipping and what kind of place to go for a quiet vacation or to one with a lively nightlife is discussed. After seeing the pictures on this site and reading about the Philippines, I hope to travel there one day on an extended vacation.

Discovery Cruise Lines offering free cruises to military personnel

This is a very special post for all military personnel who give so much of themselves. I just read that Discovery Cruise Line will be inviting all military personnel who have served in Iraq or Afghanistan for a complimentary one-day cruise that will begin in Ft. Lauderdale in Florida and go to Grand Bahama Island. These cruises are valid till December 31, 2008. It's a great show of appreciation for military personnel by Discovery Cruise Lines, who is not only giving cruises free, but is also taking care of all the other charges such as taxes, service charges, all meals as well as Bahamian Departure Fees.

If you or someone you know has served in the military in Iraq or Afghanistan, all that needs to be done is to fill in a form at their website and an email will be sent by Discovery Cruise Line with your invitation on it for a complementary cruise. I was most impressed with the offer by Discovery Cruise Lines, which is known to be one of the best in the business. Interestingly, Discovery Cruise Line's generosity is a great parallel to how heartlessly military personnel give of themselves.

5 things list

I'm a bit late with this, since this was the Monday Meme on the 2K Bloggers, but anyways thought I would do it. This one is a list of five things and since I love lists I just couldn't resist.

What you have to do is to make your list on these five topics.

1. List five things in your refrigerator
2. Five things in your closet
3. Five things in your purse or backpack
4. Five things in your car
5. Five things in the world you want to see before you die

Here's my responses:

1. List five things in my refrigerator (well, I'm not in my own home these days, but will list what I usually have in mine!)
1. Lots of veggies
2. Chocolates--dark with hazelnuts--irresistible!
3. Nutrigrain bars
4. Milk
5. Yogurt

2. Five things in my closet
1. a few clothes that I wear all the time
2. lots of clothes that I barely ever wear
3. extra handbags
4. lingerie bags
5. money

3. Five things in my purse or backpack
1. cell phone
2. mints
3. lipstick and chap stick
4. camera
5. wallet

4. Five things in my car
1. CDs
2. water bottle
3. city map
4. restaurant review book
5. gas bills

5. Five things in the world I want to see before I die
1. Cyprus
2. Turkey
3. Every corner of Scandinavia
4. The Three Gorges in China (and the rest of the country as well!)
5. As many castles as I can possibly see in Germany

Dubai: a city of our future

I'm looking forward to our next trip to Dubai, which should in early next month. I went there a little over a month back and really enjoyed the city, although I never got to explore it as much as I would have liked to. Hopefully, we will have time to do that this time. My hubby is currently in Dubai these days and is staying at a hotel with great views of the Dubai Creek, which is one of the top things on my list for our next trip, to take a dhow and go for an evening cruise. We ate a lovely European style restaurant by the Creek on our last trip and it was hard to place where in the world you were, as there were people from all over the world there. That's really the great thing about Dubai, it's got the perfect mix of east and west, and exactly what we're looking forward to exploring.

Here's a pic that I took on our last trip there. This was taken just as the newly developed area along Sheikh Zayed Road starts. The two triangular roofed buildings on the left are the famous Emirates Towers.

Getting back on track!

These days we as consumers seem to be having a lower threshold of acceptance of our problems. It's probably the stressful lives that we lead, with so many responsibilities and pressures that it's becomes hard to cope with everything as we used to in earlier times. As families have begun to spread and the social system that holds us together has begun to shift, consumers need to find a replacement for the support they used to get from their loved ones. What usually happens is that we start to depend too much on things rather than on people and thus begins the journey to dependency on drugs, alcohol and pain killers.

Of the three, Pain Killer Addiction is one of the most common for the average consumer, especially among women. There are lots of places where treatment is available for all types of addictions, that work to promote a feeling of self-worth and positiveness within a person again and Sunset Malibu is one such place. Located in beautiful surroundings, in an extremely private and luxurious setting, which will inspire guests to learn to rely on their internal and familial strengths rather than a substance.

These days with so many celebrities themselves going into rehab for one reason or another, it has made it so much more acceptable and mainstream for regular people to admit they have a problem and go in for some treatment themselves. I think it's definitely a step in the right direction.

A yoga session a day, keeps the doctor away!

Since I have come to Delhi for the past week, I have been going for an hour and a half long yoga session each morning. I've done bits and pieces of yoga before, an asana here and there from a magazine or a friend, but not a proper session like this with a teacher, and I simply love it. We do new asanas everyday, so it never gets boring or monotonous. Even though my work is extremely hectic and I'm working late into the night, the yoga keeps me energized throughout the day. Besides physical energy, it was gives immense mental well-being and a feeling of peacefulness. I only hope I can continue following these exercises even after I go back home.

Monday, June 18, 2007

View from our windows!!

I changed the pic in the sidebar today. This pic was taken from our dining room windows. It faces west, so we get the see the sun setting between the two tall buildings in the background, before the sun disappears behind the trees. We have a lot of greenery around us, and that was one of the major reasons we selected this apartment, as we could not imagine living in a claustrophobic apt that has no view and no cross-ventilation. Here, the entire walls of the dining and living rooms are windows, so we get lots of light and air. All in all, it's been a great place to stay and we're going to miss it when we move.

Here's a larger version of the same pic.

Lokhandwala

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Personality/Career test

Some sunday fun...going through Blogthings and found this interesting quiz and here are my results and well, I'm not really any of them, so it seems I've got a way to go as yet!!

Your Career Personality: Brainy, Logical, and Efficient

Your Ideal Careers:

Archeologist
Astronomer
Book editor
Business manager
Civil engineer
Designer
Economist
Inventor
Judge
Scientist

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Which travel and reference sites do you use?


Of the four big travel and reference sites, which do you use the most/like the most? The four big ones are: Fodor's, Rough Guides, Frommer's and Lonely Planet. Have you decided to visit a place based on the recommendation of one of these guides? We generally use personal references when deciding where to visit but use sites such as these to decide the specifics of where to stay or what to see in the area.

I like all four of these sites and use them as reference points for a lot of my travel writing as well, but my favorite one is Rough Guides which I find to be very detailed, but also very short and sweet in its information. I don't want to know every facet of history of the place I am going to, just enough to get me hooked on to going there and that's it.

Adding a new category

I'm going to add a new category called New Blog Find, for all the blogs that I come across in my meanderings on the Internet. These blogs will not necessarily be 'new' blogs but will be blogs that I have 'newly' found. It's going to make organizing this blog easier and I hope to build a network of blogs that I read and recommend on a weekly basis.

Friday, June 15, 2007

New Blog Find: Let's meet where the continents meet!

I'm always on the lookout for interesting blogs to read and today I found one that I would to read on a regular basis. Called Lets meet where the continents meet! this blog is all about Istanbul and has an interesting combination of travel, culture, music and life. We have several CDs of Turkish music from my in-laws visit a couple of years back and listen to them on a regular basis. Written by Mert, the blog offers a new view to another culture. Istanbul, is at the crossroads of east and west and has absorbed ideas and processes from both sides, which makes for a very unique outlook by the Turkish people.

Which is your can't-live-without cell accessory?

There are just so many accessories and add-ons for cell phones these days that they are no longer just a communication tool, they have morphed into our personal assistants, music and video stations, cameras, blogging tools, mapping assistants and much much more. I sometimes find it confusing to figure what exactly I need besides the phone itself. Like there are lots of RAZR accessories products on Wirefly's newly relaunched site and but I'm still not really sure if I would need some accessories. For the business professional who travels a lot, the hands free and bluetooth options are almost necessity. The one item that makes the most sense for me is the car charger, since I'm always running out of battery when I'm traveling.

Pics from in and around Lokhandwala, Bombay

Some pictures from Bombay, from in and around our apartment in Lokhandwala. We've been here for over two years, but these are the first photographs I have taken of the area where we live. Descriptions are below each pic.

This is the view from our dining room window and also from one of the bedrooms. This is the west, so we get to see the sun setting between the two buildings, until it disappears behind the trees.

This is the view from the master bedroom. It was just about to rain and I wanted to capture the beautiful color of the clouds.

This is the Lokhandwala back road, which is mercifully peaceful and traffic free. Even this is a longer route to and from our home, we usually end up going this way.

Laugh of the day!!

Online Dating with MySpace and Facebook
Simply love checking out Blaugh, which is the unoficial comic of the blogosphere for fun comic insights to the world of blogging, computers and internet.

Finding an apt with dealing with an agent


Looking for a place to stay in a new city can be tough, since it's usually hard to find something until you actually get there. Well, that's what it used to be, now with a service such as roomster.net, it has become so easy to find an apartment in a new city or even a roommate. The site lets renters and property owners interact directly with each other, without a middleman involved so it is possible to get the real value of the place rather than an unnecessarily hiked up version.


We're moving to a new city new city next month and I'm constantly searching for sites like this. Unfortunately roomster is not yet available for where we're moving next, so I have to rely on old fashioned methods to find an apartment. What makes the site really different from all others is all their extra features such as google maps that show you exactly where the property is located, a quick messaging system along with IM and even a last member login display.

Although roomster started just four years back in 2003, and is still a relatively new company it has already grown to include most of the major cities in the US, Canada and the UK. Using this system, it is possible to get an apartment or house, a sublet, or just look for a roommate to share your home with.

Got my wireless connection working

So, I got my wireless connection going and am all set with working here in Delhi as well. The problem I had was that the software CD that came along with the US Robotics wireless data card was not with me and so I had to call an engineer from the ISP to connect it directly to the internet, find, download and install the software for me. It didn't take more than 30 minutes for the complete thing and now that it's set I can work from my own laptop in ease. There are several other laptops and PCs here that all connect to the Internet, but since I have all my work stored on my laptop itself, it just makes it so much easier to work directly from here, rather then switch back and forth and saving data etc.

Space shuttle live video on baby monitor?

Gotta love this story that I found on Yahoo. A baby monitor has been picking up video broadcasts from inside the Atlantis Space Shuttle, yes, yes, the one that NASA sends to outer space!! How and why this is happening has not yet been determined, everyone from the manufacturer of the baby monitor to NASA are completely puzzled by it. According to NASA spokeswoman Brandi Dean, the live broadcast is not coming from the shuttle but it is available on the NASA website.

Living in cold climes

We've lived in lots of cities, some in really cold places and others in hot and tropical places. One of our most fun times was spent in Providence and Bristol in RI, where although the winters get pretty cold, they are a magical time. In Providence, we lived just down the road from Brown University in a sweet apartment that never really got very cold, even though it only got a little sun in the afternoons.

Our home in Bristol, however was quite different and since it was an old heritage property,the insulation wasn't as good as modern houses. The heating system was also quite outdated and we would have loved to have some additional heating elements added. Underfloor Heating is my personal favorite as it emanates warmth in the entire house without causing any hot spots that are usually caused by other heating systems.

WarmFloors is one of the best and most innovative systems of its kind, using a carbon underfloor heating system that barely takes up any space in the floor at all and is perfect for wood and laminate flooring. This heating is done by placing a heating film under a wood or laminate floor, which makes it very effective. Since it's not within view, rooms look bigger and you can make better use of the space. If a room is insulated well, the cost of underfloor heating is will not add up to much. I especially like the idea of underfloor heating for bathrooms where you don't want to walk on cold surfaces which can be quite chilled in the mornings. Other areas where these could be used are kitchens, conservatories and sun rooms.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Following US Open Golf

Are you keeping up with the US Open going on at the Oakmont Golf Course? Tiger Woods is tied for 13th position after the seventeenth hole and I'm hoping he ups his score on the last hole. But what's going on with Ernie Els, tied at 59th and Colin Montgomerie, my favorite golfer, at the 74th spot. And Vijay Singh, another other golfer that I follow didn't even make the cut. Hmm...not such exciting times it seems. Here are some of the latest scores.

Advice and Rants

I'm always on the lookout for finding new and interesting reading material, whether they are blogs or books. Today, I found a site called Advice and Rants which is about a whole lot of detailed advice from anything such as weight loss to stuff like creative ideas for jobs. I found the blog to be very well written and extremely detailed. It's the kind of blog to sit back and enjoy and get some in-depth information. I wish I could write such long and detailed articles as she does; mine are all quite short in comparison. That's probably a good goal for me to have, I suppose.

Swapping homes for vacations

I found a superb site via Blog Catalog, which is turning out to be an interesting gathering place of bloggers in itself. The site is all about swapping homes for vacations and is called Travel the Home Exchange Way, which is completely dedicated to providing listings, advice, recommendations, reviews etc on exchanging homes for vacations. I look through travel sites all the time, but never came across this one and this is exactly the kind of stuff that I love. Hotels are fine but there's nothing quite like getting to see how real people live, experience their living style and get a better understanding of their culture. In essence, to be a traveler rather than a tourist.

Finding the right vehicle


I've written before about how I love companies and products that are targeted towards a niche audience and offer a unique proposition especially for these customers. AskPatty.com is a company that caters specifically to women wanting to buy cars and deals with all automobile related topics, including buying the right car, maintenance issues, how to finance a car and a host of other issues.


I've bought only a couple of cars on my own, in college and when I first started working in Kansas City, and both times I realized I had been rushed through the entire process and ended up paying a bit too much. Regular car dealers automatically treat a women customer differently and try to make things as complicated for us as possible. Well, at least that has been my experience so far. So it is really possible to Find Your Dream Car on Ask Patty! Have a look around the site and you'll see the difference.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

It sure feels like a vacation!

So, I'm in Delhi these days meant to be working but not feeling like working at all, since my mind automatically switches to vacation mode when I get here. My flight got delayed (can't remember the last time I was on a flight that left and reached on time!!) and I reach an hour late. In the rush, I missed breakfast and lunch and somehow even with all the excitement, managed not to get a migraine. Thank god for that!

McDonalds lets six moms' into its kitchens so that they can blog about it

McDonald's is taking a bold step towards improving its image and has allowed six moms into their kitchens to blog for them and to give a first hand account of what really happens behind the scenes. In a program called Moms' Quality Correspondets which is to launched next week, the company will give access into the kitchen to six mothers who will blog about what they see. This endeavor is largely due to the company's continued battering on the obesity debate and hopes to change how people think of its food.

The company has provided the six moms with laptops to write on and their findings will be publisded unedited from June 20th on McDonald's home page. The six mothers were chosen out of 4,000 applicants by an independent company. The move is very bold and risky, and there is no guarantee that the company will be pleased with their findings, but the fact that it has made this effort also speaks for its sincerity.
John Owens, an analyst with Chicago-based Morningstar Inc., said McDonald's "might gain some insights that they wouldn't (get) in controlled focus groups and other marketing studies."

But while the Web journals could "shed some light on misconceptions, it can work the other way as well," he said. "They might receive some criticisms that might be very warranted."

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Buying property overseas

With the amount of moving we seem to be doing, that too on the international level, we really need a site that can find us apartments and houses no matter where in the world we go to next. I have been searching for such a site and was thrilled to find a site called Property Mart Overseas, that deals with properties all across the world. Now, this is a site that I could be using for years on end I think. I keyed in our last location and found some very good options as well as prices.

I next keyed in a search for property in Cyprus and found a really nice selection of villas, apartments and other housing options. I didn't like that I had to re-enter all my information each time, even if I wanted to change just one of the variables, but besides that I was able to find everything I needed. The articles about different destinations and highlighted properties are quite useful and interestingly my currently location Mumbai was the featured area of the week on the site. I even found a link for properties that are tailored to golfing addicts, so that they are never far away from their beloved game. The above post was a sponsored review.

Slight break for the next 2 weeks

So, I'm off on a working break tomorrow morning. It will be nice to take it easy for a bit on household responsibilities, catch up with my family and do some work as well. The plan was made out-of-the-blue this morning and we had to frantically get everything tied up for all the time we're going to be away, which is a good 2 weeks. Ah, bliss to be able to even take it easy for a while. Looking forward to my time in Delhi.

What's the big deal about colloidal silver?

I've been hearing a lot about colloidal silver lately and needed to find out what exactly it is and what it is used for. Colloidal silver is in essence a colloid of silver particles in water and since it has antimicrobial properties it is perfect for treating and preventing infection in external wounds and burns. There are claims that it also has some nutritional benefits, antibiotic properties etc. There are some forms of colloidal silver that are available at health food stores, although there is an ongoing debate on the exact benefits from ingesting these supplements.

As in all nutritional supplements, it is essential to read the label and with colloidal silver it is essential to know which one will suit you best. In general, colloidal silver will improve the immune system, skin condition and even give you extra energy for sports. our body is made up of minerals and we all have and require traces of metals in our system to get everything in sync, and this product just simplifies the process and makes sure that your body is getting all the extra nutrition it needs. I think I need to go and ask my doctor if I should add these to my diet as well.

Laugh of the day!!

Downloading Vioxx Online

More feedback on Holiday City

I've written about Holiday City here several times here earlier and wanted to add some feedback. While the booking site was really good and efficient, it turned out that the hotel ended up charging a higher daily rate than what the booking was made for, which was a real put off. I need to go back to the site, log in and fill in my feedback form, which has been pending. Not sure if Holiday City is even aware of its hotels doing stuff like this, but it's definitely something that needs to be brought to their attention.

Website Optimization Firm

Setting up a blog or a site is only the first step in marketing and if you want to seriously promote yourself, your product, or your company, some serious investment needs to be made in terms of time and effort. This is especially useful for small business owners who are not too keen on going to a large firm to get advertising or marketing services. One site that tailors its services towards small and medium business is Think BIG sites.com (TBS) which is a website optimization firm that can create a place for you and your company using search engine optimisation and other marketing strategies.

TBS uses the very latest in unique website optimization techniques including web 2.0 techniques, internet marketing services, using website design, development, search engine optimization, marketing techniques and much more to position a company in such a manner that it is able to create new revenue sources and get more website traffic. TBS has developed its own web 2.0 marking methods which have been ensuring that 95% of their clients are ranked in the top ten organic searches. Their services will increase rankings in all search engines, including Google, MSN, Yahoo, Ask and many more. It just makes sense to go with a company that has established not only its credential but also proven its success.

Have you been to Places To Go?

One of the fun parts of blogging besides writing one's own blog is connecting and interacting with other bloggers. I love reading blogs written by other travel enthusiasts and one of the blogs that I found this morning is called Places to Go, where Stacey writes about all the places she wants to go to. I like the way she classifies each post with a line on whether she has been there or not. It's an interesting approach to writing and very forthright as well.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Are you a Freakonomics fan?

One of the best books that I read last year was Freakonmics by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner and I am definitely a Freakonomics fan. Their thought process was intriguing and made you want to delve into the hows and whys of everyday life and all our myriad tasks. I read the Freakonomics blog on a daily basis and several months ago, asked for an autographed sticker to be sent to me to affix in my book. Since it costs too much to mail books to them and for them to mail the books back, they instead offer an autographed sticker that can be mailed to you. Hmmm, I just looked for the link to get this sticker and it's not on the site anymore....

on retail

Retail is a fun industry to watch, as it is something that all of us are involved in ourselves. We are the reasons why retail companies make the changes they do, and it's makes for interesting watching to see how and why these changes are made. Well, at least to me these are interesting things to look out for!!

Exclusive or generic?

When I worked with one of the leading retailers for my internship, the busiest section of the store invariably used to be the kids bedding section, especially the brands that were exclusively made for the store such as Laurens Linens. With department stores across the country carrying the same lines everywhere, what the consumers really wanted was some exclusivity and so this section was always buzzing. If you want to know what's going on in consumer's minds, it's as easy as watching shoppers in stores.

Read feeds offline

Even though I spend so much time on the computer during the work week, I end up doing some fun surfing on the weekends. One of the things I usually do is catch up with my reading on other blogs, from my feed reader usually. So, I found it very interesting to read about feeds being available offline through Google Reader. That sounds quite usable really. You need to install Google Gears to get your started with viewing feeds offline, and then you can download the latest 2,000 items to see when you don't have an internet connection. Be aware that the software is in developer phase, so there will probably be some bugs and kinks that need to be sorted out as yet. Get the full story here on the Google blog.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Time for some Caribbean fun!

Now is the time to take your Caribbean vacation! There are lots of villas on all the best islands, including St. Thomas villas and Aruba villas. Why not take a vacation now and enjoy yourself? I think you'll be glad you did when you're sitting on the beach soaking up the rays.

Mall watch

Visited Inorbit Mall this afternoon after a long time and was quite amazed at how many people were there. The food court was jam packed, the movies were all sold out, the walk ways were full of people, but very few had shopping bags in their hands. Most of the bags I did see were of Spencers, so it was mostly people doing their regular grocery shopping and not shopping for anything else. HyperCITY was jam packed as well, and while there were some browsers there as well, most people who entered the store, bought something or the other. Part of the reason that there are so many people just wandering around in the malls these days is the intense heat outside. People just want to escape the heat and humidity and the mall provides the perfect respite.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Using a 'building specialist' to find a condo

Traveling across the world has made me appreciate all the niche services that people provide, the things that we don't have in our own town. For example, a Phoenix area real estate company CondoCompany, has fine-tuned its process of finding potential clients that it offers what it calls 'Building Specialists', agents who are experts in specific buildings and are the ultimate guide and resource to pretty much everything about the building and the community. The company has lots of Phoenix Condos For Sale listed and makes an effort to be different from all others. It's really companies like that that take what they do to the next level of providing superior customer service and understanding their clients. The end result is that they will convert more maybes and their clients will be thrilled at not wasting time with agents who don't know the details of the property they are showing. Now, if only they would open an office where I live!

Office furniture for women

Love finding out about companies that fine tune their products to meet a customer's requirements and this is not just one company, it's an entire industry that is taking note. Furniture retailers and office supply stores are bringing in office furniture that caters specifically to women, whether they are working in a traditional office or have a home office setup. Women owned businesses are growing twice as fast compared to all small businesses and retailers are taking note. Ikea, OfficeMax and other retailers are creating new lines of furniture especially for women. These pieces will be scaled down to fit women's bodies better and have storage space to keep purses etc, a problem that is faced by all working women.
“Women really want to personalize their space. Men are looking for more functionality,” said Kim Roffey, a strategist at Kurt Salmon Associates. When men buy an office chair, they focus on whether it rolls under the desk and provides good back support, Roffey said. Women look at those factors, but at the top of their mind is how it fits with the look of the room, she said.

Checking out local real estate

I've always loved looking at houses, interior decor magazines, TV home renovation shows and DIY sessions. I love to get ideas of what I would like to do in our own home and see what the best configuration would be and checking out real estate is really the best way to do it. A lot of homes are already set up with furniture when you go to an open house, but I prefer to see it as an blank palette, rather than in someone else's preferences.

Weekend plans

Hope to catch up with some rest, relaxation and reading this weekend, but it seems highly unlikely as we've got to catch up with errands and shopping and stuff pending from the past week. Looking forward to going or lunch tomorrow to Barbeque Nation, which is a really great eatery, that has an all you can eat snack bar, execpt that it comes to your table which has a mini barbeque set up in the middle of the table itself. Great food, great ambience and lively conversation.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Using night vision goggles

As we become more worldly travelers, we are becoming better at finding unique things to do in each place we visit. Traveling is so much more than just visiting monuments and buying gifts for everyone back at home. To travel well is to open one's mind to new possibilities and options. And by that I don't mean to spend a lot of money, this is something that can be done at all levels, in all budgets.

I will forever remember the vacation I took in the mountains were we sat under the night sky and searched the sky for passing satellites, stars and even planets. Since we were out in the open, we could hear the animals becoming active and even spot a couple of flashing eyes and animals with our heatseeker, which was a pretty cool experience. I had no idea just how clearly one would be able to see though the darkness with night vision goggles. Our hosts had got these incredible goggles from OpticsPlanet.com, which has one of the largest stocks for all optics for sports, tactical, military and other purposes.

Environmentally friendly concert setups


One student summer music festival in the UK are getting more environmentally friendly, by reducing waste and becoming carbon neutral. Beach Break Live is hosting a three day festival in Cornwall next week and has put into place several features that will reduce the impact most festivals have on the environment. For starters, this concert will only be for 3,000 people, and will offer cheap bus transportation for students from universities. Springwise reports that the event has purposely been planned for mid-week, to give work to local businesses during non-peak times as well as to avoid traffic jams. With most of the food and drinks coming from local sources, the local community benefits from having these concerts in their area.

Having fun with color

Although I am not much of an artist, I do love to do crafts, to create things from interesting objects or work with leaves and natural products such as rope etc. It's something that is completely subjective and hard to pin down exactly. I regularly browse through online sites that do this kind of stuff and found a place called The Doll Place that has Coloring Pages section where artists can upload pen and ink drawings and color them online. Users can view colored drawings made by others as well.

Their main target audience is teenage girls but there are lots of options for other kids as well. Once you upload your drawing, which needs to have a completely closed outline so that it can be filled, you can fill them with any color from the palette, just by clicking on it. Once complete, this colored drawing can be shared with friends and family. If you'd like to save the picture online, all you need to do is to set up a free account with them and that's it. The process is extremely simple and it's a fun thing for young girls to do to develop their skills as graphic artists.

Reading progress

Well, I've not really made any further progress on my reading. It looks like it'll only happen on the weekends, but this weekend is going to be pretty hectic, starting from tomorrow evening itself. It's great to read a book about a place one is familiar with, and that is one of the reasons I am enjoying The Prince of Providence so much. Biographies and true life accounts are something I find quite interesting, after reading fiction for so many years, I'm a total non-fiction buff now.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Advertising exchange network

Advertising exchange company ContextWeb Inc. announced that it would be provide complete pricing control to both advertisers and publishers with its new system that is soon to be launched. According to Anand Subramaniam, CEO of ContextWeb, "The online marketplace is now ready for a true exchange. By including advertisers and publishers of all sizes, ADSDAQ creates a more scalable marketplace for premium advertising inventory across the entire internet." While there may be other systems in the marketplace that offer similar services, ContextWeb's services differ in the control that it gives it publishers and advertisers.

In ContextWeb's system, publishers can determine their own "Ask" price and let advertisers "Bid" on their offers. The company will be launching later this summer and has already been using its system for a limited number of publishers to test it out. The company hopes that it's service will be a true advertising exchange between publishers and advertisers, giving both sides complete freedom in setting price and other variables.

ContextWeb was founded in 2000 and has more than 100 advertiser and publisher partners from comScore's 250 properties as well as 12 agencies from the top 15 Advertising Age interactive agencies. It's a question of what kind of advertisers and publishers they have in their system that will determine how this concept takes off, but all the signs currently point to success. The above post was a sponsored review.

What strength do you value?

Some really interesting quotes on strength that I found on Quoteland.com. While most people easily dismiss mental strength, it is usually harder to achieve than physical strength, and this is what I looked for highlighting in these quotes. I love the first quote, it is simple and direct but incredibly intense.

To the world you might be one person, but to one person you might be the world.
-Anon.

"What does not kill me makes me stronger."
-Friedrich Nietzsche, Twilight of the Idols

We can let circumstances rule us, or we can take charge and rule our lives from within.
-Earl Nightingale

"Nothing is so strong as gentleness and nothing is so gentle as real strength."
-Ralph W. Sockman

Handling excess luggage

Taking vacations together as a family are great fun. The six of us took a month long vacation last year and it was one of the best vacations ever. We rented a van and spent time exploring the East coast from Washington DC to Maine, stopping at places along the way, some for just a day or two and at others for longer times. We had a lot of luggage with us, so it was good to have a van rack besides having additional storage for smaller items under the floor as well.

Flickr badges

I played around a bit with the pics and decided to install a badge with my pics from Flickr on it, but since the size of it is so small, it didn't really make an impact in the sidebar. Plus I already have some larger pics from Flickr a bit lower down and those are professionally taken shots, so there really is no comparison to them. Better to not display my amateur shots next to them I thought. Flickr lets you create badges either from your own pics, or from everyone elses. You can also specify to make a badge with certain tags if you want to.

Hawaii beckons!

Hawaii is one of the most popular destinations in the US as well as the world. The Hawaiian islands are blessed with beautiful climate all year round and some really incredible scenic beauty. It's no wonder that Hawaii is the number one destination for tourists and honeymooners alike. There are lots of other islands in the world but Hawaii is unique from all others as it never gets too hot or humid there, as is the case for other islands.

There are lots of flights to Hawaii, but none as good as Hawaiian Air, which has offered safe service for 77 years, the longest safety record of any airline in the US. The airline has some pretty incredible deals and the best service, so it's not one of those budget airlines that have sprung up everywhere. All flights across the Pacific get free meals and there are lots of other great features on their flights.

I love Flickr!

I've really got quite involved in setting up and adding pictures to my Flickr account. I had a yahoo photos account, where I used to upload my pics to send to friends and family and then last month they announced that Yahoo photos would be closing and that everyone has to move their pics elsewhere, or have them automatically deleted after a certain point (which they have yet to specify). Transferring pics was meant to be automatic (which is still not available) to your choice of company and I chose Flickr, since it's clearly the most popular of such sites. So far, I have added about 19 pics, of which 18 are public and can be viewed by anyone and everyone. It's interesting to get comments from other members and to browse through their pics as well. Voyeuristic, but still interesting!

Find the perfect summer job

Summer is here and that means that it's time to look for a fun job. Summer jobs are a great time to experiment in fields that interest you, to test them out and make some money. SnagAJob has a huge database of employers and jobs available on its site and is a good start for looking for a job. Instead of staying home, find a job in another city and travel a bit as well. SnagAJob has a huge selection of summer jobs for teens and college students. I spent my first summer in college working in San Francisco, but more than the work, it was the chance to go to this amazing city while I was working.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Currently reading: The Prince of Providence by Mike Stanton


This weekend I started reading Mike Stanton's book called The Prince of Providence which is based on the life of Buddy Cianci, the former mayor of Providence, who is currently in jail. The book was released when we used to live in Providence and I bought it then as well, but am only now getting to read it. Buddy Cianci is the man who brought Providence back on the map, turning a decripit and has-been city into a thriving center for the arts and a city that now prides itself in preserving it's history and culture. Check out an excerpt on Amazon.com.

Be prepared for business when you travel

Traveling on business has become a regular part of a lot of consumers lives. As companies expand their footprint and open up branches and offices across the country and world, holding workshops, conferences and events for the entire company becomes important as a team building exercise. Since not everyone uses laptops at work, it becomes necessary to be able to get laptop rentals for short periods of time. Using laptops makes an even more interactive and gives a professional touch.

Innovative Rental has a variety of laptops for rental including MacBook Pro rentals which are often the choice for design professionals as is the case in my office. For back end work, there are Tablet PC rentals as well, so a company can get exactly the type of laptop and computer equipment they require. Each time we've held a weekend workshop, we've used a rental company to take care of all our laptop and PC requirements, since it's just so much easier to handle.

US targets getting tourists from China

The US is pushing its marketing and sales pitch to Chinese to visit the US. The number of Chinese travelers who travel internationally is increasing fast and is expected to cross 100 million by 2020. Lots of cities and businesses in the US are setting up offices in China to add fuel to this boom and are also lobbying the government to ease travel restrictions on Chinese visiting the US.

At present, Chinese visitors accounted for only 320,000 or 1.5% of all international visitors in 2006, but these numbers are likely to grow and grow fast. According to Noel Irwin Hentshel, chief executive of AmericanTours International, China is set to account for one-tenth of 1 million customers that the company handles by 2009. Rising incomes of the Chinese and their love of brands and names is likely to push them to travel to known international destinations.

Did you take a proper vacation last year?

Do you get to use all your vacation time each year or end up forgoing it? According to a survey conducted by Yahoo HotJobs, nearly half of US workers did not take their complete vacation allowance last year. This despite overworking and being 'burned out' by their jobs. Eighteen hundred people were surveyed, of which 45% did not use all their vacation days in 2006 and 39% of those surveyed said that they were too tired to take a "real" vacation.
not
The main reasons that respondents said that they did not take vacations was due to too much work, cost of vacations and saving time off for emergencies. I think it's a really sad state of affairs. After all, one works to have a good life, to buy all the things that make us happy, and if one cannot even enjoy 'the fruits of labor' so to speak, then one has to do a serious rethink on what is important in life. BNET has a good article on how to make the most of a vacation and I think all workaholics need to make it their bible.

PS: I value my vacation time very much and took 72 days off last year!

Monday, June 04, 2007

Getting set for summer

Summer is for traveling, relaxing and making some extra money, right? But how about combining all three of them? Well, if you get started on a summer business of selling sunglasses, you might be able to do just that. CTS Wholesalers have a huge stock of sunglasses that are comparable to name brand and designer brands such as Gucci, Prada, Nike etc, but at astounding prices. Selling Wholesale Sunglasses are a great way to earn some money during the summer, while you travel to touristy spots that are most likely to offer the most potential. Sounds pretty good right? Everyone is on the lookout for a good and fun summer job, and this looks like a pretty good idea to me.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Moving to Flickr

Since Yahoo photo's is closing down, I've been researching on where to move my pictures and it looks like Flickr is the place to go to. For some reason, I had been resisting making the switch but now that I have set up my account, I am quite enjoying how it works, being able to see other people's pictures and having people comment on my pictures. Looking forward to adding more pictures soon.

Looking for interesting artwork


I've been using Etsy to find interesting art online. I really like their setup and have seen some great art work there, although most of it is not original artwork and most of the art work are of very small sizes, usually postcard size. I don't mind buying a couple of smaller pieces, it's easy enough to make them look great using a large matte or by grouping them together to create a diptych type of effect. I found this piece that I liked and would go rather well with a piece I have of a parrot. This pic on the left is called True Love and is by aussiepatches and is an original drawing, 12x12 in size.

Sending flowers online

Want to make someone feel special? Buy them flowers! It's really as simple as that. Online florists such as Dot Flowers have made sending flowers so easy that it's barely any effort at all. Using local florists to create your arrangement so it is fresh, Dot Flowers has tie ups all across the US. Besides flowers, they also have lots of gift baskets available, like a gourmet food basket etc. I find it extremely convenient to use online florists to send flowers to friends and family living across the US.

Furniture shopping at Ikea

I spent an hour looking through the Ikea site to see what I want to buy for our new apartment once we move. I love the spare and clean look of most of Ikea's products. I also love the fact that almost all their products are multi-utility oriented, with lots of logical spaces for storage. Their designers really think about how people live their lives and design products that would enhance their experience. Needless to say, I'm looking forward to selecting a whole new houseful of furniture.

eBay purchases Stumble Upon

eBay announced that it had purchased San Francisco based Stumble Upon for $75 million. Stumble Upon is one of the most popular community based search and recommendation site. With this purchase, eBay hopes to combine search and social marketing. eBay will get Stumble Upon's base of 2.3 million users as well. I've been using Stumble Upon since 2004 and really like its system of narrowing down your search field.

Busy weekend ahead

Lots of things to do this weekend, but first and foremost, it's time to relax. It's been a long time since I've taken a 2 day weekend, and it doesn't look like it will happen today either. Saturday is usually my busiest day of the week work-wise, since I have to finish of all my pending work for the week by then. It's also the busiest day of the day for retail news and the more retail news there is, the busier I get. Looks like I'll have to take that long weekend some other time.

Figuring out property prices

Last summer when we spent a month traveling on the East coast, I found it quite interesting to note the real estate values in all the areas that we traveled in. I found that prices in most places depended more on the location than the actual house, so one could get some really great property if it were in a slightly remote or off the main road kind of area. There lots of interesting spots such as beaufort nc real estate, where it is possible to get a great deal but at a lower price than you would expect. It all comes down to researching the market and the agency.

Multi-brand retail to be opened up

There's been a lot of speculation that the government might be opening up foreign direct investment (FDI) for multi-brand retail in India and it looks like it might actually be happening. What the full details are of this change is yet to be seen, but it is definitely a step forward, towards progress and for the greater good of consumers in the country.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Don't take a chance with your data

Ever lost data online? I have and it's really a miserable thing to happen, especially when there are options to avoid losing your data. Backing it up is absolutely essential and as we rely more and more on computers and the Internet, it just makes sense that we use it to create back ups as well. I found a site called Data Deposit Box which is an Easy Online Backup service where it is possible to instantly make online backups whenever your files change. All you have to do is download the software and install it on your computer and that's it. Everything else is automatic. You don't need to actually go and save a file each time you make a change, it's all done automatically. Backing up is easier than you think with the Data Deposit Box. With pricing as low as $2/GB, it seems like a great way to get rid of saving one's work ever again. They have a 'pay as you go' option, where you don't need to select any specific plan and just build it around what you need.

Weekend funny!

Data Recovery Software Needed

Don't you just love these cartoons? I simply adore them and wish they would be published on a daily basis. There are a lot of other new cartoon out there, but these are perfectly apt for the world of internet, blogging, computers and so on. This one is one of my all time favorites with them. Enjoy!

Increasing traffic

Anyone with a website needs to be knowledgeable about search engine optimization, as that is how traffic will be generated. While it is still not considered as important as other methods, it is one of the most commonly used ways to increase traffic to a site. The power of search engines has been rising and in that power lies the fate of most companies. If your company comes up high in searches on Google or Yahoo or some of the other major search engines, success is assured. Google is used for around 80% of all searches, which shows just how important it is to rank high with them. Even if you have the best product available at the best possible price, if no one can find you online, it's of no use.

What to read now?

Still not picked up a book to read, although this weekend is going to be a great time to do just that. I am so behind on my reading list that I don't even need to go to the bookstore any more to find something new to read, as I have books that I bought in 2004 that are still waiting to be read. In fact, I still have books bought in 2002 in Providence that are pining to be read, by me or by anyone else!!

Weather watch

The rains last night certainly changed the weather for a while, but by mid-morning it was back to sweltering heat and humidity. Another week of this weather and then we should be set for nice weather for the next 4 months. Having lived in the midwest during college years, I have grown to love summer storms, and last night's rainstorm reminded me of what spring and summer storms are like. They come with a lot of thunder and lightning, wind and rain and sometimes leave almost as quickly as they arrive. While the storms here are few and far between, they are also nowhere as dangerous as the storms of the midwest, where twisters and tornadoes form out of the blue and wreak havoc on anything in its path.

Treat yourself to a condo rental

Who wouldn't want to live in Hawaii? It's a dream setting for just about everyone, I think. Well, if living there is too much of a stretch, then renting a place for a vacation is definitely possible, right? I always prefer to stay in vacation homes or condos since it gives a more personal kind of setting than a regular hotel room. For properties on the Big Island and Maui, Gebhart Properties is the place to head to. With some of the best properties available through them, in the best locations, it doesn't make sense to go anywhere else. Take a look at this Maui Condo, and you'll what I mean. There's nothing to beat a view like this and to have a complete penthouse condo to yourself, is to really make full use of a vacation.

Long weekend this time around

The weekend is here and this time I've decided to take a long weekend. I decided to make it a half day today and take Monday off or only work half day. Why not, I thought, I can take a day off for the heck of it right? Everyone can, it's just a choice we make and usually we take the tougher road. This time I decided to pamper myself a bit and take some time out for myself. Work will always be there...it can wait...

Treats for the weekend

We brought back some ultra delicious tiramisu and cream cheese walnut brownies for our upcoming celebration this weekend!! We got them from Grand Hyatt which is probably the best place for deserts in the city, at least the kind of deserts we like. The cafe and bakery that we bought it from is tucked away in between the shopping arcade at the hotel and unless you know about it you're going to miss it, since it has a large column right in front of it and has a narrow entrance. I don't even know the name of this place, since there is no name plate above the door, but simply love their deserts and chocolates. Yummy yum yum!!

Generating new business leads

Mailing Lists are the lifeblood of many a company these days, but for them to be successful, a mailing list needs to be so much more than just a list of names. One way to do this is to use a direct marketing company to create such a list, and one of the best known companies in the direct marketing industry is Martin Worldwide, a California based company, that has created a new product called ResponseCom which combines over 100 demographic and psychographic variables to create a completely multi dimensional database. According to Chip Mathews, the Client Relationship Manager at Martin Worldwide, clients using this new database have already experienced increased responses, profitability and created new business opportunities. For any organization that relies on direct marketing for new business, using a dynamic list such as this is simply essential.

Lunch at Just Around the Corner

Went to Just Around the Corner in Bandra for a great lunch. We love the place and end up going there once every couple of months. They have a cafeteria sort of system, where you pick up a tray and load up your soup bowl, salad plate (as much as you want---there are 2 set prices for 2 sizes of plates), order a sandwich or burger, get some drinks and desert and pay up. There are waiters who will get you orders that take slightly longer to make, so you don't need to keep standing in line. And there is a Pizzeria on one side and a Cafe Coffee Day on the other, for more variety. Didn't take any pics, so nothing to put up here. Prices are great, the crowd is great, and the posters are simply superb and wickedly cheeky....anyone who has been there knows what I mean!!

From ad copy to quotable quote

Ad copy is not usually so great that it can become a 'quotable quote' but this one by Nike is simply superb. Not sure which advertising company has come up with this quote, but it really is quite beautiful. It's something that will connect to every individual at some point of their lives or the other. Here is the full quote.

"All your life you are told the things you cannot do. All your life they will say you're not good enough or strong enough or talented enough; they will say you're the wrong height or the wrong weight or the wrong type to play this or be this or achieve this. THEY WILL TELL YOU NO, a thousand times no, until all the no's become meaningless. All your life they will tell you no, quite firmly and very quickly.
AND YOU WILL TELL THEM YES."
--Nike ad