Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Are you a beer pong fan?

As an avid surfer on the Internet and trendspotter, I am quite surprised to note that I missed this one, the rise of beer pong, which has been become a very popular game with college students and young adults. When I found that so many of the younger forums where discussing it, I had to go and do a bit of research of my own. I've yet to play it, but am looking forward to it soon. The thing with most campus trends is that they come and go so quickly that one might not even notice them, but the ones that manage to hang on longer, are sure to get absorbed into the mainstream of consumers outside of college campuses as well. They are one of the most interesting places to research for new things and you can be sure to always find something different and interesting every time you visit.

going pro

Time to celebrate!

I got myself a pro account on Flickr! I've been using Flickr regularly since mid January this year and was close to running out of space on my free account. I'm sure the investment will be totally worth it. I opened my account on Flickr a couple of years back in Feb 2006, but never used it at all, so it was just lying there, unused, wasted. Such a shame, right? I thought so too!

Thanks to taking photos and especially due to uploading them to Flickr, I have been able to start thinking about what makes a good picture, about what kind of photographs I am good at, and how I can challenge myself. I rarely take pictures with people in them or in public places, but take lots on my walks, in my neighbourhood, in my home and so on. So while my photo's are not photography per se, they are the story of my days, a pictorial telling of sorts.

I've got a pro account!

Monday, April 28, 2008

the empasis on beauty

In a society like ours, where there is so much emphasis on superficial beauty, there is no dearth of products that promise to make you look beautiful, products that can change your life if you just try them for a short time, products that actually work on building your self confidence than anything physical. There are a dime a dozen natural acne treatment centers in every city, but not all are equal and a bit of research is usually a good idea before selecting one. It's also a good idea to find other consumer's reviews on similar treatments and procedures to get a detailed idea of how good they really are. Checking ahead is always better than repenting at leisure, right!

desert love

I have found that I'm in love with all sorts of deserts and just have to have something sweet everyday now. I never much cared for sweets before, but had a hard time resisting dark chocolate...can never forget my midnight cravings for Otis Spunkmeyer's chocolate muffin when I was in college! These days I'm willing to try out any desert and even had a huge ice cream concoction from Baskin Robbins for my lunch one day. In fact, I will be going nearby this afternoon for my grocery shopping and am getting tempted to finish my shopping at Baskin Robbins again. I had my old favorite Dairy Queen's Blizzard after years and years. They have changed the flavors, so it wasn't exactly what I wanted, but still pretty good.

Friday, April 25, 2008

An escape to Devon

My parents have been making plans for the summer vacation and this year, they had a variety of options ranging from a Danube cruise, a month in London, a few weeks in Devon as well as exploring other areas of the English countryside, a trip to the US (for a wedding) ans so on. What they have finally selected was none of these, but when they asked me for my opinion on it, I was sure about my choice. It would definitely have to be spending time in Devon and exploring other areas such as Cornwall and Exmoor.

Since they are not too keen on staying in hotels on a long term basis, they try to find a private holiday cottage in Devon and real homes for short term rent, which is a great way to see how the locals live and get a much nicer slice of life. These kinds of holidays are especially great if you are traveling together with the family, since it's a much nicer way to stay together in a quaint cottage rental.

The West Country is known for its scenic beauty and there is lots to do for all kinds of nature lovers. With coastlines along the English Channel and the Irish Sea, there are plenty of water based activities to indulge in as well. The area is also famous for its Devonshire Tea, ac combination of scones, jam and clotted cream. Reason enough to go there for a vacation, I think!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

weekend anticipation

Nothing quite like the anticipation of the weekend, is there? I love Thursdays and Fridays for this reason alone....and of course for the relaxation one gets on the weekend as well. I used to detest sunday evenings just like everyone else, but ever since we've been in Dubai, and Friday and Saturday are the weekend, I no longer hate Mondays, and Sunday's are a breeze, since one is well rested and ready to work again. It just goes to show how easy it actually is to adjust, and it's all in the mind that one holds back to change and new things.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

searching right

Do a search for travel or travel blogs on any search engine, and you will be bombarded with millions of sites on the topic. So how do you find the information you need? Get specific and narrow down your keywords to get a selection closer to what you're likely to be looking for. I always search for things using 3-4 keywords so that I don't have to waste time looking for what I need, and this way I am quite certain to find what I need in the first few options and definitely within the first page itself. As a web writer, this is one the key aspects of good web content writing, making it easy for people to find the information they are looking for. Another option is to try the same search on a different search engine. I try to avoid using Google and prefer to search on Yahoo and MSN, which are both quite good options.

the right kind of barbecue accessory

Ever since we moved into this apartment, I've been wanting to by some patio furniture, since we have a wonderful little patio right outside, in the shade of a couple of mango trees. It's not a completely private patio, but that's all right with us, since there are very few residents in the complex and everyone is pretty friendly. We got a Barbecue last year and have used it several times, but without having any specific furniture and arrangement, it always ends up being very casual and make-shift. I would like to get some furniture that can take the strong sunshine and hot winds, but will look good enough with just the addition of some cushions. Maintaining patio furniture can be a lot of work, if you don't buy the right kind...in the sense that it must be right for the kind of climate that you live in, and the climate here is tough on things outside, so we need to maybe spend a bit more initially but get something that will look good and be easy to maintain.

The art of travelling light


I get my travel genes from my parents, especially my father, who is quite an expert at planning trips, organizing the bookings, finding interesting places to go to and creating a wonderful vacation. He told me about a site called Onebag.com, which talks all about the fundamentals of traveling right, which start and end essentially with traveling light. He guides you through to making the right lists to sort through the things you actually need and will use on your trip and those that you think you might need, but never end up using after all.

It's a great site to also learn the rules and regulations for things that you are allowed to carry on board or not. Frequent travelers might know the ropes and the tricks but if you're relatively new or are planning a different kind of vacation where you need to keep things light, then this is a good source of information. The site has been recommended by major news and media sources such as Time and the Washington Post, so you can be sure of getting reliable information. I have bookmarked the site for further reference.

thinking of the future

Most young people never bother to think about things like life insurance and even though you might be young, it's never too early to start thinking about getting a term life insurance quote just to find out how much it costs and what all it involves. It really sound a lot more complicated than it is and for most people it's just too much to handle, or so they think. Well, as it turns out getting information on all kinds of insurance is as simple as going to the ATM and withdrawing money, something that everyone can do in their sleep! With the kind of lives we all lead, it is important to think about the future, instead of only concentrating on the present.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

in my sidebar



Just a quick not about my new photo in the sidebar...it is taken in the same location as the one in my previous post. This set of sculptures/public art is located in a small and quiet park in Chandigarh, which I have been going to as a child, since my kindergarten school was close by! I spent a very peaceful morning there and managed to take lots of photographs, several of which have come out rather nice. Here's one of the average ones!

a whole new world

My blog is fast becoming a place for me to display my photographs besides writing about my life and travel! It has been such an unexpected journey, not only to start taking photographs but to post them on a public site such as Flickr and receive encouraging comments from viewers. I myself have been surprised at the amazing quality of photographs on the site, so many of them are way better than what one sees in magazines, which look too contrived and fake.

Here's one of my recent photographs that I find very interesting and different. This made me think differently when it came to photographs and what should or should not be photographed, and most importantly, what I should define as my boundaries.

I looked up into the sky...

keeping tabs

I'm a big fan of following trends and have several sites that I keep a tab on to know what the latest trend is. I'm not into following fashion trends, but love to know about new products and services, sites that offer a unique new service or an old service but in a new way and so on. The best site for trends is Springwise.com, which I have been reading for several years now. I am also a member of their sister site Springspotters.com where you can write in about new trends that you have spotted. For a curious mind, it's a fun way to keep up with what is going on across the world.

I really love the kind of trends that are spotted on Springwise, since they are all very useful things that all of us can use in our daily lives. Their travel trends are simply super and I have used a couple of them. I also recommend their consumer info related trends such as moving services, taxi services, parking, errands and so on. Check it out and you'll be hooked too!

Targeting the baby boomer generation

I've written about all sorts of interesting things on this blog, but never before have I written about something like this. In fact, I didn't even know they existed, but apparently a bath lift like this is in great with aging Baby Boomers. From a retail standpoint, all products and services targeted at this age group of consumers, especially things that make their life more comfortable, are sure to be a hit. This segment of consumers are very independent and active, and would want to continue being such, so these products will come in handy. I love writing about new stuff and trends, and this has been an interesting find, even though it's not brand new.

online writing tips

As a writer, that too a freelance writer and research analyst, I spend a few hours every week searching for Freelance Online Jobs that will suit my profile. Ever since I started working from home a few years ago, I simply cannot imagine working a regular 9 to 5 kind of job. The world of freelance writing has suited me rather well, and as one gets more experience, one can get a greater number of jobs and become known for one's work. The trick really is to find a good place to find jobs and once you do that, you're sure to be flooded with work. I came across this site recently and found that there were lots of good tips for writers and those looking for work online. Writing for the Internet is a great way to work from home, especially for moms who would rather not leave their kids at a daycare center. Check out this site for more tips.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Blog cartoons

I love cartoons about blogging and the Internet. Most of them are so wonderfully done and 'get-it' so well, that one just cannot resist them. The best source for cartoons and comics about blogging and the Internet is bLaugh.com, and I love to find new stuff there. This one is another that hit's the spot perfectly.

Enjoy!
Blogging Blackmail

on blogging

I've had this blog since August of 2004, when I lived in Bangalore. I started it out of curiosity about what a blog was about, and soon became fascinated at being able to share my thoughts and feelings with the world at large at just the press of a button. Initially, I used to write about my personal experiences at traveling, places we had lived in, cities that I would love to live in, books I was reading and so on, but it grew to cover topics such as personal finance, retail (which is my profession), real estate and so on. I have got the focus back to mostly travel and living, trends and marketing, in the past year or so and it seems to work better now. In the meantime, I have started several other blogs so that I can write about specific topics on each one, rather than a general mish-mash on one, and this has worked out for the better too, except that I am not able to post as often as I used to ;-(

Targeting baby boomers

Last week I was doing some browsing and came across an advertisement about stair lifts that simplify lives of senior citizens who live in duplex apartments and houses. It is a fascinating time to be marketing anything towards this age group, as the baby boomers are a huge group and can make or break companies with their shopping decisions. There has been a general trend towards all products and services that are targeted towards this segment of consumers, from specialty doctors, real estate services, customized vacations and so on. As a marketer, there is no better time to unlock the potential of this consumer segment of society as it is now.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

travel photographs

I love traveling and recently I've got an addiction to take photographs, not the usual ones of loved ones, but of things, mountains, flowers, the sky and everything else under the sun. On my recent trip home, I took just a few photographs with people in it and thoroughly enjoyed finding new things and spots to photograph. I never used to think like this earlier, but now I consider when the best time would be to take a photo, what the light and mood should be like and so on. It's completely surprising, since I never ever thought I would have the patience to take as many photographs as I have been taking recently. Life is like that I guess, you never know where it's going to take you!

Here's a photograph that I took on my trip to Kasauli last month. This was taken in the club premises, which is a great area to explore as well. Enjoy!

up the path...

Travel inspiration

If you're planning to travel in the near future, then you've got to check out some of these sites. I am an avid surfer of travel sites and love to read travel articles, so that when we plan a trip, I already have lots of ideas of place to go to, things to see, hotels to stay in and so on. I usually spend a couple of hours each week reading up on travel blogs as well, in my feeds and trying to discover new ones, so that I can get a "real" view of a place rather than a doctored or marketed view.

The Travel Channel is of course one of the best places to search for travel inspiration and there is a huge resource of articles and photographs on almost every part of the world. I especially love their interesting topics such as the trend of cell phones killing asking the cabbies about a place, traveling with little children and so on. Another good site that I found today is called Cheaponair, and it covers all aspects of a vacation from hotel, car and airline bookings to entire vacations, tours, luxury packages and so on. The destination guide section is a pretty good place to head to for inspiration on new and exotic places.

Rebuilding credit


As someone in the retail field who has lived and worked in the US for several years, and seen the way the average consumer shops, it is not surprising that there is such a credit crisis going on. The number of consumers with bad credit seems to be growing at much too pace and is changing the way they can shop and live. There are lots of places to go to for taking bad credit loans, but one must be smart about it and not make a bad situation even worse. That is what usually happens with consumers who have bad credit, they need money in a rush and often don't get the best of advice and end up with even more problems. Before taking a loan, it is essential to compare offers and find the one that will best suit your budget and payment level. Over time it is possible to even repair and rebuild one's credit history and start off from scratch, but it must be done in the right manner. I only hope that people start realizing the importance of having good credit and value it more than just buying some new clothes or something for the house.

Monday, April 14, 2008

more than just a picture

A photograph that I too last month. This photo is so much more than just a picture of a monument, it is full of memories for me, going way back to when I was in kindergarten and slightly later, of playing in this park with my friends during the school lunch break, of seeing this city grow and expand as I grew up and so many more memories. There are lots of recent memories as well, from just a few years back and from my visit last month as well. As places go, this is fast becoming one of my favorite and most visited spots in the city.

of blocks and squares

setting the right tone

For anyone in the graphic arts, it really is a great time to be around in the workplace these days. The emphasis on creating an event and setting the right tone for it is all in the hands of those who design the invitation cards and more and more of these are extremely professionally designed material. Whether it is bridal shower invitations or birthday party invitations, everyone wants their event to be different than everyone else's and nothing quite signifies that than a well designed invitation card. I am quite fanatical about collecting cards, whether new or old, it just has to be something different and something beautiful that stands apart. I'm planning to frame some of my favorite ones for the hallway, just need to get around to get some frames for them.

posting and photographing

I've been posting quite erratically here since the beginning of the year and I have just not been able to keep up with updating this blog as often as I would like. Besides dealing with work and moving to a new city, I've been traveling back and forth quite a bit as well, so have not been able to establish a smooth rhythm as yet, one that will ensure that I do at least some basic minimum posts on this and my other blogs. I do hope that I will be able to set a routine to post 4-5 times a week at least, posts and photographs, since that is becoming such a joy in my life now, thanks to all the Flickr friends I have found who have shown a wonderful mix of curiosity and encouragement towards my photographs.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

How much money do you need to be happy?

There is no correct answer for this, as everyone wants more and more and more. No one is satisfied with the little things, the simple things, the things that really make a difference. There has been a lot of talk lately about how worthwhile it really is to create a lifestyle that puts oneself in debt so deep that one has to work endlessly for the rest of ones lives to pay it back. It has become so easy to get any kind of loan, that most people don't even think twice about taking it for any kind of reason, and that is changing us and how we live. There are a variety of mortgage lenders, suitable for all kinds of consumers, those with bad credit, those with no credit, those with bankruptcy records and so on, it has become extremely simple to find one that will fit your needs, but be careful not to take an extra amount, as it becomes harder to pay it back than one thinks, especially in these tough economic times.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

On finding interesting artwork

I'm always on the lookout for buying new and interesting artwork and I have found a great site that showcases some amazing talent. It's called Little Paper Planes and it's the one place that I have found several items that I would like to purchase for my home. One is remarkably similar to a painting that I almost bought many years ago from an artist who was showing her collection at our gallery, but she decided not to sell the piece as it was special for her. I'm rather particular about the kind of stuff I want to hang in my home and I'm not hung up about having a known name, in fact I'd much rather have something that I really like rather than a piece that is so-so by a famous artist. Here are a few of the things that I liked.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Marketers dream consumers

The beauty business is booming everywhere around the world. With a greater number of women working now, there has been a much larger demand for all kinds of beauty treatments especially such as those for acne treatment and skin lightening treatments, and all procedures that give a woman a greater chance of promotion. More than anything else the marketers of these products are selling not just an acne treatment product but a chance to live a different life.

The advertisements for these products are never simple and straightforward ones but show a woman or girl who is failing at something just because she is not fair enough or good looking enough or has bad skin, and this is the product which will not only removed the physical problem but also take you into a whole new world of beauty and success. As a marketer, it is certainly a great strategy, but for a lot of consumers, it's hard to read between the lines at what they are doing and buy into the whole concept.

Back

And, just like that my trip home has finished and we're back in Dxb. This was the longest that I've been away from here, since march 1st so there was a lot of catching up to do once I got back home. This trip I've managed to take a tons of photos, much more than I normally take, so I have lots and lots of photos to upload on to flickr....which has been quite a fun exercise, quite an addiction actually.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

view of the club

Another photo from my trip to the hills recently. This one was taken in the front lounge of the Kasauli Club, which was redone several of years back after a fire burnt it down to the ground, right after it has just completed a renovation. Well, anyhow the club is looking quite nice, much better than it used to be originally, but not as good as the earlier interior decor people had done it.

Enjoy!
dark to light

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Living in the Carolinas!

When it comes to traveling, some of my favorite destinations are on the East coast of the US, place such as Virginia, Maryland and North Carolina, where you have a wonderful mixture of old world charm, unspoilt scenic beauty and lots of nature trails and walks. The last time we visited, we even had a look at some Wilmington NC real estate, just to see what the prices were, since it would be great to have a home in the area to visit more often. In fact, we end up finding out about local real estate costs in a lot of places we visit, just to get an idea of sorts, but also to visualize how it would be to live in a different place. It's a fun thing to do on a trip, and if you have some extra time, they why not.