Sushmita Malakar Blog //]]>

Friday, September 22, 2017

Show Some Love . Please? Pretty Please?

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Show Some Love . Please? Pretty Please?

The Indian Blogger Awards 2017 So, I nominated my blog for Indian Blogger Awards. Please help me win? All you need to do is leave a testimonial. To make your life easier, you just need to sign in with Facebook! I am excited to read your feedback!

#100HappyDays: My Empty Canvas

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#100HappyDays: My Empty Canvas
What brings me back to this challenge after 3 unsuccessful and one successful attempt? 

Well, the last time I completed this challenge, my major takeaway was to smile, accept and embrace every situation in life. Somehow, the daily grind of life consumes us too much that we forget to live in the moment. The negativity around us is so much that we don't realize how they start effecting us mentally. 

Right now I should be content with my stagnant life, or as they say, an ideal life with a good family and a good paying job. I am content, yes. But am I happily content? 

You can never have all the aspect of your life sailing in the same sea. Some might be sailing in the most wild and turbulent sea while others are in a calmer space. I don't know if that is what happening to me right now, but I just want to be a li'l bit more positive at this point in time in my life. Also, this is the only way you have when you are not having many people to talk to!

Probably, my daily grind is making me forget my lessons I learnt  the last time from my #100HappyDays challenge. 

So, here I am again. I am going to add one picture for the next 100 days in the empty space below. And I really hope to start the next year in a more happy and positive way! 

One pretty amazing thing that the challenge website page says:
"It is not a happiness competition or a showing off contest. If you try to please / make others jealous via your pictures – you lose without even starting. Same goes for cheating."

So yes, I am doing anything to show off or to make anyone feel bad or good. Posting this on my blog is just a gentle reminder to myself that life is good! :)

I want to take my Alexa Rank to the next level with #MyFriendAlexa.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

The Mini Instagram Post 7. Footprints.

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The Mini Instagram Post 7. Footprints.

Every time I meet you,
A li'l bit of me dissolves in you. 
I am slowly vanishing, 
Just like my desire for everything. 
One day, I will be nothing
But footprints...

Doing this after such a long time! Footprints - they might just come out as haphazard indentations on wet sand but each one has a different story to tell. 

Beaches. I love them because they bring me closer to the transitory nature of life as such!

I want to take my Alexa Rank to the next level with #MyFriendAlexa.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Your Daily Health Tips!

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Your Daily Health Tips!
Coming straight to the point - running and having a healthy diet helped me lose 10 kgs. That was the time when I took running very seriously and I had the bandwidth to actually follow a diet plan.

Many of you might call it an excuse but as life gets busier, it becomes difficult to follow a strict workout and diet regime. However, health should never take a back seat!

I haven't been able to do regular workout in a long time now. But I haven't gained any weight as well. Earlier, I was going to give this post the title "Your Daily Fitness Tricks" but then I realized fitness directly depends on the amount of physical activity you do in a day. And for most of us, physical activities take a back seat - blame it on the too hectic lifestyle which keeps you from investing your energy anymore on physical activities!

But that doesn't mean that your health should suffer. Not at all! I might not be fit - I can run 10K in 75 minutes and that is super average. But I try to be as healthy as I can be, if not fit.  Health also depends on your eating habits. Here I am sharing some of the health tips, which I follow or try to follow, but know that are super effective when it comes to taking care of your heart!

The first section is a bit preachy. But trust me, you might fail at doing these things one or twice or thrice but if determined to live healthily, you will soon be able to follow everything. I still fail when it comes to eating everything healthy! But my fundamental is simple - have a cheat day once or twice a month to satisfy every craving and not torture yourself!

The second part talks about food! Everyone says that eat healthy. But how? What to do with those super cravings we have sometimes? It's actually simple - Control! Most of the times when you have hunger pangs, you are just thirsty. Drink water and the feeling should subside. If you are really hungry, grab an apple.

These are perhaps the easiest to follow. Why not try for a healthy and better life?

I am joining Saffola #ApneTareekeSeHealthy initiative and sharing my ways of being healthy in association with BlogAdda.

I want to take my Alexa Rank to the next level with #MyFriendAlexa.
My current Global Rank is 2,555, 728. My rank in India is 111, 949. 

Monday, September 11, 2017

Why We All Need Dry Shampoo!

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Why We All Need Dry Shampoo!
Bad hair days are every girl's nightmare!And no one can even predict when that day will strike. 

There are days when you have the oiliest of your hair days, you have to go to some important party/meeting and you have no time to wash, dry and style your hair. Those moments are irritating and embarrassing - at least for me because I always want my hair in place. But then, human inventions should never be underestimated. 

Dry shampoo can come to your rescue. And I love them. Here are the top reasons why:

Now the question is - How to identify a good dry shampoo. Firstly, it should fulfill all the above conditions. As simple as that! If you are spending more time with the dry shampoo, like applying 7-8 times, then it is not the product you should stick to. Your hair should smell good after the application. Dry shampoo serves the same purpose as that of regular shampoo. And yes, it should not leave behind any powdery residue. 

There are certain things you need to be careful about before using dry shampoo. You don't use them on a regular basis. Use them on SOS basis! It's always best to go for regular shampoo. You might come across how to make "home made dry shampoo" videos on Youtube. Just a personal opinion - don't opt for them. No matter how organic they are, talcum powder leaves your hair dehydrated. I would recommend to go for the aerosol spray. Since you don't have to use the dry shampoo everyday or on a regular basis, aerosol sprays are not going to be harmful. The dry shampoo available in the market might be a li'l on the higher side when it comes to monetary value but I would  suggest that if you think that any brand is reliable for you, you can make this investment. Again, the same logic applies - opt for the best as you have a limited use of it. 

You can read a lot about dry shampoo here. You will find the apt shampoo for your hair type and many trivial facts about dry shampoo like how to apply and when to apply!

My favourite dry shampoo is by BBlunt. And I am glad I came across this human invention! 

Friday, September 8, 2017

My Li'l Travel | Amritsar

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My Li'l Travel | Amritsar
At times, I am very glad that my parents are travel-fearing. This has actually led us to travel by road and I have been to many road trips in both North and South India. Why self driven road trips? Comfort and freedom of movement at own's convenience.

Nevertheless, I turned out to be completely opposite to my parents. I love to go to places - by any mode of transport, but yes, the national and the state highways remain my favourite!

This trip to Amritsar happened almost four years ago. Why am I writing it today? First, I really want to visit Amritsar again. But it is not happening anytime soon. So, I decided to revisit using the pictures from that visit and write a blog about it. Second, I had decided to complete writing about all the places I have visited so far by the end of this year. I don't want to be lazy any more!

This blog might not have a lot of pictures because I have been a strict follower of rules. I don't take pictures where photography is prohibited. 

I traveled from Delhi to Amritsar via Ambala by road. When I traveled, the highway after the diversion which leads to Chandigarh and Amritsar was not that great. However, now the NH 44 has developed well and I heard that the drive is quiet great too.

Few travel tips:
  • Best time to visit Amritsar is from November to March. 
  • If you love eating, then Punjab is the place to be. Make as many stops on the roads as you wish to. Delhi's go-to-long drive, Murthal, is there which is famous for the paranthas. Then there is  Puran Dhaba which is famous for their chicken. And Amritsar is a food lover's paradise with their scrumptious lassi and jalebi!
  • People here are very helpful but this place is a li'l culturally conservative. It is always better to be a tourist and not interfere with the existing order.
This was my family trip so we started off really early and that too on time. It was 5:30 in the morning. Though I was sleepy, I was super excited. 

After making our share of stoppages and detours, we reached Amritsar at around three in the afternoon. Of course, we would have loved to go to the Golden Temple the moment we reached Amritsar but since we were there for just one night, we decided to go to the Wagah border first.

Wagah border is the border between Amritsar and Lahore. Pakistan is technically just 28 KM away from Amritsar!

I had no clue that Wagah Border Ceremony was such a huge deal. For the very first time in my life I had seen so much of patriotism flowing around. How much we love to show off!

Wagah Border Ceremony, also known as the Beating Retreat Ceremony, is a military practice which begins with a parade by soldiers and ends with lowering with the flags of both the countries.

Few head up before you go there:

  • The ceremony starts at 4.15 PM.
  • The place is very crowded and you need to be seated there by 3.30 PM. Reach as early as possible as you might not get seats if you are late
  • Be prepared for a flooding crowd
  • Mobile services are not available here
  • Cameras are allowed but not bags, so make your arrangements accordingly. However, there are lockers available
The parade is amazing and the coordinated lowering of the flag is certainly mesmerizing. One very interesting thing - the sitting area on this side of the gate is jam packed, however on the other side there are probably just a handful of local tourists witnessing this ceremony. 

This side of the border is overflowing with patriotism and excitement. And the age is definitely not a bar!

See what I mean?

Please forgive me for the pictures. We were sitting on the top most row and the position was not such that we could click pictures clearly. 

The aggression and the discipline in the soldiers on both the side of the huge iron gates, which are closed during this ceremony, is commendable. But trust me, you can not sense any kind of hatred between the countries' soldiers. 

And that is how the ceremony concludes. 

I definitely had to get myself clicked. 

After this we went to the Golden Temple area. The hotels in this area are decent and clean.  We took a family hotel in that area because we wanted to go to the Golden Temple early in the morning and see the sun rising there.

What a breathtaking place this is! There is this serenity and peace that you get once you go to the Gurudwara. People here have immense faith and witnessing that is beautiful.

The Harmandir Sahib, as this place is referred to, is part of a huge temple complex. The Hindu and Islamic blend of architecture is something for which you should definitely visit this place, if not for any religious reasons.

The temple compound is edged with various other monuments one of which is the Sikh Museum which tells you about the history of Sikh warriors through the modern and medieval times. One interesting fact about this place is that the shrine or the tower where the Akal Takhat (that seat for the Guru Granth Sahib) is situated was destroyed during the Operation Blue Star. However, the people here refused to use a tainted building as such a holy place. And thus, the tower was build again, from scratch. Such is faith, my dearies!

The Amrit Sarovar, which surrounds the golden shrine is said to be pious and have healing powers. I have heard many stories where people,from across the globe, have come to take a holy dip and get rid of ailments. By the way, this place takes it's name from this water tank. 

Photography is prohibited at most of the places here. Once you step inside the Harmandir Sahib, all you can hear is the Gurbani which is naturally soothing. Trust me, you will fall in love with this place. You might also catch some folk singers in the complex. 

After a long morning of exploring and admiring this place, we went to have some authentic breakfast of chhole - bhature. After that we ventured out to the Jallianwala Bagh. This place holds the memories of the saddest of the events in the history of India during the British rule. This place is a memorial and has preserved all the scary moments - the place from where the massacre started to the bullet marks on the wall. And don't be surprised if you feel that you are in the British times when people were oppressed and subjected to such cruelty. It is the aura of this place which will make you feel more rooted.

No photos guys because photography is prohibited in this complex.

And now that you are done with the major sightseeing and soul searching in the city of Amritsar, explore around the place. Shop for some amazing phulkari suits. Gorge onto some Amritsari naan and lassi. Breathe in the pious air. Let the history sink in.

I want to go to Amritsar again. And I hope that it happens soon!

Happy Grandparents' Day!

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Happy Grandparents' Day!
Grandparents, a child's greatest asset.  
They look upon the parents, to keep the kids from going wild. 
They pass the great legacies from generations to generation. 

Grandparents, a child's true protector. 
They advise the best, for the better.
They don't judge because they know the generation gap is a real thing.

Adore them when they are here. 
Miss them when they are gone,
For they are true foundation of any home.  

The most difficult thing for me is to write memoirs. People are so distinct that it requires immense talent to describe each one in words. And to share the memories with them is even more difficult. Doing that for my grandparents is certainly a Herculean task!

Every kid has two sets of grandparents. I mean everyone is supposed to have that. I have no memories of my paternal grandparents. They left for their heavenly abode when I was very small.

I have grown up visiting my maternal grandparents' house every year. I was very attached to my dadu  who also left us some six years ago. I have some wonderful memories with him. I remember how we used to go with him to the park while he used to sit and discuss the news with his friends there. I remember how he always used to encourage me and my cousins to study and do something good with our lives.

He was always very proud of me. He would boost about all my achievements. I knew that no matter how small or insignificant my academic or extra curricular achievements are, he was the one who should know about them. He would always encourage me to do more! Everything about dadu is still so fresh in my heart.

During his last days, when dementia crept in with age and he had no idea who I was, he would always make sure that I was looked after well and fed well when I visited him because I was a "guests" and guests are to be treated like God. These small things are also imbibed in his future generations, I can say that proudly.

The lady who carries the legacy of our clan is my dida. She is very old now. But she would call us everyday without fail to know if we are doing good. I also try to make it a point to go and meet her as often as I can, talk to her as often as I can. She is the sweetest person you will ever come across. I remember my summer vacations being spent with gorging onto sweets made by her. Even today, when she is nearing her hundred years of existence, she tries to make the things I like whenever I visit her. Of course, that is not what I let her do. But the magic that those hands have - unique!

She understands each one of her grand-babies better than their parents. She saved us from our angry parents, so many times. She pampered us better than anyone else.

I am not sure if I will be with my dida on this Granparents Day. But I surely want to convey all the love that I can to her! I love you dida!

I look forward to hear from you how would you celebrate Grandparents Day. Do share a selfie with your grandparents on Sept. 10, 2017 on Twitter or Facebook with #LoveJatao & tag @blogadda to win a goodie from Parachute Advansed.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

5 Quick Facts About the Blue Whale Challenge

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5 Quick Facts About the Blue Whale Challenge
"If you stumbled upon this article while searching for the Blue Whale Challenge, let me tell you a li'l fact - Just when you think that there is no one who can listen to or understand you, believe in the power of the universe and trust that you will always find that one person. 

If at all you need yourself to be heard, you just need to reach out and not find your resort in the mindless games and challenges. There are more people than you can imagine who are there to help you. It can be a stranger, like I am to you at this point in time or someone in whom you can feel comfortable to confine to. 

If you feel that you want to be heard anonymously, please feel free to connect to me. Or may be reach out to  Aasra (022 2754 6669) - 24x7. "

The moment you come in contact with a kid, who is super close to you, you suddenly feel too emotional and responsible in life. That is exactly what happened to me after I became an aunt. Azad helped me in bringing back the emotional quotient that I had completely lost earlier.

Anything in this big, bad world, which relates to kids (when I say that, I mean tiny tots to the teenagers) scares me. The recent thing which caught my attention was the Blue Whale Challenge. Now, this is a mindless "game" which was allegedly invented by a Russian psychology student with a very sick mentality(for obvious reasons!) to clean the society.

Image Source

When I was a kid, I adapted very well to the emerging technologies - internet and other things. And the following generations are even quicker than what I was. They know how to operated the complex of the gadgets even before they start teething. And it's no exaggeration! Therefore, the young parents, needless to say the young uncles and aunts, need to be extra cautious with what the kids are searching and watching and using on the phones and tabs and laptops.

A young mind is vulnerable. The time when your body is undergoing so many changes, you seek validation and acceptance. When you don't get that you  tend to look for ways to escape. And that is exactly when this so called game plays with the young minds. What makes it even more harmful is that it is spreading among the kids who are as young as seven. How? Ease of access to the digital world and of course, "word of mouth" publicity. Remember, this is an "internet" suicide game.

There are few quick things that you certainly would want to know about this fast spreading sensation.

This link also talks about the anti- challenges which are surfacing to help in combating the effects of this game.

And the parenting is not the only thing that should be blamed for popularization of such cultures. We, as a society, have failed big time. It is high time that we start talking about mental health and start treating it as a real thing. It is no taboo. Try to understand when your child(or anyone for that matter) really need helps. Every life is precious!

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

My Li'l Travel Book | Ao Nang, Krabi

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My Li'l Travel Book | Ao Nang, Krabi
Previously written : Phi Phi Islands

Just when I thought that I am done with the beach hopping and the next stop is going to be just another beach, Krabi town was standing just in front of me, ready to throw a surprise - on my face!

Very honestly, I slept through the whole ferry ride because I was tired, badly sun burned and was done with the sea waves and sun for sometime. I decided to go inside the ferry and take a good afternoon nap. And when I woke up, I was approaching this amazing beach of Ao Nang.

This was the first time that I was living in a hostel. And it was a completely different experience. This hostel has a funky name - Pop In Hostel. And it is not like any of the hostels that you see in any scary movie! This is clean, hygienic and emits extremely positive vibes.

As I said, this side of Krabi came with extremely different kind of experiences. Evening at the Pop In hostel was great - meeting other hostelers over barbecue themed dinner. But I have to admit, people from European countries are very scared of Indian people  - in general. We are infamous. Certainly!

We went to explore the streets later in the evening. All the places in Thailand have these li'l cafes, just at the corner of the streets and finding them is just overwhelming!

They have got a point!

We bumped into this very amazingly cute cafe called Fin. It had the perfect vibe for a holiday evening. Semi-open, at one corner of the street, and dimly lit with live music. I couldn't have asked for anything more!

It is always a good idea to try these cafes because they will offer the best of the local food. I had this opportunity to have freshly caught and grilled red snapper with lemon grass. It is traditionally savored with rice noodles and iceberg lettuce. And that is exactly what I did!

And this is when Umang and Rashi (my set of crazy people) decided to give my birthday surprise. The best birthday ever!

After a great night of music and dance, we retired to our hostel because we wanted to explore the town the next day. And that meant getting up early! The wonderful trip was reaching the end! *sigh*

Before going for a good night's sleep, we detoured to the Ao Nang beach for some sea- calmness. The view was certainly breath-taking!

The next morning, after a hearty breakfast, it was time for some fun. The breakfast at this hostel was nice and very, very affordable. The best part about this place was that you can rent scooters to move around. And this is exactly what we did. We rented scooters from the hostel itself (very reasonable - TBH 150 for 24 hours) and started searching for some "cool" places around!

The not-so-beast

I was a pillion rider with the best driver around. And I have never had such an amazing pillion riding experience in my entire life!

The roads are simply the way any road should be. Enticing - inviting you to drive. And trust me, with so much of cleanliness and those beautiful limestone walls with greenery all around you, you will fall in love with road trips. In my case, I fell in love with them even more.

And the weather was just the much needed cherry on the top!

And not just the highways, if you by mistake take some wrong turns, you will surely end up finding prettier roads.

When they say that the most beautiful journeys are unplanned, they say it for a reason. We had no plans whatsoever of renting a bike and then roaming around. We did that. We had no idea where we should go. We asked Google for help.

We started off for the renowned Emarald pool but thanks to the road signage, we changed our route to reach one beautiful place! The best part about the road signs of this place is that they know that they are tourism intensive place and they have put the most beautiful pictures beneath the name.

Inspired by the picture, we changed our destination to Pa Phru Tha Khlong Song Nam. And yet again, one of the best decision ever! This place is a li'l off beat and away from the major tourist destinations of Krabi. The entry fee here is TBH 100.

This is majorly a mangrove swamp made for nature walk. This place is the only fresh water area with an elevated trail to dig deeper into the jungle full of banyan trees, crabs and lizards.

Don't be sacred - these are just the roots of the flora around!

All right, so the above desciption did not come out that well but yes, this place is a li'l scary. So once you enter here, you see the swimming area and the path leading to the jungles. In case you are wondering about the name, it literally means a canal with two kinds of water.This is the place where the sea water and fresh water meet.

Miles to go!

The walk is beautiful and scary at the same time. Beautiful because you might never witness nature so closely. Scary because you are walking just above the water level and the water looks like it is home to some super wildlife.And on top of that, the jungle is dense with li'l source of light.

As you walk towards the ocean, the water starts to turn emarald and the roots of the trees are even more visible. And they are as creepy as they can get!

And then suddenly, we came across the source of the fresh water. It is small stream coming from some not so far away elevated land. This was a serene sight

Keeping the haunting vibes aside, this place is very pretty and quiet. And it is definitely worth a visit. I don't repent not going to the crowded emerald pool or the tiger cave.

This place is sheer beauty. And once you come out of this place, there are small snack stalls with all kinds of sea food and some very local sweets. I tried this amazing solidified milk sweet, whose name I keep on forgetting. I loved it - so much that I did not even wait to click its picture and finished it.

Then there was barbecued bananas served with condensed milk and coconut. I didn not like it much but yes, worth a try. I never imagined that bananas can be eaten like this!

What I loved here the most was the khanom bueang which is a crispy crepe with any filling that you desire. There were various jams like strawberry and blueberry. And very obviously, I opted for both of them. Very light and yummy, I probably had the best sweet snack in Thailand that day! Locally prepared by a loving Thai aunty, she made sure she was giving the best of her creations!

We then started for the Fossil Shell beach. We were tired and famished and by now the sun has started to shine as brightly as it can. Therefore, we decided to skip the tour to the beach. We took our halt near the Fossil shell beach, had a li'l lunch, shopped for pearls and then came back.

By the time everything finished, it was now the sunset time at the Ao Nang beach and there is no sunset on the beach that should be missed. Even if you don't do anything in Krabi, trust me you can sit at the Ao Nang promenade all day and you won't get regret it.

This side of Thailand is not commercialized much and you can just breathe free - away from people and crowd. While I was busy enjoying my peace, I heard someone ask to plan for the Walking Street at the night. No, I was not ready for it. Nope. 

But then, I had nothing else to do. The same roads which were so blissful during the day were scary at night. The Krabi walking Street is also known as the Mini Bangkok because of the wonderful shopping market. It was nothing like the walking streets of Phuket or Pattaya. Thank God for that!

Let me reiterate - Thailand is full of cute li'l stuff. I shopped for a lot of cute things! 

I couldn't take many pictures because I could either shop or shoot. And its no brainer that what I decided to do!

For me the next morning started at five. This side of the town did not let me witness the sunrise but yes, there were a lot to explore. I started off with Aditi. This time on the scooter because our 24 hours of rent was still not complete. 

We wandered off towards the villages and the views were amazing. I could finally spot elephants, real elephants among the limestone ones. 

We halted at the dead end of one of the village roads. There was this small cafe, which was still closed. Nevertheless, it had an open sitting area and we decided to venture out there.

Cute Viking ships!

Once inside, what we saw from there was one heavenly view. God, I have never been  left this speechless.

I was, for sometime, in a complete state of bliss and shock. I couldn't believe that I was witnessing something so beautiful, calm and tranquil. After spending our moments of introspection, we started off to go somewhere else, may be the ocean where this stream met.

But I don't know how, we reached a cemetry on the beach. This beach had no signs of human settlements near it.

I got back and decided to pin these places on the map or may be do a li'l research to know their names and location. But then I immediately dropped this idea. Some places should remain as they are perceived - unknown and just in the memories.

The last meal in Krabi made me sugar high. It was from some street cafe. However, one thing is for sure - Thailand will never leave you starving. There are so many options for both vegetarian and non-vegetarian people. I certainly loved the food here!

The first thing was this extremely sweet Kao Tom Mud which is made of rice, coconut milk and banana. These are served, tied with bamboo stripe.

Usually two Kao Tom Mud are tied together as this sweet is said to symbolize a couple. Sweet!

Then there was this deep fried bread called Pa Thong Ko, which also represents something interesting - two evil people, fried in hot oil. No matter what, they taste extremely lip smacking with the condensed milk/custard dip on the side. 

And never ever miss the traditional Thai coffee. This is super concentrated coffee with condensed milk. And you add water according to your taste, whenever you drink it. I decided to skip the water. The coffee tends to get stronger with time. So here how it goes - I did not add water and drank it after a pretty long time. And I should not talk about my coffee high now!

And with so many amazing memories, the Thailand trip was coming to an end. We started our  road trip to Phuket, where we were to spend the last night before saying a goodbye to this beautiful and surprising island. 

Till we meet again!

(Last day in Phuket)