Sunday, October 27, 2013

Teaching your child to be environmentally aware

Good habits that are instilled in childhood are never forgotten. It is never too early to begin teaching your child to be environmentally aware. Each one of us has a responsibility towards Mother Earth. Although most schools do have environmental studies as a part of their curriculum, real education always begins at home.




While terms such as “carbon footprint” may be too complex to explain to children, the simplest way to teach children to be eco friendly is by making them avoid wastage of resources. It is good to explain to them that there are many children in our world who do not get enough food, water and other things such as electricity that we often take for granted. Parents can teach even young kids simple good habits like switching the lights and fan off when not in use, turning the tap off while brushing and not wasting food and paper.

Children learn better and faster when the learning process is made fun. Try to engage your child in fun activities like craft projects that make use of waste materials that you would usually throw out. With a little imagination you could use newspapers to make envelopes, carry bags and paper mache articles with your child. Old plastic bottles and containers could become interesting pen holders, flower vases, piggy banks,  miniature pots for indoor plants or herbs for your kitchen window. A cardboard shoebox could be made into a decorated jewellery box. Bigger cardboard boxes could become a dollhouse! A touch of creativity could make wonderful things out of simple thermocol that you usually throw out. Unused pages from old notebooks could be gathered and stapled together to make a notepad for drawing or writing.

When your child is old enough to understand, you could explain why trees are very important for the ecosystem. You could plant seeds together and watch the plant grow. This will  become an interesting method for your child to learn about how plants grow while teaching them to care for the plants daily. The sense of responsibility that your child will develop towards that single plant will eventually be extended towards nature in general. You could allow your child to select plants from a nursery and choose a spot in a suitable open area where they can plant it. Encourage your child to look after the plant and watch his awareness towards other plants and trees in the surroundings increase.

Use your imagination to give your child ideas. Have fun together by teaching your child to look at a piece of waste and imagine what it could become. In time, children will learn to use their own imagination and creativity. This certainly beats watching cartoons all day!

You could also browse the internet for fun craft projects that make the best use of waste articles. Such projects will enable you to spend some quality time with your child while doing something creative, productive and educational.

Children who are old enough to read can be given easy reading material about the environment and related issues. It would be good to read with them so that you can encourage discussions about the topic. You could discuss pollution, why it is important to conserve energy and water, how to avoid littering and other such topics.

 To increase a child’s interest in adopting and advocating an eco friendly lifestyle, involve their friends group by conducting a painting competition with an eco friendliness theme or spend an evening making the “best of waste” .

Use these ideas and watch your kids put their resourcefulness and imagination to use as they learn the concepts through creative projects. While they get to proudly display their talent, you will have the satisfaction of knowing that they have learnt good things.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Chase your dreams..they are all you've got

Do you remember the list of things you wanted to be “when you grew up”? Now that youre all “grown up”,are you everything that you wished you would turn out to be? Chances are, like grown ups usually end up doing, you made a series of compromises and traded off most or all of your dreams to become something that is far less than you wished to be as a child. But does it really have to be that way?
There may be a number of reasons why you discarded your dreams and settled for a “lesser’ life. I refer to it as such because if your life is nothing close to what you hoped it would be once you stopped taking your parents’ or elders’ advice about everything, you are actually living a “lesser” life.
A life that is presently not the life you dreamt of once upon a time, is a lesser life.
If you really sit down and think of what you really want in life, of what would really make you happy, you may have one definite answer or a list of answers that you could prioritise and still achieve – no matter what your current situation in life is. I’m addressing EVERYONE here. I’m talking to the teenager who hopes to be Miss Universe someday, the CA student who secretly wishes to be a cartoonist, a 50 year old who wishes to learn dancing and perform on stage someday, a salaried employee who wishes to be a millionaire someday.

Why do we let go of our dreams so easily…almost as soon as they are born in our being?
Unfortunately, your circle of friends and family members isn’t always the safest place for your dream to thrive. Often, well meaning advice or light hearted teasing could actually discourage a person from following their heart’s desire. For example, almost everyone laughs at the guy who openly says he wishes to be a famous movie star someday. The fear of such negative reactions makes people keep their desire a secret rather than have it insensitively shot down by people whose opinions really matter.


Napoleon Hill highlighted in his book, “Whatever the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve”.

Chase your dreams. They are all you've got.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

My 'ghostly' experience!

I believe that ghosts exist. Spirits, rather. And I am more than happy to "live and let live" (I dont know if that is an appropriate expression in this case) when it comes to them. I dont believe they can harm us for no reason but surely, they like to make their presence known.

I say this because of the many stories I have heard. I myself have had one experience that I cannot put down to logic.

I think it was in 2006 or 2007, when I was working at Firstsource solutions. As usual I reached a long time before my 12:30 pm shift began. Our "floor", as we call it, had around 100 or 120 seats and systems - the PC, keyboard and headset in front of each workstation. I clearly remember I was the only person on the entire floor. I walked in and chose my favorite spot, not far away from the exit. The glass windows that were tightly shut at all times ensured that any noise from outside stayed outside.

As I logged in to the PC, I could hear what sounded like someone typing on the keyboards at the farthest end of the room. I turned and looked at that row of PCs. There was nobody there and I couldnt help remembering what my friends used to say about that row of PCs. It was where our Quality Analysts sat, and  there were rumors that those last two rows of PCs were 'haunted'. People doing the last shift often said they heard typing sounds from that row even when nobody was there. Poor Quality Analysts are overworked as it is, perhaps the weary keyboards kept working even after they left? It wasnt something we thought much about.

I dismissed it as my imagination and concentrated on my PC, although hearing that typing noise getting louder I did feel very nervous. Now I just wanted to open a of the necessary applications quickly, lock the PC and leave. I was standing as I opened the notepad, typed in the passwords for a few appliucations..I'd run away as soon as I was done!

I noticed the sound stopped. Atleast it seemed that way to me. Thats when it happened. I heard a distinct 'Shh shhh.." from that last row. The kind of noise you make to attract an unknown person's attention. I froze. I kid you not, I FROZE. My mother had told me once, it is said that in such eerie situations when you hear a noise like that or hear someone calling out your name, you shouldnt turn back to look. But what the hell, when you know there is nobody else in a sound proof room and still hear such a sound, you WILL turn back to look. It is just mindless reflex action1 Besides, isnt that what the actors in horror movies do? They turn to look. And they see the ghost. Only, I didnt.

I looked hard, almost as if straining my eyes would give me some supernatural power to see ghosts. I didnt see anything but I felt really cold. I think It happens when you are shit scared, all your blood rushes to your brain or someplace else and you feel cold. I could hear my heart pound as I softly pressed Ctrl-Alt-del to bring up the screen to quickly lock the PC and get out of there..in the 2 seconds that it took for that screen to come up, I heard that sound again, VERY CLEARLY and as if it was MUCH CLOSER to me, maybe a row behind me.."SHH SHHHH"..

Thats it..locked or not locked, I quickly walked towards the exit with that cold feeling, as if I was wrapped in a blanket of cold. I cant remember why I didnt run, but the exit which was only 15 steps away felt like it was really far away. I didnt turn back this time.

As soon as I stepped out of the floor and the door closed behind me, I felt warm again and I rushed into the canteen to be amongst human beings again!

I found my friend having lunch (Shreya, if you are reading this) and the words wouldnt leave my mouth faster as I narrated my experience to her. She dismissed it as nonsense, of course. You never believe such things until it happens to you.

I have thought about that experience often. No matter how many times I think of it, I cannot justify those sounds. They were just too clear to dismiss as some coincidence. I know I wasnt imagining things. And I know I wont dismiss ghost stories as nonsense ever again!


Sunday, June 2, 2013

The wife and the TV

At 4 pm her mind alerts her, "I should keep the house neat..my beloved will be home in a few hours".
With a tune on her lips she begins cleaning the house. Surely her maid couldnt add the 'touch of love' that only the woman of the house can bring to an already clean house. A woman who loves a house and its inhabitants makes it a 'home'..she makes it  heaven.

While spreading her care and love to reach corners of the house where even sunshine cant, she tends to her sweet child whom she loves more than her own self. "Little baby..your darling Papa will be home soon, tired and weary. He works hard for us, sticking to a job he dosent enjoy. Just so that he can provide for us. Lets make the home beautiful and welcoming. Let this home welcome him and embrace him with our love.."
Time flies soon as she makes her house a home.."Its 5 pm, an hour to go for our beloved to come home. Let me prepare some snack for him to eat.."

There..its ready. Oh look at me..I look like a mess. Let me make myself presentable and dress baby up as well..
Its 6 pm now..what is keeping him?
Its 6:15 pm..did he miss the bus?
Its going to be 6:30 pm..oh there, the doorbell rings..My love is home!
8 pm...his favorite movie is on.
8:45 pm..I'm sure he has seen this one before.
9:00 pm..Have I become that boring? Is he plain used to me?
9:30 pm..I wish TV would interest me as much as it interests him..
9:45 pm..I wish I were as interesting as the TV..
10:00 pm..let me just have dinner and go lie down with my thoughts.
11:00 pm..I wish I were as interesting as the TV
12 - I wish I were as interesting as the TV..
12:20 I wish I were as interesting as the TV..
8 am: I wish I were as interesting as the TV..

4 pm.. her mind alerts her, "I should keep the house neat..my beloved will be home in a few hours".

Sunday, May 19, 2013

E Cigarettes – no smoke, all fire?


E Cigarettes – no smoke, all fire?

Everyone offers their two cents to the smoker looking to quit the habit. Well meaning advice could range from taking up a hobby to chewing nicotine gum or wearing a nicotine patch. Electronic cigarettes may prove to be a useful aid to slowly wean smokers who have tried and failed at quitting cold turkey.

Giving up a harmful habit is easier if the process is less stressful. E cigarettes are made to simulate the experience of smoking without the harmful effects of actually inhaling smoke. While some users report that the seemingly better alternative has helped them battle their craving for a smoke, it is yet to be proven that E cigarettes are a completely safe replacement for cigarettes.

So how do e cigarettes work?

E cigarettes basically work using a battery operated heating element that turns the liquid contained in a cartridge into vapor. The liquid comprises of an array of chemicals alongwith nicotine and small traces of the same substances found in a normal cigarette. The cartridge can be replaced as often as required.

Conventional cigarettes vs E Cigarettes

Nicotine is the main cause of addiction to conventional cigarettes. While using less harmful replacement methods such as a nicotine patch, for example, may take care of the nicotine craving, it does little to address the behavioral aspects of the addiction. Smokers miss the entire smoking experience, not just the nicotine. E cigarettes aim to satisfy the nicotine craving while emulating the feel of holding and experiencing a conventional cigarette.

Since e cigarettes involve vaporization instead of combustion of nicotine, the tar deposits in the oral cavity and lungs of a smoker will not be found in users of e cigarettes.

The repulsive smell of tobacco and second hand smoke are other issues that e cigarettes do away with. E cigarettes offer their users the flexibility of choosing different concentrations of nicotine in the cartridges. Users can gradually phase out their dependence on nicotine until they are ready to completely quit the addiction.
While e cigarettes do contain varying levels of nicotine and other chemicals, the main ingredient is  propylene glycol which is used in beauty products, food coloring and other products in safe quantities. It is believed that the exposure to chemical and nicotine vapors from an e cigarette is hardly as detrimental to health as the smoke that emanates from a conventional cigarette that burns a  concentrated mix of nicotine and over 3000 chemicals.

In the long run, the monthly cost of replacing the cartridge of an e cigarette works out to be considerably lesser than that of the number of boxes of  cigarettes bought to last a month.

According to a study by researchers at the Boston University School of Public Health, 31 percent of respondents surveyed reported successfully stopped smoking for a six month period using e cigarettes. Even traditional nicotine replacement therapy products such as gums, lozenges, patches and puffers only had a success rate of between 12 and 18 per cent.

The downside of using e Cigarettes

Young people who are not allowed to smoke conventional cigarettes may be unwittingly drawn to e cigarettes as they seem harmless due to inadequate health warnings and regulation on their sales.e Cigarettes are available in many flavors as well, making them even more attractive to youngsters who may be unaware of the nicotine content in them. It may in fact, be the a youngster’s first step towards smoking because however negligible, e cigarette cartridges still do contain nicotine.
There is an acute lack of empirical evidence backed by scientific and/or medical research to determine how safe or harmful e cigarettes really are. Until this issue is addressed, it is really a case of ‘buyer beware’.

Innovative devices!


Those futuristic devices you saw in Star Trek and the Jetsons are no longer wishful thinking. We take a look at some intelligent, innovative e-devices:

‘Inhale’ delicious desserts to skip calories!

Based on studies which prove that the sense of smell triggers feelings of ‘fullness’, which in turn reduces our appetite, Vaportrim inhalers are an innovative way to satiate cravings for delicious desserts by inhaling vapors of different desserts. Around 75 percent of what we taste is actually smell. Users can take advantage of this unique taste – smell connection to inhale flavored vapors and indulge in tasty treats without piling on the calories.

Your own robot maid!

Cleaning tops the list of most mundane and tiresome chores that we just have to do. Cleaning robots are a dream come true. Leave the vacuuming to  robot vacuum cleaners that have in built sensors to move away from obstacles and continue cleaning.

A spoon that monitors your sodium intake

The Salinity Monitor Spoon will prove useful for people suffering from hypertension or health conscious people who want to keep a tab on their sodium intake.
The electronic spoon works like a thermometer and displays the sodium content of food. It can be dipped into hot or cold food like soups and sauces, within the temperature range of 60 - 8080°C. The LCD display on the spoon flashes three ranges of sodium content: 0.6–0.8 percent, 0.9–1.1 percent, and over 1.2 percent.
E-cigarettes – the preferred alternative to conventional cigarettes
E cigarettes simulate the experience of smoking a conventional cigarette while replacing carcinogenic tar smoke created due to burning a cigarette, with vapors of nicotine. These vapors contain far a far lesser amount of the harmful chemicals and nicotine than the smoke emanating from a cigarette. E cigarettes can be used by those looking to kick the smoking habit slowly.
E cigarettes use cartridges contain the liquid which turns to vapor when the device is used. These cartridges are available in various flavors and containing different levels of nicotine concentration. In the long run, the cost of these replaceable cartridges works out to be far lesser than the cost of packets of conventional cigarettes.

A syringe that takes the ‘bite’ out of bug bites
CLICK is a non-medical device shaped like a syringe that functions with piezoelectricity – the generation of electrical currents by the compression or expansion of quartz and similar crystalline substances.

Using CLICK like a syringe, the user can reduce local reactions to insect bites. Itches, burns, pains and swelling can be reduced in minutes by the reduction or inhibition of histamine.
CLICK requires no battery or other energy source and does not release chemical substances. It is an eco friendly solution to alleviate the effects of any irritating or poisonous substance introduced under the skin by an insect bite by applying pressure to render them ineffective.

A headset that converts noise into energy

Noise cancelling headsets are nothing new anymore. But the Green Noise Bluetooth Headset will make you sit up and take notice because of its ability to actually convert high decibels into usable energy. Now not only can you block noise, you could harness it to power your headset!

WiFi Plant Sensor to make gardening effortless

The Koubachi indoor WiFi plant sensor allows you to feed and water up to 27 household plants. Forget worrying about when, how often and how much to water your plants. Koubachi can calculate a specific care plan covering specifics like water usage rate, light and temperature needs. It allows you to check on your plants using iPhone or Web App from wherever you are.  You no longer need to depend on neighbors to water your plants while you’re away!
Process contactless MasterCard payments using a wristwatch
Watch2pay is a wristwatch that makes contactless MasterCard payments possible. The in-built 'break-out card', which is a MasterCard PayPass prepaid card enables you to hold the watch to a shop’s card reader to make a payment in all places that MasterCard PayPass is used.
This intelligent device gives you freedom from carrying wads of cash. It comes with a free MasterCard PayPass prepaid card that is valid for 2 years. Once the card is activated online and you have credited cash into the account, the watch is ready to go.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Hennes & Mauritz plans to spend 130 M to open chain of stores in India




Hennes & Mauritz, a Swedish multinational retail-clothing company,  plans to spend around 100 million euros ($130 million) to open a chain of 50 stores in India. The company’s interest in India’s potential market is fueled by India’s growing population and rising incomes.

 A sizeable section of the population in Asia's third-largest economy now has the spending power to catch up with fast-changing fashions.

The plan to enter the Indian market is a part of the company’s larger expansion plans. Fredrik Olsson, head of expansion at the world's second-biggest fashion retailer, said in an interview that the Swedish group would continue a rapid rollout of stores across the world as it aims to stand up to larger rival Inditex.

H&M has been able to hold its own even in a faltering global economy by focusing on bringing catwalk styles to the mass market at a fraction of the price.

H&M has around 2,800 stores in 49 countries and about 80 per cent of sales come from Europe.

According to Olsson, H&M had made an investment application to the Indian government, adding the figures were just an estimate. He did not give a time-frame for the opening of a first store in the country.

Speaking to Reuters at H&M's headquarters in downtown Stockholm's shopping district, he said, "It is a very interesting market with a huge population and a growing middle class."

Lately  H&M has been adding other brands to its core H&M chain, such as & Other Stories, to broaden its customer base.

H&M would start selling with the core H&M brand in India and has applied to sell nine different product categories.

Many  international retailers, including Swedish budget furniture chain IKEA, are eager to expand into India after its government moved last year to allow foreign firms to set up wholly-owned subsidiaries in the country.

Indian retail consultancy Technopak estimates that the textile and clothing market in the country would more than double to $141 billion by 2021, from $58 billion in 2012.