Thursday, April 30, 2015

Have you met the intimidating species called The College Kid?

The tech generation! Photo Credit
If you look around you, you won't have to try hard to find this species. In fact, if you pay attention, you will find them everywhere. This species is typically young, usually phone in hand, staring at a screen, fingers typing furiously. And you are in for a surprise if you are fooled by their age and think you have the advantage! They are suave, self assured, well-informed, worldly wise and can toss all your life experience out of the window in no time. 

They are the cellphone generation. They are the products of their times. They are social media fanatics. They are tech geeks who can twirl technology on their finger tips and make it obey their commands. Barely out of college, they are already entrepreneurs, bloggers, volunteers at hyped events, lovers, exes and what not!  They foray into the world of grown ups with as much ease as they traverse the world of their dreams. They know what they want to be. And they also know if they don’t know what they want to be. And they are comfortable in their skin. 

While we struggle to keep the anachronistic notions of our times alive - sleep on time, finish your studies first, don’t waste money, life is hard work, success is not about money, no romance in school/college, beware of the opposite sex - they are busy rewriting rules they want to live by. They have taken huge strides towards fulfilling their dreams and college education is incidental to their plans. They have boyfriends and girlfriends at an age when we were clumsy kids barely able to manage ourselves. 

I don’t know whether it is technology or the zeitgeist of the times that has borne this brilliant generation that is well equipped to glide with the fast paced, maniac speed of the world today. Their brains work super fast. While we try to figure out the new fangled technology and pace of information online, they are completely clued in. And we just about scramble to keep pace with them. 

I surely feel intimidated by this new crop of geniuses! But no matter how dwarfed I sometimes feel by their enormous talent, it is heartening to know that the future of our country is in the hands of these wiz kids. Well equipped to stay with the times, they have just made life easier for themselves. I feel as long as they have the basic value system of respecting women and elders and being ethical in their dealings, our job is done. They are a generation exposed to the good and bad of the world. And a little hand holding is sufficient to ensure that they will change the face of the world for the better!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

How co-working spaces helped me afford an office

In a city like Mumbai, real estate is the most expensive thing ever. No wonder, every house is like a match box. (Apart from some old colonies, which to my envious enlightenment, are mammoth at a few thousand sq feet!). In such a scenario, it's almost impossible to find an office space for a start up. Unless you have deep pockets or your papaji has left you a fortune to throw away. The expense of real estate has always been the reason why I couldn't run a business that requires physical space. So I did the next best thing. I went and bought virtual real estate. Which was not just cheaper but also gave me the flexibility to adorn it the way I want.

While setting up my blog has been a great experience, it is also constant work of bringing in ideas and writing them down in a unique and interesting manner. And to be able to let the creative juices flow, I had to have a space which binds me in the discipline of working. I realised I needed some actual real estate as well to be able to do that. To get me away from the din of household affairs, ringing door bells and the bane of every woman - the ever overflowing laundry basket! But knowing the Mumbai real estate scene, I kept ignoring the demand till it became too pressing to be ignored anymore. And that's when I considered getting my own space through this brilliant concept in Mumbai called Co-working spaces. Or shared offices. Or community workplace, as I'd like to call it.  I had been to one of those about a year ago for a meeting and instantly fell in love with the space. And the time had come to explore it. Research showed that there were quite a few places which had the same - some even better - concept. I went with the one I already had seen and it was also closer home.

How do co-working spaces work

One can rent out a single desk or take up 2-3 desk space for a team. There are cabins available for people who may want closed spaces for the whole team or who have meetings frequently. Each requirement is covered under a different plan. The office space is done up with infrastructure and is maintained for you. There's fast wifi, coffee machine, a common meeting room, pantry to limit the aroma of awesome food and well maintained toilets. 

I love my new office - technically, it is my 'office'

My little corner in my new office

What I love about co-working spaces

1. Affordable: It's bright with motivational posters on the walls. And there are lockers to leave your stuff in. It's a real office! And affordable in a place like Mumbai. I have a flexible plan where I can use it for any 10 days of the month. This works fine for me since I need to get my own space and time to ideate and get work done in a block of few hours. 

2. In office without a boss: I am in an office but I don't have to bother about a boss. Sometimes, in the lethargy of post lunch drowsiness, I have a sense of deja vu about sitting in my old office in a similar state. The low din of office noises adding to the sluggish ennui. I get the same feeling but I don't have to hide in some cubicle to catch a wink if I wish to do so. I can just put my head down on my desk and have a shameless nap right there! :) 

3. Peek into others' office spaces: While I work there as an individual, I can see the office life of other teams around. The chit chat during lunch break, sharing their food and the banter during work. I may sit quietly in my space but the people around do perk up my work life with their conversations. In fact, shifting to a slightly noisy space felt more comfortable than the desk I used to sit at with people working quietly on their laptops. 

What I don't like about co-working spaces

1. Sitting among strangers: While this is not exactly a con, sometimes I am acutely aware of sitting among strangers. I know no one, I talk to no one and just sit there doing my work. That gets a little odd sometimes. Hopefully, it will get better with my regular visits and some friends. 

2. Public phone calls: Some people have no phone etiquette. They'll step out of their cabin to take a call not realising that there are others who are sitting and working at our 'common' desks. That irks me a bit. 

As you can see, I have more positive things to say about co-working spaces than against them. 

The good news is that you can find this option is many cities across the country. There are a lot of options to explore like The Playce (also on Facebook), Breathing Room and many more. You can choose from multiple options and plans to suit your needs and have an office of your own! 

Drop in a line if you have been to one such place and how has your experience been.

PS: This is not a sponsored post and views of my own

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Why you should check out LiL Flea in Mumbai

What does a woman want to brighten up her boring friday evening? The prospect of shopping, perhaps? Yes!! And that's exactly what had me decide to check out Lil Flea in Bandra for the first time. And this is one of those times when I feel that I do not do justice to living in this wonderful city which has so many fun things to offer! Anyway, I digress here. So, when a friend of mine mentioned this market as a place where Raghu Dixit would be performing, it had me excited. But I reached exhilaration when I checked online to discover that along with good music, there were going to be shops!! And, of course, food. And thus began my first visit to a flea market.

The place is just about 20 minutes from where I live. The exact details of the location on the website ensure you don't have to look around a lot. You can sense the festive vibe right at the first glance. It's colourful and decorated all around. 

The central stage at the LiL Flea for the concerts
The unique seating gives a very casual, comforting and informal feel to the space. You can see swings hanging and cots with pillows for people to sprawl on, if you wish. 

(L) The swings were a favourite with everyone; (R) And that's how you spend a relaxing Friday evening!

But guess what's the first thing I started off with? The shops! (or pop up) Neatly lined and full of goodies. You can see the bursting colours in the stalls making it look like I was in some Diwali fair!

The vibrant and colourful line up of pop ups! 

Stalls with ethnic kurtis, jootis, accessories, mugs, stationery, bags/purses/clutches and a lot more - all vying for my attention. For a few moments, my head seemed to be following a tennis ball in action moving from left to right. And I also wished I had eyes at the back of my head! It was hard to decide where to stop and what to buy.

And then I happened to stop at this amazing stall called Adorables with pretty unique merchandise. It had wooden pegs for holding your bills and other papers. But what caught my attention was a set of smooth stones with pictures painted on them. Aptly called, Story Potli, each set has 5 such stones in a cloth bag. Kids, should suit under 10 years, can take out stones at random and start creating stories. I think it's a brilliant way to get kids' creativity flowing and the variety that you can introduce is endless! They could use as less or as many stones or add as many twists to their stories. And I think such events are so great to bring out such unique things unheard of amidst the commercial crowd of retail.

Find them using #Adorables on Instagram and on Facebook

As I finished looking around the shops, I could feel fragrant aroma of food wafting through the air and knew that food wasn't far away. And the rumbling in my stomach told me that it was time too! I could see fresh kebabs sizzling on skillets, biryani being served in plates and whole range of mouth watering desserts neatly lined in glass cases! I was waiting for my friends but the culinary assault on my nose and eyes was too much for me to wait. I dug into chicken fingers by Bawi Bride, popular for catering Parsi food in Mumbai. Goofy's pork burger and famous spicy chicken wings by Street Kings are other recommendations.

And then came the highlight of the day - The Raghu Dixit concert! The band spun magic yarns with their music and idiosyncratic sense of humour. He kept the crowd mesmerised and energetic by belting out popular numbers one after the other. The good thing about such a concert was that the crowds weren't overwhelming. Being a Friday evening, when people had to come from work - and I guess not many look for concerts in a flea market - there were a small crowd of people who knew the music and loved it.
(Warning: Raghu seems to have a huge problem with people typing into their phones during the concert. He told off a couple of people - one of them during a song - pretty strictly. You may want to remember that the next time)

The Raghu Dixit Project
A couple of tips: Carry cash because cards are not accepted. And avoid heels so you can comfortably walk around and still have the energy for the concerts. Also, leave your husbands with kids at the art corner where they can indulge in their creativity with play doh and colours while you shop away to glory!

Creativity corner for kids with play doh and colours

The LiL Flea is a great experience, even if you don't shop. It happens multiple times a year and you may want to keep tabs on for the next one. Drop me a line if you made it to this one and let me know what you thought about it.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Get travel ready with 27coupons!

Travel arrangements can be quite hectic! Photo credit

Holidays are just around the corner. And the heat is getting unbearable. What better way to chill out than to travel to cooler climes. Spend some quality family time. And come back with memories for a lifetime. Vacations are fun. But planning them can be stressful. Finding the right dates with the right flights, the stay, food, recreation, entertainment ...Phew! I love to travel but sometimes just the thought of all the planning puts me off. Plus, with the summer holidays around, the flights and hotel rates spiral through the roof. And annual vacations, if not planned well, can throw budgets off kilter. How I wish there were discounts and additional discounts to help us save precious bucks and yet have the time of our lives! So time to hunt for those special offers that can save you from digging a hole in your pocket. 

The internet is full of travel sites, we have used at one point or the other, to make our travel plans easier. My favourite has been I have been using the site for about 7 years now since I was first initiated into the world of travel planning by my ever voyaging husband. And since then it has been my first go-to place for flights, hotels and trains. It is quick, easy, gives you all the options available and helps you book in a jiffy. It also has offers and cash back on various credit cards and return flights. 

But what has added new wings to my vacation dreams is additional discounts that 27coupons can get me on cleartrip. I recently came across the site and discovered to my delight the whole range of discounts they have to offer on a variety of products. Food, books, electronics, entertainment, home decor, fashion and pretty much anything you can think of. 

But what caught my eye were the unbelievable discounts on travel! And that’s definitely a bonus while planning a long overdue break. Their summer sale offers upto 50% cash back on domestic flights and huge discounts on international travel. They also have combo deals if you wish to book your flights and stay together. I was happy to find some codes that apply to cancellation of hotel bookings at no extra penalty. I love such deals because I can choose to change hotels to better options without a penalty. The deals are available across airlines so that you can travel on the airline of your choice and still benefit. 27coupons accept most credit and debit cards making it easier to fit it into my usual booking process. The coupons are easy to redeem by just adding the coupon code while booking. 

There couldn’t be more exciting news for frequent travellers like me. The discount savings straight go into me shopping kitty. 27coupons has added that zing to my vacation planning because, let’s accept it - who doesn’t like discounts! I am adding it to my travel planner along with cleartrip. Looks like a winning combination to me! 

You may want to read other posts that I have written on my travel experiences here: 

4 tips to travel safe as a woman

This is a sponsored post written for 

Friday, April 3, 2015

Why this is the best time to be alive!

This is the best time to be alive! Photo Credit
This is the best time to be alive!

The prevalent zeitgeist is so full of positive affirmation. The vibe is favourable and promising to engage and indulge in whatever you feel like. The profession you want to be in. Or the person you don’t want to be. No, I am not brimming with misplaced exuberance. I know there are still rapes, murders and other atrocities. We do not live in a perfect world. But the world seems to have changed for the better in a lot of ways and in unprecedented leaps and bounds in the last 5 years or so. And, to me, most of it is change for the better. Seriously, my generation seems pretty anachronistic in today’s times if we don’t catch up with the times. 

The change is evident everywhere. Let’s look at the most common thing to affect all our lives - gadgets. The sheer number and variety for every possible need is mind boggling! The shapes, sizes and sleekness is a testimony to how far we have moved. When I think of my first cellphone, I am reminded of a thick, black brick! I am sure kids in their 20s today would refuse to even touch it. We no longer have to carry heavy laptops around. PC is a relic of the past. Ipads, kindles and their ilk have made browsing, reading easier. There are devices just to indulge in the pleasure of gaming. There are better headphones and bigger televisions. 

And to complement it all, there’s internet in the air, literally! Connectivity is the buzzword! And the kind of connectivity we have today blows my mind away. When I sent my first SMS to my friend more than a decade ago, it seemed no short of a miracle that she could read it instantly. And why not! We were, so far, used to writing reams of pages and waiting for days for the letter to arrive. (And STD calls cost an arm and a leg)

Even though, 24/7 internet is a more recent thing in my life, I sometimes wonder how I lived without it for so long. Google is my friend, guide, mentor, decision maker and what not! And when people ask what something is, I judge them! You shouldn’t ask for objective information when you have Google! And as I discover the new treats of connectivity, my belief about living in the best time ever gets stronger. I have ordered food online! I call for a cab online. And Google Maps ensures I am never lost in any part of the country! I have booked office space for just 3 hours online. I have bought onions and potatoes online! 

Thanks to connectivity, no one is too far away. You can see your grand kids grow through your computer screen. You can download apps for travel, to share pictures - even add filters to make you look more beautiful - and videos instantly, music, shopping, weather and the list is endless. 

But what I find the most fascinating about our times now - and which has had the most impact on the fabric of our society today - is the liberty to be exactly who you want to be. Gender and age no bar. Pursue your dreams. Follow your heart. Love cooking? Be a chef. Even if you are man. Love music? Grow your hair and make independent music. Stuck at home with an infant? Start a blog and tell the world about your passion. Want to change the world? Start a revolution on social media. Can’t find a job? Be an entrepreneur. 

We live in times when people get free food and are paid to write reviews about it. Food bloggers! People make money out of telling you what colours to wear. Image consultants! You can just sit home and write full time to make money. Bloggers! No matter what you want to do, you’ll find support. And it’s easier to connect with like minded people, thanks to social media. No place is too far and no information inaccessible. 

Have I missed out on something. Go ahead and add it in your comments. Would love to hear your ideas on what makes these the best times for you!