Sweet Toast of Love

Visit to my sister-in-law's place in Singapore and the first thing that comes to my mind is the awesome Kaya toast. Kaya toast is prepared with kaya,sugar, coconut milk. butter and eggs. It is normally served for breakfast as a toast along with coffee.

I came across this during my visit in 2013. I had some work in Ang Mo Kio are and i took MRT from Queenstown to Ang Mo Kio MRT Station. It was around 7AM in the morning and i had missed to eat breakfast at my place. By the time i reached Ang Mo Kio MRT Station i was famished and hunted to see a coffee shop. As i was searching my eyes fell on Ya Kun Kaya Toast joint. It was fairly crowded and I assumed they serve best coffee. As i entered the place, I got the aroma of Kaya everywhere and asked them about it. Then i ordered a plate myself along with coffee. What came blew me totally away. 


There were slices of Kaya toast along with pieces of boiled egg and a huge mug of coffee. From what it appeared it seemed a huge breakfast for me. I started with a small bite and was unstoppable from there. The toast was simply delicious and became my favorite. 

From then on, every-time I wanted to eat outside I always searched for Ya Kun Kaya Toast joints in that area. In fact these days many have it for snacks as well. What started as a breakfast option, is now even seen as a snack at many places. This toast is easily available at many places in Singapore. You can get it in every corner from food court stalls, MRT Station to outlets in shopping malls. 

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A day in my life - My Moto

I came across this beautiful quote by Lee Konitz. First love deserves that place as it is special and memorable. Remember the first time you got a new watch you still treasure it even though its ages old now, even though it may or may not be working. I still do that. Likewise first laptop, first camera and the list goes on. If i choose Moto E as my first smartphone it would be special to me. I will be totally dependent and hooked to my phone. It means everything to me. Let me run you through a day in my life and will show you how addicted I am to my phone.

Time: 6AM

The alarm on my phone rings and wakes me up. I get to set a tone for my alarm and set my day. It gives me the option to set multiple alarm and snooze options so that i push myself out of bed.

Time: 6:30AM

I can just pop-in the earphones and go for a nice morning run listening to audio-books. With running apps in my phone i get to know the pace of my run along with the calories burned for the day. Also by listening to the audio-books, i keep myself engaged and gain some personal development.

Time: 7-8AM

As i am having my morning coffee, i can plan my day and prepare my to-do lists on the phone. I can set reminders on what needs to be done for the day and schedule everything on my phone and calendar app.  If i would want to have some music on while getting ready for work, i can easily play the music app and still set the tone for the day.

Time: 9AM

As i get ready to leave for work, my phone shows the maps and guides me the way. It can also update me the status of traffic and any diversions i have to take on my way.

Time: 11AM

My phone alerts me of my mid morning break which means i need to go for a quick walk and also hydrate myself with water. This is the time that automatically reminds me to have my snacks. While doing this i can attend calls, check mails and other messages.

Time: 1PM

My phone alerts me for lunch. I can then go through the news through App while having a wonderful lunch. This allows me to multitask and get all the updates happening around.

Time: 3PM

During tea break, my phone is the rescue to catch on any updates on Facebook and other social media and be connected with my folks. With the front camera feature, I can easily take some selfie pictures and share them across to my friends and family.

Time: 6PM 

On my way back from work, i like to listen to my favorite list of calm and peaceful songs to de-stress after a busy day at work. 

Time: 9PM

After having dinner, i would update my food journal app with my daily food intake so I can keep track of the calories consumed. I then take some time to blog of my day from my phone.

Time 11PM

With all this done, i know that the battery life still soaring. Then i get back to bed with my phone next to me and retire for the day!

So you can see how dependent I am on my phone and how it means so much to my life. I am thankful that I get to choose Moto E as my first smartphone as it provides all these and many more awesome features without requiring you to spend a lot of money. It is packed with the right touch and style for today's generation.

This post is written for new Moto E. Please visit http://www.startwithmotoe.com/

Breakfast with Guptaji’s family

When my work timings shifted to morning 7 am, i was glad that i could be home early by 4 pm. But there was one thing worrying me and that was about having breakfast. With this work timings, there was no way that I could prepare lunch at home and take for work. Forget breakfast. I planned to get food from our office cafeteria.

For years i have always skipped breakfast and hogged on my lunch. Staying with roommates, for few days I would get up and have coffee before leaving for work. But on some day I would even skip coffee if i got up late.

While at work, my team would gather at 9 am for breakfast. I would get to taste amazing items brought by my team mates and share my sandwich which i got from office cafeteria with them. So many of them would get their breakfasts and other food from home even though they had to get up early. In particular there was one collegue Shalu Gupta who most the most awesome breakfast items out of cornflakes.  One day she got Almond Strawberry Cornflakes while another day she would get Choco Cornflakes Peanut Chikki. Yes you read it right cornflakes chikki. I was bowled over on seeing it. When asked how she gets time to prepare them she said it just takes 10 minutes. I was completely astonished. In just 10 minutes she prepares such wonderful breakfast items with so much varieties by adding cornflakes. This also makes them healthy and easily doable. Everyday she would get some new variety. I realized that not only me but everyone around would come over and take a bite from her breakfast.

For a foodie lover like me, tasting a bite from Shalu's box became a daily routine. In fact i always look forward for what she has got for the day. When it just takes so less time for preparation i am amazed at the variety that can be made for breakfast. All this makes me just wonder if i get to go to Shalu Gupta's house, i might be able to get many wonderful ideas for breakfast. Guptaji’s family definitely has an amazing list of recipes for every occasion and everyone must just be dying to visit their house. Maybe if i would go to her house during Ganesh Chaturthi, she would offer me Cornflake Sesame Modaks/Dumplings. If i would go to her house during summer, they might offer me to have cool Chunky Monkey Shakes which are not only tasty and delicious but also healthy as it has cornflakes added to it.

If i get an opportunity to visit their house, i would love to learn the different recipes from them. If i can start doing that in my home and teach them to my family, even we could have healthy breakfast everyday with great variety. With the rush of busy mornings, it is very easy to skip breakfast in between our list of other priorities. But a quick and easy breakfast can definitely be magic. The items which Shalu Gupta gets are things which can be packed in a box as well as eaten at home.  She has an idea of breakfast for simply every occasion. Be it any festival or any particular season, her breakfast menu changes based on that. Also she has breakfast option even if you are short on time. While talking to her the other day, she suggested me to have a cornflakes shake that took less than 10 minutes to prepare. So it completely gives you no excuses why you should skip breakfast.  One more thing i realized was by having breakfast for 1 month, I found myself having more energy for the day. Earlier when I was skipping breakfast, I would eat a lot of food for lunch. But recently since I have started having Breakfast, i realized i have reduced portion sizes for lunch. So I would really want to visit Guptaji’s family for breakfast and would like to thank  for teaching the value of breakfast by making it simple yet healthy that there is just no excuses left for anyone.

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Pursuit of Happiness

For many years the words happiness and success went hand in hand to me. I would think that if people were successful then they were happy and vice versa. But what exactly is success? This is a very relative term and each person define their own success. Then what is happiness? How do you define happiness? Wikipedia defines happiness as -"Happiness is a mental or emotional state of well-being characterized by positive or pleasant emotions ranging from contentment to intense joy." What do you need to do so that you start and end your day being happy?

Now let me show you a glimpse of my day. As soon as the alarm goes on, I would snooze it multiple times and then finally rush and get up, then run to make our coffee and then rush to get ready for work. At-least this was how my mornings were. It was the most busy part of the day. Then the rest of my day would go in work. After work, it would be having dinner and going to bed. From the time my work timings had got changed i observed that I spent most time at work and very less time for myself. I did not read any book or learn anything new over some years. This was my routine for over 2 years which i realized was very terrible as I had to slow down and take control of the day and not have the day control me. As i tried to reflect on my day, i realized that i had not accomplished anything and this did not make me happy. Day after day, this rush of daily routine was just making me tired. I felt the need to restructure my day and inculcate some good habits which would help me plan my day and make me productive and learn something which in turn would make me more happy and accomplished. 

I watched many of my friends and read online and found that many of them had what they called a morning routine. This routine had them start their day with exercise, followed by reading a good book, then preparing a to-do list for the day. Initially i was overwhelmed because i never had time to do all this in the morning. But  i saw that nobody ever has time but they make time. If you need to make changes which would make you happy then you need to take effort to make that change. 

So i planned my day and started getting up early at 6 am. Then i go for a morning walk and then come home for a hot cup of coffee. While having my coffee i would plan my day and include my study and reading to be done before 8 am when my entire family wakes up. This way i am giving 2 full hours for myself to do things i want. This was a small sacrifice i had to do by getting up early. Daily i would get up and do my exercise and study and i after 2 months I found tremendous change. I observed that I was having more energy and my confidence level had improved. In fact so much that because of exercising, i had lost a few kilos and received compliments from some of my friends. All this made me feel very accomplished and happy. At the end of the day as you can see I had made some changes in my routine which improved my mood and energy and made me happy. These are the small things in life that makes me happy.

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Memorable Trek

Few months back while having dinner with my husband, I was telling him,"I am fed up. I need a change.The monotony of this life is killing me.Let us go for a vacation".To which he hit upon an idea. He said,"How about going for a winter trek to Kedarkantha in Uttarakhand". While i did not get convinced with his idea, i decided to give it a try.

We booked our tickets and started with the preparations required to go for the trek. With our backpacks on in end of December, we reached Dehradun. From there we got into a bus Sankhri.  On reaching there, we stayed at Hotel Swargrohini Palace for the night before the trek.What a view from our room. We could already see mountain peaks covered with snow ahead of us. As night approached, we had to pile on layers to save ourselves from being frozen.

The next day morning, we all were given a briefing and introduced to our trek guide. With that we started the trek climbing one step at a time.  2 Hours went by and by now it was starting to get exhausting. We hit the snow patches soon, stopped to rest for 15-20 minutes and then continued with our trek. From there, we could see snow everywhere. The trek was getting more and more challenging with every step. Finally after 9 hours,at around 2 pm we reached Juda ka Talab camp site.The pond was covered by a thick frosty layer.We rested around the lake in the sun and had our lunch.

As it got colder in the evening we lit a bonfire .We had our dinner and we retired to the tents into our sleeping bags after a tiring day. 

At around 2 am we were awakened by our guide. He asked us to pack our bags and start climbing right away for the basecamp and we had to reach the summit before sunrise. It was pitch dark everywhere. So with flash lights on and trekking poles, we started climbing once again. Badly chilly winds, ear pains, reducing atmospheric pressure, reducing oxygen, tiredness from last day, we kept climbing. After about 2 hours of walking in deep snow and we reached the base camp.The view from the base camp was panoramic. We were all excited for the final push to the summit. As much as exciting and adventurous the journey was, it was very challenging both mentally and physically. I and my husband had to stop several times and motivate and push each other to finish the trek. We took a lot of pictures along the way. After 5 hours we finally stood atop conquering Mount Kedarkanta. It was surrounded by mountain peaks covered in snow. 

What a memorable feeling it was. For last 2 days, we were totally out of mobile coverage and no other distractions. I and my husband were together in this journey and our only goal was to have the strength to push through and finish the trek. I learnt many things from this trek like never to give up on the challenges that life throws but to keep pushing through them. In the journey of life we get distracted by so many things and we often quit. But if we keep pushing and focus on our goal we will be successful. 

This post was written on the topic "Together" provided by Housing.com.

My story on a new life

After almost 25 years of being born and brought up in Mumbai, the day came when my family decided to move to Chennai. But i could not leave this city. It was the place where i created my identity, the place where i did all my schooling, graduation and now work. It seemed like a bad dream for me.

But the reality was my father had retired and we had to give up on the quarters which we were residing. Then the next move was getting our own house. Finding your own house in Mumbai is like another dream. We tried a few places but were not satisfied and the other places which we did like had shooting high prices. Also my parents did not like to move to a rental flat in Mumbai. So after much of a discussion, my dad gave me an idea of searching for houses in Chennai so that he and mom could move there so that they could stay closer to their relatives as well as have a house of their own. As per the plan i would continue to stay in Mumbai in a hostel and they move permanently to Chennai. I did not like this a lot but he somehow convinced me that it should be fine. 

So we started the house hunt in Chennai with the help of few of my cousins and were able to shortlist a few houses coming to my budget and liking. Within a few days, mom and dad finalized a house and we came to Chennai to make the payment and registration. In parallel,my hunt for a hostel started in Mumbai.

I felt totally shattered when coming to check hostels in the very place where I was born and brought up. I felt very unhappy and depressed. I did not have an address proof in my own city. That sounded totally ridiculous. The thought of moving into the hostel one day pained a lot and I silently hoped my parents would cancel their plan to move to Chennai and stay back here.

But they were stubborn in their choices and finally that day came as i bid them goodbye and moved my way to the hostel to start a new life with the other girls in the hostel. Maybe my parents were sad on leaving Mumbai, but they were more excited on moving to a house which they could call their own and meeting their relatives near by.

My grief only increased day by day as I became a very silent person and stopped interacting with others. I went to a state of depression wherein i would not attend any events, stopped meeting my friends, had limited talks with my roommates. This only increased and i lived a life of unhappy, sad and depressed life. 

While having breakfast one day,my roommate asked me my story and why i always remain silent and sad. When i told her the entire story, i could not stop myself from crying and feeling angry on myself. She asked me to relax and told me that i was feeling all this depressed because i was afraid of this change and felt rejected by the past. She asked to let go of the past and start afresh. She urged me to take it as a challenge to get a goal of getting my own house in Mumbai which will make me happy again.She asked me to think positive and work hard to take small actions daily which will help me closer to this goal. For getting a house of my own, i needed to increase my savings. For that i had to work hard at office or probably switch jobs for a higher pay so that i could save a portion of my income towards my goal. Her talks seemed like a ray of hope to me.

From that day, i started a new life. I turned out a different person. I had something to look forward to each day. I would get excited to work and have goals to achieve which would help me closer to my dream. I started to think positive and had the belief that one day it will come true. As on today my dream to get my own house in Mumbai is still work in progress. But i have turned out a different person from what i was and thank my roommate for guiding me to start a new life on my own.

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Dry baby, happy baby

"Amma", I heard the panicky voice of my maid as she called me in the middle of a busy Monday morning at work. "Yes Shanti", I replied back. "Baby is crying a lot today and not eating her food", she said. "Show her favorite Barbie doll and she should be fine. If not try to play some rhymes. Since she got used to us being at home on the weekend she is missing us now. Once you make her happy with her toys she should be fine", I consoled her back suggesting ways to divert my baby and make her happy. "Ok amma. I will try and give you a call back", she said and hung up.

This may have been less than a 10 minute call. But the moment she hung the line, my mind started wandering on ways I could find to make my baby happy. Mondays are the most tragic days for me. First of all I have busy work day on Monday. To add to it, since our baby gets to play with me and hubby on weekends she starts missing us on Mondays and troubles the maid. In today's world, leaving your baby in the hands of a maid requires a huge amount of trust and patience. I mean we have to trust them completely and deal with their issues patiently. 

As I tried to get my focus back to work, I got her call again. "Amma", I heard the happiness in her voice now. I felt relieved. "I made a story with the Barbie doll and she enjoyed it and had the food. Now she is playing with that doll.", she said. "That is great. Now that she is diverted she should not trouble you again. Try to show her new rhymes or the songs on music player if she troubles for food again",I said and hung the call. Relieved with the status at home, i jumped back to my work. This is just a small snapshot of my Monday.

Looking at my baby Anju, it really makes me hard to believe the things which make her happy. When I or my hubby talk on our smartphones she has to throw whatever is in her hand and come running to us to snatch the phone. When hubby plays games in tablet, she gets interested by all the sounds and comes running to snatch it. Even if you hold her back, all her attention are on the electronics which we have. That is the best time to force the food or all the things which she hates as she is diverted to the electronics. 

Now this was not the case always. Her list of favorites keep changing frequently. The very first doll which caught her attention was a clumsy looking Barbie doll which one of my aunt gifted her. I have no idea what is so interesting about that doll. But whenever she gets to see that doll or play with that doll she stops troubling us and becomes happy. Another thing which catches her attention is the jukebox of songs which my husband plays on music player. All the peppy songs like "Lungi Dance" from the recent Bollywood movie Chennai express catches her attention and she starts playing and dancing while hearing such songs. 

Well this is not all. If you give her all of these when she is hungry, she will just throw back that same Barbie doll. Anju just goes crazy when she is hungry. So it is very important that we give her food on time and keep her tummy full. 

Another important thing is regularly changing her diaper. Just as messy it gets having a wet diaper, she begins to get cranky too. These days she has started giving all sort of indications that her diaper is wet and needs to be replaced. Thank God for Pampers Baby Dry Pants. It really helps in winters when we have to frequently change her diaper due to cold weather. As this keeps her dry both inside and outside, it keeps her happy and in good mood. Having a list of her favorite things like these is safe for us as it is easier to keep her happy when she starts troubling us. 

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Never lose hope

After years of staying in rental flats, I had always wanted to buy a house and call it my home. After all home is where your heart is. Though this thought was always in the back of my mind I did not know where to go or how to proceed since it involves huge money.

As long as I was a student, I would just dismiss this a dream and term it a wish. It was just a dream without any plan. I had always wanted to do further studies in the USA. Most of my friends had applied for student loan. Some of them had taken loans with their parents pledging loan against their property. I could not do both. After my graduation i was offered a job as part of campus placements. Due to family pressure, I again had to give my dream a skip and take up the job.

Due to all this, my urge to get a house grew very strong. Within a year of working, I started looking to get my own house. But funds were not sufficient and I had to save some money for down-payment. I was shattered and sad that i had to wait for some more time to fulfill this dream. In between this, I got an opportunity to go onsite from my company. I worked there for 2 years. When i came back again, I continued my house search. This time i was able to see some houses within my budget.

I was glad that atleast there was some hope to fulfill my dream of getting my own house. I could see some hope for the future. Several of my friends thought i was silly to have my own house at this age. Several of them even warned of legal issues that could happen if i had a house in my name before wedding. Still, I frantically continued the search along with my dad and we were able shortlist some houses which we liked and came inside our budget. We had to do several negotiations with the builders to get a favorable price. Within a week, we made the final choice and got the final quote from the builder. Satisfied with the house and payment, we gave him an initial token advance and a month later gave the remaining 20% of the down-payment. Finally we got the agreement done and had to go for getting home loan from the bank.

Then as per the process, we applied housing loan for the remaining 80% cost of the flat. After several visits to various banks to get a feasible interest, we narrowed down one and applied for our loan. Within 2 weeks, the bank approved my loan and the EMI would begin from next month. I was relived and glad there was no obstacle in this process. From the next month my pre-EMI started and we got some customization and wood work within the flat before we could officially move in.

Finally the much awaited day came. It was the day of the registration when we had to sign several documents at the registrar office. After all processes done, the house was finally registered in my name. That was such an emotional moment for me. I started crying as i could not believe that i had become proud owner of a house.To my surprise my parents were also crying with happiness that i was able to purchase a house at a young age of 23.

We kept a Grahapravesham function at my new house and called in all relatives and friends. It was a day of celebration for me. After all it was my first house. I was excited to see all optimism around. My cousins were appreciating me for buying a house which was an investment. Kids were playing around my house. I could sense some laughter in my parents voice as they happily praised me in front of all relatives. That marked the end of our stay in rental houses. My parents and I moved in to stay in my house.

Till today they still stay in my home. I am happily married and stay in another city. Unlike the warning which some of my friends gave, i did not face any problem from my husband or in-laws when i told them about me having my own house and my parents were staying there. In-fact they also appreciated me about it.

All these happened because i never lost hope of getting my own house. I had that fire in me to keep chasing my dream and make it happen. I am so glad it finally happened and that has been the best gift that i could give myself and my parents !

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Apne Dum Pe Jeena Sikhao

A woman is always told to first think about others first before thinking about herself. In those days when my mother wanted to study my grandparents had not agreed for that. But my mother had great dreams to study and be independent. But society has its own rules and norms and people are forced to follow that. At a tender age of 19 when most women are still to complete their graduation and work, my mother was forced to get married and stop studies. She had tried to explain her dreams then but no one seemed to understand them.  

Still she fought her dreams with my dad and with great difficulty she graduated by distance education and started working. Going by how she had struggled for her dreams, she had decided from the day we were born that she would make us study well and conquer all her pending dreams. She would commute by public transport for about 2 hours for her work and yet be available for us whenever we needed her. Bringing up me and my sister was never easy. Yet she handled it calmly. She would always encourage us to dream big and keep chasing our dreams. 

Even though I did not have any brother, my sister and I were never restricted anything due to our gender. My mother helped us both become independent women. She had instilled in us the qualities for us to be fearless and become strong. From a very young age, she had made sure that we were surrounded by positive thoughts, beliefs and ideas and that helped in making us have a positive attitude. She helped us become confident, courageous and strong girls. 

Investment was something that she had taken very seriously and taught the same to us. From a very young age, we got the habit of reading books and investing knowledge from her. She is a very ardent reader and is up do date with current affairs. She keeps telling us to never stop learning as that is one of the cheapest and best investment we can do. Financially as well, she taught to save a small amount from our pocket money and spend the rest on what we wanted. If that was not less, we were taught cooking and other home chores. She made us truly independent from all aspects.

She is our best friend and a role model. I learnt to set goals in life from my mom. She taught us to set small goals in life and work hard to achieve them. She also made us take care of our health. When she was diagnosed having Diabetes, doctor asked her to go for walking. In our sedentary lifestyle we hardly find time to be active. But my mother would urge us to go for walk or run for at-least an hour everyday. It was because of her that i got interested in running and started getting serious about my runs. From going for small runs to running 10Km, she kept encouraging me and it is because of her that I am now a marathon runner. I am truly thankful to my mom for all the values and qualities that she has inculcated in  us to become strong women.

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This post was written as part of IndiBlogger Happy Hours campaign topic on my family my pride !