Posts by tanyamunshi:
Gone are the days when homemakers/ mothers would put a meal on the table just for their families. The concept of homemaker, a wife, a mother has changed immensely over the past few years and how. Today, across the world people are waking up to the facets of managing a home, which is far more challenging than perhaps running a company.
One of the major aspects of running a household is to put good food on the table for the head of the family, read: patriarch, the in-laws, children and the extended family. Most of the times, such a talent would go unnoticed until now…when the world gave such talented women of substance to showcase their talents as a home chef.
As safely as it can be put, it doesn’t hurt the sentiments of traditional in-laws who don’t want their daughters and daughters-in-law to step out and work.
More so, cooking is no longer considered a woman’s job anymore. More and more men are entering the kitchens and women prefer men who like to cook, after all, it’s all about sharing the household chores.
Cooking is now considered art and for some, it is very relaxing. It doesn’t matter anymore if you’re a man or a woman and if you think you’re good at it, you take it to the next best level – donning the hat of a home chef.
As celebrity chef and food author Reetu Uday Kugaji says, “Food is a complete stress buster. In this busy world of monotony, cooking is the only thing that makes us happy. Creativity keeps our minds occupied and works towards innovations. This is one of the reasons why people are moving towards cooking.”
Kasturi Sen, a Mumbai based home chef shares, “Cooking isn’t a boring chore anymore that people loathe doing. It has become a way of relaxation, a way to unwind for people coming back home after a hard day’s work. And for many homemakers, it is a way to showcase their immense talent. In this fast-paced stressful world with long working hours, cooking provides welcome relief. Frozen meals are passé now because people have realised that instead of heating up frozen food or eating out of a box, a delicious meal can be easily whipped up in the same amount of time.”
There’s also a recent trend with people changing their jobs and professions to take up cooking as a full-time profession. Earlier people would think that if they were not trained in culinary arts, they couldn’t cook professionally, but that’s not true any more.
“There are times in our life that we want to do something different, something that’s more gratifying and appreciable. Something to do with creativity and I believe that’s what is bringing the trained and well-established doctors and engineers to become home Chefs. I believe if the Home Chefs start with their own outlets or join some of the eminent restaurants this concept does work out extremely well. The consumer gets a home-made food feel which is indeed in demand today and as a Chef, I can foresee it forever,” explains Chef Reetu.
“I will speak for myself in this case. I am a content writer by profession having done my Masters in Journalism. Only once I got married and started cooking for my family, friends and kids did I realise my passion for cooking and baking. Though the love for food has always been there, it took me marriage and kids to realise that this passion can be turned into a profession,” smiles Kasturi.
So how has the change started taking place? As Kasturi explains the trend started more than 100 years ago when in 1890 the first dabbawallahs began delivering home-cooked meals to office goers. Off late, the growing trend of cooking has definitely been due to a spurt in cookery shows on television.
From TV shows that showcase only recipes, now culinary game shows like Master Chef, Top Chef and My Kitchen Rules have turned into the entertainment industry. Gone are the days when you would wait for your favourite cookery show to appear on TV. Now you can select from an array of cookery channels that showcase recipes and food from all over the world throughout the day. Apart from shows on TV, there are many YouTube channels where you can watch videos too.
Over the past couple of years, there has been a steady increase in the number of apps that deliver home-cooked food. People are realising the advantage of home-cooked food over restaurant food in terms of nutritional value.
And what do you think inspires someone to turn into a home chef? Love for food, eating and cooking, prove to be a major inspiration says Kasturi. As a homemaker when you realise that it is difficult to be stepping out of the house to do a 9-5 job, turning into a home chef is a brilliant option, where you can pursue your passion from home and also get paid for it.
Things don’t come easy as even what you love to do comes with its own share of challenges as experienced by Kasturi. “The major challenge I faced while working as a home chef for an online food delivery company was to balance between time spent in kitchen and time with kids. The best part of working as a home chef is being able to select your days of work. I was able to balance my time by selecting to work thrice a week,” adds Kasturi.
However, Chef Reetu cautions that “Maintaining the quality and quantity of food along with profits and diversification is the biggest challenge for home chefs if they are truly to compete with the intensively trained professionals.”
To overcome the challenges one needs to identify his or her own strengths i.e. a complete SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weakness, Opportunities and Threats) is a must.
Not only that, what type of cuisine are you focusing on, who is your target clientele, how much time can you invest for this and of course what’s your budget all come into play and not to forget, but a bigger challenge is also to retain the clientele after they have consumed the food prepared by you once.
For those of you who’re still contemplating on starting a home-chef enterprise here are some tips from Kasturi:
- It’s never too late to start working as a home chef. In fact, if you start late, you are equipped with years of experience.
- Keep yourself updated with the current food trends.
- Watch cookery shows to give you inspiration.
- Never compromise on the quality of food.
- Visit your local haat/market to find the best ingredients.
For the Bayside Journal.
Get listed & collaborate with us:
Write to us at [email protected] if you’d like to get listed, featured & collaborate with us at The Lifestyle Portal.
The world is ruled by content, be it the written word or audio-visual. Even when the world is switching more towards audio-visual content, we must remember that it all begins with well-researched, good quality written content.
Be it mass media or social media, content writing has weaved its way through all these mediums. But what gets challenging is filtering and gaining access to good, reliable and positive content in the world of unwarranted, unsolicited and unreliable data as we’re often bombarded with.
It doesn’t end with just writing a good piece of content; what is equally important is to connect with your reader. If you’re looking to hone your writing skills in your professional space, Tanya Munshi’s Online Writing Programs may just be the thing for you.
Tanya, a former journalist and a full-time professional writer with over 18 years of editorial experience have been mentoring students (from grade 8 onwards) and professionals for almost four years now.
She has written for Rediff.com, Woman’s Era, SpiceRoute, The Hindu, Yatra.com, FirstCry.com and published children’s stories for DC Books Publishing House. Her portal specializes in entrepreneur profiling, promoting their work and sharing their success stories at a global level. She has also been a visiting faculty, teaching Journalism Writing for the MA program for Media and Communication at the SNDT Women’s University.
Through her writing program, she aims to make her learners aware of what good quality content is. Also, how to identify it, consume it and create it if they would like to write professionally or personally. On asking her about how she designed her online writing program, she says, “The writing program has been designed on what I have learnt as a journalism student and snippets from my editorial career. It’s got practical, doable tools and tips that allow my learner to perceive their subject/ topic in a whole new perspective. I mentor one student at a time through online Skype sessions giving them 100% attention. During the program, my learners keep in touch with me over the phone in case they’re stuck while writing an assignment. I progress with the next session only when I know they’re ready. Essentially, I coach my learners in a non-judgmental manner, which puts them at ease and helps them to learn better!” Being a one-on-one session, Tanya’s online writing program is highly interactive, enjoyable and leaves both the mentor and the mentee feeling happy and positive!
From specialist doctors, aspiring writers, lawyers and TV producers, Tanya has trained them all. Irrespective of whether you’re planning to pursue a career in writing, her curated online writing programs may be just the thing that you will find useful in your professional space. As Tanya firmly believes, no learning goes waste, her writing programs allow her learners to implement the writing tools in their respective careers and see the difference for themselves.
Written for The StartupTales on Facebook & Instagram.
The Lifestyle Portal Online Writing Program:
Would you like to empower yourself with the simple yet effective tools of writing? Learn to write better with our online writing workshops. Sign up for The Lifestyle Portal Online Writing Program and fine-tune your writing skills with us. Write to us at [email protected] to know more.
With the government formally kick-starting the ‘Startup India’ program, it has given a healthy boost to our country which is at the peak of the startup growth. Today India boasts of ranking third in the world with over 4,200 start-ups based on the NASSCOM’s “Startup-India: Momentous Rise of Indian Startup Ecosystem” report. (Source: The Hindu)
More than 60% of these start-ups are based in Mumbai, NCR and predominantly in Bangalore. Other cities catching up are Pune, Chennai, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad and Jaipur.
Based on an article from indianweb2, “According to the data collected during a survey, only 14% of business establishments in the country are being run by female entrepreneurs. This means, out of the 58.5 million functional businesses, only 8.05 million of them have a female as a boss. The data collected by the survey also revealed that most of these women-run companies are small-scale and about 79% of them are self-financed.”
So what is about these women entrepreneurs across all the start-ups in India that make them what they are today?
Being a woman entrepreneur is not that easy, as they have to overcome a lot of obstacles starting with the mind-sets of people, breaking away from stereotyped roles, family commitments, role-playing as a mother, wife, daughter, daughter-in-law and much more.
Here are five tips for budding women entrepreneurs and start-ups from professionals, take a look:
Network with the right people. Don’t hold yourself back in introducing yourself in a group and introducing your product / service. As Ami Savla, founder of Socialize Store (a training institute) adds, “Make sure you attend one networking meet every month happening in your town. Trust me this will help you grow tremendously!”
“I once had a coachee who wanted to foray into entrepreneurship as a home chef. However, she was too “shy” to speak about the fact that she wanted to sell what she was cooking. We worked together to make her believe that talking about her passion that is food comes naturally to her and hence if she would talk about her passion with the right people, she would be able to network and build a clientele easily,” recalls Manisha Panwar, a Certified Executive and Life Coach and Founder of Brewathought.
2. It’s a level playing ground
Women need to understand that out there in the market, men and women entrepreneurs are same since it’s the product that the customer is finally interested in. Being a woman, is neither advantageous or disadvantageous. It’s a level playing field for anyone. So, if we are really seeking equality, we, as women must understand that when it comes to the final product or service, the best one takes the cake. Pursue the excellence explains Manisha.
As Deepa Kaur Gill, the founder of Burgeon Skills – (Training and Consulting Company) pitches in, “Continue to sharpen the saw – Follow the 5 S- Someone will say Yes, Someone will say No. So what. Someone is Waiting (to buy) or else Someone else will sell.” She further adds, “Develop a strategy – Spend time in developing a strategy and planning however try not to over procrastinate. Many a times ideas develop and die in the mind; but at least try! You can learn processes along the way as you gain hands-on experience. It’s better to have a mindset of building a prototype on every step and if it works develop further, if its not, well you will know it earlier and make the changes rather than murdering the idea if it doesn’t work out.”
3. Don’t be afraid
Women also tend to hold themselves back because of reasons that men would probably not even think of. Don’t be afraid to take the first step. The child who learns to walk never knows what it is to start walking, yet he takes the first step, falls and keeps trying till he gets it right. Women need to give up their inhibitions or the thought of “What if…”. One would never know what one can achieve unless you have tried.
Mitu Samar, the founder of Eminence (Stakeholder Engagement And Leadership Coaching) shares, “Learn to ask, don’t expect – Women fear being labelled easily and hence they do not demand or ask clearly what they want.”
Manisha cites an example, “One of my coachees, a year into her boutique business wanted to get into online sales of her garments. She understood that it was the next best thing. Yet, somehow she always equated the same to technology and was unable to make the effort to go online. Coaching sessions helped her understand that if she knows what is best for her business, she needs to jump in with the ‘know-how’ and see how it unfolds. Slowly yet reluctantly she began learning about online business and is ready to launch her line very soon.”
4. Take risks but be prepared for any failure
Failure and Success are faces of the same coin. If success comes to you, failure at some time will knock at your door. Take calculated risks. Everything in life is about risks in some way or the other – your choice of education, marriage, kids etc. So in your business too there are risks that one takes and be stronger to take failure as it comes.
Priya Menon, the founder of Sankalp Creative Ventures (an initiative empowering women) feels that no problem ever existed without a solution. You will find a lot of challenges and hurdles in your way, but a calm mind-set will help you find a way to overcome all those problems.
Manisha shares, “A fashion designer coachee of mine was distraught by the fact that she had a huge inventory that was not getting sold. If she did not complete the sales, she would be unable to add on to her clothes collection and the styles were changing (from summer to autumn wear). She learnt that she had acted in a hurry to create her designs and get them stitched. It meant a huge loss to her but she also realized that it was a risk she was taking. She took time but overcame the fact that she needed to create a new line and would only operate on order. The best learning was that she took away a huge business learning from the episode, one which made her a better entrepreneur.”
5. Have fun
Women entrepreneurs should have fun with whatever they do. Women in general should be able to take time off and pursue personal goals as well. As one becomes more entrenched in business, the fun element tends to take a backstage. Never give up on fun. List out your personal goals whether they are health, fitness, travel or adventure.
“My coachee had been in business for over 6 years and having an established system, she still felt there was something amiss. Not knowing what it was she in one of the sessions came up with the desire to run a marathon. She kept telling herself that she was too fat to run and hence had been putting it off. A couple of sessions later, she realized that with proper training she could. She ran her first marathon for 5 kms in Pinkathon 2015. She was thrilled to pits and she even set an example to other women employees of her company,” smiles Manisha.
The thing is, whether you’re a woman professional, a start-up, a stay-at-home mum or a student, once you start imbibing these tips you can watch your career or life graph skyrocket. But remember, it is very important to enjoy what you do and not to please anyone but yourself.
For the Bayside Journal.
Get listed & collaborate with us:
Write to us at [email protected] if you’d like to get listed, featured & collaborate with us at The Lifestyle Portal.
There are tonnes of challenges that parents face in present times. While some parents complain that their children don’t listen, others say their kids are way too addicted to an electronic gadget, while others complain of their kids are fussy eaters and don’t eat healthily.
From all the responses we’ve got, an overdose of technology, lack of free play, junk food and behavioural problems top the charts, take a look at what some mums have to say and the solutions offered by professionals.
Saloni Mirchandani Malkani, a Mumbai based mother of an 11-year-old adds, “With iPads and phones easily accessible, it is difficult to curb or control the time and quality of content/exposure to the child. Also, with so many options available for everything, it is difficult to decide whether the child should be allowed to decide or the parent.”
She further mentions, “With the Internet telling us all…One day something is good while another day the same thing is bad. Also, with kids being exposed to foul language and sexual content on almost every front, how does one stop them from using such language? How do we keep them motivated and focused on a particular hobby?”
Mother of 4-year-old, Manisha Kothari from Mumbai, seconds Saloni’s view. She says, “Raising a well mannered, emotionally secure and a happy child is the dream of all parents. However, there seems to be a lot of challenges to these seemingly simple goals.”
She lists down four significant factors that are posing a major challenge in parenting and they are:
- Exposure to technology– smartphones, iPad, and tablets are fast replacing hide and seek, hopscotch and playing ball. The importance of unstructured outdoor (pre-lockdown days) play seems to have almost disappeared, taking with it all benefits of creative play, social skills, and conflict resolution. All the critical skills learned by children while interacting with other toddlers.
- Food habits– with junk food and instant pre-cooked meals, it is a challenge for parents to ensure a balanced diet for children.
- TV time– the one boon and bane of our generation. Ironically, we use a TV like a ‘virtual babysitter” as per our need & once the child gets used to the colorful moving images, we complain about too much screen time!
- Inculcating good manners – Sorry, Thank You and the values of caring and sharing, these seem simple, but it remains a challenge since unstructured social interaction itself is limited now.
- Safety– With increasingly reported cases of child molestation, the safety of our little ones has become a paramount challenge. Imagine explaining ‘good touch and bad touch’ to a 4-year-old, the age of innocence is getting shorter every day.
What experts have to say
While we heard of what the parents had to say, take a look at what the professionals in the field of child care and development have to say –
Consulting Psychologist and Psychotherapist, Dr. Kashissh A Chhabriaa shares, “Keeping calm when your child is misbehaving, handling peer pressure, classes all the way…which class to opt for, academics v/s extracurricular and several opinions about the upbringing of a child in a join family, the list of parenting challenges in present times is endless!”
Dwani Shah, an Occupational Therapist who mainly works with children, shares the following list of the major challenges faced by parents –
- Handling tantrums of the child or disciplining the child is a big challenge for parents these days.
- Finding quality time to spend with their child, especially if both the parents are working.
iii. Enhancing independence of the child in their daily task activities, for example, feeding on their own, making a time-table for the school or making schedules and managing their time.
- Technology taking over physical games or social-interactive games.
- Social pressure. Best schools, best classes, my child should be an all-rounder who knows everything.
She shares, “This is not only increasing the mental and physical burden of the child but also the burden on the parent’s pocket.”
Effects of electronic media
Senior pediatrician Dr. Nita Jagad MD (Paediatrics) DCH shares from her years of experience that these days children being exposed to media and gadgets and have access to unsupervised internet, television programs. The television now is used more of an ‘electronic baby sitter’, especially while feeding a child or soothing a crying child. This reduces the child’s active conversation with a parent.
She further adds, too much of audio-video at an early age can affect the speech and language development of a child. Studies have shown that children who are exposed to long hours of TV can also read to poor reading skills. She even cautions that over-exposure to electronic media can have an impact on the reading, talking and imagination skills of children.
Older kids who are into social media and spend hours having ‘electronic friends’, land up having poor relationships and are less empathetic towards others.
As parents, we need to restrict television viewing. The fast-changing pictures/ images on the screen stimulate the child and their concentration capacity is greatly reduced, which can also make them hyperactive and aggressive.
The kind of media we are exposed to right from the internet with newspapers covering disturbing reports and articles on rape, murder, accidents, terror attacks is also constantly being bombarded to the children.
As a conscious parent, try and ensure that you help children to analyse and interpret the news accordingly.
Effects of Competition and Stress
Dr. Nita also points out another important factor – that’s competition and stress. She says, “Most parents push their children into competition, academic excellence by sending them for tuitions and classes without giving any importance to their capabilities and aptitudes. As a result, the children become bored and need to be pushed by their parents to do well but with no internal motivation. So they land up studying to get good marks with no fun to learning.”
She further adds, “We see education as a means of earning and success to get admission to a premier institute as then we feel that it will give them the necessary happiness. But is this all necessary for happiness?”
In the process of pushing our children to excel, we’re forgetting to instill the value of empathy into them. Owing to the excessive stress and competition that they go through adds to the pressure and we land up producing stressed individuals who don’t know how to vent out their feelings – because ‘feelings’ is something that is not as important anymore.
She emphasises on the fact that learning should be a joyful experience, without any destination, instead of an ongoing process. Learning through fun and games will also help them stimulate their thinking and analytical skills.
Poor relationship skills and loneliness
Children are unfortunately becoming self-centred, selfish and impulsive and are not able to maintain friendships. This makes them stressed out as they’re unable to handle the pressure.
Since we do a lot of over-parenting and are so over-protective of our children that they don’t learn how to problem solve on their own.
Over-parenting/ Helicopter Parenting
On the other hand, there’s something that we Indian parents always run the risk of over-parenting which is often called Helicopter Parenting.
As Dipali Ved, a skilled parenting workshop facilitator points out, “Parents are overly concerned with the safety of their children, so much so, that children are not allowed to take basic risks while playing or learning to do new things. This could make children fearful and over cautious and it could also make them unduly dependent on external help.
What she suggests is that ‘parents should mostly help by not helping’. Parents should view their children as separate entities who are capable of learning, failing and growing.
This is one trend that has arisen in the recent future that is dangerous for our kids. This is due to the rise in the number of working mothers, baby helpers available to hover around children all the time and fewer children per parent.
In the earlier days, parents let their children be as they believed in the notion that children grow up anyways.
Behaviour problems in children
Parents find it very hard to handle children’s behaviour and temper tantrums. Dr. Nita further adds, “I’ve often find parents get stressed out about this issue and the real issue is that the children are not able to recoginse their own emotions and hence are not able to manage them, let alone verbalize their feelings and express it in an appropriate way. They have become so busy with their routine that they don’t get time to learn about handling their emotions. Gradually what happens is that they get used to not sharing or not communicate their emotions and land up spending a lot of time in front of the electronic media that makes them bottle up their feelings inside.
What you can do to work on this aspect is to spend quality time with your children and accept their emotions and feelings. Guide them through their negative feelings and emotions as well. Teach them about emotions and how to recognise them and express themselves correctly. Most importantly, prepare them to face failures and rejections – as it is also a part of life and a learning process.
Positive and negative trends
As an Occupational Therapist, Dwani Shah points out to us the positive and negative trends in present-day parenting.
Positive– Parents are allowing the child to have their own approach towards life rather than forcing theirs on the child and allowing them to have an opinion from an early age.
Negative– Providing them with an unstructured environment. Yes, it’s good to set your child free but it’s also necessary to provide them with the direction in which they are supposed to go. An unstructured environment is allowing the child to do whatever they wish and behave however they want, which is leading to behavioral issues, tantrums and indiscipline. It’s the early tender time when you can mould the pot, once it becomes hard you have to accept it the way it is and it is potter’s responsibility to mould it correctly when it goes out of shape.
Positive– Punishment is gradually declining and studies have proved that punishment has never helped in making your child a better person.
Negative – The meaning of spending quality time with the child has changed. Malls, theatres, restaurants have taken over parks, beaches and zoos. Things have become more materialistic like a father coming home with a Playstation will be welcomed more happily than a father coming home with a book and this is not kids fault as they have been seeing the world like that since childhood, but what shall we make our child see since they were an infant is in our hand again.
For the Bayside Journal.
Share your parenting experiences with us.
What have been your parenting challenges during the lockdown and how have you overcome them?
Share your experience of maintaining discipline and routine with your children during the lockdown and how it has worked for you and we’ll be happy to publish it. Please send us your original write-ups with your bio and profile photo to [email protected] and we’ll be happy to publish it.
This lockdown period may have become a tough time for those who aren’t used to staying at home. It would be a good time to start something positive especially when your external distractions have been reduced considerably.
For ‘book virgins’, those who haven’t read anything apart from a pamphlet, and now planning to start reading, we’re here to give you a list of books that you should start with. There’s no need to start reading heavy-duty books or titles at the first go. Start small, so you gradually enjoy the process of reading, which you will find extremely relaxing, enjoyable, therapeutic and inspirational. Most of the time it all begins with the book you choose. Though personally, I feel, it’s a book that chooses you.
Off late, I have started reading a lot of children’s literature. What I like about this genre is that it is so straight forward, uncomplicated and gives a whole new perspective of life that we grown-ups fail to see.
It also allows you to connect with your children too! This list also consists of some children’s titles from my daughter’s and my personal collection that I recommend you should read along with your children, just for the sheer joy of it!
Here’s our list of books that you should try and get your hands-on once things get into normalcy.
1. The Five People You Meet in Heaven – by Mitch Albom
This is by far one of the best books I have read in a while, it’ll make you retrospect about your life of all the things that have happened with you so far. Remember, nothing happens in your life without a reason, the people you meet, the events that unfold in your life and your experiences. When Eddie dies, he meets five people in heaven who reveal why they came into his life. There’s a reason why we meet people in our lives, and these five people explain just that to Eddie and what unfolds in the story is pure magic. It will change your perspective for the better.
2. A Little Princess – by Frances Hodgson Burnett
A fantastic children’s classic which I recommend even adults to read. When Sara Crew’s father suddenly passes away, her life is transformed from a luxurious boarder at a hostel to that of a poor servant girl. I simply loved the way she dealt with the adversaries with sheer dignity, large-heartedness and the power of visualisation and stories. I have narrated many of the paragraphs to my daughter, who loved the character of Sara Crew and how life changed for her unexpectedly, just because she believed things would get better.
3. Flute in the Forest – by Leela Gour Broome
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book about a differently-abled Atiya who lives with her father a forest officer. Despite being afflicted by polio, this girl learns to play the flute and unravels a little adventure of her own and unfolds new friendships and experiences. Certainly, a refreshing story to add to your booklist.
4. Raising Mumma – by Lalitha Iyer
A book written on behalf of her little son Mo, it’s a wonderful narrative of this little boy and his wonderful antics with his mum, granny, his pet cats, and school. A favourite bedtime book that I read out to my daughter and we laugh at his one-liners and Mo’s food for thought. It’s a wonderful perspective offering both a child and a mother’s perspective, that makes you rethink about your relationship dimension with you and your children.
5. Something Happened on the Way to Heaven: 20 Inspiring Real-Life Stories Paperback – by Sudha Murty
Sudha Murty has been one of my favourite Indian authors. She writes so lucidly, from the heart and is so unpretentious that it puts the reader to ease. I am very fond of short stories especially the ones written by Sudha Murty. This is a collection of true stories that will shake your soul and make you realise that nothing is impossible if you have the will power and determination to overcome all odds.
6. The Girl Who Chose: A New Way of Narrating the Ramayana – by Devdutt Pattanaik
Whenever I buy books for my daughter, I make it a point to read them. I loved this brilliant new perspective of the Ramayana, based on the five choices made by Sita. Interspersed with beautiful illustrations, this book is a must-read for people of all ages and children to understand the choices we make, the repercussions and standing by what we choose.
7. Himalayan Gods – Journeys to Kinner Kailash, Kullu and Dodra Kwar – by Abhinav Kaushal
This the first time I read a travel diary and I really liked the pace at which the first time author Abhinav narrates his personal experiences traveling through Kinner Kailash, Kullu and Dodra Kwar. Packed with unique photographs from his trips, this travel diary talks about the myths and legends of the gods, the cuisine and culture and the life of this stunning Himalayan state. For those who are fond of the mountains and are pining to go back, this book should do the trick of virtually transporting you there.
8. Words of Wonder – by Amit Suri
This is a collector’s item, that I am so glad to have it in my book collection. 26 alphabets from English each representing one value word, something that the world has been missing out on. Maybe now is a good time to read one of these simple, soulful stories from this soothing book that’s also been gifted with 26 unique illustrations from artists across the globe. Make yourself a hot cup of tea or coffee as you relax and read one little snippet of goodwill and hope.
9. Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls
This has been my daughter and my favourite bedtime book. My seven-year-old would read out one inspirational story every night (she always wanted to read more), and would ask me in wonder how someone could overcome an obstacle? You could get Good Night Stories for Rebel Boys (which I may eventually as I want my daughter to understand that both boys and girls are equal and both face challenges in real life), but this book has fascinating stories of women from across the world who have broken the barriers, glass ceilings and come out strong in the field of art, medicine, science, warfare and more.
10. The Puffin Treasury of Modern Indian Stories – edited by Maya Dalal
This book has been a gem of a book. A fabulous collection of short stories from renowned authors such as Satyajit Ray, RK Narayan, Vikram Seth, Sulman Rushdie to name a few. What makes this book unique is that each short story is complemented with an illustration made by famous artists. It is truly a collector’s item and a book for all ages. This too is one of my daughter’s and my favourite bedtime books.
11. Girl Power – Indian Women Who Broke the Rules – by Neha J Hiranandani
It is a fantastic compilation of Indian women from all walks of life breaking the glass ceiling. When we were reading ‘Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls’, my daughter asked me why there are so few women from India. At that time, I could only tell her that since it was an international edition, they couldn’t mention more Indian women. As luck would have it, I chanced upon ‘Girl Power’ in a book fair and presented it to my daughter and she was thrilled to read about so many inspirational Indian women. When she saw the film ‘Saand ki Aankh’, she sat with this book and was amazed to see how two elderly women are brilliant sharpshooters despite their rural background and age! At school, when she had to present a talk on freedom fighters, she spoke about Usha Mehta, the Secret Radio Operator (that she read in Girl Power) and took home the third prize!
Getting the right literature for yourself and your children makes a world of a difference. If you can’t get your children to read, you start reading first. Enjoy it, share some snippets from the book, read it out to them at bedtime and subtly plant the seeds of reading. The habit of reading begins very early and thankfully I could inculcate the same in my daughter from a very young age. It’s extremely therapeutic, relaxing and enjoyable. Do try it if you haven’t done it yet!
Share your top five favourite books:
Have a personal collection of books that you love? Why not share your list of personal favourites and we’ll publish it. Email us your original write-up on your favourite book titles that you own to [email protected] along with pictures clicked by you and we’ll be happy to publish it!
I have worked from home for quite a few years. Even though I was qualified and experienced in my field of work, but owing to certain circumstances, I had to work from home. I was often met with many a raised eyebrow from fellow women who went to work on a regular basis and homemakers too! Wait, even the men had opinions too.
I was often met with responses such as – “Work from home is ideal to earn some pocket money!”, “Ismey paisa milta hai?” (does it give you any money?), “Oh, you’re a half-journalist!”, “Timepass ho jata hoga!” “You work from home, so you can manage the housework, cooking and guests”, “Sahi ai yaar, telecalling karti ho?” The best I’ve heard is, “Is your work legal?”
I just couldn’t understand why people couldn’t accept that professionals too work from home! Do I raise eyebrows at women who go to the office daily? No, I don’t. It’s a professional and a personal choice and if your company has the ‘work from home’, ‘telecommuting’ or ‘remote working’ policy, then how should anyone else have a problem?
In a report published in Business Line in June 2018 shares, “58% Indian office-goers work remotely every week. The report also shares that based on a survey conducted by the IWG on flexible working approaches, they interviewed more than 18,000 professionals from various industries across 96 countries. The report said that nearly two-thirds of global employees work remotely every week.”
In another article published by The Hindu in 2016, Most employees in India prefer to work from home shares, that their survey of people above the age of 45 years revealed how a considerable number of employees are keen on working from home. The article in The Hindu further spoke about how “HR services provider Randstad said that almost an equal number of men and women shared that they would like working from home. The report further added, “53 % of the respondents from India said they prefer telecommuting, while 47 % prefer to work from the office every day,” giving workplace flexibility as the reason. These results are based on a survey of around 7,500 employees across India.”
The point here is, that as a professional I didn’t choose to work from home from the day I started working. I did have a regular job just like you, when I started out as a reporter, then I gradually moved into content management, e-learning and now as a full-time writer. It works best for me now as I can be there for my daughter, take care of her studies, and be there for her in the most formative years!
In a recent report published in Quartz India, Indian millennials don’t want the 9-to-5 office day anymore – “A two-year-long Stanford study found that work-from-home boosts productivity in a big way. Earlier, research done at Harvard Business School had displayed half the rate of attrition compared to office goers, while they reported much higher job satisfaction. Moms with flexible work hours and work-from-home options make more money than those who do not, a recent study found. It’s also a more environment-friendly concept as fewer commuters implies lesser pollution.”
Now that the world is grappling with a lockdown, there are tonnes of online courses and professionals and management gurus sharing lectures and gyan on ‘how to work from home’. Suddenly, the world has woken up to the fact of how really challenging ‘work from home” is! But wait, there have been people doing this for years and contributing valuable resources to corporates. Why not ask us! 😉
It is essential to see people who work from home in a positive and a respectful perspective. In a report on ‘Home based Workers’ published in Empowering Informal Workers, Securing Informal Livelihoods, they mention, “Many home-based workers produce under sub-contracts for global value chains. To cut costs and maximize profits, firms outsource production to those who work in their own homes. Advances in technology have also facilitated the outsourcing of production (Chen, Sebstad and O’Connell 1999; Raju 2013). Home-based work represents a significant share of total employment in some countries, especially in Asia, and is a larger share of women’s than men’s employment.”
In fact, the report has also added – “In developed countries especially, clerical work and higher-skilled work in information technology, telecommunication, telemarketing and technical consulting may be home-based. The Informal Economy Monitoring Study (IEMS), coordinated by WIEGO, provides critical insight on home-based workers in Ahmedabad, India; Bangkok, Thailand; and Lahore, Pakistan. It found that home-based workers make significant contributions to their households, society, and the economy.”
Yes, with the lockdown, you may be missing the workspace, your office colleagues, dressing up for working, stepping out from your homes and travelling to work, office meetings, lunches, post-work drinks – the works! But now that we’re confined to the safety of our homes because of a virus creating havoc across the globe, how about making the most of it and maybe a few claps for unsung heroes who have been working (for corporates) from home, providing valuable service and are an important part of the country’s workforce!
Before you embark upon working from home, it is important to understand its challenges first, so you can approach it with the right frame of mind irrespective of whether there’s a lockdown or not.
Understanding Work from Home
1. The mindset
In the initial years, people around me seldom took my work seriously, especially when I freelanced or was working as a consultant. People who hired me on projects often treated me as a “housewife wanting to pass her time and earn pocket money”. Well, that is certainly not and never going to be the case.
How do you tackle it: Let your work speak for itself. Just because some people choose or opt to work from home, it doesn’t mean they’re any less a part of the team or a company.
2. People will expect you to balance everything
Since I worked from home, people around me never took my role seriously as a result, I was expected to host guests at odd hours, go on trips as and when the plans were made. I had a tough time explaining that my work is important, I love my work and I take it very seriously. Most importantly, it helps me to stay financially independent.
How do you tackle it: Now with the lockdown, there would be no outings and no guests dropping by, so you can make the most of it. Also, even after the lockdown period, continue with your routine if you’re still working from home.
There were times, I would often wake up at 4 am in the morning to complete my work before my baby woke up, guests arrived or if there was an outing planned by others in the family. I would be tired at times, and would often be told, “You’re so boring!” I would tell people that I can host or meet people Friday evening onwards and on weekends. Weekdays are strictly for work, but people never understood.
How do you tackle it: If it is possible, wake up earlier than your family members and reply to your emails, write or review your documents, prepare those presentations at a time with minimum distractions. If you haven’t tried it yet, now would be a good time to wake up early and start work. You’ll be able to achieve much more.
4. Self-motivation and self-discipline
Yes, working from home is not a cakewalk at all. Do if you must only if you are self-motivated, driven, loyal, ethical and have immense self-discipline. Work from home is clearly not for the faint-hearted. It calls for a lot of self-discipline and the ability to multi-task.
How do you tackle it: Well yes, there’s no short cut to being self-motivation and self-discipline. I still wake up early mornings and go to bed early, as I used to during the non-lockdown days. Then after my morning exercise, cleaning or cooking and a bath and breakfast, I sit down to work until lunch. A quick lunch and I’m back at my desk until evening. Following this, it is time for my tea, listening to music, cooking or watch our favourite show on Netflix with my daughter!
5. Be mentally prepared
Last-minute things are bound to happen especially when you’re working from home. There’ll be a power outage, or your internet service suddenly drops on the most crucial day. Your house help may suddenly call in sick, worse if your child(ren) is suddenly ill.
How do you tackle it: Nothing can prepare you for such last-minute unwanted surprises. During the lockdown days, you and your family members should ideally share the workload. You and your partner/ spouse could cook or clean on alternate days. Set a time to do your laundry. Give your kids self-study topics which they can do while you’re wrapping up a document at work or attending an online meeting. Set TV time for the kids when you’re going to be on a Skype meeting with your team, that way they won’t disturb you every few minutes.
6. Work smart from home
If the WiFi drops, keep a dongle ready. If one machine doesn’t boot, keep a backup laptop.
How do you tackle it: Over the years of working from home, I realized that there are many factors that are beyond my control – such as electricity supply, internet connection, no system engineer who can attend to my computer if I am facing a challenge, no team member or colleague to ask for help. Initially, it would get very frustrating, then gradually with time, I started preparing myself accordingly. I usually keep my mobile phone on silent during my work hours and since people now know I work from home; they seldom drop by or call during weekdays. I am free to meet my friends over weekends.
7. Work-life balance
If you’re concerned working from home is going to affect your ‘work-life balance’, then the best way to deal with this is to plan your day wisely. Irrespective of whether you have children, wake up early. Get some exercise and start working for a couple of hours before they wake up. If you can wake them up just like the regular school days, it will help them to stay in a routine.
How do you tackle it: Set a timetable for your family members so they can help around in the house, irrespective of whether there’s a lockdown or not. Make sure once you wrap up work you log off from your laptop. Don’t hover around your desk just because you don’t have anything else to do! This would be a good time to have that evening tea with your spouse/ partner, watch a sitcom with your children or read a book over a cup of coffee.
Working from home allows small businesses to thrive
After having interviewed more than 190 entrepreneurs for The Lifestyle Portal and having met tonnes of other entrepreneurs, I have realised that owing to technology and acceptance by consumers and corporates, many small and medium businesses are thriving in spite of being run entirely from home. There are therapists who counsel online, professionals running online English speaking courses from home, tutors who teach online and create worksheets for school students and there are tonnes of other professionals who are running brilliant enterprises – all from home. We may not join the regular workforce of going to work every day, but we do provide a lot of support in those gaps where probably big enterprises may not have a reach.
This lockdown is probably teaching us all that we should hit the pause button and reboot our lives with a fresh new perspective and have respect for those who work from home. Just the way people will now hopefully never question a ‘stay at home mums and dads’, what do you do all day at home, I am optimistic that those who work from home will never be asked, “Is kaam ka paisa milta hai?”
What’s your Work from Home Story?
Share your pun-intended stories of working from home and we’ll be more than happy to publish it (provided it is original content). Send us your original write-ups in MS Word along with your bio and profile picture to [email protected]
There comes a point in our lives when a story reveals an answer to us. The story could be from a novel, a real-life story or a film. There are plenty of films that resonate with us, but the ones that stand out are the animated films that touch a direct chord with our hearts.
One of the few films that have remained very close to our hearts is Ratatouille that inspired us with the line ‘Anyone can Cook’ and where Anton Ego writes in his review, “Not everyone can become a great artist, but a great artist can come from anywhere.” What simple lines, but speak volumes of truth.
Or the Soothsayer from Kung Fu Panda 2 tells Po, “Your story may not have such a happy beginning, but that doesn’t make you who you are. It is the rest of your story, who you *choose* to be. So, who are you, panda?”
These lines resonate with us no matter where we are in life today. With tones of films being made every day, there’s always a huge audience who love watching animation films – simply because they make us believe in the miracles of life and that anything is possible if we believe.
We asked our readers about an animation film that they liked the most and why, and hear what they had to share with us:
1. The Lion King (1994 & 2019)
As Manisha Panwar, a Certified Executive and Life Coach puts it, “Life is immensely difficult but the motto of Hakuna Matata (there are no worries) help you deal with life in a positive manner. I quote the movie to drive respect for others, humility, and the karmic circle. In the movie, Mufasa tells Simba, “When we die, our bodies become the grass, and the antelope eat the grass and so, we are all connected in the great circle of life”.
2. The Good Dinosaur (2015)
For Madhura Kuchekar-Ware an Anaesthetist and Intensivist, it has to be The Good Dinosaur because she says, “This movie not only inspired me but my 5-year-old boys as well as it talks about family, relationships and the principles we are taught as a child, how to never give up the fighting spirit and the best part being, we related to a superhero who is a simple character.” For us, the movie couldn’t have depicted the beauty of ‘letting go’ of something we truly love so well. There’s a lot to be learned from this film.
3. Finding Dory (2016)
“I just loved every bit of the movie, especially the beautiful bonding that the parents shared with Dory, the kind of communication they have between them, what happens when kids don’t listen to their parents, how people you meet in your life become your friends and how they help you to overcome obstacles. In the end how Dory reunites with her parents through whatever she was taught by them in her childhood,” shares Sheetal Dhillon, a Consulting Clinical Psychologist.
4. Up (2009)
Chicago based artist Subha Chaudhuri pitches in, “My favourite movie has to be Up. It’s such a beautiful portrayal of love and loss. Watching the old man struggle and come to terms with the loss of his life partner, his determination to fulfill his wife’s lifelong dream and the process of opening up to new experiences and relationships no matter how old you are.”
5. Kung Fu Panda (2008)
“Look at Po, he was destined to be the Warrior but had no idea of the same. One needs to trust their inner strength and try and create their own destiny. For example, they talk about the empty scroll, which had no secret. There is also a point in the film, which tells you that what you consider as your biggest fault actually becomes a strength to reckon with,” adds Manisha.
6. Inside Out (2015)
For a mother of two, Dipali Ved Inside Out is a fascinating film that portrays the interplay of the mind, the memories, and the emotions. They are an integral part of us yet we know so little about how the brain works. Make it a point to watch with your children as it talks about the various emotions and feelings and is a must-watch for every parent and child.
7. Ratatouille (2007)
This movie is perfect for dreaming big says Manisha. She further continues, “Also the fact that people complement each other. As a team what is ones’ weakness can be another’s strength and the goal can be achieved together as a team. Harmony in a team will sometimes face adversities but understanding individual goals help to achieve the bigger goal.”
8. Shrek (2001)
“I use this film to motivate people when they feel that they are not good enough. Shrek with all his shortcomings still is a hero in the movie. The value of friendship is another value I drive through this movie. Like Shrek’s best friend who never leaves his side is the Donkey and you may have a completely weird guy as your best friend but he is the one who stays with you always,” laughs Manisha.
9. Brave (2012)
This film kind of redefines what a ‘beauty’ is all about in a woman. In this film she’s boisterous, she’s loud, she’s daring – it kind of breaks the barriers of feminity. As life coach Manisha she quotes this film as an example where one should never give up, value relationships with people in one’s life especially when they are around.
10. Finding Nemo (2003)
This is by far one of the most iconic animation films ever made. It talks about fighting all odds for something you believe in and how your weakness can be your strength (remember Nemo’s small fin and how he came to be known as Sharkbait!) For Melbourne based new mom, Sayantani Sengupta, she loves this movie for the sheer resilience of an underdog and the lengths to which a father goes to find his son!
The next time you’re looking for some pep talk, try watching one of these films to lift your spirits or why not share with us your favourite animation and why.
Share your original write-ups with us:
Have you seen a movie or a book that has inspired you? Why not share it with us! Send us your original write-ups along with your bio to [email protected] and we’ll be happy to publish it.
Can a simple conversation with his son about the learnings in Value Education class at school, inspire a Mumbai-based father to conceptualise a book? Yes, it can! The Lifestyle Portal is extremely happy to share the journey of this 43-year-old Amit Suri on his maiden book – WOW – A TO Z that was born out of some interesting conversations with his 7-year-old son Vikramaditya.
After a career in the Merchant Navy for seven years and working as a Management Consultant for Systems & IT later, Amit has been running a Communication Design Studio since 2012 in Mumbai along with his wife Sucharita Sengupta Suri. We talked to him about his book WOW – A TO Z taking shape, the journey is so surreal and exciting that we just had to share it with our readers.
How did it all begin?
“There was no initial plan or inspiration to start the WOW Project… it all happened quite organically,” laughs Amit. He recalls how his son Vikramaditya, a Standard I grader would come back home from school and often share about his day about what he learned in class. For Value Education, there is no syllabus or book prescribed in his school. As a result, Amit would often nudge him to tell him more about this class. Vikramaditya would tell his father that they learned about Value Words such as Honesty and Sincerity.
“I liked the idea that the children are being sensitized with these words. So, I started telling and reading them stories based on Value Words to help make them understand through examples. I realized that children learn better, maybe they do so instinctively, with stories. I also felt that if there were supporting pictures, it made learning these Value Words more fun,” adds Amit.
The birth of the WOW Project – the first WOW moment
This made Amit prepare a list of 26 Value Words, one for each letter of the English alphabet, and he reached out to 26 different artists from distinctive spheres of creativity, requesting them if they would like to contribute art, basis their imagination on the word he shared with them.
Amit laughs as he shares, “It may seem surreal but that’s how WOW actually happened! And you know what? They all contributed an art each and this was my first WOW moment in the project! I compiled all the artwork into a book and shared it with the artists. We felt that we should try to get the book published.”
Contacting publishers – the second WOW moment
The next step was when Amit started contacting publishing houses to get the book WOW – A TO Z in print but was received with common feedback that it would be helpful if there was some text to go with it.
“So, I started writing 26 short stories inspired by each artwork for the 26 alphabets. When the second version of the book was compiled, it was noticed by Mr Anuj Malhotra (Bahrisons Books, New Delhi) who introduced me to the renowned publisher – Wonder House Books. Wonder House Books liked the book a lot and agreed to publish it immediately. On hindsight it seems that WOW – A TO Z had to happen and we, all participants, were just incidental to it,” smiles Amit.
First-time author & books
While Amit does enjoy writing, he admits, “I lack the discipline to pursue writing diligently. I also feel that I have to learn the language better in order to express myself as authors should. I love to write, but I credit fate a lot to make things happen.”
From a business owner, a parent and now an author, Amit contemplates as he further adds, “There is no transition from these roles. We all have multiple dimensions within us. We must explore all. We are all a bit of everything and everything is a bit of us.”
Amit has written a few books already and some are almost ready; however, none other published yet. Someday, as he shares, destiny will wake up to make those books leave the hard disk and move into the bookshelf. Until then, it is in the best interest to keep hopes and spirits high.
Investments into the WOW Project – the third WOW moment
Amit admits, “It took time, lots of it and not just mine but of lots of people who helped me in the process. There were artists who agreed to contribute, designers who designed the book, proof-readers and editors who tweaked the language in the stories, Mr Anuj Malhotra who mentored me into the publishing world, and more. But the best part is that all, as they did was pro-bono without any expression or wish for anything in return. I feel that I am either blessed to have met all the WOW people who gladly became part of this exercise, or it was just a sweet mistake that happens once in a while.”
How 26 illustrators contributed to the WOW Project
“This is going to be a long narration and a book in itself”, laughs Amit. He continues, “I was able to connect with many of the WOW artists through my wife’s alumni network at the National Institute of Design (NID), Ahmedabad. A few, I contacted on my own, as I follow their work online. Some of them are my friends and remaining I sniffed out by looking deep into the lanes of old cities or on the internet. All artists are Indians and few of them are settled outside India.” You can read about the brilliant line up of artists here – wow.twagaa.com/contributors.
“Artists are inherently social and helpful people. When they see a good idea being conceptualised, they bond over it and help take the idea ahead. This is how WOW book was put together when different skill sets got together and contributed their part. But, the biggest challenges was finding a publisher.” said Amit.
“I feel that when Mr Anuj Malhotra noticed the book, it was a turning point for the project. Through his guidance and support, we met our publisher Wonder House Books. It is also commendable that Wonder House Books liked the book from day zero. In my first meeting with them, I sensed that they will give the book a good release. I thank them a lot for their support,” adds Amit.
What makes the WOW Project unique?
Amit lists down the key USPs that will make the WOW Project stand out from the crowd.
First is the spirit of all the artists and other people who are associated with the ethos of the project and contributed pro-bono. Second is the fact that this book is not written to target any audience specifically – its appeal is across age groups, professional inclinations and readership categories or genres. It is a universal appeal book to attract people who read short stories, those who love all forms of art, some who wish to get inspiration, many who like to imbibe the values within themselves. Third, the book is unique in the way it was orchestrated where creativity of individuals was collaborated to make something much bigger than one’s individual contribution. Fourth, the book is entertaining, inspiring and also educative. In essence, it depends on how one wishes to see it…this book serves all readers very well.
The theme of the WOW Project
The theme of WOW is what Aristotle had said many centuries ago – “The sum of the whole is greater than the parts”. None of us knew that our part could create such a beautiful whole. It did. It always does when the spirits are aligned.
“The book caters to everyone who likes art or stories. There is no age group that I feel the need to mention; this book is for everyone. There is also no ‘type of readers’ for the WOW Project. Anyone who loves to be entertained and inspired, whether by words or visuals or by the spirit of creativity should pick this book,” smiles Amit.
How does the WOW Project impact the readers
Amit and all those who are a part of the WOW Project are simply happy that the book got this far. As Amit reiterates what he mentioned earlier, “We are incidental to the process, the book harnessed our energies to come alive. We are blessed. We hope that the reader might also feel so. Somewhere a small tug in their heart may inspire, entertain and motivate them to be their best selves.”
Encouraging feedback on the WOW Project
Amit looks forward to the feedback of readers who are independent of the process of making of this book. While there have been several positive feedback, but as Amit shares, “I respect Mr. Anuj Malhotra’s the most. When he saw the book the first time in a Whatsapp forward, he messaged me (I had mentioned my contact number in the forwarded message) and said books like WOW need a good publisher and a good release. To me, this remark was very encouraging since I know that Mr Anuj Malhotra is a stalwart and he had no reason to message me. But he did and took the project under his wings.”
Response so far
The response has been excellent. Many people have picked copies of WOW – A TO Z at pre-order stage. Amit hopes that when the book is available on stands, stores and on Amazon worldwide, the responses may be more WOW.
How can illustrators/ artists/ creative minds contribute to The WOW Project
The next time, if WOW happens again, Amit would like to reach out to artists from across various countries. That would make the experience unique and possibly the end result even more varied than what Amit has compiled this time in the book ‘Words of Wonder – A to Z’.
He signs off by saying, “It will be great to create an ecosystem where people join hands, contribute their part, and build a beautiful whole part by part. You can visit wow.twagaa.com and share your part here wow.twagaa.com/collaborate. I like to think we are incidental to a bigger spirit that makes the whole happen. Let’s believe in it first.”
And we at The Lifestyle Portal would surely like to be a part of the WOW Project too!
Get listed & collaborate with us:
Write to us at [email protected] if you’d like to get listed, featured & collaborate with us at The Lifestyle Portal.
Meet Udit (40) and Umang (35) Bothra, the Co-Founders of WonderPath who have recently started their entrepreneurial journey to help you explore the world in a whole new light. If you think they’re just another travel company, just too bad, you’ll miss out on their upcoming India-Myanmar-Thailand trip starting on 4th May 2020.
The Lifestyle Portal in conversation with the co-founders on their love for road trips and motorcycle riding and are now taking people along in their maiden venture – WonderPath, that was officially launched on 29th January 2020 in Kolkata. It’s quite intriguing to see a new breed of entrepreneurs who after having worked in the Telecom, IT, BPO & KPO industries, finally stepping out of their comfort zones. They’re now listening to the little voice inside them to savour life, pursue their passion and follow their calling.
During his career, Udit had managed various small/ big, single and multi-location and multi-mode customer service delivery units including inbound and outbound call centres, retention centres, doc processing operations, upselling units and experience outlets. He has been extensively involved in training, coaching and mentoring various teams towards effective servce delivery.
Umang is a certified Six Sigma Green Belt and has over 12 years of experience in BPOs & KPOs, Sales & Marketing, Digital Marketing, Business Management Services and Strategic Planning.
How did it all begin?
Armed with almost 18 years of corporate experience in the Telecom and BPO industries, Udit who hails from a business family in Kolkata, always wanted to do his own thing. He shares, “I never wanted to take the family business route, and in fact, I was the first one in my whole family to take up a job! At various points in time, I felt like quitting and jumping onto the entrepreneur wagon but family commitments or various situations in life kept me away from it.”
Since both Udit and Umang always wanted to start a venture together, finally, after almost two decades in corporate life, Udit felt a calling to EXPERIENCE life and not just drift through it.
He adds, “This was also because I had come to a stage where I wasn’t really enjoying what I was doing and I believe that when you enjoy your work, you really LIVE it. That’s when I knew that becoming an entrepreneur was the only way to go and one fine day I quit from my my comfortable and stable job at Airtel.
Overcoming an entrepreneurial roadblock & a blessing in disguise
It wasn’t their first attempt at entrepreneurship. As Udit recalls, “Food has always been a fun thing for me and I believe that when people eat together, and if the food is healthy and the experiences are engaging, it forges happy memories and an everlasting bond!” Based on this thought Udit and his wife Manjira, an ethical vegan and Umang, envisaged opening a vegan cafe in Kolkata. Even though the trio had a great plan and was able to arrange a part of the fund that they needed, their project got derailed as one of the investors backed out citing Vegan as the reason. In fact, in retrospect, had the vegan restaurant had taken off, maybe, WonderPath wouldn’t have seen the light of day.
Riding through the country
“Riding a motorcycle makes me happy, it makes me feel ‘alive’”, smiles Udit with a twinkle in his eyes. AAs he felt he needed some time for himself, he set off on yet another long distance ride; this time a 5,000 km cross country solo ride to Goa (from Kolkata) and back. Upon his return, he was sharing his varied experiences of the ride and that’s when Umang came up with the idea of venturing into the adventure travel space. Umang is already a successful entrepreneur and has dabbled in into segments like BPO/KPO, Digital Marketing & Fashion & Lifestyle and is already running a Travel & Tour company. “Since we share the passion for wheels and the love to travel, give a wheel in his hand and four on the road and you have made him a happy man!” laughs Udit.
Umang shares, “Bhaiya makes such meticulous plans of his rides with all aspects taken care of and after every ride, he usually says “It was one hell of a ride!”; I am sure if he can do it for himself, he can do it for others too and with the right kind of marketing and reach, we can make this a successful venture. I talked to Bhaiya about it and it made perfect sense to him and that’s how we ventured on this WonderPath!”
They admit that one of the biggest challenges is working out the logistics, for both inland and overland trips and experiences. The duo is dealing with different sets of laws, cultures and ethos in every experience that they are curating. Working out the minute details while keeping the needs of their patrons in mind, it is definitely very daunting, but they absolutely love doing this.
Udit further adds, “The other would be the cost of such tours, these are tours where you come in immense contact with the environment, the culture, the people and the laws of the particular place you are going by and going to! This isn’t about hopping on an aeroplane and bang, landing at your destination – the logistic and regulatory requirements of road trips and guided ones at that are very different. We take care of all probable aspects, for example, our road trips have a back-up vehicle equipped with radio comms units (in case we lose cellular network), medipacks, basic spares, mechanic (where necessary), you are always safe; we take care of all the permits, visa etc both for you as well as your vehicle. And hence there is a cost to it; the idea here is to provide a profound experience not limited by the cost of it.”
Products and services at WonderPath
At WonderPath, the idea is to combine the pure joy of travel with the child-like wonder that we miss in our lives. WonderPath’s passion is to curate inland and overland travel experiences where the journey becomes the destination.
“We handpick locales that will fascinate you and the process of reaching there will give wings to your adventure bug! We will ensure that you reconnect with the elements of nature on the way and come back with a soul weathered by the sun, the wind and the earth – a soul reawakened, and senses wondered,” smiles Udit.
Areas that WonderPath venture into include Rides, Drives, Camping, Hiking, Trails, Experience Tours & Curated Tours. As part of the first two experiences Udit and Umang are embarking on an All Women’s Motorcycle Expedition to Gurudongmar Lake (Sikkim) in April ‘20 and then an India – Myanmar – Thailand Drive (& Ride) in May 2020. **
** Should you travel now?
With the recent Corona Virus (Covid-19) scare, it is but natural that we all would like to stay safe and healthy and avoid any unnecessary travel to affected areas. As we all hope that things gradually settle down and you would like to resume travelling all over again, it would be good to plan your trips wisely. It is advisable that you get a health check up done before you plan any trip. Please consult your doctor or local health care centre before planning a trip. You wouldn’t want the virus to travel with you and affect the others too!
While Udit and Umang are taking all the necessary precautions before the trip and have tie-ups with the concerned authorities, should you have any concerns and queries, feel free to contact them on the following: Email: [email protected] and Mobile: +91-9831049060 / 91-9007000606. For more details on Covid-19, please feel free to visit the official World Health Organization website for accurate data and information.
How WonderPath will rekindle the adventurer in you
Gurudongmar Lake is situated at the height of 5,425 m (17,800 ft) and is one of the highest lakes in the world. If you haven’t been there yet, or already have, how about a ride leading up to this place surrounded by snow-capped mountains that are only going to leave you truly awestruck. Significantly higher than the other popular lakes in India, this is a hidden unexplored gem that is going to push your adrenaline meter to an ultimate high!
Umang adds, “Other locations that we will cover in this expedition include Zero Point, Yumthang Valley (15,300 ft.); Nathula at 14,410 ft. one of the highest motorable roads in the world and a glacial lake Changu or Tsomgo, meaning the ‘source of water’. Located at an altitude of 12,310 ft! Each of these places will refresh your senses and leave you feeling ecstatic. The steep roads and the twists on them leading up to all these spots will be nothing short of adrenaline rush as you unleash the inner adventurer in you!” Read more details about the trip.
Why you should sign up for the India-Myanmar-Thailand bike/ car road trip?
Udit explains, “On the India-Myanmar-Thailand trip, you should come for the miles and smiles, for this road trip you will remember for times to come. You live the thrill of crossing two international borders and zipping through the landmark AH1 on your own wheels, immerse yourself in the shades of thousands of pagodas, soak in the natural beauty of a pristine lake nestled in a valley between two mountain ranges; feast your eyes on stunning countrysides, breeze through open roads and arrive in a city once described as the prime diamond on the crown of the land. Find your way through the mountain roads to experience a city that is an amazing blend of the traditional and the modern and pulsates with a unique energy. Expansive landscapes, ancient to ultra-modern architecture, laid back to bustling vibes, dusty roads to slick highway, this one has it all! Read more details about the trip.
What makes WonderPath so unique?
The best part being, WonderPath takes care of all the requirements in terms of permits, routes, visas and vehicle permits (overland tours), stay, guides, escort vehicles etc. so that you can completely immerse yourself in the journey and the destination.
As Udit explains, “What’s going to make us stand out eventually are the locations and experiences we offer. There are quite many people and organizations doing similar work, but in due time you would always find a newer destination or a more unique experience with WonderPath.
For WonderPath, road trips are about the sheer contact you experience when you take a road and come in contact with people, their culture, nature, the wind, the heat, the cold, the smell, the sheer visuals that your eyes can see! Besides, the fun part about a road trip is that you stop when you want to stop, now try doing that when in a train or an aeroplane! 😉
With the current state of environmental degradation, it is imperative that we travel in the most conscious, sustainable and responsible manner. Sharing our thoughts on the same, Udit adds, “Oh absolutely! We believe in responsible tourism and in respecting the law of the land and its culture. In all our trips emphasis will be on promoting and following the same. As far as experiencing and getting acquainted with is concerned, it is a very individual as well as an internal thing, all I can say is we promise to create trips which have very opportune conditions to be able to do so.”
Udit seriously feels that one has to be responsible and have basic respect for co-passengers and co-travellers irrespective of the mode of transport one is taking. One very important aspect here that most people tend to overlook is respect for other peoples’ private space, this manifests everywhere, it is not uncommon in our country for people to push you in queues or poke you with their elbows in a flight or even occupy your seat and neither is it uncommon for drivers and riders to always wanting to go ahead of everyone by whatever means! The thing with driving or riding is when you do that, you are not only putting yourself at risk but others too which I feel we have no right to. So yes, when on roads you must respect the law, the environment and other people who use it.
Vision for WonderPath
“We have just started and have announced the first two experiences. The journey so far has been amazing, we are very passionate about this and are hooked on the idea of making this one hell of a lifelong ride! All the people who we have spoken to or associated with so far have been very encouraging and helping in whichever way they can, and we hope to create some amazing #wonderpaths and spread the #wonderofwandering,” shares Udit.
WonderPath would like to evolve into an organization that not only caters to Indians for inland and overland experiences but to the global community as well to make them experience what our beautiful country has to offer.
Get in touch with WonderPath
Click here you’d like to get in touch with Udit and Umang and know more about their trips!
Get listed & collaborate with us:
Meet 20-year-old Harshita Sharma, a first-year Bachelors in Fine Arts student from Kanpur University, who stumbled upon her hidden talent of bringing lifeless stones to life quite by chance.
Harshita contacted us through the Shereos App, when we shared our feature on a Pune based entrepreneur, Shweta Menon, the Founder of Truly Tribal. When we received pictures of her artwork, we were blown! Don’t go by our word, you have to see her fascinating artwork on stones and pebbles to believe us.
In spite of having cleared her entrance exam for the National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT), Harshita was unable to pursue her dream owing to financial constraints. The eternal optimist in her continued to teach young school children after college hours to earn some income through home tuitions.
It was around this time Harshita recalls, “One day, my students brought stones in the tuition class to help them do an art project for “Best out of Waste” in school. I made some artwork out of those stones and their teachers absolutely loved their work. This was when I decided to learn more about stone painting through YouTube.”
Harshita does admit, that the initial days was an uphill task. She shares, “The initial stages were more challenging because not everyone understood my work. I would often get comments such as kaun kharidega pather (who will buy a stone!). I did find it very discouraging as such comments would pull me down for not having a regular job. But my inner strength would pull me out of this, and I continued painting. I started visiting local fairs but not a single artwork of mine was sold at that time. People would often tell me as to why I am wasting my time as no local art shops would accept my work.
But this didn’t stop Harshita to continue painting and learning. She would regularly post pictures of her artwork on social media and on the Sheroes platform. Then on 1st January 2019, she made a portrait of Sairee Chahal, the Founder of Sheroes, Harshita recalls, “I got tremendous feedback. Everyone said that this was something unique which they hadn’t seen before.”
Harshita went on to get featured on the Sheroes App and started receiving a few orders as well. Not only that, she has successfully completed the ‘100-day art challenge’ and was crowned a winner on by an art studio called Simsum Arts and she adds, “This is how I became a stone artist and launched Stonemania in December 2019.”
The daily dose of encouragement that she received from the fellow members on the Sheroes App, made Harshita launch her maiden venture, Stonemania. While her mother a home manager pitches in with giving ideas and helping her with her artwork, Harshita’s father a banker is now extremely supportive seeing the potential her work has.
While Harshita does feel that painting on stone may not be as popular as abroad, but she is hopeful to make her mark. You can find nature-inspired themes, landscapes, sculpture and portraits painted by her on stones.
Get listed & collaborate with us: