Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Walking Down Memory Lane- The Colgate Clock

Hello, beautiful people!

At this time of the year, with so many high school kids stepping into the 'real world', or what we call college,  one cannot help but think about all the various career choices we had in mind when we were younger. As a little kid, I once thought I'd like to be a dentist- and that had nothing to do with staring into people's mouths.

I was a typical chocoholic (I still am  ) , and cavities never really came as a surprise. So, I was used to visiting the dentist and enjoyed watching him work. I often found myself observing things like the little aquarium in the lobby where I had to wait for my turn, or the way the receptionist smiled at kids who were scared of getting their teeth ripped out. And of course there were those magic fairy tales about tooth fairies and I was always eager to get my tooth extracted only hoping to see one (no, not Dwayne "Rock" Johnson, the prettier ones in tutus ). While I never got to see one, I always found the little gift she dropped under my pillow to spend on something nice 

The thing that fascinated me most, however, was a particular clock on the wall - I have to admit that it was that which made me wish I would grow up to be a dentist. Because I was under the impression that only dentists are allowed to own such a beautiful clock. Whenever I would get terrified of the creepy instruments that were shoved into my mouth, I'd fix my gaze on the Colgate Clock, as I called it, since it had the Colgate toothpaste logo on it. This one had a strange appeal to it ; the second hand was in the shape of a toothbrush and I would follow its progress with a mesmerized expression, from what I'm told. 

I did not mind the pain that came with every visit to the dentist, because I would get the chance to eat a huge ice cream sundae whenever my tooth was removed. But one day, I sorely regretted taking this lightly. I was old enough to have developed permanent teeth- and when one of THOSE got a cavity, I was horrified at the thought of having to go without one. Nightmares began to haunt my sleep, of looking like a toothless granny whenever I would smile. And worst of all, I realized I'd no longer be allowed to eat as many chocolates as I would like to! I felt like I'd been taken to Willy Wonka's chocolate factory and thrown out as a result of bad behaviour (Oh the horror!!). 

Thankfully, my friendly neighbourhood dentist told me I can get away with a 'filling'.  What he meant to fill, I hadn't known- but as long as I could retain my poor little tooth, I was willing to go along with any other plan.  Afterwards, I was advised to brush my teeth twice a day, even if it kills me. Initially, I was so relieved to have my tooth 'rescued', I would slather a generous amount of Colgate toothpaste onto my  toothbrush and brush my teeth fanatically each time I had something to eat. I gradually lost the over enthusiasm but I still make sure I brush at least twice a day. The terrifying process of having the dentist drilling into my teeth  and stuffing it with the silver-ish filler is something I sure don't want to go through again!!

Now I only happen to go to the dentist for a regular check up, but mercifully it isn't because of awful tooth problems. 

I remember Colgate starting a wonderful initiative towards creating a better awareness in people, especially kids regarding oral healthcare. Regular wooden ice-cream sticks were replaced by a wooden brush shaped stick which was revealed after the bar of ice cream was consumed, a very clever way to remind people to rinse and brush their teeth after consuming anything sweet.

Did You Know?
  • Two out of every three Indians suffer from gum problems, and are unaware of it. 
  • The statistics of people with a tooth/gum related problem is way higher than any other disease. 
  • Teeth and gums being integral parts of our body without which we can't enjoy all those yummy saliva-inducing delicacies, it becomes a necessity that we take proper care of them.
  • Apart from those flashing white teeth, we also need to pay attention to our gums which hold them. Loose and receding gums can lead to tooth loss.
  • Bleeding and swollen gums can be a sign of deeper underlying problems like gingivitis or periodontitis  that need to be addressed immediately.
  • Bleeding gums can cause bad breath due to increased bacterial activity in your mouth.
  • We must not ignore signs that our body gives us- what would happen to our winning smiles, and by extension our pretty pictures, if we lost our teeth? Go get yourself a dental check up this week, and do take care of you dental health.
This is my entry for the IndiBlogger contest The Moral of the Story Is...... in association with Colgate Total ProGum Health. For cool tips regarding dental care, visit My Health Speak :)

Hope y'all have a great time today!

The first three images are not mine. Thank you, Google!!

Sunday, May 26, 2013

WOW - How did you meet your closest friend?

Hello lovely people,

We here, Arpita and Swarnali have been friends for over a year now and today, we would love to share with you all how it all started.

Swarnali Says Knowing Arpita has been nothing less than a miracle for me. As Coelho had said, the "universe" conspired to bring us together. Being a thousand miles apart, it was practically impossible for Arpi and I to know each other. But then, the magic happened. Arpi and I would have never known each other if not for our common friend , Koustabh. And how I know Koustabh is yet another tale.

Year 2010 K and I are from the same school. The only thing is, he left the school when he moved to Delhi, a month before I joined. So, he was just somebody I had heard of and never met. But our dear God had some other plans. Five years later, one fine day I find myself talking to K. He had come to meet an old friend of his who was my neighbour and I don't know how, he ends up chatting with my mum instead. And I come out to see him merrily talking to her and we are introduced. No awkward smiles or handshakes, we just gelled the moment we met ; it was like we were meant to be friends.
Time just flew by as we stood there happily talking. Things got even better when we realised we were studying the same subject for our bachelors degree. He had to leave for Delhi the very next day and we parted with a promise to stay in touch. I had already known that I made a friend for life.

Year 2011 K and I were friends on Facebook. Thank God for FB, I met some of my closest and oldest friends there. So another fine day, I check K's photographs from college and I leave a funny remark on one. The next moment I get a notification that a mutual friend named Arpita Mahapatra had liked my comment. For no reason, I go and check her profile and I happened to like her status messages. And for some random reason which I haven't been able to figure yet, I send her a friend request (normally, I would never send random requests to people who just happened to like my comment). Almost a month later, I get a message on my FB inbox from someone called Arpita Mahapatra who apologises for having not accepted my friend request. As you might have understood by now, I had totally forgotten who she was. And a series of messages later, we are friends on Facebook.

Year 2012 – Arpi asks me to join this book review blog called www.alotofpages.com and on a whim, I decide to join and things never looked back for us. ALOP helped us connect over our mutual love for books and there started the unending chain of emails and chats that continues even now.
There hasn’t been a single day since then that I haven’t talked to Arpi. She is like this doppelganger who knows exactly I am feeling and knows just what to say. From agreeing with me when I needed somebody to repeat just what I said to showing me the flip side to the coin when I needed to see a different perspective and hearing me out when I went totally crazy ranting and whining, Arpi has proven to be the best friend I had always wanted. Not that I didn't connect with anybody else before, but with her things just fell into places like never before. I didn't have to try to be somebody for I knew she wouldn't judge and love me for everything I am. We have this weird connection that we can’t seem to explain to ourselves and yet we know how real that is.

September 2012Arpi and I meet for the first time and it didn't feel like we were meeting for the first time. We hugged and laughed and talked like crazy , endlessly for those an hour and half that she was in Kolkata and it happens to be my fave memory from the year.

Arpita Says So, the next time anybody tries to convince you that fairy tales don't happen, DON'T believe them. Fairy tales, magic and miracles are as true as true can be. And we tell it because it happened to us. They think marriages are made in heaven? Well then, so are some friendships. How else do you explain finding someone in your life who is just the kind of person you've always imagined to be an ideal friend? Everyone expects different things from friends, we all have our own criteria- and Swarnali made my definition of a true friend come to life.

I am the kind of person who relishes the idea of knowing people who live far away- but I'm also excessively cautious about who I befriend, particularly when it comes to Facebook. (Yes, I'm paranoid. So?) I almost always ask common friends whether the person sending me a friend request is reliable (if it's a guy) and interesting to talk to (if it's a girl). I remember asking our common friend Koustabh, whether Swarnali and I have anything in common because it's a pain adding someone and not knowing what to say next in the middle of a chat. He laughed, and told me we are quite similar (neither of us had really known then, just how right he was!) since we are both interested in literature, are feminists and unique (I still wonder what he meant by that).

I guess one reason why Swarnali and have turned out to be so close is that we are completely at ease being ourselves when we talk to each other- as in, being weird and silly, confused and angry, insecure and surprisingly proud at different points of time. We could any day pretend to be someone else, considering we don't get to see each other often; but it feels like, no matter what, we would adore- and not just 'accept'- one another just the way we are.

What started as casual chatting on a social networking site, turned out to be a lasting friendship which became much more strong and special than those we have with most people we see every other day. The day we met, feels like a dream now- it seems to good to be true. We met at the airport- I was waiting for the connecting flight- and we barely had time to let it sink in that we are meeting at last, when I had to leave. Yet, that didn't stop us from making the most of it. The little time we had made it obvious that we would have become friends had we just bumped into each other some day, standing in a queue somewhere, or waiting at the bus stop. Our conversation was free flowing; one topic just led to another and that kept us from moaning about how unfair it is that we hardly have a day to spend together. 

The best bit was realizing we are not at all conscious around each other; neither of us felt the need to sit like we are at a job interview, check whether our hair looks right, or talk like we are meeting our in-laws. We cracked jokes at the expense of our common friends; Swarnali easily got along with my Mum and little sister (both of them later told my Dad what a charming person she is) and we wondered how cool it would have been had we lived in the same city. When we parted, we knew already that our 'first meeting' would be a hot topic of discussion for years to come. And we weren't wrong- it still creates a stir when we tell our new friends about it. This came as a perfect opportunity to share the story with you too.

So how did you meet your best friend? Tell us in the comments :)
This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda

Till Next,

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Parchments from the Past

Hello Lovely people!!

I've been away for a long long while now. Missed you all here. Exams and all the madness that comes along kept me busy for all this while. This is a piece I found lying in my drafts for a long time. Time it saw the light of the world :P I hope you like it.

The sound of silence was interrupted by unexpected sobs. Or perhaps not so much unexpected as dreaded. Vanya sighed. It had been a bad idea staying back after the dinner. She knew her hostess was bound to dissolve into tears at some point, but did not have the heart to escape with the other guests earlier this evening. She sorted through the clutter in the kitchen cupboards and grabbed a sachet of instant coffee. As she returned to the living room barefoot, and carrying a cup of hot coffee, she saw Ashish sitting next to the young woman slouched on the sofa dejectedly. She returned his smile; she should have known he’d decide to help her handle Mrinal. He was always the gentleman.

Vanya walked over to the girl and handed her the coffee. Her eyes were puffy already and tears still poured down her unnaturally rosy cheeks. She was pretty, and she looked prettier when she cried. She hastily wiped her face with the back of her hand. She’d gotten more drunk than she’d realized and had made it more than obvious that she was a pitiful girl who was rejected by the only guy she ever loved. It had been embarrassing enough that Raghav had not turned up for his surprise birthday party; she need not let Ashish and Vanya see her break down completely.

She watched them exchange a look which was so full of warmth and familiarity that it made her heart hurt. Had Raghav ever looked at her like that? She wondered if he would have come tonight if he knew all his friends were coming to celebrate and that it wasn’t going to be the quiet, romantic dinner she’d said he should expect. Ashish sank into the sofa next to her. Vanya handed her the coffee and sat in the armchair opposite her, crossed her long legs and smiled kindly like a shrink waiting for her patient to open up. Mrinal could sense Ashish’s gaze on her and shifted uncomfortably, wondering if he knew what was going on in her mind. He gave her the exact same smile and that was her cue.

Vanya’s stomach clenched inadvertently when Ashish pulled Mrinal into his arms. She sobbed her heart out, clinging to him for what felt like an age, until she finally hiccuped herself into silence. Vanya felt like an intruder and shifted her gaze to anything but them. "Would you please not tell anyone?" The question was directed at her. She shook her head as she got up to leave. She pulled on her heels and made to leave when she realized that no one was paying attention.

She glanced back at her friends. Ashish was writing a letter to Raghav on Mrinal’s behalf; a horrible, melodramatic hate mail that was probably going to be torn to shreds in the morning. He was humouring the drunk, after all. "I won’t tell anyone", she told the girl. "I've kept every secret I’ve known since childhood. And I don’t forget", she thought to herself, as she stared at Ashish unblinkingly. He always used three fingers to write- the thumb, the forefinger and the middle.


It had been a hot summer day. Two kids sat in the balcony, in the searing heat accompanied by the hot air gushing from the back of the air conditioner at the living room window. The boy’s older sister told them they were mad to sit out there, even if the balcony was covered by those blinds. But she didn’t try to convince them to play inside. This gave her an opportunity to talk on the phone while she pretended to do her homework.

The little girl sat next to the railing and pulled up the blinds by an inch or two. The boy threw a well aimed sketch pen at the man standing beneath them. They collapsed into silent giggles as the man glared up at them. They quickly hid away, forgetting that the man knew who lived in the house, and it wasn’t hard to guess who would be up to such mischief. The next time they peeked from under the blinds, all the passersby were gone.

They returned to their usual game of G.I. Joe’s, Barbie’s, and Jenga blocks put together. He found a piece of chalk under the shoe rack when the marbles rolled under it. He broke it off into two, handing one piece to his friend. She smiled at him and drew a picture on the floor. He wrote something instead and put a finger to his lips, laughing partly from excitement and partly from embarrassment. She glanced at the three lettered word and tried to smile like she found it just as funny.


"Do you want me to drop you home?" Ashish was frowning at her, obviously wondering why she was standing there like a statue. She shook her head, trying to remember where she was. "No that’s okay, I’ve got a ride", she said. And she walked out the front door, still lost in memories of the past.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Book review - Salvation of a Saint by Keigo Higashino

Salvation of a Saint

Author: Keigo Higashino (English Translation by Alexander O. Smith with Elye  J. Alexander)
ISBN: 9780349139340
Binding: Paperback
Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group
Number of Pages: 384
Genre: Fiction / Murder-Mystery
Language: English
Price: Rs. 350 (I received my copy from www.blogadda.com)

About the Book: 

When a man is discovered dead by poisoning in his empty home his beautiful wife, Ayane, immediately falls under suspicion. All clues point to Ayane being the logical suspect, but how could she have committed the crime when she was hundreds of miles away? As Tokyo police detective Kusanagi tries to unpick a seemingly unrelated sequence of events he finds himself falling for Ayane. When his judgement becomes dangerously clouded his assistant must call on an old friend for help; it will take a genius to unravel the most spectacular web of deceit they have ever faced...

Salvation of a Saint is a magnificently complex and page-turning thriller starring international crime fiction's most enigmatic sleuth. This is essential reading for all fans of exceptional crime fiction.

Swarnali Speaks :

After having read, loved and reviewed the previous Yukawa and Kusanagi book by Higashino, Devotion of Suspect X, I was dying to read this one. When Blogadda.com put it up for the review program, I just jumped and applied. And I can happily say that everybody who liked the previous one will like this one as much. The book manages to capture your interest and hold on to it till the very last word as you cannot help but keep flipping pages without a break. The book is so complex (and yet so simple) that not in a million years can the readers conclude what could have possibly been the manner of death even though the author gives sufficient clues about the possible motive. Therein, lies the genius of Higashino.

The book starts with the suspicious death by poisoning of Yoshitaka Mashiba in his own house in the absence of anybody. What starts with the assumption of a suicide turns out to be a very carefully planned cold blooded murder committed by somebody with an immense patience and eye for detail. Like the previous book, Higashino almost declares the crime and the murderer. The only difference with the last would be the fact that here, the murderer is not so explicitly pointed at. A few lines in the opening chapter ("That's why you have to die, too") and the blurb in the back cover can give one a hint about the same but the reader is kept guessing as to how the crime could be possibly done by the character who is the prime suspect.

The book is very similar to the last one in the sense that this too is a whodunit / howdunit where unraveling the mystery behind the murderer or manner of the crime is given more importance than the crime in itself. Even though it does manages to thrill and keep the readers on the edge with the twists surprise, the structure resembles a whodunit (derivative from who dunn it) more than a traditional thriller. I loved the fact that this book has a deeper character analysis in terms of the pasts of both Kusanagi and Yukawa. More attention has been paid to their personal and working relationship and a romantic angle to Detective Kusanagi's character has also been dealt with. As in the previous book, the reader cannot help but sympathize with the murderer even after knowing the horrific deed they committed.

The only few problems with the book would be the Japanese names which I found very hard to remember (like the last time). Even though the book has a great plot and fluid progression, the pace is somewhat slow in the beginning (first 100 pages approximately) where the author builds up the ideas. But, however, the story moves at breakneck speed towards the end as we are told how exactly the crime took place. The readers are awed as the perfect murder has been committed with the murderer having done nothing  literally. The theoretically possible yet practically impossible (almost) to achieve feat by the murderer is simply mind-blowing. Recommended to all mystery and crime fiction lovers.

Rating : 4.5 / 5 (The 0.5 marks less for the slow pace in the beginning)

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