New year 2016 – Project 365 completion and new goals

So 2015 is over and new year has arrived. This is the time people reflect on the past year and create new year resolutions. I too have been doing them for the last many years on this blog. But I rarely do try to do the postmortem of my previous wish list. What matters is the memory milestones, which I carry forward as appreciation and medals, to hang in my mental cupboard.

Last year 2015 I completed my first project 365 on photography. I did not cheat. I did take photo each day and posted on Instagram. This means I had to post pathetic photos on some days and that too the single photo I would have taken that day. When I started I did not have much hopes on me, and I had given the relaxed rules that if I ever I fail to take a photo, I could always post something from the past or leave it blank. But I did not had to. Is that what you call the conspiracy from the universe? It seemed that I had to do nothing much apart from not giving up each day. The rest was taken care of. Something or the other appeared before me, inviting me to click it to make it photo for the day. Taking photo was sometimes easy, as even an abstract image which people do not understand qualify as an image. Some people just call them more artistic than others though.

The tough times arrived in form of uploading to Instagram. I realised Internet was still not available as easily it should be, in many remote places. I can be actually grateful to the unfortunate timing of not being able to have many vacations this year, since if that had happened, I would not have had access to Internet many days and it would have stressed me more.

The second difficulty was Instagram itself. There were times when I couldn’t upload to Instagram from phone, but was able to do online. But there comes the big issue of uploading to Instagram through web. That was something of a tradeoff for DSLR pics, as they had to be scaled down for mobile/tablet uploads, and also transferred to the devices, rather than directly upload from laptop.

The third was the editing part. Seeing some of the images on Instagram and a many other social networks you wonder how they create such beautiful filters. Do they really pay for the innumerous filter apps out there? And does #iphoneography really does make a difference? As I saw more and more mobile photos, there were many times, like other noobs, to fall into the trap of upgrading the phone. I have still not found the answer of best mobile camera phone. Some say, its the mobile you have in your hand, and some say its iPhone.

 

Now that 2015 was over, I really wondered what could be my next year challenge. Though it was hard, the photo challenge did became a daily inspiration to me. There was something I could look forward to. It was similar to having a daily hobby class, though the class duration was very less.

In the last year, I came across several articles regarding gratitude, and how it transforms our life. Every year, the resolutions we keep are aimed at improving our life, and such articles scream again and again that yoga, meditation, practicing gratitude are the keys to happiness. Though I have not fully believed in these concepts, and how to incorporate these practices into my life, I thought why not start with something which I can correlate to.

Saying thank you is a practice we have been learning from childhood and I thought that would be much more easier than doing flexible physical exercises or being in silence. We just have to mould it into proper gratitude, or to be grateful for whatever we have every day and then slowly every moment, rather than saying thank you only when required. So this year’s word is going to be GRATITUDE.

Another target I have kept is to be healthy. This does not mean I want to lose weight or fat belly. I just want to be healthy. This can mean incorporating healthy eating habits or indulging in some form of exercise. Be it mere walking for half hour around my apartment or the terrace. Be it in being regular at night teeth brushing. Be it in having more salads and proteins. Cooking has not been my favourite department ever since I was born. But I need to realize its importance in our sustenance and health. It’s like a survival skill which needs to be taught in school, but unlike many other important survival skills, our education unfortunately doesn’t have that in our curriculum.

The last target is to read more books. In the last two years, without having any challenge, or any dedication towards reading books, I realized I read almost 10 books per year. So I am sure, that with proper attention, I could increase the number of the books and the quality of the books too.

What are your new year thoughts?

 

Writing apps on iPad

Apps and I go a long way back. From installing softwares on the PC and playing with it, and then uninstalling it after “testing” it, I have clogged my Windows installation to such an extent, that I had become a pro at installing it again and again. This was in my college days.

Now in the world of mobile OS, I have played with oldest apps to the latest Android, Windows, and iOS store. These days, after getting my iPad, when I have been busy trying different apps, I read about the Hanx Writer and thought of trying it out. Usually, I try the games for its graphics, and when I am unable to move ahead in the game, I uninstall them. Some apps have been crappy with the unwanted ads or showers of bling, as in Candy Crush Soda. I do have a condition while testing, that I won’t buy the app unless I really enjoy it and find it useful. But some others as in the Smash Hit, has stunned me with their display and has tempted me to buy the app many times.

As the year draws to a close, I was wondering what project to start with for the next year. The instagram challenge of Project 365 is going to be over. Apart from photography, I thought why not give the writing a similar chance. So that’s when I started searching for the writing apps for iPad. I was searching for the free apps as usual as a start. The native app, Pages, and iAWriter and many other famous ones were either paid apps or were very heavy. The Evernote and Onenote apps were useful in doing sync across all the devices, but the interface did not seem tempting. Moreover, they did not had the “word count”. They acted more like the plastic files we had at home, to segregate various notes and clippings. Having said that, I found Evernote to be very useful for using on laptop and would have stuck to it on iPad too, if it was free, and did not crash much on my laptop.

I stumbled across a simple app, Werdsmith, which had a plain interface and beautiful fonts but was limited to few entries. I have now settled on Plain Text 2 to start with, which can be synchronised manually with Evernote and Onenote, as a backup. Though I am still not satisfied and the search is still on.

I also had a go at the famous Hanx Writer. the typical handwriting feel indeed has something magical about it. I was giving a first try scribbling along, and the following came up. Below is the unedited version of what I wrote, and I was super impressed.
Continue reading “Writing apps on iPad”

Papaya cake

Its amazing how as you grow old your taste buds can tolerate more. WhHen I was young, I hated papayas and many other fruits. I still do, but can pop in occasionally just for the sake of our children. The most common fruit would be bananas and their excess has led to creating banana muffins and banana breads to many houses. Last weekend I was faced with an excess of papaya, and that too organic, all the more expensive. Milkshakes was already tried and tested for two three days, and I did not wanted to have another one. I thought if we could use excess bananas in baking why not papaya? That led me to search for this recipe from Nadia’s Healthy Kitchen, and I decided to adapt it for my own use.

The changes I made were for the unavailable ingredients like stevia and grated coconut. I used whole wheat flour instead of oat flour and plain yoghurt (or rather Nandini curd packet).

papayacake.jpg

 

Dry ingredients:

  • 1 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup oats
  • 1/2 baking powder
  • 1/2 baking soda
  • 1/4 cinnamon powder
  • Pinch of salt

Wet ingredients:

  • 1/4+1/8 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 tbsp coconut oil
  • 2 cups mashed papaya
  • 1/4 cup yoghurt

Directions:

  • Preheat your oven to 180°C
  • Prepare your baking tin, by lining with butter/oil and dusting it with flour.
  • In a bowl, mix together all the dry ingredients.
  • In a separate bowl, mash the papaya well with a fork, then add in the yoghurt, coconut oil and eggs. I also added the sugar along with wet ingredients as I have done the same before for another baking recipe.
  • Pour the wet ingredients over the dry and mix and pour into the prepared tin.
  • Bake for 40-50 minutes or till the toothpick/knife comes out clean.

I do feel I could have used bit more flour, or reduce the amount of coconut oil, as I felt the cake was too moist for my taste. You could also add the tutti-fruity chips available in the market.

Do test the recipe and let me know how it came out for you as well.!

 

Churning out the questions

There are times in your life you don’t realize what is happening to you. Its just like a slap on the back of your head but which happens mentally, at a split second, at the touch of a wave, or a breezy wind. You suddenly start being introspective and questioning yourself. The questions arise on its own, demanding answers from you. Questions which you never thought of. You feel you have gone mad or you need a drink, and try to forget it. But it lies there, waiting to be answered, and initiating you unknowingly on the path to truth. Forcing you to gradually change habits or get wiser by gaining knowledge, affecting you emotionally and gnawing at your mind slowly to understand and sort out the emotions you feel. A point at which you cannot turn back and you have to face it.

Recently, some of the discussions overheard at a meet, rekindled the thoughts in me, which I was always fond of. There were talks on spirituality and self help books. It reminded me of a time, when I started the same search. As I think back, I had never heard of “spirituality” concept in my childhood. The religious figures to which we prayed were the spirit and soul and I blindly followed them. There were customs to be followed blindly without having logic. I noticed that some people were following them religiously while some were not. And then the questioning phase started in me. Why do we pray? Why should we follow the religious restrictions which I do not feel like following.? Why was I not supposed to go in church instead of temple? Who is God?

I am not sure, how the answers came to me, but I did collect some of my thoughts regarding religion and faith long before. And then with the help of internet, I came to know that I have company. I am not the only one who questions others. And that, its a phase which is quite okay and normal. The word agnostic was entirely new to me, but the concept was not.

The concept of universal spirit came much later to me, when I attended a Reiki class. We have heard it before obviously as part of the religious teachings to which I was subjected to. At that time, those were just words which did not had any meaning, like many other flying words we were forced to hear at the rebellious age. Hence I found it difficult to accept initially, but I found that if I believed them, it becomes easy to find answers to many other tormenting questions. Still it doesn’t mean I have accepted it. But I am not rebellious any more towards such concepts. Just like the presence of God, they can be either the truth or false.

Then there was the phase of living life. Finding out whether God or spirit is there in real or not, does not teach us to earn and make money. Though the big keywords like karma, dharma and other principles have been used in many books, its quite a task to carve out your own path of principles which you would choose to follow, which finally makes you, the real you. So then there is another aspect of spirituality which can drive you to live. Questions like what are you living for and what is the ultimate aim in life, what should you do, etc start surfacing. You think of your habits and deeds in the past, and the ones you want to do in future. The goals of career, money, family and relationships. You start to define the term happiness and peace for you. And then you work towards achieving it.

If we could easily find the answers, wouldn’t life be simple. Where in lies the catch then? Does that mean we never could find proper answers as to how to live our life too? Maybe yes. The decisions we take could either be right or wrong and is very subjective, and charts out the mould which distinguishes the different human beings,. Even if we found a satisfactory answer, just like the tides of ocean, over time, the tumbler of life gets a massive shake overnight, and we keep trying to settle down the next day, until the water dries up.

If life has to go on like this, what other questions remain? Would the inanimate objects like ocean and land too think like these? What about other living organisms? They are assumed not to have intelligence, but we consider them as souls too. Won’t they be thinking all these too?

Confessions of a drama queen

Nowadays I am going crazy with this stupid addiction of mine towards the TV serials. Time flies by just like I used to do with Facebook or twitter. It seems I have a tendency to get into addiction. If one gets over, another starts soon. I am not sure why I am so obsessed with the love stories, and the plots and scenes. At times, I feel some stories are revolving around me, and I am failing to identify them.

Mad people. Mad world.
Words are spinning around my head, forming plots and stories. But without any drama. And how that could be possible. You need drama to survive. To bring you to the edge. The spiciness that can make you yearn for thirst of love.

Love stories have always had a charm to it. It had its own way to pull at our heartstrings. Maybe that is why, they are created again and again, be it in books, films and TV series. The different layers of the deeply loved emotion adds a mystery and we tend to unravel it everytime we see or read its magic. The addiction which started in my teenage years still bounds me to the magical world of love stories.

Just like any other teenage girls, it all started from the world of books. I could so relate to the first crush feelings of Anne Frank towards Peter, even though the rest of the book on politics went over my head. Then came Nancy Drew and Ned Nickerson. Their deep and caring friendship along with the investigative crime thriller story became the base ground for building my dreamland. The other famous love stories by Bronte sisters and Jane Eyre were too heavy and the deep relationship was not easy to digest at the age I read them, but still evoked an outline of different shades of love. Continue reading “Confessions of a drama queen”

Book Review – The Immortals of Meluha

The “Big Day sales” of Flipkart and Amazon are a boon for book lovers. We get the books priced at huge discounts, and cheaper than that of book stores. And ordering is quite easy and fast, though it doesn’t equate to the happiness of flipping through the pages and smelling them. The Immortals of Meluha was such a steal. Having read already Ashwin Sanghi, now the remaining one among the popular is Devadutt Patnaik, which will be added to my reading list soon.

The_Immortals_Of_Meluha

The first of the trilogy series by Amish Tripathi, The Immortals of Meluha, is a gripping book from start to finish. The book mainly depicts the enmity and war between two neighbouring countries, Meluha and Swadeep ruled by Suryavanshis and Chandravanshis respectively. The main protagonist is the Shiva, a Tibetan tribe leader, who is considered as the Neelkanth, the destroyer of evil, by the Suryavanshis. The whole story moves forward with his transformation and acceptance of himself as the “Mahadev”, the God of Gods, though the love story of Shiva and Sati also covers a huge portion of it.

The terrorist attacks by Nagas, and the behaviour of the two opposing countries, reminds me of the present state India and Pakistan. The role of Sati and her equal presence in the whole journey of Shiva symbolises the power of women, but it would be more appreciated, if instead of just a single woman, they were uplifted as whole. The character of Daksha is commendable, with a slight selfish trait, as part of being a regular human being. The recurring tormented thoughts of Shiva with himself and his past also makes us eager to know more. Not much was explored about the intention or history of Nagas and why the terrorist attacks happened, though I expect it to be covered in the next book of the series, “The Secret of Nagas“. Continue reading “Book Review – The Immortals of Meluha”

Project365 on Instagram #akb365days

In January, I had planned a new year resolution of taking photos everyday. Fortunately, Lighttrails group and many of my Facebook photography friends too are joining in this resolution. This has kept the momentum and spirit very high. Initially I thought, we would need many photo prompts to get the ideas, like the Capture your 365,  but two weeks just flew past without having any shortage of ideas.

I am doing the Project 365 on Instagram, and simultaneously posting to Twitter and Facebook. Follow me on Instagram for my photos. You can also follow the tag #akb365days everywhere.

 

Part 2 : Wayanad and Kutta trip

Part 1 of this trip covers Wayanad, Banasura Sagar dam and Soochippara waterfalls after which we continued our journey to Kutta.

The offbeat destination Kutta is popularly known as south Coorg. The coffee plantations and homestays, combined with proximity of two wildlife sanctuaries make it a good location to stay.

New dawn. #tbt #akb100days #latergram #kuttadiaries #throwbackthursday

A photo posted by Archana K B (@archonline) on

Day 4:

After breakfast buffet at our resort, Bison Manor Resort, which was served late after 8.30 or around 9am, we visited Irpu Falls, nearby Kutta. Again, we needed to walk 1.2 km to see the waterfalls, but the paths were properly laid and there was no steep climb or rocky terrain on the way, instead a mix of long walk and proper steps. At the bottom of the waterfalls, there was a metal platform for the visitors to enter the waterfalls. And there is a view point platform constructed with seating, a bit away from the waterfalls, for the people who do not want to bath and would rather enjoy the view. The place was crowded, but the walkway was inviting. There were blue butterflies flying near the waterfalls and were a delight to see. Continue reading “Part 2 : Wayanad and Kutta trip”