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Archive for the category “Indiblogger Challenges”

Dove-Love and the Games People Played

Wearing high heels can make your hair smooth and silky and irresistible to touch. Really.

If you were wearing high heels at the Dove Indiblogger Meet aka #DovePlay held at the J.W. Marriott on Mother’s Day (11th May, 2014), you would have won a pack of Dryness Care Dove Elixir. Which is what I was wearing and which is what I won.

Dryness Care Dove Elixir contains precious oils blended with real ingredients. The elegantly stylish bottle holding the elixir – which has lavender petals floating in it – ejects pre-determined amounts of this delicately perfumed elixir which when you gently massage into your hair gives you the benefits of an overnight oiling within 30 minutes. Who does not enjoy the relaxation of an oil massage? And used after a shampoo, it makes your hair smooth and silky and irresistible to touch.

DOVE ELIXIR

DOVE ELIXIR

But that was just the first of the many games that were played at the Play Date in which Dove and Indiblogger jointly decided to pamper women.

Pamper women?!?! The only pampering most women know is the one they do for their children, spouses and other myriad family members.

This Play Date, then, did not leave any stone unturned in its intentions to pamper the guests on that day. Games, cocktails, food and gifts galore formed an integral part of the pampering.

On the urging of the host, the ladies in Dove-white (the dress code for the day) formed teams and group games were played. Each team followed a treasure –hunt –like map showing the trail to be followed. But before that my team-members (who gelled so well even though it was the first time we ever met each other) and I as well as the eleven other teams shook and shimmied and twerked and Zumba-ed as we threw all inhibitions to the winds and participated in the dancercises with gusto (and when the host asked if the men bloggers were being missed the loud Nooooooo spoke volumes). While dancing we got to know each other and one validating exercise required us to write compliments about our partner on a Dove button and present it to them. My partner wrote, “Beautiful eyes, good  personality” on the button and (confession time) whenever I am feeling a bit low, I cheer up on seeing this pin.

DOVE BUTTON

DOVE BUTTON

Games were next on the agenda and they were exciting with interesting self-explanatory names like:

  • Hair Play (making fancy hairstyles for each other),
  •  Have a Ball (catch as many Dove grey balls as possible thrown to us by our team members),
  • Hips Don’t Lie (Hula hoops –which we actually didn’t get to play for lack of time) and
  • Puzzle Mania (in which our team formed the V of DOVE in record time, at least according to us).
HUNDREDS OF THE GREY DOVE BALLS

HUNDREDS OF THE GREY DOVE BALLS

But the ‘crowning glory’ of the day was the Dove Salon where every woman present gave in to her ‘heady’  fantasies. While for some it was a haircut and for others it was a braided style or a hair straightening, for most of us though (straight-haired ones) it was an opportunity to just let our hair down and play with curls.

It has been my long-time wish to gentle-perm my hair but mundane life had always been an obstacle. The Dove hairstyling staff at the Salon was enthusiastic and well-trained and I had no qualms as I requested to have my hair curled. My hair is long, thin and straight. Fingers were crossed and chilled white wine was quaffed as Suman with a dedicated expression on her face got to work.

SUMAN AT WORK

SUMAN AT WORK

And before long, I was transformed. My longtime wish for curls had come true. It was an exciting moment. And if that was not enough pampering, we got a gift hamper each full of exciting Dove products.*

Selfies were taken and reactions were tweeted and compliments were exchanged with the team members with equally mesmerizing hairstyles and when we took our group photograph, the exuberance was quite evident.

The Dove Salon was truly the highlight of the event for me. Quite co-incidentally I had to attend three different events on consecutive days and I was excited to flaunt my new look on all those days.

THE TRANSFORMATION

THE TRANSFORMATION

We learnt to make cocktails from Pranav (one of tips was to not use more than 60ml (or was it 40) of spirits in a cocktail) who was also the judge of the bar tending competition This was held at the poolside and the burning totems of the J W Marriott added a mysterious ambience to the bar tending event.

BAR-TENDERS ALL

BAR-TENDERS ALL

After this we traipsed back to the ballroom where we tucked into tasty Indian and Continental fare which is what dinner was. A dance performance at this time had our feet tapping and then it was time for the Awards in which the winners were cheered lustily by all.

This was also the time to meet and put a face to blogger friends from other cities who were till then just virtual friends. Dove had in fact, as a special treat, fully sponsored the trips for the out of station bloggers. Laughing and chatting and catching up between morsels of tasty food was never more fun. The dance floor was then cleared for us pampered women to again let our hair down (literally and figuratively) as we danced to popular numbers.

As the evening (night?) came to a close, the thoughtful gesture on the part of the Indiblogger and Dove team was to provide transportation to those who needed it was appreciated by one and all.

THE BIG BANG (Team No.11)

THE BIG BANG (Team No.11)

The pampering did not end there. Perhaps the Universe got into the act too, because as soon as I got out of the hotel, I found an EMPTY autorickshaw standing outside and the driver AGREED to take me to my destination. How much better can a day get?

Once home, high heels off, the gift hamper was opened to reveal a plethora of goodies.  *A straightening iron and a Dove bejeweled pin were part of the goodies as was the most-needed one, if I was going to be making hairplay an important aspect of my life.

Huge bottles of Dove Intense Repair Shampoo and Dove Intense Repair Conditioner.

DOVE INTENSE REPAIR SHAMPOO

DOVE INTENSE REPAIR SHAMPOO

 

The Keratin Actives in the shampoo and conditioner will protect my hair from any damage whether I curl my hair or straighten them because I know that just a coin-sized amount of Dove Intense Repair Shampoo and Conditioner used on the hair after the regular shampoo makes my hair smooth and glossy. Just like a hair spa.

Thank you, #DovePlay, for a wonderful day of caring and pampering. A huge thank you, also for the hair care products that actually do what they say they will do because we know we can trust you to take care of our hair while we take on the world.

This post is part of #DovePlay, an event held by Indiblogger and Dove.

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LETTING MY HAIR DOWN

Playing with my hair, or at least trying to, is not quite new to me. Pigtails and ponytails were par for the course for school and kiddy birthday parties.

It was only when I got married that playing with my hair became a form of what else, but play. Inspired by myriad Bollywood songs, I too wanted my very own beau to play peek-a- boo with my hair. But it was not to be.  Perhaps it was because neither of us was a good singer and the strains of Bollywood songs playing in the middle of the night could be quite disruptive for the other members of the household. Or was it that long hair did not much enamour the beau seeing that his hair was almost as long as mine (we are Sikhs, see)?

Ah, well.

Next, I tried playing ‘House House’ with my hair and it mostly consisted of making a top knot to avoid hairy additions to the food or hairy curtains blinding my eyes while I dusted.

I even played ‘Office Office’ in which my hair starred as a top knot again but now decorated with a couple of loose tendrils and a diamond studded clip.

The topknot (sometimes a bouffant) became a fixture as life settled into a routine of baby-toddler-school-college.

Play seemed to have taken a backseat to the serious business of living. One even laughed sometimes at the memories of the Bollywood peek-a- boos that weren’t.

And then one day, many years later, when a beauty therapist, while oiling my scalp, oiled away the melanin from a few strands of my hair, I decided to play ‘color my hair’. Global, highlights, lowlights… this was the beginning of a fun trend as I experimented with golden, blonde, ash blonde( names of colors) and what not.

Sadly, the trusted colorist preferring to go the family way twice in three years has paid put to my mane-ly matters.

But the craving to play is back. Short of cutting my hair, I am game for a brand new caper. A perm comes to mind. Time for a daring new look? Time to play ‘Myself’?

Many say perming causes the hair to break and get damaged. Well, they said that when I decided to colour my hair, too (I took care of that problem with my Dove hair care products and I’m sure I can do the same this time, too).

Now to find a trust-worthy, skilled hair stylist!! Can it be tougher than finding a needle in a haystack?

This post is part of #DovePlay, conducted by #Indiblogger

When Shanti and Sanitary Napkins help you find meaning in life

When Shanti, his newly-wedded wife, couldn’t use readymade sanitary napkins because it would adversely impact the milk budget of the family, it became the starting point for Arunachalam’s search for meaning in his life.

You need to have a fire here, says Arunachalam Muruganantham, placing his hand on his heart.  A school dropout with an earthy sense of humor, Arunachalam tells us about his journey from purchasing his very first pack of readymade sanitary napkins to providing a way to a life of dignity for women in the villages to receiving the President’s award.

How easy it is today to go to a mall and pick up a packet of your favourite brand of pads or tampons to help you tide over those difficult days. But imagine the situation in the almost 80% of the Black and White part of the country (as he calls the non-metro towns and villages of India) where due to budgetary constraints, women are forced to use cloth which, Arunachalam says he was shocked to see, were worse than the rags he used to clean his vehicle. In such a scenario, it is inevitable that women suffer from a multitude of urogenital diseases.

What was a man who loved his wife to do? Especially if he was of an entrepreneurial bent of mind?

In a hilarious TEDxGateway speech of around 14 minutes (Franklin Templeton Investments partnered the TEDxGateway Mumbai in December 2012) Arunachalam pokes fun at the multi-nationals who, according to him, overcharge for products just because they are a ‘Corporate’. But the bigger adversity he faced was from women themselves who firstly, refused to discuss this sensitive topic with him and secondly, even though his wife finally agreed to the experimentation, the process was slow because he could work on this only once a month for five to six days.

You can’t keep an inquiring mind down and so Arunachalam became, arguably, the first man in the world to ever wear a sanitary napkin. He made up a contraption, with tubes and a ball filled with animal blood, to simulate the process of menstruation and he wore it while walking, while cycling and even while sleeping. And he wore a sanitary napkin manufactured in his workshop to understand how exactly the pad could provide adequate protection.

Tee and Eee is the process that could take you 8 years to master  in Stanford, says Arunachalam. Trial and Error. Fail as fast as you can so that you can be a success. Yet another gem: Shut yourself in a dark room and think about what will give meaning to your life (a hint: it is not the accumulation of money). Then, do it.

This is exactly what Arunachalam has been doing. He has invented reasonably priced machines to manufacture good quality sanitary napkins.  His factories provide a livelihood to thousands of women involved in the manufacturing of the pads. Even students in schools are making their own pads. They are not just employees-they are stakeholders. 706 machines set up in 23 states in India. It is not restricted to India and is suitable for almost 103 other developing countries.

I feel proud that, it is a fellow Indian who has taken on the might of the Goliaths of well-known brands and come up with a ‘Designed Solution’, that addresses the problem faced by his wife and all other women and at the same time makes a huge ‘Measurable Social Impact’. This, he says, can also be called ‘Business’. His vision is to make it viable for every woman in the country to have access to safe, low-priced sanitary napkins, where currently the use is only 5%.

It really is time we took the discussion of the health and hygiene aspects of the use of sanitary napkins out of the shadow of superstitions and misplaced conservatism. This will reflect in the better health of the women of the country and it is rightly said, the better the state of health of women in a country, better is the state of that country.

(Franklin Templeton Investments partnered the TEDxGateway Mumbai in December 2012).

CAN YOU FEEL THE LOVE TO-NIGHT?

The long road stretched ahead tantalizingly, inviting the car to experience its speed on its smoothness.  The car raced ahead, not losing this opportunity, which could never be found on a city road. The cool fragrant air inside the car brought back memories of New Zealand and its invigorating air with its huge coastal plains and the hot springs, where they had gone five years ago for their honeymoon. But, no-one who now peeped inside the car would say that the honeymoon had ended.  She smiled in pleasure as she adjusted the Ambi Pur® dispenser with one hand even as her other rested on his thigh entwined with his hand.

And can you feel the love tonight
It is where we are
It’s enough for this wide-eyed wanderer
That we got this far…

Elton John’s velvet crooning swirled inside the car, enveloping the besotted couple who were heady with the specialness of the day. It was their fourth wedding anniversary. Away from the monotony of their everyday routine life, the freedom of speeding on the highway was intoxicating. Their hearts thumped equally hard, the magic of intimacy lit fireworks in all their nerve endings. They were so jealous of this private moment they did not want to stop even for food. She fed him chicken nuggets and potato wedges with her fingers and giggled when he took a bite of her fingers.  The cool fragrant air inside the car continued to remind them of New Zealand springs. The sun had set long ago and a couple of hours later they would reach the SunSwept resort where a candlelight dinner in a private suite awaited.

Could any other road trip be more perfect than this was the thought they shared silently in their minds.

SIXTEEN YEARS LATER

“Mom, please pick me up from the gym. I’ll shower at the resort.” She cut off the call on her mobile, swearing under her breath. The sixteen-year-old son on the line was old enough to go to the gym, but not old enough to be left behind alone in the house as a punishment for not sticking to the schedule.

“Mom, does the SunSwept resort have a swimming pool? Did you tell them that it is your twentieth Wedding Anniversary? Are they offering a complimentary cake?” The fourteen-year-old daughter shouted out the questions from the back of the Chevy Beat, even as she chomped her way through a take-away pack of Schezwan noodles and garlic chicken Manchurian, which would keep away the hunger pangs for the three hours it would take them to reach the resort.

The Beat glided to a halt outside the gym and she got out to sit at the back as the son always insisted on sitting in the front. She didn’t really mind.  She had a tendency to nag her husband while he drove and he said this made him nervous.

The terrible odour of sweat that emanated from the exercise enthusiast made her wrinkle her nose and hold her breath till she was safely seated in the back.

As soon as he sat down, the son started fiddling with the music system eager to put on his favourite EDM.

“Justin Beiber! Really?!” He taunted his sister.

“Dad! Tell Bhaiyaa to let Justin baby’s song continue to play.”

“Justin baby! Ha ha ha. Really ROFL , sis!”

The father’s words of reproach drowned in the loud beats of EDM as they blasted out of the Bose speakers.

The son sipped on the protein shake from the gym café. The daughter, defeated by the might of the elder son, put on her earphones and was soon lost to the world of juvenile music. Maybe the next three hours of the journey would pass peacefully.

But it was not to be. The sweaty smell of the gym clothes combined with the oily, sour smell of the Noodle-Manchurian mix was beginning to make every one gag.

Mother was the first to notice. Her nose was always the first to know things. It was a busy nose.

The Ambi Pur® mini vent clip was empty. This was an emergency. They crossed their fingers as the car came to a halt outside an auto accessories shop. Yes, they stocked Ambipur car fresheners and which fragrance would they prefer?

“Let’s take the Sky Breeze,” said the son.

“No! No! No! I want Thai Dragon fruit. I love its pink cover,” countered the sister.

Mother hit her hand on her head. These petty arguments would continue unabated. She wondered at the wisdom of taking two hyper kids on a road trip even if it was for a celebration. The babel of noises had become huge.

“We will take New Zealand Springs and that’s final,” said Father, suddenly, and when Mother looked into the near-view mirror she saw Father’s eyes were on her.

The son was studying Science to take up engineering after the twelfth grade and the daughter was working on becoming a fashion designer eventually. They would be fine once they outgrew their adolescent pangs.

Mother smiled at Father as they remembered yet another perfect road trip of many years ago.

(This is an entry for the Indiblogger Ambi Pur ‘The Perfect Road Trip’ Challenge).

DAL MAKHANI AND THE SOAK-NO-MORE CONUNDRUM

“I want to eat Dal Makni and Rice,” the young son demanded, one day.

“Tomorrow,” I replied, patiently.

“Not tomorrow, now.”

“You can’t have it today. Dal needs to be soaked for atleast 8 hrs,” I informed him.

“I want to eat Chhole and Bhhature,” the same young son demanded the next day.

“Tomorrow,” I replied patiently, yet again.

“Not tomorrow, now.”

“You can’t have it today. Chhole needs to be soaked for atleast 8 hrs,” I informed him, once again.

“I want to eat Rajma and Chawal.” Young son demanded, but with an underlying tone of belligerence.

“Tomorrow,” I replied, in a patient tone.

“Not tomorrow, now.”

“You can’t have it today. Rajma needs to be soaked for atleast 8 hrs,” I informed him, feeling like a stuck record.

Instant gratification? An impossibility in the case of these absolutely-must-be-soaked-before-cooking beans.

If this was twittersphere, this situation would have been #damnthesoak.

I was beginning to get worried. The tradition of boy extolling the virtues of his mother’s haath ka khaana in front of his foot-stamping wife was in danger of getting extinct.

“Mom, where are my cricket-whites? I have practice today.”

Oh, heck! “They are getting soaked.”

“Soaked! Soaked! All these soaking excuses are just not SO –OK.” He was almost screaming.  The angry pain in his eyes was scary.

My supermom tiara was in danger of becoming as muddy as the cricket whites after a day’s enthusiastic play.

I was feeling mighty aggrieved myself. I had forgotten to soak the green gram for my sprout bhel. Lunch was going to be unsatisfactory. I was beginning to feel empathy for the son’s woes.

A solution had to be found.

“Soak no more” seemed the only solution to these challenges that beset the peaceful tempo of a tempestuous urban life. Friends, relatives, neighbours and even the know-it-all Googlebhai were consulted.

Most relatives seemed to go into cardiac arrests even at the thought of cooking without soaking.  Was this going to be an unsurmountable challenge?

“No, absolutely not,” said Rachna, wiz-cook and best friend. “Wash well the beans and pressure cook plain for a whistle. Let it sit for an hour, then discard the water. Once you do that, cook normally the soft-like-soaked-overnight beans, dal or what have you.”

Hema, Rekha, Jaya and Sushama’s pasand was all-soak for clothes, so they were no-help in that department. Sona, Mona and Tina (thank God for kitty parties) swore by Surf-Excel.

“Did you know that the new Surf Excel Matic has the power of “Vibrating Molecules” to penetrate deeply embedded stains & remove them effectively, so no soaking before washing with the new Surf Excel Matic!”  Mona said.

I did not know that but Surf Excel Matic seemed to be the new love in Mona’s life. And she seemed happy.

After following Rachna’s advice I am able to keep son’s foodie desires satisfied, so I am happy.

And using New Surf-ExcelMatic has made soaking clothes a thing of the past. I am much happy.

My house is now a 75 percent “Soak-No-More” zone.

Why not 100 percent, you say? That’s because no-one yet has an answer to how to obtain sprouts without soaking the gram. Not even Googlebhai.

Do you?

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