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The Reading Room of Satabdi Mishra (Co-Owner, Walking BookFairs), Bhubaneswar, India

This is a special picture from a trip Satabdi and her team made to Mayurbhanj district in Odisha where they started the first Walking BookFairs Library in Bisoi Government School for children who were working as child labourers. These 116 children have been rescued and rehabilitated by the district administration. They now go to school and all of them love stories. Walking BookFairs helped start a small library for them with a box full of story books and picture books (some of them cannot read yet).

Satabdi Mishra is a mother of a four and half year old. She co-owns and runs independent book shack Walking BookFairs in Bhubaneswar, Odisha, India, which mainly involves driving a van-full of books – the Walking BookFairs traveling bookshop – through villages and small towns of Odisha. She wants to spread the joy of reading all around and strongly believes that books are for everyone, including the poorest farmer in the remotest village.
This bibliophile loves good books, good cinema and good tea.

I invited myself into her Reading Room to hear all about the pages she loves, abhors, goes back to over and over again.

You’re currently reading

An Evening in Calcutta – Stories by KA Abbas (Harper Collins India)

Baluta by Daya Pawar, translated by Jerry Pinto (Speaking Tiger Books)

Last book you bought

The Museum of Innocence by Orhan Pamuk.

I have to confess that it’s been some time since I have bought a book, one of the perks of running a bookshop!

A Book you left unfinished (why, when)

Oh! I do that a lot. Only to re-visit them later.

A Book you’ve wanted to read for years, but haven’t yet

The Diary of a Genius by Salvador Dali.

Three books everyone should read

Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse.

The Outsider by Albert Camus.

1984 by George Orwell.

We live in strange times. Anybody who has access to books, should absolutely read these three books!

An author you wouldn’t be caught dead reading

I am someone who would read anything in print. But even with all my love for adventures I am yet to read Chetan Bhagat.

A Book that sums up childhood reading years

Oh! Those glorious years! Alistair McLean, O.Henry, PG Wodehouse and some Sidney Sheldon too!

Book(s) you’ve read more than once & would love to read again

‘100 years of Solitude’ is a book I keep reading again and again.

‘Blindness’ by Jose Saramago.

‘Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair’ by Pablo Neruda.

Favorite author(s)

Gabriel García Márquez, Jose Saramago, Fakir Mohan Senapati, Manto, Nagarjun, Pablo Neruda, Haruki Murakami

A fictional character from a book that you most identify with and why

One of the most brilliant characters in a book is Meursault from The Outsider.

When Meursault finally realizes that people’s lives have no grand meaning or importance, and that their actions, their comings and goings, have no effect on the world. This realization is the culmination of all the events of the novel.

The most prized book in your library

A copy of ‘Siddhartha’ from a very special person in my life. This book and the person who gifted me this book have been my anchor.

Your favorite reading spot

The garden at Walking BookFairs. I spend most of my days reading by the lily pond with butterflies, spiders, squirrels and sparrows for company. But I will read anywhere.

If you’d like to participate in this or other Q&A series, holler on Twitter or leave a message below and I’ll be saying ‘Hi’ very soon!

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Framed by Wanderlust with Neeraj Narayanan (Founder, This Guy’s On His Own Trip), Delhi, India

Neeraj Narayanan aka Captain Nero quit his job in 2013 to chase his dreams of living a life full of adventures. Since then he has been to 25 countries, run with the bulls in Spain, deep sea soloed in the South China sea, lived with gypsies in a cave, climbed an active volcano and been chased by a bear in Croatia. In Delhi, he spends most of his time sleeping or taking people on heritage walks. Join this guy on a trip, sometime. Until then, read about them here and see what secrets he’s sharing with me today.

Last place you visited
In the last seventy five days, I have been on the road for 67 days. Since June, I spent 50 odd days travelling through Turkey, Greece and then the heart of the Balkans ­ Albania, Kosovo, Montenegro, Bosnia, Serbia and Romania. Then after coming back to India and spending a week at home, I spent the next sixteen days in the mountains of Kashmir and Ladakh. I might be needing a holiday from a holiday now!

Three places on your travel wish list
South America, New Zealand and Antarctica. That is a lot of Tropic of Capricorn!

An unforgettable experience from a journey
Being lost in a forest in Thailand for three days and spending those days with five wild elephants. Initially, it started with me gingerly walking upto them and hoping they would not crush me. By the end of three days, I had learnt to mount them, climb up the trunk and sit on top, and bathe and feed them. One of the most beautiful experiences of my life.

Five things you always carry on holiday
I would love to believe I do not need many necessary things on a holiday. I want to stop carrying any phone soon enough. A camera and a set of clothes seem to be the only important things, besides a positive and open attitude and a desire to keep being overwhelmed.

Would you rather head to the beach, the mountains or city streets
I have always been a nature lover, so the first two attract me more. I do love smaller cities and towns too, though.

A place you’d like to visit again and again
Kotor (in Montenegro) looks like a picture postcard, arguably one of the prettiest places I have seen. But Bhutan is very close to my heart. I have lead four group trips there and they have all been very special.

A place you wish you hadn’t visited
That hasn’t happened to me yet. I want to go everywhere, and I think I will love them all.

A person (real/fictional) you’d like to go on holiday with, and where
Bear Grylls would always be a first choice. I love and look up to seemingly reckless adventurers, guys who are fearless and love nature and the outdoors. I would love to go on a trip with men like Bear or Will Gadd or Alex Hannold, to anywhere ­ a mountain, an uninhabited island, a treacherous landscape, an intimidating jungle ­ and live with them, and learn survival skills from them. That would be fantastic.

Your holidays are incomplete without
They are incomplete without me changing at least one plan last minute, incomplete without me having lived with at least one stranger, incomplete without me trying out at least one risky sport or adventure activity.

A stranger you met during a journey who you’re still in touch with
Well, I take people on group trips for a living. I am in touch with quite a few of them. From my solo trips, there are a couple of boys from America I met on an island in the South China Sea with whom I still talk online. And a couple of Spanish girls I met two years back.

If you’d like to participate in this or other Q&A series, holler on Twitter or leave a message below and I’ll be saying ‘Hi’ very soon!

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Parents Say ‘What!’: Q and A with Neha Singh (Co-Founder, Confettish) & Mommy to 3 yr. old Janya)

This Thursday I’m back to asking parents to sleep a little less, think a little more and answer some questions about their almost always fun and never ever dull lives. Joining me today is Gurgaon, India based Neha Singh, entrepreneur (Co-Founder, Confettish) and mother to three year old Janya.

Neha and daughter JanyaNeha says she was an unprepared mother, never having held a baby in her hand. “Let me admit, I never really liked kids.” Her daughter Janya was her first ‘baby’ experience.

After a short break from work (six months), Janya became a daycare baby while Neha continued to work as a full-time Management Consultant. “Our evenings were our sacred parent-kiddo time when we played games, talked about our days (ya really! In Baby language!), discovered how the tiniest of things could make this blob of flesh to gurgle and laugh endlessly and explored crawling/rolling over/standing/dancing and finally climbing onto the couch.” Neha feels her motherhood journey has been spontaneous, honest and fulfilling because everyday she focuses on being herself first and then a mother. “I don’t allow negativities, judgements and ‘good to do’ advice guide me – I would rather look inwards for finding the best way to deal with any situation”. From traveling with her daughter (over 6 countries and 14 flights) to taking her for almost every party/movie/social gathering, she feels the two of them have grown together. From being a woman who really didn’t know what does one ever do to entertain kids – to being a mum who enjoys playing with her & her friends in the sand pit, Neha admits that her daughter has made her feel loved like she had never known.

As mom and daughter continue discovering new things together, I’m curious to know what makes their relationship tick and what Neha feels she could do without! Here’s how things look:

In one word, life as a parent is

Adventurous

The easiest thing about parenting

 Feeding, Bathing, Changing – these are the basics and a very very small part of parenting

3 things that make you want to pull your hair out

1) Judgmental Aunties – someone please tell them the world changed since 1955!

2) My daughter growing up to have an opinion of her own (already!) – she is just 3 yrs old! Its makes me mad but it also makes me happy that she is finding her own feet

3) The Constant Mess in my House!

Something you’ve lied about to your kid(s)

Small lies aren’t lies really – are they? Something funny though is that since she is used to my morning tea routine and ‘dipping’ her biscuits/rusk in it every morning – I have recently started getting her to dip it in chocolate milk faking it as ‘her own cup of tea’ – lets see how far this goes!

Most embarrassing moment as a parent

I think I left the word ’embarrass’ back at the delivery room – there have been so many moments since, that I’ve lost count.
Most recently, when she decided to constantly stay in her own make believe world (which is made up of Doreamon, Chotta Bheem and Princess Sofia) while I had an interaction session for her school admissions with the Academic Head. Now you see this was embarrassing because she is usually a quiet and shy kid – and I wanted to let this gentleman know that I need the school to pay special attention to this. Of course, he calmly told me – “I don’t think shyness is a problem here, ma’am!”

One thing you’ve learned from your kid(s)

Questioning everything – I think adults forget to ask! We just tend to follow now..

A pre-parenting thing you miss the most

My extremely social calendar – while I do a lot of home parties now, I’m always suffering from mommy guilt.

I’m also quite a workaholic – I worked hours on end even till month 8 of my pregnancy – I continue to work as much as I can, but mommy guilt never leaves me.

An unforgettable thing your child said or did

We have a good morning and good night hug and kiss routine in our house. On night just after doing the Good Night hug – Janya flings here arms around me and says, ‘Mumma I love you – main aapko kabhi chodh ke nahi jaungi” (I will never leave you) I swear I could have cried with joy!

You laugh out loud when

Janya breaks into her dance routine as soon as she hears the latest Bollywood number – lets just say, she has her own ‘style’ 🙂

A tip (or two) for new parents

Follow your heart and not anyone else’s words.

Really Listen to your kid(s) – its not about the number of hours we spend but how intently we try to understand our kid in the hours we spend with them.

If you’d like to participate in this series or nominate a friend, holler on Twitter or leave a message below and I’ll be saying ‘Hi’ very soon!

 

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The Culinary Quest with Supriya Anand (Founder, The Food Media Company), New Delhi, India

Supriya Anand, Founder - The Food Media Company (TFMC)

Supriya Anand, Founder – The Food Media Company (TFMC)

Supriya Anand is a Delhi-based entrepreneur who took her love for food to the boardroom, founding THE FOOD MEDIA COMPANY (TFMC), which ‘celebrates and showcases innovative food related ideas through brand designing campaigns, promoting creative and inventive chefs, food product innovators, food authors and food curators.’

Approaching food, eating and culinary culture both conceptually and visually, her Arts & Literature background allowed her to work with different forms of expression with reference to food. “The thought of creating and building TFMC was to reach out & explore Culinary & Cultural experiences from around the world and to share the same with the world”. Previously she has worked as a media professional at Mr. Siddhartha Basu’s Big Synergy Media Limited for seven years as a Senior Assistant Director & Associate Producer.

I caught up with her over delicious home-made Banoffee Pie and tea to undertake a Culinary Quest, the first in this freshly brewed new Q&A series on the blog.

A dish you can eat seven days a week

Tea & a light cake

A drink you can down with any meal

I’m good with water

A dish or drink from a movie/book/television series you’d love to taste

All of Donna Hay’s & Jamie Oliver’s preparations, absolutely love their method of cooking & how they love & treat their food

An unforgettable dish you’ve had. When and where?

For this I’d have say my mother’s cooking is the most unforgettable, I truly feel nourished and happy with what and how Mumma makes anything & everything for us, with all her love & soul.

A special dish you’d like to cook for a loved one

I’d like to prepare a whole meal for a loved one

The weirdest thing you’ve ever tasted

Snails in garlic butter, the taste was still alright, the texture was horrible!

Two people (real/fictional) you’d like to have dinner with

Real life, Curtis Stone & Jamie Oliver;  Fictional: Professor Henry Higgins (from George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion); and Julia Child

A fruit or vegetable you detest

For some reason, musk melon

A fruit or vegetable you love

All, as long as they are clean & fresh

A chef (current or from history) whose preparations you’d love to taste

I’d have to say Donna Hay

If you’d like to participate in this series or nominate a wanderlust-afflicted friend, holler on Twitter or Facebook and I’ll be saying ‘Hi’ very soon!

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Framed by Wanderlust with Amrita Samant (Photographer, Mommy Shots and ThatWindowSeat), Chennai, India

Amrita is a baby-grapher who loves to travel (looking on from ThatWindowSeat), drink wine, chase light, eat good food and all this while dodging selfie-sticks across the globe.

She’s joining me today for a quick (and not dirty) Q&A about her wandering soul and its many journeys. Travel with us will you.

Amrita Samant at a Holiday in FranceLast place you visited: France (July 2015)

Three places on your travel wish list: Russia, Iceland and Japan

An unforgettable experience from a  journey: A haunted rented house experience in Bari, Italy. Doors would open and close by themselves. Another one, learning to kayak on the ganges was overwhelming but an experience that pushed me way out of my comfort zone.

Five things you always carry on holiday: My camera/iPhone, sunglasses, sunscreen, multiple shoe options (just-in-case) and pepper spray.

Would you rather head to the beach, the mountains or city streets: If I had to pick one, it would be the mountains, But I try and give my trips a combination of at least two. (Greedy me!).

A place you’d like to visit again and again: Italy. Anyday!

A place you wish you hadn’t visited: None. I’m glad that hasn’t happened yet.

A person (real/fictional) you’d like to go on holiday with, and where: Can I ignore this one?

Your holidays are incomplete without:  A trip to the local food markets and a local movie at the theatres.

A stranger you met during a journey who you’re still in touch with: A (now) dear friend named Parvati whom I met in Halong Bay, Vietnam in 2012 on a terribly boring couple-y cruise 🙂 

If you’d like to participate in this series or nominate a wanderlust-afflicted friend, holler on Twitter or Facebook and I’ll be saying ‘Hi’ very soon!

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Closet Diary of Richa Gupta (Founder – Zumbasa.com), New Delhi, India

She wanted to become a fashion designer back in 10th grade. Instead she studied Economics and then became a shoe designer. The designer aspirations didn’t work out too well but her love for fashion and shoes remained, finally finding expression in Zumbasa.com.

Closet Diaries: Style Secrets from Richa Gupta, Founder - Zumbasa.com

Richa Gupta, Founder – Zumbasa.com

Richa Gupta started her fashion website at the age of 25 (then under the name Du Couture, which eventually became Zumbasa), after completing an Entrepreneurship MBA course from NTU in Singapore.

Trying to find a footing in the big industry of women’s fashion, styling, apparel and accessories, Zumbasa focuses on bringing niche overseas brands to India, allowing women to dress up in their personal style rather than aping designer labels and by keeping customer needs in mind by reaching out to each one of them to ensure the right fit.

When she’s not brainstorming over the next collection to showcase, she loves traveling. One secret that most people don’t get to when they first meet Richa is that she’s a huge introvert. But today she’s shedding some of that and letting me raid her closet for style secrets, kicking off a new series on the blog ‘Closet Diaries’.

<Drumrolls>

Your fashion icon(s) and what do you like most about their style

I don’t have any fashion icons as such, because each person has an individual style and sense of fashion. But if I really had to name someone it would be Audrey Hepburn.

Your style mantra

My style mantra is comfortable and classy! Jeans, Top, Flip flops for the mall or a Midi fitted dress with short heels for a night out.

The biggest fashion faux pas according to you

What may suit me might not suit you and vice versa. Just wear what you want, whatever your heart pleases and never think about what’s right or wrong fashion wise. You make your own fashion and style.

Your favourite colour/print/patterns for this season

Pastels! Baby Blues, Mint Greens, Peaches and Pinks. Print wise I’m all for florals right now!

A designer you would love to be dressed by

Elie Saab. I’m quite jealous of Sonam Kapoor in this regard!

3 things every wardrobe should have

Nude pumps

Reliable pair of jeans that have lasted you or will for years

A knee length or midi dress

A fashion accessory you never leave home without

My bag and my nude lipstick. I feel incomplete without them.

You would pair Blue Suede Shoes with

Medium blue jeans and a white button down shirt.

If you had to burn all your clothes but one, it would be

This is what nightmares are made of! I would save my favourite pair of J-brand jeans.

Your wildest style experiment yet

This one really had me thinking hard and realising I’m a very boring person when it comes to fashion. But my wildest experiment has been with a short pair of shorts and a whole lot of people looking at me at the mall!

If you’d like to participate in this series or nominate a fashionista, holler on Twitter or Facebook and I’ll be saying ‘Hi’ very soon!

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Parents Say ‘What!’: Q and A with Me

Beginning with me, the empress of the Eggfacemomhead kingdom, we’re going to ask parents to sleep a little less, think a little more and answer some questions about their almost always fun and never ever dull lives. Stay right here will you.

#mom #sketch #toddler #art

A post shared by Manika Dhama (@manikadhama) on

 

In one word, life as a parent is

Irreparable

The easiest thing about parenting

Nap Time

3 things that make you want to pull your hair out

The Amazing Race at meal time

Strangers telling you what’s what about YOUR kid

“When are you having the second?”

Something you’ve lied about to your kid(s)

How she was born. “We wanted a baby, we had a baby.”

Most embarrassing moment as a parent

Calling up room service during vacation to report room keys thrown inside toilet

One thing you’ve learnt from your kid(s)

Dogged determination

A pre-parenting thing you miss the most

Tuesdays with Morrie. Wait, “pre-parenting”? I thought we were born this way.

An unforgettable thing your child said or did

“No F*** That” at two. I blame the other parent.

You laugh out loud when

(Laugh inside my head) when I’m presented with a seemingly logical argument for something that was broken, spilled, done to the cat.

A tip (or two) for new parents

Scarlett O’Hara was right. ‘Tomorrow is another day’. You’ll get better with time

All kids tell everyone about everything. Speak less, listen more.

If you’d like to participate in this series or nominate a friend, holler on Twitter or Facebook and I’ll be saying ‘Hi’ very soon!