L.O.V.E

The concept of love is subjective. Do you know the difference between an objective and a subjective concept? While the former has a definite and finite outcome, the latter can have as many outcomes as possible, each being correct in it’s own way, based on a person’s beliefs. Everybody has their own meaning of love, of what they consider love to be. Sharing my subjective take on it.

During some not-so-good time in my life, while having a conversation with my friend, when she was helping me figure my way out, she asked me what I expected out of love. And that is when I realized that I actually never gave it a thought. I had been the kind of person who would always try to ensure that the other person liked me. Very late I realized that in this effort of pleasing the other person, I forgot to make my own check list, a list of qualities that I would like to have in my partner.

I am a crazy Pinterest user. And one day while scrolling Pinterest, I found a piece, and it was something which I too wanted to say, had it in my mind, but could never pen it down because the thoughts were unclear. It gave me my proper answer as to what I expected out of love.

It goes, “I am willing to compromise when it comes to many things, but not love. Not love. I’ve done that too many times and it has taught me exactly what I want from what I don’t want. And it’s not like the type of love I want is from a fairy tale, no. The love I want is a very real thing. It’s out there. And it has nothing to do with posting pictures or dropping everything to answer text messages immediately that aren’t even urgent. What I want in love is respect, even when arguments arise. I never want to cry my eyes out till I am sick because of an argument again. A love that has commitment, tenderness, laughter, playfulness, passion, morals and above all else, is always felt. Never again do I ever want to question whether or not the man that I am giving all of myself to, loves me. And never again will I entertain a man who tells me that I am asking for too much. I know what I want. What I want exists. And if one man doesn’t want to give it to me then I won’t break my head over it, he’s simply not for me.”

There is no rule-book to love, no right time or no particular situation for it to happen. It happens when it happens and you know it’s right when it ticks off all the points in your checklist. Love gives you a partner for your roller-coaster journey of life, somebody with whom you share your highest of highs and lowest of lows, somebody you want to celebrate your victories with and confide in during your failures, the one with whom you want to live the smallest and biggest dreams, a companion for life.

It fills your life with all the positive words. And yes, to keep it going, you need to make the effort that it takes; be it being honest and loyal to your partner, giving each other the required space, communicating and working on the differences, surprising them and making them feel loved and wanted. There is always a room for fights but they must always remember that it’s them vs the problem and not one vs the other.

You start your journey considering you both are equals. And that is true, you both are equals, but the journey is so long that this equal’s equation sometimes imbalances, you step back and support the other person, help them grow and they do that too when their turn comes. That is love, two equals becoming the best version of themselves with each others support… and when you find this love, you work hard on it, you fight for it and you never let them go!

Logic behind these Indian Myths

Myths or superstitions are concepts or stories which are widely believed but are actually false. They are the concepts we received from our ancestors or the generations before us to be followed and undoubtedly held some genuine reason at that time.

However, times changed and those concepts were not required to be continued but were passed on from one generation to the next without giving it a logical thought.

Like, muma once told me to not clean the house in the evening. But why? Because many generations ago, when people did not used to have electricity in their homes and it got dark in the evening, they considered that cleaning the house would lead to mistakenly throwing away the valuables from the house.

So does this concept hold true in current scenario? Nope. Hardly are there any houses without electricity in today’s date. Hence this concept becomes a myth or superstition and shouldn’t be followed.

Yes, question everything that you don’t know about, find a logical answer for it. And if you don’t find one, don’t pass it on to the next generation. So here I am myth debunking (yep, that’s what it’s ‘officially’ called) some concepts and let’s see if they are required to be followed in the present or not.

Taking a bath after attending last rites – It’s suggested to have a bath after coming from a funeral or else ‘a sad news could come from your house too’. Vaccinations weren’t prevalent in earlier times and chances of infection from the deceased or the bacteria of it’s decomposition were high. Hence, bath was advised. Still, to prevent oneself from infection (just in case) one should have a bath after attending a funeral and thus this concept holds true.

Women shouldn’t enter the temples or kitchen during menstruation – So commonly heard, so blindly followed. In earlier times, vehicles weren’t prevalent and temples were far off or had too many stairs. There were joint families and too much work had to be done in the kitchen. So just because the woman was already in pain, she was suggested to rest. But the problems of commutation or too much work load aren’t prevalent now and it’s time to give this myth a break. (Please don’t bring in the concept of pure/impure, women too are made by god and menstruation is a natural biological process.)

Do not go near the Peepal tree at night – Because of the hanging witches who would kill and eat you? No, because of basic science. It’s because trees emit carbon-di-oxide at night and it shouldn’t be inhaled by humans. Seems like the Peepal tree was scapegoat for all other trees. (kidding!)

Don’t cut your nails at night and don’t wash your hair on particular days – Again because of no electricity and sharpness of the blades used to cut nails it was advised to cut them in daylight. Also, It was advised to wash hair on particular days to save water. So I think the former one can be left behind but the latter one should still be followed because water is a precious resource and it should be used wisely.

Having Dahi-Cheeni (sugar and curd) while leaving for a big day – Sugar makes the day start on a sweet note making any task auspicious or prosperous. Dahi cheeni are on a whole considered to be having a cooling impact on the body (good for tropical climate like India) and fueling you with energy. Not a bad concept isn’t it? Surely can be followed.

Neembu-Mirchi (Lemon and chilli) for protection against evil – Seen everywhere, in front of houses or offices or on trucks, neembu mirchi are considered to be effective natural pesticides and anti-bacterials thus protecting the environment they are hung in. Seems like a fine idea which can always be followed.

Bird shit brings luck – As funny and silly as it sounds, the bird shit is considered lucky if you believe in the concept of Karma. Since something bad like a bird shitting on you happened without your intentions, karma ensures something good would happen with you to nullify it. So this concept is all upto you if you believe in Karma or not.

Adding Re 1 to money as gift – 101? 501? Ever thought about the presence of that Re 1 coin on the gifting envelopes? Round figures like 500 and 1000 signify the end but the Re 1 signifies that you wish the person to continue to get wealthy. Also, as a wedding gift, it is believed that a number not divisible by 2 leaves a remainder which keeps the couple together. But a number divisible by 2 would leave no remainder thus nullifying the concept. I find the logic behind this concept not very interesting but it does no harm too.

These are the list of my debunked myths. Surely there’ll be many more but I could only find these on the internet with relatable, logical or funny concepts. Let me know in the comments section some other commonly heard myths and the reason you know behind them. It’s always good to be curious. πŸ™‚

What is “Good Vibes Only”?

Haven’t we all seen these three words in almost everybody’s description column on their social media accounts? (Haven’t we all seen in it my blog’s description column too? Lol.) So what does this “good vibes only” mean?

Well on the internet it means to live a life filled with positive thoughts so that one can achieve the ultimate aim of living a good life. This has been backed by scientific facts too. It says that “vibes” comes from the term “vibrations” and that we all transfer and receive vibrations from one another.

These vibrations can be positive or negative. The vibes you project are the vibes sent back to you. So if you want to receive positive vibes you need to emit them too. You attract or like the people of your same vibrations and say “our vibes match”, “he and I have the same frequency/wavelength”.

And who doesn’t want to live a good life free from conflicts? A life where one is accepted and liked is desired by everyone and I think these desires are completely normal. To achieve this life, one starts chasing the concept of “good vibes only” by focusing on the positive side.

But isn’t this an unhealthy concept to sink in? It focuses on the positive side and makes you imagine like the negative side never existed. Seeking a good life from the concept of “good vibes only” looks like running from the reality because unfortunately negativity is a part of life too and one can’t run away from it.

Also, I read this interesting line in one of the articles which says good vibes only is “Another way of telling us what to feel, regardless of how we’re feeling. Another instruction to bury the negative, hide the sadness and ignore our emotions.” However, the negative side cannot be neglected because it is what actually builds you. One learns from their failures, hardships and struggles.

Can’t you relate to the instance when someone told you that you can’t do anything good in your life? That someone’s words hurt you and fueled you up, brought the fire in you to prove him wrong. You finally ended up doing something great. Would that have been possible had you followed the good vibes only concept and said that you choose to ignore something ill that somebody said to you?

Sometimes this concept of “good vibes only” takes the form of toxic positivity. Just to sound positive to someone, one says something that even they know isn’t actually practical. I think good vibes only has never meant to not address the feelings of sadness and just trying to stay cheerful all the time.

If you do so, it just ends up harming your mental health i.e trying hard to stay positive even when the situation doesn’t allow you to. I know it takes courage, but not to the extent that the person starts suffering from inside. Haven’t we heard the famous line from Zakir Khan, Abnormal situation mein abnormal reaction normal hai? (The normal reaction in an abnormal situation is an abnormal reaction, yes, re-read again and you’ll get it.)

Criticism, conflicts and in short the negative side is equally important because it helps you grow. So I define or atleast consider in my mind that Good Vibes Only is knowing that both the positive and negative sides are present, that we address both the sides. However, we choose to focus on the positives and learn from the negatives instead of allowing them to hold us back.

Do let me know in the comments section what is your take on GOOD VIBES ONLY ! πŸ™‚

Can a Husky live in India?

Yes, YES! Well atleast mine has been able to do it perfectly since the last 1.5 years. Yes, this blog post is all about my darling pet Sasha, but I thought why not address the most frequently asked question first.

The thing is, if we wanted to keep a dog at home, it clearly means we are dog lovers. And if we are dog lovers, we obviously would not want the dog to suffer at any cost, keep away the survival issues. When papa decided to bring her home, the first question he asked the breeder was if she would be able to survive in this climate. And the breeder informed him that she is the third generation of her type to be living in India and the previous ones have been doing just fine.

How and why we brought Sasha home is a long story which I’ll let my readers know in a few words. Before Sasha, maybe when I was 9-10 years old, we had a Labrador named Zak. (Since me and my dad were super fond of dogs.) Muma never liked dogs but Zak changed everything, he became a part of the family. But at that time, she had to look after the home, take care of the two already small kids and then there was Zak to contribute even more in the trouble. We didn’t get him trained and eventually he grew out of control, so much that we had to give him away to a family friend.

But now that she was majorly free from her responsibilities and had pretty idle time, we had been thinking of getting a dog. And considering that she too was getting old, we wanted a small breed. (Oh my god what did we end up with!) But she always wanted to have a big one like a German Shepherd or St. Bernard, a rough and tough breed. Still sticking to the point, we decided to get a beagle. And when papa had gone to get one, he saw this current family member of ours, with her pretty blue eyes and in less than a minute he changed his mind and brought her home. Yes, that’s what precisely happened, we were expecting a beagle and he brought a husky home!

To be honest, I am not the right person to answer questions about her favourites, her likes-dislikes because I have been staying in Chandigarh for most of the time since she was here. Muma has looked after her, taken care of her and they bond crazy good, she is literally around muma always. Only now have I actually spent some quality time with her, all thanks to the pandemic! But yes, my family members had started making fun of me that I started visiting home frequently or did many video calls because I wanted to see or meet her and not them.

Sasha is a super moody dog when it comes to food, moody to the extent that it got muma worried and she finally joined a husky group on facebook to see habits of other huskies. She gets her crazy play-with-me moods at night when she is jumping from one bed to the other in super fast speed (makes us realise that it’s a wild breed and we googled this thing too, turns out this is what all huskies do.) She has this “please don’t cuddle with me but please don’t go away from me” nature where she doesn’t like to be patted (only when she herself is in the mood for it) but starts howling when any member of the family leaves the house and waits at the door until they come back.

And trust me she is muma and papa’s favourite child, she is forgiven for all her mischiefs in one go, be it destroying the furniture, scratching the doors or whatever. And one time when I was home and was completely fed up of the mess that she creates and started blabbering that she shouldn’t stay , I got a reply from papa (and I quote) “Tum yahan thode din ke liye aate ho, ye yahan rehti hai, isne kahin nahi jana ab.” (You both (me and my sister) come home for some days, but she is the one who actually stays with us so she won’t leave.) Another reply that I frequently hear from both of them is “Shararat hi karti hai na, hai to bacha hi ” (So what that she does mischiefs, she is still a kid.)

Oh my god, am I ranting? No, I too love her. She has that pretty face that can makes anyone’s heart melt. But jokes apart, one day I heard papa saying that it was Sasha that kept the both of them entertained and the environment lively during the lockdown phase or else it would have been tough to pass the all-day-sit-at-home phase with nothing to do and no kids around.

Yep, that’s all about my cutie. Do let me know in the comments section if you too are a dog lover and share some fun stories of your pet. Please keep reading and sharing my blog, it keeps me going.

Change in structure of government job exams?

On the 19th of August 2020, the Union Cabinet (i.e the Prime Minister and Cabinet Ministers) approved the setting up of National Recruitment Agency (NRA) to conduct Common Eligibility Test (CET). Why am I talking about it? Because I am a part of the job-seeking youth and this is a drastic change in the pattern of conducting government job exams in India. Sharing what I interpreted from the official notifications and what opinion I hold of it.

Initially each recruitment agency had it’s own steps to conduct exams for various posts. However, it was a cumbersome process because each examination form needed to be filled, had it’s own fee, candidates had to reach different exam centres at different allotted dates, prepare for various patterns of different exams which had almost the same syllabus and some more flaws here and there. It was not only a difficult task at the side of the candidate but also at the side of the recruitment agency.

Hence, now the central government has come up with the move of conducting 1 common exam, the CET, which would be conducted by a new autonomous (independent) body, NRA. However, one thing which needs to be said out loud is that the CET will only act as the first step, i.e basically a common first step (preliminary) for various posts instead of separate first steps for each exam individually. The candidate would further have to give the next steps of the particular post if his CET score meets the required criterion.

What are it’s prominent features? Well there are many. The CET will be held twice a year and it’s score will be valid for 3 years. However, there is no bar on the number of attempts i.e there is no concept of maximum number of attempts until the prescribed upper age limit is reached. (Age relaxation for SC/ST and OBC candidates as per existing rules will apply.) The best of the valid scores would be considered the candidate’s current score. 3 exams for 3 different levels would be conducted for recruitment – the 10th pass level, the 12th pass level and the graduate level. Also, before this move the exams were only conducted in English and Hindi language but the CET exam would be conducted in 12 major Indian languages. As of now CET will cover recruitment done by SSC (Staff Selection Commission), RRB (Railway Recruitment Board) and IBPS (Institute of Banking Personnel). However, it would be expanded in a phased manner.

The central government says it would “benefit the job-seeking youth of the country”, “provide relief to candidates from rural areas and women” and “a major boon for the youth of the country”. To quite an extent, I agree to the positives of the initiative offered by the government as multiple form filling and submission of fee, going to various exam centres time and again and keeping in mind the pattern and syllabus of the different exams, cross-checking if there is no clash of exams is a hectic task in itself. Also, the central government states that the exam will be held in 1000 centres across India making sure there is an exam centre in every district of the country. Examination centres would be constructed in 117 aspirational districts.

All this makes one conclude that the government is trying to bridge the gap regarding the facilities available to the urban and rural people thus overcoming the urban bias and increasing employment opportunities in the rural areas which in turn would lead to equal opportunities available to all. However, no matter how apt any initiative is in theory, what matters is how efficiently it is finally implemented. A huge chunk of money has been allotted for the setting up of NRA and the examination centres. For the initiative to show the desired results, the money must be utilised wisely rather than being spent carelessly.

The concept sounds a boon as of now, but how it actually comes into force will let us decide whether it is a boon or a bane. Just the outline of the initiative has been presented as of now, the other details such as pattern, syllabus of exam and information regarding the exam centres would be conveyed as things make progress.

To ensure that the information I am spreading is authentic, I myself have studied from the official sites but would still put the links for any further information. Do let me know in comments section what you feel about this change in structure of conducting the exams.

link 1 : https://www.narendramodi.in/cabinet-approves-setting-up-of-national-recruitment-agency-to-conduct-common-eligibility-test-551055

link 2 : https://pib.gov.in/PressReleseDetailm.aspx?PRID=1647000

What next after happy Bollywood endings?

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I am a complete movie junkie, can literally watch all genres till the time the movie is entertaining; be it based on a true story or something which is a complete imagination. If we are taking a break from our boring-hectic-monotonous or whatever our lives are, the least the movie should offer is that it should be entertaining.

So here I am, listing 4 Bollywood movies which I am pretty sure most of you all must have watched, re-watched time and again, giving it a thought that what would have happened after the movie ends on a happy note. (Unless it’s a Sanjay Leela Bhansali movie.)

Jab We Met – Who doesn’t remember the full of energy Geet and the cute but shy Aditya from the movie? You fall in love with the Imitiaz Ali movie when Geet brings back all the colours in Aditya’s life by making him realise to live life to the fullest, follow what the heart says and Aditya does the same to her when life hits her on a low. The two eventually fall in love in the process, get married in the ending and are seen to receive blessings from Geet’s grandfather along with their two daughters.

But what next? Maybe the couple lives a well-flourished life, Geet continuing her teaching job somewhere in Bombay and Aditya growing his industry manifolds, both of them supporting each other in their professions.

But when they are back to Bhatinda for celebrating their 10th or 15th anniversary at her parent’s place and after the celebrations end, when all of them sit together after the heavy dinner (you know how big fat Punjabi families are), maybe the question of Anshuman pops again by one of the family members asking his whereabouts. And that is when Geet and Aditya share the actual story with her family and they end up having a good laugh and concluding that things happen for a reason and Anshuman was just a source so that Aditya and Geet could end up together…maybe!

Band Baaja Baaraat – I love this movie so much that most of the times I play my favourite scenes along while having food; the scenes where Bitto and Shruti build Shaadi Mubarak from the scratch, where Shaadi Mubarak falls off because of mix-up of “pyaar and vyapar” and where how they finally patch up to recover their losses. Bitto and Shruti finally end up together by confessing their love for each other, deciding to not leave their partnership this time and get married.

But again what next? Maybe after their wedding they get back to establish Shaadi Mubarak and make it a much more bigger name in Delhi. But that is when Chirkut Chetan calls them, tells them that he wants to get married to a girl just like Shruti and this is when she hooks him up with her younger sister.

They go to Dubai to get the couple married, do all the preparations for their wedding and eventually decide to establish Shaadi Mubarak there and call their parents to settle with them….who knows! (Chanda Narang can finally prosper, now that the honest and efficient duo has left the country!)

Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara – A story about 3 friends Arjun, Imran and Kabir who go to Spain for Kabir’s bachelor trip and strike off three adventurous activities from their list, each contributing one. (Sorry I am getting off topic, but where do we find such friends?) The fun the 3 friends have, the silly pranks they do, the beautiful places they go to and a little bit of lessons the movie gives here and there makes it a good watch.

We know the movie ends with the charming song Sooraj ki baahon mein, where Arjun marries Laila ; Kabir and Natasha call off their almost planned wedding and Imran chills with Laila’s friend Nuria. But what next? Maybe Arjun and Laila finally get back to London, Arjun decides to pre-pone his “40 ke baad ka plan”, takes retirement from his super exhausting job and decides to see the world with Laila from his hard earned money and both of them become travel bloggers to keep an active source of living.

Imran finally gets the poems in his diary published and becomes a successful artist, gets married and settles down with his wife and mother, always gives due credit to both of them for all his successes. And maybe after spending some time without Natasha, Kabir realizes that it is Natasha only with whom he wants to spend the rest of his life. They both come together, sort out their differences of giving each other the required space and finally get married… I mean who knows!

Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani – We all remember this Ayan Mukherji directed fun watch of 4 friends Bunny, Naina, Avi and Aditi and remember the ending too; how the story ends up on a conference call between the 4 friends wishing each other New year’s – Aditi at the airport to leave for her honeymoon, Avi at his bar which is almost about to close permanently and Bunny and Naina together, finally realizing that they love each other and want to stay together.

But what happens next? As said to Naina, Bunny gives up his dream of “udna-bhaagna-girna” and decides to stay with Naina. Also, as Bunny and Avi had planned way before life happened to stay together and do something, they finally start a tourism business together, thus Bunny keeping all his promises and living his dream a little bit. Aditi remains happy in her world but all of them meet frequently for many more trips like Manali and maybe Avi finds a life partner too on one of such trips…Maybe!

Okay, now that I am done, you all are free to judge me to remember all the characters names and scenes so well, I won’t mind. (proud movie junkie, you know!) Do answer my poll on which self-extended story you liked the most so that I can get into talks with the production houses to make it happen. Feel free to share any other thoughts or creativity of your own in the comments.

Hitches in families we don’t say out loud

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“Family” is a beautiful positive word. Family is your comfort zone, where you can be yourself with no pretense and nobody judges you. It’s made up of people you come home to after tussling against the world for earning your living, people who stay with you in all your highs and lows and fuel you up with all the warmth and happiness in the world.

But no matter how beautiful any word is, it has some problems. And no I am not talking about the big social problems families face like physical abuse or dowry or child marriage, rather the teeny tiny ones present in all families in some way or the other, which make your easy-peasy life complicated but can be easily overcome by a little bit of thoughtfulness.

We live in the past, hold grudges and do not sort them out “Usne mere saath aise kiya tha isliye ab mai usse baat nahi karta” (He did this to me, that’s why I don’t talk to him now.)

Sometimes, something wrong happens to us, we hold it and keep it with ourselves and spoil our present and future. We keep remembering the wrongdoing, the ill that happened to us so much that we do not realise we are letting it affect something which is fresh, something which can be made even more beautiful and worthy now.

But what is required is to let go the past, to decide to make the present beautiful, to communicate and make an effort to sort things out by letting the other person know instead of holding it to ourselves which just ends up affecting our mind and body.

– We run towards a particular goal crazily and neglect our family “Diwali par agle saal ghar chala jaunga, iss saal chutti nahi leta” (Will go home for the festival next time, work is important)

The goal can be to earn loads and loads of money or to reach any particular social status. But we forget that life is all about balance, it’s about having everything in equal proportions instead of having something in excess. It’s meaningless to sit back and realise that we missed a part of life because we were busy chasing a particular goal.

– We forget that respect is a two-way process “Tu chota hai na, tu beech mein mat bol, tujhe nahi pata” (You are young, you don’t know how the world operates.)

We know that the younger ones are always expected to respect the elderly, to not answer back but sometimes the process becomes one-way. However, the elderly must realise that no matter how much experience they have, the younger ones can too be right sometimes. There should always be a room for healthy discussions where the younger ones not only listen and do what they are asked to, but give suggestions or speak their heart out.

We unknowingly work according to the convenience of the society “Log kya kahenge” (What will people say)

We do so many things to please the people who can never be pleased, whose remarks are temporary, short-lived and change very frequently. We try to function according to what the society tells us to, decide children’s professions, spend loads of money on children’s weddings instead of utilizing it in a more better way and what not.

But what is required is that we realise that it is family that matters and not the society. Our own sense of judgement about what is right and what is wrong should be brought out instead of blindly accepting what the society tells us to do.

We forget the practice of self-love “Uska kaam ho jaye, mera na bhi ho to koi baat nahi” (His thing is important, mine can wait)

No matter at what stage of life you are, you must always love yourself and never keep yourself after others. No, I do not say to do nothing for your family or become selfish, do what is required, do what your duty is and what you want to do, but don’t forget that you too are an individual who deserves love. One must never end up with the thought that he did so much for others but his efforts never got reciprocated or he forgot loving himself in the process.

We compare “Uski life sahi chalri hai, mai kuch nahi kar raha” (It’s just me who is unproductive, rest everybody is doing good.)

As goes the beautiful quote, Comparison is the thief of joy. We think that somebody else is leading a blessed life and we aren’t. All thanks to social media, this comparison has become even more toxic. But comparison leaves us with nothing. Nobody’s life is perfect, everybody has their share of joys and sorrows. What we need to do is to compare our lives with what it was before, to try to improve, grow and make it even more wonderful place to live in.

Concludingly, I am pretty sure there may be more teeny tiny flaws which one can always work on. And I am also sure the ones I have listed along with what can be done to solve them sound ideal and impractical. But a little bit of mindfulness here and there does wonders. Family ties are the strongest. We face the biggest of highs and lows and still stick around. But the ride would be even more beautiful if we try to keep in mind these small things. πŸ™‚

Do let me know in comments section any point that I missed or any opinion of yours which conflicts mine.

Made an easy and tasty dry cake at home

The lockdown in India due to Covid-19 brought drastic changes to the normal lives; the work from home concept, online classes for students, people stepping out just for essentials and so much more.

Nature started healing; chirping of birds could be heard, mountain ranges from a distance could be seen, rivers on which huge amounts of money was spent to clean them started doing it by themselves and what not.

But I really think that not only did the nature detoxify, we humans did that too; forcefully or mandatorily we had to spend time with our families and since we had so much time available to ourselves, the pandemic gave us time to think what else can be done instead of the monotonous routine we have been following for years. I saw my super duper talented friends picking up their long lost passions of singing or cooking or working out or what not!

Even I tried my hands at cooking and before the lockdown, I was one of those who could make just the simplest dishes like 2-minute noodles and chai. But because of so much free time available and since I could not step out to have my favourite delicacies, (and even if now we are in the unlock stage, we prefer to avoid going out or getting our food delivered because of hygiene issues and our own safety) I saw youtube videos and tried making them at home. (dalgona coffee and whatever was trending, duh)

Before talking about anything else, I really want to appreciate all the selfless women (and men too, if there are any) who make the food for the family because like any other job, this one’s tiring too and requires effort. We neglect it like it’s nothing and point out flaws when somebody cooks but understand the effort when we ourselves come on the other side. I learnt that cooking like any other job requires practise and that practise makes the food tasty. After making something for multiple times, you start remembering the ingredients and how and when to add them. (Uff, too much gyaan)

I literally loved the Youtube channel Kabita’s Kitchen because when I followed her recipes word by word, they turned out to be delicious. So whenever I thought of cooking something, I always tried to find if she had uploaded a youtube recipe of it. (Diljit Dosanjh’s instagram cooking stories too gave me motivation, because what confidence he has in putting ingredients of his choice and what wonderful description he gives along while cooking, kidding!)

So, It was my sister’s birthday on the 8th of August and this time we decided to make a cake instead of ordering one. I again referred to Kabita’s channel for a recipe to make a cake easily at home. Only 2-3 ingredients had to be brought from market and I did a very few things here and there from her recipe according to my choice but the cake was really easy to make and tasted yum.

Putting a link of her video so that you can see the recipe too. She made the cake of wheat flour (atta) instead of all purpose flour (maida) which is a plus point because wheat flour is way more healthy. Also, she made the dry cake in a pressure cooker instead of an oven (so people who don’t have oven at home but still want to make a cake, here is your solution.) I too first thought of making the cake in the pressure cooker but mine wasn’t big enough to fit the mold in it, so I finally ended up making it in a big saucepan (Pateela) with the other setting just the same way.

Also, Kabita gave an easy way to make butter paper at home. Just take a plain white sheet and grease it’s both sides with ghee or oil and you are good to go. (I tried it myself and it was just perfect.) I did not have the proper blender to mix the ingredients and make the batter but did it by a normal whisker and it turned out just fine. Lastly I did not add any dry fruits on the cake since I wanted the cake to be simple.

All set to be heated

The cake tasted so nice that we ended up making another one the next day but of vanilla flavour. (and it tasted yum too!) Let me know in the comments section the dishes you have been making during lockdown and which youtube channels you love and follow.

Kabita’s kitchen youtube channel : https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCChqsCRFePrP2X897iQkyAA

Link to Kabita’s website : http://kabitaskitchen.com/

My first Job Interview ever

This blog is in continuation with my previous blog where I shared my experience of giving the IBPS PO exam last year, made it through the three steps but not in the final merit list. In the previous blog I discussed about how I prepared for the first two steps and this time I will share about the third step i.e my interview experience. (Link to previous blog : https://sonalishares.com/2020/08/05/lets-normalize-talking-about-failures/)

Since the time I had started preparing for the first step of the exam, I had constantly imagined the feeling of how it would be if I make it till the interview. I literally wanted to live this experience of giving a proper formal job interview, where somebody comes to me and says, Sonali you are next to go in, just wanted to feel the adrenaline rush one has at that time. And although I did not make it to the final merit list and did not get the job, I completed my cheap thrill.

My interview was on the 1st of February and I had roughly a month to prepare for it. Neither my parents nor me wanted to leave any stone unturned since I had reached this close. I had to brush up my communication skills, basic economics and banking knowledge and current events. I opted for a course from oliveboard which provided online lectures to prepare for the interview. Also, I contacted my teachers at Samkalp Institute, Chandigarh to tell them that I made it till the interview round, that I need their help again and they happily agreed for it. I will always be grateful to Anil Saihjpal Sir and Savita Ma’am at Samkalp Institute who prepared me thoroughly for the interview.

My teachers at Samkalp Institute gave me a list of expected questions to prepare. It contained personal questions, basic economics and banking terms and topics which were in news at that time. I gave two mock interviews with them; the first was a bit informal since there were only faculty members but the second was a proper formal interview and I was asked to come just the way I would be going for the final interview and there were two teachers from outside the faculty. Both of them had a huge experience in conducting banking and army interviews.

My second mock interview was where I learned a lot since I was terribly grilled, question after question. No matter how appropriate answer I gave according to me, their faces remained unconvinced and it shook my confidence. After it was done, they told me most of my answers were correct, but that one always needs to stay calm and cool, keep their smiling face on and never let the nervousness come on the face.

A thing I’ll always keep in my heart from this experience was when Saihjpal Sir said to me (and I quote) “We interviewers also know that you don’t know everything. Neither it is possible for you to know everything nor are we here to assess how much you know, we are here just to see how confident you are while talking and how you do not lose your calm. It’s perfectly okay to say that you don’t know about something instead of saying something terribly wrong.”

The mock interviews ended with the note that my conversing skills were okay but I needed to work on my banking knowledge and current affairs for which a list of probable topics was given again; topics like Coronavirus, civilian awards of January 2020 and details of economic survey of 2020 (since it had to come on the 31st Jan and my interview was on 1st Feb) and many more.

And this is what teachers are for, they predicted all of my interview correct and my interview was a cakewalk. I missed the opportunity because my mains marks were above the cut off but not sufficiently high and they constituted a major chunk of the final merit list.

So what exactly was asked in my final interview? After the super long documents verification process, when my turn came, I went into the room, asked the main interviewer if I could come in, greeted them all and asked them if I could sit. (there were 4 male and 1 female interviewers.) Recalling the best I can, these were the questions asked to me :

Q.) Hello Sonali, introduce yourself. – I had prepared this answer for infinite number of times as it was the most obvious one. (Prepared this answer from here : https://www.youtube.com/user/SarkariNaukriIndia). I concluded this question saying I liked reading books.

Q.) So since you like reading books, which was the last book you read and what was it’s basic plot? – I was already guided in my mocks that if you say you like reading books, this question is a possibility so I had prepared this one too.

Q.) Since your post graduation is your latest degree, we’ll ask you questions from it. What do you mean by Public administration? – Answered

Q.) What do you mean by civil servants? Are bankers civil servants? – Answered

Q.) What do you mean by a BDO? – Answered

Q.) Recently the civilian awards were distributed. Can you tell me more about it? – Answered

Q.) Can you tell names of 3 Padma Shri recipients? – Answered

Q.) Somebody from Chandigarh too received a Padma Shri award, do you know about him? – Sorry sir I don’t know about him.

Q.) You say you study in Panjab University Sec 14, he is doing his service near this location, do you have any idea? – Sorry sir I don’t know about him. (Then they eventually told me the right answer and I nodded my head.)

Q.) The economic survey came out yesterday, can you share some of it’s key points? – Answered

Q.) You have done your graduation in sciences, your post graduation in arts. Have you also filled administrative exam forms? – I had prepared my answer for this one because I was expecting a change of stream question.

Q.) Privatisation of banks is taking place, do you know about it and what’s your opinion? – Ma’am I have heard about it but I have not yet formed an opinion.

Okay thank you Sonali, you can leave. And then I thanked them and left the room.

I scored crazy good in my interview but did not make it to the final merit list because more effort was required in the second step. But success is jumping from one failure to another without any loss of enthusiasm and that’s what I’ll follow next. Let me know in the comments section which is your favourite motivational quote that keeps you going.

I’ll be happy if this blog is useful to even one aspirant of any competitive exam. Comment below any of your interview experience and any doubt related to mine.

Let’s normalize talking about failures

I saw this wonderful Bollywood movie recently which conveys that we always plan about what we’ll do after we succeed but never give a thought about what if we fail. Can you guess the movie I am talking about?

Last year in October I gave my IBPS PO exam. For those who don’t know about it, IBPS (Institute of Banking Personnel Selection) is an organisation which conducts a common recruitment exam for various government banks every year and for various posts in India. I gave the exam for the post of PO (Probationary Officer) which in layman terms means assistant manager of scale 1 for a government bank.

The exam is conducted in 3 steps : Preliminary, Mains and Interview. So spoiler first, I gave the exam last year, made it through the 3 steps but not in the final merit list. The cut off marks for the final merit list were 44.44 and I scored 40.67.

Yes, I still feel bad for myself sometimes for reaching this close and not making it to the final list. I feel bad that I’ll have to start from step 1 again but I read a beautiful quote recently which was on the lines that the next time you are starting a thing again, you are not starting from the scratch, you are starting with experience. (Also I was motivated by my near and dear ones that maybe this didn’t work out because something even better is waiting for me. Okay so “something even better”, where are you?)

I’d love to share my experience of how I made it through the 3 steps and what according to me was not sufficient that I did not make it in the final merit list. (now that I sit back and analyse.) I would feel happy and content if my blog helps even one person who is preparing for this or any competitive exam.

IBPS PO was not the first exam I gave last year. I had given 5-6 other exams like LIC AAO, SBI PO and Clerk before it and I was not even able to clear their first step i.e. the preliminary exam. But, I did not give them just for the sake of giving, I was constantly preparing and I could see my marks were eventually a few marks less than the cut off marks for the first step.

So how did I prepare for the exam? Well the preliminary exam consists of English, Quantitative Aptitude and Logical Reasoning. The mains exam consists of all subjects of preliminary and include Computer Aptitude, General, Economic and Banking Awareness and a descriptive English paper. The preliminary is just a screening exam and you need to clear a certain cut-off to be eligible for the mains exam. The mains exam is where you need to clear the cut-off to be eligible for interview and score good because 80% of the mains marks and 20% of the interview marks are used to make the final merit list.

The most important thing if someone is preparing for banking exams is to give a good number of mock tests. I gave my mock tests on the site Oliveboard (There are many other sites such as Testbook, Adda247, you can browse and opt for whichever you find convincing.) Mock tests are important because they give you a dress rehearsal for the exam, let you know the type of questions which are currently being asked, properly analyse your tests and let you know the areas you need to work on. I genuinely recommend Oliveboard since it helped me a lot in my preparation.

Also, these mock tests are slightly harder than the actual exam you are going to give and I think this is because they want the candidate to be ready for the worst. One should not be terribly affected by the marks he is getting in mock tests. They should not demoralize or over-boost you. They are just a medium to let you prepare for the big day.

For the English section, I didn’t refer to any book, I found mock tests sufficient for it. I was preparing for administrative exams and was taking coaching from Samkalp Institute, Chandigarh in 2017-18. I had attended aptitude classes there which helped me immensely for the Quantitative Aptitude and Logical Reasoning section.

Apart from that, I practised from the book Quantitative Aptitude by R.S Aggarwal for Maths and Magical Book on Puzzle by K Kundan for Reasoning. Since I was already preparing for some time, I had made my own notes for Maths having formulas, list of squares and cubes which I kept on revising frequently.

I was preparing the General Awareness part from Oliveboard’s daily current affairs and monthly pdfs. However, since there is just a month gap between the preliminary and mains exam, I was not completely able to cover the recent current affairs and this is the area I think I could have worked on. If you are preparing for this exam, it’s better to prepare a little for mains along with the preliminary exam as you do not have much time between them.

I found some static GK, Economic and Banking Awareness topics which I thoroughly prepared by making my own notes. They included list of various international organisations India is a part of, their headquarters, the different public and private sector banks in India with their headquarters, names of any recently changed or appointed Chairman or MD of banks, the summary of economic survey and budget of that year and many other topics. Computer Awareness I prepared through an Oliveboard pdf and found it completely sufficient.

The joy of clearing the preliminary and mains exam is still in my heart, how happy I was in those particular moments. I think I would have made it in the final merit list had I given little more attention to the current affairs part and practiced the maths part a bit more instead of running from it.

I sincerely thank my family and friends who constantly kept me boosted and pushed me hard on days I felt low and felt like giving up. The process made me learn a lot, not only about the subjects but also on how to manage my time and where to put my energy. And as the saying goes, the sun will rise and we will try again. πŸ™‚

I would share my complete interview experience in the next blog. Feel free to drop any queries about the exam in the comments section or any story you want to share about your exam preparation.

Link to oliveboard : https://www.oliveboard.in/