Monday, November 5, 2018

The Brigade that Builds Brands: Veteran Air Force wife Doreen Choudhry's successful jewellery brand

Hello everyone! I’m popping back in just to share another interesting interview in the #TheBrigadethatBuildsBrands series. We’ve recently moved to a small town base and between living out of a suitcase, getting ready to move into a house & getting used to new responsibilities, I’m grabbing a moment to hop onto my blog. Today, I’m sharing Doreen Chowfin Choudhry’s story. A veteran Air Force wife & jewellery designer, Mrs. Choudhry tells us about how she started a business at a time when entrepreneurship amongst ladies was almost unheard of in the defence services. I do hope her story spurs many of you to build your own brand & create meaningful work opportunities for yourself that you can cart along with your trunks as you move from one base to another.


 C. Please tell us something about yourself – what do you do, where are you based and how long have you been a fauji wife.

D. As a child of five my father was posted at the JSW (later known as NDA), as the Record Officer, at Clement Town Dehradun. I guess I grew up influenced by the fauj!

Mrs. Choudhry at her wedding

My brothers too joined the Indian Navy and the IAF as pilots, and I got married to an Indian Air Force Pilot at the age of 24. In January we completed 50 years of marriage and that’s how long I’ve been a fauji wife. For the last 35 years or so I have lived in Delhi. 

C. What has been your business or creative journey been like: how & when did you start your venture?

D. It was 1982 an I was attending the annual AFFWA garden party hosted by the Air Chief’s wife, when to my surprise and mild embarrassment, I was handed a tray of pearl strings to show and sell that morning by none other than the hostess herself and of course there was no question of refusing!  Many of the ladies bought strings but wanted matching ear tops etc. This was the beginning of my journey of jewellery designing.

Mrs. Choudhry, 4th from the right, seated & in a check sari

When I was a child I used to have glass beads of different colours and textures and I used to make small necklaces with those. Later on when I got the opportunity at the Ladies Club, my hidden talent got a wake up call. 

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

The Brigade that Builds Brands: Air Force wife Anamika Sarkar's crafty business

Hello everyone! Welcome back to The Brigade that Builds Brands. Today, I'm chatting with Air Force wife & teacher-turned-crafter Anamika Sarkar. She left her well-established teaching job when her son was small and turned her hobby into her profession. Something that she could pack and take along on all their postings across India, Anamika has found immense joy in her handmade craft business. Here's how she's done it, and how anyone with a wisp of a dream + the gumption to work, can do it. I hope Anamika's story inspires you to take your dream by the horns and turn into work that you can juggle along with the bustling service life.


C. Please tell something about yourself- what do you do, where are you based and how long have you been a Fauji wife?

A. I have been married to a fighter pilot since the last fourteen years. It was an arranged match, and since I came from a pure civilian background, I had no inkling of what I was getting into then. Till that point in my life, I knew very little about Fauj in general and the Air Force in particular. Fourteen years and seven postings later, here I am, a well-travelled Fauji wife presently based in Delhi, and slightly more knowledgeable, in how to set-up and decorate a government allotted accommodation, invite friends over, manage the household, and wind-up and move to another part of the country, and all this in a short span of two to three years. I have attained a Masters degree in Museology, and a Bachelors degree in Education. I love listening to music, reading, and a bit of a movie buff. Painting and Craft are my stress-busters. I have a son aged nine years, and he is in the fourth standard.




C.  What has been your business or creative journey been like; how and when did you start your venture?

A. I have always been into the teaching profession, but realized my actual passion towards the Creative Arts only a few years back. Though I have been interested in painting and creating hand-made objects since I was a child, but it was only a couple of years back when I had to quit my job from a renowned school in Pune, (as my son was very small) that I decided to take up Creative Art as a career. Today I work as a freelance artist and conduct workshops with various art forms.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Headlong Homeschooling – Our homeschooling (in India) journey so far

We never planned to homeschool N this year because he was already going to a happy little Montessori school. Yes, I’ve always liked the concept of home education, and have wondered if it will work for our family, but I never expected to take the plunge this year.

N creating a 3-D model of a butterfly's life cycle with clay
You see, as we waited for N’s lovely little Montessori school to open for the school year, my husband got his orders to travel for work. With a very long work trip looming ahead, we decided to travel as a family. That’s when I started teaching N at home, or rather, in our hotel room. With play dough clay and drawings of robots (his current favorites), stories and simple phonics lessons, with everyday material and a dash of fun, our makeshift homeschool took off happily.

When we returned back home, with the Montessori school unable to send transport to drop him back and us (we live very far from the school), on the brink of embarking on yet another work trip, going to school became near to impossible again. And so our homeschooling adventure has been a work in progress.

Now, we’re returning from our second work trip in a row. We don’t know if N’s school will be able to slot in a school van to drop him. We’re also expecting to move very soon, and are wondering if sending him to school for a few days before we move, makes sense or not.

We’re still wondering if we should send N to the neighborhood school wherever we are moving to or if we could continue homeschooling him. Even though we have several question marks sticking out of our homeschool plan, I’ve been mulling over the way that I want to teach N. The best part about being a homeschool parent is that you can borrow from a wide range of curriculums and teaching methods, take what you like and leave what you don’t find interesting.

N's version of an Igloo with the 3 of us inside - after we read about houses across the world
Continuing homeschooling: I have a loose curriculum that seems to fit in with the way N learns. It’s a slice of world education with beautiful books forming the bedrock of the “syllabus”. We plan to learn about this vast planet that we live on, the people who inhabit the world, the landscapes & animals in different parts and about children of this world. I strongly feel that in today’s time and age, raising global citizens, who can embrace the world culture, understand the issues that are plaguing the planet and have more tolerance for differences, is a must. The more our children can marvel at the beauty across the world and understand that people do not need to look/talk/behave the same way to be your friends, the more empowered they will be to create a warm and loving life for themselves and others. 

Simple sums with aliens, robots and clay balls
We’re also planning to continue our counting & simple addition + subtraction exercises through everyday material: playdough balls, rajma beans, coins, spoons and storybooks.

Natural science will be an important part of our “studies”. We study the life cycle of various insects, understand how clouds are formed, see how leaves are the kitchens of plants & trees, understand how seasons change. I’m not using any book for this, but letting the natural world around us + high-quality Youtube videos to guide us in our learning adventure.

Storybooks are ingrained in our homeschool and home life. We read lots of stories to N. I do believe that all this reading is helping encourage better vocabulary and letter recognition. We do a bit of phonics, and this is something I want to bump up a bit more.

Free play is a big part of our days
Nature study is also part of our homeschooling. It can be free flowing, with us moving around a garden, looking at the plants & insects there. Or, we go out on a mission, collecting all the different kinds of leaves in a space, and then go back home to draw a few of them, marvel at how different each of them are, and learn how leaves cook food for plants.

Art and craft is a major component of our days. N likes to do whatever I am doing, so it’s also a great way for me to re-ignite my love for all things arty-crafty. If I paint on a canvas, N also sits down with his own to create his painting. If I embroider, then N makes things out of the thread. If I make collages in my journal, N sticks Washi tape, stickers & ephemera in his scrapbook. We can spend hours making things with either music or audio stories playing in the background.

This is our current plan for our ‘headlong homeschooling’. I would like to add or tweak things as we go, see if this journey is nourishing for all of us.

Do you homeschool or are considering homeschooling?

 #homeschool #homeschoolindia #homeschoolinginindia #teachingchildren #prekhomeschool #homeschoolparent 

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

The Brigade that Builds Brands: Army wife Gunjan Mishra's hand-crafted jewelry & accessory brand 'Pink Pitari'

Hello everyone! Welcome to another story from The Brigade that Builds Brands series – an ongoing interview feature that turns the spotlight on the #faujiwife / #militaryspouse entrepreneur, who crafts her own brand and makes it work through frequent postings, long stints of single parenting, several social commitments and unavoidable breaks that happen due to erratic internet or when you’re packing up or setting up house at a new base. Today we have Gunjan Mishra over at the blog - an Army wife, passionate crafter, mompreneur & the gal behind Pink Pitari - her handmade jewelry + accessory brand. We love the practicality and happiness with which Gunjan approaches this work + military life balance. Hope you find her words just as inspiring as I did.


 C. Please tell us something about yourself – what do you do, where are you based and how long have you been a fauji wife.

G. I am a stay at home mompreneur who turned her crafting hobby into a home business. I mainly create jewelry and accessories, though my work is not limited to jewelry making. I also bring in a lot of art and craft forms into my work because that’s just what I love to do, a variety of creative things. I love to express myself through writing on my personal blog. I began my ‘work from home’ journey through content writing which eventually gave way to full time crafting. Currently, I am based in Kanpur. I will complete 9 years of my being a fauji wife in December 2018.

C. What has your business or creative journey been like: how & when did you start your venture?

G. When I realized I could not do a steady job due to my husband’s frequent postings, I decided to pursue my hobbies instead. Initially, I was only pursuing the hobbies, but gradually I realized I had a strong desire to take it to the next level. Meanwhile, I was already blogging which led me to content writing. It kept me busy but my passion for crafts wouldn’t let me settle for content writing. However, I was still clueless about what it was that I actually wanted to do and how to do it. By pure chance, I discovered jewelry making. It really appealed to me, made me crazy in fact! Things eventually fell into place and Pink Pitari came into existence 2 years ago. From sourcing materials to dispatching orders, my work involves a lot of things which I do myself mostly and yet never felt like I am working, it keeps me so happy. I do it honestly and diligently and take a lot of pride in it.


Tuesday, September 11, 2018

The Brigade that Builds Brands: Air Force wife Cashmere Lashkari’s energy healing brand & creative ventures

Hello everyone! I’ve been very sporadic on the blog and the internet – #fauji life beckons. I’ve been accompanying my husband on his many work trips across the country + gearing up for yet another move. Between this and finding my new homeschooling mojo (when the kid can't go to school, the school comes to him!), work and writing have kind of been plonked on the back burner for a bit. But I’ve popped back in for my favorite series – The Brigade That Builds Brands. This week, we’re featuring Cashmere Lashkari , fellow Air Force wife, Reiki healer, entrepreneur and writer.

Here’s how Cashmere has always found something interesting to do wherever they are posted, and continues to build a light-filled brand.


C. Please tell us something about yourself – what do you do, where are you based and how long have you been a fauji wife.

Cashmere: I am an Army daughter and an Air Force wife. I’ve called more than a dozen cities home and have loved exploring each one of them. For the first two decades I saw the services from the child’s perspective and the last two decades from the spouse’s perspective. Life on both sides has been interesting with its own challenges. Currently I am in Pune and loving being on a “home posting.”

Living at home, literally since we didn’t shift to the MES accommodation, has opened up a number of new vistas for me. I am currently juggling the hats of a Spiritual Workshop Facilitator for Reiki and the Law of Attraction under my brand of Healing Energy 888, a Life Coach to create Work- Family balance for Women Entrepreneurs, and an Editor/Writer for a newly launched publication house called ActiveMuse.

C. What has your business or creative journey been like: how & when did you start your venture?

Cashmere: I am an HR Trainer by academic qualification, and a certified British Airways travel agent. Like a good fauji biwi, I have enjoyed my ladies club meets, husband’s nights and met my welfare obligations. However I have also constantly been working as a trainer and blogger, doing whatever work became available in each station we were in.

I have been writing stories since I was 7 years old and have been published in Salute, Good Housekeeping, Chicken Soup for the Indian Teenage Soul, Diplomatist, and Asian Age. I also self publish on the Kindle Store and have four books out under my pen name Candy Laine. I am working on book number five.

Cashmere with her Reiki students

I began Healing Energy 888 (www.HealingEnergy888.com) after completing my Reiki Grandmaster qualification. I offer Reiki Healing, Tarot Readings and Law of Attraction coaching. I started practicing Reiki in 1998 and over the last couple of decades have offered my service to a number of friends and family members. I began my Reiki teaching workshops in 2015 when we were posted to Delhi. Now I continue the spiritual workshops at the Wellnessence center (https://www.facebook.com/wellnessencepune/)on Salunke Vihar Road in Pune.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

The Brigade that Builds Brands: Air Force wife Meghna Johar's 'wood be lovely' story of a handmade brand

Hello everyone! How have you been? I’ve been a bit slow on the blog, taking time out to travel back after a long trip, clean up the dust that Delhi is known for, and get back into the groove of the daily routine. Today, I’m back with another edition of The Brigade that Builds Brands. This series is all about Fauji wives who create businesses or stay uber creative while juggling all the social + family commitments. Please meet Meghna Johar, founder & creator of a handmade décor brand WBL by Meghna and Air Force wife. It truly “wood be lovely” to find out more about her unique brand and story.


 C. Please tell us something about yourself – what do you do, where are you based and how long have you been a fauji wife.

M. Through my joy called WBL by Meghna, I I enjoy my occupation of  creative expression in wood, upcycling and interior design. WBL which started out as “wood be lovely” has many impressions now. Some of them being “wood brass and all things lovely” , “wood be lively” , “wood by and large”....
I am presently based in Delhi.

I so cherish my two decades plus years as a fauji wife.


C. What has been your business or creative journey been like: how & when did you start your venture?

M. My initially creative hobby has slowly evolved into a business. It has been an exciting and challenging run up until now and the urge to continuously grow creatively has kept me going.

I started my venture in 2010 with a carton full of woody goodies, a shoe string budget and a head buzzing with ideas! Gladly haven't looked back since.

Monday, August 27, 2018

New Ideas for the Blog

I haven’t posted on the blog for a little while. Every now and then, I need to disappear down the rabbit hole of quiet, away from social media and the virtual world, to think and fill my well. Also, we’re just back from a very long sojourn, cleaning up the dust and settling back at home.


But all through this, I’ve also been thinking of ways to get more creative at this blog. While I generally only post a couple of times here, what can I do to showcase my love for everyday Indian saree style, my passion for military spouse entrepreneurship, and my admiration for the arty-writerly-crafty lifestyle?

I’m thinking of new columns that feature some of that love. In the months to come, I hope to interview & feature authors, artists & crafters; shake up things in the saree style section; and, continue shining the spotlight on #fauji wives who carve out businesses from the boondocks. Maybe, I’ll also throw in some work-from-home posts – because really, there are so many myths shrouding that arena.


So, dear readers, be ready to see more collaborative posts as we journey through this blog. I hope you'll collaborate, read and enjoy the new posts that I'm about to roll out.

In the meanwhile:

I’m also brainstorming for my online wellness & green living magazine, Gorgeous Girls Go Green. Slow living and its impact on the environment & our health is my current obsession. That, and more about simple ways to stay well & go clean are on the list.

I’ve also been creating and teaching workshops on the above topics (mindful eating, holistic wellness, green living). 

There’s lot’s to do, but I’m taking my blogging, writing & teaching journey, one small step at a time.

What have you been upto?

An announcement: I’m looking for a Social Media Intern to help with the social media aspect of this blog’s & GGGG’s posts i.e. help post it on various forums and channels. This is perfect for a college student interested in writing or the media, or someone who is simply good at social media. If you’re interested in this or know someone who might enjoy this, please email me at chandanabanerjeewrites@gmail.com.


#blogging #blogideas

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

The Brigade That Builds Brands - Pooja Kapur juggles a jewellery design biz & Army life with elan

The Brigade That Builds Brands is featuring artist & jewellery designer and Army wife Pooja Ganapathy Kapur this week. If you ever thought that passion for something cannot be turned into a career, especially while being on the move, then you've gotta read what Pooja has to say. I hope that this interview, like all the others, will give you enough inspiration to create a brand/project of your own. Being a #militaryspouse can mean frequent postings, lots of social commitments, lack of basic facilities like a good internet connection & more; but if you have the will and the gumption to do something, you can be an entrepreneur from wherever you are posted. So, go on and enjoy Pooja's interview.



C. Please tell us something about yourself – what do you do, where are you based and how long have you been a fauji wife.

P. 41 years on this earth, mother of 2 boys, 18 and 14 year's old respectively. Married into the olive green for 20 years. Based at Bangalore currently. Belong to a beautiful hill station called Kodagu /Coorg. An artist by profession, a jewellery designer by passion, a dreamer, believe in being positive and nothing is impossible if you set your heart and mind into it. In the past I have owned a playschool, a boutique, dabbled in the teaching field, owned an online clothing line and was the brand ambassador for Armed Forces for hotel Marriott.

Friday, July 27, 2018

Inherited Love by Katie Mettner

There’s much to love about author Katie Mettner’s Inherited Love. Cuddly dogs & heroes, characters with regular imperfections (I don’t like perfect dudes and dames!) and plenty of goodness to go round. I enjoy wholesome stories like these where there’s more good than evil, tantalizingly unusual names to mull over and protagonists who aren’t the perfect body shape, always swathed in designer glad rags.

Author Katie Mettner with her novel

Cinnamon Mabel Dalton (Cinn for short) has a cracker-jack of a grandmother, and she’s just inherited a slobbering Saint Bernard and a house from her. With no clue about how to take care of him, she starts talking about pet care with Dr. Foster Kern, a slightly chubby, baby-faced vet and director of the Humane Society, as well as a friend of her grandmother’s (he’s just a few years older than our Cinn here). What begins as a tete-a-tete in a dog park named after Cinn’s grandmother, turns into so much more.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

The Creative Writing Student’s Handbook by Cathie Hartigan and Margaret James


Book review by Chandana Banerjee

As a writer, creative writing teacher and evergreen student, books about creative writing are special for me. Reading a book on creative writing book is like sitting with another writer, and learning their tools and tips as they take you through their writing or teaching journey.


Cathie Hartigan and Margaret James’s book is packed with creative writing know-how that they’ve taught to students over the years and practiced as authors & writers themselves. From chapters on finding your voice, to getting the basics of creating characters and plots right to building the foundations of a solid story, there’s a lot of creative writing nitty-gritty in this book.

What’s particularly interesting is that they also talk about topics that are often not mentioned in other creative writing books. For example, how to write flash fiction, craft a novella and how to promote your fiction through a blog. As a non-fiction writer, who’d like to transition to writing fiction, and try my hand at shorter pieces of fiction, all of this, and in general everything they’ve mentioned in chapters 5 to 12, is what I found much more engrossing than the first four chapters.

With lots of examples sprinkled across the text to help the writer understand how to really create a beginning or character or story arc, The Creative Writing Handbook is all about showing you how to do a piece of writing rather than just telling you how to.

Who is this book recommended for? I’d say anyone who wants to learn how to start writing any sort of fiction, or a writer, who is already knee-deep in creating stories, but needs a book to refer to every now and then.

What can you do with this book? After you’ve read through the entire book, go back to the chapters that you want to explore more and re-read + put the lessons in practice. The thing about being a writer is that even if you read tonnes about the craft of writing, you’ll still have to dip your fingers in ink.
As for me, I’m diving back into the flash fiction and novella chapters, and also getting myself a copy of the author duo’s ‘The Short Story Writer’s Workbook’.
So go on, get your copy of The Creative Writing Student’s Handbook and learn how to craft a crackling story!

Thank you Margaret James, for sending me the book to review!

Are you an author with a book that you’d like reviewed on my blog? Do get in touch via Twitter (@4GGorgeousGreen) or email me at chandanabanerjeewrites@gmail.com.

Till then, read lots (my blog too ;-)), and follow us on:

#bookreview #creativewriting #thecreativewritingstudentshandbook #writers #newbiewriters 

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

The Brigade That Builds Brands: Monika Tomar Saroch talks about being an artist & Army wife

The Brigade that Builds Brands is all about Fauji wives / military spouses, who create businesses or stay uber creative while juggling all the social + family commitments. It's a whole new ballgame with multiple postings, plenty of social commitments, living out of boxes + suitcases, stints of single parenting and being posted at super small places. Today, I've invited Monika Tomar Saroch over to the blog for a tete-a-tete about how she can juggled a successful career as an artist & art teacher while being an Army wife.


C. Please tell us something about yourself – what do you do, where are you based and how long have you been a fauji wife.
M. I am Monika. I am an artist and right now in Delhi. I have been married to an army officer and it’s been fifteen years of bliss.

C. What has been your business or creative journey been like: how & when did you start your venture?
M. I started painting again when my son was three months. One of my friends told me that I could paint professionally and it was a moment of realization for me as this is what my calling was. The journey has been beautiful so far. It has transformed my life completely. Its full of struggles and rewarding at the same time. From someone who started a novice to a professional with many exhibitions so far, it has been an amazing experience.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Book Review: Secrets And Tea At Rosie Lee’s by Jane Lacey-Crane


Book Review by Chandana Banerjee


Here’s a brand new column about book reviews and authors – something to look forward to if you enjoy reading as much as I do. In the past, I’ve written about books that I’ve enjoyed; but from now on, I will be posting my reviews about new + some not-so-new books as well as interviews of authors. Whether these are books for grown-ups like us, Young Adult fiction, non-fiction and even cute children’s books, there will be something we can all tuck into while we sip our coffees and ponder about what to read next over the weekend (or what books to buy for our children).

So, onto my #bookreview of Jane Lacey-Crane’s first novel ‘Secrets And Tea At Rosie Lee’s’:

Abigail aka Abby Cowan is almost 40 with a daughter about to leave for college and a café that needs both – some serious profits and a makeover in terms of the menu and décor to keep it afloat. When Abby takes up a catering job to help out her event manager friend Liz and earn something extra to pump into the Rosie Lee café, the side job turns out to be much more than she bargained for. A chance meeting with the host of the party sends her reeling back into a past thick with secrets and reignites all those sparkler-like feelings that she thought she had got over long back.

Jack Chance – her first love and first kiss is no longer the boy next door, but a successful and dashing millionaire in America. He’s still in love with Abby but this only brings back painful memories for her. Also, with Abby’s emotionally-distant mother and the secrets that she’s got stashed away, an old gangster who resurfaces to collect something that he feels Abby has been hiding and answers that she finally begins to find, Jane Lacey-Crane’s first novel is packed with everything good you’d want in a weekend read.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

The Brigade That Builds Brands: Nupur Heda Patil crafts a Tarot practice around an Army life

Hello folks! Today, we’re back with another interesting fauji wife/military spouse entrepreneur interview in our The Brigade That Builds Brands series. Meet Nupur Heda Patil, a Tarot reader, Angel Healer and Reiki practitioner + relatively new Army wife. She is passionate about her work, is happy to set up her practice wherever her life with her fauji hubby takes her and has a positive outlook to work-life balance.


Here’s what Nupur and I chatted about setting up a brand on the move, doing work you’re passionate about and juggling the fauji life & our calling in life.

C. Please tell us something about yourself – what do you do, where are you based and how long have you been a fauji wife.

N. I am Nupur Heda Patil. Born and brought up in a traditional Marwari business family, it was a dream to start something of my own when I grow up. My idea of marriage was a choice based union. I met my soulmate in 2010; we were friends for a long time when we decided to take a step ahead. With two different cultures and families coming together, lot of hustle bustle finally with the blessing of everyone we believed in, tied a knot on 1st Dec 2014. Being a fauji wife is not only about being married to the man in uniform but it also brings a lot of responsibility towards my soldier and his life. Thankfully my husband helps me in every single step and he is my friend, mentor and my life partner.

Post marriage I kept juggling between jobs. Picked up teaching at one station, counseling at the other. The only constant job profile I have had is my Tarot. I have regular telephonic clients and events in the city which keeps me busy. Planning to set up an office at the next station so that I can take face to face clients in future. Right now enjoying the best of spiritual growth and a sense of fulfillment in Nilgiris at Wellington.

Friday, June 29, 2018

Maid Of the Matter: 5 tips to save time & energy and stay stress-free

Ever so often, I stumble across intense conversations about..maids (domestic help). During social visits, in parties, at welfare meets, in Whatsapp groups, I see the topic of maids sneaking into conversations. I get it – here in India, we do depend heavily on house help. 


It’s not just the colossal dust that needs to be cleaned and mopped and dusted from our floors and shelves that finds us utterly dependent on domestic help, but also a certain mindset that prevents us from picking up a broom or rinsing our own dishes or even cooking our own meals. And more often than not, when we pay someone else to cook and clean, we find them come up short - more so, in today’s world.

Sweeping and mopping that’s not up to the mark, dishes that retain stains of previous meals, food that isn’t cooked hygienically or tastefully, and unprofessional attitudes (i.e. asking for higher salaries than what’s fixed in a society, answering back, grumpiness etc.) lead ladies into fraught-with-anxiety discussions about maids and the daily annoyance they cause them.

But is there a way around this? Is there a way we can stop this profuse time drain? Can we find a way to discuss maids less (no one needs to stop ‘coz we need to talk sometimes to find a way out), so we can pack our days and conversations with more hearty and interesting things?

Over the years, having employed a variety of domestic help, most of whom entered my home with a bucket load of baggage and attitude issues, I can safely say that the help at the end of my arm is way more reliable. 


As my son crossed his toddler stage, I slowly delegated less and did more to reclaim my peace. We went intentionally maid-free when we moved to as big town (for a while we hired someone for the basics, but again, we noticed that that brought in more hassles, so we went back to our maid-free existence).

Note 1: I don’t spend the entire day cooking and cleaning – in case, you’re wondering if that’s all I do, so I can mange in maid-free mode. With an almost 5-year-old, a blog to write, workshops to teach and a new green start-up to grow & tonnes of books to read and hobbies to tend to, my day includes all of this and cooking & a dash of cleaning.

Note 2: I’m not suggesting firing the maid (like I did).

With these 5 methods anyone can reclaim control over their house chores + time and be less dependent on maids and maid-related issues:


1. Invest in a dishwasher: I bought a dishwasher a year back and can say that it’s one of the best things to have happened to our home. The dirty dishes, once stacked properly, are squeaky clean and germ-free after a wash cycle. Whether its summer and the basin water too hot to put my hands in, or winter with freezing cold tap water (yes, in Punjab, the water was just as temperamental as the climate), I don’t really have to worry about the temperature of the water anymore. Neither do I have to fret about semi-clean utensils or a wild jumble of washed dishes in the drying rack, waiting for a maid to arrange on the shelves. Yes, at Rs 36,000, the cost of a dishwasher might seem steep, but it’s worth every little penny in terms of the stress-free dishwashing experience that it offers.


2. Check if you need cleaning gadgets or tools: There are great cleaning tools available in the market that can make the mundane chore of cleaning and mopping a lot easier. I use a spin mop to wipe up the floors, but someday, I wouldn’t mind getting a Floor Cleaning Robot. Yes, you heard right – there are circular robots that’ll sweep and mop for you (google the offerings by Milagrow). Interspersed with manual cleaning, it’s a great house-cleaning solution. Also, stocking a cleaning caddy with everything you need (baking soda, surface cleaner, cloth wipes, duster, scrubbers and brushes) to dust and wash around the house, makes chores a tad easier. And of course, we all have washing machines, so that's one job less to worry about.


3. Elbow grease and gym workout: We often drive to the gym to work out and keep fit, or invest in a treadmill for a home-based workout. But interestingly, a full-body workout is available for free right at your home via house cleaning and chores. Whether you’re sweeping, mopping the floors (even with a Spin Mop), dusting, wiping gadgets around the house, washing bathrooms or even emptying your dishwasher, you’re engaging all kinds of muscles and keeping those joints supple.

4. A change in how we perceive housework, including daily cooking: A slight shift (okay, Major shift) in our attitude about doing our own work (at least a lot of it, if not all) instead of having to get it done by someone else, even if we’re not happy with their output or attitude, can make a Lot of difference in how we approach housework. Its food for our family and it’s the house we live in – when I keep that in perspective, a lot can get done through DIY.


5. Ask your family members to help: Whether it’s your spouse or kids, everyone can do something for the house – it’s their home too and chipping in just makes the load lighter. When kids are involved in keeping their home or room clean, they understand the value of work, won’t depend on others to clean up after them when they grow up and will learn life skills. My husband helps me keep our home clean, while our little one, does what he can (like grate the cheese, mop up the spills he makes, pick up crumbs, prune the houseplants & water them). I totally believe that just one person cannot do every single task to run a home, especially, if you’re also managing business/project/job.

Try these five tips and see if you can free up time. I get more done with less stress with this maid-free/minimum approach than when I had more help. Yes, when we’re not discussing maids most of the time or following them around to check if they are cleaning/mopping properly or showing them how to clean or cook our way or trying to figure out why they answered back when you were perfectly polite, we can reclaim back precious time (yup, even while doing a fair chunk of the housework with the help at the end of our arms). Time that we can spend reading books, learning a new skill, watching a movie at home or setting up a venture.

Do you do a lot of your own work + cooking? If you have any tips to get it done more efficiently, do leave a comment below.

And hey if you're on Twitter, follow us at @chandanawriter.

Would you like to detoxify your personal care products, greenify your home and introduce your kids to eco-friendly ways? Download my 17-min Online Workshop for Free at Gorgeous Girls Go Green.

#maid #housework #housechores #housecleaning #cooking #dishwasher #spinmop #time #stressfree 



Tuesday, June 26, 2018

7 Fauji Wives / Military Spouses You Often Meet

by Tara-Aroha Kabir

Okay, so before I get on with this, let me just say that military spouses are like every other human being, and human beings are similar across the board – in the defence services, in the corporate sector, in villages, in towns. It’s just that whenever we’re part of a tightly-knit, you-know-everyone kind of community, we as people can have a very high impact on each other’s lives. Each person can become an influencer, letting her words, attitudes and actions impact the other lady’s life + the social dynamics, positively or negatively.



I’ve found that we spouses can generally fit into one or a combination of the following personality types.

Disclaimer: These personality types are found across the board – within the services and outside it. However, like I said, since each of us is an influencer in our own right in our tightly-knit communities, it’s easier to spot different personalities, especially if these impact our lives.

Disclaimer 2: Any resemblance to people living or dead is un-intentional and pure coincidence.

So, here are some of the military spouses who make up the social fabric of our filled-with-pride service life:



The warm-helpful-kind spouse: It’s these ladies, who actually make life in the services what it’s known for – warmth and camaraderie. These are the women who’ll be the first to drop in with a hot-case of home food when you move into your service quarters, be there for you when your husband is deployed, and willing to help you out when you’re stuck in the doldrums. These women are the foundations of a good fauji spouse life. They make your time and their time at any base happy and a tad easy.



The I’m-born- for-this-life spouse: These ladies know how to rock-and-roll with everything that the services life throws their way. Multiple postings, 101 house shiftings, endless parties and beerings, welfare meets and more welfare meets – you name it and they know how to fit right in with a charming smile, a helping hand and oodles of gumption. Spotty internet connections, far too many social commitments or even lack of job opportunities do not faze them out, and they settle into every fauji situation + station like Eskimos in the snow. Always armed with the right attitude and the perfect wardrobe for any occasion, these fauji wives/military spouses are a barrel-full of fun to be around.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

#TravelSari – 5 Ladies who sojourn in their saris

Saris have been cherished and bought on shopping sprees. They’ve been carefully preserved in heavy trunks and worn with élan for weddings & parties. But are saris, these days, worn on travels & sojourns; on trains & plains; for road trips & cruises; at beaches & mountains; at museums & monuments?


Our sari feature today is all about the gorgeous ladies, who wear their beautiful saris during travel trips. These are #realtime women, who take their saris out of the social media realm and wear it during their holiday zone. It takes a shift in the way we think of our saris (i.e. party wear or for photo ops or for office/restaurant wear) and a little adjustment in how you carry it off as you trek up a hilly road, walk through golden sands or stroll through vineyards. 

Sangeeta Venkatesh: Going ‘beachy’ in a sari:


My husband Venkatesh and I simply love Goa! With clean beaches, wide roads, great food (even for vegetarians like us), great hospitality  - this is as international as a destination in India can get. I can bathe/ swim in the sea and be the archetypal beach bum for hours! We have come back here again and again, and have celebrated some personal milestones in this beautiful coastal region.

And if it was Goa, it had to be a Kunbi/ Gawda revival saree from Goa Adivasi Parampara.  This saree was originally worn by Kunbi and Gawda tribe women who were basically paddy field workers.

Who says you can't pack a saree for a Goan holiday?”

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Sari In Your Suitcase – 6 ways to travel light + in style with your saris (& a call for collaboration)

Even though I love wearing saris for pretty much any occasion, I didn’t like traveling with (yes, with) them. With petticoats, blouses and multiple saris, as well as the usual brouhaha of regular clothes and accessories, my suitcase would be brimming with things to wear. Not my favorite way of packing (I’d prefer to travel light any day), so the saris would have to be left behind or carried along in a larger suitcase. But over the years, when my travel often combines pleasure and work, I’ve found a way to pack light and still take along saris + the accessories to go with them.




Here are some tried and tested tips on traveling with saris and still staying light.

1. Choose saris of similar color to cut down on the number of petticoats and blouses to take along. If I choose a turquoise blue Chanderi cotton, a crisp greenish-blue Bengal cotton and a river blue Kota Doria, I can team them up with the same petticoat, and even the same blouse (I don’t wear matching blouses, but funky ones that can be mixed-and-matched to create new looks). That means two petticoats and blouses less to pack and carry! I use this trick often to reduce my luggage and still have the pleasure of wearing saris wherever I go.

2. Let the saris you pack be light + stylish. Personally, I prefer to take saris that are light (no heavy silks for me while traveling) and can be worn at various occasions. Example: Whether I’m teaching a workshop, attending a meet-up, going out to the club or tucking into a meal at a restaurant, my Kota Dorias and Chanderi cottons are great for all these occasions.
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