25 February 2013

Off Products Available in India: Not Tested on Animals- India

A while ago, I turned vegan. It took me three months, to turn myself out of it, but I can safely say, that that experience changed the person in me. It started off with this documentary  and hit me hard. Possibly, owning a dog made a difference, the fact that I know him and have realized that 'they' deserve better.

Anyhow, I've never looked at a piece of chicken the same way. I couldn't keep myself vegan, so I've done the best that I can do, given my shoddy will power. It's not much, but it is something, and honestly, it's not debatable. No camel, elephant rides. No zoos or circuses, wool, leather, feathers or shells. I'm leaving them alone, materially.

And the most recent change has been with cosmetics and toiletries. I was luckier when I started off a couple of months ago, that I am now. The stock of products that I've had, has run out, and where before I was looking for shampoo/conditioner/body wash, I find myself looking for kajal, mascarra and others that have not been tested on animals. I hate to say this but there isn't much information out there, for someone like me, atleast not that I could find on the net, and this is my attempt for those out there, that may be facing the same conundrums.

I'm listing down some products who's personal product statments mention that they do not test on animals. As Tejaswee quotes, I don't want to blind a rabbit for 'beauty'. It's not worth it for me.

Some products to consider:

Avon: has the whole range of cosmetics, bath and body, male & female. I don't really use make up as much, like shimmer and what not. Shampoo/Conditioner/Shower Foam/ Hand/Body Lotion - honestly, they aren't that great. Another pain area is the fact that it generally takes my office Avon Girl a few weeks to get it, not as convenient, say when she's not around or I forget etc.

Oriflame: I remember using some of their products when I was younger. Haven't used any recently, considering this as an alternative, though now I'll have to rely on the Oriflame girl.

Body Shop:  So Body Shop is possibly one of the most well known companies. Also one of the few brands that offer Vegan products (Vegan: to understand Vegan, watch the documentary, no a dictionary meaning will not suffice). While I can't say much about their body wash, I do love the creams & the scents. Again, don't use make up as much, so I'm not too sure on their cosmetic wing. The only problem is, that in 2006, they were bought by L'Oreal, which is one of those brands that does indulge in animal testing. Again, this would be a personal call- I'm saving Body Shop as a final alternative.

Organic Surge: Saw this in the shop near my place. Thinking I'm going to give the brand a shot, given that it's animal testing free.

Biotique: Unfortunately I could'nt find a link for the company, which is odd. But, they've got their statement out on the Facebook page. An old favorite, I stopped using Biotique a while ago, because their products don't always smell all that nice. I suppose, this is one of the easier options :D

Lotus Herbals:  Pleasant surprise, I did not know that this was true of Lotus Herbals. Definitely another of the easier, cheaper alternatives, also read that they have a few vegan lipstick. Now I just need to find the shade I use from Maybeline...

Himalaya as a brand is also a good alternative, For make up there's Chambor. that are also vegetarian/ vegan. This is quite awesome news, the product is on my list of good makeup brands.

And have just realized that I've stumbled onto gold on the PETA website. Free catalogues of brands that are animal free available, put the address in and your own catalogue shall arrive in the mail. Damn.. another necessity: hair colour. I suppose Wella it will have to be, until there's another alternative.

Still Looking for: Deodrants/ Anti- Prespirant Roll Ons- If any of you has suggestions, please drop it as a comment!

18 February 2013

Empty Space- A Eulogy to Nothing

Empty space in a coloured photograph. Don't you just love empty space. The possibility of filling it with all the things that are loved and that you love, that stand clear of all the objections and the clutter of isms and ideas, thoughts and conscience.

Oh purge, as you will. Purge all your worries and sins, and your teeth and claws with your weapons and guns. Into this empty space that will welcome all that fills it up. Be aware then as you are now, that everything that you put in there were only crowd it up.

With pollution and pollutants, that do not belong here with us today or ever. So embrace this space, this empty space, for what it is not for what is is not, never will be or hope for it to be anything else but what it is right now, as it stands.

10 February 2013

What Men Want!

I thought I'd keep it simple and list it down. Like most things,this doesn't apply to everyone out there, and I hope not to have offended anyone, if I have know that it's me that's doing the 'talking' and it's up to you to do the listening. Of course, comments and opinions are always welcome.

1. I think men like lists, that are worded to the meaning. Throw out the symbolism and the double meanings, just say what you want to say.

2. They want to know that they are attractive. And it isn't enough when just one person (their gf/wife) says it 24/7. In this case, the more opinions, the better! I don't think it's only a man thing though, we all like compliments.

3. A lot of men believe that they only really fall in love once, which is why when they fall in love with a woman, they give her EVERYTHING they can. And when that fails, he believes the worst about ALL women and that becomes THE reason behind everything bad he does in every relationship after. That means, essentially men like to fall in love once, and get the person they love.

4. When they do get the woman that they love, they have an imaginary ideal marriage in their head. And when that fails to mature, they try to make up for the lack, in many creative and some not so creative ways~ Men want happy marriages too.

5. A happy marriage for a man, is at most, living their life the way they did before they got married. Especially true of men out there, who got married, but loved their lives before. The smoother the transition, the happier the man. This generally means, that they still want to have their Friday night drinking sessions or their Saturday morning football sessions. They want to breathe.

6. A man in love, will overhaul the wishes and whims of his friends for the woman that he loves. But what he will always want is that his woman, respects his decision and respects his friends. This goes for his family. Often we women, interpret this us a fight, that we won and we like to gloat. But it wasn't that to him, it was him negotiating his happiness and there's a part of him, that still loves them for still supporting him and helping him when it was needed.

7. Trust and commitment, for a man isn't given away that quickly. When it is, be suspicious. When it isn't know that you've earned it, and you now have the responsibility of upholding it, ensuring there's never a reason that's good enough to break either of the two.

8.  They like their jokes. Always laugh, even if it's not funny. It's like our 'fat' question, they can't ever agree to us being fat, we can't ever agree to their jokes being lame. Any feedback on the joke front will not be appreciated and will hurt his sentiment.

9. When it comes to the people they don't like, rationalize. Most of the time the rift was caused because someone hurt someone. Sometimes your man has already forgiven them and misses them, and just can't get past his ego to talk to them..here, intervene, wisely if you feel that the same is true of this other person too. If not, support him in his hate. Men don't like complicating things remember, so while they're definitely open to hearing you say, "I still want to be friends with XYZ because he hasn't done anything to me,".. they don't necessarily understand your need to pick XYZ over them.

10. This applies to all genders, appreciate in public reprimand in private. Yes, sometimes people do funny things, crazy things that make no sense. Know that it can happen, and when it does, try your best to reign it in and wait till there's a time you have their ears. No point making it a public affair, when there's 'face' involved.

Here's a video you have to watch, it's hilarious and I think he has it right.

09 February 2013

Summer Projects: Focaccia Bread @ Home!


YEAST. Yowser... the bane and the boon of so many cooks, or rather uninitiated cooks. You have to understand, I'm South Indian Tamil. In our lives, there are three types of bread. 
  • The Puri
  • The Chapathi
  •  Milk Bread / Wheat Bread

And that's that. None of these breads use yeast, and in all honesty they're just basic flat bread. I've had a lot of disasters with yeast: such as trying to make the Malaysian Rotiboy Mexican Coffee Bun: Flat dead yeast, gave me a flat stone ball made of dough. I enjoyed moderate success with the Khaboos and returned to the yeast adventures in an attempt to use up stock of 'erbs! 
I struck gold with this recipe for easy as ever focaccia bread! 

Alterations/ Tips used to the recipe was that:

07 February 2013

A Liebster Award- yay!

So the in the last week I've had two nominations for the Liebster Award. So first up I want to thank Ashish and Ayushi for nominating me :) The award is essentially one given to you by your fellow bloggers for being the best blogger that they know because you are loved, as from Ayush's post it just means loved in German.
So yay!!

Part of the conditions for receiving the award is that you also 'Pay it Forward' after answering a few questions by yourself- as follows:

1. Post 11 things about yourself.. this bit is slightly awkward..so I'm winging it in the order of my thoughts'

- I'm Saro, and the name comes from one of my stories. I used to blog as SS prior to that
- The blog used to be called homogenized dreams, a fact that I'd forgotten myself until I saw some drafts
- I have a moral compass that swings like a compass, haywire. Hence, I am a big hypocrite.
- I have a dog that I love more than anything or anyone in this world
- I got him to feel loved, when I went through a difficult break up. And it paid off, bigtime
- I write because I like to write, and have always written, sometimes I surprise myself by writing something I never knew I thought/ felt
- I don't like attention, am scared of small spaces with no actual lighting and I prefer being a wallflower
- Professionally, that's the last thing I need to be, so I suppose I'm schizophrenic like that
- I'm open minded when it comes to what other people can do, and narrow minded when it comes to myself
- I'm truly running out of things to say here
- I believe the first rule about believing in freedom in speech, is to understand that other people may disagree with your thoughts and they may have thoughts that are different to yours, and to respect that, but also expect that respect from others...Pheww~done!

2. Answers to the questions my nominators set, I took 6 from Ashish and 5 from Ayushi :) 

Q: Who's your favorite author?
A:  If I had to pick just one, Stephen King

Q: What is your profession?
A: I am a Learning Facilitator

Q: Apart from blogging, your hobby?
A: Reading :) That's a stalwart, else my hobbies change every few months

Q: How many hours do you spend blogging?
A: Different during different weeks, but an hour a week on average

Q: What/Who inspired you to write?
A: Given that I started writing very early on, it was a mixture of sending letters to my cousin when we were living abroad and reading the book The Diary of Anne Frank, in school that inspired me to write

Q: Do you feel you could be a writer, in the near future?
A: As in have something published? Sure!

Q: What is the meaning of your name? Do you feel you're living up to it?
A: The meaning of my name is me. It doesn't tell me what I need to live up to, rather, I define it :)

Q: Which moment do you wish to live again and again?
A: If life is a chain filled with beads of moments, I'd live my whole life again, I guess.

Q: Are you happy with your profession and if yes why?
A: I am happy, because it pays the bills!

Q: Do you have a childhood dream you want to accomplish? If yes, what is it?
A: My only dream when I was a child was to be happy. How I wanted that happiness changed with age, and if I manage to keep myself happy, then yes, I consider it accomplished.

Q: In what way do you help the poor, apart from giving them money?
A: I don't think I help the poor. When it's an occasion to buy cards for, I always go looking for the ones made by children or the challenged. Or I buy food sometimes, when there's someone who's at the restaurant looking for someone to buy them food. I'd love to tutor some kids some day, to educate them

3. Choose 11 deserving nominees:

1. Jack
2. Hitesh
3. Akshay G
4. Flamesofthoughts
5. R-A-J
6. StaggMan
7. Richi Baidwan 
8. Maliny
8. Sujatha
9. TSK
10. A Rat
11. Harkirat

4. My Questions for you: 

1.If there is one person that you are ok with killing or getting killed, who would that be?
2. If you were given the option of naming a star, what would you name it?
3. What is the purpose of your blog?
4. What do you really dislike about other people's blogs?
5. When you saw this for the first time did the idea remind you of chain letters?
6. Who's the hotest male/female that you know- like know?
7. If you were given the option of publishing your blog in a book, e-book or otherwise, but not anonymously, would you?
8. As a blogger, what do you think about the freedom of speech?
9. What's more important- earning money or spending it?
10. If there was one lie that you wish your mother had told you, what would it be?
11. Does art imitate life or life imitate art?

5. I should now comment on everyone's post to let them know they've won a little appreciation today!

06 February 2013

Vishwaroopam- A Review

Is he a good fella or a bad fella?
We went to watch the movie on Monday, feeling privileged to live in a state that didn't cry foul over the movie. I was with Ms Fan and Mr Curious As previously stated, I'm not a fan of Kamal Hassan, but I do appreciate a good movie. My favorites from the actor, are movies like Anbe Sivam and Moondru Moodichu .

That having said, we popped over to the cinema, the three of us, on a Monday, to a surprisingly half full hall. Families with three generations had turned up in throng, possibly taking advantage of the cheaper tickets on weekdays.

The Start
As a dancing teacher with Andrea

The movie started off well I thought, even though the puritan in me (the fact that it was a Kamal Hassan movie jumped at  me in the first ten minutes when the lady is talking about her affair with this other fella and the counselor wants to know if they've been intimate. "Sex? We haven't gotten there yet," or something to that effect, she yells out) squirmed a bit at that statement.

The first portion climaxed at an impressive action sequence of Kamal going full throttle on  some villains in the warehouse. And suitably the lady kidnapped with Kamal, was impressed too. Wide eyed, we go into Part 2 for some answers to this manic transformation of a seemingly homosexual dance teacher into a hand mincing ninja. 

Ms Fan was bubbling with enthusiasm at this point for the next bit of the movie, with Mr Curious silently focused on the movie.

Muslim offense meter:- 3/10. At this point in the movie, there are some prayers. This could offend some people, for two reasons.

  • You need to be a Muslim to say Muslim prayers, and the real Hassan isn't of the Islamic faith. The second bit, would be that contrary to popular belief Islam doesn't promote violence.
  •  It doesn't, and I say it in good faith because I lived a large part of my life in a Muslim country, that interprets it non-violently. 
  • And because I'm proud to say, I've read the excellent translation of the Quran by Muhammad Marmaduke Pickthall and when you read it, you'd realize it is just like any other religious text. 
The Middle

Rahul Bose as Omar
At this point, have had to turn around and ask the two 'movie critics' at the back to shut up. They mock me back, with an Ok and shut up until one of them receives a phone call. 
As if on cue, the baby a few seats east of the critics, decides it wants some attention too and starts wailing. Normal people would give the fella a little walk, show the lights outside the theatre and do what ever it is that takes to subdue the kid. But no, this family decides Kamal Hassan is worth the pain. 

And Kamal is now in Afghanistan, with Omar (Rahul Bose) and helping train the Jihadis in the fine art of combat. In this piece, we see the innards of a terrorist group, amongst the coarsely rugged beauty of Afghanistan. This piece runs for about 40 mins..making me suspect that the 95 crore budget's main expense was this portion of the movie. Some where during this time, I've lost interest and start fiddling around with my popcorn to see if somehow I could toss it over to the back without being caught. On the right side, Mr Curious had yawned a few times and Ms Fan had slumped further into the seat and gave me a look that said, wait for it, the good stuff is going to come soon!

I'm stricken awake, with the approaching NATO bomb attack on the village that they were staying in, shortly after Osama bin Laden (who I mistake for Abu Nasir, not remembering that this was a flash back). Fancy fake smoke, and a military scene that reminded me of the video games that my brother plays (target down, let's go! let's go!)  with some shuffling and the wholesale bombing of the Omar's family. That is genuinely upsetting, and we pause for an interval. 

Muslim offense meter: -1/10 
  • There is nothing offensive at this part in the movie. Like it or not, the world has terrorists, and at this point in time they are of the Islamic faith
  • This part of the movie, by and large, possibly opened a few eyes to the politics of terrorism, and how every attack kills 50 people, but sets the ground for a few hundred more suicide bombers who believe in the cause for emotional reasons
The End

The A Team
Post interval the movie looses focus. It's all over the place, with some jokes, some stereo types, some gibberish nonsense of the Faraday Cage/ Field < I recently watched The Darkest Hour, that gave me some quick education on this cage>. 

Stand out scene was the murder of Dawkins in Brooklyn Park, beautiful & cold. At the same time, the logic behind dragging the A team (Kamal, Wife, Boss-Uncle, And girl dancer, American FBI fella) to the park to stop Dawkins from being murdered, without back up is beyond me. 

The 'climax' involving the stopping of the Nigerian explosives detonator, and Kamal's wife running in with the idea of the Farraday Cage, through security, is beyond me. I mean, in the interest of national security, wouldn't you have 5 million other experts present and if not physically present, at least over the phone?

And the movie ends with some scenes for the sequel. Kamal in bed with Wife....Kamal training in India....Kamal talking about Omar... and at this point, Ms Fan throws me a sheepish smile. Mr Curious throws his hands in the air and murmurs some expletives.

I'm still wondering what role Andrea Jeremiah (Dance girl) agreed to when she signed up for the movie. Unless there was meant to be a Twilight-like love triangle of some sort that we didn't catch. Sorry, the post interval phase was the money waster, the absolute what the heck is going on bit. I think the parents at the back agreed with me. Because they finally took the baby out of the cinema hall for a walk. And the fella next to one of us, never came back from the interval.

I'm not even bothering to do the muslim scale thing here. Because, guy's it's not worth it. I remember thinking, rather unfairly at that point, that the whole hullabaloo possibly gave the movie a heck load more publicity. I mean, it guilt tripped me into going for a watch, didn't it. And oh, go on a weekday. Trust me, it'll make you feel better about having spent lesser towards the 'Save Kamal Hassan' project.

Watch the 'legends' battle it out in the next installment!

04 February 2013

RIP- Mukul Deva- Book Review

I'm reading Mukul Deva for the first time, and well in all honesty, a book of this genre after eons. My last tryst with a thriller was Lie Down with the Lions from 1986, by Ken Follet. There are a few reasons I stay away from thrillers, one of them is the fact that thrillers do not allow room for character narratives, the way a novel would, and I'm a sucker for character narratives.

Overall the story is simple.  The story of the K-Team a group of Army officers, who rid this country of a few key members and incite some fear in the political class. Krishna is the protagonist, Raghav the antagonist and Vinod the cop, trying to do the right thing, but also keep himself safe. Embedded within the main plot, is the story of the love triangle between Reena, Krishna & Raghav.  The climax of the book shows the neat assassination (spoiler alert) of Ranvijay (Rahul Gandhi) and a clean getaway.

The thriller taps into the fantasy that a lot of us have, of bringing out a gun and ridding this country of the crazy people, we crazy people have voted into power. And the book is fast paced in the first half, linking back to various back stories that allow the story to move forward.

Overall this book will work absolutely find for a bus ride, a train ride or a flight. It may even be something that you want to read over a weekend, priced at Rs.200 it is definitely worth the price. I suggest that you do not use the book as a before sleep read, because, it manages to effectively draw you in, and you may just end up calling the office sick the next day!

The main gripe I had with the book was the second half. I felt that the sub plot of love, developed a little too late in the book for us to truly be invested in it. The other area of disconcert was the bit on authorial intent. There is a clear bi-focation between the good, the bad and the ugly in the book. In that, it manages to make the world black and white. And I disagree it is all as simple as that, the only character in the book that had the gray factor was Nandakumar, the hapless servant of the political class, who functions as the conflicted spy.

And the last gripe, is just me being super fussy. The thriller is an angry thriller, and rightfully so. Mukul's intention is to somehow provide a book of catharsis, that will help him and the rest of us absolve the anger at the government for all its inefficiencies, and everything. I just wish, that he'd had this done in Orwellian style, like a satire, instead of drawing his inspiration from the likes of Kalmadi, Laloo Prasad Yadav & Karunanidhi. Because essentially the names are different, but they're all the same. To reference Animal Farm: perhaps it would've been appropriate to class them all as a bunch of Pigs :)

In short, the idea is fantastic, and the execution is good too. I do think that, Mr Deva can do better than RIP, but for the short straw, definitely a catchy quick read that is enjoyable too.

Rating: 6/10

This review is a part of the biggest http://blog.blogadda.com/2011/05/04/indian-bloggers-book-reviews" target="_blank"> Book Reviews Program.
for http://www.blogadda.com" target="_blank">Indian Bloggers. Participate now to get free books!

03 February 2013

Blueprint for Change

Blogadda Contest- List out the 5 concerns that you have and the blueprint to fix it.. dream contest. Here are my 5 top concerns.

1.  Bankruptcy Legislation: India has the same host of Banking products and services that a lot of the developed nations have. There are two things lacking in the system though, the option to declare bankruptcy, if someone has just borrowed too much money or irresponsibly given more money than they could afford to pay back by the creditor. The other thing lacking is free financial counselling  either from NGOs or the government, that will allow people to make better financial decisions.

Blueprint: That the Pauper Act of 1905 (I think) be updated and stop talking about the transfer of chicken and instead start talking about real life problems that people who have been affected by things like natural disaster etc, that would affect their ability to pay their debts. In addition to this, it should be mandate that every state have a set number of NGOs or Government funded financial counselors.

2. Waste Management: Just looking around our country, there is rubbish and garbage everywhere. I do not think it should be that hard to manage waste, and we just need to be better at managing it.

Blueprint: Start with education, educating our children on the importance of waste management. Have projects in Biology classes, that teach children how natural waste can be recycled at home into compost that can then be used as fertilizer on the home garden. At a higher level, allow people to opt for packet free products and increase the prices of things that are packaged with non recyclable products. Also offer the citizens concessions if they recycle instead of throwing things away.

3. Taking Care of our Strays: There are enough abandoned dogs on the streets.While none of these dogs may have belonged to anyone, there are countless dogs that look like Labradors or Alsatians on the streets. This suggests that those with pets have let their dogs loose on the street dogs, and impregnated the dogs that have not been vaccinated. Needles to say this is irresponsible and cruel.

Blueprint: One of various things. The fine for beating up an animal on the street or a pet, is Rs100. Change the law and again ,update the POCTA from the 60s to now. In the meanwhile enforce that all pet owners are to register their pets, and this needs to have the vaccination status and things like that reported. Step up the neutering of street dogs to allow them to live full lives without the burden and the noise of establishing whole packs.

4. Dust: The amount of dust in this city is crazy. I always measure the dustiness of the day by checking the colour of the wet tissue when I'm done wiping my face mid day. It's always crazy and always brown, even though I don't use foundation.

Blueprint: Various things. For one plant more trees and return Bangalore to the times when it deserved the name. "Garden City'. All construction that happens on the main roads to be covered, to prevent the movement of dust. Penalize those who are building their homes and use the street as their working space. And lastly, consider cloud seeding as an option to increase the amount of rain and water the place down to decrease the level of dust.

5. Water Conservation: My aunt was telling me just today that the water in her area has been on full flow. She anticipates this will be the case until March, when the elections (I think BWSSB or one of those) will be. Post that,we all know the city is going to go ape-shit till the Monsoons, hopefully arrive. The need today to conserve water cannot be stressed on more.

Blueprint: Simple things. Educate our children on the various ways the other countries in the world save water, like Singapore. Do this via one project that will encourage them to learn and implement. Give concessions to homes that build the water saving roof, sinks that wash all the dishes, buy washing machines that save water... or homes that do not opt to have a bore well. Encourage people to have plants in their homes, and channel funds better to allow the government to buy more water. Send water to everyone's home, but restrict this to a daily prefixed amount. This should include politicians and others that would misuse the system.

This post is a part of Weekend contest at BlogAdda.com in association with Chanakya's new manifesto

Blog-A-Ton 36- And then there were none

This post has been published by me as a part of the Blog-a-Ton 36; the 36th edition of the online marathon of Bloggers; where we decide and we write. To be part of the next edition, visit and start following Blog-a-Ton. The theme for the month is "and then there were none"
I just saw the topic and I know I'm not winning, but given that we want 100 posts, I thought I'd do my bit by sharing this poem from Frank Green that was referenced to in the book, "And Then There Were None" by Agathie Chrisite.

Ten little soldier boys went out to dine;
One choked his little self and then there were Nine.

Nine little soldier boys sat up very late;
One overslept himself and then there were Eight.

Eight little soldier boys travelling in Devon;
One said he'd stay there and then there were Seven.

Seven little soldier boys chopping up sticks;
One chopped himself in halves and then there were Six.

Sic little soldier boys playing with a hive;
A bumble bee stung one and then there were Five.

Five little soldier boys going in for Law;
One got in Chancery and then there were Four.

Four little soldier boys going in for law;
A red herring swallowed on and then there were Three.

Three little soldier boys walking in the Zoo;
A big bear hugged one and then there were Two.

Two little soldier boys sitting in the sun;
One got frizzled up and then there was One.

One little soldier boy left all alone;
He went and hanged himself.

And then there were None.

By Frank Green, 1869
The fellow Blog-a-Tonics who took part in this Blog-a-Ton and links to their respective posts can be checked here. To be part of the next edition, visit and start following Blog-a-Ton. Introduced By: Don't remember now, Participation Count: 06