Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy New Year!

Wish you, all of you who come here regularly and leave encouraging comments, all of you who come by regularly and don't comment, and all of you who just dropped by, a very happy new year.

May this year bring us all more peace, more hope.
May fewer women be raped or killed.
May fewer men rape or kill.
May we all find more love, compassion, and understanding.
Both in others for us, and in us, for ourselves and others.
May we get all the hugs we need.
May solitude bring strength and peace.
May there be plenty of laughter and meetings with friends.
May this year be the best year yet.

Monday, December 24, 2012

On Dreams Coming True

I had heard it said, that sometimes you're afraid of a dream coming true. Sometimes you don't want what you've always wanted.

And I scoffed. I want what I want, I thought. I was young, and sure. I knew what I wanted.

I feel old now, because I don't feel that way anymore.

A dream I've dreamed since I was a kid is within my reach. I can reach out and pluck it off the air, touch the glowing fruits with my fingers. I reach out... and stop.

I am afraid. Afraid the gleam will go off the fruits if I touch them. Afraid the fruits won't be what I expected.

You see, once you pluck the fruits, you can't put them back on the tree. They are yours forever.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Mid-Week Reads: Short, Not Sweet

How are you all? Enjoying the slow time at work at the end of the year? I always have -- except for this year, when we're hunkering down and working while the rest of you take it easy. What? I'm not bitter.

Why do most marketers get gender so wrong?

If Serena Williams cannot get the respect she deserves within her sport because her body does not match the other players', who can?

And now for the mandatory self-promotion. Over on Women's Web, I write about eight things aspiring entrepreneurs should do before quitting their jobs.

If you're in Pune and read the Tossed Salad, watch my interview of Sahil Khan.

Monday, December 17, 2012

This Winter, I'm Wishing for Winter

I hate warm weather. I am happier when temperatures start to drop, when there is a hint of mist in the air. The world seems more romantic, more full of possibilities.

Every winter, I miss Delhi. Walking to class with hands thrust deep into pockets and feeling my nose get cold in the wintry air. Walking out to the nearby market between classes for hot paratha and tea. Sitting out in the sun. Long hours spent talking.

I miss Delhi's green, its footpaths, it's parks. Dilli Haat and Priya and Sarojini Nagar and the India Gate. Every winter, I want to visit all this again.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Mid-Week Reads is Back!

Sorry for being away from the blog: I had a bad cold, and then I've been buried under work. Oh well. (Also, I've read like a hundred Agatha Christies (joking, more like fifty) in the last few weeks, since I didn't have the energy to do much else when I wasn't working).


I loved reading this analysis of why Porter's Five Forces model doesn't work. As someone who's studied the model, used it for analysis for clients (a long time ago), but ultimately didn't find it very practical, I found this fascinating.

I also liked Aparna's piece about women in Indian ads.

This is awesome.

How much sleep do you really need. (Short answer: it depends.)

Why does Doctor Barbie cost twice as much as Magician Barbie?

Now for what I've been writing. I enjoyed this fun little book, Jana Bibi's Excellent Fortunes.

Over on my business blog, I share my favorite business books. Name yours!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

"The Voices in My Head" now on Amazon

The Voices in My Head Kindle book cover
So if you wanted to read (or reread) the story but clicking through all the links is too much of a pain, The Voices in My Head is now a Kindle book.

Share the link with friends if you read the book and like it!

I'm not taking down the story from this blog, so if you prefer to read it for free, go ahead!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Mid-Week Reads: Work and Gender

Let's glorify obesity. Read this too.

I loved this post about how hiring based on hobbies can be exclusionary. I also found this post about drinking culture and exclusion interesting, though I am not a teetotaller and I haven't seen that kind of heavy-drinking culture up close.

Use these tips to devise passwords that keep hackers away.

So, I wrote another article for Women's Web -- the second of my monthly column. A taste:

Intel India, Lockheed Martin, IBM, Yahoo: all appointed women heads of business this year. 
Cue the self-congratulatory press releases and interviews, with the implication that the company is progressive or that the corporate world is post-feminist.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Quotes from The Second Sex

Some quotes from the Second Sex,* without comment:
In bourgeois society one of the roles assigned to woman is to make a good showing: her beauty, charm, intelligence, elegance are the outward and visible signs of her husband's wealth, as is the custom-built body of his car. If he is rich he covers her with fur and jewels; if not so rich he will boast of her morality and her housekeeping.
But a woman flatters not only man's social vanity; she is the source of a more intimate pride. He is delighted with his domination of her... the husband "forms" his wife not erotically alone, but also morally and intellectually; he educates her, marks her, sets his imprint upon her.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Mid-Week Reads: Penis Roth

I loved this article about Phillip Roth and his penis-focused fiction (Penis Roth?) -- I've tried reading a couple of his books but have given up. Life's too short to read boring non-erotic stories about the penises of fictional men.

The previous article also reminded me of this satirical piece by Jezebel on men's writing.

I wonder how many friends this new-parent couple has, and how many they lost by demanding their friends perform difficult chores for them.

I liked this post on Women's Web about the prejudice against dark skin, especially when it comes to marriage!

Lastly, this delicious short story. (via requireshate)

Happy Diwali, you all! Take some time off from reading about dicks to spill oil over your new clothes or stop that candle from burning up your houseplant!

Monday, November 12, 2012

What I've Been Reading: Romance and Fantasy

Here's what I've been reading recently:

American Gods,* which I loved. It has lots of gods from different mythologies, most as nasty and unpredictable as ever. It was disappointing to realize how much Percy Jackson is inspired from this, but if you've read that one, this is just like it, but for adults. If you like fantasy, try it.

Oryx and Crake, which is the Atwood novel I liked least of all I've read. It's good and I read through it in about a day, but I found it a little.. oh, I don't know unconvincing and disappointing. The most significant event in the book isn't even explained, only described, and while I guess that was supposed to make this more awful, it added to the disappointment for me. (I grew up reading Agatha Christies -- I want all mysteries in any works of fiction tied up neatly into a bow at the end.)

Friday, November 09, 2012

Stuff I Love: Green Tokri

In this series, I'll tell you about products and services I love. I'm not paid to review these or anything: it's just stuff I've used and has been useful/entertaining/whatever to me and I think you might want to try it too.

This is only available to folks in Pune, but oh, how much I love Green Tokri. Fresh farm food delivered to your doorstep -- what's not to love?

And yes, it really is fresh. Fresher than what you get in stores -- and much of the salad greens and herbs in big stores is from Green Tokri anyway.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Mid-Week Reads: Novels and Dogs

What are some attributes of literary fiction? Read this primer for a list that helpfully tells you so you can write a literary novel.

Also read: If novelists share anything, it's a distant-dog impulse.

If you struggle with contentment (as I do), this is inspiring.

And I shouldn't link too often to my own stuff, but here are a few self-serving links:
That's it this week! Have you been reading anything fun? 

Friday, November 02, 2012

Short Story: Loneliness

I look out of the window. A stray dog is barking, shattering the silence of the night. I spot him some way away. He is not alone. It’s mating season, and his lover seems to need persuading.
I watch them settle down with a pang of envy.
I envy him more than the sex.

There he is, under the open sky, without a space to call his own. But not alone.

I walk back to my computer and find something to read. The empty bed that hogs much of the room has no attraction for me.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Mid-Week Reads: Mostly Empty

I know, I know. I said I'd blog more often. Sorry. I'm digging up old stories I wrote and scheduling them until I get myself writing again. I don't even have many links to share today. But come back on Friday, okay?

Speaking of Friday, if you're in Pune, you should go to the NH7 Weekender. I am hoping it will be nearly as awesome as last year!

You should read just everything Scarlett writes.

I found myself nodding along to this open letter to e-book retailers.

This history of how milk came to be a part of human diet is fascinating. And this is what I posted on Facebook after I read it:
So, I'm SUPPOSED to be lactose intolerant. It's the rest of you who are freaks.
Or, as the Guy put it, I'm just not evolved enough yet. Whatever.

Have a fun week, and tell me what you're reading.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Mid-Week Reads: Appearances

You have to watch this video: maxipad company responds to man's Facebook rant about "how the company had lied to him through their advertising campaigns over the years, leading him to believe that periods involved a lot of blue liquid, extreme sports, and fun music."

This amazing seven-year-old dresses up as a different historical figure every day.

Why aren't dads who work called working dads?

Bestselling novelist Jennifer Weiner writes about being fat.

More hilarious Amazon reviews. Where are all these people and how can invite them all to a party at my house?

This is the wonderful story of how a music album that celebrated gender neutrality for children got made by a bunch of feminists in the early 1970s.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Reading Hilary Mantel's "Bring up the Bodies"

A public service announcement: Amazon's offering Hilary Mantel's latest book, Bring up the Bodies, that just won the Booker, for really cheap (Kindle edition). Go buy.

I'm reading it right now, and it's awesome. I loved Wolf Hall, but it was more than a little difficult to read. Bring up the Bodies is easier, and more fun (from what I remember), with lots of scandal.

Even though she writes about one of the most written-about periods of history, even though I knew the main points of the story before I read it (or maybe because I knew it -- I'd been fascinated and repulsed by Henry Tudor and Anne Boleyn since I first read about them as a teenager -- in Good Housekeeping or some such magazine of my mom).

Anyway, this isn't a review -- I don't have the words. This is non-fiction, but as hard to put down as any good thriller or romance I remember reading. It's long too, and will keep you occupied for some time.

And if you haven't read Wolf Hall yet, that's pretty cheap right now too. Buy both before the prices go up again!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Story: Purple

The party was getting over, guests were leaving. I didn't want to go. I wanted to stay and look at the beautiful man who had just turned thirty-two, which is what we had all come to celebrate.

But I had just met him today. Wasn't it too soon to make a move? I inched towards the door. 

He looked at me and raised one exquisite eyebrow. "How many drinks have you had?" he said in that deep voice that seemed to never quite lose its mocking tone. "I don't think you should drive anywhere tonight."

"Okay, I'll call a cab," I said, reaching for my phone.

"Why don't you stay over?" he said casually. "The guest room's free." 

He turned to say goodbye to another couple of guests. He hugged the woman, lingering — it seemed to me  with his head on hers. I looked away, looked at the big bunch of pink roses she had got for him, and that was now standing next to the wall, amid empty glasses.

The door shut. The two of us were alone in the flat.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Don't Go Away!

A friend asked the other day if I was abandoning this blog.

No! I've written here for so long an have made so many friends through it  including that very friend. I share here what I can't share anywhere else. 

But it made me realize how much I have neglected you all. I have been lazy. I have told myself I have no writing-energy left, after writing for my business blog and writing for clients and writing for Women's Web and writing guest posts and writing emails... 

But I admit, all of those are excuses. I have been lazy, and neglected you.

But stay  if you haven't gone away yet. I want to blog here more regularly, and I hope you will continue to read. I'll try and write most days, or at least a couple of times a week. I want to try writing fiction again.

So keep coming back, will you? I'll try not to abandon you again.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Mid-Week Reads: Mostly Self-Promotion

This Thursday, I'll be participating in a Women's Web chat, answering questions on "online marketing for small businesses." Come join in!

I was thrilled to interview my idol, marketing expert and blogger Lisa Barone, on my business blog last week.

With shameless self-promotion out of the way, here's some stuff I've been reading.

If you can't explain what you do in one paragraph, you've got a problem.

Monday, October 08, 2012

12 Most Egregious Job-Search Mistakes

Do you want to waste time on your job-search and not actually get a job you’re interested in? Just make as many of these mistakes as you can!

1. Leaving Mistakes on Your Resume

Spelling errors, repeated words or phrases (in one resume I recently viewed, one entire bulleted point was repeated, with slightly different phrasing, right below it), deleted words: all of these make you look unprofessional.

It’s easy to not notice mistakes in your own resume, which is why it’s important to have a friend with a keen eye look at it before you send it out. If you actually want to get a job, that is.

2. Not Customizing Your Application

The very point of a cover letter is to communicate your fit for the particular position you are applying to; sending a generic email that doesn’t even reference the position or the organization makes you look lazy. And having “work with a large organization” in your resume objective when you’re applying to a start-up doesn’t help your case.

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Mid-Week Reads: Famous Writers' Cosmo Tips

France is so avant garde, it's retiring the terms "mother" and "father."

Famous writers' Cosmo tips is so awesome, I can't even decide which I like best -- the Shakespeare is really neat, but Wodehouse's is funny, and so is Tolkien's, though not in the same way.

Here's how to recognize the narcissist in your life.

If you want to be an artist, don't give up.

And if you don't want to pay for J. K. Rowling's new book, maybe this digest will keep you from needing to.

In other news, I'm giving away my services for free, so hurry up and claim yours!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Mid-Week Reads: My Column At Women's Web

Cliff Pervocracy knocks it out of the park again.
I wonder why more men aren't just insulted by the whole concept. If someone started telling stories about how my gender was controlled by our genitalia and sexual arousal turns us into rapist automatons, I would be outraged.
I haven't been reading much lately -- with Effe here, I haven't had much time to work, even! But I have one bit of exciting news. I now have a monthly column at Women's Web, where I'll talk about gender issues, especially as they relate to career development.

In my first column, I wrote about how women are expected to be supportive of their spouses' careers but rarely get the same support in return. I also touched upon the recent discussion around housewives' getting paid by their husbands. Go read, and let me know what you think!

Monday, September 24, 2012

On Giving Gifts

I loved this article on the difficulty of gift-giving. It's a topical topic (heh) for me, since I celebrated my birthday last week with my two best friends, the Guy and Effe, and both of them unknowingly followed Miss Conduct's advice and offered to gift me experiences we could share together.

But even better, their bigger gifts to me was their presence. Effe traveled by bus for 15 hours to get to my city. She planned a ten-day-long visit so we could catch up on two years' of conversation and fun. We're supposed to work during weekdays, but we end up taking long breaks to sit and talk and talking through most of the night so we're groggy and unproductive during the day.

But I have my best friend in my home, and obviously here because she loves me and because it's my birthday, and what can be a better gift that that?

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Mid-Week Reads and Announcements

Blogging break: I'm going to be busy with personal stuff (including a short vacation) for the next week or two, so I probably won't be blogging here before the week of the 24th.

Now on to some light reading.

How our brains stop us achieving our goals and how to fight back. #1 is "Your brain can hurt your goals by fantasizing too much." Now I know why I'm an underachiever!

I loved this little fantasy story.

I liked this article about Michelle Obama's speech.

I have a post up on Search Engine People: 10 easy ways to find blog post topics (if you're a business blogger).

Monday, September 10, 2012

Videos of Kaziranga

Remember my visit to Kaziranga a year and a half ago? I found some videos, and remembered I had meant to upload them on YouTube. So here you go, the YouTube channel for Unmana's Words.

And if you're too lazy to hop over, here are the videos. All courtesy of the Guy.

The first one is just a panaromic view of Kaziranga while we're on an elephant. The elephant's moving, so the video is shaky. It's misty, but you can see vast green spaces, rhinos in the distance, and hear birds.

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Mid-Week Reads: Shortest Ever

Writing fake book reviews is apparently an actual job. I actually read the books I review, I swear!

Why Twitter will live and Facebook will die. And hey, if you're on Twitter, I'm @Unmana. Say hi!

Sorry, that's all I have this week. I've been writing about marketing over at the other blog, if you're interested!

And now, you. What fun online articles have you been reading?

Monday, September 03, 2012

A Bloody Toe and a Rainbow

And a swollen head. All in the same afternoon.

The Guy was to go to a Friends of Children event Sunday afternoon, which I had signed up for too but later cried off because of a lingering cold and sore throat that made me want to stay home and rest. I invited a friend over for lunch and company.

We had been to a friend's birthday party Saturday night, so I got up late that morning, after the Guy had already left. I had a lazy quiet morning before I laid aside my book and decided to become more productive.

I was cooking lunch and doing laundry, and I left the pan on the stove to walk into the bedroom to get something. I didn't notice the water spilled on the floor. On my way back, I slipped. My foot rammed into the washing machine and my head into the door.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Naming Our Hypothetical Children

Since a few of our friends are expecting babies, I thought it might be a nice time to share this semi-incoherent conversation with the Guy from a while ago. We laughed ourselves to sleep that night, but I'm guessing that was just us!

One night, I tell the Guy, "You know, I almost regret that we're not going to have children because it would be so cool to think of names for them. They're stuck going around being called something ridiculous... at least until they are old enough to get them changed anyway."

"I think I'd like to name our hypothetical child..."

"Hypothetical?" says the Guy helpfully.

I laugh. "No, though that's quite good. I was thinking of God. It would be so much fun to say, God's been so naughty today, we had to lock her up at home."

"Or we have to go home early because of God's homework."

I turn around to go to sleep and suddenly start laughing. "I have a better name for our daughter."

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Mid-Week Reads: Product Reviews Can Be Fun, Too

I usually link to blog posts and articles, not to product reviews. But the reviews on this Bic For Her pen are so delicious, they should be read as widely as possible!

Apparently, working moms are happier and healthier than other moms.

The informational interview is actually a thing you should do, yes.

Be awesome at a moment's notice.

Yeah, I'm short of links this week. What have you been reading?

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Mid-Week Reads: Vegetarians and Gender

Cosmocking is back!
You're going along, being all masculine, and then your date fucks it up and breaks your masculinity so you have to be feminine! And you don't even own a decent pair of heels so then you have to go shopping!
I love this article about getting along with vegetarians. I'm not much of a vegetarian anymore, but seriously, some of you meat-eaters need to learn the concept of politeness!

Weird, woman wasn't harassed today.   

Returning home from work Wednesday evening, area woman Caitlin Levy suddenly realized that, quite unusually, she had not been harassed or propositioned for sex even once the entire day, the puzzled 28-year-old told reporters.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Mid-Week Reads: Networking Stories

I'm cheating this week, by putting in a few links and also adding a couple of personal anecdotes.

Wearing an interesting scarf or pin can help with networking.

Personal story time: I was a painfully shy, self-conscious 21-year-old when I went to interview for b-school. It was the only school I interviewed at. I did horribly at the group discussion because I was too quiet to speak up. The interview was with a panel of intimidating (to me) people, and I was given a quick, silly topic to speak on as the next test. I started, I fumbled, I shut up.

This old guy on the panel then kindly asked me to talk about my dupatta. Somehow, that unlocked my thoughts--I talked about the hand-woven silk from Assam and wove in a quote by Gandhi! I saw everyone visibly thaw and begin to smile.

The rest of the interview seemed easier. And I got in! And that's where I got really interested in marketing and met the Guy, so life would have been very different otherwise.

Here are things you shouldn't do in networking.

There are some awkward networking stories in the comments here.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Please Help Chirang

I received a heart-rending email from a friend last week about the conditions in Chirang. I was waiting until we could make a donation before posting it here, so here goes. Conditions have worsened in the meantime, so if it's within your means, please consider making a donation.

My friend Nandini wrote this, which I've edited to make it shorter:
I had the opportunity of going to Assam in May and staying with ANT (Action North east), an NGO near Bongaigaon through Suja Warriar. I observed first hand all the wonderful work they were doing for the up liftment of the community there. It is really sad to see the ongoing developments in the Bodoland. I have attached the details of my trip.

Suja Warriar, an employee of Infosys is on a two year sabbatical with ANT. She has been keeping us updated with all the happenings there.
These are excerpts from Suja Warriar's emails:

Friday, August 10, 2012

Shameless Self-Promotion

I wasn't going to do this, but a) a friend told me not to be shy and b) I thought you should know what I've been so busy doing.

So, here's what. The Guy and I have started a business together. We're going to help small business do better marketing. For now, I'm the consultant, and he's support.

Here are some links:

We are just starting out, so things might be wonky -- let me know if you notice anything wrong. And please share any of these links with friends who might be interested!

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Mid-Week Reads: Erratic, but Alive

I haven't been regular lately, but since you haven't complained, I will pretend nothing's changed. ;)

Best video ever: a message to haters on YouTube.

Why aren't women's magazines doing well online? (I wasn't sure about including this one, because really, who cares.)

Here's why you didn't get that interview.

I realize that the same skills serve you well when interacting with in-laws as well as with prospective employers. Read my article over at Women's Web.

That's it! Have a great week.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Mid-Week Reads: Fiction, Work and Social Media

Disney princesses ordered from least to most feminist. I guess I should confess here that I haven't seen most of these movies. I saw Beauty and the Beast on TV (last year?), I loved Rapunzel. I found The Princess and The Frog very boring and didn't watch past the first half hour. But after reading this, I think I should watch Pocahontas and Mulan.

Read this beautiful, beautiful story of a mermaid, a rusalka.

Here's the most clueless Facebook user ever.

"What would possess a woman to go from arguably the coolest internet company to arguably the saddest?" Jezebel on Marissa Mayer's move to Yahoo.

Sady Doyle, my favorite feminist blogger (who unfortunately doesn't write at Tiger Beatdown any more), on feminist blogs. 

Weird things candidates do. I think #12 is less weird than the others, depending on the job or the industry. If the opening was for a social media intern or mobile marketing manager, I can see it working. My personal favorite is #7.

You are the average of the five people you spend most time with.

And lastly, here's my advice on developing a content strategy for your brand.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Book: Willful Blindness

Go read my review on Women's Web.

Do you want the book? Leave a comment below and tell me why I should send you my copy.

By the way, on the commenting system, I've got more votes for Blogger than for Disqus so far. If you want Disqus to stay, respond to the poll on the right (or tell me your reasons below). If you want Blogger to come back, do the same!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Mid-Week Reads: HR, HP

Will I ever be tired of reading analyses of Harry Potter? The evidence so far suggests otherwise. 

Via Aishwarya, this article that's somewhat about tennis and Andy Murray (who? I don't follow sports and I don't have a TV) but mostly about not-smiling in public being okay, because unfortunately that needs to be said.
"Which isn't to say people are inherently unhappy. Just that they've got better things to do with their faces than walking around bending their mouths up like idiots.

"The people who want Murray to smile are the same ones who try to make me dance at weddings. They want the world to conspicuously enjoy itself in a manner of their choosing, and they turn vaguely sanctimonious when they encounter pockets of resistance, as though their definition of fun is the only one that matters."

Alankrita said I'd like to read "Why We Hate HR" and she was very right. 

Monday, July 09, 2012

Commenting, Again

I've put up a poll on the right--tell me whether Disqus should go and that will happen.

Reasons why I don't like Disqus:

  1. Older comments have disappeared! I'd love them back.
  2. It's another system to manage.
  3. It takes a second or two to load.
Reasons why I like Disqus:
  1. It allows anonymous commenters without letting in a ton of spam.
  2. It has a little more functionality--I can ban commenters, for example, and sort comments, and little things like that. 
But the commenting space is for you more than for me, so do take the poll on the right. The poll doesn't allow comments, so if you have any, hit the comments space below as usual. Thanks!

Thursday, July 05, 2012

Mid-Week Reads: Gender Issues

Go read Nora Ephron's commencement speech at Wellesley.

The concept of Mary Sue is sexist.

You need to read this.
"Don’t marry or move in or reproduce with men unless they pull their own weight. Seriously. That might mean you end up alone. That might be a better option."
"Men are not useless, nor are they idiots or chimps. They are just as capable of being nurturing and loving and caring and aware as women are, so let’s also give them the chance to demonstrate that. And just don’t accept the ones who pretend to be chimps in order to abdicate responsibility."

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Job Opening: Online Marketing Manager

Do you want a job like mine? Where you work social media, write and edit blog posts and other content, and think of new cool ways to market your company?

We're hiring a Marketing Manager, and are looking for someone with experience in content marketing, email marketing and social media. If you think you fit the bill, write to me at unmanad at with your resume. Don't forget to include examples of blogs or websites or social media profiles you have managed or content you've written.

Here's the job description.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Have the Monsoons Arrived Yet?

May the monsoons always arrive on a weekend.

You will await the rains eagerly, hope for an end to the dry dusty heat.

On the Saturday, you will be excited to see the sky partly covered by grey clouds. You will suggest to your partner that you drive out and meet the rain.

When you drive out, it will start drizzling, and you will be hopeful and excited. But the few drops of water on your windshield will soon dry off.

But there is a nice breeze, and you have your window down end enjoy the weather and talk to your partner as he drives.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Commenting Changes

I've had requests and complaints from people who couldn't comment on my blog because I didn't allow anonymous comments. But each time I tried allowing them, a lot of spam got in. So I'm trying out Disqus for commenting, and I hope you'll try leaving a comment and tell me if you have any problems.


Edited to add: I hadn't realized all the older comments would disappear! I'm really sorry--I love getting comments from you. Hopefully they'll turn up again if I decide to discontinue Disqus. If you have an opinion either way, please say so!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Read This Book: Close, Too Close

I have always said that Chicu is an awesome writer, so when she told me her story was to appear in an anthology of queer erotica, I was very excited. And what a beautiful story it is. I liked it--and a story by Michael Malik G. about a gay narrator and his friendship with a young man--most of all the stories in the book.

And I might be biased, but you should all go read my review and then buy the book.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Mid-Week Reads: Fiction!

I'm glad no one noticed I missed this last week! I considered skipping this week too, but instead here's a short edition.

If you read Gone with the Wind, you have to read these texts from Scarlett O' Hara.

I loved this excerpt from When the Time is Right (by Buddhadeva Bose, newly translated by Arunava Sinha). The book went up on my Flipkart wishlist on the strength of that chapter. The next chapter is here.

These celebrities don't own a TV. I'm only surprised this is news (especially when some of those celebrities admit to watching movies on their computers or projectors). I don't have a TV and enough of my friends don't so that I don't think it's weird (and while I still spend some weekend evenings whining "I'm bored!" like I did when I was a little girl, on the whole I'm pretty happy with this).

Here are some of Cosmo's most ridiculous sex tips. You're welcome.

Monday, June 18, 2012

How To Not Do Email Marketing: A Primer

Step 1: Use an email service provider (a few popular ones are Constant Contact, Aweber, ExactTarget, iContact, RatePoint, and there are probably hundreds of others, for all budgets). Don't just send the email out from your mailbox--it makes you look cheap and tells me you're not serious about your marketing.

Step 2: Build a list the hard way, by asking for subscribers and by providing good reasons for people to subscribe. Don't spam people who don't know you and never asked for your emails.

Step 3: If you do spam people, do some research first. Don't send a "Daddy's Day" email to a blogger who has frequently written about her father's death. It's not likely to endear you to her.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Book Notes: Short Girls, Undressing the Moon, Husband and Wife, and My First V.I. Warshawski Novel

I've been reading some fantastic books lately, so if you're looking for reading matter, here's some I recommend. Let me start by saying the first three of these books were sent me by my awesome boss (who's so often referred to as such I'm hereby christening her AB). She has sent me some really interesting books (including Mockingbird), which I might not have come across otherwise.

Short Girls is about two sisters and the differences between them, as well as what binds them together. Van and Linny were born to first-generation immigrants from Vietnam, and therefore felt a little less normal than other American kids. The book works best because the characters feel very real. The chapters alternate between Van's viewpoint and Linny's, but I liked Linny--the rebel who tries to carve out her own life--so much more than Van, who's always tried to do what's been expected of her rather than figure out what she really wants. Linny just seems so much more interesting than Van, who always gets straight As and never rebels, even in teenage. (Also, as someone who did well in school but was still a rebel and a loudmouth at home, I somewhat resent the author's setting up these two archetypes. But well.)

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Mid-Week Reads: What Do You Want to Read?

I have been really tired lately and kept forgetting to save interesting stuff I read, so this is a short edition.

If you like this series, do drop a comment to tell me what kind of content you like most, out of these topics:
  1. Career
  2. Marketing and social media
  3. Gender issues
  4. Life tips (sleeping better, improving relationships etc.)
  5. Inspirational stories
  6. Humor
 Now on to it.

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Any Women Entrepreneurs Out There?

Women's Web is doing a survey on women and entrepreneurship in India, so if you're a woman and an entrepreneur, or know anyone who is, please participate or pass it on!

Women's Web says:
The results of the survey would be shared freely on the Women's Web site. We feel such a study will be useful to entrepreneurs, women who want to start businesses as well as mentors, advisors and anybody who works with entrepreneurs. 
Please click here and respond to the survey. I think this is very interesting and can't wait for the results!

Friday, May 25, 2012

Should I Star In A Reality Show?

I received this email recently, which I'm reproducing without comment.

UTV ( software and Communications) is producing a unique tv show for an international Hindi tv channel.

This TV show is a daily series made up of the video diaries of women who honestly and courageously share their lives with the viewers without any filters or defense mechanisms.

The show will be an incredible journey into the very real lives of women in a way you've never seen them before.
This show will raise moral dilemmas and conflicts, and leave us to find the answer for ourselves.
This show is a voyage into the self in today's world, taken through the voyages of its characters.
We wish to invite you to be a part of this unique show, 
kindly revert me asap
 Anyone else got one?

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Question for Readers from Germany

Why are my stats showing so many visits from Germany? Any readers from Germany care to explain how you got here?

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Mid-Week Reads: the Facebook Edition

Diversity makes business sense too. Get a woman on your board, Facebook!

How Facebook has changed what we do online.

For some Zuckerberg skeptics, it’s the quality and stability of the management team he has built that’s made them believers.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

If You Ever Wanted Career Advice From Me.... is your lucky day.

Being one of those rare people who loves her job, I have often been envied by friends and acquaintances. What works for me might not work for you, but I've written the story of how I managed my job search when I was unemployed and looking over two years ago, how I started at my current employer, and how the job that started out "all right" soon revealed itself to be perfect--and how I nudged on the process.

It's all over at Women's Web:
 Go read. And tell me what you think of them.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Mid-Week Reads: Short and Sweet

I just got back home yesterday, so this is going to be short and sweet.

I was very intrigued by this article on Women's Web about inclusion of people with disabilities, and happy to add EKansh to my list of non-profits to donate to.

Also on Women's Web is my article on finding the right job, based on my own experience. Do let me know what you think of it.

This is just brilliant and makes me wish I could vote for Obama. Good policies (especially compared with the alternative), but just brilliant marketing. 

How to answer the question "tell me about yourself" in a job interview. 

India's 1%: only 406,000 taxpayers earn over Rs. 20 lakhs.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Rice Fields, Lakes and Hills: Views of Assam

The rice fields, the trees and the hills. See, people? This is why I miss Assam.

Rice fields in Assam

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

The Magnificent Brahmaputra

One of the sights I was most eager to show the Guy on our first visit nearly six years ago was the sunset on the Brahmaputra.

We went down there late in the afternoon and walked up and down the road next to the river, taking pictures and enjoying the view.

Sand bars on the Brahmaputra

Friday, May 04, 2012

Photos of Shillong

The photos here and in the next couple of posts are from 2006, when the Guy and I visited Assam together for the first time. One of the days, we hired a driver and took off to Shillong.

The way there was green and lovely too, but the narrow roads and abundance of vehicles, especially trucks, made it a little less fun.

On the way to Shillong

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Mid-Week Reads: Stories

For chrissakes, there is nothing wrong with you: a dating manifesto.

And here's the latest Cosmocking, for your viewing pleasure. "He's not a horse, Cosmo."

The always awesome Lisa Barone writes of a powerful moment that shaped her life.

I loved this beautiful novella that you can download for free (or purchase, if you'd prefer). It's a retelling of the story of Persephone.

And while you're reading fantasy, check out Neil Gaiman's retelling of Snow White: I loved the story when I first read it years ago, and it was still great the second time.

And this, so very late, is the best review of Avatar. Yeah, it was a while ago, but the shittiness of the story combined with how so many people seemed to think it was the most amazing thing evar! still annoys me.

Read my review of Felanee, a story about ethnic clashes in Assam, on Women's Web. 

And that's it! I'm off to Assam tomorrow, and since I still have to work (bad timing!), there probably won't be any Mid-Week Reads for the next two weeks. Or anything much, really. I'm not even traveling within Assam this time so won't have any cool pictures for you.

But I do have pictures from an earlier visit, and will share a few of those soon. So keep coming!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Pitha From My Mother

Here's a piece about Bihu and pitha I'd written a long time ago, for somewhere else. Magh Bihu is in January, so I've got my timing wrong. But I'm going to Assam next week and I was feeling nostalgic, so you get to share in.

The Assamese celebrate Bihu thrice a year, but each Bihu has a different significance. The one in April is celebrated with music and dance and marks the beginning of the Assamese New Year. The one in mid-October is a time of solemnity and prayer, as farmers and their families wait out the season until harvesting begins and food becomes plentiful again.

The one in January, Magh Bihu, was always my favorite because it’s marked, above all, by feasting.

And the one delicacy that’s prepared in most houses during this time (or was, because it’s by no means easy and making it from scratch is becoming ever more rare) is the pitha. Pitha is the name for not just one item but a variety of them all prepared using rice flour as the primary ingredient.

There are some varieties of pitha that you can make in any season, but some can only be prepared with flour from a special kind of rice (bora saul) that you only get at this time of the year, so these are what I feel nostalgic about each year as January rolls around.

And making these from scratch is a long laborious process. When I was a child, my mother used to buy the rice a week in advance. Then she would grind it herself with the aid of a large wooden pestle and mortar. My sister’s and my services were also enlisted, and while I was too young to make more than a few dents in the rice with the heavy pestle, I eagerly worked up on the sesame seeds, beating at them till the black peels yielded the tiny white seeds.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Short Update Post

So thrilled that the author herself commented on my last post. That is basically all.

Of course, this makes her even more awesome. Check out her blog and the letters from school children who read Mockingbird, and how graciously she replies to each one. She also covers interesting books, and I'm going to be checking out some of them (and if you're a parent, you might want to look some up for your kids).

I just have to say again, Mockingbird is an amazingly beautiful book. I couldn't stop crying while I read it, and yet I couldn't put it down. It makes you want to hug the young protagonist and root for her, while also sympathizing with everyone else in her life. If you haven't read it yet, go on.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Career Lessons from Kathryn Erskine’s “Mockingbird”

First published elsewhere; republished with permission. Spoiler alert!

A love for reading is something my boss and I share, and we have even managed to send each other books apart from often sharing opinions on recent reads. Mockingbird is one of the books she sent me. I was so hooked I couldn’t stop thinking about it until I had finished it (and for some time after). It is a beautiful, powerful story of a ten-year-old girl with Asperger’s syndrome who recently lost her brother to a tragic incident. While struggling with the social anxieties of school and dealing with the shock of losing the only person who ever understood her, Caitlin also looks for a way to help herself and her grieving dad achieve closure.  But as I put my reading away and transitioned to workday mode, I realized that this book isn’t just about dealing with disability or loss: it has profound lessons for all of us, and many of these lessons can be applied to work life.

1. Do something you love.

Caitlin is smart and has an advanced vocabulary, she used to like spending time with her brother, and she likes candy. But what Caitlin spends most of her time doing is drawing, which she is very good at.  She draws every single day: it’s a refuge when she wants to get away from other people and all her social anxieties.

I love writing and I love that my job allows me to do so much of it. There are times when I feel overwhelmed and stressed out, and then I take out a little time to sit down and write a new blog post, and I’m reminded again of how much I love my job.

No job and no life is perfect: you’ll always have some stress and some setbacks. But find something you love to do and you have somewhere to retreat to when the going gets tough, only to emerge stronger. Find work you love and work is, if not easier, much more interesting and meaningful.

Friday, April 13, 2012

How Volunteering Helped Develop My Professional Skills

First published elsewhere: republished with permission.

I volunteered off and on with a local non-profit for several years. It started as a way for me to help others, but I’ve found I have learned so much from volunteering. Here’s some of what I learned to do better through my volunteer work.

1. Networking

I am both an introvert and shy, so I always found networking very difficult. But when I’m volunteering, I’m there for a reason, I’m passionate about the cause, and it seems easy to talk to someone else who’s interested in the same way. I’ve met a lot of wonderful people this way, and even came in touch with a couple of job opportunities (which didn’t work out, but I made great contacts). Some of the people I’ve met through my volunteers’ group are now good friends.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Saturday, April 07, 2012

My House

Since I haven't shown you around my house since before we moved in, here are more views of my house. 

Yes, I can embroider! No, I don't much, because it tires my eyes and my eyes get plenty tired from reading anyway.

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Mid-Week Reads: April Fool's Edition

You thought I was done sharing Hunger Games stuff? You thought wrong! But read this thoughtful piece on disability (SPOILERS though, so don't click through if you haven't read the first book and/or watched the movie.)

Here's another one, about how the romance that was treated in such a multi-faceted and critical manner in the book was turned into just another love triangle in the movie.

The author of this blog commented on a recent post here. If you're interested in Hinduism, and comparisons between Hinduism and Christianity, I urge you to check it out.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Books I Have Been Reading: Sita's Ramayana, The Gift of Fear

I've read a couple of great books lately, and thought you'd like to know.

I read of Sita's Ramayana a few times, most notably on Women's Web. I was taken aback by this book: the beauty of the art and the feminism of the narrative. I plan to lend it to my mother and gift it to my niece when she's older.

For more about the book, read the review on Women's Web.

Another book I've read about many times before I finally bought it was the Gift of Fear. It's a book about protecting yourself from violence, and I've seen it especially recommended to women. One reason I put off buying it for so long was I was afraid it would be depressing. It is stark, yes, but I loved it and I agree that everyone should read it. It helps you understand what kind of behaviors are inappropriate, so that you can better judge the people who commit those.