Guest Post : Idiots’ guide to ladies’ lipsticks


This time around my favorite guest author tackles an important topic which always flummoxes husbands and boyfriends alike, the choice of lipsticks that all the lovely women in our lives make. He provides some easy to understand and follow tips on how we can help our ‘significant others’ enjoy luscious lovely lip shades which last longer and look lovelier.

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One of the recent issues of BusinessWeek carried an important article that I very much want to bring to the attention of you dear readers. They have compared this season’s brands to test for which lipstick brands did not require constant touch-ups from 9 am to 5 pm. (I wish, we get Testing projects like that here in Cognizant. Everyone will want to get into Testing then.) The winner was Chanel and the worst performing brand was L’Oreal.

For those of you, who bought into brands simply because Aishwarya Rai or Katrina Kaif said – “You are worth it!” need to understand that these brand ambassadors are getting paid to sell. Never ever buy something after being impressed by an advertisement or the model endorsing it. The most cost effective way would be for you to look around and check who is wearing the most ghastly lipstick. Ask her for the brand name. Make a note to self to never buy it. Through this process of elimination, you will arrive at a shortlist of brands and shades that you can consider.

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These tips will help.

1. ‘Fifty shades of Grey’ was written by someone who spent too much time in the lipstick counter in Health & Glow. The best thing for you to do is to spend some quality time going through the displays in the counter. When no one is looking you can even try out some of the sticks there. In fact, if you go to Shopper’s Stop, you can get your entire make up done (applying skin serum, foundation, eye shadow, eye lining etc.) free of cost at the trial counters. Don’t try it every day. They may find out.

2. It will be best if you take the guy who seeks your heart along with you. There are 70+ lipstick shades available. You will need to make use of both his hands to test the different shades. Doing it on your own skin is a risk. Further, it is also a good test of his patience. I mean, a guy who can’t spend 3 hours with you choosing a lipstick shade, has no business looking to spend a life time with you, right?

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3. The shade that looks great in the shop will look awful when you apply it at home. Show me a girl who is happy with her lipstick brand/shade. I have not yet come across one so far.

4. Don’t be swayed by shade names like – ‘Butter Shine’, ‘Hydra Lustre’ and so on. To explain, ‘Power Star’ Srinivasan is neither a ‘Power’ nor a ‘Star’.

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5. As we have free internet in office, use http://www.revlon.com/Revlon-Home/Interactive-Tools-Menu/Shade-Finder.aspx# to find out a suitable shade (based on your complexion) before you actually go shopping.

6. If you are really money savvy, you will choose your shade from the Revlon site, but you will buy the shade from the more economical Eyetex Dazller range.

7. Avoid using black or dark shades especially if you are in Testing. As it is, developers are scared of you.

No. I am not going to advice whether you should use a Lip Liner, Lip Gloss or Lip Color. You can’t get everything free from me. Please engage our Business Consulting team if you need a deeper study into this subject.

Onus of the oath – Epilogue – Guest Post


When my good friend and fellow blogger Sid B (http://iwrotethose.com/ and http://foodnessme.com/) wanted to post an epilogue to my novella “Onus of the oath” I was honored (obviously) but more thrilled to bits as this is a writer whose work I tremendously enjoy and to me it was more of an acknowledgement that Sid found my novella good enough to pen an epilogue to and add his two cents to the narrative.

Without further ado, here goes Sid’s epilogue to Onus of the oath.

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Read the novella here ( Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 )

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A loud set of knocks on the door brought Ravi’s attention back from the oath he’d been staring at. He looked at the clock on the wall. He’d been in the room for over 30 minutes. He replayed the earlier scene in his mind, where Circle Inspector Bhaskaran had been at his feet, begging him to save his daughter’s life. As he continued to replay the scene in his mind, over and over again, he could start to feel his blood boil. It was because of Bhaskaran that he’d not even had a chance to tell his father how proud he had been of him. And now he had the choice to make Bhaskaran go through the exact same pain and anguish, that he had been through.

The series of knocks started to get more persistent and Ravi walked up to the door to unlock it. It was his head nurse, Mariamma. Doctor! The girl’s condition is getting worse. We have put her on the respirator. But you need to tell us what to do next! she said, her face etched with panic. Ravi simply continued to stare at Mariamma and said  Keep her there. I will let you know”. He slammed the door shut and looked around the room. He hated Bhaskaran with ever fiber of his being, and he wanted him to suffer. But every object in that room, stood as a testament to the oath he had taken. His eyes stopped at a picture of his late father, Dr. Sudheesh Nair. As his eyes started to brim up with tears, only one thought crossed his mind.

CI Bhaskaran had to pay the price for his grief.

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Ravi looked at his disheveled reflection in the mirror. He hadn’t slept properly for days. His eyes were bloodshot and his 3-day-old greying stubble gave him the appearance of a drunken, homeless person. He leaned over the washbasin and splashed his face with the freezing cold water, giving him goose bumps. He shut his eyes, unable to look at himself in the mirror. The face haunted him, as it had been doing for the past few days. He looked at the Tissot watch on his wrist. It had been his last present from his late father. It was almost time for the meeting.

Ravi slowly put on his checked blazer and tried to pat down his messy hair. Dr Tharakan had specifically asked him to clean up and dress up well for the hearing. But Ravi no longer cared. He closed the door to his apartment and looked up at the sky. It was cloudy and overcast. It looked like another storm was headed their way. He sighed and started the long trek to the medical center where Dr. Tharakan had offered to pick him up from.

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Dr. Tharakan put a hand on Ravi’s shoulder as if to help him relax. Ravi stared blankly at the three senior doctors from the Medical Council. One of them, Dr. Lakshmi Warrier, an octogenarian and head of the disciplinary committee, wrinkled her nose and pouted her lips in disgust as she glanced over his disheveled state. Dr. Ravi Nair, you have been summoned here, before the Disciplinary Committee of the Medical Council, because of a complaint filed by Circle Inspector Bhaskaran R. He has raised allegations that you neglected the oath that you had sworn to protect and uphold, when you completed your medical degree. He has also put forth an allegation that due to your personal rivalry, you initially refused to treat his daughter, Preethi Bhaskaran, aged 10, which led her condition to worsen. Do you deny any of these allegations? asked Dr. Warrier, in a shrill voice.

Ravi remained silent and continued to look straight ahead, his face still expressionless. Dr. Ravi, I repeat. Do you deny any of these allegations? recapped Dr. Warrier, her voice starting to quiver slightly with anger. But Ravi still said nothing. One of the other members of the disciplinary committee, Dr. Joy Thomas, interjected at this point and said Dr. Ravi, Do you have anything to say to defend your actions? If you say nothing, we will have no other alternative, but to revoke your medical license and also pass the case to the Police department for further investigation”. Ravi slowly stood up and pushed his chair backwards. I have nothing to say. Do what you must! he said, and walked out of the room. The disciplinary committee looked at Dr. Tharakan in shock, who too stood up from his seat.

Outside, Ravi took a long drag of the cigarette. The nicotine from the cigarette surged through his body, and he closed his eyes. He could see their faces again.  But one lone face appeared clearer and sharper than the rest.  It was that of Preethi Bhaskaran. Her expressionless eyes stared back at him, giving him a chill. And then, she slowly spoke in a raspy voice. Why did you have to let me die, doctor? I was only ten years old. I had my entire life ahead of me. You took out your anger on me. What did I do to you, doctor?  Why?” 

Ravi! Dr. Tharakan’s voice snapped him out of his nightmare. Let’s go, he said to Ravi and together they walked towards where Dr. Tharakan had parked his dilapidated Maruti Zen. As he started the car, Dr. Tharakan asked Don’t you want to know what they decided? Ravi just stared through the windshield, without muttering a word.

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Ravi slowly opened the door to his office at Nightingale Medical Center. Everything was as he had left it on the fatal day. He shut the door behind him, and walked towards his desk, behind hung the portrait of his late father, Dr. Sudheesh Nair. Almost instantaneously, images from that day, a few weeks ago, raced through his mind.

Though he had wanted to punish CI Bhaskaran, he knew it was against his ethics to let his daughter pay the price. After all, his father had been the epitome of an honest, ethical doctor and he would have not accepted that. So he’d asked Nurse Mariamma to get the operation theatre ready, and had started the preparation for the surgery. However halfway through the surgery, Preethi’s lungs had given up and they were unable to resuscitate her. And as a result, she had died. Though he’d not intended for that to happen, Ravi had been ridden with guilt ever since that day. He’d rushed out of the operation theatre and gone home, leaving the nurse to convey the tough news to CI Bhaskaran and his family.

Initially he thought that he would get over it in a few days. The morbid image of Preethi in the operation theatre haunted him every time he shut his eye. And slowly, his guilt worsened. Deep down, Ravi believed that he had been inadvertently responsible for her death, because of his delay in making the decision to operate on her. Although Dr. Tharakan and the rest of the doctors had told him otherwise, he couldn’t help but feel, that if he hadn’t let his hatred for Bhaskaran get in the way, Preethi would be alive today. Due to Dr. Tharakan’s testimony, the medical committee had agreed not to revoke his medical license, even though he himself had walked out of the room, without offering any kind of defense.

As he put on his clean, white overcoat, he looked at the piece of paper he had cut from the local daily a few days ago. He slowly placed the stethoscope around his neck and picked up the portrait sized black and white image of a little girl. I’m sorry Preethi ! he whispered as he placed the paper cutting back into his desk drawer.

It was time to do what he knew best – be a good doctor.

Guest Post: What drives an IT professional crazy?


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This time around my favorite Guest Author talks about some of the unavoidable things that drive most people working in the IT sector (or for that matter working professionals in general) crazy. I am sure that most readers of this post will easily relate to this post. Do leave behind your thoughts in the comments section.

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I met a Behavioral Psychologist this morning and she was commenting that people in the IT Sector in general have poor social skills and face challenges in handling their emotions. Why do I get angry so often? Is something wrong with me? I asked. With age come responsibilities. With responsibilities comes fear of outcomes. Respond. Don’t react to situations was her advice.

We are a frustrated lot. Aren’t we? I hear laughter only when I pass by the Academy block in Siruseri. When is the last time you saw a happy Infosys employee? There, I rest my case.

Who drives them  crazy?

Father – If only you had sent me to that IIT coaching class, I would have passed out of IIT in flying colours and would have become a CM by now. Here, I am sitting and coding in this damn cubicle.

Mother – Have you heard of Cholesterol? Or have you heard of Triglyceride levels? All those pooris you kept feeding me all these years are showing up in all parts of my body.

Siblings – Can you stop your endless whining? Do you think you are the only one who has got problems?

Spouse – Less said the better.

Friends – I know you have a beautiful house, a large car and a great looking spouse. Yes, I heard all about your holiday. Can you stop posting all those happy pics in Facebook?

Children – Do you think I inherited all this? You are enjoying the fruits of my hard work. Why are you wasting all my money? Can you open your text books once in a while?

Father-in-law – Why did you set such impossible standards? Have you ever said ‘No’ to your daughter for anything? It is so damn tough to please your daughter!

Mother-in-law – Couldn’t you have taught your daughter to cook something other than Maggi? Don’t hide in the kitchen. Answer me please!

Client – If you want it any cheaper, you will have to get your project done in Saravana Stores.

Boss – Sir, when are you going on your long leave?

Colleagues – Can you folks do some work atleast for a couple of hours in a day? How do you manage to look so well groomed all the time?

God – Hey buddy! are you there? Have you heard any of my prayers? When are you going to answer them? OK forget it. I don’t even know what to pray for these days.

If you were not able to relate to any of the above, you are one lucky person!

Guest Post : How to name your kids


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Yet another lovely guest post by my favorite guest author on the blog. This time around he deals with the nuances of how to name our kids keeping in mind the various points to be considered while doing so.

Read on to enjoy this timeless piece of advice.

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‘***********chary’ is quite a mouthful. I figured out quite early that if I had to get anywhere in my love-life and work-life, I should have a shorter (& sweeter) name and so I became ‘Nandu’. My paternal grandfather wanted everyone in his clan to have a ‘Swamy’ or ‘Chary’ in their names. Normally, these appellations are given to learned scholars, but my paternal grand-pa took the easy way out. My maternal grandfather wanted his entire clan names to start with the letter ‘V’. The number of hindu names starting with the letter ‘V’ is mind-boggling. I sometime feel I have descended from loonies in both sides of the family tree.

bram2My favorite fantasy these days is listing out all the things that I will do post-retirement. My wife then gently reminds me of my responsibilities – bringing up both our kids, their education, their marriage and then grand-kids, their education and their marriage… I didn’t go through the fine print carefully when I signed-up for marriage and parenthood.

Whether it’s a love marriage or arranged marriage, the true test happens when the baby is born and you are trying to figure out a suitable name. Our family friend has delivered a baby. Though the baby is nearly a month old, they are undecided on the baby’s name. The baby is referred to by them as – ‘The Baby’. Should be tough for the baby, I think…

When my elder one was born, we took the easy way out and she was christened with all the names (about half-a-dozen) that my parents and in-laws came up with. But, my wife and I agreed that we will call her legally as ‘Anjana’ thanks to our fascination with Hanuman. When the younger one was born, Anjana took the responsibility of finding a suitable name and the younger one was duly called as ‘Ananya’. Thanks to her involvement in selecting a name, I think Anjana feels some sense of ownership or responsibility for Ananya!

Some Dos and Don’ts when choosing names

a. Most schools sort lists on the basis of alphabetical order. Kids with names that figure early in the attendance list generally catch attention from the teachers.

b. The flip side is if the kids are too ahead in the alphabetical order (like mine are), they get called out for surprise quizzes and recitations without time for preparation.

c. Don’t try to name your baby after your ex-flame. Your wife will soon find out.

d. Naming your baby after a relation or an ancestor is a nice gesture. But, do bear in mind that some of those names are really old fashioned and can be hard on the baby.

bram3e. Beware of quirks in local pronunciations. Vidya becomes Bidya in Kolkata. Ramya becomes Remya in Kerala. Shruti becomes Suruthi in Tamil Nadu.

f. Should you consult a numerologist or an astrologer to name your baby? I think there is no harm if you think an extra alphabet will give an extra edge to your baby. Why leave things un-tried?

g. Don’t name your baby after any cine-star or celebrity. Sooner or later these folks will do something silly and you will regret your choice.

The elder one writes ‘Anjana *****’ in various fonts and styles and admires her creations. While I watch her with a smile, I realize that in some time, ‘*****’ will be replaced by a ‘XYZ’ when she finds her love.

That’s when I feel like freezing time, stop my children from growing up and holding on to them forever. At these times I how I used to tease my wife (she has no siblings) when her parents used to come visiting her almost every day when we were newly married. Life takes time but makes sure that you learn your lessons the hard way.

The younger one says she should have a more glamorous name like Barbie or Dora perhaps. Then I take her into my arms and tell her a rose by any other name would smell just as sweet. 🙂

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Didn’t I tell that this post contains timeless nuggets of information which would prove invaluable when naming your kids. While the rest of the post was awesome, that last line simply tugged at my heart strings, am sure you also felt warm and fuzzy when reading it, didn’t you 😀

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All images used in this post are courtesy Google Image search results.

Guest Post : Wedding Bells


I have always had this issue with many North Indians considering everybody living south of the Vindhya mountains (or in modern times, everyone south of Andhra Pradesh) as ‘Madrasis’. While most of them don’t use this term derogatorily, the fact remains that they are doing a great disservice to all of us down south.

There are just so many varieties of South Indians that clubbing them together into one large dark skinned group is wrong and speaks of narrow minded stereotyping at its worst.

With that prelude, here’s yet another guest post by favorite guest author and this time he deals with his experiences at a Tamil Brahmin wedding with a few words of advice for couples who are inter-racial (at least from a South Indian perspective). Given that he has more than decade of matrimonial experience and happiness speaking for him, his advice is sound.

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Image courtesy: The Hindu website
Image courtesy: The Hindu website

Tamil Brahmins (Tam-Brahms) are of two kinds – Iyers and Iyengars. Iyengars follow Vaishnavite traditions while Iyers are Saivites. Iyengars in-turn are sub-divided in Vadakalai and Thenkalai. Iyers in-turn are sub-divided into Vadama, Brahacharanam etc. While superficially they seem similar, there are significant differences in rituals that these sub-sects follow.

We are Vadakalai Iyengars and our relative’s daughter was marrying an Iyer boy. Both are MBA grads, cosmopolitan and now settled in well paying jobs in Mumbai. It was a love marriage that took all the trappings of an arranged marriage. That seems to be the trend these days. The young ones want it both ways – all the fun of being in love and then enjoying the luxury of a traditional wedding! Right from the way the bride’s sari is tied (madisaar kattu), the mantras recited, the number of namaskarams made, the kind of food served, there are differences between Iyers and Iyengars. It was a pity that right through the wedding ceremony these differences spilled out as disagreements & arguments between the bride and the groom’s parents & relatives. While I hope & pray that the young couple have a long, happy married life together, I have a sneaking feeling that their parents & relatives will not make it easy for them.

All our romantic movies end with a wedding scene. Life actually starts then. The sequel is not always so romantic. In an arranged marriage typically a support system kicks in to smoothly complete the wedding ceremonies and the wedding generally happens with the blessings of everyone. In a love turned-into arranged marriage, one side or the other would have agreed only reluctantly to the wedding and this generally shows in the cooperation (or lack of) that they extend during the ceremony. Some of these disputes (though minor in nature) turn into long standing grudges and come in the way of a happy marriage.

For those of you in love with a person from another community, my advice is to talk to your loved one about what ceremonies that you are going to go through much ahead of your wedding and get everyone’s consent. In Indian marriages, we don’t marry an individual. We ‘marry’ the individual’s family! Getting to know everyone in your loved one’s family will make life much easier for you.

I was pretty much a rolling stone and nobody (least of all me) thought I will be marriageable. It was an arranged marriage. What helped I think, was the 6 months gap we had between our engagement and the marriage. It gave us a chance to understand each other and know about each other’s families. Once we married, both our parents stepped away and let us lead our lives. Both my mother and mother-in-law turned out to be good friends and I think their relationship transcended the formality of their roles. It is now 13 years since we got married and I think we are doing OK. My wife & kids complain about my dressing, my spending habits, my weight and pretty much about everything. But, that is quite normal and on par!