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Month: July 2016

5 Must Have Indian Accessories in Your Wardrobe- From Craftsvilla

5 Must Have Indian Accessories in Your Wardrobe- From Craftsvilla

For that perfect look, fashion accessories are a must. Be it a tiny bindi on the forehead or metal bangles worn on the hand, we Indian women can accentuate our beauty by incorporating them into our day to day dressing. And not restricting them to women, today fashion accessories are part of a man’s wardrobe too. Accessories are more of a personal style statement. In a country as diverse as ours, you could find a plethora of ethnic accessories, that in recent times, have not only become chic and trendy but they could be adorned with practically any attire.

Craftsvilla.com is a unique portal that brings together ethnic Indian accessories, with 1000+ designs to choose from. With an endless list of accessories, one could choose from the available purses, clutches, handbags, wallets, scarves, stoles, jewelry and watches. Craftsvilla.com’s accessories include handmade, Vintage, Organic and ethnic products from around India. These tiny little extras could be adorned as part of our look giving that dash of class to our overall persona. They complete the looks irrespective of the attire you wear. Craftsvilla’s attempt to bring out the ethnic vibrancy of different regions of India reflects in the wide range of accessories available on the portal. It connects the local artisans with the consumers, guaranteeing you a quality accessory at a reasonable cost.

Here are 5 great accessories from Craftsvilla.com that are an absolute must to complete your wardrobe.

Bangles are so much a part of India. From a new born to the elderly folk, they are a mainstay in a woman’s life. Over centuries bangles have evolved into more trendy forms.

bangles.jpg Available in different metals and diverse patterns they give a complete look to any attire. Traditional dresses or a smart office formal wear, you could adorn your hands with a bracelet, or a single bangle, or a dozen odd ones. Craftsvilla.com offers a variety of bangles in different metals to choose from.

cv-msanp68480850830-sanpromon_impex-craftsvilla_1These are a must for any attire. They have the power to enhance any look, be it a formal or professional look, or an ethnic look during festivities and celebrations. Available in various styles-printed, embellished or in woven fabric, Craftsvilla.com has a whole variety. So, whatever the day may seem like stoles/scarves/dupattas always complete the look. Want to make a drab kurta look chic? Throw that dupatta over your shoulder. Or how about making that cotton shirt look perfect for work, tie a scarf around your neck. A stole is the favourite of most young women these days who bear the heat and the dust of city travelling. They could be worn with jeans and kurtis.

cv-minay81363398660-inaya-craftsvilla_1Indians have worn anklets for centuries now. These are light weight accessories, that either come with tiny bells or ones that are simple and beaded. They adorn the ankle giving it an elegant look. Generally worn on both ankles, in recent times, a single piece worn on either ankle has become a style statement. Anklets make your feet look graceful, so walk around talk with that beautiful look.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERATalking about the feet, apart from the ankle, India’s traditional accessory is incomplete without having a jutti in the wardrobe. These are India’s very own ethnic footwear that is typically handmade, with or without embroidery. You could not only wear this with traditional clothes but also with a jeans and simple kurti. They could add a whole lot of vibrancy to any attire.

cv-mnmpl55304773390-bags-nmpl-craftsvilla_1This Indian cloth bag is the easiest way to carry things around. The traditional Rajasthan ones are elegant and colorful. It is important to buy good quality ones so that they are durable enough to carry reasonable weight. Craftsvilla.com jholas are priced reasonably and are durable too. These are for all ages and comes in different colors. Carry them with casual outfits.

Accessories today are a vital part of our look.  Have a look at some of the other accessories at Craftsvilla.com and take your pick. You sure would make heads turn.

 

Madaari- My Weekend Movie

Madaari- My Weekend Movie

It is a week of big movie releases in the country, and Madaari was my pick. This much awaited film has an interesting ensemble of actors. The extremely talented Irrfan Khan plays the lead, with Vishesh Bansal and Jimmy Shergill making up the rest of the cast.

Irrfan Khan to me is one of those versatile actors who could practically play any role with ease. I loved his wit and subtle humor in Piku and the calmness and maturity portrayed in Life of Pi. But with Madaari, Irrfan Khan has reached all together a new height. His role of Nirmal Kumar in the movie, an “aam admi”, is exceptionally portrayed- poignant and hard hitting. It surely is one of Irrfan’s best performance. 

Madaari- a movie that brings out the realities of our nation.  Arent we a country where power lies in the hands of a select few? These are the ones who often call the shots and the “aam janta” is left in the lurch? Madaari explores the aspirations and life of the common man- such as Nirmal Kumar- asking questions that are hard hitting and making it a must watch. He is an average middle class man-like most Indians, working hard to make ends meet. In an unfortunate incident, Nirmal Kumar’s son goes missing.  The movie traces his journey of searching for his child, running from pillar to post, powerless as he cries out for help.  A directorial venture of Nishant Kamat (the one who directed, Drishyam and Rocky Handsome) Madaari could well be included among those movies that are totally thought provoking. With some brilliant performances and powerful dialogues, the movie leaves you intrigued.

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I liked the simplicity in portrayal of characters- no larger than life hero who woos heroines around trees. Irrfan Khan brings out the anguish of a parent who has lost his child in brilliance. Jimmy Shergill as Nachiket Verma stands out too. The beautiful depiction of the camaraderie between Rohan (Vishal Bansal) and Nirmal Kumar is worth a mention.  With adequate suspense strewn across the script, the movie surely is nail-biting to the finish. The direction is flawless with a seamless screenplay and dialogue delivery. 

Madaari may not be your conventional film. It doesn’t have item songs, glitz and glamour or fight scenes. Well! making it a great movie for family audiences. Yet, it is a movie that is engaging, bringing out the grim reality of the nation that we are part of. It sure does touch you somewhere deep within.

So do watch it and share your thoughts with me.

7 Tax Saving Strategies for Salaried Individuals

7 Tax Saving Strategies for Salaried Individuals

At the end of every financial year, many tax payers frantically make investments to minimize taxes, without adequate knowledge of the various available options. The Income Tax Act offers many more incentives and allowances, apart from the popular 80C, which could reduce tax liability substantially for the salaried individuals. Here are seven smart tips to help you save more and reduce taxes.

  1. Salary Restructuring

Restructuring your salary may not always be possible. But if your company permits, or if you are on good terms with your HR department, restructuring a few components could reduce your tax liability.

  • Opt for food coupons instead of lunch allowances, as they are exempt from tax up to Rs 60,000 p.a.
  • Include medical allowance, transport allowance, education allowance, uniform expenses (if any), and telephone expenses as part of salary. Produce bills of actual expenses incurred for these allowances to reduce tax.
  • Opt for the company car instead of using your own car, to reduce high prerequisite taxation.
  1. Utilizing Section 80C

Section 80C offers a maximum deduction of up to Rs. 1, 00,000. Utilize this section to the fullest by investing in any of the available investment options. A few of the options are as follows.

  • Public Provident Fund
  • Life Insurance Premium
  • National Savings Certificate
  • Equity Linked Savings Scheme
  • 5 year fixed deposits with banks and post office.
  • Tuition fees paid for children’s education, up to a maximum of 2 children.
  1. Options beyond 80C

If you have exhausted your limit of one lakh under section 80C, here are a few more options.

  • Section 80D – Deduction of Rs. 15,000 for medical insurance of self, spouse and dependent children and Rs. 20,000 for medical insurance of parents above 65 years.
  • Section 80G- Donations to specified funds or charitable institutions.
  1. House Rent Allowance

Are you paying rent, yet not receiving any HRA from your company? The least of the following could be claimed under Section 80GG.

  • 25% of the total income or,
  • Rs 2,000 per month or,
  • Excess of rent paid over 10% of total income

This deduction will however not be allowed, if you, your spouse or minor child owns a residential accommodation in the location where you reside or perform office duties. If HRA forms part of your salary, then the minimum of the following three is available as exemption.

  • The actual HRA received from your employer
  • The actual rent paid by you for the house, minus 10% of your salary (this includes basic + dearness allowance, if any)
  • 50% of your basic salary (for a metro) or 40% of your basic salary (for non-metro).
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Image Source: Economic Times
  1. Tax Saving from Home Loans

Use your home loan efficiently to save more tax. The principal component of your loan, is included under Section 80c, offering a deduction up to Rs. 1, 00,000. The interest portion offers a deduction up to Rs. 1, 50,000 separately under Section 24.

  1. Leave Travel Allowance

Use your Leave Travel Allowance for your holidays, which is available twice in a block of four years. In case you have been unable to claim the benefit in a particular 4 year block, you could now carry forward one journey to the succeeding block and claim it in the first calendar year of that block. Thus, you may be eligible for three exemptions in that block.

  1. Tax on Bonus

A bonus from your employer is fully taxable in the year in which you receive it. However request your employer for the following.

  • If you anticipate tax rates to be reduced or slabs to be modified in the subsequent year, see if you could push the bonus payment to the subsequent year.
  • Produce your tax investment details well before, to prevent your employer from deducting tax on bonus before handing it over.

A Final Word

Keep in mind the below points, to avoid the hassles of last minute tax planning.

  • Give your employer details loans and tax saving investments before hand, to prevent any excess deduction.
  • Check the Form 16 received at the end of each year from your employer thoroughly.
  • It is important to start your tax planning well before 31st March, and to file your returns before the 31st of July each year. 
Kabali Mania Grips the Nation

Kabali Mania Grips the Nation

July 22, 2016- For many, this date would be a “self” declared national holiday. ‘Cause it’s the day when their very own Super Star, from the south of the Vindhyas, has a movie release- Kabali

If you think you have experienced fanaticism, wait until you have seen a “First Day First Show” of a Rajini movie. Not long ago, in a popular theatre in Egmore in Chennai, I experienced this unique fanaticism. As early as 4.00 am in the morning fans gathered around the life sized cut out of the actor to perform “paal abhisekam” (a holy bath with milk). It is a tradition that has been there for years now, for every new movie of Rajini Kanth. As fans hooted inside the movie hall in a feverish pitch, I noticed the currency notes and coins that were flung into the air- a few landing on me. The frenzied fans danced, clapped and shed tears as their “Thaliava” rendered punch lines after punch lines on the big screen in front of them. He was their living god! In a country obsessed with films, no other actor enjoys this kind of fan following. His appeal reaches far and wide, touching both the masses and the elite.

But what makes Rajini Kanth the phenomena that he is?

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When a humble Shivaji Rao Gaekwad, took to acting way back in the seventies little did he (or the world) know that he would become one of the biggest stars of South Indian Cinema. Having worked in over 150 films under the stage name of Rajini Kanth, his commercial stardom has been unmatched. His style, idiosyncrasies on screen, and punch line dialogues gripped the psyche of the people. His movies carried tailor made dialogues, with a message for every common man. No wonder, despite a couple of commercial setbacks, even at the age of 65 years, Rajini Kanth movies still garner enthusiasm, making him a phenomenon of sorts.

In his latest movie Kabali, set to release this Friday, Rajinikanth plays the role of an ageing don based in Malaysia. His fans understandably are excited to see what the film brings.

And cashing in on this Kabali Mania, are Big Brands, groups and corporates with Kabali merchandise and special screenings. From key chains, coffee mugs and phone covers; to silver coins and credit cards embossed with the image of the actor, the merchandise are flying off the shelves. Recently a fan in Malaysia took his Lamborghini Gallardo that sported Kabali posters, for a spin.

On a bigger scale, the official airline partner for Kabali, Air Asia unveiled an aircraft with images of the star and the movie. The airline has also planned a special flight from Bengaluru to Chennai for fans to watch the first-day-first-show of the movie.

For many of Rajini’s fans, it is a sort of obligation, to watch his movie first day first show. And this is the sort of magic Rajini weaves for his viewers.

*Featured Image Source: Air Asia

We Aren’t a Country of Just Snake Charmers

We Aren’t a Country of Just Snake Charmers

My family was excited. The “cousin” in the household was to wed a beautiful French damsel. The youngster had left the country to pursue his masters in the United States, and seek greener pastures in corporate America. It was here that love blossomed between the two and after a whirlwind courtship they decided to get married.

The family in India took it all easy. They were happy that their son had finally decided to “settle” down, and were excited at the prospect of interacting with a family that was not only foreign to them but also spoke a language that was fairly new. For some strange reason, the French side wasn’t too happy with the alliance. To them India was nothing but a land of snake charmers, a poor country where people weren’t all educated. But let’s face it. Isn’t this the common thought that exists among many in the West? India to them is the land of the Taj, where Maharajas ruled and a country from where you pick up elephants as souvenirs. Theres nothing more to it. Or is there?

India is a country of snake charmers
But the practice long left the country

Snake Charming is the practice of pretending to hypnotize a snake, thereby making it dance to the tunes that are emitted from a wind instrument called pungi or bansuri. Commonly a street performance, the practice has been prevalent not only in India, but also in Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Malaysia, the North African countries of Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia. Today the practice has been prohibited under the Wildlife Act. The few who remain can be found in destinations such as Rajasthan, solely to attract tourists.

Indians aren’t educated
Come on now, how do you explain the increasing number of professional colleges that come out in dozens every year?

The fact is that a large percentage of our population today seeks education. Every year, the country churns out in thousands, doctors, engineers, management professionals etc… Doesn’t this go to show that we do place importance on our population being educated? Of course rural India still may seem way behind. But hey, this doesn’t qualify India as an uneducated country.

India is unsafe
Well, it is as safe (or unsafe) as any other country in Europe, Asia or America

Oh well! The typical stereotype. We sure have had terror attacks, rape cases or sexual assaults in the past. But these are issues that are present on a global level too. Parts of the country, though are far more sensitive, such as Kashmir, but when you look at the broader picture, the country is as safe as most other countries.

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We have other shades too! 

If you have seen the Taj, you have seen India. And aren’t all souvenirs in India elephants?
It surely has the Taj. But, the country has this and much more too

Of course we are proud of the Taj. And we are also proud of its pristine mountains, rivers, plains, beaches, temples and palaces. The art and handicrafts greatly vary from place to place. You need to travel its vastness to pick up souvenirs that are anything but elephants.

All Indians are in customer support
Indians are in customer support and other things too

It would be rather surprising if one didn’t speak to an Indian customer care executive over phone, when living in the US, Canada or even for that matter Europe. For these countries, it is just a job that has been outsourced. For many in India, it is an opportunity. Look at it this way, customer care, technical support, call center or software support, you name it and we have surely left a mark. Indian’s have the skill in technical jobs as well as in various other fields. There is a large number of Indians in the medical field too across the globe.

The country today sure has surpassed the tag of being one of snake charmers and tantric. Of course, like the two sides of a coin, the country has a side of despair, some not so nice social practices and a population that’s on the brink of explosion. But look onto the other side of the coin and you see that the country is well into the road of development.

It depends on which side you place upwards!

The family’s “Indo-French” wedding was a success, with its cross cultural ceremonies. There were exchange of vows between the couple and exchange of gifts between the families. We ensured the French took back with them India’s true picture and a goodie bag that was loaded- well not with elephants this time!

Featured image source: pinterest
The Life & Times of a City that was Once Bangalore

The Life & Times of a City that was Once Bangalore

Once upon a time, there was a beautiful city called Bangalore. It was calm, peaceful and boasted of salubrious weather throughout the year. And then the unforeseen happened. The city was struck by bad governance, corruption and an uncontrolled growth of the concrete jungle. What followed is traffic jams, garbage piles at every corner and poor infrastructure support for the common man. Not to forget the dwindling green spaces, that once earned the city the title of “Garden city”.

I still remember the day I left Bangalore in 2005. As my flight took off from the old Bangalore airport, I had tears in my eyes. This was the city I grew up in. I distinctly remember cycling down the by lanes of Indiranagar, without any fear of being hit by a speeding car. Or sitting atop in the double decker bus travelling till Shivaji Nagar, just for the heck of it!!  I would walk to school hand in hand with my buddy Vidya, chatting away about teachers, boys and all other things that concerned our lives. This was the city that gave me my first job, my first salary, my first date, and many other firsts… After eleven years, I went back this summer to what was once my home town. A month later, I had tears yet again in my eyes. But this time around, it wasn’t nostalgia. It was pain- to see that what was once a beautiful city is now nothing but an overcrowded and noisy place.

Way back in the eighties, I lived close to CMH road in Indiranager, in a palatial family bungalow. And the only big store on CMH road then was the MK Ahmed Store, This well-lit store practically supplied all the light to a major portion of the road. And when MK Ahmed would shut by 8pm (yes shops closed by 8 pm then), CMH road would wear a deserted look, except for a few stray vehicles.

Being a product of the prestigious St. Josephs College, which then was on Residency road (the heritage building), I was lucky to be in proximity to some of the best standalone theatres of Bangalore. Rex Theatre on Brigade road – for those latest Hollywood movies.

Plaza- old and quirky looking, I remember watching the Mummy here for Rs. 20.

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Image Source: Flickr

Symphony Theatre (well before it was renamed Shankarnag Chitra Mandira) was for the latest Hindi movies. And ofcourse my all-time favorite Lido theatre(I think it has become a thriving mall now). How could I forget Galaxy theatre and huddled behind it was Corner House which served Death by Chocolate for Rs. 50 then. Galaxy theatre shut down years back , but I still remember the red carpets on the slop that led to the balcony seats.

MG Road began from Cauvery Handicrafts for shoppers, extending till Chinnaswamy stadium.

mgsp2.pngImage Soucrse: Flickr

Technically the road began from Trinity Circle. However, the big stores of MG road began only from Cauvery Handicrafts. I remember Gangaram’s book bureau on MG road that would sell practically any book you could think of. At the junction of Mayo Hall was my favorite heritage hotel called Victoria. You could have the most sumptuous Sunday brunch here. Sadly today, in its place stands Bangalore Central Mall.

Family outings meant, a train ride on Puttani express in Cubbon Park, or a walk in Lalbagh, followed by dinner at MTR and an ice cream from Lake View on MG Road.

Lake view was the first of its kinds to serve Drive-in.

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This was considered a cool outing. Oh not to forget, the butter masala dosa at Airlines hotel near Lavelle road and the annual visit to the HHF fair(Hindustan Handloom Fair) on RBANMS ground to enjoy the Giant wheel and Tora Tora rides.

The old airport served as a sort of marking for the city. Areas beyond this especially were considered outskirts. Marathahalli was in its truest sense a village which many in Bangalore hadn’t even heard off. And Whitefield was only a station that I saw when on my return train journey from Chennai.

Utility building was the only sky scrapper and shopping here was considered splurging.

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Image Source: Wiki

The red colored BTS buses were used by many as a means of transport irrespective of the financial status. The brown Pushpak buses were a luxury. You could travel to any part of the city by reaching Shivajinagar bus terminal or the Bangalore bus station.

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But then all this was way back. Bangalore today is a burgeoning city. In our quest to create a world-class city, we have erected malls, constructed flyovers, and built apartment complexes at every corner. But in the bargain we have actually lost what once was a charming and beautiful city. Bangalore may probably never regain its lost glory. The only thing I could hope for is not push it to a limit where it may just crumble and collapse under the weight of bad governance and poor infrastructure projects.

Received a Lewd Message? Speak up & Report the Matter

Received a Lewd Message? Speak up & Report the Matter

The Delhi police arrested a young man, for tormenting around 1500 women with obscene calls and lewd messages. It was a sadistic pleasure that had apparently stemmed out of his frustration of being rejected by women in the past. He would dial random numbers and if the call was answered by a woman, the number would be saved to view their profile pictures on WhatsApp. What would then begin is a barrage of obscene messages and videos to their mobiles.

Some years back, when mobile phones had just become a part and parcel of our lives, I was a similar victim. There would be lewd messages that would pop on my Nokia 3310 mobile at odd hours. Numerous creepy messages in a single day sent from multiple mobile numbers, made it difficult for me to track the person. The harassment lasted for over a month, when I finally decided to not only change my mobile number, but also my handset. I am not sure why I decided to do this. Probably because I feared that he would get at me some way or the other.

Individuals with such sadistic pleasures seldom stop at a single message.

 

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Luckily, the ordeal ended there. But how I wish I had reported the matter at the first instance itself. To this date, I have no clue about who he was. I let him get away, despite the mental agony he had given me. When this happened to me in 2004, cyber laws weren’t in the form they are today. Besides, I not only lacked the awareness on how to report the matter, but was also of the opinion that getting at him legally would come with numerous hassles. How wrong I was!!

If I only I had reported, he would have been punished by a court of law for the mental agony I was subject to.

If only I had reported, he would not have had a chance to torment another person in a similar way.

If only I had reported…

Today there is a far more stringent Information Technology Act, under which it is a punishable offence to publish or transmit obscene material in any form. A person convicted of charges under this Act, could face up to five years in jail and a fine of Rs 1 lakh. If the same person is caught a second time, he faces 10 years’ imprisonment and a fine of Rs 2 lakh. The offences are categorized as cognizable crimes.

It is important for women to speak up whenever an offensive content is received. Lewd messages received through any means should not be ignored and must be brought to notice of the cyber-crime cell at the earliest. Individuals with such sadistic pleasures seldom stop at a single message. They are bound to harass you, until you take matters into your hands. Most women are hesitant to talk about it and prefer to suffer in silence, for fear of any sort of social stigma or the hassles of doing the rounds of the police station. Today, there are dedicated helplines in every city for addressing such issues and the victim’s identity is held intact. The legal procedures are not as complex as one thinks it to be.

Electronic means of communication has definitely been a boon in many a ways. Along with its comfort, also comes a great deal of caution that one must exercise. Remember to:

  • Maintain active privacy settings of your profile in the virtual world.
  • Give limited accesses to your personal data to people you don’t know.
  • Avoid giving your device to others.
  • And keep your devices locked when not in use.

 

*Featured Image Source: New India Express

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