Monthly Archives: June 2012

Hello from the world’s tallest building: Burj Khalifa

I had the pleasure of visiting, Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building , which stands 2,717 feet (828 m) tall while we were in Dubai. As I mentioned in my previous post, my friend SS and his friend Mr. R dropped us in Dubai Mall around 9.45 pm as we had booked tickets for Burj Khalifa’s Observation Deck for 10pm. The entrance to the Burj Khalifa is next to The Dubai Mall’s Lower Ground level. The tickets cost us 100 Dirham (AU$25) as I had bought them online a week ago from Sydney but if you were to buy the tickets on the same day, the price is 400 Dirham (AU$ 100). Our research paid us well :).

Our Ticket

Fiberglass Khalifa

After handing out the ticket to the lady at the gate, we have to go through a security check and then had to wait for 15 minutes in the lobby. In the lobby there was a replica of the tower made with fibreglass which is illuminated with blue light as well as some history about the tower. At one corner of the room there were a few items from the movie Mission Impossible, the Ghost Protocol. After a while we were asked to queue up and we caught a lift to the second level. Then we had to take two more escalators before we reached the world’s fastest elevators. Along the way there were information about the building process, the design of the tower etc. and also a couple of models of the building.

Mission Impossible props in Burj Khalifa

World’s fastest elevator in Burj Khalifa

For the elevator, we needed to queue up and were finally escorted inside the elevator. I was thinking the ride in the elevator would be like one of the rides we get in Disneyland (you know, your body goes up but your stomach seems to have stayed back down at ground level) but to my surprise I didn’t feel a thing. It was quite small (carrying about 14 people) but very fast. The lift travels at about 18 m/s so it only takes a minute or so to reach the observation deck at the 124th floor (there are still 39 stories above the observation deck). The only indication that the elevator was moving was the indicator on the elevator and the ear pressure you feel as it moves up.

Before we left Sydney, I had done some research and found this video on YouTube. So I was expecting something thrilling like that but to my disappointment it was just a floor with glass windows and nothing beyond that is accessible to the public. Now I realise that, the only reason the guys in the video were allowed to go so high was because they were staff members during the filming of the latest Mission Impossible movie (Ghost Protocol).

36 floors above us

As soon as we got out on to the viewing area I could feel the humid air of Dubai even at 10 in the night. Anyway from the windows we got a great view of the landscape of Dubai, like from a plane. There was light everywhere and I could see the beautiful city. The view is obviously out of this world, truly breathtaking seeing Dubai in the night. We walk around and took heaps of photos. Computerised telescopes which allow visitors to zoom in different streets and buildings of Dubai were placed in different places at the deck. We also saw the musical fountains from the top and it’s great views from different angle.

View of Dubai from Burj Khalifa

Computerised telescope

Unlike KLCC tower and other towers I had been to before, you can stay here as long as you wish but there is so much you can see from the top. After almost an hour on the top, we took a lift down. Along this path also, there were information about the building process, the design, history on how the building was built and photos of some people who were part of making this iconic building. Also there were many interactive features like ‘Burj Around the World’ which allow visitors to view Burj Khalifa against the skyline of other famous cities.

me and AS at the top of Burj Khalifa

Gold ATM in Dubai

On the way out from the Khalifa, for the first time in my life, we saw a Gold ATM. Of course where else one expect to see a Gold to go ATM that sells 24 carat gold bars or coins at current market prices. It’s updated every ten minutes to stay current with prices on the world gold market. The exterior of the machine is coated with a thin layer of gold and it is very shiny. It offers 320 items to choose from, ranging from gold bars that can weigh up to 10 grams, to customised gold coins.

Please click here for more photos.

If you are interested, here are some Interesting facts about the Burj Khalifa:

  • Burj Khalifa was known as Burj Dubai but during GFC,  Abu Dhabi leader had to bail them out of their debt crisis so they named it Khalifa, in honour of the President of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Khaifa bin Zayed Al Nahayan. .
  • There are 1,210 fire extinguishers on the site.
  • At peak cooling times, the tower requires approximately 10,000 tonnes of cooling per hour.
  • The tower’s observation deck is located 442 metres above ground, the highest publicly accessible observation deck in the world.
  • Condensation on the building is collected and drained down to a holding tank located in the basement from where it is pumped into the site irrigation system for use on the tower’s landscaped gardens. This system provides about 15 million gallons of supplemental water per year, equivalent to nearly 20 Olympic-sized swimming pools.
  • The amount of steel rebar used for the tower is 31,400 metric tons – laid end to end this would extend over a quarter of the way around the world.
  • Dubai has set a new world record for vertical concrete pumping for a building, by pumping to over 460 metres. The previous record was held by Taipei 101 for pumping concrete up to a height of 448 metres.
  • Burj Khalifa also breaks the world record for altitude transportation of concrete before construction is complete.
  • The total area of cladding used to cover the Burj Khalifa is equivalent to 17 football fields.
  • The concrete used for the Burj Khalifa is equivalent to a solid cube of concrete 61 metres on a side, a sidewalk 1,900 kilometres long, the weight of 100,000 elephants.
  • The tower’s peak electricity demand is estimated at 36MVA, equivalent to roughly 360,000 100-watt light bulbs.
  • The Burj Khalifa features the world’s first Armani Hotel.
  • Burj Khalifa derives its design inspiration from the desert flower, Hymenocalis, and incorporates patterning systems that are embodied in Islamic architecture.
  • The Burj Khalifa spire is visible from as far away as 95 kms.
  • The total glass requirement is 142K sq/m.
  • The car park has approx. 3,000 parking places in four levels and a total area of just under 89000 m2.

More on Dubai

Let’s start with Amazing Dubai

Desert safari in Dubai

The Dubai Mall, aquarium and underwater zoo

Dubai city, Souks , Marina, Dubai land & Deira City Centre

Let’s start with Amazing Dubai

If a place manages to amaze you when you see it after a 14 hours flight and 28 hours with no sleep then I am sure that is an amazing place and that is what Dubai was for me. When we got off at Dubai International Airport, we could already feel that we were in Dubai as it was very big and massive as we had expected. The first thing I noticed was that the people who were working there were all men and all of them were wearing their traditional dress, tawb or taub (long white robe) and the headscarf (keffiyeh).

I think quite a few flights landed at the same time as we did since there was a long queue at immigrations. So we had to wait for a while before we could clear immigration and collect our baggage. Both me and AS were really happy to start the first leg of our vacation.  As soon as we got out of the airport, I felt the hot and humid air against my face. I knew that it was going to be really hot there but it was still a bit of a shock for my body as we had come from the cold Sydney weather. Anyway as we had airport transfer booked, we went to find the office of Arabian Adventures. It was the last office in the building.

Once we were there we were informed that it would be another 20 minute for our transfer to arrive. We had no choice but to wait. After 30 minutes we were escorted to our van and we were joined by a lady from Sydney. I was glad to be in the van as it had AC and was very comfortable. I noticed that they had taxis with a cream coloured body and red roof for normal use and cream body and pink roof to be used by only women. The drivers of those cabs were women as well. After nearly 20 minutes ride we were at our hotel, Marco Polo.

We had done a lot a of research for our hotel through travel advisor and it was one of the ones with a good review. It was supposed to be a four star hotel. My first impression was good as the hotel looked decent from outside. As soon as the van stopped, the porter came and took our suitcases. We checked into our room and hurried to freshen up to go out.

SS, a friend of mine from my school days, lives in Dubai and since it was Friday, their weekend, he had promised to show us Dubai. Due to the airport transfer delay , we were late arriving at the hotel so both of us were rushing to get ready before SS arrived at out hotel. When I had just finished my shower, we got a call from the reception that SS has arrived. I and AS were really tired but there was no time to rest so we hurried and got ready and went to meet SS.

I hadn’t seen SS for more than 15 years. When we decided to stop over in Dubai for our trip, I had some questions so when I saw him online on Facebook one day I asked him a few questions. He had asked me when we were coming to Dubai and when he realised that it would be Friday, he had offered to show us around that evening.

When we took the lift to the lobby and I saw SS, I felt very happy but at the same time it was a bit awkward. He seemed a bit different from I remembered and definitely was not a boy as I remembered. But all the awkwardness went away once we started talking, I realised that nothing had changed. It still felt like we were in school and we were still friends :). He told me he has been working in Dubai for the last eight years but his wife and two-year old boy is still in Nepal and he visited them every year. Along with him, he had his colleague, Mr. R. He was from Kerala, India and he had been living in Dubai for 15 years. They worked in the perfume industry and brought us some perfume as gifts :).

Mr. R, SS and AS in front of Deira creek

After the initial chitchat and introduction, we hopped into the car and we were off to see Dubai with the locals. Both of them seemed happy to show us around and we were excited to see the city despite being quite tired from the flight. The hotel we stayed was in Deira so the first stop was Deira Creek. There were lots of people enjoying the cool breeze at that time and obviously lots of tourist too. We could see the beautiful skyline from there as well as hundreds of boats. Some of them were for tourists, for sightseeing, while other were floating restaurants but the best and biggest ones were private boats docked there.

Out of the total population of Dubai only 17% are local Emiratis (from Wikipedia) while the rest are all migrants. So the small number of people are very rich and live a lavish life style. They drive nice cars like Ferrari, Lamborghini, Bentley, Rolls Royce, BMW, Mercedes Benz and so on. Also they seem to love big four wheelers. SS explained to us that the number plates in Dubai normally have 5 digits but the less number of digits there are on the plate, the more important the person that car belongs to. The Sheik of Dubai drives a car with just the number 1 on the plates.

Burj Al Arab

After walking for a while along the banks of the creek, we were back in the car and off to the famous Jumeirah beach from where we could see the famous Burj Al Arab which is sometimes incorrectly referred to as “the world’s only seven-Star hotel”. Tourists were able to pay and join organised tours of the hotel before but the hotel patrons complained about the noise and inconvenience so they stopped the tours. Now the only way to go inside is either by booking a room there or going for a meal in one of the restaurants located there, otherwise it can only be viewed from the outside.

While we were driving to get there, I saw that the roads in Dubai are very wide and there are lots of cars. The best part was that petrol was only 42 cents a litre while water is 50 cents a litre. Anyways, we parked near Jumeirah beach, near a mosque. As it was evening prayer time, there were lots of people heading towards the mosque wearing traditional Muslim clothes.

As we walked for a few minutes, I could see the iconic Burj Al Arab. It looked magnificent. Just recently I had watched a documentary on how the building was made on the man-made island and knowing those facts made it even more interesting. According to the documentary, they used special bolt technique for the metal poles so even when it expands in the 40-50 degree heat, it doesn’t affect the structural integrity of the building. I was really fascinated by it and if you want to know more do look into this.

AS and me in front of Bruj Al Arab

Here are some facts about Burj Al Arab from the internet.

  • Burj Al Arab also know as Tower of the Arabs is fourth tallest hotel in the world. Burj Al Arab stands on an artificial island 280 m (920 ft) out from Jumeirah beach, and is connected to the mainland by a private curving bridge. The shape of the structure is designed to mimic the sail of a ship. It was built to resemble the sail of a dhow, a type of Arabian vessel. Two “wings” spread in a V to form a vast “mast”, while the space between them is enclosed in a massive atrium. 
  • Despite its size, Burj Al Arab holds only 28 double-story floors which accommodate 202 bedroom suites. The smallest suite occupies an area of 169 m2 (1,820 sq ft), the largest covers 780 m2 (8,400 sq ft).[15] Prices of rooms vary from approximately $1,000 to $27,000 per night.

We took photos in front of it and stayed on the beach for a while. That is one of the few free public beaches in Dubai. There are a few where you need to pay to go inside and the rest are private, either owned by people or some hotel. I saw a lot of families having a BBQ on the beach. Life seemed happy and normal as I sat on the sand and watched the locals enjoy their day off. I am saying this because I got lots of warnings from people on what not to do in Dubai and at one point it had scared me. But sitting by the beach with my husband and friends, I felt happy and I had no worries in the world.

As we had booked to go to the top of Burj Khalifa at 10 pm that night our next stop was going to be Dubai mall. We decided that we were going to have dinner there as well so we hopped into the car for Dubai mall.

The Dubai Mall is the world’s largest shopping mall based on total area. It has 1200 shops and is located in the Burj Khalifa complex. The mall also has Dubai Aquarium, Under Water Zoo and Dubai Ice Rink.

Burj Khalifa

On the way to the mall, when I set my eyes on  Burj Khalifa for the first time, I was mesmerised by its beauty. They were just magnificent and I was more impressed as I had watched Mission Impossible Ghost Protocol. There was lots of traffic going towards the mall and the journey that was normally supposed to take 20 minutes took an hour for us. Mr R dropped us in front of the mall and went looking for parking as he didn’t want us to miss the musical fountain. It was really nice of both of them to make sure that we enjoyed as much as we could while we were there.

  • The Dubai Fountain is a record-setting choreographed fountain system set on the 30-acre manmade Burj Khalifa Lake, at the center of the Downtown Dubai development in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. It was designed by WET Design, the California-based company responsible for the fountains at the Bellagio Hotel Lake in Las Vegas. Illuminated by 6,600 lights and 25 colored projectors, it is 275 m (902 ft) long and shoots water 240 feet into the air accompanied by a range of classical to contemporary Arabic and world music.It was built at a cost of AED 800 million (USD 218 million). 
  • The Dubai Fountain can spray 22,000 gallons (83,000 liters) of water in the air at any moment. More than 6,600 lights and 25 colour projectors have been installed. The Dubai Fountains project water in the air in many different combinations and patterns. The beam of light from the fountain can be seen from over 20 miles away. 
  • The Dubai Fountain consists of many high-pressure water jets and shooters: oarsmen or water robots, which can make the water seem to dance, shooters, which shoot water upwards; super shooters, which shoot water under more pressure up to 240 feet in the air, and extreme shooters, which can shoot water under the most pressure to 420 feet in the air. These shooters create a loud “boom” noise after water is ejected. The super shooters are used the least during each show because it takes a lot of time to build up enough pressure and energy to shoot water that high in the air. After the opening ceremony, the extreme shooters have been closed and still do not perform in the show. 
  • The fountain is animated with performances set to light and music. It is visible from every point on the lake promenade and from many neighbouring structures. Performances take place at 1:00 pm and at 1:30 pm as well as every 30 minutes from 6 pm to 10 pm on weekdays, and from 6 pm to 11 pm on weekends (weekends being Thursday, Friday, and Saturday).

(source wiki)

I have seen the musical fountain in Vegas but this one seemed bigger than that. I really enjoyed the show with Khalifa as the background. After that we went to catch a bite and then it was time for us to go up to see Dubai from Top Of The World.

the magnificent Dubai musical fountain

Our plan was for SS and Mr R to leave us there and we meant to catch a cab back to the hotel but they insisted on waiting for us to take us back themselves. In those short few hours I was touched by their hospitality and kindness many times.

Me in front of Candylicious with M & M

We left them in the mall and went up to see Dubai from the top. It took us more than an hour to finish the tour. We meet SS and Mr. R again and were planning to go back to hotel. Both AS and I were dead tired by then but SS and Mr. R were planning to show more of Dubai that night and made plans to show us more of the Dubai mall. We felt obliged and went to see one of the souk inside the mall as well as the Dubai Mall Aquarium and dropped into Candylicious, the world’s largest candy store.

AS and in front of Dubai mall aquarium

I was really impressed by the way Dubai was planned and made. Definitely one of the grandest places I have ever seen. After another hour of wandering around Dubai mall it was past midnight and they dropped us back to the hotel.

By the time we hit the bed it was past 1 am Dubai time which was 7 am Sydney time and we hadn’t slept since 3am the day before. It makes 28 hours of non stop travel and sightseeing 🙂

When I was trying to sleep, I could hear music coming from the disco located on the first floor of the hotel. I had read about that in the review of the hotel but as I was so tired it didn’t bother me and the next second I was fast asleep and didn’t wake up until 8 am the next morning.

Despite lack of sleep and tiredness, I was already in love with Dubai and it was just day one there.

Here are some of the facts about Dubai that I learnt during the trip

  • The official language is Arabic, Arabic and English are commonly used in business and commerce. Hindi and Urdu are also widely used.
  • You won’t believe this but it is true that over 80% of the residents of Dubai are foreigners. Moreover, about 10000 new residents arrive in Dubai every month.
  • There are no taxes on income.
  • Dubai has the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa standing at 828 metres ( 2,716.5 feet ). It also has the fastest elevators in the world.
  • No matter which part of Dubai you are in, you will hear calls to prayer at least five times a day. Even in shopping malls, the calls to prayer are put out over the speakers, to remind Muslims that it is time to pray.
  • Revenues from petroleum and natural gas contribute less than 6 % to the economy of Dubai.
  • Mall of Emirates in Dubai is featured with an indoor ski resort named Ski Dubai Snow Park and they allow visitors to ski indoors while they shop.
  • The currency in Dubai is the dirham (Dh).
  • The world’s largest horses can be found in Dubai.
  • Dubai has one of the highest per capita incomes in the world.
  • Average annual rainfall in Dubai is only 13 centimetres.
  • While mentioning addresses, street addresses are not mentioned as there are no street addresses in Dubai.

I will be writing more about my trip, hope you will still be interested. :-). Please click here for more photos.

More on Dubai

Hello from the world’s tallest building: Burj Khalifa

Desert safari in Dubai

The Dubai Mall, aquarium and underwater zoo

Dubai city, Souks , Marina, Dubai land & Deira City Centre

Back to reality

Hello everyone, I am back. I apologise for not blogging much for the last 4 weeks as I was very busy. Anyway I have been back for more than 72 hours now and all I have been doing is lots of sleeping. I am not sure which clock my body is following but all I did for the first 24 hours after I got back seemed to be just sleeping.

We landed in Sydney airport and were welcomed by cold and rainy winter. It took a while to clear immigration and customs. As soon as we got into the cab, me and my husband looked at each other and said to each other “Welcome back to the real world.”

I have to admit the best thing about being back home is my warm bed since I have been spending the most time in it. As soon as we got back home, we dumped our suitcases and went to sleep. Even though I had some sleep on the flight (it was 7 hours flight + 4 hours transit + 14 more hours of flight), my body was begging for rest.

So we went to sleep for 6 hours straight. When we woke up both of us were hungry so we ordered a take away and watched TV for a while. As soon as we ate, we felt tired again and off to bed for another 6 hours. We woke up again, talked to our parents to let them know we were back, went for a quick grocery shopping (the fridge was empty) and had our dinner.

AS was working the next day so he had to sleep on time and so we went to bed around 10:30 but even after 2 hours I couldn’t fall asleep so I got up and started surfing the internet. It was probably afternoon in Paris at that time 🙂 Lucky me I had the next day off.

Previously I had gone to work straight from the airport after 16 hours fight from my holiday in USA but this time I am so tired that I am glad that I have an extra day off to rest.

That morning I went to bed around 5 am and woke up at 1 pm. I have never been able to sleep till so late but that morning I didn’t even hear AS leave for work. I was so tired that after I got up at 1 pm just had my breakfast and sat in front of the TV until AS came back from work. I was really dreading going to work the next day.

Anyway, my holiday went exactly as planned and we went to Dubai- Sharjah -Ajman – Brighton –  Devil’s Dyke – Winsor -Wiltshire – Stonehenge – Bath – London – Calais – Holland – Brussels – Frankfurt – Rhine River –  Sankt Goar –  Wurzburg –  Velden – Nuremberg – Prague – Bohemia – Moravia –  Vienna –  Styrian Alps – Venice – Burano – Venetian Lagoon –  Assisi – Rome – Vatican city  – Florence – Como – Lugano – Basel – Flüelen  – Mt.Titlis – Engelberg – Lucern – Danube Valley –  Lake Worth and Carinthia – Paris – Versailles.

There are lots of stories I want to share with you (I have lots of drafts that I wrote on plane and the coach) and it will take me months to do so. This post is to let you all know that I am back and I am still writing 🙂 Thanks everyone for bearing with my absence.

Published : Let the Revolution begin!

This article was published in +977 (a Nepalese Lifestyle Magazine in Australia) in May- June 2012 issue.

If you were in Kathmandu in the mid 90’s, you must have fond memories of the time when FM (frequency modulation) radio was first introduced in Nepal. It was one of the best things that happened in that decade for people like me, who enjoyed a wide variety of music. Choosing between various music stations to listen to was a great treat and stations like Kantipur FM,HITS FM, Classic FM, and Image FM paved the path for all other FM stations to come.

At that time, two brothers who called themselves Rhythm Brothers also made their impact on the FM front with their captivating voice, witty sense of humour and good personalities. It was their playful shenanigans that saw them climb to the top of the ratings chart and claim recognition as the modern day voice of FM radio.

I used to love them as they were presenters who could make you listen, rather than just hear and their programs were largely unscripted and instead, consisted of real chitchat and impromptu humour unlike some other programs in which it felt like the RJs were just reading from a paper.  I still remember the evenings with load shedding, when I had used battery operated radio just to listen to them; and Music Jam used to brighten up my evening. It was one of the best programs of its time and the brothers were able to make their mark on everyone’s memory.

Then I finished high school and decided to come to Australia. The day I came to Sydney, I missed a lot of things from home like my family, Nepalese food but I also missed listening to the show. It made me wish that it would have been so much better if I had an opportunity to listen to the show from here as well but unfortunately it was not possible.

Not until now that is. Yes you heard me right, now Asish and Prasan Syangden along with Manoj KC and Cabinet Shrestha have started a new radio station in Nepal and they named it very aptly, calling it REVOLUTION RADIO. In short it is also know as RVL Radio.

Talking to Asish about how they came up with this new concept for radio in Nepal, he said “Me and Prasan, and Manoj (from 1974AD) hit on the idea of online radio in Manoj’s room. We were just talking about radios and how things have become monotonous in this area and that we wanted to do something new.” As great ideas are always appreciated, they were joined by Cabinet Shrestha when he heard the concept and they expanded form the home studio to Moksh complex in Jhamsikel.

They worked really hard to convert their concept into reality and recently launched the radio station with a grand party called “Revolution at Moksh”. It was a black carpet (yes, not red carpet) event attended by many influential people of Nepal. It was a magnificent event introducing Revolution Radio followed by musical performances of Hemant Rana, Albatross, Subani Moktan, 1974 AD and Kathmandu Jazz Conservatory.

Revolution Radio has music for every taste from dance numbers, blues, metal, Nepali adhunik, Nepali folk, pop and rock music. They have live broadcasting from 7 am-11 am (12.15 pm to 4.15 pm Sydney time) everyday in the morning and the same time in the evenings as well. They are focusing not only on the audience in Nepal but also on people around the globe especially Australia,USA,UK and the Middle East.

I have been listening to them during my lunch breaks for a few weeks now and I’m loving it. The sound quality is really good and they play a great range of songs. It is easy to interact with them via Facebook, twitter or Skype. You can even have a peek at the studio from their RevCam.

The voices behind the revolution radio are:

  • Asish Syangden
  • Prasan Syangden
  • Samriddhi Rai
  • Elisha Scarlet Shrestha
  • Yanik Shrestha
  • Bhadrayo Chari
  • Sumeet Sigdel,
  • Sumita Gurung  and
  • Dj PhuCHheY
  • Monica Jha
  • Pretty Limbu

So don’t forget to tune in to Revolution Radio, I bet you will love it. Please visit their website for more information.

They are powered by SUBISU Cablenet and partner with The Himalayan Times Kathmandu Conservatory, AGNI Incorporated Pvt.LTD.

Published: Facebook Generation

Please read the previous post if you haven’t don’t so already.

This article was published in +977 (a Nepalese Lifestyle Magazine in Australia) in May- June 2012 issue.

We are the Facebook generation. If you are like me and millions of others then you have Facebook, Twitter, Skype and even a Blog. You can’t pass a single day without surfing the internet and LOL,XOXOand BRB are the most used words, if I may call them so, in your conversation. And you can’t imagine your life without your smart phone and definitely not without internet.

Facebook has changed the way we communicate with our friends and family. It has allowed us to be in touch with our friends and look at their lives in pictures or even videos. In my case, it has reunited me with my friends from my Kindergarten / preschool after 20 years and Facebook has helped me keep in touch with my cousins and relatives who live in different countries. I even became friends with my husband’s relatives in Facebook long before meeting then physically.

With its “What’s on your mind?” question (status update), it has allowed me to know how my friends were feeling and made it easy to wish someone a “Happy Birthday” which I would have never done otherwise and same goes with sharing photos. I used to email photos to multiple people before but now all I have to do is upload them in Facebook and tag the people I want to share the photos with. You know your friends have viewed the photos when you get likes and comments on them.

I have received the news that someone got engaged, married, had a baby, went on a holiday or even died (I am serious) via Facebook. These news would have never made it to my ears (or eyes in this case) if it was not for Facebook so I have to thank Facebook for all that. Also, I have used Facebook’s events function to invite people for birthdays. As everyone I needed to invite to the event was already in Facebook, it just made my planning a lot easier. It has an RSPV option which allowed me to keep track of the guests easily.

Twittering, Blogging and Skyping are a few other things apart from Facebooking that we think are an essential part of our life like the air we breathe, the water we drink and the food we eat. We feel we cannot live without them.

Twittering and following the tweets of celebrities and unknown people, writing a blog to an unknown audience and Skyping instead of talking on the phone has made our life super busy these days as it takes time to manage all our social networks.

So in this busy virtual life have you ever paused for a second and thought about the people in your life, the REAL people, yes I am not talking about your Facebook friends but the real flesh and blood people, friends, family, colleagues, neighbours, people you see every day, people you used to know and who had been an important part of your life. 

Do you have anyone in your life with whom you used to pick up a phone and talk that you stopped because you are so busy with your virtual life now? 

Do you have friends who live overseas and you used to write an email frequently but now stopped writing your emails since they are in your Facebook? 

Do you feel better when someone calls to ask you about your holiday or do you feel better if they comment on your photos on Facebook?

I am asking these questions because I used to be very active on Facebook. I went through a phase (which many of you may identify with) when I felt like I was judged on the number of friends I had in Facebook. It put a lot of pressure on me to accept requests from anyone just so that I could push the number of “friends” ever higher. I have never accepted a request from a total stranger but I have from people who I had just met once and may never meet again in my life. I felt good and popular to have so many “friends”.

I wanted comments and posts on my wall and thought I definitely needed to maintain my Facebook page to keep in touch with former classmates, and relatives who live far away from me. I tried to chat whenever I was online and post regular updates to let them know how my life was rolling. I used to like and comment on other’s posts and photos regularly. I spent lots of time doing this.

Then there was a game called Farmville I played on Facebook. There were many games and still are but this was the one I got hooked on. It was simply too addictive. I actually used to time my life around it and even put alarms to remind me that I have to login and play the game. I spent a lot of time ploughing, harvesting this virtual Farm for points and rewards.

The game started on the lowest level so you wanted to complete it to get to the next one and then the next after that and so on. The game showered you with all these virtual animals and gifts so you can keep going. You even got ribbons that made you feel special. I swear, one time, I spent 3 hours moving my animals and trees to make the farm bigger so I could have extra plots to plant more virtual crops. I was literally becoming a farmer spending so much time on the game. If I had a real farm I’m sure I would have made a lot of money from those produce I grew at the farm.

When I talked to people around me, it was not only me who had that craze. Many of my friends were guilty of this and I saw lots of Status on Facebook saying “Can someone please gift me a horse”, “Why is no one sending me any pigs?” Pigs and Horses were all you thought of all day long. And they weren’t even real! 

Can you believe there were people in this world even crazier than me about the game? They were making cheat sheets for the game and forums were flooded with the questions on how to make points easily so that you could climb up the levels and beat your friends. Also people were spending real money to buy virtual stables or pagodas. God, could we be any more unreal?

That’s the day when lightning struck me (metaphorically of course or I wouldn’t be writing this would I?) I asked myself – “What was I doing with my time on Facebook? Why did I have to be number one among my friends in this stupid game?” I also had no real desire for all of my Facebook friends to know that I went on a holiday or what I liked or who I was with. That day I went and cleaned up my Facebook. I organised my Facebook friends into groups according to their importance in my life. I made sure only a few people who really mattered to me could really see what I did.

Ideally, I should have deleted anyone who was not a part of my life anymore and kept only a few as my friends but I admit I was too chicken to delete them. I didn’t want to hurt their feelings. I was quite sure they wouldn’t notice but I kept thinking about the small percentage who would.

I realised that in real life I have only a handful of friends that I can count on, which means all 300+ friends that I had in my Facebook were not real friends, just people I know. They won’t be there when I need help or advice. They don’t feel sorry when I am down and won’t support me when I need a hand, so should I share my personal thoughts, feelings and my life with these strangers? My answer was definitely a big fat NO.

I had the most wonderful meal today. :)”, “I went to a spa today.” and so on are just some examples of the Status updates that you can read every day on Facebook. Do you think anyone out there is really interested in that kind of information about your life? Do you care what time your friends wake up, where they go to, what they eat for breakfast, who they are hanging out with? If you don’t really care, do you think anyone else cares about your Status updates?

When I was doing a First Aid Training the other day, the trainer pointed out to us that in case of an emergency (touch wood it never happens) if you need to comfort anyone who is in distress, just go and hug them, as a hug works to calm a person. Real human touch always has magic that no words you type or any comments on Facebook can even compare to. I realised then that we are losing touch with real human bonding due to this virtual social networking.

Another thing that bothers me is the privacy on these social networking sites. I am an IT professional, so I use all my skills to take major precautions to avoid the privacy pitfalls that are ever present on the internet.  I feel sorry for people out there who post all their details on social networking sites without knowing the risks that they face. Putting personal information on Facebook or online in general is not safe and can make you a victim of identity theft and cyber crimes.

Many people will like to have strict control over their personal information which is difficult if you are on Facebook, unless you are very careful not to divulge them. We all like to make sure our personal information is only visible to our trusted friends, not the whole world but the constant updates and frequent changes made by Facebook has made it difficult to keep control of the privacy of our information on Facebook.

First and foremost always be aware of what you are sharing online and with whom. You can edit the privacy option in Facebook so if you have not done so already please go and edit it to make your personal information secure. Make sure your contact information is private and control who can access your information like photos, wall information and status updates. It is easy to stop sharing information with total strangers. If you don’t know how, just Google it and you should find tutorials on how to do it. Be aware and alert every moment.

Someone wise once said, “We realise the value of time only once we are old” so let’s balance our life and utilise our time from now so we don’t regret it in the future. There is no harm in being on Facebook but also make sure you have friends you can connect to outside of it. Call a friend instead of leaving a comment on their post, try to hug a friend instead of “poking” them on Facebook and definitely have a few real friends than just the hundreds of virtual friends online. We should always admire and appreciate what is innovative so there is nothing wrong in building your social networks on Facebook but don’t forget the real world while you are chasing the virtual one.

I am a Published writer now :)

Before I started this blog I never thought I could really write. I have always loved to read and write but never had the courage to share my writing. When I was in school, I used to keep a diary but I never shared that with anyone. Before I left for Australia, I burned them all, no idea why but I have only one of the many diaries that I used to keep, with me now.

When I first started writing this blog, I didn’t know if anyone would ever read what I wrote. After reading lots of blogs, I felt like I wanted to share my thoughts and feeling as well. But I wasn’t sure if anyone else would ever read it. I really need to thank my husband who encouraged me to write and told me, “You just write and see how things go.”

And I am glad I listened to him. Now I write regularly and it helps me to be happy and relaxed. I have formed lots of friendship through blogging and there are people who read what I write. Thanks everyone for following and reading my blog because without all of you I could never have continued.

Anyway, at the end of last year, +977 ( a Nepalese Lifestyle Magazine in Australia) contacted me to write an article for their magazine that they were planning to publish. +977 is the country code to call Nepal from overseas, in case you are wondering what the name of the magazine stands for. They found me through my blog and contacted me. I wrote an article and submitted it to them.

After a while, they contacted me again and asked me if I would be happy to get more involved in the magazine. So we did, both me and my husband, became part of the magazine as we love to be creative. We worked for the magazine along with other members of the team and got the magazine out on the market from the vision board.

To cut the long story short after a few months of hard work, +977 magazines is out in the market and YES I AM A PUBLISED WRITER NOW.

Apart from the initial article, I did a cover story with my friend Mingma from iScribble as well as I did an article on Revolution Radio. Of course as you all know I am into fashion, so there is a piece about it as well. Here are my published articles. Please let me know what you think about them. I will upload the full articles soon.

Thank you once again everyone for all the support. Please support the magazine by liking their Facebook page.

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