Monthly Archives: August 2012

Slow down people, smell the flower

This morning when I was waiting for the lift in my apartment, one of my neighbours came to wait for the lift as well. I had already pressed the button to call the lift and it was visible as the red light was on. But she kept pressing the button as if it would bring the lift quicker. Once the lift came she rushed inside and I follow her. I press the ground floor button. She was going to do the same floor so she pressed the already pressed button few times. She looked so impatient in the lift and as soon as the door opened at the ground floor, she rushed out. I was just wondering what the rush was about. I have seen so many people rushing to their destination all the time.

I always see drivers’ impatience trying to change lanes in busy traffic even though they know it won’t get them to their destination any sooner. Even though they run red light in one place, I normally catch them at the next red light anyway so I don’t understand why they are risking their own and others life like that.

Today on the way to work I just wanted to observe people who are rushing somewhere. They all seemed a bit grumpy and were just rushing around.

I know we all feel that we are time poor and it makes us to do things quickly whenever possible. But I also know that you can’t run on a moving train or jump off the airplane to get to your destination quickly.

I am equally guilty of rushing all the time. I always want to do things quickly so I want to sit down and relax as soon as possible. Often I find I can’t really relax until the work is done. But lately being married to AS, I have learned how to relax a bit. I still have a long a way to go.

Sometime when I read stories like this, it hits me hard. Often we don’t appreciate small things in life until we lose them.

In today’s world where everyone is running after money and power, there are not many people who will stop and smell the flower. We have so many ambitions and dreams that in order to fulfil them we are forced to work hard and keep working. Gone are the days when people would always have dinner as a family,   visiting their friends and relatives regularly and just enjoy simple pleasures of life.

Have you ever heard your parents or grandparents saying the time has gone in the blink of the eye? It is so true for everyone. One day we will be old and when we look back at our own life, what do you want to see. For me, I want to see a gal and woman who enjoyed every minute of her life with less regrets, surrounded by love and laughter.

Have you ever noticed, if you smile while walking on the street, in most cases you will get a smile back from a complete stranger? That is how easy and simple life is. So stop making it complicated and enjoy the small happiness in life. For some it may come as cooking, gardening, baking, or writing. Whatever you enjoy, just go ahead and do it as this time will never come back in your life.

There is a saying by Will Rogers, “Half our life is spent trying to find something to do with the time we have rushed through life trying to save”.  So I am making an effort this week to slow down a bit and enjoy things around me. And here are few things on my plan list to make it a better life.

  • I am planning to catch up with family and friends so I can enjoy their company and share life.
  • I will be going to some place nice this weekend and appreciate nature’s beauty. It is almost spring in Sydney and it is so beautiful everywhere. May be a picnic in a park will be a great way to relax.
  • Spend more time with my handsome husband without distractions like TV, mobile or books.
  • I will plan my life more so I don’t need to rush and get frustrated.
  • I always wanted to mediate because I heard that it helps us keep clam. I will definitely try that.
  • I will exercise more and look after my body without making any excuses.
  • I will call my parents and tell them I love them a lot.
  • I will try to get the negative thoughts out of my head and think more positive.

 Will definitely let you know how it goes. Please share your own versions 🙂 and please don’t forget to smell the flowers …

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Colour your wardrobe this winter

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

Winter in Sydney is really cold this year and in this cold weather, your coat is the most important item in your wardrobe. I know it can be really dull to see only grey and black coats everywhere but you don’t need to be one of them. With some smart colour choices, it is very easy to brighten up your day.

If you are wearing single toned dress or black trouser and top, enliven it with a bold colour coat. The colours that are “in” this winter are mustard, dark purple and red. If you are wearing a dress, a colourful stocking, a colourful scarf, bold jewelleries or a colourful bag will definitely polish up your look. There is also the option of going with colourful jeans. Invest in some colourful clothing and you won’t have to worry about drab winters anymore.

You may also like :

*Autumn Trend Alert: “Dot On” *Fashion from Nepal
*Spring 2012 Trend Alert: Hello, PETAL!

Rendezvous with an Entrancing Beauty

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

It was really nice to have opportunity to interview Samriddhi Rai 🙂

We are always very proud when we see the name “Nepal” in any International arena and we felt be a prouder still, when a few months ago as Miss Samriddhi Rai was successful in bringing home the title of Miss Personality from the Miss Tourism Queen International 2011 held in Xi’an, China.

Many of you may already know Samriddhi Rai as Miss Tourism Queen Nepal 2011. She was also a participant in Miss Teen Nepal and in Miss Nepal. Some of you may know her as a writer or an editor for well know publications or even as a national level basketball player, an aspiring singer or a TV anchor or a Voice on RVL Radio.

An intrepid blogger, she is not afraid to express her opinions and feelings instead of writing what is politically correct. It is very heartening to see her speaking her mind about events in Nepal like the Miss Nepal 2012, Bryan Adams’ concert, etc., in her blog samriddhirai.blogspot.com.

Living with her motto, “Laugh.Love. Live.”: Samriddhi has achieved, in a short time frame, what many of us have only dreamed of. Even though she has been in the public eye form her teenage years, she has never forgotten her roots and has always stayed grounded. She is a great inspiration for today’s youth.

A Self-confessed serious Facebooker, she is so loved by the young generation that the number of friends in her Faceebook personal account maxed out, forcing her to create a Facebook Page instead, to keep in touch with her fans. One of the best things about following her on Facebook and Twitter is that she actually responds to the comments, unlike so many celebrities who just post their photos and never bother to respond to the comments people leave for them.

For some reasons though, I happen to love my struggles. I believe it has made me tough and although it breaks me down from time to time, it has unfailingly pushed me to bring out the best in me.” These are her words describing her experience from Miss Tourism Queen International. When she was picked by Group of Event Entertainers, the team that conducts Miss Tourism Queen Nepal, to represent Nepal in China she was told she had to fund everything on her own. For any other girl it could have been the reason to desist from the journey even before it begun but not for Samriddhi. She was determined to do whatever it would take to reach her goal. She organised a concert to raise money and at the same time looked for sponsors to help fund her trip to Xi’an to represent Nepal. The road to China was bumpy but with courage and determination she was able to bring a second international beauty pageant crown home to Nepal. It was one of the proudest moments for Nepal and all Nepali.

Here is our conversation with the young, talented and beautiful Miss Samriddhi Rai.

You are into so many different fields, how do you want to be known?

Honestly, it would be awesome to be known as Samriddhi Rai – Jack of all trades, Master of some (laughs) but yeah I will forever be a writer at heart. I express myself best when I am writing so that is one thing that will always be with me. Soon though, I am coming out with my album so yeah, the title of Samriddhi Rai- singer, songwriter, blogger would sound perfect to live by for the rest of my life.

When did you think of entering beauty pageants and did you face any difficulties?

It was not a conscious decision, you know. I had just completed my 12th grade and I had some time to spare. I saw an ad calling for Miss Teen Nepal and I just entered it, thinking it would be fun. If you knew me well, you’d know that I am just that kind of a person – spontaneous and extremely random. I managed to discover the singing talent in me, wiped out fear of public-speaking, to that extent, I have pageants to thank for bringing out the writer in me too as everything  I was learning was just too difficult to be contained within me, I had to share it with the world. So yeah, I have a lot to thank these pageants. By exploring the many vistas of these hard-core contests, I got a chance to explore the many vistas of me. Those were time well-spent. 

 Please share your experience from Miss teen Nepal and Miss Nepal. 

Miss Teen Nepal and Miss Nepal were two experiences I totally cherish. But I may have enjoyed Miss Teen Nepal more (laughs), considering I had no plans to win anything but came out clinching the 2nd runner up title. On the other hand, I joined Miss Nepal fully knowing that I had to win it. And even though I got nothing from it except for my placement in the top-5, with time I realized that winning a title was not so important after all. That, winning people’s love and earning memories and experiences was more valuable. Soon after my bout at Miss Nepal I was offered a job as an editor for a youth’s magazine, I became a weekly columnist, I was offered the title of Miss Tourism Nepal , hundreds of people showed up at my fund-raising concerts and I came back home winning a title on behalf of my country. So you see, winning or losing is for the mere entertainment of the audience. I may have lost at Miss Nepal, but I never felt defeated. To be in the presence of both success and failure and be equally happy in both experiences- is what these pageants have taught me.

 We know that your journey to Miss Tourism Queen International 2011 was not smooth as you had to fund your own way there. Tell us more about your experience from the beginning to winning the crown for Best Personality.

I broke down a few days before I had to leave for my contest. But I can assure you it was only a momentary lapse (lol). But I really couldn’t get my sunny side up when everything came crashing down for a while- when people who promised to sponsor my tickets backed out and my designer friends refused to give their best gowns. It was disheartening and overwhelming. All the while I kept thinking, “Oh my god, I am representing my country here, why isn’t anybody helping me out?” and then, I came back to my senses. I realized people were not helping me because the universe was asking me to help myself and be a strong girl and that is what I became. Oddly enough it was a bunch of strangers who helped me in a big way. Stranger designers, stranger airline officers- to whom by the way I am indebted for life and I still keep in touch with them. And I finally made it to China. The journey thereafter was the most fun I have ever had. Being called out by my country’s name was a thing of immense pride. “Hey! Nepal, come here. Hey! Nepal sings so well.” I am all smiles even as I share these moments with you. When NEPAL was called out to receive the title of Miss Personality, I was so happy. Tears of joy rolled down my cheeks and I couldn’t stop thanking my judges for finding me worthy for the title. Finally, thank you +977 for helping me relive those moments all over again. I’d describe my journey to Miss Tourism Queen International as one of the most beautiful chapters of my life.

 There is a term in Australia called Tall Poppy Syndrome which means people of genuine merit are resented, attacked, cut down, or criticised because their talents or achievements elevate them above or distinguish them from their peers. Do you think that exists in Nepal as well? Did you ever suffer something similar?

Tall poppy huh! Well I’d say that is true anywhere in the world and honestly, if I tell you that I have in fact been attacked and resented then I would also be calling myself a person with genuine merit – and that my friend, would be fuelling my “resent-ers” to resent me even more (lol). But yeah in all honesty, as the number of people who like you grows, with it grows the number of people who might dislike you as well. When I was collecting my funds for the pageant, there were people making remarks claiming that was acting like a “beggar”, to one paper even publishing that my contest was all fake and I had duped people through my fund-raising concerts. Phew! Initially it hurt a lot, but I started getting used to it. Then I was like, as long as my rumours keep people in Kathmandu entertained, I am up for anything that makes people happy (lol) and I let it go.

 For girls planning to join beauty pageants, what do you think are the important preparations that they should make in order to maximize their chances?

Well I feel I very lucky to have gotten in, considering I am only 5’ 6”. My height is not even average in beauty pageant terms; 5’ 6” is very, very short. So yes, my 5 inches heels never came off during my international contest (lol) and that way judges never saw me as someone short. The four crucial preparations for any Nepali beauty pageant representative going for an international pageant, according to me would be: (1) Armed with lots of super-high heels, (2) lots of make-up and hair styling accessories- one must also be well-trained in its application, (3) well thought out wardrobe including several beautiful gowns by designers and (4) ONE significant talent to help one stand out from a batch of hundreds of contestants.

 Did you ever feel discouraged in life and if so, what thoughts made you overcome those feelings?

Discouraged? NEVER! If something goes wrong for me, I am quick at moving on and finding something that is right. I don’t believe in dwelling in despair; my god, life is too short for that. To tell you a lesser known secret though, I sometimes consciously drown myself in sadness only at those times when I want to write some hard-core emo songs for my upcoming album (lol) other than that, nah! I just like to see the brighter side in life. That is just who I am.

 Who do you admire the most & why? 

I admire the values passed down by my parents the most. At the end of the day no matter what you become or where you go, it is the integrity, the teachings that one gets as a child that truly moulds a person. I can’t thank them enough for helping me become the person that I am today.  

What does “success” mean to you? 

Success is just an illusion. Happiness is the ultimate goal I seek. Pursuing my passion for music and writing makes me happy and that is all I need.      

How do you keep fit? Please share with us some of your formula for a healthy lifestyle. 

I guess you have come to the right person to ask that, as I only recently shed a good 8 kilos off of me haha. You see, I had always been a fit person, but then one day I watched the movie Step Up 2 and then I had to have those abs that the lead girl flaunted. Next 3 months in the gym and I was doomed. I gained more weight and I had set out to lose them. It took me a whole year of eating the right food and NOT-going to the gym but indulging in my regular games of basketball and a few running drills to get back into shape.

What is the proudest moment or the most memorable day of your life? 

“You are only as good as your last achievement”- said a wise man and going by that, it has to be my winning the Miss Personality for Nepal at the Miss Tourism Pageant. Yes it was the proudest I had ever been of myself; a moment I shall cherish until my death.

 What are your future plans?

Just continue doing the things I love like baking, playing basketball, singing, writing and joking around with pals and laughing a lot lot lot (lol). On a serious note, immediate plans are for a record album which I hope to release in the year 2013, as I was born on the 13th and my contestant number at Miss Nepal was 13. It’s just an important number for me. Let’s just see how that turns out. 

Is there anything else you would like our readers to know?

Ahhh… All that I have been blabbering about is already too much information. If I were the reader, I would be bored by now haha. But yeah, I would really like to say “thank you” for giving your time to read what I had to say. It means a lot. Also, one day I hope to come visit Australia; a huge fan of all Master Chef Australia episodes I wanna come there for the food and the picturesque sea shores that I have only gotten to see in well – pictures (lol). If you’re reading this as a Nepali from Australia, I really appreciate you making an effort to be in touch with updates from back home. Finally, thank you +977 for having me and thank you for hunting me down. Being in the media, not much media likes to cover me – it has to be that Tall poppy thingy eh! (Lol) So, really a genuine thank you to everyone. Wish you all a wonderful life ahead. Cheerio!

Smartphone killed the camera star

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

I own a smartphone, it is a Samsung Galaxy S2 and I have used its camera occasionally when I didn’t have my camera with me but I was so surprised to see many people use just their smartphones to take photos during my Europe tour. Most of the people on the tour had a Samsung, iPhone or HTC smartphone and they were using it to take the photos on entire trip. And don’t get me wrong, they were not young teenagers showing off their new toy but they all were 50+ mature people and they were making the best use of the phone. Most of them didn’t have any other camera with them.

I guess iPhone and Android phones have changed the electronics landscape and the point and shoot digital cameras are being replaced by smartphones. And it is easy to see why. For me the first and foremost reason would be the convenience of carrying only one device followed by an ever evolving technology market which is now able to provide higher resolution and quality photos using smartphones. Also, most people feel that they won’t need a separate camera if they have one already on the phone.

And to add the icing on the cake, there are thousands of apps available for both iPhones and Android phones which allowed photos to be manipulated and uploaded on social media websites and no one wants to be bothered with transferring images to a PC from a point-and-shoot and uploading them later.

I remember those days when there was a limitation on photos because buying films and developing them was so expensive. And the disappointment I used to feel when I realised that the expensive prints had half of my head chopped or were just blurry. Then the revolution came and digital cameras took over from the film cameras.

Digital cameras had a very interesting life cycle. Even though the first digital cameras was made in 1975 by Steven Sasson, it wasn’t widely used until the end of the twentieth century. First digital cameras used to be big but slowly with time, they became small and compact. I got my first digital camera only in 2004. It was a Sony slim version and I paid good AU $1200 (I know that sounds so expensive now) for that. Everyone who saw the camera was really impressed and I was so happy to have numerous photos taken without thinking about further cost. I still have that camera with me and it still works. The only fault with it now is, the battery life is too short and I am not very comfortable with its 2cm by 4 cm LCD screen.

Now things have changed so quickly that we can get a camera with a similar specification in less that AU$100. With AU$1200 today, I can buy nice SLR cameras. Just before our holiday, I went and bought another digital point and shoot camera and it was under AU$300. It has really great features and I am very happy with the photos.

Looks like a smartphone will be the only gadget we will need in a few years. It is already a music and video player, a GPS, a hand held computer, a camera, a camcorder and soon it is believed our phone will replace all the cards we carry around like driving licence and credit cards.

Personally, I am not looking forward to pack my point and shoot digital camera away yet. I still love to have a digital camera with me when I go away on a holiday. Smartphones are definitely very handy when you want to click something on the go but being a photo fanatic I definitely need my cameras on my holidays and smartphone cameras can’t replace it yet. I also realised that point and shoot cameras are much better than big SLR cameras when you need to get some random person to click photos of you and your partner but that can be a topic for discussion some other time.

Nepal doesn’t need to change, we do

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

Even though we are away from home, most of us are very passionate about our motherland NEPAL and we have a long list of things we think Nepal needs to change in order to make it better for the future.  We are very happy to jump into any conversation on what is wrong in Nepal and never far behind when voicing our opinion about how Nepali politicians are so wrong.  If I asked you to tell me one thing you would change in Nepal if you were in power for a day, I am sure, you would join the bandwagon of people who have dreamed to turn Nepal into Switzerland.

We all know that Nepal has failed to make a permanent constitution since 2007 and all the delay has not helped our pessimistic attitude towards Nepal. The decade long civil war, the bandhs, and the corruption in the government are not only making us disappointed but strengthening the idea in our head that Nepal definitely needs to change.

I am sure most of us remember Nepal as the only Hindu kingdom in the world and a country which could attract tourists from around the world with her natural beauty and peace. Then in a blink of the eyes, things changed dramatically. First, the Maoist civil war killed thousands of our brothers and sisters followed by the Royal massacre which killed our beloved King, Queen and princes along with many other royal family members and then the unstable governments that haven’t been able to agree upon a constitution even after 5 long years.

It is 2012 now and things seem to be going downhill in Nepal. The tourism industry is one of the main sources of foreign currency in Nepal and provides many people with employment. Once the world’s most sought-after destinations for tourism; Nepal has lost millions of dollars in income from the tourism industry due to the headlines around the world about its bandhs and the negative publicity. I have a few friends around me who have always wanted to visit Nepal but they fear to travel there due to the fear for their own safety.

Government websites like http://www.smartraveller.gov.au in Australia has a warning for Australian citizens who wish to visit Nepal. They state

  • We advise you to exercise a high degree of caution in Nepal due to the uncertain political and security situation.
  • There have been violent incidents, including bomb attacks, at crowded locations and on public transport throughout the country.
  • Shortages of essential supplies (food, water, fuel, gas and kerosene for cooking) can occur with limited notice.
  • Black out (or load shedding) periods can have a significant impact on services, including in major tourist destinations. Crimes against foreigners, including tourists, such as assault and theft occur in Nepal due to the poor law and order situation.
  • Illegal roadblocks and enforced national or local strikes (bandhs) often occur without notice and may continue for lengthy periods resulting in the closure of businesses and vehicles not being allowed on the roads. At these times, access to the airport can be disrupted and taxis are not usually available.

If you are a tourist who is looking for a relaxing holiday away from home, would you choose a country which has so many problems? I definitely wouldn’t. I am not blaming smartraveller, as they have stated everything correctly in their website and are doing a great job of making the citizen of Australia aware about the real situation in Nepal.

This brings me to my point why there is still nothing wrong with Nepal. Nepal is still a very beautiful country and I still say this after I have seen a lot of countries around the world that attract tourist in the millions. The only problem right now is that we, the Nepali people, don’t appreciate her as much as we should.

Deforestation and land degradation is one of the biggest environmental problems in Nepal and people are responsible for that, not the country. There has been a loss of huge forest area which has resulted in floods, soil erosion, and stagnant agricultural output. At the same time population growth and improper use of agro-chemicals hasn’t help the environment either.

Political instability has become a huge problem for the country. The politicians need to realise that it is easy to say that they will make Nepal into Switzerland in a certain number of years but they have never paused to think how Switzerland became such great country. They fought so long and hard to established democracy in the country but they are fighting over power and money now when the country needs them most. While I was in Switzerland, I could imagine that if the infrastructure in Nepal, like better roads, could be developed then Nepal too could attract tourists like Switzerland. The thing we, the people, and also the politicians should understand is that there is no quick and easy way to success.

It is the country’s citizens who decide what the country will be like, for better or for worse and we as Nepalis seem to have followed the wrong path for a while now. Let me give you an example.  Most people heard that If you spit in the streets of Singapore, you will be fined by the cops”. While on holiday in Singapore, I took a bus tour of the city and we had a Singaporean guide.  She was so passionate about her country that she made sure that the tourists in the bus followed all the rules while travelling with them; like not leaving the empty coffee or juice cups on the side of the road or no chewing gums as they are banned in Singapore. She was there enforcing all the rules that we normally expect cops to enforce. If every Singaporean has that attitude and love towards their country then definitely the country will prosper.

Now I ask you “Have you followed all the rules while you were in Nepal or enforced them on others?” If your answer is no then it is definitely time for us to change and take the responsibility of the country and guide it in the right direction. Many Nepalese who would never throw rubbish on the road or dare to break a traffic rule abroad will do it in Nepal without a second thought.

I just want to ask you a few simple questions:

Have you paid money to get your license?

Have you bribed government officials to expedite your work?

Have you bribed a traffic officer when he caught you doing an illegal U turn or speeding?

Have you bribed an airport official to take extra weight illegally or used someone with influence to make it happen? (Most of us going abroad are guilty of this one.)

There are many similar questions that I can ask but I’m sure you got my point. Be honest with yourself because your excuses are not good enough and you are contributing to the corruption in Nepal. You complain about the corruption and bad politicians of Nepal but when it comes to benefits for yourself, you don’t hesitate to bribe your way out. How can you be such a hypocrite? The worst part is that you would never do that in Australia, America or UK. You don’t hesitate in Nepal because you are confident that you can get away with it. I am not saying that I am a perfect citizen and I know most of are not but all of us need to change.

You might argue it is easy to maintain a country that is already in a good state but difficult to improve a country if it is in a bad state. I do agree with that but consider my previous example of Singapore. In the past Singapore had a big civil war between their Chinese, Indian and Malay citizens due to the difference in language, religion and culture but they rose above all those problems and came up with a solution to improve the country. Now they have four official languages: English, Chinese, Malay, and Tamil. They celebrate every religion and have holidays for the Chinese New Year, Vesak Day, Deepavali, Hari Raya Haji (Eid) and Christmas as well. They are one of the most prosperous countries in the world now.

So there definitely is a solution to every problem and we, the Nepali people, have to see it and work towards it.

The next time you think Nepal needs to change, pause for a moment and think what you can do to make that change? Instead of gossiping about our politicians and their wrong doings, let’s start with something small around us that we can improve. As each brick added makes a house stronger, every improvement that we make, makes the country better. We need to make everyone around us aware that a country is made up of its citizens and they can make or break the country. Let’s take responsibility of our own actions and not blame others for the state of the country. If the government is doing something wrong, we need to understand that they too are Nepali citizens and we have the power to make or break the government too. I am sure we all have learnt that from our experience of democracy until now. We do not depend on people who govern the country, they depend on us.

Let’s all set realistic goals and contribute whatever we can for the betterment of Nepal.

Breakfast in bed suprise

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What better way to wake up in the morning than this. Breakfast in bed. Thank you my darling for everything and esp for roses. :-). Love you so much…

Chunky statement necklaces

I went shopping last night as I needed to go for a birthday party tonight. I am wearing coloured denim and I wanted a chunky necklace to go with it.

To my surprise, it looks like this spring is going to be full chunky necklaces. Every place that sells accessories has them in all kinds, colours and styles on display. From floral accents and multicolour gemstones to layered pearls and bib necklaces; I had array of choices. I ended up buying a  beaded one.

I am so happy to see them everywhere. I have got 5 now so I will be wearing them everywhere. I bought a couple of them from Dubai and UK during my Europe trip  :).

I can transform my wardrobe with a single accessory now. I really love them as you can wear them as your only accessories and you will still look stylish. With these kinds of necklaces, it is best to avoid earrings and bracelets. Keep it minimal and it will work perfectly.

It goes well with jeans as well as dresses and skirts. It can definitely embellish the plainest tops and dresses.

I have seen them on my favourite fashionista Sarah Jessica Parker as well as many other celebrities.  Loving their looks.

Today at work I wore a necklace as well; it is not a big statement necklace but quite a  good size for work.

Keep it chucky this Spring  🙂