March 23, 2022

#CauseAChatter: 10 routes to happiness and good mental health.

"Happiness is a state of mind. It's just according to the way you look at things." 

- Walt Disney 

Every year, March 20th is celebrated  as the International day of happiness across the world. The main aim of this day is to raise awareness on the importance of happiness in our lives.

This year, the theme was ‘Keep calm, stay wise, and be kind.’

And that led me to think about how we can implement this in our lives in the best possible way.

‘Happiness’ is an extremely fluid concept. It can mean different things to different people. But the truth remains that chasing it has little meaning. The mad pursuit of happiness is often futile, for it is both illusory and ephemeral.

We know butterflies, like happiness, are never within reach when pursued. They will settle wherever they want, whenever they want. Agreed? 

Now ask yourself this; What type of flower will the butterfly be more attracted towards? Will it be drawn towards one of bright vibrant hue and sweet fragrance or will it tend to settle on a drooping flower that is dull in color and scent? 

For those of whom the penny hasn’t dropped yet, the ‘flowers’ in the above scenario are metaphors for human personalities just as the butterfly is a metaphor for happiness.

And so here are ten easy ways to brighten our moods and invite contentment into our lives. 

Almost all of these have to do with mental health and that should be enough to show you that happiness, if anything, is purely a state of mind.

1) Start a new hobby – studies have proven that channeling your mind towards a favorite activity brightens up not just your mood but also your personality. So unless your hobby is to rob a bank or indulge in useless gossip, you keep going.

2) Reconcile a broken relationship. One truth I have learned  in life is that ‘sorry’ and ‘thank you’ are the most underrated words in the human dictionary. We hardly understand their true value. That is  is why we use them so sparingly. So next time you mess up, apologise. Tell the people you love how grateful you are to have them. See how it mends the cracks, both in your relationships and in your heart.  

3) Spend time with your loved ones – This is one sure shot method to keep the crazies away. Surround yourself with positive vibes. Spend quality time with those you love. Communicate!

4) Maintain a gratitude journal – When you feel life getting too dreary, close your eyes and count your blessings. Then jott them down for you to read on another ‘not so good’ day.

5) Adequate sleep, rest, nutrition, and exercise  -to maintain good health. – A fit body and a happy mind always go together. So try and keep yourself as healthy as possible. Avoid junk food, take your vitamins, exercise. Small steps towards a larger goal.

6) Spend time with a child – Do this sometime. Spend time with a baby or toddler; either your own or a friend’s (of course with their parents consent---you wouldn’t want the police looking for you). They show you how innocence still exists in the world.

7) Read – Who doesn’t know the positive effect of reading? Read as a hobby or as a distraction. Read fiction. Read non fiction. Read poetry. Read plays. Read magazines. Read labels on milk cartons if you please. But read! It only helps better you as a person.


8) Meditate – Choose a quiet cozy spot near a window in your home. Close your eyes and block out all the negative energy. You can try yoga or chanting techniques, these help to allay anxiety.

9) Smile more often – even at times when you feel the need to fake it. A grumpy disposition will only repel energy radiators and attract the energy drainers around you.

10) Practice all the steps above throughout the day. Start by saying ‘I can do it. I’m going to be happy from now on.’ (the power of positive affirmations)

The key to a happy life is to confront every emotion that you feel. Acknowledge it, accept it, and in time, let it go. 

Of course, it is not always easy. But remember, if today, you fail, don’t be too hard on yourself. There is always tomorrow. 


This post is part of Blogchatter’s CauseAChatter.     

March 19, 2022

#BlogchatterA2Z: Theme reveal: ‘Obrigado Goa’

Back in 2019, a thread on my Twitter newsfeed caught my eye. It was from Blogchatter, a blogging community that I had been a dormant member of. The thread was about the A2Z writing challenge…wherein the participating bloggers had to write posts on subjects corresponding to the 26 alphabets of the English language. 

My curiosity was piqued. I wanted to be a part of it. However, it was almost mid April then. That meant I was late to the party. 

So I promised myself I’d take it up the following year. 

And then, Bam! The world got hit by a virus, and we all know how that went. 

Anyway, long story short, we made it this far. And I think you will agree with me when I say that given the situation at hand, that is good enough reason to celebrate. 

This year, I intend typing up some loose threads. And one of them is the long pending wish to write for #BlogchatterA2Z.  I’m looking forward to this journey of writing, reading, and interacting on the blog all through the month of April. 

So without further ado, I reveal to you the theme of my A2Z series. 

‘Obrigado, Goa!’ (psst! This is where you imagine the sound of loud applause and fireworks.)

‘Obrigado’ is a word of Portuguese origin and is used commonly among the locals in Goa. It means ‘thank you’. 

Why ‘Obrigado’? 

Well, because firstly, I’m Goan and I just realised I haven’t been saying that enough…at least not here on the blog. 

Coming to the second and more important reason, I believe much of Goa’s splendour is taken for granted by its people; unappreciative locals who have forgotten its worth, visiting tourists who form half baked impressions based on tourism brochures and Bollywood movies, new generation ‘metro’philes who are ashamed of their small town heritage and crave to live in metros instead; ‘Obrigado, Goa’ hopes to be an eye opener for them all. 


Highlighting different topics; history, culture, food, sites of significance; this series will talk about everything that is precious to Goa. That which makes us Goans swell with pride. That which Goa would be incomplete without. That which you as a tourist wouldn’t want to miss, or you as a local would love to reminisce over. 

In a nutshell, my series is a collection of all that would make one want to take a deep breath, smile, and say, ‘Obrigado, Goa’.

So be prepared to fall (more) in love with my hometown.

Starting April 1st…

I’m participating in #BlogchatterA2Z.

March 17, 2022

#CauseAChatter: Discrimination at work - how to recognize and deal with a toxic work environment

Have you ever felt the rising urge  to quit your job but are unsure of whether that would be the right thing to do? 

By this, I don’t mean the weekend sulk we all get into and then get over soon after. What I mean is a deeper, prolonged dissatisfaction that has slowly set into your heart due to extraneous factors at work and which is now gnawing at your mind, forcing you to reconsider staying on.

Leaving the security of a fixed job position is not an easy thing to do. In an unpredictable world like ours. it is only wise to grasp at the tiniest bit of stability life offers. 

But never at the cost of your well being. 

A toxic work environment can be damaging both physically as well as mentally. But many times, we cling on. We tolerate. We compromise at the cost of our mental peace and happiness. 

There are many factors that can result in a toxic work environment.

Pic source: Google images

Here is a list of warning signs that you may be working in a toxic environment: 

1) You find yourself frequently caught in uncomfortable situations for no fault of yours.

2) You find yourself often working outside office hours and in excess of  your allotted workload. 

3) You feel a sense of anxiety and unhappiness…a constant lack of energy and motivation while working. 

4) Your boss is mostly unappreciative and does not take your opinions seriously. 

5) You feel transparency and trust are amiss in your working relationships. 

6) Your feedback in projects is not encouraged and decisions are often taken without your knowledge or against your judgement. 

7) You feel alienated by your work colleagues or team members. 

8) Workplace bullying or sexual harassment (however subtle) at work are realities that you need to factor in as well. 

Once you have recognized your environment as toxic, here is what you need to do:

First and foremost, make up your mind. It is often tough convincing ourselves out of o secure (although harmful) workplace. 

For this, you can maintain a diary where you mention the uncomfortable occurrences as they occur in a daily basis. Also, list out the pros and cons. The reasons for staying on v/s the reasons for leaving. This will help put things in perspective. 

If the pros are more than the cons and you still feel you can hang on, then try to relieve the stress with simple steps like pursuing a hobby—like reading, painting etc, meeting up with friends after office hours and engaging in things you like. This can work wonders in reducing stress and help you survive the pressures of work. 

However, if all these measures provide only temporary respite and the discontent you feel continues to persist, then here is what you need to do: 

1) Talk to your HR to see if you can come up with a way to fix the solution. Or address the concern with your boss. 

2) Ask around for references, gather work portfolios, and keep an eye for suitable job opportunities.

3) In the interim, complete all your pending projects to the best of your capacity. This will ensure that you don’t leave your colleagues in the lurch, when you do eventually make the move. 

4) Update your resume with your achievements from this job while you still have access to the data and files. This will brighten your prospects for the next job opening and help land you in a better place. Also create a good cover letter handy for the time you find a suitable job opening. 

5) Keep a watch on your health- I can’t seem to lay enough emphasis on the fact that stress tends to take a toll on ones physical and mental well being. It may also cause unhealthy habits like smoking, drinking, excessive eating, insomnia. Try your best to consciously maintain as healthy a lifestyle as possible with nutritious food, daily exercise, and meditation techniques. 

6) Save your earnings. The move from one job to another is always a little difficult in the beginning. There may be a period of financial instability while changing jobs. Be prepared but don’t let that scare you. Cut down on your expenses. Plan your savings in a manner that they will allow you at-least a six month no-work period, while giving it your best from the first day anyway. 

7) Leaving any company or institution without notice may look okk unprofessional and cause resentment among your seniors and subordinates. And you don’t want to create a bad implpression. Inform your boss with your resignation letter at least a fortnight in advance. Leaving on a good note may even earn you a recommendation letter. 

8) Make your exit, gracefully and without inhibition. Start afresh with confidence on the new job. And never look back. 

Here’s a shout out to all the company admins and budding entrepreneurs: 

"The strength of the team is each individual member. The strength of each member is the team.” – Phil Jackson

The success of your company depends on the kind of work environment you create for your employees. A friendly workspace will only increase productivity.  

Here’s a shout out to all job goers: 

"Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life." - Confucius

Don’t compromise your mental sanity for a hefty pay check. Money cannot buy happiness. 

So if you ever find yourself stuck in a toxic work environment, you know what to do. 

Remember the golden mantra-

Recognize the signs. 

Repair if possible. 

Resign if not. 


This post is part of Blogchatter’s CauseAChatter.     

March 14, 2022

#CauseAChatter: 5 laws every woman should know about

When it comes to women’s liberation, we have come a long way from our predecessors. However, even in the 21st century, the position of women in society is not at par with their male counterpart. 

It is a continuous struggle, this fight for equal rights, for an equal footing in all spheres of life.

Statistics reveal women in cities are much more informed about their rights than those in villages and rural areas. However, it is a common mistake/myth to presume ‘education’ means ‘awareness’. A large percentage of educated people in society ignore the obvious.  

Three out of five women will not be aware of the legal rights she possesses only because she is confident she will never need to make use of them. 

It is this very ignorance which eventually becomes the major cause of long term vulnerability and feelings of isolation. Feeling the dearth of options, they tend to stay on in abusive relationships, in toxic work environments, in derogatory without complaining, silently suffering. 

Of course, add to that, the ‘log kya kahenge?’ anxiety that is  instilled in us from birth. The society caters to certain stereotypes that are more rigid when it comes to women. The woman is also the first one to be pointed fingers at. This gender discrimination needs to change at the grass root level in order to bring about positive change.

But here, I am reminded of a wise saying. Quoting Rumi, “Yesterday, I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today, I am wise, so I am changing myself.”

By changing ourselves, I mean, we as women need to become stronger. Exercise more resilience. Break the bias we are magically expecting society to improve upon.  

We need to free ourselves of the shackles we are bound in. The first step towards becoming stronger is to eliminate that which is making us weak. We should learn how to fight adversity head on. Ergo, it is important to be aware of our legal rights.

So without wasting much time, let’s get started. Here are the top five important rights every girl/woman needs to know and remember:

1)    Right to virtual complaints: If, for some reason, a woman is unable to visit the police station to file a complaint or lodge an FIR, she has every right to do so via email or registered post. The email or registered post has to be addressed to the Deputy Commissioner or Commissioner of Police.

2)    Right to no arrest before 6am and after 6 pm: Section 160 CPC provides Indian women the right to not be physically present at the police station for interrogation. Moreover, a woman arrested before sunrise and after sunset have the right to refuse going to the police station even in the company of a female police officer/constable. If at all she has committed a serious crime, the police must get a written order from the magistrate why the arrest is urgently required during the odd hours. 

3)    Right to free legal aid: Under this provision, a woman has the right to get free legal help from the Legal Services Authority. Homemakers who have no source of income can approach the court the state will arrange for a lawyer and provide all legal services free of cost. This is particularly helpful for those women who are caught up in bad marriages, custody matters etc. The woman in this case has every right to apply for protection order, custody order, monetary relief, residence order, and even compensation order.

4)    Law against domestic abuse: Protective not just against physical abuse but against psychological and emotional abuse as well, this law protects women from violence within the relationships by marriage (eg husband-wife, DIL-FIL/MIL), relationships by blood (daughter-father, sister-brother), relationships by adoption (adopted daughter-father), and relationships in the nature of marriage (live-in relationships) as well.

5)    Right to equal pay: This means an employer should give equal pay to workers who do the same work, irrespective of their gender. However, the disparity in work pay between men and women has been on since time immemorial. has been the bone of contention in every work environment. Even in the film industry, women are paid much less than their male counterparts. It’s high time we broke the bias and issued credibility on the basis of potential and not on the basis of gender. 

In addition to these five pertinent rights, the judicial system of India has set other laws like law against dowry, law against female foeticide etc so that no woman feels alone and unsafe. 

I end here with a shout out to all young girls out there: We, as women, are taught the meaning of tolerance far more than rebellion. We are told that a ‘good’ woman is one who will never raise her voice or cause a chatter fight. That standing ‘alone’ means being defeated. We are taught to practice our duties but never to exercise our rights. And unintentionally, we become complicit with society in strengthening its patriarchy. 

Don’t be the underdog just because you are a woman. Know your rights and claim them. Speak out. Loud and clear. Stand up for what you believe in. Even when alone. The others will eventually join in.


This post is part of Blogchatter’s CauseAChatter.               

March 11, 2022

#BlogchatterWritFest: Season 6 Session 2: A writing class with Preeti Shenoy

When Blogchatterrevealed the author for the second session of the #BlogchatterWritFestival, I knew I had to attend it.

Preeti Shenoy was amongst the first people whose blog I used to frequent. From then to now, her journey has been an awe-inspiring one. 

For those living under a rock, Preeti Shenoy is among the highest selling Indian authors. Her name is in the Forbes long list of most influential Indian celebrities. Motivational speaker, fitness enthusiast, and portraiture artist are some other titles she has in her kitty.

But more than all this, Preeti to me is a woman of substance and style. She knows how to captivate her audience with her pleasant disposition and her words. And what stands out is her amazing modesty and lively nature, a trait I have always appreciated in people.

Having read some of her books (right from '34 bubblegums and candy' to her latest ‘Love a little stronger’,  I could be certain this special workshop on ‘how to write engaging stories’ would have some valuable gems in store. 

And true to its word, it did deliver what it claimed. 

The session started with Blogchatter host Geethica giving a brief introduction on Preeti and her work. She then proceeded to ask her some pertinent questions per-submitted by the members. Preeti fielded each question with the expected finesse of a person who knows her craft. 

Here is a brief overview/recap of the workshop and my thoughts on it:

When asked how we can make the stories we write engaging, she offered some great advice like engaging the reader with writing hooks, preferably at the start and end of the story. 

I’ve come across stories that start with a bang and end with a whimper and I often fear my story may not be able to hold the readers attention to the very end. So inserting writing hooks was some great advice and a great reminder.

On the topic of starting points for short and long stories, Preeti emphasised that there is no particular rule. You can start at whatever point in the story. But for short stories, starting the narrative with the protagonist in action is always preferred. Get straight to the point. 

On creating relatable characters for your fiction, she suggested listing out his/her physical attributes, behavioural traits, everything up to the last detail, separately before starting off. That way, even if you don’t mention all the character traits, you know exactly how your characters will act in a particular situation. She also advised on creating real characters with real problems. 

Geethica then put forth another question: How much emotion do we pour Ina story? To that Preeti spoke about making the reader care about the character in your story, something i couldn’t agree more upon. We often label a book as a favourite only if it has moved us in some way. 

Preeti’s answer to how much reality she adds in her fiction was a refreshingly innovative one. While I’ve heard most best selling authors talk about incorporating a slice of life in their books, I have often wondered what truly interesting lives they must lead. Preeti, however, surprised me by saying, ‘Your Imagination is the biggest weapon in your arsenal.”  Now, doesn’t that answer wash away your guilt of living a perfectly ordinary life and open an entire gamut of new possibilities instead? What more can a writer wish for? 

On how to fight writers block, Preeti enumerated some easy-peasy techniques like trying to write like you are describing something (eg a room) to a blind man. If you are stuck in the middle of a WIP, she suggested you retrace and read it all over again…from page 1. That makes identifying and removing the ‘block’ in the story.

Other questions that Geethica asked included how to maintain the flow in the story, how to go beyond the personal narrative, how and where to add conflict etc. Preeti answered those by speaking about different methods like revising your plot every time you sit to write for a smoother flow, doing enough research, mapping the story line etc. 

The session was then open for questions by attendees. Here, Preeti offered helpful tips like balancing the right amount of dialogue and narrative. She suggested taking up creative writing courses that are extremely beneficial, especially in this regard. She also encouraged having the story read by an extra pair of eyes (preferably 2-3 people who read across different genres) and taking their opinion before submitting it. 

To sum up, the session was an extremely engaging and helpful one with important nuggets of information for all writers and not a dull moment. 

Thanks to Blogchatter for arranging this wonderful rendezvous with Preeti Shenoy for their I’m already looking forward to Session 3. 

Until then. cheers! 


Written as part of BlogchatterWritFest.

March 07, 2022

#BlogchatterWritFest: Season 6, session 1: 'Relatability in fiction' (an overview)

When I first heard the topic for the first session at the #BlogchatterWritFest this year,  I was chuffed. 

Being an avid reader and writer myself, I often wonder where to tow the line between make believe and reality. How much of realism do we add to our stories? And if we do add a fair amount, then is it fair to call it fiction? Are all novels semi-autobiographical? 

With my head brimming with all these questions, I logged in onto Facebook live on March 4th at 7pm to attend the first session of Season 6, titled 'Relatability in fiction. 

The panelists included three eminent writers of Indian fiction:

Kanchana Bannerjee, author of 3 books and has been a freelance writer for leading publications and reputed MNCs.

Kiran Manral, a writer, author, and novelist who has several published books to her credit. 

And last but not least, Meghna Pant an award winning and best selling author, screenwriter, journalist and speaker. 

The event started on time with a quick introduction from Harshita of the Blogchatter team who was hosting the event. She was accompanied by Meghna and Kanchana from their respective homes. Kiran was running late. 

Opening question: How can a author make a book focus on a social issue without sounding too preachy?

Meghna answered by speaking about her book that deals with a pertinent issue, 'Boys don't cry;. In today's society, where feminism almost always has a negative connotation, Meghna Pant tried bust the myth saying, "We women are neither bechaari nor krantikaari. Most of us are just normal naaris."

She also revealed that she, as a writer, uses comedy as a lens to make social issues accessible and to cut across mindsets and stereotypes. And that’s how she makes it relatable. 

Takeaway 1: Create balanced characters, especially women characters, because that is what women really are. 

The next question was directed towards Kanchana and was on how to avoid purple prose when it comes to writing fiction.

Kanchana answered by saying that one has to be extremely clear on what one is writing and then exercise some degree of restraint. On the topic of social commentary in fiction, she spoke about how it will inadvertently slip into everything you write, as authors too are part of the society and these things are unavoidable. 

Takeaway 2: Pre-decide your plot as much as possible. At one point, the plot/characters will surprise you by taking things in their hand. 

On the topic of trends and how they influence the writing of authors, Meghna elaborated on how the story you write should eventually outlive you as the author and the trend. 

She spoke about a time when she was asked to take up an androgynous pseudonym for the sales to improve. But she had declined (and look how far she has come) and stood her ground. She encourages writers to do the same—-listen to your instincts.

Kanchana, on the topic, suggested that it’s all about enjoying the process and not settling for anything less than thorough. 

Both agreed that writers should believe in themselves,even at the risk of seeming arrogant at times. 

I particularly liked the way Meghna wove in a bit of poetry, quoting Frost, to suggest that it’s usually the road less traveled that leads you to your actual journey. 

However, both writers gave one advice in common--never to give up a steady source of income as writing full time hardly brings in any money. So if earning is your aim, you may have to give a writing career a second thought. 

Takeaway 3: Have a backup career you can rely on or be prepared for a lot of hustle. 

On the topic of writing rituals, all three authors (by that time Kiran Manral who was running late had joined in) practiced the same routine, reminding me of Virginia Woolf’s ‘A room of my own’. Each of them said that all they needed to write was complete isolation in their respective rooms and the story idea in their head. 

Takeaway 4: You don't need fancy locations or plush surroundings for inspiration. When you have an idea, you only need a little quiet to work on it. 

When asked if there was a difference in the way they approach fiction and nonfiction, Kiran (being a writer of both) succinctly fielded the question by saying that fiction should be plausible and that it’s a paradox how fiction should be made as factual as possible. 

Takeaway 5: Larger than life characters are never relatable. 

The authors also shared their favourite books, most of which connected me with them immediately (as they are my favourite books too). Off the top of my head,  3 men in a boat, Gone girl, Gone with the wind, Little women were mentioned. 

When it came to the Q&A session, of my questions was picked up. I wanted to know what each writer would prefer: a relatable but relatively common story line or an innovative but bordering-on-absurdist plot? 

To which Meghna elaborated on how she’d prefer realistic and relatable and Kanchana explained how it was more about creating compelling characters and settings in order to keep the reader hooked. 

When asked what they decide on first, the story or the genra, all three agreed it was the story. 

Kiran whose wonky internet connection had resumed by then perfectly concluded the session by saying, ‘it’s the story that chooses you. ‘

To sum up, it was a wonderful session with lots to take home from. 

I have always believed we learn best from our own experiences and from the experiences of others who have treaded similar paths. And BlogchatterWritFest, in a wonderful little way, makes both these things possible. 

I look forward to the sessions ahead. 

Written as part of BlogchatterWritFest