BNLF is Now Live – Part One

 

Screen-Shot-2015-08-14-at-10.52
An expansive, ambitious, over the top and one of the craziest ideas ever thought of in IndiBlogger has begun its first day of execution! Join us as we take a first look at our thoughts behind this event in this post.

“Blog Now, Live Forever” will henceforth be called BNLF.

The first event from the BNLF series will be held in Mumbai on October 31st at the hotel Lalit. We chose a specific area in this venue because we didn’t want this event to be in a square hall with pretentious chandeliers and a couple of projector screens. We wanted something rugged that we could take and create an experience that would be in peoples minds for ages to come.

The event is all about blogging. When creating the agenda, we took a deep look into some of the critical, tangible and intangible components that made up blogging. We wanted some of the best to shed light on the passion, the skill, the commitment, the various avenues, technologies and those little qualities that added up to the cornerstone of success that bloggers claim to have achieved. This will indeed be the sacred congregation of the Pioneers Of Blogging.

Any blogger living anywhere in the world, can apply for passes that are free. Unfortunately we cant get everyone down so there is going to be a screening process. For this first event, we feel that people who have great editorial content will be able to really make use of the event. In light of this we are looking at people who love writing and write consistently on their blogs and have created a niche of their own. If you feel that your blog has these elements we would love to have you on board as the agenda really helps the more experienced and focused bloggers.

For IndiBlogger members, we are pretty sure that we have spoilt most of you in some cities at least, by conducting events in your back yard and you could probably roll out of bed, take an auto and attend a meet. For the BNLF series, we would encourage you to travel from whichever part of India you are living in. Every part of this meet is carefully constructed with key ideas that we cannot recreate in every city. So get off your backsides and we’ll see you there.

For this BNLF event, we have delegates who can purchase tickets to attend. The reception that we received from our very generous clientele has led to over 150 passes being sold even before the site went live! There is without doubt, a shift in the thought process as most who run campaigns with us have started to understand the value of gaining a real following as opposed to current trends of just propagating information that people may or may not need. I believe that advertisements are for TV and the news. The internet is meant for something far greater.

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The next couple of years with BNLF is going to be action packed and fun! We welcome everyone to come on over , take a look at the site, give us feedback, shout out a resounding  “Hell Yeah” and basically have some fun just as we did creating this program.

We will be back for the next post “BNLF is Now Live – Part 2” soon as we take a deeper look at the agenda, the thought behind it, the infamous IndiBlogger backstage party and more about how you guys can be a part of it.

Until next time  \m/ \m/

Getting The Traditional Twist Back Into The Kitchen

To blog about something you love or are passionate about is nothing out of the ordinary. What else would motivate you to write religiously, day after day, right? But by choosing to write about food cooked in their mothers’ and grandmothers’ kitchens for ages, or about recipes that are typically cooked by a particular community, what some food bloggers are doing is stepping beyond their love for the art—they are also helping revive traditional food which is fast disappearing from our dining tables and our lives.

Sitting in her home in San Francisco, Srividhya Mainkanda, for instance, is helping her readers know more about traditional vegetarian recipes from her home state of Tamil Nadu through her blog www.vidhyashomecooking.com

The journey however did not begin with the aim of introducing, or re-introducing the traditional food of her region. “When my mom visited us after my pregnancy I wanted to note down all the traditional recipes. When I was writing down I thought of saving them online too and that marked the beginning of my blog,” Srividhya recalls.

In keeping with its origin, her blog now features post partum food recipes traditionally offered to a lactating mother apart from vegetarian recipes from around the world as well as eggless baking and quick recipes that can be cooked under 30 minutes.

Unlike Srividhya, Aparna Balasubramanian started out with her blog, www.mydiversekitchen.com, with the aim of documenting authentic Palakkad Iyer cuisine. As time passed, her blog grew to cover her other areas of interest—baking bread and food photography.

MyDiverse Kitchen

Another feature about food blogging is that it’s one of those subjects which welcome a heavy two-way traffic. In the sense, readers have as much to say, probably more, as the writer. And bloggers are aware of that. There is instant gratification, but not all feedback may be heaped with praise, so comments are taken ‘with a pinch of salt’.

Aparna reinstates that. “Most of my readers give me encouraging feedback, telling me know they tried my recipes and it worked out well. For the occasional recipe that would not work, we try and figure out the reason. Some readers have also given me advice and ideas that have been very good,” she says.

Janani, who blogs at www.redchillycurry.com, says that she has a lot of newly wed women among her readers who are enthusiastic to try out new recipes. “They say whatever they try from my site turns out perfect, which makes me very happy. Boosts my morale.”

Redchillycurry

redchillycurry.com

Srividhya goes on to say that her next step would be to add video recipes, something her readers have been asking her to do.

One of the biggest pluses of traditional food—apart from the heavenly taste, of course—is the health factor. Considering the rising risk of hypertension, diabetes, even cardiac related ailments, to not just elders but youngsters too—much of which is attributed to junk food—traditional food has a lot to score in our fast paced lives.

Cooking, as an art, is very accepting of innovations, be it in technique (with the modern gadgets the process is much quicker) or even ingredients.  We have all probably heard our mothers lament how the curry tasted so much better with that particular spice or shoot of a plant, but with the right trick, the taste factor can be compensated. So say our expert food bloggers.

“You can always work around things when an ingredient cannot be found,” Aparna says. She agrees that getting all the Indian food ingredients, especially if you are living abroad, can be tricky, but “given the popularity of Indian food around the world, most ingredients can be found in US and Europe in Indian or Asian grocery stores, or online.”

California-based Janani agrees and Marudhu (www.marudhuskitchen.com) says, “Nowadays you get all the ingredients in the stores. Even abroad, you get the things in the Indian grocery stores.”

marudhuskitchen

http://marudhuskitchen.com/

With information available at the click of a button and ingredients at a nearby store, or online, recreating the magic and aroma of delicacies that were once cooked in ancestral homes is becoming a welcome reality, no matter what your geographical location.

So what’s cooking tonight?

The People’s President is no more, yet he lives on

As I write this, I am at a loss for words. Not just because it is an attempt to encapsulate a man who was so many things wrapped in one—a former head of state, a scientist, an author, a poet and, above all, a teacher—but also because I cannot seem to find an adjective to define a person who has inspired so many people, cutting across all barriers of age, class and caste. This was a man who lived by his words till his very last moment—to be doing what he loved most, teaching young people, and keeping the final goodbye very short.

I just keyed in more than a 100 words and have not yet mentioned a name. Still, I am confident that we could probably go through this entire article knowing fully well that it’s Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam that we are talking about.

A_P_J_Abdul_Kalam

It would be an understatement to say that there has been an outpouring of emotion from every corner of the nation, and the world, since news of Dr. Kalam’s death in Shillong, Meghalaya, on July 27 started trickling in. People have taken different paths to express their grief—some have lit candles, while others, like our bloggers, whose vent are their words, have taken to their space in the virtual world to pay rich tribute to the ‘People’s President’.

Blogger Cifar Shayar  (www.blogthepoint.blogspot.in), for instance, confers the title ‘Chacha’, otherwise known to address India’s first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru, on him. “He was the only one after him (Nehru) who loved and cared for children. Mr. Kalam was as inspirational in life as in death,” reads one of the several lines penned with obvious emotion.

“Few called him Vivekananda of the present times,” reads another blog post on www.creofire.com whose title is ‘A Man, A Magnet, A Mission: APJ Abdul Kalam’. “He made us dream about making the nation a super power. He worked on the field…He lived, is living and will live in our thoughts”.

Saying Dr. Kalam was an inspirational figure would be a repetition. His books have pushed many to dream higher, to have a vision of a better future for the country as a whole and then work towards it. He was, after all, a doer and maintained a grueling schedule until his last moment at the age of 83.

Blogger V. Srinivasa Rao (www.knoweb-india.blogspot.in) says, “Though I have not interacted with him directly, I have been inspired by his words, both verbal and written. I have read five of his books, and three are lying on my desk to be read.”

A number of bloggers have also channeled their feelings of loss towards poetry, penning beautiful lines for the man who has been called many things, ‘Bharat Ratna’ and ‘Missile Man’ to name just two titles conferred upon him.

‘We would always in lifetime need such a special hand/to enlighten us with his magic wand/A teary goodbye to a humble soul/pledge to meet your set goals,’ read some lines on www.auraofthoughts.com

But some of the most beautiful lines that are encouraging, inspiring and yet simple have been Dr. Kalam’s himself—in the form of quotes which have been compiled and circulated everywhere including the social media and blogs.

One such quote (and a personal favourite) is, ‘Dream is not that which you see while sleeping, it is something that does not let you sleep’.

An entire nation has been awakened by your words and although your mortal self has moved on, that disarming smile, the warm persona and those inspiring quotes will always keep you alive in the hearts of a billion Indians, Sir. The People’s President will, after all, live on.

The People’s President is no more, yet he lives on Jul30

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Itching for a vacation? Listen to what the travel bloggers have to say!

You are exhausted from the back-breaking schedule of daily life and desperately need a ‘break’. A touristy place which attracts a lot of crowd is a big no-no. How about a few days in the lap of nature, in a forest rest house in Karnataka? Or some other quaint little place in the hills, away from the crowd? The internet with its barrage of information could give you clues, but not all of it may be reliable. So how do you plan your trip? Coming to the rescue are travel bloggers whose honest, first-hand feedback you can count on to plan just the kind of vacation you need, and probably more.

The biggest USP of a travel blogger’s post is that it’s written by someone who has a passion for travelling. So a tiny cafe that serves some great food or authentic cuisine but is not advertised on travel brochures nor has a web presence, will make it to the blogger’s post. Or a scenic and interesting place that is known to locals but not to tourists will probably have been mentioned in the blog. The result? You could have travelled to a well known destination and come back experiencing much more than others. Or explored a destination that many would have not even heard of.

Blogger N. Prasad of www.desitraveler.com for instance says that he likes to write on lesser known aspects of a place, along with other useful information like how to reach a place, where to stay, and the likes. “I like to list unique experiences that a tourist would otherwise miss. Also, since my focus is travel with family, I write about places that can be enjoyed by everyone,” Prasad says.

http://desitraveler.com/

http://desitraveler.com/

With 440 blog posts till date, some of Prasad’s popular posts have been on forest rest houses in Karnataka and one on Hyderabad to Nagarjuna Sagar dam. “For very remote places I try to put as much information as possible, like where to eat and where to stay. Sometimes I even suggest locations to take photographs from, like that of the evening aarti in Varanasi which can get crowded”.

Readers, on their part, lap up all the ‘reliable’ information they can get, knowing fully well it has been based on first-hand experience. Some even seek help in planning their itinerary!

“Recently, blogger Saru Singhal approached me to help her plan a Melbourne trip and told me that my posts on the Melbourne series (http://www.myyatradiary.com/2015/06/planning-melbourne-itinerary-72-hours.html) had helped her a lot,” says Arti Shah of www.myyatradiary.com.

http://www.myyatradiary.com/

http://www.myyatradiary.com/

“Over the years, many people have kept contacting me via email with queries about planning their trip. Just a few days back I got one enquiring about a place to stay while visiting ISKCON, Varanasi”.

Sherwin Robello of www.TheLandOutThere.com has similar experience of happy readers. “One of our long term travellers had planned a solo backpacking trip to the temple town of Gokarna in Karnataka for five days. He called back to tell us that our information about Gokarna and the neighbouring beaches was spot on,” Sherwin said.

http://thelandoutthere.com/

http://thelandoutthere.com/

Some like Paramvir Singh of www.theuntourists.com say that they take the effort to even share phone numbers of places to stay or visit over private email exchanges as and when a reader requests for it. “We had someone write to us about Todgarh (near Ajmer, Rajasthan), a little known place, after we blogged about it. So in a separate email we gave more information about the place and phone numbers—something we cannot share in a public forum without permission—and helped them plan their trip,” Paramvir says.

http://www.theuntourists.com/

http://www.theuntourists.com/

Improvising based on readers’ feedback is crucial to a successful blog. It keeps the platform interactive, like it should be, as well as throws up interesting ideas to make the blog more informative and popular. “We improvise based on our readers’ feedback. In fact we will soon be adding videos to our articles so that travellers get a preview of the place,” Sherwin says.

So next time you feel the itch of the travel bug, let the travel bloggers help take care of it. They have, after all, ‘been there, done that’.

Confessions of a failed blogger (and how you can do it write…right)

Twice. Twice tried and twice failed. You know, for us writers and journalists, not very often does a story come along that offers the potential to identify our own faults (yes, we are only humans, not demi-gods as some may portray!) and rectify it, so to say. For me, this is such a story.

You see, I am a failed blogger. For all my ranting on passion about writing, I just couldn’t keep my blog alive. It offered me all the guilt-free pleasure—a space to speak my mind, to write on things I wanted to—with no extra charge, and yet I couldn’t keep up the momentum of posting regularly. I don’t even remember the domain name of my first attempt!

Anyway, the good thing is that I am not alone (remember the relief on discovering you weren’t the only one getting punished for not doing your homework in class?). A number of people I know, including some of my friends, are on the same boat. They have chosen subjects close to their hearts and yet could not go beyond the first two or three blog posts.

So where are we going wrong? Who, but passionate bloggers who do it all so (seemingly) effortlessly, can answer that? BlogwatiG (http://blogwatig.com/), for instance, confesses of slip ups but says that the power her words wield—to make someone laugh or cry or ponder—keeps her going.

BlogwatiG

“My blog is my playground, so it’s my game and my rules. You are welcome to watch,” the feisty blogger whose real name is Vinita and refers to her online avatar as her alter ego, says.

Her words resonate with other bloggers who profess similar passion. But is that all?

Blogger Arvind Passey (www.passey.info) who has 850 posts on his blog emphasizes on dedication. “I need to keep practicing writing well or I slip back into mundane expressions. So I do it regularly…almost daily. I have a target to write at least a thousand words which can go up to 5,000 on lucky days. There are days when I am not able to write but they are rare,” he says.

Passey

Blogging is also therapeutic for many. It is, after all, writing, and words have their way to carve around like a channel, acting like a vent to all your hidden feelings.

Mommy blogger Rachna Parmar (www.rachnaparmar.com) for instance relates the time when her son had an injury and she was feeling guilty about it. “At that time I found great support from fellow parents (through the blog). It was a moral boost in a time of deep personal stress,” she says.

Rachna

Others like Aditi Mathur Kumar (http://www.aditimathurkumar.com/) say that their blog helped others discover the ‘real’ person in them. “My husband says he fell in love with me even more after he discovered my blog (we had met only twice until then),” Aditi laughs.

Blogging also helped her realize her long cherished dream of writing a book. “My book dream was as old as I am but it was my blog that gave me the confidence to start writing (it).”

AditiMathurKumar

Money follows where the crowd does, and so blogs which are very popular and have a lot of hits are also a favored destination of advertisers to market their products. But bloggers advise caution.

“Brands wanting to associate with your blog is always a good thing and is a big motivation to write more, but I try and pick brands and causes that I connect to and that fit well with my blog. Plugging in products that do not make sense to you or to your reader is something every blogger should be wary of,” Aditi says.

And finally for some dead-serious list of tips for fledgling bloggers (that was the whole point, remember?).

BlogwatiG has six points. “Write what you connect with; know your strengths and weaknesses; follow  bloggers you idolize and you’ll know what not to do; put effort in your post heading; always reply to comments; never be in a hurry.”

But the most important point? Just write, they say. Right.

About the author:

A development journalist who writes mostly on health, women, and children related issues, Azera started her career a decade ago with the India Today group. Seeking greater flexibility (she needed it in ample amounts thanks to her husband’s job—he’s in the defence forces—and now an active one-year-old bundle of joy); she switched to freelancing, and now writes for multiple publications like TOI, Hindu, IANS, WFS, Third Pole; does some editing for publishing houses like Penguin; and also works as a consultant for UNICEF.

She has also been awarded two national media awards and a fellowship in the past. “So if you ask me what I like to do in my ‘free time’—as in, the time I get after tending to my toddler, in between packing boxes during the frequent transfers, and, oh, scraping through deadlines in all my professional commitments—I can only ask, ‘what’s that?’”

Mommy (bloggers) knows best!

A development journalist who writes mostly on health, women, and children related issues, Azera started her career a decade ago with the India Today group. Seeking greater flexibility (she needed it in ample amounts thanks to her husband’s job—he’s in the defence forces—and now an active one-year-old bundle of joy); she switched to freelancing, and now writes for multiple publications like TOI, Hindu, IANS, WFS, Third Pole; does some editing for publishing houses like Penguin; and also works as a consultant for UNICEF.

She has also been awarded two national media awards and a fellowship in the past. “So if you ask me what I like to do in my ‘free time’—as in, the time I get after tending to my toddler, in between packing boxes during the frequent transfers, and, oh, scraping through deadlines in all my professional commitments—I can only ask, ‘what’s that?’”

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Is there a home remedy for cough and cold for a baby? Are there any simple recipes that will pack both nutrients and taste for a toddler who’s also a picky eater? When should one start toilet training? How can a mom juggle her parenting life and professional work?

Parenting. Probably no other word can pack in so many meanings within itself as this. You may have witnessed it closely, thanks to a sibling or close friend, and may have read reams of pages on all the do’s and don’ts of parenthood. Yet, when it comes to stepping into those shoes yourself, the barrage of doubts and questions on every little thing seem overwhelming. Not to mention the roller coaster of emotions through every phase. Probably this is why our club of mommy bloggers is so sought after—no one can understand what you are going through and wipe away your doubts through their own tales as effectively as a fellow parent.

Sample this. Deepika, a young mother who religiously follows blogger Sangeetha Menon’s posts on www.bumpsnbaby.com, posted her gratitude to the writer for helping her battle through the doubts of going back to work after having her baby. “When I was having 3 months baby and was thinking about my career, your blogs helped me to take up my job again. Your writings are inspiring and I try to follow most of the things you have given. I tried multi- tasking as well (sic),” she wrote.

www.bumpsnbaby.com

www.bumpsnbaby.com

An electronics engineer who had worked as a business technologist with Infosys earlier, 28- year-old Sangeetha decided to start blogging about her experiences of motherhood after her daughter was born, and continued doing so while working full-time.

“But soon I decided to quit my corporate career in order to pursue my passion for blogging,” Sangeetha, whose daughter Anshika is nearly three, says.

Encouraged with the response of her readers, she helped her other baby, the blog, grow with regular articles on recipes, toddler-baby-mom care, pregnancy issues and, very interestingly, home remedies to common ailments. With the joint family structure giving way to nuclear families, some of these remedies which the past generations had sworn by have long been forgotten and Sangeetha has tried to revive these through her posts. For example, she lists neem paste as an effective medicine to skin rash, and Ajwain oil massage for cold and cough in babies.

Home remedies are also part of the wide array of topics that Priya Sachan of Shishuworld (http://shishuworld.com/), another blog on parenthood, writes on. An ex-techie, Priya says that the main reason she started blogging on the subject was to offer a hand-holding experience to parents through the tricky journey of parenthood, the Indian way.

shishuworld.com

shishuworld.com

“ShishuWorld was born as an idea to have a go-to place for Indian parents and parents-to-be who are away from their families, either in India or abroad. I write articles that touch upon age-old traditions and modern advice which is relevant for current times,” she says.

The ‘traditions’ sub-head, for instance, lists the various ceremonies that are associated with childhood and explains in detail the way they are conducted as well as their significance. For example, Haathe Khodi, which literally translates to ‘chalk in hand’, is a Bengali traditional ceremony in which a child writes his first letter and symbolises the beginning of his literary journey.

For a couple living away from their family, descriptions such as this and of other traditions like tonsuring ceremony, naming ceremony, and feeding of the first grain can help understand traditional beliefs and observe them without feeling lost in the absence of their elders.

Having said that, parenting is hardly all about challenges and doubts—the joys that come along with the little bundle of life are endless! And no matter how closely you have seen it before, when you become a parent yourself, the feelings can be so overwhelming that there are times when you just have to share it with someone.

Mommy blogger Rachna Parmar is quite familiar with that ‘urge’, having raised two boys herself, now eight and 13. “Back in 2008 I was struggling to do something meaningful while raising my two boys. That is when I started blogging (www.rachnaparmar.com), in order to share the intriguing world of parenting,” she says.

rachnaparmar.com

rachnaparmar.com

As she began writing on her experiences—sharing the joys and sorrows, and challenges— keeping a young parent in mind, Parmar confesses that it had a therapeutic effect on her. “I remember when my elder son had an injury and I was feeling very guilty, I found immense support from other parent bloggers. It was a great moral boost to me at a time of deep personal stress”.

“I also learnt from the experience of other bloggers about raising teenagers and the importance of communication between parents and children. I have noticed that mommy bloggers openly share their personal experiences, thereby, enriching the interaction,” she says.

One of the most common woes that a parent of a toddler, or a teenager for that matter, faces is getting them to eat their food. Dining tables turn into battle fields as mothers who have slaved over a meal try everything—cajole, threat, scold—in order to get their kids to finish their meal. Mommy blogger Prachi Grover has a simple solution to this—get your child to cook with you!

She knows what she’s talking about. Orange Kitchens (http://orangekitchens.blogspot.in/) the virtual world created by Prachi and her six-year-old daughter Sara, who she refers to as the ‘little chefling’, is all about recipes that the two have tried in their kitchen and experiences while trying our new dishes from different corners of the world. Sara’s vocabulary now constitutes words like cinnamon, star anise and clove!

orangekitchens.blogspot.in

orangekitchens.blogspot.in

“I firmly believe that children who are more involved in preparing food are more likely to try out new flavours, respect their food and respect where the food they eat comes from. So through the blog I like to share my journey, the trials and tribulations, the highs and the lows and most importantly inspire children to fall in love with cooking and real food, and give them a life skill,” Prachi, who quit her corporate career to pursue her passion for cooking, says.

So if you are a parent, or on the way to becoming one, or know someone else on this journey, try going through what our bandwagon of mommy bloggers have to say. As they say, mom knows the best!

Mommy (bloggers) knows best! Jun19

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