Friday, March 23

Look at things different- Travel and be open to alternative

My first memory of the United States of America comes from a movie that I saw when I was in second grade. It had all the wow factors starting from the Empire State Building, the Statue of Liberty, the Golden Gate Bridge and Disneyland. It was always a land of tall buildings and clean roads. I always heard stories about the food and people from cousins and relatives who traveled to the US. In 2016, it was my turn to travel to the USA, leaving behind my busy software job, family and my comfort zone. I landed in Columbus, Indiana, and all of a sudden I was an immigrant in this beautiful country.

I had to take a break from my career, make new friends, get adjusted in the community. I thought it was going to be a tough job. But giving up was not an option.I had to keep an open -mind. Columbus was not the city that i had seen in the movies. It was not like the places i had heard about from other people. It was when i realized not all of America looks alike. The movies show only the skyscrapers, but the real America lies in the hearts of cities like Columbus.

The first thing that I noticed about Columbus was how calm it was. There was absolutely no noise and me, being from India, was used to the traffic and people and everything loud. That was a culture shock. There was much less public transportation and the shops here were not close by. The initial few days, in February, were tough. I used to watch TV, blog about my travel experience, paint, and do some DIYs. But the snow was beautiful. The white layer of snow painting the whole town looked beautiful and felt pure. This was a completely new experience.

Slowly as the snow melted down and the fresh new leaves started dancing on the trees, there was a new array of hope and joy. The whole town covered with trees on either side of the road looked beautiful and the downtown was adorable with shops and restaurants. Columbus was not boring after all. It felt like home. There are spots that one has to explore. I had to open-up to get the real experience of living in this city.

As the spring started, I got my driver’s license and started exploring the city. I found the library—filled with an amazing collection of books; The Visitor’s Center—where one can find cute personalized gifts; Engage Columbus—where one feels so welcomed and where I felt like I was a part of the community, too. Thrive Alliance was a great place to volunteer; the beautiful lakes where the ducks swim with joy and the sun smiles in radiance—a walk to the lake with my sketchbook makes even my mundane day bright.I enjoy the lush green parks and the trails that help to keep me fit even when I feel like lazing around, not to mention the architecture of this town.

This picture was taking during one of the events of "Engage Columbus"
Engage Columbus is a non for profit that helps people feel welcome and engaged in the community.

Luckily for me, Columbus is a melting pot of people from all countries and background. Meeting the local people and people who have traveled from different countries to make Columbus their home and talking to them made me realize a lot of things that i would have not known if i had not traveled here. Sharing the culture, food, ideas,thoughts and working together with them made me look at certain aspects of life from a very different and fresh perspective.I began to cherish variety and diversity in my day-to-day life.

Even though there seems to be a striking difference in the culture, food, thoughts of the west from that of the east,  there is a base root that connects all of us together. Talking to people from different background has definitely given me a different take on life and the world 

I travel a lot, but, every time I come back, this is the place that feels like home. I love the warmth that people continue to show me. I love the calmness. It seemed like everything I worried about when I landed here was small by comparison, but this close-knit community helped me to get out and look for the numerous events and activities available to everyone.

I love this calm place and I wish to enjoy it before getting back to the busy corporate world. It is also a great place to study without any distraction. Being a software engineer working towards a master’s degree in Data Science, I love being able to be here to think, create, and explore my inner abilities.

Being from a big city, it was tough initially to get accustomed to Columbus. But just a few days stay here makes you realize the beauty of this place.  Being open minded has made me realize that there is good everywhere and it is upto us to find it and make the best use of it.

##SayYesToTheWorld and #BloggerContest.


Friday, January 12

Friday, December 29

DIY - How to decorate your wall on a budget

This is a super easy way to revamp your old wall decor or to bring life to the plain walls. It just took me 3 hours to do the full arrangement and the cost was 0$. No cost at all!!

Yes, Just 2 items! and all you have to do is cut the glossy magazine in the hexagonal shape. I cut around 22 hexagons from several sheets of the glossy magazines that i had.

The mess that we made while trying to cut the hexagons

I arranged the hexagons in a honeycomb shape. I just wanted to have the geometric pattern.

Use a tape to stick the hexagons together and pin it to the wall .

I am pleased with the output of how it looks. What do you guys think?

Saturday, December 23

Dollar store hacks 4 - Change a trash bin to a storage bin

I have been doing a lot of dollar store DIYs lately,  you can find the first three hacks here, here and here. For the past 3 months i was busy with school , assignment and exams. Now that the term is over, i thought of getting back to doing some DIYs for the holiday seasons.

I was short of the nautical rope, hence had to use the burlap to get full coverage. In case you have a lit of nautical rope, u can cover the bin completely with that too.

Use the glue gun to stick the nautical rope and the burlap in place.

This is how my final product looks like and the total cost for making this was just 3$

Monday, December 4

Monday, October 2

The History of The Western Genre through 8 Must-See Films

Although settings, costumes, and tropes remain consistent throughout the films of the Western genre, the values, lessons, and heroes of the genre are constantly changing. In many ways, Westerns serve as a perfect window into how America has viewed itself throughout the twentieth century. Through 8 films, we'll take a journey through these changes to understand how Westerns have evolved, and how this evolution has been shaped by history.

"Stagecoach" and The Traditional Western
With arguably the genre's most quintessential director, John Ford, lead actor, John Wayne, and scenic location, Monument Valley, this black-and-white classic employs every trope of the genre in a tight 1 hour and 40 minute package. Storywise, it's the subplots and the humor that make this movie great. Many playful vignettes, featuring expert character actors of their day, paint life on the frontier as cheap, justice as obsolete, and morality as ambiguous. This lighthearted humor juxtaposed against sobering reality would be used to full effect 30 years later in the "Spaghetti Western" subgenre.
The plot's main protagonists and love interests, an outlaw and a prostitute, are morally corrupt by civilized societies standards, yet pure of heart. The story hinges on a classic revenge story, in which John Wayne's character, the outlaw, carries out vigilante justice against his brother and father's killer. This is complicated by the friendship between him and The Marshall, representing formal law and order, who empathizes with the outlaw's motivation, but is bound by duty. This conflict between civilized and frontier justice is a hallmark of the genre.
The film also features a perilous journey, a cowboy vs. Indians shootout (more on that later), a deus ex machina by the U.S. cavalry, a fixation on whiskey, and the pursuit of the American Dream in a hostile lawless land, all traditions of the Western model. And, spoiler alert, the story concludes with the obligatory ride into the sunset.

"Seven Samurai", "Yojimbo", and the Eastern Influence on the Western
It may come as a surprise to lovers of the great American Western that no artist had stronger influence on the next evolution of the genre than Japanese director and visionary genius, Akira Kurosawa. Kurosawa's films "Seven Samurai" and "Yojimbo" transposed Western archetypes onto a traditional Japanese backdrop. Both were swiftly adapted into classics "The Magnificent Seven" and "A Fistfull of Dollars" in the 50s and 60s.
Samurai for hire in feudal Japan, or Ronin, were the perfect avatar for the mercenary gunmen of the classic Western. In "Seven Samurai", a group of Ronin are hired by a poor village for protection from an impending raid by bandits. The ragtag group of caricatures are reminiscent of the passengers in "Stagecoach". In "Yojimbo", a Ronin exploits the greed and corruption of a village overrun by gangs and warlords, playing them against each other to their mutual demise. Clint Eastwood would later recreate actor Toshiro Mifune's archetypal character playing a drifter, a man with no allegiances who can rely only on himself and yields to no code but his own, stoic, deft, and deadly. Both characters are presented as having no name.

The Spaghetti Western: "Once Upon a Time in The West" and "The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly"
The next major movement of the Western also took place outside The States, in the mid-60s. Often directed by Sergio Leone, scored by Ennio Morricone, and starring Clint Eastwood, these Italian-international films were made on a low budget, starred local actors, filmed in a desert in Spain, and synched in English in post production. In "Once Upon a Time in the West", a revenge story runs parallel to a bloody race for a valuable piece of land. In "The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly", three money-hungry gunmen wheel and deal one another in pursuit of a dead man's treasure.
The name "Spaghetti Western" mirrors the cookey irreverent ironic humor these films often employ, not unlike "Stagecoach", in their treatment of death, greed, poverty, and war. Leone's Westerns, much to the distaste of the old school, exploit the mythos of the genre to reveal the hypocrisy beneath. In Leone's West, life is cheap, death is waiting around every corner, and loyalty is precarious, even for his heroes.
This depiction of the Wild West reflected the American counterculture's view of Vietnam, a lawless land, where good and evil are blurred, and hypocrisy reigns. This period coincided with films like "Bonnie and Clyde", "Easy Rider", and "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid", quasi-Westerns with similarly anti-establishment themes. Characters in Spaghetti Westerns appealed to Americans yearning to start over, reinvent what it is the to be an American, seeing the new frontier as a blank slate. It's worth noting here that cultural awareness surrounding the genocide of Native American tribes would soon become problematic for the genre.

Things Get Weird with "El Topo" and "Dead Man"

(Caution: Spoilers below.)
Inspired by the Spaghetti Western, the counterculture took the next logical step, fusing it with 60s psychedelia to create a subgenre known as the "Acid Western", a movement that would begin, yet again, outside The States. Chilean director Alejandro Jodorowsky's seminal midnight movie "El Topo", produced in Mexico, founded the genre. The story follows a black duster and wide-brimmed-hat wearing semi-nameless hero, who goes on a transcendental quest culminating in a god-like transformation set against a desert sandscape. The cryptic story, taboo even by today's standards, is told through a mixture of spiritual symbolism and classic Western tropes. In the latter half of the film, our newly transformed hero attempts to save a colony of deformed people victimized by a morally corrupt town, ultimately leading to his death. This new kind of Western hero can no longer remain passive and self-serving in the face of injustice.
25 years later, the second most influential film of the genre, Jim Jarmusch's "Dead Man" from 1995, was released. Like "Dances with Wolves" 5 years earlier, "Dead Man" begins to offer reparations for the highly offensive misrepresentation of Natives central to the genre since its beginnings. As in "El Topo", the protagonist undergoes a spiritual transformation, ultimately leading to his own death, as well as the deaths of his spiritual mentor and his blood-thirsty mercenary pursuer. As in "El Topo", his transformation draws him out of passivity. Although the protagonist seems to find inner strength through connection with a higher power, the plot eventually concludes nihilistically.

"Unforgiven" and the Defiance of the Genre

In post-Vietnam America, stories of American triumph over indigenous cultures or clear-cut tales of good conquering evil were harder for moviegoers to stomach. The next iteration of the genre, known as "The Revisionist Western" would grapple with guilt, consequences, self-reflection, escapism, self-abuse, and PTSD, abandoning the romanticism of the Old West in favor of sobering realism. In "Unforgiven" from 1992, directed and starring Clint Eastwood, an older and wiser version of who is essentially The Man with No Name attempts to redeem himself for the sins of his past, but finds he can't escape it, in some ways representing American nationalism itself. Our new hero can say things like "I'm scared of dying" and not appear as weak, but rather, as wise and morally mature.

Guest Post: Tori Galatro is a freelance writer based in Austin, TX who would love to write about film for you. 

Monday, August 7

The Ultimate Guide for Cleaning your home

The magic thing about home is that it feels good to leave, and it feels even better to come back” - Wendy Wunder

Home is the place we long for after a day long work or a long planned trip! It is the second best place to heaven, should say! A clean home is the most welcoming thing for everyone. Imagine, you return from home and find a huge pile of mess in the living room. Don’t you deserve something better?

House cleaning is not an enjoyable task for many. But, believe it or not, it is the most satisfying task ever. The result is right in front of your eyes!

Where do we start?
Cleaning is so much fun when you involve everyone in the family. This makes everyone be responsible for the things they have at home.

1. Things back in its place
Any cleaning task should start with putting the right thing in the right place. This would avoid a lot of confusion and makes your home clutter free. You could relate to this more if you have a young child at home. Putting things back to its place would start by,
  1. Putting the toys back to the toy basket
  2. Arranging the newspapers & magazines
  3. Arranging the shoe rack
  4. Putting the laundry clothes to the basket. (if not done)

2. Dusting
Dusting is not something anyone would like to do. But, a monthly dusting task would save you a lot of time. Dusting, if not done regularly would make your home look messy. It would also turn out to be an unhealthy ambiance. For this purpose, dusting your home could be categorised as follows
  1. Daily dusting: This would involve, dusting the couch, living room TV units, wall shelf. Just wipe down every day with a cotton cloth.
  2. Weekly: Dusting the mattress and changing the covers.
  3. Monthly: Clearing the cobwebs, dusting the vents, window panes, doors, fans and lights

3. Kitchen Cabinets
How often do you have to clean the kitchen cabinets? It is up to you. If you use the kitchen properly, believe me, you need to clean the cabinets only once a month. With a weekly wipe on the doors you can maintain the rest intact for one month. For this, keep these points in mind
  1. If you have planned your modular kitchen well, then things would be ergonomically placed. Use the kitchen mindfully: Put things back in its place to avoid chaos and this would also help in saving a lot of your time. Having done this, you know where exactly things are
  2. Do not stock too much of groceries in your kitchen. You can buy whatever you need at the beginning of the month. And before buying any new supplies, check for what you already have and also the expiry dates.

  • DIY Cleaning Tip For Kitchen
To clean the kitchen counters, mix 4-5 drops of liquid dish soap in one litre of water. Add this to an old spray can. Use this spray on the kitchen counters as well as the counter tops and wipe down with the help of a cotton cloth. This solution helps in getting the oil deposits out.

4. Refrigerator
Cleaning refrigerators every week would help you save a lot of time. You can clear out the leftover food items and clean the trays every week. Once in a month clean the fridge completely.

  • Tip for Cleaning your fridge
Use 1 tbsp baking soda or lemon juice in one litre of water to wipe down the fridge. This would get rid of the odour.

5. Laundry & Wardrobe
As a routine, do the laundry routine everyday and have an extra load during the weekends. The weekend extra wash would include the bedsheets and the pillow covers. Whereas, the everyday routine would include your everyday wears. If you have a pile to be hand washed, have it in a separate basket, which could be postponed to weekends as well.

Cushion covers and curtains could be washed once in every six months.

6. Bathroom
One of the most important places in your house. This involves a good amount of time. Clean the bathroom floor, wash basin and WC everyday with the help of a bathroom floor cleaner and a toilet cleaner. For wash basins you can use a mild soap powder.

  • DIY Cleaning Solution for Bathrooms
Baking soda 1 cup, vinegar (white) 1 ½ tbsp, water ¼ cup and liquid soap ¼ cup. Mix all these in a bowl. Use a scrubber to clean the bathroom floor and also the WC with this baking soda solution. This helps in getting rid of the scales in the bathroom floor and the toilet. Do not forget to wear your gloves!

  • Bathroom walls
Add a few drops of floor cleaning liquid to one litre water, add this to a used spray bottle. You can use this simple solution to wipe down the bathroom walls.
Source: Google images

7. Walls
Walls get very dirty. Worse if it is painted in white or half white. As walls mostly get painted in neutral colours, you can’t help it. The places under the switches and the kids doodle on the walls look bad if not cleaned regularly.

  • DIY Tip for Cleaning the Walls
To clean the walls use a sponge and some baking powder. In a sponge, sprinkle some baking powder and some water. Wipe on the dirty walls, leave it for five minutes. Use another sponge, dip it in water wipe down the places. This would instantly clean up the walls without taking out the paint.

Cleaning Routine for everyday
  1. As soon as you get up, make your bed. This would take roughly ten minutes. But it is really worth it.
  2. Before getting to your kitchen, turn on the washing machine. Once you are done with the kitchen chores, the clothes would be done.
  3. As soon as you finish cooking, clean up the kitchen counter top.
  4. Clean the bathrooms before taking bath.
  5. Load the dishwasher or if you have a domestic help, arrange all the used vessels in the sink. You can add some water to the used vessels which would speed up the cleaning process
  6. By this time your washing machine would be done, so it's time to dry the clothes
  7. Floor - sweeping the floor after the days work is the next
  8. And the last thing would be folding the dried clothes

Cleaning is the most tiring task in the world. But, to make our place the best place to live, we have to make it an everyday practice. This would help us have a clutter free and clean ambiance.

Guest Post by Savitha Sampath:
Savitha is from Chennai and works as a freelance content writer for various blogs.