Greeting people in different countries is so confusing!

The Kiss Conundrum


I don’t exactly remember the first time it happened, but I do remember how I felt. Confused, perplexed, awkward – the same that I feel each time I am in a similar situation. You see their mouth curving into a smile, their eyes widening,them coming closer and leaning in…
Even after living in Europe for more than 4 years now and being in such confusing situations for at least 3 years, I only have one major question each time it happens –

How many times should I kiss you on the cheek to greet you?

Greeting people in different countries is so confusing!

Seriously. I don’t know what you were thinking, but I was talking about the feeling you have when someone comes closer to greet you. Firstly, are we hugging or kissing?Secondly, what sort of a kiss is it? Thirdly, do I stop at 2 or move on to 3? Trust me, it’s way too awkward if you stop at 2 while the other person moves on to the third..or vice-versa.

The thing with cheek kisses is, some cultures love it and some hate it. Some like it at 2 and some like it as 3..always..even if you see the person every single day!

A friend of mine was telling me how they end up spending 15 minutes everyday kissing everyone when they arrive for work. She works in France, and it is really rude to not kiss and greet, apparently. Again, maybe it doesn’t hold true for all regions,but for a large majority of people, it does. Strangely, if you just cross the border and move into Switzerland or Germany, people might not entertain this form of greeting. In fact, several German friends of mine have expressed their absolute hatred towards kissing on the cheek to greet someone! They find it too personal and unnecessary. A hand shake would just serve the purpose well enough.Perhaps, hugs and kisses are reserved more for really close friends?

Another point of concern is:which cheek do you kiss first? In some countries, you kiss on the right cheek first and in the others, on the left. Interestingly, there are some theories as well as stories behind these traditions. For instance, one of the stories says that the double kiss in a traditional Italian household meant reassurance of the fact that they were there for each other. Hugs and kisses undoubtedly bring people closer, make them more comfortable and symbolize  openness, trust as well as friendship.I came across an interesting research paper about hugging, and in case you are interested, you can check it out too. It’s incredible as to how each posture and action of ours portrays a different meaning!

For me personally, I have been used to hugging friends when I meet them, and subconsciously did the same after moving to Europe..except it would turn really awkward if the person instead left a peck on one cheek first, and then the other. Sometimes, I would realize it just in time and do the same..standing still after the second one while the other would continue for the third!

To help myself and hopefully a lot of you too, I have started collecting info for the right way to greet people across different countries, and will publish a post soon on my travel blog-Europe Diaries. I hope that it will ease out the awkwardness a bit or at least give us a heads up as to what to expect! If you have any suggestions regarding your home or current location, please do let me know and I shall add it in the post.

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Thanks for being here!Really appreciate you hanging out with me virtually:)

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You know times have changed when…


  1. You and your friends have started using hashtags casually in emails and text messages.                  Oh, and also your Mom.

Again, zero acknowledgement of the skeleton (Skellie)!! #crazyjewishmom (@omgliterallydead) #cakebitchcjm

A photo posted by Crazy Jewish Mom (@crazyjewishmom) on

2.People around you are engrossed in taking selfies and putting quotes on their pictures.

3.Some people you know have started refusing cakes and pastries, citing healthy eating as a reason. EVEN on their friends’ birthdays!

Source:hotflick.net

While I am mostly like….

Source:josiesworld101.tumblr.com/

4. Forwarded mails have given way to memes on whatsapp groups. And it’s exhausting to keep track of all the messages and media being shared there!

Source:quickmeme

5. You see kids overloaded with gadgets and their parents doting over how sharp they are.

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6.You realize you may be a smart phone addict in an internet-crazy world!

Source: organisedclutter.com

But  after everything, it feels great to realize that even though people have adapted to the changing times, and their habits may have changed, your friendship with them remains the same!

Much love to all my friends🙂

If only…


I wake up in the middle of the night,

 sweating, shivering , all startled up in fright.

‘What time is it?’, I look around for my phone.

‘Too late now’, I hear a whisper. ’She’s gone’.

I am sobbing , clutching the blanket, thinking of how things could have been,

had I not been indolent while the malicious Fate  probably smirked slyly at me.

Three months later, a package I had received,

A token from Fate, along with the undeliverable letter returned to me.

The blanket of guilt has since never left my side.

If only, I wish…I could rewind.

This video, with my interview, was originally posted here.

Friends,Lovers and V-Day survivors- get surprised by Yahoo! today


This morning, I received a graceful mail from a friend, sending me warm wishes on Valentine’s Day in addition to a few kind words . I thought it was a nice gesture to do so, and was actually taken aback by the idea. A few hours later, I was checking my mail at my workplace and noticed a heart icon next to the ‘Compose’ button on my Yahoo mail. And lo behold! It was an ‘Autocompose’ option for sending Valentine’s Day messages!!

The first auto-generated mail I saw was:

Yahoo bunny message

 

Hair is softer than a thousand bunnies??? Seriously? I clicked on ‘Autocompose’ again.

Silly messages

What the shemurr? I went  on to check the Autocompose drop down menu at the bottom of the page, and discovered that you could generate messages based on one of the three themes offered :  Crazy in love, Friendly love, All Outta love. Whoo! ‘Friendly love’ would be interesting to check out, I thought.  And clearly, it was atleast better than the mushy,lovey-dovey messages I had seen earlier.

Praise much? BuddiesAnd another one here:

friendly love

Okay! So now it was time to move on to the final category: All Outta love. And here is how it went:

V-Day fellow survivor!

all outta love

Well, it may not be a bad idea to express your feelings to all your loved ones today. However, there isn’t really any point in appreciating people one day in a year, and not caring enough to let them know how you feel the rest of the 364 days. Are people really so busy that they need a special day to tell someone how much they love and value them?

So , friends, lovers,(past and to-be)V-Day survivors: think about the people who have made a difference to your lives and appreciate them . If you are feeling meh and are at a loss of words to write those mushy messages, Yahoo! is all up for inspiration! Just one request: please do not fill up Facebook with a bulk of silly and mushy messages. You can keep them private and real!

As for me, I am a bit disappointed after spotting copied Yahoo! lines in the mail I received today. But then again, it is the thought that counts. Isn’t it?

It’s not what you win, but how you win it.


From school (particularly middle school), I vividly remember the expressions on my classmates’ faces just before the teacher would distribute exam results.  Tensed, excited,nervous – one could see it all over our faces. Each time someone went to collect their paper from the teacher, the others would look at her in anticipation, and wait for her to declare her score. Each declared score determined the current highest scorer, and made the others even more restless. Now I feel that one should judge themselves by how much they have improved from the last time, and learn from their mistakes. But, I suppose we were too young to understand this back then. Strangely, someone scoring a 97 would be ecstatic, but only until she found out that someone else had scored a 98. Yes, happiness was short-lived for the person who came 2nd, for she would sulk about how she just missed it.

After the London Olympics 2012, BBC published an article online stating this exact observation among the Silver Medal winners. A study conducted after the 1992 Olympics found out that people who won the Silver Medal were less happier than those who won the Bronze or even those who didn’t win anything at all. Puzzled? So was I . But, the fact remains that people tend to think about how things  could have been  different and what they could have achieved –  termed by psychologists as ‘counterfactual thinking’. This kind of thinking is more associated with the Silver Medal winners, for they feel that they were so close to the Gold and they just missed it.  On the other hand, the Bronze medallists feel relatively happier thinking that they at least made it to the top 3 and did not lose out on their chances completely.

So now I know that this behaviour does not only pertain to a group of teenagers from a Convent School, but is in fact common with a lot of people all over the world.  On many occasions,  you might have cursed that one moment which could have been different, that one step you could have taken, or on another note, maybe  that one sentence you could have said to someone. But, do not be overwhelmed by regret or sorrow. You cannot do anything about what could have been, though you can certainly be thankful for what you have and prepare yourself to do better next time.

As BBC rightly puts it, “We’re all haunted by things we could have done, or shouldn’t have done. What’s the point in dwelling on such matters, we may ask, when we can’t change the past?”

English: British swimmer Joanne Jackson, bronz...
English: British swimmer Joanne Jackson, bronze medallist on the 4×200 metre relay at the 2009 World Championships (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

People:Strange, interesting,mesmerizing


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Isn’t it strange…

When you meet someone for the first time and hit it off instantly?When you instantly discover a huge overlap of interests with someone and realize you have unending things to talk about? When you both are on the same wavelength and everything they say makes sense?

Infact, maybe sometimes you feel that they radiate this huge energy which refreshes you and leaves you with a whole lot of ideas bouncing in your head.Maybe the things they say inspire you to think critically and be more productive at your work.  Maybe it is one of those boring and tiring days at work, and meeting this person for a few minutes leaves you fully energized and happy.

On the other hand, you might have come across some people who greet you with their whines and say nothing except all the apparently horrible things that have happened around them. Maybe your cheerful mood goes down the drain and fear succumbs you when you hear them talk. Maybe you feel your energy draining out when you are talking to them, and all you do after getting back is.. whine about it all to someone else. There! You might have just been responsible for spreading negative energy all around you!

Think about it. Would you rather be around people who are cheerful, happy and radiate positive vibes, or around those who are perpetually unhappy and whiny? There is nothing worse than landing in a new place and hearing words of discouragement from someone staying there for long. True, that person might have had some genuine problems/difficulties. Maybe the whiny person is your good friend too, and you would definitely try to encourage them to make things better. But, what if this never stops? What if they always find a reason to whine about/talk ill of others/ talk ill of your surroundings? What if pessimism fills the air all around them?

All you can do is, shield yourself from the negative energy, and spread only positive vibes. Do NOT let yourself be affected by the negative things they say. Just because it happened to them, doesn’t mean you will face the same too.If you realize that talking to someone fills you with positivity, keep doing so! If you are happy, people around you will feel it too. You may not realize how someone else
might have been impacted by you.;how those few minutes of an energetic conversation with someone might have been the best thing in their day; how your simple encouragement might have given them the much-needed motivation. Or how your negative feedback might have just ruined their day; how your whines might have just dampened their mood or worse, how your discouragement might have given them the push to do something terrible with their lives…

13 signs you are a Smart Phone addict in an internet-crazy world


1.The moment you wake up, you start checking your mails on your phone, even if it is in the middle of the night.

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2.You keep refreshing your mailbox after every few minutes, because you want to know of ANY mail when it arrives.

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3.You can’t sit through a meal without replying to Whatsapp messages.

4.Your phone is flooded with Facebook updates. Even if you got fed up of them and disabled them, you keep logging onto Facebook a million times through the day.

5.You have that friend who keeps posting his/her daily routine on Facebook and you wonder what is left to be updated. Brushing their teeth?

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6.You get up on a bus and find 5/10 people around you busy typing on their phones.

7.You can’t wait to post pictures on Instagram and❤ other people’s posts. You love Instagram!

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8.When you are out with your friends, there is that one moment when everyone is looking at their screens instead of talking to each other.

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9.You love #Hashtags and use as many and whenever possible.

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10.You keep posing until you have the perfect Profile picture and upload it immediately.

11.You use your phone to find out EVERYTHING. From the weather forecast to directions to cafe reviews to available movie shows.And, you carry it EVERYWHERE too.

12.You know it is awkward to keep using your phone when you are out with your colleagues. Yet, you do it all the time. You can’t stay away from your phone!

13.Finally, if checking for updates or texting is the last thing you do before sleeping and ofcourse, the first thing in the morning too.. and  if you , my friend, can relate to most of these points…Bingo!

Though, in reality, what you should be doing is this:

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Well, not literally though.😛  Fellas, take a break and give your mind some rest. Let your life have more meaning and purpose than scrolling down your wall again and again, in hopes of finding something interesting/ hillarious/waste of time/nonsensical.

(Oh wait..didn’t you find the link to this post shared on some Social media too?😦  )

Social media is just a part of our lives. Doesn’t mean : that’s all you have in life! So, well, the next time you find yourself hooked onto the internet for hours, think of these things:

1.Web addicts have brain changes similar to those hooked on drugs or alcohol, preliminary research suggests.

2.Constantly checking updates on Social Media is almost like Crack for us.The Online world affects your Brain and your thinking!

3.Your sleep  may be disrupted if you keep staring at screens until you sleep.

4.Your Smartphone is killing your cognitive thinking and declarative memory, say experts. Needless to say,  your Smartphone is damaging your brain!

So, I suppose that you’ve had quite some food for thought in the past few minutes. I shall end this post right here with one last interesting video I found on YouTube🙂

Image References:

1.Hongkiat

2.Twisted Sifter

3.REACTIONGIFS-Reddit

4.FunnyVooz

5.UK MSN News

6.DELIKEENLIKE

7.Teman | Design

A toast to JKR and the everlasting saga of Harry Potter.Happy Birthday!


JKR!*Respect*

The first time I read a book from the ‘Harry Potter ‘ series was in 2000. I was 11 and my Mom, having read a lot of praise for JKR, asked me to try it out and see if I liked it. THAT was my tryst with the magical world that consumed me for more than a decade.

Like many other people from around the globe, I can say that my friends and I grew up with Harry and his friends. I was glued to the books and websites, knew the spells by heart, imagined meeting the fantastic beasts,  secretly wished to get the Time Turner and Invisibility cloak,   named my to-be owl as Herald and often thought about how I would use the Veritaserum, truth potion.

Talking about my imaginary white pet –Herald:  after I signed up at Hogwarts through an enchanting website (the name of which I don’t exactly remember now),bought my wand at Ollivander’s , robes from Madam Malkin’s and selected my pet, I somehow hoped that one fine day, a white owl would come deliver the special,sealed envelope for me and THEN I would be off to Hogwarts! When a family of owls was seen just outside my balcony, I was jumping in excitement and was so sure that they were there for me. Only that the real letter never arrived.

Though disheartened for a while, yet my teenage self continued to dig deeper into the world of Quidditch, legendary wizards, Animaguses,flying cars and broomsticks and inculcated a stronger sense of creativity (not to forget: wilder imagination) all along.When I went to college and found somebody(one of my best friends now) with the same thoughts and how she still liked to believe that her letter got misplaced somehow, my joy knew no bounds!

It has been 13 years since I read the first book, but I still feel the excitement and curiosity that I had, as a child. As I grew older, this fetish for fantasy did not diminish at all. Infact, I think it grew stronger and stronger. Yes, my 18-year old self did queue up at 6:30 am on 21/7/07 at Landmark to buy the last book of the series ON the day of its release. And then, four years later, I went to watch the final movie early in the morning with my equally excited friends from college, since we did not want to wait any longer.

Ah!I am so glad that I bought that first book on my Mom’s suggestion, so glad that I had such fantastic friends in school who were so absorbed into the world of witches and wizards that they openly stated one of their ambitions as ‘becoming a witch’ in people’s slam books, so glad that we did not stop reading/watching/discussing Potter issues even though some people felt that it was only for kids and not for adults! Hang on! If you have not read these books or missed watching the movies (though watching without reading the books is never a good idea), you have really missed out on a BIG experience.

There is really no age for losing yourself into Fantasy, even if you are an otherwise practical,busy and matured person. And, it is never too late to begin😛

For  all those years of excitement and the pure joy of reading, for giving millions of kids around the world the same obsession, for helping us let our imagination run wild and understand life better, here’s a toast to J.K. Rowling on her (and Harry’s) birthday. Thank you Joanne, a billion times over.

Meet Mr.Rob…your next personal assistant?


Who doesn’t mind having a helping hand at home? But, would you be comfortable with a helping claw instead?
Cornell’s Personal Robotics Lab has trained a robot to foresee one’s subsequent set of actions, based on his current activities.  With a database of around 120 household activities fed as 3D videos ,  the robot shall observe and identify one’s activity with his  Microsoft Kinect 3D camera and then anticipate what he might do in the next few seconds.
So, basically, Rob (that’s just what I decided to call it!) shall observe your body movements, match your activity to all the videos in his brain, and then guess your next most probable move. He will of course be racing his mind to keep guessing your every  next move based on each and every action of yours!
Well, so let’s presume that one day in the future,  it is super easy for everyone to bring a Rob home . You happily get him home  too and train him to assist you in all your daily household chores.  You are glad that you don’t even have to ask him to pour more coffee in your cup or help you throw the garbage out! And then, one  fine evening, as you are clearing off the food from your table, you move the left-over pasta to an air-tight container and proceed to move towards the refrigerator. Seeing you coming forward in the direction of the refrigerator, Rob quickly moves too, to open the fridge door before you reach it.Only at that moment, you realize how you almost forgot to make that important call and retrace your steps immediately, leaving poor Rob holding the fridge door wide open😦
Poor Rob! But, you are not even thinking about that. You are busy talking to someone on the phone,trying to  fix an appointment for the next day and you are irritated because they can’t seem to understand English! You look up and find Rob standing right infront of you, waiting to predict your next move. You are walking in circles, angry and impatient. You take a seat when the call is put on hold, randomly start scribbling something on the notepad, and suddenly decide to get up and walk to the kitchen. What do you think Rob is doing? Following you, of course! He is as confused as anyone could be. How do you think he will “read your mind” when you are being so unpredictable?
 
How would you feel to be living with someone who aids you in maintaining your house, but can neither speak nor connect to you? (though we cannot rule out the possibility of robos conversing with you fluently soon!) You cannot talk to him or vent out your anger at him . You cannot even ask him to undo the mess he might have created because he failed to correctly predict your uncertain moves!
Aarghh!!Wouldn’t  having a human at home been much better?? What do you think? Are you read to meet your new assistant, Mr.Rob?

Why you should try out Zumba if you still haven’t!


When I joined a gym about a month ago, I found out that they offered a lot of classes everyday too. As I picked up one of the printed schedules from the stacks to check for the options I had , I found ZUMBA was due to begin in fifteen minutes that evening. Not knowing too much about it, except the fact that it seemed fun and enjoyable, I decided to give it a shot.

The hall was filled with people of all ages and sizes, most of whom seemed regulars and were bubbling with excitement. Soon enough, an exuberant Claudia entered the room , filling the room with even greater energy, as she approached the podium to begin the session for the evening. I must admit that I was amused and even felt a little awkward in the beginning. But, within a few minutes, I had already started enjoying it.I was feeling happy, light-hearted and excited, all at once! Zumba appeared to be a mix of different kinds of dance moves. Each song seemed to be choreographed in one particular style, with not too many new steps to be learnt at a time. In fact, among some of the Samba, Hip Hop,Mambo and belly dance moves that I recognized, at some point, I also felt a tinge of Bollywood and was quite surprised!

It was only later that I found out about Bollywood moves and music being used quite often in Zumba fitness sessions. Well yeah, “Zumba Fitness” has become quite a rage over the years. It is said to have originated “accidentally”   sometime in the 1990’s when Alberto “Beto” Perez realized that he was not carrying the usual music for his aerobics training session and decided to use the Salsa and meringue music he had. Within a few years, it gained popularity as a fun cardio-workout and has now reached more than 10 million people around the world.

It is true that I was out of breath and was sweating in about 15 to 20 minutes into the session. But oh boy! I did survive  the whole hour, and so did the 50 year old lady, the 20-something fitness freak, the middle aged girlfriends, the housewife and the obese. If you are over conscious of yourself or feel that dance is not your ‘thing’ and that there is no point in reading this post, you are completely wrong! Anyone with feet can dance! All you need to do is, shed your inhibitions and get into the groove. You will be surprised with yourself soon after.

Interestingly, while you are immersed in all the dancing and improving your cardiopulmonary endurance in the process, losing calories seems like no burden anymore! Any idea of how many calories you could be burning in your one-hour session? 500-1000, depending on the intensity of your workout, according to various resources online. If you have attended atleast one Zumba session and want to get an estimate of your lost calories, you can use this Calorie Calculator here! A better alternative, ofcourse, is to carry a heart rate monitor, the next time you attend a session.All in all, you will love the whole experience so much that you will most likely become a regular at it and reap the benefits all along.

Well, I hope you get the point of this post and lose yourself (or find yourself) in  a Zumba fitness party or class, whenever you can!

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Image: http://zumbawithdiane.com/