An Open Letter To All Of My Friends Who Take Selfies

Never looked at it this way… The author beautifully gives a meaningful and positive angle to it.

The Belle Jar

Dear Friends Who Take Selfies,

I want you to know that I love it when you post pictures of yourself. I know selfies get a lot of bad press, but I think they’re rad. They give me a little window into your life, and you’d be amazed at how much I can get out of one little photo.

I love your pictures because I love seeing what you’re wearing – the outfits you build give me ideas about how to mix it up with my own wardrobe, and seeing you work your shit gives me courage to try clothing that I otherwise might have thought was too outlandish or revealing.

I love seeing how you do your hair and makeup. You look like a hot babe and I wish you would make YouTube tutorials explaining how you get your eyeliner just so. I want you to post pictures every time you change your…

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What’s in a name?

Worth a read!

Heather Matarazzo

This is not a typical blog piece, though nothing about me is typical, so it fits appropriately.

I have been hesitant to write anything about my life that is deeply personal, because that requires an incredible willingness on behalf of the writer to be vulnerable and honest. However, I am always up for a challenge.

I’m 9 or 10 years old. I’ve snuck into my parents’ bedroom and am quietly walking across their carpet, praying that I don’t make a sound. I open their closet and find the brown metal box. My heart is pounding, hands shaking. I crouch down, balancing on the balls of my feet, ready to jump up and escape at the potential first creak of the stairs. Silence. So far so good. I lift the top up slowly. It doesn’t betray me by squeaking. I’m grateful. My little fingers search through the vanilla colored tabs labeled…

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Here’s why the world is moving to Quora, and probably you should too!

I’ve been on Facebook for some years now. World’s favourite social networking site indeed has the feature set to support that kind of following. Clad in a blue and white crown, it has proven itself as the king of social networking. Talking to new people and existing friends, knowing who’s doing what and where and sharing personal events has never been easier. I know what my friend from school ate last night or where a friend of my friend went for vacation. I wonder how people survived without knowing these critical facts in pre Facebook times (pun intended).


Of late, I’ve noticed a trend change on Facebook. My web friends are becoming cooler than ever. Some are dining at five star hotels while some post pics of their Gucci bags or Armani goggles. It almost feels as if no one is living the mediocre life anymore. Everyone is having a blast. Facebook is flooded with such posts these days. It has become more of a showcase. We handpick the best moments of our lives and put those up here. Then we sit back in hope of getting likes. As the count of likes increases, we begin to feel loved, popular and cool. On the other hand, I also know a few guys who have developed symptoms of depression.

Facebook Funny

While Facebook is an addiction for most of the people, some have begun to loathe it for what it has come to. From a perfect social networking platform to a showcase of awesomeness, this transition has not gone well with a few. I happen to be one of them. Since I had been using less of Facebook these days, and had some spare time now, I was looking for options. It was then, when a friend of mine introduced me to Quora. He introduced it as a question answer website. Boring! I had already used Yahoo Answers and this sounded no where close to interesting. However, since I needed something to look at, I decided to try it nevertheless. On its homepage, I could see a lot of questions with answers; questions on diverse range of topics, and multiple answers on most of them. It looked quite familiar, and I was not impressed a tiny bit. Not yet.

For the sake of trying, I posted a question there, something related to Wikipedia. It was something which I already knew about, and I posted it only to check. I wasn’t expecting much. What triggered my interest was the first answer to my question. Someone had posted a very elaborate, nicely explained answer to my question.  The answer had so many details that I wasn’t aware of. It occurred to me that I actually didn’t know much. I was surprised. When I looked at the details of my answerer, I was shocked. Again. He was none other than Jimmy Wales, the founder of Wikipedia himself! How often is it that some one as famous as him answers your question! This was enough to spark my interest.

It’s been three months since I’ve been using Quora now. This period has allowed me to understand the website and its ways.

Here are the top five things I like:

  • Ask and Answer anyone, any time: You have a question, you ask. You know about something, you answer. When none of the former applies, you read. In each case, you’re gaining knowledge, and with almost no effort. What’s even better is the fact that you can ask specific people to answer your question. Most of the times, people will answer.

Quora answers questions

  • Hear from famous personalities and experts: While I’ve talked about the founder of Wikipedia being there, the list includes other popular names such as Mark Zuckerberg, Adrian Lamo, Irfan Khan, Steve Case, and well, Barack Obama! That’s right, no kidding! How about asking a question to them and getting an answer?
  • Extreme focus on content quality: What I loved the most is the quality of the content. You won’t find silly comments, irrelevant answers or troll questions. Quora has a strict policy that makes sure the quality isn’t compromised. This is clearly the key that takes it ahead of it’s competitiors.
  • Continuously gain knowledge: You get to read answers on all topics that you follow. If you read a bunch of them on usual basis, there’s a strong chance that you’ll gain a great amount of knowledge.
  • Support for anonymity: There are times when you have a question but you feel shy or embarrassed to ask it. People tend to shy off from asking question on sexual advice, relationships, etc. On Quora, you can ask whatever you wish to, and chose to be anonymous. This way, your identity is not revealed. Same goes for answers.

Given all the amazing features I just talked about, it’s actually pretty hard to get off from Quora, once you start. You get to hear straight from experts, among others. It’s definitely worth a try, don’t you think? Of course, you don’t get to share your daily or hourly updates, only your knowledge. You don’t get to know who had lunch where, but you might get to know some facts about your favorite field. It’s not another Facebook.

Facebook Vs Quora

Quora and Facebook, as you may have already guessed, are two entirely different things. Both are, perhaps, champs of their own worlds.I am not against Facebook, and in no way, suggesting to shut your Facebook account and move to Quora. What I do suggest is to take out some of your Facebook time and try out the latter. I believe they can go hand in hand with each other. You might be in for a surprise. You might just meet your favorite pass time to be. Who knows!

Someone had cleverly attempted to highlight the difference between these two. Here’s what he wrote.

Quora is, perhaps, like the classroom of life, while Facebook is the cafeteria!

Go check it out today. Don’t forget to share your personal experience and opinions in the comments section below.                                                                                  Quora

Here’s some more on how people have benefited from Quora.

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Indians are not racists. LOL !

When we think of racism, the first to hit our minds are the colours black and white. The whole idea of racism has been popularized by the wrongful and immoral discrimination that is made among the people belonging to different skin tones. It is a well known, but a sad fact that people with darker skin are ill treated at many places across the globe. What is lesser known, however, is the fact that fair coloured people also have to undergo similar mistreatment at some of the places. Although this mentality is not widespread in current times, and is vaporizing fast, the real concern about racism in our country is only growing.

Racism Funny

While the discrimination between two colours is probably what defines racism globally, in India, it has more forms than our imagination probably allows. When was the last time you received, or shared a ‘Sardar’ or a ‘Jaat’ joke? But as we know, these are just jokes whose sole purpose is to make people laugh, even if it means to laugh at someone. What is the first thing that comes to our minds when we think of ‘Baniyas’? Bravo! You got that right! And wait, did I mention anything about women drivers? ‘Woman driver’ has become synonymous with ‘bad driver’. Time for a quick question; how many times have you witnessed or been involved in a road accident? How many of those actually involved women drivers? But come on, don’t let that matter. It is fun teasing the women for their driving skills, isn’t it? Most people from Delhi or Mumbai dislike those from Bihar. This is the same state who gave our nation its first President, apart from a notable number of IAS officers. You get the idea. Talking of discrimination, I’m reminded of a country within India, the North-East. Well, it almost feels like another country, thanks to the majority of Indians who believe that people from north eastern states are from China. I guess that’s where we inherited the word ‘Chinki’ from. Again, don’t get me wrong! It’s just our way of showing love, isn’t it? We, sir, are not racists! Never!

protests against racism involving north east

When we tend to link a trait or mentality with a certain group of people, it’s not essentially racism. Not by the definition meaning.  Where it falls is under the umbrella of stereotyping. Stereotyping, by the dictionary, is an “oversimplified, usually pejorative, attitude people hold toward those outside one’s own experience who are different. They are a result of incomplete or distorted information accepted as fact without question.” Big words! Let me try to simplify. Stereotyping is associating a group of people having one or more common characteristics, to a common trait, without verification. If ten members of group X are uneducated, it makes us believe that the entire group is. That’s basically judging lakhs of people by a mere ten! This kind of judgement in itself is perhaps harmless, but it gets dirty, prejudicial and hurtful when these lakhs of people are made fun of, and thrown sarcastic remarks at, by others. This is where the transition from stereotyping to racism begins. This is where the concern manifests.


It’s not hard to imagine how it feels to be falsely attributed to some negative or silly characteristic, and being laughed at by others. Why do we condemn discrimination based on skin colour when we don’t mind discriminating on the basis of ethnicity, states, castes and gender? Do we really believe that some groups of the society are inferior to others? If not, is this the best mode of sharing laughter? We all know the answer. It’s high time that we realize the wrong and stop it. It’s our moral responsibility to spread the message and discourage this racism in disguise. You and I are humans, no less, and certainly no more. Let’s keep it that way.

Remember, when you label them, you negate them!

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Thinking of buying a new car in Delhi? Think again.

The Delhi Metro has been around for more than thirteen years now. It is arguably India’s most advanced metro line and one of the world’s best. It has modern air conditioned coaches, nominal ticket rates, extensive routes and a stellar service. Talking of safety, the Delhi Metro is probably the safest means of public transport, with effective security measures deployed at every station. Accidents and crimes are rare, which speaks volumes for it. The most highlighting feature the Delhi Metro has to offer is the constant time of journey. Barring a few cases that involve a technical glitch, the metro will definitely take the same time from station X to station Y. This is something that can never be accomplished on road.

Delhi Metro

Talking of other modes of public transport, we have buses, which cover almost all the areas of the city. In recent years, the department of transportation has introduced new advanced buses that run on CNG and offer air conditioning. These buses are also the cheapest and most widely available mode of transport.

Considering that our city has these modes of public transport available, the ever growing count of cars on the roads is depressing. The rate at which this count is increasing is alarming. Going by the figures mentioned at the Delhi govt. website, the total number of private vehicles registered as of 2015 is close to one crore. You read that right.

In today’s time, every one wants to own a car. Those who own one want a second. And why not! Each member of the family should have a car to himself, right? Having said that, it’s worth our time to think about what makes us want a car so badly. Why we need to travel in a car when the metro can take us there in lesser time.

Owning a car, sadly, has become synonymous to being well financially. Our society likes to believe that those who don’t own a car can’t afford it.  Say, in a party, where everyone’s reaching in their sedans, would you travel there in an auto rickshaw or a bus, when you can just take your car? Of course you won’t. What will everyone think of you!  Apart from being a status symbol, our comfort is another major culprit. With our own cars, we get point to point service without having to wait. Facilities like air-conditioning, music, and some private space add to it. Cars sure sound fun and easy, don’t they! Wait till you hear the complete story.

In a recent study, Delhi was ranked as the most polluted city on the globe. It’s not really a surprise, considering the high volume of vehicles on our roads. High pollution means more diseases, more diseases mean more ill people. Are we weighing comfort more than health? And wait, the last time I drove my car to office, I remember being stuck in an hour long jam in 45 degrees of heat. Last time I checked, that was not how the dictionary defined comfort. Moreover, more cars mean more accidents, and one doesn’t need to be a genius to understand why.

Traffic in delhi

A typical road scene in Delhi

Having talked about the ills of using personal cars unnecessarily, let’s take a quick look at why I and you tend to avoid public transport. The first thing that strikes my mind is the fact that buses and metro trains are usually over crowded, especially in the busy office hours. While this certainly speaks for the fact that a lot of people are indeed using these means, it also exposes the need for more buses and trains per route. While new trains with more number of coaches are already being imported, the department of transport also needs to introduce more buses on the roads, at least for busier routes. If even half the car crowd shifts to buses, each new bus will mean 10 less cars on roads. While this is one step, it doesn’t solve the whole problem. We also need to ensure that people don’t board a fully occupied bus or train, just to avoid waiting a couple of minutes for the next. This can be tackled by enforcing a rule, where no more than, say, fifty passengers are allowed on a bus. As soon as the fiftieth passenger boards, no more passengers are allowed, until one gets off. This can be regulated by installing cameras, one in each bus. Needless to say, this will also help make these buses safer.

Since much of this requires actions from the govt., one might be inclined towards forgetting the idea altogether. In India, it is easy to believe that requesting or hoping the govt. to make things better is foolish. However, with the new govt. being in its early days, this looks more achievable now, than it could be any later. There’s a dedicated page for transport related queries, complaints or requests on the Delhi govt’s website ( Also, with the platforms like (, making an appeal to the govt. has become easier. I’m not a fan of the govt., I just believe in trying, and I firmly believe that trying to make our city a better place is worth every bit. Even if we’re too lazy to bother about writing to govt., can we not, at the least, resist the luxury of owning more than one car in the family?

Imagine, in a decade from now, we can either have a city that has millions of cars, but no space to drive, or a city where the roads are way less crowded and a place which is way less polluted. Is it really a tough call to make?

I’m reminded of a quote I read somewhere. Here’s how it goes,

A developed country is not a place where the poor have cars, it’s where the rich use public transport.

– Gustavo Petro, Mayor of Bogotá

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The Big Fat Indian Wedding, is it worth it?

“Dad, my phone is too old and outdated. Please get me a new one.”

“Forget it. It’s good enough. Besides, money doesn’t grow on trees. We have to save for your marriage as well!”

Looks like your story, doesn’t it?  This is a typical conversation that occurs every now and then in Indian families. Right from the moment a man and a woman get married, they start planning and saving. They save for a healthy future of their family, education of their kids and what not. But wait, all this consumes only a part of the savings. Where does the remaining, bigger part go? You guessed it! The day their children were born for. Marriage.

India is a land of hugely diverse cultures, traditions and ethnic groups. While their ways distinguish them, the fact that makes these different groups one, is their common ultimate purpose in life. This purpose is none other than to spend all they can on their children’s weddings (pun intended).

Wedding decoration

I belong to a Punjabi family, and have been a part of many Punjabi weddings. A typical wedding costs somewhere between ten lakhs to one crore rupees. I’m talking of average middle class families. For upper class families, the budget can go as high as fifty crores. Lets take a deeper look into where this giant sum of money goes.

Average count of guests in Indian weddings is about 300 to 350. In a banquet hall located in a metro city, a dinner usually costs at least a thousand bucks per head. Simple maths tells us that dinner (or lunch) alone costs a sum of about 3 to 4 lakhs. Wonderful! It does make sense, doesn’t it? I mean, I know we could feed a country of poor homeless children with that money, but why care? Lets move ahead and talk about the lavish gifts. In a wedding, the girl’s family is expected to bring along a plethora of gifts. We don’t like to call this dowry. We’re a part of modern India, we don’t believe in dowry anymore. These are just gifts! When I was a lot younger, gifts usually meant a pack of chocolates, a nice shirt, or a bouquet of roses. It was stupid of me. I should have known that gifts mean kilos of gold, a modern car and enough dresses to last a decade. I almost forgot about the plush decorations, which, again cost lakhs. Too bad they last only a day. But what the heck, it’s the day we were born for! At least all our relatives and friends are happy and proud, or are they? There’s always this aunt who will still not be happy with the saree she got, or that uncle, who didn’t find the pricey liquor he was hoping for.

Wedding Food

Wait a minute, I just realized the most important purpose of spending the life’s savings in a day. It serves as a status symbol! While we may exhaust all our bank balance, we manage to build our status in the society. The wedding becomes the most talked about stuff among our friends and relatives. Some, who are yet to marry their children, take a note of the details, so that their children’s wedding can surpass our standards. Yay! We’ve given something worthwhile to them.

I don’t want to spoil the mood, but really, couldn’t we do a more sensible job here? Couldn’t we save half of what we throw at the weddings, for a more noble cause? How about donating to charities which raise and educate the poor children? If we can’t be that kind to the society, how about saving half of this huge sum for a better education of our children, or on gifting an international vacation to our parents once they retire?

When I look around today, I see a lot of young blood who doesn’t really favor such extravagant weddings. However, they still go for them for the sake of the will of their parents. Our parents wish to wed us in as lavish manner as they can afford. They do it because every one else does. They don’t want to be looked down upon by the society. What they probably fail to realize is the fact that this society is made of nothing but them. Many people who think just like them. If all, or at least most of them change their ways, this fear of being seen as the odd one out would cease to exist. If the youth does believe in the fact that unnecessary expenditure on weddings should be done away with, it has to take the responsibility of convincing the older generation. Some will understated, most won’t. If even a mere one percent of our country’s population succeeds in this, it will certainly make a huge impact.

Wedding is perhaps the most important day of our lives, but we don’t have to throw away our’s or our parent’s whole life’s savings for that. This is the day when we are blessed with a life partner, what else could we wish for?

Life Partner

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