Fiction or Non Fiction? Just be yourself and read!

Fiction vs Non-fiction

Speaking of books or reading, one question that I often get asked is — do you still read fiction? On replying yes, the next question generally would be — how do you find time to read fiction or why do you read fiction? The answer is pretty simple — I read fiction because I like it. I read fiction because there is nothing more enriching than a good story. I read fiction because:

Fiction reveals truth that reality obscures — Ralph Waldo EmersonRead More

If Instagram would have been a place

Image Credit: https://unsplash.com/@aows

Just because it’s easy, let’s do it and just because it’s cheap, let’s plaster all over the media. We have seen this happening earlier with other digital channels and we can see this happening now with Instagram too. It’s quick to start and pause, so why to spend time in planning or thinking? When I see these poorly shot or awfully cropped pictures in a sponsored post, I cringe. When I see the messages so long that you need to zoom or a sponsored posts that only speak of X% discounts, I wonder why? I understand the general impulse of — “Instagram is popular, let’s do a campaign there”, but considering it’s a sponsored post and that too with such high frequency, I am assuming there is money being spent with some business objectives in mind. Then, why not spend some time in understanding the platform and engaging with your audience accordingly?Read More

Bringing old ways of reading back to life

From being a voracious reader to a reading enthusiast — that’s how my reading habit got changed when I started working and entered into other phases of personal life. For last two years, despite all my sincere intent to read more, at best I could manage to read only 12–14 books an year. This was lot less than what I used to read earlier. So, when I ended up reading 19 books in last one month, I was quite pleasantly surprised with myself. At least there is something good out of this hospitalization and being-on-bed phase of life, I am getting time to read and paint more. See, I am trying to look at the positive side of any situation :). No, I mean it in all seriousness; first month on bed was too painful with surgery, stitches, fractures and what-nots. To add to that, weird thoughts kept on floating in my mind throughout. So, after few weeks when my hands got freed from stitches, the first thing I did was, picked up a book. One book after another and soon enough I was engrossed in reading like earlier. It only added to the reading charm that not only I was getting to read the books that I wanted to read but I also got some amazing books as gifts from friends.

But I am all free these days, so what’s the big deal about reading 19 or any number of books? Well, it’s not the number or the titles of the books but the way I am reading that makes me think more on my current reading habits. You know the kind of reading that we used to do earlier, engrossed in words, lost amidst the pages, the kind of reading that brings you calm and cognitive stimulation, the kind of reading that you do mindfully. My recent readings have been all of that.

So, what did change this time?Read More

Pinterest, love you but now craving for more :)

In this bed-ridden phase since last two months, I have been trying to divert my mind to things that I used to love to do but haven’t been able to pursue due to paucity of time. And one such long lost love for me was— painting. There was a time when I was very passionate about colors and canvases, have tried to experiment with different forms of art on my own, always wished to learn it properly but like many other things in life, this one also never moved up in my priority list of to-dos ever.

This time, I thought to bring this passion back to life, at least till I don’t go back to the same old routine of work and child and home and etc. etc. etc. Though physically it’s very difficult for me to try painting these days but resource wise it’s just so easier and simpler. Thanks to technology, learning anything new is possible anytime, anywhere with tonnes of ideas and inspiration available all over internet.

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The pressure to be positive always

Image Credit — https://unsplash.com/@tidesinourveins

I think this will be a long post but I must write it. Was in two minds whether to post it here or not but considering I am only active on Medium these days, it had to be posted here only.

So, I think the pressure to always ‘think positive’ is too high these days.

The pressure to always ‘feel happy’ is too high these days.

The pressure to have a ‘perfect life’, rather project a perfect life is too high these days.

And, the pressure to be always ‘cool & confident’ is just too high these days.

I mean, you express a moment of worry or weakness to anyone and here you go, suddenly everyone is ready with a quote on power of positive thinking and optimism and how it’s your thought that’s responsible for all the miseries in your life and… well, you know all those “ands”, as I am sure you get to listen to it as much as I do 🙂Read More

Raising little readers

 
Raising Little Readers
You love books, you have books all over your house, you always wanted your little one to be fond of books, you have ensured to buy sufficient books for her, you have even taken up a library membership as well as the monthly book box subscription for him but still your little one is not as passionate for reading as you would want him to be? You have to remind her to read and it doesn’t come naturally to her. He was actually very fond of books when younger but as he grew up, he lost interest in books?
 
In this gadget filled world where your little one has option to hop from one screen to another throughout the day, it’s difficult to keep their interest alive in printed books. As against earlier, they have multiple options now to entertain themselves and unless reading as a habit has been inculcated in them since very early years, it might get challenging with time to keep their reading interest intact.
 
Mine is just 5 as of now and even though I have been reading to him since very early days, I can tell you with my practical experience that it’s not easy to keep up with this habit always. He loves books but of course there are days when he will insist to watch videos during bedtime as against story books and you have to keep telling him no or make the story time so interesting that he forgets the videos. Like many aspects of parenting, patience and persistence works when it comes to raising little readers too. Sharing few tips here that has worked for me so far as far as junior’s reading interest is concerned, not sure if these will continue to work when he grows up, but the mommy-me sincerely hopes that this habit becomes a life long habit for him.
  • Start Early: I mean really early. There is no lower age limit as to when a child can get acquainted with books. You know we all give in to the temptation of showing the child videos on mobile or tab while feeding. Instead try colorful board books, give it to the child to play and see. Starting early works, for sure!
  • Read Aloud: Grab their attention, help them with their language skills, make them a good listener – reading aloud has many benefits to kids but one of the biggest benefits as per me is it helps them concentrate and focus, skills that are rarity in this screen dominated age.  
  • Make It Fun: Get into the character, add a bit of drama, enact the story (come on, we all moms and dads have an actor hidden inside us :)) or plan some fun activities around the books that you are reading. The more fun you will make your reading sessions, the more engaged the child will be.
  • Read It Together: Cuddle & snuggle and bond over books. This I tell to many who assume that buying good books will naturally lead to interest generation for reading in their kids. Definitely not possible in today’s time when kids have so many other multimedia richer choices available at a click. Make it a habit to read it together and you never know what beautiful reading memories you will be creating for your child.
  • Read regularly: Even if it’s just for 20 minutes but read daily. Set aside a time for reading to your kids, it could be evening or bedtime but do ensure to follow this regularly. Once you will be regular, you will yourself observe that with time your little one will pick it up as a habit too. Remember, reading is not just a weekend or holiday activity.
  • Don’t bribe: If you will offer bribes like pizza-if-you-finish-that-book, reading will always end up to be an activity done only for rewards. We all end up doing it for some or other activities (in my case, it’s his eating where I had done this mistake of rewarding), just refrain it for reading in case you want it to be a life long habit. Instead try to make it fun and yes, patience pays. Keep at it.
  • Read what he /she loves: I know we all avid reader moms & dads have some choices of their own, the books that we think will be good for our kids. But let’s not force our choices on them as times have changed and so have preferences of our kids. For almost a month, my son insisted me to read him “Wolverine Vs Sabretooth” story book during bedtime daily. I mean daily! The mommy in me used to wonder why such action packed story at bedtime. But then that’s the only book my son was very fond of at that particular time. I gave in to his choices and kept reading him whatever he wanted. Thanks to Wolverine and Avengers, I must say that reading got established as a bedtime ritual on its own quite easily. Do I remember reading anything like Wolverine while I was growing up? Of course nah 😀
Hope these suggestions work for you. In case you have any other interesting tip, do drop it in the comment section below.
If you liked this post from a book-loving mommy, feel free to share it and for more succh posts follow my children books page @undertheguavatree
– The Mommy who got all her reading skills by spending her childhood under a guava tree with books 🙂

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Bawra Mann

Bawra Mann Dekhne Chala Ek Sapna
Bawre Se Mann Ke Dekho Bawri Hai Baatein
 
I can listen to this song in loop forever and still not get bored of it. I am so much in love with it. Beautiful words sung so beautifully by Swanand Kirkire and something that I totally relate to.
 
The current phase of my lifeis…ummm let’s just simply say – confusing. I don’t know of anything that lies ahead. Planning anyways has never worked for me, but this phase is uncertain beyond comprehension.
 
I try to seek answers or tame my wandering mind but all in vain. After multiple such trials, I have decided to give up and let the mind wander wherever it wants. After all human minds are supposed to be wanderers, dreamers, crazy and bawra :).
 
Where is my mind wandering right now? I don’t know 🙂
 
What does my wandering mind want to do? I don’t know 🙂
 
Can I express the random musings of my wandering mind in words? I don’t know 🙂
 
For now, I only know that it’s in a restless state, trying to seek answers and figuring out what next.
 
For now, I only know that it has random musings and abstract expressions.
 
Shall I try to give some shape to those expressions? I don’t know 🙂
 
When it comes to expressing, ever since my childhood, I have found a notebook-pen or canvas-brush to be an easier tool of expression than anything else.
 
Considering the same, “Bawra Mann” is just another random beginning to capture the randomness of a wandering mind either textually or visually.
 
But it’s been 15+ years that I have been blogging, then why a facebook page now? I don’t know 🙂
 
How long will I continue it? I don’t know 🙂
 
For now, all I know is – Bawra Mann Dekhne Chala Ek Sapna 🙂
 
To be updated on Baawri Baatein of a Bawra Mann, please like my facebook page here.
 
Speaking of my fascination for visuals and my current state of life where I am all vella lying on bed for months now (why? read it here), I am quite liking instagram and pinterest. I have been using both these apps for long now but its only recently that I have become actively engaged at both these places. In case anything beautiful attracts your eyes too, connect with me on Instagram and Pinterest @kanupriyasindhu
 

Fear

It’s been more than a month now.

Medically speaking, I am recovering and much better than that day.

That day when people gathered around me, lying in a blood pool weren’t even sure if I was alive.

If I was alive, would I survive?

If I survived, would I be fine and normal again?

Many ‘ifs’ and ‘buts’ that suddenly clouded our life within a fraction of second. That second when our car met with a fateful accident on Chennai — Bangalore highway.

Was it an accident? What was it? I try to recall the details often but everything, oh so vague! Husband and my brother were seated on the front seats of our Ecosport while me and my 5 year old leisurely sprawled on the back seat. Something happened and even before we could realize, the car hit the left divider and then the right and then toppled once, twice….was it the third time when the locked back door broke and I got thrown out on the highway? Was it just then that I managed to push my son further inside and save him from being thrown out? What exactly happened at that time? It was all blank for me, sort of a weird white in front of my eyes. I hear from others that the car toppled perhaps multiple times before it skidded to a halt. No one remembers the count. The only thing I know after seeing the pictures of our car or talking to police and doctors is that I am thankful that my family is safe and I am alive. My son, husband and brother got some bruises and I even though critically injured, am still thankful that I am alive!

Ford Ecosport— The car is beyond repair now but thankful that it’s sturdy structure could save us to some extent

What all did I experience at that moment or that day? Perhaps I will take some more time to have the courage to jot it down. It’s all scattered and jumbled up in my mind but keeps coming back to me in multiple formats.

Dealing with bad accidents or trauma is not new to me. Like many others, I have had my own share of lows and brutal misfortunes in life. Though this time, something has been incredibly difficult to deal with and something that’s not fading with time.Read More

It’s all about photos

Photo Credit — https://unsplash.com/@jaywennington

Out of all the work experience that I have, almost half of it has been into photography industry now — a category that has really exploded in last decade, a category in which you literally have to be on your toes in case you want to make a mark, a category that has gone through unimagined consumer behavior changes at an unimagined pace. We all are clicking, clicking all the time, clicking anything & everything!

My work also involves meeting photographers and consumers who are looking to hire photographers on a regular basis and at times the kind of insights that I get by just observing or casually interacting with them is mind blowing.

The trend of getting life events photographed or preserving our unique moments as photographs has been existing since centuries but there is something now because of which photographs and photography are as much part of our lives as food and sleep.

Thanks to social media, it will be safe to say that now we humans literally eat, breathe and live our lives through photos. This is something that we all know of but at times certain incidences just make this realization starker!Read More

Facebook Advertising — Customise, Connect, Change

Image Credit — https://unsplash.com/@carlheyerdahl

Love me, or hate me, but you can not ignore me — Sincerely Yours, Facebook!

Even if certain set of users won’t agree to this statement but considering Facebook & Instagram are still dominating the charts of most downloaded and most used apps, it would be better to accept that Facebook is one of those beasts which marketers can’t ignore if they’re going for a paid digital campaign especially for a consumer product category.

I know there are enough pro and anti Facebook advertising arguments all over the internet but this post is not about whether to go for Facebook advertising or not, it’s more about when you are doing it, do it right. No point in spending money without fixing the basics first.

It’s 2017 & why I am still talking of basics of Facebook advertising? I mean, even a school kid knows how to advertise on Facebook? What’s the big deal about it when it’s just so simple and easy to set up a Facebook campaign? Well, that’s the exact problem — it’s just so easy! And almost everyone is setting it up without much effort or thought put behind understanding the platform or learning the best practices.

And when something is very easy, it’s also easier to mess it up. Isn’t it?

In last 15 days I have met four startups who are spending big money on Facebook advertising and three of them have digital agencies managing their accounts. While we discuss CPA and efficacy of the medium, there is this general sigh that CPA is not coming down and the effectiveness of their campaign is decreasing with time. I got a chance to analyze their campaigns and surprisingly, I found the problems common across — ignoring the basics and one-size-fit-all campaigns.

And all it takes is 3 simple steps to fix the same.

Customize

So startup A, with whom I was interacting recently, is a food company with a potential target audience that could range in between any age group, i.e., teenagers to even 50+year old ones. Their agency was running a digital campaign for age bracket 18–45 years with same messaging and same creatives. Their logic — after all it’s a food category and anyone could potentially be a customer for this category. True, absolutely true. But what happened to the basics of marketing known as segmentation and customizing the campaigns according to each segment? The more granular we go with customization, the more effective the outputs are in digital medium. For e.g., in this case it took us a day’s exercise to go through each product variant and try to figure out the star appeal of each variant. The moment we were ready with product feature matrix, it was getting clearer to the founders that perhaps each variant needs to be targeted to a different segment, customized with a different messaging. And that’s what we did — instead of one master campaign showing different products in different units of carousel, we configured multiple campaigns with messages and visuals tailored to different audience type. Going granular and customization upto the last level was some task for sure but the results were obvious and in a week’s time the acquisition numbers were moving northward within the same budget.

Customization takes time and effort but it’s worth it. Just go for it. Go granular, go microscopic.

Connect

Are you targeting your ads to those who have liked your page as well? Of course, the logical brain tells you why do you need to especially when you have limited money? The ones who have liked your page are already getting to see your updates, so why not use the money to target new audience and acquire new customers? Start up A, B, C & D — all four had done the same. And earlier, even I used to do the same. But then after experiencing the diminishing organic reach of Facebook posts that perhaps is not even in the range of 2 to 5% these days, I had changed my targeting strategy. And I was surprised with the improvement in the conversion rate.

So, next time when you are trying to sell any new product or targeting your users for repurchase, connect with your existing base first, you’ll be surprised with your acquisition percentage and more importantly, your CPA. The rationale behind this is pretty simple — the ones who have liked your page are somewhat interested in you, the chances of them buying your product are much higher than the new ones.

When you have limited money, it’s all the more important that you prioritize it on targeting the interested ones first. Connect with your existing fan base, it works.

Change

Startup D had spent some decent money in getting their products shot beautifully. The campaigns were doing well initially but with time, the CTR had reduced. On asking, when was the last time the images were changed, the answer was almost three months back. To add to that, all the good pictures were used in first burst itself. But then why do they need to plan for second or third bursts when the first one was doing so good? Well, simply because users get bored of seeing the same thing again and again. To add to that, this phone era has reduced our attention span to 8 seconds which is perhaps lesser than that of many living creatures. And the only method to grab attention these days is through striking visuals. Visuals attract attention and new images give a fresh perspective to your ads. Be it digital or any form of advertising, a good visual evokes emotions and enhances the consumer connect. This has been tried and tested since ages in all forms of advertising but is especially true in this digital era where we literally breathe and live our virtual life through images.

Change your ads frequently, especially the images. Even if you are advertising the same product or service, just change the visuals and see the impact on your CTR. In one of my last campaigns, it moved up by 3x.

Customize, Connect & Change — that’s it. Focus on these and your basics will be in place. And if basics are in place, we all know rest can be managed, enhanced and improved 🙂