4 things to help your baby with cold and flu

If your baby is less than a year old and is suffering from cold and blocked nose, do these 4 things to help him / her out:

  • Boil some drinking water in a vessel and take it off the gas stove. Get some palm candy and throw a fistful into the hot water. Remember not to boil the water with the candy in. The candies should only be soaked and allowed to dissolve in the hot water. Now, let the water cool down and keep feeding the baby this water all through the day (no more after sunset). Not only will he love it and ask for more, it will loosen up the phlegm and help clear congestion.
  • Make a garland of garlic cloves and tie it around the baby’s neck. This will help avoid congestion and also help dry up the phlegm gradually.
  • Check if your baby is running fever. If not, get some mustard oil in a small steel bowl and throw in some kalonji and garlic. Heat the oil till the garlic start loosing color. Take it off the heat and allow it to cool down. Give your baby a warm oil massage before bath.
  • Always keep by your bedside a bottle of nasal salt water spray. You will easily find them at medical stores. I used Nasoclear. If at night you find your baby finding it difficult to breathe, just pour a drop or two into each nostrils. Salt water loosens up the mucous and helps the baby to sleep peacefully. Sleep, again, is a good healer of cold.

Try all of the above together or as necessary. You will find a less to no cranky baby and a healthy one at that too.

with love 🙂


Save your bucks in multiple pockets

It’s almost the end of February. Time to plan your next year’s budget.

Let this year’s mantra be: Save. Save. Save. No matter how small.

This post will find resonance with those who are just starting out on their careers, work part-time or are looking to start saving money, and therefore wondering where to start.

Here’s what I did when I started:

  1. Public Provident Fund (PPF) account: Opening a PPF account early helped me discover the magic of compounding over longer periods, while it also inculcated in me a habit of saving more and see them multiply ;). Starting your PPF in late teens or early twenties gives you the leg up in covering the 15 year lock-in period while you still have less number of liabilities.
  2. Recurring Deposit (RD): This is another savings instrument I swored by. I started with Rs 500 a month, and at the end of a year I would have a substantial amount in my hand to put to good use. It was better than spending it on sundry things. Right? Thereon, I started timing my RDs. For instance, you need money during festivals, or do some small course or travel! Based on a rough estimation, I would time the RDs say a year or two years in advance. Like this I had spaced out a number of RDs against different months. It helped! Liquidity or cash was available with me when I most needed it. And when not used I would reinvest them into FDs or fixed deposit. This also proved to be a boon when it came to building the 6-month contingency fund (repeatedly advised by experts).
  3. Employee Provident Fund (EPF): I experienced the power of EPF starting with my second employer only. The beauty of EPF according to me lies in its high rate of interest and the fact that every month a little portion of your take home salary gets automatically deposited in your EPF accounted along with a contribution from your employers. You do not have to make an extra effort to save. The same account can be carried forward to your next employer.
  4. Mutual Fund (MF): This I was slow to start, but became a regular with systematic investment plans (SIP). One thing that I was careful about though was I committed what I could do without for, say next 5 years. This is because any market cycle, takes that much time to go full round. One big advantage of SIPs is they average out market risks, thereby giving good returns in the long run. Another thing that you do occasinally is track the performances of my MF schemes. This is something I started doing only when I was well into investing in MF, until then just invest in a good fund. And STAY invested no matter how the market is (Very Important :)).

Of course, I did not do all of the above at once. Time and patience are virtues when it comes to growing your money. Diligence is the key 😉

If you have any doubt regarding this, please feel free to comment. I will try to answer within my limited knowledge and experience. Until then, happy savings! 🙂


Ray Dalio, in this video, explains quite explicitly and in a simplistic manner how economics plays a great role in our everyday life. No matter how naive you are or choose to ignore the reality, economics exist and it impacts and affects everything we do.

Today, there is a growing trend of purchasing and selling everything on EMI – from a house to a toy set, a home appliance to even a book! If everybody takes a loan without really paying for it, we end up creating more and more credit that is many times higher than the cash in the economy (the interest helps credit grow exponentially as the same money is borrowed and re-borrowed in cycles). How will we ever pay for it?

Sellers are ready to sell products without receiving the full price, buyers are willing to purchase and use the product without paying for it. The proposition is so lucrative for buyers that they sometimes, in some cases most of the time, end up buying things they do not even require or can do without. in the case of sellers, it is all about meeting the targets in books. let the money come in later. in reality, somebody has to pay for the good and services manufactured in the economy. if the manufacturer produces goods taking a loan, the buyers purchases on EMI, and both take loan from the bank, and both, because they have to pay loans and EMIs do not have the money to save and therefore keep in the bank, where will the banks get money from to give more loans! Think about it.

How I saved valuable time in creating AP Style references with a plan

Lately, I have been editing a 65,000 words book for healthcare IT. Editing a book of such volume and topic comes with its own set of challenges (which I will not discuss in this post). One of the challenges is including numerous references, which if planned well can help avoid wasting your valuable time. Not to mention that a book goes through multiple rounds of reviews, and so do the references which mean that every time you have to keep updating the bibliography.

Every time you update the literature of a book, the chances are that you may delete or add 2-3 references. While the number may sound insignificant, consider updating these references among 100-200 (or more) other references that are already in place and numbered and hyperlinked.

This was not the first time I prepared the references for a document. However, it was the first time for a book of this magnitude. I was aware of the challenges involved and so planned by steps ahead of embarking on the activity. Here is what I did:

Created a separate file for reference: The manuscript was a heavy file both due to the content and the track changes. Trying to juggle around with references and citations would have slowed me down considerably. So I took a fresh file to prepare the citations. This also allowed me to number the citations that would later help me in numbering the references exported in the bibliography (In AP Style – References). All the actions now took place in this fresh and light file. The master file was only used to copy the links.

Used footnotes to create citations: The book had links to the referred sources in the form of hyperlinks. The author needed the references done in AP Style. He also wanted them to be arranged in the order and chapter-wise. Remember, the references can be created only after you have finished recording the citations in MS-word, and they are arranged in alphabetic order. So, for every link that I recorded the citation in the new file, in the master file, I numbered it using a footnote. Please note, I consciously used footnotes and not endnotes here. Every time you create an endnote, you will be shifted to the end of the document to allow you to enter the note. Time-consuming, right?

Converted footnotes to endnotes: Once I had all citations neatly done and numbered corresponding to footnote number in the master file, I converted the footnotes to endnotes in the master file. In the new file where the citations were created, I exported the references in AP Style. I was now ready to begin the referencing process. In the new file, I went to each citation by its number and right-clicked to select “edit source.” From here you have to copy the URL or some unique aspect of the citation (in the absence of the URL), and after closing the pop-up window, press ctrl+F and ctrl+V. The URL will help search the right AP Style reference in the file. Copy this reference and paste it against the right endnote in the master file.

Looked for missed hyperlinks: One thing will good to keep in mind here is that an author or an editor while writing, editing or formatting long manuscripts may often accidentally format a link too. This may result in masking the link to look like regular text. It is, therefore, advisable to run a search for hyperlinks in the manuscript and tally the numberings with the reference file (in my case the new file). This will help you to figure out the missing ones without disturbing the numbering of the citations or the references. Here is the link to using Microsoft’s advanced Find function to detect all hyperlinks in a document.

Following this plan helped me save a great deal of time and effort. I was able to complete citing and referencing 150+ links in one working day. It was also easy for me to update the list when the author requested for some changes in the references and provided updated links for some. Hope this will help you too to save time with your projects.

Do let me know or write to me to share your experiences in creating such hacks.

Happy writing.

How to help your kid recover from cold faster?

It’s rainy season in Bangalore. This means it’s pretty cold here and flu is in every house. It is very difficult to keep my kid away from water and put on warm clothes for him. So every now and then he is down with a runny nose.

Here’s what I do to keep him on his feet and reduce his crankiness:

  • Keep him well hydrated: Nobody likes to drink cold and plain water in cold. The same is true with babies. So, I first boil some water, drop in a few palm candies and let it cool down, before serving the sweet water to my kid. Not only does it appeal to his taste buds, but also helps prevent congestion. Palm candy also helps the body to get rid of a cough easily.
  • Serve soups: When suffering from cold and cough the appetite to eat solid or regular food automatically goes down. However, it is very important to keep up the nutrient levels to help the body fight infections. To make up for regular food I serve him with fruity yoghurts and homemade clear soups. Some of the soups that you can easily serve your baby or kid: Pumpkin-Dal-Veg Soup, Chicken Clear Soup, Dal-ka-Paani and Vegetable-Sevai Soup.
  • Warm oil massage: Who doesn’t like a warm oil massage? Kids love them too. When your baby has a runny nose, which is also considered stage one of any cold, you can use this oil concoction to warm up your baby or kid, especially the palms of the hand and feet. Take a little of the concoction and rub vigorously to generate heat. It helps and works like a magic.


Oil Concoction: Take some mustard oil, little Kalonji and 1-2 garlic pods. Heat them together in an aluminum or steel bowl, until the Kalonji, and garlic sizzle. Allow it to cool down to a comfortable temperature. Now apply the oil and massage.


  • For a peaceful night’s sleep: Do the oil massage before dinner. Dab away the excess oil, if any, with a cotton cloth to avoid sweating. Take 2-3 drops of Zinda Tilismath on a piece of cotton cloth and let your baby inhale.

Hope this is helpful to you as well. Do let me know.

Chikkamagaluru – The Land Of Coffee

1Source: Chikkamagaluru

Chikkamagaluru district is also known as the land of coffee.

Coffee is not native to India. They are originally from Brazil. In India, they came through the Arab route.

In the 17th century, Baba Budan, a Sufi saint, brought seven coffee beans from Yemen to Chikkamagaluru. He went to Arab to perform Hajj and on his way back crossed Yemen. There he tasted coffee and wanted to grow them in India. However, the Yemen administration was strict about exporting any raw beans outside the country, as they wanted to have a monopoly over the trade. Baba Budan somehow managed to smuggle out the beans and sow them in the Baba Budan range. Luckily for him, Chikkamagaluru and India, the seeds germinated and grew into healthy coffee plants.

Apart from Chikkamagaluru, two other districts grow coffee in India — Coorg and Sakleshpur.

In Chikkamagaluru, two types of coffee plants are grown – Arabica and Robusta. Both have distinctive characteristics that make them commercially in demand globally. From a farming perspective, it is more viable for planters to grow them both to optimize their RoI.

Places of Interest

Mullayanagiri – This is the highest peak in Karnataka. There is a temple at the top and the view is splendid. The peak Mullayanagiri got its name from tapasvi Mulappa Swamy, who meditated there in a cave. The temple is built on his samadhi. The other temple is Sitalayanagiri, which is 2 kms before reaching the top of Mullayanagiri. It is an old temple and is a favorite spot of the Karnataka film making industry.

The temple walls on top of Mullayangiri and the surrounding view taken in panorama mode

There are two routes to the top — one is the concrete road via Sitalayanagiri temple and goes all the way up to the foothill of the final stretch to the peak. From there you have to climb up stairs to reach the top. The climb is not a difficult one as the steps are low to moderately high; the other road is for trekkers and starts at Sarpadhari.

Dattagiri / Baba Budangiri — Baba Budan range or the Chandra Drona Range consists of some of the highest peaks of Karnataka or the entire South India. Mullayanagiri is one of them. At a distance of approximately 24 kms from Mullayangiri is the Baba Budan / Lord Dattatreya temple or Dargah in a cave. It is equally revered by both Hindus and Muslims.

There are a couple of waterfalls in the area: Manikyadhara and Jhari. It is advisable to visit them on weekdays to avoid the rush of the local crowd. We could not see either, as it was a Sunday and the places were jam-packed with people. We even got caught in a traffic jam. Can you believe it? Traffic jam in the hills of Chikkamagaluru.

Belur-Halebidu — These are the sites of two temples built by the Hoysala Kingdom and are known for their beautiful architecture and carvings on rocks. The carvings are finer and more detailed than what today’s craftsmen can do with wood. Each stone mural is different in its mudra. Variations can be seen in the form of minute details such as a change in eye-expression.

Of the two, Belur is a complete temple where rituals are performed and festivals are celebrated. Halebidu has been declared as a heritage site and no Pooja or rituals are performed here.

Coffee plantation — Coffee plantation tours are not a commonplace in India, unlike tea plantation tours. We were lucky to get a tour as one of my colleagues, who has a coffee estate in Chikkamagaluru was in town at the same time and was kind enough to show us around the whole estate. He even introduced us to the whole coffee-making process, the varieties of coffee, and other interesting facts about growing coffee in India. And the best part of this whole things was we went around the whole estate in his Willy’s jeep. A very old one, but o boy! what a jeep.

While these are some of the places that we managed to visit over our short weekend trips, Chikkamagaluru district per se is huge, spread over 7,201 Km2. There are many other places to visit that cannot be covered all at a time. You need to plan separately for them. Here’s a link that lists them all.

Food Venture

Town Canteen — The place in Chikkamagaluru to have masala dosa. Nothing can beat it. You have once, you will want to have again and again, is all that I can say about this place. So when in Chikkamagaluru go, DO NOT miss out on this place. It is one of the oldest places in Chikkamagaluru town.

Town Canteen








Homestays — Most homestays in Chikkamagaluru offer good food. The place where we stayed (or stay whenever we go) is Atithi Homestay. Their cook Krishna is awesome. Call it breakfast, snacks or chicken recipes, he has mastered them all.

I wish I had some pictures to share, but unfortunately I am always too busy eating and enjoying. May be next time. 🙂

Why you need Design Thinking in an agile world?

In a digital world, technology disruptions are affecting the lives of consumers and businesses equally. The control, however, has shifted into the hands of consumers. It is they who decide what stays (and what goes away). Enterprises should listen to what customers want and innovate. Design thinking can help.

Listen to what your customers want 

The world is changing fast. Technology is disrupting the ways consumers and businesses think and interact. The influence of social media is growing. All this is empowering customers to take control of their choices, likes, and preferences. Customers expect their favorite brands to understand their needs. They want brands to provide them with solutions based on this understanding. And they are very clear about it.

Why do products fail?   

Every year 80-90% of products that come to the market fail.


  • Bad product design
  • A high-level leader
  • Value for money
  • Does not answer customers’ needs

What would be your answer?

Well, if you ask me, none of the first three. For if it were, products like Segway, the two-wheeled transportation device, Google Glass and Amazon FirePhone would not have failed. They were all great products – good designs, great concepts, disruptive innovations – but, they still failed in the market. There is one thing common among these three products though – they did not solve a customer issue or respond to a user need.

As Clayton Christensen, the innovation guru, said that for a successful product in the market it is important for the product to solve a customers’ need. Anything else, and you will perish sooner or later – even if the product is predicted or promoted as a game changer or as a disruptive innovation.

User-centered innovations

By understanding what customers want and developing an idea or product around it can help organizations develop user-centered innovations. However, more often than not, the development process fails to sustain the focus on the user-problem.

An organization by adopting the design-centric culture inherits a set of principles that enables its people to have a common platform and language to discuss ideas. It also enables them to bring the feasible ideas to life.

As Tim Brown, IDEO, says, “Design thinking is a system that uses the designer’s sensibility and methods to match people’s needs with what is technologically feasible and what a viable business can convert into consumer value and market opportunity.”

Here’s how Design Thinking works

There are many definitions of Design Thinking available on the Internet. Irrespective of the multiple explanations offered by different thinkers and writers, at the core Design Thinking is all about 3 Principles:

  1. Observation, recognition and empathy for users
  2. Ideation and innovation
  3. Iteration for constant improvements

Design thinking is primarily about a disciplined approach to understand your target customers and their needs. Followed by an empathetic approach to framing and reframing the problem statement. Then facilitate and promote active participations of diverse team of stakeholders vertically and horizontally across an organization for brainstorming of ideas. Ideas that are not design-centric alone, but ideas that attempt at solving the user-issue defined in the problem statement. This is very important – to maintain the course of the thinking process. It is also important to keep in mind that shortlisted ideas should be feasible technologically and economically. And lastly, but not in the least, do not stop there. Continue the process based on customers’ feedbacks this time and improve the product, solution or the model.

Applying Design Thinking

One of the best applications of Design Thinking in medical design is the area of prosthetics. Some of the oldest prosthetics were made of wooden or metal blocks. However, in the late 16th century French Army surgeon designed one of the most advanced prosthetic of that time. This prosthetic allowed the flexibility to bend the knee, and therefore increased mobility. Since then continuous effort to improve prosthetics has been on due to many war casualties. With recent technological disruptions, medical devices companies gathering more user information to understand their needs better. They are collaborating with users and other stakeholders in the medical world to develop sophisticated prosthetics that can imitate the functionality and mobility of a biological limb. Touch Bionics is one such company that manufactures hand prosthetics with advanced gesture control and manipulations. It allows the user greater mobility and increased strength.

Similar user-centered innovations will soon be visible in other areas of medical technology as well.

Understanding Healthcare IT

Healthcare IT is the new philosopher’s stone. Everybody wants a piece of it.

So, what is the big deal? Well, for one, it is a billion dollar market. According to the Grand View Research, the global healthcare IT market is estimated to touch USD 104.5 billion by 2020.

The US healthcare industry is the costliest in the world, however, it is one of the worst performing industry when it comes to healthcare outcomes. To regulate and streamline the industry, the US government, in 2010, passed regulatory laws under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The laws mandated healthcare insurance companies to bring in certain reforms that put the consumers in charge of their health. During the same time, Triple Aim was included in the US national strategy for tackling health issues within the triple aim framework, especially under the ACA. The Triple Aim is a framework within which providers, payers and legislators can design and provide value based care.

So now,

Under ACA Before ACA
Payers should reimburse based on the value of care delivered to patients. Patients with pre-conditions also have the right to be insured. Payers reimbursed for services provided by healthcare providers (fee-for-service). This inflated the US healthcare industry. There was a huge variation in terms of cost of healthcare across the country.
Providers are responsible for providing care across the entire health care continuum. It is about the value and not the volume of care provided. Providers earned based on the number of tests and scans prescribed to the patient. The more the number of services provided, higher the cost of treatment. Although that was not a guarantee that the best care was being provided to the patient.
Patients are at the center of value-based care provided by healthcare providers. Patients were at the receiving end of whatever care was prescribed or delivered by the provider. Cost escalated while care deteriorated.

To enable providers to deliver best quality care at the least possible cost, payers to reimburse effectively based on the value of care provided to patients, patients to cooperate with the payers and providers to enable value-based care it is important to create a 360º view into patient care. This is where healthcare IT helps by providing the right technology that will:

  • Enable real-time monitoring and aggregation of data
  • Support real-time analysis of data
  • Allow the seamless flow of solid information to get a holistic view of patient data
  • Facilitate interoperability
  • Secure patient data
  • Aid population health management
  • Assist informed decision making in healthcare
  • Permit scalability and flexibility of operations

What do you think?

Why I got my baby a walker?

The Joy of Mobility

First, man discovered fire, and then he found wheels!… And then, he never stopped.
First, man invented fire, and then he discovered wheels!… And then, he never stopped.

For some time, we have been contemplating about buying a walker for our 8-months-old little fellow. However, the much discussed dangers and drawbacks associated with baby walkers prevented us from deciding anything.

Time passed, and my little fellow consistently refused to roll or be on his fours. He, however, loves to be on his two. The joy of doing ‘haati haati pa pa’ is a gleeful activity. After his afternoon nap, he insists to be taken out to the balcony, where he can jump up and down to his heart’s content and watch the vehicles pass by. While someone can assist him in his exploration and other physical activities, we thought we should give him a chance to explore on his own.

So, three days back, we got him a walker from the local market. In the morning we put him in the walker. At first, he wondered. Gradually, he discovered it moves if he kicked the floor. He was delighted with his new found mobility. He could now reach the sofa handle, the sliding door to the balcony, bump against the sofa and so on… Of course, someone has to be around him all the time. You should never leave a child alone. The joy of doing something on your own is unique.

I must admit though that this did not reduce his lap time in any way. After all, babies love to cuddle up and feel your warmth. 🙂