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International travel with a toddler

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We recently got back from a month long (almost) vacation to India with our two year old toddler in tow.  Our travels included the expected – some jet lag, some shopping, good food, a lot of quality time with grandparents and family … generally a good but tiring trip.

I must admit, I was a little nervous before the trip.  My two primary concerns were how our little girl would do on a long journey (and adjustment for time differences) and  how her little body would handle a totally different environment with completely different strains of viruses etc that she was not really exposed to.  So, I’m happy to say that she did really well on both the travel and the health front.

Now, a lot of parents have asked how we did and what lessons and advice we had to share, so I thought this might be a good topic to post.  Lets first start with travel:

1) Stroller stroller -where art thou: If you do not have a direct flight to your destination, find out if your preferred airline is willing to gatecheck your stroller.  This way you will have it at the layover airport and don’t have to carry your toddler across the airport or look for those elusive stroller rentals.  Don’t assume that they always will gatecheck and double check that the stroller is tagged correctly otherwise it will end up going through immigration at your layover airport while you continue on to your final destination!

2) Dim the lights: If you want your toddler to sleep, dim all the lights you can, shut off your personal TV (and theirs of course) and wait for them to nod off.  If you are lucky and your child tends to sleep in a carseat, she/he is most likely to sleep with the motion of the flight as well.  You can switch on your TV or turn on your lights for a book after they are off to dreamland!

3) Its PJ time:  Try to dress your toddler in comfortable PJ style clothing.  The last thing you want is a child who cannot get comfortable in their seat because of their outfit.  We dressed our little one in these super cute jumpers from mylittlepakora – they were really soft and comfy with no obtrusive buttons or clasps…so they kind of felt like PJ’s but looked adorable

Monkey Jumper

Monkey Jumper

4) Carry entertainment:  If your toddler is not asleep, she/he is going to get bored soon.  Carry entertainment that is somewhat travel proof.  Eg. a small portable DVD player, some lightweight story books, a small soft toy for comfort.  We loved these twistable crayons from crayola -they were sturdy and the plastic shell protected them from breaking when dropped!

5) Stock up on milk: This point is for toddlers who have been transitioned to regular milk. The airline will allow you to carry some milk on board of course but you will need to restock it before you get to your final destination.  Flight attendants may not be easily available to get you milk as your child needs…so try to stock up with a small bottle at the layover airport.  They are usually available in the refrigerated section of the convenience stores.  More on milk and travel in the next post

6) Airport lounges: For those of you who have a long layover do some research on paid airport lounges.  They are comfortable, keep you plied with fruit, water and beverages and give your toddler the opportunity to run around in a relaxed setting.

Above all, try to enjoy traveling with your toddler.  Use this time as an opportunity to teach your toddler about the destination, the concept of flying, planes and anything else you can think about.  When we got back, our little girl pointed at a plane in the sky and asked me “Going to India?”…now thats precious!

Written by Redpatang

January 12, 2012 at 4:04 pm

Amul craze

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Take a drive down any road in a major metro in India and you will come across large billboards with bright colorful cartoons featuring a wide -eyed little girl and witty tag line or pun sure to bring a chuckle or smile.  These are the famous Amul ads – meant to sell plain ol butter (under the brand name Amul)….but the ads themselves have become a cultural phenomenon that is now more than 30 years old!

Take a look at this one for starters – its a comment on the skyrocketing fuel prices :

Or this funny take on the cartoon Kung Fu Panda:

For all of you feeling pangs of nostalgia for these timeless cartoons, check out the ‘best of’ collection of amul ads on their website

There’s even a facebook page dedicated to the amul ads and at the time this post was published, it was at 68K fans!  Check it out at  here.

Utterly butterly delicious – Amul!

Written by Redpatang

September 16, 2011 at 4:22 pm

A stirring rendition of the Indian National Anthem

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One might say every rendition of the Indian National Anthem is stirring but this particular one really pulls at the heartstrings.  Conducted by AR Rahman, this version features Indian classical greats like Pundit Hariprasad Chaurasia and Pundit Shivkumar Sharma.  The sound of each instrument seamlessly flows into the next …weaving together a beautiful tapestry of sound.

Jana-Gana-Mana was originally composed in Bengali by Noble Laureate Rabindranath Tagore and adopted by the Constituent Assembly as the National Anthem of India in 1950. As we approach the celebration of the Indian Independence day (August 15th) -its only fitting that I share this with you today.

Enjoy this if you haven’t heard it before and join in the re-discovery if you have.

Project Akshar

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Our internet travels brought us to the doorstep of  a social outreach project called Project Akshar (Akshar literally means Alphabet in Hindi).   Project Akshar was founded in 2009 as an initiative by the students of Shaheed Sukhdev College of Business Studies which is part of an international not-for-profit organisation, SIFE (Students In Free Enterprise).

This very unique project works as follows:  One side used paper is collected from corporates and colleges across Delhi and is transported to the Delhi Foundation of Deaf Women.  Here, hearing impaired women  bind these used sheets into eco friendly notebooks which are finally sold  at various premium stores and stationary retailers across Delhi at a profit that benefits the women.   The women also produce affordable notebooks for children from the rural and slum areas who could not have otherwise been able to afford books.

Project Akshar

We loved the idea behind this win-win project which not only attempts to minimize the impact of the carbon footprint but also empowers the hearing impaired …providing them with a decent livelihood and bringing the possibility of an education to children who would have otherwise not had the means or resources.

We were curious what a typical day looked like for the leadership team which is currently made up of 40 students and over 120 volunteers and were told that between balancing college, holding meetings and brainstorming sessions, they also manage the collection and transportation of paper from corporates and colleges which is a non stop activity of teamwork and coordination…whew!

So how can you help?  If you are an institution based in India you can contribute your one-side used paper and your unused packaging materials to this great cause and the team can even make arrangements for collection boxes at your offices.  Everyone else  (in India and abroad) can help with financial donations…simply write to the email address below telling them you’d like to make a donation.

In just 2 months, Project Akshar currently collects and re-used 60,000 sheets of one side used waste paper …imagine the possibilities if we could all lend a hand…or in this case ‘a page’!

Support Project Akshar on Facebook , follow them on twitter and email if you’d like to offer financial help.

Written by Redpatang

July 19, 2011 at 10:51 am

Posted in Helping India

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Ok …so this post was inspired by Alicia‘s “How to make Chapati like a pro” illustration that we recently featured.

Roti’s aka chapatis are soft handrolled and puffed round breads that look like tortillas- but are like biting into papery clouds of wheat goodness…mmm.  Most fans of Indian food are familiar with Naans and the Tandoor but the lovely roti has been left behind in the culinary hall of fame.

A roti is usually made out of fine wheat flour and for those who want to try their hand at it here are the basic steps:

1) Mix wheat flour (you get a special fine variety especially for rotis at any Indian store) with a pinch of salt and water….enough to make a dough.  The consistency of the dough should be like soft playdough.  2) Separate the dough into golf size balls…wet hands work well.  3) Dip the balls into the flour and flatten with your palms.  4) With a rolling pin and well floured surface, roll the roti into an even thin circle trying to avoid lumps and tears or the roti wont puff up.  5) Heat a flat pan/griddle and place the roti on the pan till you see little bubbles of air puffing the surface of the roti.  6) With flat tongs, quickly drop the roti on an open flame (yes I’m serious!). The roti will puff up almost like a water balloon does

The roti puffs up on an open flame

Spread a thin layer of clarified butter on the piping hot roti and serve with your choice of vegetable/gravy or dal.  Warning: these soft rotis are highly addictive 🙂

And for us modern folks who love the marvel of engineering, here is a video on a roti machine that has been making the rounds on the internet.  Now, that’s something I wish they made in a smaller size for a regular kitchen!

Written by Redpatang

July 2, 2011 at 2:50 pm

Beyond supporting a small business

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As a new entrepreneur, I find it more and more important to support small businesses.  In an era where the personal connection with big conglomerates is lost behind outsourced customer service and automated answering services – sometimes a small business can surprise you with the extent of customer care and effort to make you happy.

Because behind every small business is a hardworking entrepreneur – be it a young kid out of college or a mom who wants to manage her own schedule or just a couple who had a dream.  They may have invested their own hard-earned savings or perhaps relied on friends and family to get them started. I try to think of the face behind every business…. and we are now trying to support small businesses more than ever.  For small businesses and startups bring an all important component to us as consumers – choice. Can you imagine a world where you had only one manufacturer of bags, one clothing manufacturer and only one retailer who you could buy from?

And yet, I’m guilty of not taking the time to give a shout out to small startups who need it.  I recently saw a friend / colleague post a picture of a birthday cake on facebook that a little neighborhood bakery had made for her daughters birthday.  That  post probably brought visibility to at least half her friends and I’m sure the bakery will get at least one more order because of it.  Kudos to you (you know who you are) and thank you for making me realize we all need to do more to support small businesses beyond the initial purchase.

So, think about it – do you take the time to share your new small business find? I know I will going forward.  And thank you to all our dear customers and fans who have shared our name or taken the time to connect with us….we love you for it!

Written by Redpatang

June 7, 2011 at 4:03 pm

Posted in Red Patang

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RK Laxman’s “The common man”

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If you read the Times of India anywhere from the 1950’s onwards, you couldn’t have missed the little comic strip “You said it” featuring  the common man by RK Laxman.

The common man

This caricature could be found in the daily comic strip, peeping down manholes, observing speeches, fights and  games.  He is usually a silent witness to all the action around him but ah… so memorable.

So for all of you who feel the same nostalgia, here are some timeless strips.  Enjoy!

The common man celebrated 50 years  sometime ago -he  has been featured on a commemorative stamp as well as honored by way of a 10 foot bronze statue at the Symbiosis Institute (Pune).

So you want to be an entrepreneur….er…Congratulations?!!

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Its been almost 3 weeks since I bid adieu to corporate life and dove deep into the world of entrepreneurship.  And here we are -with a fresh new website, a growing fan following and a lot of ideas on products we want to add next.

When I first told my friends and colleagues that I wanted to quit a successful career and give up a good steady salary, I expected rational responses like “What’s wrong with you?” and serious attempts to convince me to give up this foolishness.  Instead I was met with a very positive reaction followed by the word “Congratulations”.

Yes…“Congratulations [kuhn-grach-uhley-shuh: noun] = an expression of joy in the success or good fortune of another.”  An unexpected reaction since we hadn’t achieved anything yet…or had we?

We had achieved the first big step – taking action.  It takes some level of recklessness to want to become an entrepreneur.  It’s an action that brings financial risk hand in hand with the dream of creating ones own destiny.  I had the good fortune of speaking with Jim Koch (founder of The Boston Beer Co) about Redpatang and he wisely said “The risk isn’t as big as you think it is.  The only risk is not doing it”!

So before I say “Congratulations” to other would-be entrepreneurs, here are some things I have already learnt:

My supportive someone

You need an amazing and supportive someone …(could be your business partner – in my case it turned out to be my husband/best friend) who can dream with you and cheer you on.

You aren’t the first one to do it….ask the trail blazers for advice.  I have been fortunate to find so many amazing new friends and colleagues in the form of suppliers/bloggers/designers in this short time and they have become my teachers and guides.

In good company

You need some company (even if said company curls up on your feet and snores all day).  Leaving a buzzing corporate environment can get lonely till you have your own peeps.   I try to reach out to human company for face-to-face contact every week even if it’s just for a simple cup of tea.

Your customer needs to be treated like you would want to be.  Before I make any decision I try to ask myself, , “Would I buy this?”, “Would I pay this price?”, “How fast would I want my shipment to arrive?”.

You need to stay positive all the time.  There’s enough in the world to try to shake you. You don’t need to add self – doubt to the list.  And finally but most importantly…

You need to learn to have fun along the way.  It’s a long road and you could either spend it worrying, worrying and biting your nails or worrying only some of the time (don’t forget to lean on that supportive someone we talked about earlier when you do worry) and enjoying the rest of the journey!

Feel free to comment if you have anything to add – we’d love to hear from you.

-Swapna and the rest of the Redpatang team (including company that sleeps at my feet)

Written by Redpatang

March 16, 2011 at 5:33 am

Posted in Red Patang

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