Wednesday, September 27, 2017

4 Surprising Lessons from Former Cybercriminals - By Roxanna Ramzipoor

4 Surprising Lessons from Former Cybercriminals - By Roxanna Ramzipoor
They say that crime doesn’t pay, and that’s often true – but some former hackers have enjoyed lucrative afterlives as security consultants, once they’ve finished their jail time. Others have drawn on their experiences to write novels. Many ends up authoring nonfiction for consumers and business owners looking to protect themselves from…well, people like the author.
To some, the ethical merits of hiring former fraudsters to do security work are debatable. Regardless of your moral proclivities, though, it’s hard to deny the former criminals’ expertise. Here are four surprising lessons that these cyber criminals-turned-good-guys have to teach us.

1. Stealing your identity is easy.

Actually, it’s embarrassingly easy. In his book The Art of Invisibilityformer hacker Kevin Mitnick says that an average hacker can commit identity theft using a computer or mobile device in just 60 seconds. Most “private” information is accessible through databases maintained by information brokers. Mitnick, who’s known as the “world’s greatest hacker,” says that most fraudsters can use these databases to access social security numbers, birthdates, addresses, and phone numbers. This personal information can then be leveraged in account takeover (ATO) attacks.
And it doesn’t stop there. You probably remember when John Podesta, Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign chair, fell victim to a hack that claimed his emails, which were then leaked throughout the campaign – but Mitnick says that with the right training, a 14-year-old could have committed that attack. Hackers aren’t usually the sophisticated, high-tech characters we see in movies, he explains. Just about anyone is capable of manufacturing a legitimate-looking link that, once clicked, exposes the victim’s information.

2. When it comes to online safety, people are the weakest link.

Though hackers may disagree on the best methods for duping a victim, they all agree on one thing: human fallibility. Cybercriminals often attribute their success to their victims’ carelessness, regardless of whether those victims are businesses or individuals. In his book Kingpinhacker-turned-security-consultant Kevin Poulsen describes how a group of cybercriminals exploited careless businesses and their employees to steal credit card numbers.
As these criminals discovered, internet security systems can be consistently dependable, but the people operating them sometimes can’t. The hackers of Kingpin – and Poulsen himself – relied on social engineering to carry out their dastardly deeds. Instead of spending time and resources building programs to infiltrate personal or corporate accounts, the cybercriminals simply tricked people into handing over private information.

3. Online safety is impossible to guarantee.

How do you make sure your data is safe online? Former cybercriminals get this question a lot. The more information people store online, the more they fear that a fraudster might get ahold of it. As reformed hacker Mark Abene explains, it’s a catch-22: as technology gets better, fraudsters get better at what they do. So, how do you guarantee your safety online?
Former hacker Kevin Mitnick says that short of completely erasing your online presence, it’s impossible to 100% guarantee online safety. And to completely disappear online, you’d have to take three difficult steps: first, scrub your devices of their IP addresses; second, obscure your hardware and software so fraudsters can’t figure out what device you’re using to get online, and third, create anonymous email accounts that aren’t associated with your social media, online payment programs, gas or electric bill, student loans, or anything else.

4. Understanding cybercriminals is the key to beating them.

Robert Schifreen, a former hacker and author of Defeating the Hacker, says “[t]here’s no such thing as an unhackable network.” But by understanding how cybercriminals operate, he explains, businesses and ordinary users can beat them at their game. The bottom line is that hackers and fraudsters want to maximize gains while minimizing effort. What does that mean for businesses and consumers? You can deter fraudsters by making their lives just a little more difficult.
Former cybercriminals agree that there’s no way to guarantee your privacy online, but they also cite one reliable method for keeping would-be fraudsters at bay: multi-factor authentication. Multi-factor authentication secures your data by requiring more than one piece of information to confirm your identity, like a PIN and a password, or a passphrase and an answer to a personal question. Cracking this extra layer of protection requires more effort than a typical hacker is willing to invest.
Businesses that require employees to use multi-factor authentication are less likely to suffer data breaches. That’s why reformed cyber criminals insist that companies and lay people use it to secure their data. In fact, Kevin Mitnick goes so far as to say that Podesta may have prevented the email hacking scandal just by enabling multi-factor authentication on his mobile device. No one can say for sure whether that’s true, but why take the chance?


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Saturday, September 23, 2017

Walk a Mile in my shoes

Walk a Mile in my shoes


Walk a mile in my shoes is a relatable topic. Everyone has a god gifted life and one should be happy with what the Almighty has given them. But it doesn't seem that many people are happy with their life.  Others personal life intrigues them and they start prying into others personal space. It is not a right thing to do before you are completely aware of what the other person's life is!

We as Indians are good at judging people and jumping to conclusions. We don't need a court of a judge to give the verdict. We are our own judges who can enter personal space of people and sneak peak into others life. You won't understand the pain of the person and it might be easy for you to make public discussions about something that is personal to them. Understand that everyone has their own life and we need to worry about our life because that is what should matter the most to us.  Never compare your kids with your friend's kid or Sharma ji's kids.  You were the one who worked hard for your children. Support them by creating and giving them a better standard and quality of life for them. Comparing them will only break your children's morale and confidence. 

Never express unwanted sympathy for people with terminal illness.  You never lived their pain and their pain might be unknown to you but known to people who care them the most. They have walked through the terrible rocky roads full of struggles and pain. Help them by making them better instead of showing them fake sympathies. It is the most difficult situation in anyone's life.  

You all should walk a mile in someone's shoes before you get judgemental about someone. Stop poking your ugly nose into someone's personal area and leave them for their own good.  Trust me, life will be more beautiful if you mind your own business and let others mind their own business. Almighty has designed everyone's life in such a way that they get an equal proportion of everything. It's just that some unlucky ones get the most of it and live a terrible life. 

For all such people, trust me life will be beautiful once again. The sun shall shine brightly. The early birds would warble nice tunes for you. It will rain happiness in your distressful life. It is a matter of time. Ignore the hate mongers who arrive in your life to cause problems. Just dump those negative energies outside your door. Accept what life offers you. Breath in Happiness and Breath out the negativities from your life. That is the best thing to do today, tomorrow and every day and you deserve to stay happy. SO, the next time when people talk about you, just go nearby them and say,
"Walk a Mile  in my shoes.."
This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda
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It's all because of blogging!

It's all because of blogging!


I agree that blogging has got in lots of significance in my life. Of course, it helped me in making my life less boring. I started blogging at a time when people didn't know the definition or perhaps the idea of a blog. In fact, when someone asked me about my hobby, I would smirk and find out ways to get rid of this question. Blogging was my hobby. I would research during my leisure time and find interesting stuff to read. It was during one of those leisure time that I discovered the idea of blogging. I agree it was no fun but yes I saw the emergence of new blogging communities that tried to build up a model conceptualizing blogs. Of course, many of these communities grew big and minting good money. For once, I never thought that blogging would be a good business for many in future. I come across people compiling stuff from multiple websites, changing the verbiage and constructing a brand new post out of it.  That is the new world of blogging. Some tag it plagiarism. Originality is something that has gone for a toss. No longer people love original stuff. 

Talking about the good old days, I really didn't know how and why I started this blog. This question perturbs me even after 11 glorious years of blogging. WHY? I had no intentions of making money out of it nor I did want to impress people or may be transform into a big writer or make a living out of blogging. No, I had no such plans but still why I chose to blog?  It was a random experiment. Just that I was good at writing essays during my school days and kids (my schoolmates) used to nag me to write compositions and essays. Since childhood, I never had this habit of saying NO. I am learning to say NO but I simply can't. That is one of the strength that I mention during my interviews when the Interviewer asks about my strength.  Well, the idea is simple. I write for myself. I love it, so I do. Isn't that simple enough?!

By the time I stepped into my final year,  I saw an unusual trend. People who used to mock at the very idea of blogging started creating blogs and I even know many who are successful at it. Brands started approaching these so-called Online Blogging communities and started paying them big to make the bloggers write about topics.  I somehow believe that the blogging started to get commercialized during this period. I witnessed a healthy rise in the number of active blogger participation in these contests. Some of them even crossed boundaries and limits to ensure they won the contest. I remember the days where whenever I logged into Facebook, I would get chat messages on the messenger asking me to write nice comments on their blog posts and share them on my profile.  I admit I did this for some but eventually, I got irked. It was during that time that I, with my two other friends started an online community blog named 'The Writers Lounge' that advocated collaborative writing and it was created for the love of writing. People who loved writing and reading good articles were always welcomed. Our doors were always opened for them and Sandeep Balan and Asbah Alaena played a vital role in it.  We grew up into a good team but as they say that everything has an end. Our dearest Lounge faded too quick. I have many fond memories associated with that web space. Be it the creation of Sandeep Malan or the StepMan, a spoof series based out of co-founders Sandeep Balan and yours truly (StepMan for Ste) or be it Excellence in Writing or any other creative writing, we loved it all. I would find the opportunity to come online and visit that place even if I had a limited internet access.  Oh, Wait! there was fun too. 

But I started abhorring the idea of writing for brands then. It felt like dictating terms and conditions but yes, I stay guilty too. Even I have participated in many of those contests and even won some. My first even blogging victory was some Surf Excel contest where I won a consolation prize of a wireless mouse that I still have! The idea of genuinely writing comments on blogs dimmed. I gradually started growing into a butterfly from a caterpillar as I stepped into the corporate life that welcomed me with lots of challenges. I understood that this was a different world and to make most of it, I had to focus less on blogging. But still, whenever I had an opportunity, I did write and made the most of it. With each passing day, I started getting more chat pings on Facebook, with people asking me to write comments, like and vote for them. Some would even tag me on their facebook posts. Many unknown strangers would send friend requests on Facebook and the very next moment they would send invitation to like their Facebook Blog page. Amazing, Isn't it? Some would get more creative and tag a bulk of bloggers on Twitter. Thanks to Twitter for lifting the character limitations on images and some bloggers make good use of it. Some bloggers do have their own Bloggers broadcast list on Whatsapp where they would regularly update by sending messages whenever they posted a new blog story.  I should agree that bloggers get more creative. We, as bloggers, should learn to explore opportunities whenever available. 

The entire essence of blogging as an area of improvement for writing has collapsed. Blogging may fit into a category of media but remember that blogging is something that is going to be the best thing in future. Brands will keep flooding, looking for bloggers, shelling out money. That's how blogging has evolved from the early 2000's till now!
Never stop pinging me to like your blog posts or read it, I admit I'm busy these days but that doesn't stop me from reading your stuff.  When I look behind, I laugh at myself that something I started as a random experiment has earned a lot for me in these years. I have met the best of people, best of writers, earned great contacts, made best friends and what not.  It's all because of blogging!




Written as part of Indispire
Top post on IndiBlogger, the biggest community of Indian Bloggers
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Friday, September 22, 2017

Rush Hour Karting pledges to raise $25000 for the Hurricane victims

Rush Hour Karting raise fundings for Hurricane Victims US East Coast
Rush Hour Karting to raise funds for the  Hurricane victims
The past few weeks have caused major turbulence in the US east coast as well as the Carribean islands and other islands in its vicinity.  The positive note about these natural calamities is that many people are coming together to support each other,  even when they are in different regions.

Rush Hour Karting in Garner, North Carolina is dedicating the entire month of September to raise funding for the Hurricane victims.  All the proceeds from this fundraiser will be presented to the American Red Cross for relief efforts. Their goal is to raise $25,000 and we all can help them share the word.
Rush Hour Karting, located in Garner, N.C., is dedicating the entire month of September to raising funds for Hurricane Harvey victims. Starting immediately, one dollar will be donated to the Red Cross for every race purchased. Additionally, racers can get their second race free by donating $12.

 "It is our responsibility as business owners to stay involved and assist those in need, not just in our community, but in EVERY community that is in dire need of help.  And the devastation in Houston, Corpus Christi, and all of southern Texas and Louisiana, requires all of us to come together, and use our resources to get involved, any which way we can.  And, even though we are a business which entails fun and entertainment, even though we are 1,500 miles away, we still must strive to make a difference for the victims of Hurricane Harvey.  We are still one great and beautiful nation together. So come, race, have some fun, and know that we are still helping and thinking of our brothers and sisters that will get back on their feet, and be riding go-karts also, very soon!” – Adam Saad, Owner / Operator, of  Rush Hour Karting said on 8/31/2017

About Rush Hour Karting
Since 2005, Rush Hour has been known to have the fastest karts in North Carolina. No matter what it’s like outside, it's always racing time at their indoor facility. With their European designed carts going around 40 mph over 1/3 mile track with hairpin curves and high-speed straights, this indoor racing is not like your typical family fun park. After the indoor karting rush, cool down at their sports tavern! All food is made in-house, and they're known to have some of the best gourmet burgers in town!

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Sunday, September 10, 2017

The 89 year old Child!

Not all would disagree with me if I say that there is a child in each one of us. But unfortunately, due to mounting stress and pressure, the child in us ceases to grow. Yes, that's a virtual child that lives in our body. Life is such that it steals away the happiness and joy by making out life more stressful. We get obsessed with our job and that eventually alienates us, weakening the bond with our family.  

That's my baby sister with my grandparents in the year 1993

Man is a social animal but eventually, circumstances change him. He toils hard for his family but ironically doesn't spends time with his family. That's  most disheartening! We travel places to keep our family happy but sadly Old age is the time when we actually get to spend time with our loved ones.  Grandparents play an important role in every individual's life.  My father lost his mother when he was just 4 and his father in his late teens.  Those days, clicking photographs were expensive. To be honest, I don't even know how my paternal grandparents looked like. So, for me, my only grandparents were my Mom's parents. I was lucky enough to be blessed with a loving grandfather who kicked the bucket when I was just 9. My sister was 3  then! She can't even recollect any fond memories linked with him. But I remember my nana fighting with my tuition teacher for hurting me once when I was class 1. He would carry me on his shoulder and walk till my tuition house. Miss Gracie, my tuition teacher would scold my grand pa for carrying me on his shoulder. But poor grandpa would only nod his head as he didn't understand English nor Hindi. I miss him a lot! The day when I got to know about my grandpa's death, tears didn't cease to stop flowing from my eyes. At a tender age of 9, I was attached to him and I cried till my tear glands dried. I realized that I had to live without him and I was not prepared for it.   The disadvantage of having working parents was that we as kids get attached to someone who shows us, extreme love. It might be anyone who would fill the void left by our working parents. My grandpa stepped in and filled that void and loved me.  I have spent the initial days of my life on my grandpa's laps. 
The little boy in Blue tee is me standing close to my grandpa on my sisters 1st birthday
As days moved on, and as we grew up, we decided to bring our grandmom with us. That was the phase when my baby sister was growing big and there has to be someone at home to support us. It was the same time we shifted to a new house, to a new locality that was not familiar to us. GrandMom was in her late 70's then and pretty much active. She would help my mom with the household chores. She would never stay at one place for more than 5 minutes. I still have fond memories of my grandmom taking care of me during my illness.  It was one of the most stressful days of my life.  I would never forget my mom and my grandmom's role in my recovery. Their involvement actually expedited my recovery and I bounced back well within 1 month. But as days progressed, she became weak. Uncle took her him and then on we used to visit her twice every month. She would hug us and kiss us every time we visited her.  Such was her love for her grand children. These days she hardly recognizes us. It gives me immense pain to specify that she can't even recognize her own children. She would sit on her bed and randomly talk to imaginary friends and her dead siblings. She would cook food for the imaginary guests and participate in harvesting activities in our imaginary farm. She turned into a child at an age of 89.  Tears roll down my cheeks every time we visit her. One day, she made me sit beside her and put her hands on my cheek. A ray of hope surfaced within me and a transient state of happiness made me think if my grandmom recognized me. She thought I was her friend's son and enquired me about her friend. Tears welled in my eyes. How innocent! 


I am not in India anymore but I have always loved her and love her even if she can't recognize me.  After all, she is my grand mother and I understand that she is important to me.  Every time I visit her, I show her our old photographs and videos featuring us so that she could identify us. But Alas! all our attempts to bring back her lost memory seem futile. Even now, our other cousins do the same. She needs someone to talk to her. The 89-year-old child who raised us then now needs us to talk to her.
If I could spend a day with my grand mother, I would do it by talking to her and narrating about the good time we spend with her. I would share all the videos, photographs and everything that would bring back her old memories. But the chances of that happening are too slim!

That is the billion dollar smile that my grandmom wears :) So cute!
You are  the root that carried us,
We are just the fruits of the seed that you sowed years back
Thank you for everything you did for us
All the love you showered upon us
will speak loud and even louder
We love you, Grandmother.  Thank you for everything,
If your memories didn't fade, 
I am sure you would hug us and kiss us,
But sadly you don't recognize yourself,
Knowing us is a distant dream.
May God keeps you sound and safe.
Love you loads and lots, my dear granny!
 I look forward to hear from you how would you celebrate Grandparents Day. Do share a selfie with your grandparents on Sept. 10, 2017 on Twitter or Facebook with #LoveJatao & tag @blogadda to win a goodie from Parachute Advansed.





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Tuesday, August 22, 2017

The Incident

Long story, Cut short - I shouldn't have done that. Confined to my bed room, I observed the Facebook videos that went viral. It featured me dancing with joy after I won the Mumbai Marathon in record time. It was a memorable moment in my life.
I wish that day didn't exist. If I could erase a day from my life, it would be that day.  I ceremoniously stormed inside the room, proudly facing the media and big shots from the fashion world. I tripped down as my eyes caught the attention of a big Bollywood celebrity seated in front of me. 

Tears roll down my cheek copiously as I move my wheel chair away from my laptop.  Doctors say it was an Extreme case of a fibial aneurysm and my Fibial Artery stopped supplying blood to my right knee! 

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Saare Jahaan Se Achha. NOT

Us Indians get deeply patriotic when anything comes to our country. We are divided amongst each other but when it comes to Pakistan and China, we stay united. Internally we fight against each other in the name of political parties, castes, religions, eating habits and what not but we get goosebumps when we hear our national anthem being played! 


I remember writing about Indianness when I was young. It was a tender age at which I realized what Indianness was! But as I grew up and my mind matured, I realized that there is not like that. It's just that we all are fighting an imaginary war against each other. Indianness in its true sense is the feeling of being an Indian. It involves focussing on key issues that our nation needs to address in order to prosper and working together as a single force. At the end of the day religion, castes, and politics matter the least. These are the forces that tend to destroy a growing nation. Our country will over take China as the most populous country in the world. That isn't something worth bragging! Despite being the most populous country, China has attained several feats that we would still take ages to reach! In order to replicate those feats, India needs to focus on key factors affecting growth. PM Modi has been trying his best in focussing on such factors and addressing key issues. But what are we doing as Indians? The talented Indian lot has flown out of the country while the rest of the talented lot are busy focusing on their personal goals. Quite Selfish! But who is there to worry about the nation. All that is left are the Hate Mongers and greedy politicians who don't leave any opportunity to divide people. 
Firstly, we need to unite internally and not just when we are provoked by Pakistan or China. We have lots of internal enemies and problems that we need to tackle first.  Various sectors such as Education and Healthcare needs to be reformed and revived. Every Indian should have a right to free education and healthcare. The government should focus more on research programs and offer incentives to students expressing interests in programs that will make the country proud. At the end of the day its the country that is important to us. 

It is stupid to say that Sarei Jahaan se achha ... No, we don't even stand close to that. There are many small countries that have seen enormous growth. Japan in 1945, Singapore in the 1950s and other European countries have made massive progress over the years and it is never ending.  On the other hand, we are just growing population wise. Many might disagree with me but at the end of the day yes that's the truth. 

 This post is written for IndiSpire
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Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Jordan

Jordan
I am convinced you cannot truly understand your own values, your own culture, your own station in life until you are exposed to the values and culture and conditions of another country.Traveling in Jordan will help you understand all that.Americans generally don’t know the difference between Lebanon and Jordan and Syria and Egypt. Jordan suffers by association. All are war and upheaval. Without fail, the first question asked after telling someone you’re going to Jordan is, “Will you be safe?”
The country is an oasis of tranquillity in the turbulent Middle East. The economy relies heavily on tourism. Three years ago, tourists had to schedule their itinerary around what and when hotels were available. This year? Pick a place. Pick a hotel. Discounts available.
Airline standards are not homogenous. From Frankfurt to Amman business/first class is three contiguous economy seats with the middle one vacant. A moveable curtain arbitrarily divides economy from first, depending on the number of business/first customers.The Cliff’s Notes version of Jordanian politics. It’s a constitutional monarchy with a king, an elected parliament and an appointed government. However, the king has wide-ranging legislative and judicial power. He can disband parliament, fire government officials and overturn judicial and legislative decisions. I worked at a university like this. The president was the king; the faculty assembly was the Parliament; deans and VPs were the government officials. I felt right at home in Jordan.

Seatbelts are required when flying over Israeli airspace. No Allah Akbah in the aisle when flying over the Holy Land.
We are met at the airport by locals associated with our tour company. We are a tour of four. The associates have already secured the required visas. We are escorted to a separate passport control line, then around security and out to a waiting van. An hour has been condensed into fifteen minutes.
Queen Alia Airport in Amman is new and high and bright. The outside roofline is a succession of gigantic saucers standing vigil, looking over and through expanses of glass as though to ensure there is peaceful behaviour among those who enter and exit the Kingdom.
Three things required for potentates to stay in power in a developing country; roads, health care and education. Roads allow local commerce to be national commerce, national to be international. Good health and education allow citizens to participate in and garner the rewards of commerce. The king will stay in power.
There is no one at Shawbak Castle except a well-wrapped man selling rugs off the back of a truck, the ticket guy and we four. Expansive crusader ruins on an imposing mountaintop. The Crusaders may have died of boredom because no one was foolish enough to attack.

When a lamb is born, they take it from its mother and lay it close to a donkey. This becomes the lamb’s mother image. When the shepherd wants to move the flock, he straddles the donkey, off they go and the sheep follow.Landscape between Amman and Petra is like the Sandhills of Nebraska, but with rocks instead of sagebrush.
We are asked if we would like to drink camel’s milk. The first time you drink it, you throw up, have diarrhoea and chills and shakes and deliriums. But after that, it is good for you.
The Mövenpick in Petra is billed as a five-star hotel. Hotels are complex machines. The owners sent the directions with a few pages missing.
The staff are learning by doing.Guest at the front desk: Could you confirm that I’m in room 303? There’s someone else in there.
We return to our room after dinner to find a message on the TV screen welcoming NaYee Ng. We are pleased to welcome you to your home in Jordan.
The only places allowed to sell wine and/or beer are the Mövenpick and a couple restaurants. You want wine, sir. You can buy wine in Aquaba. That’s a four-hour drive south.         
Our Petra guide is named “Mock-mood”. He teaches anatomy to biology students in a university, is a tour guide and helps his father herd goats. He wants 12 children because his father had 11.
Petra, one of the Seven Wonders of the modern world. Every millennium God painted the highlands near Wadi Musa a different shade of cinnamon. The highlands grew and became mountains. One day he dropped the palette and cracked the mountains. And men call it Petra.
The quality of the goods in the government tourist shops is much better than in the shops on the street.
The Wadi Rum (Rum Valley) is a red desert valley with wrinkled pound cake outcroppings drizzled with charcoal shale. Hard to determine if it’s a mountain range eroding into dust or a desert that is congealing into mountains.
Riding through the Wadi Rum is a journey back to when the time was born. We see bedouin, camel and sheep herds and the majesty of geology. It should be experienced in the sand-blown back of a corroded pickup, not from the inside any more than a shower should be experienced inside a plastic bubble.
There are four of us in a camp designed for a dozen. A barrel is fitted in a hole in the sand. Wood is burned to charcoal. Lamb and chicken and vegetables and freekah (wheat) are lowed on a grill then covered with foil. All then covered in sand. Three hours later the food is removed. It was enough for that dozen. We sit on rugs in a tent. There are utensils.   We eat with our fingers. The lousy wine is fine.
If sleeping on the ground in a pup tent and eating beans from a can is at one end of the spectrum, our camp in the Wadi Rum is at the other.
I can’t float in a pool. I can float in the Dead Sea. The water has a sticky viscosity that cradles you like a liquid hammock. On a windy day, the white caps are Dream Whip.
The attendant slathers me in charcoal-colored mud avoiding only my eyes and ears. The mud sits for ten minutes, then back into the sea to wash off the mud. Next, a shower to wash off the sea. Revitalizing, restorative, rejuvenating, ah yes. But like the wine in my glass, how long will it last?
There is one thing Jordanians cannot do. They cannot swim in a pool, for much the same reason Americans cannot saddle a camel. The locals thrash and splash. When I walk by, I consider jumping in for the rescue.
There is one thing Jordanians do not do well. Bartend. Google Bartender School in Amman, see what you get. A craft beer is Amstel.
There is a battalion of Indonesian service personnel working in the Ishtar Kempinski Hotel on the Dead Sea. There is only a platoon of guests for them to serve. They are trained to expedite their duties, with no one else around, they expedite on us.

Perhaps there is a strategy to inadequate signage. Guests thus explore the far reaches of the resort in search of an elevator 20 meters from their room.
 In the near reaches are a half-dozen meandering pools accessorized by palm trees and lounge chairs and views of the hills of Israel across the sea.
The hotel has a second lobby; the place is too big for only one. We stumble across a Pan-Asian restaurant that we thought was either a secret or a rumour.
There is a small, tidy, modern mall not far from the hotel. It has a nice coffee shop. We sit on the lanai overlooking the sea and Israel. I hear gunshots, my wife says. I listen. My dear, that is the sound of bubbles circulating through the water in a hookah.
Our driver from the Kempinski back to Amman was named Nadir−call me Nick. He studied at the U. of Illinois−Chicago and lived there for 20 years. What do you miss about the U.S., Nick? Everything.
Nick crossed the street. He understands his culture and values and station in life. He came back.
Now he wishes he were still across the street.


 Dr. Rodney Romig is the award-winning author behind the Dr. Dan Trix mystery series, seven standalone novels featuring an intellectual hero whose adventures take readers all over the world. The latest installment in the series, Solar Flare, is available now at amazon.com.
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Friday, August 11, 2017

The White dress

The White dress
It was not in his nature to bend and it was not in her nature to break. They both were Tom and Jerry, a lovely couple, who once used to be best friends who got married.  He loved her but never did anything to express his affection towards his beloved. She liked him initially but after marriage, she realized that they were not made for each other.

Everyone was jealous of this lovely couple when they walked hand in hands.  Life was never the same after marriage.  He promised her a life of togetherness but these days they seldom spoke to each other.  It was a day in the winters of 2015.

It was a breezy evening. As usual,  Bindu had prepared the dinner for her husband Anuj. It was a special day in their life. It was the day when they both met each other for the first time at the tender age of 14.  Bindu was raised in a small town of Nilgiri. Anuj's family had settled in Mumbai, the city of dreams for many. Anuj's father had migrated to Mumbai in the early Nineteen Eighties in pursuit of better opportunities.  He soon married a pretty woman belonging to an affluent family.  This couple was blessed with a baby boy whom they named Anuj. Anuj had everything that he could even dream of!  He possessed all kinds of gaming devices and gadgets but he craved for true love. Anuj's father never wanted his children to forget their roots. It was the reason why he always took Anuj and his brother Shivay to his ancestral village in Nilgiri. It was during those days when Anuj got a glimpse of Bindu who was helping her mother in the farm. There was something peculiar about her. The way she smiled, the way she walked and the way she spoke. Anuj was instantly attracted towards her. They began to talk and Anuj, Bindu and Shivay became good friends. 
It is said that time flies but as time flew Bindu and Anuj's bond became thick and strong.  They both were fond of each other. Anuj would visit her during his vacations and there wasn't a single moment where he didn't think about her. She stayed in his mind and visited him in his dreams. She was magnificent!  Being raised in a metro city, Anuj was modern and had many friends who used to hang out with him only for his money. But he craved for true love and there was a void in his life. Bindu filled that void. With their parent's consent, they both tied the knot. 
It was the best days of her life. Bindu loved Anuj and she was a part of his life. They both completed each other. Anuj wanted Bindu to be modern and dress up like how the girls dress in Urban cities. Being born in a village, she abided by cultural values and wore traditional dresses. 
It was a cold night. The cake was placed on the table. Anuj sang the happy birthday song.  
"Happy Birthday Bindooooo...ooo" Anuj sang.
He gave her a box.  Visibly excited, she quickly removed the gift wrapping. Bemused, she looked at her gift. It was a royal white dress, embroidered and neat. It was an elegant looking dress. 
"My heart dances in joy and desires to see you in this attire." Anuj  said and asked, "Will you fulfil my wish?" 
Speechless, Bindu stood there for a moment not knowing what to say. 
"What's wrong?" He asked, curiously.
"This dress won't look good on me," she said and placed aside the dress on the box.
Furious Anuj snapped back at her, "Oh C'mon this is my wish!"
"I never asked you for anything more," he requested.
"Anuj.. understand," Bindu said, her eyes fixated on the dress.
"I am not used to wearing this kind of clothes,"  she said.
"Whats wrong with this dress?"  He asked.
"Nothing."
He put his arms around her shoulder and asked, "Tell me!"
"Tell you what!" she asked.
"Whats bothering you?" He asked.
"Nothing!"
"Life isn't about the clothes that you wear. It's  about the values," she said and continued, "since childhood, I was taught great values and I place humans first!"
"Costly dresses don't amuse me!" she grimaced.
"I am sorry, Anuj,"  she said.
There was a deafening silence for few minutes. 
"I am not asking you to go naked," he yelled.
"Anuj... mind your words," she said and went inside her room.

The birthday turned out to be a disaster. It was the first crack on their bond.  Cupid had slowly started drifting away from their life. She was upset with him and the way he spoke. His words resonated in her mind every night she confronted him.  Slowly it turned more into a formal relationship. He only spoke when he wanted something from her. She cooked delicious food but things had changed drastically. He no longer appreciated her beauty and they were getting accustomed to this life. 
Two years passed and her eyes chance upon the white dress that lay in one corner of her closet.  She started missing Anuj.  
She badly wanted to get the old days back but it was too late.  
"I love you Anuj," she would scream in his absence and tears would copiously roll down her cheeks.
She desperately wanted him back. She wanted to hug him tight and wanted to tell him that she was her world. 
She took out the white dress from the closet. 



The next morning, the 7 AM alarm blared violently.  Anuj had his breakfast and left for his office. He used to work from 8 AM to 6 PM and used to come home late.
As soon as he left the home,  she freshened up and cleaned the house. She recollected that Dum Biryani was his favourite food. She quickly wore the white dress that her husband had gifted him two years back. She looked like a princess and looked stunning. 
She wanted to fulfil her husbands wish, a wish to see her in the white dress. 
She pulled the curtain aside and looked out at the window.
The clock struck 5 and a familiar hand touched her from behind. It was Anuj! 
"I love you," she hugged him tight. 
He smiled at her and said, " I never lived a moment all these days without talking to you." 
"I desperately wanted to talk to you but I realized that you were mad at me," he continued," I am sorry for everything."
"Forget all that has gone. Bygone days are bygone!" she said and continued "How do I look?" 
"I loved the village girl more..." He winked. 

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Monday, July 31, 2017

The Little Bundle of Joy!

Raksha Bandhan or Rakhi is one of the most widely celebrated festivals in India that reflects the love shared by a brother and his sister.  I always wanted a sister and the almighty lord heard all my prayers and blessed my family with a little princess who entered this world with a smile. If I had super powers I would have captured those innocent little smile and the twinkling eyes forever and arrested them in my memories. Such is the love that I have for my sister. Being a protective brother, my sister means a lot, in fact, she is my world, my bundle of joy!
There are many things happening around - many good and many bad but life planned to twist our world and make it complicated. I am not here to say the complicated bit but to share the happy part of our amazing life! 


QUESTION 1: WHAT WAS THE MOST MEMORABLE FIGHT YOU’VE EVER HAD WITH YOUR SIBLING?

 I was 7 years old and my baby sister was 1.5 years old then! I was fond of chocolates and sweets since my good old young days. Our parents were working and hence our Massi raised us. During the early 1990's we used to get a sweet item whose name I don't remember.  It was basically a tube of flavoured ice rolled in a plastic tube like substance.  Many would call that as Pepsi and many called it by various names. I used to gulp over 5 of them at a given time. Such was my crazy love for sweet items. 
It was one of those days when I was getting ready for school. I spotted my cute innocent sister gulping the plastic tube of flavoured ice with complete alacrity. I held her in my hand and quickly grabbed the ice cubes she was eating and gulped it.  She became furious and she did something that I could not forget for the days to come. She bit me on my arm and left an imprint of her tiny little teeth and dug too deep into my muscles. That pain was excruciating and being a baby no one could scold her as at that tender age no baby would understand right and wrong. I had to quickly rush to a doctor and get an injection and bandage. Twenty-Two years passed and  I still have those scars on my arm that reminds me of that incident.  I miss those days and sometimes wish we time travelled to that period. Life was sweet and beautiful then with no fear of future.  Life was festooned with awesomeness and happiness.  

QUESTION 2: WHAT IS THE MOST MEMORABLE GIFT YOU’VE EVER RECEIVED FROM YOUR SIBLING OR GIVEN TO YOUR SIBLING?

In this materialistic world where people crave for happiness and love, I got the best gift send by God in the form of a princess.  No material object or gift would measure the amount of love that I hold for my sibling. She is precious than a diamond to be. Not even the most expensive item in this world would ever come close to the love that we both share. Honestly, I have never bought anything precious for my sister. I have gifted her gold items, mobile phones and accessories but more than that God has given me the greatest gift in my life and that's her.  When momma placed her on my lap for the first time, I had the greatest responsibility. It was then I promised myself that I would take care of her and will be there for her during the happy and the worst times. I would be a protective, loving and a caring brother.  I just have one wish to god that he listens to all her wishes and prayers and make all her dreams come true. May he translate all her wishes and dreams into reality and listen to her prayers. I pray to the almighty Lord that he grants her with good health and happiness. 

This year I am miles away from home and I can't express in words how much I miss my family and my adorable sister.  I love you mum, dad and Anu and I miss you three the most. I wish I was around you but I'll be home soon. There isn't a single moment where I have not remembered you! 
Thank you, Lord, for giving me an amazing family. Love you Appa, Amma and Anu! 

Hope to blog soon!

#IGPSiblingRivalry


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Monday, July 24, 2017

Your Complete Guide to Man With a Van and Moving Process

Your Complete Guide to Man With a Van and Moving Process


A couple of years back, we understood that hiring casual man with a van removalists quotes to potential clients via phone was exceptionally risky and tedious. Who knows they will even show up or where would you go to find them? There used to be various different queries in relation to booking moving services. But today, it has become a cakewalk to book removalists easily.

Things to Consider Before Hiring Man With a Van

The primary thing to note when you are planning to hire men with a truck for your moving purpose is the vehicle. With respect to van measure, it's not unordinary for movers to utilize a bigger van than what may appear to be important for a specific move.

The purpose behind this is essentially down to current van accessibility and furthermore, given that a few men with a truck simply want to work a uniform team of certain estimated vehicles.

Furthermore most man with a van additionally keep up two or three bigger vehicles. In any case, whichever van your specific removalist utilizes on the day, it has no effect to the rate you have officially concurred.

The most essential thing is clearly that the removalist van is at any rate sufficient enough to easily take the greater part of your stuff - not the a different way. So dependably attempt to guarantee you give a sensibly precise rundown of your things while finishing the quote ask for shape.

The quantity of boxes and individual merchandise are continually going to be estimate until the point that you're completely pressed so don't stress over getting the correct number of those privilege. It's more about what number of individuals are moving and posting any huge stuff like couches, quaint little inns, piano, and other massive things of furniture or white products. Likewise attempt to give other helpful data, for example, simplicity of vehicle and the stopping circumstance, to ensure you are designated an expulsion van that is of a reasonable size and will in a perfect world carry out the employment in one go.


The Four Different van Sizes Most Commonly Used by Moving Companies in Auckland

In spite of the fact that there are obviously many sorts and makes of business vans, by and large the professional movers utilize four standard sizes to complete the vast majority of the work.

These are the demonstrated solid workhorses of the moving world and will move essentially anything from a solitary room in a flatshare to a completely outfitted house - and yes people, they are quite often in white!

NOTE - Dimensions between various van makes and models do fluctuate, so dependably check specifically with your moving companies in Auckland ahead of time if access to your property has either a vehicle stature or width confinement, or if any thing that you require moving is surprisingly huge or sporadic in estimate.

In most cases as a component of their house moving agenda, individuals do keep points of interest of which service provider they manage alongside the assessed expenses to move home. Just find some good man with a van and carry forward the entire hectic task of moving onto their shoulders.





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Friday, July 14, 2017

And then New York happened...


Life has veered out drastically ever since I moved to the states. This was an unexpected call that I myself didn't realize living a dream  that eventually turned out to be real. Everyone has an American dream and being an Indian I too had  once but those were the young days of my life. Life gave me an opportunity at a time when I was not expecting it. Living away from the family has moulded me in to a strong individual. That's when I realized that you got to be self motivated because your loved ones won't always be with you everytime. But till now it has been a good experience. I live with people who have a similar story like mine. Some with dreams of buying a new house, some with giving a better life to the family and some with ambitions of living the American life. Isn't that amazing?!


Everytime I hear the little son of my friend greeting him every evening, I realize life makes us pay many things. And then we have to sacrifice a lot for their happiness because its our loved ones happiness that matters to us the most. Amid  nostalgic memories, New York happened. Independence day was a long weekend here and being new to the states meant exploring things on your own because not everyone will help you. We , a group of like minded individuals decided to visit the most happening part of the states - New York. New York is a dream for many. There are lots of amazing sights worth seeing in New York and I am glad that NY happened too soon for us. It was one fine afternoon when my roomie informed us that a couple of guys were visiting Smoky mountains in the North Carolina during the Independence day long weekend. I would never say never to the fact that NC is not a happening place but with too much greenary around, it implies living a village life-  beautiful and serene. It dawned to us that we got to do something too and thus the idea of New York got pregnant in our brains. Now it was time to give life to the idea and execute the plan. We soon approached Shiva and Deepak, the desi boys when joined us late. We were determined to do something more fun if this plan succeeded. Yes, it happened!

I took the ownership of booking the relevant tickets and managing the expenses. Suraj, the Professor Bobeye of our group initiated the train of awesomeness by booking an AirBNB room at Harlem after thorough analysis and research. Prior to our voyage, I made an xl with all the amazing places to visit in the most amazing city in the world. Be it Central Park, Manhattan, Times Square or Wall Street - we were thrilled and excited even before we embarked on to this journey of awesomeness. I'd booked a Goto Bus which was a preventive measure to reduce our expense but that proved to be a disaster and we would regret it for not doing enough research for airplanes. Later one of our colleague informed us about the availability of cheaper flights being offered by South West airlines. May be next time, we would research more before heading for such trips.

On 1st July, we boarded the bus at 11.45 PM and there was only one thing on our mind - Enjoy life to the fullest as we won't have enough time later. We were hell excited. We got down at 47 Chrystie at NY. We walked and walked the streets of New York. We smiled at the numerous  trains greeting us and took a look at the beautiful and magnificent Brooklyn bridge from the Manhattan Bridge. It was indeed beautiful and from there we observed the skyline of New York as the One World Observatory building stood mighty! We then left to have our brunch as we were famished.  After exploring few options, we set our eyes on the Mughlai Indian restaurant at the Clinton road. Our taste buds never knew that they were about to be savoured by awesome food. We ordered chicken and then few more chicken. Post that we left for our transient abode, our apartment at Harlem. We accessed it by availing the service of Lyft. After getting refreshed, we left for the Central park. Central Park is a place where many hollywood movies have been shot. It was indeed pleasure walking through the lanes of the park where many young men and women traversed by riding rented bicycles. Deepak insisted that we get a bicycle but we cajoled him by mentioning things that can never be shared here. Just kidding!

We witnessed lovely couples and semi claden babes reading books and admiring the nature. Shiva never missed an opportunity to get clicked and our click spree never ceased. We hailed a Lyft cab and stamped our presence at the most lively place every. Times Square baby! We walked through the place , admiring tall buildings and by then it was already 6 and our One World Observatory visit was sat 8 PM. We quickly grabbed some food at the Halal Guys stall for $8 each. I say that it's too heavy and all of us took the box at the apartment. We went to the 9/11 Memorial and the One World Observatory sharp at 8 PM. One World Observatory is a great piece of work by  the greatest architects. The skylift, the fastest elevator, took us to the 102nd floor within no time. From there, we saw the skyline of New York. Nice beautiful buildings graced by the lighting's and the young night sky made it picturesque. Our click spree never stopped. Our eyes randomly strolled around and caught the attention of amazing people and many greeted us. Finally, we reached the apartment at 12.30. We were hungry and grabbed some Hagen Dasz, Greek Yogurt, Budweiser  from the Food Market on the other side of the building. We shared ghost stories as our eyes got tired and crashed.

The next morning we woke up at 9 and got ready. We were all set to visit the street that controls the Money. Yes, you guessed it right - Wall Street. We walked around the street and our eyes chanced upon several young beautiful faces. We said hello to the charging bull as many others fought their way out to touch the bulls testicles. It is said that touching the charging bulls testicles would make you rich. We all went there turn by turn and touched the bulls balls. Shiva, me and Deepak clicked with the fearless girl. We four addressed each other by character names. Suraj was Professor Bobeye, Shiva as Nuclear Nadal, Deepak as Uncle Tamir and yours truly as Admiral Aladeen. It was fun and adding fun to a trip is indeed fun. Isn't it? 










From there we left for the battery park from where our cruise for our next visit would be available. We were going to meet Liberty! As we walked, we saw a long queue and we were disheartened to see that we were standing behind some 1000 people. Soon Deepak asked a volunteer about the queue and she informed us that it was for the ticket booking. We then realized that we had wasted some precious 10 minutes of our life. We rushed to the other queue  that was for the ones with tickets. The statue of liberty beckoned us as we stood at the battery park. Smiling at us, she was ready to embrace each one of us. We got into the cruise and the click spree continued again. We took the photo of the Manhattan bridge and it was indeed a sight to see. We savored our taste buds by drinking the lemonades offered by lovely young college girls. Once we posed with the beauty in green, we headed for something that we should have covered earlier. Madame Tussaud's was not in our list but still we visited it. We posed with many amazing personalities ranging from former American Presidents, actors, sports personalities and media tycoons. It was memorable and everyone looked at us as if we were insane. We clicked with celebrities whom were not aware of. We finally bid adieu to New York at 9 PM after having our dinner at the Kaati Rolls near the Times Square.

The most fascinating thing about New York is the amazing tall sky scrapers. They are not only magnificent but mesmerizing too! I hope to visit this place once again. 

To some it up, our trip was planned hastily but it was well executed. Our first trip in the land of Trump was a successful one.

So, which place should we visit next?


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