Zoutons : The loot is on

I am not a shopaholic and neither am I a spendthrift. I am one of the typical middle class girls who want full value of the money they spend. Every time.

When online shopping stepped in my life, besides the convenience it offered, the one thing I loved was the great bargains it offered while saving me from bargaining endlessly with salesperson at a local store.

With the booming market of online stores and mega-stores, the biggest issue I face as a customer is how to keep track of the best deals on products in my wish list while making the most of my money.

This is when the ‘Coupons’ come in.

I am sure you too must have cut and saved offer coupons from the daily newspaper or flyers in the mail, to avail that extra discount when you go shopping, at some point in your life. The coupon websites work on the very same lines. So does Zoutons.com

What is Zoutons . com?

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Zoutons.com is an online deals and coupons aggregation website that provides free coupons to the buyers which can be used at a particular e-commerce website to avail discounts.

What does it offer to interest you?

Zoutons has an array of coupons of all e-commerce stores conveniently categorised as :

1. Popular Coupons : These are the hot deals that are popular among shoppers owing to their high success rate.

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2. Latest Coupons : All the recently  released coupons and deals can be found in this list.

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3. Featured Coupons : These are coupons handpicked by Zoutons team that are most credible  and offering great discounts.

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The above categories are helpful when we are planning on buying a specific commodity, say a story book for my daughter or a saree for my mother and have a specific e-commerce store in mind.

But, if you are like me who sometimes enjoys browsing online shopping portals looking for interesting deals to buy gifts in advance or items to add to your collection (of any type), Zoutons has a solution for you.

The All Categories that has meticulously categorized coupons to help finding deals for an item of my choice in a blink, hassle-free.

From Flipkart to Pizza to travel bookings to office supplies to Shaadi.com they have coupons for everything you may want to buy online.

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Bank Loyalty Feature : We often come across exciting discount deals offered by the banks to users of their debit and credit cards, but while shopping online we often miss on availing them due to lack of means and knowledge as to how to avail the opportunity. This has been carefully worked upon at Zoutons where all major banks and their deals at offer are just a click away.

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What is making Zoutons popular among e-merchants? 

Since the customers have access to the best deals being offered, there is a rise in the wishlist cart item converting into a sale as the customer is not tempted to wait and watch for a better deal to come across. Hence shopping cart abandonment shows a steep decline.

With all research done on the overall website, let’s get to the real business.

How to use a coupon?

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It is a simple two step process which in next step takes you to the e-commerce site of your choice and you shop online like always. Though this time, with a known discount ready to be availed.

The last but not the least question that I am sure is ringing loud in your mind;

How does Zoutons profit by offering coupons to shoppers for free?

Zoutons earns by referral. They direct online shoppers to e-merchants and earn as affiliates while shoppers save money availing discounts on trusted coupons and save time with hassle free shopping from trusted brands.

 Pros :

1. User friendly website with an easy to navigate layout and eye-friendly design.

2. No annoying pop-ups scaring me away from the website as I find my way through best deals.

3. Huge database covering coupons in a wide variety of categories while highlighting the popular shopping portals and have all their deals and coupons on one page.

4. Submit a coupon feature that lets you share a deal and code you came across while shopping and found not listed on Zoutons.

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It’s a wonderful way to let the good Samaritans help other shoppers and be helped themselves through contribution of others.

5. A ready to help and easy to contact team with all necessary details mentioned in ‘Contact Us’ section.

6. Newsletter subscription that’s just a simple step away. It keeps us updated about the newly added coupons so that we can make the most of every deal.

Cons :

It is addictive. If you are a shopaholic, I’d like to warn you that use of Zoutons.com can be addictive because of its awesomeness.

What are you waiting for? Make the most of the coupons at  Zoutons.com and don’t forget to share your experiences in the comments below.

Conquering Negativity

I seem to have lost all control over myself in the battle against odds that have emerged victorious at every front in my life. I have been so caught up straightening out the messed up threads of my life, that I have lost the feel of the fabric of blogging, the joy of letting my inner self loose in it’s loving expanse.

Half of 2014 flew past in a flurry. To be very honest, I have been too occupied fighting my demons that I hardly ever stopped to take note of what day or date it was Though Pari’s school schedule has been my savior on that front, to some extent.

With school holidays ending in a couple of days, I am hoping to put an end to the chaos in my life, make record of all I have been up to, learn from my mistakes and get working on being an optimist, again.

It’s that time of the year when I celebrate anniversaries of two key life-changing events of my life. Birth of my baby and my divorce.

Till sometime back, I could have conveniently labelled the above two events as good and bad but with time and lot of insight, I now call them both as ‘Good’ events.

I have over time, learnt to re-live the fond memories of my married life without missing or hating or even feeling bitter about the man who is no longer part of my life. Yes, I have grown enough to cherish the good times without even thinking of the man part of it in any which way.

With the past taken due care of, the next challenge had been my relations and relatives in present life. Just as I had thought of relying on my siblings and extended family for emotional support, my mother’s cancer came as an eye- opener. The evil of suffering from cancer can have a million bad effects but a few good ones too.

Yes, with mum’s diagnosis of cancer people whom I had marked for the rainy day fled like the mosquitoes run on switching on Good Night. Among the extended family, my mother’s favourite child my elder brother too abandoned us ( more importantly my mother) calling her a liability in face, never to look back and check on her well being in past 9 months.

Misfortune seems to have shifted in permanently in my life, creating havoc at whim. What my brother did, left my mother depressed, broken, shaken, miserable and heart broken beyond what cancer could have done to her.

It has taken Dad and me months to help her see the good in being abandoned by her favourite child. I know repeated use of ‘favourite’ is pretty evident in my words, but I want it so for it holds deep meaning for me. I’ll do a detailed post on that a little later.

So this has been the major breaking point for my mother besides the many medical complications that sent her of a rough ride of depression that swept me off while I cared for her night and day.

I have lost a major bit of myself, my grit and soul in the past nine months, emerging a depressed, irritable, sore monster, ready to bite anyone who dared to come near me.

Twelve Hours of Temptation

  • Title  – Twelve Hours of TemptationOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
  • Author – Shoma Narayanan
  • Publisher – Harlequin India Pvt. Ltd.
  • Genre – Romance (Fiction)
  • Pages – 184
  • ISBN – 978-93-5106-445-9
  • Price – 150 INR

Blurb on the Book - The best mistake of his life?

Being chained to her desk is not how copywriter Melissa D’Cruz envisaged spending the night before her first major awards ceremony. No Cinderella moment for this award nominee–instead she’s facing a night of deadlines! But Melissa is determined to get to the event…she just has to work out how….

New boss Samir Razdan catches Melissa burning the midnight oil and offers to drive her to the event himself. But the minute they set off Samir knows he’s in trouble–because being this close to Melissa is already driving him crazy, and they’ve got twelve torturous hours of temptation ahead…!

Review - The Twelve hours of Temptation is a book of the Indian Mills & Boon series that has a pretty cover capturing the very essence of the plot in a very beautiful way. I particularly loved the title of the book that conveys the gist of the whole plot aptly.

I have read a number of Mills & Boon books in my teens and they have always made for my favorite travel companions. The one thing that disappointed me was that the very first page of the book has an untitled prologue (or you may call it the introduction as it isn’t titled) that starts off at a big (slightly distracting) font. It would have been better if it were placed at the second or third page.

The story is well presented with a lucid narration generously peppered with palpable passion. The plot is simple and predictable but the sensitive execution and lot of space given for the characters to evolve, makes it a delightful read.

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I wish to congratulate the author on churning out a heartwarming romantic tale that though appears to be a typical Boss and employee affair in the start, but has sublime emotions basking in sound reasoning that made this simple story go up by notches.

I was particularly impressed at the way the protagonist, Sameer succeeds in putting aside his ego and comes across as a caring friend for Melissa at every point while they both struggled to seek answers about the future of their relationship.

Unlike all the Mills & Boon books this book has no scenes devoted to passionate love making relying completely in painting love and myriad emotions in words. The book delves into the intricacies of a relation without limiting itself to temptation alone.

I am sure many readers will be able to relate to Melissa and Sameer while still more will feel connected with the emotions that make this book a refreshing read.

The only point of weakness in the plot is while Melissa’s character and background has been thoroughly explored and explained, very little light has been thrown on the mysteries circling Sameer’s past. However, the author does answer most questions that cloud the reader’s mind the climax appeared uncannily ‘filmy’.

I recommend this book as a perfect travel companion and if you are a Mills & Boon fan you’ll enjoy this treat read as it fulfills most expectations of a romantic read.

About the Author - Shoma started reading romances at the age of eleven, borrowing them from neighbours so that her parents didn’t find out. At that time the thought of writing one herself never entered her head. But a couple of years ago Shoma took up writing and was amazed at how much she enjoyed it. Now she works grimly at her banking job through the week, and tries to balance writing with household chores during weekends.

Rating - 3.5/5

The Sceptical Patriot

  • Title  – The Sceptical PatriotTheScepticalPatriot
  • Author – Sidin Vadukut
  • Publisher – Rupa Publications
  • Genre – Non- Fiction
  • Pages – 208
  • ISBN – 978-81-291-2903-1
  • Price – 250 INR

Blurb on the Book – India. A land where history, myth and email forwards have come together to create a sense of a glorious past that is awe-inspiring…and also kind of dubious. But that is what happens when your future is uncertain and your present is kind of shitty—it gets embellished until it becomes a totem of greatness and a portent of potential.

Sidin Vadukut takes on a complete catalogue of ‘India’s Greatest Hits’ and ventures to separate the wheat of fact from the chaff of legend. Did India really invent the zero? Has it truly never invaded a foreign country in over 1,000 years?

Did Indians actually invent plastic surgery before those insufferable Europeans? The truth is more interesting—and complicated—than you think.

Review –  The book has a very eye-catching cover that’s creative, colorful and depicts the true essence of the book beautifully. I particularly loved the (* conditions Apply) written on the cover because the author has used this clause very intelligently.

The book begins with ‘Extensive Disclaimers’ (that’s the title of the introduction chapter) where the author has exercised his liberty to show the reader the thought process that he went through in writing this book.

The book points at the very biases we Indians have spun around us and how we have started living lives believing in the information being fed to us through viral texts, forwarded emails and repeated a million times in digital media. How we very conveniently, never ever stop to inquire or dig deeper or unearth the facts lying buried in the pile of attractive banners and messages doing circles in media of all sorts. Digital or otherwise.

Sidin Vadukut has touched upon handful of the most popular oft-repeated ‘India facts’. Researched about their roots and has tried to put forward the actual facts taking care to make this arduous journey interesting with a dose of his humor. The first seven chapters of the book are dedicated to such myths with ‘Fact score cards’ at the end of each chapter helping sum up the findings during the chapter.

Besides the ‘facts’, there are also the quotes outlining the greatness of India. As the author looks into the original versions of these quotes as such, instances of omission, excision & even misrepresentation begin to surface; leaving the reader to make his own conclusions.

The whole idea is some the ‘facts’ talked about in this book are believed upon blindly by the smartest, most educated, most influential Indians so fervently, that many wouldn’t harbor the idea of weighing the veracity of these perceptions.

“Why are we so easily swayed by facts forwarded by email? Why do so many Indians believe that the Taj Mahal was originally a temple called Tejo Mahalaya? Why do so many of us instantly believe and immediately proselytize that ‘India has never invaded any country in her last 1,000 years of history’ or that ‘The word “navigation” is derived from the Sanskrit navgath’ without even pausing to ask: ‘Is any of this actually true?”

The narration is crisp, language lucid and rich in entertaining anecdotes from the author’s life making it an interesting read.

I have to admit that on many occasions I felt ‘why should I bother to read all the research Sidin has done and not just skim to the inferences?’ At all those points, Vadukut seemed to have read my mind giving me funny and interesting memoirs of his life to keep me going till the end.

I recommend reading this myth-buster book with a lot of patience to experience the brilliance peppered with humor to the fullest. The author has made it clear right in the start that India is indeed great, this book is about Indians and the truth behind the glorified myths circling them.

The final two chapters make for the cherry on the cake as they talk about all the thoughts I felt fill my mind while reading the book. Why History and Skepticism matter? What is the point of all the research done while writing this book? What Sidin has written, suddenly seems to make a lot of sense.

If you’re looking for an interesting, different from routine, summer read that will engage & enlighten your mind, your search ends at The Sceptical Patriot.

About The Author - Sidin Vadukut is one of India’s most popular journalists, authors, columnists and bloggers. He is currently an editor with Mint, and is the author of the best-selling Dork series.

The Sceptical Patriot is his first book of non-fiction. He lives in London with his wife and daughter.

Rating - 4/5

School Diary – IV

You can catch up on all posts on Pari’s school life by visiting the School Diary section of this blog.

The cuts on Pari’s nose and around eye area weren’t too deep, but what had actually triggered my fury was the sheer insensitivity of the school staff towards a child who was mere two and a half years old.

The most disturbing finding was, when I had noticed Pari’s injury at home, she actually had the mud from her fall still clinging to the scratched area. The only thing it meant was, her teacher hadn’t even bothered to try to clean up the wound, let alone attempting first aid or to the least inform me when I reached school to pick Pari.

It has been a norm at Pari’s school that the child was accompanied by a staff member to the school gate at the time the school got over in afternoon, so the teacher had every opportunity to share a word or two with me.

Things were not going right, but Pari’s annual day was hardly a few days away, so I decided to be a sport for the time being.

The Annual day arrived and Pari did extraordinarily well in the fashion show blowing kisses to the audience. In the group dance she had a cute partner, but once the music started, Pari was so busy having fun dancing away that she almost forget the existence of her partner. The little boy (who was her partner) kept dancing at one spot in shock watching where all Pari was going on stage leaving him behind.

The biggest surprise came when Pari’s name was announced among students being awarded for being ‘excellent in academics’. Yes, I was surprised, excited, jubilant and much more but in the back of my mind I was ‘shocked’.

I know I sound like a mad mom who was shocked to see her child being awarded for being very good in academics. But, I have to confess I was. The reason being, Pari had been attending school for hardly three months then and was only at the start of learning up rhymes, alphabets and more. She was nowhere close to being considered exceptional.

But, I played on and we were all excited on Pari doing exceptionally well at the annual function.

The spring break resumed and after around eight days her school reopened for the new session.

In a meeting with principal, came the moment that came to me like point-blank fire. When I had no clue for a long moment,  how to react.

It so happened, that while discussing with the principal when would Pari be prepared to be promoted to Nursery, in the middle of the discussion the principal mentioned that Pari’s fall on the flower-pot seemed to have healed well during the spring break.

Seeing my puzzled look that reflected well the anger that was about to pour in words she decided to re-phrase her sentence saying she ‘assumed’ Pari must have had a fall on the pots where the kids usually fell.

The height of negligence triggered my anger enough to point to the principal that if she had been aware all the way as to where had Pari had a fall why was the staff continuously refusing any knowledge?

Secondly, if many other kids too had fallen on the pots before Pari, why had the flower pots not been removed from the area as yet?

What started with a few firm questions from me, was meted with jaw dropping replies from the school principal. When I pointed out that besides academics the school was also expected to be responsible for the well-being of the kids during school hours, the principal in haste of ending and winning the argument made a very ‘nasty’ remark on my character and my being a divorcee.

I had no way seen this coming.

Especially from my child’s school principal.

Are single parents not just parents like others? Is being a divorcee a qualification that entitles every Tom, Daisy, Harry to pass a loose remark on my life, my character or any other aspect of my private life?

No, I am not looking for answers to any of the above questions, because I have my own answers etched in my mind for the same.

Yes, I am a parent, but I am first an individual before being anything else, who has her self-respect and pride intact irrespective of my marital status.

I retorted back to the principal with a fitting reply and decided that the school was no way fit for molding my child’s future.

The nasty remark was reason enough to push me off the edge, but when the principal said (on the verge of losing the argument) that she’ll see how Pari fares in the remaining academic year and will see to it that Pari pays well for the argument we had just had, I really had no other choice but to decide to change Pari’s school.

The time bomb I had felt ticking in my head since long, had finally exploded. Because (despite my efforts) all of this heated argument actually happened with my precious Pari sitting in my lap, where she didn’t understand a word but was shaken and panic struck beyond words.

The song on my mind : Ajeeb Dastan hai ye – Dil apna preet parayi 

School Diary – III

You can catch up on Pari’s school life by visiting the School Diary section of this blog.

Though I wanted to stay relaxed that there was nothing to worry about Pari’s vomiting during lunch break, but at the back of my mind this thought seemed to have built a permanent camp.

There was no medical aspect to this problem as Pari ate all the food she was given in her lunch box, at home without any issues. Besides, she had never vomited at home. Not even once, to show any sign of ill-health.

Pari’s school administration were still adamant that there was ‘no big deal’ about it and she was vomiting probably due to exposure to cold. It was was end of February and start of March with the fans already in use and the weather warming up, at that time, swallowing this logic was bit difficult.

As I had mentioned in my previous post, soon preparations for her Annual Day started. Pari had been selected for the Fashion show and a group dance. All was going great as it involved two things Pari absolutely loves.

Posing in style and dancing.

The rehearsals soon started taking toll on her. The kids were being made to stand for considerable periods of time in direct sunlight. In northern India, though March is a relatively pleasant month, but it gets pretty hot under the sun.

Pari has photosensitivity (which had been notified to her teachers and school administration in writing  and duly explained at the time of her admission). Despite my many reminders in person the teachers and the principal, Pari was kept standing in direct sunlight., landing her with severe sunburns on both her cheeks.

I was furious. I was so angry that I could have punched her teachers in face for gross negligence. But, being a parent, I had to stay calm. With treatment, soon Pari was back to health and her teachers were now careful about her sun exposure.

But my agitation did one good, the school arranged for covering up the garden area and the rehearsals started happening in shade.

As the days to the Annual day were fast approaching, the rehearsals were heating up. One fine afternoon when I reached school to pick Pari, I noticed a big bruise on her cheekbone. By big I mean around one centimeter.

On questioning the teachers, few acted surprised saying they had no clue what had happened and still others said that it might have happened due to a fall as ‘kids often fall while playing’.

Being a parent, I am well aware of this fact that kids indeed fall often as part of play. But at the same time I cannot believe that a child as young as Pari falls so hard to develop a large bruise and didn’t cry loud enough to attract attention of the staff. Besides, I know my child and also that she cries so loud that you can hear her cry a few blocks away.

This incident only added to my unrest. I had begun to worry more than ever before fearing something uneventful happening, while Pari was at school.

Pari’s annual day was fast approaching and her spring break was to begin soon after. But when the ball of crazy events gets rolling, nothing actually happens as per our wishes.

Hardly ten days before the annual day, I picked Pari from school in haste and on reaching home noted a few scratches on her nose and one cut was pretty close to her eye. On gentle prodding Pari revealed that she had a fall.

Pari at that time wasn’t very expressive as far as narrating events of her day at school, leaving me to imagine using the cues I managed to get hold of. The following morning when I questioned her class teacher, I got a reply that felt like a slap on my face.

Her teacher refused Pari having had a fall in school and instead said she must have fallen at home and I had failed to note that.

I swallowed the bitter pill after expressing my serious concern for the well-being of my child to everyone, from the class teacher to the principal. But somewhere in the back of my mind, I could now hear a time bomb tick.

Being a new mother and a single parent, I have this disadvantage of finding myself stuck all by myself, when I need to decide to what extent should I worry and when should I let go of things.

I am  a very slow learner, but I am certainly learning the ropes with each passing minute.

The song on my mind: Mera chanda hai tu ~ Aradhana

 

I’m back

I am setting new records of blog absence with each passing day. This time I am back to writing a post after over a month.

But the good news is, today after a long time I have been struck by lightening (probably of enlightenment) that I need to blog daily to reclaim the person I am used to be.

The past few months have been very painful on many accounts. I have been ripped off my sanity, my savings account is on an alarming low (due to reason mentioned in my post step into future ) and I have been suffering from depression.

Yes, you read that right. Depression.

No, I am not under any form of medical treatment and neither have I been pronounced to be suffering from clinical depression, but in my heart of hearts I know I have been and to some extent I am even now.

A lot has happened in the past four years and I seem to have taken a lot of time in understanding the reason behind every odd that came my way, hence the delay in overcoming those obstacles.

Mum is doing fine. She’s better than she has been in a very long time *touch wood*.

Though the journey of her fight against cancer has been full of bouts of severe depression that affected her for obvious reasons and also as a side effect of her anti-cancer medications. But taking care of her midst other stresses threw me in a whirlpool that I began to feel I have totally lost my mind. Literally.

The past six months have taken a toll on my mental health and I seem to have aged considerably, if not in any other way, surely in the way I look. The mirror has totally refused to recognize me.

My extended family has been no good and have left no opportunity upturned to add fuel to the fire that has been burning our lives. Pari’s tantrums have been at their all time peak in the past few months and she has slowly become the ‘Dennis the Menace’.

I won’t make any promises in this post about what all I intend to blog, because I just want to do it this time and not just keep postponing to write like I have been in the past one year.

The long breaks from writing I have been enjoying have slyly stolen my ability to pour my heart in words, making regular writing all the more difficult. But when giving up is not an option, trying the only way about it.

The storm has passed (or that’s what I’d like to believe) and I have calmed down quite a bit from the bout of fury I have been burning in past three months. The knit brows that I absolutely dislike are now seen plastered on my forehead all day, all night.

My worry occupied mind has no room left for memory, hence ‘forgetful’ is now my middle name.

A lot of events happened in Pari’s school life that I’ll be covering at length beginning from the point I left.

So for now, I am dusting this blog and planning how I am going to find time to write daily. Even if it means writing just a couple of lines, I want to do it as a cure to battle the depression that has been threatening to deter me from working for a better future.

The song on my mind: Dil hai chota sa ~ Roja