Sunday, 17 November 2013

Kuala Lumpur - a Dream Destination

My husband worked in Kuala Lumpur for some time before our marriage so there are times when he tells me about his stay at KL. One guilt he always has is that he never quite go around KL. He was very busy with work and was too lazy to go around the city during his short stint in KL. His only achievement during his stay at KL (according to him) is attending the inauguration of Jackie Chan Café and being within an arms distance of Jackie Chan (almost touching his hand).

So he often says that he would want to visit KL again (with me in tow) and go around that place as a tourist without having to worry about work, boss, client, emails, deliverables and deadlines. He talks about the hotel he used to stay in, the metro and bus journeys he used to take, his visit to Petronas Twin towers and KL towers besides his visits to K L Central (which is like a mini India in KL). And of course, he also talks about his experience with Air Asia – which is the World's Best Online Travel Fair.

So as a combination of what I have heard from him and what I have read online about this place, Kuala Lumpur is definitely a destination I would prefer. So here is my itinerary for my KL visit – a check list of sorts … a list of all things to do and places to visit.

1. Petronas Tower and Suria KL City Center – My husband tells me that in the few months he spent in KL; he visited the Petronas Towers several times and also went to Suria City Center many times BUT he never went to the sky-bridge connecting the 41st and 42nd floors across the twin towers. I intend to change that when he takes me along. Petronas will not only be the first place we go to but I will make sure I take him to the sky-bridge. Suria KLCC is also something I wouldn't miss. My hubby recalls memories of a HUGE 4-5 storey tall Christmas Tree within KLCC. I am having trouble imagining such a huge Christmas tree … I would love to see it with my own eyes <which means I got to schedule KL trip around Christmas – which is soon coming up>

2. Aquaria KLCC, located very close to Petronas, is a state-of-the-art oceanarium (aquarium) showcasing over 5000 different exhibits of aquatic and land-bound creatures. My hubby tells me I could spend a whole day there. I would love to visit it.

3. KL TOWER or Menara Kuala Lumpur (as it is known locally) is something my hubby recommends. He visited KL Tower twice (celebrating his birthday in the revolving restaurant which is right below the observation deck of KL tower). He says that the view from KL tower is much better than that from Petronas simply because KL tower give you a 360 degree view whereas Petronas only gives you a very restricted view (You can only see 2 sides since you have the twin towers on the other two sides). I want to visit the KL tower just before sun-set so that I can see the city during day-light and then watch the city transform during the twilight as city lights start coming on across the city … and then finally as the city lights up in the dark. Oh What an experience it is going to be.

4. Metro Ride, Monorail Ride … and yes, even the Bus Ride. I have always believed that to know a city from within and at close quarters, you got to use its public transport. It gives you a very different view of the city and its people. You no longer meet traders and souvenir shop owners with plastic smiles. In the metro train, you meet and see real people of the city, living their real lives. The elevated mono-rail gives you a different view of the city while the public transport bus service gives you a different view of the city and its people – from a different economic level. I wouldn't miss this part of my journey at all.  

5. KL Sentral and Brickfield – mini India. My hubby tells me that during the weekends, he would hop on to the metro train and go to KL Sentral and visit the brickfield area which was like a mini India. He would see Indians all around and eat in Indian restaurants. He would feel right at home in the crowd there. I intend to surely visit this mini India away from India.

6. Bank Negara Malaysia, Merdeka Square and the other Historical Places – Bank Negara Malaysia is where my husband worked and he tells me that there are several places / monuments / buildings of historical importance around the office. I would love to see where my hubby worked and also those historical places. At the center of all the historical things is Merdeka Square. Surrounding the square are many buildings of historical interest. Just beside the square is the Sultan Abdul Samad Building currently the office of the Ministry of Information, Communication and Culture of Malaysia. Opposite the square is the famous Royal Selangor Club Complex built in 1884 as a meeting place for high-ranking members of the British colonial society. To the South is the former National History Museum which used to house a vast collection of historical items. The collection has recently been moved to Muzium Negara. To the North is the St. Mary's Anglican Cathedral, currently the Diocese of West Malaysia and the see of the Bishop of West Malaysia. A 95-metre flagpole, one of the tallest in the world, is located at the southern end of the square. Nearby is also the original Kuala Lumpur Railway Station, which is still operational. However the main hub has recently been moved to KL Sentral in 2001.

7. Shopping at China Town and Central market – How can I ignore my inner shopping instincts. My hubby tells me that the China Town and the adjoining Central Market are the places to shop. He also told me about a very large departmental store (he has forgotten the name but remembers the location) where he bought a lot of gifts and other things before returning to India from KL.

8. Jackie Chan Café at Starhill Gallery in Bukit Bintang – The place where my hubby met Jackie Chan. He tells me that this is a very posh shopping mall where you find the world's most expensive brands. He won't allow me to shop here but I can do window shopping to my heart's delight.

9. National Museum or Muzium Negara (as it is called locally) and the Perdana Lake Gardens located nearby. It is a palatial structure built in the style of Minangkabau architecture. Located atop a hill on Jalan Travers, it provides an interesting introduction to the history and culture of Malaysia. Museums are another aspect of visiting new places. They give you yet another perspective of the place you are visiting – its history, its culture, its transformation over the years. It helps you see through the concrete and glass façade of modern day buildings and peek into the hidden cultural layers of the city / country. So the visit to the national museum is a must.

10. KL Bird Park and Orchid Garden - Located close to the Perdana Lake Garden (Taman Tasik Perdana), the Orchid Garden has over 800 species of exotic Malaysian orchids. The orchid is a truly exotic and special flower and I just love orchids – I wouldn't miss the Orchid garden at all. The Bird park would be a very interesting experience at it is well known as "The World's Largest Walk-in Free Flight Aviary" offering 21 acres terrain to be explored with head raised upwards and eyes glued to the branches and tree tops. I have a feeling I will have a pain in my neck at the end of the day so I should schedule these at the end of the trip.

11. Asean Sculpture Garden; also located in the vicinity of the lake gardens, is a uniquely landscaped garden with a wide collection of prize-winning sculptures in wood, marble, iron and bamboo. This would be interesting to watch.

I am sure there are more places to explore and see and visit in KL … so I will probably spend a whole day on the hop-On-Hop-Off buses, exploring the city. I will also see what the official Malaysia tourism website as well as other websites like TripAdvisor have to say. I would also search for off-beat places to visit in Malaysia to see if there are hidden jewels (which are not popularized by tourist companies and websites). It is always fun to see what others don't – you face no crowds and have the place practically to yourself to soak it in.

Well, it's now time to look outside Kuala Lumpur. Malaysia offers more than KL to see …

12. Batu Caves – Batu Caves is a limestone hill that has a series of caves and cave temples 13 km (8 miles) north of Kuala Lumpur. The limestone forming Batu Caves is said to be around 400 million years old. The cave is one of the most popular Hindu shrines outside India, dedicated to Lord Murugan. Rising almost 100 m above the ground, the Batu Caves temple complex consists of three main caves and a few smaller ones. The biggest, referred to as Cathedral Cave or Temple Cave, has a very high ceiling and features ornate Hindu shrines. To reach it, visitors must climb a steep flight of 276 steps. I would surely like to visit this temple.

13. Genting Highland Resort – My hubby visited Genting and he tells me that this is a Hill Station with a unique experience … right from the cable car ride to the top, to the amusement part, to the casinos, to the very different and chilly weather, to the colorful First World hotel.   

14. Langkawi  – My hubby was not able to visit Langkawi and is not sure if we will visit it when we go to Malaysia. But, I am insistent. I want to visit this place.   

Well well well … the list is long and I think I would need a full fortnight in Malaysia to cover it all. Will my hubby agree … time will tell.
I wanted to post pictures of all the above places along with the numbered paragraphs ... i almost did ... but then I decided that I would rather prefer to post pictures of all these places with myself as part of those pictures. So posting of KL pictures will happen after my hubby takes me to KL :)

This blog-post was inspired by 'Dream Asian Destination Blogger Contest' organized by Ripple Links and sponsored by AirAsia. Click here for more information about the World's Best Online Travel Fair 

Saturday, 2 November 2013

My Platinum Day of Love - Wedding Anniversary

My Platinum Day of Love was my first wedding anniversary.
Our's was an arranged marriage so love was slowly and gradually creeping and growing in our relationship. Due to work requirements, my hubby had to travel a lot and we were not together on my birthday as well as his birthday. In fact, during his birthday, he was in another country (UAE) where I shortly joined him later.
He wanted to make the first anniversary special so he had planned it out very well and made all the arrangements in advance keeping it all a big surprise for me. I just assumed that he was so busy with his work so he will not have time for me and we would end up celebrating our anniversary with a hotel dinner maybe.
BUT … he planned out a day of adventure and fun and variety ending it on a soft romantic note.
Our anniversary turned out to be a day of extremes in terms of variety and adventure …
O! What a day it was !
From the sweltering 45 Degrees to the chilling minus 5 degrees … Dubai was 45 degrees hot that day of May and went to the HOT HOT beach as well as later visited SKI Dubai where one can enjoy the snow and skiing.  
From the speed boat ride in the open seas to the snow sleigh and tobogganing tyre sliding on snow … We took a speed boat at the beach and then went parasailing over the Dubai seas and then sleigh and tobogganing at Ski Dubai.
From walking on the HOT SAND on Dubai beach to wading through waist/chest deep COOL Sea Water to reach the speed boath and then sliding and slipping on the COLD SNOW in Ski Dubai and Flying / parasailing over Dubai Seas !!!
We rode the Bus, Taxi, Metro, Speed Boat, sleigh and even flew with the parachute thingy … all in a span of 12 hours. My husband has this weird idea of seeing Dubai from different views, so he dropped the idea of having a chauffeur driven car for a day and instead chose to travel across Dubai in all sorts of public transport    
That is how I celebrated my Wedding Anniversary in May 2011  … the day which bonded our relationship and took it to a whole new level. Undoubtedly, that's the platinum day of our relationship.
Platinum, the most beautiful of all metals is known for its rarity, purity and versatility … and that is how our relationship has turned out to be. That day just took our relationship to an altogether different level. I discovered a side of my husband I had never known – the boisterous, adventurous streak. WE experienced those adventures together and that brought us closer.
The end of the day was pretty calm and subtle as compared with the rest of the day … a walk down the sea side and a candle light dinner at Kamat Restaurant. From adventures in the day to the romantic evening, everything went according to our plan except for my anniversary gift.
He told me that the gift was a special one he was planning and he needed more time to get it done. Well, it took some time … well – almost 5-6 months … but it eventually came and it did lift me off or let's say sweep me off my feet.
The gift was something I never imagined my 'kanjoos' husband would ever give me – a platinum bracelet with 5 luminous diamond. He always tells me till date "Wish I had a camera when I presented you the bracelet. The expression on your face was priceless". So, maybe technically that day in September (he chose my  birthday in Sept to give me the 'late' anniversary gift) could be called my platinum day of love … but the memories of anniversary and the adventures and the bonding we shared are just too much stronger.
It was a truly awesome day and THE MOST PRECIOUS day of my life ... of our lives. It was our Platinum Day of Love.  

Some pictures of our adventures ... 





Saturday, 26 October 2013

Smart Suraksha Tips


Safety is one of the most important aspects of a girl's / women's life these days. Every women needs to step out of the comfort of her home. The risk of being subject of anti-social elements is on a rise nowadays. The Delhi and Mumbai rape cases and the countless other rape cases across the country are a mute and loud proof of the same.

So here are some quick tips … more as a reminder for you since I am sure you would have read plenty of safety tips by now…


1. Be Alert. Be aware of your surrounding

2. Walk confidently and maintain a confidence posture

3. Don't be in lonely and deserted places. Crowds are safer.

4. While walking, don't keep your eyes glued to your phone screen or phone glued to your ears. Be alert of your surroundings.

5. Be it a mall or your office; if the parking area is deserted, request the security guard to accompany to your car (if you haven't already convinced your good friend or colleague to do so)

6. Learn some self-defense techniques – several seminars are organized these days for such quick 2 hour training which can come in handy

7. Keep someone informed of your whereabouts

8. Should never take a drink brought to you by a stranger

9. You don't have to update your whereabouts on FB and Twitter every time you arrive at a place. You might just make things simple for a stalker !!

10. Use your smart phone effectively. Install an app like Smart Suraksha which can send SOS message to pre-defined numbers with your help call as well as GPS location so that they can reach you.

11. Be aware of the objects in your purse / hand-bag so that you can use some as weapon if need arises. Your deo or pencil or eyeliner can be used to spray or poke in the attackers eyes.

12. Be Fit and healthy enough to RUN FAST !!!

13. Don't be too friendly with stranger – cab drivers etc. They may 'read' you otherwise and then indulge in mischief and then blame you for provoking them. We live in a bad bad world so better be careful and avoid.

14. Taking a radio taxi ensures that there is a record of driver name and cab details coming on your phone as sms which you can fwd to your family to keep them informed. Better still, call them up after taking the cab and give them cab number. The driver will hear you giving the cab number and not attempt mischief

15. Try not to get into empty buses or trains at night. For local train, it might be safer to travel in the gents compartment rather than an empty ladies compartment.

16. Never count cash in public. Avoid carrying too much cash.

17. Don't linger around after withdrawing cash from ATM. Get out of the place quickly.

18. If you can, avoid wearing heavy / expensive ornaments while commuting. Wear it closer to your destination if you must.

 19. If the robber or attacker is trying to snatch your bag … let go. Don't give him reason to strike you and cause you physical harm.

20. Don't worry and live Life to the fullest. Be happy and be cheerful. Be confident and safe.


I am sharing my Smart Suraksha Tips at BlogAdda in association with the Smart Suraksha App

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Fragrant Memories

Memories can hit you anywhere, anytime, anyhow. They arrive in waves and sometimes as singular events; inspired by things you see, hear and even smell.

Strangely, whenever I get the whiff of Fair & Lovely cream, I simply get nostalgic about my college going days.

A particular brand of perfume – Royal Mirage – takes me back to a party I attended. That was the first time I got the whiff of that perfume. Didn't know its name then and had no clue who had used it so couldn't ask. Years later during my visit to Dubai, I got the same fragrance in the airport shopping area and found out the name of the perfume.

The Johnson & Johnson baby powder reminds of the early childhood of my brother's kid … I literally raise him in his early years. Here, not just nostalgia but great longings and desires raise up their head. 

Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Ideas to Spread

My husband told me about TED Talks 2 years ago while we were in Dubai and I had nothing much to do at home besides watching TV and spending time on messenger and facebook. He told me they were interesting and although most of the initial ones I encountered were all technology talks … but eventually I found variety and got hooked. They were damn interesting and opened up my thinking about the world and its problems.
After I came back to India and got busy with my role as a Housewife working under a Mother-in-Law; spare time became sparce and so did my time online. Eventually, I forgot about TED talks. Indibloggers contest reminded me about the TED Talks and I enjoyed going through all the videos of the Dec 2012 TED Event. Franklin Templeton Investments partnered the TEDxGateway Mumbai in December 2012 and all the videos are available on the website so you don’t have to go searching on YouTube.
Of all the TED Talk videos I saw, the 2 which caught my attention are listed below …  
Arunachalam Muruganantham, the first man to wear a sanitary pad (for experimental and testing purposes only); with his little education and a lot of simple humor, not only made a difference to women’s lives but also proved that u don’t need a mult-million dollar education or idea to make a difference. His key message is about entrepreneurship and how grass root innovation is something that is REAL, FEASIBLE and far more usuful to rural (read poor) India than any effort by governments and corporate sector. His other message was about how persistence and perseverance … his mantra for success was simply ‘Try Try Again till you succeed’ wrapped up as ‘innovation by Trial and Error’ …

Cynthiya Koenig talked about a very pertinent problem from rural India which we all know about but have ignored for decades or maybe centuries - Women travelling miles with water pots on their head bringing drinking and even non-drinking water to their homes from the water sources. My mom, mother-in-law and grandma – all have actually experienced this. Cynthiya not only pointed out the loss of time and productivity on account of 3 to 6 hours lost in brining water home BUT also talked about the long term health problems that are a result of carrying loads in excess of 10-15 KG on the head on a regular basis. The solution was a 40 (or more) liter capacity pot which looks and functions like a road-roller. Women have to roll this pot to their water source and not carry any load on their head. A simple solution (although I am not sure how much will it cost the poor people to procure it).

If you have read this far, I encourage you to visit and view all the videos on the site. You will surely learn something !!

Sunday, 21 July 2013

Deferred Anniversary Road Trip Plan

I had planned a road-trip for my anniversary in May but due to some health and other reasons, we couldn't make it. Now that the monsoons have set in, I think it is a good time to revive those plans again.

The plan was a 2-day road trip to Lonavla and Lavasa – spending a day each at both these locations. I would have loved to make it a 4 day trip but hubby's office commitment have restricted it to a 2-day weekend trip.

The plan is to start off early Saturday morning, having breakfast at the expressway food court and reaching Lonavla early on and spending the whole day enjoying the misty atmosphere of Lonavla. Spend the night at Lonavla and then again an early morning trip from Lonavla to Lavasa.

I have heard great things about Lavasa and would like to see this beautiful new hill station … with my husband !!

So what are the things to carry ...
Rain-coat and Umbrella, Extra clothes (at least 3 pairs), Food stuff, snacks, frisbee, badminton racket and shuttle cock, the Ambi-Pur Car mini-vent (Pacific Air fragrance) (check out here ), camera, extra batteries, binoculars, my funky hat ... the list goes on

I plotted the route on Google Maps …  

Friday, 21 June 2013

The Reliance Digital Experience


Last weekend I visited the Reliance Digital store at Infinity Mall in Malad and it was quite an experience.

It was an interesting experience for me going to Reliance Digital for an in-store experience and not being 'given' the experience … I had to rather 'gather it myself' when I was asked to go around all by myself and then write about it. I had expected a guided tour which somehow wasn't a part of their plan it seems.

Nevertheless, I went around the store and looked at the various sections. I was surprised to find a Books section in a digital store and also found a dedicated Apple products counter missing. Physical books in a digital/electronics store seemed out of place. Apple has a huge fan following and it does deserve a space of its own. Do they expect the Apple fans to go all over the store searching for Apple products?

The store layout was decent with dedicated sections for different product types. I have always been fascinated by the TVs on display in electronic stores. I could spend hours gazing at the full wall with the bank of literally 20-40 TVs of different brands and sizes … all playing the same visual. I stood mesmerized and hypnotized by the flickering screens … my eyes jumping from one screen to another looking for differences in the rendering of the picture on different screens observing the difference in clarity, sharpness and color palette.

My overall experience of the store was good and if I had to buy an electronic gadget, I am sure to visit the store. I think I would find what I want and also have some guys who would be knowledgeable about the stuff.

The Reliance Digital experience was an interesting one although it could have been a much better one had there been someone who would have treated me as guest and given me a guided tour along with useful information about the store. I could almost feel that the guys out there weren't really interested in me after knowing that I was an Indiblogger visitor and began to ignore me.

Monday, 17 June 2013

My Weekend Party with Gourmet Food from Kitchen's of India

A weekend party for me would be an all-girls party of the girls of my age and cadre from my family. So it will be my sister-laws and bhabhi's. The guys from the family have their evenings-out with food and drinks and we girls are left fuming at home.
For a change, when the guys plan out their weekend meet, we girls will plan out ours. The guys would meet up in a restaurant or pub, while we girls will meet up at one of our homes (in rotation, keeping in the spirit of the kitty-parties). If we had to cook for the party, then it would be less fun and some of us would eventually be busy preparing the food and serving and cleaning up afterwards. No one likes that. So the easy way out will be to have the Kitchen's of India range of ready-to-eat food options. Not that we won't have to prepare anything … Roti's will have to be made at home (the manufacturers or restaurants just don't make it like us)
So let's look at the menu …  with selections from Kitchens of India website -   
·        Rose or Khus Sherbet - Welcome Drink
·        Cheese Balls and Finger Chips – Appetizers / Starters (Home-made)
·        Mughlai Paneer (KOI pack)
·        Dal Bhukhara (KOI pack)
·        Phulka Rotis (Home Made)
·        Jodhpuri Moong Dal Halwa (KOI pack)
·        Apple Cinnamon Conserve (KOI products)   
·        Shredded mango Chutney (KOI products)
·        Vegetable BIryani (Made using KOI Masala Mix)
·        Mango Ice Cream (Home-made)
And why limit myself to this menu …  When I would buy these KOI products, they will send a Gourmet Indian Recipe CD to me. I will use this CD and look for more ideas for food delight at my all-girls party.

Thursday, 4 April 2013

Boy-cut was not a fashion statement for me …

My mother was a huge fan of Bollywood actress Jaya Prada n Sri Devi … and so was I.

In 80's and 90's Bollywood era; long hair were trendy and the movies have always been the trend setters in our country. The way the actresses had their hair done to the ubiquitous braids to the occasional bird's nest to the gajra in the open as well as braided hair ... You could see the waves of the latest hairdo from the films in college, n the roads, in the temple on Sundays and of course, at the parties. Ladies would spend quite an exorbitant amount of time on their hair and dotting mothers would spend an equal amount of time on their daughter's hair. I was one the easily-influenced-by-the-movies types who would see something new in the movies and start dreaming of it in my real life ... be it the houses, the clothes, the lover, the high-life or the hair and the hair-do.  

The fascination for hair and stylish hairdo came to me in my genes from my Mom. She was fascinated by her hair and she would pay a lot of attention to the hairs of her 2 daughters – my elder sister offering her a dream hair to work with – long, shiny, cultured … while I was the nightmare – curly hair which refused to behave straight or get molded into a fixed hairstyle.

My Mom was so frustrated with my unmanageable hair that she even made me go bald a couple of time in my pre-primary-school days in the hope against hope that the new crop would grow glorious straight which she could work on (read: experiment on). But my hair turned out to be the proverbial dog's tail …

Once in primary school, a bald girl would look weird so Mom resorted to the then-famous 'Boy Cut'. I thought she was making me seem modern and fashionable while my elder sister seems old-fashioned with long hairs which were routinely braided and tied with the ever lovely red ribbons. It was only later that my boy-cut was just short of the total-bald therapy which my mom thought would 'cure' my serpentine locks. Another thing which I hated was OIL. While my mom, elder sister and my grandma would literally drench their hair with hair oil; I stayed away from oil on various pretexts. I just hated it. Hated the touch of oily hair, hated the oily-hair-look and even hated the chip-chip on the head. They used to try and explain to me that Oil was good for hair and its growth and health but the kind of kid I was … never listened to them (and mind you … I often regret that)

During festivals, my mom and my elder sister would wear the traditional 'gajra' on their hair while I was the odd-one-out with literally no hair for the gajra. Just imagine a gajra on boy cut hair! Can't imagine … right?? Coz that's plain simple weird. I would often feel bad about this and would even cry and throw a tantrum … and then mom would hand over a gajra to me along with a few hair pins. I would try to fix the gajra on my short hair and after several failures and hair worse than before; would finally give up.

I was very very jealous of my sister.

Primary to Secondary transition and at the age where I could 'enforce' some of my decision; I asked my Mom to allow my hair to grow so that I could also have long tresses. Gave her all sorts of reasons and convinced her.

She agreed. I was so happy. But that didn't last long.

I enjoyed my longer hair in the beginning and soon I had the pleasure of the long braids and the lovely ribbons. My mom and my grandma used to take turns at my hair and I felt sooo good at all the attention I would get when they worked on my hair. I realized what my sister had been enjoying all these years and what I was missing out on.

I loved the braids and my longer hair. I enjoyed the different kinds of styling experiments which my Mom used to perform on my hair. It seemed like another chapter in my hair's life. Only … the chapter was a short one.

In some years, I began to notice something strange with my hair. My mom introduced me to the horror called split-ends. I went to hair specialist and tried lots of different shampoo-conditioner combinations as well as treatments but nothing worked. Finally it was decided that nothing can be done so rather than solving the problem, it was decided to remove it all together.

No No No … I wasn't going baldy again.

The problem was 'spilt-ends' with the key-word 'end' so regular (monthly actually) trimming of the ends turned out to be the solution.

It was only lately that different easy-to-use products have arrived in the market which helps a girl deal with split hairs and other hair-raising problems. Wish some of these existed while I was a little girl struggling with hair problems. Dove has several nice products in their product-line which helps girls (and especially their mothers) deal with hair problems.

When I received the Dove Hair Therapy product focussed on split ends, it came as a pleasant surprise and when I started using it … I could really feel the difference in a matter of few days. In case you would like to know more about the Dove products .. check out the Dove Split End Rescue System link

The biggest relief I have is that I won't have to think about my kiddo going bald over hair problems

Writing this blog post about hair and braids made me really nostalgic taking me on a journey of my childhood and my school days. And now I am thinking of contacting some of my school friends who are still around and in touch. Will try and arrange a get-together and just catch up. Thanks Dove for this. Your contest is going to become a reason I am going to meet my school friends.  

Just FYI kinds … The Single Side Braids look works best for me; pulling out strands of hair from right above each ear and braiding them. Tying them or banding the two braids together at the crown of my head for a simple, peasant-girl look. This suits me very much.