Sunday, 21 April 2013

My Bookstore My Dream...

Reading and Writing, two words that I use to define myself. Tracing back time to almost my school days all I can recollect is; reading used to be something that I found comfort in and now that bliss is extended so much that it has become my passion culminating into a dream. I am a Engineering student and a dreamer, put these two together and you don't always get a good combination. Though it doesn't necessarily mean that being a student has thwarted my plans, although at times I did feel like backing away and not pursuing it till the end but each time I felt like taking a step back, I was reminded of a quote by Paulo Coelho that helped me tread ahead.
“There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure.” 

And thus the idea of starting a Bookstore cum Cafe, an independent start-up bookstore for book lovers grew on me slowly and steadily and I started moving towards my goal of converting my dream into reality.

People who know me, know how much emphasis I give to jotting down everything that I need for my task to be completed right from the location, to employment, to softwares to be used and most importantly names. So after hours of mind-boggling I decided on "Grounds for Thought Bookstore." My primary goal was to serve the people who not only frequent bookstores but also those who couldn't due to lack of time and travelling thereby catering to every individual who genuinely loves reading. 

But business is not just about marketing, networking and money; it is also about the resources and how to allocate those resources in order to get optimal output. And that is where I started facing issues, what seemed good in my mind and on paper didn't really seem fitting in reality as I being a student hardly have enough resources. My dream of starting a bookstore came crashing down; that is when I came across Microsoft Office 365 ( 

Microsoft Office 365 is the cloud version of the decades offered by Microsoft Office suite. Besides the familiar programs like Word, Excel and PowerPoint there are other services such as Lync SharePoint Online and Exchange Online and creating websites to market the business and keeping it up to date which are included. It provides virtually anywhere access to familiar Office tools, plus enterprise-grade email, conferencing, and more IT services. In all being a perfect tool in the business arena. 

Having learnt so much about it and realizing its benefits, my mind started forming different ideas about how to incorporate it into my business without losing focus on my dream project. 

The bookstore industry as a whole is going through a large shift. Earlier, the market was dominated by local city libraries and small book vendors selling novels. Thus, my own experience as a customer was not satisfactory as I did not always get everything under one roof. Therefore, my bookstore  would cater to the needs of middle class customers who cut back on purchasing; thereby a used bookstore will look more attractive to customers who still wish to purchase books or simply lend them by being a member of the bookstore. 

The bookstore would try to provide various genre of books. It would offers a wide range of books including both the educational and recreational, a variety of magazine and fine music selections and newspapers. This includes just about every imaginable category including fiction, non-fiction, business, science, history, children and other types of books. Also the newspaper selection would concentrate not just on daily newspapers but archive even the past newspapers of historical dates.

Since this will be a bookstore cum cafe it will also provide a relaxed reading room type atmosphere that would be encouraged through the placement of art, chairs, couches and coffee tables; where one can sip evening coffee and enjoy a good read for customers who do not wish to purchase the book or take it home with them. 

In addition, as I mentioned earlier about incorporating Microsoft Office 365 as it provides ample services that would help my business. Since this is a small scale venture, the small business plan would help in my start up. 

Using Sky Drive I would update the database of existing and newly added books as it can be accessed both online and offline after synchronization. Basically this would help in searching the item the customer is seeking but is hard to find. This I do would by using the Microsoft Office tools like MS Excel for keeping a record of the books and music collection in a .csv file that would be stored in the cloud i.e Sky Drive that can be easily imported in a database; also since I'm all but using Microsoft products the database that I would incorporate would be SQL Server to ease my work.

Also there would be an online virtual library so it’s easy for the customer to leaf through books and place the order though not necessarily being present at the bookstore personally. The basic idea of having an online library in addition to the bookstore is that, if a customer wishes to purchase the book; the book would be delievered to their residence. But, home delivery won't hold true if the customer wishes to take the book on loan, but they can definitely pre-book the book they wish so that it is issued in their name and can be collected by the customer in a weeks time.

The website of this online library would be built using the Microsoft Office 365 Website builder and the requests would be updated in the database that would be connected to Sky Drive, Excel, Lync for audio calls and SharePoint so that the changes and order recorded can be viewed by me, the Head Librarian and even the other employees so as to have a fair idea of which book is available and how is the bookstore functioning. 

And one of the best feature is that I need not be present in the bookstore the whole time to check the records management, I can sync and configure Microsoft Office 365 on my touch screen cell phone and access the data anywhere thus, simplifying my task of checking the business development at my ease. 

Though this being a small scale business at start-up with minimum employees, the primary marketing strategy in order to capture attention for the bookstore would be using prominent signs at the stores location, handing out fliers to people, discounts on membership cards based on first cum first serve basis and radio advertisements to capture customers. Still there would be a sales and marketing representative who would keep a track of all the books sold, borrowed, acquired and also lost incurring a fine to the individual; using Microsoft Office tools like MS Word, Excel but with new and improved efficiency.

Today technology has advanced and it has it's perks and is present in every part of our life, it helps us from menial tasks to skilled elevated ones. The bookstore is my dream and a small initiative that I want to take in order to encourage not just reading for leisure but also a step towards developing a rational thinking that combines both proper education and creativity thereby inculcating the idea of dreaming big and working towards achieving it.

And I sincerely hope that one day my dream is fulfilled and I can proudly say, Yes this is my Bookstore not just for people who can afford to buy books and read but for everyone who can afford or who cannot but who genuinely like to read. 

This post has been written for Microsoft Office 365 and Indiblogger


P.S: Understanding Microsoft Office 365 courtesy; Microsoft site and google for various tutorials in each language.

Thursday, 18 April 2013

Rendezvous with the Sun


Time flies so fast with memories never leaving your side as they always linger close in the recesses of your mind. As I sit here on the beach enjoying the subtle sun browsing an albums of my younger days on my i-pad, I realize it's been exactly ten long years since the day I had a real tryst with the sun.

Back then too global warming was as good as it is today and one needed protection from both the UVA and UVB rays of the sun. Smiling slightly my gaze lingers on my smooth untanned skin reminding me of my "Fourth Indiblogger meet sponsored by Neutrogena" that finally made me embrace a sunblock lotion. Seeing that I had really nothing much to do, I let the memories engulf me loosing myself in them.

The meet was held in JW Marriott, Juhu, Mumbai of which I was lucky to be a  part off owing my exams were miles apart. The moment I entered the venue all I could see was yellow; umbrellas, drapes, the hosts and even Neutrogena boards all over.

Once the registrations were done we were being given a Face mask and a cute little umbrella on which we had to write our name and drop in a box *me thinking why* but before I could run a theory in my mind one of my friend dragged me to our table as everyone had already settled on their tables and were mingling with fellow bloggers.

Some new faces, some old and some not present but that didn't dampen our spirits as we made new friends. Some of the bloggers even wore the Neutrogena Face mask that we were given during  registration.             
Our host and dost of the evening !

Me and my group :D
Once we were finally settled on our tables and sighed happily that finally this time "Our Group is not table-less" but sadly our happiness was short lived as Mr. Anoop thought that this time too there would be fun games but with a twist of scattering everyone, thereby breaking our sweet group and we went table hunting with an added rule that every table must have at least 2 guys and 2 girls each and also that they should not be a part of your previous table. And the first table to form that group gets an USB band. 

Well my table lost in this one but never mind as we won the next one. We had to know each other's name on the table and tada we knew and were the first ones to raise our hands!
Yay we all won vollyballs..yoo hoo :D
Once this was done and we thought that finally there would be no more shuffling. We were to pick the cute little yellow umbrellas we had submitted while registration that were randomly sorted.


 Once the picking ceremony was done we were asked to find the person whose name was written on our umbrella and get to know them. Some lucky ones found their soon while some like me were searching for the person till the very end. Also the first five people who searched their partners got cool gifts and one of the girl was so lucky she got her own name and she too got a gift. :D

Finally we sat down feeling that now we put the umbrellas to rest. Anoop dropped another fun game on us, that was to count the number of holes in our umbrella. I for one had not even noticed that there were holes in the first place :O. Anyways, moving on I had *four* holes and so I was to find fellow bloggers who were in the same group. Post the new group forming we were told to give our group a name and a tag line. My group's name was "Sun-or and Sun-orita - Basking in the Sun" pronounced as (Senor and Senorita). Although we didn't win this round too we enjoyed a lot and I yet again made some new friends :) 

Post this we had a war, not literally but an umbrella with holes and balls war where duh we again lost but had lots of fun. At the end, the purpose of the game was to explain to us that there were two types of rays UVA and UVB and most of the sunscreens do not give 100% protection and thus there are holes that allow the harmful rays to penetrate and affect our skin. *Didn't know that but glad to know*

Fun but knowledgeable game! 
 Finally, we were tired and we got our much awaited break. And we went to satiate our tummy that was hungry and mind you there was so much that one had to think what to eat and what not. Jalebi with Rabri, Chocolate Mousse, Cheesecake, every variety of tea and coffee, Corn balls, sandwiches etc. both Veg and Non-Veg. 
Paneer Rolls


Different varieties of Tea.
Once our stomach was satiated and we were seated on our tables. Walked in our guest for the evening the very own sweet "Tara Sharma Saluja" wearing a bright yellow dress.

She talked about her show "The Tara Sharma Show" that airs on Colors and  Nickelodeon and also talked about her 2 kids, and how she manages to keep her skin healthy, glowing and supple using Neutrogena Sunscreen on a regular basis. She also told us three easy steps for a healthy glowing skin; cleanse, moisturize and  protect. Finally she was done with giving us ample suggestions and shared her views with us. But alas! Everything comes to an end, and it was time for her to leave but not without a goodie from the IndiBlogger team who presented her with Neutrogena hamper and it was given by our very own youngest blogger (13 years old) Ashwin Pathak. 

Ashwin with Tara Sharma Saluja
Post this there was a dermatologist session who tested different sunscreens including the Neutrogena Sunscreen and finally the results proved. Neutrogena provided protection from both UVA and UVB rays thereby giving 100% protection. Also he answered many queries by the bloggers. 

Why are Sunscreens Important and when can be used ??
* Sunscreens can be applied since the age of 3
* Most sunscreens only provide protection against UVA rays.
* Higher SPF level does not necessarily mean a good sunscreen. 
* Sunscreens should be applied every 2-3 hours so that the effect stays for a long time.  

Finally, it was time for the meet to end but can a meet be done without some more fun and a group pic..Never but since this meet was all about twist we had a crazy "Harlem Shake" and a group pic thereby putting an end to the wonderful meet. 

Suddenly, I heard my friend calling me breaking me from my trace and I realized it has been almost an hour that I was lost in the memories of that day when I realized the importance of using Sunscreen and from then on till today I've been using Neutrogena Sunscreen- My personal protection from sun. And this is "How I met the sun" and have fallen in love with it since then. With that being said, I re-applied my Sunscreen and took off to play beach vollyball with my friends without the fear of being tanned or sunburned.

My protectors from the harsh sun.


P.S: Picture courtesy IndiBlogger and Aditi Pathak
       UVA- UltraVoilet A and UVB- UltraVoilet B