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By Tanya Munshi

Despite all the pomp and glamour associated with it today, the festival of Diwali is best celebrated in the simple, old-fashioned way. The first Diwali was celebrated when Ram and Sita were welcomed back to Ayodhya with simple oil lamps. This Diwali, it’s time to go back to the basics when it comes to decorating your house. We tell you how...

1. Clean up
Just cleaning up all the mess in your house will make all the difference to its look and feel. Get rid of unwanted stuff, clear out the overflowing magazine rack, throw away junk, and put away all things in their proper place. Your home will actually look healthier and lighter with all the mess out of sight!

2. Colour your imagination
No Diwali can be complete without a rangoli. You don’t need to do a fancy design, even a simple one like Lakshmi’s feet will do. Don’t have the skill to actually draw one? Simply get a design paper tray and colours from the market and decorate the entrance of your house with it. Instead of colours, you could also use fresh flowers to make a design, post drawing an outline with a wet chalk.

3. Go floral!
What better way to decorate your home than with fresh and fragrant flowers? Do away with the traditional marigold and use African daisies or lilies instead. Weave them in a garland for your door or simply put them in vases and place them at the noticeable spots around your house. A dash of colour will add to the ambience and can set the mood in any room.

4. Pile a plate with wishes
The puja thali is another great idea to give your home Diwali decorations a twist. Arrange it tastefully with a small floral decoration, a diya, and a spread of sweets and savories for the season. Keep this on the centre table in your hall or living room. This will make your guests feel welcome and lend your entire house a feel of festivities.

5. Light up your place responsibly
Diwali is the festival of lights, so make sure you light up your home- not garishly but rather tastefully, not wastefully but responsibly. Choose to save electricity by giving the electric lights a skip. Instead, opt for old fashioned diyas at your doorsteps, on window sills and in safe corners around your house… this will then truly be a bright and cheerful festival of lights for you and your family!


Considering the water shortage that the whole world is facing today, conservation and intelligent utilisation of water resources has become extremely essential. Small measures can make a big difference. To think of it, getting an ordinary toilet leak repaired could lead to saving of nearly 200 extra litres of water a day while a faucet leak repair can save up to10,000 litres a year. Here are 25 ways to get you started on the ‘save water’ mission:

Saving water indoors


Think you might have a leak? Check by reading your water meter before and after a 2-hour period when water hasn't been run in your house. If the reading isn't precisely the same, you've got a leak.


If you've got a well-water system and the pump comes on when no one is using water, you have a leak.

3. Dripping faucets need to be repaired right away. Usually it's a simple matter of switching worn washers. Check all the washers in the house and replace them all at once.
4. Install faucet aerators to slow the flow of water.
5. Rinse vegetables over a large bowl and reuse what would have gone down the drain to water plants.
6. Defrost foods in the microwave instead of under running water.
7. Insulate water heater and water pipes. (65% of the water you use is hot water.)
  Saving water in the bathroom
8. Don't let the water run incessantly when you are shaving, brushing your teeth, etc.
9. Replace two-handle systems with single-lever faucets.
10. Install low-flow showerheads that reduce water usage up to half but still give a great feeling shower.
11. Get a showerhead with a "shower off" button to conserve water while you lather up.
12. Take shorter showers. Five-minute showers per day for a four-member family use about a staggering amount of water.
13. Find out if the toilet is leaking by adding a few drops of food colouring into the toilet tank. If the colour leaks into the bowl, replace the flapper.
14. Don't use the toilet as a wastebasket or ashtray. This will prevent unnecessary flushing.
  Saving water in cleaning
15. Older standard washing machines use up to 180 litres of water per load; newer models use only 42-115 gallons. Switch to a new model.
16. Don't wash half loads, and if you do, adjust the water level.
17. Presoak clothes to prevent re-washing of heavily soiled clothes.
18. If you're washing dishes in a double sink, wash them all at once and rinse them all at once.
  Saving water outdoors
19. Landscape your garden or your house with plants that need less water.
20. Don't over water your plants. Buy a gauge to measure the rain your lawn gets.
21. Use a sprinkler with a timer to ensure affective water usage for watering your lawn.
22. Make sure your sprinkler system isn't watering the sidewalk, driveway or street.
23. Water lawns during the time of day when temperature and wind speed are lowest to reduce evaporation.
24. Over-fertilization increases your lawn's need for watering. Don't over feed.
25. Mulch plants well so they may retain moisture.

Save water, save life!


Your last night of partying might have left your precious partying clothes or your furnishings with some tough stains, rendering them useless. Not any more. Here are remedies to free your fabrics from last night's spills:

Treat wine stains immediately. To absorb the spill, sprinkle salt liberally over the area and then wash in cold water with a regular detergent. You can also use hydrogen peroxide to get rid of the stain.

Nothing is more annoying then dried stains on table linen or white cotton or even your white spotless shirt. To get rid of these, soak the clothes for a few minutes in a weak solution of warm water and bleach. Then put it straight into cold water to which a few drops of ammonia has been added. Rinse thoroughly and dry.

If a lipstick mark on your fabric does not get washed away by your regular detergent, try this. Soak a cotton wool in glycerin and dab it on the stain. After this, wash it with warm detergent water. Rinse and dry. The lipstick mark will disappear.

An overdose of deos and antiperspirants mixed with sweat can leave some rather embarrassing stains on your clothes. And not all detergents manage to wash these off. Here's what you can do to get rid of them:

• For light stains rub with a solution of equal quantity of vinegar and water. Then sponge the stains with warm water to which little liquid detergent has been added. Rinse well with cold water and dry.
• For more persistent stains, rub with methylated spirit or liquid stain remover. Now, sponge first with ammonia, then with cold water. Rinse and dry.

Ugly ketchup stains invariably mar your clothes, tablecloth, apron and so on. And if you have kids and teenagers at home, ketchup stains are likely to be there all over your furnishings too. Here's how to get rid of these sticky stains.

Washable fabrics: Rinse the stain then work some liquid detergent well into the fabric and wash. For remaining traces soak in detergent water for some time and wash.

Silk/Wool: Make a solution of methylated or surgical spirit (one part) and water (two parts). Dab on stain, leave for a little while and rinse.

Carpets: First remove traces with a damp cloth. Sponge the area with warm water first. Then add white vinegar to a detergent solution, and sponge. Finish by sponging with plain water.
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