Thursday, December 27, 2012

What is taking the attention away!

Girl: “Have you fled from Jail?”
 Guy looks up surprised.

Girl: “No water at home?”
 Guy is baffled.

Girl: “Ran out of toiletries?”
 Guy remains stunned.

Girl: “Trying to look old and serious?
 Guy looks blank.

Girl: “Being the human pumice stone?
 Guy doesn’t attempt to answer.

Girl: “Or the matchbox?
Guy remains quiet.

Girl: “A surface for filing nails, maybe?
 Guy is looking for the link.

Girl: "Medical reason?"
Guy shakes his head.

Girl: “You can be good for broom finish surfaces

Wondering what is happening in this union,
He asks, “What is going on?”

Girl: “What’s with the stubble?”
This post is a part of the 'Shave or Crave' movement in association with

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Once upon the Tracks of Mumbai : Book Review

This book narrates the story of Balwant Srivastav, better known as Babloo. His father is an employee of the Indian Railways, and they stay in a railway colony in Mumbai.

Babloo is a bit different from the most of us - he is little slow in grasping things, but has few strong traits as well. He feels, but is  terrible when it comes to emoting. He speaks half sentences, and has little control over his anger. He has shadows of us in him, and you identify with him while he narrates the story.

Needless to say, his poor performance in academics, his weird conduct and likewise have distanced him from everyone - his parents, brother, neighbours; he has no friends, except Vandana, who speaks to him caringly. She stays in the same colony as Babloo, only her father is at a much higher designation than Babloo's.

The story is ideal for a Bollywood film - it is a tale of love, friendship, misuse of simplicity, chain of events going on without the protagonist knowing an inkling about them and the reader is completely involved. As a reader you know who is cheating whom, who is the bad guy and you would almost curse out aloud when Babloo comes on the verge of truth, but floats very far away from it.

Babloo has his heart in the right place - he cannot tolerate something if he deems it wrong. He finds a new identity as Rail Man when he fearlessly helps a channel reporter; and stops another crime after that. He also agrees to take up a lowly job to earn himself respect from Vandana. There's drama and then, slowly things fall into place. And the story ends on a positive note.

It writing style is lucid, and you can read it easily, even while commuting. Babloo will keep you hooked to the book and you would not be able to let go off the book until you have found out what happens next. Rishi Vohra's portrayal of Babloo is amazing - its very difficult to put yourself in the shoes of someone with problems, not exactly dyslexic or autistic. The friendless boy seeks refuge in his inner soul - it is something we all do. Rishi has also captured the mindsets of middle class families and all the other characters of the story very well.

To find out more about the book, what others said about it and the author himself, do visit

This book review is special. The author had written to me to find out if I would like to review his first book, making me feel equally special. 

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Want Straight Hair?

Is your hair curly and wavy? Do you want straight hair? Here is an easy way :

1. Make your hair moist. (Spraying  water, running moist fingers, whatever suits you)
2. Take a comb  with which you regularly brush your hair. Put the comb in your tresses and pull  the hair outwards and in that stretched position, spray some  hairspray on it.
3. Repeat over whole head.

And lo and behold, your hair would be straight as a curtain in no time!  
The best part is that all you have to do to have your curls back is wash your hair!
This is a whacky idea submitted for the Sunsilk "Straight Hair Experiment" Contest on Indiblogger. 

Friday, December 07, 2012

Brunch @ Cheri

Multiple breads
Relishes and jams
Live Salad Counter
Massive vegeterian counter
Equally massive non veg menu
Live Pizza Counter
Live Kababs and Grill
Live Pasta and Risotto
Loads of good food and unlimited drinks. What else can you ask for??

Go for the Brunch at Cheri One Qutub, Mehrauli on any Sunday. Start your winter morning with friends and family in the outdoor courtyard, with live counters cooking awesome food and filling the air with exotic aroma. Walk in the interiors to check out the cold buffet and deserts. Be invited to the open terrace by a teasing play of light and shade created by shadows of plants and winter sun. 

The staff is cheerful, and would happily assist you if need be. Chef Raman may also hang outside, to share his secret tips with you. 

Believe me, you should try it atleast once.. and you would keep going back!

Photocredits: Sangeeta, Sushmita and Me

Thursday, November 08, 2012

Dare to do it!

Travel itself is an exciting word! And every time I step out of my usual atmosphere to visit destinations unknown to me, I discover myself over and over. I avoid the path treaded by most tourists and perceive the place in my own way - appreciate how the city survives under the sheath of tourism. The local architecture and town planning process attracts me strongly. Anything unconventional draws me, stimulating my soul, making me feel alive once again. I dare!

Being a part of the Alive is Awesome campaign by Cinthol has been a great experience for me - reminiscing various adventure bathing experiences I have had during various trips, and talking about the journeys I wish to undertake! It has brought back many fond memories and encouraged me to continue my search for the unknown.

I have had the opportunity to have a first hand experience of some of the products in this newly launched range and take my word for it, they are awesome!

I close this series with something I have always wished to do. I have seen it in movies, and travel albums of friends - images of water skiing, kite-surfing, surfing and various water sports. This is something that has been attracting me for long. 

I went to Goa in the monsoons to enjoy water sports when the sea is full. Unfortunately, since its a off season, such activities were stalled. I shall be going back to Goa in the tourist season for a first hand experience of these "adrenaline rush" experiences!

Do you dare to accompany me?

I hope you enjoyed reading this series on my space. Read the previous posts here, here, here, here, here and here.    

Photocredits: Cinthol

Monday, November 05, 2012

Ahoy Antarctica!!

The Managing Director of a company I used to work with had gone on a holiday to Antarctica. I always admired his inclination for unconventional destinations, but this seemed incredible! More so, when he shared some photographs with us.

The other day I was trying out the new range of products from Cinthol. It was the "Strong" fragrance which my husband had bought - he emerged out of his bath excited; saying that he felt very fresh. He wanted me to try the other variety that we had bought, called "Deo", although its a soap. And my experience was divine - I felt awesome!

Full of energy, we switched on the television to catch our favourite show, and chanced upon this commercial:

I was immediately reminded of the only person who I know to have been to anywhere near the poles. We share a healthy relationship even today, and I called him up rightaway. He encouraged me to take up the challenge - ignore what the sceptical people around us say, and head straight for Antarctica or the Arctic. I was mentioning that I had seen seals play in pools and people skating over frozen lakes and incidences when they have broken through the ice into the water below - images I had made in my mind based on movies and books.He immediately suggested that I should try a polar plunge bath (a dip in ice-cold water) too! It would take a lot of guts, but afterall, we have only one life to experience such unique activities!

I am going to the poles soon. Like to join me?
This is part of the Alive is Awesome initiative by Cinthol.

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Water Massage

Have you enjoyed a full body massage in a spa? Your muscles are revitalized making you feel energetic and full of life.

It was when I watched this video that I was reminded of this awesome water spa experience. It was all natural too! I recommend you try this sometime.

We were in Goa in July 2011. This is the rainy season - the seas are full and tourists usually keep away. We rolled up our trousers, took off our slippers and stood close to the edge where the waters were lashing furiously. High tide was setting in at that time - and no amount of rolling of trousers helped. Then came a big wave that lashed over my head ( I am fairly tall, mind you), drenching me fully!!!

I stood transfixed - as the water pressed against my body, pushing me as if to disbalance me. There was a mild warmth in the water - and the effect was so relaxing. It was hardly for a minute before the wave drew back to be replaced by a waist high one. I did not seem to mind the sand in my hair and all over my body. Even my handbag, although water resistant, was full of sand. Instead it felt like a natural spa - where I was enjoying a "water massage". The mild pains in lower back and calves that I had because of my desk job seemed to have been healed!! I seemed to have been reborn, devoid of any complaints!

This is also a part of the "Alive is Awesome" initiative by Cinthol. 

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Awesome Panchmarhi

The best part about childhood is that one is quite qualmless. This post is about a climb down to Duchess Falls in Panchmarhi, a small town in Madhya Pradesh.

This was in June, 1997. My brother and I were younger (a good 15 years from now). The driver of our jeep stopped on the edge of a steep cliff and pointed downwards.

"Yes!", said I and my brother, in unision.

"No way", said Ma.

Before Dad could work out a plan of action, the driver, hardly few years older than me, offered to go down with the two of us while Dad stayed back with Mom. And he was a man of the hills - while we climbed with care, he scampered down like a monkey. Some stones were loose, and we slipped for some distance - hurt ourselves; ripped our clothes partially... but looking at the young chap before us, we were encouraged to go on. Soon, we were also scurrying across the rocks free from fear of falling, and absolutely unconscious about our torn clothes, ignorant of the pain due to the bruises.

The driver would pick up a wild fruit and throw them to us, and the three of us went on gleefully.

At last we caught a glimpse of the waterfall - it started like a timid stream (Photo 1) across the rocks but then  fell almost vertically off a cliff in a powerful stream. While we were admiring its might, the driver told us it would be much fuller next month when monsoons arrive. He took of his clothes in the speed of lightning and jumped into the plungepool, which was quite wide.

We followed, and the ice-cold water seemed to heal our injuries and infuse new energy into us. Our muscles felt alive - stimulated and the bathing experience was awesome. The photo on the right shows a shot of my brother in the pool taken from a very long distance.  We returned a rejuvinated lot.

When I saw this video on Youtube, I was reminded of this experience when I was taken down to a beautiful waterfall by a monkey in the form of a driver.

Photocredits: My Dad, with his age-old camera.
This is a part of the Alive is Awesome initiative launched by Cinthol.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Underwater at Kovalam

Adrenaline rushed through our veins as we gazed at the sea bed below - the water was calm and absolutely clear like glass. What we could see appeared like a live National Geographic channel: coral reefs and fish!

That was 1999. We, a pack of second year students of Architecture had arrived at Kovalam beach in Trivandrum as part of our Educational Tour to south India. Canoemen had picked up from the beach and taken us some distance inwards where there were no waves - and what a sight we beheld that day!

I have been planning to go back to Kovalam since ages, now that I have entered the 'earning' phase, and can afford underwater gear. The more I watch television, the more I yearn. Finally, the moment is about to arrive. My husband was looking for options to have an unique holiday - and jumped at my idea when I mentioned my experience to him.

We both know swimming; and we have started looking for someone who can train us for scuba diving. I am also on the lookout for a good underwater camera. Our target date is in mid 2013. We can't wait to jump off the canoe mid sea, and go down amidst myriad life forms under the sea, feel the corals and watch the fishes swim by. 

Our city lives shall be shelved and locked away for good.... as we shall be reborn as individuals without a shred of stress, eager to discover the mysteries of Mother Nature!

Kovalam, we are coming!

Photocredits: Internet
This is the third post in the series for Alive is Awesome initiative by Cinthol. Do watch this video

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Swim to Bathe

Talking of awesome bathing experiences that make us feel alive, stimulated and ready to take on the world, I have a story to share:
I am a complete "Big City Girl". Born and brought up in Calcutta, presently located in Delhi - I am so very used to the urban life.

Now, we had to be  in a far flung village in West Bengal for a project on Rural Housing. I was sceptical about the sanitation facilities, but the villagers went out of the way to make us comfortable. They arranged for our accomodation in their own huts.They had also kept buckets of water handy so that we could freshen up on arrival and get to work. At the end of a very hectic first day, I just sunk into deep slumber!

The next morning, I felt very confused. I walked  round and round the house, but could not identify a place to bathe! Finally, I asked Shalu, the host's ten year old daughter, who was watching me playfully.

"Take your things in a packet", she said, grinning. She gestured that I should follow her.

Much to my surprise, she led me past a couple of hutments and through a green stretch that suddenly dipped into a large pond. There were few women in the pool, some of my age group too, swimming around. They didnt seem to notice our presence at all.

Shalu pointed at a rock on which I could keep my things and walked down the rough steps that had been created for entering the pool. This was in such contrast to the pools at clubs where I had learnt to swim, that I stood transfixed.

"Dont you know how to swim?", asked Shalu and dragged me in before I could utter a word. The other girls spread out and allowed me to take a dip. The water felt like a blanket of ice on the surface, but there was a warmth on the lower part. Shalu spluttered some water on me, to which I playfully responded. The others also found it amusing and joined the show! We, in fact divided into two teams, and splashed water on the other team. The competition was all about who could splash more water - and Shalu spruced it up with an energetic song!

Soon, my inhibitions were all gone. I felt like a child once again - the fact that I was there for work vanished from my mind while I enjoyed swimming, dipping, splashing! This is something I can never enjoy in a city - the sheer bliss, no time limits, no rules!

Time seemed to have stopped for us, and none of the girls showed any intention of getting out. We must have in the pond for more than an hour!

It was the ringing of my cell phone that jolted us back to reality - my team was looking for me. I joined them soon after changing behind bushes :P.

Photocredits: Internet 
This is also a part  of Alive is Awesome initiative by Cinthol. Do watch this video!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The "Waterfall Bath"

Travel itself is a rejuvinating term. Break away from daily chores, deadlines, ringing cell phones, beeping inboxes and cherish every moment - you feel alive once again; and every nano second of your trip becomes awesome!! We, the new age youth, interpret life in an unique way - we are not afraid to try innovative elements.

Some experiences stay are so special, that you wish to have them recreated in our usual lives too!

Mcleodganj, 2009: We had reached the beautiful Bhagsunag Falls after a long, meandering walk over the only driveable road that was clogged with parked vehicles. Neither of us wanted to go back the same route, and were looking for alternatives.

"That looks like a great route", remarked Hubby Dearest, looking at the waterfall. The stream was cascading down a series of boulders like a rugged staircase - That was a scary proposition, considering it was drizzling; and the water was full of volume and energy.

But 'scary' is a word absolutely foreign in the dictionary of either my companions, my husband or brother in law. :( . So down the rocks we  climbed, through the waterfall. Albeit risky... but, it was so exciting!! 

It happened midway the stream... I slipped. Luckily, I managed to adjust myself on the rocks. The other two companions were a bit ahead; and needed time to reach back to me.

The water was chilled, the current was strong, and the rain had gained speed - I was drenched in seconds! But there was something in those moments: instead of being scared, I enjoyed every bit of it! Bathing right in the middle of a waterfall, oblivious to who might be watching you, with aquatic avalanches trying to dislodge you - a minute giveaway could result in serious injuries. My cells felt energized and I felt like a child, devoid of any inhibitions!

My hubby and his bro were watching me, amused. I signalled them to come over; and three of us had immense fun, splashing in the waterfall. The water would sometimes go over our heads, or push against our backs before gurgling further down. Small stonechips being washed down played around our limbs - what a lovely experience it was!

Other tourists were watching us, but we hardly noticed anyone. The sun had come out after some time, so we climbed on the bigger rocks to dry ourselves to a fair extent, with our feet still teasing the flowing water (Photo 2, above).

It was until recently when I saw the new commercial of Cinthol on television for the Alive is Awesome (AIA) campaign that I remembered this splashing incident. The brand has launched a new series of bathing products that transport you out of your usual settings - the fresh fragrances shall keep give you the kickstart to take on the world throughout the day ahead! Enjoy your bath, and your senses would be stimulated to respond enthusiastically to every challenge that is thrown at you - afterall, "well begun is half done (Aristotle) "!!!

Do watch this video if you haven't seen the commercial yet. Listen to the jingle, I just loved it!

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Unsung Beauty

I wish someone told me
   All planning was futile!
   That tiny Himachal town
   In its own style
   Would engross us 
   With an Aura of its own. 

The heritage railway
   Overlooking green valleys on the way
The long walks,
The rocks,
Sprawling tea gardens
   Like Green Heavens
Adventure Sports
   Tourist Spots

Yet so simple
   And tranquil
Stay far from Mobile and Internet
Enjoy the natural gourmet
You would devour
   At Palampur!

This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, (WOW) an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The Krishna Key : Book Review

I had been hearing about Ashwin Sanghi's "Chanakya's Chant" ever since its launch, got my hands on it, but couldn't manage to read it, because my Dad wanted to read it first.

So, when I was selected to review Sanghi's latest book, "The Krishna Key", I was very excited. My interest was boosted when I was going through the Author's Note, wherein he has acknowledges the people behind this book. I knew someone in that list - Kunal Kundu, who has designed this cover that invokes curiosity in the minds of the reader, even before he has turned the first page.

The opening page of the story begins in italics, and tells you briefly about the lineage of Pandavas and Kauravas of Mahabharata. You turn the page, and the font straightens, and the first sentence that you read does not seem related to what you had just read. You would actually turn back to see if you have turned two pages at a time by mistake, but find that's how it has been written. And that opening line is a sixer - you cannot look anywhere else. A new story, equally interesting, starts unfolding!

This book is written in two parallel stories - one narrated by Lord Krishna himself, and the other that flows like a movie plot. Characters are defined, the mystery builds, the mythological connections are integrated smoothly and then the truth emerges. Krishna tells you the story of his life, while a tale of cold blooded murder in the name of religion and conspiracy, intelligent riddles and perseverence continues alongside.

Its an excellent book with an eye towards each detail. I liked the end - it makes you stop and take a look at yourself. The writing style is gripping (rather clinging), making it an "unputdownable" creation - so much so that I devoured it in two days! Never have I completed a 460-odd page book so fast!

A popular saying states that it's all pre-decided, and incidents that happen in our lives are pieces of a jigsaw puzzle - It seemed to come to life when I was wondering that I was lucky to have been an Architect - Town planner, with a passion for our history, ancient civilizations and more. It seemed to me that I was destined to read this book; and my piecemeal knowledge of mythology and history, experiences of places I have travelled to and read about would get drawn up from the depths of my memory, get jumbled up, and be sorted out in a pattern once again. The book will make you feel proud of India for its rich heritage.

Immense research has gone in writing this book. It is not the work of Sanghi alone, but a team of talented people who have drawn such lovely sketches (Rupesh Talaskar) and drawn so much reference from Sanskrit (Vishwajeet Sapan) shlokas (verses). Another thing you are bound to notice is that Sanghi has extremely detailed knowledge of gadgets and mobile phone models - very casually, he uses statements such as "flipped his Samsung ZX03", highlighting the unique things you can do with it. The chapter numbers are encircled in an image of a (locked) lock, signifying the mystery to be unlocked by the "Krishna Key". It would have been very interesting if the image for the last chapter had been an open lock or a key.

I would give this book a 8 out of 10, half a mark deducted for the last round of proof reading it seems to have missed. Somewhere in between the names of the leading female characters have got interchanged; except which this book is a great work.

This review is a part of the Book Review Programme at Blogadda.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Merry @ Le Meridien

"It's all about the experience" is the motto of Hotel Le Meridien. Your journey begins right at the moment you look up at the huge glass building that soars 20 floors above the ground. There are multiple entrances, and each creates a different impact on you. We were invited to Restaurant Eu de Monsoon - upon entry is a reception desk in front, a dining area on your left and a lounge on your right. The scale of the double height space draws you in; and as you glance around, you spot your destination.

It seemed like a completely different world from the hot afternoon outside. The dark brown panelling, the perfect ambient temperature of airconditioning, seemed to rejuvinate us as we sipped our cocktails and spoke to each other. Mine was fresh cucumber juice minus the vodka (so it was actually a mocktail), and it did wonders to me.

The hotel staff, irrespective of designation or stature, mingled with us cordially and invited us in the wine chamber, just preceding the dining area. There were floor-to-ceiling refrigerators with various wines from different countries kept at the correct temperature, lit so that light does not fall on the wines and a table where a guest can taste some wines before choosing the perfect one to pair with his meal. The sommelier, Sameer, was polite and answered all our queries.

Gradually we stepped towards the dining hall where a plate with three sets of forks and knives awaited us, quietly hinting at the various courses we were about to have! Some brand presentations were made, which are usually quite boring - but these were engrossing. For example, I did not know Le Meridien was owned by Starwood, whose forte was not owning the hotels, but the brands. Also, the hotel had been redone to create contemporary style of interiors, mixed with the original traditional elements. Sure enough, the ceiling above us had lights that seemed to have belonged to a Nawab's palace rather than a 5 star lounge. The edges were again adorned with modern lights. [ I can't stop blabbing about the architecture and interiors, it seems!]

Chef Dawinder Kumar, who had been with the hotel since day 1, joined us to tell us what he would be serving us. It was a sampling menu with small portions, named "Degustation". What followed afterwards was an interesting stream of dishes served in an unique way - the dishes would come pre-arranged in a plate, and once you have eaten it, a new dish in a new plate would replace it. The opening item was an Asparagus Cappuccino - weird it may sound, but was nice: hot at the top, cold at the bottom, served in an ice-cold glass cup, to be consumed in one shot. That's your appetizer. Next comes something named a Deconstructed Samosa: the constituents of a samosa served in a plate. A twin flavoured chicken tikka followed, and a prawn dipped in tangy sauce and basil leaves. The vegeterians got their equivalents in paneer and brocolli. A basa fish preparation and a chicken dish came next. Some lovely white and red wine was served alongside these dishes. Now, as we had finished the first round, we were offered a sorbet with a unique mix of lemon and ginger that cleansed our taste buds and prepared us for the upcoming Biriyani. It was baked in a bowl covered with atta, so the smell was retained till we opened it. We were quite full by then, and most of us could not do justice to the lovely preparation.
Magandeep Singh, a well known wine enthusiast, had cropped up midway between our meal, and he served us a wine called "Desert Wine", which is completely different from the usual wines we have. We were also served some award winning coffee (that's rated best among all Le Meridien hotels). A deconstructed Dosa had come, but we did not taste it, as we were too full. A sorbet came next, this time with an acidic taste of pomegranate and a hint of guava. The desert, titled "Discovery" came next which was an assortment of mango soufle, chocolate and coconut. What I must admire here is that apart from the great food, their presentation plays a key role to the experience of dining at Le Meridien.

Our enjoyment continued as we were taken to the 20th floor to take a look below, and indeed, the paving pattern of the atrium, surrounded by the red carpetted floors was an unique view. We also ventured around to catch a glimpse of the Rashtrapati Bhawan, North and South Blocks. On our way back, we were gifted a box of chocolate and a pot of wheat grass as a souvenir of this lovely afternoon.

Do be at Le Meridien whenever you can for an experience you would cherish and thank me. The experience shall continue even in the washrooms! An insider tip for you is that do not have anything lined up after this; for you would enjoy being there so much that your timelines are bound to get stretched!

This was organized by Team Blogathon.
Photocredits: Sushmita, Myself.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Experience at Miele Experience Centre

Lifestyle bloggers, foodies, and a combination of both (like myself) were invited at Miele Experience Centre by Chef at Large (Bloggers' Table), and the best part was that you could get your spouse along. It was on a Monday evening, so I went straight from office, being joined by my hubby on the way. The place was easy to find, its quite close to Jasola-Apollo Metro Station.

All stress disappeared from my mind once I entered, the ambience was so bright, yet elegant and calm. As the fellow bloggers and friends started dropping in, we were joined by Chef Saby, who incidentally hails from West Bengal too (I do, and whether I admit it or not, this connection means a lot to me). The next moment onwards, all we could do is listen to the gregarious chef, and sip our drinks, of course. I started with a chilled white wine to relax my nerves, but then moved on to non-alcoholic concoctions to avoid getting tipsy. Live music was presented by two young singers in the backdrop. 

We were taken around by a sweet girl from Miele, Rashmi who showed us various products that have been created by Miele since the times of World War II, right from old fashioned butter churners, cooling boxes, bikes to contemporary lifestyle products such as coffee machines, washing machines, dish washers, wine cellars with temperature controlled zones, well designed refrigerators, iron machines, induction cookers, conventional cooking stations and chimneys. And as we roamed around, appetizers followed us - marinated prawn (mouth watering!!), paneer, etc.

At this point, the architect in me wishes to mention that the interiors of this centre is amazing. In a surprisingly well balanced use of red, black, white and other monotones, you are bound to admire the design and the carefully selected lighting that complements it. The open kitchen is visible right from the entrance, and Miele shall welcome you to come and cook a dish yourself. ( If you employ me to do up your interiors and wish to buy really great items that beautify your household, I shall get in touch with them on your behalf)
The young chefs, who operate between Miele and Olive, smiled a lot and spoke to us enthusiastically about the food that they had prepared for us. We were soon joined by famous (and award winning) chefs such as Manpreet Gill, Devender Kapoor and more. The business heads from Miele and Four Seasons (the wine we were drinking) were also present. While some trade secrets were being discussed, the kitchen was opened up, and soon, we started to dig in the gorgeous food.

The food was essentially non vegeterian ( I think good food is usually non veg, isn't it?). Starters were unique, and mind blowing. The main course didn't appeal to me much, more so, because the starters stole the show right at the beginning. Sushmita had spoken about the Risotto, which she had tasted earlier, and it was indeed very tasty. The desert, chocolate cake and tiramsu was a perfect closing of the sumptuous meal.

We enjoyed so much that we stayed back as long as we could. We were gifted yummy cookies as a good-bye gesture, so that we could recall our experience the next morning over tea and cookies. The cookies deserve a special mention- they were fluffy and had chocolate chips as teasers, baked by Chef Astha and Mahima.

The only thing that I found a bit unfit for Indian scenario, although instances can be found at some places, is that the washroom was common for men and women - a guard had to be positioned outside to ensure that only one group was in at a time. This can easily be sorted by creating a partition.

Please check out what the others thought of the evening - Sushmita, Sangeeta, Apeksha and Nachiketa.

Photocredits: Sushmita

Thursday, September 13, 2012

The Stopover - A Book to look out for

Ram Prakash and Deepa Rachel Pinto have put together a stunning book that narrates their travel experiences through photographs and fiction. So, they call it "A Photo Fiction".

I received a personal request from Deepa to read the first few pages of the book and share my impressions. Being a bookworm, I was thrilled by the introduction she had given.

This book narrates four stories, each set in settings less travelled and unknown - at least, never perceived thus. Ram, with his amazing talent for photography, has included photographs that create an everlasting impact.

The style of writing is simple, lucid and gripping. Also it presents to you how there are little details to be perceived everywhere, how history relates to the present, how pain strengthens your determination.... you will relate to the protagonists, and see the world through their eyes. The portrayal of emotions is perfect.

An excerpt from the official page of the book says it all:
"The only real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes." And that's the voyage the authors undertook as they travelled around India. At every stopover they made and with every group of people they met, a treasure trove of experiences was unearthed, that touched and enriched their lives. To reveal to those who are unable to seek, to see, to experience and to understand, they present THE STOPOVER"

The book is due for release in October, so that's round the corner! Be sure to grab a copy for a book that proceeds through photographs and a few words! Do check out their Facebook page too.

Photocredits: Ram Prakash, although I have cropped it and watermarked it.

Friday, September 07, 2012

Wine - The Secret Ingredient

Cooking with Wine. The photo above says it all. Till 26th August, food and wine pairing meant serving wine with food. In fact, in my previous experience of wine tasting, I had learnt that wines could be paired with Indian dishes too, and that was surprising enough. I was invited to a Live Cooking session at Cheri One Qutub at Mehrauli organized by Four Seasons and Team Gingerclaps along with a few fellow bloggers, friends, photoghraphers and wine enthusiasts. What could be a better composition?
With a glass of excellent white wine, we started the event. Mr Shailendra Rahul, General Manager of Cheri introduced Mr Abhay Kewadkar, Business Head of Four Seasons and Chef Raman Kohli. It could be the wine, or the cloudy-breezy atmosphere in the lovely outdoor courtyard of the restaurant, that formalities were done away with. Mr Kewadkar urged us to forget all the showbiz, and "eat what we like and drink what we enjoy"!! 

We gathered around Chef Raman, an incredibly young guy for the experience he has, and he encouraged us to use wine in cooking. With tips coming in from Mr Abhay, we learnt how to deglaze the wine and cook a fabulous preparation of scallops.

The rains were about to play foul, so we shifted indoors, but not before we had gobbled off the scallops. The L- shaped interiors have been designed around the courtyard and looks very classy with its prim, dimly lit look and massive bar. I must say that Cheri is a beautiful place to go, relax and enjoy: the outdoors, including the terrace, is as inviting as the mystical interiors.

We tasted Red Wine with some delicious food coming in from the kitchen. The youngest contestant of Master Chef Australia, Ankita had also joined us. Already tipsy, we were chatting gleefully with each other and we almost missed Raman joining us back again.

This time, he made a chicken preparation with wine and cream - needless to say that it was wonderful.

Last but not the least, we had dessert (yummy cheese cakes) with another red variety, Rose Wine.

I leave you a teaser in the composition, which shows the scallops, empty and filled glasses!

 Next time you have the chance to have a dish prepared by me, you can guess the secret ingredient that has gone into it !!

Photocredits: Arvind Passey, Sushmita Sarkar, V J Sharma (Travellingcamera) and myself. 

Sunday, August 19, 2012

When Colours Talk

One of the advantages of reading posts by fellow bloggers is that you come to know a lot of things!! I came to know about this contest called "Capture the Colour", wherein you have to post photos that epitomize a particular colour, in Arti's blog. Maybe I should have waited till someone tagged me, but I fell in love with the idea so much that I took up the challenge straightaway!!


This is inside the courtyard of Sarkhez ki Roza, Ahmedabad. If you note the time stamp, this snap was taken at the end of the day when the moon has just come into view. The sky is a serene blue, and the courtyard also seems to have taken up the tinge.

We had witnessed Goa in a unique look when we visited in monsoons. We were enthralled by the lush green vegetation, fresh life coming up after the rains.. this snap is taken on a roadside hill on which surreal beauty overlooks the sea. Here you see quite a number of green forms: Grass, Shrubs, Wide and Tall trees. The ambience is quiet, cows graze on one side.. the experience is unforgettable.

The mighty chandelier on the ceiling of a Durga Puja Pandal in Kolkata. It uses all CFL lights with a yellowish glow that saves energy and symbolizes Purity and Strength at the same time! 

I had the maximum difficulty in choosing an image for this colour. I found white buildings, temples, statues, mighty waterfalls, frothing seas, snow capped mountains, etc but this is the photo where the white of the canvas ropes struck me against this dark background. It is such a simple, yet effective barrier - physical, but not visual, so flexible and light. This is a partition used in a restaurant in Kolkata. Can you make out the furniture on the other side?  

A shot taken in a Durga Puja Pandal in Kolkata where the interior lighting is on a red theme. Goddess Durga also wears a red saree that brings Her out as the centre of attraction and enhances Her beauty. Spotlights are used to highlight the faces of the deities. Dont you think the redness of the frame has come out very well?

The contest requires us to nominate five fellow bloggers so as to spread the word. I have chosen them very carefully, and hope they would enjoy participating in this contest!

Sushmita of My Unfinished Life
Santosh Chandran of Lightscapes
Joshi Daniel of Joshi Daniel Photography
Nabhonil Basu of Kamara Syndrome
Abhishek Majumder of Tactile Thoughts

And last but not the least, if this contest interest you, just participate!! The last date of participation is 29th August, 2012 - there's hardly any time left!! Check out their Facebook page too!

Friday, August 17, 2012

"An Unsung Love Story" : My entry for the Get Published contest

Its a new initiative from Indiblogger and Harper Collins: Submit your story and you may be published. There's a theme: "Real Love in New India". However exciting it may sound, there is also a catch - Its got to be REAL. That is, you may talk about your own story (are you MAD?) or someone else's (Thank God!!).

We have to submit just our idea about the story, and explain why we want to write about it. We shall get assistance in weaving the final version of our own short story. 
So here goes: Plot of a True Story of Love: AN UNSUNG LOVE STORY

Boy and Girl are classmates. Girl gets married right after college - keeps in touch with Boy through letters. [No internet and other technologies at that time]. They realize what they mean to each other when there is a gap in communication. Girl has had twin boys by then but she believes in her love and moves out. She takes up a job, and applies for custody of her kids. Girl’s husband is sceptical of social stigma, and delays the divorce. What happens next? Will Boy and Girl ever be united? Will she get the custody of the kids? Wait for more...

The reason of selecting this story is the Boy is one of my closest friends and I am also a witness of their struggle. I admire their commitment to their relationship, and want the world to know about their story. This shall go a long way to inspire couples who hesitate to take bold steps in crisis situations.

I hope you guys like the story line. I look forward to encouragement from you!

Image Source: here, duly "Photoshopped" by me.
This is my entry for the HarperCollins–IndiBlogger Get Published contest, which is run with inputs fromYashodhara Lal and HarperCollins India.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Love or Arranged

What? No marks for guessing.. it can be nothing else but marriage. And this debate is ages old, and never ends. So much so, that a serial is being aired on television on this topic!! Now that this topic has cropped up, lets take one by one.

Gals and Guys, Ladies and Gentlemen, please understand marriage, whichever way it happens, is a union of two souls, two families, two cultures and much more. Please don't taint it with issues of caste, dowry, "rules for bahus", and all that scares the young generation at the very idea of marriage.

The Arranged Set Up

The latest protagonist of this story is my very own brother-in-law. The chap is 30, and my parents in law had found a girl who was pretty, well educated, smart, willing to shift anywhere with her would-be husband, of the correct caste, a talented master of all trades-music, dance, painting, poetry. What is more, she said yes to our boy.. we were sure we had found his heaven-made match, when he suddenly turned around and said a firm "No". Our sincere efforts to cajole him to this alliance failed miserably.

My bro-in-law said, "How can I decide in a couple of meetings?", while the girl was apprehensive of going out with an unknown guy. Umm, she perhaps had a point there.

I really wonder how the generation before ours survived with people usually selected by someone other than themselves, sometimes even setting eyes on the other person during marriage!

The Love Affair

Some relationships are made in heaven..but how on earth would you know? How do you know whether the person on the other side is interested in being with you for the person you are or the wealth you would inherit/ your figure or any other reason?

Given the risks, the only advantage in a Love Marriage is that you get some quality time to spend with each other, and do a self evaluation of your compatibility. I mean, isn't that enough??

The flipside of having relationships is of course, loads of mental pressure if anything ever tends to go wrong, let alone happen!

For those who could not find the right partner yourself, the Arranged Marriage idea isnt too bad either, if we are willing to revisit some rules- for example, the girl is not a showpiece. She is not going to dress up and bring tea/ snacks for anybody. Her parents would not give lavish gifts - let the newly wed couple procure them through their own merit. And yes, when you claim "Caste no bar", please mean it. And be open to inter caste, inter religion, inter state, inter country, even inter continental marriages!!! Both sets of inlaws have to adopt the new member in their families, instead of handing them huge responsibilities and expect them to transform into super-humans! Some changes are happening, but its time for a revolution.
I had a love marriage myself. Given my shy nature, most people doubt this fact even today. :) This contest on Indiblogger is very close to my heart. Photograph courtesy Jaspal Singh, a close friend of mine.