Wednesday, 30 December 2015

The Truth About Wind Energy

You must have been following the news on the recently concluded Paris Climate Change Conference earlier this month. The pressure on India to reduce its carbon emissions has been mounting. Instead of focusing all our energies on getting more leeway, we can look at this as a challenge to find cleaner ways of running the country. There are many alternative sources of energy, but my focus today is on wind energy.

This source, however is rather underutilized in India. We are blessed with a lot of land (being the 7th largest country in the world in terms of area) and good wind speeds in many empty fields. Despite this, we haven't harnessed the true potential of winds. We must take a leaf out of the book of the Dutch and learn to install windmills where we can. Unfortunately, there are some myths associated with windmills, which has contributed to the lack of focus in this direction. Let me tell you some truths:-

  • Wind Energy is not as expensive as it is assumed to be. Technology has improved by leaps and bounds and windmill design has also undergone a lot of transformation. It is as cost effective as generating electricity from coal, and is set to get cheaper.
  • Wind turbines don't make as much mechanical noise anymore, thanks to improved designs and better wind farming technology.
  • Wind turbines last about 25 years, and are one of the cleanest renewable sources of energy.
  • Wind turbines have been historically infamous for causing deaths among birds. But the climate situation today has proven to be far more harmful for birds!
The benefits of using wind energy is manifold. You can watch this video to know some more:-

It is evident from the clip that India stands to save a lot on foreign exchange expenses if it can become self reliant by producing its own energy through wind farming. We won't have to incur such huge debts importing crude oil from oil-rich countries. This will help us shore up our FX reserves and make the Rupee stronger. In addition to that, if we manage to produce excess energy, we'll be able to improve our export-import ratio. Job creation will also increase and our power bills will come down! :-)

To know more about wind energy, visit Windergy India - a digital platform to increase awareness on the Wind Energy sector in India.

Sunday, 27 December 2015

Book Review - The Bestseller She Wrote

Today, I shall be reviewing Ravi Subramanian's latest book - The Bestseller She Wrote. Earlier this month, I received an autographed copy of the romance novel. You can also read my review of God is a Gamer by the same author.

Fast Facts:-

Title: The Bestseller She Wrote
Author: Ravi Subramanian
Genre: Romance (Fiction)
Publisher: Westland Ltd
Pages: 391
Price: Rs.295 (Paperback)

Key Characters:-
  1. Aditya Kapoor: A successful author and banker
  2. Shreya Kaushik: An MBA student and an aspiring writer
  3. Maya: Aditya's wife and a teacher at an international school
  4. Sanjay: Aditya's best friend from IIM-B 

The Review:-

'The Bestseller She Wrote' is not what you would ordinarily expect from Ravi Subramanian - the writer whose claim to fame is a series of successful financial thrillers. He writes his first romance novel, but the premise is still well within his comfort zone - writing and banking.

The story is explores a phase in the life of Aditya Kapoor, a bestselling author who also holds a senior position at a bank. He is handsome, charismatic and very lucky to have an understanding and loving wife in Maya - his B-school sweetheart. Theirs is a happy family with a toddler in the frame.

Aditya meets Shreya, a topper at IIM-Bangalore when he is invited to his alma mater to address the students and promote his latest thriller. Shreya is an attractive and intelligent girl who is fiercely ambitious at the same time. She pines to become a bestselling author of Aditya's stature. What in the beginning seems like an innocuous acquaintance, later turns into an adulterous affair. The plot is a result of coincidence and also deliberate scheming.

The book explores the delicate and dangerous world of adultery - how it starts, what goes on in the mind of an adulterer, if conscience and guilt make their presence felt, what happens when the cat is out of the bag, and if cheating can ever be forgiven. At the same time, the setting takes the readers through the nuances of getting one's book published and promoted. There are also the usual office scenes at the bank and the sundry issues you would expect.

The twist in the story is the sudden importance attributed to Maya and what happens to her. This is what keeps the book from going down the done-to-death route of a regular romance novel.

My Verdict:-

Perhaps I was expecting better stuff from the author, given my past experience with his writing. This is why the book disappoints me. Many cliches have been fortified in the book. Also, Subramanian seems to have made as little use of imagination as possible. Large parts of his story seem to mimic the life of Chetan Bhagat or perhaps his own. He casually indulges in name dropping - Ashwin Sanghi, Blogadda, HT Brunch and even Anurag Kashyap! The references seem jarring and distract you from the story as you wonder why he is irritating you with unnecessary third-party promotion.

The novel is not too bad though. It is fast paced and interesting enough to be carried along on a train journey. The interlacing of a certain global crisis is what kept me hooked to the book when my attention was wavering.

This book gets an overall rating of 6 on 10 from me. Here's a video-glimpse into the story:-

I am reviewing ‘The Bestseller She Wrote’ by Ravi Subramanian as a part of the biggest Book Review Program for Indian Bloggers. Participate now to get free books!

Thursday, 10 December 2015

My Favourite Indian City

I have stayed in quite a few Indian cities so far, but for certain reasons, I like one more than the rest. This city is where everyone is driven by something, whether it is sports or politics or music or academics. This city is designed to accommodate every kind of traveller - the solo backpacker on a budget, the temple-hopper looking for peace, the water-baby who meditates by the river or the city-slicker who loves to party. The city is also well connected - it has metro, buses, trams, taxis, autos and rickshaws. You almost will never have to walk if you so wish! You must have guessed which place I am talking about - Kolkata.

Cycle rickshaws go where buses don't
Perhaps I am partial to Kolkata because it is my birthplace. But even when I think of it logically, I know I love it. The "drive" that fires people up is palpable. There is not a single soul I know who does not have a purpose in life. Most people have an opinion... on everything! Over chai, they will debate for hours on the political direction of the country or critique the latest movie based on a book. I love how well read the average Bengali is. They take great pride in their culture and traditions. The energy with which Durga Puja is celebrated here is enough to light up the country. There is drive also in people's career aspirations. The state has given the world one of its most famous poets - Tagore, a valuable economist - Amartya Sen, one of the country's favourite cricket-captains - Sourav Ganguly, and hundreds of great writers, directors, composers, dancers and singers.

Kolkata's design is an explorer's delight! There are streets so wide, you can find book-exhibitions on their paved edges; there are secluded, narrow alleyways too, for when you want to enjoy your Bengali sweets without having to share those with anyone; the Hoogly River (a distributary of the Ganga) flows under the eponymous bridge and Vidyasagar Setu - two industrial marvels; and there are temples at every street corner. Kolkata's nightlife is also something that makes it appealing. Design is not just in the city, but also in its food. The variety of delicacies available here is mind blowing!

Finally, what makes my city tick is the connect between its people. Everyone is always inviting every other person for some meal or the other! Bengalis just love to eat! And food connects people like nothing else does. Notwithstanding, Kolkata's infrastructure is laudable. Its metro is the oldest one in India. The city is the only one in India to have a tram network. The state buses are kind of rickety, but the ubiquitous cycle rickshaws more than make up for that. They do the last mile connectivity. Every seen an Indian city so well connected by so many means of transport?

Kolkata reminds me of the indigenous car brand - Tata Motors, They have succeeded thus far through their drive, design and connect.

Friends for Life

Disclaimer: This blog is for readers above the age of 25 years.

When we enter the wrong side of 25, we find ourselves in a strange position. We have a relatively cushy job that earns us enough to spend on foreign trips and expensive brands, yet we crave for the dream job which lets us do what we really want and be our own boss. Some of us get married or engaged at this time. Some even start having babies. Then again, there are those of us who are yet to find their life partners. With every passing day, we learn newer ways to dress, cooler apps to use, swankier gadgets to show off and funkier ways to party. But we cherish our old friends.

When we look at the old photo albums from school or college, we are overcome with emotion. We recall our days of fun and frolic, of yaari and dosti. We remember fondly about our first crush, the first date and the first kiss. And then we look at the faces of all our friends - the people who helped us through bad days, who sneaked our love letters past the strict class teacher, who stood outside the class with us and shared our punishment. All for the sake of friendship. Let us not forget our friends in our busy daily schedules. Let us make a promise to ourselves today to make that phone call and get back in touch with all of those wonderful friends, and in turn, bring back all those priceless memories into our lives again. Our best friends should get an even better deal! We must go over to their place and give them a sweet surprise. We must hold them tight in an embrace and share a hug with them.

While we enjoy with them, we must let our hair down and shed all our inhibitions. We must be young and free again. Secrets should be shared with friends, not kept from them! When old friends meet again, the day should be celebrated with a grand party. But we must celebrate responsibly, for we are adults now. We have our freedoms, but also our sense of duty. At no instance must our sense of enjoyment overpower our sense of responsibility. We must remember that we are blessed with great friends so we can enjoy our lives to the fullest. So, let us preserve our bonds of friendship and keep our friends for life.

Sunday, 6 December 2015

Christmassy Cornflakes - Recipe

With Christmas around the corner, I suppose you will be worrying about that perfect dessert to delight your guests with? To help you with your quandary, I present to you, my original sweet dish of Christmassy cornflakes! I first made this for my friends and fellow interns in Lleida, Catalonia about 4 years back. The best thing about this dish is how simple it is to make and how easy and readily available the ingredients are. Take a look at the recipe:-

Christmassy Cornflakes


1. A bowl full of cornflakes (or wheat flakes or muesli... whichever breakfast cereal you prefer)
2. Chocolate sauce - half cup
3. Honey - 2 tbsp (for glazing)
4. Sugarfree Natura (a low calorie sugar substitute)
5. Jam or jelly (for garnishing)
6. Almonds (8-10) soaked overnight in water (for garnishing)
7. Walnuts (8-10) soaked overnight in water (for garnishing)
8. A soft milk chocolate slab (for garnishing)

Apparatus (Utensils Required)

1. A large bowl (for preparation)
2. A white deep dish (for plating up)
3. A spoon (for mixing)

Time to prepare

15 minutes

As I mentioned, this dessert will not take up too much of your time. You will be able to enjoy the Christmas party with all your guests! :-)


1. Add the chocolate sauce to the bowl of corn flakes and mix well. The dish tastes better when each flake is properly coated with chocolate.
2. Slice some almonds and walnuts and add them to the mixture. Make sure you soak the nuts overnight so they are soft, both on the teeth and for the knife.
3. Plate up the chocolaty cornflake mixture in the white serving dish. Let it set evenly all over the plate. It is advisable to use a deep dish.
4. Pour some honey into a spoon and lightly coat the top layer of the chocolaty cornflake mixture. This will give a nice glaze to your dessert.
5. Take Sugarfree Natura and lightly dust it over the dish. This will add some more sweetness to the mixture and also give a nice Christmassy feel to it. The fine sugar dust is symbolic of the December snow. You may use powdered sugar if you don't have Sugarfree Natura, but you will save on calories if you opt for the sweetener.
6. Take a slab of soft milk chocolate and cut it into thin stick-like sizes.
7. Arrange the chocolate slices around the cornflake dish.
8. Take the remaining almonds and walnuts and place them in between the chocolate sticks. Break the walnuts if you don't have enough whole ones.
9. Take a wisp of jam or jelly and softly place it at the centre of the dish. I used strawberry jam. You may use any flavour you like.

Clean the white portions of the plate so that it looks professional. Christmassy Cornflakes is now ready to be served! :-)

Christmassy Cornflakes

If you liked my recipe, do prepare it at your Christmas house party and tell me how your guests enjoyed it. I'm eagerly waiting for your feedback! :-) 

Thursday, 29 October 2015

What to Gift Men

Disclaimer: This article is meant for audience over 25 years of age.

With so many birthdays and anniversaries around the corner, you must have a lot of gifts to pack and give away. I personally find it very therapeutic to shop for presents. When gifting women, we have a plethora of options at our disposal. I have noticed, however, that most of us feel challenged when we are faced with the task for buying a gift for men. To help you keep the men in your life happy, I will share some ideas to help you select gifts for men:-


1. Ties and Cuff Links

Every man likes to look like a gentleman every now and then. Ties and cuff links nail the look like nothing else does! These are the perfect accessories for when a man wants to suit up. Gift him a classic silk tie in a solid colour or go glam with satin. You might want to throw in a tie pin while you're at it! ;-) Cuff links are accessories which can only be worn with double cuffed shirts. So make sure the recipient of your gift has those kind of shirts before you invest in a pair of cuff links. Ties and cuff links can be versatile and can suit every budget. You can get a tie for anywhere between Rs.500 to several thousands. Ditto for cufflinks! If you really want to splurge, get platinum cufflinks with solitaires studded on them. (Yes, that will set you back by a few lakhs.)

2. Electronic Gadgets

I don't know one man who does not like technology. Boys just love their tech toys! Buy them a nice pair of headphones, fitness bands (especially if they love to workout) or smartwatches. Let me warn you now that gadgets can burn a hole in your pocket. So, tread with caution and budget well. If you feel you don't know enough about the latest thing in the market to buy him something, take him along and let him choose his own gift. Better safe than sorry.


3. Fine Wine or Scotch as a Gift

Alcohol is to a man what diamonds are to a woman. The good thing about wines and scotches is that they taste better with time. Even if you spend very little to buy a young wine, years later, you will have in your bar shelf a fine, mature wine! So it is with scotch and whiskey. If you are feeling generous, spend a little extra on single malt. And finally, you know your premium scotch deserves a set of nice drinking glasses or a hipflask, so buy those too!

4. Spa Treatment

Nobody can resist a long session of pampering and grooming! Your gifts for him do not have to be tangible. It can be an experience too! Men probably need spa sessions more than we women do, because we will inevitably take care of ourselves but they tend to neglect their skin and hair. Gift him a nice massage therapy or some facial to get his dead skin cells removed and his pores unclogged. Let him have his body moisturized and his hair masked in a protein pack. Men must know that it's not just whey protein that they need for their muscles! ;-)

5. Adventure Trip

I always save my favourite for the last. You would have guessed that a travel blogger (that's me) would not get sound sleep without talking about travelling just once. I would certainly recommend that you take your significant other or your love interest to a trip to the mountains or forests. Men love things that get their adrenalin flowing. And trips are experiences they will always remember.

Let me know if you have more interesting gifting ideas for men!

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

5 Baby Steps to Safe Skin

Don't you just love cuddling cute little babies and toddlers who look like they are made of jelly? :-) I absolutely adore those tiny tots! I have seen so many cousins, nephews, nieces and babies of friends and colleagues gurgling incoherently and making squeaky sounds. We all love to see them happy, but do we know what most mothers (and also fathers) should do to keep their babies that way?

One major reason why kids cry (other than when they are hungry) is when they are uncomfortable or have skin issues. It is very important for parents to keep their babies free of rashes. They mostly occur if the nappies, panties or diapers are not changed frequently when wet. Also, cloth snatches the softness of the babies' smooth skin. From my observations, I bring you five ways to keep your baby's soft skin safe:-

1. Bathe babies in sterilized water and use only baby-soap and baby-shampoo.

Young children have very sensitive skin which reacts immediately to anything which is even remotely harsh. The common soaps for adults must never be used on babies. Invest in safe soaps meant for babies. Also, take care that the water temperature is comfortable and it is sterilized.

Healthy babies love to play!

2. Keep your baby dry.

Babies are quite leaky creatures! They salivate, suckle on their thumb, pee in their pants and cry. It is important that parents and caregivers ensure that the baby is cleaned and dried with a soft towel or washcloth. Buy some wet baby wipes for when you travel with your baby. Keep changing their nappies, diapers or diaper-pants as often as you can.

3. Clothe them in cotton.

If babies are gifts from God, then clothes are gift wrappers from humans! For skin so sensitive, the clothes must be breathable and light. Cotton is easily the best material for your baby. For winters, sweaters must be the next layer. Avoid dressing your toddlers in fancy materials such as satin an silk. That will only irritate their skin.

4. Moisturize well.

Babies are naturally soft and supple. But they too need protection from the atmosphere which robs them of all moisture. Before bathing your baby, give her or him a nice massage with baby oil. Use this time to bond well and flex and exercise their muscles. Babies absolutely love oil massages! Use baby moisturizer after bathing your kid.

5. Take care of their diet.

What you eat reflects on your skin. So it is for babies! After your babies are weaned off mother's milk, what you feed them plays a big role in how they grow and how healthy their skin looks. Make sure you follow age-approved diet plans for your growing child.

Once you have followed all of the steps above, you can rest assured that your baby's skin will stay soft and safe! :-)

Pampers brings you the softest ever Pampers Premium Care Pants. Its cotton-like softness is #SoftestForBabySkin and allows it to breathe, thus keeping baby’s skin soft and healthy, and your baby happy.

Sunday, 25 October 2015

Food for Smiles

In our socially connected world today, we are digitally close but perhaps our hearts are miles apart. We tend to compare more - who looks better on Facebook? Who has more followers on Instagram? Who tweets from the most exotic locations? We tend to have thousands of friends, but we know few of them closely. We appear to be superficially happy, but are we really content from within?

The latest fashion fad will tell you it is the "in" thing to be skinny. How else will you fit into that pair of super-skinny jeans or string bikinis? You know you cannot lose all of that stubborn fat just by gymming and running, so you will also start following a strict diet of only freshly squeezed or cold pressed juices, fat free milk and high protein meals. In doing so, you will steadily reduce your production of endorphins, serotonin and dopamine - the "happy hormones". And ultimately, you will sit there all alone - sulking at your life and scrolling through your social media newsfeed.

I used to be that person a few years back. But I cut out all of the negativity from my life and now I love to stay happy and keep people happy! It is nice to go out for a jog in the park and eat green veggies. But you must not starve yourself of that occasional glass of wine, bar of dark chocolate or plate full of McCain snacks!

When my friends from Poland and Brazil and I shared some delicious snacks...

If I throw a party for my friends, I would have an array of delectable finger foods to go with the craft beers and soft drinks and fruit juices (for those health freaks ;-) ). I'd serve McCain Smiles to the sullen guests to help them forget their worries, McCain Potato Bites to the skinny fellows who haven't eaten carbs in ages, McCain French Fries to the angry old ladies who think the West is trying to hijack our culture, McCain Veggie Fingers to the snooty non vegetarian who things vegetarians only eat leaves, and McCain Aloo Tikki to the snobbish foreign return who complains about everything that is wrong with India.

When all of my eccentric friends dig into their deep fried goodies, they will lose themselves in the cheesey flavours and stop groaning about their lives. They will know that it is time to put aside their smartphones and tablets. They will find friendship once again as they smile and laugh through the evening and into the night.

Thursday, 22 October 2015

The Dance Bible - Website Review

Coming from a Bengali family, I was introduced to dancing fairly early in life - at the age of five. I started learning Bharatnatyam first, and then moved on to Kathak, Bollywood dancing, Latin ballroom and salsa. With so much love and interest for dancing, I always wondered why there was such a dearth of dance-networking sites. But then I came across The Dance Bible - a platform that connects people who have dance in common.

Newly launched, this site is a treasure trove for dance enthusiasts. The website is organized into fifteen sections:-

1. Dance Styles - a repertoire of popular dance forms, both Indian and Western, the pages explain the nuances of various dance styles

2. Dance Anatomy - the articles under this heading have useful information on how to use your bodyparts effectively for dancing. You can also learn to take good care of your feet and other areas which bear most of the brunt of dancing.

3. Dance Blog - as the name suggests, this section has multiple informative blogposts on the topic of dance

4. Dance Videos - this one is for people who like to learn by watching online videos and do not have the time to travel to dance classes

5. Dance Audios - looking for some nice tunes to grove to? Have your pick here!

6. Interviews - a peek into the techniques and lives of the stalwarts of dancing

7. Dance Portfolio - This one is unique. You can create your dance profile by listing the dances you know, about yourself, your contact info and even a picture of yourself. There is a place of people to comment also. Don't forget to check out my profile.

8. Dance School - a very useful tool to search for dance schools across the world - by country, city or name. I would have liked to see a filter for dance styles too.

9. Dance Freelancers - a place where you can browse through dance teachers and freelance dancers and view their charges.

10. Dance Quotes - a nice collection of some inspiring words by dancing luminaries such as Michael Jackson and Marta Graham.

11. Dance Memes - I did not find this very useful, but I guess you could enjoy the humour.

12. Biographies - Life-stories of some very famous dancers, and also their videos!

13. Dance Diaries - This is where you can blog about your own dance journey for others to read

14. Dance Events - I did not find any upcoming events, but this is a useful tool if well maintained.

15. Dance Forum - This is where you can post questions and interact with others. The admin is pretty quick in answering your query (I speak from experience).

The site is quite responsive and neat in its design. I found it easy to navigate through The Dance Bible. Overall, the site is quite a useful one for those looking to learn, teach or talk about dance. The dancer in me is delighted to have this avenue and I will certainly keep coming back to this website for more dance tips. If you love dance or wish to start, you must visit this site.

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Together with Nature

I was at a party the other day and I noticed something very disturbing... instead of mingling with one another, the guests were busy staring into their phones! Common etiquette tells us that we must not use our cell phones in the company of others unless there is an emergency. It is extremely rude to answer phone calls without excusing oneself, check messages under the table while on a family dinner or surf the net when you have your friends around you who need more of your attention. Our society is becoming increasingly impolite when it comes to social interactions. I really think we should start a revolution to stop this social nuisance.

One way to get everyone to talk to each other face to face is to take their gadgets away - all of those from iPods, tablets and smartphones to smartwatches and bluetooth earphones. I feel that we cannot be together unless we remove all distractions from around us. Once we have all the gadgets out of the way, we should get people to play some games. It could be an outdoor sport such as cricket or football, or just a good old run in the park. Getting outdoors does a lot of good things to us. Nature helps us break silos like nothing else does.

Recently, my bank took us out to the Phasanwadi village, a little away from Mumbai. And we spent most of the time frolicking in the rustic huts, planting saplings of mango, lime and cashew. It gave me a different sense of achievement to dig out earth, clear the stones and finally place the saplings. We were sweating under the sweltering sun, but we all loved every bit of that experience! It felt amazing to realize that we were planting oxygen givers for the villagers.

Playing around trees and plants can be really good for those with respiratory problems. I myself have asthma. When I was a kid, I used to stay cooped up in my house and I hated playing outdoors. This only aggravated by asthmatic attacks. But once I started working, I got outdoors and started running. Today, I find it very easy to ignore my phone and laptop and I only focus on my surroundings when I go on my runs. I have run at several long distance running events, the most recent one being in Rishikesh. This has also won me many new friends, other than the obvious benefit of having great health! At the Rishikesh 15 kilometer run, most of the terrain was on the mountain tail. I even passed some mountain goats on my way! It was amazing to see the lovely Ganga River flowing all along the route.

I like Kissan's latest initiative. How cute of them to have a tomato topped cap for the sauce bottles and to hand out tomato seeds to all! :-) I love tomatoes! My grandmum used to grow them in her garden, and I distinctly remember plucking a ripe tomato one summer. Growing veggies and planting trees is a great way to get together and have a social gathering!

Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Every Girl Must Watch This!

I have hardly ever spoken about what I watch on TV. It is quite unfortunate now that I just don't have the luxury of time to watch my favourite shows, but there used to be one time when I would watch a lot of things on the telly....

As a kid, I grew up on American cartoons, series and sitcoms. In my teens, I was especially influenced by "Ginger", the lead character from "As Told by Ginger". That was a cartoon series on a pre-teen girl who would go through the usual rigmarole of having to deal with pre-teen-girl-problems such as keeping her friends happy, avoiding getting into the bad books of the popular girls, having crushes and getting guys to like her, having mixed feelings towards that guy-friend, the first kiss, puberty, make-up, shaving the hair off her legs, dressing well, keeping an annoying brother out of her way and having a love-hate relationship with her parents. Phew! That girl did have a lot on her plate. I completely loved her story! And I watched this during my formative years and most of my early teens. Here's the title track for you:-

This was the only cartoon series in which the characters would have their own wardrobes! They would change clothes every day and even repeat them! This was the most realistic cartoon show ever! I was terribly upset that it stopped running in India after a few years, perhaps because the average Indian cartoon-viewer preferred action-sequences and mystery. Back then, I did not have Tata Sky+ Transfer to rescue me from my situation. If I had had it then, I would have recorded every single episode so I could watch it anytime - even now. This amazing technology lets you carry your entertainment anywhere! I can now actually watch my favourite episodes up in the air when I'm flying on a long haul flight, or when I'm stuck in a slow moving traffic. I can watch it on a tab, a laptop or my phone - or good old TV!

"As Told by Ginger" is one show every growing girl must watch. It teaches one how to handle life and deal with being at the cusp of childhood and adolescence. It taught me to be a better teenager when I finally turned one. And it made me think through the consequences of my actions, so I rarely acted on an impulse. I hope it will teach you (or your daughter) a thing or two too!

Monday, 28 September 2015

My Home Needs a Makeover

I spend most of my waking hours in my office. Or if I can take some leaves, I whisk myself off to some beautiful far off location for a quick vacay. On those weekends that I am not travelling, I find it utterly boring to stay in. So, I step out for lunches and dinners and shopping trips with friends.

I have been wondering why I don't like to stay at home, and I think I have finally struck gold! I don't find my house appealing anymore. It has been almost six years since I last painted my house. And the colours have started to feel dull and monotonous now.I don't find the same excitement I used to when it was freshly painted. Oh, how I loved inviting people over on the pretext of coffee or dinner. The real reason was to show off the lovely interiors! I guess it is time again to get my home a nice makeover.

Dull, brown walls are cutting no ice with me anymore

Just the thought of a house-makeover was giving me the creeps. I recalled how the paint swatches would soil the floors and clothes and we would still not be able to decide on a colour we all liked at home. But I am lucky this time. Bed Bath & More lets one select paint shades through their interactive app. You can actually pick out the rooms and fill their walls with the colours you choose. Once you are done deciding, you can straightaway buy the paints online! How convenient!

My bedroom

I started with my bedroom. I use my bedroom only to sleep. I am not in school anymore, so I don't need orange or yellow paints for concentration and creativity. I need something that soothes my nerves and helps me sleep well. Blue seems to be the perfect colour for this. The shade I have picked out has an element of the sea. I can imagine how I will fall asleep thinking of the waves crashing against the rocks or washing up across the shore.

My bathroom

My bathroom will also have to be a relaxing place. That is where I take long baths and sit while my face-pack dries. I like the concept of aromatherapy, and love the notes of lavender that are used to calm one's nerves. This is why I have selected a shade of lavender for my bathroom.

My kitchen

Finally, I decided to keep yellow for the kitchen. Yellow is a bright colour that helps you feel energetic. Kitchen is where all the energy-giving food is prepared. For tasty and exotic dishes, the cook must feel creative. And what better colour than yellow to stimulate your creative juices!

I have all my colours saved and slotted. Now, all I have to do is actually get the walls painted! :-)

I am participating in the #PaintFinder activity in Association with BlogAdda & Bed Bath & More.

#SachchiAdvice from Dad

Most affluent Indian parents treat their daughters as delicate dolls, mollycoddling them and not letting them lift a finger. Daughters of doting fathers are usually brought up on unlimited access to clothes and accessories. They are gifted cute VW Beetles on their graduation and a new phone every birthday. Most of my girlfriends have been living a fairytale. They never repeat outfits, always have their daddy or a driver to pick them up and drop them to sundry parties and hobby classes. Now that they have jobs, they are not even expected to save any of their income! They still get their pre-job privileges and have all of their salaries available for splurging on binge shopping and parlour treatments.

Unfortunately, I had none of the above. Even though my father loves me very much and earns enough to give me the life of a princess, he has ensured that I have a simple upbringing. I have never received pocket money in my entire life. Whenever I needed money, I would have to tell my dad the reason, and he would hand out a sufficient sum to me - not less, but certainly not more than what I would require. While many of my friends had cellphones at the age of 13, I was lucky to get his old mobile when I was 17. I spent most of my childhood thinking I was adopted. Afterall, my mum got to go on lavish shopping sprees (even to Dubai!), so we certainly did not have financial problems, right?

My father would extoll the virtues of hardwork and self reliance. He would tell me that one day I would be richer than those people with pocket monies, and he was teaching me how to be independent. I did not understand much of it back then, but all of that makes perfect sense to me now. I look back and feel proud of the fact that I bought my first bicycle at the age of 9 with my own savings. I would keep all of the gift-money (which I received from relatives on birthdays and festivals) in my little piggy-bank.

That habit of saving money had made me independent in a lot of ways. When I turned 16, I could fund my dates without having to ask for anything from my parents or having to lie to them in the process. I did not have to be a high-maintenance girlfriend who would literally rob their boyfriends of the very last penny that they managed to save. I saw the biggest benefit when I started working. My finances were impeccable! While most of my new colleagues were spending on expensive labels, fancy dinners and exclusive parties, I was carefully slotting my monthly salary away into retirement funds, bank deposits and mutual funds.

The king (my dad) hangs out with his princess (me) in Moscow (March, 2015)

No, I did not turn into a miser. I just learned to manage my money better. Even after saving aggressively, I have enough left to buy myself nice outfits and shoes. I also managed to visit 6 countries this year (yes, you read that right! :-) ) with my own hard earned money. And I do a trip within India every month. Sometimes, even I cannot figure out how I manage to globetrot and save so much at the same time. But I know, it is my father and his excellent child-rearing skills that has made me this successful and independent woman I am today. I cannot thank my dad enough for all the #SachchiAdvice he has been giving me all this while. I know how to stay physically fit, but my dad has taught me the art of staying financially fit!

I am participating in the #SachchiAdvice Contest by MaxLife in Association with BlogAdda.

The Best Gift was your Advice

Most of my friends who meet me for the first time since school or college tell me I have changed a great deal. It is almost as if I have undergone some sort of transformation - an image makeover, if you will. What they think is absolutely right. I have changed. But this has not been an overnight miracle. It has taken me several days, weeks and months of consistent effort... and following some priceless advice.

Before I tell you about my present, I must acquaint you with my past. I have always been ambitious, but limited in my imagination to dream. I used to think dreams should be reasonable and within reach. Anything too big was just fantasizing and a waste of time. I was also quite introverted, though not shy. I had a few talents - I could write and compose poems, but I never looked at those skills as anything more than hobbies.

Cut to the present - I am an international half marathoner with a world record up my sleeve; a published author and a rising blogger. Most of my new colleagues would classify me as a seasoned extrovert without a second thought. I dream a lot. And I dream without limits or boundaries.

I am elated after earning my finisher's medal at the Vilnius half marathon earlier this month.

All of this did not happen by magic, with a fairy Godmother turning me into some kind of Cinderella with a flick of her wand. It happened when I met a colleague (Purujeet) at my first job after graduation. We became fast friends over our common interests and love for books. He told me to think like men do. Men are usually fiercely competitive and ambitious. They take risks without the fear of failing. They do not worry about what the world thinks of them. They lead and succeed in whatever they set their eyes on. It is on his advice that I started aiming for a better life and career. A few months later, I switched my job and landed something far more glamorous (well, as glamorous as a banking job can get :-P ). I also discovered that ambition, the ability to take risks and be fearless are gender-blind.

Purujeet would also take me to various gatherings to meet his friends and colleagues. He seemed to have hundreds of them. That really put me out of my comfort zone. I did not like meeting new people or talking to people I did not have anything in common with. I would usually stay quiet or just give short answers to what his friends would ask me. I never made an effort to keep up the conversations. Later, Purujeet would ask me why I wouldn't open up. He told me I wouldn't get far if I let others take control of the conversations. I would have to be attentive and socially aware. I would have to put in some hard work and get to know people better, and also get them to know me better. Purujeet's #SacchiAdvice has made a very big difference to my life and my outlook towards life.

Step by step, I changed the way I thought - about myself and about the people around me. I realized I used to pay too much attention to how others perceived me. I was shaped by what I thought the world would approve of. I gradually stopped doing that. I learned to live for myself. I pursued hobbies I had never pursued before - ballroom dancing and running.

With Purujeet - my best friend, advisor and mentor

With time and practice, I got better at my craft. I ran at several long distance running events in Mumbai across 20 months. And earlier this month (10th September, 2015), I happened to be the first and only Indian to run the half marathon at Vilnius (Lithuania)! It brought tears to my eyes when I thought of how I would never participate in any sport or athletic activity as a kid due to my problem with asthma. I had conquered my respiratory condition and shattered my boundaries. My boundaries were never physical. They were only in my mind.

Today, I have another feather in my cap - my first published book! I never thought I'd get to that level so quickly. I still have a long way to go, but that friend's advice has been my guiding light... which will light up many more pathways to success for my future. 

I am participating in the #SachchiAdvice Contest by MaxLife in Association with BlogAdda.

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

AskMe about Salt Water Cafe

Have you ever had that sudden craving for food? And that too from a particular restaurant? Being a foodie, I get that craving quite frequently! A few days back, my tastebuds were itching to taste some Italian. So, I caught a friend, grabbed my phone and started for Bandra. Now, Bandra is a huge place dotted with hundreds of little eateries that serve multiple cuisines. My friend particularly wanted to go to Salt Water Cafe. Not wasting any time, I fired up the AskMe app on my Android phone.

It automatically picked my city - Mumbai, and let me search for what I wanted. As soon as I keyed in the name of the restaurant, the app showed me two entries, only one of which was in Bandra.

The app is quite neat and shows related deals along with the outlet list. I tapped the restaurant we were eyeing, and the next page had a crisp summary of the place - the address, menu and description.

The copy of the menu was quite helpful as we were really hungry that night. We almost shortlisted our orders before we reached Salt Water Cafe.

There is also a cute phone icon on the app that lets you call the outlet directly. How convenient!

Finally, when we reached the restaurant, we were please to see that there was ample space to sit. It being  a weeknight, we did not find the crazy rush that this place otherwise witnesses. The place is quite spacious and has a soothing decor. The interiors are mostly of veneered wood. After we placed the orders, the bread course was brought to our table first.

The breadsticks and pieces of bread arrived in a jute sack - a very interesting presentation style! The soft cotton lining inside the jute bag kept the breads free of moisture. The butter was not flavoured though. I would have liked some kind of herb infused butter, which a lot of eateries provide now a days.

The soups arrived right then. Mushrooms are my favourite and I always end up ordering dishes that have mushrooms in them. The soup naturally had to be mushroom based - and really delicious! They used shiitake and champignon de Paris in our broth.

The main course was a creamy and very appetizing risotto. The quantity was so good that we couldn't finish it together between the two of us. I noticed that this place uses real arborio rice and not just any similar looking Indian variety. The dish was garnished with thinly sliced toasted bread. I really loved the big pieces of button mushrooms and cherry tomatoes in the risotto!

Finally, we ordered a couple of mocktails to spend some more time in Bandra over our conversations. My drink was a light ginger and lemon mix - very refreshing after all that cheesy food! My friend ordered a blackcurrant smoothie which was served in a cute jar. Restaurants these days are making good use of jars to serve their guests, I have eaten desserts and pickles and even a salad in a jar so far!

All in all, it was a day well spent, and special thanks to! This newly launched app is a really nifty tool!

I’m participating in the #RnMOnAskMe activity at BlogAdda.

Sunday, 30 August 2015

My Food Gaffes

I have written time and again about food, whether I am on a trip or just in my city. Most of you who are my regular readers will know that food is central to most of my travel writeups. THAT is how much I love to eat! Even though I am a BIG foodie, I suck at cooking. I mean, I cannot even cook to save my life!

The first time I decided to experiment in the kitchen was when I was still in primary school. One lazy Sunday afternoon when my parents slept peacefully, I could not control the rumble in my tummy. I was craving some fried potato chips. Not wanting to wake my parents or satiate my hunger with biscuits or chocolates, I nudged my sister to follow me in the kitchen. Once inside, I was the head chef and my little sister, the sous chef! Now, my mum had warned me against getting anywhere close to the gas stove. I too wasn't very confident with operating complex cooking tools. (I still can't use a cooktop properly! :-P ) So, I decided to use a candle! (smart science student me! :-P ) I took out one of those old birthday candles from the bookshelf, snuck out a lighter (it was only a showpiece as no one in my house smokes) and got a dried potato wafer out of the packet.

Then I lit the pink candle with the lighter, let the wax melt a little so I could stick the candle on the granite countertop, and finally fried the potato wafer on the flame! In a few seconds, the wafer became too hot to hold, so I quickly put it in the deep freezer for a few seconds to bring it to room temperature. When it was finally ready, my sister and I split it into two and gobbled it down. I can't say how it had tasted back then, but I sure am scared thinking right now of what all that paraffin from the candle could potentially do to me. I hope I don't get cancer. The entire episode was hilarious though. When my parents found out, they (obviously) scolded me, but made some nice chips for the evening.

The sushi that made me cry :'-(

Cut to the present, I don't bother cooking lest I burn down my own kitchen. But I don't stop myself from trying out interesting cuisines. My first tryst with the Japanese cuisine was when I bought a DIY sushi box from a gourmet food store in Lower Parel. Now nobody had told me to go easy on the wasabi. I thought it would be a bland chutney sort of a thing and nicely spread it over my sushi rolls. One big bite into that thing and I had hot tears streaming down my face! I ran to the nearest water stall and drank a litre of water before I could tolerate the residual sting in my mouth.

Fortunately, now I know how to eat sushi properly. The trick is to mix very little wasabi with some soy sauce and very lightly dip your sushi in it. Sushi is actually quite tasty when you eat it the right way!

The "sweet" life that only Kings and Queens can afford

I have had a sweet tooth since I was a toddler without my realizing it until very recently. I absolutely adore desserts, especially ice creams! I have tried almost every brand available in the Indian market. (And I have also had icecreams in Spain, gelato in Italy and some more in the freezing winter of Russia!) Ice cream largely hasn't burnt any holes in my pocket, but I cannot forget my first "breakfast" at the Haagen Dazs restaurant in Hiranandani Gardens, Powai. Just one item on the menu ended in my footing a four-figure bill! The aftertaste wasn't so sweet afterall. :-P

The Tiny Owl App

I can recount countless food fixes that I have been party to over the years. Hopefully, I will have fewer of those now that there is Tiny Owl to the rescue! Through their nifty mobile app, I can now quell my hunger with the touch of my finger. I don't have to eat candle-burnt chips anymore as all the options are rated by several users. Their discounts will also ensure I don't go broke on ice cream! :-) Tiny Owl is solving a not so tiny problem in the lives of us foodies!

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Play it Safe with Condoms

India has a massively growing population - 1.2 billion odd individuals and counting! Even though sex is still a taboo topic in this country, the statistics show that Indians are having a lot of sex. Unfortunately, most of this lovemaking is happing without any sort of protection or birth control mechanism. While the possibility of pregnancy is a big risk that most couples take during unprotected sex, a bigger danger is that of catching sexually transmitted diseases or infections. Birth control pills can only help so much. To really stay safe, couples must use barrier methods of contraception. is one such brand which is trying to get Indians habituated to using condoms.

The good thing is that India now has quite a few players in the condom market and the government too is encouraging everyone to use protection. The variety that is available these days is quite impressive. There are dotted and ribbed condoms for more sensation, flavoured condoms for oral sex, lubricated condoms for a smoother intercourse, and ultra thin or skin condoms which feel like the man is wearing nothing. What quite a few of us do not know is that condoms are not only for men. There are special types of condoms for women as well. These are called female condoms, and are worn by women for their vagina. These type of condoms are more expensive than the ones for men, but give women the power to control their sexual health.

Despite the heavy use of condoms, one must not blindly rely on them. There is always the risk of condoms getting torn or slipping out during the act. After all, they are made of latex. Always exercise caution in handling condoms. Try not to use nails or sharp objects on the condom. Another aspect a lot of people ignore is the expiry date. Condoms do expire or become unusable if kept in the wallet for many days. The same condom must never be reused after one session of sex. And each used condom must be disposed off by wrapping it in a paper piece or tissue. We must take good care of our sexual and genital health. It goes a long way to play it safe!

Friday, 21 August 2015

The Power of Speed

I have always been craving speed. Speed in how fast I can shower, brush my teeth and get dressed for work ( I am always rushing to catch my office transport every morning); speed in how quickly I can read and understand complex concepts in the word of Finance and Risk (I learn many new terms and calculations on a daily basis); speed in how frequently I can write articles and churn out interesting posts ( I run two blogs and am always falling behind my post targets).

There is of course some speed I like in external entities too. I wish to be able to travel really fast (from work to home and vice versa, so I am never late for anything; from one place to another, so I never have to take extra holidays on my vacations; from one country to another, so I am never tired after a long haul flight). But one thing which on which I just cannot compromise is the speed of my internet connection. It becomes extremely frustrating when I am trying to browse for some important information which I need urgently, and it takes ages for the webpage to load. I also hate it when my existing 3G connection fails to work at many places and I am waiting for videos to buffer when they are ideally supposed to play realtime.

But thanks to Airtel's latest 4G network, things are going to be different. Now, I will have the power of speed! Airtel is the first telecom provider in India to roll out the 4G network. It is not just for one or two metro cities, but almost two hundred and ninety six cities! The best part is, the charges will be same as that for 3G. With cheap rates for higher speed, I will now be able to do many things which I previously would not have been able to. I can now watch movies on my long train journeys without worrying about the video to buffer or having to pay a lot of money. In fact, I won't even lose connectivity hopefully as the 4G network will be available at most places I visit.

This also means, I can work while on the go. I will not have to wait to reach office for the high speed internet. I will also not actually have to stay at home when I work from home. I can just hop on a car and go on a long drive while I work nicely in the backseat while waiting to reach my destination. Faster speed means, faster browsing experience, being able to Skype really well, having better quality images and videos during live streaming. All of this will be believable and a possibility with these unbelievable speeds under my hood!

Thursday, 20 August 2015

... Because Home is Where the Heart is

I have been living in my humble room since time immemorial. The walls in my room have seen a lot of wear and tear.

If I have the opportunity to have my room transformed, I would make it more like me. I am a travel enthusiast and also a writer. I love looking up at the sky and getting inspired by nature. I admire how the sun comes up everyday without fail. It never succumbs to excuses. Taking a cue from the sun, I face my day enthusiastically without using the crutches of  excuses. When I look up at the roof of my room, I do not wish to stare at a bland off white ceiling. Instead, I wish to get a glimpse of the clear, blue sky. My dream home will either have a glass roof with a real view of the sky or the ceiling will be painted to reflect a beautiful sunny day, with light clouds floating in a light blue background.

At night, however, I would like to look at some stars, constellations and galaxies. I am a big fan of the night sky, and stargazing is my favourite pastime on my trips to lazy villages which don't have any light pollution. I would love to have a ceiling which changes colours at night to glow with stars and turn pitch black when I sleep. A dark room is always good for a perfect sleep.

When I look at the walls of my room, I only see random colours and patterns which have been advertized on paint ads on TV. But what I really wish to see are trees and blossoms and animals running in the wild. I am an adventurous, outdoorsy kind of a person. I always love to get out and do something active rather than sit at home and do nothing. My dream home will have walls full of canopies of large leaves in different shades of green. Green is very soothing for the eyes and mind as well! I could also have some animals in my little forest. :-)

Home is where greenery is!

I feel the floors are most neglected in a room. We only think of some sort of tiles to fill up the space. It is either marble or granite or marbonite or mosaic. What I really wish to have on the floor is lush meadows - perhaps, grass-patterned tiles? Apart from being a traveller, I am also a long distance runner. My feet never tire even after clocking twenty one kilometers! A true runner loves her roads just as much as she does grass and mud. My dream room will be my world! It will not just be a designer brick and mortar cube with paint all over it.

I am participating in the Upload and Transform #HomeCanvas activity in association with Godrej Interio and BlogAdda. If you are not blogging, you can still be a part of this activity. Here’s how.

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Tricolor Pasta - Where India Meets Italy

On the eve of the Indian Independence Day, my best friend and I shopped for some of my favourite things so we could surprise our family with a tricolor pasta dish. Italian happens to be my favourite cuisine, and I decided to use the Independence Day theme to highlight my patriotism for India and love for Italy. For all of my regular readers, here is my secret recipe:-

Tricolor Pasta - Where India Meets Italy


1. Del Monte penne rigate pasta - two fistfuls
2. Napolitana sauce - for the saffron (for India) or red (for Italy) layer
3. Cream cheese - for the white layer
4. Pesto sauce - for the green layer
5. Olive oil
6. Mushrooms - button mushrooms (champignon de Paris) and Indian portobello
7. Olives
8. Broccoli
9. Bell peppers - red, yellow and green
10. Lemon and coriander seasoning
11. Salt to taste

Apparatus (Utensils Required)

1. Saucepan
2. Spatula
3. Colander
4. Laddle
5. Spoon
6. Cooking pot
7. A couple of bowls (to transfer the cooked dishes)
9. Knife
10. Wide bottomed tumbler (for plating up)
11. Dessert glasses (for plating up)

Here is all you will need - the Italian ingredients

Time to prepare

90 minutes

The entire dish took us only an hour and a half to make. This includes everything - from cutting the vegetables to plating up.

After the veggies and mushrooms are cleaned and cut...


1. Add some water and salt to the penne rigate pasta and bring it to a boil in a cooking pot.
2. Strain the pasta in a colander and collect the water. This shall be our broth for later. (We do not waste food) Keep both the boiled pasta and strained water aside.
3. Heat some live oil in a saucepan.
4. Chop the coloured bell peppers on the side.
5. Lightly stir the bell peppers (keep the green ones separate) in the pan.
6. Keep the bell peppers aside.
7. Wash the mushrooms and scrape off their skin. Now, cut them in halves or quarters depending on how big you like to have your mushrooms.
8. Saute the mushrooms in the pan. Add salt to taste. Take care not to mix the two types of mushrooms as each type will be used in a different layer of the pasta. You may use any mushroom of your choice - oyster, shiitake, shimeji, etc.
9. Set the mushrooms aside.
10. Now, cut out small florets of the broccoli and wash them in a colander.
11. Blanch the  broccoli florets to make them soft yet retain their dark colour.
12. Now, lightly saute them in the saucepan.

Now that all our individual mini-dishes are ready, we will start making the layers of the tricolour.

13. Take one third of the boiled pasta and cook it with the orange-red coloured Napolitana sauce. If you have more time, you may prepare your own tomato based gravy.
14. Add the red and yellow bell peppers to this layer, and sprinkle some lemon and coriander seasoning. Keep replenishing the olive oil in the pan. You may add some button mushrooms to this layer.
15. When the saffron layer is ready, pour it out in a bowl.

16. Next, prepare the green layer (bottom layer) with half of the remaining pasta and pesto sauce.
17. Add green bell peppers and some button mushrooms too.

18. For the white layer, add cream cheese generously to the saucepan full of the remaining pasta. You may control the consistency with milk and the broth which we had kept aside.
19. Add the portobello mushrooms to this mixture.
20. Pour out the white layer. This can be called the alfredo sauce layer.

This pasta dishes are now ready to be plated up! :-)

The Indian flag for your tastebuds

Serving Tips

1. I chose dessert glasses for my dish. Serve each coloured pasta in a separate glass Now you have orange, white and green dishes.
2. Make the Ashok chakra on the white layer  using olives.

India on my dining table! ;-)

3. I have an alternate plate up style - pour some green layer at the bottom of a wide glass tumbler.
4. Next pour the white layer.
5. Insert an olive slice towards the edge of the glass so that it is visible form the glass surface outside.
6. Fill the glass top with the orange layer, and you are all set!
7. You may choose to serve this with garlic bread.

Tricolor Pasta served in a glass tumbler

Let's have a quick recap through this video which I made only for you!

If you liked my recipe, do cook this Tricolor Pasta and tell me how it tastes. I'm eagerly waiting for your feedback! :-)