Sunday, 21 June 2015

What's That Smell?

"Home is where the heart is"... or so they say. But in my case it usually seems like "home is where that hideous smell is"! Odour is that secret weapon this world has to irritate us beyond our senses. I wake up to the guff of garbage wafting in through the windows in the wee hours of the morning. Every single day begins with an assault to my olfactory system. I spring out of my bed and slide the windows shut, hoping to bring the situation under control. But, I realize with a heavy heart, the damage is already done.

I walk into the bathroom and it smells funny again. I check if the block of air freshener is remaining, and it is. Then why is that obnoxious smell still lingering in the air? I turn on the faucet and squeeze out a big glob of bubble bath liquid. The aromatic smell should subdue the stink for some time, I hope. I foam up a lot of bubbles and after a long, relaxing bath, walk into my closet to pick my outfit for the day.

My senses are overpowered with the strong stench of naphthalene balls, and my clothes exude the same whiff. I quickly pull out a blue and white tunic and spray Chanel No. 5 generously all over me. I cannot go into important meetings smelling of naphtha!

When I open my dressing drawer to pick out my favourite shade of pink lipstick, I sniff a trace of expired makeup. The shelf makes me nauseous with the mixed toxic fumes of powder, compact, foundation, blush and nail polish. I make a mental note to dispose off the old stuff and buy some new makeup.

After brushing my hair, I head over to the shoe rack to find a pair of matching stilettos to go with my dress. I almost double over as I take in the reeking pair of socks that I had stuffed back in my sneakers after a sweaty run in the rain last evening. I instantaneously pick up the offending pair of socks and chuck them in the washing machine.

I finally step out of my home and let out the breath I have been holding. The world outside smells so much better than my malodorous house!

The smell of rotten eggs is horrendous!

I am back home at seven thirty in the evening, very excited for my date with the cute guy I met in office. But the moment I enter my apartment, I am welcomed by that fetid atmosphere again. I panic at the thought of having such a handsome and fine-smelling man witness my smelly house. I quickly run to the nearest supermarket and bring home a room spray.

After drowning the whole place in the scent of lavender, I enter the kitchen to cook some delicious pasta for dinner. When I open the fridge to take out the bottle of zinfandel, the foul smell of rotten eggs scares me. I discard the bad eggs into the organic wastebin, and try to concentrate on the pasta.

It is almost eight. He must be here any minute now. I set the table and change into a sexy backless pink tunic. I roll on a fruity fragrance and pray for the drawing room to smell better. The bell rings, and I can hear my heart beating in my ears. What do you think will happen? Will I have a great date or will my love interest be turned off by my smelly home? Do you have any tips to rescue my evening? Write in to me!

I am blogging for #SmellyToSmiley activity at in association with Ambi Pur.

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

The Bang in Each Buck

A (in a bragging tone): "I bought four belts for the price of three!"
B (chortles): "I bought five!"

Most of us Indian's have have been privy to similar conversations all our lives. We pat our own backs each time we negotiate a good bargain or get much more for the same budget. Our haggling skills are famous the world over, and each deal we seal is stamped with the label of "paisa vasool". While some of us are proud of this quirky trait, some others are not. Before I delve into the topic of paisa vasool, let us understand why we are the way we are.

Our ancestors have lived through very difficult times when power was concentrated in the hands of few and benefits hardly trickled down to the common man. From the times of foreign rulers who commanded over various provinces, we have learnt that most of the gold was stored in the royal treasury and the peasants worked hard to pay their taxes. Then came several periods of war when stocks of everything, from food and clothing to money and arms, was closely monitored and people would consume only measured portions of their stockpile.

India has seen multiple instances of famines and droughts. And each of these occurrences have taught our predecessors to ration their food and earnings and bargain well to ensure they get the bang for their buck. The situation today is quite pleasantly different. We are developing and the birth of the ambitious and well heeled middle class has seen a spurt in our wants and wishes. One thing, however, has not changed - our quest for a paisa vasool deal.

We may have six figure salaries and live in plush homes, but we still haggle with the grocer to have our weekly supplies in three-fourths of the quoted price. We often have two cars and at least one sedan, but when we shop for another vehicle, we mull over the mileage and maintenance cost. We love global high street brands and flaunt the latest gadgets, but we always shop during a sale so we can get a paisa vasool deal!

A Paisa Vasool Meal! We love buffet over a la carte as we get to taste it all for the same amount of money

Our pursuit for paisa vasool must not be misconstrued as our willingness to settle for poor quality. No! We are sticklers for supreme quality, but we like to achieve it in the most economical way. Our Mangalyaan (Mars Mission) and Tata Nano (cheapest car) are proof of the world class stuff we can do without burning a hole in our pockets. The paisa vasool phenomenon is actually our quest for 'value'. We are not so much after the price tag, but the worth of goods and services we buy. Our value based economy binds us together and makes us a great country to do business with.

Take for example, the growth of medical tourism in India. Our doctors and surgeons are equipped to perform complex surgeries and procedures for almost one-tenth the cost of the same treatments in developed economies. Another great example is the massive technology and business process outsourcing industry in our country. Hundreds of multinational firms have their technology centres in India, thanks to the superior quality service and IT-product delivery we have here - all for the fraction of the cost in western countries.

It is also our paisa vasool nature that has prompted our favourite German airline - Lufthansa to introduce their premium economy class in India. The #LufthansaPremiumEconomy is exactly what the upper middle class Indian has always been looking for on her next flight abroad! It is economical, but is worth a lot more. There is more room to wiggle around, a footrest and an allowance of two checked bags of 50 pounds each! This means, I can carry my all my favourite books on my next long Eurotrip without having to throw out any of my carefully picked clothes. For a fraction of the cost of a business class ticket, I have my own drink holder on the armrest and so much extra storage space. I no longer have to stuff my carry-on jacket in the overhead unit. Instead, I can just secure it with the belt beside my seat! The foodie in me also loves the delightful cuisines on offer and the cute little water-bottle holder between the seats! And let's not forget that we all have work commitments which we can fulfill in the sky with our own sockets and USB ports! When we are tired of working, we can always unwind using the amazing inflight entertainment system. Long haul flights are the best places to watch those movies you have never found time for.

After looking at the list of awesome privileges above, I honestly cannot think of anything else I could have asked for, except for maybe Lufthansa to introduce domestic flights for us as well! ;-) You will surely agree that the Lufthansa Premium Economy is the perfect paisa vasool offering for us Indians who always look for the bang in each buck!

I would love to hear your quirky stories of how you strike paisa vasool deals in your day to day life! So please write to me with your stories.

Nioxin - 20 Day Challenge

Earlier this month, I had introduced you to Nioxin - an intensive treatment for hair thinning. While I was pampered with the experience, the hair experts told me I did not have a hair thinning problem. So, on my next visit, I took my mom along.

One of the beauticians analyzed my mum's hair and suggested treatment number 3 for her hair which was normal to thin looking and was chemically treated. My mum colours her hair to hide her greys.

Before the 3 step process, my mum's scalp had to be cleansed thoroughly for the treatment to work. So, she underwent step-0, the dermabrasion process.

After keeping that on for 10 minutes, she was given a hair wash with the shampoo (cleanser). Next, the conditioner or scalp revitaliser was applied. And finally, after another wash, the treatment was sprayed onto her scalp.

At home, my mum dries her hair naturally, but the salon specialist gave her a nice blow dry.

When my mum saw her reflection in the mirror after the Nioxin experience, she was delighted! She took the kit and promised to use it daily. To check the efficacy of this treatment, my mum has not used any other hair product (even hair oil) or undergone any other hair treatment (such as colouring) for almost the entire month now.

Her hair looks healthier. But she tells me, the entire process takes long. Especially the treatment bit, which has to be sprayed on the scalp after separating different hair-sections. Have you tried Nioxin? Let me know your experiences!

You can try and experience #NioxinNowIndia at your nearest salon. This activity is in association with

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

A Fresh Look at Traffic Jams

Any Mumbaikar will tell you how much we hate our roads. There is either a pothole every few metres apart or an ensuing jam that will keep you behind the wheel for eons. While the average person stuck in a traffic jam would just remain frustrated and have a bad day ahead as a consequence, I have an interesting idea for you all to turn a traffic jam into a "jam-session"!

When all the vehicles around you are honking and the traffic is still, do not just sit there and curse the roads or the drivers. Get out of your car or bus or auto and off your bike or scooter. Go out, play some music and dance! Or if you are lucky, call Anushka Manchanda to sing for you in the middle of the streets! She will cheer up every angry passenger in the bus and make them sing along. While you are at it, make a call to the Southern star - Allu Arjun and get him over to teach you some cool dance moves! If you are not yet convinced of this electrifying pair of singer and dancer, watch this video of Bezubaan Phir Se, one of the songs from the upcoming movie - ABCD 2:-

ABCD in the title of this movie stands for Anybody Can Dance. Allu Arjun is terrific in his new lean look. Anyone would be amazed by his flexibility and the agility with which he commands over the dance floor. We must not forget that he has Anushka Manchanda's crystal clear and powerful voice to infuse a new life in the dance.

Being a dancer myself, I know how wonderful it feels to be able to move your body in a rhythm of your choice. You must mot wait for moments in which to dance. Instead, you should just start grooving when you hear some good music or catch some nice beats. A couple of years back, I was at an amazing party but I was too shy to dance. A shot of tequila later, I hit the dance floor and showed off my moves. I danced not only until the last song was played, but also with some very hot guys I would otherwise have never had the courage to approach.

So, take my advice. The next time you are stuck in traffic, hop out and dance like Allu Arjun to Anushka Manchanda's music! ;-)

I am blogging for the #MaxFreshMove activity at Are you?

A Fresh Move on a Boring Day

You will not believe how boring my office days usually are! To add to the boredom, my weekdays are tiring too! Let me take you through my schedule on the average workday:-

7 AM: I wake up after snoozing my alarm for half an hour. And I am woken by my screaming parents who cannot believe I have grown up and am not a school kid anymore.

7:30 AM: This is when I am actually awake and ready for a shower.

8 AM: I frown at my wardrobe and manage to fish out a half-decent outfit for work. If it's not well ironed, I have to iron as well. Then I throw in my hairclips, lipgloss and lip balms in my tiny pouch and decide I can do my hair and lips at office. I only wear some sunscreen and scrunch my hair up in a bun.

8:30 AM: My mum screams again to get me to have breakfast, and I realize then that I am late for my office cab. I take one bite into a fruit and ask her to pack the rest. She throws me a dirty look and curses me again. I rush out of my house, but remember to take my phone out of the charger just at the last minute. After getting irritated by the lifts that will take ages to arrive and the auto-rickshaw drivers who will never want to go anywhere, I finally am on my way to office.

9 AM: I reach office looking like I was stuck in a cyclone. Then I log on to my computer and am bombarded with a series of emails that make my heart sink. I cannot believe I am loaded with work again! I work non stop with only some loo breaks and a lunch break.

1 PM: Lunch is again something that makes me depressed. I wonder why nobody wants to change the caterers.

1:30 PM: My colleagues in London walk in and we have back to back meetings while my backache gets worse sitting on my chair for so long.

6:30 PM: It is finally time to leave for the day! But the traffic is just pathetic! To add to it, the rains beat mercilessly.

7:30 PM: I return home damp from both outside and within. I wish to do a bit of blogging, but my body is so tired, I just want to sleep. I carry my tired self through snacks, a lot of nagging from my mum and dinner.

Midnight: If I am lucky, I manage to sleep. Or else, I keep working until it's 1AM.

The only way to energize my dull day is to have Allu Arjun dance for me every morning with Anushka Manchanda singing a melodious number. This power packed duo can certainly charge my boring office day with some excitement with their glamorous presence. I would love to have them over at office too! They would totally rock the office and get us off our PCs and on the dancefloor!

I am blogging for the #MaxFreshMove activity at Are you?

Sunday, 14 June 2015

Lusting After Lodgy

Renault recently launched its swanky SUV - Lodgy in India. All this while, I have been dreaming about a romantic ride in this mean machine. The lovely weather, with the intermittent rains, cooling breeze and a fresh looking environment, only makes me dream even more about a long drive! My wishful thinking is all done, and today I am going to share my packing list with you. I will only talk about the five things which are most important to my world.


Item #1: My Close Friends

I have been travelling for the better part of my life. And in all my trips, I have realized that your company makes a huge difference in how much you enjoy your trip. The Renault Lodgy has a fantastic seating capacity of seven or eight. This means, I will never have to choose between any two friends of mine. I can take them all along on a wonderful and long drive with me.


Item #2: Travel Gear

Most of you know how much I love the outdoors. I would rather camp in the wild than stay cooped up in a boring hotel. Thanks to Lodgy's 207 litres of boot space which is also expandable to 1861 litres, I can squeeze in a foldable waterproof tent, sleeping bags or  air-beds, solar powered lamps, a portable barbeque, a first aid box and trekking poles. I am a huge fan of trekking and a big foodie!


Item #3: My Smartphone

A blogger and socially connected person like me can never go anywhere without a smartphone. My phone is like my lifeline. Not only can I always stay in touch with the world, but I can also share my amazing travel experiences with everyone. I actively use Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and LinkedIn to inspire people to travel. I also use my phone for navigation as my street sense is quite poor. I like how efficiently Renault Lodgy has integrated phone and audio controls so I can manage calls and music while I drive using the MediaNav system. No road trip is complete without some peppy music that gets you pumped up for the weekend ahead!


Item #4: My DSLR Camera

I love to capture the unforgettable memories of all my trips through my Canon lenses. This is also the reason why I carefully pick out my clothes and accessories for every travel. I believe that you look good only when you feel good from within. Just like me, Lodgy looks great from outside with its stylish roof rails, sporty alloy wheels, chrome tailgate garnish and arrowhead-style taillamps, even as it feels fantastic inside with the premium two-tone dashboard and door trim and leather and chrome touches on the steering wheel, instrument cluster and upholstery.


Item #5: Safety Gear

Safety is paramount to me on any trip I plan. If its a night trek, I will ensure I have a torch and a power-bank for my phone. In cases of emergency, your phone can be your first line of defense as you can call or send a message out for help. The Renault Lodgy is my perfect safety partner as it has dual front airbags, adjustable seatbelts and ABS with EBD and brake-assist.


Do you think my dream of going on a joyride in the Renault Lodgy will come true anytime soon?

I’m participating in the #LiveLodgycal contest with Renault in association with BlogAdda to get a chance to be part of the #LiveLodgycal Drive in Goa.

Saturday, 13 June 2015

Stay Beautiful Naturally!

If you are a regular reader of my blog, you will know I am an avid traveller. While my spirit loves new climates and environs, my skin is not always excited. I often come back from a trek in the hot sun to find that I have some nasty boils. After a nice, long swim in the lavish pools in some of the resorts that I stay in, I return to my suite with a tan. After I breathe in the cold mountain air, I check my face in the mirror to find dry skin and chapped lips. On those rare occasions that I wear makeup to hide my blemishes and uneven patches on the skin, I realize that I am going to have a crazy breakout the next day.

But thanks to several home remedies, I know how to keep my skin looking healthy! Today, I am going to share some easy to prepare natural treatments to make your skin glow without any sort of artificial agent or makeup. Here is the list:-

1. If you do not wish to eat something, put it on your face! ;-)

I really mean this! Most fruit peels are wonderful on your skin. You can try papaya, tomato, orange or whatever fruit you wish. So, the next time you are done chewing orange pulp, don't throw that in the bin, use it as an organic peel and keep it on your face for 20 minutes before washing it off. This tip will help you get rid of a lot of your tan.

2. If you hate milk, put it on your face! 

Milk works wonders and removes a lot of impurities in the pores of your skin. It is a natural cleanser. If you don't wish to use a cleansing agent, just soak some cotton in a bowl of cold milk and dab your face and eyelids with it.

3. Tea can really open your eyes!

After you are done making tea, do not throw the teabags. If you sleep with teabags on your eyelids, you can reduce your dark circles.

4. Attend more pre wedding ceremonies! ;-)

This one might seem unusual, but there is some logic to it. Remember the "haldi" ceremony? The bride and the groom get a natural turmeric treatment to make their skin radiant and clear just before the marriage. If you think making a turmeric paste is too much of a task for you, just use a tube of VICCO Turmeric Cream and you shall have the same effect!

5. Use "multani mitti"

Multan is in Pakistan, but you can find multani mitti (soil from Multan) in India as well. Just mix some of this fine earth with some water or milk and apply the paste on your face. Keep it on for about twenty minutes and wash it off. Your face will be naturally scrubbed and cleaned! This treatment also keeps your skin smooth and soft.

Try these at home and let me know if any of my tips worked for you!

Monday, 8 June 2015

Have You Planned for your Golden Years?

I took a hypothetical journey into my old age last weekend at the Reliance Mutual Fund Meet for bloggers. Most of us were lifestyle bloggers there, and the CEO of Reliance MF made us realize that we perhaps knew how to spend money and maintain an aspirational lifestyle at this age, but few of us bothered to plan for the years ahead and calculate how much we would require to sustain our current spending pattern.

The presentation began with a set of shocking statistics that revealed how grossly unprepared the population of India is for its retirement. Only 15% of our GDP is set aside for retirement, whereas developed economies such as Australia have over 100% of their GDP in retirement assets.

It is projected that the retired population of India will grow threefolds by 2050, and the Pension Bill might have to be raised to 6% of GDP (as against the current 2.2%). This will put tremendous strain on our economy. This is why we need private players in the retirement fund segment.

Reliance has recently launched India's first notified private retirement fund with an equity oriented scheme. It is essentially a mutual fund with Section 80C benefits. You can have up to Rs.1,50,000 in tax deductions per year. The government has been running the NPS for quite a few years now, but its equity leg is capped at 50%. The Reliance Retirement Fund, on the other hand, allows you to customize your equity-debt split and you can choose to put 100% in equity and related instruments.

The long term nature of this fund makes it quite safe to have a lot of equity exposure. Nevertheless, the golden rule is -
Equity exposure (%) = 100 - your age
If you are 24, you should ideally invest 76% in equity and 24% in debt. Then again, it all depends on your risk profile and desired age of retirement.

The Reliance Retirement Fund works in two phases - Wealth Creation and Income Generation. The first phase is when you only contribute and keep saving, and the latter phase is when you reap the returns after your retirement.

During the wealth creation phase, you can either set up a monthly/quarterly or yearly SIP (systematic investment plan) or make a lumpsum contribution whenever you have enough funds, or even do both. This product is highly flexible and lets you change your SIP amount unlimited times without any additional charges.

During the income generation phase, you can either have a lumpsum return or choose to receive a monthly payment from the returns generated by your corpus. You can also choose something in between. A few years before your retirement, the fund auto-transfers your wealth creation plan into income generation, and equity forms only 5-30% of your retirement portfolio.

It was a great session that morning, and it really made me think about my future. Do you regularly save for your golden years? Or are you just living in the moment? Think and act carefully. Inflation is a silent killer which can erode your wealth and lifestyle. Nip it in the bud!

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

The Nasha of Nioxin

Last month, a few lucky bloggers (including yours truly) were invited by Wella Salon to get pampered and have their hair analyzed by professionals in the industry.

Groupfie with the ladies

Meeting the Hair-Magicians

Natasha, the owner of Nalini's (a Wella Salon) at Bandra, introduced us to Nioxin, a hair therapy system that caters specifically to the problem of hair thinning. This jovial daughter of Nalini (the founder of the salon) explained to us why most people have hair thinning and how Nioxin approaches this issue.

Natasha animatedly takes the class

What is Hair Thinning?

We are usually born with beautiful, thick and strong hair, but over the course of time, our hair loses its tenacity, becomes weak and starts thinning. Some of this is part of the natural ageing process, but most of it arises from tension, pollution and careless handling of the mane.

The Nioxin kit

What is Nioxin?

This is where Nioxin steps in. The therapy works on the scalp and takes a multi-pronged approach. It unclogs the pores on the scalp so that new hair can sprout without hindrance, prevents hair breakage at the root and strengthens the hair shaft to give you thicker hair. Mind you, Nioxin does not claim to grow new hair. It only works with the natural mechanisms of your scalp and hair. Nioxin has been in the USA market for several years now, and Wella has just brought it to the Indian shores. Statistics show that 70% of Nioxin customers stay loyal to the treatment.

All set for the dermabrasion treatment

Step 0 : Dermabrasion

Before one starts the treatment, one undergoes a scalp analysis to determine if one is really a thinning client. Most of us did not have hair thinning problems, but we were given the experience anyway (so we could tell you about it). Nioxin categorizes thinning into six types depending on whether the hair is normal to thin looking or noticeably thin, fine or medium to coarse, natural or chemically treated. Each type has a separate therapy kit. But before you use the kit, you must go to a salon to get the dermabrasion done.

Dermabrasion can be thought of as facial for your scalp. It opens up the pores and lets the hair come out of the skin. Most people with clogged scalp probably have ingrowths, which is why the hair strands never see light but actually exist. The Nioxin dermabrasion treatment costs about Rs.3000 and covers the entire scalp. It is kept for ten minutes before it is washed off.

The girls relax at the washing stations

Step 1 : Cleanse

Next comes the first step - cleanse. The Nioxin Cleanser removes sebum, fatty acids and dirt from the scalp. This unclogs the follicles. The cleanser can be thought of as a shampoo.

The Wella professional blowdries Jhilmil's hair

Step 2 : Optimise

In the second step, the Nioxin Scalp revitalizer is applied, again on the scalp, and washed off after some time. It is a lightweight conditioner that coats the hair shaft and makes it thicker.

The salon sure knew how to calm our senses!

Step 3: Treat

The final step is the Nioxin Scalp Treatment. It can be sprayed on the hair after you towel dry it (but while it still has moisture). All the products have peppermint oil and menthol that make you feel cool and refreshed. The treatment really suits the hot and humid Mumbai weather! ;-)

We pose with our lovely looking hair

After the Nioxin experience, we were given the one-month treatment pack. Because I am not a thinning client, I took my mum for the dermabrasion process last weekend. She has been using the products regularly and I will shortly write a post on the quality improvement of her hair.

You can try and experience #NioxinNowIndia at your nearest salon. This activity is in association with