The Perfect Road Trip

The Perfect Road Trip
Runners Up Award- Ambipur Contest

Sunday, June 19, 2016

It’s a Woman’s World

It  is said that lord created men and women as equals, but in reality it is not so. The statement may appear outrageous but a few facts support this, at least when it comes to fashion! Ask any man who is generally better attired between the two sexes and the unanimous answer would be women.

I remember the times when most of the members of opposite sex that I came across, right from the childhood stole the march in terms of dressing. The boys would wear simple shirts and shorts with ordinary shoes most of the times , regardless of the occasion. Only the hues varied depending on whether one was going to school or attending a party. Girls wore frocks, skirts , nice tops, even lovely looking clips on hair, depending on their hair style. Even the frocks varied from straight to pleated ones to rather fancy frilled ones. Their moms would ensure that eyes were lined withy kohl and even shining trinkets added to the sparkle.  I knew it was a race where I never stood a chance to win.

Come the teen years  and only change that happened was a switchover to full pants instead of shorts. One could take pride in wearing bell bottoms or the blue jeans that were the sign of changing times. The world changed all together when it came to women. The coming off age was celebrated with salwar suits, churidars, lehngas, fancy blouses, skirts with laces , and petite looking sarees, mini skirts et al. It was a time when I realized how lopsided the equation was. Also, while learning about Pareto, I started to understand, the significance of 80-20 rule. Eighty percent of the fashion, perfume, clothing and apparel industry catered for the needs of women. It is only in the recent years that the whitening creams , hair revival  and toning gels, colognes and perfumes for the men have arrived to their rescue .

The list is  huge if one delves into other arena like sports, fitness, shoes,bags,magazines, undergarments and perfumes. Go to a sporting event or visit a beach. The men would be running around in the trendy shoes with branded tees and shorts while women would be scampering around in all styles of bikinis, trendy skirts, shorts, tights, stilettos , and the works displaying their well toned figures.
A successful man is one who can earn more money than what his wife can possibly spend, where as a successful woman is one who can find that man according to Lana Turner. A women who is shabbily dressed is remembered for the dress : dress impeccably and they remember the woman. The style icon, Coco Channel has brilliantly summed it as

“Fashion is not something that exists in dresses only. Fashion is in the sky, in the street, fashion has to do with ideas, the way we live, what is happening.” 

PS: Image Kind Courtesy Google

Saturday, June 11, 2016

The Essence of Prasad

The sound of chime of bells made us rush to the small room where the grandfather would be waking up god early in the morning,with a lighted diya in one hand and a small bell in other. These  are the earliest memories I have, of the brush with divine ! He would recite the prayer and follow up with a Aarti while offering the Jalebis and Kachori to the Lord. The routine would follow day after day while we children scrambled around him to ensure that we get the chance to distribute the 'prasad' to rest of the family members who had missed the morning ritual. Who does not love the delicious Prasad, or the offering to the god?

In India there is hardly a temple where the god is not made an offering of 'Prasad' invariably as a meal at least three times a day. It is later distributed among the devotees! The more affluent temples have this at even more intervals of time ranging from six to eight offerings in the entire day . There is a strong relationship between the spiritual bonding with the God and food  in almost every temple not only of Hindus but other religions like Sikh, Buddhism and many others too.

In early days the lure of Prasad was one of the reasons to visit the ‘Hanuman Mandir’ located in the heart of Delhi on Tuesdays! As I started to travel around, I got to see some of the most simple to exotic temples across the country and even on trips abroad. The aroma  of the Prasad ,incense and flowers would  draw me  to the temple . The ‘laddus’ offered to Lord Balaji at Tirupati ,the various delicacies to Lord Jagannath and Krishna at temples in Puri, Mathura nd Vrindavan are just fabulous with an unmatched taste. These have also long shelf and can be conveniently carried. The same is true of ‘langars’ served in gurudwaras all across the country. The Golden temple at Amritsar to many lesser known ones serve millions across the country. Even Steve Jobs has mentioned about eating at a Hare Krishna temple located seven miles away every Sunday in his early years of life, before the ‘Apple ‘ days. He was drawn to India in search of spirituality through this early bond.

The temples that are located in Himalayas offer one of the best ‘prasad ‘ to devotees ranging from ‘rajma-chawal’ at Katra on way to Vaishno devi,’chana cooked in natural springs in a gurudwara at Manikaran near Manali, to the humble prasad of ‘tulsi leaves ‘ at Kedarnath  to name just a few.Likewise at ISKON temples acrosss the globe one can enjoy lovely food and snacks prepared hygenically and without use of onions and garlic.

The list could be endless. Even now, the love to taste the offerings made to the lord after a visit to temple stays as in early childhood years.The best thing about the food offerings is that it is a great equalizer where regardless of the social standing one and all are served together, though unfortunately this is not followed in the spirit in many places.

PS: Image kind courtesy Google

Friday, June 3, 2016

Are you redi-GO?

Come June 7 and the Indian roads will see one of the best creations of the Japanese giant Nissan’s ‘redi-GO’ hit the Indian roads. The sneak peek of the car was available from April onwards aligned with the just concluded IPL cricket event. The car is designed for the Indian road conditions, for the large young aspiring population, raring to “GO’ and take on the world. It is a brilliant design which blends  crossover of a comfortable and sleek  urban hatchback and ruggedness of  a SUV. Keeping in mind the prime minister Narender Modi’s promise of ‘Make in India’, the car has 98% localized components and leads on technology front using many first, of its kind features. It provides the roominess and comfort for the dusty terrain in most parts of the country. It also ensures a ground clearance of 185mm, which is best in the class for any kind of road.

The car has caught my imagination for the three factors which are listed as follows:

1.    Comfort and Style: The car has a sleek design and finish. The D cut honey comb pattern grille  goes beautifully with the brand logo of ‘Datsun’. The interior is very roomy and comfortable, and has clearance enough for even the tallest . It has a superior air conditioning unit , with a 89cc compressor capable of delivering 50% of cooling to the passengers sitting in rear. The Opti-view system ensures much better visibility to the driver. A daytime running LED lights provides additional safety to indicate the presence on the road, besides making the car standout in the crowd. The sporty fabric used gives the energetic and youthful feel. The Audio System built in is capable of playing Radio,CD, MP3, and USB devices besides AUX-In
2.    Superior Technology:The car is powered by a 3 cylnder engine with a five speed manual transmission( 799cc-capacity). It has a very high fuel efficiency and can give 25.17 km/litre under the test conditions. The Intelligent Spark Automated technology(I-SAT) adjusts the spark timing in response to the fuel quality and power requirements to ensure a knock free smooth ride. An onboard Drive Computer can provide information of instantaneous average miles, distance to empty, fuel remaining details thus reducing the tension while taking long rides. The small turning radius of 4.7m for a full turn around is a boon for the congested city roads. Additional features like a Modern Dashboard with tachometer, Adaptive Electric Power steering, Force Absorbing Bolster Support and Shift Indicator showing ideal time to shift for maximum efficiency and performance add to the performance list of this beauty.
3.    Safety:Datsun cars are made with safety , security and reliability embedded in their DNA. A short braking distance is ensured by Performance Augmented Brakes. A Reinforced Protection shell is used on the exterior body to ensure passenger safety and protection in the event of an accident. The car meets the highest safety standards set by UN94 Crash performance Compliance. The Energy absorbing steering and airbags provide additional safety.

I would love to test drive this car in the crowded streets of Delhi. It has cars lined bumper to bumper in pea hours. The maneuverability and turning effortlessly with very small turning radius will help assess hatchback capabilities. In order to test for ruggedness I would like to test on roads leading from Manali to Leh. This will  gauge the performance of its powerful engine and inbuilt safety features.

In a market with fierce competition from the likes of Hyundai Eon, Maruti Suzuki Alto 800, and Nissan /Renault Kwid, the new comer is expected to beat the rivals. It will exceed the customer expectations when it comes to pricing! The wait is over, so go and book one if you have not done this yet! 
PS:1. "Urban Cross" ( )
       2. Image Source://

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Wishful Thinking

As I add one more year to my life, it is prudent to look back a little and a indulge in some star gazing for what lies ahead. Life has been a roller coaster ride taking  to new highs with all adrenalin rush and hitting the ebb in no time with a queasy feeling in the stomach.
Having got an opportunity to get a good schooling and thereafter study in a prime engineering college were the best moments of childhood. The fun filled  life of gay abandon with almost no responsibilities passed away in a jiffy. The credit goes to my parents who despite their small income never denied me small pleasures of life. The bonding with my sibling at home and the set of friends in early years  is treasured. Some of them were snatched away by the cruel destiny but were instrumental in laying the strong foundations of love and trust.

A career in the Navy gave me a sneak peak into unexplored areas of life like kissing the sea, taking dives in the blue sea and touching the sky. The adventure of sailing on the rough seas and braving the storms helped in shaping up mentally too, besides giving ability to endure a hard life. 

A career move to venture in the corporate world opened the doors for working on leading edge technologies and moving around the world. A loving family support enabled to work without any hindrances. A love for travel, and see the world was more than fulfilled although a lot more remains to be seen.

The time has come to now seek the pleasures for which I yearned while working. The love for reading, writing, blogging, learning new skills and a foreign language take away most of the time.Nothing could be more satisfying in tending to the garden and see the mangoes ripening, ladyfingers and little bringals playing hide and seek ,and a bloom of lemons in the backyard.I have now more friends than at any point in life who have immense writing skills and enrich the life with new perspectives.A life time is not enough to learn and thank everyone around on 
getting mentally younger by yet another year!

PS: Images Kind courtesy Google

Friday, May 20, 2016

The Fitness Mantra

The race to keep fit is becoming more intense with every passing day. Pick up any magazine or a newspaper regardless of whether it is a travel, women’s , current affairs or even a gossip magazine, you will come across an article, or a column on the secrets of a perfect diet. If not, there will be an advertisement promoting a diet product ranging from a cold drink, cooking oil to a massage belt !In every home the ladies  are busy discussing what to eat and cook and what to avoid with their peers and friends.

There was a time when I went shopping and never bothered about what to buy when it came to food. Buy any cooking oil as long as it did not have an intense odor, any kind of atta, butter , cheese, sweets, fruits or any seasonal stuff. Indulging in fried pakoras, poories once in a while was a done thing with no feeling of a guilt! This was true till the turn of the century but then the globalization caught us unawares! Soon, insistence on buying, corn oil or oils with low cholesterol level, including olive oil , refrain from fried stuff became the new buzzwords ! Calorie count became more stringent. With the first break of dawn, the day must start with a cup of green tea in lieu of the strong tea with milk. The breakfast looked much less appetizing with only fruits, poha, vermicelli, and upma now becoming ,more frequent sights. Parathas were sighted once in a month like a full moon and poories and pakoras  became a rarity like a lunar eclipse!

Adding to the trauma was the constant shift in stands being taken by dieticians. One day, it was all right to eat chappati, vegetable and dal but next day it was suddenly discovered that wheat chappati was full of gluten and carbohydrates. It must be replaced with quinoa, or buck wheat to stay healthy. Honestly, I do not remember anyone in even far family circle knew about the wonder food  quinoa a decade ago! Even the food channels, shamelessly exhibit their cooking skills by cooking exotic foods as if they were born in Mediterranean region. Half the things they rattle while talking about a recipe are unlikely to be available at the local grocery store. One needs to rush to buy the exotic ingredients at super specialty stores and burning a big hole in the pocket , without being too sure what health benefits are likely to accrue. On the contrary, likes of Rujuta Diwekar and Anjali Mukherjee are singing their way to the bank by guiding many looking for quick fix solutions!

In the fast changing world, there are very few takers of simple things that are congruous with nature. Getting up early and exercising to improve digestion are unlikely to have many takers. There is a beeline for those suggesting fancy foods and gadgets to improve the health and guarantee weight loss are in thing. We have to make our own choices which keep changing with the time we live in. The good old secret of indulgence in moderation can perhaps be an answer.

PS-Images Kind Courtesy Google

Friday, May 13, 2016

The Digital Divide

The world is now getting increasingly polarized . I am not implying from the religious beliefs, tolerance , lack of patience or other similar trending subjects. Some believe that that the generation gap has only got much wider now with each generation and its predecessor. I am talking about polarization from the standpoint of Before Internet (BI) and After Internet(AI) generation which roughly means those born in late 1980s (AI)and before that(BI). Anyone can see this digital divide within the close proximity of immediate family, friends and neighbors.

The older generation, if has not kept pace with the fast changing world is saddled with writing letters, signing checks, reading the newspapers and magazines in the traditional format, standing in queues to pay their bills, buying their provisions from the market, doing high value purchases in the brand outlets and so on….In stark contrast the gen now or even those born BI, who are techno savvy, rarely ever write anything on paper unless mandatory. They use smartphones, tabs, and computers to send mails, do calculations, use latest messaging interfaces and apps, visit shopping malls for fun but order most items including clothing, groceries and even high value purchases using ecommerce sites like Flipkart, Amazon, EBay etc. They book their tickets and  taxis using the apps and internet sites thereby availing discounts and working from the comfort of their homes and offices.

The need to evolve thus becomes pertinent for people of BI era. They have no option but to rely on help of their children or grandchildren even for simple things like making calls or sending messages. Even the government has stopped the telegrams and postcards and letters are now on their last leg . The strange thing that I witnessed recently in a Guinness World Record show where three individuals participated using a smart phone( with auto word suggestion feature turned off), two seniors with a typewriter and a Morse Code keying device competing for sending a long message by typing on their devices. The time taken was almost the same in each case!

The generation that has seen both the periods ie BI and AI are perhaps the luckiest ones. They have seen the life change literally from a bullock cart to supersonic pace in every walk of life. The medical and technological changes has improved the quality of life and increased the longevity. At the same time more challenges like pollution, immense greed, bursting traffic, new diseases have emerged. The ecological disasters are taking a heavy toll every year. It is thus important to maintain a fine balance between the nature and greed  if one has to pass a legacy of inheriting a beautiful world to the next generations, and not annuling the benifits of the digital world.

PS: Image Kind Courtesy Google

Friday, May 6, 2016

A Torrid Summer

The searing heat, the scorching sunshine,
   Dry torrid wind, dust laden air shield the moonshine
Parched lips, and never ending trickling sweat
    Makes one long for green grass laden with mist
The color yellow dominates arid sky
     Blazing red gulmohars by day, fragrant jasmines by night
A still calm interrupted by dust storms 
    Cool breeze from the cooler is a welcome norm
Guzzling endless glasses of water and sweet drinks
    Red watermelons, mangoes save from going over brink
In the backyard a cuckoo sings
     Most melodious song with a tinge

PS- Image Kind Courtesy Google