The Perfect Road Trip

The Perfect Road Trip
Runners Up Award- Ambipur Contest

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Are You Listening ... err Watching


Many years back when the TV was still in the B&W era, the only source of news was the Doordarshan! Likewise, on the radio, it was only All India Radio with Vividh Bharti being the only radio channel that played music from the Hindi movies! Even the movies that played on Doordarshan were split into two for viewing pleasure of each half on a Saturday and Sunday!

Tuning in the radio at 6 AM in the morning and 9 PM at night was a ritual like having breakfast to catch up with the news! Whether it was Melville De Mellow for English or Devki  Nanadan  Pandey for the Hindi news, the ears would eagerly lap up every word to stay abreast with happenings around us! With the floodgates of liberalization thrown open, the private channels started mushrooming! Over the years the euphoria has died down and despite having a choice of over 200 TV channels of local origin and more than a dozen radio channels on FM alone, one still cannot remain hooked to either media for more than half an hour at a stretch except on a rare occasion! There are too many choices but the quality of program has hit an all -time low! The songs are there but there is no melody! The news is more of an opinion of the channel and on TV it is more theatrics than anything else! The same faces appear on the different channels uttering the same sentences which seldom have a connection with the reality! They are generally the party taglines if it is a political debate, or at best the shouting contests and the poor anchor adding to the hysteria with his own channel’s political affinity. The soap operas on the entertainment channels are a congregation of devils and vamps trying to outdo each other with sly looks, double meaning dialogues and use of vocabulary which one would never have come across in real world! The more the serial has been seasoned with such ingredients, the higher the TRP and the bigger names that sponsor it! It is actually difficult to differentiate a news channel from the entertainment channels as there is a very thin line that divides the two!

A state owned public enterprise like BBC can churn out high quality news, talk shows, travel and food shows, slick TV serials like ‘Sherlock’ that one is amazed with the dexterity of production, and the dedication that seldom leaves the viewers disappointed. In good old times when the Indian TV and Radio channels played censored news one would automatically look for the actual facts by tuning into BBC. Now of course the choices are many!

Credibility of an individual and the institutions has been the foundation of the trust and loyalty since time immemorial. In recent times the yardstick has changed and undergone a systemic change. What would have been considered a sacrilege, a few years ago is now brushed aside as ‘street smartness’ in present times. The lowered standards have a lasting impact as so much of negativity is portrayed that very seldom people find things on the media that would be raising the morale! Like many other things one wishes for ‘Ache Din’ in media too!

PS: Image Kind courtesy Google

Sunday, July 19, 2015

A Sweet Chronicle


A quiet, a still, and then a loud howl
  The peace is shattered and face has a big scowl
The little one saw a’ big lizard’ crawl under the stroller
    One ‘hush’, the lizard retreated ashamed little prowler

She posed as a teacher with toys big n small
   It was time to punish and dole out ‘Choco’ rewards
The funny ‘Bunny’ rabbit always came late
   Cute ‘little ‘Barbie ‘only, finished food on plate

Mom and Dad took turns to narrate stories
   Of fairies, brave n evil and other tales of glory
They live their own’ bachpan’ hiding with her in attic
    Making faces, sharing fun and indulging in antics


Time moved and now she was in school
  She wanted to lead and be ahead of the pool
The ‘little head girl’ was no longer a Red Riding Hood
      A little authoritative but as helpful as she could
The pace in college was full of fun
  A lot of learning and exchange pun
The little doll has now grown wee bit tall
  She does not forget still, to have her’ Choco Kelloggs’

PS: 1.This is my post for Kelloggs/Indiblogger sponsored ‘Khuljaye Bachpan’ contest (https://www.facebook.com/mychocos)

2. Images kind courtesy ‘Google’

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

The Lesser Known Singapore

Singapore is a tourist destination which is a favorite of all, regardless of age or nationality. The tourist spots attract the visitors to the country like a bees attracted to pollen laden flowers!  Most of the people who visit the place learn all about the Singapore Flyer, Sentosa, Marina Bay Sands, Night Safari, Clark Quay, Butterfly park,Universal Studios and many more within a day or two of arrival! The little known secrets and the gems that lay hidden in this beautiful place are what I would like to share with the readers!
Sri Krishna Temple
Kwan Im Thong Hood Cho 
There are scores of Chinese, Hindu, Buddhist, Sikh temples and Gurudwaras across the   land scape. No matter what may be the religious leanings, it is not unusual to see the Chinese praying in the Hindu temples and likewise Indians praying at Chinese monasteries following their traditions like lighting the incense sticks, bowing before the almighty with folded hands and gently swaying the bodies in rhythm! In fact the Sri Krishna Temple and the Kwan Im Thong Hood Cho temple situated at Waterloo Street are a living example of how different faiths can coexist with harmony for generations. The flower and incense sellers cater to both the faiths. The place is now a heritage site!
Lau Pa Sat-Hawker Market
There is a galore of very clean places to eat located all over the city. Most of the HDB (Housing Development Board) high rises have Food Complexes that sell cheap cuisines. On an average a Singaporean eats 9 to 10 times a week outside! Besides this there are huge food courts at Tekka Market in Little India, Bugis and Lau Pa Sat near Raffles Quay which cater to all global cuisines. Surprisingly, one will not find overweight people but lean and well-toned bodies instead! It is unlikely to spot a beggar on the streets!

The people love to keep the city sparkling clean and even the shades of bus stand do not have dust or fallen leaves. Most of the roads are cleaned with sweeping machines, the trees regularly pruned, and grass manicured. Even the gods are kind, that it rains every few days or sometimes more than once a day to keep the city sparkling!
Fort Canning Park
Fort Canning Park situated in the midst of CBD (Central Business District) is a wooded area with trees more than three hundred years old, rare flowers and fauna! It is also at the highest altitude! It is a treat to walk through the dense foliage in company of tweeting of rare tropical birds and early morning and sunset time is perfect to enjoy the chatter of the birds. During the second World War the place was a military barrack! The Orchard Road which has unending high rise shopping and business complex is also lined with very dense green trees where hundreds of birds that tweet atop the trees at sunset.

The Mustafa store is perhaps the only one in the world to remain open 365x24x7 with every possible merchandise available under one roof! It is a Mecca for shopaholics!

If you love coffee and toast the city has unending vistas like Ya Kunn Kaya Toast and Toast Box spread in all parts of the city that serve the most delicious variations of coffee besides snacks and Kaya Toast under $5.

Even during the busy hours of the day a ride in the local SMRT buses or metro train, is comfortable and quiet sans loud voices! It is a very techno savvy city that has the highest number of smart devices on which the local populace is glued most of the time!

I had a surprise waiting for me when I joined Sadhana Sanctury  -A Yoga Training Centre where the sessions are conducted mostly by the locals ! They flawless execute and teach all the ‘Yogasanas’. The classes run for all seven days and  are a raging favorite with locals and international clients equally!

Every street has a story to tell so one just needs to take a walk around the city to catch some glimpses of the city that never sleeps! Stories of the historical past are splattered on eye catching small hoardings! The city never sleeps and one not to be missed grand spectacle is the free light and sound show by the Marina Bay every night! A short video of the same taken during the show is attached below.
video

 PS: Images Kind Courtesy Google





Friday, July 10, 2015

It's All About Honey

My earliest recollections of the use of Dabur honey  is from the childhood times  when for common colds my mother would grind  roasted cardamom  and sprinkle the powder on a tablespoon of honey and make a paste of it for consuming at least three times a day, till the cough and cold vanished. The other vivid recollection is during the puja s when honey would be one of the five ingredients to prepare ‘charna- amrut’ the other being milk, sugar, water and basil leaves. At the end of the puja this was the first thing to be consumed as ‘prasad’! The tradition of using honey and keeping a bottle of the magic potion has continued, and now with renewed vigor!

Even as a bachelor when I was serving in the Navy, a bottle of Dabur honey was one of the first things that I never forgot to buy from the Military Canteen. Every morning I started the day by consuming, a glass of warm water with a spoonful of honey and half a lime, before going for the morning jog. This is a routine which is being followed even now.

I remember when our daughter was born and whenever she cried, the first thing that happened was that a ‘baby chusni’ would be dipped in the honey and offered to her. It had a magical effect and she would quieten down instantly, and make some of the most adorable sounds.

Honey has been used in every home in some form of the other and the sweet golden syrup can be consumed without any qualms as a dressing over the salad, sweetener for the herbal tea, baking, and roasting! I once tasted the honey coated peanuts in Malaysia and these are extremely tasty and experimented making the same with Dabur honey at home!

Honey has been used by almost every religion and race from time immemorial. The Jews use it to usher the New Year ‘Rosh Hashnah’ by eating apple dipped in honey to bring sweetness in the New Year. Hindus, Buddhists and Chinese use it extensively for religious rituals and medicines.

Dabur honey is very effective in treating seasonal allergies due to pollen in the air. It can be externally applied for skin conditions, treatment of wounds and even burns!

In recent times the use of honey is being promoted aggressively and forms a part of the Honey Diet ...by Dabur( http://www.daburhoney.com/)(! It is very heartening to see the effort to strike a balance with food intake and maintain a lean and healthy body without following a rigorous diet plans. The Three Click Diet Planner  been very scientifically done by ascertaining the BMI ( Body Mass Index) and lifestyle  and Calorie intake to suggest a healthy diet with intake of honey!

The day is not far when Dabur would usher’ a land of milk and honey’!

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Surf All, Surf Fast


In a rapidly transforming world product innovations and new services have become the order of the day. Hardly a week passes till one hears of something which is capable of changing our world significantly! A similar story plays for the new product from Alibaba Group which has got rave reviews and in a short span of time has managed to conquer 14% of the congested browser market share. UcWeb is just a decade old company and has found a niche market to serve the clients. The focus is on young cricket enthusiasts across the country that are willing to miss the work on a day, or bunk the classes in the college or even miss a date with their beloved, just for the sake of a Cricket match!


The blue icon in UC Browser (http://www.ucweb.com/) for UC Cricket makes it very easy and convenient to follow the game anywhere, and anytime . It offers an unmatched glitch free performance and provides excellent features like Live scores with updates, videos, fixtures and results. Virtually, it is like watching the game ‘live’ and also getting the analysis from experts.

During the recently concluded IPL series 250000 downloads of this popular App was recorded, proving beyond doubt the rising popularity. The fast data download and the data compression feature are the key drivers for its success.  “Cricket Guessing Game’ was also introduced during the IPL season, giving an opportunity to win some exciting prizes, as well!


For the lover of movies, trailers, music videos, gossips and funny video clips there is an option of Hot Video in the browser. UCweb has made a repository of 2 million videos, trailers and all things spicy to pep up the viewers! There are fresh updates every day and one will never be bored!


A UCloud plugin can be downloaded for Google Chrome or Firefox browsers from UC Browser 9 .0 It is possible to Sync the mobile devices with the PC using Sync Tab or Sync Book Mark. Also, it is possible to Sync different devices with the same UC account


The features of UCBrowser are unparalleled. It is supported by a host of Operating Systems like Android, I Phone, Windows,  PC, Tabs, Symbian, Java and Blackberry clients. It is available for download for over 3000 different mobile phones and devices


UC Browser is constantly evolving and moving withy time. For the Android users a new App called UC Cleaner had been launched on 05 June to boost the performance and enhance the smartphone experience. This ad free App occupies just 1.5MB of space, thus making it one of the tiniest yet powerful app. New features like the faster access to Facebook are already available in the market. In times to come the UCWeb browser will be a dominant force to reckon with.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

A Break





The long hiatus from writing took its toll as the mind suddenly refused to work. The fodder for writing kept popping in mind but with so many things happening all of a sudden it became even more daunting to choose the pecking order!  A holiday plan to Shimla was looked forward to and in the first week of June yet another vacation for a longer duration was lined up. Of some of the things that come to mind when encapsulating these memorable days, a few deserve mention.

The crowd of Delhi and NCR had not stopped following us or maybe they too viewed it the same way as us. Never ending streams of cars and taxis on the entry to the salubrious surroundings was an eyesore besides delaying reaching the destination. Fortunately, as it was early, the traffic had not built up to a menacing proportion.

The few places in Shimla like the India Coffee House are stuck in the time wrap. One still finds office goers, and old friends chatting endlessly over cups of freshly brewed coffee! The Chinese food at Aunty’s Dhaba in Ram Bazar, the mithaiwalas churning out golden jalebis from early morning hours till late in evening too have with stood the test of time as the crowds never seem to fade away. Then there is a very neat joint that caters to the tangy palate by selling pure ghee sweets, chats and much more for more than a century

The best thing about Shimla is that one can walk out of the hotel in any direction, virtually at any time of the day without worrying about heat! A pleasant walk on the Mall Road, The Ridge , Lakkar Bazar, or even to Jaku top keeps the spirits high!. The climb the Jaku needs more stamina but the rest of the strolls are not tiring! It feels good the see how things have changed with time at this lovely hill station for better. Despite the growing number of tourists, the place has been kept relatively clean and the people seem to pay more heed to posters urging them not to litter and throw used plastic bags!

For some of the most stunning views from Shimla one needs to climb atop Kalibari temple which is just about a kilometer away from the Mall Road. The dance of the clouds, the cool breeze, the tall swaying trees and the majestic snow clad Himalayas are a sight that cleanse the soul and refreshes the mind. A constant chime of bells from the temple helps in bringing one step closer to the creator!

 There are some old heritage buildings that have been locked and are decaying as apparently, their owners are waiting for the prices to escalate before they make a kill and one finds a new hotel in their place in the time to come.


Shimla too has changed with times as one can see even the coolies and vegetable sellers glued to their mobiles as they negotiate with the customers. The Chinese goods like torches, toys, blankets and even caricature of gods  are littered on the pavements of the inner streets once again reminding of the world of their industrial might of the neighboring nation!
Exotic flowers in Mashobra

One pleasant morning we headed to Mashobra that is located about 12 km away and the thick foliage and never ending beauty of small streams and cottages built during colonial days add to the regal splendor! The long walk in search of the apple orchards was paused with chirping of birds, a few passing vehicles in the otherwise wild beauty. The final leg of trek was most rewarding with glimpse of small green apples and amazing sight of wild flowers

A brief stopover a Chandi  Mandir Military cantonment brought back the memories of the quiet life in the military cantonments in yesteryears! Even these places have modernized with more spruced up theatres for entertainment and beauty parlors and eating joints, rubbing shoulders with the outside world, besides the ever inviting sights of lush green golf courses and well maintained tennis courts! The return to Delhi was rewarded with spell of rains, and a wait for the next journey!

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

A Black Forest Dream




The dream of layers of dark chocolate with oozing  snow white whipped cream, the tangy flavor of cherry pit liqueur and the ripe cherries adorning the Black Forest Cake kept me occupied till the wee hours of the morning, as I jumped out of my bed when my mom woke me up! The whole house was buzzing with excitement as Grandpa picked up his walking stick and settled with a cup of steaming tea and mom applied a deep red lipstick on her lips. Only dad and I were the last ones to get ready. The taxi arrived, as I packed my game of Uno and the Teddy in my Barbie bag which was bulging now!

The airport was overflowing with people due to the summer rush. A very pretty and charming air hostess came to assist Grandpa, and mom told me that they are also called ‘poster girls’ for their style and professionalism besides truly representing their flagship carrier ‘Lufthansa’. The excitement built up as we were shown our seats that were very spacious.

The other hostesses helped the passengers till boarding completed. I was told by dad that we are traveling in ‘Premium Economy Class’ that had been recently introduced. Often I heard, dad discuss with Grandpa that we Indians tend to save money or tend to stretch it to enhance its value as it is not only comforting but can create a long lasting sensation of satisfaction! No matter how well placed one is or how well-heeled one is, no one minds freebies and extras!

Mom also haggles with the local vegetable vendors and the local groceries to seek discounts! My cousin Rohan, who is a new age buyer, looks for discounts on the internet when making most purchases! Dad looks for discounts to book hotels and sites that offer discounts. He often mentions that there are sites that can compare the prices of similar services or goods being offered on internet sites! It is almost addictive and over a period of time one does realize that savings make a difference! I watch the news and now know that not only the individuals, but also the institutions, companies and even governments look for deals while negotiating big proposals! Whether it is an arms deal, or a big project the sweet deals are always welcome! Every Indian no matter of what background, the moment he lands on foreign soil, gets his mental calculator working to convert the price into INR and does a quick mental check to evaluate the ‘cost benefit analysis’. ‘After all money saved is money earned’

Lufthansa, the leading international German carrier has set in the trend and come out with a ‘premium economy class’ The airlines offers more comfort, additional stowage space, more entertainment options,  extra leg room  , and more sumptuous food options  just to name a few. From the moment I boarded the flight I was pampered all the way in utmost comfort and luxury by the charming hostesses! When most of the other airlines just fill the space with more seats to maximize their returns, a classy few like Lufthansa reward the passengers with greater comfort at virtually no extra cost.

Most of the airlines the world over, entice the customers with a range of goodies to offer huge discounts when bookings are done over the internet with long lead times, especially passengers who have a fixed itinerary! They do not however, assure any extra benefits other than select seats that offer greater space to maneuver at a premium!  Currently Lufthansa offers the ‘premium economy class’  on a few select flights to top destinations in Europe, Americas, and far east  but by the mid Aug till autumn of 2015 almost every sector would be covered by the scheme. In times to come, other airlines too will join the race to offer greater rewards and emulate the leaders of the industry like Lufthansa that have set the benchmark, which would be difficult to beat!
The cozy seat where I had reclined after finishing the game of Uno with dad was slowly being pushed forward, as the announcement was being made, that the aircraft is about to land at Frankfurt! Mom was delighted as she had purchased a perfume at the duty free inflight World shop! My eyes sparkled with joy at the thought of melting Black Forest Cake country that awaited me!

PS: This is my post for Lufthansa/ Indiblogger sponsored contest! This is an imaginary journey of nine year old girl traveling with her parents and Grandpa to Germany for the first time!( http://premium-economy.lufthansa.com/en-us)