The Perfect Road Trip

The Perfect Road Trip
Runners Up Award- Ambipur Contest

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)

 

 

Saturday, June 13, 2015

A Wonder Cream


We humans are increasingly being bombarded by advertisements of products that appear to be made ’just for us’. Most of the gullible fall prey to the trick and later repent either due seemingly no or very little benefit or else being taken for a ride. When it comes to our own bodies, perhaps we are the best judges for what will work for us or not and whether we should follow the advice of the advertisements!

The market is now flooded with goods that seem to work wonders overnight or in a very short span of time. Many of us forget that when we seek a benefit in short term, it is rarely a perfect solution! The beauty products is one industry that thrives on new formulations based naturally available things! One company claims that it can cure blackheads, pigmentation,  pimples and other skin rashes  by regular use while other compare their products with some international products giving out hope to many for becoming fairer with regular use! It is an irony that despite having attained freedom more than six decades ago, we are still slaves of the fair color!

The simplest home remedies like having at least eight glasses of water every day, having soaked fenugreek seeds in water on empty stomach first thing in the morning, having a cup of herbal tea  or lemon in warm water with honey work wonders in toning the skin! A regular diet of fruits for breakfast and rubbing the  of skin of the fruits like  papaya, melon or lemon and cleaning the face with cold water after half an hour makes the face glow ! A weekly treatment of turmeric added to multani mitti paste serves as an excellent mask for cleansing of face. Also, covering the eye lids with cucumber slices while applying this mask helps in improving vision, removing the dark rings under the eyes.

As most of the working women and college girls do not have much time the nearest solution for a radiant look is the usage of ‘Vicco Turmeric foam cream’ which not only brightens the look but also keeps the skin clear of blemishes and pimples. Turmeric has been used for ages by women for enhancing the beauty. In almost every Indian marriage the bride and bridegroom are given a traditional cleansing with turmeric powder ( called as Haldi Rasam). Vicco has adopted turmeric as a base in the cream realizing the power of turmeric. Among other benefits turmeric also provide a sun screen protection and redness from acne. It reduces inflammation of skin and also evens out the discolorations of the skin. It also prevents the skin from drying and acts as an ant ageing agent!

In a nut shell, Vicco turmeric is a perfect skin care and a wonder cream!



Wednesday, May 20, 2015

My First Expert


With three noisy sons scampering around the house with never ending energy to drive anyone crazy, it must have been a harrowing time for her. To raise three sons just a year apart who could conjure ways to indulge in all pranks, fight, create ruckus must have been a daunting task. Still she never lost her cool or patience. When I look back, I realize how much of time she devoted in raising us and for having made gentlemen out of little devils. Since we had no sister at home, she ensured that we did not turn into men who do not respect the women later in our lives. She would get us occupied with things that were never considered to be a boys domain. We played Cricket, Football and also ‘Pittho’ with the neighboring girls. When tired and filthy after returning home, she would involve us in chores like peeling boiled potatoes, chopping lady fingers to assist her in cooking. It was these small things that taught all of us the basics of cooking. We did make many mistakes, sometimes hurt ourselves but she stood by our side and explained with patience how to do things correctly. As we belonged to a middle class family, our parents ensured that we get the best of education and sent us to good schools. To earn the extra income she travelled by bus each day to a school away from our house. She never failed to feed us well in the morning and packing scrumptious lunch box every day.

During the vacations she would spend time with us to teach small things like tidying up the house, serving guests, and praised us in front of the others so that the self-esteem never took a knock. By the time we reached our teens we had pretty much learnt to be self-sufficient in terms of going to schools located at other end of the city in public transport, and maintaining our uniforms. Small lessons in stitching to mend our shirt buttons, stitch a hook on the pants when it came off, has served all of us well.

 Mother was an excellent cook and would make all sweets and savories at home. She made pickles during the changing seasons with mangoes, lemons, carrots, and cauliflower. We would just gather around and watch her intently to learn the small tricks to preserve these.

She never allowed any unruly behavior and we did get smacked for misdemeanors but it was just being corrective.

It is said that as god could not be everywhere he created mothers. She was a friend, philosopher and guide. She would read the scriptures and narrate stories from the epic’ Ramayana and Mahabharata. She stitched our clothes on festivals and purchased story books to get us interested in reading. I got a princely sum of Rs 3/ every month to buy an Enid Blyton which I still have kept as a treasure and  passed on to my daughter. It would not be an understatement to thank mother for what I am today and for teaching me lessons on self-reliance which have served me well in life!

PS: This post is my entry for the Godrej/Indiblogger sponsored contest ’ My First Expert’ http://godrejexpert.com/single_used_pack.php

Friday, May 15, 2015

Little Genie


He has got that strange tattoo on his hand. He loves to play the music loud, she wears a short dress, see what funny hairstyle … and it goes on. The youngsters define the style quotient and make themselves heard and express how they would like to see the world around them. It is not surprising to see one company in synchronism with the youthful desires. It is none other than Airtel which has been continuously revamping its image and brand in tune with the changing times. The new smart phones are a rage amongst the youth. The biggest brand, Airtel is keeping pace with the fast evolving technology and modern global trends in launching the latest products be it smart phones, hand held devices  or technologies like LTE(4G). 

My Airtel Apps is an endeavor in this direction to offer the latest with good user experience and friendly user interfaces.  It continues to surprise its customers with goodies and pleasantries on every recharge; one can collect rewards in form of food, gift items and entertainment coupons from the leading brands like CafĂ© Coffee Day, Flipkart, Archies and many more.

The App also has a feature ‘I want to’ which provides short cut for Bill payment, Recharge, buying packs. It also provides the convenience of recording programs, downloading games, checking the balance, the data consumption details and history of recharges done. In short everything one would like to see and do.

The App takes care of all the safety concerns while doing mobile payments by incorporating features like PCIDSS certification and stored card details. The ease provided ensures that one need not remember the credit card details while initiating payments.

Some other very user friendly features that stand out are as follows:

·         Adding and removing services to one’s liking

·         One touch internet which gives lightning fast browsing especially when connected to ‘Airtel Live’. The glitch free video downloads enhances the experience when watching sports, music performances or movies.

·         The system is capable of giving alerts whenever the balance becomes low when availing prepaid services

·         In case of postpaid subscribers it is possible to check the history of past payments and thereby tracking expense

The My Airtel App is a free download for all Android devices and in future is likely to be available on the other operating systems like Apple IOS, Windows, Ovi Nokia and Blackberry. Besides all these, the incentives like cash back, free downloads act like catalyst for the users to enhance the feel good factor’! The cluttered domain of mobile world with multiple operators to choose from makes it difficult for end user to make a decision. Some good decisions like using My Airtel App will continue to lead the flock!(http://www.airtel.in/myairtel.)

Sunday, April 26, 2015

The Tremors of Rage


The unchecked greed, the lustful eyes

      Raped and plundered the mother divine

For countless years they cut down trees

   Built towering edifices, on valleys green

Converted crystal blue rivers and ponds

     Into cesspools and murky pools of scorn

The lofty spires and statues filled space

    Replacing clean blue sky with dust and haze

It’s time to teach lessons few,

   To check desires to a heightened new

Every now n then there comes a flood

  Followed with a famine with gust renewed

The earth shakes and trembles with rage

   Scurrying humans to find  places safe

It’s time to pause n make new amends

  Lest we face extinction n see a dark end
 
PS : Image kind courtesy Google.(http://greenyatra.org/)

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

A New Kid on the Block


If one was to ask which technology has impacted the most, since the evolution of mankind, I am sure many things will come to mind but undoubtedly the way mobile technology has evolved in less than two decades there would be few parallels. From bulky phones with small displays and just basic function of voice calls and text messages and a few value added services like voice mail in yesteryears, the scenario has undergone a sea change.  The market is now cluttered with so many phones in different price/features segments that customers are spoilt for choices. There are some basic phones with add-on features like FM radio and a basic camera to the sleek , designer smartphones with huge screens and ‘just name the feature and you have it’! There are many variants available but it is difficult to ‘home on’ and short list one. Working in an environment where one only talks about phones it becomes even more difficult to choose one! The new Zenfone- 2 would be my choice for some of the most brilliant features that have been incorporated in the design. The most appealing features that are impressive and out of the world are as follows:

a)     Dimensions and Weight: A phone which is oversized and overweight is difficult to carry and is a liability! The Zenfone 2 with dimensions of 77.2X152.5X3.9 mm and 170gm of weight is just perfect when it comes to portability and ease of carrying.

b)    Future Ready: This is one phone which has the most amazing capability of being useful in the traditional 2G, 3G and LTE (4G) environment. There are a very few phones that can support all these. If an investment is made today in this phone, one can carry this phone in any part of the world and use it with ease. It will work fine in the remotest part of the world and is future proof as LTE is yet to make a foray commercially, in India and many other countries.

c)     Battery recharge: Most of the smart phones in market today consume a lot of power leaving the phone drained by the evening due to the multiple applications that are running on them. The unique feature of charging the phone battery to 60% within 39 minutes is very reassuring besides availability of a sleek power pack as an accessory

d)    Enhanced 4GB RAM along with a 2.3 Ghz processor which can make the phone work at a lightning speed with the latest state of the art technology. This will give a unique user experience in downloading huge files, gaming, music and glitch free high quality videos.

e)     Connectivity – The Zenfone 2 can work in all environments with ease and can be connected with ease with Bluetooth devices, Wi fi and USB. Thus one need not worry of added expense especially when traveling abroad to pay hefty roaming charges. One can get connected in a Wi fi zone and continue calling with Apps like Skype, Line etc with ease.

ASUS is a market leader and has brought very cost effective solutions with the cutting edge technology. The new Zenfone 2 will make the race even hotter with their brand new product!
(http://www.asus.com/Phones/ZenFone_2_ZE551ML/.)