Sunday, December 20, 2015

To report or not – That is the question.

The year before last, I was in Mumbai and had gone to a completely new area, to interview police constables for a college assignment. (There has to be irony in here somewhere!) After, and since it was late and both my friend and I had more than our share of work to do, my friend dropped me to the nearest local station. Since the major part of the assignment was done, (the interview), I was much more relaxed than I should have been, and as usual, I put on my earphones and started listening to music, rather loudly I guess. A few minutes later I saw two elder females pointing and whispering to something behind me, bringing me back to “reality”. A man was standing there, gradually coming nearer or seemed like it, at least, so obviously, I decided to move away, and that was when I realised he was really drunk and saw that his trouser was open (read unzipped)!

Like most females, even I have been eve teased, cat-called, been a victim (of attempts) to public groping and whatnot. Anyway, the open pant thing was a first for me and for two minutes I didn’t even know what to do! Luckily for me, just then, a police constable was passing by and saw the whole incident and quickly hit him 3-4 times with his 'lathi' before asking me if I was alright. The local train pulled in by then and after telling him I was fine, I got on and left, wondering the entire way about what it was that I should have done.

Friday, December 18, 2015

The Mahabharata Quest: The Alexander Secret review

I had received The Mahabharata Quest: The Alexander by Christopher C. Doyle, as part of Blogadda’s review program but was unable to review at that time, and being forgetful (by nature) forgot about it till now. Anyway, being a firm believer in the ‘better late than never’ philosophy, here’s the review as promised! (My most sincere apologies to the Blogadda team for the extreme lateness in posting this review!)

Just to add, this is the second part of a series, after The Mahabharata Secret, and even if one hasn’t read the first part, it’s easy to start on this book directly without missing much, as the plot of the sequel has little to no dependency on its prequel. 

So, to begin with here’s the book cover summary:

334 B.C.
Image Courtesy: Christopher C Doyle

Alexander the Great begins his conquest of the Persian Empire. But his plans for everlasting glory do not end there and the young king marches towards the Ends of the Earth - the lands of the Indus - on a secret quest. It will lead him to an ancient secret concealed in the myths of the Mahabharata; a secret that is powerful enough to transform him into a god.
Present Day
In Greece, the ancient tomb of a queen is discovered, a tomb that has been an enigma for over 2000 years.In New Delhi, the Intelligence Bureau discovers unexplained corpses in a hidden lab. Vijay Singh and his friends, now members of an elite task force, are sucked into a struggle with a powerful and ruthless enemy. In a deadly race against time, they will need to solve a riddle from antiquity that will lead them to encounter shocking secrets from the past; secrets that will reveal mystifying links between ancient history, the Mahabharata and the ancient enemy with diabolical plans for a future that will hold the world to ransom.
The Quest has just begun.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Favorite Destinations for Kids in India

While planning a holiday with kids, there are a quite a few causes for worry. Not to mention, aspects that need to be taken into consideration like open spaces, activities which can be enjoyed by kids and the safety concerns shared by all parents.  The vast topography of our country however, has myriad destinations covering from fun and adventure to education and arts, which are also children-friendly.

HolidayIQ, one of India's largest travel community and holidays recommendation engine, recently revealed the favourite destinations for kids up to 14 years of age, via 'HolidayIQ Insights: Favorite Destinations for Kids in India', based on the actual on-site user actions of travellers planning holidays with children.

Here’s the list of destinations that are a new favourite among kids in India. How many have you visited?


Chocolates are sure to entice the young and the young at heart! Indulge your sweet tooth with truffles, fudges and marshmallows available at King Star Confectioners on Commercial Road. Let the little tyke indulge in mini-train and pony rides. An educational trip to the tea and botanical gardens and a live demo about honey gathering and bee keeping at the Honey & Bee Museum must be a part of your trip. Not to forget, make sure to take a boat ride on the famous Ooty lake. 
What Kids Must Do: Chocolates at King Star and a boat ride at Ooty Lake.
How to Reach: Approximately 88 kilometres away, Coimbatore is the nearest domestic airport from Ooty which is well-connected with most of the Indian cities. The nearest railhead is Mettupalyam, 40 kilometres from Ooty.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Discovering the Joy of Togetherness with Kissan!

There are few times when advertisements, in the way of promoting their cause, are able to bring smiles to faces and make people realise the importance of families. ‘Kissanpur – Real Joy of Togetherness’, the new advertisement from Kissan, one of India’s FMCG forerunners by Hindustan Unilever, has managed to do just that!

The video focuses on giving parents a new idea of spending time with their kids as virtual social connections have taken over real ones. The idea here is sowing the seeds of bonding with the brand and to bring back its consumers the real joy in being together. 

Friday, October 16, 2015

In Conversation with Surekha Narain, Founder, Delhi Metro Walks

Excerpts from my interaction with Surekha Narain, Founder, Delhi Metro Walks.

Please talk a little about your endeavor - Delhi Metro Walks.
Delhi Metro Walks is known to create historic tours that are specialised, imaginative and creative. Our objective is to add new walks as the Metro network expands to bring about an awareness and concern for our built heritage by designing walks of well-known as well as lesser-known areas of Delhi and its surroundings.

What would you say is unique about your initiative?
We, at Delhi Metro Walks, combine the built and natural heritage. And to bring history alive, we make use of visual aids in the form of old maps, entertaining anecdotes, unique itineraries, exotic shopping and much more. Our experience of more than 20 years is reflected in a quick understanding of our clients’ needs, plus meticulous research and planning, with timings carefully chosen to be appropriate for the area, weather and traffic. 


Image Courtesy: SmileyMe.Com

Since, I have revamped my blog to quite some extent now and my readership has also increased, which I hope will keep on increasing, I have decided to add the 'In Person' Column, featuring tour and travel entrepreneurs, heritage walk architects, and a few chef interactions.

I wasn't sure, if I should, however, during the tenure of my job, there were a few interactions that were left unpublished and leaving it that way, just doesn't feel right. And, though I understand that my blog readership isn't as wide as the publications that I was working with before, I still wanted to help in my own small way.

So here’s an effort from my end, as I believe that these are amazing people who have created and started something even better, in an effort to showcase the heritage and culture of our nation, be it in terms of new and unique travel initiatives or innovation based cuisine.

Image Courtesy:

Monday, October 12, 2015

Are You MAD?

With the World Mental Health Day just gone by, just sharing a few thoughts about the Indian Mental health status and coping with mental issues.

How many times do we use the phrase, ‘Tu pagal hai kya?’ Almost every day, I guess. However, the troubling part is, that over time, we have learnt to use the phrase so casually that we have forgotten the real meaning, stigma or taboo that is associated with ‘being mad’, especially in our society. 

In fact, according to various reports, there are thousands of people with mental health conditions around the world, deprived of their human rights. They are not only discriminated against, stigmatised and marginalised but are also subject to emotional and physical abuse in both mental health facilities and the community. Also poor quality care due to a lack of qualified health professionals and dilapidated facilities leads to further violations.

Now focusing on the Indian macro scenario, esp. since the World Mental Health Day has also just gone by, the status of India in terms of mental health is bad, to say the least. According to an article by The Huffington Post, at least 5% of the population lives with a mental illness, translating to well over 50 million people. Moreover, it stated that nearly half of those with severe mental illnesses aren't treated and of those with less severe versions, nearly 9 in 10, go by uncared.

Mental illness is still considered a hushed up topic in our country and visiting a psychiatrist or seeking help is often a cause for embarrassment and hence, people suffering from psychological ailments end up either denying or hiding their illness, sometimes until it becomes too late.

Friday, October 09, 2015

Ande ka Funda!

What better time than the World Egg Day to voice my opinion about the debate of eggs in school feeding programmes and the lack of information about World Egg Day!

The debate around including eggs in free meals in schools recently resurfaced as the Madhya Pradesh government banned eggs in Mid-Day meals and anganwadis. And today, being the World Egg day, an international event which focuses on celebrating eggs all around the world, I can’t help but wonder what do people consider more important – The nutrition value or the sentimental "value", boiling down to one banned item after the other.

The red part of  measuring tape show acute malnutrition.
According to latest Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) estimates in ‘The State of Food Insecurity in the World, 2015’ report, 194.6 million people are undernourished in India. By this measure India is home to a quarter of the undernourished population in the world. Also 51% of women between 15 to 59 years of age are anaemic and 44% of children under 5 are underweight. It is well known that malnourished children have a higher risk of death from common childhood illnesses such as diarrhea, pneumonia, and malaria. India was ranked at 55 out of 76 countries, by the Global Hunger Index 2014 on the basis of three leading indicators -- prevalence of underweight children under 5 years, under 5 child mortality rate, and the proportion of undernourished in the population.

However, the real worry, that I feel, is the lack of knowledge and awareness about this issue. And despite being a nation of what I can only hope to be well-informed and thinking individuals, the benefits are usually forgotten and more focus is given to its religious and political status. 

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Millennium Trilogy Review

With the latest addition to the Millennium series recently launched, I believe it’s about time I reviewed the original trilogy, at least till the time I get my hands on ‘The Girl in the Spider's Web’ by David Lagercrantz!

The book summary for the original Millennium Trilogy by Stieg Larsson, as published is below for a quick acquaintance with the series.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Mikael Blomkvist, a once-respected financial journalist, recently sidelined by a libel conviction  with bleak prospects  until an unexpected (and unsettling) offer to resurrect his name is extended by an old-school titan of Swedish industry. Harriet Vanger, a scion of one of Sweden’s wealthiest families disappeared without a trace more than forty years ago. All these years later, her aged uncle continues to try to discover what happened to her and hires Blomkvist to investigate. With few other options, he accepts and enlists the help of investigator Lisbeth Salander, a misunderstood genius, and pierced and tattooed computer prodigy with a cache of authority issues. Together they tap into a vein of unfathomable iniquity and astonishing corruption on their way to discovering the truth of Harriet Vanger’s fate.

The Girl Who Played with Fire
Mikael Blomkvist, now a crusading journalist and publisher of the magazine Millennium, has decided to run a story that will expose an extensive sex trafficking operation between Eastern Europe and Sweden, implicating well-known and highly placed members of Swedish society, business, and government. On the eve of its publication, the two reporters responsible for the article are murdered, and the fingerprints found on the murder weapon belong to his friend Lisbeth Salander. Blomkvist, convinced of Salander’s innocence, plunges into an investigation of the murders. Meanwhile, Salander herself is drawn into a murderous game of cat and mouse, which forces her to face her dark past.

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest
Lisbeth Salander lies in critical condition, a bullet wound to her head, in the intensive care unit of a Swedish city hospital. She’s fighting for her life in more ways than one: if and when she recovers, she’ll be taken back to Stockholm to stand trial for three murders. With the help of Mikael Blomkvist, she will not only have to prove her innocence, but also identify and denounce those in authority who have allowed the vulnerable, like herself, to suffer abuse and violence. On her own, she will plot revenge—against the man who tried to kill her, and against the corrupt government institutions that very nearly destroyed her life. Once upon a time, she was a victim. Now Salander is fighting back.

As one can imagine, the series is mostly about politics, with crime drama and a little of other ‘drama’, with the two main characters, Mikael Blomkvist and Lisbeth Salander at the helm. Though by the end of the trilogy, the plot was more focused on Salander with her life story carrying the series through.

Friday, August 28, 2015

1Q84 Review

There are very few intriguing books solely because of their title and for me ‘1Q84’ by Haruki Murakami definitely lies under such category.  I've been meaning to read something of Murakami's for quite a while and maybe this wait was necessary, for me at least, to understand the writing and plot better.

Before I begin, here’s the book cover summary.

The year is 1984. Aomame sits in a taxi on the expressway in Tokyo.
Her work is not the kind which can be discussed in public but she is in a hurry to carry out an assignment and, with the traffic at a standstill, the driver proposes a solution. She agrees, but as a result of her actions starts to feel increasingly detached from the real world. She has been on a top-secret mission, and her next job will lead her to encounter the apparently superhuman founder of a religious cult.

Meanwhile, Tengo is leading a nondescript life but wishes to become a writer. He inadvertently becomes involved in a strange affair surrounding a literary prize to which a mysterious seventeen-year-old girl has submitted her remarkable first novel. It seems to be based on her own experiences and moves readers in unusual ways. Can her story really be true?

Both Aomame and Tengo notice that the world has grown strange; both realise that they are indispensable to each other. While their stories influence one another, at times by accident and at times intentionally, the two come closer and closer to intertwining.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Em and the Big Hoom Book Review

Even though one shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, ‘Em and the Big Hoom’, by Jerry Pinto definitely makes you question your resolve against doing so. The purple cover with the image of Em’s head, the dark edges and the gray paper, mimic a vintage look ensuring the cover artist and designer high praise.

To begin with, here’s the back cover book summary.

In a one-bedroom-hall-kitchen in Mahim, Bombay, through the last decades of the twentieth century, lived four love-battered Mendeses: mother, father, son and daughter. Between Em, the mother, driven frequently to hospital after her failed suicide attempts, and The Big Hoom, the father, trying to hold things together as best he could, they tried to be a family.

Essentially, ‘Em and the Big Hoom’ is a semi-autobiographical account from the view point of a son, living in a one BHK flat in Mahim, about his mentally unhealthy mother Imelda (Em), her illness – the causes, symptoms and in turn, its effect on the lives of the whole family, Augustine (Big Hoom), Susan, their daughter and of course Jerry, although he remains unnamed throughout the novel.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

And the Mountains Echoed Book Review

Khaled Hosseini, the author known for his unforgettable bestseller ‘The Kite Runner’ and the splendid tale of ‘A Thousand Splendid Suns’, returned after a hiatus of six years, to render a tale of humanity, love and sacrifice in another heartbreaking narrative although not as emotionally brutal as his previous works.

To begin with, here’s the back cover book summary.

Afghanistan, 1952. Abdullah and his sister Pari live with their father and stepmother in the small village of Shadbagh. Their father, Saboor, is constantly in search of work and they struggle together through poverty and brutal winters. To Adbullah, Pari, as beautiful and sweet-natured as the fairy for which she was named, is everything. More like a parent than a brother, Abdullah will do anything for her, even trading his only pair of shoes for a feather for her treasured collection. Each night they sleep together in their cot, their skulls touching, their limbs tangled.

One day the siblings journey across the desert to Kabul with their father. Pari and Abdullah have no sense of the fate that awaits them there, for the event which unfolds will tear their lives apart; sometimes a finger must be cut to save the hand.

Crossing generations and continents, moving from Kabul, to Paris, to San Francisco, to the Greek island of Tinos, with profound wisdom, depth, insight and compassion, Khaled Hosseini writes about the bonds that define us and shape our lives, the ways that we help our loved ones in need, how the choices we make resonate through history, and how we are often surprised by the people closest to us.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Travelling to Tokyo?

Here's some info to start with:

Tokyo, enjoying a long history of prosperity as Japan’s capital since 1603, and with a population of about 13 million, has grown into the largest of the 47 prefectures of Japan and one of the more advanced metropolises in the world. The city focuses on everything from politics to business, from economy to cultural heritage, thus ascertaining itself as a world traveler destination

Scenic Geography

Even though, known for its urban sprawl and close quarters, Tokyo has treasured its natural beauty hidden throughout its cityscape. The presence of several parks, mountain ranges and bodies of water run through the area, and due to Japan’s cultural and ecological preservation efforts, one can still find traces of pre-urban Tokyo in its natural state.

For an outdoor traveler, Lake Okutama, the largest lake in Tokyo, running through both Tokyo and Yamanashi Prefectures, and the Tama River, provide an amazing scenic beauty. And though Tokyo doesn't have many caves, the most famous one is called the Nippara Limestone Cave, lying on the northwestern point of Tokyo, the largest cave in the Kanto region, taking up to 40 minutes to walk through the area. Here, one can find various stone religious sculptures and various ema, or written prayer plaques, from Shinto supplicants.