Friday, September 9, 2016

The girl who chose - Devdutt Pattanaik - Book Review

I definitely seem to be a on a book review roll and nothing makes me happier than the fact that I have been given the opportunity to read so many books! Because I do not have the space at my home (Once a kid comes into your life, every nook and corner is just filled with toys), I am actually filling up my office library by contributing the books.

Speaking of office, me and my colleagues used to debate and discuss who writes mythology better...I would say Amish Tripathi and colleagues would say you have to read Devdutt Pattanaik and then decide. That's when I heard of the author, and since then was waiting to read one of his books and behold! I find 'The girl who chose' in my mail. The girl who chose is a new way of narrating the Ramayana, the folklore that we have read about, heard about, seen on TV and what not.


The book is actually for children, and hence has beautiful illustrations and large fonts, but young adults can definitely read it too. The book talks about Ramayana from Sita's point of view, of the five choices she had and what were the choices she made and the consequences that followed. The book also talks about the times when she did not have a choice and obeyed the rules made.

Usually Ramayana is always visualised as Ram Vs Ravana and every other character is just a supporting role, but I love how Devdutt has given that a twist and also provided small bubbles of information on how other characters came to be and some information on their background or history.

The book is not simply a tale being retold, the book goes much deeper into your skin and tells/reminds you of the Sita within you, within each one of us. If I spoke any further, I would give away the crux of the book and you would not enjoy reading it as much, so allow me to stop here and do get the book for your kid and read it yourself too, after all our memory isn't that great and it's always nice to brush through the story and remember the things that happen in the Ramayana. After reading the book, I remembered that I was never a fan of Ram really, someone who will follow the rules blindly even if it hurts himself or others whom he loves, I cannot really relate with him.

Anyways, to read or to not, the choice is yours; choose wisely.


Synopsis -

You are bound by rules, but not I. I am free to choose.'
Two thousand years ago, the poet-sage Valmiki wrote the Ramayana. It is the tale of Ram, the sun-prince of Ayodhya, who is obliged to follow family rules and so makes no choices. And of Ravana, king of Lanka, who does not respect anybody's rules or other people's choices.Over the centuries, hundreds have retold the tale in different languages, adding new twists and turns. But few have noticed that the tale always depends on the five choices made by Sita.What were Sita's five choices?India's favourite mythologist brings you this charmingly illustrated retelling of the Ramayana that is sure to empower and entertain a new generation readers.

About the Author -


Devdutt Pattanaik is the author of over 25 books and over 500 articles on the relevance of mythology in modern times. He worked in the healthcare and pharmaceutical industries for 15 years before devoting all his time to his passion for decoding beliefs of all cultures, modern and ancient, located beneath the veneer of rationality. Extremely knowledgeable and exceptionally insightful, Pattanaik also boasts of the added skill of simplifying his mythological accounts into delightful reads that engage young readers. He is the master storyteller of the very popular Fun in Devlok series and Pashu.



This review is a part of the Flipkart Blogger Review Program.


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Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Day Trek to The Dark Forest

Lately I have started putting more efforts towards my fitness, and hence am using the Goqii band, joined Zumba and try to keep my diet healthy. When my friends/colleagues told me about taking a Trek, I was hesitant at first because I have never been on a proper trek in ages, the last one probably being a easy one during my college days. But the description of the place was full of mystique and I knew I could do with some 'me-time' and challenge myself, so I signed myself up with Global Journeys.


Andharban or The Dark Forest is located in Pimpri, nested amongst the Sahyadris. It took us around 4+ hours from Navi Mumbai to reach the starting point. Everywhere you turn, all you can see is lush greenery and misty dew and fog! I almost wished we could just camp there and chill, but there was a lot more in store for us.


The trek was a path that ascended and descended, sometimes in the open, sometimes at the edge of a cliff and sometimes amidst the darkness of the jungle. We had to concentrate on where we're treading because there were slippery stones with moss growing or there was mushy trails, but every now and then we looked up to admire nature at it's best. Imagine a scene out of a movie like Mowgli or think of the Amazon Rainforests, that's how it felt. I was under the misconception that it was going to be a easy-peasey walk, but it required your you to keep your senses alert and balance well and be fast or you would loose the group and the trail.


We took a break half-way near a waterfall where we enjoyed the chilly water and then ate our packed lunch - sandwiches etc provided by the team. Rested, we started hiking again and reached the end point which again had waterfalls. Words or pictures cannot describe the scenes we saw with our eyes, it was surreal and Godly! One phrase to describe it would be 'Hauntingly Beautiful'.. mesmerising, but loose your balance at the wrong place and fall, you definitely feel the adrenaline rush pumping specially near the cliff's edge.


But once you overcome your fear, achieve what you doubted if you could, there is such a high in that feeling! The way back, we were all much more confident because by now we had understood where to step, how to go about tricky areas. Even though the rain had increased and we were drenched, we went back to our starting point in one shot, without any breaks. We were so happy to make it back and just couldn't wait to change out of the drenched clothes. I did finally fall towards the end and hit my hand on a stone, but fortunately nothing major.


If you already go for treks, then this particular one will be a piece of cake for you, like a walk in the garden. But if you're new to treking, here is what all is required for a monsoon trek -

1) Wincheater/Poncho (After all, you cannot really hold an umbrella and trek). Though you will still get drenched at the end, you can save a little and maybe keep your bag protected too.

2) Really good gripped running shoes/trekking shoes (You might not want to invest in shoes made for trekking unless you plan to go frequently, but good quality running shoes should be good enough.) Quick Tip - Make sure you've worn the shoes before and are comfortable in them, otherwise there is always a chance of shoe-bites and discomfort. What I personally did is carrie dan extra pair in my bag, just in case. Carrying that was better than the thought of being barefoot if it came to that.

3) Water & Energy Drinks to hydrate yourself. Even though you're drenched in the rain and have swallowed some natural water in the process, you need to carry water with you. I also carried Gatorade.

4) Change of Clothes, Towel and extra footwear for once you're back, for you don't want to travel back to the city in your wet garments and catch a cold. We got to change inside a villager's hut and then had some nice hot tea and bhajiya in a nearby stall too. Pure bliss!

5) The trek organisers usually carry first aid, but if you have some personal medicines, don't forget to carry that. Also carry some snacks like biscuits, apple or protein bar incase you don't like the lunchbox given.

6) Most importantly, trust your instincts, have a good stamina and determination and learn to balance. That is what will help you the most in your journey.

7) Waterproof cover for your smartphone/other gadgets - We obviously want to click photos (Please let the selfies be, this is a place to take nice old-school photos), so don't forget to protect your smartphone/camera. I had accidental insurance for my iPhone, but still, when I fell, I was equally worried about my phone. :P


The monsoon season for the year will end this month, so if you still want to make the most of it, book now! Global Journeys has a few more treks planned, you can check them out here.

P.S. All pictures are original, taken by us during this trek. They're wallpaper worthy for sure!

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Monday, September 5, 2016

Love Bi The Way by Bhaavna Arora - Book Review

This is the second book by the author that I received to review, the first one being 'Mistress of Honour'. Love Bi The Way, as the name suggests, talks about all kinds of love, gender no bar. Bhaavna Arora has a very 'Mills and Boons' kind of writing, making it a hit with the female population.

The story flows smoothly and always has interesting turn of events at every page, making you want to read till the last page. The characters are well described and intriguing, and people like me who can actually visualise what they read, have a movie playing in their mind while they read the book. One should be able to love and receive love no matter where it comes from, and that's what Bhaavna's new book 'Love Bi The Way' which released on September 4th, is all about.

The main characters of the story are Rihana and Zara, both poles apart but both craving for love. Read more for yourself, and look out for the most adorbs character of all - Tiger!


If you are into romance novels, then grab this one (eBook available) from your nearest store or online and enjoy! 

I am taking my Alexa Rank to the next level with Blogchatter. Currently, my global Alexa Rank is 1,493,884 and with after following the steps and working towards a better rank, let's see the improvement at end of the month! You can follow the journey with the #MyFriendAlexa and #JillOfAllTrades.


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Monday, August 29, 2016

The Calling by Priya Kumar – Book Review

I can either feel unfortunate that I did not read any of Priya Kumar’s book before this, or I can feel fortunate that I finally happened to read a book written by her. After reading The Calling, I choose the latter.
The book arrived in my mail along with a letter and gift (a cup with the book's branding) and message written on the first page of the book as well. I love personalization and I was already impressed with the author before reading the book. There also were a couple of small cards that carried quotes written by Priya, such an smart idea – you can use it as a bookmark or pin it up somewhere if you please. I did both the things with the two I received.


You’d expect her book to be an inspirational or motivational piece of non-fiction, but this one is a story. A story that most of us working professionals, living the fast life, chasing our work goals with the only aim of earning and climbing the career ladder; will relate to. It’s a story of a man who is given a reality check and understands what and how his life took a wrong turn and how to rectify the mistakes that are made.

It’s a well written book, I found some sentences to be really powerful – making me ponder about life before continuing to read. For instance –
This book is about something all of us need to be reminded of, I won’t reveal much but as I said, it’s a reality check we all need. The story is easy flowing and the characters are well put together. I found that sometimes the sentences would get a little repetitive at places, but then it does help reinstate something in your mind.

In the fast pace of city life, in the race of conquering everything and trying to make everything perfect – whether it’s family or work or something else, we forget basic ethics, morality and well can even forget who we were or what we wanted to achieve in the first place. The Calling is a book that will make you think about a lot of things in your own life, just like Arjun, the lead character in the book does.

The only issue is we tend to forget our learnings after a few days and then need a reality check, a calling again, after a few days. Oh yes, and after reading the book, I am longing to go back to the mountains, I have been there only once, years ago. It’s time to plan a trip soon! Can’t wait to read some of Priya Kumar’s other work.



Saturday, August 27, 2016

Flintobox August Subscription - Review

The business of 'subscription boxes' is at it's peak, with a subscription box for beauty, fashion and accessories and why not. It's a great idea for someone who wants something coming home month on month to surprise them, at not a very pocket-pinching price. Why should our kids be left behind when women and men are already covered. Flintobox is a really smart subscription box for kids, which sends a different themed activity box month on month.


The box depends on your child's age group and they have something for 2 years till 12. I had heard a lot about them, and was waiting for my child to reach the age to try them out. They keep experimenting and tried a box meant for 1.5 to 2 year olds and sent one across. It was very nicely packaged and addressed to my son! Now incidentally, theme for the month of August for his box was Food. I found that very amusing, because my 22 month old loves playing with kitchen utensils and equipments like 'chakla belan', spoons and glasses, etc but when it comes to actually eating, he is one of the fussiest of the lot and hardly eats anything at all.


The box has 4 different activities with clear instructions that say don't give them all to play at the same time. I was really impressed by the quality of the materials used, the thought and efforts put by the team in making every box for every age and the instructions and ideas that help parents like me to come up with ways to keep their kids busy.


There was a carrot and plum made out of wood and cut into large chunks, along with a wooden blunt knife to play 'cut the vegetable' with the kid. This was my kid's favourite, as I have already told you he loves playing with kitchen utensils. I am really hopeful that playing with these will develop a curiosity to eat fruits and vegetables too, which he gladly avoids as of now.


The next one was a carrot and radish farm made out of cloth (and carrots and radishes made out of cloth and plastic) where the kid has to put them in the pockets and remove them. This was my kid's second favourite from the lot, and he took some time to figure how to put them back (he would try with the leafy part first) but got it finally. It's great for motor coordination and development of the kid.


Next was a 'stack your own burger' activity with bun slices, sliced onion, tomato, lettuce and cheese all made out of cloth and foam. This looked really adorable, though I think of the bread's look more like burger buns it would be more relatable but anyways. My kid is not paying much attention to this one, but that's probably because he doesn't understand a burger yet, and I haven't unleashed him at a McDonalds yet. But I loved the concept nonetheless, and will try again later, he may just get interested.


Last but not the least was the flip book which consists of different fruits, their visual appearance from outside and if you flip it you can see how it looks from inside. My li'l one was delighted and very curious on seeing the insides of every fruit, though he really wanted to flip the fruits on his own and almost teared out the paper, so I made sure I do the flipping for him for now. He seems interested and what I plan to do is get one real fruit from the book each and show them to him and try to feed them to him! Hopefully it'll work and he'll start eating fruits.

The subscription box costs as low as Rs.600 per month if you opt for a 6 month subscription, and it is really worth the money. If you are a parent of a 2 year old or older (before the teenage tantrums begin), do gift them a Flintobox and see the excitement they have as they await the box each month. I remember having only Tinkle and Archie subscriptions as a kid, and how I wish we had such awesome innovations back then. The Flintobox could also make a great gift if you're giving to someone for their birthday! Do follow them on Twitter or Facebook as they keep sharing really cool DIY and other tips.

Do comment with your questions or suggestions, I'd love to hear them out! Stay tuned for the next 'subscription box' review that I will have in some days, that's a unique one too. :)





Friday, August 26, 2016

Celebrating Westside's New Home Collection

Home is where the Wi-Fi connects automatically. Everyone knows the joy and comfort of being at home after a long day or an even longer week. And hence, we try to make our space as personalized, comfortable and ‘homely’ as possible.


Every home reflects the people living in it, as it’s their taste and preference that is evident in every nook and corner. A couple of days back, Westside Homes launched their new home range at their Kalaghoda flagship store.


Find your style & style your find with Westside Home. Our curated collection of home and lifestyle solutions is all you need to turn your house into a home.

Extend your sense of style to your home through our exclusive range of home wear available under 5 categories

· Furniture – living, dining, bedding

· Living – d├ęcor, rugs, lighting, cushions

· Bedding – pillows, comforters, bedsheet sets, bedcovers

· Bathrooms – towels, bathroom accessories (bind, mirrors, storage solutions)

· Kitchen – gadgets, glassware, oven to table range, kitchen to table range, dinner sets, table linen, serve ware, glassware


Talking about this collection, Ms. Lyndsay Smith, (Category Head, Westside Home) says, “Our new collection has been designed with a mix of classic & contemporary styles keeping in mind the Westside consumer. Westside Home provides easy home solutions which are aesthetically great looking and perfect for modern homes.”


Westside Home is all you need to create the perfect look for your home. It was an evening well spent with a close knit group of bloggers, some wine and starters and a lot of conversations.

There were few pieces of the new range arranged for us to check out – ranging from bar table to room divider, coffee table, verandah seating, living room set up and dining set up. All the furniture had a modern feel yet had ethnic roots, a mix quite fit for Indians, who want a little bit of both.


There were instant pictures being taken and displayed on the room-divider, I quite liked the idea to display memories like that! My favourite set-up out of all was the dining table – I quite liked the edgy chairs and table style.


While talking with Lyndsay, she mentioned how much she liked India and this range is 90% Made in India keeping in mind the taste of the people here. I have been shopping at westside since I was a kid and though it’s mostly been for clothes and accessories mainly, I cannot wait to explore their home range!


Also, did you guys know you can shop for Westside products online at www.tatacliq.com. I did not know that and was so happy, as all of you already know what an online shopping addict I am. Do follow Westside Stores on Facebook and Twitter to stay tuned with latest updates and offers.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Komplete Kare For Your Skin and Hair!

I'm back with another review, and this time it's for these yummy products that arrived a few days ago packed beautifully -


Three big bottles of 3-in-1 shampoo plus body wash plus bubble bath, I was an excited puppy and couldn't wait to try them all. The brand Komplete Kare was unknown to me, even though they're available globally, and they have two range of products - Belcam and Naturalium.

The packing and product range reminds me of Oriflame and Amway products, and I'm not sure if they do sell on referral basis, but that could be a good business idea for them.

The three 'Bath Therapy' products that I received were -


1. BELCAM JUICY - CITRUS SPLASH


Get spa-like experience at home. What’s better than citrus essence? 3-in-1 bottle of magic (Body wash, bubble bath & shampoo) No artificial color, pH compatible and biodegradable. Enjoy the balmy fragrance with hints of lime, lemon & grapefruit.
2. BELCAM DEE-LISH! STRAWBERRY & CREAM

Do you know the popular dessert on the Wimbledon ground? It’s strawberry & cream and it now comes power-packed as a 3-in-1 bottle.The blend of tangy & sweet strawberries and the soft texture of the cream makes it a worthy buy.
Look marvelous in just 10 seconds!
3. BELCAM Paris Sweets – Sea Salt & Caramel

A popular dessert flavor is now in a bottle! Here’s a 3-in-1 body wash, shampoo & bubble bath which will charge you up instantly.
My take on the products -
1. Firstly, the fragrance of each product was exactly what the name would make you imagine. Especially the sea salt and caramel - I almost felt like trying to eat it!
2. The quantity is great for the price - Rs.499 for 500ML, each bottle will easily last you a couple of months even if you use it for both hair and body.
3. Though I do not have the privilege of owning a bathtub (lack of space in my humble abode), I did try bubbling up my bucket of water and it did froth up well, which is awesome coz Paraben-free products might not lather well.

4. Talking of that, the best thing is that all the products are free of Parabens, phthalates, propylene glycol, petroleum, artificial color, and formaldehyde. It is pH skin compatible, gluten free and biodegradable. It is scented with a hypoallergenic fragrance. Means people with sensitive skin can use them, and they suit all skin or climate types. Paraben-free shampoos are quite the trend this year, all the top brands have a range.

If you live in a metro city, specially Mumbai, you know how it feels to always be on the run. You also know the importance of every square inch and space crunch to store stuff. So I love how you can have a multitasking use out of one product - and both genders can use it. They even have a kids range which I will try next time.

I'm a sucker for yummy smelling personal care products, and they're key factor I consider when I purchase anything. So I was very happy with the range - you can buy the products from any Beauty Palace, Health & Glow etc or online on Nykaa.com. They even have a range called Naturalium that has body lotion, shower gel and shampoo cum conditioners to try out!

You can follow Komplete Kare on Facebook & Instagram to show some love!