Thursday, October 27, 2016

The #HexaExperience at Hyderabad

I had been a part of the previous Indiblogger Tata Motors Launch for Tiago (Previously Zica) in December 2015 at Goa. It was a great trip where we had fun, met a lot of awesome bloggers and took back memories to cherish. So when I saw the applications open for this one, I instantly applied.


I was then caught up with work and soon got to know that I was confirmed for the meet, and saw my name and profile pic flash amongst 60 other faces! Most of them were new faces with just a few 5-10 people from the old batch. Though I was disappointed to not meet old buddies, I was looking forward to make new friends.


Another great thing was that it was a 1pm flight to Hyderabad from Mumbai, which meant no getting up at 4am and heading to the airport. I packed light and off I was. We travelled in Jet Airways both ways, with smooth flights with a slight delay because of the maintenance work going on at the CSIA, though the food in Jet Airways doesn't delight me at all.


We reached Hyderabad and it was happy to know that we would be staying at Novotel Hyderabad Airport, which is hardly ten minutes away from the Rajiv Gandhi Intl Airport, means no unnecessary travel, but it also meant we wouldn't go inside the city. Novotel Hyderabad Airport is a beautiful hotel with a great temperature control pool, beautiful lawns and cozy rooms. The food was okay, I guess I am too picky since being  food blogger means access to really awesome food.


Anyways, we freshened up and went for the brief where the speakers - Ashish Sahni, Richard & Ravindra took us through the key features of the car followed by a Q&A session. The car is named Hexa because it was meant to be a 6 seater (though the manual version will have a option to be 7 seater), with 6 gears and will apparently come in 6 variants. It was a powerful beast in both looks and features.


Things that interested me were the 19" Alloy wheels - first of a kind in the category, ambient mood lighting, AMT version (Automatic Manual Transmission) and the terrain management system. I couldn't wait to go for a ride the next day! We were soon asked to make teams of 3 and me and another female from Mumbai were looking for someone and at the same time Karthik Murali from Chennai was also looking for 2 people, and in an instant it was decided! We were Team 8.


There was then a standup comedy act by Biswa Kalyan Rath which we all enjoyed, followed by dinner & drinks. There was a caricature artist, a boxing booth & message board too. Unfortunately I could not enjoy the night because of a terrible headache induced maybe by the change in weather, so I turned in early which happened to be a good thing because I was quite fresh for the drive next morning.


I was ready at 6am and we quickly took a group picture and took off. My team member Karthik drove the Automatic on the way to the resort where we were to stop for refreshments. Hexa literally sailed smoothly at 100 without much noise, and the scenic routes were a pleasure to the eyes. The climate was amazing, and we played some tunes on the JBL Harman infotainment unit, while getting navigation updates from the connected device.


While I sat behind, it was very comfortable, a lot of leg space even for someone who would be tall. There is so much space to move about, I wanted my bag from behind, I could almost stand and get it. I can totally imagine my kid running around playing in the car, as if it were his fort. There are cooling vents in the middle as well as back, which is brilliant. There is also a cool box to store drinks, there is also a charging plug in the centre unit for people sitting in the back to use. No more plugging devices in the front and taking the cable back, which would create a mess and also disturb the driver and the gears.


We tried the different modes - Automatic, Comfort, Sports and could feel the difference in the torque and pick-up. The car can handle potholes (more like elephant holes these days), water-logging and most of the other obstacles commonly faced even in cities like Mumbai these days. We reached Hills & Valley resort and spotted a peacock on the way! Too bad it got scared by the fleet of cars and vanished. After refreshments, we headed for the drive back after swapping our car to a manual. We had a Tata engineer with us all the time incase there was any assistance we required, he kept explaining the different features to us.


The ride back in the manual was driven by me. Honestly, I had not driven a car for months (I did not tell anyone that), I used to drive a Nano earlier but after pregnancy and having a kid I have lost touch and must have driven only on a couple of occasions in the last 2-3 years. To add to it, I was driving an SUV for the very first time. It took me 5-10 minutes to get used to the car, the brakes and gear-box but I was soon comfortable and have to say, thoroughly enjoyed the ride. I have always been a hatchback girl, Mini Cooper is my dream car, never did I think I would enjoy driving the Hexa so much!


When Richard was taking us through the designing of the code-name Eagle (Hexa), he told us about how the trend is shifting towards SUVs and people love the commanding height, it was true. I felt like the I owned the road. There are buttons on the steering wheel if you want to control the infotainment system on your own.


We even took the car to 190KMPH at the Ring road, and finally reached the hotel. It was a great experience, and I couldn't wait for the off-road experience they had created especially for us. The off-road was a 20 minute thing, where we had a Tata expert take us through a obstacle path that started with elephant holes that had 2 of the Hexa's wheel in air while the car's terrain management system helps the car get out of it on the other wheels.


Then we climbed uphill and went down hill to test the hill-hold and came down without brakes, basically Hexa senses your needs and adapts to it, technology is brilliant! We also went on a slant incline and the car drove like a peace of cake. We also tested the wheels on a slab of ice and in a small water outlet. Basically, the Hexa can handle a lot more in stressful times than you can.


Be it a quick getaway to the Tiger Hills in Lonavala or a road-trip to Ladakh, the Tata Hexa suits the lifestyle you choose. We finished off with lunch and were on our respective ways back home after meeting some awesome bloggers, the amazing Tata & Indi teams and some souvenirs. I also picked up some Karachi Sweets biscuits and Hyderabadi Biryani at the airport.

#14DayChallenge with New Pantene

A couple of weeks ago I received a white box in the mail, which had two white bottles without any branding, and two bottles of the New Pantene Shampoo & Conditioner. I was given instructions to use the New Pantene on one side of my hair and these unknown contents on the other.


It was a funny thing to do, but I was really curious to know if there really be a magical difference. The texture and smell of the unknown bottle feels familiar, like a shampoo I might have used in the past. I don't use the same brand regularly, keep switching and trying. 

So the 1st wash had me trying the new Pantene on one side and the unknown brand on other. I cannot say that the side I washed with New Pantene had no hair fall at all, but compared to the other side, it was definitely lesser. 


When Sita was kidnapped, she left pieces of jewelry everywhere so that Ram could follow her route. I leave my hair everywhere I go. That's how bad my hair falls. I sit at work, I have a strand on the desk. I go to the loo, there is a strand on the pot. I sit to eat lunch, there is a strand on the tiffin, I play with my li'l one, there are a couple of strands on him. You get the gist.

The cause could be many, post pregnancy hormonal changes, stress, pollution, kiddo pulling my hair and what not. I try to oil my hair as regularly as I can, but that hardly helps. So I was looking forward to take the #14DayChallenge and see the difference.


Now before I tell what my experience was, you must understand what Hair-fall means. We shed hair everyday, it is very normal. We lose around 50-100 strands of hair daily, so if we see a few hair here and there in our rubber band, comb or brush or while washing; it's no need to panic. But when the amount of hair shedding is much more, obviously you cannot keep count but you will know because of your thinning scalp...then it is a problem that needs to be tackled.

What I am also trying to say is, that no brand or company can or will promise zero hair fall, because that goes against the nature of our body. I washed my hair with the New Pantene around 6 times in the fortnight (I cannot wash my hair daily, other ladies will empathise.) My hair-fall issue has not solved, but the condition has improved a lot.



I have observed that the strands of hair I used leave a trail of everywhere is not there anymore, which definitely is a significant improvement. On the down side, I am very prone to dandruff, and because I did not use an anti-dandruff shampoo for weeks, I had a bout of dandruff again. Maybe the Pantene Pro-V Anti Dandruff Shampoo will be a better choice for me.

I am taking up the #14DayChallenge as a part of  product review activity at BlogAdda in association with Pantene


Wednesday, October 26, 2016

When Love Finds You - Yashodhara Lal - Book Review

This year has been all about reading Indian authors, and I am quite thrilled at the number of books I have read, and mostly have been very happy with them. Another book that came in the mail a few days ago is 'When Love Finds You' by Yashodhara Lal.

I must admit, I have not heard of the bestselling author or her previous 3 books before, and the title made me feel that it's another typical love story, maybe Mills & Boons kind. But then the synopsis was interesting and I wanted to read it -


Another rollicking ride from the bestselling author of Just Married, Please Excuse, Sorting out Sid and There’s Something about You. 
Natasha is a badass boss. Just how badass? She can make a grown man cry, she can whip a team into shape, she can meet her targets and she won’t take bullshit from anyone.  Of course, getting the job done is never enough for a woman in a man’s world. When it’s time for her long-overdue promotion, she’s passed over for Rishabh Sethi – a smarmy rake who apparently has ‘people skills’. He knows just how to push her buttons and it's driving her up the wall. Thankfully, the very desirable Nikhil – he of the quiet self-assurance and distracting dimple – is around to make the office tolerable. With a crotchety old neighbour, an unrelenting friend and a tumultuous family history in the mix, Natasha is suddenly beginning to find that everything she's ignored in the pursuit of success is now coming back to haunt her.
But don’t worry. She’s bringing her A-game. She always does.


I am not really a badass Boss Lady myself, but I am not a feminine eye-lashes battling lady either. And I am quite the feminist, so was attracted to the lead character's description. The book is really well written, story flows seamlessly chapter after chapter. The plot is very present world scenario based where the thinking is more western than earlier.

Natasha is a character you may like or dislike, but whatever you choose, you cannot ignore her. The book could be a nice Bollywood movie and I can totally sit to think who would play the role of Natasha, Nikhil & Rishabh (How about Priyanka Chopra, Shahid Kapoor & Hrithik Roshan?).

Yashodhara Lal has added just the perfect quantity of humour and lust in the book to make it an overall totally entertaining read that you want to put down only once you get to the end. Though I really pity where this generation's love and romance is treading towards...but the world will change, not much can be really done.

As always, I shall not put out any spoilers for you guys, don't want you to hate me. Grab a copy today!

Monday, October 24, 2016

Fables from India by Uday Mane - Book Review

Fables from India is a collection of 22 short stories based on ancient Indian times. It is authored by Mumbaiite Uday Mane, a digital marketing professional and traveller at heart.

Reading this book took me back to my childhood days when along with the famous 5, secret seven, Nancy Drews and Enid blyton, I also lived reading tinkle, archie, amar chitra katha, chacha chaudhary and the types. Not to boast, but I think I am a decent enough human being who knows whats right and whats wrong and a lot of the credit for my upbringing goes to the books I read.

In Fables from India, the stories usually revolve around kings and kingdoms and always have a moral to it. It's a simple to read, easy to understand book which is great for teenagers and young adults. 

What I like most about it is that they are different short stories so you are not compelled to finish reading the book on one go, and can revisit it whenever you wish.

I liked most of the stories - specially the Jester's and the farmer who goes to resurrect his dead wive's. Its really good to be reminded of goodness, justice and other moral issues that humans are forgetting day by day.

You can check out one of the stories in this video:




The book is available for purchase at Amazon, it'll make a great gift for your kids, nephews or nieces or yourself too! You can also connect with the author on his twitter handle - the_allegorist

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

CMS Asia 2016 - What I learnt

I attended the Content Marketing Summit 2016 held recently, and even though I could not stay till the end because of duty calls, I learnt quite a few things!

Ashish Patil from Y-Films took us through how to be the SULTAN of content marketing – How to create the most HUMAN content and experience?

It has 5 steps –

1.       Self-Intoxication – People are self-obsessed these days, love themselves and will need to know what there for them.

2.       Funsumers – Consumers are not a fun-loving young (or young at heart) lot, looking for fun content. I love how Ashish quoted “If we snore, we don’t visit your store.”

3.       Right here, right now – Apparently, according to recent studies and stats, a human being’s attention span is lesser than a Gold fish. We have an attention span of 8 seconds now, and a Goldfish has that of 9. Unfortunate as it is, it means that whatever information has to be conveyed, has to be done super-fast.

4.       Constant Connection – You cannot interact with your audience for once and then forget about them. They need to feel constantly connected to, via different mediums.

5.       Purposeful Relationships – Do something because it’s the right thing to do. Without a purpose, everything is meaningless.

So, to sum it up, it’s all about: ME – FUN – NOW – CONNECT – PURPOSE

Next, we had Senjam Raj Shekhar from Flipkart, take us through Flipkart Stories

Flipkart Stories is Flipkart’s own blog where they share behind the scene stories, customer stories and any other interesting story they have for us users. Right from Flipkart’s first customer, to first employee and so on.

Senjam took us through the elements that help you put together a strong story:

1.       Strong Character – Imagine Ramayana without Ram or Ravana, or Sholay without Jay & Veeru. A story can be perfect only when it has strong characters.

2.       Emotional Connect – Unless one cannot connect to the story emotionally, feel the pain or passion, the story won’t be perfect.

3.       Universality of Theme – Your story needs to have a global appeal. Any one from any part of the world can understand and relate to Romeo & Juliet.

4.       Conflict – No story is complete without conflict, a twist in the story, hurdles and obstacles. What would Ramayana be all about had Sita not been kidnapped?


Can you spot me?


















Then we had Ajay Gupta from Ching’s who took us through the thoughts behind the return of Ranveer Ching – the short film directed by Rohit Shetty. It was quite interesting to know their point of view since the campaign got mixed reviews.

There were a couple of panel discussions too, and I picked up a few really interesting phrases and terms that I will share below –

“Content Marketing is treated as marketing 1st content later. But content marketing must always be contest first followed by marketing.” – Roopak Saluja

Done is better than perfect.” – Quite a debatable statement, but I agree, sometimes to meet perfection, we end up not executing at all.

Brand-lift” – A measure of success, calculated by the number of people talking about a brand.

Mind-Measure” – Top of the mind recall and affinity.

Tea-taster” – Recognizing the right blend required for the brand/campaign.

I wish I could have stayed till the end, but thank you CMSAsia for organizing the event.  And Trident, BKC; what a humble crew you have and what amazing food!

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Showing some love to my feet with Himalaya FootCare Cream

As a working mom, we often tend to neglect caring for ourselves. Yes we might go for a monthly visit to the parlour for the basics, but that's more or less it. Juggling between office and home leaves me with little time to indulge in a pedicure or manicure and hence my feet had become very rough and coarse.

It was a 'not-so-gentle' reminder when Himalaya sent their FootCare cream across, that it was high time I did something about my feet. I am a very lazy person, to be honest and if I am told that I have to do something that is too tedious or required a lot of effort  I end up not being consistent with it.



What it does:

Himalaya's FootCareCream cares for your cracked heels and rough feet with natural ingredients. Enriched with the goodness of Honey, Turmeric, Fenugreek seeds and Sal Tree extract, this cream leaves your feet feeling soft in one week.

Key ingredients:
  • Sal Tree extract is used as an ingredient in ointments for skin diseases and in ear medicines. Its   antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties help heal cracked heels.
  • Honey, with its bactericidal and antiseptic properties, is extremely important in Ayurveda. Used in a variety of medicines, honey is also an effective moisturizing agent.
  • Turmeric has been used as an antiseptic for centuries. The herb also contains strong anti-inflammatory properties, which soothe your feet gently.
  • Fenugreek has been traditionally used in Ayurvedic medicines and is an excellent moisturizer, specially formulated to hydrate dry skin. Applied externally, the herb is also beneficial for boils, abscesses and ulcers.
  • Ginger is used externally as a local circulatory stimulant which keeps the feet warm, preventing the skin from cracking due to the cold.


Directions for use:


Wash feet with lukewarm water and pat dry. Apply the required quantity of FootCare Cream over the affected area twice daily, once in the morning after bathing and again at bedtime.

My take:
I have used the product for about 10 days not, but not religiously every morning and night but try to remember as often as possible. The most important part of the directions, I feel, is to wash the feet with lukewarm water, because it helps soften the feet and open the pores so that the cream can be more effective than just applying it like that.
So in the morning it's easy, since I have a bath with warm/hot water and then apply the cream. But at night you have to push yourself to wash your feet with warm water, if it's not a habit already. The plus point is that it relaxes you after a hectic day running around, so just dip your feet in warm water and sit for 5 minutes! You can even add some aromatic oil in your water to make the experience fancier if you prefer. 
You are also recommended to apply the cream generously on all the affected areas, so do massage it in really well for a good five minutes or else the cream does not get absorbed and if you walk instantly, you will be leaving marks all over plus it won't have as much benefit to your sole too. A good idea is to do the regime just before you sleep so that the cream can soak in easily, in the mornings do massage and then wait for a couple of minutes.
So, in the last ten days I have applied the cream on and off, sometimes the complete regime at night sometimes just applying the cream in sheer laziness (don't be lazy like me okay). At first I thought I won't manage to see any difference since I am not following it properly, but yesterday I noticed that my feet are feeling a lot softer than before. Earlier they were so rough I hated touching my own feet and would be embarrassed to wear open flats or let my husband notice my feet (his were probably better than mine, trust me).
I am so happy, I promised myself to continue obediently till my feet are completely soft and smooth like my little one's! Do try it out and take the 'Happy Feet' challenge yourself.
Available in compact 20g and 50g tube packing at Rs.50 and Rs.110 respectively. I think the 20g one will be perfect if you're a frequent traveller!

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Ulcerative Colitis - Ulcer in the Colon - An invisible disease

Around 6 months to 1 year ago, my father, age 55 started loosing weight. Noticeably thin and weak looking, everyone thought it's because of his diabetes and small appetite. And my grandfather also around the same age-bracket had started loosing weight and from healthy is now very lean, so we thought it is all the process of ageing and heredity.

My father is one of those who is always peaceful, polite and doesn't ever express his anger and frustration or disagreement unless it's really needed. He had been silently suffering indigestion, constipation, diarrhoea, stomach ache and even blood in the stools; without as much as even letting his own daughter who is married know.

He tried a lot of OTC treatments, visited the general physician and tried different home remedies but nothing seemed to help him. His discomfort just kept getting worse, and he was no longer able to concentrate in work either. Then after talking to a few relatives, a doctor in Ghatkopar was suggested and he finally after trying to get an appointment, visited.

Blood tests and colonoscopy was done and the real cause of all this pain and trauma was diagnosed - ulcerative colitis. Which basically is ulcer on the colon. If you remember the digestive system from the biology class, you will recall the intestines and the colon. And ulcer is something most of us have experienced in the mouth.

The most interesting and horrifying finds were that why this condition happens is still not known, some say it's because of heredity some day it's caused due to stress. And the other fact, it has no treatment and is a chronic illness.

The inflammation and discomfort can be suppressed with the help of medication and a very strict diet. And different combinations of treatments work for different people, my dad is still figuring his best treatment out. The diet is so strict that it not only restricts you from alcohol and caffeine, but also milk and dairy products, raw fruits and vegetables, maida and much more. So you are left thinking, so what do I eat?

Diet is even more complicated for my father because he even has diabetes. This recent situation was even a mental-alarm for me, because if this is hereditary I should be careful. And I thought how bad stress is for ourself, all the meaningless stress we take behind commute, work, deadlines etc. Earn earn earn and then one day the money is of no use if you cannot enjoy life.

I wanted to just reach out to all my readers and all my friends and relatives to tell them how there are secret illnesses like this one that will eat you up from within. So please live a healthy lifestyle with regular exercise, keep stress at bay, do at-least one thing daily that you enjoy - be it reading, cycling, playing tennis, watching a sitcom or simply talking to your friend. And have some healthy ways of venting out stress - listening to music, writing a diary, going for zumba always work for me.

If you or someone you know suffers from the same illness, I would be very grateful to know how you overcame and got help. I really hope my dad's situation gets better soon.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Colour Store iStyle Challenge - Kid's Room

As a child, whenever I was asked, what do I want to be when I grow up – my answer was Interior Designer (Also singer at times, but well…). That childhood dream vocation soon vanished in thin air, but not my love for decking up spaces.

I was addicted to the game SIMS, if you happen to know it. And my favorite part of the game was building homes. I would build my dream homes in the game and would be overjoyed by the outcomes. As a child, I did not have the privilege of having a room of my own until I was a teenager, that too to be shared with my younger brother.

I want my kid, who is 2 now, to have his own space soon hopefully. And I would do it up in an amazing way (till he is old enough to make his own decisions or choices). If you are based out of Mumbai or Delhi, Asian Paints is now giving you a chance to make these dreams come true!

Canopy bed has forever been on my wishlist. And love this wall colour!
Want to know how? Log on to http://colourstore.asianpaints.com, sign up or log-in via Facebook/Google and create your room. Choose a bedroom or living room, go for the one that is closest to how your bedroom, kid’s room or living room is lay out so that you can get the most realistic outcome.

I decided to see how could I do up my bedroom, and also tried my hands on a kid’s room for my little one. Once you select the room, browse through the different elements ranging from wall textures, wallpapers, furnishings, lighting and the list goes on.

Choose whatever you fancy, be creative, but I would suggest do not over-do it. You can flip or change the size, so do take a look at all the tools provided. That’s not it, every element you pick, the pricing is given. This is something I have seen for the very first time and was pretty impressed. So while you make your dream home on the portal, you even have a good idea of how much it will cost.

Here is my entry for the kid’s room –

I think my kid would be quite happy with this!
The idea here was to avoid the clich├ęd pink for girl blue for boy, go for yellow which is a nice bright and happy colour that is also known for increasing concentration and creativity. I gave the walls some butterflies and music (keeping in mind that this would probably last for a good 6-8 years and my kiddo might outgrow childish cartoons).

I love bunk beds and they’ve been like a dream for me, but that is an option if you have 2 kids. Since I have one, I selected this single bed with lots of storage to keep blankets, toys or whatever the need be. I added a matching shelf with drawers to keep clothes and more toys or other knick-knacks. Also since he is just a toddler now, a play-pen is most important (I would probably find him sleeping in it half the times). And some final touches with curtains, a hanging ornament, lights etc.

One important thing I kept in mind was to have a lot of space otherwise so that kids can play around, and even when he has friends coming over there is enough space. What do you think of this look?


Update:

If I have inspired you enough, go make your own style and submit your entry. Submit you entry link in the comment section and 2 awesome entries stand a chance to win a gift-voucher worth Rs.500 each! Plus, you never know, you might just end up making your style come true! Good luck!