Thursday, September 29, 2016

How being wanderlust is easier with Opera Mini

The world has become smaller and traveling has become easier thanks to data, WiFi and smartphones. Right from booking your travel tickets to uploading pictures once you’re back, it’s all online. So many of us love to travel to new places, or return back to places that are close to our heart. Now how do you make being ‘wanderlust’ as we love to say, easier?

Have you ever experienced any of these scenarios –

When you’re on your way to the airport and stuck in traffic and want to check the status of your flight on the browser but the page just does not load. Calling the customer care helpline is an option, only if you can browse for their number online!

You think you won’t reach in time for the check-in and want to web check-in from your phone, but the airlines website simply won’t load. There goes your flight and schedule for the entire day.

We are the generation who will ask ‘Google’ and asking another individual for directions or anything else is the last resort, after all we cannot trust anyone and everyone. But for Google to tell us where the nearest vegetarian restaurant is or what are the famous tourist spots in that city or till what time is that famous night-club open or what are the kids-friendly hangout spots, you need the pages to load super-fast.

I am definitely one of those who like to check details of any place I am visiting before going there. Or even google maps for route, ETA or anything else. Data roaming is still pretty expensive in our country and there is always a fear of huge bills or prepaid amount getting exhausted. 

So, what If I told you that many of us are still not aware that there are a few ways we can load pages on our phone really fast while traveling PLUS save a lot of data? You heard (read) me right. Two words – Opera Mini. You might have heard the name, thought it’s just another browser, why would I install it when I already have the default browser. But what if I told you that not only will you save on data but also get the information you want, very fast?

So no more frustrated impatience, especially when every second counts in this fast world where our vacations and trips are not for weeks but days, unfortunately. So what are you waiting for? Download Opera Mini on your smartphone today and travel happy. It helps you save tons of data, allows you to block ads, and helps you watch videos without any buffering. It is 64% more faster than UC browser and 72% more faster than Chrome. Above all of this, it helps you save 2 times more data than UC browser and 3.5 times more data than Chrome. Isn’t it really amazing?  Hence, it makes Opera Mini your perfect travel partner!

 That’s not it, here is your chance to win MakeMyTrip vouchers worth Rs.5000 by following these simple steps –

Travel with Opera

My haul from - marketplace for curated & handmade products

So I have always been a sucker for handmade things. There was a time when I myself was big on crafts and would make my own greeting cards, paper quilling jewellery and envelopes, paint tees, bake, make chocolates and a lot more. But now with a full time job and baby I just do not have the time or patience to attempt at doing anything and I know that once his school projects phase will come, I will get somewhat of a chance to get back!

I stumbled upon this website called Qtrove (More like a treasure trove) which is a portal for sellers who specialise in handmade, handcrafted goodies can showcase their talent and buyers can pick and choose and checkout! They even sell freshly baked cookies and cakes online (Sadly only in Bangalore as of now, so I assume they're based out of the Silicon Valley of India).

So I went to their Rs.199 store and went mad. Here is all that I bought -

1) Chunky Lemon Soap - I haven't used this yet but it's totally fresh and lemony! (Rs.100/-)

2) Hot Chocolate Blend - Swiss Vanilla & Mexican Spiced - Yet to try these too. Winters and hot chocolate go hand in hand! They don't have any expiry date mentioned though. (Rs.97 per pack)

3) Denim Pouch (Rs.120) - Absolutely loved it, though it was in a different shade than the one in their picture, but this is upcycled stuff, what else would you expect. They claim even the plastic they send it in is recycled! I always wanted to make one of these, but never got to it. Do check out the other variations they have!

4) Cauvery Ubtan Soap - Ubtan is a mixture used by our ancestors since years - a remedy to natural beauty! I was thrilled to see it in a soap form. I have started using this and it smells Oh so good! Made out of ubtan powder and enriched with turmeric and almond oil, I don't know why I get a very sandalwood kinda smell in it. (Rs.160 for 4 soaps which I think is a great deal!)

5) Sandal, Lemon Grass and Apple Cinnamon Fragrance Sachets by Iris (Rs.50 each)
Fragrance sachets are quite the trend so I couldn't wait to pick them up, specially Apple Cinnamon since that's something you wouldn't get with your general fragrance brands. I am kinda saving these for Diwali, they make great gifts or souvenirs/party favours too!

6) Assorted Aromatic Diyas - Iris - (Rs.110)
Diwali is around the corner, light up your home and get great fragrance too! Perfect!

Now this came in a very pretty packaging that can be gifted, but the actual chocolate size was smaller. I will gift this to someone, so can't comment on the taste.

8) Orange Peel Powder (Rs.79)
Another beauty product, yet to be used.

  • The website has a nice interface with upmost importance given to visuals. You will be so tempted to buy the stuff! 
  • After I placed my order, products started getting individually shipped the day after, and I received everything within the week, from 4 days to 6 days - that's pretty great. 
  • And individual shipping for every product means you do not have to wait till your entire order is in place. 
  • The products, some of them being fragile in nature, were all packaged well, first in bubble wrap and then cardboard boxes.
  • They have a great back end team. After I placed the order I received a thank you call (who does that?), then when something was not available they asked me if I would like a replacement and apologised for the inconvenience. And they even sent a cute note with your packages.

So not only are you getting great handcrafted products, but you are also supporting local artisans! I am waiting for freshly baked goodies to be available in Mumbai too!

So if you are a sucker for handcrafted goodies like I am, visit and explore the options! Oh and get a 20% discount (On purchase of Rs.200 and above) by using this code - BLOGAVANTIKA20. Do tell me what you got! Qtrove, definitely curated with love. :)


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.

I am taking my Alexa Rank to the next level with Blogchatter. Follow the journey using the hashtags #MyFriendAlexa and #JillOfAllTrades on twitter.

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!

I am taking my Alexa Rank to the next level with Blogchatter. You can follow the journey with the #MyFriendAlexa and #JillOfAllTrades.

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.