Wednesday, November 30, 2022

My first visit to Kashi - Benares - Varanasi courtesy #MahindraKabiraFestival

 Before last week, when I thought of 'Benares' I could only think of Amitabh Bacchan's song - 'Khaike paan Benares wala', or maybe a more recent reference to the film 'Atrangi Re' which is set in Benares. Also some knowledge of Benarsi Silk sarees. That was about IT! Soon, I got to know that I would be travelling to the city, today known as Varanasi to attend and cover the #MahindraKabiraFestival and I was excited to be in a new place and experience new things!

With absolutely no time to prepare, I packed a few outfits and was warned it would be chilly in the mornings and nights, hence packed a shawl, jacket, woollen poncho and hoodie along with socks (I am born in Mumbai, so my tolerance to cold is very low). My Air India flight from Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj T2 Airport to Lal Bahadur Shastri Airport was a grand start to the grandeur days to come because I had been bumped up to business class! Large plush seats, welcome drink, a maharaja meal and I was thrilled to be pampered.

Upon reaching LBS Airport, we saw hoardings of the festival and there were folks to receive us and take us to our hotel. We were put up at Diamond Hotel, a three-star hotel about 15-20 minutes from the Ghats. I would recommend you stay at a hotel in the Ghats as far as possible as it makes commuting easier and you can walk down and sit by the steps at any time you want. The hotel was otherwise clean and decent. We were tired, and hungry and ordered some room service and got ready for the opening reception. At 5pm it was totally dark outside, winters of the north!

We took a boat ride from Assi Ghat to Guleria Ghat, and these boat rides in themselves are an experience! Seeing each ghat with its lighting, the Manikarnika ghat where at any given point of time there are burning pyres and the new corridor built at the Kashi Vishwanath temple! The opening reception of the #MahindraKabiraFestival started with a beautiful Ganga Aarti performed by 5 pandits in their grand attire. It is a grand aarti that goes on for about half an hour! it is followed by a jugalbandhi performance and amazing delicacies - I was full just of the huge variety of chaats. There also was Malaiyo, but I am not sure of its authenticity as I am informed Malaiyo will melt by noon latest.

Day 2 at Benares kicked off the #MahindraKabiraFestival’s morning, afternoon and evening programmes. I really enjoyed Vidhushi Kamal Shankar on the Shankar Guitar in the morning and she is the First Lady Indian classics slide guitar musician! Post that we got graced by a successful temple visit to Kashi Vishwanath which is one of the 12 jyotirlingas in India. It only inspired me to now visit the rest, like Kedarnath or Rameshwar or Somnath - the energy can really be felt. PM Modi was also there that day and we were told we may not get to go, but we did! The evening music had mind-blowing diverse performances first by SoulE and Ishara Puppet Theatre followed by Aruna Sairam Ji. I and the entire crowd was mesmerised and enchanted both times! Yet another day of meeting some amazing people - Eric, Divya, and Abhishek to name a few!

Day 3 in Varanasi for the #MahindraKabiraFestival started with a serene beautiful sunrise and musical performances amongst which the Maharaj Trio stole the show! They even played jazz of the Sarod! 🤯😳

Followed by breakfast we set off for the panchganga heritage walk where we got further into the city’s history. Ahilyabai Holkar was a key contributor towards the city’s development back in that time. And kings from all across India who wanted to have their place by the river built their palaces at the Ghats, and called their own priests and staff. The bamboo with rope and baskets you see the act as a lighthouse for our ancestors, during Karthik Maas these are brought down, a candle/diya put in and sent back up so that the heavenly souls can navigate their way.

Today the city is further transformed by the government, with the new corridor, better roads etc. Else there used to be a saying: "रांड, सांड, सीढ़ी, सन्यासी। इनसे बचे तो सेवे काशी।।"

Post the walk we got back for lunch where I had a special serving of Thandai. The plan was to go shopping but shit went down and I am glad I was able to get it together for the evening performances!

My favourites from the evening were The Tapi Project and Of course The Raghu Dixit Project. He made people of Varanasi dance to Kannada songs and that must be quite a feat.

With an enriched heart, we returned back to Mumbai the next day. Until next time, Kabir’s Kashi!

Sunday, March 13, 2022

Jan Shatabdi Goa-Mumbai Vistadome Coach - Review

Indian Railways seems to be trying really hard to attract tourists back to trains, since most opt/prefer flights due to various reasons - the main probably being hygiene, cleanliness and comfort. One such attempt is by introducing the luxurious vistadome coach on certain routes.

I have been fond of train travel since a kid, lot of nostalgic memories of visiting Nani's place every summer and the train journeys to and fro. Ofcourse, now as a grown up with a kid, I cannot sleep or be at peace in a train and hence end up avoiding trains for long routes - plus with a full time job, don't even have the time.

My journey in the vistadome happened completely incidentally. For our journey back from Goa from a week's workation, I had booked the executive coach in Goa to Mumbai Janshatabdi Express. I only got to know later that the executive coach or EV on this train is a vistadome coach! I was thrilled and so was the kiddo, because we are always on the lookout for new experiences.

We boarded the train from Thivim station in Goa, the train was around half an hour late. The vistadome coach was large window panes and glass panes on the ceiling to give you a unparalleled view of the scenic route. There is a separate section for luggage and 2 clean western toilets equipped with toilet roll and disposable seat covers. It was very clean both times I visited.


There also is a separate pantry, dedicated attendant and cleaner for the coach. Food options are available for evening snacks (Maggi, Sandwiches, Omlette, Patties, etc) along with tea and coffee, and then for dinner (friend rice, biryani, thali etc). Though, these are all NOT included in the already expensive fare.

The seats are plush and comfortable, with its own charging socket and folding table. The seats are 360 degree rotating - and this is a BIG thing. Earlier in the Tejas Express chair car that I travelled in, the seats were facing with us going backwards direction - and this put my kiddo who was much younger than in a lot of unease. 

The viewing dock in the front is pretty useless when travelling from Goa to Mumbai because the geniuses decided to have the engine situated in front of it. Do book this coach when going to Goa, then you will get to enjoy the view totally. Plus also the fact that once the sun sets it is dark outside and the windows and view is of no use, so in the Goa to Mumbai journey you only get to enjoy the view for 3-4 hours.

Lastly, the fare is equal to a early booked flight ticket - but I still feel the train is good if you are planning to stay in North Goa. Definitely to be experienced once.

To sum it up:

If this blog helps you plan your travel, do show your love by commenting on it. Thank you! 

Sunday, March 6, 2022

Beyond gifting with - something for big and small, one and all.

 I am a total fan of cute and unique merch, stationery and other fancy things and it is my weakness that I cannot stop myself from buying. One such website I love and have been buying from since years is They have an amazing range of theme and age wise gifting and stationery options, so if you are a Harry Potter fan, Star Wars fan, FRIENDS fan, football fan or any other more such fandom-  there will be a wide range of things to select and gift (of gift yourself, because, love yourself).

I want to share some really unique quirky things I purchased this time in my haul:

1. Diamond Ice Mold (Rs.399) :

I always wanted to have fancy bar ware and keep adding to it, and this diamond ice mold is perfect for Whiskey or any drink that you want to "richen up", pun intended. Comes with a funnel and is silicon so easily washable. 

I used regular filter water to make the ice diamonds, but I think if you use boiled water that is cooled, you get clear transparent ice. Did you know that?

I also plan to use these molds to make diamond chocolates soon. Since they are silicon you can make various things!

2. Bright Bugz V-Light (Rs.399)

I am always looking for cool ways to keep kiddo engaged without screen and this cool light trick is something he chose for himself! And not just kids, it keeps adults engaged and entertained too! Available in different colours.  

3. Webcam Cover - Set of 3

The new normal means virtual meetings and video calls, and even apart from that the constant cyber risks - so I always wanted these webcam covers to avoid embarrassing/awkward situations as well as have some cyber safety. Easy to apply and compatible with any laptop/tablet.

Don't forget to checkout their amazing range of cute and adorable collectibles and gifting options! There is something for everyone, big or small, one and all! 

Friday, February 11, 2022

Hairtamin Versus Power Gummies Versus Setu Hair Strong - India Review (After using 3 months each)

 Whether it is COVID or vaccination side effects or simply the stress of WFH life, I hear all my friends, acquaintances or relatives complain of increased hair fall/loss. I myself was having hair fall and thinning issues and I decided I need to do something about it.

Hairtamins Advanced Formula:

I first heard of Hairtamin because I followed influencers endorsing the brand and the ingredients and results both looked extremely promising. Hairtamin is an international brand and hence when you import it to India, be mindful of the shipping and custom charges. I also had to submit a declaration to the shipping company declaring that the supplements were for self usage. 


1. Natural ingredients, in an easy to consume capsule that can be taken anytime.

2. Bottle of 3 or 6 always have deals and offers.

3. While I was using the product, I did notice reduction in hair-fall.


1. Expensive when you add shipping and customs (they should have an India presence).

2. When I stopped using the product hair fall/loss was back - no-one wants to be dependent or crippled by a supplement. (I cannot be sure, but this is how it was for me).

3. Shipping takes time.

Power Gummies:

Digital marketing and social media remarketing and targeted ads are really amazing. I know that because I do that for a living myself. The minute I interacted with Hairtamin on Instagram, I started getting ads from competition supplements and vitamin companies. The one that caught my eye was Power Gummies and I soon placed an order for a pack of 3, since my hairfall woes continued.


1. Comparatively cheaper (than Hairtamin) and no shipping or custom charges since made in India.

2. Love their packaging - especially when you buy a pack of 3.


1. The sticky sweet gummy format is not for all. Unnecessary intake of sugar plus worry of tooth decay! And extra sweetness is not for all. I mean, we're not kids.

2. I don't think the supplement had any benefit for my hair (I used it for 3 months) not sure if it would have if I continued for more time. And just like with Hairtamin, my hairfall/loss increased again massively when I stopped consuming it.

SETU Hair Strong:

After the previous two trials, my hairfall had massively increased. I did have health issues like Dengue, Migraine and then the vaccination jabs. Lot of hypothesis and guess works can be made but something had me loosing hair in chunks. I did also have a lot of stress at that time. I was panicking and thought maybe third time's the charm. SETU is a brand I have tried before for their turmerich capsules or gummies, and they have the supplement in a strip format. So capsule, gummy and now strip. :D


1. FINALLY, a product that works. Or at-least, my Hairfall/loss is in control. I have had the strip for 2 months now, and definitely a visible change. Cannot be surely if it is solely the strips or other conditions like weather/stress levels too. 

2. I like the strip format, it has a pleasant taste and melts. 

3. Offers - I bought a refill on a buy 2 get 2 offer that has me sorted for 4 months. 

4. Packaging - Each strip is individually packed, making it super travel friendly. You can literally carry them in your waller or travel kit for the number of days you need them for.


1. Honestly, I cannot think of anything pressing - but maybe the taste of the strip is not for all, that may bother a few, but it is negligible.

2. As someone who supports sustainability I definitely feel that each strip being packed individually means more plastic waste (I believe the packaging is plastic). Maybe they could crack a planet-friendly bio-degradable packaging. 

Also, I should add, that most of these products also claim that they aid better skin and nails as well, due to the ingredients - I definitely feel my nail are stronger and grow faster, but I feel my skin is pretty much the same, with breakouts due to hormonal cycles or clogged pores.

Now of-course, I do not know what will happen once I stop taking these, will update if that happens, as of now I have stocked up for 4-5 months.

I hope this helps you choose a suitable hair supplement for your needs!