Monday, October 16, 2017

#CleanUpCashOut - A Memoir Of Easier Said Than Done!

So there is a new genie in town - Cashify! Well, literally speaking it is not a Genie, but what it does is no less useful or magical. In this ever increasingly connected and technologically advanced world, any new app/website that can make our life easier is that much closer to being an actual magical entity for us, isn't it. And Cashify takes care of one of our perennial problems. See, we love to keep ourselves technologically updated, which means, we keep buying all new kinds of computers, laptops, mobile phones and the like. Before we know it, there seems to be a mountain of old electronics, inching our living abode closer to an actual e-waste hazard site than a normal abode for human beings. How do we dispose off these? Cashify brings a cool, comfortable solution where we can get our old,used electronics priced within 60 seconds, clarify a pick up time wherein they will pick it up from our doorstep and pay us on the spot too! Heaven for absolute lazy lizards like me :D Now this is called read #CleanUpCashOut moment.

Oh but where was this genie when I was in dire need of just this kind of help, an online place to deal with genuine buyers, getting cash on my doorstep, partners like amazon and croma on the roster, a seamless transaction without any headache.. 10 years ago I had no such help when I needed to sell my old Siemens mobile. It was the first mobile phone my dad had bought way back in the year 2000, when mobile phones were a luxury and we were charged even for incoming calls! Yes children, there really was an age like that too, you may even call me a dinosaur based on this piece of information :P My blue sturdy Siemens took me through high school and half my college life too before it started sputtering, giving me problems such as lost connections, random shutdowns and garbled screen. It was a sad moment when I decided to part ways with it and moved on to my brand new Nokia 1100 (which was the cream of the crop back then!) But the big question was-what to do with my Siemens? Whom to sell and in how much? My dad had bought it in Rs. 9000 and I had used it fruitfully for almost 5 years and it was still going to work quite well after getting it serviced just once. My parents had no idea about anything remotely related to technology and they thought it is the domain of us 'young savvy ones'. I started asking around my college friends' circle if anyone needed an old sturdy Siemens and got a couple of inquiries but they were not seriously interested. After about 6 months, a friend of mine said that a friend of his wanted a basic old phone to be used by his grandfather, all he needed was some kind of dabba to make and receive calls and maybe couple of sms a day,nothing more. I was elated because my Siemens was absolutely up to the task and asked my friend to get me in touch with his friend. I called his friend-let's call him S- and explained the condition of my phone. Thankfully, he seemed very interested. When it came to money, I honestly told him that I had completely used it and would be happy even with a token amount. He himself said that his budget is Rs. 1000, which was more than what I had expected and so I said sure let us meet up and complete the transaction.

Oh better said than done, right? After that verbal confirmation, it took me 5 more rounds of trying to fix up a time and place to actually meet to complete the transaction. After about a month of dilly-dallying on S's end, I thought he was not really interested in buying my Siemens. I conveyed this to my friend and started looking for more buyers. By stroke of luck, a college colleague of mine wanted a basic phone to give to his sister and he was ready to buy my phone in Rs. 800. I fixed up a meeting with him the next day, but guess what, that night itself, S called me back and said that he was just very busy in his work and was really interested in buying my phone the very next day. Well, since I had fixed up things with S first, I thought it was only fair that I close the sale with him, so I said so to my college colleague and went to our designated time and place to meet S. He came on time, checked my phone, everything was in good condition as discussed and then the bombshell- he was ready to pay Only Rs. 600! This was downright cheating- he had promised Rs. 1000, then he made me wait a month, then I had already fixed up another buyer at Rs. 800 and then I had, in good faith, come back to sell it to him and now he said he will pay only Rs. 600. It took me over 15 minutes of yelling and trying to drill some sense into his head before he agreed to pay Rs. 800. By now I was too much tired and just decided to take my money and go away from this two faced treacherous man. Honestly,it was not about money for me, but this whole process, the haggling, the constant phone calls trying to fix up a meeting, everything was just very tiring and saddening and I wish never to go through all this ever again.

Well, what is done is done. But from now on, Cashify is where I am going to sell all my old ,used electronics, and I hope you do too! What's more, you will get an additional Rs. 250 on the sale of your gadgets if you use the coupon code CLEANCASH. Let us all #CleanUpCashOut now :)

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

The Magic of Stories, Rekindled!

It is heartening when brands do something above & beyond what is expected from them, something to enrich people's lives and not just sell their product. Colgate has always been a brand enshrined in the very roots of any Indian family, always at the forefront of ensuring dental security for us from our childhood. Now they have taken an appreciable step of rekindling children's imagination, how cool is that!

How often do we all complain about the modern lifestyle that has corrupted the very idea of childhood, how we weep on watching them be glued to TV, video games, internet 24/7. Our parents always compare this to their times when children used to play in open parks and spend time reading books. Well, Colgate has decided to fire up the spirit of adventure and streak of creativity among the kids by encouraging them to weave stories!

I was honored to stumble onto Colgate Strong Teeth Packs that come equipped with a magical seaworld inside, that of more than 15 characters such as turtles, octopus and starfish, inhabiting themes like Treasure Hunt, Pirate Ship, Coral Reefs and Magical Mermaid! Welcome to the world of Colgate Magical Stories where kids can cut out these images, craft stories of their own and play to their heart's content. Doesn't this sound like those heavenly childhood days we all crave for?

The basic question underlining the idea is -when was the last time your child told you a story? Honestly, the last time I heard a story from my 10 year old nephew is when he was trying to explain the delightful world of pokemon go! I was just too excited to share the Colgate Magical Stories world with him and also a bit apprehensive as to how he, the tech-crazy little genius, would take the idea.

Me-' So here is something you would like Vikas'
Vikas- 'I am playing Pokemon, don't disturb pleez'
Me- 'This is better than Pokemon'
Vikas -'No wayyyyyyy'
Me-' This is as good as Harry Potter, infact even better, since you can make a Harry Potter story yourself, underwater!"
Vikas finally looked up after a 10 seconds pause, keeps his phone by his side, takes the packs from me, starts tearing them apart carefully and instantly gets absorbed in the characters.
2 Minutes later, Vikas-'See this is a battle between evil and good too just like Harry Potter'
Me-'How so?'
Vikas, the cheeky jowl -'You adults don't see anything!'
Me- 'Indulge me'
Vikas-'See here, Blackbird wants his treasure and you know what is inside the treasure chest? The method to bring world peace. But the evil forces of the world have joined hands to not let Blackbird near the treasure chest which has been buried in the deepest part of the oceans and they have installed their evil guards at different places. Blackbird hurries because he has to stop the world wars. So he dives in the ocean and meets the helpful trio of Puffer Fish, Star Fish and Sea Turtle. This trio is the funniest in the ocean and they decide to help Blackbird.

Turtle Fish has the uncanny ability to sense the presence of evil creatures while Puffer Fish has the special ability to secret a toxin to make them inactive. So as they move ahead, they incapacitate the evil creatures and get closer to the treasure. But halfway across the ocean, all 4 of them lose their way and separate.

This was a plan by the evil forces who have possessed Sting Ray, Killer Whale and Shark to kill Blackbird and the funny trio. The Mermaid with her super hearing comes to know of this plan and prays to her father, the King of underworld to save Blackbird and funny trio. Her father comes out of the sea to battle the evil forces. Mermaid has the potion that takes away the possessiveness of Sting Ray, Killer Whale and Shark and turns them into personal soldiers of Mermaid. Now they search for Blackbird & the funny trio to bring them to the treasure chest.

When they find Blackbird, he is severely tired and malnourished. The evil forces have drained all his energy. So all the sea creatures come together and decide to donate a part of their personalities to revive him. Puffer Fish gives his protective shield, Star Fish gives his sense of humor, Sea Turtle gives his agility, Mermaid gives her kindness, Shark gives his super hearing ability, Whale gives her superb smelling power, Sting Ray gives his mental agility and with all their love Blackbird is finally revived. As soon as he opens the treasure chest, a golden glow comes out and destroys the evil forces and world peace becomes a reality'


Vikas did not go back to his phone, rather he has been conjuring up stories like these with all the characters now and I suspect pretty soon he will have a children's story book ready, all thanks to Colgate Magical Stories :)

Not only do these stories fuel up mad genius creativity, these packs also come overloaded with a wealth of information about the sea world, such as the fact that a octopus has 3 hearts and a sea turtle can weight upto 300 kgs! Even I did not know these, after all the underwater world has always been a fascinatingly mysterious place for us humans, so kudos to Colgate for taking the initiative to bring some innovative fun with knowledge in our kids' lives :)

Friday, June 3, 2016

Falling in love with Datsun Redi - GO

Style or Comfort? How about both?

Okay,let me start at the beginning :D

Last month, I was talking to my uncle about buying a car. He loves cars and I am planning to buy my 1st one soon. But I am not that much knowledgeable about automobiles in general. Hence,the talk with my uncle :) Now when he started talking on the topic, I needed some time to adjust mentally to the fact that he was not speaking in Latin :P As soon as I had accepted it and got in the flow of the conversation, came this turning point. What do I want from my car? Do I want it to be stylish and attract praise from all my loved ones? Or do I want comfort and safety parameters to be top notch? And then I thought, well why cannot I have all of these together? Why must I choose?

Alas, a lot of times, we have to choose because we cannot get it all- so replied my uncle! Well that sounds unfair. I need top notch features in my car, both externally as well as internally. It was with this quest in mind that I have been looking around to finalize a list of cars I want to take out on a test drive. And voila, look at my luck that I came across Datsun Redi - GO :) With a bevy of features that make it a perfect fit for my requirements,I am actually looking forward to take it out for a spin. Why, you ask? Well, because of-
  1. The Exterior is fabulous and I am especially in love with best in-class ground clearance! I am going to take it out for a spin in my lovely city Mumbai and I need something to navigate through the road here perfectly. Well,the high ground clearance are going to especially useful to deal with numerous low lying street obstacles which anyone who has ever driven in Mumbai will attest to as being huge hazards! I want to say bye-bye to those annoying road bumps :)
  2. I always love incorporating the latest in technology in my everyday life (who doesn't :P) and here the Drive Computer has made me excited to take Datsun Redi-GO out for a spin so that I can look at all kinds of stats like-Instantaneous and average mileage, distance to empty, fuel remaining and so on LIVE in real time :) It is already giving me a futuristic feel, something I am sure to appreciate even more when I drive it!
  3. Maneuvering a car on the roads of Mumbai is a herculean task with so many tight spots lurking around. I have seen my uncle try to move around in his latest sedan and getting stuck at so many corners. Well, with Datsun Redi-GO able to make  full turn-around with just a 4.7-metre turning radius, I will no longer find myself in tight spots! How cool is that :)
These are just some of my favorite features which have made my heart set on wanting to take this beauty out for a test drive. Driving in a city like Mumbai is nothing short of a challenge with the condition of the roads, the congestion, the traffic, the constant repair work, diversions, unpredictability and so on. I need not only a car but a dependable partner for navigating through this maze and what better than Datsun Redi-GO! Truly, falling in love with its features is a given :)

Fun. Freedom. Confidence. The ultimate Urban Cross - Datsun redi-GO - the capability of a crossover with the convenience of a hatchback.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Nutrition & Fun with Vikas Khanna at #QuakerBowl Indimeet!

Sunday. The best day of the week. The day even your parents don't disturb you if you sleep beyond the 8 AM mark.

Unless you have told them to wake up early :P

This is a feat only Indiblogger can achieve. Make normal people want to wake up early on a Sunday so that they can spend at least 1 hour wondering what are they going to wear to the Indimeet where a celebrity chef is gonna regale them with something special,just like I was doing on 10th April 2016 :D

This invite to attend an event related to Quaker oats obviously raised a 1000 questions. 
Who is this celebrity chef?
What in the name of sweet Jesus are we going to do with oats? I mean, seriously, OATS!
When will I dream about my date with Leonardo di Caprio, a process I keep reserved for Sunday mornings?
What is meant by Healthy Food? Do I want to have healthy food on Sunday? And what is up with OATS?

So after grappling with these mysteries of life for about an hour,I did sign up for the meet because if there is one thing I know about Indiblogger in my 2 years of association with them is that they serve brilliant food in all their events. Also, they are a bunch of really sweet and passionate (about blogging) people. And I always learn something new in all the Indimeets. And did I say how brilliant the food is? :D

So there I was, ubering my way to JW Marriott Juhu on Sunday morning with my sister who has very recently joined the world of Blogging & Indiblogging :) We reached early which just gave me ample time to roam around the premises and take photographs of all sorts of knick knacks around PLUS meet other awesome bloggers. Some tea, coffee and cookies AND a huge ink stamp on our hands later, we were ushered in the regal ballroom to meet our surprise celebrity chef and start the fun + healthy session. It started with the usual bonhomie and some quirky fun when Taher Shah's 'Angel' song was played and we did some crazy ninja dance as a tribute to him :D

I have a confession to make.My relationship with Leonardo has been rock solid for 2 decades now, but sometimes, oh I simply cannot stop myself from dreaming about someone else, who goes by the name of Vikas Khanna. Shh, let it be our secret. Yup, the inspirational, talented and world famous Michelin starred MasterChef Vikas Khanna with his baby restaurant Junoon in New York. Him. Now guess why I am mentioning him here? Well, because he turned out to be our surprise Chef. Yup, take a moment to swoon as we all did :D

So he walks in as our host & dost for next 2 hours and we all lost our minds. After a while, when we could focus on his words rather than his eyes,his hair (yada yada :P), we realized he has tied up as PepsiCo's Nutrition Ambassador! Frankly, when I hear the word Pepsi, I can only think of soda and that is as far from 'health' as it can be. So it is a pleasant surprise to see this giant multinational working in tandem with someone like Vikas Khanna to spread positivity, message of health and battle problems like malnutrition in our society. Good work and Great Karma there :)

The invite was not wrong. There was quiz, prizes, fun, jokes and discussions not to be missed. All because Vikas Khanna is such a charmer. It is not just that he looks good, it is because he radiates goodness. He is kind, compassionate, jovial and probably the most down-to-earth person one can meet. We were in a ballroom with more than 200 people yet every moment of this Indimeet is registered in our minds as if we spent it with him alone :) We discussed about the problem of malnutrition and obesity, the health problems that are engulfing us because of our hectic lifestyle and how oats is one of the best grains to incorporate in our daily life.

Yes, OATS! That dreaded thing :P In my home,I am actually the only one who can bear to eat oats. My sister would rather kiss a dragon that eat anything to do with it. Maybe because none of us are chefs. We enjoy eating but don't really cook anything and when we do,it usually ends in disaster. So the only way we know how to use oats is,put milk and sugar and some chopped fruits in it. So when the conversation veered to oats,I was skeptical. But then Vikas Khanna told us that it can be used to make any dish we make with other grains-sweet or savory. We can use it in soups or even in our Indian gravies as thickening agents. That was a revelation! 

There was a little quiz session too,which owing to my complete lack of culinary wizardry, I was a complete failure in :P Anyway, I was too busy swooning over Vikas Khanna while he ran around making sure everyone got a chance to answer and win some cute food hampers :D Oh,he punctuated the session with plenty of homegrown jokes and anecdotes of his childhood, his job and Punjabis in general. He even gave away hampers for people who did not know the answer yet had the courage to stand up for the challenges he put forth...hey,wait,I could have won an hamper too!!! *Light-bulb moment*

The best part was when we had an impromptu cooking contest. When we had walked in the ballroom, I had wondered about the purpose of these cooking stations that were set up along one side. Turns out that we were all divided into different teams and had to cook up a storm involving oats and a host of other ingredients within 10 minutes which would be reviewed on the basis of taste + their instagram-ability by none other than Vikas Khanna himself. Of course, I was a complete failure when it came to cooking but my teammates were up to the challenge. So we made 2 dishes - first,we sauteed a bunch of veggies and cooked oats in plain water and just mixed them up and second, we cooked oats with jaggery and I,not being a completely useless bum, helped decorate it with macaroons,fruits,chocolate sauce and jalebi. Surprise, surprise, our savory oats dish was actually rather good and was the runner-up. The fact that Chef Khanna did not die of food poisoning or something worse even after tasting our monstrosities was prize in itself for me :D

Actually it was during this impromptu contest itself that the main message of this event resonated with me. Our lives are busy. We are often under the impression that making a good,healthy, nutritious meal is a humongous chore which needs hours of preparation and special culinary skills. Thus we often end up making pizzas, pastas, oily noodles as our staples which are easy to get home delivered whereas we can whip up a lot of healthy food within minutes using something as basic as oats! Brilliant :) 

Thanks be to Indiblogger and the whole Quaker team for not making us feast on our own creations and actually serving lip-smacking brunch where we had the pleasure of feasting on several dishes including Oats Brownies as well as Oats Paneer Makhani! Remember when Vikas Khanna was talking about how versatile oats are? Yeah,they really are. We left after getting a free cookbook enumerating various ways in which we can use them to make everything from breakfast to dinner PLUS a pack of Quaker Oats to try these recipes out :) 

Oh you wanna know what I made with that? Well, my sister and I, both of us not being even remotely chef-y, decided to try out something simple. And we did! Here is what we made :-)

Just took about 25 grams each of tomatoes, carrots, capsicum, cauliflower and peanuts. Sauteed them in 3 tablespoon of olive oil for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, roasted about 250 grams of oats till they turned brown. Then we mixed them together along with about 150 grams of left-over rice and cooked for another 5 minutes. Voila, Oats & Rice Veggie Delight is ready ;D For the first time in my life, my sister actually ate something with oats in it!

#QuakerBowl was a big bowl of fun indeed :)

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Music connects the world through our souls!

Music is probably the only language that does not need words. It is my personal favorite language :)

Now what prompted this observation? Oh,just observing some loved ones :)

I grew up listening to classical ghazals by maestros like Talat Aziz, Pankaj Udhas since they were my dad's favorite. On the other hand, my mom doesn't know a word of Urdu and always put on loads of Bengali and Oriya songs. My dad and I don't know these languages but it never bothered us or stopped us from loving them :)

Last month, my sister had participated in a cultural exchange program at her college according to which,we had to play host to a Japanese college student for a week. While we were apprehensive about how this visit of his would go,we were also very excited to have been given an opportunity to know someone from such a different culture in such a close way. As expected, we learnt a lot from him about his country, his culture, his language, his food habits, his family. However, I did not expect something.

A day before he was leaving for Japan, he brought a CD in our living room and asked us to accept it as a gift. It was a music compilation he had done in his college with his friends and he thought that it would be a gift we would appreciate. My dad asked him to tell us about the song and he just said, 'Music'. We started playing it. Within 2 minutes,I could see my dad closing his eyes and relaxing back in the couch just like he does when we play his favorite ghazals. 

It is a beautiful music piece, a cover of which is here at youtube :)

Just listening to this music, I automatically thought of some harvest songs my mom had played sometime ago,in Oriya language. There is happiness, there is mischief, there is tenderness, there is hope, there is joy of a new beginning. All this in a music piece without any words! I did not need to know Japanese to understand what this music piece is all about. The same reaction ensued when my dad played some Pankaj Udhas ghazals for him. He was spellbound and downloaded them all on his ipod ;)

Isn't this the reason Bach, Beethoven are considered maestros worldwide since their music connects us all beyond the usual boundaries of time and space? No matter where we are, who we are,we simply cannot help being moved by those eternal melodies!

I am sure every single person out there has had a similar experience, of being moved by music in such a unique way that it astounds us too! Truly, it is the best language in the world,as it speaks to our soul and thus needs no verbal communication :)

This blog post is inspired by the blogging marathon hosted on IndiBlogger for the launch of the #Fantastico Zica from Tata Motors. You can apply for a test drive of the hatchback Zica today.