Saturday, December 26, 2015

Home - A feeling , few lines.

"How long will be able to keep them protected? Let them spread their wings and fly away. That's the truth of life. Only you and I, oldies will be together." That's what dad used to tell our over protective mom. Our mother was that quintessential hyper Indian mom who would be constantly worried for her children.

I still remember the day I packed my bag and left "home" in the sleepy little town of Dibrugarh to the bigger Guwahati city. That was right after my 10th and I knew that was it - my time to spread my wings and find my horizon. That was the day I was going Away from home.

What did I miss the most during these years? In hostels I missed my whole family and of course "mom cooked" food. I believe "mom cooked" food is something all of us and will continue to miss come what may. Yeah, but eventually in each hostel I stayed, I made a family too. Those girls also away from home, became closer to each other and would find solace in this adopted family of fellow hostel mates. And each of the girls' actual families became each of the other girls' families too. Each visitor had to keep in mind that he was in fact "visiting" at least 5-6 other girls too and must carry chocolates / sweets / snacks accordingly. Girl those were some days!

Then I moved from city to city - hostels, rented places, shared accommodations and back home to mom for a short period before leaving home again - this time to make a home of my own with P. The way mom had left her "home" and made a "home" with dad for us.

I am home now.

Written for the #blogchatter prompt 'Away from home'

Blogchatter is a twitter initiative where bloggers from all spheres connect, engage and support each other in taking blogs to next level. Also every Wednesday we have a chat session at 8.30 PM discussing a range of blogging topics each week. Do tune in!

#Blogchatter 23rd Dec to 30th Dec

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Flipkart Launches Flipkart Little Stars

I am very naïve when it come to online shopping! yes. I don't have any "apps" downloaded in my phone which people browse and shop - just like that. I tend to tread very cautiously in this online shopping arena. Having said that I also must admit that both I and P are big time bibliophiles. Especially P who goes berserk whenever there is a sale at CrossWord or Landmark. Or else these online stores to his rescue. Hassel free and quick, easy payment , easy delivery and most of the times  great offers too! Thus Flipkart has been an integral part of our life ALWAYS. Of whatever I have shopped online 90% are through Flipkart and I have to say I am "not so naïve" when it comes to online shopping on Flipkart!

Thus when I received an email from indiblogger about Flipkart launching #FlipkartKids called Flipkart Little Stars , the largest online store for kids, I was excited. There are so many little stars around us, in our extended families and friends. New borns, 1st Birthdays, twins, stating of school.. the list goes on and on. Near or far and wherever they are - Online order and delivery at their doorsteps ; how convenient can it be!

The event started by 3pm at Blue Frog, Lower Parel after a sumptuous lunch. Though there were mostly ladies, there were men too and equally enthusiastic about the whole event. It started with THE favourite star of all children across the country - Chota Bheem. Chota Bheem is one successful example of Make In India; completely home grown, conceptualized and created. There were no kids, but all present  grown ups were super excited to meet and shake hands with Chota Bheem and getting a selfie clicked. He obliged everyone.

We with Bheem - Thanks Tina.

Bheem dancing and my hand shaking. Hence this image!

Then Anoop introduced Kalpana Behera who very boldly confessed that she suffers from " Intense Narsicism" about herself and her 12 year old son. She has a very interesting blog called " My Little World" where she writes about her son and every year on his birthday she writes a letter to him and posts on her blog. It was a revelation listening to her. I thought I was the only one who suffers from this Mental Block where I just donot find the words to write. Glad to know that I wasn't alone and I was really impressed by the fact that no matter what, she made sure that she wrote one post each year on her son's birthday. Like a letter to her son on his birthday.

It was the time for the panel to take the stage and Anoop introduced each one of them - Rishi Vasudev and Panchali from Filpkart team; Seema Chawla from Mattel and Bharath from Chota Bheem team. Together they put a light on the changing trends of shopping in India, the changing tastes of both parents and children in India. Parents are more aware and very clear about what they want for their children. Children in turn have become equally sure of their choices and more assertive in terms what toys, books or accessories they want at the specific time. This panel discussion was very well reciprocated by the bloggers present as they took active part and asked questions and shared their experiences. One blogger asked about the toys for differently abled children to which both Rishi and Seema replied that they were sure going to be more considerate and keep this aspect in mind when putting up toys in Flipkart Little Stars. That's really commendable. However the onus of making any children responsible mainly lies with the parents - as Seema has rightly put out ; whenever there is a new toy at home, the child can always learn about sharing that. May be with cousins or friends when they visit. I would like to add, after few years when the child outgrows the toy, he can be taught to give it to the lesser privileged ones.


Children from all over the country can now get ready to welcome their favorite hero Chota Bheem to the Big Screen. Flipkart and team Chota Bheem have collaborated for a new film of Chota Bheem which will soon be released in theatres across the country. That announcement marked another highlight of the afternoon. In fact Bharath revealed that the most searched item of Chota Bheem is his "Dhoti". I can so relate to that as there's this son of my friend who was stuck with a tee shirt with the print of Chota Bheem eating a laddoo! His mother literally appealed to everyone to help her find that.

The afternoon came to an end with an ad mad contest. The bloggers were divided into 5 groups and all of us had to come up with an innovative ad featuring toys, accessories from Flipkart Little Stars. It was sure a fun and truly mad ad game. Suddenly all grown ups were kids again.

The session ended with the signature indiblogger sign off and it was fun like all indiblogger meets. Keeping the tradition of making a new blogger friend in these meets, I met Aarthi this time.

Us "Pic courtesy - Tina Acharya"
Here's wishing Flipkart all the very best with Flipkart Little Stars. May this little star shines brightest for those little stars in our homes.


Monday, December 21, 2015

Just Bingge - That extra G!

If you ask me what do I look for in any new restaurant or eating place that I find, besides the
food obviously, I always look for the ambience. I am sure many of us do the same. Thus the other day I landed at Just Bingge who have opened their second outlet in Sector 17, Vashi, Navi Mumbai. Their first one is at Palm Beach Road which is a takeaway joint. However this one a cozy little all day café. The first thing that caught my attention was the handprints outside the door. When asked, I came to know that those are the handprints of the workers who had worked in the café to make the place how it is today. I was so happy to know that.

The interior of the place is warm, cozy and very modern with a retro touch. That cycle on the wall or that cute little window with a flower pot make for a perfect ambience while you enjoy a heart to heart conversation with your date / friend / spouse.

They mostly specialize in Salads, Sandwiches , Burgers, Wraps etc. I had a Vegetable Cheese Burger, Eggplnat Parmigiana with Garlic bread, Chicken Seekh Kabab, Nachos with Melting cheese and Salsa and a drink called Little Miss Havana.

Eggplant Parmigiana
The burger was superb, the patty was tasty and crisp just the way I like my breads and buns. The best thing about the burger that I liked was the size of the patty. It covered the whole bun properly was not lost somewhere in the middle. Eggplant Parmigiana was a very well prepared dish. I loved the cheese and eggplant combination thoroughly. Chicken seekh kabab takes away the prize for being the most neatly wrapped and superbly tasty roll / wrap. I was floored and could have had one more if I was not full already. I would highly recommend to try out this Seekh Kabab Wraps. They have a vegetarian version with Paneer too. Along with all these I had a cool drink called Little Miss Havana which for me was the perfect accompaniment.

That's Just Bingge with that extra G. People in Navi Mumbai or anyone who happens to be near Vashi , do go and find out what's the other G stands for. For me that stands for Good food, Good place and a Good vibe.


Address of the place


Monday, December 14, 2015

I Cannot do without - This!

I don't know how or when exactly I fell for it, but the truth is I just cannot do without this anymore. Whenever it is not with me, I feel restless as if something important is missing in my life. Even P at times shouts " what's important I or this?" Imagine P has a competitor and that too this. By "this" I mean a lip balm. Yes that very same nondescript not so important lip balm.

This is a long story.

As far as I can remember, this happened in a winter while I was still in school. I got a small jar of Vaseline Petroleum Jelly and I was hooked to it. I would apply that on my dry hands and legs and even on small scratches and cuts while playing. I had this problem of cracked lips during winters. In Assam for such things the easy handy remedy is "Boroline". In every household in late eighties and early nineties you would find a Boroline or an Aspoline. Ours was no different. Boroline was the indispensable item in our first aid box at home. Since I could not take that tube to school, hence came the Vaseline Jelly to rescue. I applied that on my lips once and voila "Love happened". That saga of love continues. I have not been too faithful to Vaseline, I have to admit! I have changed brands but my obsession with lip balm continues.

We girls/women have more than one bag. I am also no different. I keep one in every bag so that I don't have to search for one if I change my bag for that day. I learnt that the hard way. Whenever I forgot my lip balm, I had to buy a new one. Thus I ended up with one in each bag. Simple and no tension.

During school, in college, in Gwalior Institute and later in my work places - everyone close to me was / is aware that I have this obsession. It helped them too. A small scratch or cut; there was one lip balm available which could be used as the instant remedy.

Now after years of my lip balm experience let me share one tip for all of you out there : During winters apply Boroline on your face before going to sleep at night. Yeah on your lips too. It works wonders. Ignore if you have very oily skin. And by winter I mean REAL winter where you wear layers of warm clothes, sit next to the fire, sip a cup of hot coffee and discuss a dime a dozen with your loved ones. Not the kind of winter get in Mumbai.

This post was written in response to a #WritePrompt #CannotDoWithout from @Blogchatter - a wonderful platform for bloggers from every genre, that encourages, motivates and educates on everything blogging!

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Egg Capsicum Burger as learnt at Keya Food Stall

It was a pleasant turn of events which made me land at the 13th Upper Crust Food and Wine show at World Trade Centre, Cuffe Parade on 5th Dec. I only had heard about that and had absolutely no plans of going there. Reasons - no 1. too far from my place and no.2 that's a weekend. And weekends I enjoy my siesta. But there I was and I was so glad that I went.
Actually what happened was there was an event at Parel where I had an invite and could not have missed. There I met Geeta Sridhar, who took me to the Upper Crust Show with her. I am ever thankful to her. When we reached the show, there was a demonstration of some easy and quick recipes was going on at the Keya Foods counter by Chef Amit Vashisht. There were some mothers and children surrounding him all ears and eyes for what Chef had to teach.

Chef Amit showed 3 really easy recipes which even children can try using Keya food products.
Egg Green Bell pepper Burger , Broccoli, Croutons and Feta salad AND a Pan cake with caramalised Banana.

Broccoli Croutons and Feta salad.
Keya Foods is comparatively new in the market. It was started only in 2009 and in their own words Keya Foods aims " to change our outlook on everyday food". Started mainly started as seasonings with various herbs and spices, Keya now has over 100 products including instant soups and ready to eat range of fruit and nut snacks. If you ask me, I have mostly used the seasonings from Keya food products. It was revelation to me about their Ready To Eat Fruit and Nut Snacks. What made me glad was when I saw some interesting "Sprinklers" like Madras Chutney Powder, Delhi Dahi Bhalla powder, Piri Piri. Those are sure some things I would want in my kitchen! 

Getting inspired by Chef Amit's Burger recipe I tried to recreate the same today for breakfast. I must confess, I am a thoroughly breakfast person. Without a hearty breakfast I cannot think straight. Since Saturday , I was dying to try that. Usually on working days I do not dare to experiment during breakfast. With this one I knew I would manage.

Thus I did the below and recreated my version of the Burger :
Egg Capsicum Burger by Chef Amit

I got fresh brown Burger bun when coming home from my morning walk.

One Egg hard boiled.
One Small Capsicum cut into thin strips
One Small Onion cut into thin strips
I had lettuce in my freeze, so used that too.

2 / 3 table spoon Tomato Puree and mix half tea spoon of Pizza seasoning from Keya Foods in to the puree.

Now sauté the Capsicum and Onions in Olive Oil. Chef Amit did in butter. Since I do not take butter, I opted for Olive oil.
My version of Egg Capsicum Burger

Cut the boiled egg into slices and slightly sauté the pieces.
In the same pan, heat the bun from both sides. As in Burgers, this needs to be opened into 2 pieces.

Take a spoon and spread the tomato puree and pizza seasoning mixture on one side of the bun. Place few lettuce leaves. Add some sautéed capsicum and onions. Add the egg slices on top of these. Sprinkle some black pepper over this.

Grate some cheese. Since I had a Go cheese slice, I just broke that in to pieces and put that.

Cover with the other bun side and gorge.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Towards Responsible Tourism!

We love to travel – claim many including yours truly. No no I am not doubting their love for travel. We all seriously love to travel. But how many of us “love to travel” and “love to travel responsibly?” We the blogger or the photographers or thinkers like to say or see things a bit differently – hat ke types. Rather than going there and striking off that place from the “to visit” list; we like to really be there, feel it, be one with it ( however clichéd may that sound to my own ears) Am I sounding too cynical? Because I have seen people do things they donot do at home, when they travel. Admit it, we all have seen that, many of us must have reacted too and what followed might be a story many would not like to remember. I am strictly referring to my fellow countrymen and women travelers here.

 So what is Responsible Travel. To sum up what the Capetown Conference on Responsible Tourism in 2002 describes – Responsible Tourism is that tourism which aims at “creating better places to live in and better places to visit”. It must encompass all kinds of tourism related activities to be successful for a particular destination or state that aim at Responsible Tourism.

How do we make sure that we all the indeed responsible people and we are serious about what we do and what we donot do when we travel. Pages after pages can be written on this. I admit I am no authority on Responsible Tourism. However I as a traveler would really like to contribute in my little way to “create better places to live in and better places to visit”. (I know I have repeated, but that’s what it is)

Here’s what I feel can be considered.

Tourists / Travelers must be more careful and really sensitive towards the local eco system. That habit of dropping everything on the road as you travel needs to be done away with, and done away with forever. You throw plastic packets, tetra packs, water bottles, spit on roads and walls – please for cleanliness’ sake, what sort of a habit is that! This country is not a dustbin as we would like to treat her. Why while travelling; many have this habit of just rolling down the car window and throw out everything on to the road even in their own cities and towns. All are ok with that as long as their own houses remain clean. Please learn to respect this planet, our own country and get rid of this ugly habit. Patriotism cannot be only during cricket matches! Bikers and backpackers on tents and camps must make sure not to leave anything behind except for some wonderful memories.
How aptly named!

Locals must be aware and strict about their place their surroundings. When tourists go to a place, the whole place changes eventually.  It has lot of positive impact. A whole industry comes up. But the local people must be aware that this industry will remain as long as they respect their own place and be responsible towards it. When one sees someone doing something which may be as small as throwing a candy wrap on road, say it. Make that a habit. I have seen in some places in Leh, there were signs offering to refill water bottles at a nominal cost. That’s such a wonderful initiative. No one has to keep buying those bottles of mineral water all the time. We may not realise, but those bottles are also hazardous.

The Travel companies must draw a line. Certain places are very very sensitive and cannot handle too many tourists. After some Bollywood movies Leh has become a favourite destination for people. That has indeed generated many livelihoods for the locals there. But at what cost? Whole of Ladakh region is ecologically highly sensitive and fragile. The way the tour companies are operating “Mesmerising Leh, Rooftop of the world” packages, the day is not far when this will collapse. My heart broke when I saw heaps of beer bottles and empty packets of chips lying in Ranbirpura near Leh town which is now a very popular place for film and ad shoots. I pray and hope the Indus does not go the Ganges way and we need to formulate committees to clean that.

Government must come up with strict rules for tourism. Boosting tourism in a place, must never lead to destruction of that place altogether.  There must be guidelines keeping in mind the eco logy and environment of the place for tourists, hoteliers, homestay owners, cabbies and even tour operators. Since travelling consist of a major part of tourism, use of transport means cannot be done away with. Those may not always be very friendly towards the environment. These complexities exist in tourism. However the right persons at the right places must ensure a middle path with minimum damage to the surroundings.

Whole of Tourism Industry must join hands together for Responsible Tourism. I am using the term “Tourism Industry” a very broad sense encompassing every element associated with it.

Travelers, Tour companies, Locals, Government all becoming one and working towards achieving the aim of creating Responsible Tourism - have I imagined too much!!

But then as John Lenon said “ You may say I'm a dreamer
                                       But I'm not the only one
                                      I hope someday you'll join us
                                     And the world will live as one” --- A responsible one!
Leave a place as you found it



Friday, December 4, 2015

A Very Cheesy Affair - Go Cheese Tasting Event

Cheese and Wine - That Classic combination and add to that a chance to meet an old friend. Cherry on the cake, Master Chef Judge and Celebrity Chef Ranveer Brar was going to host the evening. What more could you ask for when all these came together and served to you on a platter. Thus I was at Blue Frog on the last November Saturday in the afternoon looking forward to a wonderful session of Cheese and Wine with an old friend Aditi. This event was organized by Go Cheese in association with Femina India. There I also met Geeta Sridhar a fellow blogger and a wonderful human being. Girl, wasn't I happy! Blue Frog was full of beautiful ladies and few gentlemen too; all ready to enjoy the afternoon full of Cheese and Wine.

Met Aditi after ages

The event started with Angad Singh Ranyal who goes by the twitter handle @piratedsardar. He sure brought the house down with laughter. The mood was set and we all were even more enthusiastic and looking forward to the events to unfold. Mr. Mahesh Israni, the Chief Marketing Officer of Parag Milk Foods Pvt Ltd spoke at length about "Go" the brand and Go Cheese. He gave a very insightful speech about Cheese and it's place in India. In countries like France the per capita consumption of Cheese is approx. 2 kgs a month whereas in India it's only 200 gms. That too because of eating out, cheese is yet to find a permanent place in Indian kitchens and Go Cheese is exactly aiming at that.
Friends and Conversations over Cheese
Parag Milk Foods started with products like Milk Pouch, Dahi,Ghee etc under the brand name "Gowardhan". As they themselves say " GO is derived from Gowardhan and has a dual meaning - apart from resonating with the Sanskrit word for Cow, it also embodies an energetic spirit with the act of going." Go Cheese is made from cow milk hence it is leaner than other cheeses made of goat milk or buffalo milk.
Chef Ranveer Brar
Keeping with this energetic and on the go image in mind, Go Cheese now has Chef Ranveer Brar as their brand ambassador. Mr.Israni invited Chef Ranveer to the stage. Chef talked extensively about different types of Cheese and Wine and also how Cheese can be used in Indian kitchen. For him, this classic combination of Cheese and Wine is a holistic experience. Indian snacks offer a great opportunity to experiment with cheese and chef recommends blending cheeses while using them in your kitchen. Meanwhile we were served with a Cheese Platter with the option to choose wine, red or white. I chose white. I loved the different flavoured Cheeses from Go that were served apart from the Gouda and Mozarella.

 My favourite was the Go Pepper cheese.

Cheese Platter

Snacks Platter

As the event progressed, there came a plate of completely "Cheeseful" snacks. So cheesy. The eating session was wrapped up with a very interesting Fruit tart and a mousse.

The audience which was mostly comprised of women asked a lot of questions to Chef Ranveer during the Q&A session. He very patiently answered everyone. Everyone wanted a selfie with the celebrity chef and he obliged all with a smile.
My moment with the chef!

The session was over by 5.30pm and Go Cheese presented us with a goodie bag full of Cheese and more Cheese. I just loved that goodie bag.

Wishing Go Cheese all the very best and hope they achieve what they aspire to do - find a place in every Indian household.