Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Umaid Bhawan, Jodhpur

Umaid Bhawan Palace, a very popular tourist destination in Jodhpur is presently home to Maharaj Gaj Singh. With 347 rooms, this is one of the world's largest private residences. A part of the palace is maintained by Taj hotels and a large part houses a museum with historical artifacts and vintage cars on display. The open hours are from 9 am to 5 pm.

Vintage cars on display

Private taxis and public transport facilities are easily available to reach Umaid Bhawan on Circuit House Road. However, make sure that you negotiate well with the auto rickshaw drivers before they drop you off at mid point (which is barely 800 meters walking from the palace).
Closely guarded and well maintained, Umaid Bhawan offers a serene view of the city. Be the lake facing the palace or the surrounding forests, you are bound to be mesmerized by the royal history. Besides, a section of the palace also has exotic automobiles which were in use a century ago. A must visit place is Umaid Bhawan.

How to reach- Volvo/train/flight connectivity from major cities.  10 hours by train/Volvo in overnight journey.
Weather- Extremely warm from April to September. Pleasant in October & November. Starts getting cold in December & January, yet bright and sunny throughout. Starts getting better March on wards.
Popular things to eat-  More on

This trip of mine was in January 2015

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Kellogg's Breakfast

When people self-invite themselves over breakfast at your house, it means there is definitely something nice about it. That's what Gupta family is known for. Kellogg’s presents over 100 mouthwatering recipes featuring Guptaji’s family who know how to whip up the perfect breakfast for any occasion! And there are over 100 reasons for me to go to their house for nashta.

Late in 2011, I started going to the gym in attempt to make my lifestyle healthy. My gym instructor suggested me healthy diet, which included cornflakes in breakfast. Reluctantly I started to consume cornflakes. For me, the only way to eat cornflakes was to soak cornflakes in milk and top with fruits of your choice. Gradually it became a part of my daily routine and my colleagues know me by the name "cornflakes girl". The only thing that keeps changing is the fruits topping. At times its apple or almonds at times banana or raisins. But I was restricted to these fruits only. Unlike Guptaji I did not know the use of cornflakes for such an amazing variety!!
Cornflakes make such wonderful shakes. Why it did not hit my mind ever? Guptaji's recipe of Almond Coconut Shake left me surprised. Blending almond, chocolate syrup, ice cream, coconut and soaked cornflakes with a topping of thin slices of coconut n ice cream. Wow, almond shake with cornflakes was never so easy. Besides,  almonds is healthy and filling, recommended for all age groups. Where was this recipe all these years? Certainly a unique way of getting the remote back in your hands.

What Mrs. Gupta calls Cornflakes Crumble Mango Custard, a "Razz Kholne Wala Nashta", indeed is something to die for!  It is mouthwatering. Custard paste just takes 10 minutes of preparation.  Yummy, healthy and awesome. Not only a breakfast, but can also serve as snacks or dessert. Get the yummy-licious dish at

Even the peach cornflakes is ready in nick of time! I had never tried peaches with cornflakes.
For one recipe of Cheesy Cornflakes, I literally started doubting my creative thinking. I had only prepared bhelpuri with cornflakes. Adding cheese paste would have given my bhelpuri an Italian twist. Fine chopped onion, tomato, cheese paste and 1 minute of microwave is all that takes to prepare Cheesy cornflakes.
I would certainly like to go to Guptaji's place for the date shake made by Guptaji. They way he made the date shake to revive his love for Mrs. Gupta was indeed impressive. Few dates removing the seeds, 3 cups milk and soaked cornflakes, that'st it!  Date the shake on Kellogg's has definitely changed my perspective of breakfast recipes.

Making sweet dishes in Indian family is a nightmare. Hours of toiling in kitchen and loads of sugar and refined oil refrained me from making Indian desserts, especially laddoos. I could have never imagined preparing laddoo with cornflakes! It is amazingly marvelous! Crush cornflakes, add shredded nuts, ¼ cup milkmaid, ¼ cup ghee and desiccated coconut. A easy mixture of this into small balls and crispy laddoos are ready in no time. Get the recipe at

Kellogg's breakfast recipes have not only captured the essence of India' middle class who are on their toes juggling with health, office and time, but also given new dimensions to quick breakfast.
Be it the Cornflakes Fruity Yogurt Cup, Cornflakes Khatta Moong or Walnut Cornflakes Choc√≥ balls, there is a huge variety of such wonderful recipes from the house of Kellogg’s. Who does not want to have breakfast at their house! I would love to.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

NH10- Movie review

Director- Navdeep Singh, Producer- Anushka Sharma
Cast- Anushka Sharma, Neel Bhopalam, Darshan Kumar, Deepti Naval (in cameo)

Plot- A well off, working professional couple, Meera(Anushka) and Arjun (Neel Bhoopalam), stay in Gurgaon. Often known as the concrete jungle, it offers dream jobs with high pay packages, lavish lifestyle with dark naked truth underlying in its wraps. A good lifestyle may not mean secure roads. That’s what happens one night, when Meera is attacked in her car by unknown goons as she drives to office from a friend's party. She manages to flee from the spot in nick of time, but the incident leaves her shattered. Scared and scarred, Arjun applies for licensed gun for her safety. Soon, he plans a short vacation in a forest resort, close to Gurgaon for Meera's birthday. The road trip goes awry as they witness a couple being beaten at a road side dhaba. When nobody approaches for help, Arjun intervenes, only to be slapped by the gang leader Satbir (Darshan Kumar). 

An insulted and upset Arjun, spots the SUV of the goons on the way and detours to follow them with the gun. Meera’s plea to stop him, fall on his deaf ears. He watches horrifying “honor killing” of the same couple. The girl was the goon’s sister. As Arjun prepares to run away from the crime scene, he bumps into a mentally challenged lad, a bother of one of the gang members. The gang catches hold of the Arjun & Meera, hit Arjun and plan to kill both of them. In an attempt to escape, Arjun accidentally shoots the mentally challenged lad.
A still from NH10

The couple are chased throughout the night by bloodthirsty gang members, for whom law & order don’t exist. Arjun is brutally hit again. Meera, the protagonist puts up a tough fight to save injured Arjun. She secures Arjun under a railway line bridge, promising to return with help. She runs from pillar to post in the murky no man’s land asking for help. Scared but determined, Meera does not give up in spite of being hurt, exhausted and alone. She gets hunted several times, is pelted with stones, takes shelter in a labor’s hut, kills a corrupt cop, meets with an accident and lands into the village sarpanch's home. This is where the climax again takes a spine chilling turn.
Characters- After playing a kind, good, supportive husband in Mary Kom, Darshan Kumar plays the rustic, dominating Harayani man, who has no qualms in killing his sister for his family honor. Tough, untamed and raw, he carries off the uncanny role really well. Kudos to the director and the scriptwriter who created the thrilling frames.
Anushka does a brilliant job with her memorable performance. Her acting skills would be etched in the audience's mind for a long time. Watch out for her body language and eye expression as she lights up a smoke and patiently waits for Satbir to rise up with his fractured leg. Deepti Naval as the village sarpanch impresses in a cameo. All characters essay strong roles which give that edge to the film.

Background score adds excellence to the film. The entire movie keeps you glued to your seat without letting you blink an eye.Cinematography deserves big applause. Filmed with realistic angles and backdrop, NH10 has the power to scare you in spite of not being in the horror genre. Navdeep has an eye for detail which is very apparent from the reality touch he has given. The audience get to view Gurgaon's shimmery lights and tall buildings through a car window, where the couple is heard chatting. It is the usual private conversation between a husband and wife which instantly hooks audience. The forest areas, half constructed buildings, sandy hills, scattered houses in village, barely maintained police chowki, all add real touch. Even the villagers, who reluctantly and sarcastically tell direction to Arjun for forest resort, would make you nod heads in agreement and anger.

NH10 does not suggest measures to the social evils portrayed.  What it does is reveal the horrid truth that sobs silently beneath the glittering city lights. It lashes out to the patriarchal society for its gender bias and an apocalypse world who confines women in houses and stab them if they get married in the same gotra. When Meera lodges a police complaint against the attack on her, the cop asks her not to venture out alone at night. He also warns sarcastically that law & order remains confined to the visibility of malls. The former vanishes when malls disappear. Sad but true. 

Several things leave the audience seething as the film shows the harsh reality, which are- When Meera asks for helps from the cop at police station, he instructs her to complaint at the thana where the incident took place. Jurisdiction depends on location; else FIR would not be registered. Happens often, yeah? No education can change the mind sets of people who kill in the name of family honor. In this case, it’s a woman who initiates and supports the evil. Cops join hands with criminals by covering the social evil. What could be more disgusting that this? A woman trapped in such a family tries her best to save Meera by lying, but gets slapped.  How many times have we noticed or heard such incidents in these shady villages? Shamefully, countless times. That is why Meera picked up the iron rod to teach the bad guys a lesson, jabbed a ball point pen into the evil cop's eye, crushed her attackers under the wheels and shouts at the sleeping society. She ends with 'Jo karna tha so karna tha' leaving a message for the disgraced world who refer to women with derogatory words on toilet doors or walls of public property.

I admit I was disturbed and scared after watching the movie. I was not able to sleep well at night, as the movie thronged my thoughts. A must watch of this season is NH10. Go for it!

Monday, March 16, 2015

Being together

This post is for #together

It was Esha's birthday. Like each year, I dialed her mobile number to wish her on her birthday. Irrespective of the fact that we could rarely meet after our tenure in the same job and being room mates, we remained good friends. Post two years of quitting job, she got married. I was still working in Delhi, trying to make something out of my career. We were physically apart but kept in touch throughout. We made sure to call each other at least on our birthday, if not at regular intervals.  It was 11:00 am and I thought to call her as I was not loaded by work that day.
I expected to hear a bubbly chirpy voice at the other end. The time that I spent with her brought a smile on my face. As the call got through, her number was not reachable. I was disappointed, wondering why she had switched her phone off. Leaving a message on social account was not an option, as she was not active on social media, and had discontinued her profile of late. After trying her number thrice,  I called on her hometown's land line.

"Hello?" the bubbly voice received the call.

“Happy birthday moti!” I wished her in excitement.

“Thanks SD! How did you know I am in Chandigarh?” (She often abbreviated by name to SD)

“Idiot! Your mobile is not reachable. I thought of calling your parents to give me alternate number of yours if any. 

Why is your phone off?” I scolded her with a concern in my voice.

“No, its not off rey! I have discontinued my Delhi number” she replied with a hint of melancholy in her voice.

“Why the hell? So who will update your number to me? What’s wrong?” I asked.

“Things are not quite well at my end. I am going through a rough patch in my life sweety. Will tell you later.”

I had no idea what had happened, but I was concerned and worried for her. Why did she discontinue her Delhi number, why was she in Chandigarh, was there a problem in her marriage…thoughts wrung my head as I tossed on my bed that night. I felt guilty of not being to talk to my best friend for a long time. Amid my own struggle and work life balance, I had almost forgotten Esha. Post my broken love relationship, I was never myself. That night I kept thinking how life had made a joke of me. More I thought about my past relationship, more I felt hurt. Tears rolled down my cheeks as I felt that void within me again.

The next day at work, I was informed about an official visit to Chandigarh to one of our clients. I felt happy and was eager to visit Esha during that visit.

I bought a box of chocolates for her and headed for her house on Saturday afternoon. As I pressed the door bell, she opened it for me. We hugged each other. She rushed to the kitchen and returned with two glasses of watermelon smoothie and home-made cookies. I was touched. She had not forgotten my favorites. After a brief chit chat about job and family, I asked her about her marriage.

She smiled. “I knew this would come. Well SD, I have filed a divorce from my husband. The case is still pending.”

I ran a blank at her in shock. She was married one and a half years ago. What could have possibly gone wrong!
“This alliance was brought by one of our relatives who had woven lies to us. My family fell for it. I trusted my parents and got married, hoping for a good life ahead. But all that shines is not gold. The good looking guy had an extra marital affair. Plus, he had lied to us about his education, job & salary. Financial condition deteriorated. When I offered to help by working, his family refused. Big ego you see. They can die hungry, but will not allow the bahu to work. Things went terribly wrong when he started to return home drunk and physically tormented me. I kept mum and tried my best to save the marriage. When my parents came to know about it, they brought me back. They keep feeling guilty of not doing a background check that brought my life to a standstill.”

Esha’s words pierced into my heart. I was disturbed and angry at the same time. How dare could a man hit his wife? Why did he marry if he was into another relationship? My eyes welled up. It should have been my turn to hug her. But she came to me instead, and hugged me.

“Why are you crying silly? I am fine. See, I am out of a bad marriage. I was wrong when I stayed quiet. It’s worse to accept wrong more than doing it. Now I am free from his clutches. I will start working very soon,” she said with hopes in her eyes.

That moment I compared myself with Esha. She had braved the odds with maturity and is so much calm. I felt like a fool who was crying over a broken relationship of six months! I learnt a big lesson from Esha that day. 

Optimism is what I was missing in my life. How well did Esha put her broken pieces of life together deserved an applause. My meeting with her that day filled me with hopes, optimism and courage to move on. Her story helped me get over my broken relationship and I was my normal self. She gave me the strength and motivation to go on with optimism and look up.

(Image in the post is my copyright, clicked my me via Samsung mobile)

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Look up

While toying with the idea of relocating to the U.S for a job, Anirudh was not only worried, but reluctant too. His new employer had hired him at higher salary and promised better perks, but the job required him to move out of Kolkata. Leaving his home town, parents, friends and his lifetime’s memories for a new place, made him jittery. To search for a new house or to stay in guest house, to cook on his own or hire a cook, to stay alone or with room partners, to adapt to a new lifestyle, totally different culture, to manage  everything alone; these thoughts bothered him as he spent sleepless nights before accepting the new job offer.

Yes he had reasons to worry but his career was also at stake. As his elder sister I could gauge how his mind wavered between his job and family. To leave ailing parents behind for a new job was indeed difficult. I was married and had relocated to Delhi. I visited Kolkata for few days and I could sense the uneasiness on Anirudh’s face, no matter he tried to conceal this thoughts with his cheerful smile. I counselled him to accept the job opportunity. He was reluctant and did not seem convinced. Two days later, he came to me with an envelope in his hand. He seemed to be relaxed. “Ki holo?” (What happened), I asked him.
“I rejected the job offer” he said with a smile.

“Why? This was a great chance you always dreamt of! Are you crazy?” I exclaimed.
“I won’t leave my parents for a job. It’s just a job. I told that to my employer and they agreed. I can stay here in Kolkata and work for as on off-site employee. See, I rejected them, but they accommodated my needs. Didi, I knew my priorities and I was positive that my employer would agree to my terms and conditions. Why should I leave my home. I get my energy and happiness when I see my parents.”

I was stunned by his reply. What great optimism was my brother full of! I felt proud of him.
Years later, I was back to Kolkata in city hospital to attend to my father after he met with a stroke. I sobbed as Ani hugged me in the hospital during dad’s heart surgery. The doctors had reported 70% arteries blockage. In the critical situation when Mom and I were a nervous wreck, we could regain our strength and hopes with Ani standing by our side, silent but steady.

Our cousins were there in the hospital to support us. To cheer up everybody, Ani cracked jokes.
“How could you be not serious in this difficult time?” one of our elder cousins snapped at him. He was our uncle’s eldest son who was very close to our dad.

“Crying or worrying will not cure him anyway dada” Ani said calmly keeping his hand on his shoulder, transferring all his positive energy into the grim environment.

“Dad will be fine. Don’t worry. He will be healthy and hearty. Heart surgeries look complicated but trust me they are very common for doctors. Have a cup of tea”, and he extended his arm with cup of tea to calm us. The surgery was successful and dad recovered gradually. I am often amazed by the optimism that he carries and never feels low. What motivates him, even he does not know. All I know is that he is different and a very positive person who lights up everybody’s life with this cheerfulness and people look upto him for his optimism.
This post is part of in association with indiblogger

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

The world remade

I write, I build emotions, I express, I catch eyes of the readers, I create content to attract the world to the brand that I work with; to hook them, enlighten them, confuse them, give them ‘gyaan’ and ultimately sell the products in our brand portfolio. They call me copywriter, I call it “copy creator”. I create, other than the brand, for my own self at times. I create stories and the characters. I believe in fiction and I live the dream of being the creator through the characters that I create in my stories.

Often I wonder how would be like to create or let’s say rebuild a new world in my way! Don’t we all remember, how we played “Raja Raani” or “Chor Police” in our childhood?

As we grow up, we fight odds every day. We crib, we cry, we fight, we feel hurt & cheated when things don’t happen in our way. We really want our railway ministers, or finance ministers to make a budget that suits the largest population; the middle class. I really don’t wish to remake the world by holding a powerful post, else who would do my job then?

I want a new world which has a fresh and good mindset. Let’s create a world where education is not confused with literacy, because even the so-called educated lot today kill girl child and demand dowry during marriage. The degree holders from good universities are found involved in molestation & rape. Decorated officers and corporate employees hire little children for household work. What’s a world with such educated people? The world that I would rebuild will not have people with a mindset that think of female feticide, dowry, rape, eve teasing, molestation or child labor. I would rebuild a world free of crime against women & children.

Degrees and certificates don’t make you “educated”. No school or book teaches you to be a violent and open fire. My new world would be sans violence and terrorism, because people would be literate. The world would be rebuilt with educated minds and literate people who could not go to the extremes of picking up ammunition when brain washed. Dictators and terrorists like Hitler, Saddam Hussein, Kasab, Muammar Al-Gaddafi, Joseph Stalin, Robert Mugabe would not be born as bad people. Undoing the harm they inflicted would be impossible, but I would build them as people who could prove to be blessing for the mankind. Let their creative thinking bring joys and innovative modernization for the new world to be a better place. They had great ideas to rule and kill people. In the new world they would have great ideas to develop and utilize people for an amazing world. It’s then when everyone would say "Here's The World, Remade!"

Yes, we don’t live in a perfect world. So we try to live within the framework of society. My new world may not be perfect too. So it will have laws that would deal with serious issues strictly. Since humans are divided by religion & caste, it results in inter-religion clashes. My new world WILL NOT have inter-religion rattling. This take care of so called honor killing. I would sit back on my seat and be relieved of any inter-caste/inter religion disputes.
I may have to deal with global warming and climatic changes as the human race progresses. However I would leave that to the mankind to tackle. My new world be free of terror, crime and cultural gaps. My new world will have ‘educated’ humans who think positively, creatively, ahead of time and progress together without pulling down others.

Making a world like this is next to impossible, but we still can try to use our minds diligently, isn’t it? Why can’t we have and implement strict laws for menacing crimes like rape, child trafficking, child labor, dowry death? That’s because of the limitations of the mankind by law. My world would not be limited to such margins. How I wish the fiction was a reality.

I am participating in the #TheWorldRemade activity at BlogAdda in association with India Today #Conclave15