Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Stayzilla App Review

Since the time I quit my job and converted into a full time traveller, I am often in search of budget accommodations when I am travelling across India - places that are hardly listed in sites like and Few weeks back when I came across some Stayzilla ads, I thought, “Let me give it a try.” And so it happened that I installed the Stayzilla app on my Android phone, only to be surprised by its pros. 


1. Budget Range - Stayzilla lists rooms as low as Rs. 300 per day. This is heavenly for travellers like me. Earlier it was hardly possible to find these places online. For that range, the best bet was to land up at a place and bargain hard on spot. But as I surfed through the App, I was quite surprised to find such rooms too.

2. Search Process - The search process is very user friendly. Once you enter the city or the location of the city around where you need the accommodation, your options are listed, which are more or less in and around that area. 

3. SortingThe accommodations listed can be sorted as per distance, price (low to high & high to low) and popularity. Now that’s an absolute necessity while browsing for hotels. 

4. Filters Once your results are sorted as per your need, you can further zero in on suitable options by using the filters. The most useful of the filters is of course the ‘Price Range’ one. Then there is the ‘Amenities’ filter which has many options, but the most useful ones are Wi-Fi, 24 hour check-in and Breakfast. The third filter, ‘Type of Stay’, lets you select the kind of accommodation you prefer out of hotels, resorts, homestays, guest houses and serviced apartments.

5. Guest or Host Since Stayzilla has partnered with homestays, it goes without saying that if you have space in your home, you can easily list yourself as hosts too. And it’s not like just anyone will land up at your home. The Stayzilla App has a ‘Tribe’ feature, which lets you can find like-minded people based on common interests.

Cons :

1. Live ChatThe App has a ‘Live Chat’ option where you can shoot your queries at the Stayzilla representatives. Somehow my queries never got answered through the live chat.

2. BugsThe App has some bugs that need to be fixed. Apart from hanging a couple of time, I couldn’t find a way to change my profile type. You are given 3 options when you login to the App for the first time – Guest, Host or Both. Looks like whatever you select is irreversible, as there is no profile change option in the App, which makes this a little tricky if you had initially selected ‘Guest’ and wanted to change it to ‘Both’, if later on you decide to host too. 

If Stayzilla sorts these issues out, I’m sure it will be a nice ‘Go to’ website/App for booking budget accommodations in India.


Disclaimer : This is an App review and not a complete review by booking and staying through Stayzilla.

Friday, June 12, 2015

T T Turmeric, Na Na Cosmetic

Yesterday was one of those rare occasions that I arrived at the movie theater in time. Mostly you would find me rushing in when a movie has already started or if I am lucky, when the National Anthem is on. So there I was, quiet proud of myself, as I sat down in my seat to watch Dil Dhadakne Do, with my usual mix of cheese and caramel popcorn. The Ads were being played and there it was, the age old "Vicco Turmeric, Nahi Cosmetic" Ad. It made me nostalgic. For time immemorial, Vicco Turmeric Cream ads have been playing during movie screenings at multiplex theaters across the country. 

So is it only about a catchy jingle? May be not. From toothpaste to cream, whatever Vicco sells is Ayurvedic, instead of products that are chemically synthesized. As the health conscious generation has moved from aerated drinks to fresh fruit juices and from gyms to yoga classes, so has it moved from cosmetics to herbal products, be it for skin care, hair care or tooth care. Ayurveda is a kind of medicine that has tons of benefits derived from a range of medicinal herbs. And that is what makes Vicco stand out as one of the top herbal brands in India.

But we as aam aadmi or “mango people”, do not have the abilities to conjure up such Ayurvedic medicines. What we do have though, are those age old Grandma’s ‘nuska’s’. Those home remedies passed down by that generation somehow never fails. Here are three of those tricks or tips that would definitely work better than any of those cosmetic creams out there in the market –
  1. Honey and Milk – Some say this was the secret behind Cleopatra’s beauty. Now that’s something very difficult to prove, but the honey-milk mixture is indeed an age old formula for radiant skin. Honey has anti-bacterial properties and also acts as a moisturizer and milk contains Vitamin C, calcium and protein. The combination makes it a definite hit.
  2. Tomato juice – Once after a Goa trip, my cousin went to the nearby vegetable vendor and told him she wants to buy one tomato. Her demand for a single tomato shocked me as much as it shocked the sabzi guy. It was later that she told me tomatoes are great for removing tan. And that’s when I finally understood the link between Goa and that single tomato :P. Tomatoes contain anti-oxidant and it is further effective if you add in a dash of lemon juice and then apply it to your face.
  3. Turmeric + Sandalwood powder + Milk – Turmeric is an excellent antiseptic that works wonder for the skin (which also explains the Haldi ceremonies at the Hindu weddings). Sandalwood is an anti-biotic that is known to clear pimples and blemishes. And you already know why milk is great for the skin. When the combination of these three lands on your face and is left there for 5 minutes, it makes your skin appear fresh and bright. And this again brings me back to the jingle of the original cream of Vicco, which kept telling us over the years that 'Haldi Chandan ke gun isme samaye'. Bingo!
Long live 'Vicco Turmeric, Nahi Cosmetic' in our multiplexes. 

Friday, March 27, 2015

Together, with Matterhorn

It was a chilly day in Zermatt. I and Pritha were at the ticket window of the Gornergrat Bahn, waiting for the fellow at the window to hand us our ticket to the mountain railway. One minute to the departure time, we found ourselves rushing through the small platform towards the red train, the GGB.

The Gornergrat Bahn or GGB is the highest open air railway of Europe. From Zermatt GGB terminal, it climbs almost 10 kilometers ascending up to the Gornergrat railway station which is at a height of 3090 meters above sea level.

Inside the train it felt warm, a respite from the harsh cold outside. It was the last train of the day leaving from Zermatt to Gornergrat, with only the two of us and another Korean group onboard. As the train ascended steeply on its tracks, it traversed tunnels, forests and gorges, providing spectacular views of Zermatt and then of the majestic mountains around. Since the climb was steep, the transition in the scenery was fast - from green meadows to rocky ridges to snow all around. And then within a blink of the eye, we entered the clouds. It made us realize how high up we were.

Once we stirred clear of the clouds, we couldn’t help but shout out loud. On our right hand side, stood The Matterhorn – tall, proud and formidable. This Swiss icon is one of the most famous mountains on earth, a fascination of most climbers and mountaineers and one of the last alpine mountains to be conquered.

As we stepped onto the snow at Gornergrat, we walked close to the mountain’s edge. That was as close as we could get to Matterhorn. We were no climbers. We were just two simple girls from a faraway land who have always listened to their hearts. And the heart said, go explore the world. Awestruck, we admired its snowy peak as it slowly started to glow orange under the setting sun. It was a sight to behold, a sight that can never be forgotten.

Standing there together, we looked at each other and smiled. Four years back we had met in Chennai while pursuing MBA and became good friends. Four months back she had told me that she will be in Switzerland during this time, on an onsite assignment. And four days back I was on a plane from Mumbai to Zurich, thinking how time flies faster.   

As per a local saying, those who see the Matterhorn become successful and wealthy one day. We are definitely en route to our individual definition of success, but what mattered most that day was that we were witnessing this grand sight #together. It filled us up with optimism for the future, a strength to face every obstacle with courage and to look up and set goals as high as Matterhorn. It was the power of being together.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Start A New Life – Quit Smoking

He taught me how to smoke. And then he left. But smoking didn't. 

I had had my first cigarette in college with friends. It was once in a blue moon that we would head to a roof top restaurant close to our college and smoke Black. During those days, I never considered myself a smoker, as I probably had a single cigarette once in two months. 

Some years down the line, I resorted to smoking regularly after a heartbreak. I smoked when I was in pain. I smoked when I was angry. I smoked when I felt hopeless. So I went from having a puff for fun to smoking daily to relieve stress - a cruel illusion every smoker goes through owing to the mood altering drug called nicotine. 

But then I moved on. My heart healed, but I am not sure if I could say the same for my lungs, for I could not let go off smoking. By then smoking had become a habit. I needed to smoke when I blogged because I felt it helped me ‘think’. I needed to smoke when I traveled because I felt it increased the sense of ecstasy. And of course, I continued smoking every time I felt stress. 

I realized two things after two back-to-back incidents last July - firstly, that smoking definitely was not doing me any good, and secondly that my head was being controlled by nicotine. 

It was a sunny morning in Ladakh, when I attempted the walk up to Castle Tsemo. The lungs that had stayed faithful during half a dozen marathons and numerous treks, gave up. I was panting halfway through the climb. My other two companions were kind enough to wait for me every time I stopped to catch my breath. It was then that I finally realized what I had got myself into. 

Once I returned to Mumbai I decided to reduce smoking from 10 to 6 to 2 cigarettes per day. But the first night I abstained myself from smoking I was hit by the worst of nicotine withdrawal symptoms. First it was just a mere restlessness, which over the night developed into depression, a blood pressure drop and the worst of insomnia that I had ever experienced. I couldn't sleep that entire night and the first thing I did the next morning was take a puff. Months flew by. Every morning I decided to quit smoking and every night I found myself walking back to the cigarette shop. 

Year 2015 brought in some very positive changes and optimism in my life that helped me look up and believe that I can #StartANewLife or improve the one I am living. For either, there were some hindrance on the way and one of them was smoking. But with so much positive thoughts and determination (and not to mention my superb ego), I gained an upper hand over nicotine this time. How could I, who controls and takes charge of everything in her life, be controlled by a mere chemical? I am the master of my own mind. There was no way it could beat me. There was no way it could control me.

It’s been two weeks since I took the bold step of quitting smoking. I don’t feel the daily urge any more. I know this might sound strange considering the withdrawal symptoms I had faced the first time. But who cares? I brought about a good change in my life. I have moved forward to live a better healthy life. When is your turn?

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Night Night Baby

I had no experience with a baby until very recently when I spent few hours with this cute baby boy of a friend of mine who is a single father. It is easier to lull a calm baby to sleep. But Arsh is not just super adorable, he is also extremely naughty. So how do you put such baby to sleep at the end of the day? Not an easier task than rocket science! Here are few things that we tried that day to put the hyper active baby to sleep – 

PLAY A GAME – A quiet game before the bedtime is a fun way to spend some time with the baby before he hits the bed. You have to ensure that it doesn’t over excite him. I played building blocks with the baby as his dad cooked khichdi for his dinner. He soon started screaming happily and toddling all around the living room, just because he loved his new friend. The next thing I knew was that he was throwing all the colorful play balls in every direction so that I would go and fetch them. This can be a risky venture if the baby is hyper active, but still worked out as we followed it up with something calmer. 

BED TIME STORIES – For all I remember, this is all I got when I was a baby myself. I used to love stories, especially when told dramatically by my grandmother. No, she never read from any book and I am still amazed by the number of stories she had told me during bed time. I used to listen to her very attentively and slowly fall asleep during the course of the story. We did not exactly tell stories to my friend’s baby. We used flash cards to make him learn and recognize new words by looking at the pictures. It is not only fun for the baby to guess the words from the pictures; it is also productive as it improves the baby’s language skills and intelligence.

FEEDING OR A BOTTLE OF FORMULA – It is important the baby’s stomach is filled till the morning. I fed him the khichdi when we were still guessing words using the flash cards. It also avoids the baby from waking up multiple times at night due to hunger pangs. And of course, the “brush your teeth” ritual followed immediately after that.

A RELAXING BATH OR MASSAGE – Now that is something everyone loves, be it a baby or an adult. It was a soothing experience for the baby to sit in the warm water and having a baby lotion rubbed into his back after he was patted dry. But this shouldn't include hyper splashing of water or tickles to make the baby go on a laugh riot (that is for you dads).

A LULLABY OR SOOTHING MUSIC – Isn't that time tested? From ‘Twinkle Twinkle Little Star’ to ‘Ba Ba Black Sheep’ to our very own ‘Lakdi ki kathi’, it just never fails. A lullaby in a soft voice works the best, but if you cannot pull it off even a tape of lullabies in very low volume can lull the baby to sleep.

CUDDLES AND KISSES – It is always best and sweet to end the ritual with a reminder to the baby that you love him dearly and will always be there for him. I got a lot of kisses in return too as he slowly drifted to sleep after being pampered throughout the whole evening. 

I am eagerly waiting for the next time with my new friend who is a whopping 27 years younger to me. 


This post has been written for the Happy Hour Campaign by Indiblogger in association with Pampers. Enjoy the commercial.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Wish List of an Umar Bhar Befikar

Many a times, we dream of things we want to do in life, but cannot attain them because of situations we call as constraints. Be it a job or money or health problems or any relationship, we never run short of these constraints. Often some dreams remain unfulfilled because people do not have the courage to fight the constraints and make those dreams come true. And to think of that constraints do not exist, how heavenly that would be? You can do anything you ever wanted to do!!

Here are the top 5 things I would do if I am Befikar Umar Bhar – 

1) I’ll quit my job and travel

If you don’t build your dream, someone else will hire you to help them build theirs”, truly said Dhirubhai Ambani. If I do not have any constraints, I would quit my job tomorrow to travel and follow my dream. I’ll sleep in the wee hours of the morning and wake up at midday and let no clock govern my body or life. If I do not have any constraints, I’ll seek my freedom as the first thing in this world.

2) I’ll visit my parents often

Many of us who stay far from our families, hardly get a chance to visit their homes more than once in a year. What kind of life is that, where you do not hold your freedom to visit that place where you grew up in your own hands? Instead you need to take permission to visit those loved ones. If I do not have any constraints, I’ll visit my parents as often as I want and I’ll also visit my sister and even my close friends. What is life without the company of those loved ones?

3) An Abode in Ladakh

If I don’t have any constraint, I’ll build a small house in Ladakh where I can go atleast once in a year to find peace and to be mesmerized by Ladakh’s ruthless beauty. Of course if I don’t have a constraint I’ll probably have a house in Mumbai too, but that won’t pull me as much as the one in Ladakh would. I’ll spend a month there every year, till Ladakh ceases to surprise me, something I don’t think will ever happen.

4) I’ll climb Mt. Everest

When I don’t have any constraints, I’ll travel far and beyond - up the mountains and inside the seething volcano. I’ll swim in the sea and sleep under the stars. And I’ll climb the Mount Everest and see the world from its top most point. Yes, and you would see my name besides the likes of those courageous men and women who had achieved that dangerous feat.

5) I’ll travel to Antarctica

Since I do not have any constraints, by now I have already been to all the continents, all except Antarctica. I would set voyage to Antarctica and as I set foot on the distant land, I would tick off the last continent that many never get to see in their entire life. I would play with the penguins, roll over on the snow and ice, I would do whatever I want to do. For screaming out loud! I am in Antarctica!!!!

To tell you the truth, some constraints should be there in our lives. Creativity and ideas are born out of these constraints. They teach us how to stand up for ourselves and fight for our dreams. Without them life would be life a bed of roses and we would never feel like waking up. And remember, roses have thorns!

Enjoy the IDBI Federal Lifesurance commercial of #BefikarUmarBhar.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

The Pimple Poem

Let me tell you story of a time.
A day when I woke up at dawn,
When it was still dark, and yet,

I walked out of bed with a yawn.

It was the day of my 16th Birthday, 
Just guess how much was I excited.
There was a birthday bash at dusk.
Long for this day had I not awaited.

Smiling, I squeezed the toothpaste tube. 
In one hand, the toothbrush clasped.
It was then I looked into the mirror,
And when I saw it, I loudly gasped!

Sitting on my chubby high cheek,
Was a ginormous and ugly pimple.
It was so so visible and red, And
God! It was right above my dimple.

On another day, I wouldn't panic
But the day of my birthday party!
I had invited so many friends…
Flaunty friends, as many as thirty.

I asked “Mirror mirror on the wall,
Who is the prettiest of them all?”
It said, “Even with an ugly pimple,
It is you my dearest birthday girl!” 

Alas! I felt I was in a nightmare,
For I did not have a magic mirror,
Who would answer this question,
N' save me from this untimely horror. 

I realized even with my great dress,
As pretty and of the color green,
I wouldn't look beautiful enough
If I didn't have a clean n’ clear skin.

“Just breathe”, I tried to tell myself.
And called Sanya, my best friend, 
“Just use a concealer on the pimple”, 
She said, “That would make it blend.”

But it was a pimple, not just a spot,
I knew the concealer would not work.
I felt terrified, I was panicking,
I could imagine my guests smirk.

With tears in eyes, I woke up Mom.
She looked at me, and patted my head,
Chastising on my unhealthy food habit,
She gave me something, and she said - 

“Wash your face child, it will clear the oil, 
But do it with Garnier Pure Active Neem,
For I have never seen a facewash better,
That can even beat a good pimple cream”.

I washed my face, like she said,
Hoping the pimple would go away. 
With so less time, that’s all I could do,
All except to just fervently pray.

You wouldn't believe if I told you,
That Mom’s tip worked like magic.
By evening my skin was glowing,
The poor pimple died a death tragic.

And finally when the evening came,
I looked so pretty in that green dress.
Along came my friends with many gifts.
As I cut the cake, all said “God Bless!”

They asked me to open the presents,
And tell, whom the best gift was from? 
With a wink I said, ”They are all good,”
“But the best was from my dear Mom.”

Pimple affects more than just our skin.
It affects the confidence and self-esteem.
It can make one anxious and reclusive.
And it affects the relationships of a teen.

Some may avoid just eye contact.
Some avoid all kind of social situation.
That's the power a pimple can wield.
Wearing heavy make-up ain't the solution.

I had the greatest 16th birthday bash,
Thanks to Garnier Pure Active Neem,
They said, I looked prettiest of them all,
Thanks to you, I lived this awesome dream.

This post is written for the Indiblogger contest by Garnier Pure Active Neem Face Wash. It is a work of imagination and I do not endorse the product as a one-day cure for pimple. However, I regularly use either Garnier Pure Active Neem or Garnier Orange Fruit Water facewash and they work wonderfully for my skin. You can check more about the product hereBut before you leave, enjoy this super hilarious filmy creatives by Garnier. 
(All image courtesy :

No Fikar, Chat Quikr

Image Courtesy :
Almost a fortnight back Quikr launched its newest product innovation - Quikr Nxt, an instant messaging service which is being called as the world’s first instant messenger in the online classifieds space and that has potential to take India’s online classifieds market a notch higher. Before this, a user had to list their numbers on the site in order to receive calls from buyers and negotiate and complete the transaction over phone calls, thus facing a lot of inconvenience in the process. 

Here are 3 reasons why I would prefer a buyer-seller chat over a phone call - 

1. Privacy – Privacy matters the most. A seller often faces fake buyer calls because of their number being listed on the online classified sites. Imagine a situation when you receive a prank call from a person who makes you believe that he is going to buy your phone, only to deceive you, get your hopes up and then disappointing you by never turning up. With Quickr Nxt, one can choose to make their listing private, thus hiding their email id and phone numbers on the site and their only point of reference is their Quikr ID. It ensures that there is no misuse of the private information provided on the site.

2. Convenience – Next advantage is convenience. Imagine missing a buyer call while you are in a meeting or heading to the loo. There is no way that you can tell a buyer what time is convenient calling time for you and what is inconvenient. Since you cannot predict a day’s event in advance, mentioning your inconvenient hours in your Ad is also not possible. That was about missed calls, what if you are getting bombarded with buyer calls while you are on a date or with a business client. Neither your date nor your client will be impressed with the number of interruptions that’s happening. Quikr Nxt lets its users chat as per their convenience and instantly. It does not hamper your schedule or makes you miss a potential buyer, nor does it make you lose a client or get you angry stares from your boss or result in break-up with your girlfriend. Convenient, isn’t it?

3. Tracking – Whether you are a buyer or seller, when you are negotiating a transaction over a call, it is difficult to keep track of the conversation and the price quoted, especially if you are selling and have been talking to a lot of buyers. When you do this over a call, you end up writing the details somewhere, but may lose it or even forget where you wrote it (happens with people like me). And when next time the guy calls up, you end up wondering what the negotiation that has happened previously was? With Quikr Nxt the negotiation is happening real time and you can keep track of multiple buyer-seller conversations with the saved chat histories.

With the launch of Quikr Nxt, the entire gamut of buyer-seller transaction have changed. And the tagline says it all - 'No Fikar, Chat Quikr'!

Cupid Games 2015 - The Aphrodisiac Proposal

#CupidGames 2015 - The Foody Fiesta

Using aphrodisiac food to send my crush a yummy Valentine’s Day proposal - A #Closeup Cupid Game challenge in association with #Indiblogger. 

(Music Courtesy - Into the open air (Julie Fowlis) - Brave Soundtrack)

Saturday, January 24, 2015

The Proposal

I guess I am one of those few women who can proudly say that they have taken the first step at least once in life. Well, I have taken it twice. Umm, may be thrice. Or was it four times? 

Though it is another story whether those proposal were ever accepted or not, but confessing your feelings always gives a feel good effect. Because life is too short to live in regret. 

My current crush lives in Goa (Damn! Did I just tell you that?). It's a great state to travel to, and greater if you have a proposal in mind. Romantically, yes, but more so because your knees won't hurt on the sand! 

Valentine's Day - 14th February 2015 - Midnight

Now, imagine this setting - Full moon night (Imagine I said!), moonlight reflecting on the sea and making it shimmer with a silver glow, a beach shack pub at Palolem beach, young people partying, some flying sky lanterns and a dozen sky lanterns in the night sky.

(Pictures from my last trip to Goa)
There is always something about Goa. 50% of your work is already done with this kind of a setting. 

As the night rolls by, the moon starts to dip towards the sea. If you have ever spent an entire night on the beach and witnessed this, you know what I am talking about and how romantic it feels then. Somewhere close to the horizon, the moon disappears as the light of dawn starts to spread. It's that hour between night and day, when it is neither night nor day. That's my cue card!

"Let's go kayaking!", I said, batting my eyelids flirtatiously.

A man would ideally never say 'No' to a cute woman trying to pull him away from the crowd. And getting hold of a kayak boat on a Goa beach is no big deal, whatever time of the day it is. 

So we fit into a kayak and row into the sea. We row in silence, listening to the sound of the waves, as we move further and further into the sea. At one point, I suggest rowing into the cove towards Butterfly Island. 

As we take the complete turn into the cove, he is suddenly surprised to see a yacht anchored there. 

"That's weird", He says, "Was a private party going over here all night?"

"Or may be a party is just about to begin!" I said with a wink.

What follows is popping of a champagne bottle on the yacht as the sun rises and a proposal that he would never forget in his life. And of course, I assume he would say yes, as it is hard to say no to such a lovely proposal, in such a romantic setting, to such an amazing girl. ;-)

This post has been written for Indiblogger Happy Hour Campaign Closeup Cupid Games 2015
P.S. I do have a crush on Goa, but not on a Goan. (FYI Mom & Dad) :D