Friday, February 27, 2015

Chennai Food Guide's 10th Anniversary Celebration @ The Westin



Yes, you guessed it right. Chennai Food Guide's 10th anniversary celebration is back. This time at THE WESTIN, Velachery. Now this has been one event, which for the past four years I had been trying to attend but couldn't. Blame it on the job and the days when the celebrations took place. However, this time, when I saw the CFG 10th Anniversary Celebration Invite on FB, I did not delay even for a while. I was quick to click on the "Buy Tickets Link" and reserve two tickets for my husband and I. Though my husband is definitely not the one who frequents CFG FB group as much as I do, I have some how managed to convince him to come and visit the celebrations with me. 

I came across this group through a colleague cum friend from my previous office, F. And, buoy! I have never ventured out of the group since 2011. From reviews to discussions on food, recipes and gossip (on food of course), this platform was a blessing in disguise for a person like me, who had come to Chennai very recently and who knew nothing more than the 'idly-vada-dosa' scene of Chennai. The platform gave us the chance to interact with like-minded people, whose motto in life was anything and everything to do with food. This was also another platform, where no one shied away from speaking anything against a restaurant they frequented, a chef or fellow foodie they met, the manager, the seating, or anything at all that made the food scene work for the restaurant. 

You must be wondering, why am I writing a blog post for CFG. No, they did not ask me. I just felt like writing. This is because I will be attending this celebration for the first time, and I hope it wouldn't be for the last. So, here are some of the things that I am looking forward to at this CFG meet:-

a) Meet and interact with fellow foodies in the "real" world.
b) And of course, eat some lip smacking food specially designed by the culinary experts from The Westin ;-)

What are you waiting for? Grab your tickets now at https://getfbpay.in/cfg10

And, in case, you miss out. Don't Worry! I shall update you with the event showcase in my next post. :-D

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

10 Things Travel Magazines Do To You As a Reader

I am back. I know it's been long. Though I had aimed for writing a different 99th post on my blog, it turns out that I have to probably write this one prior to the one I thought first. So, this post came to my mind today itself, while I was surfing through the Jan editions of the different travel magazines that I bought from one of my visits to Starmark in Chennai. My main aim was to see and think if I could generate any story ideas from these magazines. But as luck would have it, I ended up glancing at the magazines only a month later. While looking through the pages of these beautiful travel magazines, I was struck with a realization. That there are innumerable beautiful places on this planet for me to discover, the underlying reality behind the realization is that I do not know whether I would be able to do that in this birth or not. Forget the world, I am yet to explore my own country, which boasts of diverse cultural and historical important places which are explored by travelers from across the globe.

When it comes to traveling, I have always sulked. While in school and college, there wasn't really the liberty to go  on your own or with friends; when out of college, there was the mad rush of getting settled with career. When the time finally came to travel around, I took the marriage plunge. But this hasn't stopped me from day-dreaming about the places I would like to visit in India and abroad. TLC and FOX Traveler have been a great respite too but not much because I feel envious of the jobs that those anchors get to do. Imagine working in a company where you get to travel places, explore food, interact and mingle with people, all at anyone else' expense sounds fabulous!!! Alas, I am neither the employer nor the employee at any of these travel channels or magazines. So, finally I decided to write down TEN THINGS THAT TRAVEL MAGAZINES DO TO  US AS A READER:-

1) They make you travel the world sitting in the cozy confines of your home. 

2) You imagine and create beautiful imagery out of your thoughts.

3) You gulp down some adjectives, superlatives, great narratives and what not. Travel writings are most lucidly and 'beautifully' written in order to make the reader not just enjoy but also 'feel' the story.

4) At the same time, they make us Regret. I don't know about you but when I see the spectacular Thailand, or the serene Hampi, I regret not having traveled as much as I should have done earlier. I wonder whether I would be able to see those places on my own and tell stories to my son or will it be my son showing me those places when he grows up?

5) You start making your own bucket list. Every month, the magazines would come out with some or the 'Hottest Destinations'; 'Five Must Visit Places of the Year'; 'Where to Spend Your Special Occasion' etc kind of articles. Thus, when you are done and dusted with the fact that you never traveled all these beautiful places, you are struck with another realization that it is not late yet.

6) You learn to save your income. Like it or not, you need money to travel. Be it India or abroad. You need those green crispy notes or shiny thin cards, and quite a lot of them, in case, you wish to spend some quality time and rejuvenate your senses during the vacation that you plan to take.

7) You indulge in thought processing. That is, you indulge in some more research on Google to know about any little thing that you may have missed reading.

8) You yearn for the days when you would be traveling in those lands, clicking pictures, absorbing the scenery, writing your heart out and spend your own time.

9) You end up building castles in the air. From dreaming about what would you do when you go there, to the list of must visit places, must eat outs

10) You wish to take that one solo trip that you had never dared to.

Did you feel any of these things while reading your favorite travel magazine? Do let me know in the comments below. :-)

Happy Reading! :-)

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Five Reasons Why Arvind Kejriwal Should be Given a Second Chance


Come February 7, and all eyes will be glued to the National Capital. Not that prior to February 7, our eyes weren't glued to it. Thanks to the media frenzy around the Delhi Elections, there has not been a minute, in fact, a second, when we had been devoid of any news from the Delhi Elections.

From the day, Arvind Kejriwal stepped down as the Chief Minister of Delhi last year, there wasn't a day when "Who will be the Next CM?" chants weren't pronounced. So much has been the hullaballoo surrounding the Delhi Elections for the past few months, that the only thing our news channels are eating, breathing, sleeping, sneezing - Kejriwal, Bedi, Modi, Congress (to a certain extent). Looking at the way, the three political parties -BJP, Congress and AAP- have left  no stone unturned in mudslinging, I wonder what is going on in the mind of the voters of Delhi. Everyone ofcourse wants a good leader but they hadn't been expecting, or may be they had been, such a series of rallies and campaigns before the elections where more than addressing the needs and requirements of the people, our parties were focused more on who had promised what in the previous elections and what has  been the end result to it. And, if they were left with some time after the ripping apart sessions, they focused on or rather promised things that they claim they would do when they come to power but, which is of course known to the voters, what happens to all the promises post the elections we all know.

I was in Delhi last time when the elections took place. Prior to casting my vote, I was sure that I would be pressing my thumb on NOTA. However, on the day of casting my vote, I thought and realized that 'change is the need of the hour.' I voted for AAP. Quite naturally, I was extremely upset when Kejriwal stepped down, just 49 days after coming into power. I was not the only one who was upset. Every common man, who had voted for Kejriwal, was upset, angry, and at the same time, sorry for him. Every Delhiite knew that Kejriwal's decision might have been at the fit of the moment, but it was also taken due to surmounting pressure from the national parties. Had Kejriwal been from a political family or had he even an iota of experience in politics, he would have known how to handle that situation tactfully. I strongly feel he became a victim of circumstances. Come to think of it, he did flounder at times in the words he spoke, his public rallies and dharnas made him the butt of all jokes. Kejriwal came to be regarded as just another politician in making, who was in no way different from all the previous leaders in power.

I am no political guru or expert in political analysis but here is something I strongly feel and therefore have jotted down in this post. Sitting thousands of kilometres away from Delhi, where my vote too could have made a difference, I write this post citing my FIVE Reasons Why Arvind Kejriwal Should be Given a Second Chance:-

1) Everyone deserves a second chance: As cliche as it may sound, I don't understand why shouldn't he be given another chance. He claims he has realized that stepping down from the CM's position was the worst decision of his life. I am sure, (at least I can think positive), that he has indeed realized his folly and therefore, deserves another chance to prove that he has the willpower in him to bring about the change.

2) He is our choice: Kejriwal's rise to this stature is only because we exhibited our faith in him. He defeated Sheila Dixit in the last elections by a whopping margin. The same Shiela Dixit, who was responsible for changing the face of Delhi in her more than a decade long power. If we thought, Kejriwal could do it then, I am sure, we can pull our faith levels a bit higher and vote for him once more.

3) Not a politician by choice but fate: The political experts might disagree to what I say here but I believe it was not Kejriwal's choice to be a politician. But it was his fate which drove him to this battlefield of politics. Kejriwal had come to limelight to fight for the cause of common people- fight against corruption. It is a completely different thing that he was made to choose the politician's role so that he could fight it out under the same roof as other leaders. So, if he committed a mistake once, by stepping down, why not let him come to power once more, to prove his mettle in front of the so-called established leaders. Why blame Kejriwal alone for all the bashing? He is just another politician.

4) He is a common man: Before being a leader, Kejriwal was nothing but just another man living in the capital doing his own social work. If there is anyone who can work for the cause of common man, who is not scared of being burdened with questions and allegations, who is ready to face whatever the results may hold for him, it is Kejriwal. I am not taking into account his blabber in the media, his allegations or mud slinging at another party person or leaders because as I said earlier, he has been made to speak so just like how our other leaders speak against each other for they have no choice. Bringing each other down prior to an election is a status symbol which our leaders identify themselves pretty well with. The more you bring the other leader down, the better your chances of shining in the eyes of your senior leaders, media as well as your "bhakts".

5) There is life beyond (Modi)fied life: The ruling national party has been riding high on the success of their Prince Charming. But there exists a life beyond that Prince Charming too. Moreover, Prince Charming is now the Prime Minister of a billion plus nation and no longer merely a member of national party or a CM of a state. When the Prince Charming is burdened already with so many responsibilities, it is better he successfully fulfills those than waste his precious time on addressing rallies. For the Prince Charming has reached where he had to, how long will a national party thrive on his fan following? Kejriwal can come as a breath of fresh air in the fiery battle between Congress and BJP. There is much more to our (Modi)fied life. Kejriwal can be that change, we are seeking out.

Secular or not, democratic or not, powerful or not, Kejriwal is the man, whom Delhi needs desperately to bring about a change which probably no other party can bring about now. He is like the fish out of a pond, who needs to be put into a safer haven. His popularity has already given the well established politicians a run for their money, caused them  to sweat it out till the last moment; Kejriwal's rise to power will surely cause several more setbacks to the politicians but will lift the spirits of common man like never before.

The choice is yours. Make sure you cast vote for the candidate you feel is right and not what others had been thinking, feeling or choosing. 

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Book Review- Ramayana- The Game of Life- Shattered Dreams: Part Two

Hello Everyone,

I am back with yet another book review. This time once again it is from the mythology genre. The book, Shattered Dreams, is a sequel to the Rise of the Prince in the spiritual and motivational series- Ramayana- The Game of Life. Now, I haven't read its prequel but the blurb at the back of the book says, at the end of book 1- "Twelve joyful years have passed in Ayodhya since Rama and Sita's wedding." Now, we all know the story of Ramayana. So, whether you have read the first book or not, doesn't really matter.

In book 2, Shattered Dreams, the author, Shubha Vilas talks about Rama's exile and the drama surrounding it. Through tales of Rama's unwavering and enigmatic persona, the book teaches us how to handle reversals positively; through Bharata's actions, it teaches us to handle temptation; and through Sita's courage to explore beyond our comfort zone. The author has very vividly described each and every character who had been a part of Rama's life and spoken at length about their nature, their conduct, their decisions, their lives. That is not all.

The most interesting aspect of the book is the footnote at the end of each page, where the author has compared the character's conduct or decisions or behavior to the modern day scenarios that we have to go through. Through the footnotes, the author is trying to provide us with insights into our very own life and how we should treat each and every action that we take. Every page has those little advice that is needed or perhaps will definitely help you in shaping your character as a person.

The author has kept Valmiki's Ramayana as the guiding light, and very poetically entwined Shattered Dreams with Kamba Ramayana, Ramcharitamanas and Loka Purana tales to establish how the ancient epic still holds relevance in modern life. The book teaches us not just character building but also explains the value of truth, importance of scriptures, the ideal marriage and the relationship equation between a husband and wife; it also teaches us what is the real meaning of luxury; it guides us how our environment holds importance in our life; it imbibes in us the value of true communication and how we should treat people around us; it also teaches us how to  balance our mind and project ourselves as a good leader. The book overall can be termed as a self help book where the underlying tone is that of the Ramayana but through and through you are taught a lesson in life comparing it with the ancient epic scenario.

What is a little monotonous about the book is the vivid description that the author has written about each and every character and their behavior. Interestingly, he has not limited the book to either Rama alone or Rama-Sita relationship; he has rather focused not just on Rama but also the important people around him, who somewhere and somehow had played an important and focused role in his life.

Frankly, I am not much of a mythology reader. And, I would advice you to read this book only if you are inclined towards ancient epics and how they can shape up your behavior in modern life.

Happy Reading.



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