Thursday, January 22, 2015

Get, Set, and Bolt in the New Tata BOLT

I am a writer driven by a passion for hatchbacks. I absolutely love cars that provide bang for the buck. Excellent fuel efficiency with burst of power. Stunning design and generation next safety. I'm unwilling to settle in for anything less than the best.

My high expectations of what I desire from the perfect mean machine are often squashed by car manufacturers in India who are either compromising on the quality by not providing all the features or on the design by not being innovative.

Tata is the only Indian car company I can think of that is trying to change the norm and bring about a paradigm shift in the way we look at driving on Indian roads by putting in the best of engineering practices into their design. Pick any new car from Tata and you're likely to rave about its style and comfort. My own admiration of Tata started from Nano, grew with Zest, and has continued to increase ever since.

Quite naturally, I was super-excited to learn that they are launching a new hatchback called BOLT this season - custom-made only for the Indian consumer.

A chance visit to the Ambience Mall turned out to be perfect as I could catch all the action around BOLT live. I also got to test ride the car, and see all the superior features firsthand. Freaking exciting to say the least!

Me with the New Tata BOLT

In this post, I'll provide you the Top 5 features of Bolt that are truly cutting edge and why I'm eager to Get. Set. Bolt in the new BOLT. But before we get started, I want you to look at the Technical Specifications below.


Number 1 Feature: Technology and Performance


BOLT's engine is designed and developed by Tata Motors in global collaboration with tech partners like AVL, Bosch, Honeywell, and Faurecia. The hatchback is available in both petrol and diesel variants to ensure a power-packed performance and exceptional driving experience.


If you're planning to buy the diesel variant anytime soon, it comes with an internationally acclaimed engine with turbo charger called the Quadrajet 1.3L engine.

Salient features of this engine include:
  • Refined 75 PS diesel engine
  • Unmatched performance with fuel efficiency

At the time of test drive itself, the sales staff recommended I go for the petrol variant that comes along with a Revotron 1.2T engine.



Salient features of this engine include:
  • Powerful 1.2 MPFi Turbocharged petrol engine
  • Best-in-class power of 90 PS
  • Constant torque delivery of 140 Nm between 1500-4000 RPM


Number 2 Feature: First-time Ever Multi-drive


For the first time ever, a compact hatchback in the Indian market is offering multi-drive options to choose from.

The built-in multi-drive mode feature in BOLT offers three modes: Sport, Eco, and City. All modes have different advantages associated to them. Switching between the three modes is a breeze.

You have the power of 3 engines in 1, so choose at will between an intelligent burst of power, maximum fuel efficiency/mileage, and a perfect balance of both.


Salient features of the built-in multi-drive mode include:
  • Sport
    • Get quick acceleration and throttle response. (Throttle response matters at the time of overtaking, coming out of a corner, and driving pleasure.)
    • Use this mode to zip through the city traffic and reach your destination faster.
  • Eco
    • Optimize the output for maximum fuel efficiency.
    • Use this mode for long drives without having to worry about refueling.
  • City
    • Balance between fuel economy and power.
    • Use this default mode for daily commute to your workplace or markets.


Number 3 Feature: Generation Next Safety


Safety comes first! While looking at a new car, I specifically check for an array of advanced safety features that help in my purchasing decision.


BOLT provides generation next advanced safety features to put your mind at ease while driving, allowing you to stay in control at all times and drive safe.



Salient features of the generation next advanced safety include:
  • Dual airbags
    • The dual airbags prevent occupants from a direct impact in case of frontal collision. With enhanced safety of the driver and co-driver, it is unlikely that you'll strike a hard surface (like dashboard) during an impact.
  • Most advanced 9th generation antilock braking system (ABS) by Bosch
    • Directional control is maintained with ABS that prevents wheel lock-up during a panic, hard brake. BOLT ensures absolute safety in case of sudden braking, by sensing the wheel speed and preventing wheel lock-up.
  • Corner Stability Control (CSC)
    • CSC ensures enhanced safety while negotiating tight corners.
  • Speed sensitive auto door lock
    • When the car picks speed, you need to ensure the safety of every passenger, especially kids, by instantly locking all doors. Active speed-sensing auto door locks in BOLT does the needful!
  • Crumple zones
  • Side impact beams 


Number 4 Feature: Connectivity


Step inside a BOLT to step into the future of connectivity.

If you're looking for a new, state-of-the-art touchscreen multimedia system offering superior connectivity features and unmatched entertainment quality, all you got to do is play around with the new-age console in BOLT.



Salient features of the new-age console include:
  • 5” ConnectNext touchscreen infotainment by Harman
    • Fulfill your need to stay connected - on-the-go - through the next-gen Harman infotainment system, which is exclusively designed with best-in-class features like touchscreen control for music, temperature, and voice controlled actions.
  • Speed sensitive auto volume control
    • Using the speed sensitive auto volume adjust feature, you can match the music to the pace of your car. As the intensity of music adjusts to your car's speed, the ambient noise is eliminated, rendering a whole new music experience.
  • Experience a first of its kind “surround audio effect” with 4 speakers and 4 tweeters. The surround-sound like music makes you feel every beat while you take your BOLT out for a spin.
  • Use the advanced voice command recognition system to make calls, change tracks, control climate via AC, and radio on the move.
  • Other noticeable features are
    • MP3, WMA tracks, radio, audio and video, multi-media connectivity of USB, SD card, iPod connectivity
    • Bluetooth sensitivity
    • Smartphone enabled navigation with MapMyIndia maps
    • SMS notification and readouts
      • Reads the messages received without accessing the mobile phone for added safety and convenience, so you can enjoy uninterrupted drives, never miss a thing, and stay informed and updated every moment.
    • Video playback and image viewing option on the touchscreen via USB and SD card.


Number 5 Feature: Design


BOLT is a classic example of Tata's new design philosophy spread across the UK, Italy, and India design centers. Design takes a new form and finds a new meaning in the stunning BOLT.


Salient design features include:
  • Strong shoulder lines and Chrome on weather strip.
  • LED indicators on Outside Rear View Mirrors (ORVMs).
  • Dynamic 15 inches Alloy wheels.
  • Tata Signature Grille with Humanity Line.
  • Dual tone front bumper and sleek integrated fog-lamps.
  • Smoked Projector headlamps.

I could go and on about the new BOLT but here's a final snapshot of what else you can expect.


So there, are you ready to Get. Set. Bolt in the new BOLT?


[This post is a part of the Get. Set. Bolt. activity at BlogAdda.]

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Celebrating Indu, Celebrating Life

When I was young, my mom used to urge me to study harder. She would often draw comparisons to difficult roads that led to beautiful destinations. The truth is I have always been in her awe, looking to draw both strength and inspiration.

Early Years


She did her schooling from St. Anthony's Girls Senior Secondary School in New Delhi and studied there till eleventh standard before taking up a Bachelors of Art program at the Janki Devi Memorial College (JDMC), which is affiliated to the Delhi University.

Fast forward to January 2, 1971. A day my mom can never forget. A day when her dad passed away, changing her life upside down. The same year in May she was going to turn sixteen. Most girls associate sixteen with sweet; for mom, it only meant a number ... nothing more.

Mom and Saanvi (My Daughter)

A Sea of Struggle


My mom received another deadly blow after her dad's untimely demise. She had to drop out of college and take up the job of a clerk at the Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI), the same office where her dad worked. In those days, it was easy to get appointed on the grounds of bereavement.

She made the sacrifice for two significant reasons - to fund the education of her three sisters who were studying back then and to financially support her mom (my naani) who worked as a welfare officer at the Indian Red Cross Society (www.indianredcross.org). Her father's pension was never going to be enough anyway.

Can you believe how much she made during those days? Mere INR 289 per month. That's USD 4 per month.

Marriage and Movement


Seven years into job, and mom decides to get hitched. Days before the nuptials, however, she had to brace herself for another challenge. Relocating to a different city. Ghaziabad in Uttar Pradesh to be precise.

It took her approximately 3 hours every day to travel one-way for work. Imagine 6 hours on road daily, 6 days a week, a commute from Ghaziabad to Delhi accomplished by three different modes of travel (train, bus, and manual rickshaw).

I'd throw a fit if you asked me to travel to work at 6am in the morning after preparing meals and washing dishes of the entire family. But she did it without throwing her weight around. With a smile that is truly indicative of her character.

Dad and Mom

Hats Off to Her Greatness


She continued to work at IARI, her first and only job, till 2009. That's 38 long years of employment. Mom took a voluntary retirement after we moved to Gurgaon. Her last held position was that of an Assistant Administrative Officer.

I asked mom about the biggest challenge of her professional career, and she quaintly answered "Finance". For me, the highlights of her career were the few "promotions" she managed to get by passing exams, since getting promotions through seniority was a tall order in government establishments. She truly deserved those promotions because she studied hard, never compromising on the family ever.

Another tough moment for mom was the three deaths of family members in a span of six months (my father's two elder brothers and his sister-in-law had expired). Also, her own mom fell a victim to Breast Cancer in 1989.

Me and Mom

All this while, my mom stood tall, helping everyone ... never asking for anything in return. She has performed the duties of a responsible daughter, sister, wife, mother, mother-in-law, and now grandmother - to the best of her abilities. Her story must be shared with the rest of the world.

Angels like my mom do exist in the world even today. They are the messengers of God, instilling our faith back in goodness and humanity.

It's multitude of things that make Indu Prabhakar who she is. And clearly, she can't be limited by mere one label.



[This post is a part of #UseYourAnd activity at BlogAdda in association with Gillette Venus.]

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Say Goodbye To Pimples And Marks With Garnier Pure Active Neem Face Wash

I derive pleasure by doing a little more than the cliched. Being creative and unique comes naturally to me. Currently, a full-time corporate honcho, I try to steal a few moments here and there to pursue my passions – be it blogging, karaoke, traveling, or photography. 

During my high school years, I made the most out of available opportunities. I was an active member of western music choir, participating in almost every intra- and inter-school competition. 

Never short on confidence, the only thing that irked me the most during my latter teenage years was – believe it or not – pimples.

Sudden shake in confidence


The fear of acceptance is what haunts most teenagers globally, and has an impact and bearing on the kind of individuals they eventually become.

I was no different than other children – naive, seeking approval from my peer group that included my friends, classmates, cousins, etc. – on the way I looked, the way I talked, the way I dressed, the way I styled my hair, and so on.

Sometimes peers could be mean, shredding your confidence into pieces. Name-calling and bullying was rampant in schools that time.

Even though pimples or acne is a common problem faced by teenagers and adolescents, one couldn't talk about the same openly. More so if you were a male.

Born with an oily skin, I too had to fight pimples. With not much importance given to male grooming, it was awkward if a guy spoke openly about skin or hair care. A topic so common among girls, yet so "gay" with boys. Typical Indian stereotype.

Dermatologist, Who Dermatologist?


Thankfully there are a vast range of products available for men now and an increasing awareness about male grooming, so we MEN can talk openly.

Garnier is one of the most trusted brands when it comes to personal care products. To beat the harmful effects of pollution and daily stress, I rely on the Garnier Pure Active Neem Face Wash.

Garnier Pure Active Neem Face Wash

This anti-pimples, anti-marks face wash is formulated using natural ingredients. Its soap-free formula is enriched with Neem leaves extract and tea-tree oil.



Neem, for ages, has been recommended for skin cure due to its antibacterial and antifungal properties. The three-way purifying action not only fight germs but also deeply cleanses pores and washes away excess oil or dirt that attract germs and bacteria.

Just use it twice a day and look confidently into the eyes of opportunity.

#GarnierPureActive 
@indiblogger]

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Keeping Your Relocation Worries At Bay With Quikr

If you're an IT professional, it is almost a given these days that you'll be asked to travel for work. The travel can be short-term or long-term, depending on the requirements of the job. Sometimes you might be required to relocate to a new, different city altogether. Not the easiest of decisions clearly if you are moving along with a family or if you have no prior experience of living outside of your home city. There could be concerns with respect to language, culture, food, etc. that you'll have to deal with in the early days of the relocation. Teething issues I'd say!

Thankfully you now have Quikr.com to your rescue. A free local classifieds website where you can find used products like cars, rent or buy apartments, find a roommate, or even start a service in your locality, and much more.

When I relocated from Gurgaon to Bangalore for work, I did all my shopping from bangalore.quikr.com. Since I was unmarried at that point in time and was planning to live in a shared/rented accommodation, I listed down all the items I was going to need after the relocation took place, starting from a bed, a TV, utensils, etc.

The moment I entered the name of the desired item in the Search box, Quikr came up with a wide variety of results. Good enough to help me with my selection.


Take, bed, for example. Quikr threw in a lot of results the moment I typed "bed" in the Search box. Double bed, bed sets, single bed, sofa cum bed, wooden bed, bedroom set, sofa bed, etc.

Being a bachelor, I only required a single bed, so I went ahead with a single bed in the Home - Office Furniture category.


To my surprise, there were more than 2000+ results to choose from. I wanted to narrow down the search results using location and price range. I was open to "used" beds; it didn't actually matter if the product was old or new.

I stayed near Hosur Road and therefore whittled down the exact location from the different options under "Located In". I could also specify the desired "Price Range".


Voila! The search results came down from 2000+ to 24. And there it was - a "double bed cot for sale" - fitting my budget perfectly.

The best part about buying on Quikr is that you can view the pictures uploaded by the seller, see if the seller has a verified number, and my favorite of all, use the Chat Now feature in case you have queries or doubts related to the product.


Since the bed I chose was from a dealer, I had no hesitancy in contacting him. But I wanted to view the pictures and see the ad details first before making the purchase.

The seller's number was verified. I immediately made a call to him and finalized the deal.


The whole process was a breeze. The bed was delivered to my apartment within the agreed upon timeline and in the right condition.

I am extremely satisfied as a Quikr customer, and strongly recommend the service to all.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Discovering A Whole New World This Valentine's Day

For years, Valentine's Day has been celebrated as a day when we rejoice and show love to the ones who matter the most in our lives. A chance to get closer to the emotions deeply felt each day.

When cupid strikes, the heart triggers a desire to give part of your soul to that special someone.  

I still remember my first Valentine with Sadhna in 2006. My heart telling me that she was the one ... the one I'd been waiting for ... the one I'd love forever.

And my heart was right.

In that perfect moment when I'd proposed to her, I gave her myself completely ... knowing that my heart will remain safe and snug with her.

To me, love is the purest of all emotions. Unadulterated and non-judgmental. Love, like life, ought to be celebrated each day. Not with material but memories that rekindle and keep that desire burning.

If I'm granted unlimited powers on the coming Valentine's Day, I would take my sweetheart on a journey in time and space, showing her a whole new world just with the snap of my fingers. No passport, no visa, no foreign currency, no lodging … nothing to worry about. I'd leave no stone unturned to make this day as memorable as possible.

There are many things in life we wish to accomplish but let go of due to paucity of time or resources. When presented with a chance to live life king-size, I'd make sure to fulfill all those dreams and desires that rest in the eyes of the one I adore.

She loves traveling


Like me, exploring and gaining life enriching experiences beckon her as well. So our Valentine's Day would be a day full of travel and adventure.

To begin with, both of us would go on a hike to the top of Mount Fuji in Japan, where we'd enjoy a mesmerizing sunrise. There's nothing more spectacular than to view the majestic sunrise in all its glory shinning right before your eyes, stretching its rays in the limitless sky and touching everything. Simply breathtaking!


From Japan to South Korea


Let's continue our romantic sojourn.

South Korea, for the simple reason, is the place where it all began. The place where we actually fell in love, made our home, had our family, and those innumerable experiences that would last a lifetime. Seoul it would be to be more precise. It still feels as if we live just a hop, skip, and a jump from Korea's capital city.


We'd take a morning stroll along the alleys where we once walked hand in hand, enjoy a morning cup of coffee at The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf outlet, and have a delicious walnut pie from Paris Baguette. Just soak in some more sun, look into each other's eyes, and get a bit teary (we loved the place!), and move on.


Our next destination – Oz or Australia


She loves the vastness of the sea, the shades of blue, and the mystical waves. So we'll get transported to the Twelve Apostles, which are a collection of limestone stacks by the Great Ocean Road in the state of Victoria. These 45 meters high, soft limestone Apostles make for an amazing view. Truly nature's architecture at its best.


Not done with Australia yet? Take a deep dive from Victoria to the Great Barrier Reef, which is located in the Coral Sea just off the coast of Queensland Australia. Designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1981, the Great Barrier Reef is the single largest structure made by living organisms that can also be seen from the outer space. Another example of Mother Nature's artistry.


Hungry after a dip?


How about authentic Thai cuisine in the picturesque Phuket. The aroma of steaming hot Thai curries and the exotic flavorful rice. Yum!

Though easily available all over the world, Thai food in Thailand can itself prove to be a life-changing experience.


Our next stop? The Seven Wonders of the World.

 

Beginning from the Great Wall of China to the Roman Colosseum in Italy.


We'll stopover at the only surviving wonder from the ancient world, the Giza Necropolis in Egypt. The great pyramids and the sculptures of the Great Sphinx of Giza are synonymous to ancient Egypt. The tour will answer some of our questions about the rise and fall of the ancient Egyptian civilization.


Next pit stops: Petra or the Rose-Red City in Jordan, Chichen Itza in Mexico, Machu Picchu in Peru, and the spellbinding humongous Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Created by a French sculptor and built by a Brazilian engineer, Christ the Redeemer promises a surreal experience to all visitors, the kind that gives you Goosebumps and brings you in face with the presence of the omnipresent Almighty.


Time for the evening coffee


How about a little fun in Paris, the most romantic city in the world! A hot cup of coffee with Eiffel Tower in the backdrop and a lovely lady by my side would be the perfect setting for a date.

Fresh baked croissant and French baguettes - just enough to relax and rejuvenate the soul.


A quick look at the Statue of Liberty and the beautiful Niagara falls in the US. Plus a visit to the tallest man-made structure – the Burj Khalifa – in Dubai. A little retail therapy and then return to motherland, India.


Wait it's not over yet.

A royal Mughlai dinner awaits the queen of my heart at a personalized shamiyana with the majestic Taj in its backdrop. The beauty of Taj in moonlight is matchless. Soothing romantic music and memories of a day well spent.


Just enough to hit the bed. Now? No wait.

Close your eyes and get on a highway to Maldives. Walking hand in hand next to the Ocean Of Stars. This Maldives beach is covered with bioluminescent phytoplankton emitting light and presenting an illusion of millions of stars in the sea.


From hiking and watching sunrise to dipping in the sea of stars. Seven man-made wonders to natural bounties. Life is indeed empty without the right partner to share these spectaculars with. Its void without that someone special to fill in all the colors and smiles.

It’s been nine years already and the emotion hasn't gone stale. The destinations are aplenty. I only hope to have her company – the lady I love the most – in this lifetime and a few more to come.

Happy Valentine's 2015.

[This post has been written for Baggout's Blogging Contest on Valentine's Day. Baggout provides awesome deals on Flipkart, Myntra, Jabong, Snapdeal, Amazon, and 100+ other online stores.]

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Head Over Heels In Love With Melbourne

We only live once. A lifetime is probably not enough to fulfill every little dream or capture every sweet memory. So whenever life presents a chance to explore an uncharted terrain, I am always game. Suffice to say, the charm of the unknown attracts me the most.

I've traveled to ten countries in the past eight years – either for work or education – and each time returned with bags full of experience and adventure. In fact, South Korea became my second home from 2005 to 2012, a period of time when I was employed with Samsung Electronics. 

Surprisingly, I've never been down under.


A Soil Untouched, A Continent Unvisited


The only visa stamp missing on my passport is that of Australia.

Australia, its interesting shape and location on the world map, and the clear waters that wash its shores have always beckoned me. Even when my favorite celebrity Oprah Winfrey rounded off her 25th season with a surprise visit to Oz, I watched her each step of the way … penning down my own itinerary and the must-see places.

And there it stood out, the city of Melbourne. A chic and vibrant mélange of style, sport, diverse cultures, fine exquisite dinning and high fashion boutiques. To me, Melbourne is like a mysterious maze of laneways, a city blessed with breathtaking natural beauty and landscapes … and unarguably home to some of the most astonishing architectural wonders in the world.

Laneways of Melbourne
(Image courtesy: http://linksservice.com/melbourne-laneways/)

Melbourne – My Next Holiday Destination


Melbourne is the beautiful capital of the state of Victoria and is the second most populated city of Australia. Often lauded as the most livable city in the world, Melbourne is also one of the country's leading financial centers. No surprise then, it was tagged by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) as the fourth most expensive city in the world in the year 2013.



Stop 1: Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG)


The holiday would ideally kickstart with a visit to the Mecca of all cricket lovers, the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG). For a cricket aficionado like me, it'll be a dream come true to have a firsthand, real life experience of the ground that has witnessed enumerable historic cricketing encounters.



As Australia prepares to host the ICC World Cup 2015 in collaboration with New Zealand, the best time to visit the MCG is surely early next year. A golden opportunity to experience the hard work, preparation, and enthusiasm of the locals.

The Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG)
(Image courtesy: http://www.epicure.com.au/)

Stop 2: Federation Square


Talking of enthusiasm, another landmark and an absolute unmissable place in Melbourne is its ever-so-vibrant Federation Square. Touched by around 10 million visitors annually, Federation Square plays host to nearly 2000 events per year. The events are as diverse as the cultural festivities, exhibitions, event launches, performances, films, concerts, fashion shows, and so on. In short, a one stop shop for cultural attractions, world-class events, touristic expositions, specialty stores, and simply, the best of everything.

If you're a foodie like me, allow the culinary diversity of the place to take over. Don't forget to enjoy a multicourse meal at any one of its sixteen most exquisite restaurants, bars, or cafes.

Federation Square
(Image courtesy: https://cristianruboniphotography.wordpress.com/)

For the art connoisseurs, visit the Ian Potter Center or the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) where you can enjoy and explore around 20,000 Australian artworks comprising of paintings, sculptures, prints, photographs, and textiles.

Fortune of Sir Ian Potter, one of the country's most acclaimed businessman and philanthropist, the gallery houses an ensemble of the oldest artworks.

The National Gallery of Victoria (NGV)
(Image courtesy: http://www.sydney-australia.biz/)

Another distinct offering of the Federation Square is the ACMI or the Australian Center for Moving Image. The place promises to be a journey into the evolution and growth of the moving image. This one-of-a-kind facility not only preserves but also exhibits and promotes Victorian, Australian, as well as International screen content.

ACMI or Australian Center for Moving Image
(Image courtesy: http://alida-altemburg.com/)

Stop 3: Yarra Valley and Dandenong Ranges


Melbourne, the city of joy, is located on the south-eastern part of the Australian island and enjoys a pleasant oceanic climate for most part of the year. The nearby Yarra Valley and Dandenong Ranges provide and preserve Australia's diverse flora and fauna.

Yarra Valley
(Image courtesy: http://www.visitmelbourneblog.com/)

Blessed with natural bounties, Melbourne offers its nature-loving visitors innumerable destinations for exploring and admiring God's canvas. The world-renowned Royal Botanical Gardens, situated in the heart of the city, is a picturesque landscaped garden spread across 38 hectares and houses nearly 10,000 native and exotic vegetation. Abundant greenery, wildlife, and a “hidden in the woods” cafe makes for a day well spent.

Royal Botanical Gardens
(Image courtesy: http://www.gardensonline.com.au/)

Stop 4: Royal Melbourne Zoological Gardens


If traveling with kids, make sure to visit the Royal Melbourne Zoological Gardens (also known as the Melbourne Zoo) and have a tête-à-tête with nearly 320 animals from Australia and around the world.

Royal Melbourne Zoological Gardens
(Image courtesy: http://melbourne.diarystar.com.au/)

Additionally, please your little ones with a visit to the sea life Melbourne Aquarium, the house of Southern Ocean and Antarctic creatures. Let them watch the penguins play at the Penguin Playground or enjoy the breathtaking Mermaid Garden Oceanarium and have a look at the Grey Nurse Shark and the Sandbar Shark as they swim alongside 2000 other marine creatures.

Melbourne Aquarium
(Image courtesy: http://commons.wikimedia.org)

Stop 5: St. Kilda Beach and Luna Park


To experience the sun and sand, try a host of beaches in the city. Though similar looking, each promises to be a distinct experience for the traveler of all ages. Like the St. Kilda Beach that welcomes you to fantastic cafes, bars, hotels, and restaurants.

St Kilda Beach
(Image courtesy: https://www.flickr.com/photos/pierodamiani/7949029934/)

It extends to the Luna Park, Australia's oldest theme-based amusement park. You can enjoy alongside fellow Melbournians something they have loved for over 100 years. Then there is the William's Town Beach or the Altona Beach that offers several water based activities.

Luna Park
(Image courtesy: https://www.flickr.com/photos/proimos/12121270906/)

Stop 6: The Shrine of Remembrance


For the admirers of architectural wonders, the city has enough food for soul. The Shrine of Remembrance, located on the St. Kilda Road, is a memorial built to honor the brave Australian men and women who served the country during war. The shrine has a classical style and its design is based on Mausoleum of Mausolus at Halicarnassus, which is one of the Seven Wonders of the World.

The Shrine of Remembrance
(Image courtesy: http://www.lodgebros.com.au/)

Stop 7: St. Paul's Cathedral


St. Paul's Cathedral is another major Melbourne landmark. It is the seat of the Anglican Primate of Australia. The cathedral is located on the very side where the first public Christian services were held in Melbourne. Build in the neo-gothic transitional style, the structure breeds history into the city's center.

St. Paul's Cathedral
(Image courtesy: http://static.panoramio.com/)

Stop 8: Eureka Skydeck 88


Fear heights? Then you must visit the Eureka Skydeck 88 to overcome it. The observation deck of the 297.3 meters high Eureka Tower offers a spellbinding view of the city. Spread across the entire 88th floor of the tower, the Eureka Skydeck 88 is the highest public vantage point and has around 30 view finders to aid visitors, have a closer look at the landmarks around the city.

Eureka Skydeck 88
(Image courtesy: http://national.atdw.com.au/)

The glass cube or "The Edge" extends from the building and adds on to the terrific viewing experience.



Stop 9: Her Majesty's Theatre


Some other architectural attractions include Her Majesty's Theatre which was built in 1886 and can seat around 1700 admirers. The place has also been visited by some very important people in the history. It currently plays the Phantom of the Opera to full capacity, which is also its longest running and most successful production. On your way around the city, visit the Melbourne Town Hall, the Central Municipal Building, and the Seat of the Local Government.

Her Majesty's Theatre
(Image courtesy: www.hmt.com.au)


Stop 10: Rippon Lea House and Gardens


Rippon Lea House and Gardens is a fine grand suburban estate and the first to achieve the national heritage listing. This estate boasts of a huge mansion situated within a vast garden spread across 14 acres and houses a windmill, a lookout tower, a heritage orchard, a lake, a waterfall, a fernery, and lots more. Built in 1868, the estate has a rich heritage and acres of greenlands waiting to be explored.

Rippon Lea House and Gardens
(Image courtesy: www.nationaltrust.org.au)

Contest


Yay! So finally, I get to host the first-ever contest on my blog.

Q. Which of these places would you want to visit in Melbourne and why?

The best answer on every valid entry will win a gift voucher. The contest ends on January 4, 2015.

[Visit the Tourism Victoria website at http://www.visitmelbourne.com/India.aspx
Come Alive in Melbourne (see http://bit.ly/CAMvideos)
@IndiBlogger]

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Book Review: Private India by James Patterson and Ashwin Sanghi

Private India is a collaborative effort between James Patterson, the New York Times bestselling author and the conceptualizer of the Private series, and India's own Ashwin Sanghi, a name associated with historical and mythological thrillers.

It is a fast-paced fictional thriller set in the forlorn streets of Mumbai; a novel that acquaints you to the issues plaguing modern India such as gambling, prostitution, smuggling, corruption, and violence against women.



Introducing the Main Protagonist


Jack Morgan, the main protagonist of the Private series, is a former CIA agent who heads the fictional Private Inc., one of the finest Private Investigation agencies in the world. Jack's heroics took him to Berlin, LA, London, etc., but for his current mission, he hands over the reins to Santosh Wagh, a top agent in Mumbai.

The USP


The USP of Private India is the alliance between two minds, mingling of two distinct cultures, and jaw-dropping suspense. Sanghi manages the "Indianness" well through his deep-rooted knowledge and admiration of the Indian mythology. He provides a vivid description of the Navratri festival and Goddess Durga in the novel, and Patterson weaves an intricate plot around the same through drama, keeping everyone on tenterhooks.



Central Characters


All the central characters are well-developed. Santosh Wagh, a former cop turned private investigator, heads the India operations for Private Inc. A host of supporting characters – like the corrupt cop, the immortal Godman, the underworld Don, the wily lawmaker, the Bollywood star, or the singing sensation – take the story ahead with finesse and detail.

Jack Morgan versus Johnnie Walker


Santosh is a brilliant investigator with a strong sense of reasoning. He has a pitiable past though, having lost his entire family in a bizarre road accident. Partly holding himself responsible for the ill-fated event, he battles a drinking problem – often torn between drink and duty. This is referred in the book as "Jack Morgan versus Johnnie Walker".

His aide includes: Nisha Gandhe, an enviable head turner; Mubeen, the team's medical expert; and Hari, the quintessential techie.

The Plot


The story begins with the murder of a female Thai plastic surgeon in an uptown Mumbai hotel. Her dead body is found in the bathroom by a housekeeping staff.

A prima facie case of murder is established only when the victim's hands are seen tied with strings. Other noticeable clues include: a yellow scarf wrapped around her neck, a flower in one hand and a fork in the other, and a small Viking helmet tied to one of her toes.

Eight similar murders of supposedly unrelated people shake Mumbai one after the other. Much to the team's surprise! The serial killer follows a similar pattern for every victim.

For Santosh and team, it is not only important to catch the serial killer and put an end to his killing spree but also crucial to avoid an impending terror attack on the city.

My Verdict


We travel to every nook and corner of Mumbai with the team trying to figure out the mystery.

I must admit that Sanghi's mythological links do feel irrelevant and unnecessary at times. Ditto with some unfitting theatrics that he's tried to infuse in the book.

Patterson's trademark gusto – of describing gruesome murders and crime scenes – is also missing. Nonetheless, it still is a good read.

The book has a powerful and intriguing beginning but the events struggle to maintain the level of tension and suspense.

Rating (3 out of 5)






[This book review is a part of the Book Review Program of Blogadda.]

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Evading A Painful Past By Rising Above Fear

I don't know how to start today's post or where to start from. Probably afraid of revisiting the past. 

A painful, inglorious past – one that I wish to erase permanently. 

I'm equally aware that unless I share my story with a larger audience, it'll continue to haunt me for the rest of my life. To heal completely, I need to evade every bit of negativity that has surrounded me for years.

So there, I was a victim of verbal and physical abuse during childhood.

You heard it!

Only my wife and a few close friends know about this bitter truth, and now you. Time to bury the hatchet maybe. 

Here's my tryst with agony, consternation, and triumph.


The Beginning


I was an average Joe in school. Extroverted, talkative, and naughty. But never the kind to harm anyone intentionally. As someone who grew up on a staple diet of typical middle-class values, I was privy to all the nuisance I now wish no kid should ever indulge in while growing up.

My Childhood Ended Even Before It Started


The struggle to make ends meet implied that both my father and mother were required to be in full-time jobs. My upbringing was rather strict. Considering the culture and environment I grew up in, it would be deemed completely normal to raise hand on boys or expect them not to cry when they get beaten up. I never really understood that popular notion back then.

And I still don't!

At school, I was timid for the large part and avoided clashes of any kind ... perhaps, as a result, was bullied a lot. I don't exactly remember for how long did I endure all the name calling but I do remember telling myself repeatedly every night "sticks and stones can break my bones but name calling can never hurt me."

I Was Wrong. Dead Wrong.


One should never live with an illusion that the hurt will vanish just like that.

To illustrate the deep-rooted psychological effect it had on my own life – I stopped believing that I could be "macho" like other boys. It broke my ability to believe (in myself), eventually getting to a point where nothing else mattered anymore. The tears, the suffering, the people. I gave up on everything!

The psychological effect of cyber bullying (Reference: http://www.fizzandtattle.com/)


Biggest Turn Around


For me, the greatest challenge was to rebuild that esteem. I needed to believe in a power greater than myself to get through.

As luck would have it, I met Sadhna (my better half now) at an interesting crossroad. She taught me how to let go. She urged me to speak up about issues that truly mattered.

Exploitation of any kind will continue to exist only and only if we accept being silent. It is basically like you're saying "I allow to be taken advantage of; I allow this to happen to me."

Bully Free - It starts with me (Reference: http://www.nea.org)

Counseling Alone Will Not Help


We've got to stop this culture of bullying right away. I had to travel down a long road to get to this point. Imagine those who are probably not that strong.

Where will they go? Who will they look up to?

I'm leaving you today with a food for thought, hoping that you'd be able to rise above fear!



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