Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Celebrating Loi Krathong Festival in Delhi - The Most Picturesque and Romantic Festival of Thailand

From past one and a half months, I was deployed on a client site in the United Kingdom. It was perhaps the most challenging project I had ever undertaken - not because of its complexity or the sheer volume of work.

Funny as it may sound, I was just provided a couple of weeks to prepare the operation documentation for a wide variety of travel products whose development itself took nearly two years to complete.

After working non-stop for 14 hours a day in absolutely trying conditions, the last thing you'd want to confront is illness.

Phew, the worst is behind me now. Not only did I manage to complete the work on time, I even received a lovely client endorsement. Flattering to say the least!

So there, I'm glad to return on the blog after a lengthy hiatus, picking up from where I left.

Last week I received an invite from the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) in New Delhi to celebrate a traditional Thai festival called "Loi Krathong".

Venue: Hotel Radisson Blu Plaza Delhi

Day and Date: Wednesday, November 18, 2015

I was the first blogger to reach the pool area of the hotel, which was transformed into a purposely-built performance stage and a pond, for invitees to experience the ritual of "Loi Krathong".

Just like Deepavali, the Loi Krathong festival is also hailed as the 'festival of lights' and is celebrated throughout Thailand every year on the evening of twelfth lunar month. This year, it will be celebrated on Wednesday, November 25, 2015.

Having spent a significant amount of time in South Korea, I couldn't help but draw similarities with the Lotus Lantern Festival, which is held every year in the honor of Lord Buddha's birth.

Loi Krathong Festival in Delhi 

In Thai, 'Loi' means 'to float' and 'Krathong' refers to 'a Lotus shaped container that floats on water'.

Krathong - A Lotus shaped container that floats on water

The festival holds a romantic significance in the lives of Thai couples who come together on this auspicious day to float their krathongs in the river. By doing so, they pay homage to the God of river, ask for forgiveness for polluting waters, and pray for good luck, health and prosperity. Once the water all across becomes live with candlelight, it is truly a sight to behold.

Floating Krathongs in Water

The highlight of the evening was resplendent cultural performances put together by a group of Thai dancers and musicians, specially flown in from Chiang Mai, the northern region of Thailand. 

Cultural Performances by Thai Dancers

The performances included a lively long drum procession and a Thai boxing demonstration (popularly known as Muay Thai).

I thoroughly enjoyed the traditional dance ritual and the parade of Miss Loi Krathong in which she was carried on a palanquin to the pool site where she invited the guests to release the candle lit krathongs.

Miss Loi Krathong

For the uninitiated, lit candles and joss sticks are placed on Lotus shaped baskets made from Banana leaves and its trunk, before they are submerged in water.

Lotus shaped baskets made from Banana leaves and its trunk

The evening came alive as several floating candles lit up the water bodies and lawn.

Candle Lit Krathongs

Later at the festival, I also savored the world-famous Thai cuisine, courtesy Neung Roi Thai restaurant (the popular Thai restaurant at the Radisson Blu Plaza Delhi). 

For someone like me who is curious to know about different cultures, it was a joy to celebrate the Loi Krathong festival with the amazing Thai people. Beyond doubt, this seems to be one of the most picturesque and romantic festivals of Thailand.

Beautiful Thai Artists

I definitely want to visit Thailand now and Discover Thainess with all its simplicity and panache.

Friday, October 23, 2015

My Top 10 Blogging Accomplishments In 2014-15

[Signing in from Aldershot UK where I'm stationed from October 8 to November 13, 2015.]

A Relaxed Moi in Aldershot UK

I started to blog in 2006 but this year has by far been the best. I posted 84 long entries on my blog, which is nearly three times the number of entries posted last year.

In this blog post, I'll recap my top 10 blogging accomplishments in 2014-15.

1. Got interviewed by NDTV Prime

[Program Name: Heads Up]

When NDTV Prime turned to India's top bloggers for some insights on "How to transform your hobby of writing into a full-fledged career", guess who got to steal the maximum on-screen time? No prizes for guessing!

2. Became a Panelist at #TechMinter50

#TechMinter50 is a perfect platform for both bloggers and brands to connect with each other. Thanks to Blogmint for organizing this bloggers meet and more specifically for considering me as one of their panelists. I enjoyed talking about my journey as a blogger in front of a packed house, which included reps from brands like GroupM, Casio, ZenithOptimedia, and ThoughtBuzz.

For more details, see

Panelists at #TechMinter50

3. Styled a Model

Earlier this year, Myntra* invited me to cover the launch of its 'Disney by Anouk' collection.

[For the uninitiated, Myntra is a leading ecommerce company in India that sells clothing line and accessories from leading fashion labels, among other items. The company is India's largest online fashion store.]

It was here that I got to style a model (named Minakshi) in ethnic wear. Now this doesn't happen often!

Not only that, I showcased my creation in front of Aki Narula, a renowned fashion designer and stylist in Bollywood.

Never the one to shy away from any adventure, I paired up with another blogger, Reema, to style our model in playful Mickey prints and trendy Indian silhouettes. The proud moment for us arrived when our model walked the talk and conveyed the brand image superbly.

Thanks Minakshi for being such a sport!

Winning the first prize for my creation, and in turn, a cool gift hamper from none other than Aki Narula was indeed the highlight of the day for me. Aki liked my contemporary twist to traditional styling and felt that it infused fun and excitement.

Groupie with Aki Narula & the Winning Team

4. Became a Zomato Verified Food Blogger

Talking of hidden talents, for the first time ever since I took up blogging, I started reviewing food at several restaurants and hotels in India. I visited over 20 fine dining properties in Delhi alone this year, and my reviews are posted on both my blog and Zomato.

Becoming a Zomato verified food blogger felt great and speaks volume of the quality and credibility of my reviews.

Another good thing that happened as a result of food blogging this year was a familiarization (FAM) tour to Fairmont Jaipur. My first FAM tour in India; and you can imagine my level of excitement.

FAM Tour to Fairmont Jaipur

I was also invited to a signature customer engagement program by InnerChef, a fast-growing data driven food technology company. At the event, I got a sneak peek into 'what's new and next' at InnerChef, which I think is the way forward for new startups to engage with customers in a more meaningful way.

Making New Friends (Courtesy InnerChef)

With two gorgeous ladies at the InnerChef event

5. Received invites to Premium Designer Stores 

When a multi-brand luxury footwear label like Heel & Buckle launched their first ever line of men's footwear called 'Heel & Buckle London' in Delhi, I was there to catch all the action firsthand.

Heel & Buckle Launch in Delhi

Moi at the Heel & Buckle London Launch

That's not all!

I was invited at the launch of Steinway Lyngdorf's first flagship showroom in Delhi. Coincidentally, one of their biggest competitors, Bang & Olufsen, had also extended a similar invitation to yours truly a few months ago.

Bang & Olufsen Showroom in Delhi

6. Attended Unique Gaming Events

All work and no play make Rahul a dull boy!

Earlier this year Little Black Book (LBB) hosted a unique game night for bloggers only at Raasta, Cyber Hub. An evening filled with games, drinks, goofiness, and a whole lot fun. Such a super cool way to shake off those mid-week blues. The fabulous folks from NCR Board & Card Gamers organized some crazy-intense rounds of games - from Pictionary to Taboo and Cards Against Humanity to Heads Up.

With the Bloggers at LBB Game Night

7. Figured Among the Top 200 Bloggers at So Delhi Confluence

So Delhi Confluence provided yet another platform for bloggers and homegrown brands to collaborate. The event was covered by NDTV Goodtimes channel and received sponsorship from companies like PepperTap, Roposo, and One Touch Response.

I was ecstatic to figure among the top 200 bloggers and social media influencers who got an opportunity to network with 100 leading business brands in the country, including H&M, Swatch, ITC, Taj Hotels, Sony, The Body Shop, Fitness First, and many more.

8. Participated in Romedy Now Trail

I joined the Romedy Now Trail on July 18 this year, the tastiest social media race in Delhi, Mumbai, and Bengaluru. As part of the race, I visited the most happening restaurants in Delhi, ate gob-smacking dishes, and pursued my love for food with friends.

9. Met Bollywood Celebs throughout the Year

Here's a touchdown on the Bollywood celebrities I met in 2014-15.
Moi with Ayushmann Khurrana

Moi with Anil Kapoor
Neha Dhupia
Anupam Kher
Saif Ali Khan
Moi with Mahesh Bhatt
Lucky Ali
Arjun Kapoor
Aditi Rao Hydari

Groupie with Aditi
  • Gauri Khan (at the launch of Steinway Lyngdorf's first flagship showroom in Delhi)
Gauri Khan
Groupie with Yudi
Sonakshi Sinha
Cyrus Sahukar
Groupie with Chetan Bhagat
Groupie with Rani Mukerji
Groupie with Victor
I also met famous celebs from other walks of life.
Yuvraj Singh
Virender Sehwag
Rajiv Makhni
Groupie with RJ Nitin

10. Drove Honda Jazz CVT on F1 Track

The year couldn't have ended better. I finally got to drive a brand new Honda car on my favorite Formula 1 track in Noida.

At the Honda Jazz Prelaunch Event
Posing After the Ride

In 2015, blogging opened up a plethora of opportunities for me. Suffice to say, I look at my blog now to actively engage with both my readers and clients.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Spotted Gauri Khan at the Launch of Steinway Lyngdorf's First Flagship Showroom in Delhi

I can't believe how quickly this year has gone by. As we enter into the last leg of 2015, I am happy to let you know about my upcoming business visits to the United Kingdom and Oman. What that essentially means is: I'll be signing in from London in October and from Muscat in November and December, respectively. I'm quite excited about these visits for various reasons (obviously!) and can't wait to blog about all the fun places that I'm hoping to cover during my short sojourn.

In the meantime, let me fill you in on all the latest news from my blogging world.

Last week I attended the launch of Steinway Lyngdorf's first flagship showroom in capital. Since 2005, sound systems from Steinway Lyngdorf have been the pinnacle of the audio industry, and their name has always been associated with impeccable craftsmanship and cutting-edge technology.

For the uninitiated, Steinway Lyngdorf is a Denmark based company with markets in the USA, the UK, China, Singapore, Malaysia, etc. In India, they have partnered with Trescent Lifestyles, leaders in providing high-end home theatres, audio-video (AV) and home automation solutions for several Bollywood and Forbes 500 celebrities. With this partnership, Trescent Lifestyles becomes the exclusive distributor for Steinway Lyngdorf sound systems in India.

Exciting news for the Ultra HNI segment in India, who prefer to buy only the best speaker series from companies like Steinway Lyngdorf, Bang & Olufsen, etc.

At the launch, I was lucky to spend some time with none other than the Scandinavian tech guru Peter Lyngdorf, who is better known as the founder of Steinway Lyngdorf. According to Peter, sound continues to remain the number one priority for Steinway Lyngdorf. Contrary to popular belief, Steinway Lyngdorf is not a typical 'luxury product' company; they only sell the 'best' sound systems in the world today, with focus on technology, performance, and premium build and aesthetics. In the latter half of the day, there was an enthralling demonstration of the Steinway Lyngdorf systems for a select audience by the man himself.

Peter Lyngdorf (in middle)

The launch was attended by who's who of Delhi's rich and famous, including Shivani Wazir Pasrich, Shalini and Sanjay Passi, Natasha Nanda, Mandira Wirk, Lecoanet Hemant, Neeraj Soni, Tanaaz Bhatia, and more.

But in all honesty, the showstopper of the evening was Gauri Khan, an Indian film producer and interior designer, more popularly known as the wife of "King of Bollywood", Shah Rukh Khan. She graced the opening to talk about the one-of-its-kind Steinway Lyngdorf S–Series sound system, which is also installed in her new design studio in Mumbai.

Gauri Khan

Steinway Lyngdorf took the global audio industry by storm in the year 2007 with the launch of its Model D sound system that offers one of the most exquisite audio experiences in the world, combining state-of-the-art innovation in sound reproduction with finely-crafted aesthetics.

Model D

Also on display is the LS Concert that combines technologies from two of Steinway Lyngdorf’s most popular speakers - Model LS (line source technology) and  Model D (dipole technology). Designed as an open-baffle dipole line source, the Model LS Concert speaker renders an ultimate audio experience.

Model LS Concert

Both the models are showcased at the flagship showroom of Steinway Lyngdorf in Defence Colony, Delhi.

Moi at the Steinway Lyngdorf's First Flagship Showroom in Delhi

We, Indians, are simply passionate about music and Danish people are known to be the best in audio technology. I sincerely hope that the Ultra HNI segment in India will welcome these top of the line audio systems from Steinway Lyngdorf, making India one of the most profitable markets for the company after China, the USA, and the UK.