Sunday, 27 November 2016

Let's localize with alcohol :D


The perfect kick: trying the local alcohol of a new country/region!

When I got my travel boots on last year, I made a dash for all the local booze. And obviously, it makes perfect sense to have the right crazy people to get inebriated with! Thought I'd share my experience with each, listing the place I visited and the drinks I tried!

1. China (Beijing)
Baijiu (Rice wine), Tsingtao (Beer)

Sooo, my MBA journey at HKU-LBS started with Beijing. One of the most memorable experiences, a big part of which was Baijiu and the things it did to us. Haha for 4 RMB, you get a tiny bottle of explosive shit. With 40-60% ABV and a taste very much like vomit IMO, Baijiu was my classmates' weapon for destruction, EVERY NIGHT. Okay, not every night, but they went crazeballs with it. At first, we were mixing soft drinks but eventually it was just straight off the bottle. And the stories it created! #notsayinganymore. Glad to have the crazy MBA classmates to experience this one! Gānbēi!
This is it!

I also liked Tsingtao - favourite choice on campus! Yes, we were on a campus in Beijing, learning Mandarin and drinking beer. That's the thing with China, the alcohol was so cheap, there was no reason, not to! I love BJ. #BJ=Beijing

Baijiu lovers?
Some Tsingtao on campus


2. Indonesia (Bali)
Bintang (Beer), Bintang Radler (I'd call it lemon juice)

Bintang!
Brought in the new year 2016 in Bali with my craziest friends from school. I honestly don't remember the particular taste of Bintang but I am sure I liked it :P We stocked up our villa with a lot of Bintang, but there was a lot of other booze happening as well.

Bintang Radler is this light lemon beer? I am not sure but it was our substitute for water. Who goes on a vacation and has water, right? It was only 2% ABV but hey wake up and let's start drinking Radler.



Crew for life

3. Japan (Tokyo, Atami, Kyoto, Osaka)
Asahi (Beer), Yamazaki (Whiskey), Sake (Rice Wine), Umeshu (Kind of like Plum wine)
Let's taste them all!
Kanpai! Japan, how do I even start? My classmate, Kou san organized the most epic trip ever. I absolutely fell in love with the country and its hospitality. The best part was the visit to the Suntory Yamazaki distillery. Yamazaki was named the best whiskey in the world. The tasting experience was fantastic- tried 4 different whiskeys (one of which was a reserve) and I believe got drunk with just that. Could feel the smoothness or not of the various types - quite revealing!

Suntory Yamazaki Distillery
I discovered that I love Sake- the perfect accompaniment with sushi. Well, it is quite potent for me and I enjoy it cold. One surprising thing was how much I liked Umeshu -fruit based liqueur. I usually dislike sweet alcohol but this was yummers!



Time for Sake and Sushi
4. UK (Manchester, London)
Craft beer

On a road trip from London to Manchester, we chanced upon this countryside pub. Decided to just stop over and see the place. It was a pub with a farm behind- such amazing views. Locally brewed beer is the best in the UK. I don't have perfect knowledge about the different brews, but there was such crazy variety! Excellent beer and superb location. I loved how each brew had its unique flavour.

Hatton Arms - Pubtastic
Drinking time :D


The view from the pub
The local brews



5. Czech Repulic (Prague, Cesky Krumlov)
Pilsner Urquell, Budweiser-Budvar, Kozel

Family in Prague


Czech Repulic- the beer capital of the world - calling beer "liquid bread" and consuming the highest 161 litres per capita, this country knows how to drink! They brewing since 993 AD it seems. I went on a family vacation and it was lovely for the four of us to bond over beer. My dad went for the Kozel black and oh my- it was this smoky brew- I simply loved it. The Pilsner Urquell is a pale lager beer at its finest. Interesting fact about Budweiser- the orginal Budweiser was founded in the city of Budweis in 1785. The US company Anheuser-Busch borrowed the name for its famous Budweiser. So there are two Buds- the Czech and the US. 
The beautiful Cesky Krumlov




6. Singapore
Singapore Sling (Gin-based cocktail)

On the career trek to Singapore, I tried the famous Singapore Sling. I didn't like it though, too sweet for me. The partying in Singapore was cray though. Sleeping at 3 am and dashing for a company visit at 8 am, not the best memory :P

5. India (Delhi)
Bira 91 (Beer)

You can't not be jumping with joy when such a fantastic wheat beer is locally crafted in your country by a kickass beer start-up? Whattt! Although the first batch was produced in Belgium, they are now shifting production to India. It became so popular in India, it sold out! Thankfully, back now. I LOVED the Bira White. Just perfection. And so proud. Obviously with besties, it just tastes the best too.


6. Myanmar (Yangon, Bali)
Myanmar beer, Palm wine

I really liked Myanmar beer- perfect taste! As for the palm wine (made out of sap of the palm tree), it was like rice wine - again only if one wants to get smashed up.

Too excited to see alcohol being born :P



7. Spain (Ibiza)


I had some excellent red wine sangria. I understand I should have more knowledge than just that, but hey we were in Ibiza. Haha

I don't have many decent photos :/


8. Hong Kong
Haven't figured what's local here? Lived for 8 months during the MBA- had an alcohol overload, but I guess it would be rice wine. Back to point 1, not going there again!

9. South Korea

Souju (Kind of like rice wine)

I haven't visited South Korea, but I tried Soju in a Korean bar in Hong Kong. One of my Korean classmates, Gemma took us to this lovely Korean bar! The Koreans love their soju. I was scared to try (given Baijiu's experience), but it wasn't like that at all. A tad bit sweet and can be potent (up to 45% ABV), taken neat. I liked it, although no affinity, yet.

Many more countries, regions, cities to explore and more drinks to come. Cheers to life!

Sunday, 16 October 2016

Spellbound in Bagan

When you push out the black clouds, there's only sunshine and clarity. We tend to get stuck on what could have been but we only have today. Live now, focus on today, embrace every moment and you'll see the future unfold as you hoped it would, eventually.


Pristine. The meaning of this word wasn't known to me till I visited Bagan. Clean and fresh, as if new; spotless. Yes, that's how I would describe what I experienced. Two factors contributing to a perfect weekend trip were the beauty of the place and the hospitality of our tour guide. 

Bagan is an ancient city and from 9th to 13th centuries, it was the capital of Kingdom of Pagan. As our guide, Min Thant informed us, 11th to 13th centuries was the height of the Kingdom and during this time some 10,000 temples were constructed. As you view the surroundings, there is vast green space spotted with temples all over. I was challenged to count the number of temples by Min but I laughed off the challenge. Some googling reveals there are about 2,200 temples now remaining. The experience of walking around the open space and visiting tiny and big temples was quite interesting. You can even climb the pagodas (Buddhist temples) and sit on the roof and enjoy the view! 
Ling's exceptional photography skills!

The view!!

What I enjoyed most was sitting on top, looking out at the clear sky and wonderful landscape. It was so peaceful, I could feel the spirituality. No drama around rituals, rules and endless queues. It was what you make of it.

I am so glad my friend Ling asked me to join her on this trip!

Watching the sun set from the boat on the Irrawaddy river was another lovely experience. Thankfully the weather was perfect!










For lunch, we had a sumptuous meal at a very reasonable price. The best part for me were the veggies- brinjal and ladyfinger- made in Indian style! Really made me super happy.


We also visited a cute roadside shack on way to Mount Popa. This shack had utilized the palm tree to the maximum possible- thatched with leaves from the tree with all furniture made from the leaves and trunk. They were making palm sugar and palm wine (toddy or htan ye) in this settlement. I got super excited watching the distillation right in front of me. We took shots of the toddy- it tasted like baijiu (Chinese rice wine). Not at all happy about the taste but the potency was great! There was also a lighter version which they called palm "beer" but that wasn't as fun as the palm wine :D


Majestic Pagoda and I!
We really enjoyed the view at Taung Kalat- a volcanic plug near Mount Popa (extinct volcano). I have learnt that a volcanic plug is a lava neck which is created when lava from an existing volcano hardens and the surrounding sediment is eroded away. Interesting to see a Buddhist monastery at the top of Taung Kalat. The walk up to the monastery was fun- couple of stairs and a lot of monkeys! There were volunteers cleaning the stairs and honestly it was very well maintained.

A good deal of China immersion for me- Ling, Cheung Long and Damon were a fun bunch of people! It was great that I have a Chinese name (可) and very basic Mandarin skills. I thoroughly enjoyed their company with some pineapple pen jokes, perfect photo sessions and nice drinking games.     
                                                        
Time for selfie on top of the Pagoda
Welcome to Bagan :)
The rawness of the place cannot be explained in words. It is truly untouched and non-commercialised at this stage. But till when it will remain like this, one cannot say. Also, Min shared with us that his village does not have electricity (84% of households in rural Myanmar have no electricity access), but they have mobile phones. They travel 20 minutes to go charge their phones. Very very interesting. This is where lies Myanmar's opportunity. I advised him to use his knowledge and skills as a guide to keep track of the changing tourist market and grab bigger opportunities to grow. Not in these words though but I became an immediate consultant evaluating his client emails :D The business person in me saw a lot of potential. 
Loved my visit and hope to come back to the famous hot air balloon ride over the town! 

Riverside views




Say hello to Min

The palm trees 
Freshly distilled palm alcohol 
We all in the cute shack made out of various parts of the palm tree 

Mount Popa 
The gang at the Monastery- note the traditional attire! (Longyis)


-



Saturday, 10 September 2016

Minglabar Myanmar!


Minglabar is hello in Myanmar.  I have found travelling very fascinating: learnt hello and thank you in 8 new languages last year! The power of local language brings smiles on people's faces and makes everything easier. 

I am in Yangon for a month now. In my view, this city is raw, crowded, congested yet calm, friendly and still mellow at night. Everything is rising, waking up, finding a direction and taking shape. 

My first step:

The airport is a cute one. By that I mean, it is small and just about basic. As I stepped out of the airport, I saw my cab driver holding my name card and waving out to me. He gave me a huge smile and immediately offered to take my luggage. Ah, back to Asia! I noticed that all cab drivers were wearing the traditional lungyi and chewing betel leaf. Add to that some humidity. This totally reminded me of Kolkata. Although in Kolkata, lungyi's are worn at home so this was a bit surprising! 


Why am I here?

My work experience at Moody's led me to analyze Indian state government finances which highlighted the deficit in public expenditure on capital assets. I believe that a partnership with the private sector can lead to sustainable development outcomes. Thus, here I am interning at a private equity fund in a frontier market, working to build sustainable businesses in Myanmar. I am excited to be here at a time when the economy is opening up and embracing changes in almost every sphere.

The first week:

I immersed myself in understanding the workings of my firm and what was expected from me. The set up is very international, with colleagues from different nationalities such as Myanmar, British, Singaporean, Canadian, Dutch and Portuguese. A talented and welcoming set of people! I find the work environment very hands-on with a strong ownership of work. 

The dynamics on the roads are interesting: roads are flanked by hawker stalls on both sides and pedestrians cross them while traffic is full-on. Cars actually do stop for you (unlike in India) but it takes some guts and practice to carry this out! 

Mobile internet penetration has reached 80% in just two years! This is a spectacular development in Myanmar with two foreign players ramping up the telecommunications infrastructure to support 3G from no internet two years ago. Analysts predict many sectors would see a similar trajectory and thus this country offers many exciting opportunities! So yes I have my internet, which became my lifeline in this last year of travelling around. 

I attended two events in my first week: A women's networking event and a start-up pitching competition. I admired the enthusiasm of both the organizers and attendees. Foreign organizations are hosting these events with local partners and bringing in ideas and expertise. You can see how nascent everything is and yet to fill a room with 60 people is commendable. 







I have been welcomed very warmly by my local friends. They are mostly those returned from an education abroad. They have chosen to come back because "things are happening here" and they want to contribute to that. Smart and bright people, they could be the ones to put Myanmar on the world map!  

Officially, one more month to go. Unofficially, we shall see. Lots more to explore!

Thursday, 7 May 2015

Romedy Now- Ruining Rom-Coms!

I can say that I was the happiest person to know that Romedy Now - a TV channel dedicated to airing movies from the genre "Romantic Comedy or Rom-Coms"- was finally available on Tata Sky!!

And I don't even watch TV. I only watch it for news, sports events and one or two shows that I like to record and watch with my mother. That's about it.



But when I finally saw Romedy Now on the Tata Sky dashboard, I was ecstatic. During the past few days, I discovered that whenever I put the channel, there is a good movie coming which I instantly start watching and then put the next 3-4 on record. Because honestly, Rom-Coms are the best! I totally adore them - they leave me feeling good about friendships, cute relationships and emotions and sometimes bad such as "oh I wish I had such a friend/relationship in my life". But overall, I just connect to them and flow with these kind of movies.

HOWEVER, welcome to Romedy Now - an Indian channel- which has ruined the experience for me! This is what I observed:

1) I am watching this movie, it's going really well. The lead pair is forming a good friendship, there's chemistry and it is all building up to something. Really eager to see how they come together. The scene is going well and BAM. Cut to a random scene. What just happened? Where are we? Oh, they kissed. AND our dear Indian TV Censor Board cut that out entirely! I felt like whaaaaat? And I know this is lame but they were not even anywhere near a bed! They were just kissing- and it was all cut off. No No No, we can't watch two humans in love, kissing each other! What are you saying?

2) Again, another day: Watching a movie. Into the plot. Following the story, ok great. Suddenly there is this woman and there is some hazy thing over her breasts. I wasn't even looking at that and now I have forgotten what was happening and I am focusing on this censored cleavage, wondering what could it be that it had to be censored off like that? Lot of cleavage? Boobs were too big? Boobs weren't the same size? Like WHAT was the problem? And then I am like shit missed what happened there. I wouldn't even have noticed that or thought about it for that long had they not censored it?!! (Oops I have written about Boobs=Breasts on a public platform. Yikes, bye bye blog, I will miss you)



What does this mean? We can watch women in Bollywood jiggle their everything, sing weird double meaning songs with a bunch of leching guys around and some movies which project sick views of how women be treated in society - blame the victim, beti pariyi hoti hai, all that bullshit. But we cannot, no cannot, watch two humans expressing a kiss? Wait, that has to do something with us being Indians and having double standards?

I just cannot understand the reason behind censoring stuff on Romedy Now. Is it because they think if people will watch it, they'll try replicating it? Just like replicating other things shown in Indian movies- how to rob a bank, cheat people, back bitch, rape, murder, become a gangstar, get high on drugs. Those are not censored or no disclaimers are run - is consensual kissing by two adults in love, so horrible that it can corrupt the minds of Indians??

Or do they think by not showing these things, people will never know of kissing, boobs, love, sex..? What you don't see, you don't know?

All humans have done
what they have to do
at the right age and time
irrespective of their geographic location
and across centuries! Should I really be bringing up the Kamasutra point here?

Talk about things- make people learn and understand - banning will not achieve whatever these censorship people are trying to achieve (I have no idea). Ban this/Censor that, someone will find a way to it.  Please focus on banning stupid speeches by some daft Indian politicians or discrimination on the basis of one's skin colour? This video by Hollyshit - a Youtube channel-sums up what we should really be banning: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8-dChNC-ob4


*Sigh* To watch or not to watch, that is the question. Watching each scene with the FEAR OF MISSING OUT. #FOMO.


Thursday, 23 April 2015

Styling it up with Chanderi Tiramisu

2015: the year of weddings for me! So many of my friends got married this year and it was great attending the weddings. Mainly for two reasons:

1. I love dancing
2. I love dressing up!

I got the opportunity to choreograph a couple of my friends' sangeets. That was super fun- choosing songs, choreographing and then teaching it to all the friends! I met so many people and made new friends. :)

I am super excited about dressing up for weddings- I believe in going all for it! Where else do all the pretty and fancy Indian clothes come to use? My pillar of support was mine and my mom's venture: Chanderi Tiramisu www.facebook.com/chanderitiramisu. We create sarees and kurtas-both formal/wedding wear and casual chic. Following are the looks I adorned:

1. Anarkali Style Suit

I wore this neon orange anarkali for different functions- went with Mehandi and Sangeet as well. I liked the vibrant feel and the good fit. I teamed it with a 'passa' (head jewellery mainly used in sufi style).

                                                    That is me second from left, dancing with the girl gang




















2. Lehenga with Brocade and Velvet. 

The best part about this lehenga is its light weight. It looks royal according to me and is easy to wear. Moreover, I love how I feel in it :D


3. White Net Saree

This is the coolest saree I have worn. I felt so comfortable in it. It is my perfect companion for day weddings. I wore it for a beach wedding as well as a night function. 



Hope you enjoyed the post!

Monday, 23 March 2015

Click For Convenience

How life has changed.

I remember when we went for movies as kids, there were no multiplexes. Single hall cinemas with a long queue for tickets. Tickets in yellow, green or pink paper- I so remember that! There was also a scrambling for the seats once the gates opened.

We then moved to the multiplex culture- and the options were suddenly so many. There were more movies at one go and more choices for a splendid movie watching experience. But the queue for tickets just got worse somehow! To watch a movie, one had to plan pretty early on- calculating the time that would be spent on that queue to just buy the ticket and then to just enter the hall. Also after waiting out in the queue one would reach the counter only to get 'housefull'- one too many times!

Can I imagine doing that to watch a movie in a hall today? Probably not!

With time, came the option of advance booking so we'd visit the cinema hall earlier to purchase the ticket and then come on the day of the show to watch it. In retrospect, I have done a lot to watch movies- haha quite a movie buff I am.

Never could I imagine the convenience of the click of a button on the internet today! With Book My Show, life changed in a jiffy. At first I could call up and book my movie tickets and later it could just be done online with the choice of my seat. What could be any better?

27 Coupons! (http://www.27coupons.com/) We all like our dose of online coupons which makes purchasing online more attractive and favourable! With nearly 25 offers for Book My Show, including getting a free ticket, discounts on ticket price and cash back options, 27 coupons has offers you can't refuse!

The best part is the transparency in the written text- what the offer is, whom is it applicable for, till when it lasts- all there in one sentence. That's quite convenient! For a direct link to the offers, one can visit http://www.27coupons.com/stores/bookmyshow.com/.


These services today have made things less complicated and more in our hands. What we want to do, when we do it and how we want to do it. Leaving time for more things to do! Haha.

With Make My Trip, I can check flights for anywhere, make my bookings and pay online. They even have turned into a travel agent, where you can not only check out various places but also book packages with Make My Trip. 27 Coupons has offers for this site as well. Usually, a purchase on this website is a big ticket item like flight tickets or hotel bookings- and discounts on these is the icing on the cake a consumer is looking for! I personally liked the 6% cash back on minimum purchase of Rs. 5,000 which 27 Coupons has here: http://www.27coupons.com/stores/makemytrip.com/. And again, the terms and conditions are laid out clearly.



I like technology and I like how everything can be simplified further. While we are happy with a website for making bookings online, we also want some incentive to. 27 Coupons provides just that!

I just followed them on Twitter to keep myself updated on the offers to not miss any opportunity for a good deal :D



Thursday, 19 March 2015

Lucknow Food Trail


Lucknow. I was intrigued to visit this city which is known for its amalgamation of different cultures. Got a chance to visit thanks to a good friend's wedding! It was an exciting trip with a dash of heritage and lots of yummy food!



In this post, I want to mainly focus on the food aspect, because OMG, each meal was finger licking good (yes, KFC's tagline but 10 times better than KFC :P)

First of all, the foodie in me got a taste of yummy vegetarian (read Baniya/Jain) food at my friend's house: jeera aloo, kadi, rice, roti, paneer and what not! Each dish had its own flavour and was a delight to savour!


We then had an agenda to taste the famous Tunday Kebab of Lucknow. Got to Aminabad and reached Tunday Kebabi. The prices! Rs. 32 for 4 beef kebabs, at this day and age! Highly under priced..haha we never get such prices in Delhi.. Well, prices apart, the kebabs were delicious. Perfectly melt-in-the-mouth and spiced yummily (if that's a word!). We also had mutton galauti kebabs, sheermal and mughlai parantha. Satisfied, we left to try the next dish.





Finding a "Ram ji" food shop was not tough in the same lane. We stopped for our vegetarian friend, who tried kachauri with chole and veg kebabs. Honestly, I dug into that too and it had amazing flavour. In Lucknow, food is delicious, whatever you have!

We then tried the famous Prakash Kulfi, which was phenomenal- great taste and just the right quantity!



I always have "mineral water golgappas" in Delhi. In Lucknow, I made an exception. Looking at an awesome street-side golgappa wala who was serving paanch paani golgappas- I flipped! I eagerly tried all of them and sooo glad I did! Each had its own mouth-watering flavour!



Finally, at Chowk, I tried the famous Idris Biryani. Finding it was fun, we kept walking along the street and asking people where it was. It had no name board!




When we reached, we confirmed around us that this was it. Well, the mutton biryani was wonderfully spiced with soft mutton pieces- melt in the mouth experience! What's biryani without digging in your hands?



Paired this up with some delicious lassi from Sri Lassi!







In all, I learnt that in Lucknow:

1. There are only 2-3 items in the menu
2. These items are totally delicious
3. The prices of these items are amazing
4. Service will only take 2 minutes and you'll be well taken care of
5. There are no taxes
6. You leave full, happy and wanting more!


Thank you Vardhman and Akanksha for giving us a chance to savour Lucknow's delicacies!