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Filmi Chakkar..


Love movies? A Movie buff? Then this one’s for you 🙂

Films (read Bollywood films) are based out from the society around, our daily lives, varied experiences with different influences. You recently saw a perfectly etched character in a film? You could relate to the last movie you watched? Yes, that answers the question.Whether it’s a science fiction or any imaginary character for that matter, there are some real life influences, a character with some bit of the writer himself. How about the other way around? How about the influences, movies have on our lives. Some influence, if you ask me. So let’s try to explore this and start our Filmi Chakkar, with some dialogue baazi, naach gaana and some acting vecting 🙂

17qawnYou are having tea in the nearby tapri (tea stall) outside your office and you say to your friend Do dost ek pyale mein chai piyenge. Is se dosti badti hai..

Your mom sounds filmi when she says when you return home after long haul Beta tu aa gaya? Maine tere liye apne haathon se kheer banaya hai..

You believe Cleanliness is next to Godliness. You keep your surroundings clean, meaning you keep your house clean and throw all the waste accumulated from your house into your neighbors place. In one such secret expedition, you get caught red handed when your neighbor angrily says- Mere Angne mein tumhara kya kaam hai ?? 😛

You leave your all important work in your office to attend your friend’s friend uninvited birthday bash and say Hum cake khane ke liye kahin bhi jaa saktey hai..

You are hungry and have ordered your favorite pizza after a long time. Pizza delivery boy looks at the address and reaches you in 30 mins. You live in 21st floor and lift doesn’t seem to work. Delivery boy is like [in Anu Malik’s voice]: Unchi Hai Building..Lift Teri Band Hai..Kaise Main Aau..Dil Rajamand Hai…  You are too hungry to listen to any excuses and blurt out: Aaja Aaja Aaja Meri Pizza Leke Aaja ; Meri Bhook Mitaane Ab To Steps leke aaja..

You work in a software company and after working for 2 years as a fresher, there seems to be no news of any pay hike. You’re like-Mere Khwaabon Mein Jo Aaye; Aake Mujhe Chhed Jaaye, Use Kahon Kabhi Saamne To Aaye..

17qbaoYou are married now and bring lunch box to your office these days. Today, your wife has cooked your favorite bhendi ki sabzi. Though lunch timings is at 1 pm, you get hungry by 12 pm and slowly try to get out of your desk without other’s notice. You successfully get out attracting few glances to the dining area and once you open your dabba to have a first bite, your junior colleague comes out of nowhere and wishes you Good morning Sir.. 

You introduce your fiance to your family & her parents and blurt out of nervousness-This is my mom and my dad. This is your dad and your mom..

Boy loves girl and he is sitting beside her.He reluctantly touches her hand and she hits back funnily saying -Yeh kya hai? Permission leni chahiye. Hum haath rakhne se mana nahin kar rahe hain, lekin permission leni chahiya na? Kisike ghar mey gusne ke pehle, permission lete hein ki nahi?

You are on the verge of studying hard for your engineering exam (meaning you have a paper next day) by checking the syllabus copy and you find your agyakari room mate is revising the topics and you cry out of anger saying- Gyan baatna chahiye re … tu kya apne paas rakhke sadaa-rela hai.. 

You are married and are getting ready to go out with your wife. You are ready in a flash as always and you find yourselves waiting for your wife who is getting ready. You sing a song to pass time Duniya chi pyari tu Aaga naari harnigaa Aaga raani sundaraa..Aali ho aali aali ho aali Aali ali.. when she finally gives you darshan after an hour or so..

Your friend comes first in the class and you say Dost fail ho jaye toh dukh hota hai. Lekin dost first aa jaye toh jyada dukh hota hai..

You are called day in day out to buy a new credit card from a bank. You seem to be interested and postpone the call many times owing to some work and one fine day,relent to their pleading to buy one. Once you ready your documents and sign the form as per their instructions, you hear a song Golmaal Hai Bhai Sab Golmaal Hai 😛

17qbdsYou are hunting for a 3 bhk flat as you have recently shifted to Bengaluru, a IT hub. After much struggle, and seeing many flats, you finally select a flat much to your liking. You have to negotiate the price with your owner and you go to his house which is just besides your own flat. Your owner is bulky, unshaven and if at all he blackens some of his teeth, he will look like Gabbar from Sholay. He lazily is sitting on the couch and once he quotes his price, he asks you a question Kitne aadmi Hai??

You are in gyan giving mode and cry out to your friend- Baabu Mushoy!! Zindagi badi honi chahiye, lambi nahin..

Your parents are looking for a bride for your marriage and you seem to be least interested. You try to convince your parents to give you more time but in vain. Then finally you argue saying Shaadi ke basic concept mein hi jhol hai.

You are a teacher and get your life’s lessons in the most harsh way and thus learn to live your life in the present by saying it to your students-Aaj…Aaj ek hasi aur baant lo. Aaj ek dua aur maang lo. Aaj ek ansoon aur pee lo Aaj ek zindagi aur jee lo. Aaj ek sapna aur dekh lo. Aaj … Kya pata, Kal ho naa ho..

Your girlfriend sounds filmi when she says Mai tumharay bachhe ki maa ban ne waali hoon! and you get a panic attack.

17qbktYou live your life the way you like to live and sound filmi when you say –Jo Main Bolta Hoon, Woh Main Karta Hoon, Jo Main Nahi Bolta, Woh Main Definitely Karta Hoon!!

One always have a namuna among your friends and you feel like saying Tumhe uthakar museum mein rakhna chahiye, ticket lagni chahiye tumhe dekhne ke liye..

You being a woman want to be a fashion designer and initially your parents don’t approve of your career choice. Then when time is ripe, you discuss it with your father, your best friend with all your passion for your career choice. Then next moment, your father sounds filmi when he says- Simran, Jee le apni zindagi 😛

You seem to be lost in a lesser known town with your wife,when you alighted from the train for tea. You missed the train by a whisker. You find out that next train is only on the following morning. You are very tired and since the whole platform is occupied, you try to find out a cheap hotel for some sleep. Then when u finally find one and deal with the receptionist by saying Bhai sahab, hum room ghante ke hisab se lenge. You find yourself in a awkward situation after the hotelier thinks otherwise. 😛

You sound filmi when in spite of knowing your friends’s name, you ask Tumhara naam kya hai Basanti??

You are Ranchoddaas Shamaldaas Chanchad urf Phunsukh Wangdu. You are like Behati Hawa, Udati Patang, Jo Khud Apani Raah Banaata hai,Girata Sambhalata Masti Mein Chalata Hai,Jo Bas Aaj Ka Jashn Manaata Hai and Har Lamahe Ko Khulake Jita Hai. Be like Rancho 🙂  And when in despair- Honthon ko karke gol, Seeti Baja ke Bol, Aal izz well 🙂

17qbosYou have to adjust to the power cuts these days quite often and on Wednesdays, it is from 9 am to 5 pm. So your’e fed up as you cannot perform various work without electricity. So when at 5 pm the power does come, you  say Bijliiiiiiiiiiiii like that granny from a village called Charanpur shown in Swades who sees the bulb lit up in her hut for the first time in her life.

You are in first year of your college. Now, you have the right to bunk your classes and you enjoy doing the same in the name of movies, hangouts, chit chat or doing nothing. But you find one class interesting and don’t wanna miss. Even though the subject hardly interests you, the teacher does. You imagine your good looking madam as Sushmita Sen of Main Hoo Na fame and you are like-  Tumhein Jo Maine Dekha, Tumhein Jo Maine Jaana,Jo Hosh Tha, Wo To Gaya,Badan Ki Khushboo, Jagaae Lagi Jaadu,To Hoke Beqabu, Dil Kho Gaya..

You have to acquire your Aadhar card and have to give your personal details to Govt official. You’re like  Vijay Dinanath Chauhan; Poora Naam, Baap Ka Naam Dinanth Chauhan, Maa Ka Naam Suhasini Chauhan, Gaon Mandwa, Umar Chhattis Saal 😛

Tonight petrol prices are increasing by Rs.2. As you get a wind of it, you head to nearest petrol station and as luck would have it, petrol pump seems to be empty. Just when your done, people throng around you for filling their tank too once the news spreads. You think yourselves-Jahan Hum Khade Ho Jaate Hain, Line Wahi Se Shuru Hoti Hai..

You are alcoholic, you drink to breathe and thus cannot live without it. You are Devdas and sound filmi when you say-Babuji ne kaha Gaon chod do. Sab ne kaha Paro ko chod do. Paro ne kaha Sharab chod do.Aaj tumne keh diya haweli chod do.Ek din aayega jab woh kahenge, Duniya hi chod do..

 

17s4m4You are frustrated and helpless and venture into alcohol and blurt out the harsh truth-Mera haal na Gupta uncle ke jaise ho gaya hai, Gupta uncle ko na cancer ho gaya hai. unho ne kabhi sharab nai pi, cigarette nai pi, phir bhi cancer ho gaya. Isse accha toh pi lete..

Your dad sounds filmi when he says, Rishte mein toh hum tumhare baap lagte hai naam hai Papa..

You are Mogambo. Whenever Mogambo sees something nice or if he likes any good quality of yours, he appreciates it right away by saying Mogambo Khush huwa. Instead of being jealous, appreciate small things in life. Be like Mogambo. 🙂

You are of marriageable age now and so are your friends. You know that your friend’s parents are looking out a girl for him. From your khoofia network, you get some gossip circulating around and ridicule your friend saying- Tu arranged marriage ke liye gaya aur reject hoke aa gaya..

You are gorging into specially made Gulab jamoon which is just been prepared by your mom and kept in front of you. You are like : Maa kasam, mein ek ek ko chun chun ke khaa lunga 😛

You are Radhe. Radhe sticks to whatever he commits no matter what- Ek bar joh maine Commitment kar di. Uske baad toh main khud ki bhi nahi sunta. Be like Radhe. 😛

A drunkard looking at his desi daaru and sings : Tumhi din chadhe, Tumhi din dhale
Tumhi ho bandhu, sakha tumhi..

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Your girlfriend is pissed off with you. She is not happy with you hanging out with your best friend. She has told you to choose between her and your best friend. Now you’re pissed off with her. Your best friend knows all about it and he says-Are usne teri khuddari ko lalkara hai yaar, kya kar raha hai, mard ban, be a man!” 

Talk of love at first sight.  Jab woh ladki saamne aa jaathi hai toh Tumhe lagta hai ki Hawaye chalne lagi hai…..Slow motion mein dupatta udne laga hai….Ya aasman mein Chaand kuch zyada bada hua hai..

Filmein sirf teen cheezo ke wajah se chalti hai – Entertainment, Entertainment, Entertainment.

Hope it was entertaining. Did you encounter any such filmi stories? If yes, Do share it in comments below.

Until next time we meet – Be good, Do good and Keep smiling 🙂

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Hungry Kya??


Warning: This write up with lot of deliciousness might make you hungry as it is a serious drooling affair. Baad mein complain mat karna- Peth mein chuve daud rahe hain 😛

For Foodies, From a Foodie 🙂

All the food mentioned here are essentially Konkani cuisine especially from North Kanara (in Karnataka) with influences from Goan, Malwani and Maharashtrian cuisine. So without any further ado, let’s get the ball rolling….

Lets start our food journey with some breakfast menus.First up is a authentic rice roti called as Mumbri or Cholka (leaf) Baakri (roti) prepared using banana leaf. The ingredients include rice flour,salt,coconut,ghee and onion is optional.This roti goes well with a chutney made from grated coconut and mixed with red chili powder,some sugar and salt. Its like marriage made in heaven. 🙂

Then we move on to Khotto (also called as Hittu), a big hit among all Konkanis which is basically idlis in jack fruit leaves. For khotto, a green chilly chutney prepared with coconut oil, salt, asafoetida (hing) water, crushed ginger and fresh grated coconut is a perfect combination.

Masala mandakki(churmuri), puffed rice, is your best bet for a quick snack which is made using chopped onions, chill powder,tomatoes,oil, green chilies, coriander, salt and lemon juice.

Next on the menu is Appe which is also called as Paddu(in Kannada) which is made from urad dal and rice. There is also a sweet version of appe which can be made from sugarcane juice. Cooked Green peas(vatana) with grated coconut, tempered with mustard, also makes a great snack. Next up, we have, ever so popular Kandhe Pohe, an authentic Maharashtrian offering which can be enjoyed with shev/bhujiya. There is also a Marathi film song to its credit called as Kandhe Pohe.

Moving on, we gorge onto one of my favorite rice rotis (alayle pitta bhakri-flour is prepared using hot water) which are soft and can be taken with variety of sides like Massori bhaaji(as shown in the pic), baigan(brinjal) bartha/yengai/nonche, mushroom curry etc. We also have the sabka the favorite the poori the bhaaji 😛 and vermicelli which is also called as Sewai.

Now its time for some fried stuff. Everyone loves fries whether its of potato,mushroom, cabbage, cauliflower or capsicum.In Konkani, the rawa fries are called as Phodi and deep fried ones as Bajje.

Next we move on to various side dishes which we can create from different veggies.First up is Potato(batate) talasan which is prepared by thin long pieces of potato, salt, bit of turmeric,chilli powder and some water. Then,we have,bitter gourd(karela) kosambari which is small chunks of karela fried with oil and salt upon which small chunks of raw onion are added. Next up is Chana (chickpeas) ushli where chana is cooked with fried onions, water,salt, chilli powder and off course chana masala. Alternatively, chana can also be cooked with coconut masala making a dish called as chana ghashi.

Next item in the line is Cauliflower Nonche which is basically cauliflower cut into small pieces and loosely fried with salt, chilli powder,bit of turmeric and then tempered with mustard. The rawness of cauliflower enhances its taste. Then its tendle(ivy gourd) talasan which is basically frying tendle on low flame after tempering with curry leaves and mustard.

Next up is Teppal (similar to Sichuan pepper) hugge with mixture of potato, bendi and karela as veggies. Teppal (or Tirphal) is a unique spice which is found mostly in Konkani cuisine. It has strong woody aroma and mainly used in fish curries and some veggies (strictly used only for aroma and is discarded later, if it is bitten it gives a tingling sensation :P), hence cannot be ground while preparing curry masala.

Then we move on to a special Maharashtrian delicacies Zunka prepared using besan (bengal gram) and spring onions and Bharli Vangi which is stuffed brinjal. After which we have bendi talasan which is basically fried bendi with chilli powder and salt. Lastly, we have the carrot kosambari which is prepared by grating carrots.

Here are some of the vegan delicacies in Amchigele (Konkani style) from some of my foodie friends courtesy Shamala Bhat(Bengaluru) and Aditi Kini(Karkala).

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Process of making Pathrado-Steamed Colocasia leaves with masala

Moving on, its time for a special Mango dish which is seasonal and has been regarded as a Konkani special delicacy-Ambe Humane or Upkari. A special variety of mango locally called as Ghonto– small rounded mangoes with a big seed and very tasty flesh which is difficult to cut into pieces,is used for this dish. Also, we have the mouthwatering(is an understatement) mango pickle prepared by my mom,a Master chef.

We then have black eyed beans-alesande curry which is tasty to say the least.We Konkanis love mushrooms(alambe) which is seasonal and which we get during onset of monsoons. Its like a occasion when during those days, we never fail to ask our family/friends whether they had mushrooms this season during our casual conversation. The button mushrooms which we get throughout the year doesn’t come an inch closer to these natural mushrooms in terms of taste and quality.

Ok enough of love for mushrooms, now, time has come to unleash the humble daal which we all Konkanis are very proud of called as DaaliThoy. When taken with hot rice it is pure bliss.It is simplest of all dishes, everyone’s favorite and the first thing one always learns to cook. This dish is kind of compulsory in every Konkani function. The ingredients include tur daal, bit of turmeric,salt,ginger,coriander,tomatoes,green chilies, garlic,oil(or ghee for enhanced taste),asafoetida (hing),curry leaves,red chilies,mustard. A thick version of Daalithoy is funnily called as DDT(Dhaat(Thick) Daali Thoy) and the one who passionately enjoys it till last trace of it on a plate is called as Daalithoy Burkithalo.

Enough is enough. Enough of veggies. Sounds fishy?  Yes, its high time we introduce FISH and other non vegeterian delicacies. So, bring it ON. Amongst Konkani Brahmins, the Saraswat Brahmins(SB) refrain from non vegetarian food but most of the GSB like me enjoy the meat especially fish(Most of GSBs are pesco vegetarians-fish eaters) as we come from west coast of India. And sea food diet is like see and eat diet. 😛

After one such satisfying fish meal, one of my friends, asked me looking surprised – Harsha, I thought you are a Brahmin? And I proudly told him, that, indeed I am a Brahmin. Legend has it that we were the earliest settlers near the mystical Saraswati river.During a famine,the community leaders advised us to eat fish as that was the only food available for survival.

So here we are, with whole range of sea food which we love from some of the restaurants which essentially serve Konkani cuisine.

12049544_1103159873035115_4999013778462802713_nHaving seen all that and gorge on to these delicious dishes, if you ask anyone, they will say, mom’s fish curry or any dish for that matter doesn’t match to that made in restaurants. I guess Mummy and Tummy rhymes for a reason or for that matter, Mum and Yum. So without any further delay, here’s unveiling-Mom’s fish recipes. If Dubai boasts of Palm island, here is a fish version of Palm island, then we have the Surmai, the Anjal, the Iswaan, the sabse bada, the sabse tasty, the king of all fishes-King fish fry.Next up, we have one of a kind prawns side dish called as kholu, a signature dish which is delicious and lip-smacking. Then, its the turn of a Konkani special- Bangde (Mackerel) Hugge (Dhoddak). The unique thing about this dish is it’s preparation. On a spread of banana leaves, the fish masala with teppal spice as a important ingredient is poured in,along with fish pieces carefully cleaned.Another layer of banana leaves is used to cover the mixture. Then a plate is placed on top of it on which hot charcoal pieces are kept.When kept on a low flame, it gets cooked on both sides to perfection. The aroma factor is catered to through the banana leaves and smokiness is provided by charcoal heating which makes the dish very much unique and mouthwatering. Following up, we have my favorite Nagli Nonche(Lady fish curry)-a heavenly mixture of lady fish, coconut paste with masala and spices.

 

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Prawns Kholu, a signature dish

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Bangde Hugge

 

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Nagli Nonche

Now its time to have some curd rice and slurp some Kokum Kadi/juice and Butter Milk for a soothing effect. Sol khadi is made from coconut milk and kokum and is good for digestion.

How about some specially home made sweets?

One of the important sweet we prepare during festivals is Patholi. These are nothing but sweet rice dumplings steamed using turmeric leaves. Have a look at the process of preparing the same.And finally let’s gorge on to a ice cream by a fellow Konkani.

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Perfait from Pabbas(Ideal) Mangaluru

Hope you enjoyed the food journey as much as I did putting up this post for you. Wishing you more of gastronomic delights.

Until next time we meet, be good, do good and keep smiling 🙂

P.S: Unless otherwise specified, all the dishes are prepared by my mom or wife.For whole lot of recipes of authentic Konkani cuisine and other cuisines as well, check out this blog site by clicking here. You will love it 🙂


Alemane..


Sweet!!! Who doesn’t like sweets?? Very few. Even though one is diabetic, he/she longs for it. We prepare sweet dishes during festivals, happy occasions and celebrations mainly to share our happiness. When we spot a cute kid we are like Cho Chweet or say as Tere Munh mein ghee sakkar when a friend states eagerly awaited good news. Sugar has been an important ingredient in our dishes. But interestingly, sugar didn’t originate from India, but from China, hence also called as “cheeni” referring to China. So how would Indians get their sweetness sorted out before sugar came into our kitchen? The answer is Jaggery. Jaggery called as Gud/Gur in Hindi/Marathi, Bella in Kannada, Bellum in Telugu and Vellum in Tamil.

Jaggery is an unrefined healthy sweetener prepared using concentrated sugarcane juice.It is made up of Sucrose, Glucose, Protein, Calcium, Iron, Potassium, Magnesium and Phosphorous. It is believed, daily use of jaggery may increase human life span. Jaggery strengthens the nervous system, improves bones, prevents anaemia and protects the body against environmental toxins. Also, less cases of diabetes are found by jaggery consumption as opposed to that of sugar consumption. Jaggery relieves fatigue as magnesium in it helps to relax the nerves, muscles and blood vessels. Jaggery has religious significance too. Many of festivals involve offering of jaggery to deity, its eaten before commencement of any good work or new venture.

My title of the post goes Alemane. Ale-mane? Sounds strange, isn’t it? So what does it mean? It simply means jaggery producing units (in a small scale). Its a festival, a sugarcane juice extraction festival to prepare jaggery in a traditional way mainly for domestic use. It’s a seasonal festival celebrated during winter in some parts of Uttara Kannada district (in Karnataka) mainly in Sirsi, Yellapur, Sagar and Siddapur taluk. If you have been there at least once, it will evoke a multi-sensory experience. 🙂

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I come from a place called Sirsi and have fond memories of attending such events organized by family friends who are into farming and cultivating sugarcane. This is no ordinary event, it requires lot of planning and a mammoth effort. I remember vividly when I visited such event, back in 2012 and would like to share some wonderful memories.

So here we go, let’s take a tour of a place called Tudugani, a village, 20 kms from Sirsi. This place is ideal for areca plantation and also rice fields which is a staple food in this part of the world.

Let’s go to the sugarcane field where farmers must be busy getting sugarcane.

Now that we got the sugarcane, let’s place it near our setup so that juice can be extracted out of it.

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Adults or children alike feed the sugarcane into a machine.

Now, buffaloes come into action as they are made to revolve around so that juice can be extracted. It’s all about hard work for them as you can see from pics.

The juice is then collected and transferred to a tank through a pipe. This is the purest form of sugarcane one can ever get.

The sweetness of the juice is such that you can hardly drink a glass of it and best way to enjoy this drink is with some spicy snacks like khara mandakki (churmuri) or sev/chiwda as sides. Lime/Mint or Ginger can be added to the juice, to enhance its taste. And the sweetness can’t be compared with anything we get in market these days.

The next process is to remove the scum from juice. So the juice has to be filtered which is done here using a cloth. Have a look.

This filtered juice is put in vessel and placed over a flame which is specially created for this purpose. This mixture has to be boiled to a particular consistency, so that we obtain a semi-solid mass.

Once that is done, it is kept in a vessel for some time to dry. The waste from the sugarcane which is called as bagasse can be further used as a fuel for boiling.

So this is the way we get our jaggery. It is mainly available in three forms- Solid, Granular and Liquid but the process to produce it remains the same. Solid jaggery is obtained by pouring the hot mixture in different moulds. Granular jaggery is got by boiling the cane syrup to thicker consistency and allowing it to cool in a vessel. Liquid jaggery doesn’t require more boiling and once we get thick vicious liquid after condensation,it is cooled off, to pour it into bottles. By switching to liquid jaggery instead of sugar, we can prevent iron deficiencies, indigestion, constipation and mainly obesity.

There is an interesting custom, that farmers set a hen free to move around Alemane as a mark of prayer to God so that the whole process goes on smoothly without any serious hurdles. Such hens are not consumed by people. Once the desired end product is got, it is packaged in tin cans and transported to market for sale. Apart from various variety of jaggery that we get, various local delicacy is prepared out of it like “Todedevu” (when mixed with ghee or milk and eaten, it’s like heaven) and liquid jaggery locally called as “Joni bella”(molasses) which is rich in calcium and iron.

(There’s an excellent Youtube video of how Todedevu is prepared in a traditional way. Click here Courtesy  Mangalamurthy Bhat)

As much as it is about celebration, it is also about pondering, as this unique and interesting festival is slowly dying due to weak response which eventually leads to less profit for farmers. This being a traditional event, carried out since a long time and an integral part of our culture, it is our prerogative, to promote it in a big way.

So until next time we meet, take sweet, talk sweet and be sweet 🙂

Now, this blog can be accessed through travel portal-Tripoto. Please use this link to access this story from Tripoto.

Tripoto

P.S: Entire process of jaggery preparation is clearly depicted in this YouTube video, courtesy Prithvi Media Creations. Click here to see.


Love Story…


Harsha.Balur's Blog

“Baar baar aati hai mujhko madhur yaad bachpan teri
gaya le gaya tu jeevan ki sabse mast khushi meri”

Those were the days.Those were the days of 90s when we were of school going age. School was fun and very eventful. Cream shirt, maroon shorts/skirt, maroon striped tie, a colorful school bag, a tiffin box with our favorite dish and a funky water bottle was the way we carried ourselves. Except Wednesdays when it was color dress, meaning, u can wear any dress of your choice and on Saturdays it was all white attire with white canvas shoes. If at all you missed wearing tie, belt, shoes you were liable for hafta to be given to special students called as cabinet leaders. A good day earning would fetch them many ice candies and chocolates. 😛 These cabinet leaders reported to the School Prime Leader(SPL).On Saturdays, there would be couple of exercises along


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Travel Diaries: Wayanad


Traveling leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.

Wayanad district at the southern tip of Deccan Plateau is one of the popular destinations in Kerala. It borders both the neighbouring states- Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. The folk etymology of the word Wayanad says it is a combination of Vayal (paddy field in local language) and Naad (land) meaning ‘Land of Paddy fields’.

I had planned a weekend getaway with Crazy Yatra (a travel group who organizes treks) to Wayanad. We were a group of 33 members all excited to be in nature’s lap in Wayanad for next 2 days. We started from Bengaluru on a Friday night at 8 pm amidst cool breeze and rain.The rain added to our traffic woes due to water logging in some areas. Settling down in the bus after multiple pickups on the way and fuel refill, the organizers started a intro session. Some of them had been to previous outings from Crazy Yatra and others like me were travelling for the first time with them. Along with the intro, each one of them was supposed to share at least one of their crazy moments. It was nice hearing diverse experiences from fellow yaatris like scuba diving, free fall, getting lost during a trek, dancing in the middle of a highway at midnight with onlookers looking surprised, doing cabre dance in a supposedly cultural college event etc.

On the way to Mysuru, we stopped at Maddur for a quick bite for famished lot. Our target was to reach a town called Meppadi at 6 am the following morning, but only managed to reach at 7.45 am. Upon reaching our hotel rooms in Meppadi, got freshened up and had a nice breakfast with local delicacy like appams and sambar smeared with (generous amount of) coconut oil.

Day 1:

Now that we were all set and excited, it was time to scale the Chembra Peak- the highest peak in Wayanad at 6900 ft above sea level. To reach the base point we had to travel around 5 km in a jeep.

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Tea estate at the base point- Pleasant way to start the trek 🙂

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The organizers got a quick permission for trekking from the forest guards.  If you’re carrying any plastic water bottles, one needs to register their names. If you fail to bring it along on return, pay a fine- a welcome move to prevent littering of the place.

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Chembra peak trek comprises of 3 levels- about 1 km easy trail from the base point to watch tower, a 2 km trail through the forests, rugged terrains and grasslands from watch tower to heart shaped lake and finally a 1.5 km stepper trail from the lake to the summit.

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Currently, it is permitted only to trek till the lake because of some restrictions imposed by the forest department.

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Mist hovering over the hills..

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Kya scene hai!!

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The trail from the watch tower was through forests and steeper at some points. In between we could catch some amazing views of the tea estates. The sun was playing hide and seek and to our respite there were water streams in between to freshen up.

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Tea estates seen from a height

Traversing the rugged terrains, we reached the grasslands where one could see the misty peak. As it was early September, some of them got bugged by leaches when walking through the tall grasses.

Some insects

Some insects

Tall grasses

Tall grasses

Heart shaped lake also called as Hriday Saras in local language.

Heart shaped lake also called as Hriday Saras in local language.

Finally,we reached the heart shaped lake called as Hriday Saras (Hridayam is heart and Saras means lake in Malayalam). This lake is believed to have never dried up. We then caught some breathtaking views from the top and spent some quiet moments, a sense of satisfaction after having scaled the peak.

Breathtaking views from a vantge point near the lake

Breathtaking views from a vantge point near the lake

We started descending the peak and when we reached the watch tower for a much needed break, it started raining making our trail slippery. We braved the rain to reach the check post where the jeeps were waiting to drop us back to the hotel.

Rain infested trail which was slippery

Rain infested trail which was slippery

After freshening up, we had a quick lunch to board our bus to our next destination -Soochipura water falls. It is also known as Sentinel Rock waterfalls. Locally referred as Soochipara (Soochi meaning needle and Para meaning rock).

Soochipara falls

Soochipara falls

In about a hour journey passing by wide expanse of tea estates, we reached the waterfalls. After issuing of tickets and keeping our bag aside we plunged into the water to reach the base of the waterfall. All the tiredness of the trek went away with the refreshing dip into the water.One of the guys had brought a GoPro waterproof camera with a stick and next half an hour was spent for selfies,groupies.

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Then, it was time to relax for the day, so we went back to the hotel to freshen up. There was sufficient time to stroll through the streets of Meppadi after which it was time for dinner. A delicious dinner was waiting for us after which we went to a hall on the top floor. One of our fellow traveler was celebrating her birthday, so we brought a cake. While she cut the cake, everyone encircled her dancing along as she was the made the center of attraction. Just as she was all excited and happy for a lovely gesture, all hell broke loose when the organiser  took the whole cake and stuffed into her face. No one ate the cake that day except her face. Next an hour or so was spent playing some games as some of them retired for the day.

Day 2

After having a sumptuous breakfast, we headed to Neelimala View point where all the 3 neighboring states-Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka can be seen from a height. We descended from our bus from the road and hopped into a jeep to reach the point as it was a rugged terrain. What we experienced on the Jeep was one helluva ride with lot of ups and downs. On the way to the point we spotted coffee plantations along with ginger and areca.

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Exhilarating!

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As we reached the point it was misty and the panoramic view was playing hide and seek. After a whole when it cleared up, it was such a mesmerizing sight. No words to describe it, just have a look.

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Lukka Chuppi Bahut Huwi, Saamne aa aaja 😉

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Pristine..

We also spotted Meenmutti waterfalls (Meenmutty is a combination of Malayalam words Meen (fish) and Mutty (blocked))  and posed for photographs.

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Then it was time to head to Eddakal Caves for further exploration. Eddakal caves are two natural caves at a remote location at Eddakal, 25 km from Kalpetta in the Wayanad district. We had to climb up a elevated terrain to reach there. Here again one was supposed to register for any plastic ones carry which was a welcome move.We could capture some spectacular views on the way.

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Isn’t it gorgeous??

Through a guide, we understood the significance of these carvings which was one of a kind. Inside the caves are pictorial writings believed to date to at least 6,000 BC, from the Neolithic man, indicating the presence of a prehistoric civilization or settlement in this region.The Stone Age carvings here are rare and are the only known examples from South India.After some exploration, it was time to descent and reach the hotel to checkout.

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Pictorial writings…

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Cave Explorers..

As we headed to Bangalore playing games all the way, we halted at a place called SultanBathery for lunch.

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Groupie..

It was such a wonderful experience and more so because of Crazy Yatra for organizing it in a best way possible.

References: Wikipedia


Calcutta Diaries…


Calcutta(now known as Kolkata)-the City of Joy is a fabulous city to live in, love at first sight you see. After traveling from Bengaluru, I was there for a mere four days which was not at all enough to see the uniqueness and intricacies of the city-the city with a perfect mixture of modern and heritage buildings,reminiscing about the yesteryear India. But I tried my very best to visit most of the places in my spare time and this blog post is entirely based on my experiences with the city and not influenced by anything else.

Calcutta has always fascinated me since I was a kid because of its rich history(served as the capital of India under the British Raj),sporting culture(Bengalis love their football and cricket),art forms whether its literature or cinema(Rabindranath Tagore and Satyajit Ray are in itself an institution) and above all Bengali sweets (Anyone here who don’t like RossoGulla?? Handful isn’t it?). I wanted to visit Calcutta at some point of time and I found the opportunity when one of my Bong friend decided to marry.Also I wanted to know more about the Bengali culture especially their unique style of marriage which is quite different from marriages seen in Southern India.

Before we get the ball rolling with our city tour,let’s start our day with a cup of tea by the road side on a kulhar(earthy mug) and The Telegraph newspaper.

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Our first pit stop would be a visit to Dakshineswar in Barrackpore.

img_9153 img_9148 The Dakshineswar Kali temple was built between 1847 and 1855 by Rani Rashmoni. Along with the Kali temple, we have 12 Shiva temples(lingas) and a RadhaKrishna temple situated along the Vivekananda Sethu(Bridge) on the East bank of Hooghly River.The presiding deity of the temple is Bhavatarini, an aspect of Kali, meaning, ‘She who liberates Her devotees from the ocean of existence’.

img_91681img_9152 Ramakrishna Paramahasamha, the saint of 19th century, regarded as incarnation of God, set his base here in Dakshineswar. Ramakrishna formed a group of spiritual aspirants which later paved the way for the formation of Ramakrishna Mission. Interestingly,before this temple was built, Nawabs of Chitpur used to hunt tigers in Dakshineswar.

Now that we have seen the beautiful Dakshineswar, let’s head to Belur Math on the other side i.e. west banks of Hooghly river. It is the headquarters of Ramakrishna Mission founded by his disciple Swami Vivekananda. This site was carefully chosen by Vivekananda on the banks of holy Ganges(Hooghly) such that a clear view of Dakshineswar and Cossipore- the two important places related to Sri Ramakrishna could be seen which add to its sanctity.

Belur Math is known for its splendid architecture and devotees want to develop inner appreciation of thought through this unique and beautiful architecture. On the day of my visit, it was 180th birthday celebration of Sri Ramakrishna Paramahasamha and visitors, devotees,media were sprawling from all corners of the world.

Self note:Visit this place when there is less crowd and more peace.

img_20150301_094709 It seems like I am hungry now, so let’s have an early meal. And here in Calcutta, no meals is complete without fish. So let’s try the Bhetki fish along with some prawns from a Bengali food chain- Bedouin Sher-E-Bengal in Gariahat.

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Now lets stroll to St. Paul’s Cathedral-The Mother Church of the diocese of Calcutta in the church of North India.Let’s gulp some RossoGollas as we get there and a bakery of N C Das- Creator of the iconic Bengali sweetmeat is the place to be. The RossoGolla(highly nutritious,easily digestible and truly a drooling affair) was born in 1868 in a moment of sublime inspiration.Now, the sweetmeat is packaged in a tin and distributed all around the world by his son K C Das.

IMG_20150302_131010 img_20150228_011614 Self note: Get some stock of this sweet rhapsody before leaving to Bengaluru.

St Paul’s Cathedral church and it’s magnificent architecture is a must visit along with Academy of Fine Arts and Nandan-West Bengal Film Centre which is a stone’s throw away from the church. Some of the art installations beside the academy for a exhibition is exemplary.

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Lets now head to Kumortuli to have some dossier of information on artisans of the potters’ colony in North Calcutta. By virtue of their artistic and creative creations their clay idols supplied especially during the Durga Pujo on Dussehra is exported overseas too.

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Their idols are mostly ordered well in advance and their clientele includes Indian communities living in America, Europe and Africa. For a record, this colony supplies idols to around 90 countries worldwide with new countries adding each year.Their creations gives greatest joy to Calcutta(The City of Joy) by transforming crude structure of clay to a beautiful, mesmerizing bedecked Bengali bridesque Goddess Durga. No wonder, this colony is one of the seven wonders of Calcutta.

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img_95271 img_95451 During Pujo, these idols are supplied to countless pandals all over Calcutta. That their creation is going to leave Calcutta in awe and admiration for the entire duration of the festival and even beyond that is of no consequence to them as it is a just a means of survival to these talented and very skilled artisans, most of them creating these idols since a long long time. Needless to say, I was in awe of this place and their great artistic skills.

img_95531img_9525 img_95392 Self note: Pay a visit to Calcutta and this colony during Pujo.

Next stop is Jorasanko Thakur Bari (meaning House of Thakurs(Tagore)) in a place called Jorasanko in North Calcutta. It is the house in which Calcutta’s and India’s pride-Rabindranath Tagore was born and spent most of his childhood. He was the most celebrated poet(Indian National Anthem was his creation along with the national anthem of Bangladesh) and first non European Nobel laureate.

img_94741 img_94781 It was an exhilarating experience to visit this place and to know more about one of India’s jewels who contributed immensely in literature,art,music among other things. His legacy endures in several of his works on display here which is very well maintained and also in Visva Bharati University founded by him in Santiniketan.

IMG_9485 IMG_9466 Self note: A visit to Santiniketan when next time in Bengal.

I am a foodie and I am on a see food diet- I mean see the food and eat without much adieu 😛 A satisfying meal will only do good at this stage. So lets move to Peter Cat restaurant in Park Street where they serve a dish called “Chelo Kababs”- The protected regional product of West Bengal. A dish consisting of mutton kababs-the best kababs I ever had, perfectly cooked egg, juicy and very tasty chicken, butter and aromatic rice. Such a perfect meal. TouchĂ©.

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Lets now head to Eden Garden reminiscing about the memorable matches played here in this very ground. Who can forget tat famous victory on this ground during Australian tour of India in 2001. Laxman’s and Dravid’s epic partnership, Harbhajan’s hat rick and moreover India’s unreal comeback into the match and then to wrap up the series in Chennai. Unbelievable to say the least
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img_94521 img_94551 Calcutta has very unique facilities unlike some cities with respect to their public transport- Yellow colored cabs, cycle rickshaw, underground Calcutta metro and most fascinating of them all- Calcutta trams(mini trains on the road along with the other vehicles on the road). Have a look

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Calcutta Metro is the first underground metro rail system system in India operational since 1984. Those Rickshaw walas are one of the most hard working people around toiling hard in the sun for their bread and butter. The Calcutta tram is currently the only operating tram in India and the oldest operating tram in Asia running since 1902.

Let’s stroll now to Princep Ghat and then to ever so magnificent Howrah bridge. This bridge also known as Rabindra Sethu is symbolic to Calcutta and is the busiest cantilever bridge in the world.

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Now we head to The Victoria Memorial, a large marble structure built between 1906 and 1921 dedicated to the memory of Queen Victoria. It is now a museum and a major tourist destination by the bank of Hooghly river.

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It’s dinner time to end a fabulous day and what better way to end it by having Hilsa fish-probably the best fish in town. Bengalis love their fish and can swear by fish and I ain’t any different in this matter 😉

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After an excellent city tour which I thoroughly enjoyed, I witnessed an interesting Bengali wedding(my first time).But before we get started to experience its uniqueness, let’s know more about Bengali people and their culture through my retina display 😛

Bengalis are very emotional and passionate people.Given a chance they can lecture or talk continuously for hours together.But they are sweet people owing their love for sweets. I think Mishti (meaning sweetmeat) comes a close second next to their first love which is Fish.A meal without a fish is very rare and incomplete.They can swear by fish literally. Apart from fish,they love their football and off course cricket. Mohan Bagan/East Bengal match at Salt Lake stadium garners as much attention and interest as a World Cup cricket match elsewhere in the world. Cricket in Eden Gardens is as electric and noisy that most parts of Calcutta near the Maidan can feel the atmosphere when a game is on. And Durga Puja in Calcutta is one of biggest festival of India. What Ganesh Chaturti is to Mumbai, Puja is to Calcutta. I was told that Calcutta experience is incomplete without Durga Puja which is reveled and celebrated with as much pomp and glory as one can ever imagine.

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For my friend’s wedding, I lived with his family among his relatives and friends for four days which was an enriching experience. I was welcomed and treated very warmly and the icing on the cake was when I was given Mishti on arrival which bowled me over completely 😉 Since Hindi was the only common language we both knew, that was the mode of speech used for interaction. Bengali’s sound funny when they talk broken Hindi as most of them are not used to speaking Hindi. Also it was difficult for me to get their Bong accent and managed to get what they were saying or at least the context when they used some Hindi/English keywords. When they converse in Hindi, they pronounce some words such that its funny to a non Bengali who knows Hindi. My name being Harsha, over the years I have been called as Harsh, Harshu and off course Harsha but for the first time I was addressed as ‘Horsho’. Yes Horsho-The Bengali version of Harsha 😉 So Harsha becomes Horsho, Vidya becomes Bidya, Gaurav as Gourab and Rituparna becomes RituPorna. They say Jol Khaana(meaning eating water) for drinking water and Cha khabe( meaning eating tea) is what they sound when they ask you for tea. I found it sweet and funny and taught the kids out there multiple times that It’s spelled and hence pronounced as Harsha and not horseshoe amidst lot of laughs 😉

Unlike most of the wedding here in Southern part of India, a Bong wedding usually starts in the evening. On wedding day early morning at around 4.00 hrs the wedding rituals began where the groom and bride in their respective homes were made to have some food after which they were not supposed to eat anything until the next day when all the marriage rituals ended.

On the wedding day before lunch hours,a ritual called as Nanni Mukh took place where the groom remembered his ancestors before tying the knot (later in the evening) followed by haldi where all the women out there put haldi on the grooms face who was made to stand firm on a stone viz the most interesting time to click some candid and funny photos 😉 To wash off, he was poured with a bucket of water and then the groom had to crack open 4 small cups surrounding him made by mud. Once this was done, the haldi used to put on groom was passed on to bride’s place along with her wedding dress and some gifts generally called as shagun where bride is put up with same haldi. Amongst this, Rohu fish was decorated as a bride.

img_9210 img_20150227_113948 img_9240 After lunch it’s generally a break time where most of them overlooked about different arrangements and had a good nap after a satisfying meal. Then in the evening we started to the marriage hall with band baaja and baarat 😉

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The groom was greeted with all the necessary special attention and offered some mishti by bride’s side.During the mahurath, groom was made up to stand firm at a fixed place and the bride was carried to the mandap by her brothers while she covered her face with beetle leaves.The bride was made to take 7 rounds around the groom which signifies 7 vows of marriage and then to remove the covering from her face only when she faced the groom after saath phere amidst lot of cheers and clapping.Then they exchanged garlands 3 times followed by Sindhur Daan viz maang barna.The marriage rituals ended after a yagna(Agni shakshi).

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After having a special meal viz as I said earlier, having quality time with Bengali fish, we had a friendly interaction between both the families which was playing antakshari in this case. We played for over 2 hours such that all the songs were either already sung or we had no new song to sing for a particular word. Led by the groom, we won when the bride’s side was deliberately and repeatedly given a particular word and the game ended when they finally gave up at 4.30 am.Before that we had to negotiate a price with the bride’s friends, for making the couple enter a particular room.They were seven in total for which they demanded 20k and we gave them only 3.5k(500 per head) after making them wait for a long time and hence succumb to pressure and impatience.

The next day it was vidhaai time at bride’s place and a reception on the subsequent day on the groom’s side which panned out nicely.It was a most fruitful and enriching to experience a Bengali wedding as unique as this. Hope you enjoyed it too through this blog post.

Until next time we meet, Be good, Do good and Keep Smiling 🙂

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Also, this blog has been published in Tripoto. Please use this link to access this story from Tripoto.

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P.S: Here in this post, Calcutta(old name of the city) is used instead of Kolkata as someone rightly said “Kolkata is a city whereas Calcutta is a emotion”.

P.P.S: On my last day in Calcutta, early morning when I was listening to music in shuffle mode, coincidentally this beautiful song by Hemant Kumar cropped up which sumps up my visit quite brilliantly.

 


Myntra To Go App Only…


Mobile phones which was a luxury then and is a necessity now has created a revolution over the years.One can’t imagine life without a mobile phone as it has become a integral part of one’s identity.In 1990, cell phone subscribers were 12.5 million viz about 0.25% of world’s population then. In 2002, it grew to 1.2 billion(19% of world’s population) and in 2010 it grew leaps and bounds to 4 billion(about 67% of world’s population).With this whopping growth,mobile technology has disrupted every other industry one can ever imagine changing the way people interact and the way they use it’s different services.Interestingly,it’s true potential is yet to be understood.

With mobile revolution,came the internet revolution which is adding around 6 million new entrants every month.The estimated user base was 243 million as of January 2014 with internet usage growth at it’s inflection point.This has led to a boom in e-commerce industry which had a growth of 231% for a span of mere 4 years, estimated to be around 12.6 billion dollars in 2013.

Electronics and Apparels are the biggest categories when one goes for online shopping. In India, Flipkart has always been a industry leader ever since its inception in 2007 especially in electronics segment.

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Image credit: thehindu.com

On the other hand,another Bangalore based company-Myntra.com which also started it’s operations in 2007 provided on demand personalisation of gift items,has evolved into a leading fashion and apparel based e-portal. Flipkart acquiring Myntra(biggest deal in the e-commerce industry) has made it a much bigger entity to take on the likes of Softbank backed SnapDeal which is growing at a alarming rate and Amazon which is the big fish among e-tailers expanding it’s footprints in India.

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Image credit:iamwire.com and financialexpress.com

From 15th May,2015 Myntra announced that it will shut down its website and will operate only through it’s mobile app which is a global ecommerce first. Flipkart, the parent company will also follow the suit in a year or so, given that its much more complex to switch only to mobile apps altogether as it operates in various segments and categories unlike Myntra which caters to mainly fashion. On the other hand, its competitors like Jabong, SnapDeal and Amazon think otherwise and are of the opinion that it is incorrect to force a customer to do only mobile shopping.Even though mobile shopping is growing at an accelerating rate, the choice should lie with the customer. Nevertheless, its a bold move which will have massive implications on how shopping will be done in the future and Flipkart-Myntra want to lead the pack instead of following other retailers even though it may seem as a risky proposition now.However this decision is not taken at a haste and done with lot of pondering and detailed analysis.

Mobile accounts for 70% of Myntra’s revenues, with 9 million active mobile app users. It expects another 5 million mobile app subscribers to join the bandwagon in few months. India, the market which it operates is a mobile first country because of the total time Indians spent on Internet, 90% is through mobile phones. Interestingly, over 50% mobile traffic is coming from Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities which has great prospects in near future and will drive their business big time. Myntra plans to hire lot of people especially from Silicon valley to live up to its vision by investing heavily in lot of innovative technologies in providing highly personalized shopping through the device which is very personal to them-their mobile phone.

As Myntra will start their business only through one channel i.e.mobiles,a lot of emphasis will be on the development of the app with never seen before features making it more engaging which will only benefit the customer and make his/her choices much simpler.Content shopping with lot of multimedia that resonates with the customer will drive their business to new levels.With advancement in social media analytics, it will provide you more personalized recommendations based on your choices and liking.You will be greeted by the application with listings only you want to see and eventually shop. Also to engage the customer more and take customer relationship to a whole new level, it may provide personalized discounts and deals more regularly than we see today.

Mukesh Bansal, Myntra CEO feels that smart phones are going to drive online shopping in the future. He says that the company will now put all its efforts to leverage its mobile shopping experience.

“Fashion is a very personal experience. We believe that only mobile can truly deliver this experience as it captures user’s lifestyle and context in manner that no other medium does. Think of all the hardware and software features that one can leverage like camera, contact, location etc. to understand the user’s context and deliver the experience that is deeply personalized,” he said.

Hope Myntra, a Indian brand leads the way spreading (h)App-iness and all the other global big players follow suit as it will be App-etizing to say the least.

P.S: Are you still thinking of downloading the app when u know that it’s gonna be the next big thing in online shopping in India?? I hope, the message is loud and clear.

This post is written for Myntra App Contest,one of the campaigns from BlogMint.

References: Wikipedia


Travel Diaries-Kolhapur


It was Gudi Padwa(Ugadi)-Hindu New Year and I embarked on a journey to Kolhapur in Maharashtra to visit MahaLaxmi Temple on this auspicious day. This photo blog is entirely based on my experiences in Kolhapur.

I was traveling on a Volvo in a overnight journey from Bengaluru to Kolhapur. After a good night sleep and upon nearing Kolhapur early morning, had a Maharastrian break fast in a pit stop after witnessing this beautiful sunrise.

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The Shri Mahalaxmi(AmbaBai) temple, first built in 7th century is one of the Shakti Peethas listed in Hindu Puranas. It is believed that the divine couple of Vishnu and Mahalaxmi reside here.

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The deity of Goddess Mahalaxmi, made of gemstone weighing around 40 kilos is considered to be at least 5000 to 6000 years old.

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Unlike many temples where the idols of God face north or east direction, here the idol faces the west with a small open window open on the western side.Once a year during sunset, sun rays falls on the face of the image through this window. This festival called as KiranUtsav, is believed to be very auspicious and devotees throng the temple in large numbers.

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Rathotsav (annual chariot festival) bearing silver representation of Goddess decorated with flowers is taken out for procession around the city in April celebrated with all the pomp and glory.

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This temple is an exemplary specimen of Vesar style of architecture in Maharashtra. Vesar is a confluence of Nagar and Dravidian style. In this style, temples have a complex with several small shrines around the main shrine.

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Flower market outside the temple is quite a spectacle too. Have a look.

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After the Devi pooja, I headed to some pet-pooja as it was time for lunch. Kolhapur is famous for very aromatic and spicy mutton curry called tambda rassa. However since it was a festival, was prohibited to have non veg food and settled for a very satisfying Maharshtrian meal- baakri(roti) and viangan bharatha(baigan ka bhartha) in Gokul restaurant which serves very good food for vegans.

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After a satisfying meal, it was time to head to Shree Chhatrapati Shahu Museum also called as New Palace museum. Built in 1884, the architecture of the palace is a combination of Jain and Hindu influences and local Rajwada style.

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This museum is dedicated to fine collection of possessions of Chhatrapaties of Kolhapur like costumes, weapons, jewelery,embroidery,games, silver elephant saddles,stuffed tigers, tiger heads, wild boar,black buck etc.The Darbar hall occupies a double height space, while the side halls display lobed arches filled with stained glass illustrating scenes from life of Shivaji.

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After a great showcase of regions history through this museum visit, I headed to city market for some shopping and some temple runs. Kolhapur is famous for hand crafted leather slippers called as Kolhapuris that are locally tanned.

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Then in the pleasant evening, I headed to Rankala Lake  for boating which is serene and picturesque on the western side of Mahalaxmi temple. This wide and spacious lake is so called as at its centre lies the temple of Rankabhairav.

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It also hosts another palace which is inaccessible to common public.

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And then signed off after having a delicious street food- some bhel puri and a fruit salad.

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It was a nice time in Kolhapur. Hope you enjoyed it too. Until next time we meet, Be Good,Do Good And Keep Smiling 🙂


Part3: Calcutta Diaries…


Hello, Welcome back after quite a some time. If you haven’t read part1 and its sequel yet, read before proceeding to this final edition of Calcutta Diaries


For Part1,click here: Calcutta Diaries…  For Part2,click here: Sequel:Calcutta Diaries…

After an excellent city tour which I thoroughly enjoyed, I witnessed an interesting Bengali wedding(my first time).But before we get started to experience its uniqueness, let’s know more about Bengali people and their culture through my retina display 😛

Bengali’s are very emotional and passionate people.Given a chance they can lecture or talk continuously for hours together.But they are sweet people owing their love for sweets. I think Mishti (meaning sweetmeat) comes a close second next to their first love which is Fish. A meal without a fish is very rare and IMG_20150228_011614 IMG_20150301_225025 IMG_9436    incomplete.They can swear by fish literally. Apart from fish,they love their football and off course cricket. Mohan Bagan/East Bengal match at Salt Lake stadium garners as much attention and interest as a World Cup cricket match elsewhere in the world. Cricket in Eden Gardens is as electric and noisy that most parts of Calcutta near the Maidan can feel the atmosphere when a game is on. And Durga Puja in Calcutta is one of biggest festival of India. What Ganesh Chaturti is to Mumbai, Puja is to Calcutta. I was told that Calcutta experience is incomplete without Durga Puja which is revelled and celebrated with as much pomp and glory as one can ever imagine.

For my friend’s wedding, I lived with his family among his relatives and friends for four days which was an enriching experience. I was welcomed and treated very warmly and the icing on the cake was when I was given Mishti on arrival which bowled me over completely 😉 Since Hindi was the only common language we both knew, that was the mode of speech used for interaction. Bengali’s sound funny when they talk broken Hindi as most of them are not used to speaking Hindi. Also it was difficult for me to get their Bong accent and managed to get what they were saying or at least the context when they used some Hindi/English keywords. When they converse in Hindi, they pronounce some words such that its funny to a non Bengali who knows Hindi. My name being Harsha, over the years I have been called as Harsh, Harshu and off course Harsha but for the first time I was addressed as ‘Horsho’. Yes Horsho-The Bengali version of Harsha 😉 So Harsha becomes Horsho, Vidya becomes Bidya, Gaurav as Gourab and Rituparna becomes RituPorna. They say Jol Khaana(meaning eating water) for drinking water and Cha khabe( meaning eating tea) is what they sound when they ask you for tea. I found it sweet and funny and taught the kids out there multiple times that It’s spelled and hence pronounced as Harsha and not horseshoe amidst lot of laughs 😉

Unlike most of the wedding here in Southern part of India, a Bong wedding usually starts in the evening. On wedding day early morning at around 4.00 hrs the wedding rituals began where the groom and bride in their respective homes were made to have some food after which they were not supposed to eat anything until the next day when all the marriage rituals ended.

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On the wedding day before lunch hours,a ritual called as Nanni Mukh took place where the groom remembered his ancestors before tying the knot (later in the evening) followed by haldi where all the women out there put haldi on the grooms face who was made to stand firm on a stone viz the most interesting time to click some candid and funny photos 😉 To wash off, he was poured with a bucket of water and then the groom had to crack open 4 small cups surrounding him made by mud. Once this was done, the haldi used to put on groom was passed on to bride’s place along with her wedding dress and some gifts generally called as shagun where bride is put up with same haldi. Amongst this, Rohu fish was decorated as a bride.

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After lunch it’s generally a break time where most of them overlooked about different arrangements and had a good nap after a satisfying meal. Then in the evening we started to the marriage hall with band baaja and baarat 😉

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The groom was greeted with all the necessary special attention and offered some mishti by bride’s side.During the mahurath, groom was made up to stand firm at a fixed place and the bride was carried to the mandap by her brothers while she covered her face with beetle leaves.The bride was made to take 7 rounds around the groom which signifies 7 vows of marriage and then to remove the covering from her face only when she faced the groom after saath phere amidst lot of cheers and clapping.Then they exchanged garlands 3 times followed by Sindhur Daan viz maang barna.The marriage rituals ended after a yagna(Agni shakshi).

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After having a special meal viz as I said earlier, having quality time with Bengali fish, we had a friendly interaction between both the families which was playing antakshari in this case. We played for over 2 hours such that all the songs were either already sung or we had no new song to sing for a particular word. Led by the groom, we won when the bride’s side was deliberately and repeatedly given a particular word and the game ended when they finally gave up at 4.30 am.

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Before that we had to negotiate a price with the bride’s friends, for making the couple enter a particular room.They were seven in total for which they demanded 20k and we gave them only 3.5k(500 per head) after making them wait for a long time and hence succumb to pressure and impatience.

The next day it was vidhaai time at bride’s place and a reception on the subsequent day on the groom’s side which panned out nicely.

It was a most fruitful and enriching to experience a Bengali wedding as unique as this. Hope you enjoyed it too through this blog post


Until next time we meet, Be good, Do good and Keep Smiling 🙂


Cricket World Cup over the years….



Cricket(especially World Cup) then and now has evolved as wine getting better with age.At least I would like to think so.With the advent of T20 and the success of popular tournaments like IPL and Big Bash League,cricket over the years has changed rapidly.Sure enough,batsman have a slight upper hand than the bowlers but with time,bowlers are getting smarter too.

In 90s and until early next decade,240-270 was a challenging score but not anymore.300 is a norm these days.But it’s great to see that in this WC edition,bowlers have a say on par with the batsman though changing of rules like 5 fielders always inside the circle is bit harsh on them.On a positive note,captain would play his 5 attacking bowlers rather than depending too much on part timers.Along with the likes of Mitchell Starc,Trent Boult,Imran Tahir,Tim Southee,Morne Morkel who are doing well clinching wickets consistently in this WC,it feels proud to see our bowlers with the likes of Umesh Yadav, Mohit Sharma,Mohd Shami (strong contender for highest wickets) and Ravi Ashwin bowling equally good.

Let’s look back at India’s performances in world cups over the years. I started getting to know and watch cricket in 96 and have fond memories of India beating Pakistan and clearly remember the confrontation of Aamer Sohail and Venkatesh Prasad.The best part was Venky didn’t say a word when Sohail provoked him but at the very next ball when he bowled Sohail, the reaction he gave showing him the way to pavilion,was just awesome to see being an Indian fan.In death over, Ajay Jadeja’s hitting Waqar Younis for boundary and sixes consistently was a rare sight to see then which is quite regular these days where batsman takes on the bowlers at will. And then the infamous chase against Srilanka in semis in Eden Gardens where the match was stalled and awarded to Srilanka.Tendulkar gave us an excellent start but once he got out, everyone else got out like a pack of cards.In 99 world cup in England,India were expected not to perform as much we would want them to as they had lost couple of tournament finals consistently just before the world cup and clearly lacked some firepower in latter half of tournaments.India did well going into the Super Six stage but had to bow down after loosing too many matches.The highlight for me was the rise of what I call the holy trinity of Indian cricket- Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly and Rahul Dravid (highest run getter in 99 world cup,including 2 massive partnership with Ganguly and Tendulkar).There was a ad campaign by Brittania-Brittania Khao WorldCup Jao in 99. In that one month, I along with my family and friends had eaten as much biscuits as we had eaten in our combined entire life.Such was the craze then-Anything for worldcup. In 2003,we played very well and were looking to win the world cup given our form when Ricky Ponting spoiled our plans in the finals.I think we lost the match by our poor bowling and our batsman couldn’t do much chasing a massive score.But still there was slight chance as it was raining in patches and D/L came into play.I had my SSC board exams the very next day and had to peep in and out to see the scores.But most of the times,it didn’t look good and it was a shock to loose after doing so well until the finals.2007 world cup was a forgetful affair as India were out in the first round,felt really sorry for Dravid who was leading the side then.Who knows,he would have been an exceptional captain had he continued to lead the side.And then came 2011,when we lived our dream to lift the world cup 28 years after Kapil Dev and his team had made us proud in 83.So far,2015 looks promising too to defend the title.By the way,Mauka mauka ad campaign has won hearts of everyone with its brilliant script and creativity.Over the years,cricket on a whole has gone through so many changes,it has got richer with new technology used,new shots being invented to score runs,new tricks being employed by bowlers to deceive the batsman and new techniques adopted by fielders especially on the boundary line to convert a certain six to a wicket.

Let’s analyze some specific players and how it has impacted our psyche and the game.Take for instance AB De Villiers-the most innovative contemporary batsman who is literally changing the rules of the game.Some of the shots he has played are beyond imagination.More importantly he makes the bowlers bowl the way he want him to,even though they don’t want to. When the bowl coming from bowler by the time it reaches him he has all the time in the world to choose and perfectly execute 2 or 3 scoring shots.And very little can the bowler and fielding side do to stop him when he is in zone.Players like Chris Gayle and lot many batsmen of this generation can score a double and more importantly even think of it unlike last decade.In short, the approach to a game has changed completely,a batsman can chase 100 runs or may be more than that easily in last 10 overs. Sunil Narine who has a great impact especially in IPL can stun and deceive the batsman quite consistently by his mystery deliveries which is difficult to read.He is one of the few spinners who captain turns to during death overs as along with taking wickets,he can choke runs too.Unfortunately he is not playing in this WC.Dale Steyn needs a special mention here as he is the best bowler in an era dominated by batsman.When he is in rhythm bowling fiery,clinching wickets consistently,it is a beautiful sight to watch.Ever so magnificent bowlers like Mitchell Johnson, Daniel Vettori,Morne Morkel,Jimmy Anderson, Stuart Broad, Ravi Rampaul have only got smarter with power hitters like Chris Gayle, Glen Maxwell, Keiron Pollard, David Miller, Brendon McCullum,David Warner, our very own MS Dhoni and Virat Kohli becoming ever so powerful with the bat.Fielding standard over the years have only improved.Jonty Rhodes who made people recognise that fielding can also be a art and who changed the facet of a match though his fantastic catches,brillant save and crucial runouts would be very proud to see some exceptional fielders like ABD, Raina, Warner,Dilshan,Kohli,Steven Smith, Rahane and many others in this generation.The other day,in quarter finals against Bangladesh,Shikhar Dhawan took a excellent juggling catch at the boundary which we would not have imagined say 10 years ago.So overall,the game is changing and changing for good.

Having followed cricket over the years and being a ardent fan,it feels great to see the game evolving and getting better.

P.S : This blog post is written for a blogging contest by Harsha Bhogle, one of the few cricket commentators I admire and look up to.Hope this blog post and being his namesake gives me a slight edge to be a part in his Bloggers Dream Team 🙂