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The prince who turned into a frog

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I finally ventured out to watch Mardani on my own; and I am glad that I did. It’s brilliantly ‘inspired’ from the English film Taken and the actors have done full justice to the horrors of sex trafficking and child prostitution.

The ease with which this is all possible; the police and politics power game and the helplessness of the victims – all easily relatable in Mardani since the milieu is India, affected me. And yes anything is possible in India. The law and law makers are nothing but hand in glove with the law breakers.

I can’t but help wonder what power trip do grown men get at raping/forcing themselves on a ‘virgin’ girl child? Sex is about bodily gratification – true! But its not limited to a man’s pleasure. A woman who has sex with a man, and wants him all the more- now that’s a man in my books! So then why must men rape?

There are these theories of how & why women deserve the rape! We ask for it! We titilate! We have no shame! The fault lies with the woman- or so the moral police propound relentlessly! Some of us have bought into these theories too.

I remember a few years back when I had moved into a place of my own in Delhi, a male relative happened to drop by for a cup of coffee. Two hours later, I was uncomfortable with the way he was looking at me and what he was saying to me. Aghast at myself for feeling so (I mean nice girls don’t think such dirty thought- right???), I felt relieved when he left. It so happened that one of my sister-in-laws (very close to me) was in town and I went to meet her. She realised something was wrong and on her gentle prodding, I vomited it all. She comforted me and chided me for blaming myself while ranting at the gentleman in question. But none of us could take it up with him. She advised me to talk to my mother. I did! I got no reaction at all apart from not to discuss this with anyone ever. Is it a wonder we women blame ourselves for rape, our conditioning is such at our homes. At that time, I didn’t have the courage to do anything about this.

When I chose to divorce my husband, I was told things like :
Why bother? Live in separate rooms, if you can’t get along!
It’s not like you are going to re-marry! So leave it!
We will make him promise to not to do ‘these’ things again – so don’t do this.
Not even once was I asked what ‘these’ things were!
Not once did they think why I would take such a drastic step!
Not once did they realise how difficult this was for me!

The core of it all is that we women have no right to feel any respect/dignity of our self and should just be seen and not heard!

This movie took my mind back to the December rape of ‘nirbhayata’ – the sheer depravity, cruelty and violation of a woman’s being had shaken us all- well most of us all! Even then the question was how could they do this? What kind of animals are these? Thousands had poured on the streets to protest, braving police & administration insensitivity. Media had helped to highlight the protest.

I protested too!!!!!

Well, I didn’t protest on the streets but I protest in my hearts of hearts everyday. I have a zero tolerance attitude since the incident and take anyone and everyone’s happiness over disrespect for a woman in any form now. If only that relative would try now…….

I happened to have coffee with a friend and her brother. The ‘ gentleman’ was narrating how at Starbucks that day, there seemed to be an exodus of ‘big’ women. He told us about the person he was meeting with who kept losing the thread of the conversation as he was getting distracted at the sight of so many ‘goodies’. Finally, he told him that relax- it’s a big boobie day at Starbucks today. Embarrassed, the guy behaved after that. Then he went onto regale us with the reactions of some of the men that he noticed while he was there and found them all hilarious, wishing he had taken some pics to show us of the women and the men.

I was getting pissed at this narrative. And I informed him about an incident that took place at that same Starbucks which was reported on a Facebook forum of women. So again a ‘gentleman’ ( there are so many of them) was leching openly at a young (teenage) girl sitting next to him. She was wearing shorts or a short skirt and he was fascinated with her bare legs. So much so that he started to click a picture on his phone of her legs. Seeing this, a lady seated there protested and chided him for what he was doing. Imagine the discomfort of that girl at that ‘older’ man’s sickness! I ranted and fumed over this man’s brazenness since he told that lady to mind her own business, before walking off.

The dude at our table, found this funny and said he sympathized with the guy. I looked at him incredulously while he explained (he was laughing) that can you imagine what that guy must be going through while being seated next to . . . .

The zero tolerance in me surfaced and when the gentleman could ascertain that I was offended by his attitude, he walked off!

Now this gentleman is not an idiot but possesses a rather intelligent and analytical brain. In fact he dealt with human emotions and their reverberations in daily life in his line of work. He calls himself a life coach! Up until then, I was pretty impressed with the dude.

And then right before my eyes, he turned into a frog ( sadly, even before any kissing was done)!!!

Did I mention that his sister was there too; and she happens to be generously endowed! Wonder how he would feel if someone lumped her in this assessment of Starbucks celebration? Or did the thought not cross his mind?

So was my reaction OTT? Should I have viewed his humour in a more lenient light? Have I become uptight? – I dont think so. Actually, I dont believe so.

Guys it’s offensive to us when you trivialize our bodies- whatever your motivation! Disrespect is not for us- no matter how alpha a male you are.
(I think the dude should have saved this story for his male buddies and not shared with a couple of girls. Certainly not one of the girls- Moi!)

I have zero tolerance for zero respect
! How dare he!?! And he is an intelligent man! That’s all I could think of for the next couple of days. But then its the intelligent men who are worst afflicted. Take the recent incidents that have been cropping up in social media pertaining to women. Dont they make you question yet again the sanity of the Indian male?

Case #1: Media is frothing at the mouth over ‘cleavage’- mind you, a pedigreed cleavage. The lady in the eye of the storm has not minced her words to let these so-called journos know of their depravity. Really? A national daily reporting the sighting of a hot and popular actress’s cleavage! Haven’t you seen your mom’s? But then yellow journalism is interspersed with national news with such ease, that the supplements are being read more than the main paper.

Case #2: The “gentleman’ (here we go again) who took out his (you know what) and groped a young girl in the metro. She took his happiness but was pretty brutalized (emotionally) at the apathy at the hands of fellow commuters and the administration.It took courage to display her Zero tolerance and she knows it.

Case #3: And now a rape victim was denied entry in a hospitality establishment in Kolkata – Tagore must be turning in his grave at this mentality of his land! Such sensuous literature, art, music has emanated from this region; one thought men & mentality here were ……. er…….. cultured!

So have I made you feel ashamed to know Indian men!?! Is it better to not interact with them at all? Avoid at all costs? Are there only degenerates out there? What are they being taught at their mother’s breast? (yes its the woman again who is at the bottom of it all)

Hang on!!!!

Listen to this.

I have to tell you about a book launch I attended a few days back. The book is called Sita’s curse by authoress Sreemoyee Piu Kundu. The book’s genre has been classified as an erotica! There was a huge gathering; surprising part, there were men brave enough to sit in the audience while a woman’s sexual desire was being talked about! Kudos to those men- the authoress applauded them too. And there were senior citizens in there too! Wow! I thought! Indian men have come of age to sit amongst a bevy of gorgeous women and listen on a debate about a woman’s carnal pleasures and not flinch! And yes there were many a humorous quip about religious-political groups taking offense and storming the session to teach us our place.

If I go through my friendlist – there are at least 50 men, who are a joy to know. Whether an ex-colleague / fellow hobby enthusiast / friend……. They are on my whatsapp, facebook, conversations, some on my mind too ;-)

They are the ones who call to check if I have reached back safely after a night outing with them; or follow me home to ensure so.

They are the ones who caution me for things like tagging my geo-location on social media all the time.

They are the one who open the door for me.

They are the ones who have let me know that a man can respect a woman.

They are the ones who make me feel glad to be a woman who has “male” friends!!!!

They are the ones for whom I would gladly wade through a swamp of frogs to find the real deal!!! (well not literally, but you get the drift !! ;-) )

At the crux of it, we (women) need to change our attitude first! We need to see ourselves for what we are worth- and ladies we are worth it all!! We need to demand respect; not tolerate nonsense, even if it means letting go of a handsome prince!

Cheers and Kudos to all my women friends, sisters and to the men of substance that I am happy to have on my friendlist!!!!

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An evening in pink!

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When I replied to a post on Gurgaon moms for the lumia app event at Taj Mansingh, little did I realise what fun was in store for me. The invite mentioned the dress code as Pretty in Pink and the event was hosted by WOW or women on wanderlust and Microsoft to launch some new travel related apps by Lumia.
What sealed the deal for me was the pickup provided for the event. But this was the trailer, picture toh abhi baki thi mere doston!
Dolled up in some pinki-ness, I and Shinjini walked into the Diwan-I-khas at the Taj and were greeted by a sea of pinks, prompting us to go WOW! The ladies had indeed warmed up to the theme with gusto and so we had some rich silk sarees, gorgeously layered skirts, gold trimmed sharara salwars, a playful quirkbox jacket, crushed silks and what not! Trust the women to be bold and beautiful- always! There were travellers, bloggers and women out to have fun. I got to meet many interesting women- some old friends and made some new!

imageWe were greeted by the gracious Songita Banerjee , CEO of blogger’s mind who was one of the organizers of this event. Together with Ayesha and WOW team, these girls had worked hard to ensure an awesome attendance (150 or more ladies) food (delicious culinary bits from one of the finest hospitality kitchens) generously stocked bar (plenty of whites and reds) and two drop-dead gorgeous hunks for hosts of the evening – suave and dashing Techguru Rajiv Makhani and the hottest chef on this planet Vikas Khanna!! Could we have asked for more?

photo 2WOW had setup a photo booth and got the ladies to pose with a model setup of iconic world buildings. We were also handed feathered boas, sparkly hats as props to liven up our photos. A video team took quirky snippets from the ladies as to what they expected from the men? It was played later amid gales of laughter. Sample a comment “he is as dishy as his dishes”! Agreed!!
The dashing duo took to the stage, amid thunderous applause and hooting and was quite gracious in their praise for the more than 50 shades of pinks they could see across the room! In fact Rajiv s black shirt was lined with pink trims which, he claimed, were not done to match the theme as he was unaware of it. Whatever, we loved it Rajiv!
photo 5The fun and games began with Chef Vikas Khanna blindfolding four volunteers and then giving them a fruit or vegetable to ‘touch’ and ‘feel’ only. He had us in splits with the witty double meaning innuendos, which were sportingly enjoyed by the participants and audience alike. I must say the ladies were really bold and beautiful all evening long.

New folder (2)1WOW introduced us to some women who are part of their loyalty program as they have done more than a dozen trips with them. The prizes were from lumia/Microsoft and included a fitness band, headphones, phone charger, etc! Very neat looking stuff! In fact all the ladies who engaged in the activities, were generously showered with gifts.

photo 2The apps were interesting, more so when they were introduced by the hottest anchor in town- Rajiv Makhani. Such is his powers of persuasion that he even got the entire crowd to kiss their phones!!

IMG_0693So now we have an app which can test your alcohol level and let you know how tipsy you are – handy when one is out for late nights and traveling too. Another app/gadget connects with your phone and buzzes to inform you if you leave your phone/belongings somewhere by mistake. Another one does a photo swaps and can be used as an icebreaker during travel trips with a large group of people. And if you are lost in translation, then the language app is  just the key for you as it helps you converse like the natives.

photo 1The one I loved the best were the photo apps which correct your pics. So imagine getting that perfect pose and someone walks in front of you just when your friend clicked the pic? Grrrr! Right? Well, now you have this great app that lets your remove that person and voila your pic is back to normal or rather great! Same thing if someone photo-bombs your pic! Do check out this app ladies for your next trip.
The two dudes were mobbed by the ladies when they succumbed to the lumia challenge of seeing how many people can they fit in a selfie! Needless to say, there was a pink stampede to get in the pic! I am looking forward to seeing the result of the same – hope they get put up somewhere.

IMG_1106(this pic has been contributed by one of the ladies from the event- muchos gracias!)
Next blindfold session by the chef (yeah, seems he is really into this ) he made participants taste desserts and guess the ingredients. He even asked the ladies if they preferred to be fed by spoon or his hand – Ahem! One lady was gung-ho for the latter and he obliged!!! Ahem! Ahem!

IMG_0692He then proceeded to dance with each of the ladies – sigh! And when a lady named Simran came on the stage, he serenaded her – obvious choice of song was DDLJ tumhe dekhna toh yeh jaana Sanam! Move over Bollywood heroes- this guy is serious competition!

New folderThe most interesting part of the evening was the preview trailer of 50 shades of grey which was played out for the ‘selected’ audience i.e, the pink ladies! Hmmm!! I am looking forward to this movie now though not sure how many ‘cuts’ will be there in it when its finally released for Indian audiences!

photo 1The evening ended with chef Vikas not only introducing his book but also gave free copies to all present and signed them too! Needless to say he was mobbed for selfies and such for which he posed ceaselessly and charmed and wooed all! Man he has some energy and patience!

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(I am one of the unlucky ones who didn’t get a copy of the book as the ladies mobbed the organisers and well, things went a bit awry from there) But it was heart warming to see the chef graciously pose and sign for each and every lady! Hats off to your stamina for selfies!

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I cannot thank my stars, the organisers, Women on Wanderlust, BloggerMind  and the two hunks for truly rocking my Saturday evening! I look forward to more such interesting events.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Cottage with a view!

imageTaken a panorama with my I- phone of these majestic Himalayan range from the cottage in khabrar! I can’t get over this view and am so going to miss it from tomorrow when we head back to Delhi.

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Of Snow peaks, hydrangeas and a mutt!

Sonu didi’s cottage in Khabrar, near Nainital has been beckoning me since ages for a trip but somehow it never materialised in so many years. So when the opportunity presented itself during this Diwali dinner, we made up our minds to come down as soon as we are able to.

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November is not an ideal month for a visit here in one sense as it gets cold and there are few people around; on the other hand it’s the perfect time since winters are just starting and a winter buff like me needs no convincing at all.image

Plans were made for things to be repaired, replaced, serviced, etc and after two weeks of hits and misses, we finally loaded up the car one Saturday morning and after a twelve hour road trip (interspersed with food breaks, work breaks, shopping breaks, doggie breaks . . . . ) we finally reached at almost ten at night. Tired out, we got the fire started, freshened up and sat down with mugs of steaming hot soup and then some dinner.

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The cold had hit us and we quickly snuggled down in  our beds and zzzzzzz!

Woke up at 7.30 today morning to find my room lit up with the morning sun while dozens of birds trilled outside the window. What a feeling it was to step out in the sunny terrace, mug of steaming ginger tea and a view of the majestic snow clad Himalayan  peaks. Their grandeur can’t be expressed in mere words.

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Two cups of tea and I set out exploring. I had a ball cutting wild flowers and arranging them around the house, hotly pursued by our trusted canine who couldn’t keep up with the freedom this place affords him.

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A yummilicious brekkie of fluffy omelettes, hot buttered toasts and beaten coffee . . . .   Sunning myself in full view of the snowy peaks, only sounds around me are of a huffing puffing mutt and the buzz of bees.

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Gulmohar gar tumhara naam hota

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Gulmohar Gar Tumhara Naam Hota
Mausam-E-Gul Ko Hasaana Bhi Hamara Kaam Hota

Come summers and the roads come alive with the flowering trees in Delhi-Gurgaon. Right now its the flamboyant Gulmohar making its presence felt in the city. Everywhere one looks, one is greeted with the sight of clusters of crimson orange blooms on the branches. And most often once would also spot a bevy of butterflies flitting in and out of these blossoms, making for one very happy sight!

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Sin city VS Holy city

Hola People! This post is a departure from my previous ones as its a collaborative one with another blogger – Kendra from Chicago whose idea it was to write about our favourite travel place and the fun things we love doing there. So, she has chosen to write about LAS VEGAS which seems to be the ultimate fun place according to her. I have chosen to write about the current travel favourite place of mine – Benares.

Quite a contrast – don’t you think? I would love to hear about what my readers think about this article and whether they would like to see more of this in future.

Oh the Fun You Can Have in Sin City

When you plan a vacation, one of the best ways to choose the activities you’ll enjoy during your stay is by taking tips from those who have been there before. I love Las Vegas and have visited there many times. If you are planning a trip to take in the sights of Sin City, I’d like to make a few recommendations.

1. Enjoy Some Las Vegas Thrills

Thrill rides are easy to find in Las Vegas. I, personally, am not much of a roller-coaster fan, but it’s interesting to watch the amazing rides. At Adventuredome in Circus Circus, they have the world’s only double-corkscrew, double-loop roller coaster. You won’t find me riding the Canyon Blaster ever, but it’s a fascinating work of art. This December, Adventuredome announced a coming attraction for thrill lovers, the record-breaking El Loco.

2. Try Your Hand at Mini Golf

Unique miniature golf courses amuse my kids, and their father and I have fun playing along with them. We especially enjoyed our trip to KISS by Monster Mini Golf. The course features 18-holes decorated with replicas of rock-and-roll memorabilia. The whole family had fun putting into the giant Gene Simmons head. Giant guitars and animated representations of the band members round out the fun here.

3. Visit a Museum or Three

Las Vegas is chockfull of unique museums. My kids have oodles of fun at Discovery Children’s Museum. I love wandering through the paths and gardens at the Neon Museum, which tells the story of Las Vegas in lights. The National Atomic Testing Museum, also in Las Vegas, features interesting exhibits about the history of the atom bomb and nuclear weapons. Why not enjoy some of these museums and take home the souvenir of knowledge?

4. Explore the Desert

Don’t forget that Las Vegas lies at the heart of the Mojave Desert. If you get tired of adventures on the strip, take a Pink Jeep tour to see the sights outside of town. Several different tours are available. The company will pick you up at your hotel and take you on a comfortable, guided tour of your chosen natural wonder. They even have a day trip to the Grand Canyon.

Las Vegas has something for everyone to enjoy. With so many places to stay on the strip and things to do, each visit will be different. Sites like Gogobot make it easy to read user reviews so you know just what you will be purchasing. I’ve always enjoyed my visits here. I hope you have fun on yours. I bet you’ll be ready to come back again soon.

Headshots Kendra Thornton –   40 and a mother of 3. Before being promoted to the full time position of mom, she was the former Orbitz Director of Communications where she was able to travel a great deal. she now lives in Chicago with her family, where they are her number one priority in everyday life.

Benares or Varanasi or Kashi – the city of Lord Shiva is known by many names. This holy and ancient India city is reputed to have over a million temples of every Hindu deity possible and the stars, moon and constellations are not left far behind too. Each and every visit of mine to this city fuels the urge to come here more often for this city has a calming effect on the soul. Despite the crowds, noise, filth and the chaos; the city runs on its own tempo of ‘laziness’ and guiles you to lose yourself in it too.

Things not be missed while in Benares can be listed as below:

1) Walking jaunts through its myriad bylanes that are teeming with exotic and colorful food and wares. The vendors call out for your attention without seeming in your face. Handpainted wooden hangings, metalwork suns, glistening glass beads, steaming hot savouries, mouth watering sweets, fresh flowers- all beckon you with their allure to taste/sample/buy.

2) Prepare to be entranced by a private performance of Indian classical music, instrumental or a dance form at one of the many music and dance ashrams on the ganga ghat . The students of these schools perform and seek encouragement and patronage. Entry is via a nominal fee.

3) A boat ride on the Ganga in the early morning is not to be missed. The calming chimes of temple bells, monotonous religious chants and image of people immersing themselves in the water to bathe away impurities is a typical scene at the river ghats. Boat markets selling trinkets of every shape and color can be seen floating out to beguile the tourists. Scores of water birds circle and wheel around the boats in hope of a crumb and are not disappointed for there are many vendors selling bird feed for just this purpose.

4) While away an afternoon on one of the many rooftop restaurant which are spread along the ghats. The view of the river, the peace and quiet and some delicious coffee and savouries – what more does one need to laze away.

5) The street food of Benares is compelling in taste, flavour and variety. Taking care not to abuse one’s stomach too much, sample the chaat (sweet, sour and spicy), milk based drinks and traditional indian sweets typical to this region. One will not be disappointed.

6) Benares is famous for its Paan – a leaf based edible savoury which is a mouth freshner. Typically this is stuffed with tobacco for the nicotine addicts but the normal public gets to savour it in it fresh and sweet avatar as well. One can see a Paan shop, every five walking minutes in the city – thats how popular this condiment is.

7) The textiles of Benares are world famous and one cant leave the city without indulging in this bit of shopping. The traditional Indian saree comes in the Benarsi form of silk woven with gold thread and is quite a sought after thing. Scarves, stoles and short kurtas can be indulged in too for the non-saree public.

8) A morning walk through the Benares Hindu University campus is an enriching experience. With over 160 faculties, its quite the educational arena. The buildings stand tall with heritage flavour in the architecture, among scores of beautiful and old trees.

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Product review : no bake cheesecake

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On a latest visit to the supermarket, this box of ‘No bake cheesecake’, beckoned me. The pic on the box set me drooling and I thought to myself, ‘why not?’ But the Puritan in me rebelled at the thought of a dessert out of a box. I managed to pacify her by telling her that it’s purely to prove that it won’t be good enough.

When I got home, I shoved the box at the back of the baking cupboard, since ‘she’ was still growling at the thought of making it. It idled there for a month, before I noticed it and decided to ‘try it out. The voice in my head continued throughout the making and all the ‘critique’ comments are courtesy ‘her’!!!!!!!

The box had three pouches :
1) biscuit crumbs (“doesn’t look enough for the pan size mentioned”)
2) cheesecake mix in powder form (“looks like stone dust”)
3) blueberry sauce (“we will see what it’s like when we open it”)

Biscuit Base:
The instructions asked to mix the crumbs with 75gms of melted butter (“Cheapskates! Couldn’t include that in the box now could they!”) I thought the quantity of butter to crumbs was a lot and was proved right when I mixed them. The mix became almost like a paste and took some effort to set it into the pan.

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Cheesecake mix:
I put the powder in a bowl and added 350 ml of cold milk and beat it as per the two sets of beating instructions. Wow! The texture was amazing! (“It’s alright”)

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Setting up:
I pulled the tin out of the fridge and was surprised to see how well the base had set (“hmmm!!!”) I upturned the bowl on it and dropped the entire mix and then set about spreading it with a spatula to level it right. It was quite springy and was a delight to set.

I returned the tin to the fridge for a while and then opened the sauce packet which was sadly very very less. This was the only and biggest let down. (“gloat!! gloat!!!) I spread the miserly quantity over the set cake as best as I could and let it set for another 2 hours.

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The pictures say it all as to how it looked and the many many comments from my friends and family told me how great it was in taste.

All in all a hearty recommendation for it as a rainy-day saver or for an instant dessert when you have unexpected guests.

Notes:
* I feel that the butter can be reduced to 50 gms as the biscuit base turned out to be too hard.
* Although the pack says setting time is 2 hours, I found it easier to cut and it tasted much better the next day. On the same day, it was still a bit loose and cutting it was not easy. The biscuit base was also so hard that though the cake was cut, the base wasn’t and I ended up with a bit of a mess on the plate.
* I could have really used up any additional sauce to drizzle over it while serving the pieces and I would seriously recommend making or buying some extra.

I look forward to hearing from my readers on this. And in case this post inspires you to try it out, pls do share your success and experience with it. I would love to learn more!