Up , Up and away my darling Valentine…

COVER PIC CREDIT: ONEINCHPUNCH – FOTOLIA

If you just heard the word Valentines on the lunch table today and are totally shitting bricks of what to do – Pack your partners bag and surprise them with one of these holiday breaks this 14th February weekend

***BANGKOK, THAILAND***

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Why not I ask? Tickets will be equivalent to travelling within India . Visa is on arrival . With domestic air traffic it takes the same time to fly to Goa as to Bangkok.

Massages, Cocktails by the pool,  Weekend markets. This south asian holiday ticks all the right boxes.

 

***TREE HOUSE RESORT, JAIPUR***

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Super relaxing and magical. Living in an actual tree house will take you back to your childhood. The romantic setting and secluded space is perfect for workaholics to rekindle the love.

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BOOK YOUR TREE HOUSE GETAWAY NOW

 

***LUXURY CAMP, RISHIKESH***

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6 hour drive from Delhi, turn this weekend into an adventure. Camp by the river in the night, bunjee jump, raft or kayak in the day. This holiday promises to rejuvenate you in more ways than one.

PLAN YOUR OWN ADVENTURE NOW

 

***KANHA NATIONAL PARK, MADHYA PRADESH***

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One of the most sought after Tiger Reserves, Kanha National Park has been portrayed by Rudyard Kipling in his novel ‘The Jungle Book’.  A personal safari, could show your partner how much you love them.

COMPILED BY MANSI MEHTA

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How I steal 90 minutes ‘Me Time’ everyday

Did you know that we spend a minimum of 120 minutes everyday of our life mostly cursing someone, pushing our blood pressure to new levels and sometimes even experiencing mini heart attacks?

Don’t know what I am talking about?

Time spent on the road going to work, fetching kids from school and even the otherwise happy shopping trips to the mall. From point to point we waste anything from 30 minutes 180 minutes of our time on the road. So heres’ how I cheat the city life for my 90 minutes.

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SPEAK TO MY PARENTS                                                                                                                                  Hi , Is it urgent or can I call you back?                                                                                                 How many of us start the conversations like that when at work. Their guilt of infringing on my corporate time  restricts our conversation to mundane factual communication. Ever since I started calling them on my way to places, without a time bomb ticking over my head, I feel far more connected to them.

ORGANISE MY THOUGHTS FOR THE DAY  If you are as forgetful and scattered as I am, this works wonders. I find recording my thoughts on audio notes an easy way to prioritise making me more in control of my day

CALL A FRIEND I HAVEN’T SPOKEN TO IN OVER 6 MONTHS This is more difficult than you think. At first, it’s not easy to come up with who to call if you haven’t been in touch with, simply because you don’t have a starting point for the conversation. But once you make the call to 2-3 friends you will be surprised at how refreshing and energising those conversations are.

ORDER THE MONTH’S GROCERIES, ORGANISE PLAY DATES AND OTHER HOME CHORES If you are driven around, this is the biggest ROP ( Return on Phone!) I love how I can line up all the boring chores during the least productive part of my daily life.

YOUR PERSONAL CONCIERGE ON AN APP

CATCH UP ON MY FAVORITE BOOK Audio books are a blessing if you’re an avid reader constantly craving book time. Sigh! the countless times I have sat in the parking lot finishing a chapter whilst citing traffic as the reason for my delay!

MEDITATE Clearly this is not everyone’s cup of tea! But I truly believe that 10 minutes of meditation or pranayam ( breathing yoga exercises)  a day gives you 10 hours of battery life.  The trick here is to put noise cancelling headphones so you can hear your internal voice.

BUY YOUR 10 MINUTES OF SILENCE

PAINT MY NAILS Tell me how many times you have chipped your nail polish the morning of your big meeting? I have a standard manicure set handy for any nail emergency !

BUY A PAINT REMEDY SET

NURTURE A HOBBY   The phrase ‘I don’t have the time’ is a result of bad delegation, control issues and lack of task prioritization. Whether you are in a taxi, metro or auto learning a language, art , recipe or even origami will transform your mundane boring journey to one you wouldn’t trade for anything!

FIND YOUR HOBBY ONLINE

Now,I can’t wait for the day to finish, so I can start mine on the journey home!

MY ICY DATE FOR THIS WEEKEND

In this series of Friday Getaways, I get to ( fingers crossed) tick one thing off my bucket list…  In this ‘obsessed with everything white’ country I too have a weakness with fair , except it’s got nothing to do with skin colour and everything to do with flaky particles falling from the sky.

Snow in India ….There’s something so magical about it. So this cold wave week, as I give up that heater and head into the mountains to enjoy the snow show, here’s my recommendation of  drive-able getaways this weekend!

                       NATHUAKHAN, ALMORA

One of my favorite places Julia and Lat, own this beautiful homestay in Almora, 8 hours away from delhi. A few kms before Mukteshwar, enjoy the view of the snow capped mountains with one of Julia’s home baked warm cakes!

https://www.facebook.com/InnifsreeFarm/

                   MATIAL VILLAGE

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If mountain driving is not for you, here’s a little cheat. One and a half hours from Bhimtal, in the aloof village of Matial, say hello to the Jilling Terraces. Breathe-in the winter at this 80 year old house adorning the hilltop.

http://www.jillingterraces.com/

SHIMLA

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This one is for the luxury traveller, enjoy snowing Shimla from the comforts of your room , at one of India’s oldest luxury properties The Cecil, Shimla.

The Cecil, Shimla

BHIMTAL

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Looking for a shorter road trip? Settle at The Retreat, Bhimtal, for a quiet holiday. Away from the holiday hub , this homestay gives you the hill station fun, without the uphill drive.

http://www.theretreatbhimtal.in/

I can’t wait to get my hands on that snow, and bring my snow(wo)man to life!

Here’s what I learnt from watching Dangal.

My Dangal starts every morning at 9 am,the fight against traffic to get to my destination, the fight against time to get things done, the fight against cellular services, incompetent team players, bosses, auto driver…. I can go on forever…

But as I watched Aamir Khan starrer Dangal this weekend, I realised there’s a lesson to be learnt here. So this list goes up on my kitchen board, so that every time I forget I am reminded of how I can make my everyday Dangal free ( And yes it’s easier written than done )

BURA MAT SUNO

I loved Aamir’s calm composure and ability to drown out the rubbish, through the most difficult times.  One of my biggest challenges, Anger, is like Delhi Police With me, for me,  always. But the key is to keep what the end goal in mind and not let the journey take the steam away .

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MONEY CAN’T BUY LOVE, TALENT OR TIME

Babita and Geeta were trained on every things but wrestling equipment in their formative years. Every  alternative in the book was devised to give them a wrestling experience closest to the real thing. How many times do we say we don’t have time to learn a new language, or the money to keep our hobby alive? The things that give us the most pleasure and cost nothing are on the bottom of our priority list.

LOOKS/NAME TAGS CAN BE DECEPTIVE

A national level coach with the best resources could not help Geeta win an International Championship. We have an inbuilt judgement app, that scans people on the basis of their appearance, designation, or status, and while we try to get their attention, they may not be the right stimulus for us.

THE ONES WE TAKE FOR GRANTED ARE THE ONES WHO HAVE OUR BACK

Geeta lost 3 International titles before it dawned on her that she had refused In house Coach Daddy Aamir Khan’s advice. I take my parents for granted as much as the next kid on the block, but hopefully I will be able to sift through the advice they give me so I can grow into my own.

KUCH TO LOG KAHENGE

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Training two teenage girls for wrestling in a male dominated society in a tier 4 city? Recipe for instant isolation. I am sure you have heard one of these:

Don’t invite boys home at night  …log kya sochenge

Don’t wear a short dress…log kya sochenge

Don’t eat from the roadside dhaba…log kya sochenge

The faster I grow deaf to the log kya sochenge syndrome, the faster I will get on with life.

DREAM A LITTLE DREAM FOR YOURSELF

Materialistic dreams are easily attained, but our innermost desires are gathering dust under years of superficial existence. Listen to that inner voice before it fades away.

KUCH PAANE KE LIYE KUCH KHONA PADTA HAI

There are sacrifices galore to be made on the road to success… It may have been pani puchkas for the budding wrestlers, in my case it could be anything from sleep, diet or abstinence from the mall depending on what my goal is.

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Thanks Aamir, for making the difficult journey of Mahavir Singh Phogat and his daughters so inspiring for people like us who have it all and yet seem to be wasting it all away.

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Only Shah Rukh Khan can make DD’s so sexy

Movies- a reflection of our environment, characteristic of society’s new trends, steeped in the coolest words of the month, Director Gauri Shinde masterfully brings all 3 components together in her latest ‘ Dear Zindagi’

How else would a psychologist become a DD- Dimaag ka doctor and the pursuit of THE partner be explained as the journey of finding the right chair.

Mental illness has always been a taboo, sometimes I think even more than HIV. In true Indian fashion, it took a Deepika Padukone recently to bring the matter to the forefront,  and now its SRK and Alia Bhatt who are helping add style and cool quotient to the  otherwise stigma.

The funny thing about the Dimaag ka Doctor is that in life, we all ‘need’ and actually should ‘visit’ every once in a while. Like the customary eye test, the standard blood tests etc why should our dimaag not get the routine makeover?

The brain- a reservoir of feelings, emotions, thoughts, wishes is well guarded by our personal watchman- the Ego and while we think we can handle it all, there are many hints our bodies give us to tell us otherwise… And that’s what I love about Dear Zindagi. It takes a bout of sleepless nights, a physical symptom, for Alia Bhatt aka ‘Kaira’, to gather the courage to go to SRK aka Jehangir Khan, a therapist.

 

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The setting of the film is perfect- a young woman cinematographer trying to make her way in the big bad world of movies, constantly in and out of relationships topped with a strained relationship with the parents having to move out of her Mumbai apartment because she is ‘single’.

Reality depicted in reel did you say? Yes.

As Kaira, moves to Goa for a break, the director takes a leaf from every parent’s book and so start the interrogations

‘Are you Lebanese ?’ asks Uncle

‘Oho! Lebanese nahi Lesbian !’ chides the Aunty followed by the usual suspect

‘Why don’t you settle down ? ‘

The interrogation dinner is enough to send Kaira running off to stay with her friend away from the family madness.

Cut to sleepless nights and the entry of the DD ( Dimmag ka Doctor)  SRK.

ShahRukh’s casual demeanor , cool clothing, super hot beard and most importantly toned down over-acting makes him not only a delight to watch, but also makes one wish for a therapist like him who can help you with the small things in life.

As the film continues to dwell into Kaira’s past, her innermost fears and how it has affected her life, Dr Khan not only helps her de-clutter her life, but also makes her fall in love.

In my personal case, over the last couple of years my partner and I seem to have automatically become each other’s therapist. Long  drives that started as exactly that, long drives, have now become our dimmag ka doctor sessions- a space where neither judges, scolds or tries to offer solutions to the other on problems or those ‘life’ questions that keep popping up. It’s a time that we use to bare our soul, not to the other but actually to ourself. And the fact that it’s done out of the house, actually makes us more vulnerable  to open up but less vulnerable to feeling hurt.

In the end, the film reminds us yet again, if we don’t learn to ‘ Love you Zindagi’ it’s going to be the most miserable journey you have ever been on!

 

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Marketeer’s guide to Gandhiji’s 3 wise monkey’s 2.0

How many times have you sat behind your desk and let a marketing docket go without reading through it, signed on a marketing alliance without reading the fine print? It’s so easy difficult to envision the repercussions of your actions in your concrete facing cabin.

I feel something similar happened at Yauatcha this week.  It’s one of my favourite places- The dimsum heaven, stir fry lamb haven, and the place you can always go to and it never disappoints, except this time.

I recently saw a digital campaign about their anniversary celebrations, the promise of a great menu at a super affordable price. So off we went on Monday night . So as I was given an option between the Taste of Yauatcha special 5 course meal and the Anniversary menu,I  realised other than the inclusion of a glass of sparkling wine the menus were 85% same. How could that be? Why would a Michelin star restaurant not have enough to differentiate the two menus? There was no answer. But that got me thinking of how the lack of vision, and part disinterest in one’s team can lead to destructive marketing.

 

As Marketeers there has to be a version of Gandhiji’s three monkey rule that must be adhered to

Screen Shot 2016-11-15 at 3.44.11 PM.pngKeep your eyes open. blind. You have to know that each marketing activity has a different reaction, but don’t insult the customers intelligence. EVER

Screen Shot 2016-11-15 at 3.44.03 PM.pngKeep your ears open. I have seen companies spend millions of dollars in research. Research of what the consumer wants. Ironically, if you think about it, we are given that information first hand everyday, we just have to have the right mechanism to internally share that data

 

Screen Shot 2016-11-15 at 3.44.18 PM.pngOpen your mouthBe vocal. Interacting with the real customer on the shop floor is the best way to know if your marketing is working. On Paper and in reality the trademarks of a successful campaign are very different.

ARE YOU LISTENING TO WHAT THE UNIVERSE IS TRYING TO TEACH US?

2016: It’s been a great year. I quit my job to follow my passion, travelled around the world, and attended the mind blowing Coldplay concert in London. Just kidding!

2016, has been a path breaking year for many countries. We saw UK vote to opt out of the European Union. We saw President Elect Donald Trump cross the required 270 votes by a mile.

What does this tell us ? There can be a few explanations-

a) Aliens are on the planet and are playing havoc with our mind

b) The world’s a stage and  Karan Johar’s the director.

c) People are fed up of false government promises and can’t be fooled anymore.

I was in London when the Brexit results were announced mid this year, everyone around was shocked, hate mails were flying around, social media was overflowing with rants, arguments and jokes.  Yes it was a shock, but for those professionals, businessmen and new white collars who chose to ignore a whole other segment of fellow residents who were voting to safeguard their present. My personal view, it was a risky step, after all haven’t folk stories told us 5 fingers are stronger than one, but like 2 sides of a coin, neither is fully right or fully wrong.

And that’s what gets me to the point of worry, are we as people slowly forgetting to be tolerant? Tolerant of another man’s view, another man’s policy, another man’s vision.  Yes, we have found our voice, yes we choose to exercise it, yes we think we are right, but that doesn’t mean the other person is wrong. They are just different. And that’s what we do not celebrate anymore, the diversity of voice.

Take this week’s examples- Donald Trump won the elections fair and square, people came out and voted for a change. Are we turning a blind eye to the millions of non-metro Americans who are making their voice felt and voting for the better life, better employment that Trump offers, only because we don’t support Trump?

Could this be a fatal decision in world economics -Maybe.

Could this be the end of a peaceful world – Maybe.

Could this be the lowest moment in world politics – Maybe.

But it’s what some Americans have chosen, and the others have to respect it.

I, for one, am not a Trump fan-  I think he lacks many things that are crucial to be a leader, but I also think with great power comes great responsibility

This is Trump’s hour of learning . Let’s give him that.

Or before we know it, this growing polarisation Tsunami will divide our homes and lives.

Meddling with Media: Aapko kaisa lag raha hai?

I grew up hearing this name, the name that was synonymous with fact and truth.

People din’t say ‘Aaj News dekha?’ Instead said ‘ Aaj NDTV dekha?’

That was the power of the name NDTV.

So when I started working there in 2004, it was my dream come true. Interviewers made time and asked for the NDTV crew first, because they knew they wouldn’t get the intellectually laden questions ‘Are you dating x’ ‘ When are you getting married’ or even ‘ Aapka dog hospital main tha aapko kaisa lag raha hai’

Our editors were those who had burnt the midnight oil with Dr Roy and understood the value of a good story, the power of an untold tale and most importantly knew how to smell the news from a mile away.  So, if my questions were not well researched and flimsy, not only did I stand the chance of not being sent for the interview, but more importantly being branded as ‘ Not fit for NDTV standards’ And that I promise you was pretty much the beginning of the end.

So while I am no longer with NDTV, and therefore unaware of whether the charges are right, my history with the company tells me they would shut shop before letting their editorial standards fall to that level.

That being said, Politicians and their politics has always been the biggest threat to media globally.  Two sides of a coin, there can never be a happy relationship there, and that’s when the power struggle to bully the other begins.

 

I leave you with Indian Express Editor, Raj Kamal Jha’s very wise words that depict the true life of a journalist ‘ Criticism from the government is a journalist’s badge of honor’

5 things from your Gift Cupboard that can be recycled this Diwali

What is a gift cupboard did you ask?

It’s the magical place which promises to be your savior, every time your husband forgets to tell you about a dinner at his bosses, the pandora’s box that has something for every occasion, your own little shopping mall in the comfort of  home.

I got married 6 years ago, and yet some of the 107 gifts that I received on that momentous day are still packed and sealed, waiting to be unwrapped. Just like your wedding day, these gifts too are truly unforgettable.

So here’s a good way of cleaning and recycling that gift cupboard.

  • CROCKERY -Home is a personal space especially when you are setting up your first marital home and while for guests at weddings it makes perfect sense to gift tea sets, plates, coffee mugs, glasses and all types of serving bowls, it may not suit the design sensibility of your home. I divide these gifts into NEVER USE and MAY USE. Every year, I ensure 5 of these ‘Never Use’ home items are donated to a charity home. Why should they always get hand me downs?

 

  • HOME DECOR ARTICLES -Anniversary, Housewarming or a JLT ( Just like that) party means a new a batch of home items. Now who can blame your guests, after all candle holders, coasters, antique clocks, flower vases make for ideal non controversial gifts. But if you haven’t managed to take them out in a while, this Diwali, gift it to your support help at home. After paying premium price for lentils, decorative items is an unaffordable luxury for them.

 

  • PLATTERS & SERVING BOWLS – This one is a particular favourite. Come Diwali, and I like to take out those single platters that don’t gel with any of my houseware, fill dry fruits, chocolates, raisins in them, add 5-6 diyas for festive cheer. Voila! you have a Diwali hamper ready for gifting. Incase you have single serve bowls, add different dry fruits in each, assemble on a glass, marble or wooden tray, add the diyas and it’s ready to go too.

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  • PERFUMES -At any given point in time, I have over 10 perfumes in my cupboard, some that I buy on my shopping sprees and others gifted to me on special occasions. It’s important to remember that like wine, perfumes too, age and get better with time, but they also tend to evaporate over long periods of time. I like to gift them to my team on festive occasions.

 

  • CLOTHES- How many times have you bought an outfit, a tad too small, hoping to fit into it and never did? A majority of my impulsive ‘I love the outfit too much to not get it’ buys, land up in my gift cupboard. I like to gift these to people in the pantry, security or the house keeping team. It’s something that lights up their day.              Isn’t that the whole point of Diwali?