Sunday, March 1, 2015

Challenge Accepted!

I always thought of my father as a bit of an escapist. He would sometimes not confront people because he just did not like them, and he would walk away from them rather than trying to talk to them about a problem. However, he never did that to me. I remember spending hours fighting with him over certain ideas and thoughts – I would be called a liberalist, I would call him conservative – and the fight would continue over cups of hot, sweet tea and bowls of potato curry. We would mostly fight over ideas and ideology – he would be more about choosing a safer path to face relatively few hassles – I, on the other hand, would argue about doing what one loved.

Our arguments, however, were mostly momentary. Till the day when I chose to pick up English, a subject I loved, over Accountancy, a subject I tried to love. I tried for two whole years to love Accounts, but I could not. I would understand the matter, do the work, get nice grades, but in my heart I knew I was not happy.

So, when I came back home after signing up for English and tore the application papers for a prestigious commerce college, I realized I had burned my boats. My father took one look at the papers and told me that he would not pay a single dime for what he thought was a ‘wasteful subject to study’. I grimly accepted the challenge and moved ahead with my work. But I was not sure how to pay for the college.

That was the time when my aunt, my father’s sister, stepped in. She had always wanted me to choose my own destiny, and as a child, we had shared a strong connection. A professor, she knew why I needed to study the subject of my choice, and aided me, not by giving me money – no, she could have done that very easily, but she knew I would not accept it because my pride would not allow me – but by giving me something to do which would earn money. She also gave me money to buy books – which I vowed I would return, and told me she would be there if I needed help, but I should learn to pay my own bills, because that is what will make me independent. I took heed, and did exactly that.

I tutored students, sold old books, jewellery and cosmetics to my friends, read palms, and in short, did everything I could to ensure that I repaid her the money. It was the only way I knew how to, and she let me. In the process, I started earning quite a bit of money, which I would then save, to pay for college, tuition, my daily expenses, and I saved the rest. I became much more practical, worldly, and, to be honest, grew up. And when I presented my exam results to my father, who had thought I would flunk, he knew that despite everything, I would not give up pursuing what I wanted to do. 

I am forever indebted to my aunt for believing in me, and knowing that I would be able to achieve what I sought out to, but only if I worked hard, and I thank her from the bottom of my heart. Check HDFC Life website for finding out more about how you can help in making sure others around you are more self-reliant.

Disclaimer: This post is in association with HDFC Life and Indiblogger.  

Saturday, February 28, 2015

The Fatty Bao, Indiranagar, Bangalore

Pork Char Siu Bao
So when Madam S told me to get my royal tush to her city and stay with her for a while, I extended my otherwise business trip to Hyderabad to go to Bangalore, and one of the first places that was on my wishlist was The Fatty Bao. I have heard so much about the Pork Char Siu Bao from my friends that I decided that it was the place for me to go to.

So one fine Saturday, S drove me to Fatty Bao. Located in Indiranagar, the place is in the same building where The Monkey Bar is. As I was already quite happy with Red Fork, I decided that nothing on this particular road could be terrible, could it. So, armed with the thought, we sat on the open terrace, with the foldable colorful chairs and tables. The server poured us some water from a pretty bottle, and gave us a pair of menus. 

I was here for the Bao, and I was not going to spare one bit on anything else. S, however, ordered herself a drink which had cranberry and ginger and a hint of lime. The cran cooler was pretty refreshing and delicate, although I thought it had a bit too much ice in it for my liking, which eventually watered down the drink quite noticeably.

After ordering our food and drink, we lay back, taking in the balmy breeze that seemed to be the perfect accompaniment for this rather laid back meal. Bangalore weather, although slightly finicky, was mostly dry when I visited, and only a couple of bouts of light rain was all I experienced through the course of my trip.

We had both ordered Bao. For the sake of variety, S got the Teriyaki Glazed Chicken Bao, which was quite brilliant with a little bit of crisp chicken skin, a squiggle of citrus-y mayo, cucumber and onions, and perfectly cooked chicken, flavored with teriyaki sauce and soy. The balance between sweet, sour and tart was perfect, and the bun's texture and softness was the perfect foil for the crunch of the skin within. I would have been more in love with this particular angel, if not for what I had ordered.

The Pork Char Siu Bao was what I was looking forward to, and dear lord, it was everything I had wanted and more. The pork itself was fall-apart soft, with perfect meat-to-fat ratio. There was a lovely char on the outside of the meat, and a little bit of crunch - not overwhelming, though, no, this was another great example of restraint, where overwhelming the meat was not a desirable outcome. That is why, the Hoisin sauce merely enhanced the sweetness of the meat without making it too sweet for me. The white Bao itself was super soft and milky, and the cucumber added to the freshness quotient. Although I could not taste the Green Apple Kimchi, I did not really miss it I guess.

As we ordered our second round of dumplings, a trio of bowls were set before us. I tasted each, hoping to get one with a bit of heat - but alas! All three of these were pretty mild. My favorite was the green - a combination of oil and wilted herbs - parsley, probably, with some garlic added to it.

The Duck with Hoisin and Spring Onion Sheng Jian Bao was next on my list. Although I adore duck meat, I believe it can be easily overwhelmed, and that exactly what happened in this case. Although the duck meat filling was generous, and the cast-iron pan gave the buns a lovely crunchy crust, the Hoisin sauce totally overwhelmed the finely chopped duck, and to add to it, there wasn't enough duck fat to make the filling moist.

The dumpling skin was lovely and airy, though, but S was looking forward to the Gyoza, so we decided to finish this round and order another. At this point, we both realized we were getting late, so we ended up ordering our last dish here.

We had contemplated between ordering some Ramen and another round of dumplings. In the end, the urge to eat more dumplings won out, and we chose the chicken and celery Gyoza. The skin of the Gyoza was thin, but not overwhelmingly so, with a satisfying crispness. The celery thankfully did not overwhelm the chicken, adding a little bit of crunch and flavor to the filling, and not much else. The filling was perhaps the blandest one, but it never claimed to be something more. I wished for a seriously spicy sauce to be paired with this dumpling, but alas! It was not to be. Needless to say, it did not stop me from wolfing down the last piece.

I have heard that the Ramen and the Brie Tempura here are also pretty good. They have a strict policy of not letting kids under the age of 10 in for dinner, and reservation is recommended.

The Fatty Bao - Asian Gastro Pub 
610, 3rd Floor, 12th Main,  
Off 80 Feet Road,  
Indiranagar, Bangalore 
Phone: 080-49652983 (Reservation Recommended)

Friday, February 27, 2015

Lakme Unveils 'Sculpt' for Spring/Summer 2015 : Exclusive Absolute Sculpt Studio Matte Lipstick Swatches

Lakme Absolute Scupt Studio Matte Lipsticks 2015 launch
Lakme is all about bold shades this season, and the new look is all about bright shades. Year 2015 marks Lakme Fashion Week's 15th Year, and the brand celebrates it with the launch of the new 'Sculpt' range, with brand new shades of Absolute Sculpt Studio Matte Lipsticks. Available in 15 colors, these shades are gorgeous and perfect for the warm Indian skin tone, according to Anamika Khanna, Grand Finale Designer for Lakme Fashion Week Summer/Resort 2015.

Anamika Khanna Designer
"I think this year it is all about the sculpted look, with emphasized features like the lips. I am matching some outfits that would look beautiful with the bright colors, and the new fashion trend is now leaning towards a look which is more feminine and celebrates womanhood," Said Anamika Khanna, who was present for the event at her flagship store in Kolkata. Also present was Purnima Lamba, Head of Innovation, Lakme, who talked about the matte shades which will be available in 15 different shades. For the event, 7 bright shades were selected and exclusively available. The texture of the lipsticks were superb - smooth and emollient, and they looked amazing on me.

Lakme Absolute Sculpt Studio Matte Lipstick Colors 
 I swatched all the shades and found a couple of them which really struck my fancy - a dark warm brown shade which I am wearing below, and a lovely tangerine shade which looked absolutely stunning once I wore it, although at first I thought it would be too orange for me (you can see from the swatch - its the fourth one from the left).

Lakme Absolute Sculpt Studio Matte Lipstick Swatches
As you can see, the shades look really bright. Under the yellow light, I could not really catch some of the colors properly, but I have to say, there is a gorgeous plum shade which was worn by D of Poutprettty, called Plum Spell, and she looked absolutely stunning wearing it. There was another bright red worn by my friend S from Sorelle Grapevine, and she still had it on after she had eaten a full meal! I on the other hand was struck with the browns and the oranges, and decided to check the shades out.

Wearing Lakme Absolute Sculpt Studio Matte Lipstick 
Of course, I am bound to gravitate towards the food scene, and apart from the usual cold drinks on offer, they did have some really nice chocolate tarts and these little canapés topped with olives and peppers and some sour cream on top. I might have popped a few in my mouth while others were busy wearing lipsticks.

Anamika Khanna revealed that this year, her showstopper at LFW will be Kareena Kapoor, and she will be sporting some of the shades, and her look will be feminine and sexy. I might have vented my anger at not being able to find too many clothes that suit girls with curves, and she agreed wholeheartedly. I must say, I am looking forward to the collection and the looks the collaboration produces - and Lakme Sculpt will be

Me and Anamika Khanna 
Disclaimer: Poorna Banerjee attended the launch of Lakme Absolute Studio Sculpt Matte Lipsticks at the kind invitation of the brand.

Car Upgrade with Quikr Nxt

What can be a great way to enhance your experience of buying and selling?

How can I ensure I am getting the best deal?

How do I check all the available options in front of me?

What do I do when I have a number of options ahead and I cannot make up my mind?

While online shopping, we all have a huge number of questions in our minds. From the quality of the product to what we are actually getting, to a huge number of other questions – we keep on asking questions before buying, because we really want to ensure we are getting the best price. Seriously, who doesn’t want to get the best deal? In India, there are so many people who love bargaining, and for them, a good place to start is online.

Won’t you love it if you got the best deal you could strike, and then you bought something which would cost you a fraction of the original cost?

I know I would.

Although selling is not that inquisitive, there are some times when questions are pertinent. For example, let’s say you want to sell a car. It is really not a very easy process to sell a car offline. There are so many things you must do before you can even think of getting the car sold.

This is where a brand like Quikr comes in. One of the things that I personally love is to get an update quickly about a product which I love and would have to buy. Where do I shop? Well, why not try the app if you are on the move! Thanks to Quikr Nxt, which is a revolutionary new app that lets you chat with buyers and sellers, now you can easily ask as many questions as you like about the product in question and ensure that you are getting the deal of a lifetime!

When buying and/or selling car, we all want a car which would be the perfect match for us. But when buying a new car, don’t you want to make away with the old one? Here is where a fabulous app like Quikr Nxt comes in – all you have to do is take a few photos of the car in its present condition, think of a price which you feel is fair, and then put it up on Quikr. The best part is – Quikr will give you that exposure you need, and make sure you can chat anonymously, without sharing your phone number – till you choose to reveal it. This makes user safety higher, and it ensures your privacy is protected.

If you want to know more about buying or selling a car, log on to Quikr’s website, and/or check out the mobile-friendly site and app, or look under #QuickrNXT. You will find a number of things that you might deem useful. 

Disclaimer: This post is in association with Quikr and Indiblogger. 

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

World Cup Menu at Edesia, Hungerford Street, Kolkata

Tortillas from Edesia
Edesia gained a considerable fan following when it started serving up breakfast in the morning, which had a very substantial range of cold cuts, sausages, bacon, waffles, and sweets, and then it started expanding to cater to a wider range of people. Passionate about the World Cup, the buffet now boads of tortilla wraps from around the world, with different kinds of filling. They can be availed a-la-carte for 250/- plus tax (veg version) and 300/- plus tax (non veg version).

I entered fairly late and ordered a cappuccino which came with two cute biscuits (R declared they were very tasty... I am not much of a biscuit lover with my coffee, so I skipped them). The coffee was strong and flavorful, and I checked out the breakfast buffet while S decided to get an Eggs Benedict (300/-, from the a-la-carte menu).

Eggs Benedict at Edesia
I have tasted the Benedict before, and the concept of toasted muffins topped by two poached eggs and generously ladled with Hollandaise sauce is always a welcome thing for me. Edesia makes a pretty good Hollandaise, and cutting open the egg to see the oozy yolk run out is a treat for the eyes.

Clockwise from top - Pork salami, ham, sausages, baked beans, cheddar cheese, chicken sausage

After a brief surveillance at the opulent breakfast bar, I chose to pick up some protein - ham, fried chicken and pork sausages, cheese (both yellow and white cheddar), pork salami and baked beans. The pork sausages and salami  were really good, fried to perfection, and the baked beans were okay -  a bit too sweet for my liking, so I jazzed up with some chopped onions and chillies thoughtfully kept on one side. The ham was juicy and fresh, and the salami was nice. I had only the chicken sausages, and while they were okay, they did not match up to the flavors of the pork sausages.

Crisp Fried bacon (back) and candied bacon (front)
Oh hi there, Bacon! Available in both candied and crisp version, this bacon was paper thin, crisp, and the candied one had a caramelized sugar glaze on top of mildly salty bacon. Needless to say, this plate was demolished within a few minutes. I gulped down a glass of watermelon juice and awaited the star attraction - the Tortillas.

Australian Prawn Cocktail
The flavors of the tortillas are quite fun - you have the Indian Chicken Tikka, the South African Fish and Beet, the Australian Prawn Cocktail, the Hummus and Falafel Tortilla from UAE, the British Cheddar and Potato, and the

All the tortillas have a layer of the filling, covered with a thin layer of rice. The tortillas are then rolled and grilled to perfection. I started with the Australian Prawn cocktail, with juicy prawns, eggs and a sweet thousand island dressing inside the crisp layers of the tortilla.

South African Fish in Peanut Sauce in the background, English Cheddar and Potato in the foreground
The chicken tikka tortilla was predictable with a sweet tikka masala sauce and tender pieces of tikka. I was, however, much more interested in the grilled fish and peanut combination which the South African tortilla provided. A layer of sweet beets added an extra dimension to the really tasty tortilla.

Caribbean Jerk Paneer

The Caribbean Jerk Paneer contained bits of paneer, vegetables and a spicy sauce mix. I was, however, eager to try the Hummus and Falafel wrap from UAE which contained creamy hummus and crisp falafel within. 

English Cheddar and Potato Tortilla
But I was in love with the English Cheddar and Potato. Personally, this, I think was my downfall - the salty yellow cheddar and sweet baked potato with a layer of rice went beautifully with one another. I sneakily bit into much more than I could chew, and nearly spilled the oozing content on my lap.

L-R - Mixed Fruit Tart, Nutella Tart, Blueberry Tart
We finished our meal with a plate of desserts. The blueberry tart was nice and fruity, the fruit tart contained copious amount of custard underneath (and broke under the weight of the creamy custard and fruits while serving), but my favorite was the Nutella and butterscotch one - the thin layer of nutella topped with a very decadent layer of chocolate, topped with butterscotch and a hit of caramel and chocolate on top. R, who is not really a Nutella fan, ended up consuming much more than I had expected. We also tasted the decadent chocolate mousse which was rich and creamy, and left me wanting more. God damn limited stomach space!

Edesia Cricket Decor
Edesia will be serving the tortillas in the breakfast buffet for as long as the World Cup is on. The buffet starts from 8 am. and continues till 12 am. The a-la-carte menu is available till 3.30 pm in the afternoon.

6, Hungerford Street, 
The Regency Building, 1st Floor, 
Kolkata, West Bengal 700017
Phone: 033 2290 0908

Disclaimer: Poorna Banerjee dined at Edesia at the kind invitation of the management.  

Monday, February 23, 2015

L'Oreal Paris Skin Perfect Cream for Age 30+ -

L'Oreal Skin Perfect Cream Age 30+
A few days ago, the good people at L'Oreal sent over a set of their brand new launch - the L'Oreal Skin Perfect Cream (Age 20+, 30+ and 40+), and I started using the 30+ cream a few days back.

Here are my initial thoughts about the cream -

L'Oreal Paris Skin Perfect Cream Age 30+ is priced at INR 425/- for 50 gm, and INR 149/- for 18 gm. It comes in a glass bottle, with a plastic cover. I like the jar because it is sturdy, but yes, might not be very travel-friendly, so I would advise people to buy the smaller plastic tube if they are worried a glass jar will break during travel. I am not travelling anywhere soon, so I have no issues with the glass jar. I do wish L'Oreal had added a small spatula - I have an issue with dipping my finger into the jar of cream. I use a small plastic spatula to generally pick up the cream.

L'Oreal Skin Perfect Cream
The product is pale cream in colour - and has a strong, flowery fragrance. I don't have any problem with strong smells, but someone who is intolerant of strong fragrance might have a bit of trouble with this. It spreads pretty easily, and is absorbed quickly too, instantly brightening up my skin. It is not very oily, so dry skinned beauties might have issues with it, although, as it is spring here in Kolkata (complete with the cooing cuckoo). I have noted that it does not make my skin itch, and that is a great thing for a sensitive-skinned person like me.
The Effect of Using L'Oreal Skin Perfect Cream
I have been using this cream for the last 15 days or so, and I will post another review explaining the effects I am seeing some changes which I will write about soon, after another few days of using this cream.

Disclaimer: Press Sample.‎