20 December 2012

Black Dog Scotch - Review

A few days back the team from Black Dog contacted me asking me if I was willing to review their scotch. Let me be frank here, I thought somebody was trying to play a prank. I played along and lo, a month later, I was contacted asking me to collect my bottle! I was elated. The bottle, as far as I had heard and known, was utterly expensive. And the one I got was truly expensive.

Just like a kid who gets a new toy is excited, so was I! I had never tasted scotch till date in my life, except may be one of the brands that Dad had got as a gift when I was a kid, probably when I was 13 or 14 years old! It had tasted different, it had smelt different, nothing like I had ever had all my life. I used to steal a few sips from it when my parents would be away and then pop a cardamom hoping to mask the smell. I never knew that such small sips would not leave any kind of smell, unless of course I had at least a few pegs!

Once I got the bottle in my hand, it definitely was a different feeling but an additional feeling and sense of responsibility was overwhelming me. The bottle was safely hidden away in the car and retrieved only after I got home! The very first response that I got from my bro +Prateek Thakker was that of disbelief! Mom would never allow liquor at home. This was precisely the reason why I had not disclosed about it to any one at home, not even my wife!

I picked up a bottle of Kingfisher Soda and bro picked up a bottle of Thums Up for himself. He said he would not be able to drink the scotch without Thums Up. After everyone had slept, or rather forced into the room by us, we pulled the bottle out of the box and the first impression about the bottle was that it looked very ordinary! Not something that I had expected out of UB for an iconic brand like Black Dog. We were so very expecting an out of world bottle given the empty bottles that my Dad had collected aeons ago!

Expectations now at a low, we opened the bottle. However, this time, our expectations were indeed exceeded. The confidence had been restored! The smell was heavenly. Intoxicating in fact! However, the clumsy us had neither picked up ice nor had we picked up anything to eat! We placed the bottle back and arranged for something to eat and ice was pulled out of the fridge!

The scotch was poured, the ice was dropped, the stage was set! Glasses clinked and the liquid shined. As usual with anything that I eat or drink, I took a small sniff first and then a big whiff. It smelled woody and full bodied. We decided to taste it as it is, on the rocks. After all what better way to judge something than in its true form! The liquid trickled down, smooth and evenly leaving a uniform taste around the mouth. It definitely tasted different. Different from the Beer and Vodka that I generally have. The taste was as woody as it smelt. A close description would be the same taste as that of the varnished wooden scales that we used in school! But this was no varnish, it was scotch and we liked the taste.

Next in our agenda was to try out the scotch with the soda and Thums Up. We poured each other another glass and topped it up with soda and Thums Up. This time the drink tasted fairly different. Its tastes definitely had muted themselves. The effect had been drowned. The glass with Thums Up tasted even terrible! It tasted both sweet and bitter alike! Not my cup of tea this was! It was drowned quickly and a third glass was poured, this time we took no chance and had it on rocks once again!

More details about Black Dog Evenings here.

All in all we may have had quite a few pegs and had a thorough time enjoying the drink! A different experience altogether! Coming to recommendations, give it a shot at least once in your life! By not trying we definitely miss out a lot of excellent and lovely things! I am reminded of an iconic dialogue that Amrish Puri had in the movie Shehanshah!

21 October 2012

WeChat - The Android App that needs to grow up!

Over the last few days I have been trying to make use of WeChat app as my main messaging replacement app. I must say that TenCent has put considerable effort in making WeChat app what it is today. However, WeChat app has a lot to do before it really makes a cut into the "Big" League that is right now dominated by WhatsApp. Here are my impressions about the app:

  1. Animated Emoticons! I am a big sucker for Animated Emoticons since I belong to the period of time when the Yahoo Messenger ruled the internet messaging world!
  2. Push to Talk - This allows us send a message to the person who we are chatting with in the way of a voice message. Works great when we are driving.
  3. Voice and Video Calls - A brilliant combination with the text messaging. It seeks to replace Viber and WhatsApp at one go! Two birds killed with a single stone!
  4. Selective contact addition - no longer do we have to worry who can message us and who cannot! A direct take away from the recent Social Networking sites, it allows us to choose and add friends who are not on our phone book as well. All that is needed to know is the WeChat ID of the person we wish to add.
  5. Social Integrated - There is a lot of emphasis on integrating the social element of our lives with this app. The interesting and noteworthy features being Look Around and Moments.
  6. A Promise to remain free for life, including no Ads!
  1. Interface - The interface needs a lot of polishing to be done. It looks fairly primitive and dated and fails to appeal to all the kind of users. While it may work well for school and college kids, it may definitely fail to take off with the professional and grown up population
  2. Chat Icon - This definitely looks like a direct inspiration from one of the iPhone Apps!
  3. Missing a lot of features that are available to the international users but not for India yet!
Official Press Release:- I would take this with a pinch of salt though!

WeChat, the mobile app with 200 million users, takes India by storm

New Delhi, India, 11th Oct, 2012 WeChat, the global mobile app with over 200 million registered users worldwide, has now become the No.1 social messaging app in India also.*
WeChat comes from Tencent, world’s third most valued internet company, and the largest internet company in APAC region.
Interestingly, while WeChat has already been a No.1 app in 16 other countries – in India it achieved the top slot within three months of its launch.
WeChat sets itself apart with its unique smartphone offerings like free voice message and free video call features. It also enables excellent group chat with free voice message, animated emoticons, customizable backgrounds, and mini games like Rock-Paper-Scissors. The app also encourages creative expression by allowing users to apply artistic filters to their photos, create a personal photo journal, and share photos with friends. WeChat allows users to seamlessly connect with their social circles from phone contacts and Facebook.  People can also use location-based social (LBS) features to discover other members of the WeChat community like ‘Shake’, ‘Look Around’ and ‘Drift Bottle’.
WeChat is also available Hindi, in addition to 16 global languages like Spanish, Japanese, Korean, Russian, and Portuguese.
WeChat can be downloaded for free by smartphone users on iOS, Android, Windows Mobile and Symbian platforms. 
* According to the iPhone Top Charts on Apple’s App Store
Download link:
About Tencent
Founded in November, 1998, post establishing itself as China's largest and most used Internet service portal, Tencent is now the largest internet company in the whole of Asia Pacific region and the third largest in the world. Tencent is heralding entrance in the Indian market with the launch of its flagship product - WeChat. At the cusp of attaining a user base of almost 800 million active user accounts, Tencent has maintained steady growth under its user-oriented operating strategies, ever since its establishment. Total revenues of the company for the year 2011 stood at USD 4,522.5 million.

24 September 2012

Book Review: Krishna Key by Ashwin Sanghi

The Krishna Key is a story about a little rich boy who grows up to be made to believe that he is the tenth and final incarnation of Vishnu, the Kalki Avatar, but then the facts are that he is a serial killer. The book is a riveting read and just like Ashwin Sanghi's earlier book "Chanakya Chants" it alternates between the past and present.

Built to be a fictional thriller, the book achieves just that. Set in an academic background, the story is woven around Professor Ravi Mohan Saini and his friends. Starting off with being accused of murdering his childhood best friend, Saini sets off on a soul stirring journey with his favorite student Priya Ratnani to set the wrongs done to him right. Zipping between Somnath, Mount Kailash, Agra, Lucknow, Chandigarh and many other cities, Saini discovers himself, his knowledge about the mythical, a few truths and many realities. He is joined by the tough cop Radhika who has her own reasons to bring every criminal to knees and to the altar of justice. Saini happens to be the prime suspect when it comes to the murders that are committed since the events present them that way. Since Priya helps Saini abscond in the first place, she goes on to become the second prime suspect.

Bringing in the character of Sir Khan, a dreaded underworld Mafia don and weaving his connection to the Krishna Key, Saini and Priya plays a very important part in paving the climax. What happens and how he is related to the Krishna Key is left up to the reader to read, imagine and relive the book as Ashwin had intended.

Ashwin Sanghi goes on to describe and uncover many of the facts that though were right in front of us, were never realized. The best being the discourse about why 108 is a God Number. He further goes on to uncover the truths to many of Mahabharata and Krishna related details and events. Delving deeper into the mind of the reader, playing and implanting the idea that Krishna would still be alive some place somewhere. He also goes on to reiterate on the fact that Hindus and Muslims are one and are in fact brothers of a distant clan!

Like every book has its share of good points, it is but imperative that there must be a few negative traits as well. Unlike Chanakya Chants where there is a direct relation between the events in Chanakya and Chandragupta and the protagonists of the story, this story bears a little or no semblance to Krishna’s side of story. If he really did intend to bring about a relation between the italicized Krishna Story at the beginning of each chapter and its contents, either he failed miserably or I was too dumb enough not to catch the point in it! It is may be in the last few chapters that one would be able to draw a vague connection between the two. For the others, it just plain flew right over the head out of the window!

As a final review, I would say that the book is a great read and must be read by anyone and everyone who is interested in fictional mythology. I am sure, your time and money would be well spent!
This review is a part of the Book Reviews Program at Participate now to get free books!

02 July 2012

Four Seasons' Wine and Grill Event

Over the weekend I had been invited to the Wine and Grill Event that had been organised by UB Group's Four Seasons. It was supposed to have been a know how for the selected bloggers about wines, their different "species" and how to match them with the food that we eat. It was done just so that a basic awareness could be created in the Indian mindset that wines could be paired well with Indian food as well.
However, one thing that neither they nor I was prepared for was the fact that not only would non veg food be the prime area for focus and discussion, the same would be emphasized in all the manners as possible.
Any way, putting aside these rants, it was the first time I had tasted wine. I have had beer, vodka and even loathingly tasted some scotch but wine definitely was slightly different. The manner in which one checks for its quality, it's taste etc is so very different! I never knew that! Now just if somebody figured out better vegetarian food to pair it with, it would gain the acceptance that the group wants among us Indians. After all, 90% of the mango man eats vegetarian food!
I managed to get a few photographs at the event. I would post them later this evening after I get home.
Btw, just a small word of advice to a fellow blogger. "Anchoring down at the food counter does not mean people walking down that way are there to meet you. We are as interested in food as you are. Probably even disgusted at lack of space and fumes stinking of burning flesh!"

You can find more info about Four Seasons Wines here.

29 June 2012

Harrowing train journey

A few days back I was travelling back from a house warming ceremony at one of wife's cousins place in Rourkela, Odisha. The onward journey has been extremely good and I was looking forward to this journey since it brought me back home, my home.
However, my joy was supposed to be extremely short lived when I was brought face to face with the most arrogant and rude co-travellers. One of the lady who we were supposed to share our berth with was merrily sleeping when the train came to a halt at the station. I have no grudges or grouse about that. It was around 9 and she may have been in the habit of sleeping early. I never cared to ask her really. Coming back to my point, this lady was travelling with so much luggage that it looked like she was moving her house. Alone at that. She had single handedly occupied every inch of space that was available under the seat to place the luggage. To top that she was not willing to move it and arrogant even said that she did not care how we managed to keep our luggage. All this while she was lying all stretched and comfortable on the berth. She did not have the basic courtesy to get up and offer us seating space that we had also rightfully paid for. Let me tell you she was not a young lady. Must have been in her early fifties. That does not warrant the kind of behavior that she exhibited.
Along with her was another couple who was sitting across this berth. The husband tried to be helpful but he turned to be plain annoying. Discover my horror when he was travelling wait listed with his wife who had a confirmed ticket. Just next to them was supposed to be seated another couple like us who had a kid too. The guy had either worked in Accenture earlier our was still working there. The wife seemed to keep emphasising that. "Woh Accenture wala bag dhyaan we rakhna!" This seemed too be her favorite line! Poor guy clearly was hen pecked! So much so that the lady literally kicked him awake to get him to feed, pee, or even take their daughter to the loo! And all that she did was sleep!
Finally back to my luggage. This young lady had clearly announced that she would not allow any of our luggage below their seats because she had enough luggage too! The old lady wouldn't budge, and the older couple had placed enjoying luggage themself! I finally lost my cool when this lady tried to scream in my ears that she had a kid and was still standing. I immediately face her a piece of my mind in the rudest language that my wife was carrying a baby much younger than hers and yet standing. I clearly meant to ask her to shut the fuck up! And she did. The old lady was next to face my ire. She heard the choicest of my abuses after which she handed over the keys to the chains her luggage was chained with very quietly. I had very well decided I was going to make the journey a harrowing one for her as well. Just because she was very arrogant and needed to be taught some manners at that age!
We somehow managed to get some of our luggage in, but that meant throwing most of the lady's luggage in her seat. We left her to arrange it herself. We still had to keep some luggage on the upper berth where I was supposed to be sleeping.
The icing on the cake was when we discovered that my daughter had developed loose motions. She had thrown up twice that morning forcing me to pick up one tetra pack and one sachet of powdered ORS. However my daughter's health was not to be in my control. I was forced to tweet about the issue and requested if any of my friends on social media could help me get ORS at Visakhapatnam. Somehow, network connectivity got better of us and we could not get the ORS there. It was then that Prudhviraj told me that he would check if his friend was around in Rajamundhry and would be able to deliver the packets of ORS to us. He kept his word and soon enough I received a call from his friend Bobby asking for the seat numbers and coach details. The train was running late yet this guy waited for it to transport the packets to us. Thanks a ton buddy. Had it not been your timely help, it would have been difficult.

27 June 2012

Desperately desperate

It's been too long since I last blogged, in fact I don’t even remember what topics I had thought back to blog about back then. Times have changed and I have gotten as busy as hell. Family takes up most of my time. All my hobbies, interests and anything and everything that I called my own are no longer so!
How i wish I could get back to those carefree days of life. How I wish I could go back to writing the 10 things series.
In all, given the kind of work life I live, I would not be wronging myself if I called my life and utter trash.
Anyways, i am looking to get hired again. So if your company is looking for an experienced Project Manager, drop me a comment and i will send across my profile to you.

09 June 2012

Trying to get blogs back up

It's been a long time since I posted. Lots of water has flown down the Ganges since then. I moved out of WordPress to come back to Blogger. I have a hyper active kid who loves shutting down my laptop. I have put on oodles of weight etc.
Crux of the matter is I had plain gotten lazy. I am trying to get things back under control and get back to blogging. To start with, it shall be my regular blog that comes back to life first, followed with maybe my tech blog and lastly my stock picks... All that I am now left with is hope. I would be trying to retrieve my older posts and put them back up here. Until then all that I request is patience. :-)