I have not read many books in this genre so I was really not sure what to be expected here. While I have heard of several that address a similar point, Utkarsh Rai’s book – Faster, Higher, Smarter is targeted mostly at middle managers and people who are going through a transitional phase in their career. This also happens to be one of the first books that I have come across to have been written by an Indian addressing the bull by its horns.

Split across 8 parts, the book aims to address different sets of values and some people management methods.

Managing Self
Managing your Manager
Managing your Team
Managing your Peers
Managing your Managers Boss
Managing Managers Peers
Managing Others
Managing the Acrobatics of the future.

The book often takes leaves out of the author’s own life and how he managed the situation. There is also an honest attempt to capture the various problems some high fliers faced during their early career and how they managed to make the best use of the situation in their favor.

The usage of simple language and thought provoking quotes at the start of each chapter motivate you to aim higher and achieve better than the best. It gives you a connect with the situations that are described and makes you feel the pang of not having had such a book earlier in your career.

The book tends to slow down and lose pace several times in the course of reading and sounds monotonus. However, the non-fiction genre is never meant to be kept exciting and has a different audience to address who are used to such a tone.

The book is recommended read no matter what stage of your career you are in. It does a decent job of guiding you ahead and preparing you in terms of what to talk, how to talk and how to be ahead in your career.

This review is a part of Flipkart Sponsored Book review program. To pick up your copy of this book just click here

About the Book:

Title : Faster, Smarter, Higher : Managing Your Career
Author :  Utkarsh Rai
Publisher : Rupa Publications India
Genre : Non Fiction / Management
ISBN : 9788129137500, 812913750X

Honda invited us over a few days back to hangout with them and learn what they have been up to and what’s new with them. I have been following up with the auto industry and have been kind of fascinated by the way the cars behave now. The cars that are manufactured now have ECUs which are computers in their own word. The data from these can be read from a port that has been in all cars that were manufactured since 1996 in the USA. This port is known as an OBD2 port (On Board Diagnostics Version 2 Port). Wikipedia and Geek My Ride say that there is a treasure trove of data that can be unlocked and read. At best, to put it in short, this can unlock a minimum of Gas Efficiency, Car Location from an on board GPS Module, decode engine light reasons (Defect Tracking Code) etc. Using this, Honda has come up with an app that provides this information and more.

Honda Connect available from Google Play Store and iTunes provides the below features:

  • Track Fuel Efficiency
  • Track the trip details
  • Identify the location of the parked car
  • Identify the Service History and provide Service Reminders
  • Provide a method to contact the dealer to schedule an appointment.
  • Provide a direct connection with the Honda Call Center.
  • Send your location details to your loved ones so that they can track you when you are travelling there by reducing the pain of knowing where you have reached.
  • Distress Identification and Help from Honda
  • And many more features
We tested the application in real time to know how it performed under various conditions. We were given a Honda car and the application installed in our phones monitoring the car that we were driving. We were simply amazed by the sheer accuracy and the speed at which the enter set up performed including the Distress Id and Help. We induced a defect into the running car. We were told that the same car is visible on a dashboard to the employees at the Honda Call Center. They have a turn around time of less than 5 mins in each case. We received a call in less than 2 mins and the exact problem was explained to us. We were also directed to the nearest dealer and told that they would be expecting us. All in all, it was a pleasant experience using the app.

Final_The Curse of Surya_RHI.indd A reporter, an Oxford professor of Archeology, an old man and the underworld – all in search of one elusive stone, the Shyamantaka. The story is woven around Sangeeta Rao, an Indian working for a Singapore based TV Channel and Allan Davies an Oxford based professor meeting by chance at the monument of Love, the Taj Mahal ending up being branded as terrorists after they are found seated next to a real terrorist who kills the main speaker at a conference held at Krishna Janmasthan, Mathura. Turn of events leads them on a wild goose chase across the country with the SP of the area, Nisha following them close on their tail. Events and cryptograms unfold one after the other leading to several connected more events. What happens to the trio, Sangeeta, Allan and Anton the old man who claims to be on a search for the Shyamantaka for the Govt. of India is the crux of the story. Read on to find more.
Tenzing, an undercover Tibet Liberation Front member, employed with a Singapore based TV Channel, is found murdered under mysterious circumstances. Sangeeta and Susan, both colleagues of Tenzing are off on a vacation the next morning from Singapore when an early morning call from her boss sends Sangeeta flying to India to cover an event of International importance involving the Prime Minister of India and President of Singapore meeting at the Taj Mahal in Agra. At the other end of the globe, a flirty Allan Davies is called by his boss and packed of for an assignment to India with a file that has all the details of the assignment as well as a new identity, Professor of Archeology at Oxford, reason being the Religious conference planned at Mathura where the location of Shyamantyaka is poised to be revealed.
Shyamantaka, a stone given by the Sun God to Satrajit in the Dwapar Yug has remained hidden for centuries at a stretch. None had been able to identify the location of the stone until date when a Hindu Swamy claims he has located it and plans to reveal the details to the world. The stone has the potential to tilt the powers of the world in favor of the possessor. Naturally, this evokes interest from media, local public and the international underworld alike. Everyone with just one wish. The need to own the stone.
At the conference where the Swamy was supposed to reveal the location, he is assassinated by a terrorist. Sangeeta and Allan who had no connection to him suddenly seem to be catapulted to the center of attention for only one fault. Being seated next to the terrorist and not raising an alarm about it. A wild goose chase takes them into the hidden chambers of the Krishna Janmasthan temple where they discover an underground library aging back to Kansa’s time. They also meet Anton over there who claims to be appointed by the GOI to locate the stone for them. They have the SP of the area, Nisha tailing them and catching up on them fast. Thinking on their feet, they locate a cryptograph which supposedly would lead them to Shyamantaka and stage a quick exit under the nose of Nisha. A disappointed and wounded (sic) Nisha decides to chase them to the end of the world to retrieve them and bring them to justice.
With a few quick contacts from Anton, the trio manage a cross country ride to Rajkot in a chartered plane where they are intercepted by Nisha’s contact. He tags the luggage with a GPS tracker so that Nisha can monitor their movements. In the meantime, Anton manages to divide Allan and Sangeeta. The trio discover a way to reach the stone in an old and dilapidated well in Dwarka. Anton tricks the couple and flees with the stone only to pay for it with his life. A disappointed and trapped under the well Sangeeta and Allan soon realize their folly that not only had they been tricked by Anton, but also that he never had the original stone. The two manage to get out of the well by sheer wit and presence of mind to meet a guide who takes them to the real Dwarkadhish Temple where they get another cryptogram to solve.
Solving one after another cryptograms and in the process falling in love, the couple explore the depths of the sea bringing alive the palace of Dwarka in its pristine glory and also to retell the story, history and importance of Shyamantaka. Does the couple succeed in retrieving the real stone? Do they manage to escape the clutches of Nisha and reach their countries safely? Does Nisha manage to nail down the real culprit? All this and more lies in wait for you to read and find out in the book, “The Curse of Surya” by Dev Prasad.
Dev Prasad is a senior IT Professional having a varied experience across several national and multinational organizations. He has written quite a few books and has won awards and recognition for many.

Big Basket recently launched a new brand of on demand DSC_2424coffee service called ‘fresho’. The service is aimed towards providing the best, most authentic and the freshest coffee that a customer can get. The market is crowded with a multitude of coffee brands but none of these are as fresh as being ground on the day the product is delivered. Being an ‘on-demand’ service, the coffee is ground only after the customer places the order. This not only ensures that the coffee is closer to being authentic in taste but also reinforces the age old practice of south India where traditionally the coffee was bought from stores that stocked freshly roasted beans would be ground only when the customer asked for it at the store.

To quote Big Basket, “Fresho Coffee is pure filter coffee ground to order. The coffee beans will be ground against order to maintain freshness. The aroma of freshly ground coffee is so invigorating that you always crave for more. The coffee is 100% pure coffee with no added chicory. It’s a blend of Arabica (35 years old) and Robusta (75-80 years old).The coffee comes from a high elevation bean which is bigger and has greater intrinsic value and is produced at the foothills of Baba Budangiri hills in Chikmaglur. We have launched 5 exciting flavors –
1-Dark Nectar – A delicately processed coffee with a naturally sweet flavor
2-Smooth Caramel – A unique coffee blend with a deep caramelized flavor
3-Exotica – A dark roasted, heavy bodied, great tasting coffee
4-Morning Dew – A beautiful blend with a touch of sweetness
5-Noir Crème – The rich, deep taste of mildly bitter coffee

We were privy to the taste of the coffee when it was launched. A blind tasting was performed to find out who loved which coffee. As a coffee connoisseur, we did blind tasting of each coffee, both with and without sugar. Each coffee was as different as each of us bloggers. None of us seemed to like the same coffee. Truely, each coffee was as different and fresh as all of us. fresho is truely fresh and sticks to its commitment of delivering fresh and pure coffee with no added chicory which is there in most of the coffees available today commercially in varying quantities. The coffee itself is competitively priced and ranges from Rs. 46 – Rs.99 with the price averaging out at Rs. 75 per 100 gm.

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Rocky and Mayur have ventured out to explore food from all parts of India and curate videos on Askme.com  I’m contributing mypart by relishing my favorite dishes at The Indian Paratha Company and sharing my views with you all!

You can also upload your video review on AskMe (http://www.askme.com/1000-best-places-to-eat-in-india-by-rocky-mayur/) and stand a chance to meet Rocky and Mayur!

We were out on a family outing yesterday, out of the city. We went visiting places on the Bellary road that we hadn’t visited for almost 2 years now; I must say that things have changed. It was on our way away from the city when this nondescript place was spotted by my wife. At that point of time, it was fairly early in the afternoon so we decided that we would probably look back at visiting the place when we would be getting back home.
After a quick session of photographs and a stop by at the local vineyard where we picked up some fresh green grapes, we were back on our way to home when this place was again spotted by my wife. I decided to give in and took a turn back towards the place, The Indian Paratha Company, I am glad I listened to my wife and went here. This place had been mentioned by my brother as well a few months back but then at that time we couldn’t make it there. Situated amidst a natural setting of rocks and greenery, The Indian Paratha Company gives an impression of being more than just a roadside Dhaba. A delightfully well designed place that actually had no need of fans to be there since it was so breezy has 2 types of seating options; one on the outside in the open facing the road and the other inside in a covered place.
Since I was there with the kids, I had to see to it that the food there was not only fresh but not very spicy either. We were not let down. We ordered Aloo Cheese Paratha, Paneer Paratha and a Patiala Lassi to start with, just because I wanted to know what it would taste like. The girls loved the lassi so much that my wife and I got none of it. When it came to the parathas, they were very well cooked, neither over done nor any less. Also, the ingredients that were used appeared and tasted fresh. Given the taste, now that we were sure that the girls were full, we decided to further explore. We next tried the Achari Masti Paratha and one more lassi. This time, we at least got to drink half of it, the other half safely resting in both the girls’ tummies. Stuffed with mango pickle, paneer and aloo, the Achari Masti Paratha is sure to find lots of lovers. This had a totally homely feeling to it and tasted definitely out of the world kinds.
No more being able to stuff ourselves, given that we had finished the dinner at 6.30 pm in the evening, we decided to pack ourselves more parathas just in case. We packed the Paneer Tikka Parathizza (a pizza made of paratha, cheese and paneer tikka), an Aloo Cheese Paratha just to be safe and one more lassi just because we loved it so much!
I got talking with the owner of the joint, Mr. Nirmal Singh Sandhu about how he got around to getting this place up and more. You check it out and a short video review by my wife and daughter at the end of the clip below.

MISTRESS OF HONOURA haughty child Rihana asking to buy her a brother out of desperation, an Indo British mother Pansy and an Army man for father, Major Potnis. The story revolves around the lives of three generations of Army WaGs. Spanning across two generations in detail, the story weaves intricately in and out of what the wives and girlfriends of Defence personnel live through – desperation, separation and anxiety. The story starts with Rihana d emanding her parents to buy her a brother from the market just because her friend told her so. She goes to the extent of threatening to run away from home if she did not get one. An evening of cat and mouse play followed by a night of passion, Pansy soon discovers that she is pregnant and can’t contain her happiness. Six months later, all this changes for the worse with Potnis being deputed to Sri Lanka and bad news coming by. The family faces their worst and emerges stronger.

Feeling the need to maintain a constant schooling for her daughter Rihana, Pansy soon enrolls her in one of the best schools in Pune leaving her to the love and care of her mother in law. Pansy later joins Potnis in his various transfers across India to live the life out of a suitcase. Time flies fast and Rihana is soon enrolled to Army Public School for her 10th boards. A few days later during a visit to a famous graveyard, she meets a wayward boy who she earlier saw in a compromising position, Advik. Advik has parents who are in a troubled relationship and finds his solace in sex. Rihana and Advik share a common friend Kabir whose godfather was the best friend of Potnis, Shamsher. Kabir warns Advik to stay away from Rihana and not cause any ripples in the calm. Advik being a very close friend of Kabir promises him not to mess around with Rihana. Few months later, the boys who were in their 12th attempt the NDA and clear it with flying colours.

Life changes for better or worse when one starts being a part of the NDA. Broken and bruised in the process of turning a boy to a man, Advik runs away from the academy one fine day unable to take it anymore. A pep talk by Rihana and his dad, Rajan, Advik is back at NDA the next day to continue his studies. Advik and Kabir are soon a part of the Air Force and continue with their training. Advik proposes Rihana and with lot of deliberation her father agrees. Read on the book to know what happens next.

We test drove the Renault Lodgy at Goa over the previous weekend courtesy BlogAdda and Renault India. A little about the car first.

  1. The car is available in 6 colors, Royal Orchid, Absolute Steel, Planet Grey, Pearl White, Moonlight Silver, and Indigo Breeze.
  2. The car is available in 2 engine variants, 5 Speed Gearbox mated with a 85 PS engine and 6 speed gearbox mated with a 110 PS engine.
  3. The car is available as 7 and 8 seater versions with the base model being priced at INR 8,32,000 ex showroom Bangalore and the top end model being priced at INR 11,92,000 ex showroom Bangalore.
  4. The car comes with ErgoDrive that ensures that the drive is ergonomic as well as powerful.

We test drove both the 110 PS as well as 85 PS versions and found that the car definitely has some meat to it.

The car comes with ample legroom and space for all kinds of knick knacks. The car also features a nifty feature where the standard boot space of 207 liters can be expanded to be up to 1861 liters by removing the 3rd Row completely as well a folding the second row flat against the front row seats. The other nifty set of features that the car comes with are:

  1. Premium Leather/Fabric seat upholstery.
  2. Cruise Control and Speed Limiter.
  3. 12 Volt Charging Socket for all the 3 rows.
  4. Intuitive Audio and Phone Controls
  5. 8 way adjustable Driver seats with Armrest.
  6. Medianav system with Rear view camera display
  7. Dual AC with roof mounted vents for the 2nd and 3rd Rows.
  8. Dual Front Airbags with ABS and EBD with Brake Assist.

The car performed extremely well in various conditions including Rain and Sand and managed to handle the corners very well at high speeds with reduced body roll.

All in all this offering from Renault is meant as a complete package for the upper middle class Urban user who would manage to sneak in a trip or two to the countryside every now and then.

Image Courtesy Renault India.

I was a part of the #Livelodgycal experience with BlogAdda in association with Renault India.

We were at The Leela Kempinsky over the last weekend to experience the newly launched Renault Lodgy, an MPV from their stables. We arrived at Goa from Bangalore in the relatively young airline, Air Asia’s flight on Friday afternoon. The weather was amazing right from Bangalore and the light rains kept it at an even more romantic level. When we landed at Goa, it was a different story altogether. The rains were incessantly on and there was a light nip in the air. This also meant that the visibility was also fairly reduced making it a risky drive. An hour and half later, we were at The Leela. Post a warm welcome and freshening up, we were back for a round of debriefing about the car itself and its features which fast ended with a scrumptious dinner and being back to bed. Day 1 was just about it!

Day 2 started fairly early at about 6AM. A quick look outside brought in further fears about the kind of drive that we were going to have. The rains hadn’t stopped over night and it continued to pour even at this early an hour. An hour later, we as a team discussed our strategy and who would drive. Our team, consisting of Aditi, Ragini, Prateek (yes, my brother) and me, had only two drivers, Aditi and me. Of the other two, Ragini was totally a non Driver and Prateek had very less experience leaving the baton on our able shoulders. We finally hit the road at about 9AM with the Sun still playing hide and seek while the rains played the havoc. We had a planned route of 71.6 KM to cover, 35.8 KM each side. Our initial plan had been that Aditi would drive on our way back and I would drive on our way up towards The Lalit Ashok at the other end of Goa. In order to make our drive fun, each team (a total of 10 teams participated, we being the 10th) was given a set of 10 tasks alike that had to be completed before we reached The Lalit Ashok. We had great fun accomplishing those tasks and even managed to film a video of threatening BlogAdda team into giving all of us a Renault Lodgy each. We started back from The Lalit Ashok to a relatively breezy Goa and nearly no rains thankfully. At this point of time, we could finally keep the windows open and take in some fresh breeze. We drove in a very casual and relaxed manner on the way back leading to us almost forgetting our way back. Thankfully, we had the BlogAdda team coming right behind us. Post the drive, we relaxed for a while before being back for an amazing experience of a Live Band and Dance. Neha managed to hijack the band and had the dance floor crooning to her voice. I must say, she is one hell of an amazingly talented lady! The night was really long on Day 2 and found it difficult to let go of us. We managed to finally catch up with some much needed rest only by around 3AM in the morning.

Day 3 started off really late and it was soon time to check out. Our flight to Bangalore got delayed by around 2 hours which meant we were almost the last ones to leave the hotel. A turbulent one hour long flight later we were finally back in Bangalore. The drive back home felt even longer because I missed the girls badly over the last 3 days!

I was a part of the #Livelodgycal experience with BlogAdda in association with Renault India.

Route Map

Ambi Pur Air EffectsI recently received another parcel from Blogadda that had nothing to do with body odor but all kinds of odors in general. It was Ambi Pur Air Effects’ Blossom and Breeze fragrance of room freshener. While Ambi Pur is no new name in the crowded market of room fresheners or car deodorants, it is certainly a niche product.
I tried this on my daughter who had just come back from school. There is a corner of the house that we stay in which smells of humidity from the wall. Now every body is aware about how much a humid wall smells and causes the house to smell. I had sprayed some Ambi Pur blossom and breeze in the room just before she came back from school. Like me, she has a very sensitive nose and can identify offensive smells from a mile away. I covered her eyes and carried her into the humid room and asked her what she smelt. She just loved the fragrance and never once realized that she was in the room with the humid corner.
In another instance, I had a friend who had visited me when my wife was not at home. A little about my wife needs to be told here. While she is ok with my drinking or socializing, she really hates the smell of cigarettes in the house; it’s another thing to tell that I don’t smoke but several of my friends do. Now this friend happens to be a really close one and was visiting me after long. He tends to have the habit of lighting up a ciggie every few minutes and tends to feel very uneasy when he can’t get a smoke. I did not have the heart to stop him from smoking in the house since there was a lot to talk and catch up between us. He must have been at home for quite a few hours and during that duration he had smoked up at least half a packet. Now, we are all aware of how a house would smell when one would smoke just one cigeratte. Here, we had had at least five to six being smoked. My wife, as usual, gave me a call enquiring if the dear friend of mine had left and that she would be getting home in probably half an hour’s time. This time, I had to request him to stop from lighting up so that I continue to stay in the house. A few minutes before the dear wife of mine arrived, I sprayed Ambi Pur Blossom and Breeze in every corner of the house just to be doubly sure. Not only was the smell very well gotten rid of, I was not thrown out of the house either!
Now, both my wife and daughters have become so very fond of the fragrance that they now want to spray it all around the house and don’t like it when it fades away. BTW, the fragrance lasts a good half an hour before eventually being taken over due to the constant air circulation. If it were to be left in a window less room, it would have definitely lasted a lot more longer. So that’s the Ambi Pur room freshener from the latest range of Ambi Pur products.

I am blogging for #SmellyToSmiley at BlogAdda in association with Ambi Pur.

A exotic range of AIR helmet with ventilation effect

Steelbird Helmets a leading name in helmet industry and already a big hit for its innovative designs, curves, and sturdiness. The very first time in India has come up has launched helmet with ventilation system under the brand “Steelbird Air”. Steelbird Air is perfect for summer and keep you head cool while you are on ride.

The Steelbird AIR designed by an expert team in Italy with ventilation system that is REALLY made for Indian summers. It has 3 Air-Ventilations for inflow of AIR and one Exhaust for hot AIR to flow out. There are well defined air channels provided in the EPS for inflow and out flow of the air.

The most unique feature of the Steelbird AIR is its revolutionary ventilation system. Cool AIR goes in through these three ducts and the EPS rigs ensure that the AIR does not get trapped, but circulates, cooling the head. Using the special exhaust vents at the back, the warm air is let out – leaving behind a fresh cool ambience for an ultra comfortable ride.

Steelbird AIR offers remarkable options in 14 brilliant colors and trendy designs. The Quick release Visor Mechanism can be dislodged easily by the rider. Giving riders a option to change the visor easily a darker visor for a bright daytime riding and transparent visor to enjoy the city at night. Both will be at the fingertips of the rider.

The watertight visor will keep you feeling dry and comfortable. The rubber lining secures the visor firmly, making it ideal for riding even in the rain. Normally Lower Ratchets in other helmets are permanently fixed and these need replacing, it’s inconvenient. Steelbird AIR provides Screw Free Ratchets which is user friendly and can be changed easily – extending the life of the helmet.

Mr. Shailendra Jain, Group Head – Sales & Marketing, Steelbird Hi-tech India Ltd. said, Priced at Rs. 1199/- onwards Steelbird AIR Helmet is Produced with :- High Impact ABS Material Shell, Multi Density EPS – High Density and low density for more Safety, European Standard Micro-Metric Buckle, Hygienic interior with Multipore Breathable Pedding, Neck Protector For Extra Comfort, Extra Comfort Pedding, Replaceable Interiors & with Polycarbonate Anti Scratch Coated Visor.