Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Book Review: Checkmate

Author: Hrishikesh Joshi
Publisher: Leadstart 
Published: March 2015
Pages: 158


A well written book with an enthralling plot. It has all that is needed to make a book engaging: a handsome protagonist, an antihero and lots and lots of suspense. The book is a cliff-hanger right till the very end.

A pulse-pounding thriller from an emerging author, 'Checkmate' doesn't waste any time before it jumps straight into the action. The hijacking of the plane and the subsequent efforts of the Indian intelligence agency RAW to resolve the situation forms the core of the book's conflict, while unseen forces work in the shadows towards an extraordinary master-plan.

The story is fast-paced and suspenseful, and the end filled with unexpected twists and turns. Consisting of well-defined characters and plenty of action, this is a must read for any fan of thrillers! 

Checkmate can be seen as a daring first attempt by Hrishikesh Joshi. This is a entertaining light read. It stands at nearly 150 pages of drama among Indian government, IB, RAW and the terrorists. 

The title 'Checkmate' suggests moves and counter moves, and one expects a gruelling tale of calculated/miscalculated steps. The background into a life of a terrorist, a RAW agent and even a judge is a nice touch. The twist at the end of the book and few characters strongly reminded me of the movie 'The Wednesday'.

The plot setting is crisp. At no point does the reader feel bored or wish to skip forward. I had expected the story to end on a familiar note until, the author got an unusual twist. The twist is unexpected and really makes you read it again to understand where the story changed lines.

CHECKMATE belongs to the espionage- thriller genre. Apart from its gripping plot, the novel has undertones that strongly warn against the horrors of misguided passions and religious fanaticism. Through the nuances of its characters, this novel professes a prolonged argument for freedom of thought, open mindedness and tolerance. This book also portrays characters which show courage to follow their dreams, revealing the beautiful vistas that lie upon following the passions of one’s heart.

Overall, a good crime novel. Worth a read. For an upcoming, budding author it is very brave to come up with such a gripping plot. A really first-rate straightforward as well as nippy charming paperback well worth a interpret!

Rating - 4/5

P.S: The book was received as part of Reviewers Programme on The Tales Pensieve.

Monday, 25 May 2015

Book Review: Operation Jai Mata Di

Title : Operation Jai Mata Di
Author : Pratik Shah
Genre : Fiction


Blurb:

In a daring midnight operation by armed men, over 10,000 pilgrims are taken hostage en route to the holy shrine of Vaishno Devi, a popular Himalayan religious-tourist destination in the troubled state of Jammu & Kashmir in Northern India. The hostage-takers threaten to shoot pilgrims every day, unless the incumbent Government accedes to their demands.

With the largest Hindu festival of Diwali just around the corner and elections less than six months away, the Government at the center is under immense pressure to act. What will the Government do? The army? The intelligence agencies? The common man?

No terrorist group has claimed responsibility for the attack. Who are these men? Is there a larger plot? Faced with such unprecedented events, will the country descend into unimaginable anarchy or will it rise above the issues of collective apathy and greed that have plagued it since Independence?

**********************************
Operation Jai Mata Di’ by Pratik Shah is a book which is full of drama and action. Nonetheless, there is plenty for readers to enjoy – politics, terrorism, helicopters, bullets, media and plenty of tricks to fire a fertile imagination.

‘Operation Jai Mata Di’ states that terrorism is more of a threat from within a society than from the real terrorists. Anger and helplessness, according to the author, makes people do things they would normally not do.

The plot follows the story of over 10,000 pilgrims, who are taken hostages by some unknown armed men. This hostage situation occurs en route to the holy shrine of Vaishno Devi, a popular Hindu religious place situated in the northern part of India. These armed men threaten to kill two pilgrims every day if their demands are not accepted by the Indian government. Will government accede to their demands? Who are these armed men? Do they belong to some terrorist group? What were their demands? Read the book to know the answers of all these questions.

The language of the book is simple and lucid. The little thriller unveils itself between past and present. It moves at a fair pace and the author has done a great job of weaving a number of current events in the form of a story.

This book will certainly appeal to the readers who love reading hostage type of situations. The storyline is interesting and absorbing!

‘Operation Jai Mata Di’ is a pleasant surprise. It was a welcome change from the routine run-of-the-mill terrorist stories. Here the so-called ‘terrorists’ are different both in terms of nationality and their mission.

The writer takes a common theme – ‘terrorism’ and makes a bold foray into a new direction. The narrative revolves around a solid, intriguing plot and the writer takes great efforts to make sure that most of the loose ends are tied by the time the story ends. It evokes questions of social consciousness and posits that there can be light at the end of the tunnel given the apathetic state of India’s governance.

Given that this is the first effort from the author – I see a lot of promise and potential for him. Editing, though could have been tighter. The book has all the ingredients for it to convert into a decent movie.

Op JMD is one of the most engrossing books that I have read in recent times. It is relevant and believable.

Fast paced, fun read. The book keeps you guessing till the surprising end. A must read for anyone interested in reading a thriller. Overall an enjoyable read, a nail biting thriller, I will give this 4/5.

Note: The book was received as part of Reviewers Programme on The Tales Pensieve’s reviewers network.

Friday, 22 May 2015

#NioxinNowInIndia Activity Experience

I was lucky to be a part of the #NioxinNowInIndia activity arranged by BlogAdda. It was a great experience to interact with new bloggers and moreover Natasha! Natasha is the most chirpiest hair stylist I have ever met! She was bubbling with energy.

The venue was Nalini and Yasmin, Wella Salon, Bandra. Natasha and Harsh briefed us about the product and gave us all the necessary 'khabar' about it!

Bloggers listening to Natasha

On an average we lose 80 strands of hair. After the hair cycle, the hair bulb collects sebum, dirt, sweat, etc. Unclogging is essential, so that the new strand that grows out is healthy.

We all love wonderful hair. We hate bad hair. We spend a lot of time and energy and money on our tresses, and admit it, every fallen hair that you see breaks your heart just a little.

The NIOXIN approach began in 1987, when founder experienced thinning hair after the birth of her first child and began to investigate the idea of treating the scalp with skincare methods.

Nioxin kits on display

NIOXIN uses advanced technologies to deliver thicker, fuller, denser-looking hair.

Until then, people experiencing thin-looking hair had very few options for help. NIOXIN's advanced technologies provide real solutions for making the most of the hair you have, transforming the hair care industry and bringing hope and confidence to men and women everywhere.

P&G Salon Professional have introduced the revolutionary Nioxin technology in India, formulated specially to combat thinning hair. Nioxin is the leading brand in the US used to combat thinning hair with more than 20 years of research going into creating a range of products that have helped people with thinning hair gain thicker, fuller looking hair. Nioxin has helped countless men and women regain their hair and confidence through their customized treatment systems.

What I experienced as a part of this activity?

Nioxin 3 part Regimen

Firstly, a dermabrasion procedure is done by experts (in-salon). Your hair is split into sections and the scalp facial solution is applied and left for about 10 minutes. Then your scalp is cleaned with a cleanser/shampoo. This cleans dirt and debris that clog the follicles and thus create a healthy scalp.  A revitalizer is applied, which is similar to conditioning your scalp. White tea extract, peppermint oil and other cleansing agents refresh the scalp and make the hair shine!

Bloggers Priyanka and Oindrilla getting the Nioxin Experience

Thinning hair affects men and women of all ages. The cause is often genetic, and can also be triggered by certain life stages. Hair cells reproduce at a faster rate than any other in our bodies, so they are also sensitive to changes in our health or environment. Addressing thinning begins with understanding what causes and contributes to it, and the early warning signs to look out for. There is no single cause of thinning hair; there are many.

·        Genetics
·        Nutrition and diet
·        Environment
·        Health issues
·        Stress
·        Medication   

With their skincare-inspired approach and advanced technologies, NIOXIN products are unique. Using your systems and complementary products correctly ensures you'll get the optimal results from your 3-Part regimen.

Complete Nioxin process

More than 70% of users noticed thicker, denser-looking hair in just 4 weeks.

The No1 stylist-recommended thinning-hair brand in the US, NIOXIN's customized range of hair and scalp products is proven to deliver noticeably thicker, denser-looking hair.

Use the kit daily or at the most alternate day to see Nioxin do its work. You have to do it religiously. Avoid oiling your hail, though blow drying is allowed.

My hair felt clean and voluminous. Each strand felt different from the other. The scalp felt cool, all thanks to the minty, refreshing Nioxin treatment!

I am personally using the treatment daily and I can feel the difference. I would share my experience in the coming post.

P.S: "You can try and experience #NioxinNowIndia at your nearest salon. This activity is in association with BlogAdda.com” 

Thursday, 21 May 2015

Book Review: Once Upon A Dharamyudh

Author: Vibhor Tikiya
Publisher: Srishti Publishers and Distributors 
Pages: 208 
Category: Fiction
Price: Rs. 150/-



Blurb:
Dharam is a dream institution for its founders and employees alike, who give it their sweat and blood. In time, it prospers owing to the fine acumen of its owners and efforts of its employees.

Prakash is caught in the web of fulfilling his fathers dying wish and gives up his dream job to take up the mantle of responsibility at Dharam. A radical thinker equipped with modern ways of working, he sets the company and workers on a path of development, though with much resistance to his methods. Udays humble origins and difficult childhood inspire him to dream big, he dreams of equality and fair treatment for the weaker sections of the society. He believes it is his Dharam to raise his voice against any injustice. The fight between a mans belief and an institutions values becomes a tussle between the haves and the have nots, acquiring magnanimous proportions. Both believe they are right and are willing to do what is needed to be done for their Dharam.

*********************
I got an autographed copy from the author recently. The title does not reveal much.

Once Upon A Dharamyudh tells the story of Prakash, a young man, his mission in life, his passion for it and the journey of a lifetime.

The war is fought for the existence of a spinning mill called Dharam symbolising the war for the victory of Dharma.

The story is from an industry owner's perspective and the challenges they face. This book gives great management lessons on how to run a firm, some ethical tactics are shared.

All in all, it doesn't give you much turns and twists. Just a simple story with little love and romance. It is more about entrepreneurship, the battles, deceit, business and politics.

“Once Upon A Dharamyudh” stands out and makes Vibhor come across as a confident storyteller with a smooth narration.

There is a right man doing the right things often forced by the system to resort to wrong means to achieve the right results. Then there is a right man doing wrong things while appearing to make himself come across as right - an ideological war 'Dharamyudh'.

All the characters are true to life.

Once Upon A Dharamyudh is definitely a very engrossing read with generous sprinkling of verses from the Gita. Story moves from 60s to early 90s without hiccups.

Mighty impressed with Vibhor and loved the way he has kept it awesome within 208 pages.

My Rating: 4.2/5

Author:
Vibhor Tikiya is the author of the bestseller book DADA and has followed it up with Once Upon A Dharamyudh. He is an ME from IISc, MBA from IIM Ahmedabad and an LLB. He believes Dharamyudh highlights the underlying difference in the aspirations of different strata of contemporary society and the ensuing struggle between them guided by the age old Bhagvad Gita.

Sunday, 17 May 2015

The 'Axis Digital' Meet Experience

I was among the few shortlisted bloggers to be a part of the 'Axis Digital' event organised by Blogadda.




Venue: Axis Bank, Corporate Office. Axis Bank Limited, Bombay Dyeing Mills Compound, Pandurang Budhkar Marg, Worli, Mumbai – 400 025

It was really nice meeting up new people and learning new things. The meet started on time in the conference hall of Axis Bank.

At first they gave us a brief idea of why the meet was being held. Axis Bank basically is aiming to make banking fun and easy using Social media. They have come up with Ping Pay app that makes transferring money fun.

Ping pay is a multi social payment app by Axis bank. When you launch the app you need to register first.





Transaction history can be viewed in your account details.




I will make this post illustrative with pictures so that, you my readers can understand how the app goes about, the steps and the fun involved!




The app has features that work on gestures -  a bubble that when you move up - goes for 'sending' money and down for 'asking' money. Quite a user friendly and fun interface.

You can send an audio or an image with the money which makes it customized all the more. You can use this app with maybe your milkman leaving an audio if he can't type, or he can just send you an audio of the money to be paid. So it's been made very friendly.

Security of this app is the baap of all. Axis Bank knows the importance of security with this kind of application. They have left no stone unturned as far as the security goes. Every time you enter the app, before you make any transaction it asks you to enter your Mpin. So no wrong or faulty transaction can be done without mpin which only you know!






Moreover, every time you send a person some amount, you have to share the ping code with the receiver via sms or call only. So it is full proof.

If a person doesn't have an Axis bank account, an option to become an account holder pops up too!




Using your Mpin you can accept/decline a transaction. The transaction limit is 500 rupees per day.

You can transact with any person in your FB, gmail, twitter, WhatsApp, contact list, etc. You just have to be connected on the related app while making the transaction.

The transaction you do while Ping Pay is valid for 15 days. If the money is not accepted till then, the money is reversed to the sender.

Any activity on the app is valid for 1 min, once the keypad of your phone locks, you again have to enter the Mpin to continue the session.

The transaction link can be copied only by the sender and nobody else.

There is no ping code in the 'Ask' transaction.




This app has customised funny messages so minimal typing is required. Few messages are ~

"Thappad se darr nahi lagta sahab, udhaar se lagta hai!"

"Yeh le tere khoon paseene ki kamaai." and so many more..!

Brief: Ping Pay


 Ping Pay allows users to transfer funds seamlessly to anyone they are connected to using WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter, Email and Phone Contact Lists

 It is the only banking social payment application which allows users to share digital content like text, images, audio and video, while sending/asking for money/mobile 


 An innovative gesture based mobile app designed to provide customers with a delightful user experience while enabling money transfers and mobile recharge with utmost convenience  


Ping Pay’ is a unique multi-social payment solution to enable customers, specially the youth and smart phone users, to transfer money and mobile recharge, person-to-person, including to non-Axis Bank account holders, using social and messaging channels like WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter, Email and Phone Contact lists. 


The person-to-person fund transfers through Ping Pay would happen via NPCI’s Immediate Payment Service (IMPS) and currently the transaction limit is at INR 50,000 per day. IMPS offers an instant, 24X7, safe and convenient interbank electronic fund transfer service through mobile Ping Pay is seen as a strategic step by Axis Bank in bringing superior customer convenience, embedded in a seamless and secure process, to one of the most important online financial transactions viz. funds transfer, and in the process fast-pacing India’s progress towards becoming a cashless economy. India is largely a prepaid mobile market – the Ping Pay app also enables sending person-to-person mobile recharges, tapping into a huge opportunity. 


Ping Pay has been developed in partnership with Fastacash, a Singapore based, venture-capital backed firm. Fastacash’s technology enables value (money, airtime, coupons, etc) transfers, along with digital content, across any social network and messaging platform. The company brings it technology to end users by partnering with banks, mobile operators, remittance companies, payment service providers and mobile wallets.


Axis Bank account holders can download the Ping Pay app and sign up for the service using their registered mobile numbers and associate their Axis Bank internet banking credentials or ATM/ Debit Card to send money and mobile recharges. Funds and mobile recharges can be sent to any bank account holder. 


The app provides an innovative, gesture based user experience that enables money transfers without having to type in the account number and the IFSC code. Sending or requesting money or mobile recharges with the Ping Pay app takes a few simple steps. When sending money, the user chooses a social or messaging channel and selects the name of the person to whom the money is to be sent. They enter the amount to be sent and set a “ping code” that is shared separately with the receiver. Upon confirming the transaction, the money is immediately sent and the receiver gets a message across the social or messaging channel selected by the sender. The receiver has 15 days to transfer the money to his/her bank account using IMPS. In the event, the receiver does not claim the money received within 15 days, the transaction would be auto-reversed to the sender’s account. Ping Pay also has ‘Ask for Money’ and ‘Ask for Recharge’ options, which would allow the receiver to put in a request for funds and also seek recharge from their friends and family across social.

It was a great learning experience at the Axis Bank. Thank you, Blogadda for an enriching experience.

P.S: This post is about 'Digital Axis' meet conducted by Axis Bank in association with BlogAdda.com 

Thursday, 14 May 2015

My Airtel App


Telecom major Airtel recently launched a campaign titled 'Bachat ki khunn khunn' for its prepaid consumers who use smartphones. The new TV led campaign promotes the 'My Airtel' app. The TVC features people from all walks of life shown shaking their phones and celebrating new offers and plans from Airtel.

The concept behind the campaign is to give the customers a quick and a fun way of availing the best recharge deals that include My Airtel My Offers, talktime benefits, extra Internet and cashback offers. Smartphone using customers have to simply download the 'My Airtel' app and choose from a range of deals and offers from time to time - exclusively for its 'My Airtel' application users.

Indians today are increasingly accessing online content through apps as opposed to logging through browsers. In tune with these developments, the launch of 'My Airtel' app will empower the customers effortlessly. It seems a promising digital experience.

The 'My Airtel' application has been designed to follow an intuitive and easy to use interface that allows customers to conveniently browse, discover Airtel services and do much more.

The  3 key features that best suit my lifestyle ~

1. Simple, convenient and intuitive design to manage all Airtel services through one handset
'My Airtel' App has a simple and intuitive design that helps the user  manage all the DTH, Broadband, Prepaid & postpaid services in one place. Convenient, isn't it? Apart from the amazing offers for post paid and pre paid users, it also helps you pay your bills, recharge your DTH, track account usage, track service requests, buy products, etc.

You can also use the 'My Airtel' app to recharge any mobile number, activate or deactivate any VAS service like astrology, jokes et al. and receive Airtel Surprises coupons on all recharges for the value of their recharge.

2. Value-for-money deals with shake-the-phone feature
Customers can now use the all new shake-the-phone feature to avail exciting value-for-money deals. The shake-your-phone capability is a compelling feature.

The new app also includes management of various customer accounts and faster payment checkout through cards.

What suits my lifestyle the best is that Airtel has partnered with mydala for coupons and tied up with merchants across categories like shopping, food, entertainment, etc. to offer coupons for popular brands like PVR Cinemas, Café Coffee Day, Flipkart.com. amazon.in, Ebay.in, Myntra.com, and more. Makes life much more happier and easier! Exciting, isn't it?

3. ‘I Want To’ feature
This is the best feature of all. The 'My Airtel' app’s ‘I Want To’ feature allows customers to replicate their frequent tasks with a quick action on the home screen. Push notifications with alerts of low balance, pack expiry and bill due date are also available. The most tempting part is that the customers on the ‘My Airtel’ app do not incur any data charges for using the application. So use it for free, organise your mobile data better!

This topic is about Airtel. Here for details: http://www.airtel.in/myairtel

Sunday, 10 May 2015

27Coupons - Booking A Ride

Initially, booking a car or a vehicle for some function was really hectic. You had to spare a lot of time to go to the agents personally, crack a deal with them and finally book yourself a car. But with applications like OlaCabs or Uber, today booking a ride has become very easy.

But checking their individual sites every now and then to keep yourself updated is a bit tiring.

But what if, there is a site which shows you about all your interested sites and their offers and provides an additional discount on those offers? Tempting, isn't it?

A lot of time is wasted in searching and hunting for the right deal on my favorite sites - OlaCabs and Uber for finding the right ride.

But recently I came across 27coupons, where I saw they had an aggregation of all my favorite sites in one place and believe you me, it even shows fresh offers daily with/without coupon code. Exciting.

27coupons is one of the leading coupons and deals distribution platforms of India. They cater to more than 1000 stores and almost all products available on the web.

How 27coupons helps the customers with additional discounts on offers.

27coupons has a very costumer friendly website. You can easily browse through the website and find deals and offers according to your interest.

You can browse active offers and coupons too. You can click on a offer you like and see its details too. Some offers can be used without a coupon, and some require a coupon. If a coupon code is required, you can save the coupon and use it before it expires.

You can filter your results according to your brand/site. It will show you the deals and offers available.  All in one place at your finger tips!

Let me give you an insight of how 27coupons works for me with my favorite brands for booking rides.

Ola Cabs is a an online car rental service. They also provide airport pick up and drop off services. With a fleet of cars they serve a huge customer base. Use these Ola Cabs coupons to save money while you shop from their store. These Ola Cabs discount coupons have been tested and tagged with banks, as is the case.



Check how it shows me the active deals/offers under Ola Cabs, some coupon codes and their expiry dates. You can conveniently save the coupons in your account according to the location you wish to book for and use them while payment.


Uber.com is evolving the way the world moves. By seamlessly connecting riders to drivers through apps, it makes cities more accessible, opening up more possibilities for riders and more business for drivers. It is rapidly expanding global presence continues to bring people and their cities closer. Use these Uber coupons to save money while you shop from their store. These Uber discount coupons have been tested and tagged with banks, as is the case. 








It shows active coupons and deals under Uber. Save the coupons and have fun shopping!

Using 27coupons can help you buy smartly, choose wisely and make the best deal. The best part is you can compare various sites and choose the best offer and in that too - the best discount!

I have become smarter in choosing deals because of 27coupons. Go for 27coupons today and get the best coupon codes for almost all Indian e-commerce stores! Happy shopping!

The list of stores associated with 27coupons:
CleartripMakemytripYatraExpediaGoibiboBigBasketFoodPanda JustEatJabongMyntraYepmeZoviFernsNPetalsBookmyshowTicketgoose or Redbus.

P.S: Linking this post to 27coupons.com Blogging Contests.
Image Source: 27coupons

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Ek Nayi League

Kapil Dev is recently found to be sending video messages to Kapil Sharma, Sania Mirza, M.S. Dhoni, etc. He apparently talks of having created a new league.

Kapil Dev is coming up with something called ‘Ek Nayi League’. He has been talking to celebs about how they would fail if they played his new league; he further challenges them that if they play with all their heart, they might end up losing.

In these videos, Kapil Dev is telling Kapil Sharma aka Bittu that he admires the way in which Kapil throws a googly at almost all the guests in his show, 'Comedy Nights With Kapil'. Yet, he challenges Sharma to play his new googly!

He addresses Dhoni about his retirement plans, and concludes the video by saying golden words, "Stars never retire."

He appreciates Sania Mirza for her accomplishments and feats. But again warns her about playing his league with all her heart.

He feels so proud of Yuvraj Singh for his love of cricket who after the cancer battle signed a 16 crore contract for IPL. But he roots for not always playing with your heart.

I think it is going to be a quiz show. I didn't want to think too mainstream. So I don't think, this 'new league' would be something related to Cricket. I think it is a quiz show because the brand banner shows Kapil Dev signalling us to use our brains.


In the videos too, he keeps advising, 'Dil se khele toh hit wicket'! So I wildly guess that this might be a game show where you'll need to play with your brain and not heart. Because if you play with all your heart, you may fail. 

Seems to be a dream team. The 50-second video message is a trailer of the new league but it does not give away much details. It is still difficult to guess - who will play, what will be the format, how the players are chosen, etc.  but I am sure it will be something refreshing. Looks like this legendary sportsman is up with a fresh concept to entertain us.

The mystery factor related to this league will earn it many brownie points and people are really wondering and looking out for clues from Kapil Dev as to what this is all about.

Oprah Winfrey said, 'Follow your heart." Kapil Dev seems to be saying exactly the opposite. Maybe this show is about decision making, being precise and taking decisions with head in place. Sometimes we get too carried away while taking decisions with heart, so maybe this show/game can be a preacher.

We can only guess, this is mine. What do you think about Kapil dev's videos and his 'EkNayiLeague' initiative?  What will it be about? Post your views in the comments below. You can post your view here too http://www.eknayileague.com/ and win some great prize!

This topic is about Ek Nayi League