Sunday, November 24, 2013

Tea at Mrs. Magpie

Hello People,

It has been a very long time since I did a real post (as in a proper post apart from regular reviews, sponsored and contest stuff)  here on the blog. So, I decided to do something I haven't done here before; a restaurant review.

If you live in Kolkata, then you must make sure you visit this beautiful quaint little place near Golpark / Vivekanada Park. It is a little difficult to spot as it is almost in the middle of nowhere, in the ground floor of an apartment. I went there the first time with Shayoni from Sweetandbitterblog and we almost did not spot this when we went to search for it. The moment you enter the place, you feel like you have stepped into fairy land. The pretty floral wallpapers, cute edible decor (which of course you are just permitted to look and not eat  ), delightful elfish furniture and adorable crockery at this place always manages to turn me into a crazy and hyper-excited 5 year old. 

Take a look-

The large cupcakes

Royal Enfield Cake :D

Gangnam style inspired cake

Marzipan House and Car

How cute is this shoe house, reminded me of that tale about the dame who lived in one :D

School bus =)

This merry-go-round shaped cake actually moves and a jingle plays when it does. How cool is that ?

Teddy bear cookies
What I loved at this place and my recommendations-

1) I am totally addicted to Earl Grey and I drank that whole teapot full of tea , all by myself  . Brownie points for the complimentary teddy bear shaped cookie that comes with every cup you order. 

2) The cupcakes are the cutest things ever and are freshly baked (the entire place smells of baked goodies). I personally didn't like the taste but most of my friends love them. So, you should give them a try before deciding if you like them or not.

3) The hot chocolate tastes perfect, not too sweet, not too bitter. Tastes almost like molten Cadbury silk and Bournville mixed together. HEAVEN!! 

4) The chicken and cheddar puff and scones almost melt in your mouth, super soft , very different from the regular puff pastries they sell you everywhere. 

5) The chocolate ice cream was okayish (as in nothing different from regular ice creams) but the apple sorbet tasted great, very refreshing and light on your palate.

6) Really sweet staff. I asked them the brand of tea they use and they handed me over the entire packet so that I could check all details I wanted. Also the glass tumblers they provide water in look adorable.

Have you visited the place? If you did, do let me know what stuff you tried and liked there.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Emancipating "Hijras"

The term “hijra” is very widely used term in Hindi (and a few other languages). But when it comes to finding an equivalent term in English, it is a tad bit more complex. Terms like transgender, transexual and asexual all refer to a set of people with a non-specific sexual identity but are not exactly equivalents of “hijra”. A simpler way of defining them would be to say that they are a set of people who do not fit into either of the two genders that are officially accepted in most countries, male and female. 

People with Klinefelter’s Syndrome (XXY sex chromosome) or Turner’s Syndrome (X0 sex chromosomes) fall into the category who due to chromosomal mutations in the fetal stage  are born with a genetic defect which affects their reproductive systems, rendering them sexless and hence, infertile.

What is important to know is the widespread ignorance about this category of people and the derogatory use of the term to signify the class of people belonging to the category. Often have I come across a group of “hijras” being invited to dance on the birth of a newborn in a house and provide them with blessings for which they get paid a meager amount. Also, a group of them roaming about inside train compartments and buses asking people for alms is another very common sight. 

This was written for Half Baked Beans blog. Read the rest here-

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Website Review -

E-retailing has transformed the entire shopping experience for shopaholics. With everything from food, clothing, decor, and almost every other daily essential being available online, people have switched to the more convenient mode of shopping. All you do is find your product, pay using your card or order COD and get it directly delivered to you in no time. Does anything get better than this? Yes, it does. Previously, you saved money (on gas), time (for travelling to the retail shop) and energy (strolling around trying to find what you need at the supermarket). And now, with the introduction of coupons websites and sites for price comparison for each product, not only can you find the best product for the cheapest but also get fabulous discounts (over the already discounted price on the website) through coupons throughout the year.

What exactly is and how is it different from any other coupon website? is India's pioneering cashback and coupons site.What makes them different from any other coupons site is that they not only list great coupons on various websites but also provide cashback. The website is associated with more than 350 brands and websites which provide the members with not only amazing discounts on the products but also the scope to earn hard cash while they shop. I have always believed that real cash is always better than any coupon, it gives me the freedom to purchase absolutely anything I want while coupons are website and deal specific with terms and conditions.

So how exactly does it work?

The best thing I found about them is how easy and uncomplicated the entire procedure is. This is how it goes-
1) Join for free.
2) Search for the website/ product you want to buy. (or) Click on the tabs to find the best coupons / cashbacks / offers.
3) From the drop down list, select the deal which appeals to you and click on the deal link.
4) Upon clicking the selected deal, the link will take you directly to the retailer's website in a matter of seconds.
5) Shop like you usually do. (Make sure you do the transaction in the same referral. if you are not directed through, the cashback will not work.)
6) Get your product delivered from the respective retailer and get the earned cashback deposited to your account which can be withdrawn directly when it reaches INR 250.
7) If you haven't received a notification regarding the cashback, you can always raise a ticket to check for it and get it resolved by the efficient team  in no time.


1) Clean, detailed, organised and clutter free look which makes navigation extremely smooth and easy.
2) Get real cash deposited in your bank account apart from great deals.
3) Cash is deposited directly to your bank account through NEFT transfer or as a cheque whichever you prefer.
4) Refer your friends using your unique referral link and earn 10% of their cashback earnings for an entire lifetime.

I have been extremely satisfied with the absolutely fabulous deals that you can get through them and how quick and simple the entire procedure is. I'll most definitely recommend every online shopping addict to try this website and save more as they shop.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Book Review- Amreekandesi by Atulya Mahajan


Author: Atulya Mahajan
ISBN-13: 9788184003956
Binding: Paperback
Publisher: Random House India
Number of Pages: 318
Genre: Fiction 
Language: English
Price: Rs. 199 (Got a review copy)

About the Book: 

Akhil Arora, a young, dorky engineer in Delhi, cant wait to get away from home and prove to his folks that he can be on his own. Meanwhile in a small town in Punjab, Jaspreet Singh, aka Jassi, is busy dreaming of a life straight out of American Pie. As fate would have it, they end up as roommates in Florida. But the two boys are poles apart in their perspectives and expectations of America. While Akhil is fiercely patriotic and hopes to come back to India in a few years, Jassi finds his Indian identity an uncomfortable burden and looks forward to finding an American girl with whom he can live happily ever after.

Laced with funny anecdotes and witty insights, Amreekandesi chronicles the quintessential immigrant experience, highlighting the clash of cultures, the search for identity, and the quest for survival in a foreign land.

Swarnali Speaks :

Amreekan Desi is the story of Akhil and Jassi and many other Indians who crack GRE to live their American dream. Atulya Mahajan very successfully portrays the difference between this supposed dream and what actually happens when the FOB-Fresh off the Boat Indians land on the American soil. The book is an amusing narration of the cultural shock that Indians get initially and how they learn to mold themselves to fit into a society which is so distinctly different from ours. What is very appealing about the book is a very fresh , candid and honest depiction of the real America versus the America that we imagined after watching tonnes of American movies and TV shows. The unvarnished appeal of the book could be attributed to the author's first hand experience of going to the USA for higher studies, much like the protagonists.

The best part of the book was the humor quotient which is evident from the cover itself. Though not absolutely hilarious, the incidents and anecdotes in the book do manage to make you giggle from time to time.  Be it Akhil's professor's assumption of the former of being an Indian prince who rides and elephant or his father's typical Indian mindset of instantly converting USD into INR before purchasing an item, the book has innumerable incidents to make the reader have a hearty laugh, sometimes on the absurd notions of India that Americans have and sometimes on our own typical Indian behavior (for example, hogging on airline food). Also, it comes as a relief that the book does not contain glaring typos or grammatical errors.

What I think would've been better is if the author had paid more attention to making the lives of the characters seem a little more complex instead of describing one incident after another. I would have liked to see how Jassi's family would've reacted to his Amreekan girlfriend, Victoria ,which was not touched upon (very little was told about his family in fact). Also the straightening of issues with Akhil and Nandita seemed a little too simple and almost DDLJ-ish but enjoyable, nonetheless.

If you are one of those planning to appear for GRE and shifting to the States in the near future or are are one of those who love to read while on the move, this book is the perfect choice for you. A light, breezy and enjoyable read, this one is sure to tickle your funny bones. I already have in mind a couple of friends of mine who are planning to go to the States and this book will make the perfect gift for them.

Rating : 3.5 / 5 

This review was a part of Reader's Cosmos book review program.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Book Review- A Maverick Heart: Between Love and Life by Ravindra Shukla

A Maverick Heart: Between Love and Life

Author: Ravindra Shukla
ISBN-13: 9789382473008
Binding: Paperback
Publisher: Frog books/ Leadstart Publishing
Number of Pages: 383
Genre: Fiction / Drama
Language: English
Price: Rs. 195 (Got a review copy)

About the Book: 
Resonance -  We often use the term, “frequency matching” in our daily life to define compatibility. Our frequency does not match, we do not get along? We are not in sync? We are not on the same page etc? When people of similar frequencies (wavelengths or within the same range) come together – output is not a simple sum of individual work, but exponential. In science we term this phenomenon as resonance. Output at this stage is beyond any logical limit. Three young kids, with different family backgrounds and outlook meet during their graduation days at IIT-Bombay campus and become close friends. Although, individually they are in sync, but the same is not true for their interaction with the world. How will their relation withstand the conflict of family and society pressure? How do their character shape out, as they traverse from an educational environment through the corporate world to the realm of the social-political world? Inspired by the real events across the globe from the last decade, Ravindra Shukla brings you the characters based story – struggle and triumphs of a young generation and their relevance in the current socio-eco-political era.

Swarnali Speaks :
The book blurb and the author profile promised a lot of great things. A lot of important contemporary issues like cultural conflicts, corruption, the marriage scenario are highlighted and paid attention to. As the very title suggests, the book is not just a love story but tells the tales of three protagonists, Rahul, Richita and Neerav, their stories of love, friendship and how they waddle through life trying to find meaning.
The characters in the books are not sketchy and are developed quite in depth. However, I would have liked if Neerav was paid a little more attention. The stories of camaraderie between the two guys, campus tales from IIT-B, and the thoughtfully penned dialogues are the positives.
The problem areas in the book were mostly with the editing and the typos spread throughout the course of the book which is a major turn off. The book was unnecessarily dragged to almost 400 pages which makes the pace painfully slow in certain areas. It could have been  almost brought down to half the size with careful editing which would have made it crisp and sharper. The few Hindi dialogues inserted into the book helps to bring out the Indian fervor but a translation would've been a lot of help for non-Hindi knowing readers.
Another issue I had with the book is the way it was presented. The story is quite promising and tries to bring together some very great ideas but the unusually slow pace is a little disappointing. Also the shuttling between the narratives were pretty confusing for me and I think they could be neater. A good example of narration shift from first person to third person can be seen in R.K. Narayan's "Guide" which I think the author can refer to to sharpen his narrative skills for his future endeavors.
Overall, the book is an okay-ish read. You can give it a try it if you like campus stories and like detailed narratives.

Rating : 2 / 5 

This review was a part of Reader's Cosmos book review program.

Friday, November 1, 2013

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