Monday, March 24, 2014


Hola everyone!!

It was only yesterday that I was thinking how long it has been since I wrote something (as in a poem or a story) and I realised it has been more than a year since I wrote the last one. Flipping through one of my old books, I found a yellowish looking page from one of my notebooks where I had scribbled down a poem (if I may call it so). How I love finding such scribbles!! This was written around 2 years back during my initial poem writing days. This might as well be the very first thing I wrote, methinks. wanted to share it with you. Didn't edit a thing.


Standing in front of the mirror,
I look into the blurred image
Through my moist eyes.
Right in front of me,
Is a stranger I know not
Staring right back at me.
Wipe off those tears
In a desperate attempt
And I look again
To find myself
Unlike me anymore.
I marvel how
Loving you and not
Being loved back anymore
Has changed me inside.
The metamorphosis of my self
Has surprised me like no other.
Dear friend, I wish you well.
I say the last goodbye
As I take the other way.

I suppose you can clearly see the influence of Adele's Someone Like You ; I was addicted to it back then. Would love to know what you think of it.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Reviewing again

Hello Everyone!!

This is the second time I am reviewing here on the blog. The last time I reviewed them, I mentioned the modus operandi and how you can get an increased  bargain every time you shop online. Why a second review you ask? It is because I loved them that much  You can read my first review here.

Cashkaro is India's fist website which not just gives coupons and great discount options on major e-retail websites but also gives you real cash everytime you shop from any of the e-shops associated with them,which includes almost all leading websites like Jabong, Myntra, Limeroad, Flipkart, Paytm, Tradus, HomeShop18, BigFlix and many more.

What makes Cashkaro distinctly different from every other coupon website is that besides all the amazing discount coupons you get by being a member at their website, you also get paid money back into your account after you shop which can be withdrawn into your bank account that you can link to your Cashkaro profile.If you are not comfortable transferring your cashback using NEFT, Cashkaro also offers you the option of withdrawing your money using a cheque which you can withdraw after the cashback has reached a minimum value of Rs.250.

I'll summarize the procedure again-

  • Sign up on with your email id and fill in your details.
  • Link your bank account to your cashkaro profile.
  • Search for the e-retail website you want to shop from.
  • Click on the offer you want to activate from the numerous options available on each website.
  • Follow the cashkaro link and let it connect to the website of your choice.
  • Shop like you normally do once you have clicked on the cashkaro link.
  • Your cashback status will be updated within 3 days of your order. Cancellations on your order will yeild no cashback.
  • In case you don't get an update after you have shopped, you can raise a missing cashback ticket which will be checked by the customer service department and promptly solved.
  • The cashback which is confirmed can be withdrawn into you bank account once the amount reaches Rs. 250.

So what new things happened after the first review I wrote?

1) has now introduced cashback on which is comparatively new in India. Amazon being extremely popular worldwide, I was eagerly waiting for its arrival here in India. With the amazing deals and cashback options you get from Cashkaro now, nothing gets better for a crazy book lover for me. Yay!! You can check the deals here.

2) I had mentioned about the missing ticket option the last time but I never got to see how efficiently it works. A couple of times while shopping through Cashkaro, due to some technical issues, my cashback didn't get notified by the 3 days. So I raised a ticket about the missing cashback. The super quick response and resolution of the issue by the team was really impressive. All you have to do is give your transaction details and the team takes care of the rest and keeps you notified about it from time to time.

So, have you tried Cashkaro as yet? If you haven't, do it now and earn as you shop. The more you shop, the more cashback you get.

Till Next,

Sunday, March 9, 2014

My Visit to the Four Seasons Winery at Baramati

I remember waking up on the 5th of February to my cell phone blaring out Train's Mermaid. A sleepy me somehow manged to say a "hello" when Shayoni excitedly asked me if I would be game for a trip to Baramati. I for the love of god couldn't figure what she was talking about and I just said a yes, disconnected and went back to sleep. Some more minutes later I got another call from her explaining to me that Baramati was 100 kms from Pune and I was supposed to reply to a mail from team Gingerclaps if I wanted to be a part of the trip to their winery and resort. I jumped up and immediately replied with a big "YES". A week later we received the confirmation that a team of six of us Kolkata bloggers were actually going for a two day trip to Baramati, Maharashtra.

It was pretty late when we arrived at Pune airport on the 16th at about 9:30-10 pm. Two cars were waiting to take us to Baramati, a 1.5-2 hrs drive from the airport. The driver accompanying us was a merry fellow (I forgot to ask his name) who told us that there were several sugar mills and a pharma factory in the area the winery  is located. A distinct smell of freshly crushed sugarcane stayed with us the whole time.

It was around 12 midnight when we reached the spot. All four of us in our car were hungry like wolves and we have stopped on our way to buy a few bites, packets of chips and Maggi noodles (they are life saviors, I tell you). The moment we got out, we were astounded by the enormity of the place we were supposed to lodge in for the next two days. We stood in complete silence, absorbing the beauty that stood in front of us as Mr. Adtnu Tiwari, Brand Manager-Wines came down to welcome us and help us in finding our respective rooms.

I was given a room called Bordeaux, a wine making region in southeastern France. Inside I found my bed neatly made, a tray of coffee cups, a water heater and sachets of milks, coffee, sugar and tea bags, and a chocolate waiting for us. I quickly ran over to Shayoni's room to find her's identical to mind except a few minor differences. Her room was called Napa Valley perhaps and a pretty picture hung in each of our rooms giving us tit-bits about the regions that our rooms were named after.

My Room- Bordeaux

The three of us girls, Deepa, Shayoni and I left Animesh to himself as we gathered in Deepa's room for coffee and Maggi noodels which Deepa made for all of us in the coffee cups in her room. We then decided to inspect around despite being awfully tired an sleepy. We were delighted to see so many stars so clearly (stars are hardly visible from the area we live thanks to all the pollution). We sat by the pool side sipping our warm coffee and chatting away till late.

I was determined to see the sunrise the next morning and woke up early around 6 am and woke the other three girls to join me. We came down dressed to find Shikha and Dolon already up and dressed clicking pictures. We were walking up watching the sun slowly come up in its scarlet hues when we found Mr.K.Balakrishna waking towards us and introducing himself as the General Manager and Unit Head. He joined us for a trek around the beautiful hilly region as he asked us to look out and spot deer which run free in the valleys. Shikha spotted a few deer paw prints and soon after we saw a couple of deer galloping down in the valleys.

Before sunrise :D
We returned to find breakfast ready for us which consisted of fresh fruits, cereal, tea, freshly made orange juice, multigrain and white bread toast, blueberry muffins, custard filled danish (as Poorna di explained to me), Cheese and mushroom omlette, idli-vada sambar and much more (I can't recollect the rest  ).

The super-yumm food was prepared by chef Hitesh Gautam from Hyatt Regency, Bangalore who was the sweetest of people as he happily agreed to show me around the kitchen and immediately posed for a picture with Deepa when I asked. 

 Shayoni had a splitting headache and felt unwell because of the turbulence we faced during out flight to Pune. It was raining crazy when we left Kolkata and we had to pass through many air pockets. So she took a nap while the rest of us changed and gathered up in the conference room as Bala sir explained to us the nitty grities of grape harvesting and wine production - the sugar content detection process, adding the yeast, the temperature etc etc.

That is Bala sir explaining to us the technicalities of wine making
After the theory , we went down to see the wine extraction area, the cellar, the barrel room, and the bottling and labeling areas.

We tasted different grapes, the ones used for making the wines are distinctly smaller and sweeter than the normal table grapes that we usually eat. Something new that I learnt here was that the red grapes Pinot Noir is also used to make white Champagne apart from making red wine. We were also taken to the storage tanks where we tasted grape juices and wines in their different stages of production.
The grape juice extraction process
 These oak barrels that you see in the picture below are used for three-four times and then are either sold away to bourbon companies (the oaks with the wine absorbed in them add a new note of flavor to the bourbon) or are used for decoration purposes or as planters. A device called a "wine thief" which looks like a pipette is used to get the wine out from these barrels.
Storage and labeling 
After spending about 3 hours underground in the cellars, we started feeling hungry again. We returned to the restaurant to find Chef Hitesh ready with our lunch spread. This is what we had -
Hors d'œuvre and First course
 Hors d'œuvre - A contemporary twist on the traditional Methi Matti served with Four Seasons Sauvignon Blanc.
First Course- Basil Chicken Tikka with Pineapple Panna (a twist to the traditional Aam-panna) served with Ritu Viognier.
Main Course - Buttered Salmon on top of Cashew Upma, Fiery Prawns with saffron sauce served with Four Seasons Barrique Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon.
Dessert- Baked Doi (a twist to the traditional Bengali dessert "bhapa doi") with basil seeds and Gulab Jamun on top of Dudhi Halwa (a traditional Marathi dessert made out of bottle guard) served with a special late harvest Chenin Blanc (this was my personal favorite coz I prefer the sweeter of the wines).

Main course and Dessert
 After a scrumplicious lunch, everybody headed over for a power nap while Shayoni, Shikha and I decided to go sit on the open terrace by pool. Shikha was pretty reluctant to dip her legs into the pool, so Shayoni and I decided to sit by the side with my legs dipped in the water, splashing water at each other.  Later when everybody was away drinking tea and munching on quiches and cookies, the two of us decided to go check out the different rooms - the would be library, the conference room and the topmost floor which was still under construction. The chateau isn't open for public for the next 1 or 2 years for they are still expanding the number of rooms and working on improving the hospitality section.

Before Sunset
The dinner was a barbeque party besides the pool. We had an assortment of fresh fruits like ripe strawberries, figs, kiwis; different kinds of cheese ; breads ; and barebqued chicken, lamb, fish and veggies accompanied by different types of reserve wines which went perfectly well with the food. The highlight of the evening was the live music played by Jake and Mynah, who came down from Mumbai.

Barbeque Party by the poolside
The next morning saw us getting up early as we had to catch our flight in the morning and had a drive of 2 hours in front of us till we reached the airport. We hurriedly grabbed our breakfast which consisted of muffins, croissants, omelettes, cereal, fruit juice, fresh fruits and upma and bid goodbye to the place and the others who stayed behind.

It has been almost a month now and I'm still not over it. That was one of the most memorable holidays for a really long time. A big thanks to team Gingerclaps, UB group, Bala Sir, Mr. Adtnu and Malavika for making it so enjoyable.

Till next,

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Book Review: The Count of Monte Cristo

1st Published: serially from August 1844 until January 1846 

(And by JAICO Publishing House in 2002)

Price:  Rs. 140/-

(I was sent a review copy of the book by the publishers.)

ISBN: 81-7992-004-6

Number of Pages: 216

Genre: Fiction/Children's Classics

About the Author: 

"Alexandre Dumas was a French writer. His works have been translated into nearly 100 languages, and he is one of the most widely read French authors. Many of his historical novels of high adventure, including The Count of Monte CristoThe Three MusketeersTwenty Years After, and The Vicomte de Bragelonne: Ten Years Later were originally published as serials. His novels have been adapted since the early twentieth century for nearly 200 films. Dumas' last novel, The Knight of Sainte-Hermine, unfinished at his death, was completed by a scholar and published in 2005, becoming a bestseller. It was published in English in 2008 as The Last Cavalier."


"The Count of Monte Cristo is an adventure novel by French author Alexandre Dumas. It is one of the author's most popular works, along with The Three Musketeers. The story takes place in France, Italy and islands in the Mediterranean during the historical events of 1815–1838. It begins from just before the Hundred Days period (when Napoleon returned to power after his exile) and spans through to the reign of Louis-Philippe of France. The plot primarily focuses on a man who is wrongfully imprisoned, escapes from jail, acquires a fortune and sets about getting revenge on those responsible for his imprisonment; it is a story that involves romance, loyalty, betrayal and selfishness, shown throughout the story as characters slowly reveal their true inner nature. The book is considered a literary classic today." 


"You are drunk, Caderousse," said Danglars, "and it is getting late. Come, I'll take you home." He helped Caderousse to his feet and began leading him away. When they had advanced a little ahead, Danglars looked back. He saw Ferdinand pick up the letter, put it into his pocket and rush towards the city by a different route.

An evil gleam of satisfaction appeared in Danglar's eyes. "Aha!" he muttered to himself, "Let us see who becomes the captain of the Pharaon." 

Arpita Speaks:

The best way someone can make your Christmas is by giving you a surprise. And a surprise it was when I received this book from the JAICO publishing house. I hadn’t expected the review copy to arrive then, of all days - but it sure did put a huge smile on my face!

The Count of Monte Cristo was a novel I’d been looking forward to reading for ages: a story about hope, survival, and vengeance. The plus point is that it was a good read. What disappointed me somewhat was the fact that it was an abridged version, instead of the original. However, it did give me a sense of déjà vu as I felt like a child reading an adventure story once again. And at least this means my kid sister can read the book by herself.

The illustrations are endearing and the language used in this publication is quite good, although I did notice a few typing errors. Coming to the plot, cutting a long story short and managing to preserve its essence is a difficult task but it has been managed well. The novel begins with a voyage coming to an end at Marsailles. Young and charming Edmond Dantès learns that he is about to be appointed the captain of the ship, gets engaged to a lovely woman called Mercédès and it seems like everything in his life is going smoothly.

However, he is unaware that there are envious people conspiring against him: Danglars (the treasurer of the ship), Ferdinand (who wishes to marry Mercédès) and his neighbor Caderousse (who is jealous that Dantès has had better luck than him). The three of them- being aware that he has promised his late captain to deliver a letter to Bonapartist sympathizers in Paris- themselves write a letter, accusing him of treason. On the day of his wedding, Dantès is arrested. What follows is a disturbing sequence of events which capture the anguish of this man who undergoes the most strenuous of circumstances and emerges as an avenging hero.

There are several other characters who also strike a chord with the reader: Dantès' old father who dies of heartbreak when his son is imprisoned unjustly, his benign boss Monsieur  Morrel, and Abbé Faria whom Dantès unexpectedly befriends while in prison. The schemes he comes up with to seek revenge from those who wronged him are impressive, but several of the more nerve- wracking episodes have been left out of the children's version for obvious reasons. The conclusion includes an element of surprise and would leave you supremely satisfied. 

Rating: 4/5