Fulfil your Diwali wishes, Quikr!

21st October, 2014 - Day 1

They say there are no free lunches in life. But as BlogAdda (www.blogadda.com) and Quikr (www.quikr.com) have taught me, there are certainly free shopping sprees! What they did was choose a few bloggers, offer them 5000 rupees and ask them to pick up items of their choice, equivalent to that amount. And I was among the chosen few! Since I lost my phone a week ago, this seemed like the Universe telling me - "Don't weep child, you'll be compensated amply for your loss." So, I logged on to http://mumbai.quikr.com/ and my journey down genie road began. You may log on to www.quikr.com and choose your own city, if you want to traverse this lovely goodie-laden journey along with me.

What's Quikr? I'm sure you've seen a few ads and so have I, but even I wasn't sure what to expect when I logged on. I knew that Quikr is a marketplace where anyone can sell - both individuals and dealers, at prices of their choice. Additionally, one can sell both new and used items. Finally, it is a free service for both buyers and sellers, who can interact and negotiate without any middle agent. Now this was an entirely new landscape for me because I'd only bought from physical shops and online retailers until then. So, I saw twelve categories on the website:

I was most attracted to the 'mobiles and tablets' and 'electronics and appliances' categories. But the other categories piqued my curiosity as well. I learnt that one can not only sell products on Quikr but services as well! How versatile is that? There's no other medium in India that offers such a diverse array of options for community buying and selling. Anyway, now on my Diwali wish-list were the following items (in order of priority):
  1. 1 TB Seagate hard disk
  2. 16GB Sandisk memory card
  3. Headphones or neckband 
  4. Flip cover for my Micromax Canvas Doodle 3 phone
  5. Portable charger with around 5000 mAh or more
  6. Bluetooth headset
Initially, I spent hours simply browsing the website and acquainting myself with the kind of ads and offers. Some seemed professional; others more amateurish. It felt like walking through a virtual market - with stalls of different natures and statures, offering deals that ranged from unbelievably low (for the used items) to reasonably priced (matching the market rate or slightly lower or higher). The conclusion I drew? This would require considerable sifting. But there was also the prospect of ending up with something really attractively priced. Quikr makes you work hard - but the rewards more than make up for it!

I went to the Mobiles and Tablets section - http://mumbai.quikr.com/Mobiles-Tablets/cId-18224598 and was bombarded with an offer for a phone exchange, which I wished I'd seen before I bought a replacement for my lost one!

Ah, but I was in the wrong place. The Mobiles and Tablets section listed headsets, chargers and earphones. What I was looking for was a 1 TB hard disk so that I would never have to delete a beloved film or television show again! So I clicked on 'Electronics and Appliances' (http://mumbai.quikr.com/Electronics-Appliances/cId-18222212679) and went to 'Computer Peripherals' (http://mumbai.quikr.com/Computer-Peripherals/w18222211294). There, you will find printers, speakers, keyboards, processors, antiviruses and of course, hard disks. I had more than a thousand results for '1TB hard disk' and that's where the filters came in handy. I wanted a new item, preferably from a dealer and I wanted it to be a Seagate product. I shortlisted two or three options which I 'saved'. Ads you saved are saved in a tab, from where you can easily access and compare all your options.

So if I was okay with a used item, I could get the hard disk for as low as 2800 rupees. However, even the brand new ones were available at reasonable rates. Most of them seemed to match the market rate of 4000 to 4500 rupees, until I found one dealer who was selling it at 3900 rupees - and that too a Backup plus slim model, which is currently retailing for anything between 4500 and 5000 rupees. Now this was a steal! I wasn't sure how exactly to approach the dealer who was located in Andheri. So I'll list the steps that go into purchasing a product on Quikr - from selection till delivery:

1. Search for the product or go to the parent category and look for it;
2. Save the best ads and compare;
3. Click on 'reply to ad' and send a message via Quikr to the chosen dealers;
3. Call the chosen dealers directly (the numbers are always listed);
4. Negotiate the price (though most aren't willing to budge!), get doubts cleared;
5. Set up a place and time for the delivery or arrange for it to be couriered;
6. Unwrap and start using your new find!

22nd October, 2014 - Day 2

As I write this, I'll tell you that I've just received the first item from my shopping spree - a Sandisk 16GB memory card at just 412 rupees! If you want one too, you should contact these guys: http://mumbai.quikr.com/SanDisk-MicroSD-Card-16-GB-Class-4-Price-Rs.412-W0QQAdIdZ183096431 (Other options are available at http://mumbai.quikr.com/Mobile-Accessories/w18222211259)

Or you can search for other brands and memory card sizes here: http://mumbai.quikr.com/Mobile-Accessories/w18222211259. What I got was a really good deal because currently, other online retailers are selling a 16GB Sandisk memory card at anything between 450 and 500 rupees. My dealer Mumbaikaprice was located close by - so they delivered the card right to my office! It doesn't get simpler than that. What's more, one can search as per area - so that you can find a dealer close to you and have the product delivered as soon as possible. Here is what my memory card looks like (as you can see, it came in genuine packaging):

The memory card and the hard disk were essential items on my wishlist but I was really confused about the third item. The memory card cost me 412 and the hard disk would cost me 3900 rupees; so I was left with around 688 rupees. I could get either a pair of headphones or a portable speaker. However, a portable charger with good battery power would be difficult to get under 900 rupees. So I searched for headphones (located in the mobile accessories section: http://mumbai.quikr.com/Mobile-Accessories/w18222211259) and found a mind-boggling array of options. And then this one caught my eye: http://mumbai.quikr.com/Monster-beats-by-dr-dre-Mixr-devid-guetta-headphones-W0QQAdIdZ184113001

Now where on earth do you get Dr Dre headphones for just 650 rupees? They normally retail for anything over 16000 rupees. There had to be a catch. I clicked on 'reply ad' and sent a message to the retailer, expressing an interest in the product, along with my cell phone number. Lo and behold! I got a call back in what seemed like seconds. What Quikr does is send a mobile alert to sellers whenever there is a response to any of their advertisements. That way, they don't have to wait to log on to check and respond to purchase requests. Nitin, the dealer told me that the headphones were a copy. I wondered whether it was worth the risk. Well for 650 rupees, I could take a chance. He offered me four colours - white, black, red and blue. I picked my favourite - red. Nitin was gracious enough to deliver either close to my residence or to my workplace. The very next day after calling, I had my brand new headphones in my hands:

Finally, it was time to clinch the costliest deal on my wishlist. My 1TB Seagate external hard disk http://mumbai.quikr.com/Brand-new-sealed-seagate-backup-plus-1-tb-portable-external-hard-disk-cheapest-W0QQAdIdZ170753138 (Other options are available at: http://mumbai.quikr.com/Computer-Peripherals/w18222211294)

In this case, the dealer, Ashwin did not respond to my message - so I called him from my end. He was able to tell me all about the product - yes, it had a warranty - yes, it was genuine and unused - no, he would not negotiate - yes, it would work on all devices. We have arranged to meet tonight at a location that is convenient for both of us and I can't wait to use all my new Diwali purchases once I'm home!

23rd October, 2014 - Day 3

I'm listening to Sona Mohapatra's 'ambar sariya' on my new headphones as I write this and the sound quality is brilliant - I can hear every beat, every nuance of Sona's voice. My favourite track never sounded better! Here is a better look at my new babies:

Right after checking the sound quality of my Dr Dre headphones, I plugged in my brand new, shiny hard disk into my laptop. I knew it was a slim model - yet I was unprepared for how small, sleek and conveniently sized it was! The folder opened as soon as I plugged it in - no installing of drivers. And I was gratified to see 931 GB space available for all my music, movies and photographs! I began transferring my essential files immediately - around 250 GB of data. The whole transfer happened rapidly and the speed was around 20 MBs per second. If only my memory card was that fast!

And now for the story of how I ended up with this lovely 1 TB hard disk at just 3900 rupees. After several calls and messages, Ashwin and I arranged to meet at Koperkhairane station, which was to be frank, quite out of the way for me. I thought he was being quite inflexible until I realised that he worked at Koperkhairane. He wasn't a dealer! He told me that he'd ordered a few hard disks for a client project and he was selling the three pieces that remained at a steal. I was more than happy with the explanation. I was just happy I had struck off the top three items from my Diwali wishlist, all thanks to Quikr,which turned out to be as quick as promised! (I ended up on the wrong side of Koperkhairane though and ended up burning quite a few calories getting to the right one. I later made up for this with a sumptuous plate of dahi puri). This photograph will show you how small the hard disk is:

I also inserted my new sandisk memory card into my (also new) Micromax Canvas Doodle 3 A102 phone and found my phone to be significantly faster after transferring all my data into the sd card. To recap my original wishlist:
  1. 1 TB Seagate hard disk - GOT IT! (Rs 3900)
  2. 16GB Sandisk memory card - GOT IT! (Rs 420 instead of 412 because the delivery boy didn't have change)
  3. Headphones or neckband - GOT IT! (Rs 650)
  4. Flip cover for my Micromax Canvas Doodle 3 phone
  5. Portable charger with around 5000 mAh or more
  6. Bluetooth headset
I might just get the other three items on Quikr as well, if I can find them at good rates (and I have no doubt I will). In fact, after seeing all the used items advertised on Quikr, I'm wondering if I should get rid of a few items I don't want through this wonderful website. I remember the time when my sister had wanted to sell her perfectly good guitar because she wasn't learning to play it any more. What if she'd advertised it on Quikr? Perhaps, she'd have gotten a better deal than what she eventually got. Another misconception I'd had about Quikr was cleared by the end of my shopping spree - that it was cumbersome and long-drawn. I had all my products within two days of starting to look for them! That was actually quicker than online retailers, who take more than a week to deliver items in most cases. What's more, I now had the contact details of a couple of good dealers whom I might contact in future as well, if I need mobile accessories.

You may still ask (as did I) why you should opt for Quikr and go to the trouble of calling and coordinating when you can just buy products at the click of a button. Well you know how we keep saying that you get gadgets at cheaper rates from a Lamington Road or a Manish Market? And we also lack the time or motivation in most cases to actually comb the streets of these markets and find a product that works for us. So, what if there was an online platform where you could find all these sellers, as well as individuals selling unwanted secondhand products from the comfort of your home or office? That platform is nothing but Quikr and in my opinion, there is definitely a market for a platform like Quikr. I mean, where else do you get a used Kinetic scooter for Rs 2500? (I'm not kidding. Check this out: http://mumbai.quikr.com/Amazing-Kinetic-Scooter-at-a-great-price-W0QQAdIdZ174923201 and http://mumbai.quikr.com/Scooters/w18222213048 for other options) And don't forget, you can even find jobs and homes on Quikr! If you have found some, befikar, do share your stories. :)

P.S.: For more information on how BlogAdda and Quikr made this magical experience of getting three excellent goodies in 5000 rupees possible, do visit http://adda.at/QuikBA 

Healthy, happy and wise

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I've never been a big subscriber of the 'healthy, wealthy and wise' axiom. I'd rather be healthy, happy and wise. And isn't that what we'd wish for our children? Growing up, my sister was a great source of worry for our mother. She was under-weight, disliked food and constantly made mom run around the house in order to feed her a single morsel of food. These words on Indiblogger's contest page particularly ring true: 'Our Children are our pride and joy. We love them and care for them and we let their warmth and energy fill our hearts and our homes. When this precious source of energy falls sick, its effects are felt throughout the house and it sometimes feels like the house itself has fallen ill'. Mom eventually emerged victorious in her battle for a healthier child. She was well-versed with Ayurveda and the magical healing properties of herbs like amla and guduchi. She would prepare potions and poultices using precious powders, sourced from local Ayurvedic stores and slip them into my sister's diet. Over time, she grew robust and active. Even today, we go back to those remedies for everyday ailments like cold, cough and stomach aches. 

However, today's moms don't need to go to all the effort that mine did. Today, there is an easier solution. Dabur Chyawanprash, a time-tested, age-old formulation has a number of herbs like Amla, known to be one of the best antioxidants, Giloy (Guduchi), known to have immuno-modulatory properties, and has more than 40 other natural ingredients. Read more about this modern-age version of a traditional favourite at https://www.liveveda.com/daburchyawanprash/3x_immunity.aspx. Chyawanprash in itself is not a modern invention. In ancient times, everyone was advised to have a spoonful of this delicious tonic with warm milk everyday for increased immunity; more so during winters when infections and viruses abound. But our schedules today don't allow us to spend time researching and preparing medicines painstakingly. Young mothers today often juggle their families and work commitments. In such a scenario, Dabur Chywanprash presents itself as the perfect solution to a healthy generation and a healthier nation. If you're not convinced, take a look at the product details: https://www.liveveda.com/daburchyawanprash/.

If you've ever lived with small children, you know that their energy (or the lack of it) can be endearingly infectious. I remember, on the days when my sister fell really sick, I'd feel as though a cloud of gloom had descended upon the house. I'd pray for her to get well quickly so that we could get back to what I considered was our 'normal' life. Happiness is normal. So is health. So, don't be okay with ill health and assume that time will heal everything. Sometimes, time needs a little support from nature and technology. Allow your children to benefit from the best antioxidants, known to have immuno-modulatory properties, and more than 40 other natural ingredients in Dabur Chwayanprash. In fact, daily consumption of this tonic can multiply your child's immunity by three. Why forsake all that frolic and laughter to the polluted atmosphere that we have to tolerate every day of our lives? Children have delicate systems and they need powerful nutrition to battle all the negative elements and bugs.

This post is an entry for Indiblogger's contest 'A healthy child makes for a happy home'. Please visit https://www.indiblogger.in/happyhours/dabur-healthy-child-happy-home/# for more details.

Why has the light grown dimmer?

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When I was a child, we celebrated most festivals with as much fervour as we could muster. But something happened over the years – something that dimmed the light in our lives. There were financial difficulties, family connections waned, faith in rituals faltered and a peaceful detachment replaced the sweets and fireworks of my salad days. But Pepsico’s new campaign ‘Ghar wali Diwali’ inspires me to take a jaunty walk down memory lane. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sQ7lMDWJOXA

We are a Tamilian Brahmin family and if you belong to one too, the memories I’m going to share might seem quite familiar. Mom would insist on being up at the crack of dawn, often at 6 AM and having an ‘oil bath’. That entailed oiling the hair and the body and/or adding a few drops of fragrant sesame oil to the warm bathwater. I don’t know about the spiritual significance of this practice but it certainly soothed the senses, eased any random aches and pains and most importantly, made all of us very hungry for what came next. Oh yes, the Diwali breakfast consisting of fruits, sweetmeats and carefully prepared savouries was the highlight of the festival for my eight-year old self. I’ve always had a massive sweet tooth and relished these treats with all the gusto of an experienced epicurean. There would be boondi, rawa and besan laddoos, white and brown chaklis and murrukus, coconut barfis, and sheedes (fried balls of spiced flour). Mom would have been busy preparing these the previous day, with happy assistance from the rest of the family. But we could not sit down for this sumptuous feast unless we were dressed in brand-new clothes. It was auspicious to ring in Diwali in fresh attire, mom would say. Hence, Diwali clothes shopping would commence up to a month before the festival.  I would invariably pick a fancy frock or if I was in the mood for ethnic wear, a bright yellow lehenga. Once we had nourished ourselves, mom and dad would perform a small puja and we would all thank the deity for blessing us with all that we had. The rest of the day would be spent burning fuljadis – a noise-free form of pretty fireworks and then taking a tour of the area post sunset to admire all the pretty lanterns that people had put up. We put up our own – a bright red star for at least two weeks after Dipavali. in the evening, we also lit earthen diyas and placed them in the veranda, so that their lovely golden glow would illuminate the world outside, as well as the flames of courage and goodness in our own hearts.

But when I look around me and see the sheer number of people who are living away from their families, in their pursuit for a ‘better’ life, I realise how precious these memories are. And how fortunate I am, that I can recreate them this very year, with my family here in Mumbai. Thinking about the prospect of spending this lovely festival all alone makes me want to embrace its full glory once again. May the lights shine brighter this year. And may there be joy and togetherness for all those who are reading this.

Are you assailed by memories and desires of your own after reading my story? Visit https://www.gharwalidiwali.com/ to share your own story and stand the chance to send a surprise Diwali gift hamper home. Wish you a very happy Diwali, wherever you are, and in whatever way you may be celebrating (as long as it’s pollution-free :) ).