Something has gone seriously wrong.


If you're reading this, please do so with a pinch of salt. Because it's that time of the month when hormones range and every other thing seems justifiable cause for tears. Or alternatively, a post like this.

Let's cut to 2012, when I was working in a Hindi channel (obviously, it wasn't the right place for me) in an insignificant job with no interests except finding love, getting drunk and occasionally writing fiction and poetry. It was a scary period in my life because I felt directionless. Then, I found a better job in a better place and at the end of the following year, I found love as well, though I was lonely otherwise. I was still drinking, writing and having spiritual epiphanies now and then. Life wasn't all that bad.

2015 though, was a euphoric year. My job wasn't living up to my expectations but I discovered travel writing. It ignited every recess of my soul and the few readers I had, encouraged my humble, dreamy travelogues. Then, I went on a trip where I met many 'professional' travel bloggers and my perception of the vocation changed. I discovered possibilities that could possibly turn my little blog into a career and leave me free of the obligation of having an unsatisfying job. The sad truth is that jobs rarely make you happy. At times, you have an enjoyable work culture and colleagues. At other times, you have a job description that is supposedly everything you ever wanted to do. But the indisputable truth is that you will always be following orders. And at some point or the other, there will be a dissonance between what you want to do and what you are expected to. For some people, this kind of discord is matter of course. For me, it causes deep-seated and long-lasting anxiety, bordering on depression.

As a child, I was always sure I wanted to be a writer. I also wanted to be a novelist. I thought I'd find great success and live with love and nature around me. Today, I find myself devoid of the motivation and inspiration required to be a novelist. The readers of my blog berate me for having 'sold out'. And my job is in jeopardy for reasons I cannot reveal. My personal life is all right but that was never the focus for a driven introvert like me.

I was a topper throughout my student life. I've heard a lot of people say it's only about rote memory but I thought I was intelligent, not just in the scoring marks kind of way (please indulge me). The impression I usually left, was of one who'd pursue success. But I haven't, have I? Success for my soul means writing only the good stuff. And that's not going to pay the bills. To be paid for writing the good stuff, you have to be f***ing brilliant - path breaking journalism, talking to the locals, delving deep - that kind of thing. Me - I'm only good for waxing eloquent about the light between the leaves and the sweet curves of a ravine. The worst thing about all this is that I'm not even free to vent on the world wide web. We're all being monitored. I always thought that was paranoia earlier. I know better now.

In spite of all that has gone wrong, I know deep down that I'm responsible for most of it. And I do believe in guardian angels. They keep us afloat even when we make bad decisions, fail to listen to our hearts or see the big picture. Best of all, they remind us that change is always possible. I could remedy most of what has gone awry. But many questions remain. And I've begged the Universe for guidance.

District Lounge, The Shalimar Hotel, Mumbai


I just read through some of the reviews for this restaurant and I’m wondering how on earth did these people manage to eat so many dishes at District Lounge! Because the portions at this bar and restaurant are really, really generous. And if you’re only two people, you won’t be able to have anything more than one starter, mains and dessert with a couple of drinks each. Apart from the portion size, the taste, service and pricing of this restaurant are major USPs, despite being situated in the premium Shalimar Hotel, an iconic landmark of South Bombay.


The hotel is at Kemps Corner and a twenty minute cab ride away from CST station. Walk straight ahead from the reception and you see the ornate ochre and brown door with floral carvings. Inside, the bar looks small at first but then you see the extended seating space and the array of bar stools and you realise there’s much more to District Lounge than meets the eye. We wanted privacy and quiet, so sat at one of the tables closer to the entrance. Inside, there were some boisterous regulars who were gracious enough to apologise about the noise. We didn’t really mind though.


The waiters at District Lounge are humble and quick to meet your demands. We scanned through the menu, an exact replica of what’s available online. Like always, I already knew what I wanted. The papad paneer rolls had looked quite interesting in pictures so we went for that. Unfortunately, the cocktail I wanted (Sazerac) was missing a key ingredient (absinthe) so I went for my usual favourite, a sparkling wine spritzer. My friend had the long island iced tea, which turned out to be quite special. Later, we ordered good old paneer masala with roti and were quite stuffed by the end of it. But our server insisted we ought to try dessert and recommended the Dutch truffle. Who can go wrong with that, right? It was classic chocolate pastry elegance.


All in all, District Lounge is complete value for time and money. The service is quick, the drinks are competitively priced and your final bill should be around Rs 2500 for two with alcohol and Rs 1500 for only food. My only recommendation is to pay more attention to the lighting and music, to create that pub-like ambience. Now for those of you who are interested, here are the details.

Starter: Papad paneer roll (Rs. 375)

Four gigantic papad rolls came to us, each generously filled with chopped paneer and an extremely spicy masala. The dish was tasty, attractively presented and filling, but the chef could go easier on the chillies and masala. Having two of these was like a meal in itself!

Mains: Paneer tikka masala with roti (Rs. 415 + Rs. 95)


I loved the paneer tikka masala with its faintly sweet and creamy gravy and large chunks of paneer. The paneer was soft and fresh and we mopped up most of the gravy with the warm rotis. 

Dessert: Dutch truffle (from the next-door bakery)


There are no desserts on the District Lounge menu but there’s a bakery next door with an attractive array of the sweet stuff. The Dutch truffle is known for its perfection and we weren’t disappointed. It was the perfect end to a satisfying meal.

Cocktails

Aperol spritzer (Rs. 695)


A delicious concoction of sparkling wine, aperol (a kind of liqueur) and soda, this bright orange cocktail came wedged with a thick slice of orange. I loved its fizzy goodness but felt that it wasn’t very potent. I may have been wrong though, because the next drink had me really tipsy.

Long island iced tea (Rs. 445)


Every bar does its own version of this classic favourite but District Lounge really aced it. The seductive dark concoction of vodka, gin, white rum, tequila and triple sec was served in a beautiful tall and curvy glass and the drink felt super smooth on the tongue.
District Lounge - The Shalimar Hotel Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

You could also try their creative new-age cocktails while you’re there. The ‘hookah pots’ might be a good option for larger groups. Beer starts from Rs 165 and wines from Rs 295 per glass. There is a decent variety of mocktails as well on the menu. Food options aren’t too many but the non-vegetarians have slightly more to choose from. If you live in town, make District Lounge your Friday haunt. And if not, make the trip for a special occasion.

Gadget Review: Coolpad Cool 1


The Coolpad stable is known for budget smartphones that pack in an impressive array of features. This time around, Coolpad has tied up with LeEco to bring out a mid-range smartphone that promises to be a reliable and long-term investment. Priced at Rs 13,999, the phone has a 5.5 inch display like others in the category and a choice of 3GB or 4GB RAM. The phone has the LeEco interface and software so if you're a fan, you'll enjoy using this phone. I've had it with me for over a week now and here are my insights.

Look and feel



Coolpad Cool 1 comes in two colours - silver and gold. I have with me the silver phone and the colour is nothing like I've ever seen before. It is classy and sophisticated and the smooth edges add to the appeal of the phone. At 173 grams, there may be lighter phones but it certainly doesn't feel heavy when you hold it in your hand or put it in your pocket. But the best part is the rich display and the high touch sensitivity. You can also use gyroscope fingerprint technology to secure your phone.

Verdict: Excellent

Speed and memory

The biggest USP of the Coolpad Cool 1 has to be its speed and ease of use. Every button on the screen reacts like a dream, the phone never heats up and the ROM seems more than adequate. The 32 GB internal memory is decent but I wonder why there isn't a 64 GB variant, considering this memory is non-expandable. Bluetooth is also highly responsive.

Verdict: Very fast

Battery

The 4000 mAh battery is one of the best I've encountered in a mid-range smartphone. Even after several days of light use, the battery barely dipped. This feature makes the Coolpad Cool 1 a great phone for frequent travellers and heavy users. Sure we all have power banks but it never hurts to have a phone with a battery that actually delivers.


Verdict: Excellent

Sound

The audio quality is great and the effects really come through when you plug in a pair of earphones. But what really impressed me was the excellent volume. In a silent, enclosed space, you wouldn't even need a speaker to dance to the music. The phone comes loaded with a large variety of pleasant caller tunes.

Verdict: Very good

Camera

The camera comes with a highly touted dual 13 MP rear camera which is bound to raise your expectations. So when you see the display blanking out in harsh sunlight and a noticeable blur in many medium-light photos, you feel let down. Nevertheless, the control options in 'pro' mode are impressive, including everything from ISO settings to exposure and focus.


I wouldn't say the final result is bad but it's mediocre. The panorama photos also come out dark, whatever the direction of the sun. On the other hand, the front 8 MP camera is pretty good. And the array of stickers you can add while clicking and during editing make the photography process very enjoyable. Check out my photo where I added glasses, a crown and a cat in post-production.

However, the camera clicks reasonably good photos in the night. I was pleased with the clarity and detailing. Give the night mode a miss though - it adds too much light and leaves the photo overexposed and unclear.


Verdict: Fair

Inclusions


In my package, I received a charging cum USB cable, plug, scratch guard, pin to remove the SIM tray, warranty card and user manual along with the phone. Remember that because this follows the LeEco model, the plug point is shaped differently from other Android phones. This means you can't swap chargers with a Samsung or Asus. There was no earphone in the inclusions.

In conclusion, Coolpad Cool 1 is an excellent phone if you take into consideration the seamless speed, ease of use, long-lasting battery, excellent sound and high quality of display (except in bright sunlight). At this price point, you are unlikely to get such features in any other brand. However, the camera and non-expandable memory leave room for improvement. At the same time, I was reasonably happy with the video quality. And the stickers and variety of editing modes are fun to play around with. If you don't rely on your phone as a high quality camera, there's no reason the Coolpad Cool 1 shouldn't be your next smartphone.

Specifications at a glance


  • Display: 5.5”, IPS, FHD 1920 x 1080
  • RAM: 3GB/4GB
  • ROM: 32GB (non-expandable)
  • Camera: Dual 13MP AF rear; f/2.2, 8MP front
  • Sensor: Infrared controller,Gyroscope fingerprint,Accelerometer Proximity Sensor, Light sensor
  • OS: Android 6.0
  • Colours: Silver, gold
  • Battery: 4000mAh Stand by time up to 300H
  • Weight: 173g
  • Network: 2G/3G/4G
  • Chipset: MSM8976 1.8GHz Octa-core Adreno 510
Get it at Rs 13,999 on Amazon

Click here to see more photos clicked using Coolpad Cool 1

Let go of anger in 2017.


I've had one major problem (self-created sadly) that has dogged me for all of 2016. It has been rising in proportion since the last few years and threatens to overwhelm me completely. It's the emotion that is of absolutely no use unless directed towards fruitful effort: anger.

You wouldn't be too far off the mark describing me as an 'Angry Young Woman'. I wasn't always like this but lately, I've let every slight annoyance, be it an event, an utterance or a person, to take me to the point of extreme agitation. My skin grows flushed, my heartbeat quickens I do something I shouldn't and within a few minutes, it's all over, leaving behind that familiar sinking feeling. Yes, I almost always apologise and do my utmost to make amends. But it has happened so many times that I've lost count of the number of times I've said 'sorry'. And I don't want to do this anymore.

I've always believed that anger is a result of ego. People who are too puffed up with pride feel offended at the slightest injury to their egos. I'm afraid I may have joined that ignominious category. I tend to take everything personally and I have a very thin skin. I'm oversensitive and it's all too easy to take refuge in fury. I also take everything too seriously. Why should a colleague's behaviour matter so much? I should reserve the angst for the truly important things. Do you have the same problem as me? Then maybe both of us can benefit from these tips:

1. Delay every angry reaction by 30 minutes (or until you forget about the incident). If you still feel as disturbed, evaluate your response and then take action. Anger is born of impulse and in the absence of the rush of fury, it's almost impossible to be as angry.

2. Stop taking pride in anger. It's not a sign of strength or courage. It merely points to your instability and inability to treat things with maturity and equanimity. Instead, start taking pride in remaining unruffled. It's a skill that will take you far in life.

3. Smile or diffuse the situation with humour, whenever a tense circumstance develops. I'm not great at impromptu jokes but even I can't hold on to my temper if I smile genuinely.

4. Understand that it is never okay to be rude. Verbal abuse is still abuse. Even if the other person is in the wrong, you have no right to lambast them. Everyone has a right to be treated with courtesy, even if that person is your spouse or child. The truth in your words isn't affected by the tone or volume at which they are delivered.

5. Say "I will not be angry today. I will stay calm." ten times every morning prior to meditation. Write it down ten times when you come to work. Repeat it in your mind ten times before you go to sleep. Let the intention to stay calm echo in every corridor of your mind, heart and soul. Anger is destructive and deserves to be banished.

6. This tip is personal to me but may work for you if like me, you get agitated by certain types of injustice in the world. For me, I feel a rush of fury whenever I read about crimes against women or the environment. I have made a conscious decision to avoid such news items and to give them minimal attention even if I do encounter them. The right response to my concern is to do something to improve matters - not ruin my health with anger.

7. Treat other people like you would treat yourself. Respect them and never talk down. Understand that people behave according to their own value systems. They might not think like you do, but that doesn't always make them wrong or bad. They have no obligation to listen to you or change according to your desires.

8. Learn to be humble. You can't take credit for your life or the advantages you were born with. What's the point in being egoistic about that which has been granted to you and that which will be taken away one day?

9. Be steadfast in your devotion to your own health and happiness. Anger will never make you happy. Calmness and contentment will. Anger will mess with your health by causing you stress. Why put your body and mind through all that trouble?

10. Don't sweat the small stuff. Small irritations are like insects - you can swat them away but they may return, again and again. But do they stop you from living your life and enjoying what you do? Not at all. Don't bother about trivialities that are out of your control.

So I guess I have made a New Year resolution after all. I will let go of anger in 2017. In fact, I have already done so. What about you?