Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Website Review: CollegeDunia.com

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world” – Nelson Mandela

The educational system in India is chaotic, at best. Right from preschool, there is this constant feeling of rushing around, with parents running from pillar to post to secure the best education for their child that they can afford. The race only intensifies as kids grow older, and reaches its climax when its time to choose a college.

The year your child starts college is not the most stressful time for parents, it is the year preceding it. The hunt for a good college starts early, with parents employing all kinds of resources to gather the necessary information required to make the right decision.

But now, parents needn’t struggle so much. The web has made information available at your fingertips, and when you have a website like CollegeDunia.com, choosing the right college is a breeze!


CollegeDunia, true to its name, is a college universe. It is a one stop destination for students and parents hunting for the right place for higher education. The website features a course list that includes obvious choices like medical, engineering, management and law, but also more interesting ones like fashion designing, mass communication and other vocational courses.

The look and feel of the site is very clean and neat. Lots of white space lets you focus on just what you’re looking for – information on colleges. The categories are well demarcated and the home page even offers options for part time or full time courses. Clicking on a course category will list all the available colleges offering that course, and you can even narrow down your search with filters.


From the list, you can click on the name of a college to know more about it. This is where we get to the ‘meat’ of the website – complete in depth information that includes details about hostels and student clubs! A quick look gives all the different ways to get in touch with the college.


See that blue button on the far right that says ‘Shortlist’? Clicking on it will make sure that you will be contacted by a counselor for more details on the same. Scrolling down further, you get lots more information, packed very neatly into symbols and icons that tell you about the college amenities, approval and more. There is even a complete photo and video gallery!


All in all, CollegeDunia is a dream come true for parents and students who’d like all their options in one place which makes it much easier to make a choice. No more panicking and running around! If you’d like to know more, you can mail them at info@collegedunia.com.


You can also get updates from CollegeDunia on Facebook and Twitter.


Friday, 25 July 2014

Review: Omved Daily Night Foot Oil

I’m not much of a product junkie, and my buying patterns were usually based on the product claims. That is really lame, I know and I have been mending my ways. Nowadays, I’m trying to be more aware of the ingredients in the product I buy, and also if it’s safe and not tested on animals. I’ve found that rather than do a complete research on every product I buy, it gets easier if I do the same on a brand and then trust all the products from their line.

One such brand that has garnered a lot of trust is Omved. The first time I saw this name was in a magazine and since then it’s been everywhere; a lot of people are loyal fans and swear by their products. My curiosity was piqued, so when I got a chance to review a product from their skin care line, I grabbed it.


Name of the product: Omved Daily Night Foot Oil

Price: Rs. 690.00 for 80 ml

Shelf Life: 2 years

Review: The bottle arrived packed neatly and securely in a cardboard box filled with bubble wrap and the bottle itself was bound in plastic.




The bottle clearly mentions the product’s USP – no parabens, sulfates, silicones or any harmful chemicals.



The oil is dispensed in an easy to use pump, which is great, since there is no chance of wastage or spillage, which can be quite nasty when it comes to oils. The oil itself is transparent; you can barely see it here in the palm of my hand:


The best part about this oil is that it is not sticky. It is smooth and glides easily on skin and makes my feet feel instantly moisturized and soft. It is best to wear socks after application so that the oil doesn’t rub off on to the sheets and it gets a chance to work on your feet all night long.

The only problem, if you can call it that, is that the smell might not appeal to everyone, especially if they are not used to natural or organic products. The smell reminds me of my grandmother’s house and has a nostalgic feel to it, but if you’re used to synthetic smells from regular drugstore products, it might take a little getting used to.

Would I recommend this? I most certainly will. At first glance, it appears a little steep for the pocket, but the fact is that one bottle will last you a really long time, since just a few drops of oil are sufficient for a massage. I like the packaging too, it has an elegant, old world feel to it :).


If this review has got you interested, you can go ahead and order your bottle from here. And if you have already tried it out, do let me know how it worked for you!!


Monday, 21 July 2014

Recipe for the Week – Undaputtu: Ramadan Special Guest Post on Gheza-e-Shiriin

The holy month of Ramadan is in its last leg, with only a week left to go. These last days of Ramadan are considered the holiest, with people spending most of their time in worship. Even though fasting is prescribed from sunrise to sunset, it doesn’t mean that we do away with food altogether! The time of breaking the day long fast is really special, and traditional dishes make their presence on the table. Today’s recipe is one such dish from the Malabar region of Kerala, called Undaputtu, or steamed rice flour dumplings with a prawn filling.


I know you’re waiting for the recipe, and for that you can visit my guest post over at Huma’s yummilicious blog, Gheza-e-Shiriin for her Ramadan event. Many bloggers have participated and today’s my turn!! Please hop over for the full recipe and show us both some love!




Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Morning Musings

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She stood there, hands folded across each other and resting on the balcony railing. She looked across the tops of the numerous coconut trees, interrupted by apartment high rises. One day, she thought, I’ll buy an apartment in one of those buildings. She loved her rental flat too, it was comfortable, but the dream of owning her own home never left her thoughts.

There was a cool breeze coming in from the sea, which lightly ruffled the stray strands of hair by the side of her face. Some days she hated her curly locks and made them go through all kinds of torture in an attempt to straighten the hell out of them. On some days like this one, she loved the pretty curls they made and wondered why people ever bothered hiding themselves when they were perfect just the way God made them.

The color of the sky was slowly lightening up. As she watched, the street lights went off. A few women came out their front doors and began sweeping the area around their houses. Malayalees were obsessed with morning rituals like these, she thought with a smile.


The sun came up all the way and spread its glorious warmth all around. The birds were chirping and she could hear the buzz of activity in the kitchen downstairs. With one more glance at the distant apartment buildings, she thanked God for a lovely new day and walked back inside. 




Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Recipe for the Week – Cheddar Oregano Scones (Baking Partners Challenge #23)

I’m back with a recipe!! I missed last month’s Baking Partners challenge with everything that happened, so I really wanted to do this month’s. All the more since I’ve never made scones before although they’ve been on my ‘must-bake’ list for so long. They are surprisingly easy to make, and the end result is more than satisfactory!

This month, we had two options – a savory tart and cheesy scones. This recipe doesn’t have those small cute scones; instead it features larger scone wedges. This is another reason the recipe is so easy and quick – no scone cutters required. The original recipe is from here, and was modified a little for us by Archana from The Mad Scientist’s Kitchen. Archana also provided some useful tips along with a step by step tutorial which was very helpful :). The recipe actually calls for sage, but I couldn’t find any and made do with oregano.


What you’ll need:

225 g plain flour, plus more for dusting
3 tsp baking powder
A pinch of pepper
50 g salted butter, plus more for greasing
50 g + 50 g cheddar cheese, grated
1 tbsp oregano + ½ tbsp oregano
1½ tsp English Mustard
100 ml curd
50 ml water

Note: The recipe calls for unsalted butter and added salt, but I skipped the salt and used salted butter. Also, I couldn’t find powdered English mustard as mentioned in the original recipe, so I went with regular English mustard.

What you’re going to do:

1. Preheat the oven to 200°C and grease and flour a shallow baking pan. Cut up the butter into small cubes and put it back to chill.

2. Whisk the curd till smooth and add water till it hits the 150 ml mark. Set aside a tsp to brush on the scones. Whisk the mustard into the remaining buttermilk.


3. Sift the flour with the baking powder and pepper till well combined.


4. Rub the butter into the flour with your fingertips till it resembles breadcrumbs.



5. Add 50 g cheese and 1 T oregano and mix it all together with your fingers.


6. Make a well in the centre and add the buttermilk-mustard mixture. Roll into a soft dough.



7. Pat the dough into a circle 3 cm thick. Transfer this circle onto the prepared pan.


8. Cut the circle into 8 parts and separate the wedges a little on the pan.


9. Brush the scone wedges with the reserved buttermilk and then sprinkle the ½ tbsp oregano on top. Follow with the remaining 50 g cheese.


10. Bake for about 15 minutes till the scones are browned and the cheese is completely melted.



Check out that beautiful brown and all that glorious melted cheese:


The recommended way of serving these scones is with butter, but we skipped it.


Instead, we had it for breakfast with sausages and some Tabasco sauce on the side :).


This is perfectly lovely for a cold rainy morning. Doesn’t take too long, and doesn’t need the butter to be left out or anything. I think it would go really well with some scrambled eggs too :). Or maybe baked beans; the options are endless!!



Have you ever tried baking scones? If not, do try out this recipe!! Till then, here’s a little something for Game of Scones….err….Thrones fans:

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Friday, 6 June 2014

Website Review: Zoutons.com – The Loot is On!


I bet that catchy tagline caught your eye, didn’t it? The Loot is On! I can’t think of a better way to describe an online shopping experience where you can make huge savings on all your purchases, and that’s exactly what Zoutons.com promises you!!


India is shopping online in a big way nowadays. And why not – there are so many options, with practically every kind of product available online. And having coupons that cut your costs just sweetens the deal! The Zoutons.com website offers you coupons for nearly all the major shopping websites in India today, like Flipkart, Myntra, Jabong, Amazon India, Snapdeal – the list goes on and on!

The website itself is  very neat and comes straight to the point without any unnecessary graphics or fuss. The tabs at the top clearly indicate how you can search for coupons – by category (apparel, electronics etc.), by stores (flipkart, jabong etc.) or by brands (Adidas, Puma etc.). There are even coupons that you can use on shopping using specific credit cards!!

The main page shows you all the hottest coupons on the online shopping scene: the latest ones as well as the most popular ones. The availability of common categories like apparel, footwear and electronics is obvious, but did you know that you can also get deals on hotel booking, holiday packages, movies, restaurants and even bathroom fittings?? How’s that for variety!!


One of the things I like the most about this website is the customer interaction part. Every venture requires the support of everyone involved to be a true success, and Zoutons.com handles this beautifully. Every coupon deal has a Yes/No button where you can specify whether the coupon worked for you or not. A user rating is created based on votes and is displayed right next to the store name at the top.


Another useful feature is the ‘Submit coupon’ form on the landing page. If you find something new, you can use this form to submit your coupon and help other shoppers avail the same discount. You can also sign up to get deals of the day straight in your inbox.

Overall, the website is really user friendly, loads quickly and has a clean and neat interface. So the next time you want to shop online, don’t forget to check out Zoutons.com or you’ll be missing out on some really good deals!



Thursday, 5 June 2014

In Memoriam



Sometimes, life has a way of surprising, or rather, shocking you out of your skin. Everything’s going fine, you’re making plans, and then…. wham!!!

I’m guessing that through Facebook, many of you already know about what I’m talking about – the sudden death of my Mother in law. She was in her late sixties, a diabetic and with arthritic knees, but otherwise okay with no life threatening disease. We spent Friday and Saturday at her place, leaving only after dinner on Saturday. She was perfectly fine, making big plans and sounding really excited about her U.S based elder son and family coming to visit in June. She was especially thrilled at meeting her grand kids after two and a half years. How big they must be!!

Sunday passed as usual, she saw a few patients (she’s a doctor), pottered about the house and then went to bed. She got up on Monday morning complaining about pain in her left arm, applied some balm, said she felt too tired to eat breakfast and went to lie down. My father in law had his breakfast and went to check on her, but she seemed fast asleep. Suddenly, she made this gasping sound and looked like she was choking. My FIL called a doctor from the nearby hospital, who came and said that things looked really bad and that she was unlikely to make it. Within 10 minutes, she was gone. Just like that.

I couldn’t believe it at first. But she was perfectly okay, how did this happen?? A thousand questions. Disbelief from everyone who was informed. Relatives, friends, family members - pouring in from all directions.

It was heart breaking to look at my father in law’s face. After their children flew the nest, it’s been just the two of them for the past twenty years. Their relatives and extended family live quite far away, and with age, visits dwindled down to once or twice a year. I can’t begin to imagine how he must have felt at that moment.

We debated about how to tell Cub. His paternal grandmother was the playmate grandparent, the one who didn’t mind the mess as long as he had fun. My mother eventually explained what happened and waited for questions. But he had none. Probably the only one who didn’t have any. He just nodded his head and walked away. He never asked for her after that, but he was in a bad mood all the time, throwing tantrums and acting out.

It has been a hard time, these past few weeks. The American brother arrived with his family two days later, and we’ve all been with my FIL. Everyone’s presence has offered him some comfort and he seems better. But they’ll leave this Sunday, and Cub’s school starts on Monday as well. Living arrangements are being discussed, since FIL can’t be left alone, but he’s reluctant to leave his old home and move in with us. Nothing’s the same anymore. Everything’s changed and we have no choice but to accept those changes and move forward.


In spite of everything, I think we’re doing okay. My FIL has restarted going for his morning walk and seems more interested in his food. Cub has settled down and is now looking forward to going back to school. I’ve restarted my writing, though the internet and electricity are quite shaky here. The rains have offered some respite from the heat and it somehow feels like it’s washing away the dust and clearing up a way to look ahead.



I am glad that my Mother in law was happy and content when she died, although she didn’t get to meet her other grandkids. I pray that she rests in peace. I pray that the family recovers soon and finds its way forward, accompanied by happy memories of a beloved mother and grandmother. 

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