Saturday, January 31, 2015

Chat Quikr: Make Purchase and Sell Products Hassle-Free

A few days ago I checked out www.quikr.com/ and explored the site. Essentially Quikr is a website which is dedicated to buying and selling products and services quickly. I wanted to sell a few books and buy a few things too. So when I started to use the site I realized a few things. They are as follows:

1. These guys have a nifty app for smartphones called QuikrNXT which makes buying and selling so much easier. All you have to do is select the product, take a few photograph, add the price you want to sell it for, and then list it on the website.

2. Through the app you can chat with the customer directly and leave a message. This is also a great idea for those who would prefer chatting over a call.

3. I navigated through the app and mobile site and they were both very easy to navigate and interesting.

4. The mobile site and the app loaded up quite quickly and when I sent in my queries, they got correct and quick responses.

Chatting is one of the best features of the quikr app. I much rather would chat with someone than call. There are a few reasons why I would prefer a chat session.

a. Chatting is way more convenient for me than calling. When I have some time, I can always leave the client a message and talk to him/her. When the client sees the message, or we figure out the details and I can answer questions about the product or ask some of my own. This makes it quite convenient for me and the client to talk at our own leisure.

b. As a woman selling my products on a portal, I find it to be safer to chat rather than call. There are unfortunately a considerable number of people who can create nuisance over the phone, like make crank or prank calls or call from random numbers and irritate, or make rude comments. On the other hand, during a chat, it is much easier to keep my gender anonymous.

c. Also, after the initial contact, I have realized that as a buyer or seller, I like seeing if the other person is genuinely interested in the product or he/she is a time waster. If the person is genuinely interested in the product it actually shows within the first few minutes of chat and I can provide more details or confirm purchase or sale without actually having to give out my details to everyone I talk to. Only the genuine one, who is truly interested, will receive it.

I have to say, with the Quikr app, I have checked out a few things to buy and confirmed sales very easily. It is fast, convenient and for me a blessing, because now I put up stuff i don't need on the portal and there is someone or the other interested in the products I sell. All I would suggest that while using the app is for the seller to take a number of photos and be specific about the details, like height, weight and length, as well as the color, details, etc, which helps the user to figure out what is required.

Overall I feel that I would much rather prefer chatting over calling, especially when I am not sure about the person I  talking to on the other end. Quikr makes my life much simpler by giving me that option and I love that.

Disclaimer: This post is written in association with Indiblogger. For more, visit www.quikr.com or look up hashtag #QuikrNXT

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Dim Sums and Cocktails at Yauatcha, Quest Mall, Kolkata

Ginger martini at Yauatcha, Kolkata
We were sitting in Yauatcha inside Quest Mall, Kolkata the other day with a glass of Ginger Martini, the sharp ginger and the alcohol toned down by a hint of sugar syrup, and R was making me laugh with some hilarious stories. On a lazy late afternoon, we were watching the crowds of people dressed in sarees, thanks to Saraswati Puja, from our relatively quiet seat, and marvelling at the one day of the year when yellow seemed to be everyone's theme song.

Lychee Martini at Yauatcha
Of course, R wanted something different and went with the Lychee Martini. The manager, Anindya, came over to inform us about the family sharing platters available for 2888/- plus tax for a party of three people (available Monday to Thursday from 7 pm onwards), and the cocktail hours, where, for two hours (6-8 pm), you can drink as much as you like from their selected cocktail and alcohol menu, which included the martinis we were drinking, as well as Jim Beam and other nice stuff for 999/- plus tax. Great deals, both, but at this point my attention was focused on our meal.

Hot and Sour Chicken Soup
The Hot and Sour Chicken Soup at Yauatcha is comforting, with tiny shreds of tofu, chicken, cloud ear fungus, and it warms me up considerably. R smacks his lips appreciatively, and looks around for the chillies soaked in vinegar. They tell us that they serve it on request, but does not include it on the table. The pattern of table presentation and service is what is followed all over the Michelin starred brand, apparently, but of course, there are exceptions that make the rule.

Lamb Roll with Black Pepper Sauce
An assortment of dumplings come over to our table. The lamb rolls, rolled in cabbage leaf and topped with a black pepper sauce, is hot and tangy. There is a little bite from the cabbage leaves in which they have been rolled, and the lamb itself is cooked till its moist and juicy. On the other hand, the har gao is stuffed full with plump, fresh prawns and with a translucent skin which I marvel at. 
Har Gao
However, my specific favorite was the Peking dumpling, which was a mix of chicken and prawn mince served in a lovely soy-based sauce that had a delectable tang to it. The chef, Kushal Lama explained that these dumplings were specifically made to suit Indian taste buds, with the soy and vinegar adding a tangy edge to the dim sums. 

Peking Dumplings
 The Almond Prawns on the other hand reminded me of thread prawns, with wonton wrappers wrapped around plump prawns and deep fried. It came partially dipped in a sweet sauce with hint of caramel and plum and I wanted more of it, but at this point R pointed me towards the accompanying cocktails, and of course, I was distracted. 

Almond Prawns
 
Lalu was my first drink of choice. It came highly recommended and I was happy to see the long stalk of lemongrass which was pushed into it. This is a refreshing drink, the alcohol adding a key note to the citrus which featured heavily into this.

 
On the other hand... Hakka...with passion fruit and coconut was a creamy concoction with a very strong kick which you won't really feel first... But well into your first drink you will be slowly realizing the power and the glory of this drink which comes topped with half a passion fruit. 

What I liked was the fact that ingredients are a very important factor and they import a considerable number of things to ensure that the authenticity and the taste remains constant across the chains. 

Also... If you thought that this was all I ate... Think again. I did return to sample the main courses... Which would be revealed soon. 
Hakka

Monday, January 26, 2015

Arsalan, Park Street Region, Kolkata

Arsalan Mutton Biryani, Kolkata
This is a tale of three women who felt hungry after a long, cold evening of listening to men who made headlines. They wanted to eat Mughlai food. No, sorry. They wanted to eat Mughlai food of Kolkata, which is quite different from what the Mughals ate when they were around. Like Kolkata has adapted from the Chinese immigrants who came to their land, they have adapted from the Mughal ones, too. Their version essentially reduced the quantity of oil and spices, added weird and 'foreign' ingredients, and made it more environment-friendly. They walked down the narrow lanes, down Kyd street, and then into Free School Street, turned, and bumped into Arsalan. 

Condiments - Pudina Chutney, Mixed Pickles, Chillies and lime
The leader of the pack sat herself down on one of the comfortable six-seaters at the back, and dared the server to comment otherwise. Of course, the wise server quickly returned with menu cards, and handed them over. After a brief tussle, where M1 wanted to order everything a carnivore could eat, and M2 wanted to eat light because her tummy was still full, they lifted their eyes from the menu and ordered. Of course, the ever-confident P (well, that's Presented by P for you) knew what she wanted, and did not bother with the menu. The server filled the water glass, took the order, and the hungry girls waited for the food to arrive.

Masala Coke
But before the food arrived, the condiments and the Masala Coke did. This belonged to M2, and she declared it to be nice and spicy, just what she wanted. She also looked as if she would bite anyone who would dare touch it, so P wisely refrained from taking a sip.

Mutton Burra Kabab
M1 was nice enough to share her mutton burra kabab with P. Charred slightly more than what she would have liked, the chops were tender and the meat had plenty of juices without falling off the bone. These chops needed a squeeze of lime to balance out the saltiness, and a few slivers of onions added some crunch too.

Chicken Garlic Kabab
The Chicken Garlic Kabab, M1's second choice, was quite similar in taste to the Chicken Arsalan Kabab, with its thick coat of seasoned gram flour and cream over the juicy pieces of chicken. These were great on their own, but brightened further with a few dollops of the creamy mint and coriander chutney which was served on the side. At this point, the focus shifted towards the two mains ordered by the remaining members in the table.

Growing up, memories of rumali roti and its making had always been associated with a nearby Punjabi dhaba, where two young men would make endless number of those rotis, and cook them quickly on both sides before bringing them to the table. Unlike a normal tawa or tandoor, they were cooked on the back of a iron kadai, and flipped quickly to make sure small brown spots appeared on both sides of the paper thin roti, indicating their ready state. Here, M2 had paired her rotis with a Kolkata classic, the Rezala.

It is not exactly sure where Rezala came from, but apparently, the rezala has strong Afghani connections. Since it is cooked with cashew and poppy seeds (or so it says in a considerable number of dishes), and has dried red chillies and sometimes makhana added to it, I would not really argue with the Afghan story, but strangely enough, I have never really found this dish in the menu at any Delhi Mughlai or Muslim restaurant. On the other hand, the rasalla or rizala is very popular in Bangladesh.

Chicken Rezala
The Chicken Rezala came with a piece of tenderly cooked chicken breast in a mildly tangy yogurt gravy, topped with a piece of deep fried chilli which was clearly added at the last moment (because the chilli had not absorbed any of the cooking liquid, which, I would say, is a damn shame, because the liquid-laden chilli is any heat lover's delight).

Mutton Biryani from Arsalan
On the other hand was the famous Mutton Biryani from Arsalan, which beckoned with its soft nalli, the tender shank redolent with intramuscular fat, or the elusive pardah and the buttery soft potato, which was a perfect accompaniment to the long-grained rice. Somewhere deep inside also was an egg. The egg is a relatively newer addition to the Kolkata chicken biryani, and is now accepted and added to most versions of the same. But then again, Biryani "purists" like Royal and Shiraz is yet to add that to their Biryani. Arsalan's version of the Kolkata biryani is spicy, with a definitive whiff of meetha ittar, ensuring a lingering aroma clinging to your fingertips long after the meal had ended.

Although desserts were on offer, there was, sadly, no space for it in anyone's stomach, so bill was called for, and it was very reasonably around the 1200/- INR mark, which was definitely a bargain considering the fact that some of the kabab had to be taken home in a doggy bag. Arsalan offers a nice sit down budget dinner option for Kolkata, and the combination of good food, reasonable price and prompt service is definitely a bonus.

Arsalan 
191, Marina Garden Court, 
Park Street AreaKolkata

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Crush On You?

For me, the V-Day thing is nothing short of fun. But I do have a thing - I don't like doing things the normal way.

So while making a proposal, I prefer being slightly out of this world. Where I would make sure he would never forget it.

Now, what are the normal stuff you do when you like someone?


  1. Say it with a flower. 
  2. Feed some chocolates, and when the target is recovering from the sweetness overdose, add to it by proposing.
  3. Bend down on your knees and declare your devotion.
  4. Blurt it out over a cute text message.
  5. Write something on a piece of paper and just give it to him. 
  6. Talk to a friend and ask him/her to inform the crush. 
However, personally speaking, these are all pretty much... well... boring. 

So how would I like to propose to my crush? Well,  I have a plan for that.

Step One: Observe Your Victim... er ... Crush. 

See what he/she likes. Take notes. With a pen and paper. Or type it on a notepad. Make sure he/she is looking at you while you do that. Smile broadly and wiggle your eyebrows suggestively when you do that. 

Step Two: Assimilate Data and Customize

Based on the data collected, think of a plan which will work for him/her. 

In my case, the victim  crush is 6'1'' tall, likes talking for long durations of time, a food fanatic, likes playing computer games, and a silent lover of EDM. However, personally I feel that taking a guy to a disc and making him listen to loud music while jumping up and down might not be the best place to declare my love. So, I would rather focus on the gaming bit. 

Step Three: The Plan

Here is my plan. I shall ideally create a game, similar to that of Mario. Have you ever had a time when you were *this close* to getting to the tower to rescue the princess, and you were failing? Well, the levels are going to be difficult as hell, to say the very least. To do this, I will need someone to help me device a game, but well, this is my fantasy, and I am imagining myself to have a huge gaming corporation at my disposal. 

Step Four: Execution

Now, the next step is to getting him into playing the game. Once he starts playing, he will find plenty of difficult steps which he will have to follow. But, once followed, he will slowly head to the finish line. And when he gets up all the way to the tower, instead of the indication of the completion of the level, a short video will be played. This video can't be skipped, and it will show me, telling him all about my feelings. I don't think too  many people in this world has ever thought of proposing like this, but I believe its a great way to show him I care. 

If you like my zany way of proposing, then you should also see what others are saying, or you can head over to http://cupidgames.closeup.in/ where you will see so many other options. It's a lot of fun! 

Monday, January 19, 2015

Pongal Festival at Rasam, The Stadel, Salt Lake City, Kolkata from 14th to 25th January, 2015


Pongal is essentially a festival which reminds me of my childhood. A dear friend would offer me her mother's home cooked Pongal, and I would eat it straight out of her tiffin box. When I entered Rasam, the pure vegetarian South Indian restaurant of The Stadel, I went back to those days past, and remembered the delicious rice and lentil concoction.


I generally love Rasam's food - it is basic, staple South Indian dishes, and for this event, the restaurant had kept a few specials on offer. For example, the Porokottu Uttapam sprinkled with mushrooms, or the Pesarattu, the mung bean dosa served with a side of Upma. But nothing screams more of the season of Pongal than the dish itself, Venn Pongal, a dish which was declared to be the real thing by none other than Usha Uthup, who declared it to be delicious.


I was more occupied with my traditional filter coffee, which came in the glass and bowl set, and I set out to make my own froth. As the froth rose, so did my expectation for the item I had ordered - the Amma Dosa. I was intrigued by it from start, and wanted to know how it turned out.


To be very honest, the Amma Dosa is a huge affair, and left me full to the point of bursting. A generously sized Dosa, filled with a mixture of chilli paneer, was actually quite unusual and fun, and I longed for some fiery red garlic chutney instead of the usual sambhar and coconut chutney combination. The dosa itself was soft in the center and crisp on the edges - just the right combination for my taste buds.


Rita Bhimani and Usha Uthup enjoyed their food quite a lot, it seemed, and declared that the softness of the idli was glorious. The meal was a lovely way to remember my childhood, and Rasam had done a nice job in including some traditional and unusual dishes to their regular menu for the event period. The Pongal festival has started from the 14th of January, 2015, and will end on the 25th, and the food is available fro 12 noon to 10 pm, so head over to Rasam before it is over.

Disclaimer: Poorna Banerjee was invited to the Pongal Festival at Rasam by the management of The Stadel. 

Sunday, January 18, 2015

A Talk on Ayurveda and Beauty by Dr. VR Vivekanand, courtesy Kama Ayurveda


I was recently invited to a talk by Dr. V.R. Vivekanand, courtesy Kama Ayurveda, at Quest Mall, and I was really glad I attended. Not only is Dr. Vivekanand a wonderful orator, but he is also extremely logical and very clear about his views. His brief talk was extremely informative, and there were a few points he wanted to clear. According to him, there are a few reasons why one remedy is not meant for all. This is because:

  1. We have different body types - fire, air and water. We can adhere to one body type, or have characteristics from more than one. 
  2. A person's body types essentially determine how he/she will turn out. A fire or air type will tend to be more athletic, while the water type will be slower and more relaxed. 
  3. Body types will also come with problems of their own. Air types will tend to have dry hair and skin, sparse hair and hair fall related issues. Water type will tend to gain weight easily and will have heavier flow during periods. Fire types will have oily skin and hair, and be prone to pimples. 



In Ayurveda, different body types will have different kinds of remedies. That is why Kama Ayurveda talks about using a different series of items for different types. Dr. Vivekanand talked about home remedies as well as supplements which should be included in our daily diet and habits in order to become healthier and feel less stressed. For example, he emphasized upon the need for women to have more calcium, especially in the morning, to boost immunity and improve the condition of our teeth and bones. He suggested taking a regular dosage of calcium supplement to keep the immunity stronger. He also emphasized upon the need to sleep and how sleep deprivation and incorrect sleeping times can really affect the body in a bad manner. Sleeping during the night is one of the best ways to reduce stress.


He also answered a number of beauty related questions, one of which was asked by my friend D who blogs from Poutprettty. He talked about the effects of the fabled Kumkumadi oil from Kama Ayurveda. Apart from using it as a beauty oil, you can also inhale two drops of it in the morning, and slowly, you can see the changes in your skin and hair. This reduces premature greying of hair, and slowly, your hair will improve both in quality and texture.


I saw a very impressive collection of Kama Ayurveda items on display, and naturally gravitated towards them. There were a lovely array of natural products, including Kumkumadi and Bhringadi oil, as well as an impressive display of soaps, cleansers, pure rosewater, and lip balms, and I received a number of products to try out.


Smoke House Deli provided some lovely nibbles for the event, and I did love the goat cheese and spinach pizza, which was thin and delicate with tiny smidgens of goat cheese, and the sweet nut cakes which were quite dense and rich. I also could not stop sipping the rose lemonade, which was floral and refreshing, and a great accompaniment to the food.

Disclaimer: Poorna Banerjee was invited to the event sponsored by Kama Ayurveda. 
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