Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Hotel Review - Royal Tulip Kufri

Shimla is a very popular hill station in India and earlier this month, I was lucky enough to visit it amidst snowfall. Even though it offers beautiful views of snow-capped Himalayan peaks, it is overrun with tourists and I'm glad I discovered the real gem - an amazing property known as Royal Tulip Kufri which is just 16 kms away from the hustle bustle of Shimla. 

We reached Shimla and Kufri on a heavily snow laden day 
We took the toy train from Kalka station to Shimla from where the hotel sent taxis for us to be picked up. In spite of roads blocked due to heavy snowfall, the hotel went out of its way to ensure that me and my family reached the property safely. We were greeted by the management with a warm welcome and a much needed warm drink. 

Sitting pretty in the hotel lobby

Snow everywhere outside!
The hotel's wooden interiors are beautifully done up with stunning views of the snow clad Himalayas spread over vast expanses of Cedar forests. Whether it's their restaurant, bar, coffee shop or spa, every area offers a spectacular sight of the mountains and valley outside.

Enjoying a cup of coffee from the in-house coffee shop
I was staying in the presidential suite which is a plush suite consisting of two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a humongous hall and dining area along with a massive balcony which connects the hall and master bedroom. 

The living room area of the suite

Couldn't get enough of the view from my balcony
What a beautiful place!
The master bedroom
The second bedroom
As it was snowing quite a bit, my family and I spent our first day in the hotel and were delighted to discover that there's much to do indoors even if the weather doesn't permit you to go out.

 To start with food, their all day dining restaurant, Cafe Promenade, offers an array of delectable Indian, Continental and Oriental delicacies with the highlights being Himanchali food which I had never eaten before and absolute loved! 

Winter wonderland while we dined!
The chef and his team whipped up mouthwatering Himanchali dishes for us
The desserts looked as good as they tasted
Dinner with my mom and aunts at Promenade
I spent my evening their their luxurious spa on the top floor which offers a breathtaking view of snow clad mountains while I got a very relaxing massage by their well trained masseuse. 

A spa in the Himalayas
They also have a well stocked reading room with the same view where my dad enjoyed his afternoon over their thoughtful selection of books that would appeal to every reader.

The library boasts of a great selection of books
What a lovely place to sit and read!
Later in the evening, my mom and aunts spent their time unwinding at their bar - Cedar, which is perfect for a get together with friends over drinks. 

For those of you with young children, they have a games center for kids that make it a perfect family holiday destination as there's something for everyone. The property also has a spacious banquet venue which is ideal for destination weddings and corporate events. As it had snowed quite a bit, their rooftop restaurant and heated indoor swimming pool were closed for maintenance but they looked amazing.

Mom and me outside their rooftop restaurant called Peaks
 Thankfully for us, our second day in Kufri was a sunny one, and the hotel arranged horses for us to visit all tourist spots behind the hotel and we spent our second day out in the snow enjoying the beauty of the cedar forests and nature.

Horse taxi!
The view from the top floor of the hotel
Cutest yak ever!
Eeek I want this fluffy bunny!
My mom is super fond of snow and became a total child once we went outdoors!

A special thanks to the GM Mr Arvind and his attentive and caring team Anoop, Trilochan, Abhishek, Ishan and Pooja who ensured that we had a fantastic stay there. Overall, I absolutely loved my stay at Royal Tulip Kufri and feel it's the perfect destination hotel for leisure travelers and family holidays. If you're planning a hilly getaway in India, I totally recommend this beautiful place over the hustle bustle of Shimla which is overcrowded with tourists.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Girl Power: It’s Time To Make It Happen

Even though the slogan Girl Power is relatively new per se – it’s only been around since 1991 when the US punk band, Bikini Kill, published a zine under this name to celebrate women’s independence and empowerment –, the idea of strong and confident women is far from being new. Throughout history, women have ruled over countries, made crucial discoveries, changed the fate of their population, and introduced new ways of thinking into their communities.
In other words, while society has developed a solid feminist background in recent years, it would be unfair to claim that women didn’t matter until now. They did, and they always have been an essential part of society.

However, not everyone is given the same chances from birth. While some individuals receive the education they need to shine and have the support of their friends and family to push their careers or make their voices heard; others can find it hard to find to receive the guidance they deserve in life. Your life choices, your relationships, your career, and your social circle can play a decisive role in empowering women to achieve what they want and take control of their destiny. It is, therefore, everybody’s responsibility to make a difference and unleash Girl Power for all. Are you ready to make it happen?

Helping and encouraging young girls to go further
Did you know that impoverished countries could significantly improve their circumstances if their population were given the opportunity of pursuing a career? Indeed, many nations that have a high birth rate can suffer from the lack of education solutions, resulting in millions of children who can’t read, count, write or aspire to any professional success. More importantly, the failure to provide decent school opportunities for girls accentuates traditional gender issues and acts as an obstacle to the development of the entire population. Encouraging Girl Power in these places is about supporting charities and organisations that are working to provide adequate solutions. By helping schools to reach out to everyone and provide the facilities the population needs, you can ultimately empower girls to change their future for the better.

Being your own boss
For many women, there is an impossible gap between working in a company and launching your own business. Indeed, it can be daunting to become a leader in what feels like a man’s world – the business world remains heavily masculine with fewer women at the top. It’s not uncommon, as a consequence, to struggle to receive the respect and loyalty of a leadership role as a woman, as many employees are still more likely to prefer a man in a ruling position. But, don’t let studies and social bias stop you in your ascension in the business world. There might still be more men than women on top, but there are plenty of inspirational women that have built a successful and profitable business presence. You can turn to someone such as Victoria Beckham for inspiration, who has fought criticism throughout her career but still managed to become one of the most influential fashion designers of her time. Nobody better than Sophia Amoruso, the founder of Nasty Gal, can explain what it means to be a #Girlboss. There’s one essential rule that makes leadership possible, you need to believe that you can, as a woman, become a boss.

Finding the right mindset
How you perceive women, and not only yourself, is determinant to both your and their success. Indeed, the biggest enemy of women bosses is the way other women react. According to the Twisted Sisterhood by Kelly Valen, 90% of women have suffered from incivility and gratuitous negativity from their own gender. Whether it’s between friends or colleagues, women can feel painful currents of meanness from fellow females. Ultimately, Valen points out a critical issue about our beloved Girl Power. We, as women, can spend a lot of time hurting each other. The sisterhood can be more twisted and self-harming than we want it to be. Ultimately, the idea behind the Girl Power is that women can help each other to build their independent paths. But when the hostility between women can take a devastating amplitude, it’s easy to understand where the gender gap still prevails.

Believe in yourself
Women are not only the enemies of each other, but they can also affect the way they perceive themselves. Indeed, according to a study done at Cornell University, men are more likely to overestimate their abilities and performance, while women tend to underestimate them. As a result, in the professional environment, women will tend more often to suffer from the imposter syndrome, feeling that they don’t deserve their job. This mindset can affect not only your chances of progression, but also your overall career path. It’s essential to break the vicious circle that keeps your career on standby by working on your posture, appearance and overall professional integration. The better you feel about yourself within the business, the more confident you’ll be about your skills.

Be the light that guides your sisters to success
So what happens once you’ve finally reached the highest step of the corporate ladder? Is your Girl Power journey over? On the contrary, now’s the best time to nurture the positivity in your female employees. Indeed, you can take the time to become a mentor for other women who are trying to build a successful career. Additionally, you have to make sure to keep all gender bias off your recruiting and promoting practices, hence giving talented women just as much chance as men.

Supporting women’s rights and respecting their decisions
The underlying idea behind the Girl Power movement is to empower women to become who they want to be. While some women want to lead an inspirational career, others prefer the challenges of being a housewife for their family. It’s important that you recognise their contribution to society too. Stay-at-home wives and mothers shouldn’t feel ashamed for their choices, in the same way that a woman choosing to become CEO shouldn’t have to deal with people questioning her decision either. Remember that Girl Power is what everyone.

What do we, women, do in our day-to-day activities to support ourselves and other women? This is the question you need to put on top of your agenda if you want to eradicate gender bias and discrimination.  

Friday, November 23, 2018

Broke at month end? Now no more!

Coco Chanel once said, “The best things in life are free, the second best things are very very expensive. For a fashionista, this might be a much coveted pair of Jimmy Choos or for an avid traveller it could be that backpacking trip that all their friends are going on. At some point in life, each and every one of us has sacrificed some of these second best things because of a cash crunch. This is why I want to introduce you to a revolutionary mobile app called EarlySalary that will provide you with financial assistance to live the life of your dreams. 

The company provides an instant credit line which allows you to borrow 50% of your salary. So whether you want to buy the latest smartphone or get out of town for a weekend getaway, you can use the app to take a salary advance and meet your immediate needs. EarlySalary ensures that the money is available to you within the shortest possible amount of time.

How does it work? 

Download the EarlySalary application and create a profile & share basic details details like PAN number etc. Within seconds, EarlySalary calculates your ‘Social Worth score’ to determine if you can receive a loan. Once you're clear, the money is transferred to your bank account within a few minutes. The Social Worth score is generated by combining social media data with user profile and Credit Bureau data. Even users with a no credit history are given loans as long as they fulfil the other criterias. EarlySalary charges an interest costof INR 9 per day per INR 10,000 and simplifies the concept of borrowing. 

What more can you do with EarlySalary Approved Limit? 

What I really liked about EarlySalary was the ability to use the approved limit for shopping, they have a Zero Cost EMI to shop on Amazon &Flipkart for those must have mobile phones on 6 Months EMI using the EarlySalary limit. Also you can buy your groceries on EMI through a special tie-up with Big Bazaar and EarlySalary gives you a 3 months Zero Cost EMI even for grocery shopping. Interestingly the Shopping Limit is much larger & allows you up to 6months as repayment options. 

I spent a few hours with the founders of EarlySalary & the team at their office; what was really interesting is how they are creating AI & Machine Learning in giving instant credit; the ability to give loans without even speaking to a person is really building the future of banking. The start-up already has 7 Million downloads and has disbursed 350000 instant credit & salary advances making it the largest instant credit app in the country. I loved the idea of taking a salary advance rather than a personal loan from a bank and I will recommend friends to use EarlySalary in case of any cash flow issues. 

Interestingly Travel & Weekend Holidays is also one the biggest reasons to borrow from EarlySalary while Shopping is the next largest & settling into a new city is next. The team spoke about the a 100% surge in customer demand on 3 day weekends where users borrows 50% of their salary to travel to short 3 days weekend trips like Goa, Thailand. 

Akshay, the founder of EarlySalary spoke about how youngsters come to a new town to work and how they need to find a place to live and need to fit in. Since, it is not always possible to borrow from family and friendsto pay for a deposit on an apartment or a new office wardrobe instant credit line from EarlySalary really does come to the rescue. 

Key Highlights of EarlySalary: 

Rs.5,000 to Rs.2,00,000 loan 

Instant approved Credit Limit in a matter of seconds 

Get 50% of your salary credited into your Bank Anytime 

Shop now and pay later in EMIs at Amazon, Flipkart & Big Bazaar 

About EarlySalary 
The company is co-founded by Akshay Mehrotra (CEO) and Ashish Goyal (CFO) who have over a decade of experience and have an expertisein the field of marketing, finance and technology. They recognized a recurring need among young professionals due to which they were reaching out to theirfriends and colleagues and even their employers for a salary advance. That is where they came up with the idea of developing this app as traditional banking doesn't cater to short term needs and is very slow to cater to urgent needs. Thus, EarlySalary was found to offer consumers the convenience of availing loans at a short notice with minimum legal formalities involved. 

Tie Ups and Business Partnerships 
EarlySalary has tied up with over 200 large companies in the country to offer instant salary advances to employees with no prior documentation and at a lower interest rate. They also offer interest free EMIs to buy products on major online stores like Amazon, Flipkart and Big Bazaar. 

EarlySalary is now on the list of my must have apps and I suggest that you get it too for all those big purchases and month end cash crunches. 

EarlySalary has achieved over 7 Million app downloads across the country. Download the app here -for iOS and android

Monday, November 12, 2018

Featured - Pune Mirror

So excited to share that I was featured in Pune Mirror last week for a Diwali dressing special. Pune Mirror is one of the city's most widely circulated newspapers and presents city, national, and international news and views through the lens of Pune. The best part is they even put me on the front page!

Wednesday, November 07, 2018

Inaaya by CS Jewellers

Diwali is the perfect time to buy jewelry so yesterday, I visited the Magarpatta store of CS Jewellers with my mom and was amazed to see their newly launched Inaaya collection which is perfect for the new age Indian woman. The best part about his collection is it's contemporary designs that match perfectly with both Indian and western outfits. Let me show you some of my favorite pieces from this collection - 

These sparkly bangles are available in different shades of gold and I absolutely love the one with the rose gold finish!

This rose gold ring is a beautiful statement piece

My mom loved these earrings and they were super sparkly and just perfect for a traditional look

My personal favorite is these big gold jhumkas which are absolutely eye-catching

I also loved this bangle as its nice and chunky and goes well with an ethnic outfit

If gold is not your thing, the Inaaya collection also has dainty diamond jewelry pieces that are subtle yet sparkly. Here are some necklaces I loved - 

It a lovely collection and has something for everyone since both me and mom loved it. So if you're looking out to add some exquisite pieces to your jewelry, make sure to visit CS jewelers. You can visit their website here

Friday, November 02, 2018

Restaurant Review - Ales, Brews and Ciders

Ales is the perfect place for everyone whether you want to go for dinner and drinks, party or host a private or corporate event. The sprawling property boasts of a outdoor seating area as you enter along with a closed section where they host parties and then there is massive outdoor section behind where you can dine or host a private gig. I went there recently for dinner and drinks and tried out a variety of dishes and loved the food and service.

To start with, we had the Belgian wheat beer which is made using magnum hops with notes of coriander and orange peel and had a smooth finish. 

The Bacon nachos were perfect to munch on with the beer and had a generous amount of bacon so it was delicious! I also had watermelon and basil martini which had vodka, fresh watermelon juice and basil and was just perfect for a warm evening.

Being a hardcore lover of red meat, I tried the Asian Stir fried pork with veggies in a mild garlic sauce with a hint of soya. This is amazing. 

We followed this with crispy fried chilli lamb which had thin and crispy lamb pieces in a spicy asian chilli hoison and oyster sauce.

 I washed these down with a cucumber martini which had vodka, fresh cucumber, lemon and sweet and sour syrup. Again delicious and refreshing and just the perfect amount of sweetness.

After this we moved on to seafood and ordered the beer battered calamari which had crispy fried squid in a light batter. This was the best calamari I've had in Pune till date. It was fresh and flavorful. Do not miss this!

Next up I tried Prawn Momos for the first time here on the recommendation of a friend and they were incredible! Do try this if you are a momo lover. I loved these!

We also had the prawns satay which had grilled and minced prawns served on lemongrass skewers. Again really delicious.

 Lastly, I had the kiwi rock which is made with vodka, fresh kiwi, lemon and sweet and sour which is a must for kiwi lovers!

Overall, some great food and awesome drinks coupled with good service and a really nice ambience make Ales an awesome destination to wine and dine!

Address - Mulik Palace, 16/1, Wadgaon Sheri Rd, Opp. Trump Towers, Kalyani Nagar, Pune

Ales, Brews and Ciders Brewing Company Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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