‘Sindri’ – My first love!

“Sindri” continues to amaze even after almost 15 years of destruction. The whole town was set up by Fertilizer Corporation Of India (FCI), a central government initiative. But then the unit was declared sick and in 2005, there was a complete shutdown. People lost their jobs. Some lost money, some their lives. Few men couldn’t recover from shock and pain. People were forced to move out because of the lack of Occupation/career choices. They dispersed and found shelter back in their own villages.

My parents stayed on. They had their own means of earning. They are among few who witnessed the gradual destruction of the place.

Last time when I had visited Sindri, it was 5 years ago. It was soon after my wedding and with my in-laws. I was visiting the town after almost 4 years. It was pretty shocking. Most of the government quarters were empty, thieves had taken away the doors and windows. The whole place was not even in the liveable state. My new family couldn’t believe that I lived and studied here once.

And this time, in 2017 when I went, the condition changed again. People from nearby locality had moved into these quarters. Every house is now filled with people. They haven’t repaired much due to the uncertainty that is mongering in town. But at least the quarters have now been used, they are getting water and electricity. It is not a ghost town anymore.

The sad thing is that this place has no source of income. Because of the factory shut down, people travel to Dhanbad in search of work. Locals are earning enough to feed themselves and buy some clothes. Paying school fees every month is a big headache for parents. But still, there is no dearth of private schools.Sindri Map

I didn’t see many youngsters around. Most of them have left for jobs in other cities/states. Some stayed on, to take care of their old parents. Taking care of old parents is another huge problem. There is no medical facility there. It is insane and unbelievable. No medical facility to deal with any sort of emergency. The nearest hospital/doctor that can deal with emergencies is 10kms away.

Sindri still has a saharpura market where you get the basic necessary stuff. The market is also surviving because there are some people in Sindri who have their sons and daughters living abroad. They are remitting money in dollars and pounds. Another very interesting aspect of Sindri. About 2-3% of the people get their funding from abroad. The parents have retired and want to continue to live in the peaceful town. I managed to meet such people. There was an uncle whose both sons were in Singapore. He knew someone whose daughter and son are in US and UK. And I was told that there are many such parents like that.

During my visit, there was another family that was visiting Sindri after 30 years. They left Sindri and settled in New Delhi. But post-retirement, they came to visit the town and donated money to a temple. People wondered on his love for this town. He may have stayed only 15-20 years in Sindri. There are many such families who may have left Sindri long time ago but still dream about it, ask about it and wish to return back.

Even though life has been difficult but this place has peace. People look after each other, there is no violence in the name of religion or caste, there is no theft and robbery or any other social evil.

This place continues to be a hub for good education. There used to be a time when there were many people who qualified for IIT (Indian Institute of Technology). There are many families where parents are working in big cities but they have left their kids with grannies to get a good and cheap education. There is an engineering college too – BIT Sindri because of which, fresh people(students) continues to come in. There is a huge alumini from BIT who continues to look back at Sindri.

I have no words to describe this place but I feel that people should visit this place to see and understand how people live with unity and peace. This could be a wonderful retirement HUB. What a beautiful town it is, even in this wretched condition! This place will continue to be home for many people even in this condition. And people are waiting for revival of this town once again!

In case you want to know more about this place, visit http://www.sindri.co.in/ ; Discover world

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Trip To Phuket & Kids – Friendly Resorts!

My writing juices started flowing again and here’s my next post after a long hiatus. I was missing ‘writing’. There were so many things happening around but it was just too difficult to put everything aside and write. In between, I had my first trip to the US. That was interesting. I am going to write more in my next post.

Today, I want to talk about the most recent trip – Phuket in Thailand. This was my third visit to the city. The last two visits were also through company trip. It is only 1.5 hours from Singapore so it is much cheaper for companies to organize events in Thailand. For two trips, I stayed in Westin Siray Bay and once I stayed at JW Marriot. Both of them had their own pros n Cons. But I would prefer JW than Westin.

This time was special. I clubbed my family vacation with the office event. Office event ended by Thursday noon last week and vacation started. We chose a different hotel for 3 days 2 nights tour. Westin was good but it wasn’t a kids friendly hotel. It is still targeted to business and the executive crowd. The rooms are big with a beautiful view to the sea. It is calm and serene. The thing I didn’t like about hotel is that it is on a hill. People like to walk, I don’t. So everytime, I stepped out, I had to call buggy (small club car).

We moved to Novotel Resorts and Hotel. This was my first stay in Accor Group of Hotels. I am a Starwood Member(Marriot now) and I earn points as we stay but then the points were not enough to choose a hotel of our choice. So, this time we had an opportunity to choose a different group. We decided to choose Family & Kids resort and after much research, we zeroed down to Novotel. Novotel was almost 15kms from Westin which was towards the east most part of Phuket. We booked Grab for all our travels. There was a discount coupon active “Island200” and we made full use of that. Grab was so much cheaper compared to other transport options. By the time, we reached the hotel it was already 3 pm and kids were tired. We decided to explore the activities in hotel before we plan next day. I was surely amazed to see the facilities the resort had for kids.

There was a small Cinema room, that had couches for kids. Kids can watch movies anytime with free flow of pop corns and drinks. Parents can join them too. The water pool was very long and it had big water slides. Both my kids enjoyed the pool. I must say, the pool wasn’t as clean as we have in Singapore. But then the comparison was not fair. Another exciting fun area was ‘Kids world’. When we entered that area, it was like heaven for kids. There were books to read, abacus, puzzles, building blocks, ball pool and many more games. In fact, there was a game room and young children were playing Video Games. The hotel organizes different classes on every day. Painting class, Art & Craft, Music classes, Story telling and what not. The best part was, it was all complimentary. They had way too many things for us to cover in one day. We had already stayed at the resort for one full day. There were many food choices within the hotel so we didn’t need to go out to eat.

We decided to visit Patong beach as it is one of the popular destinations of Phuket. There was a free shuttle at different times from the hotel. We took 3 pm bus and reached there at about 3:40 pm. We had already identified an Indian eating place close to the drop off point. Without the internet, it was difficult to locate the restaurant but after checking with few people, we did manage to find the place. We had our food and started loitering around the same place. In Patong beach, there is a huge flea market but then you have to be cafeful about bargaining in the shops. If you do intend to buy something, bring down the price at least 4 times.

We finally ended up at Patong beach. This beach had some water sports, more than Surin beach which was closer from our resort. I heard from few friends, there used to be a big imitation market. Imitation stuff of any big brands was easily available but now they have made it more strict. We were on the beach around 5:30 pm, just at the time of sunset. We got some good clicks with beautiful sun set in the background.

Other attractions in Phuket are Fantsea land, Phi Phi islands, island hopping, massages etc.

If you are visiting Phuket with your family, I would highly recommend Novotel as we had an amazing experience. In case you are not particular about Kids friendly then you should be staying near Patong because that’s where all action is.

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Harry Met Sejal Movie Review

Harry met sejal

Like I said in my earlier post, I post reviews only if I have loved it or hated it. And it is by chance that I had reasons to write reviews for last two consecutive posts.

By now, you must have heard about the most awaited Shah Rukh Khan and Imtiaz Ali movie “Harry Met Sejal“. I am an Imtiaz Ali Fan. Most of his movies are based on similar plot, boy meets girl, they have some fun in the first half and then the second half is all about realization. I also ended up liking Tamasha (which most people disliked) At least it had some freshness. He was trying to do something different which may not have come out exactly how he planned. I have a high threshold of tolerance for his movies. But ‘Harry Met Sejal” is an absolute torture. I really want to ask Imtiaz, why?! Was it the lack of script or the pressure of handling super star. This movie is a hotchpotch of DDLJ, Jab we met, YJHD and all of his last releases. The theme may have worked 20-25 years ago. It’s not gullible now. We are watching SRK for thousands of years and he has been relentless in his performance. We still enjoy his acting in gheecy-Pitty situations. But this movie was such a drag that in last 45mins, I was dozing off. Desperately waiting for the movie to end.

The movie starts showing SRK as a tour guide. And I kept wondering how come a tour- guide has a swanky convertible car and an alishan (grandeur) ghar. If tour guides in the foreign country earn that much, we all should start thinking of changing our profession. I had many questions during the movie – Why Sejal was so dumb? Like, when will they stop showing girls dumb onscreen? Why Sejal had such strong Gujarati accent? Don’t the diamond merchant’s daughter go to convent schools? Why Sejal wanted to follow Harry to a bar soon after she hired him to find her lost engagement ring? Why was she swaying her body and seducing Harry inside the bar? Was she attracted to him? They had just met! This movie is so dumb that it can’t be expressed in words. There is no story and if there is, it is wafer thin. After watching the whole movie, I kept wondering why were they showing flashbacks of Harry’s village? What is it that was bothering him? I mean what was the climax of the movie!

I can go on like this for the rest of the review. By now you have a fair idea of why this movie is so difficult to watch. I was so inflated of boredom that it felt like I was going to burst anytime. Every scene in the movie has been stolen from some of his old movies. How come a bizarre concept like a girl stayed back in a foreign country along, just to find a ring! She had all the money in the world to travel places all over again, JUST to find her engagement ring. C’mon! She would have spent more money in looking for the ring than the value of ring itself. Ultimately what happens, the ring was in her bag! By now, I was like ….

giphy

She found the ring. But instead of going back home, she decided to go to his friend’s wedding. Why? Emotion, Emotion, Way too much emotions to handle. Emotions that failed to get audience emotional.

Songs and dance were so misfitting that it felt like instead of putting the buttons at the right place, it was put all over the shirt. The songs were not catchy and looked so pointless. Very unlike SRK and Imtiaz’s movies.

I forgot to mention, the weirdest of all was that Sejal was hugging and sleeping with Harry throughout the trip and for no good reason. Every time Harry expressed his like/concern, she said her fiancée is waiting in Mumbai and her life is just so perfect there. In one of the scenes, she actually says that she is honeymooning with Harry before her marriage. I mean, like seriously, don’t trust your ENGAGED daughter, sister, fiancee with traveling abroad because zabardasti, she may be meeting a tourist guide and end up falling in love. This is exactly like justifying a Delhi’s upper middle-class girl running away with her driver (with all due respect to the profession).

Matlab yaar, I can just go on and on about the disastrous movie. I was bloating to write this review and save few lives this weekend. I can’t believe I lost 3 hours of sleep in a hurry to catch SRK movie on day 1. So, in case you are planning to watch a movie this weekend, find some other movie. This movie doesn’t deserve to be watched. I refuse to give any star to this disaster. Very disappointed.

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“Vatan Se” Restaurant Review!


Generally, I don’t like to write reviews on my blog unless I really liked it or detested it strongly. Therefore, the reviews that you will find here are direct from the heart (just like my blog). Since last month, we have decided to try new restaurants every week. The reason behind the decision was that the girls are forced to try new dishes. When it is dinner time, and hungry, they have no choice but to eat what is in front of them.

It has been an exciting experience so far. We have only tried Indian restaurants near our area(east coast park). And there are quite a few close by because of the huge Indian population.

As part of this ritual, today we visited a restaurant called Vatan Se. There is a newly opened branch at 368 Tanjong Katong Road. We had heard about the place but because it was closer to the house, it was given the last priority. Though Vatan se has few chain of restaurants in the city, catering parties/gatherings, and marinated bbq are their main business.

This was my first visit to the restaurant. So, I wasn’t sure if the décor was consistent in all the branches. The ambiance was warm and attractive. There was Bollywood music playing in the background. I can assure you that there are only a few restaurants where you will find such a thoughtful décor. The furniture and upholstery were tastefully chosen. The food was served in the biodegradable material (Pattal) and other utensils were copper plated steel glasses/cutlery. One can sense the personal touch given to the restaurant.

The hosts were again warm and comforting. We are not sure if it was because of Sunday or their son’s birthday party, but we managed to meet the owners of the restaurant. During a brief chat on the opening of the new branch, he mentioned that as part of their commitment to providing an unforgettable dining experience, he started a new scheme of offering 10% on the food bill. Only if you surrender your gadgets before ordering the meal. I was totally impressed. How many would risk the idea of getting more check-ins and likes on Facebook that people sometimes post when they are dining in a restaurant?! He also mentioned about food quality and how he chose to keep it simple and home cooked. There are no additional color or preservatives that other restaurants like to add in order to make it more attractive and delicious.

To be honest, we were little overwhelmed after the chat and our expectations were higher. We ordered Paneer makhani, butter naans and Vegetable fried rice. There was papad and green chutney in the beginning. Not to mention, they did meet our expectation. The color of food was indeed little different. And paneer was literally melting in the mouth. The food had a very authentic north Indian taste. One would actually make a difference between makhni you eat at Vatan Se and the ones you try in other places. Vegetable Fried rice also tasted good. The Butter naans were hot and butter was dripping from naan, just like how my husband likes it! Interestingly my daughters enjoyed the food too.

I heard that their Kebabs are popular too. I am planning to try them on our next visit. They also have weekend brunch $10++(per pax) with a different menu every week. And if you register on their website, they will inform you every weekend.

In terms of pricing, this restaurant is little on the higher end. The portion of food that you get for the price you pay leaves you little dissatisfied. But the taste and ambiance makes it all worth it.

If you are looking for a healthy, authentic home cooked North Indian meal, I would recommend this place.

In case you are visiting the restaurants after reading this blog, please let them know VatanSe005. They may end up offering you 5% off. They are generous and genuine people.

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Technology is kicking everybody’s ass!

The reason why I write these posts is because I like to share my learning on life, thoughts, and ideas about events that happen around me. The idea is to make the topics more relatable. Therefore, you will find my writing style is more like an open diary.

Today’s topic is about the news that I have been hearing around the perils of technology. The pace with which things are changing is scary. The only way to avoid this fear is to be aware of the changes.

Perils of technology
Recently I came across a video on Facebook that gave me a little nudge of what is coming in future. The video was of a design company that got rid of desktops and laptops. It is completely paperless. All the employees have VR glasses and they all were working in Virtual reality. It looked funny because from outside, it felt like they are touching air or something invisible. That video was supposed to be cool but to be honest I detested it. In those few seconds, I imagined myself in that work environment and a big “NO” screamed from somewhere within.

News of Robots coming in and taking over our jobs is as bad as a country going on a war. Why do I say this? You will know. There are arguments for both sides – a society with or without Robot. But no body can change the fact that this is going to reduce the number of jobs in the market. There ain’t any real jobs created in last decade and existing ones are disappearing. Due to the growth of shared economy, there is some job creation but they are not real jobs. People work part-time and stress out because of the nature of the work and income.

All this situation is going to impact the society immensely. Therefore, I compare the destruction to that of a war. In fact, the society is already changing. Recently, a survey showed that 80% of the people are unhappy with Uber/Grab cab services but only 4% stopped using them. That means we are pushing people towards unhappiness but they are still sticking around because of the convenience. The pursuit of convenience has crippled human minds.

With the growth of Social Media and mobile, human interaction has dropped significantly. In fact teens, these days, don’t know how and what to talk to people. Most of them are glued to small/large screens. Technology is impeding their mental and physical growth. So, we are bringing smarter robots to do mundane work but then, our kids are growing up with all these problems. Hollywood’s imagination of Robots taking over earth seems to become true.

We all speak about perils of technology but nothing gets done. Recently read a news about a technical glitch in a bank. That minor error in the software was about to bring down a big bank’s business in America. One of the employees mistakenly ran a job (shutting down the whole system) and in about 4 hours, customers started calling the bank that they can’t access their accounts and their cards were declined. It took few hours for the bank to figure out what exactly happened. And after the issue was fixed, it took another few hours to bring the business as usual. This is a great example of how things would be in future. The computer programs would be inter-dependent. Less human interaction means heavy reliance on technology. And any such errors can cost a lot.

Another one – In South Korea, one can control home appliances from outside. So, while you are traveling back home, just switch on the aircon, microwave the food, open the windows etc. But imagine for some reason, the app stops working or behave erratically, what can be done?

The underlying assumption of pushing technology to greater heights is that everything would be managed efficiently without dealing with human errors. But my question is – How can one be so sure that technology would be flawless?

With those thoughts, I will leave you to enjoy the weekend. Just remember , don’t spend too much time on screen and encourage more human interaction.

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I am liberated!

I missed you all as much as you missed my posts. The reason I couldn’t post all these weeks was that my parents were in town. And when they are around, I am a different person. From wife and mother, I suddenly turn into a daughter. An obedient one! Other than parents, work, and daughters kept me busy. But midst all of this, I enjoyed last few weeks thoroughly.

Liberated
Google Image : Liberation

Today’s post is about a realisation I had of late. During the last few weeks, I realized that I am liberated from the burden of keeping certain people happy. Whether they are neighbors, relatives, close family members or ex-colleagues. All these years, I was trying to fit in somewhere. Moving within the country and then moving out of the country, gave me an opportunity to mingle with people of other states and non-Indians. But it also influenced my perception of people back at home state.

When I moved to Delhi for study and work that’s the first time when I faced something called “discrimination”. The worse was that I didn’t even know it was discrimination. My college mates and later my colleagues ridiculed about my home state and I kept mum most of the times. It was as if I was giving them a silent approval of what they were saying. I kept quiet, partly because of the lack of knowledge I had about my state. I failed to let people know that Budha had chosen the land (Gaya) in my state to enlighten humankind. I didn’t let people know that Bihari food is one of the tastiest food we have in our country And I failed to let people know that unlike other developed states, girls are treated much better in Bihar, Jharkhand, Bengal, and Orissa. When a daughter is born in Bihar, she is not looked at, as a burden or disgrace to the family. At least not in the middle class. I am so proud of the family and state I was born in. Because I was treated with love and care. And was given all possible opportunities to realize my potential. Most of my batchmates from school are doing extremely well wherever they are and they may vouch for my growing up experience. Like mentioned before, the first time, I felt discrimination against women was when I moved to Delhi. But by then, my foundations were already strong and I was not ready to budge.

I lived in Delhi for 7 years and it brought me the sophistication required to climb up the ladder in a civilized society. I learnt that you can’t be upfront to people. You have to sugarcoat it before it comes out of the mouth. Money is everything. Think of money first and then about people. Lies are part of the day-to-day. You can’t get ahead without cheating other people. You have to push other people down in order to get ahead. I am not saying that people in my hometown state are saints. Probably some of the biggest scams have happened in my state but the qualities that I stated above were not part of my growing up years. People in my neighborhood helped each other, girls were safe, people were happy. I never felt the dissatisfaction of not having enough. Having said all of that, the polish that I got in Delhi helped me grow further. I met people from all walks of life. Delhi rile you in a way that it prepares you for any other challenges in the world. Still, Delhi is like second home and my first love.

I moved to a different country to study and work. I enjoy my life in Singapore. It’s safe place, embrace foreigners, people are awesome and Singapore laws keep you in check. All great. But then you meet with your countrymen in a foreign land. Before mingling and supporting each other, they have to ensure you are from their regions. Are you from North India or South? Are you Hindi speaking or not? What was your parents’ profession? How did you get here etc etc.? the questions never end unless they know your entire Kundli (Horoscope). If I have met you for the first time, I don’t need to know your economic and social status. I am not looking to build long term relationships.

Things haven’t changed for me in last ten years. When I meet with Indians, I still get same questions. And I wonder why, why do we ask such questions?!

I don’t care anymore. I feel liberated of the burden of somebody else. I can be myself and be proud of my achievements. I can use this position to help downtrodden. It doesn’t bother me what people think of me. If I have managed to make true friends in all these years, they will accept me as I am. I don’t need to change for anyone, to be with anyone. I don’t need to explain to anyone. Because people who care for you, don’t need explanations, and those who need explanation are not worth it.

So, thank you all, I am liberated!

Happy Mother’s Day!!

Mother's Day
Google’s Image : Happy Mother’s Day

It’s been fantastic to celebrate Mother’s day every year. Especially when you are a mother and the family treats you special (at least) for a day. This day is special to all mothers. Though, I don’t remember celebrating it as a child. Such things didn’t exist back then. What was so great about being a mother?! Everyone had a mother and they all did the same stuff? There were hardly enough reasons to celebrate. To be honest, it feels bit awkward to wish my mother on this day. It wasn’t a thing while I was growing up. I wonder why Hindutva group didn’t make a fuss about “mother’s day”, like how they do for “Valentine’s day”? Anyways,  that’s a different convo altogether.

I did wish her. She shyly replied, “Thank You”. Her words left me teary. I wanted to say much more and thank her for the wonderful life, I am living. Thank both parents for all the efforts they put in to give us a better life. Remembering it all in one day is not enough. One has to be ‘grateful’ every single day. Somebody has rightly said, “Mother is the messenger of god because he can’t be everywhere”.

Let’s talk about remembering it. On the day itself, people post wonderful messages on Social Media about how much they appreciate their mothers. But should we really restrict ourselves to posting messages just on one day? Instead, should we not call them every day to check on them (if you are staying away from your parents)? One call won’t cost much but it may be the world to your parents who remember and worry about you every single day.

Coming back to my being a ‘mother’. My kids are still young to understand this day. It took me 30 years and 2 kids to understand what a mother means? Earlier she was just a mother. But now every time my kids throw tantrums, don’t eat, cry endlessly and do everything that I don’t like them to do, I remember her (my mother) and recall every nasty thing I did to her. I was not an easy child for sure. Your child is a reflection of you. Trust me it’s like nature’s cycle of karma. If I could change one thing in past then that would be, being grateful to my mother for everything she did. She had a career on top of taking care of us. I had an amazing childhood even though my parents had to go through immense struggles and I saw them conquering each one of them. They were much stronger than I am today. Hats off to them really!

Being a new mother, you tend to be excited about ‘Mother’s day’. I ended up sending Mother’s day message to all my friends who are wonderful mothers. I wanted to take this opportunity to connect with people who I have not been in touch with for numbers of reasons. It’s a terrific way to check on each other. Everyone is busy in their lives. Though we are always connected through technology, I feel we are more disconnected now. The worse is that people have time to send forwarded messages on WhatsApp but their fingers pain to type a personalized message. How could you reply a personal message with a forwarded one?! Someone is taking an effort to write to you, at least have that respect and respond to them wholeheartedly. Just because you can, you shouldn’t reply immediately. Take your time to think through and then respond. I guess many people are missing handheld etiquettes. Probably we are unable to catch up with the advancement of technology and produce enough handheld literates. So, next time if someone is messaging you, please take note of following things:

1) Read but don’t reply immediately

2) Think through and then reply when you have time.

3) If the message is urgent and you can’t pick up, let them know briefly you will get back.

4) Don’t reply forwarded message to a personal one.

5) Don’t intrude into someone’s space by sending too many forwarded messages.

6) And please for god sake’s, if someone wishes you, please don’t just end at “same to you”

There may be another side to this, which I can’t see so help me see that by commenting below. Happy to hear your thoughts.