Wednesday 28 February 2018

Beauty Review | Elizabeth Arden Untold Body Cream | Luxury Beauty Brand | Indian Lifestyle Beauty Fashion Blogger

Winter was here!

Long winters made my already dry skin so much more drier and I ended up trying a long list of creams and lotions for nourishing my body skin. One of these was Elizabeth Arden Untold Body Lotion.

As one of most famous world innovators in the field of beauty bringing science and nature together, Elizabeth Arden has carved an immortal name for itself. This is actually the first Elizabeth Arden product I used and it has been fantastic!

Elizabeth Arden Untold Body Cream is actually touted as a daily moisturizer good enough to be used by children! Packaging is simple but elegant and it Claims to hydrate, shield body skin and make it softer as well as smootherQuantity is decent enough to last just a fortnight if used everyday. It cost around Rs. 5500 for 200 ml on Amazon.

It does everything it claims. Applying it on skin instantly makes it smooth and there is a beautiful fragrance left behind that is subtle yet serenading. Skin is soft for 5-6 hours without any lingering greasy feel. I am not a child myself but I am sure it will be good on a child's skin too, it is really soothing.

  • Premium beauty brand
  • Elegant packaging
  • Does everything it claims
  • Makes skin softer, smoother
  • Perfect for dry skin in winters
  • Results last a good 5-6 hours without reapplying

  • Quite expensive
  • Not easily available, try on amazon

Recommended - YES. One of the best beauty creams for dry skin, especially in winters. Rating is 4.5/5.

Tuesday 27 February 2018

Magic of Malaysia Food Festival | Pondicherry Cafe Sofitel BKC Mumbai | Malaysian Cuisine Feast | Food Photography

Multiple visits to Pondicherry Cafe over past year have confirmed that these guys are absolutely fantastic and easily my favorite buffet destination in Mumbai. This time, it is to review their Magic of Malaysia i.e. Malaysian Food Festival. Kudos to them for such exotic food festivals that help us acquaint with unique global specialty cuisines. Chefs Hamedy & Syamsyul have brought authentic Malaysian dishes and the experience of feasting on them is made better by the traditional dance performances by Malaysian dance troupe. Check out this food festival till 4th March 2018

Walk in on the ground floor of the luxurious Sofitel at BKC, enter the plush Pondicherry Cafe through 'Petronas Towers' and take a moment to soak in the ambiance. Brightly lit environs, rich colors all around, beautiful view from the french windows, an array of food counters, including a special Malaysian set-up to welcome us all. Mostly look forward to fresh seafood and enchanting flavors of coconut, tamarind, chilli, soy sauce etc. 

Non-vegetarians seem to have more options than vegetarians so a little bit more variety of dishes would be appreciated. But actually this is expected because Malaysian cuisine does not have a naturally large swathe of veg dishes. Here they have at least brought 4-5 veg dishes for us which gives a decent look at their food preparation techniques. 

I really liked everything I tried since the flavors are not overpowering the core ingredients and seem simple but linger long on the taste-buds. They are also changing the menu a little bit everyday to include as diverse roster of Malaysian dishes as possible. 

Starting off, VEGETABLE CLEAR SOUP was just perfect with its warmth and wholesomeness of corn, cauliflower and broccoli in a mildly tangy broth. 

ACAR JELATAH was my personal favorite- Veg Salad with crunchiness of onions + carrots co-existing with tangy pickled cucumbers + pineapple slivers. Tasty yet healthy :) 

KOBIS MASAK LEMAK - Cabbage in Coconut and Chilli, this was a mild curry that went really well with steamed rice, think of it as a very well behaved cousin of the strongest Thai Curry you ever tasted :D 

KWAY TEOW GORENG - Malaysian Fried Noodles, absolutely lovely, Flat Noodles stir fried with Veggies and Soya Sauce, I added a little bit of sweet chilli + vinegar and it was exploding with flavors. Had 2 rounds of these. 

BUBUR PULUT HITAM -Black Gluten Rice dessert made with palm sugar and coconut milk, sticky rice is a distinct flavor and when sweetened, it becomes an acquired taste. I liked it though :) 

BUBUR KACANG MERAH- Red Beans Porridge made with coconut milk and palm sugar (this one reminded me of Gud ki Kheer made by nani), another authentic Malaysian dessert that I was happy to taste. 

ROJAK BUAH BUAHAN - Fruit Salad, this one was surprising. We are used to having fruits slathered with milkmaid or honey as dessert. Here we had assorted fruits getting a spicy + mildly tangy kick with sweet soy dressing! Never had anything like this before, glad to have tried this very unique flavor. 

Non veggies had a lot more to feast on. Apart from all this, for those who want to stick to tried & tested/conventional fare, in Indian, Continental sections, this buffet has plenty of options for them. 

From among the vast choices, I would recommend- 
PANEER LABABDAR (spicy accompaniment to normal naan/kulcha/tandoori roti), 
Refreshing FRUIT SHOOTER (Mango & Pineapple)

They also have SUSHI, DIMSUM, HUMMUS but honestly this time I did not find them any great. Veg Sushi was extremely dry, they ran out of Dimsums very soon and the solitary piece I had was not good (very thick exterior). I stuck to Indian dishes and my mom also agrees that they have very tempting and delicious Indian food spread, it has consistently been flawless

AND the whole dessert section deserves repeat visits, hands down one of the best dessert spreads in the city, especially recommended are - 
Chenna Toast 
Kesar Barfi 
Apple Crumble Pastry 
Chocolate Brownie 
Caramel Delight Mousse 

Not to forget UNLIMITED LONDON DAIRY ICE-CREAMS! Especially love Praline & Cream and Mango Sorbet. 

Quite value for money looking at the quality of the buffet, the excellent service from beginning to end, very polite staff and our delicious experience here. Malaysian Food Festival gives a glimpse into an exotic cuisine and the exquisite Pondichery Cafe buffet provides enough choices to rejoice for everyone :) 

Sunday 25 February 2018

Beauty Review | Vichy Ideal White Meta Whitening Sleeping Mask | Luxury Beauty Brand | Lifestyle Fashion Beauty Blogger

Whitening is a controversial subject matter in India. Well, for me, whitening is more of a brightening effect where skin becomes less pigmented, more even-toned, less tanned. For this effect, I have tried many products as I do need even-toned skin having never used sunscreen all through my school and college years! 

Vichy Ideal White Meta Whitening Sleeping Pack is what I tried recently on my dry, sensitive, acne-prone, uneven toned skin. Vichy is famed for using minerals-rich spring water in its products that deliver a host of benefits to skin. So I was pretty excited to use this product.

Ingredients list contains a host of chemicals and I was actually scared looking at that, trying to pick out natural ingredients and then I gave up. Packaging is simple and cute but the jar does not seem travel friendly since it is made of glass. Claims include revealing rosy, dewy-white, flawless skin; skin would be moisturized, even-toned, healthy and it is even suited to sensitive skin. Quantity is very good and it lasts 2 months even if used everyday since only a little amount is needed every time.

My sister bought it for me from Amazon for around Rs. 4000 and it is definitely a very expensive product since it is a world renowned luxury brand.
The first time I opened the jar, I loved the look of the mask. It is a pretty pink color with beads in it which start melting when applied on face and then get absorbed with the pink cool gel. It feels light and I did a little massage every time I applied it. It did not give any adverse reaction on my complicated and sensitive skin. It felt a bit greasy so I was afraid of allergic reaction. But no redness, no rashes, no sensitivity, no acne at all!

But still, I did not like to keep it on my face throughout the night so I washed it after 3 hours and that way it did not do much on my skin. Then I started applying it as a mask for longer hours (around 6-7 hours) and then washed it off and then went to sleep to wake up to plumped up skin. Skin feels softer, smoother and there is a nice glow on skin too. But NO WHITENING! After all the claims about it being a whitening pack, I expected dramatic decrease in my pigmentation on chin and forehead especially but to no avail. It was a good face pack otherwise but not at all for whitening.

  • Luxury Beauty Brand
  • Feels luxurious on skin
  • Makes skin soft, smooth, radiant
  • Plumps up skin,makes it look younger
  • Suits sensitive skin too
  • Soothes skin, feels healing
  • Lasts a long time since little quantity needs to be applied each time
  • Can be used everyday by dry skin

  • Oily/Combination skin will feel greasy when used everyday
  • Expensive
  • Not easily available, try Amazon
  • Did NO whitening/de-pigmenting action on my skin
Recommended- YES and NO. Yes if you want a good face pack for softer, smoother, refined, plumped up skin. NO if you want whitening. Rating is 3.5/5.

Saturday 24 February 2018

Beauty Review | Kama Ayurveda Sanobar Hair Conditioner | Natural Beauty | Lifestyle Beauty Fashion Blogger

Having been blessed with dry as straw hair that is also damage prone, dandruff prone and extra frizzy, it is my distinct pleasure to find something useful for my hair i.e. moisturize it, make it frizz free and not increase dandruff or itchiness on my scalp. The latest in this quest is Kama Ayurveda Sanobar Hair Conditioner with Pure Essential Oils of Cypress and Orange.

Kama Ayurveda is one of India's premium Ayurvedic beauty brands with natural ingredientsKama Ayurveda Sanobar Hair Conditioner has Pure essential oils Cypress and Rose as its major Ingredients along with Almond oil, Amla and Soya. Packaging is elegant and travel friendly. Claims include strengthening and revitalizing damaged hair. Quantity is enough to last a month if used thrice a week.

I bought it from Amazon for Rs. 650 for 200 ml and it is not at all expensive considering the quantity or quality of the product.

My hair is excessively dry and frizzy. On using it, my hair did not feel heavy or weighed down at all which could be because it has more natural ingredients whereas most other conditioners are full of chemicals. It did make my hair smooth for very small time and it was frizzy and dry again after 24 hours. I did not see much hairfall either, hair felt a bit better behaved for 24-48 hours. This would be really good for normal dry hair whereas for my kind of hair, I need heavy duty hair spa creams most of the time to make it behave more permanently.

  • Premium Indian Ayurvedic Brand
  • Natural Ingredients
  • Made hair smooth
  • Less hairfall
  • Less frizziness
  • Available in Kama Ayurveda stores as well as online on Amazon
  • Results only for 24 hours on my extra dry and frizzy hair
Recommended - YES for normal dry hair. For extra dry and frizzy hair something much more intensive is needed. Rating is 4/5.

Wednesday 21 February 2018

Beauty Review | Clarins Lotus Face Treatment Oil | Indian Beauty Lifestyle Blogger

For skin as dry as mine, using as many different lotions and creams as possible is a given, especially during winter months since no single lotion seems to be able to do the perfect job. And it cannot be too greasy or there will be pimples galore on my face, and it cannot be too light or my parched skin will stay like a desert. So on this quest to find a product that would soothe and moisturize my facial skin without making its sensitive side flare up, I ended up buying Clarins Lotus Face Treatment Oil for a trial. Let us see how it fared!

Clarins is one of the best known International beauty brands that aims to provide scientific beauty solutions targeted for specific skin concern, enriched with botanical ingredients. Clarins Lotus Face Treatment Oil for Oily & Combination Skin has Pure essential oils of Rosemary and Geranium along with Lotus extract as its major Ingredients along with Sunflower seed oil, Hazel Seed oil, Vitamin E and some minimal preservatives. Packaging is elegant too and quite travel friendly, although the bottle is made of glass and automatically feels delizate. Claims include purifying and improving oily or combination skin, refining skin and balancing sebum production. Quantity is good enough to last 2-3 months because only 2-3 drops are enough to used for whole face everyday.

Clarins Lotus Face Treatment Oil is available online on Amazon as well as offline in Clarins stores for about Rs. 5500. It is a renowned luxury brand and price reflects that. The main thing to see now is if it justifies the steep price tag.

When I applied it for the first time, I thought it was a bit too oily for my skin and I was worried that it would increase acne on my cheeks. But it did not. It took me 2-3 days to adjust the amount I was applying on my face and I realized that only 2-3 drops were enough to moisturize my skin as well as keep it hydrated for 5-6 hours easily without making it too oily or too parched. In this sense, it was a good moisturizer for my complicated skin. It does not have a very strong fragrance and the mild chemical-y smell we get on applying it dissipates after some time so no issues there also. Overall though,even after using it for almost a month every night before going to bed, I did not see any big changes in my skin which is not what is expected after paying such a huge amount. I would expect that something this expensive would at least even out my tone, brighten my face more noticeably but all it did was give me a glow which I could frankly get from any other much less expensive cream/lotion too!

  •  Internationally renowned brand, used by celebrities
  •  Elegant packaging
  • Did not increase acne or make my sensitive skin flare up in any way
  • Gave a glow after regular application over a week
  • Very mild smell that dissipates fairly soon
  • Good for combination skin

  •  Did not do anything extra
  • Priced exorbitantly for average results 
  • Not available easily, try on Amazon 

Recommended- For those who want to spend extra for a brand name, this is a good option for combination or oily skin. Rating is 3/5 :)

Monday 19 February 2018

Book Review | Without Prejudice By Author Devasis | Epic Tale Of A Mumbai Bar Dancer | Fiction Meets Facts | Opinion

Tale of a bar dancer in Mumbai, erstwhile Bombay, the land of dreams.


Mumbai has always occupied a unique space in collective Indian mind. It is the most fashionable, most headline-grabbing, most glamorous and the most sought after city where India's biggest celebrities (actors, cricketers, businessmen, industrialists, playboys etc.) reside...This is the city of dreams, this is the city where 100s arrive everyday in dreams of becoming the next Shah Rukh Khan or next Aishwarya Rai, next Sachin Tendulkar or next Ratan Tata!

And like all the great cities in the world, there is a flourishing underbelly to this glittering city too. An underbelly full of violence, broken dreams, disappointments, crime, seedy localities, slums, abject poverty...This side of Mumbai is as widely covered in our popular culture as the glamorous and rich side of this megapolis.

A famous (or infamous!) shade of this underbelly has been the Mumbai bar dancer industry. This issue gained widespread attention with the movie Chandni Bar by Madhur Bhandarkar. Even in many other movies, bar dancers have played a prominent role, especially in stories related to underworld dons and notorious criminals. In modern Bollywood, bar dancers have often replaced the role played by Helen and Bindu in classical Bollywood era, that of quintessential 'item songs' girls to make movies more mass-based and commercially viable. In real life, most of the time, they have not been considered anything more than a 'prostitute' who puts the front of a 'mere dancing girl' to lure customers/patrons. Ask any common Indian on the street and it would be rare to come across a good opinion of bar dancer girls. For a layman, a 'tawayef' in 'kotha', a prostitute in red light district and a bar dancer are one and the same. 

Subject Matter

But where did these bar dancers come from? Beneath all the seedy dance bars, shady patrons, gaudy costumes, layers of makeup and whispers of prostitution, surely these are also human beings with complex personalities and complicated emotions. Does the society assume that a person is born with dreams of being a bar dancer? Why do we not look at them as humans anymore? What is their perspective on this attitude of society towards them? Do they wish to leave this industry and if they did, would the society accept them as a normal, dignified individual?

Without Prejudice by Author Devasis is an attempt to delve into this industry through personal story of 1 bar dancer, gleaned from his personal research into the subject matter and it does throw up some eye-opening facts related to bar dancers.

We meet Munia as a little child on the cusp of teenage, bartered as a precious cattle to be fed and groomed for her future role as a concubine, her destiny already pre-decided because of her caste. Through the eyes of her groomers and childhood 'protectors' (who frankly are saving her just to throw her to the wolf who pays the most for her innocence), we see her transform into Pallavi and then end up at perspectives shared by Roy and Rajkumar, 2 men who play an important role in Pallavi's life as a young bar dancer. Through their conversations and Roy's research into bar dancers' history (he is a journalist), the reader also understands the nuances of this sensitive, complicated topic. 

Personal Thoughts 

1. When I started Without Prejudice, frankly I thought this would be a typical 'prostitute with a heart of gold' story-line. Yup, I am ashamed to recognize myself as someone who takes refuge in stereotyping too. Having seen many movies like Pretty Woman, I thought that is the only track a story like this can take. Here is a woman, she is pretty, young and innocent with big dreams, she comes to Mumbai to achieve success and gets sucked into the big bad underworld where she is forced to sell her body and then she meets a handsome, kind hero who saves her from this wretched world because he recognizes her precious heart and they live happily ever after!


The story is pretty tightly scripted and while there are many cliches involved, they do not overshadow the fact that characters in Without Prejudice are richly developed, complex and give us an insight into their thought process. Yes, there is a happy ending and the last 20 pages of the story felt a bit rushed but it still ended up being very different from what I had expected. I finished the book in one sitting which would have been impossible if it was just another reproduction of something like 'pretty woman'. So kudos to the author for bringing to life a unique story.

2. Though the title says it is the journey of a bar dancer, we also see glimpses of other issues such as lack of communication in modern marriages, inside working of dance bars and HR policies being implemented informally there, political patronage supplied to seedy underbellies of our society, prejudice of not only a common person against dance bars but even media outlets prejudiced against them as worst social segments and so on. These are thought provoking instances that keep the story rooted in reality and also show the kind of in-depth research author did on the subject matter. This also does not let the story becoming claustrophobic by just setting it inside a dance bar, rather we keep moving through bars, newspaper offices, hill stations and page 3 society of Mumbai.

3. I personally liked the Yin and Yang approach showing the good and bad in every situation. There is a particular conversation that the character of Roy has with a taxi driver working outside Pallavi's dance bar that gives a nice overview of how different people look at same situation differently. It also brought out the spirit of struggle for survival in this tough city where people gotta do whatever they gotta do to keep a roof over their head, food in their bellies and clothes on their body without wasting their time on worrying about getting judged as 'badnaam aurat'. It wasn't moralistic, it was real and worth remembering. Inclusion of such conversations kept the task of reading Without Prejudice humane.

4. Most importantly, Without Prejudice brought to light extremely disturbing facts about the birth of the tribe of bar dancers, so to speak. Who knew that we actually had a Criminal Tribes Act of 1871 that branded people from 125 Indian castes, tribes and communities as born criminals thus making it virtually impossible for them to get any gainful employment? Even though they later became Denotified Tribes, the prejudice against them continued. This, combined by quite a few other socio-economic and historical factors, contributed the most in rise of bar dancers/ seedy 'massage parlors' and a good percentage of inhabitants in red light districts. This particular portion of the novel is worth its weight in gold as it transforms this journey of a bar dancer into  a huge cauldron of simmering social + cultural + economic + historical elements that most of us are unaware of, something that we ought to rectify right now. 

5. Finally, I would recommend Without Prejudice for the simple reason that it makes an argument for a consistent language for humanity everywhere- one that should dispel rumors and prejudices and embrace kindness, compassion, dignity for all people. From the Geishas of Japan to Bar Dancers of Mumbai to Strip Dancers of USA, there are similar human stories to be heard everywhere if one is willing to listen. And willing to listen we must be, as that is the first step to live a true life Without Prejudice!

A good read, go get it :)

Image Source -Niyogi Books