Sunday, August 24, 2014

Road to Durga Puja 2014: "Kumortuli" The Nostalgic Photo-walk

Road to the Durga Pujo 2014: Look at her 'nascent vision'..and a third eye to gauge the evil...
Road to the Durga Pujo 2014: The 'construction' phase is in progress..so much of concentration..
Road to the Durga Pujo 2014: Gauging is perhaps the right word..the precision is amicable....
Road to the Durga Pujo 2014: And the photographers crowded around her..'the perfect focus..'
Road to the Durga Pujo 2014: Yes, i'm in paradise...You and I in this beautiful world...
Road to the Durga Pujo 2014: Oh wait..where did 'he' come from? The expression of the day...
Road to the Durga Pujo 2014: The touch of style to go with a semi cooked contingency...beautiful!
Road to the Durga Pujo 2014: The artistic flamboyance expressing itself to the fullest... 
Road to the Durga Pujo 2014: The baseline has been prepared...time to add those 'colors'..
Road to the Durga Pujo 2014: Don't dare to mess with him...'He' is terrifying to the core....
Road to the Durga Pujo 2014: The mud-marred hands...stitching history through his 'touch'..
Road to the Durga Pujo 2014: The finishing strokes..the blend of finesse to go with it....
Road to the Durga Pujo 2014: Perfection is the key to all creations..and he is ensuring the same.
Road to the Durga Pujo 2014: Dazzling is the word my friend...just about 40 days to go...
Road to the Durga Pujo 2014: Peek-a-Boo..I could 'smell' the pliancy of euphoria already...
Road to the Durga Pujo 2014: We call it "chokkhudan" in Bengali..such a wonderful sight...
Road to the Durga Pujo 2014: Those hidden angles of spiritual dexterity...exploring them...
Road to the Durga Pujo 2014: The beautiful specimens on display...it's Janmashtami nevertheless...
Road to the Durga Pujo 2014: The 'forever downtrodden'..look at those eyes, cadaverous....
Road to the Durga Pujo 2014: The excellence in artistry...a photowalk is Kumartuli is uplifting...
Road to the Durga Pujo 2014: The admirable finishing touch....

* All the images in this blog-post are self-shot and should not be reproduced in any form without my permission. They are copyright protected. My official photo-stream is here.

* Please click on the individual photos (as uploaded on the blog) or the caption to view the high resolution version.

Friday, August 8, 2014

The Bong Connection Revisited....

"The cue is picked and the 'cohort' identified...
The snow-white plateau of rice-envelope in sight...
The touch of 'gondhoraj' as a 'uplifting crest'...
The guilt-free delight on offer, it's an ornate 'fest'....

Served hot with tenderness in store...
'Mustard hilsa's gratifying to the core...
The melamine's partnership to yield smiles...

"Joy Bangali" - Resounds through the 'miles'!...."

Well, honestly speaking, today's a big day. And the answer to your obvious question is, because I have cooked for the first time in my life. As I had cited in my last post "The Bong Connection" , there's a seriously 'fishy' connection as far as the bong-food-love is concerned and why not? When there's so much of fidelity attached to the entire scheme of things, the output turns out to be a delectable one. But then, this is my first real venture with the 'art of cooking', that too, under the vigilant supervision of my mom (Gah! She's too skeptical at time I presume)....I have mostly been on the other side of the table; being an active part of the Kolkata Food Bloggers, I have been the 'critic' , the connoisseur so far. Yes, Round 2 was quite a challenge to me and I decided to take it to the 'next level'...haha, I'm kidding actually. I literally struggled through the entire process, hustling with the 'flame-adjustment', handling the 'fragile' fish-slice, gauging the right proportion of seasoning, garnishing and what not- It was quite an acid-test of my perseverance. Gosh! How do the chef's manage to produce such piquant variety on the platter, eh? That's some serious talent. But then, the good part is, the outcome seemed to be decent enough...yes, I managed to earn a rating of B from my grand-mom...and that's a pretty high score considering her discernible proficiency in this genre. Booyeah! It's an 'esteemed debut' at the kitchen I'd say- Mission accomplished...So ladies and gentlemen...I hereby present to you the traditional, enticing, luscious and super- 'savory' Shorshe Ilish (Mustard Hilsa)- the perfect Bong reprise. And yes, I have to mention that the delightful partnership that it has managed to stitch with the set of exquisite Borosil dishes (sent as the reward for a 'lyrical performance' in Round I of the competition), is just exemplary. Alright then, let's hand it over to the pictures to do the talking....

The Bong Connection Revisited - My first attempt at cooking, do let me know your feedback....
The Bong Connection Revisited - The super-tempting Shorshe Ilish, straight out of the 'heat'  ;)
The Bong Connection Revisited - The perfect Bong reprise, the beautiful set-up courtesy Borosil... 
The Bong Connection Revisited - The Hilsa before it was 'consumed'..looks tempting.. isn't it?
The Bong Connection Revisited - 'Beauty' on the platter....
This photo blog has been 'penned down' as a part of the "My Beautiful Food" contest Round 2 brought to you by Borosil in association with Indiblogger. You can check my other food-related posts & restaurant review's here.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Perks of having a Jifi Account....

'Being social is not just an avocation...
It's like a prophecy...
It's like a thoroughfare of reciprocity...
It's an effulgent concert' - Anonymous.

"Gah! I think I'm wasting my time on twitter"- Jimmy murmured as he quickly shuffled through the tweets on his smartphone. This is perhaps the fifth time in five minutes that I have seen him checking for new notifications. He, in-fact, went on a self-imposed rehab from the social networks earlier this week..hilarious isn't it? It's more of a prevarication to say the least.

"Dude, I think there's an other-side to social networking as well...it's not merely a time-pass now, you can perform all your banking operations by making use the social networking medium"- Ravish elucidated. This voice echoed through the deserted Coffee house, the statement was a sagacious one.

"That sounds hilarious! Do you even realize what you just said? Is it a fragile Facebook or twitter application like the Zynga driven Mafia Wars or Farmville? Dude, it's 'banking' , I hope you acknowledge that"- Raman was thoroughly miffed by his statement. Banking, to him, is quite a sensitive sector...he never hands out his credit card to the waiter, even if it's a 5 star restaurant.

"Yes, the major concern is security. If that is taken care of, I bet, this is going to be a very exciting introduction"- I pitched in to the conversation.

"Haha! No worries on that part, all the account and transaction related information when requested, will appear in your twitter direct message box. Utmost care has been taken to maintain the confidentiality of your account"- Ravish ratiocinated.

"Wo sab to theek hai! But tell me why should I be interested in opening a socially powered bank account when there's substantial risk involved in terms of loss of sensitive data if the social account linked to it is hacked?"- Suresh joined in with a very germane query.

"Hey!! Hold on for a second gentlemen...before you bombard me with all these questions, let me take you on an e-ride into the world of socially empowered banking, the mode of banking that's newfangled, commodious and hassle-free to say the least. I'm sure you're gonna enjoy this experience thoroughly" - Ravish asserted as he logged in to the Macbook Air. He's an investment banker himself, we could, to some extent rely on his elucidation. The stage was set for the banker, the 'engines' all revved up!


"Alright then fellas...let me start off with the very basics, I'll guide you with the entire steps for registration & help you understand the main features of a the Kotak Jifi interface that has been created to facilitate the younger social-network-savvy generation like you and me. You know, a number of family-members hate me because of the fact that I'm a banker, it's a pre-conceived notion nevertheless, but sometimes, managing a bank account really becomes quite a painful exercise. Infact, opening a bank account involves a tedious process...filling up bulky forms, signing on every possible page, waiting for your cheque book, your debit cards and of course the "PIN number" for online account activation. Jifi is a refreshing change in this respect. It has been primarily created to cater to the essence of digital banking through it's seamless integration with Jimmy's favorite Facebook and twitter. But then the documentation required to open a Jifi account is typically the same as compared to the other bank accounts; the conventional KYC process holds. So let's begin.....

1. Relatively uncomplicated login window: 
Net-banking often involves a number of primary and secondary passwords, and sometimes you even need a personalized hash-key to log into the system. Logging in to the Kotak Jifi website, is a cake-walk. You can sign up for the Jifi account either using the Facebook account or by applying through an email invitation...and you are good to go. It's a hassle-free solution because you don't need to remember a huge list of passwords and of course, you don't need to undergo the conventionally rigorous "password reset" exercise. I found the interface flawless, light and easily accessible from any location in the country and abroad. Swanky!



2. Banking allowance- The privilege of a Zero Balance account: 
Unlike the other banking operations that has a minimum balance requirement, Kotak Jifi grants you the leverage of maintaining a zero balance account, it is a non-interest bearing current account. I bet, this feature would attract the school or college goers even more...there's absolutely no headache in maintaining a threshold account balance every month to keep it active. You would require a nominal deposit of INR 5000/- to script the perfect "Subh Arambh". The auto-term creation once the user account balance exceeds INR 25,000/-, attracting a higher rate of interest payout, is certainly a worthy gratification for the account holders. I'm planning to transfer heavily to my Jifi account, in a jiffy. ;) I'm sure that I'm going to reap rich benefits out of it.


3. Earning and transferring social and transaction points: 
The signature 'Loyalty Club' brought to your by Kotak Jifi is a reserve of benefits and benediction. Since your Facebook account is integrated with the Jifi account, your social interaction quotient with the Bank is tracked by the system and you are amply rewarded with loyalty points in return- it shows that Kotak values each and customer & gratifies them with beaming benefits. Loyalty points can also be earned with regular online transactions; it's a joy-ride with the Kotak Jifi. The reward points (both social and transaction-driven) can be accumulated and used at a later stage to redeem products of your choice and avail classy discounts on shopping, dining, traveling etc. Yes, these are the perks of being a privileged Kotak jifi customer, it's a fun ride...!


The pivotal aspect here is the loyalty-point-relegation or transfer functionality; you can transfer your loyalty points to a friend-in-need as well as accept points from others. You can lend your points anytime; that is indeed the essence of social sharing. This, my friend, has some sort of similarity with the Zynga developed apps like Mafia wars where you can send weapons/ wishlist items to a fellow mafia. Gah..not a fair comparison though ;) Let's take a look at the classy rewards that you can unlock using the points.



4. Extend your network and get rewarded:
Following the basic principle of a social networking website, Kotak Jifi offers you an unique platform to connect to your near and dear ones on the social banking platform. You can refer your friends to try out the innovative way of banking through Facebook invites or by sharing a unique link generated through email. You can make use to the ‘Refer Friends’ functionality on your Jifi dashboard. A referral point count of 250 is added to your account immediately when your invitee activates his/her Jifi account using your referral link. The accumulated reward points, as mentioned above, could be used in redeeming lucrative allowances..!



5. Kotak mobile banking and the Kotak Offers Application:
The mobile banking application is an exclusive introduction that caters to seamless banking , transactions and funds transfer on the go. It is absolutely a necessity for professionals like us who roam around the country for almost 300 out of the 365 days, getting hold of a laptop is sometimes pretty onerous. The mobile applications are robust, user friendly and is 'harnessed' with a number of effective functionalities like a quick account overview, hassle-free mobile bill payment facility, easy locating of term deposits, identifying the nearest ATM for withdrawal or deposit etc. All you needed is the bliss of mobile internet connectivity and the rest is pretty much a cake-walk. It can be easily downloaded from the App-store & installed & accessed on the move...!


The only problem that I see is that the application is not yet compatible with the Windows O.S.; a quick heads up in this direction is appreciated. We all are equipped with internet enabled smart-phones these days, isn't it? The fact that we 'socialize' using the mobile-phone and social apps, adds to the bearing of having a dedicated mobile banking application. The Kotak Offers application is an idiosyncratic addition that enables an user to track down the various offers & privileges that are rewarded to a Kotak Mahindra Bank customer. Now I can explore offers-galore right on my tablet. It also offers free NEFT through net banking, that is indeed a boost for the ones who deal with bulk online transactions regularly- the 360 degree circle of customer vindication..!



6. Free Platinum Debit Card for the first year:
Getting hold of a Kotak Mahindra Platinum Debit card is quite a privilege, especially when you are allowed to withdraw a maximum of INR 50,000 per day, it is a worthy possession. I'm sure that my girl-friend might just be licking her fingers at the prospect of a daily purchase limit of INR 2 Lakhs using the Platinum chip based debit card. She's knows the benefits already.!


7. Multiple sign-up benefits for the first time user:
Kotak Jifi offers you exclusive benefits on the first time sign-up:- 1. 1 year free subscription of the Kotak Money watch (a platform that caters to every aspect of personal financing: expenses, investments, gains, monetary settlements etc) 2. Earning up to (250x25) referral points for successful sign-ups in a year. 3. Garnering up to (25x6) transaction points in a month for every transaction above INR 500/- - the prerogatives of being an active part of the first ever socially empowered banking platform.


8. Customer support on twitter:
In case of any account or transaction related issue, send in a tweet to their official Jifi account @KotakJifi (using the hashtags #JifiBal or #JifiStatus - to know the account balance and application status respectively) and the queries would be resolved on priority basis. No need to stay on the call for hours, waiting for the customer care representative to get in touch with you. All the account related details would shared with the account holder using the direct message service on twitter to ensure confidentiality.



8. Security:
Now, to answer Suresh's question...yes, the social networking sites, these days are extremely prone to hackers, but then, be rest assured, even if your Facebook or twitter account is infested by unauthorized access, the security of your bank account is still restored. The external entity might be able to view your accumulated social and transaction-al reward points; but the right to check the user account balance or executing a new transaction would be provoked. To complete a transaction, the user would be routed through the net-banking mode...and thus any unauthorized access would be interrupted. Looks like a very secure mode of operation this.

Phew! Any more questions?"- Ravish stopped to take a breather. He has been touched upon every possible details to say the least.

"So this service is available across India?" - I decided to throw in a random question.

"Kotak Jifi is currently available in Bangalore, Bhubaneswar, Chandigarh, Chennai, Coimbatore, Delhi, Hyderabad, Jaipur, Kolkata, Lucknow, Mumbai and Pune. But fiqaar not, the services are going to be rolled across India soon enough. Your account can however be accessed from anywhere in world. Tadaaa"- He retaliated...the perfect banking consultant. And as we spoke...


Kotak Jifi is certainly announces the 'new era of banking' ..it is certainly a glorious metamorphosis, it makes banking easy, convenient and customer-gratification is it's ultimate objective. The customer base, as a result, is growing exponentially with every passing day. Since, it remodels the mode of financial-accomplishment for good, you can certainly 'Bank upon' Jifi. TVC:


* I would like to thank indiblogger for giving me opportunity to explore the all new socially empowered banking platform~ Kotak Jifi.

The #WhatTheBlack Revelation....

"Sammy! That black waistcoat was a stunning one mate, how much did it cost?" - the meddlesome young intern catechized. 

"I saw a white one as well....did you check out Mr. Kapoor's outfit last night?"- I tried to avoid the question.

"Yes, I did...but the smooth velvety touch amalgamated with the aristocratic black shade stole the show. Well done..." - He continued- "I always had this 'thing' for the darker shades, especially black; it's a mark of sophistication." The conversation was gradually turning out to be a fascistic one. The trainee was presumably trying to impress me.

"So you didn't check out on the ladies eh?" - I chortled, trying to divert his focus..."I hope that the trajectory of your vision didn't get dispersed in the black hole ;)"

"Sir, there's something magnetic about the black color...something very seductive in there, no gender biased in there though"- The dark eyed chap articulated. Those prominent dark circles on his face were as disturbing as ever. I had to do something to stem the flow; the untimely debate was certainly testing my patience. I did figure out a 'mitigating tactic' eventually! Phew... 


"Okay. Since you seem to be a black-shade-connoisseur, let me show you something. It's intriguing and 'cryptic' to say the least. And of course, it is associated with the color black, let's see if you could put these disjointed puzzles in order"- I alleged. This was my best chance to hit 2 targets at the same time ~ 1. To strategically 'gag' this voluble fellow 2. To test his wit in order to verify my own speculation skills.

"Ok Boss! Anything for the 'black beauty'"- He acknowledged- "But the only condition is...I need a leave on the Black Friday, that's next week :D"....Gah! He's quite a manipulative chap.

"Haha, sure...provided you crack the clues and most importantly, hit the target...."- I resolved. It, sure, promised to be quite an impelling trial...a bit melodramatic as well.

To give you a brief background, the immensely creative bunch of enthusiasts of the blogadda.com community have sent me a number of 'thought-provoking' props over the last 4 days (30th September to 2nd August 2014), each one having a definite connotation...the combination of which unveils a glorious revelation. At the first glance, it appeared that the only common factor that connects all the individual pointers was the color BLACK. Our assignment was to draw a correlation between the above mentioned clues and arrive at the final product using our own hypothesis and guesstimates. Yes, we did flex our brain muscles to reach the 'root' of the charade. It was certainly a brain-teasing exercise, but we eventually managed to decode the riddle. It was time to 'authenticate' the self-derived results though ;)

"Alright so here's your first clue....the 'swanky' black egg, I hope you are not a veggie after-all" - I decided to throw the "egg" straight on to his court, his response was eagerly awaited.

"I'm afraid, I'm"- He looked rather disappointed, perhaps the mystery was embedded in the yoke?

"Relax! Take a look at the picture carefully. The 'charcoal-painted' egg, on exposure to heat, has melted down into a luscious piece of chocolate, that too purple in color" - I explained casually.

"Oh Okay! I was pretty frazzled eh! But then...a piece of chocolate craved in form of an egg doesn't really unmask the hidden riddle, it has a sweet-touch to it nevertheless" - He vindicated..."By the way, mind sharing a bite?"- He looked hopeful on this one.

"Provided you find a way through the maze. The grimy Black Maze that is" -I giggled as I presented to him the next clue in turn.

#WhatTheBlack Mystery: The first clue...a black egg that melted into a luscious lump of chocolate

"Alright! Time for the second clue...but before that tell me...do you read the newspaper daily?"- I sedately interrogated.

"I certainly do....sometimes in the online and sometimes in the offline mode. Buy why?"- He looked rather curious.

"Well then, I might just test your observation skills for this one. There's certainly a prominent cue in there"- I announced as the black 'What The Black Times' newspaper was displayed. Yes, you guessed it right, the black newspaper is the second the hint, following the chocolate.

"Haha! Hilarious...the Cricket board introduces black balls, this sure is 'shrewd'. I guess they were planning for the pink kookaburra a few years back isn't it? And the black star in the galaxy? ROFL! Super comical" - This guy was quite a cricket fanatic, but then he was pretty much focusing on the irrelevant details. But, then, you never know what's cooking inside his mind. I decided to render inarticulate support as he shuffled through the pages. I silently observed him scrutinizing each and every word, his glistening eyeballs did bring in a sense of 'positivity'; but he never lost his composure. 

"I think we can move on to the next clue"- His cutting intonation broke my trance.

"Good morning, Sir :D" - He guffawed. He was on the right track. "I'm a huge fan of your candid photography"- He broached!

#WhatTheBlack Mystery: The second clue...the Breaking news on the WhatTheBlack Times... ;)

"Impressive, very impressive"- I confessed, "Now that you are on course, let's not waste too much of time. I certainly had a hard time in relating this one with the first two clues". And I brought out the third & the last object out of my pocket. This was the ultimate milestone indeed, the climax as I'd say...Errr, it's transpiring into a dramatic ending isn't it!

"Oh my! Eureka!!!...That's simply falling into the groove :D"- All of a sudden, he was ecstatic...he jumped out of his chair in 'triumph', waving to the 'imaginary crowd' after scoring a virtual century.

"Sir!!!! It had to be a tea/coffee cup...it had to be! :D"- He exclaimed-"It had to be one of the acclaimed 'drinks' that completes the breakfast itinerary"- He continued.

Bang On! He had started conjecturing already...the third clue was indeed a black paper cup used to serve hot beverages and a black tissue paper. The first three clues certainly had a link to the 'first meal of the day'...the boiled egg, the newspaper and the paper cup (serving black tea/coffee) if combined together, forms an intrinsic aspect of the early-morning-praxis. Roger that.....?

#WhatTheBlack Mystery: The third clue...a black paper cup that is used to serve beverages...

"Brilliant Watson!" - I could sense the possibility of the parallel lines meeting in a close proximity. "So, what's the verdict? Anything constructive derivation out of the 3 clues so far?" - I examined.

"Umm...well, I have a couple of doubts to go with it: 1. Why are the originally white products draped in the colour black? 2. What's the relevance of having a chocolate core in an egg?" - He gurgled.

"Haha!"- I interrupted..."Watson, are you missing on something very obvious? What is the first thing you do in the morning?"- I hinted. This was the first time that I couldn't resist myself....I obviously vomited out the solution.

"EUREKA!!!" - He wailed "She laughs at everything you say. Why? Because she has fine teeth." - The famous quote by Benjamin Franklin.

"It has to be an oral-care product- a black colored tooth brush or a tooth paste...to complete the chain, what an amazing elucidation"- He professed..." Excess chocolate consumption could result in cavities and coffee can lead to permanent yellowing stains on your teeth. In-fact, the calcium content in both the 'egg' and the teeth (or bones) is another common link."- That sounded very convincing indeed.

"And what about the newspaper?"- I wanted to seal all ends up before granting him the leave.

"Sir, it's obvious...other than having a direct connection with the breakfast outline, it is linked with the spirit of articulation. A newspaper spreads awareness, touching every aspect of life...and it goes without saying that 'highlighting the dental hazards' does form an active component" - He sounded convincing yet again. His derivation was indeed commendable; however, he was not done yet. He silently picked up the What The Black Times from the couch and pointed towards a specific section towards the bottom of the first page.

"Look here"- He indicated- "Read the line discretely-Content of this newspaper, unless categorized as "Editorial", is a work of fiction created by Candid Marketing Pvt. Ltd. for strictly promotional use. Ransack their website immediately :D"- He explained. 

"Yes. Watson...another big sparkling observation there! Candid has been associated with quite a number of big brands, promoting their signature products efficiently...I do sense another glorious collaboration here..." - I professed.

"Are we thinking on the same lines, buddy?" -The quick-witted intern chuckled. We exchanged satiated glances. Indeed we were.

#WhatTheBlack Mystery: The WhatTheBlack Times... did produce a hint out of no where... 
"Yes my friend...you were right on the mark. Here's the revolutionary product that was delivered to my place on the fourth day. Take a look"- And I took out the 'black marvel' to show him. It was the all new Colgate Slim Soft Charcoal tooth-brush wrapped carefully in a velvety black box; the exciting new revelation by Colgate with charcoal infused 17X slimmer tip bristles that can reach deeper between teeth and along the gum line effortlessly, the charcoal bristles ensuring complete removal of plaque bacteria. It is indeed "one level up" in comparison to the counterparts ~ The Black Exultation. It's the true manifestation of the "opposites repel" doctrine...the dark bristles fighting against the dark forces of dental-annihilation. Please log on to www.whattheblack.com to know more about this newfangled oracle. It promises to be your eternal dental insurance policy!

#WhatTheBlack Mystery: The final divulgement...'welcome to the amazing black revolution'..
#WhatTheBlack Mystery: The final divulgement...the all new Colgate SlimSoft Charcoal toothbrush..
#WhatTheBlack Mystery: The final divulgement..product launch: "Colgate Slim Soft Charcoal"
The social media reach & impact of the #WhatTheBlack campaign: Honestly speaking, this campaign is perhaps one of the most 'talked about' campaigns of recent times. I have seen people stitching conversations & testing their predicting skills by tweeting out their thoughts with the hashtag #WhatTheBlack. Many of them, including me, did manage to decipher the mystery even before the last clue was released. The 'influence' has reached Facebook and instagram as well with the recipients posting images on all mediums, asking the friends and followers to predict the next item in line. Let's have a quick-look at the hashtag results and the 'impressions' that it managed to generate over the social media. It has generated a staggering count of 3037 tweets that have been sent with the hashtag in the last 20 days or so, with an impression estimate of 131,761 in a day. It certainly is one of the most successful initiatives of recent times, it did enhance the 'interest level' of the consumers manifold....!

#WhatTheBlack Mystery: The tweet-archive list and distribution for the #WhatTheBlack campaign
#WhatTheBlack Mystery: The tweet-impression counter for the #WhatTheBlack campaign...
#WhatTheBlack Mystery: Some of the tweets sent by the bloggers for the #WhatTheBlack campaign
* Cheers to Blogadda.com for conducting such an innovative campaign, it was a real privilege to be associated with the #WhatTheBlack activity. The product photographs have been self-clicked and analytic's drawn through third party websites.

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