Category Archives: Lifestyle

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A fragrance for every country

Fragrances are so potent – taking you back down memory lane, altering your perception of an individual and even doing away with depression at times. We associate every perfume we encounter with a different era, place and emotion. If paintings reach our soul through our eyes and music through our ears, fragrances are an art form designed to touch us through our nostrils. Here are seven intoxicating perfumes for women that are apt for a trip to each of these countries/cities (and there are bonus tips at the end):

  1. Chiffon by Emper for India

Chiffon by Emper

This floral and fruity perfume reminds us of fresh summer days and therefore, it’s perfect for India, a tropical country where the whiff of a good perfume is always welcome! Infused with vanilla, white musk, jasmine, rose, orris, sandalwood, mandarin orange and bergamot, this feminine and citrusy scent is ideal for the day and guaranteed to pep up your mood. We also feel it’s a great starter perfume for adolescents and those who are new to the world of fragrances.

  1. Gold by Louis Cardin for USA

Gold by Louis Cardin

This rich, decadent and luxurious fragrance is designed for the woman of accomplishment and mystery and we think the United States of America is the best embodiment of successful women. The intoxicating, floral and woody fragrance of Gold by Louis Cardin isn’t one that you’ll forget in a hurry. Wear it in the evenings and for a special meeting where you want to create an impression. The perfume comes with the warm touch of orange and spices like vanilla, saffron and cloves, along with lime, lemon, pineapple, rose, jasmin, lavender, Artemisia, iris, sandalwood, white musk and patchouli.

  1. Creation Pour Femme for Singapore

Creation Pour Femme

An extremely sweet and delicious fragrance, Creation Pour Femme reminds us of the nights in Singapore where the sophisticated partied at Marina Bay Sands and the secretive at one of the speakeasy pubs, open only to those who knew the password. This is a very feminine evening perfume that’s almost like an aphrodisiac thanks to the alluring scent of vanilla. The sweetness of the musky, floral fragrance is due to the notes of litchi, golden quince, kiwi, jasmine, white chocolate and orris root.

  1. True Reflections by Chris Adams for UK

True Reflections by Chris Adams

This is a summery sweet light fragrance that’s perfect for summer days in London. We’d recommend this for the day, as a non-overwhelming fragrance for those who like their perfume to be barely-there. The pleasant yet not overfriendly character of this perfume reminds us of the British. This fruity and woody fragrance is infused with a deep aroma of blackcurrant and pomegranate, along with the romance of rose and the curiosity of lemon. Other notes include red currant, raspberry, violet, musk and cedarwood.

  1. Viveca by Maryaj for France

Viveca by Maryaj

Viveca by Maryaj is the quintessential fragrance that all of us are familiar with one on some level. And what better country to associate it with than the birthplace of perfumes – France? This floral day perfume is a surprise performer – it develops depth as the day deepens. So don’t judge its floral, fruity appeal just by the initial fragrance. This young-at-heart perfume lets you enjoy a blend of neroli, bitter orange, raspberry, orange flower, jasmin, patchouli, amber and honey.

  1. Lady Presidente by Emper for Maldives

Lady Presidente by Emper

Walk on the soft beaches of Maldives at twilight with some Lady Presidente to enhance the beauty of the night. This sweet scent with sharp and spicy undertones is sexy, scintillating and alluring. A black sheath dress and wind-swept hair is what we’d visualise while you walk on pointy heels or perhaps even barefoot. This floral and fruity scent is a daring mix of coconut, musk, sandalwood, lotus, water lily, raspberry, mango, nectarine and blood orange.

  1. Sensual by Lomani Paris for Switzerland

Sensual by Lomani Paris

Sensual by Lomani Paris is a sweet, woody fragrance with sinister undertones. Exotic and multi-layered, the perfume has a personality you won’t fail to recognise. To us, it indicates perfection and a femme to reckon with. While the fragrance mellows with time, the notes of ylang ylang, vanilla and musk will ensure that you’re noticed, wherever you go. Other key notes include fruity green, aldehydes, jasmine, lily, orange, spicy sandalwood and cedarwood.

Perfume selfie by Perfumebooth.com

The good news is that you can try ALL of the abovementioned perfumes for just Rs 475 with the perfume selfie pack available on www.perfumebooth.com. The pack contains seven testers, a portable perfume carrier, tips on how to apply perfume and make it last longer and best of all, a 500 rupees voucher to purchase the perfume you love most. There are various combos for men and women to choose from; the one they sent us for review is called ‘Lurve’. Personally, we would go for a bigger bottle of Gold by Louis Cardin and Sensual by Lomani Paris. But it all depends on where you’re travelling next, right?

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BONUS: We’re reproducing some of the perfume application tips from our perfume selfie box.

How to make perfumes last longer

  • A perfume has a top, middle and bottom note so that it smells different at different hours of application.
  • Apply the perfume at the ends of your hair, behind your ears, inside the elbows, on your belly button, down your back, inside your wrists and behind the knees.
  • Spray the perfume from a distance of 5-7 inches.
  • Six to eight sprays at a time are good enough.
  • Never keep the perfume in sunlight.
  • Don’t rub the perfume after spritzing. Let it dry naturally.
  • Reapply the perfume every 4-6 hours.
  • Use the perfume on moisturised skin.

Perfume images courtesy: http://www.perfumebooth.com

 

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Love IPL? Get the V5Plus limited edition phone

What do the IPL, actress Soha Ali Khan and the colour black have in common? The V5Plus limited edition smartphone of course! Vivo, the title sponsor of the premier Twenty20 competition, has launched this special edition phone in a beautiful matte black for ardent fans of cricket. Engraved with the VIVOIPL logo at the back, this phone seems like a real stunner not just for its connection to the IPL but also for its unbeatable features. Here’s a sneak peak.

Vivo V5Plus limited edition phone

Vivo has brought out the matte black V5Plus limited edition phone to celebrate ten years of IPL and it comes powered with an incredible dual 20 MP and 8 MP front camera. It offers the kind of depth of field that you normally get only  in high-end cameras. Imagine the character your selfies would have, with the beautifully blurred background which is enhanced by the digitally optical algorithm to generate an amazing Bokeh effect. I for one, can’t wait to try it for myself. At 16MP, the rear camera is impressive as well. The phone promises a rich user experience with a 5.5FHD display with Corning Gorilla glass. It runs on Funtouch OS 3.0 Operating system based on Android 6.0 and is powered by the robust Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 Octa-core CPU.

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Vivo has fast become one of the leading smartphone brands in India and with its association with India’s favourite cricket championship, it’s set to top the popularity charts. Rahul Johri, CEO – BCCI says, “Leading the way through constant creativity and innovation, both brands – IPL & Vivo share a commitment to achieving the highest standards. Vivo came on board last year to become the title sponsor of the premier Twenty20 competition in the world and it has been a mutually rewarding association since then.” Vivo India currently has its presence in more than 400 cities in 22 states, with a strong focus on camera and music. Vivo is one of the fastest growing companies in India and one of the top 10 smartphone brands in the world.

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Truth be told, we only need a reason to splurge on a shiny new smartphone. And if the VIVO IPL month is your favourite one in the entire year, it makes sense to break the bank to get this phone. And Rs 25,990, it’s definitely within reach. Vivek Zhang, CMO, Vivo India has this to say, “The idea behind the launch of a limited edition phone was to offer our consumers not just the phone but an experience they can cherish for a lifetime. We have given the strictest attention to the design and feel of the phone and our focus is to offer an exclusive experience to the cricket crazy audience.”

Specifications at a glance

  • 20 MP Dual Front Camera and 16 MP Rear Camera
  • 13.87 cm (5.5) FHD Display
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 Octa-core CPU
  • 4 GB RAM/64 GB ROM
  • Battery 3055 mAh
  • 4G LTE Network

While it’s already available in the market in gold, the matte black edition of the phone which went on sale on 10th April on Flipkart, modern trade outlets and Vivo exclusive stores only is being offered at a competitive price of Rs 25,990. So hurry up and go grab them!

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Travel essential: Himalaya Herbals mouthwash

Onions are a great accompaniment to Indian meals but the one thing they are not – is romantic. Many are the moments when I regret passing over a bowl of chopped kanda to go with the parathas. Because you know what happens later – monster breath!

Like many personal care products in recent times, mouthwashes too have acquired a questionable reputation.Why? Because most of them contain alcohol, and alcohol isn’t good for the teeth. There’s no point in harming your molars in the quest for sweeter breath, is there?

Himalaya Herbals Mouthwash Review
Last week, I received these three in the mail, with a card encouraging me not to be an ‘onion head’!

That’s where the Himalaya Herbals range of alcohol-free mouthwashes come in. They claim to have ‘no burning taste’ either. There are three variants and I put all their claims to test over the last few days.

Complete Care Mouthwash

Himalaya Herbals Complete Care Mouthwash Review

The Complete Care mouthwash promises healthy gums and teeth using natural ingredients like miswak, neem and pomegranate. Miswak is the twig that Indians used as a toothbrush in olden times and has a lot of medicinal benefits, while pomegranate juice has been documented to fight dental plaque. Neem has anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties. All you have to do is pour 15ml of mouthwash into the cap (there is an indicator for the measure) and swish it around in your mouth thoroughly for 30 seconds. At the end, you have to spit the liquid out, even if it does taste really good. Incidentally, I had a tooth ache when I used this mouthwash (I used it in the night, just before sleeping), and it had nearly vanished the next day. So I’d say, it’s pretty effective. Of the three variants, I liked this one the best for its taste, refreshing sensation and efficacy.

Price: Rs. 95 for 215 ml

Sparkling White Mouthwash

Himalaya Herbals Sparkling White Mouthwash Review

I have an important event coming up and I was so glad to see something that would help my pearly whites look prettier! Teeth whitening procedures at a clinic are not really good for your teeth as they erode the enamel but this mouthwash is totally natural. It contains papain, an enzyme present in papaya and bromelain, an enzyme present in pineapple for removing surface stains on the teeth. Apart from papaya, even strawberries are said to whiten teeth so maybe you can have a few before using the mouthwash! Other ingredients include water, sorbitol, polysorbate 20, glycerin, sodium benzoate, poloxamer 407, potassium sorbate, flavour, tetrasodium pyrophosphate, salt, cetylpyridinium chloride, menthol, citric acid and sugar. Since it has only been a few days, it’s too early to say whether it whitened my teeth or not, but I’m happy with the taste and sensation.

Price: Rs. 95 for 215 ml

Active Fresh Mouthwash

Himalaya Herbals Active Fresh Mouthwash Review

The flavour of this mouthwash mimics our favourite mouth freshener saunf (fennel seeds). The tradition of chewing on fennel seeds for sweet breath is centuries old. If you don’t have any dental issues, you can go for this one as all it promises is long-lasting fresh breath with the aid of fennel seed oil and mint. However, I found that it lacks the zest of the other two and is a bit milder. While the instructions ask you to fill the bottle cap fully with mouthwash, I find that a little less than 15ml works better for me. The swishing procedure and the subsidiary ingredients are the same for all three mouthwashes. There is no instruction with regards to whether you should drink water after rinsing with the mouthwash but I enjoyed the minty menthol sensation when I had a swig of water after rinsing.

Price: Rs. 95 for 215 ml

Packaging suggestions

Currently, the mouthwashes are only available in one size – 215ml, which is pretty large. In addition, there is a protective foil but once you remove that, the liquid spills whenever you tilt the bottle, even when the cap is closed. It would be nice if Himalaya comes up with a smaller bottle with a flip cap that would be more travel-proof. But until then, you could pour some of the mouthwash into an old flip cap bottle and add it to your travel kit. All three mouthwashes provide up to 12 hours protection from germs and are clinically tested. They are also free of other red flag ingredients like fluoride.

If you haven’t used a mouthwash before, you should start. Indian diets are known to be spicy and flavourful and no one was in greater need of a mouthwash than our tadka-loving desi community. And if you were using an alcohol-based mouthwash thus far, switch over to Himalaya Herbals. Natural products are always the best products in the long run.

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Vasai Fort with Coolpad Cool 1

It’s hard to imagine today’s edifices lasting for over 400 years. Yet, Fort Bassein, better known as Vasai Fort due to its location in Vasai East, has managed exactly that. Though several parts of the fort are in ruins, many still retain their formidable aura. Back in 1535, the Portuguese built the fort to protect their capital, then named Fortaleza de São Sebastião de Baçaim or the Fort of St. Sebastian of Vasai. In 1739, the Marathas captured the fort under the leadership of Chimaji Appa and ruled it until 1818.

Vasai Fort

Vasai is only an hour’s bus ride away from Mulund, the last suburb of Mumbai city on the central line. And a brand new silver Coolpad Cool 1 in my possession for review provided the perfect excuse for making the trip. With the aid of its dual 13 MP back camera and a 4000 mAh battery that seems to last and last, I captured various facets of the vast fort complex, surrounding jetty and two beautiful, tranquil temples.

Shri Nageshwar Temple, Vasai
Shri Nageshwar Temple

We set off early on a Saturday morning to explore Vasai Fort and its treasures. After a long bus ride and a packed sandwich for breakfast, I whipped out my Coolpad Cool 1 to start taking pictures. Imagine my chagrin when I saw a multitude of photo shoots taking place in various corners of the fort – some appeared to be pre-wedding shoots while others were simply college kids in quest of a perfect profile picture. Some climbing and exploring however, led us to spots unmarred by other human presence.

Vasai Fort

If I found marvels when I looked up, I found them when I looked down as well. Beautiful carvings and inscriptions added character to the stone walls, ceilings and floor. I wish I knew what they meant. But I was glad the Coolpad Cool 1’s camera seemed capable of recording them with perfect clarity. The only negative was that the display went blank in harsh sunlight and I didn’t know what I was clicking.

Vasai Fort

Coolpad Cool 1 comes with LeEco software and I recognised the familiar interface, having reviewed the LeEco Le 2 before. One thing I love about this user interface is that photos get clicked very fast – no loss of time at all and much speedier than many other phones. The phone didn’t feel heavy either and I enjoyed its smooth corners and sturdy grip. We went down many trails and paths – some which led nowhere and others looped around to the same spots that we had left behind.

Just when we thought we were done with the fort, we’d spot yet another part, surprisingly intact even after all this time. We did see restoration work taking place in the fort as well. Tiny water bodies added to the beauty of the landscape – it would be a good idea to come here in the monsoons and see them overflow with mother nature’s richness.

Vasai Fort

The fort is replete with various species of birds, trees and a few flowers. We heard the calls of several birds but their identity was concealed by the foliage. The flowers were easier to capture. Here is a close-up using the Coolpad Cool 1, that I was quite satisfied with.

Purple flowers at Vasai Fort

Eventually, as all the fort structures began to resemble each other, we decided to go in search of the jetty we had heard of. Here, you can book group and individual boat rides for upwards of Rs 100 per adult but do enquire in advance. I wasn’t pleased by the amount of garbage in the water but it still made for a refreshing diversion. There is also a beach in Vasai which I plan to visit at a future date.

Jetty at Vasai

The Coolpad Cool 1 comes packed with many interesting photo and video effects such as slow motion, long exposure and GIF. You can add stickers of many kinds to your photos, both while clicking and during editing. I shall explore these features in depth in another review on my other blog but here is a panorama photograph of the fort.

Panorama view of Vasai Fort

While most of the photos in this post haven’t been edited, I had to add some light to the panorama photo because it was simply too dark. None of the panorama photos I tried clicking had sufficient visibility. We also spotted two lovely temples beside a lake adjoining the fort – Shri Nageshwar Mandir and Shri Vajreshwari Yogini Devi Mandir.

It was such a relief to rest our tired feet at the cool temple grounds after paying homage to the deities. A few dogs kept us company. Here is a beautiful door I spotted at one of the temples.

Temple door at Vasai

How to reach Vasai Fort, jetty and temples: Take a train to Vasai Railway Station and then a rickshaw from Vasai East. If coming from Mulund or Thane, you can board any ST bus to Vasai and alight at the Vasai Fort stop. The fort, temple and jetty area is perfect for a picnic and the sunset is said to be spectacular but try not to stay after dark.

Coolpad Cool 1 specifications

Coolpad Cool 1 Review

  • Display: 5.5”, IPS, FHD 1920 x 1080
  • RAM: 3GB/4GB
  • ROM: 32GB (non-expandable)
  • Camera: Dual 13MP AF rear; f/2.2, 8MP front
  • Sensor: Infrared controller,Gyroscope fingerprint,Accelerometer Proximity Sensor, Light sensor
  • OS: Android 6.0
  • Colours: Silver, gold
  • Battery: 4000mAh Stand by time up to 300H
  • Weight: 173g
  • Network: 2G/3G/4G
  • Chipset: MSM8976 1.8GHz Octa-core Adreno 510

Get it at Rs 13,999 on Amazon

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LeEco Le 2 review: A true winner

The Le 2 smartphone from the Le Eco brand was launched in April 2016 but I hadn’t heard of it until a beautiful rose gold handset made its way to my humble home a week ago. I’ll be honest – I had some trepidation about the colour as some reviews had called it ‘pink’ rather than rose gold. Trust me, the colour is neither too feminine nor too loud. It’s just gold with a hint of dusty pink. See for yourself.

 

At 5.5 inches, the phone fit perfectly in my palm and I was pleased with the HD display, on par with phones that are priced much higher. Le 2 is priced at Rs 11,999 (even lower if you get it during the online sales) but its specifications match those of more expensive models. A 16 MP back and 8 MP front camera, 3 GB RAM, 32 GB ROM, 3000 mAh battery and Android Marshmallow OS are just some of the highlights.

Camera

You might wonder – what difference does it make whether you have a 13 or 16 MP camera? As it happens, quite a bit. Especially when the camera comes with phase detection autofocus, dual-LED (dual tone) flash and of course, panorama and HDR. Here is an image taken from the bridge at CST Railway station in the morning with Le 2, slightly improved with Instagram’s Amaro filter:

I think the Le 2 is well suited for travel photography given its excellent clarity, focus and ability to fill in light in dark surroundings. Sometimes, the phone-provided brightness proves to be excessive but can that be remedied by tilting the phone slightly. The 8 MP front camera comes with a beautification mode that is not too overwhelming. Here is an unedited indoor selfie taken with an overhead light:

Selfie with Le 2

As a travel writer, I expect my phone to deliver jerk-free, clear videos with good audio. Le 2 performs quite well on this front and comes with three speeds – 2160p@30fps, 1080p@30fps and 720p@120fps. Check out this video of CST I shot in the night with Le 2:

Night photography with Le 2 is not as simple with even the slightest movement resulting in a blurry image. But if you have an extremely steady hand, you can still get good images in the darkness. Here is a panorama photograph of CST station decked up in the customary night lights. Did you know that they change every day? And on special occasions, there is thematic lighting such as tri-colour lights on Independence Day.

CST station, Mumbai lit up in the night

Appearance

There is no extra space on the sides which lends the Le 2 a clean, sleek look although seen sideways, it’s not as slim as some other recently launched phones. The phone is reasonably light at 153 grams and comes with the dual SIM feature. Apart from the popular rose gold, the phone is also available in gold, grey and silver.

Sound

CDLA Type-C earphones with Le 2

The ear phones that come with the phone look fancy and for good reason. They are the world’s first CDLA Type-C interface, replacing the traditional 3.5mm earphones and come with end-to- end lossless digital music transmission. Although individually priced at Rs 1,999, the earphones are bundled with the smartphone and offer a truly spectacular music experience. You have to try it to believe it.

Other aspects

If you’re a Reliance Jio SIM user, you’ll be happy to know that Le 2 supports 4G networks in addition to 3G, LTE and GSM. Although I haven’t tried it yet, Le 2 owners can take advantage of the LeEco Membership program, which gives them access to 2000+ Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Marathi and Bengali films; 3000+ hours of curated shows, 150+ live TV channels and 3.5 million songs. Le 2 has an excellent fingerprint scanner and bi-directional charging connection as well.

Need to know

While the LeEco Le 2 scores excellently on most fronts, here are a few aspects you should be aware of before purchasing it:

  • The memory is non-extendable but 32 GB should suffice for your needs.
  • The charging port is not the same as other Android phones; so make sure you don’t lose the charger that comes with the phone.
  • The audio jack is not the conventional 3.5mm but promises to deliver superior sound quality.
  • Le 2 has a nano SIM slot so you may need to cut your SIM card.

In the process of reviewing LeEco Le 2, I appreciated the beauty of my city and the magic of everyday sights a little more. And for that, I am glad.

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