Nilesh Gonsalves

May 212015
 

On the move? Pickup your order from our pickup store.

That’s how Amazon introduces you to their new service.

Except for the orange “amazon pickup” icon present on the delivery details selection page, nothing else announces this service being provided.

Amazon Pickup

Going by the help page it is clarified that if you opt for this service, your package will be delivered to a store of your choice(from the stores listed on their site, in the cities where the service is available) and you will receive an email regarding the delivery. You can choose to pickup the package from that store at your convenience.

Here is what the search for pin code 400086 throws up

Pickup 400086

Not only do you get the addresses of the stores, but also the location on map. That’s convenient.

This service can be beneficial for people who have no one to receive the package at home and whose office does not allow personal deliveries due to security reasons.  You may pickup the package within seven days after furnishing required documents.

There are certain restrictions to this service that you need to know.

  • Size limit of 53 cm X 37.5 cm X 30 cm and weight less than 9 kg
  • Shipping speed of 3-5 business days to these stores.
  • Package can be picked up during store open timings only(that’s without being said)
  • Valid proof of ID with name matching the name on package to be furnished
  • Cash on Delivery available only at certain locations(Not available above Rs. 50,000)
  • This service available only at selected cities.
  • Collect the package from the store within 7 days or the package is returned back.

Complete terms and conditions can be viewed here

Basically, Amazon has provided a care of address for your benefit if you do not have much choices.

Online shopping is getting convenient by day.

May 172015
 

I am just a child in this world of master photographers. Though it had been my desire to take up photography as a hobby since I was a boy, I had to make do with point an click cameras back then due to bad finances. But around this time last year I bought the Canon EOS 1200D and have been clicking away ever since.

Further research on this matter of photography informed me that prime lenses are much better at taking pictures compared to the kit lenses. To keep matters economical, I zeroed in on canon 50mm f/1.8 II prime lens and was thinking about buying it just when canon went out an announced the 50mm f/1.8 STM prime lens, the successor and an upgrade.

This new lens is priced just around the old lens so basically canon is aiming to discontinue the old noisy, plastic mount lens. The old lens may be available for lesser price in coming days under clearance sales.

Meanwhile, people in India who wish to get their hands on the new stepper motor driven, metal mount lens can buy it at Amazon.

Salient features an upgraded of the new lens as below:

  • Stepper motor in lieu of micro motor used in old lens, less noisy during autofocus(Non-consequential during still photography unless you do not want the subject of the photo to realise. Still a welcome change
  • Full time Manual focusing capabilities (FTM) without flicking the autofocus switch.
  • Metal mount gives the lens more sturdiness.
  • Focus distance reduced from 0.45 m to 0.35 m. That’s 10 cm closer to the subject. Imagine what this will do to your macros.
  • Diaphragm blades increased from 5 to 7
  • 160g as compared to 130g in the old lens. But then it has the metal mount.

The lens elements have been kept the same but the lens coatings have been optimised to reduce light flare. A promising entry level prime lens for canon cameras. Sadly, image stabilisation may be missed when clicking without tripod.

Buy this at Amazon

Buy the older lens at Amazon

Other Lenses at Amazon

May 102015
 

SERENE WATERFALL

IMG_5425

An artificial waterfall at Manama Garden(between Mahabaleshwar and Panchgani)

Camera : Canon EOS 1200D + EF-S 18-55 mm IS II lens

Shooting Mode : Manual

Shutter speed : 0.8”

Aperture Value : F/25

ISO : 100

Focal Length : 28mm

Flash : Off

No Tripod

THE LONE RIDER

IMG_5485

At Tableland Point Panchgani. Devoid of any background disturbances like tourists/environmental props.

May not be to many professional photographers liking. But


Camera : Canon EOS 1200D + EF-S 50-250mm IS II lens

Shooting Mode : Aperture Priority

Shutter speed : 1/100

Aperture Value : F/10

ISO : 100

Focal Length : 250mm

Flash : Off

No Tripod

Still in the nascent stages and lot to learn. Your comments/suggestions appreciated.

Apr 062015
 

Ding ding ding ding…..The familiar sound of ice gola cart is typical to Indian summers. As kids, we waited with patience, and small change, for the arrival of this saviour from heat, refrigerators being a luxury in those days, afforded by a fortunate few. The gola vendor sold grated ice, shaped into an oval, mounted on thin wood stick and quickly soaked with sweet colored and flavoured syrup as desired by the buyer. What we got was 10 minutes of pure happiness while sucking on the ice and painting our lips an tongue with the color of the syrup used. Nothing could beat the heat as would an ice gola do in those days.

2013-04-24_12-37-52_HDR

We have grown ever since, but the ice gola vendor seems to have found the exilir of life, keeping him young as ever. But our desire for the gola can never fade and on those odd afternoon on holidays, if we hear the familiar ding ding ding, we rush for a glass and some loose change. The ice gola has evoled into glass gola, thus preventing the syrup from dripping down and the loose change is not so loose any more.

But there lies one problem. My kids of 2 years, pampered since birth by my parents and in-laws, if ever they realise that ice gola is the most desired street food I would be making round to pediatrician in no time. The best way to hold back this secret from them, till such a time appropriate or till the time that they realise it themselves, is to re-christian the ice gola as Medicine. And the colors and texture of this medicine, being similar to some of the bitter ones endured by them in past, helps reaffirm this masquerade.

All this while that we have been enjoying the medicine, they must have been thinking, better them than us.

But I couldn’t understand whether to laughout loud or cry when my son, as soon as he heard the ding ding, said in a hurried and urgent tone, mumma, dadda quickly get the glasses, your medicine has come.


Mar 142015
 

In continuation to my desire to satisfy ones taste and fill ones tummy, I keep on trying out different recipes, sometimes documented, sometimes invented.

I’ve not checked if this recipe is documented anywhere, so i can say it’s an invention. If its already documented, just add another ingredient when you prepare and it will be your invention. Simple….

The recipe today is Honey Mustard Roast Chicken.

Ingredients:

1 Kg Chicken, skinned, cut in medium size pieces.

for marinade:

2 teaspoon ginger garlic paste

3 tablespoon red Chilli powder

3 tablespoon honey

3 table spoon mustard seeds, crushed in mortar and pestle(do not grind in a grinder)

4 tablespoon chilli vinegar(softens the chicken)

2 teaspoon of garam masala powder

10-15 black pepper seeds crushed

4 tablespoon olive oil

fistful of chopped corriander

Salt to taste

Mix everything with chicken and marinate it for about 4-5 hours in a ziplock bag. After marination, spread out the chicken in baking tray. Pre-heat the oven to 200 C and bake in the oven for about 50 minutes to 1 hour. Once its done, you will get the sauce of marinade at the bottom of the pan and the upper surface of the chicken pieces will be crunchy. Mix the entire roasted chicken in the bottom sauce to get unique hot and sweet taste with a flavour of mustard.

IMG_20150305_203041

Mar 092015
 

An extended warranty on any products, is one of the most desired add on while buying a product. But many a times, poor marketing keeps us all in dark regarding any such offers running off season. Most of us tend to defer our purchases for special occasions like dussera, diwali, christmas and such other festivals considered to be auspicious time for purchase and gifts. So we don’t even bother to check out for such offers during other times.

We are actually displeasing goddess Lakshmi which is giving us an opportunity to save dhan. 

Anyway, to inform you, if you are planning to buy laptops this season, Lenovo is running an extended warranty program which they call as peace of mind program, which gives you two years additional warranty extension for either free on some models or for heavy discounts on other models. The offer if open for laptops bought till 31st march 2015 and registered before 15th April 2015. Following are the details

Lenovo Peace of Mind offer for B series Laptops

This offer gives you the peace of mind for a total of 3 years from the date of purchase by extending your warranty by additional 2 years for FREE.

The offer is valid on following laptops:

  • B4030
  • B4070
  • B5070
  • B490
  • B590

Note that the purchase has to be made from selected retailers listed below:

Offer valid for Laptops listed above purchased from 27th December 2014 to 31st March 2015.

All you need to do is that once you purchase the laptop, go on to lenovowarranty.in, fill up the form, upload *.jpg, *.jpeg or *,gif format scanned copy of the invoice and the serial number label on the outside of the box and wait for their confirmation email. This process will usually take 21 days.

Lenovo Peace of Mind offer for Other Laptops

Surprisingly listed on other webpages, this was communicated to me by Lenovo staff by mistake. The offer stands such:

2 (1)

As indicated, The offers are classified in Premium Range(which gets free additional warranty), Mainstream Range(Which gets heavily discounted additional warranty) and Budget Range(With lesser discount on additional, albeit significant).

Following products are eligible for the above offers:

  • Y Series

a. Y5070

b. Y510 P

  • G series

a. G5070

b. G400 S Touch

c. G4030

d. G405

e. G500 / G500 S

f. G5030

g. G5045

h. G505 / G505 S

  • Yoga series

a. Yoga 2 13

  • Flex series

a. Flex 14

b. Flex 2 14

c. Flex 2 14D

d. Flex 10

  • S series

a. S 510 P

b. S 210 Touch

c. S20

Laptops purchased from following sources are eligible for the offer:

  • Purchases made from online website www.thedostore.com are eligible to avail the Lenovo Peace of Mind offer.
  • Purchase from E-Bay (Only for NDSL)
  • Amazon Purchase – If a customer purchases a machine from Rocky Marketing, DBM Marketing (Deal Kya Hai), Cloud Tail and Staples – Office Shop “only” then he will be eligible for Lenovo Peace of Mind Offer.
  • Purchases made from the Online Retail Website “Croma” are eligible to avail the Peace of Mind offer.
  • This purchases from websites Snapdeal as eligible – DBM Marketing – Deal Kya Hai & Staples – Office Shop will be eligible Lenovo Peace of Mind offer.

All you need to do is that once you purchase the laptop, go on to lenovopromo.net, fill up the form, upload *.jpg, *.jpeg or *,gif format scanned copy of the invoice and the serial number label on the outside of the box and wait for their confirmation email. To avail the offer the customer with valid registrations will have to make a payment of INR 1999/- OR INR 1499/-. Payment should make through a DD draw in favor of “Kestone Integrated Marketing Services Pvt Ltd”.

This offer is valid for laptops purchased from 1st Jan 2015 to 31st March 2015 with registration done before 15th April 2015.

So if you have planned to purchase a laptop, no time is as auspicious as now. Go ahead, buy it from Flipkart or Amazon. Prices at Amazon and flipkart tend to be the lowest.

Lenovo Laptops on Amazon 

Search for Lenovo Laptops on Flipkart

(Disclaimer : The author does not guarantee the availability of offer for all customer. The information above is merely fetched from the above mentioned websites and should act as guide. Buyers ere advised to read the terms and conditions carefully before making final purchase.

The author does not guarantee that the prices are lowest at Flipkart or Amazon but highlights the general trend. Buyers are advised to compare prices at other places before purchase.

Read offer terms and conditions for clarity)

Feb 262015
 

We eat. So we cook.

There is no better explanation to it. Ever since man invented fire, the subsequent improvement in taste upon roasting over open fire fascinated man and he developed it to what we called as modern cooking. Complete with assistance from most advanced cookware and equipment. We have the food processors to save time and our hands, induction cook tops, microwaves, cooking range etc. Which assist us in our daily endeavours.

All this said, one important factor cannot be easily separated from cooking. That’s human being. Machines can be prefect, but cannot be innovative. Machines of future may be able to create perfectly similar tasting recipes but will never be able to carelessly induce that burnt taste which becomes unique to that dish at that time. That’s where the human factor kicks in.

Cooking is an art. That’s why it’s taken up as a hobby by many.

I started cooking right from the days of kerosene stove(being born and brought up in rural India, cooking gas took some time to reach us). Few things I’ve learnt all along and lots and lots more yet to learn. This blog post attempts to highlight a few. Consider them at your free will.

Once again to remind. Cooking is an art and attempting it without that mindset will give you food, not a masterpiece. Many combination of many equipment and ingredients are required for finishing this masterpiece. You may need to deviate from flow at many times. The most important ingredient for creating this art is dedication. Variety of colors and a blank canvas kept in front of mountains will not automatically translate in to a beautiful painting without the masterstrokes of the painter. Cooking a masterpiece recipe is similar. It’s you, your patience, your dedication and your mind set that matters. Ingredients and equipment come in later.

I hope am not boring you but it’s not going to be brief. After all, if you want your biryani to taste professional, you need to endure this.

Important points to keep in mind while cooking.


Be Flexible :

Unless you are a professional, your recipes ate bound to go off track once in a while. Be ready to improvise/ change your dish/ name of your dish at moments notice. Slightly burnt onion can give a smoky flavour which may be desirable. Unintentional additional tomatoes may give it a sour flavour. Add adjectives “burnt” or ” tangy” to your recipes, as situation permits. This is no joke. This happens all the time. You got to live with it. One point to remember, charred onion and such is undesirable. Also understand how to counter overuse of any ingredient. Cream can reduce the hot flavours and also add smooth texture to your recipe. Sugar gives caramalising effect when used properly in dry recipes and also balances the bitterness. Too much salt!! Well, your recipe is ruined. Have it with steam rice and attempt again another time.

Prepare in advance:
Finish all the chopping, slicing, dicing, crushing , washing etc before you actually start your cooking. Arrange all ingredients in order of their use, as far as possible. Else your cumin seeds well be charred in hot oil before your finish chopping onion.

Use proper utensils:
If you think you don’t need the flat dosa tava or the big iron wok, think again. Everything can’t be cooked in deep bottom pan.
Avoid pressure cooker. I hate pressure cookers. Its supposed to be used for preparing soft mushy food for toothless elderly. Cooker reduces the time spent. But the heart of the recipe is the time spent on it and not the quick treatment it receives via the pressure cooker. Imagine yourself being a gardener nurturing a small flower plant. Would you pour a bucket full of water and expect it to blossom the way you wish? Never will that happen. It requires your attention and tender care and regular attention. It requires your love.

So does your recipe.

Speaking of utensils, you need to have an understanding of how the recipe will behave if cooked in a particular utensil. Some practice and you will understand.

Proper Proportions: Pepper chicken is not a recipe with one kg pepper and 100 gm chicken. People do not wish to eat just the pepper when they are presented with pepper chicken. Use the flavouring ingredients just enough to do their job. Overpowering the recipe with one flavour many not earn it the name it has.

Take time: Allow each ingredient its own time to cook. Potatoes/meat cook late, tomatoes early, fish even early. Understand when is the right moment to add the particular ingredient. If first add fish and allow it to cook and then later add potatoes(just an example. I don’t recall any recipe with potatoes in it), by the time the potatoes are well cooked, the fish will all melt. That’s the exact reason why I hate pressure cooker. Put all in and wait for the whistle. It never comes out the way its supposed to.

Patience is the key.

Devote yourself: If India Vs Pakistan cricket match is being aired, you are better off seeing it as against cooking. You need to set your priorities when it comes to cooking. If you are cooking, there’s nothing else. Cause a slight neglect and the onions will caramelize beyond recognition.

Know your required portion: You need to finalise how many people will be eating it. Combination of ingredients adds to bulk. So balance the quantities else you will have to call every other person from the neighbourhood for lunch. Very less quantity of a very good recipe will result in you not getting any. So, weigh it before you start.

Presentation: The essence of cooking. 80% of the job is done on the table. The first impression may help neglect the pinch of extra salt. Garnish it properly. Hot dishes to be served hot. Use proper serving utensils, befitting the recipe. Use proper serving spoons and keep the utensil covered once served.

Accept Mistakes: Foodies understand the difference between food and a masterpiece. So come out in the open with any mistakes. They will appreciate and forgive. Let the people glorify your masterpiece instead of you attempting it yourself. Also, point out the specifics of your dish. An unconventional method/ingredient used, which renders better effect can be disclosed and reactions/reviews accepted.

Keep Experimenting: Success is not terminal. Its continuous. Keep on experimenting with different ingredients/methods to create something even better. If you stop, you rust.

Keep Cooking. Keep Creating.

Feb 242015
 

Year 2000.I got my first computer. Year 2001. I became addict to Baazee.com an online shopping portal which was later acquired by ebay to grow into the current ebay.in. In the meantime, lots of other ecommerce websites bloomed and fizzled. Most notable were tradus.com, snapdeal, flipkart etc. As of today we have flood of choices to buy from, ranging from websites specific to a product category to A-Z ecommerce sites. The shopping experience has been improving by day and  people are turning from being need based shoppers to impulse shoppers. Big ecommerce portals like flipkart can predict which of their frequent customer, an impulse shopper, will jump to a specific deal on a specific product.

But for the end user, ultimately its the shopping experience that matters. Right from the presentation, the price, ease of buying and the delivery mechanism is what customer uses to rate the overall experience. And over a period of just over one year, one portal has been delivering world class shopping experience to Indian. Amazon.

For years I’ve been drooling over the mouth watering deals offered in the USA by Amazon. Some deals unheard of in India all this time. Think of a camera at 6000 rs discount to its market price, not MRP mind you, market price(By market price I mean the average price at which it is sold in market which is normally much less than MRP. Brick and Mortar stores normally quote market price as discounted price and we believe that it couldn’t get better.) But portals like flipkart and amazon has redefined the concept deep discounts. The big billion day saw me lighter by 11000 rs but overall I saved 3000 rs by purchasing on that day. And those purchases were imminent. I purchased a camera on amazon about 8 months back for 30,000. Brick and mortar store still lists it for 36000, under discount.

And here’s the best deal.

(Adv: Amazon Deal of the Day)

How many time you have bought something and within a week wished that you had waited for the better product listed later? I confess I have felt so, many a times. But what options do I have.

With amazon, you have the option; Of returning the item if better deal is available(apart from options of return in case of damage/defect etc.). I recently experienced this with my laptop purchase. I had bought a Lenovo B50-70 for 32,000, and within two days of receiving it, opening it up and putting it to use, amazon listed an upgraded laptop for 30,000.I was feeling quite dejected for the hasty discounted purchase and thought about talking to customer care about it but was sceptical about their response. But there was no harm in enquiring and so I had a chat with the customer care executive.

To my surprise, the executive said that I could return under the reason better deal available and can buy another one. The executive even offered to start the process for me. I jumped to the offer, knowing well that if things didn’t workout, I would not part away my current laptop and would cancel the delivery of the new laptop. Later I twice had a chat with two different executives to confirm that my return would be accepted and refunded, to which, both of them put me to ease. My only job was to packup the laptop and Fedex picked it up from my door step along with the paperwork send to me by amazon. As soon as the pick up was updated on fedex, I got a message saying that refund process was initiated and  my card was credited with full refund within two days, about 4 days before the returned laptop reached amazon. I got the new laptop after 3 days pickup.

During the chats, the first customer care executive said that “customer satisfaction was their top priority and since I was clearly dissatisfied with my purchase I could return it”. Isn’t it Amazing?

I hope amazon keeps on redefining customer satisfaction in India and force others to follow suit.

Amazon Deal of the Day

Feb 222015
 

I am still confused. Should I give a positive review or a negative review.

What was it about this movie that gave it the 4 star rating in various reviews. I just don’t understand why the story felt so complicated but without any closure. The script writer builds up many a climaxes but fails to deliver them. The directions feels pretty good, but then it must have been quite a task to get thing together.

The silver lining in the cloud is Nawazuddin Siddiquie.

And now I understand what’s bothering me. The Protagonist for this movie may mistakenly be considered as Varun Dhawan. Nay not so. For me, its Nawazuddin. The story revolves around him, or should have actually been that way but is potrayed otherwise.

Then there is a sad waste of Vinay Pathak, who really wasn’t offered any role at all. The director would as well have asked him to appear without speaking. A waste of talent.

Huma Qureshi plays her role they way she should. There’s nothing much for Yami Gautam though.

But its Nawazuddin that shines. It reminds me of the film Talaash. The character is ditto and played to perfection. Such roles are custom made for him it seems.

Varun needs to learn how to speak convincingly on screen. He’s just not there yet. That’s why he appears last in this review

And also to remind. If you live in Badlapur, don’t get your hopes up to create a connection between the film and your town. There is none.

And then there’s this police officer who keeps on appearing without being important. What a shamble. It feels like the story was a rough draft, finalised in haste under the fear of plagiarism. 

Full marks to Nawaz.

My Rating 3/5. All go to Nawaz

Jan 092015
 

Reality is Ugly.

Anurag Kashyap’s endeavour to thrill and portray reality of life succeeds.

A kidnapped girl. Her father a struggling actor attempting to fulfill his weekly duty of entertaining his daughter. A mother unhappy with her second marriage. A stepfather/supercop whose constant desire to establish his superiority over others making the matters worse. The complicated history of these three characters. The fathers close friend who’s also his support during his hard times. The Mother’s smuggler brother’s desire for quick big money. The father’s new girlfriend. And the Police.

Everyone successful in botching up the girls rescue to the point of tragedy.

Life is not the beautiful “KK” soap they airs on television all along the day. Life is the misery faced by the characters in this movie. Misery, frustration, helplessness and wicked desires of proportions which compel everyone, including the father and the mother of the kidnapped girl, to try and gain out of the situation. There’s no one who really cares for the little girl. She’s on her own. Kidnapped. Left for dead.

This may be fiction. But it doesn’t get any real than this.

Anurag Kashyap gets full marks for this movie. So do the actors.

My Rating : 4/5

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