Thursday, 9 May 2013

Book Review: Haunting Violet by Alyxandra Harvey

Haunting Violet
Alyxandra Harvey

Haunting Violet has been authored by Alyxandra Harvey and was published by Bloomsbury. This book is also my first horror novel. However, I wouldn't call it horror per se. I did get goosebumps while reading the book but it did not scare the wits out of me, but, yes, I had to keep looking over my shoulder for spirits!

Mrs. Celeste Willoughby is a widowed medium. As in, she makes money by speaking to the dead loved ones of those alive. Yes, she makes money by being a phoney. The book is written in the Victorian spiritualist era wherein it was a rage to be able to contact your loved ones from the beyond. Using this "talent" of hers, she stages several meets, stages them, she does not conduct any of them since all such activities are a setup. She is helped by her daughter Violet, her help Colin and Marjorie all of whom just can't wait to leave the shackles of her fraudulence.

All this, makes Mrs.Willoughby very famous, affords them a luxury they could only dream of and eventually gets them invited to Rosefield, to Lord Jasper's palatial home. Since this happens over the summer, as is the tradition, Lord Jasper has also invited his family and friends to stay over at his place (the reason for this is revealed at the end of the book). Mrs. Willoughby stages her first performanc by sprinkling some perfume here and there, making people believe their ancestors were in the room with them, by making it snow (while it is actually Marjorie showering feathers outside the window) and other special effects are created and the audience awed.

This stay is when Violet realizes that unlike her mother, she genuinely does have the rare gift of seeing spirits, to b able to converse with them. Being bombarded with endless spirits, she is determined not to tell her mother of the same since she would not think twice of parading her little girl's talents and making money out of it. One such ghost bothering Violet is Rowena. Rowena Wentworth, the niece of the current Sir Wentworth, Lord Jasper's neighbour. Turns out, Rowena had "accidentally" drowned in the lake. All this did not add up to Violet since Rowena was an ace swimmer and whenever Rowena's spirit occupied her body, she could taste a medicinal syrup in her mouth.

Thus beings Violet's investigation with the help of her best friend Elizabeth, Colin and a highly non-co operative Tabitha Wentworth, Rowena's twin sister who is wary of Elizabeth and is certain that her mother is a fraud (which is eventually exposed). How will they be able to place a finger on who murdered Rowena when she is unwilling to leave her sister's side, trying hard to protect her. As an added obstacle, it is clear to Violet that Rowena was strangled, and hence, her spirit voice cannot be heard and her gestures are not clear enough. This is Violet's adventure. She will have to crack the mystery. She will have to bring peace to Rowena's soul.

All in all, this book does not have a shocking ending. It is kind of obvious. But, it is good read nevertheless. Give it a go just once.

Rating: 3/5

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

TRESemmé Ramp Ready Hair

TRESemmé Ramp Ready Hair

Being in Bombay and belonging to an upper middle class family (which is majority of the population), we do not have the time to groom ourselves as much as we'd like to (Mind you, it is not a question of affordability). Tell me I am wrong! This is an account of my personal experience.

What does my daily grind consist of? Wake up in the morning, invariably and utterly shamelessly late. Realize you don't have the time to apply oil (and nourish) your hair. So, run into the bathroom, use some random shampoo that Amma purchased two weeks ago in the supermarket. Considering there is no time at all, chuck the fact that you haven't used the conditioner at all to the back of your mind. Tie a light towel to your hair and get dressed simultaneously. Just before leaving, open your hair, use a comb and pull until the hair is free of knots and the floor under you full of hair. And rush! Take a bus to the local train station. Oh, wait. You forgot your dupatta to cover your face and hair against the heat, wind and pollution. Oh, well. Let the wind in your hair and feel like a million bucks. Ultimately, enter the clients office, rush to the washroom directly (yes, that is a ritual for us girls, go figure!) And, the horror! My skin all tanned (thank you, Mr. Sun), the dirt all nicely settled on my face and hair (and shirt and arms, don't get me started) and my hair. Oh, God, my hair! Allow me to provide a precise description. I have shoulder length hair (don't talk about how easy it is to manage short hair, you are welcome to try!) which is wavy, easily forms knots and is not naturally conditioned, if you know what I mean. I looked like a cross between a gorilla (the ones with long hair as per their standards) and a human. And again, in order to not look cannibalistic  lightly lock the door of the washroom and begin the tug of war! With my hair and it's blasted knots, of course! When you are finally done, you hair very merrily manages to look dry, unkempt, frizzy and ultimately, out of control. Yes, I should have taken Amma's advice of nourishing my hair with oil very seriously. And then, I finally end up tying my hair into the old boring pony tail (bye, bye, cute finance guy, I won't be trying to woo you now!) This is how the Plain Janes of a city like Bombay do it. Now, to the next part.

The days I actually put in efforts to dress myself is when Dad's dropping me off to work. Yes, he goes by car (he's a top notch exec, he gets a car, and I get jealous!) So, if my audit is somewhere close to his work place, he makes it a point to drop me off. That is when I take efforts. Wake up at my usual time (Dad's dropping me off remember? So, bye, bye, public transport), conveniently forget Amma's advice (about nourishing your hair with oil, you know) enjoy a wonderful shower, use TRESemmé Keratin Smooth shampoo TRESemmé Keratin Smooth conditionerTRESemmé Keratin Smooth Heat Protection Shine Spray and TRESemmé Keratin Infusing Smoothing Serum (that I purchased at the supermarket only last week because the sales girl was  very good and I was a sucker) and hope desperately that this will make me look really good. Seriously, on days when you are not rushing, really how can your judgement go wrong? Dry my hair dutifully, sit under the fan in order to not spoil my hair with "harsh" hair dryers and wait for dad. By the time Dad's here, my Ramp Ready Hair's sitting beautifully on my head! The dark brown shine, the way it softly touches my face and highlights my skin and the oh! so soft touch.. wow!

To me, being ramp ready never meant much. Now, it means maintaining my hair, making an effort to look good, fighting valiantly to protect my hair against all damage and most of all, having a trustworthy hair product. Ramp ready hair means, no pony please! Use TRESemmé Hair products. You have numerous companions, but just can't make the time for your hair. Well, it needs someone! Who better than TRESemmé?

The Moral of The Story Is...!

The Moral of The Story Is...!

Among all of them, one of my seniors was the luckiest. He got a chance to go to Agra for an audit! We were so ecstatic. Why? Because outstation audits not only meant having to work 14 hours a day, it also meant 3 days of roaming the town, taking in the culture of the romantic city (and bringing yummy treats for us kids, I mean, interns!) Not that he was a die hard romantic. So, off he went! Work progressed very well indeed and he returned in two weeks time. And, lo behold! What did he get from Agra? The very very famous "Agra ka petha!" I had never tried it before. I was a little doubtful, I should add. So I took a tiny piece and instantly fell head over heels in love with it. I managed to escape the office with the dabba still half full. Yes, I am notorious that way.

I was then happily munching it sitting sneakily in the corridor when it hit me! My lower set of teeth to the left, hurt like crazy. Really, really bad. Another bite of petha and ouch! Ultimately, I had to take a pause, return to the office (and sadly, return the dabba). I made an appointment with my dentist very (a cute one, mind you!). Guess what might the problem be? Why, cavity, of course! I was also mournfully informed that I had swollen gums and that gum problems to create havoc in the mouth. I was asked whether my gums ever bled. Honestly, that was the moment when realization dawned about the slight metallic tang of blood that I could taste every once in a while! And here I was, thinking I had a wonderful supply of blood to my gums, which, incidentally, I also thought was good for my mouth. Oh, boo-hoo indeed. I am sad to admit that I am one of those people who used to be highly ignorant about their health. Again, mind you, used to be. Having crooked teeth makes them all the more prone to various problems (that I don't know of, and quite frankly, I am happy to be ignorant about).

I was then asked by my dentist to brush my teeth regularly with Colgate Total- Pro Gum Health for 4 weeks. He assured me wonderful results in 4 weeks post which, I was asked to use Colgate Cavity Protection so that I can have many more happy and ecstatic petha days! Speak about your health problems. I spoke about mine, it has helped immensely. 2 weeks into this programme and I am feeling blessed already (by the makers of petha, and Colgate!) Outside intervention is good (especially when your dentist is oh! so cute! and Colgate toothpastes oh! so tasty!)

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Recipe: Home made Pizza

Yes! I tried my hand at cooking! Well, not really. But close.


Things required:
Monginis brown pizza base 

Chopped onions

Chopped capsicum/ bell peppers

Chopped garlic cloves (6 small ones)

Amul Cheese cubes

Cheese spread

Nutralite butter

Tomato ketchup
Red chilly sauce

1 tava


1. Mix tomato ketchup, red chilly sauce and the chopped garlic cloves together (my version of the pizza sauce since it was unavailable in the supermarket).

2. Take the pizza base and apply the Nutralite cheese spread on it.

3. Apply the home made pizza sauce on the pizza base.

4. Add the chopped onions and capsicum on the pizza base, on top of the layer of cheese spread and pizza sauce.

5. Grate 1 Amul cheese cube on it, covering the vegetables completely.

6. Switch the stove on, place the tava on it.

7. Apply Nutralite butter on the tava and place this pizza on it.

8. Cover it, place the flame on low and let the pizza get nice and crisp, the vegetables cook slightly and let the cheese melt.

9. Once you are certain the pizza is to your liking, place it on a plate, cut it as you like and enjoy!

*Note: Once I covered the pizza with grated cheese, I sprinkled oregano seasoning on it, I love that taste*


Happy munching! :)