15 Malaysian beaches to be featured in 101 Best Beaches.Com Asia

Famous for their crystal clear waters and white sand, Malaysian beaches have been attracting tourists from all over the world. Accrediting these exotic locations, well known Australian Conservationist Brad Farmer will be featuring 15 Malaysian Beaches in his upcoming book 101 Best Beaches.com Asia. It is a book to understand and promote Asian beaches which are defined as ranging from rivers, lakes, to resort-style beaches. It aims to provide comprehensive and unique experiences to beach enthusiasts all around the world.

Beach 1

Farmer is currently in Malaysia from October 14 to October 28 along with his photographer and Research Assistant Jaka Adamic to inspect, evaluate and document the beautiful beaches for his book.

beach 2

As suggested by Tourism Malaysia, a total of 15 beaches from 10 states have been selected for the two-week long inspection trip. The beaches in West Malaysia are Pantai Desaru in Johor; Pulau Perhentian and Pulau Redang in Terengganu; Pantai Cenang in Pulau Langkawi, Kedah; Pantai Teluk Kemang in Port Dickson, Negeri Sembilan; Pantai Juara in Pulau Tioman, Pahang; Pantai Batu Feringghi in Penang; and Pulau Pangkor in Perak.

beach 3

As for East Malaysia, Tanjung Datu and Pantai Santubong in Sarawak; Tanjung Aru, Pulau Mantanani, Pulau Sipadan and Pulau Sibuan in Sabah; and Pantai United Nations in Labuan were selected for inspection.


“The beaches are a major tourist attraction in the country and accreditations like these will greatly boost our tourism. Events like these also encourage the authorities to pay greater attention to the quality and maintenance of our beaches and the aquatic life of Malaysia,” says Mr. Manoharan Periasamy , Director, Tourism Malaysia, India.

The book is expected to be Asia’s version of the 101 Best Australian Beaches, which is the first authoritative guidebook of beaches in the world and is also supported by Tourism Australia.

So for all the beach enthusiasts, 101 Best beaches.com Asia will be brilliant guide to a perfect beach vacation in Malaysia, Truly Asia!

God is a Gamer, Ravi is a Charmer!

God is a gamer from the best- selling author of ‘If God was a Banker,’ Ravi Subramanian was indeed not on my wish list as for a hard-core romantic like me especially when it had a sub-title Is Revenge a Crime? Certainly not my cup of tea…


When I saw that the book was up for review from Blogadda, I casually clicked the review button and Lo & Behold! It was on my doorsteps. My instant reaction was, I can’t handle it, but as I opened the neatly packed parcel and took the book in my hands, its cover arrested my attention. I said why not give it a try…reading it…reviewing it! The cover was impressive, as I flipped through the book; I knew I was entering into unexplored territory. Some heavy duty research on Bitcoins, ATM heists, murders, drugs, gaming, banking…what not. Regretting my decision for asking the book for review, next morning, I decided to start with the book.

AND, AND, AND I am completely bowled over by the narrative, story, plot, situations, emotions, real life characters, their insecurities, jealousies and love-hate relationships which have been handled by the author with panache. Though there are too many characters and situations to handle but its fun, you scratch your head in confusion; you tear your hair in desperation, you bite your nails in fear…what next? Having not done any research on the author, I just went by the jacket of the book and followed my instinct, in no time I was transcended into different world which led to adrenalin rush, the murder of Gillian Tan, attack on Nikki Tan, ATM heist, Malvika’s death, Story of Gloria and Swamy’s accident hold the key to suspense which is the mainstay of this thriller. I am a self-confessed techard – but technology which is key to the plot and leads to such sticky situations, made me read all those chapters carefully, may be twice sometimes for the better understanding.

Oh yes! I did not skip a single word, forget skipping pages. The scene of handling of Aditya Rao in FBI Headquarters by Adrian is well-written, only a author of Ravi’s magnitude could have handled it so deftly. Chapters are short and crisp with places as titles which makes it easier to decipher, we are in which time zone and following which time line. Though suicide rather murder of Malvika was quite abrupt and not convincing for most of the part especially the involvement of Finance Minister, but it thickens the plot. The book explores deeply on the possibility of what happens if world is ruled by virtual currency – Bitcoins, how it will change the way people transact, how it will empower them transferring funds, how they can order banned drugs anonymously, how it will operate through a secret key …all these added to the knowledge. Financial world would certainly be a different place with Bitcoins.

The characters of Adrian and Tony are sharp, investigative, committed…adorable! Swamy is a typical banker who wants a position anyhow and Malvika, a power hungry CEO who wants to be RBI Governor and goes any length to achieve her ambition. Tanya’s character is most ambiguous, she is smart intelligent modern woman who has her sexual desires up her sleeves and uses that ammunition to the hilt.  Coming to Varun, his love for Gloria and lust for Tanya are two facets of his emotional side, and what a technical wizard Varun was.

Explicit sex escapades disturb the plot; as reader is too busy to know what next. Gaming as a business with Varun at helm makes interesting read and add to the knowledge how gaming world works, how it is being made to survive the competition, what are bots, what are malwares, all this and much more in this thriller by Ravi.
Description and treatment of places like Goa, Delhi, Mumbai, Washington DC, New York and Miami leads to lot of authenticity to the plot, for 200 pages it is the most gripping read but after that, complexities unfurl like past of Gloria Tan, Aditya Rao and Malvika’s relationship and Swamy’s murder. While investigations of all the principal characters in Mumbai is on with FBI, CBI and Mumbai Police in attendance…& the fingers were pointed at…

But this is what FBI and CBI had investigated, may be?

‘Bitcoin’ is the central character of this revenge saga but at places it loses focus and ATM heist takes the centre-stage which eventually adds to the thrill, courtesy razor sharp narration by the author. There are many questions which remain unanswered but painstaking research done by the author cannot be undermined. How various events and characters are linked to each other and are responsible for the circumstances has been intricately woven, here the devil lies in details.

Book is a tasty decoction of emotions – effectively displayed by Aditya Rao as father, Varun Rao as son, Kalpana as Swamy’s wife, Gloria as Nikki Tan’s daughter, Malvika and Tanya as mother & daughter, Adrian & Tony as colleagues, Varun and Tanya as couple… readers couldn’t have asked for more.

Ravi Subramanian has effectively woven money, ATM heist, Bitcoins, Gaming, Chase, Investigations, Murder, Suicide, Friendship, Love, Sex, Hatred…everything in this thriller – God is a Gamer. Overall an interesting read and people would love to read it & relish it on weekends.


So coming back to the question – Is Revenge a Crime? No, it is not! Everybody should be served right, by GOD. Go ahead and grab your copy today.

– Book reviewed by Bienu Verma Vaghela

– Photo courtesy Tanya Vaghela

This review is a part of the biggest Book Review Program for Indian Bloggers, Participate now to get free books!



Kota Kinabalu: Exciting mix of beaches, jungles, mountains in Malaysia

Malaysia is a land of great history & culture,evergreen rainforests, exotic beaches and magnificent highlands, exhibited in it’s various towns and cities, small or big. One such city is Kota Kinabalu or KK, the capital of the state of Sabah, on Borneo Island. The state of Sabah treasures the beauty of natural environment, national parks and wildlife sanctuaries. And the best way to experience this scenic beauty, calls for a vacation in Kota Kinabalu.


Earlier known as ‘Jesseltown’ Kota Kinabalu is known for its sandy beaches, paradise Islands, virgin coral reefs, tropical rainforests and the mighty MountKinabalu.  Also known as the ‘revered abode of the dead’ Mt. Kinabalu is situatedat a height of 4095m in the Kinabalu National Park. It is one of the tallest mountains in South Asia attracting mountain climbers or adventure enthusiasts from all over the globe.

This October, Malaysia called fortourists and adventure enthusiasts to Kota Kinabalu for the much awaited Mt. Kinabalu International Climbathon. It was held on October 19, 2014, Mt.Kinabalu International Climbathon-Adventure Series is a challenging 23km route event, taking competitors up the summit trail to Layang-Layang (2,072m) before descending down to Mesilou and onwards to the finish line in Kundasang Town. This challenging route offers breath-taking views of Kinabalu Park’s tropical and sub-tropical mountain forest with landscapes of the summit peaks and river valleys.

Earlier known as ‘Jesseltown’ Kota Kinabalu is known for its sandy beaches, paradise Islands, virgin coral reefs, tropical rainforests and the mighty MountKinabalu.  Also known as the ‘revered abode of the dead’ Mt. Kinabalu is situatedat a height of 4095m in the Kinabalu National Park. It is one of the tallest mountains in South Asia attracting mountain climbers or adventure enthusiasts from all over the globe.


“Kota Kinabalu is one of the most upcoming tourist destinations in Malaysia. Mount Kinabalu holds lot of significance with its historical and geographical backgrounds. The place also offers a favorable mix of beaches, jungles and mountains, thus catering to a varied interest of visitors to Malaysia.” Says Mr.ManoharanPeriasamy, Director-Tourism Malaysia, India.

Besides the majestic Mt. Kinabalu, the place also offers an opportunity to combine adventure-based activities such as trekking, wildlife watching and scuba diving amidst the beautiful picturesque of the island.  Some of the popular diving sites include Usukan Bay and The Gaya.

While adventure sports and activities are a must in Kinabalu, the city also offers various other tourist attractions of historical and environmental importance, like the Atkinson Clock Tower, Tunku Abdul Rehman Marine Park, Gaya Street, Jesselton Point Waterfront, Manukan Island, LokKawi Wildlife Park and many more. A stroll down the lanes of Kota Kinabalu will let one discover the historical and cultural significance of the monuments and places, some of which even date back to the pre-war and post-war era.From the Sultanate of Sulu to the British and Americans, to the Japanese and the Filipinos, to the Indonesians and the Australians, to Malaya and Malaysia, KK has seen it all.

Kota Kinabalu also offers luxurious holiday resorts with world class sailing marina and championship golf courses, making it an ideal vacation for tourists from all over the globe. So this year, treat yourself with a truly Asian holiday in Kota Kinabalu.

Malaysia Tourism Promotion Board, popularly known as Tourism Malaysia, was established to promote Malaysia as a top-of-mind tourist destination showcasing Malaysia’s unique wonders, attractions and cultures; develop domestic tourism and enhance Malaysia’s share of the market for meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions (MICE). Tourism Malaysia’s objective is to promote Malaysia as an outstanding tourist destination and make the tourism industry a major contributor to the socio-economic development of the nation. In India, Tourism Malaysia offices are conveniently located in cities like Mumbai, Delhi and Chennai.


In 2014, Malaysia celebrates its fourth VISIT MALAYSIA YEAR (VMY) with the theme “Celebrating 1Malaysia Truly Asia”. The VMY 2014 promotional campaign has started this year with a series of year-long special events and activities leading to VMY 2014. It will contribute to the Government’s target to receive 36 million tourist arrivals and RM168 billion in receipts by 2020, as outlined in the Malaysia Tourism Transformation Plan (MTTP) 2020.


When we dropped by Bhujodi in Kutch, Gujarat, India

Unique Ilkal innovations in saris, dupattas, shawls and stoles, hand woven by Bhujodi weavers showcased in Mumbai which we visited in last December…later an account of our visit to Bhujodi.

Bhujodi to Bagalkot team-0170 copy

The first night the weavers of Bagalkot left their village, a panicked call came to Nilanjan in Kutch. There was trouble with their train tickets and they couldn’t speak Hindi to the ticket taker. They were suddenly facing a huge unknown world outside. Seven months later, these brave young weavers presented their collections of innovations on their beloved Ilkal saris to the world of Mumbai.

T white stole 2 - low res

Initiated by Somaiya Kala Vidya, an institute of education for artisans based in Kutch, founded by Somaiya Trust, the project demonstrates the effective and efficient power of design in sustaining traditions. The innovation is the artisan-to-artisan approach. Carrying artisan design into the next phase, Designer Weavers of Kutch were the designers and mentors for less exposed weavers from the Bagalkot District of Karnataka.

Hand weavers of Bagalkot are imperiled. Their well-loved Ilkal saris today face severe competition from power loom versions. Handloom wages are meager. Many weavers have left their profession to work in granite quarries. Meanwhile, jacquard looms were introduced to make copies of Varanasi saris, a solution that is costly in terms of equipment and skill development, and devastating for the cultural heritage of Ilkal sari weaving.

Hand weavers of Bhujodi, Kutch, have a fifty-year history of innovating within their traditions for new markets. Since 2006, twenty-three weavers have graduated from a year-long design program pioneered by Kala RakshaVidhyalaya. These weavers have become remarkably successful in reaching high-end markets in India and abroad, and adept at articulating and presenting their work.

Somaiya Kala Vidya paired these artisans for a quick, live demonstration of sustainability through design. There were challenges. The looms were no longer geared to cotton, the weavers had used synthetic yarn so long they did not understand cotton properties, and sources for appropriate materials and colours had to be found.

Seeking solutions in Karnatak villages, the weaving partners bonded. “We explored,” Chamanbhai related. “I saw Jayantibhai doing research, asking questions about tradition, probing. We didn’t know we had so many different skills!” Elder Bagalkot weavers were so happy that cotton had returned that they invited the Bhujodi team to dinner.

Driven by the desire to rejuvenate a wonderful tradition, this exhibition confirms that artisan-to-artisan, traditions will not just survive, but flourish.

While writing their proud achievement, I fondly remembered our trip to Bhujodi Village in Kutch last December. We were on our last leg of trip to Rann of Kutch and other surrounding areas, (we were driving down from Mandvi to Bhuj), and this is when our driver who had sensed our love for Kutch-Gujarat handicrafts suggested Bhujodi. Tired and exhausted, we were reluctant to take another break but he almost insisted. Voila! What an experience! My daughter Tanya who is fond collector of handicraft articles from all over the place, felt she was in the haven of handicrafts. Bhujodi Village is a Handicraft Park established by Gujarat Government for promoting and showcasing the cause of weavers and artisans of Kutch.

This is a small town just 8 km southeast of Bhuj, Bhujodi is a major textile center of Kutch, with the vast majority of the 1200 inhabitants involved in textile handicraft production. Here we could meet weavers, tie-dye artists and block printers, most of whom belong to the Vankar community. Many of them let us watch them work; just ask around. The visit to this handicraft park was an amazing place to visit where we could see traditional handicrafts in their original forms, where weavers were weaving sarees, shawls, dupattas, kurtas…what not, not only this it very well livens upto its name. It is modelled like Mini Gujarat with wall adorning mirrors work, mud work, greenery, pond with swans and some interesting eating joints. We could pick up some fascinating stuff from there besides enjoying ourselves amidst craftsmen and weavers.

Hope you enjoyed photographs of our memorable trip to Bhujodi, Kutch.

Chaos Down Under: Ekkees Topon ki Salaami!!!!!

1. Chaos is the protagonist the book titled Chaos Down Under by Nishant Kaushik which has played havoc in Nakul Kapoor’s life who has handled all the sticky situations in his life with élan.

2. The book is seriously hilarious to the core, with some very serious undercurrents of sarcasm on today’s corporate life.

3. I followed start to finish schedule as could not take my eyes off the book which truly lives upto its name – Chaos Down Under.

4. The book provides subtle glimpses of corporate life, particularly those of IT Companies and I could relate well as I am being integral part of one such company for last many years. Thus know what goes on there.


5. Book keeps you gasping for more…what next? What will unfold in Nakul Kapoor’s life next moment?? How is he going to handle the rig-marole??? His character sketch of a typical Project Leader in an IT company with MBA from average B-school, his above average looks, ambitions, insecurities ( official & love life), aspirations, stress and time management skills, all these have been displayed by Nakul to the hilt. Thus making him the most endearing character. He seems to be one around us.

6. Chirayu Chaudhury as Nakul’s conniving, shrewd, power hungry, attention and credit grabber boss…though he is a great trouble-shooter and humane too, provides another dimension to the story. Nakul’s and Chirayu’s interaction are quite convincing, when he says something and means something else. We do have such bosses…I am fortunate not to have one like him, my boss would make Nakul turn green with envy. I laughed my heart out on Nakul calling him, “Son of a gun”.

7. Book has been very tightly written and is indeed a cut above the rest. I read all 279 pages in one shot (barring few necessary breaks) which is very unlikely of me doing this for any book. This certainly takes the cake.

8. Chaos Down Under dwells deeply into the Corporate life which is full of insecurities, jealousies, politics, back-biting, strange colleagues, typical bosses, trophy HR and redundant administration. The goof –up regarding guest house booking is a leaf from our lives.

9. Book efficiently explores psyche of Nakul Kapoor who seems to be faltering in whatever he undertakes, be it his love life or official life, but makes it up all owing to his leadership and decision-making abilities which he deftly displays in handling of Australian client Jerry and Lex guys.

10. Mehek’s character looked to me quite insipid…she has no colours. Why would a boy like Nakul would fall for her? Just because she is a pretty face? She is not even a patch on the histrionics of Nakul rather suits best for the Raymond man moreover 180 degree spin in her feeling in the end towards Nakul are quite abrupt, making the end quite predictable.

11. Episode of luncheon with Mehek’s parents is too far-fetched, disturbs the pace of the book. I was almost on the verge of giving up…

12. Character of Mr Gupta (Mehek’s father) is of a typical police officer, but interactions between him and Nakul are nothing to talk home about. Why would a girl’s parents agree to lunch with her boss without any ulterior motive?

13. When Chirayu Chaudhury and Nakul Kapoor were putting their team together, I was dead sure…Chaos would rule the roost. They are so disjointed, disconnected which makes it quite a task for Nakul to bring them on the same page. Radha, Akshat, Dharmesh, Mehek, Sameer make it quite a team though. They are so different yet are bound by a common thread (Nakul). Suspense persists…

14. Bytesphere is one typical IT Company where HR just follows rules without applying any logic. The most critical goof-up is calling up their own employee for interview seeing his CV on monster. Great going…

15. The names of the chapters need special mention – Curry Boys, Kati Patang, Benetton, Jordan, Marlon Pacino, CNBC report and Skin & Bone…

16. Marlon Pacine takes the cake in-absentia for adding to the chaos in Nakul’s life, if anything could have given shivers to Nakul, it was Marlon Pacino which was created from nowhere, (would have) landed Nakul nowhere, well almost!!!

17. The description of Pat and Mike by Chirayu, “Two dogs were more like to bite first, then bark in delight later” is quite apt. Suresh Shah, treating him as Service Boy and develops fondness for him …happens!!

18. Acronym SLUT: Strategic Labour Utilization Tracker couldn’t have been more appropriate and Chirayu’s fixation with Status reports is quite understandable.

19. Though project is quite technical in nature but can be understood well by non-technical or so to say even by techards.

20. I did not miss reading a single line, forget about skipping pages. Language is very lucid and contemporary and depicts Nakul’s mind set well who loves to speak his mind, follows the dictum of work hard, party harder, loves Mehek, adores Radha, Akshat, Dharmesh, despises Sameer and maintains a love-hate relationship with Chirayu. Though his love life could have been handled better…

21. Instances like Radha taking Bali for Pali, Eva turning out to be Jerry’s wife (who certainly ups sex-quotient), Nakul’s mis-adventure in a Spa, Jerry & Nakul’s horse riding sufficiently add spice to this deliciously cooked recipe served on a Corporate platter.

Chaos Down Under – My Ekkees Topon ki Salaami!!!
– Review by Bienu Verma Vaghela

This review is a part of the biggest Book Review Program for Indian Bloggers, Participate now to get free books!

Afghan Snow for Naani, Garnier BB for Maani!!!!

My naani ( Grand Maa) who was blessed with gorgeous looks owing to her almond peaches complexion and flaw-less skin, which always made me wonder as a child what is the secret of this look. Curious that I was and am asked her one day, “Naani what is there in the royal blue bottle which you apply on your face every morning and your skin radiates”? She excitedly told me , “Afghan Snow which makes my skin shine, I will never stop using this.” I wondered when I will grow up to use Afghan Snow to have flawless skin like hers, with time naani passed away so did Afghan Snow.

My memories of my naani and her Afghan Snow became vivid when I received Garnier BB Cream from indiblogger team few days back.


Now a quick updated on my skin. I have the most difficult skin on the globe, though it doesn’t look that difficult but it has all the elements which have troubled me no end as a young adult, adult and when I am not so young or even adult. Having lived in Delhi, weather was the biggest truant, winters were harsh, they made it dry, summers were sweaty, they made it sticky, it was a challenge to maintain the perfect skin. Being a media professional, the demands of job were high, required travel, long and stressful work hours with the topping of dreadful deadlines, all of which took heavy toll on my skin-care regimen. But I was not the one to give up so soon…I tried every possible remedy available in my kitchen…milk, cream, butter, curd, besan, honey, eggs, tulsi, nutmeg, almonds…what not!!

What to say of stocking host of creams, lotions, moisturizers, lactos, ayurvedic creams, rejuvenating creams, whitening creams, wrinkle-free creams, gold creams, cold creams bought from neighbourhood cosmetic store to Harrod’s in London. Needless to mention I spent a bomb here. Finally I gave up and decided to move around with god’s gift. But was I happy? No way!!!


One day chanced upon POP in my favourite cosmetic store which looked like god sent going by the description and sales girl’s enthusiasm about the product: Garnier B B Cream. I asked her, “What does BB Stand for”, she replied, “Blemish Balm”, so it’s a balm? I questioned. She took immense pain to convince me that it is the most appropriate product for me as it will makes my skin look perfect, fairer, glowing…what not. Though I did not buy it then but BB cream got stuck in my psyche – may be, may be not. Till I was delivered Garnier BB Cream at my doorsteps and I was super excited to use it next morning before going to office. The texture of the cream was smooth, even like foundation, smelled good and most importantly blended well with my dusky complexion.

When I reached office, my colleague Sarika quipped, “Aaj to aap chamak rahe ho”. I knew it worked and worked well. Since them I am hooked to it. Now I have made it part of my daily make up routine as I am ready for office in no time and move out confidently with my fairer, glowing, even-toned and moisturized skin. I couldn’t have been happier with my skin. It has drastically cut down on the time I spent in front of the mirror in the effort of perfecting my skin. I know I have the skin with Garnier BB cream which I have always longed for.

Husband is thinking…How come I am happier going to office & younger coming back from office?
Daughter is wondering…What has happened to my forever hassled Maani (Maa)?
Me…Loving all the attention!
A word about BIG BEN (B B) of Creams!

New BB cream, Miracle Skin Perfector, is all in one cream, which saves time – in just one application brighten, smoothen and moisturizes the skin. This contains SPF 24 which provides UVA/UVB Protection and contains Vitamin C derivatives known to have anti-oxidant properties. Enriched with mineral pigments, BB Cream instantly beautifies the skin. It lets skin breathe it is an 8H moisturizing formula with Almond extract.
Must have to maintain your beauty regimen with:

Malaysia to get a taste of Indian Yoga and Dance at MURFEST 2014

A wise man ought to realize that health is his most valuable possession’. Living up to this philosophy of Hippocrates, Malaysia’s Urban Retreat Festival – MURFEST 2014 is hereto celebrate life with good health and a happy mind.The fest will be held from November 7th to November 9th 2014 at Pullman Putrajaya Lakeside Hotel and Marina Putrajaya. Aiming to be country’s largest Yoga, music and Dance festival MURFEST 2014 will embody world’s leading yoga teachers, top musical acts, dancers, inspiring speakers and exhibitors, bringing together a rich and captivating experience like no other.

mur unnamed

The event will showcase various workshops on Yoga, wellness products and therapies encouraging people- especially the urbanites to adapt a healthy lifestyle. New age Yoga Guru Manish Goyal would be representing the yoga heritage of India at the fest. Bringing in the dance component would be dance workshops and concerts exhibiting artists from various parts of Malaysia and abroad. MURFEST in its first edition will also witness ace choreographers Mayur Vaidya and Sachin Shinde from India. The dance workshops by Mayur and Sachin would give a taste of Bachata – a Caribbean dance, hip- hop and salsa with a Bollywood twist spread across two workshops each day, of the fest. On the musical side, a mini concert is organized called ‘Urbanite’ showcasing world music, fusion and classical styles along with traditional instrument bands.

So come, be a part of this unique amalgamation of spirituality and culture and take along with you the ultimate mantra of wellness back home.

Event Details: Date: 7th -9th November 2014, Timing: 8am – 5pm, Address: At Pullman Putrajaya Lakeside Hotel, Putrajaya, Malaysia


Website: http://www.murfest.com/

About Tourism Malaysia India: Malaysia Tourism Promotion Board, popularly known as Tourism Malaysia, was established to promote Malaysia as a top-of-mind tourist destination showcasing Malaysia’s unique wonders, attractions and cultures; develop domestic tourism and enhance Malaysia’s share of the market for meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions (MICE). Tourism Malaysia’s objective is to promote Malaysia as an outstanding tourist destination and make the tourism industry a major contributor to the socio-economic development of the nation. In India, Tourism Malaysia offices are conveniently located in cities like Mumbai, Delhi and Chennai.

visit Mal image010 

In 2014, Malaysia celebrates its fourth VISIT MALAYSIA YEAR (VMY) with the theme “Celebrating 1Malaysia Truly Asia”. The VMY 2014 promotional campaign has started this year with a series of year-long special events and activities leading to VMY 2014. It will contribute to the Government’s target to receive 36 million tourist arrivals and RM168 billion in receipts by 2020, as outlined in the Malaysia Tourism Transformation Plan (MTTP) 2020.


Ta…ra…ra…aryan…will she, won’t she?

Team 10665344_764322290293277_5715540420956964706_n

Read the previous part of the story in Chapter 24 Here

Suddenly, Aryan’s iPhone starts ringing …uthe sab ke kadam bolo TARA rum pum pum. It couldn’t have been anybody other than Shekhar who was calling on the only saved number from the iPhone he picked up lying near the dustbin. As Aryan takes the call…Shekhar yells, you!!!!!!! Aryan smiles wickedly, cuts the call, lights up his cigar…his purpose is served!

Here innumerable mails received by Shekhar have baffled Jennifer and Cyrus no end. After days of struggle, they decided to take Cyrus’s friend Tina’s help to crack the source (IP address) of these mails. Jennifer plans to meet Cyrus…
…It is breezy evening, Jennifer hires a Meru cab and heads to the hotel where Cyrus is staying. Laden with her camera bag and Burberry sling, she hops towards the plush city hotel as soon as driver halts the cab. As Jennifer is carrying professional high-end camera, she has to undergo additional security check. Jennifer asks receptionist for room no. 724. She has been directed to the lift for seventh floor. Though she has been to the restaurant of this hotel earlier, but has never been to the rooms. The passage outside the lifts leading to the rooms had aesthetically done up interiors, well-carpeted and walls adorning abstract rare art. Ah! good place to click some pictures but she resisted herself. The selfie is not a bad idea though. Wish, “I was also photogenic like Tara – typical Bong beauty” she sighed. Never mind…selfie? woolfie? Huh!!!

In hearts of hearts, she knew that she was young, charming and go getter to the core. While she was walking in the corridor, she felt someone stepped out of the adjacent lift and started walking in the opposite direction. Suddenly a thought flashed, “Who’s he? Have I seen him anywhere?” She got suspicious. Jennifer shrugged off the thought and moved on …
…She started walking towards the balcony for a puff to stress her mind rather de- stress her mind about this stranger. As she lit the cigarette, it flashed, “Oh yes, I have seen him in the Café other day.  Am I being watched? Am I being followed? Who could that be? Who could have put him behind me? Am I being overtly suspicious?” Given the fact that Jennifer is gifted with sharp memory…her memory doesn’t seem to be deceiving her.

Now she was in front of Room no. 724, as she was about to knock, Cyrus opened the door. “I was just stepping out to check for you as it is quite a while that I got a call from hotel reception of your coming”, said Cyrus. Without showing any traces of what she had been through few minutes earlier, Jennifer smiled and said, “Oh I met an old acquaintance in the lobby”.

Parking her stuff on the corner table, she saw Tina cozily parked on the corner couch, “Ah Tina is also here, silk stole and all…looking nice!” Jennifer could sense that Cyrus is uncomfortable about something. Never mind! As Cyrus was ordering coffee and Jennifer’s was checking her mobile, Tina was busy in her own world…as her thoughts were taking 180 degree spin, while giving sharp look to Cyrus. Though she had known Cyrus for many years and they were good friends too but it was not the same evening for her. After spending some time with him in his hotel room, Tina’s world had gone topsy-turvy, she questioned herself, “Why am I finding Cyrus so charming today? Has his chilled-out looks are adding to his charm? Is his unkempt hair giving him that cool look? What is it? Why Cyrus is looking so different or am I thinking too much?

“Hey! Where are you lost? Quipped Cyrus. “Nothing! Said Tina. Now that all three of them were together, Cyrus opened up and shared that inspite of his best of efforts like cracking all possible technical codes, he has not been able to make much headway in the case. He was just there where he had started; status quo remains…may be he needs to be on different track? As goes the saying, “No matter how far you have gone on a wrong road, turn back”, Jennifer suggested just that. “I strongly feel that Tara and only Tara can help us here. I am sure she knows Aryan Ahuja, and that too well and is aware of the activities of INSIGNIA as well. But who will bell the cat?”

Jenny’s intelligence amazed Cyrus, he found her quite frank in her admission, considering she was quite friendly with Tara and not just being her subordinate.

After piping hot coffee they decided to move to Tara’s house to take forward their plan of having an informal chit – chat with Tara, while Tina would try digging some facts. In the meantime, Tina moved out of the room to attend a phone call. Excitedly she screamed, “Guys I have great news for you, the mails which both of you have received regarding INSIGNIA’s activities are from the same IP address i.e. Malad. So finally some headway was being made in the case, courtesy Tina.

They were not surprised as both Tara and Aryan lived in the same locality i.e. Malad. This firmed their belief that Tara knows Aryan and not just because of his association with INSIGNIA but they had a personal connect too.

But hiding such hideous facts could lead to such great damage to the country. Can she betray her countrymen? How could a woman so professional, upright, wife, mother, and a daughter would not reveal the truth?

Unknowingly (or Knowingly?) , Tara was involved in INSIGNIA, though she had some cues that it could be an outfit which is involved in some kind of anti-social activities and Aryan is heavily into it. Her heart was just not accepting that. Could Aryan be involved with any outfit like INSIGNIA, though she knew that he is a power hungry guy? Cursorily, Aryan had mentioned to Tara, “Think big, think beyond your job in a publishing house…something really BIG”. His offer had put Tara in a turmoil, here on one hand was a great career opportunity and on the other hand, a happy family life (Happy? Oh really??).

All this while, Aryan was hoping against hope that Tara says yes to his proposal as it will serve both his purposes, to win back Tara, personally and professionally Tara could be the stepping stone towards the confidential documents which were in Shekhar’s possession on INSIGNIA.

But that was not to be…So Aryan planned to reverse his revenge by trapping Shekhar, hence these mails to Shekhar over which he was scratching his head no end? Will Tara admit of knowing INSIGNIA and its head honcho Aryan? Will Tara accept Aryan’s invitation of thinking big? Will Tara give her friendship a new dimension by making some disclosures? Will Tara prove a good wife by saving Shekhar falling into this trap?

Here in hotel lobby, in an animated conversation, Jennifer and Tina were discussing INSIGNIA, whereas Cyrus was about to join them soon. Suddenly a horrified Cyrus came down running from the staircase and shouted, “Breaking News…there… there on TV, Bomb blast in the city, and it looks bomb exploded near a dustbin near a Cafe in the vicinity of Media tower.” The news created furor in the lobby and havoc in the lives of Jennifer and Cyrus…they cried in utter disbelief Aryan!!!!!!

Shekhar Dutta is dead!!!
Who was privy to very pertinent information on INSIGNIA, and custodian to very confidential documents on it’s the activities.

Cyrus & Jennifer are shocked!!!
Tara is devastated!!!

Aryan is ecstatic!!!!
Another feather in his cap, mission accomplished to take his revenge.
His path was clear towards Tara… or was it something else?

Me and my team are participating in ‘Game Of Blogs’ Blogadda #celebrate Blogging

Read next part of the story Chapter 26 Here

Three Cheers!!!

– Bienu Verma Vaghela

Narendra Modi gifts rare ‘ROGAN’ art paintings to the U.S. President Obama

The news published in Times of India on October 4, 2014 could not escape my attention as it was not so long ago that I had visited with my family (Husband Mukund and daughter Tanya) visited Gafoorbhai Khatri in Nakhatrana village of Kutch in December 2013. We were fortunate to spend one full evening with Gafoorbhai and his family to understand his family legacy and what it takes to preserve the dying art of Rogan. He prepared one bag for us too which is a masterpiece in itself, which I will treasure forever.

I am very glad to note that Modji has gifted a couple of exquisitely handcrafted Rogan paintings to Obama which is a preserve of Khatri family based in Kutch Gujarat. On my interaction with Gafoorbhai, he said, “ Narendrabhai takes special interest in the cause of handicraft people and I am lucky that he takes my Rogan art paintings to gift them to national and international dignitaries.”
When I asked him would you like the US President Obama to have one of your paintings, to this Gafoorbhai replied, “ Insha Allah, when Narendrabhai will visit him”. Today his words have come true.
Please read my blog post on Gafoorbhai’s family and Rogan art for a complete update. I am very proud to say that my blogpost on Rogan art has been read by many researchers in the field of art who are taking it as reference point for their research. May be this is my contribution to the craft…

Nirona Village in taluka Nakhatrana of Kutch was very much part of our tourism plan and particularly the visit to Khatris of Traditional Rogan Art. After driving for nearly hour and a half from our Resort in Hoduko in Kutch, we reached Nirona and in no time found the place as everybody knew about it.

Hesitatingly we knocked the door, but Gafoorbhai Khatri’s warm welcome took away all apprehensions. On that chilly evening, it was a pleasure to sit in his spacious drawing room spanned with rare original Kashmiri carpets. We were lucky to meet his uncle also who even at this age takes active interest in this rare art. Gafoor bhai personally demonstrated the art to us and took us around the work done by his illustrious family and this is eighth generation carrying the legacy forward.

Our daughter Tanya who is active seeker of handicrafts and rare arts was completely mesmerised by the art. She wanted to see all his collections and she loved the Tree design most.

The Rogan art of painting is an ancient art over three hundred years old. The traditional Rogan flower motifs and designs speak of a Persian influence and the word Rogan itself means oil based in Persian. Today Nirona in Kutch is the only place where this work is created. When castor oil is heated over fire for more than 12 hours and cast into cold water, it produces a thick residue called rogan which is mixed with natural colours obtained from the earth. With a six inch metal stick or pen, the crafts person then draws out from this fine thread which is painted to the cloth. Rogan painting is delicately and precisely painted from one’s own creative imagination and is done with total concentration sitting on the floor without using a table frame or any outline.









Rogan painted cloth is used for making pillow covers, table cloths, wall hangings, file folders, decorative pieces and even saris. Rogan art is a rare craft that is not well known even in India. Because of these rare qualities, it’s practised by only one family in India and they reside in Nirona village in Gujarat. Most of the other artisans have lost their art as it was not passed on during partition or lost from generation to generation.
Rogan art is currently the bread earner for a family of Khatris. Gafoorbhai Khatri is the head of this family and he has kept the art alive by ensuring his entire family learns and practices his life’s work. He is a national award winner and is currently in the process of opening a school that teaches Rogan art to children from different families. He has not marketed his creativity through any distribution channels.

Must watch video in conversation with Gafoorbhai of traditional arts:

There are many items available showcasing the antique and rare Rogan art. These are about 100 years old and are only with the Khatri family where you can actually touch and feel feel old and rare Rogan art. Talking to travelknots, Gafoorbhai said, “We have brought in lot of changes in Rogan art to make it most beautiful and real. There is so much difference in old Rogan art and today’s art. We have got very innovative designs and great colour combinations and art which are appreciated by not only Indians but also foreigners.”

He showed us beautiful bed sheet made by his grandfather and great grandfathers preserved in their memory. I could not take my eyes off the skirt hanging in his drawing room made of 9 meters cloth with most striking Rogan art done on that 60 years ago.

Gafoor Bhai said, “Government of Gujarat does not give us any grant though per se, but Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Bhai Modi buys our works to give as gifts to dignitaries. Also we get the free stall in all the handicrafts exhibitions all over India where we get the opportunity to show case our art to the world.” He added, “Any foreigner coming to Kutch has Nironha on his itinery and they make it a point to visit us. They are very enchanted by this rare art and leave their experiences with us.” He showed the visitor’s book which was full of testimonials from nationals right from Japan to Spain to Australia to the US. We also loved to record our impressions.

My daughter loved their house which was very spacious, open and artistically done. Not only this, they had whole family of goats to boot.

Khatris are proud winner of several state and National Awards. Through my blog I will request Gujarat Government to take special interest this rare Rogan Art so that our generations can take pride in it. More importantly it is very important to preserve this rare art which is very much part of the cultural heritage.

Khatris who nurture a dream of opening a school to teach Rogan Art should be whole-heartedly supported not only by the Government, NGOs but also by Individual’s who have interest in preserving our national heritage. For those who want to support can write to me on: bienumv@gmail.com.

Special thanks to our tour organiser: Mr Mahendrabhai Bheda and his daughter Prachi.

Sabarmati ke Sant tune kar diya kamaal…Sabarmati Ashram, Ahmedabad, Gujarat

Memorable experience of Sabarmati Ashram, Ahmedabad, Gujarat

It was a chilly December morning of 2010 when we accidentally landed in Sabarmati Ashram in Ahmedabad on the insistence of our taxi driver who was driving us to Gandhi Nagar for Akshar Dhaam temple. He said, “Ashram is on the way and you and your daughter would love it”. We couldn’t be thankful enough for making our trip worthwhile by taking us there. Ashram opens at 8:30 in the morning remains open till 6:30 in the evening.

So we (me, husband Mukund and daughter Tanya) happily agreed for this stopover. Being a Gandhian, I thought that at least I will get to see where and how Gandhiji lived. It was one such rare visit on which I had not done any research otherwise I do not visit any place without doing good amount of research. So big surprise awaited us…it was the most awesome place I had been too. We were very pleasantly surprised to see the surroundings, location, peace serenity, greenery, pictures of Gandhiji depicting various life events, Dandi march…what not. We were so bowled over by the ashram which houses Gandhiji’s room, Kitchen, Kasturba’s room, Charkha, Spectacles, Pen, footwear …what not. We could not help ourselves clicking lot of pictures there which we proudly treasure. I would like to share those with my readers who are looking forward to visiting Ahmedabad on October 2 on Gandhiji’s birthday. Let Ashram visit be first on your itienery.
So you should not make that mistake which I made by not knowing anything about the ashram but I was awarded with lot of excitement and amazement ( that’s another story). My happiness knew no bounds amidst Gandhiji, his pictures, his house, his things…how I wished I was born in that era to have met him in person. It was a great moment indeed.

Here goes the history of ashram:

Upon returning from South Africa on January 9, 1915, Gandhiji was in search for a place to settle himself and a small group of relatives and associates who were with him in the African struggle. His political views still unformed, Gandhi chose Ahmedabad in the West Indian state of Gujarat for three reasons, “Being a Gujarati, I’ll serve my country best through the use of the Guajarati language. As Ahmedabad was the centre of the handloom in early days, the work of spinning wheel (charkha) could be done in a better way, I believed. Being the capital of Gujarat its wealthy persons will also make a larger contribution, I hoped,” in his own words. He said, ‘this is the right place for our activities to carry on the search for truth and develop fearlessness – for, on one side, are the iron bolts of the foreigners, and on the other, thunderbolts of Mother Nature.”
The ashram was then shifted on 17 June 1917 to a piece of open land on the banks of the river Sabarmati. Reasons for this shift included: he wanted to do some experiments in living e.g. farming, animal husbandry, cow breeding, khadi and related constructive activities, for which he was in search of this kind of barren land; mythological, it was the ashram site of Dadhichi Rishi who had donated his bones for a righteous war; it is between a jail and a crematorium as he believed that a Satyagrahi has to invariably go to either place. The Sabarmati ashram (also known as harijan ashram) was home to Gandhiji from 1917 until 1930 and served as one of the main centres of the Indian freedom struggle. Originally called the Satyagraha ashram, reflecting the movement toward passive resistance launched by the mahatma, the ashram became home to the ideology that set India free.

Sabarmati ashram named for the river, on which it sits, was created with a dual mission. To serve as an institution that would carry on a search for truth and a platform to bring together a group of workers committed to non-violence who would help secure freedom for India.
By conceiving such a vision Gandhi and his followers hoped to foster a new social construct of truth and non-violence that would help to revolutionize the existing pattern of like.

Over the years, the ashram became home to the ideology that set India free. It aided countless other nations and people in their own battles against oppressive forces.


Today, the ashram serves as a source of inspiration and guidance, and stands as a monument to Gandhi’s life mission and a testimony to others who have fought a similar struggle.
• Collecting, processing, preserving and displaying archival materials (writings, photographs, paintings, voice-records, films, personal clothes etc
• Microfilming, lamination and preservation of negatives
• Arranging exhibitions on aspects of Gandhi’s life, literature and activities
• Publication of the “mahadevbhani dairy,” which chronicles the entire history of the Indian freedom struggle
• The ashram trust funds activities that include education for the visitor, the community and routine maintenance of the museum and its surrounding grounds
• Keeping contact with as well as helping and undertaking study and research in Gandhian thought and activities and publishing the results of such study and research and allied literature for the benefit of the people
• Observance in a suitable manner of occasions connected with Gandhiji’s life
• Maintaining contact with the youth and student community and providing facilities to them for the study of Gandhian thought.
With such modest abode, “ Sabarmati ke sant tune kar diya kamaal”