Tag Archives: Bienu Verma Vaghela

CTB MUSAFIR – Features 29 Women Travel Bloggers

MUSAFIR – Featuring 29 Travel Bloggers – Women only, brought to us by NIRVANA FOUNDATION – Initiative of Founder – Mr Mangesh Lad.

Tag Line: every mile a memory

29 Bloggers from all over India feature in the Coffee Table Book after a lot of research and screening of the blog posts which could be part of this Coffee Table Book, aimed at foreign tourists to encourage them to visit Indian destinations, known, unknown, unheard of. The objective of the book is to present India through the eyes and pen oops mouse of travel bloggers who have explored these destinations, spent time there and wrote about them, not some fictional account of the places. With this thought process, the book began…

As India endows cultural unity & diversity, histories of places & people, diversity of seasons & vegetation, genetics, cuisine, customs, religions, festivals, social attitudes, language and literature, music and arts, in no other way it could have been possible to feature it all in one book. Nirvana Foundation wanted to come up with a book through which they can present absolute India with the remotest villages, waterfalls, peaks, temples, adventures being detailed beautifully and travelled meticulously.

Speaking about the CTB Musafir, Mr Mangesh Lad expressed, “This book says something which is truly special about India, its unity & diversity, seasons & vegetations, cuisines & customs…

…the book has the same essence that will take you through the distinct and equally evolved, ethnicity and adventure that our country is blessed with.” 

Every blogger is different; every journey is different – bound by the same passion for travelling & writing. The Bloggers feature purely on the merit of their blog posts who are from divergence backgrounds like some are working professionals, writers, homemakers, students and from all walks of Life.

I Bienu Verma Vaghela feature in the book with my travel stories on Rann of Kutch, Sabarmati Ashram, Mandavi Beach, Road trip to Indo-Pak Border and Shakti Sthal in New Delhi. My travel blog is www.travel-knots.com with 500 posts, nearly 70,000 views and 35,000 visits. My interview appeared in American web magazine – Sprangled.com. I have covered many Malaysian destinations on special invitation of Malaysia Tourism, besides many countries and Indian destinations.

Some bloggers prominently featured are: Anjali Sethi Joshi ( www.travelrasoi.com) Bienu Verma Vaghela (www.travel-knots.com), Deepanwita Chakraborty ( www.dipanwita.com), Srilata Suman ( www.cloudninemiles.com) Manjulika Pramod ( www.manjulikapramod.com) Vidya Suri ( www.vidyasuri.com) Shoma Abhyankar ( www.astonishingindia.com) Hitha Nanjappa ( www.thelostlander.wordpress.com) Deena Pinto ( www.skinnygirldierez.com) and the likes.

The 260 Page book is a compilation of Travel Blog Posts from the archives of travel bloggers. The book takes you through destinations across India right from Kashmir to Kanyakumari, many rare destinations from far-flung even near inhabited places.

The book witnessed high – profile launch at Hotel Orchid Mumbai on April 29, 2018 where Mr Mangesh Lad spoke about his latest initiative Ab Ek Goonj, many celebrities and almost all bloggers featured in the CTB attended the launch. An interesting panel discussion was also held amidst travel bloggers during the launch.

Please wait for the new & brilliant initiative of Nirvana Foundation, helmed by Mr Mangesh Lad – Ab Ek Goonj. More power to WOMEN!

 

 

Double Tree, Double Delight at Hotel Hilton in Johor Bahru, Malaysia

Our last and final destination was Johor Bahru, though I had been to Johor Bahru briefly in 2009, but I saw it in a completely new light with this Mega FAM trip organised by Malaysia Tourism. After paying tribute to shopper’s Mecca – Johor Premium Outlets located on the outskirts of Johor, we reached Hotel Double Tree Hilton. Somehow I got the feelers that this hotel and our stay would be unique here. How true my senses turned out to be! A very warm welcome awaited us and a complimentary Cookie Card was given to us on arrival. A cookie lover, that I am, I wasted no time in getting my cookie. The cookie is given to every guest who checks in the hotel. I was curious to know about this and I was told that hotel gives out approximately 77,000 chocolate chip cookies each day adding up to more than 28 million cookies annually. Since 1995, Christie Cookie Company has been the keeper of their secret cookie recipe. That’s why they taste so good!

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Ideally located in the Central Business District, within walking distance of the Persada Convention Center, the contemporary DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Johor Bahru overlooks the surrounding city and the Straits of Johor. Here you can enjoy easy access to City Square shopping and attractions including Johor Zoo and the Sultan Abu Bakar Mosque. Changi International Airport and Senai International Airport are easily reached from the hotel.

Mr Amarinder Sadana, Director, Business Development accompanied by Hadi Abdullah, Sales Manager took us around the hotel where many more surprises unfolded. More on that later. A very hospitable staff took us to our rooms which were very spacious, well-lit, well-equipped and could see swimming pool located on the 13th floor. It was heavenly experience to sit on the window and watch Johor’s skyline from hotel’s window early morning.

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Next morning our day began with breakfast at Makan a multi-cuisine restaurant manned by expert chefs and other staff. Food was just awesome like Pancakes, Omelettes, Stews, Sausages, Croissants, fresh salad bowls, juices, breads, idli’s what not. That was best part of the day. I looked forward to that every day. Indeed Makan Kitchen is an eclectic mix of famous cuisine prepared in live, interactive kitchen showcasing diversity of many native favourites from different states of the country.

Mr Sadana and Mr Abdullah took us round the hotel and we were witness to some really luxurious suits which are best suited for royalty where one could unwind in a spacious guest room, offering city or Straits water views, a large desk, 40″ LED TV and WiFi. Not only had this it had facilities for a kitchenette, laundry facilities and Executive Lounge access.

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Mr Sadana said, “You can hold a business or social function at our hotel with 13,993 sq.ft. of event space, including two magnificent divisible ballrooms, five meeting rooms and an outdoor terrace. Whether you have a corporate business meeting or your dream wedding, we will do it with élan.” He added, “We have 335 well – appointed guest rooms and suits including 22 apartment style suites.”
During the tour, Mr Sadana took us to 13th floor where swimming pool was located. This was the outdoor pool with separate pool for children.

After this he took us to Tosca – Fine Dining Italian Restaurant and believe me I had never seen such wonderful restaurant in any of my international sojourns. Tosca is located poolside of 13th floor. Mr Sadana added, “Our Italian Trattoria and bar offer rustic Italian food prepared with contemporary flair for lunch and dinner, along with stunning views over the Straits of Johor. Not only this it also offers dining options ranging from indoor, private family dining room with transparent kitchen, poolside and private rooms.” Wining & Dining would certainly be a treat here with friends, family and business associates.

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Their friendly and attentive staff provided personalized service throughout our stay. No wonder they call it CARE (Create A Rewarding Experience). “From your arrival to your departure — and everything in between — we’ll go above and beyond to make you feel cared for,” quipped Abdullah.

Our stay was signed off with Breakfast meeting at the Coffee Shop adjacent to The Food Store where we were joined by Mr Edzuar Zar Ayob Azari, Director, Tourism Malaysia, Johor, Mr Shyam Nath Nair, Honorary Chairman, Malaysian Association of Hotels, Johor Chapter and Mima Melisa Shahban, Tourism Officer. Their interactions in a separate story…
The Food Store offers café style stmosphere for a quick cup of coffee and juice. You can choose to eat in or “Grab & Go” with a wide variety of freshly made pastries and sand witches which are available throughout the day.

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For Bookings & Other details, you can write to: amarinder.sadana@hilton.com
Call: 6072786868 or visit the website: JohorBahru.DoubleTree.com
After having sumptuous lunch comprising of Chicken Soup and Barbequed Chicken with very friendly Mr Abdullah, who did not forget to give us box of cookies which my daughter Tanya gorged on my arrival in Mumbai.

– Photos by Bienu Verma Vaghela

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…

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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.

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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!

 

 

Ta…ra…ra…aryan…will she, won’t she?

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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