A Snapshot of Urmi Mukherjee

Tj8f6aMBues0Jw9vNB29hwAlmost ten years ago, this dynamic, fun, unapologetic, explosive, brilliantly sharp and utterly fearless diva came into my life. I am so glad she did. She is someone who made me realise it is okay to say, “Screw you, world. This is what I am. And this is what I will be!” If anything has made me love her so much, it’s her attitude about staying true to yourself and knowing the right people will love you because of it. I love and respect her for being who she is.

Miss Mukherjee, I still remember all our late night chats; yes yes, with all the details :P Of course, I won’t/can’t share what we discussed but those conversations were fun for sure. Fun in true sense, fun to the core.

This conversation unveils the Urmi I know, it reveals the other side of her. The side not many people know I believe. The sensitive and emotional side of her. Beneath that tough exterior she puts on, lies a soft and mushy centre.

In this exclusive interview, Urmi Mukherjee (http://www.facebook.com/urmuk) talks candidly and a little fiercely about her crazy experiences, her bucket list, her first crush and a lot more. Read on…

  • Give me a brief description about yourself.

I can never go brief (in description and otherwise LOL). I also have two sides to me, which one would you like me to introduce? The sober side of me is writing this. Drop by after dusk to see the other me :D I live life in extremes which of course creates serious imbalance and chaos but I don’t care and I love the drama! I thrive on family, friends and protection of nature and vulnerable elements. I am sleazily emotional in matters of the heart, but I remain unapologetic. It makes me what/who I am (good, bad or ugly). I reserve logic and willpower for worldly experiences and achievements. My motto is life dictates me to be true to my soul (irrespective of having to follow wrong over right; unethical over moral, sin over good and other such man made criterions of assessment), and I am notorious for being unpredictable, intense, stubborn, and a slave to my passions. I enjoy giving myself completely to everything I do – and that includes doing something as small as cleaning my bathroom or kitchen.

  • Describe your Sundays.

If not sulking, brooding or working, I can be found cooking, cleaning, doing laundry and dishes, catching up with friends and volunteering at a local rehab centre.

  • What music are you listening to at the moment?

Heart stops beating, Paul Van Dyk.

  • What was the last film you saw?

A blue film (joke). The Fighter.

  • What would be your dream holiday location and why?

Considering I love movement and change, my ultimate dream travel experience would see me explore every nook and corner of India through a couple months long expedition, living out of a backpack (which I have done on several occasions) and follow the local life (including customs, food, clothing, lodging, etc.) of that place for a couple days before I move on to the next destination.

  • What is your favorite book? What was the last book you read?

I am a voracious reader and harbour interest in a wide array of topics including philosophy and biographies. I am currently reading The Litigators by John Grisham. The book is special because it was gifted to me by a stranger I bumped in to at London. He turned out to be a world renowned 28 year old Mathematician from Oxford, and I baffled him demanding we never stay in touch after that day. Haa haa (Blame it on my attraction towards the extraordinary!). He never found out my name, all I disclosed was my field of work (although he told me a great deal about himself not knowing what was coming). True to my wishes, we never spoke after that meet. He signed the book, “To a lovely crazy lady!”

  • Tell me about your first crush.

I was 8, a nuisance and trouble maker in class, while he was the ideal role model student. I never did anything about it, but turns out, years later, he confessed I was his first crush too! Nothing ever happened, and we are great friends today.

  • What’s a food treat for you? What foods do you detest?

Until a year ago, I ate everything and I mean everything. Today I appreciate healthier food choices, and I prefer fixing my own meals (let me boast a bit and mention the accolades my culinary skills have garnered over the years :P). I cannot resist Chinese cuisine. I detest sugary food.

  • Do you have a bucket list?

Absolutely. I intend to own a sports car, live in a real house (not an apartment) with a vegetable patch and a little farm type set up with animals, adopt a daughter (I don’t care about marriage but soul mate I do care about), write columns, give out baking lessons, own a wellness centre, and partner up in a law firm.

http://poojachopragoel.com/snapshots-interviews-profiles/

A Snapshot of Neeraj Tiwari

PhotoFunia-b88ccc_oFood and business – these are the two words that come to my mind when I think about Neeraj; his two steady lovers. It isn’t an easy task to describe a man like him. I met him in 2007 at work. We were part of the same team. He had these hilarious code words like merger and acquisition for wedding/relationships, stock split for females who were expecting and god knows what. I was quite naive back then and it took lot of networking for me to understand what he actually meant. Another patent Neeraj Tiwari dialogue, “Maal laao.” That was his way of congratulating you for absolutely anything and everything :P His charming smile, his confidence, his sense of humour, that naughty streak makes him an instantly likeable personality. What I admire the most about him or the most striking quality in him is his fierce independence. He quit his job to tread into unknown waters of entrepreneurship. And he has succeeded big-time. He never gave up; the idea of giving up irks him the most.

In this exclusive interview, Neeraj Tiwari (http://dhirubhaism.com/) talks about his first crush, his love for food & business and a lot more.

  • Give me a brief description about yourself.

I like travelling, reading books, writing and most importantly I love my dream, my business. Most of the time you can find me working; and yes like a typical Aquarian, I am an absent-minded genius (self appreciation :P).

The idea of exploring new places gives me a kick. In fact, my New Year’s Resolution is to visit/explore at least 7 places in 2013. Seven probably is not practical but I already have plans in place for four destinations (starting April).

My mantra in life is to never give up, keep walking. I firmly believe it doesn’t matter how many times you fall, what counts is, you rise every time you fall. You give up in two conditions. One, when you are down and things are going against you and second when you find something better. But either way giving up is depressing. Once you decide to do something, just do it. Believe in yourself. Give your best.

Now, let’s talk about my love for food; I have a steady affair with it and our love is quite unconditional :P I can’t cook but I can eat a lot… And a lot more.

Call me crazy, but there are two things I just can’t live without – shoes and books. I have like 16 pairs of shoes and a collection of 190+ books. I feel one should read and walk all the time.

  • What was the last film you saw?

Robot and Frank and The Dictator.

  • What kind of music do you love the most?

The kind that expresses feelings and emotions, the kind that is engaging, bewitching and hypnotizing.

  • Describe your Sundays.

On Sundays, I get more sleep. When I say more I mean I wake up around 8 am. It is the only day I actually get to be with my entire family and I love that. A regular Sunday ends with a good movie or work.

  • What would be your dream holiday location and why?

Egypt and Rome… I like ancient monuments, structures and cities… An unexplored island is also on my list perfect holidays.

  • What is your favorite book? What was the last book you read?

I have two – The 48 Law of Power and The Art of Seduction. The last one I read was – Every street is paved with Gold, by Kim Woo Choong, Founder Chairman Daewoo. I am currently reading The Black Flag.

  • Tell me about your first crush.

This memory is very close to my heart and reminds me of someone. It is funny but I did not even know her name. I still don’t. I do have a vague memory of what she looked like. I wasted three years just looking at her in college. I had a big crush on her but I never said anything. She knew I liked her all those years but I was just too shy to talk to her. My bad.

  • What’s a food treat for you? What foods do you detest?

Food treat? Get me anything from the south – idli, medu vada, dosa, uttapam with authentic coconut coriander chutney and sambar. I don’t enjoy non-vegetarian food anymore.

  • Do you have a bucket list?

Yes, I do. One thing on the list is to own a Royal Enfield and get it modified from Rajputana Customs. I would love to share the rest but it is all a little crazy and scary. From the list, I have already accomplished four things. Hopefully, next four will be achieved in coming 5-7 years. Two will take time but if it happens I will be able to say I lived my life to the fullest.

http://poojachopragoel.com/snapshots-interviews-profiles/

The dilemma of my vegetarian better half

Most of us would have had at least one ghastly dining experience in our lives… Before you start guessing, let me tell you that this blog is not about one of my dining disasters; it is about my super finicky pure vegetarian husband’s (Pulkit)! :P Last night, we went out for a nice dinner at this local restaurant. We had planned to have an especially elaborate dinner. So I quickly ordered some starters and soup as my better half was busy on the phone. Everything was pure pure (read again) vegetarian.

Bite by bite, we finished our veg platter… After we finished our soups, I started going through the menu all over again to order the main course. I was quite stuffed by this time, but Pulkit wanted to have another round of soup. So, he ordered one. He said, “Please get me one manchow soup.” The guy at the restaurant replied, “Okay Sir.” The soup was on our table within 5 minutes. My better half had it. I ordered the main course and we hogged like there’s no tomorrow.

Our tummy was stuffed, taste buds were contented, senses satiated and, we were waiting for our restaurant bill… The bill arrived. My better half went through everything on the bill. And, BOOOOOM…! “WHAT!!” That is all he managed to say. The bill loudly, clearly and hilariously said, “Non-veg Soup.” That was it! Pulkit called the manager at the restaurant to check. They were not sure what was served but when they saw Pulkit getting a little nervous they said it was vegetarian. But I still have my doubts… And so does my better half. From the moment we left the restaurant he is describing to me what he had and trying to check with me if that could be non-vegetarian :P How does chicken soup look like? Does it taste any different? How can you differentiate between the two? Lol… I just can’t stop laughing. My poor poor hubby! Mind you… We can’t do anything about it now… Even if it was non-vegetarian. :D By the way, did you like it hubby? Haa haa haa… It seems to me the vegetable family too is having some fun discussing this. :P

A super little visit to the city I love

Last week, I was lucky enough to get a very small bite of the city I love – Aamchi Mumbai. :) I was in Mumbai last week for 2 days to attend one of my friend’s wedding…

I shopped, ate, wandered about… And, yes, I did attend the pre-wedding sangeet and the big fat shaadi!

Believe me, I just blinked and it was all over.

Walking through the malls, buildings, cafes, local railway stations, travelling in buses, trains, being the part of the CROWD, being at my home in Mumbai, meeting siblings (Poonam Di and Abhay) and Mumma, sharing and discussing the CURRENT events and secrets in our lives… All of it now seems like a book that I just read. :) I wish it was that… A book… I would read it over and over again… :)

I’ve added a few photographs. In one of the photographs, I have captured my hairstylist at work. Hee hee… Just take a look.

Back in Kandla now…

Rendezvous with god’s own country: Kerala

Bewitching backwaters, relaxing ayurvedic massage, beautiful foggy mountains, tea gardens, brilliantly coloured birds, beaches, coconut water… Kerala is all this and much, much more. Clicked some 700+ photographs. We (me and my better half) started our trip from Trivandrum to finish in Kochi (August 15 – 21). Here a brief round-up on the same. :)

At Trivandrum Airport, our chauffeur-cum-guide Manikandan (21, an automobile diploma holder) received us. He made sure we visited every place possible in Kerala. :) After some rest at the hotel, we made our way towards Kovalam beach. It was totally awesome. So clean, so fresh… The beach sports a lighthouse, a few shacks, seafood stalls and some art jewellery shops.

The next day we left for sightseeing in Trivandrum. Padmanabhaswamy temple, Zoo, Napier Museum, Poovar Island were all on the list. Loved the Zoo… Got some banana chips for family from a stall near Padmanabhaswamy temple.

Out of all the places, Poovar Island (which is engulfed by the tranquil backwaters opening out into the Arabian Sea) left me speechless. It was an indelible experience of colorful sights and exotic sounds. Poovar Island was not mentioned in our itinerary but Mani said we shouldn’t be missing it! :-)

On the 17th, we drove to our next destination Kumarakom. Did not have much to do here except some bird watching and houseboat cruise. We left that for the next day. Me and better half decided to have a full-body warm oil ayurvedic massage. It was luxuriously relaxing and blissfully comforting. :-) Wow!

Our next destination was Munnar or should I say a paradise? On the way to Munnar, we stopped at the roaring Cheeyappara Waterfalls.

Munnar, the picturesque hill station, was among one of the most extraordinary encounters we had with nature! The foggy mountain tops, tea gardens, spice plantations added up to a breathtaking scenery. Our itinerary had quite a few things on its mind but we managed to skip a few. We ditched Rajamala Hills, Blossom Park & spices garden but did not miss the tea museum, Echo Point and Madupetty Dam… Beautiful is an understatement to describe the Echo Point. It was simply drop-dead gorgeous! In fact, the drive from Munnar town to Echo Point itself gives you a blissful scenic treat! I shopped a little more here… Filled my greedy bag with some special Munnar tea, spices and hand-made chocolates… :-)

We left for Kochi on the 21st. On reaching Kochi, we had our quick south-indian breakfast – idli sambhar, masala dosa & tea or chaaya as they call it ;) Went for a little walk on Marine Drive and left for the airport. With heavy hearts and a lump in our throats we said, “Bye Mani. Thank you for making our trip so special. We will miss you.” Teary-eyed Mani barely managed to say – Thank you Ma’am, thank you Sir… Bye!

Make a Will today

“That is the reason we have deadlines, and deadline extensions. Unfortunately, we think, we have unlimited extensions to plan for the future and safeguard our families’ financial future.”

The following article by me appeared on the website of India Infoline on June 16, 2010.

Creating a Will is one of the most important actions that you can take to secure a comfortable future for your family. Death is inescapable. You should prepare for it! Human beings were born to procrastinate. That is the reason we have deadlines, and deadline extensions. Unfortunately, we think, we have unlimited extensions to plan for the future and safeguard our families’ financial future.

“A Will or testament is a legal declaration by which a person, the testator, names one or more persons to manage his or her estate and provides for the transfer of his or her property at death,” according to Wikipedia. In simpler terms, by making a will you can determine what happens to your property and possessions after his death.

Before you dismiss a Will as tool only for the rich and famous, consider its implications on your financial plan. An advocate by profession and a close friend of mine Advocate Ashwin L. Advani explains, “The purpose of making a Will is to avoid conflict among the legal heirs of the person who is disposing off the property under the Will.” In absence of a Will, the court will to distribute your property according to law and determine the beneficiaries. Here few terms that will help you understand more about Wills:

> Testator: A person making a Will and executing it.
> Legatee /Beneficiary: A person who inherits the property under a Will.
> Probate: A copy of the Will certified under the seal of a court of a competent jurisdiction.
> Executor: The legal representative for all purposes of a deceased person (testator) and all the property of a testator vests in him.
> Codicil: An instrument made in relation to a Will, explaining, altering or adding to its dispositions and is deemed to be a part of the Will.

In India, the law with regard to execution, attestation, revocation and interpretation of Wills is governed by the provisions of the Indian succession Act, 1925 in case of Wills made by Hindus, Sikhs, Jains or Buddhists. Wills made by Muslims are governed largely by Muslim Personal law. The Indian Succession Act, 1925 defines a Will as the legal declaration of the intention of the testator, with respect to his property which he desires to be carried into effect after his death.

A will becomes enforceable only after the death of the testator. It gives absolutely no rights to the legatee until the death of the testator. It has no effect during the lifetime of the testator. The testator can change his will, at any time prior to his death, in any manner he deems fit. Section 63 of the Indian Succession Act, 1925 provides that a Will is liable to be revoked or altered by the maker of it at any time when he is competent to dispose of his property by Will.

After a Will has been properly made in law, the testator may want to make some changes in the Will. He may cancel the entire Will and make a fresh Will incorporating the changes or he may alter only the relevant parts of the Will suitably by way of a Codicil. Such a Codicil forms part and parcel of the existing Will. It is a supplementary document to the Will and cannot be independent by itself. A Will can be registered with the registrar/sub-registrar with a nominal registration fee. The testator must be personally present at the registrar’s office along with witnesses. In India, it is not compulsory to register your Will and non-registration does not affect its validity.

“Although registration is not compulsory, it is very important to register your Will. In today’s world, where every single point needs to be proved before the court of law, it is very easy to challenge the authenticity and accuracy of your Will, after your death. Once a Will is duly registered, it is placed in the safe custody of the Registrar and therefore cannot be tampered with, destroyed, mutilated or stolen,” says Advocate Sana Khan, another friend of mine practicing in the Bombay High Court.

This handy checklist will help you plan ahead and reduce financial stress on family members, in the event of your death.

> Prepare a list of your property and its value
> Choose beneficiaries for your property
> Nominate a guardian for minor children
> Consider whether you wish to leave money to your favorite charity
> Carefully consider the appointment of your executor
> Seek a lawyer to make your Will
> Get your Will registered
> Put the Will in a safe place
> Review your Will periodically

When you don’t make your Will, there are often troubles faced by those left behind. The question of who gets what can lead to tangled legal disputes. By planning ahead you can create the provisions that are right for you and your family. So go ahead, make a Will today!

Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts

Shantaram is one book that I never wanted to end; it stirred my mind and soul. Instead of walking you through the plot of the book, I’ve compiled some of my favourite quotes that will give you a glimpse into Shantaram:

  • “Sometimes we love with nothing more then hope. Sometimes we cry with everything except tears. In the end that’s all we have to hold on tight until dawn.”
  • “The truth is that there are no good men, or bad men, he said. It is the deeds that have goodness or badness in them. There are good deeds, and bad deeds. Men are just men it is what they do, or refuse to do, that links them to good and evil. The truth is that an instant of real love, in the heart of anyone the noblest man alive or the wicked has the whole purpose and process and meaning of life within the lotus-folds of its passion. The truth is that we are all, every one of us, every atom, every galaxy, and every particle of matter in the universe, moving toward god.”
  • “Lovers find their way by insights and confidences; they are the stars they use to navigate the ocean of desire. And the brightest of those stars are the heartbreaks and sorrows. The most precious gift you can bring to your lover is your suffering.”
  • “I pressed my lips against the sky, and licked the stars into my mouth. She took my body into hers, and every moment was an incantation. Our breathing was like the whole world chanting prayers. Sweat ran in rivulets to ravines of pleasure. Every moment was a satin skin cascade. Within the velvet cloaks of tenderness, our backs convulsed in quivering heat, pushing heat, pushing muscles to complete what minds begin and bodies always win. I was hers. She was mine. My body was her chariot, and she drove it into the sun. Her body was my river, and I became the sea. And the wailing moan that drove our lips together, at the end, was the world of hope and sorrow that ecstasy wrings from lovers as it floods their souls with bliss. The still and softly breathing silence that suffused and submerged us, afterwards, was emptied of need, and want, and hunger, and pain, and everything else except pure, ineffable exquisiteness of love.”
  • “My heart broke on its shame and sorrow. I suddenly knew how much crying there was in me, and how little love. I knew, at last, how lonely I was. But I couldn’t respond. My culture had taught me all the wrong things well. So I lay completely still, and gave no reaction at all. But the soul has no culture. The soul has no nations. The soul has no colour or accent or way of life. The soul is forever. The soul is one. And when the heart has its moment of truth and sorrow, the soul can’t be stilled.”
  • “I clenched my teeth against the stars. I closed my eyes. I surrendered to sleep. One of the reasons why we crave love, and seek it so desperately, is that love is the only cure for loneliness, and shame, and sorrow. But some feelings sink so deep into the heart that only loneliness can help you find them again. Some truths about yourself are so painful that only shame can help you live with them. And some things are just so sad that only your soul can do the crying for you.”
  • “I was thinking about another kind of river, one that runs through every one of us, no matter where we come from, all over the world. It’s the river of the heart, and the heart’s desire. It’s the pure, essential truth of what each one of us is, and can achieve. Shantaram, which means man of peace, or man of God’s peace. They nailed their stakes into the earth of my life, those farmers. They knew the place in me where the river stopped, and they marked it with a new name. Shantaram Kishan Kharre. I don’t know if they found that name in the heart of the man they believed me to be, or if they planted it there, like a whishing tree, to bloom and grow. Whatever the case, whether they discovered that peace or created it, the truth is that the man I am was born in those moments, as I stood near the flood sticks with my face lifted to the chrismal rain. Shantaram. The better man that, slowly, and much to late, I began to be.”