Monday, December 23, 2019

A Holiday Camp at British Council India

If you want to adopt one motto for the upcoming new year, it should definitely  be Upskilling. An activity, that can keep us relevant and competitive in this fast changing world, adapting ourselves to new technologies, new skills and preparing ourselves for the future is the path forward. It's even more important for  young kids to adopt this approach at an earlier stage. With a lifetime of learning ahead, a strong foundation on life skills will really give them the competitive edge than others.

british council holiday camp 2019

British Council Holiday Camp 2019

British Council of India has announced a brand new Holiday camp for kids aged between 7-14 years between Dec 27th to 30th. A compact and customized 4day 10hr course designed with a maximum learner output, it is a short term course covering 21st century life skills for the young minds.

british council holiday camp 2019

The British Council Holiday camp 2019 offers the following :

  • A thorough focus on personality development through hands-on English learning is implemented as well.
  • They offer a specially designed English teaching methodology where the students can gain a lot of confidence in expressing themselves in English.
  • Students gain experience through creative and fun learning activities and these activities also sharpen their problem solving and critical thinking skills and helps to develop a collaborative spirit with other students
  • The Holiday Camp aims to increase retention and improve all round output through interactive & personalized modules , esp in a very safe kid-friendly environment.

british council holiday camp 2019

Course Fee : 5000INR for non-members and 4250 for existing British Council members

I'd definitely recommend it as one of the most useful ways of spending a couple of hours in the holiday season for all those kids out there.

Do check out this link for more info about the British Council Holiday Camp 2019:

British Council - The new cultural Hub

One of the leading and premium establishments in the country,  British Council has been in India for the past 70 years evolving from just a library to a place of learning, upskilling and interestingly a cultural hub. In Chennai, British Council is present in the same premises for the past 60 years

british council holiday camp 2019

They often host many workshops including
  • Art of StoryTelling
  • Poetry & Art sessions by experts for different age groups
  • UK fairs ( Upcoming)- for people who want to know information about pursuing a course in UK

Apart from the library offerings, there is a English Language Centre to provide English learning to different age groups. Some of the other popular learning courses include
  • IELTS Prep
  • Business Communication
  • Interview Preparation Courses with focus on the English language as well

They have more than 10,000 books, DVD’s, popular UK newspapers including the Times You also get access to their digital resources including e-books, audiobooks and 14,000 journals. Plus you also have access to JSTOR, most globally used academic resource hub supporting research and academics.

British Council is located in 737, Anna Salai, Chennai, Tamil Nadu 600002, India.

Saturday, November 30, 2019

Peppa Pig Musical Live in Chennai

Some ideas can be random , simple or even crazy , but they work phenomenally well and quickly go viral. That was the exact notion behind the creators of the current cartoon hit show, Peppa Pig.

The basic notion that Pigs can actually be designed to be cute character for a cartoon series was definitely an ingenious idea. Peppa Pig has been a major success across different markets in Asia & Europe esp China & India, instantly capturing the minds of almost all the kids.

After creating a massive sensation , the musical format of the show is now going to be launched in India in multiple cities including Chennai, Mumbai and Bengaluru with a host of fun activities and magic.

In Association with Live Viacom18 and BookMyShow, Peppa Pig is happening at Sir Mutha Venkatasubba Rao Concert Hall,Harrington Road, Chetpet, Chennai - 31

Dates:                   30th November – 01st December (Saturday-Sunday)
Show timings:     30th November – 11:30 AM, 3:00 PM, 6:30 PM
                             01st December – 11:30 AM and 3:00 PM

Almost the entire cast including Peppa, Georgie, Mummy and Daddy Pig would be performing live in front of a thrilled audience and you really dont want to miss out on this. Take your kids for a fun filled evening as you enter the magical world of Peppa Pig and have a super memorable experience

Tickets are available at Venue and in Bookmyshow :

Monday, November 18, 2019

World on a Plate - Masterchef Event with Philips Airfryer

Chennai has witnessed a tremendous growth in the food scene with new restaurants and cafes mushrooming in every corner of the city. The variety of cuisines has also expanded and it's no longer just a choice between South Indian, North Indian & Multi Cuisine.We now have choices from Mediterranean, Arabic, Italian, Chinese, Maharashtrian, Russian, Japanese or you're in the mood for some cheese, you have an entirely dedicated All-Cheese restaurant called Fromage.

With Sarah Todd, Masterchef

The rising popularity of this food scene made it an obvious venue for World On A Plate to host a MasterChef Masterclass event in partnership with Philips India.

The three Masterchefs that attended were Sarah Todd, Vicky Ratnani and Saransh Goila. The event featured the city's best restaurant & patisserie stalls promoting their top selling & favourite dishes . The restaurants included

  • Bombay Brasserie
  • The Brew Room
  • Soy Soi
  • Sandy's
  • Toscano's
  • Intercontinental's Tao of Peng
A few selected bloggers including me were part of an exclusive interview session with Celebrity MasterChef Saransh Goila. In his interview Saransh confessed his love for South Indian food and shared some very interesting unconventional methods to cook traditional foods.

Saransh Goila, WOAP Chennai

Philips India was one of the primary sponsors for this event with their star attraction being the Philips AirFryer. Both Saransh Goila and Sarah Todd demonstrated the use of AirFryer to cook their special dish instead of opting to deep frying it.

This came quite a surprise to the audience that the AirFryer is not just a oven kinda device but rather a fully compatible machine which helps you to bake,cook and heat stuffs. With barely a spoon of oil as compared to deep frying in a bowl of oil, the food prevents all the fat content from the oil , yet retaining the same flavor and taste

Though  I had been using my AirFryer currently to make French Fries (without oil), Veg Patties and to occasionally fry vegetables and nuts, the Masterchef session actually gave me quite a few interesting ideas to start using the device in more different ways.

Here's a detailed Philips Air Fryer Review I had written earlier

Saturday, November 09, 2019

Japanese Film Festival In India with Japan Foundation

If you're lover of International Film Festivals, you are in for an absolute treat. Japan Foundation has launched a nationwide film festival of acclaimed Japanese movies (old and new) across India in

Called the Japanese Film Fest, this is the third edition of this in India ,  in collaboration with PVR Cinemas , powered by ENEOS, at VR Mall in Chennai.

The film festival started in Delhi around the month of September 2019, with a phenomenal response and this time that it came down south to Chennai, the land of Kollywood movies..

I had the privilege to meet the Director General of Japan Foundation (pic in left), Kaoru Miyamoto San and Kojiro Uchiyama San (pic in Right) , Consul General of Japan in Chennai.

The objective of the film festival was to give an insight into the Japanese culture, the society and the people of Japan. With the launch of the direct Chennai to Tokyo Flight by Nippon Airways, you might even probably be tempted to visit Japan after watching these movies


The film festival is 10 days long from Nov 8-17th in Chennai.

Some of the movies that are being featured include:

  • Weathering With You

  • Parallel World Love Story 

  • Samurai Shifters

  • Masquerade Hotel

  • Your Name

  • Tokyo Ghoul

  • Shoplifters

  • Children of the Sea

  • Dance with Me

Opening Film : The Kingdom

I had a chance to watch the first film in this Japanese Film Fest, called The Kingdom (Kingudamu in Japanese) . The movie is an action thriller about a king trying to reclaim his kingdom lost to his brother, while a young fighter dreams of becoming the greatest general on earth.

Though I have seen several Japanese movies in TV , this was my first experience of watching a Japanese movie in a big screen and the movie totally blew me away. A 134 minute action thriller, this is easily one of the well made action movies I've seen in 2019.

Directed by Shinsuke Sato, this is incidentally a live-action adaptation of Yasuhisa Hara’s manga of the same name and the top cast include KENTO YAMAZAKI. RYÔ YOSHIZAWA and MASAMI NAGASAWA

Schedule of Japanese Film Fest in Chennai

What's the best part ? 

All the movies are completely free !!! Just walk into VR Chennai one hour before the movie, collect your passes and enjoy the movie :)

Guwahati, Mumbai, Bengaluru and Kolkatta are next in this series..

For more info on the Japanese film festival, do check out their official site

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

ZoomCar SelfDriving Experience - A Firsthand Review

The era of Uber & Ola's has partially reduced the rental of self driven cars in India ,expect those who wishes to go to multiple places with different stopovers and always on the move. Pretty much for the same reason I had never ever opted for a self driven car when I had travelled outside Chennai. The fear factor of getting into a collision somewhere and damaging the car was also there .

Last week , I had a one day work trip to Pune planned and decided to rent out a car for the day. Just then I saw an offer for Zoomcar that offered cars for as low as 500-600 for an entire day after a 50% offer running in their website.

The Plan chosen was as follows : 13 hours. 65 KMS . Maruti Swift Manual for 598 Rs.(Actual price was around 1300 RS) . Rs. 3500 Was a refundable deposit , which will be adjusted for any additional kms driven and charged accordingly.

There was a total damage claim insurance of 10,000 that would cover my expenses if such an unfortunate thing were to happen


Pickup Process

1. Just 60 mins before the actual pickup , I was told by Zoomcar that the car was no longer available and I was asked to choose an automatic car in the same area. I was also told this was a "Partner" car, which meant it was someone else who was renting out their car to Zoomcar, just like an AirBnB.  I was slightly skeptical about the same, but I was assured by the executive that this is a normal process and I can just go and pick up the car once I reach the location.

2. I headed to the location using Google maps and I found a Red swift parked in a small street, covered in full dust , atleast for two layers. Though I was in a slight hurry to head out somewhere, there was a major formality to complete the pickup process which included the following :
    • Spot the car
    • Evaluate the condition
    • Take photographs of every part of the car including : Front bonnet, all four tyres, passenger door, driver door, driver side rear door, passenger side rear door, Fuel Gauge, Starting Odometer etc.

3. For someone in a hurry , this was atleast clicking 10-15 pictures of every part of the car. Second given the dirty condition of the car covered in dust, most of the scratches weren't visible at first glance. Only post dusting off with bare hands (Mind you I am not carrying cleaning cloths as I am just renting out a car), I get to see a lot of scratches on the surface. If I had clicked the pics without dusting off and not noticed these scratches, it would have definitely been pinned saying I caused these scratches.

4. Ensure you need to identify every single scratch in every part of the body of the car and if you're doing this alone, it can be a humongous effort.

The type of scratches classification :
  • No Scratches
  • Single scratch
  • Multiple scratches
  • Damage which requires repair

5. Opening the car
As soon as i clicked on "I spotted the car" option, it generated an OTP and once I entered the OTP into the app, the car got instantly unlocked ( this was a super cool feature ). The keys were found inside the glove box . I entered the starting km in the app and started on my journey



My initial concern was that the car was on very low fuel mode and to my estimate would last a maximum of 5-10 kms only. Thankfully I was able to spot a petrol bunk a few kms later and was able to refill. I expected a full tank or atleast half when borrowing a car and this was something of a miss.

Zoomcar mandates that original fuel bill has to be uploaded . Unfortunately I happened to have a credit card charge slip from the petrol bunk and this was disallowed. So refuelling for 1100 rs turned out to be an additional expense for me as Zoom car charged 10/KM anyways for every km drive apart from the given 65 kms . so basically I ended paying for the fuel as well for the additional km .

What went Right ?

The car ride was smooth and comfortable. It proved to be immensely useful to drive around to so many places in a single day , stopping wherever I wanted and grabbing things to eat.  To explore a new city, rather than relying on Uber's and Ola's (and trying to communicate in broken Hindi) , this was a great, cheaper and better alternative. When you are with someone else or a group of people, this offers great privacy too..

The pricing was excellent, given I was totally charged 590 (65kms)+1000 (for extra 100 kms) . So totally I paid 1600 for 160 kms for 13 hours and that was a steal given I would have paid twice or thrice if taken a private cab for every place I went plus the waiting time etc.

Thankfully no untoward accidents or issues and the overall ride was clean without any hiccups. THe day went exactly as planned and I could cover my itinerary easily.

What could have been better?

Since I failed to obtain an original fuel bill and only had a credit card charge slip , this was disallowed by Zoomcar. Maybe as an exception, given the slip indicated it was a fuel bill, they could have manually allowed the charge , but unfortunately this was denied.

I was given a car change from a manual to an automatic (though I didn't mind this) in a slightly different location. A last minute change kinda delayed my pickup slightly .

The car was parked in the corner of a road and covered in dust. This should have been validated and cleaned by owner or by Zoomcar than expecting me to pickup such a dust covered car.

The car was almost nil on fuel. Given I had chosen a 65KM package, I expected atleast 5-6 litres of diesel to be pre filled before pickup. Me going in search of a fuel station in a slightly panicky mode was something undesirable.

While dorpping the car, my cell phone battery was at 2% and I was in danger of my phone getting switched off anytime and I could never complete the car drop process unless my phone powered back post a charging.


Would I take a zoomcar again? 

Yes, but only in a different city and only if I have company and someone to help me inspect the car for damages, scratches before picking up.

Saturday, September 07, 2019

Retirement Savings Calculator - Secure the future with this Financial Planning Tool

Saving for a rainy day is something we have never really done. The hard-earned income that we earn through our jobs is pretty much spent on frivolous expenses, including eating out, entertainment and other essential items. Though there have been countless articles in the newspapers plus financial savings TV shows, we haven't really given too much importance to save money for the future. How many times have we actually sat down and tried using a retirement calculator, to figure out what will our savings be after 25 years?

  Pic Source :

Irrespective of the monthly income level, be it 40,000 or 1 lakh or even 2 lakhs, the spending is always proportionate to the earnings. The 20-30% tax deducted from that is equally daunting. So amid all this, it's imperative that we save a small fraction of that amount (at least 10% as a bare minimum) per month. This will come handy 20-30 years later when you most likely don't have a fixed income.

Where to Invest?
When you finally decide to invest in a savings plan, you need to figure out which one works out to be the best for you. The most common options include mutual funds, fixed deposits, investing in a home loan EMI (instead of saving actual money), and so forth. There’s also a set of people who smartly decide to invest in pension linked savings scheme provided by a few reputed nationalized banks in India.

ICICI Prudential Life Insurance provides one such reliable savings/retirement corpus scheme through their retirement planning policies. It allows you to use a retirement calculator and helps you in deciding the best retirement plan for you. A scheme ideally targeted for people aged 35 and above; this can come as a perfect blessing while planning a stable and secure future. Knowing that you’ll be receiving a fixed monthly income or a hefty amount while at the time of retirement, itself can be a major relief for a lot of people. It takes away all the stress, anxiety and worry that comes with thinking about the future.

The ICICI Retirement Planning Calculator

  • Set the slider to your current age (Should be 35+). You can either keep the default retirement age upto 60 years or modify it by a few years up or down.
  • The most important step is to enter your monthly income. This should be ideally the final income in hand (post taxes) and not your net CTC. The % from this amount would finally be your basis for calculating your post retirement income in a retirement calculator.
  • Enter a reasonable % for annual savings for retirement.
Let’s assume your annual income is 12 Lakhs (1 Lakh/month).
So if your age is 35, the retirement age is set to 60, and annual savings % is 10 %.

This means your retirement corpus after 25 years will be more than 71 Lakhs INR (with an assumed rate of 8%) and 42 Lakhs INR (with an assumed rate of 4%).

Interestingly half of American Millenials have already dipped into their pension fund to repay excessive college loans, debts, to buy a house or even pay for their medical expenses. To read more, click here.

Though Govt provides a national pension system scheme, the rate of income and % interest is much lesser compared to the privatized nationalized banks.

ICICI Prudential offers several pension and payout schemes that you can choose from, based on whether you focus on a payout or a fixed monthly income for life. The benefit of these savings plan may be realized only when our usual income stops and realize how every penny we had saved will come in handy decades later. So even if not a lot, invest whatever you can in a good savings scheme and secure your future and your future generations.

For example, the most popular scheme featured is the : Joint Life, Last Survivor with Return of Purchase Price. This gets you pension for life (5 Lakhs a year) and after you, same pension continues for you spouse for life. After your spouse, your nominee receives a lump sum payout (74 Lakhs).

The benefit of these savings plan may be realized only when our usual income stops and realize how every penny we had saved will come in handy decades later. So even if not a lot, invest whatever you can in a good savings scheme and secure your future and your future generations.