Reviews

#170 : People Called Shillong – A Review

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Shillong has been on my bucket list of places to visit since forever. Nestled between never ending blanket of trees and cloud, this place is every writers dream destination. Nothing like using the help of nature  to bolster your creativity. This  book provides a unique perspective of Shillong. It talks about the flora, the fauna, the culture, all via it’s inhabitants.

First Impression

The cover, the introduction, all of it reeks the flavor of the North Eastern part of the country. The stories have evidently been carefully compiled based on various aspects of Shillong. Of the 10 stories, I read, I learnt about the Shillong tryst with Rock music, the hottest pepper – Raja Mircha, their food, their cultural music, their tribal culture and a lot more. The stories were followed by a beautiful and a meaningful sketch of various things related to the city and it’s culture.

Stories

As stated earlier, the stories have been very thoughtfully compiled to give a complete sense and feel of shillong. These stories are not typical ones with a proper plot and a conflict. They are stories about people, things, culture and what not. Essentially it’s all things Shillong. However, if the prime focus of these stories had been to highlight the facts, then the book would have been a boring collection of nothing but facts. Also, it can be safely said that these stories aren’t fact based fiction either. They are just the lives of people who live in the place or have been to the place narrated in a such a manner that they don’t become as boring as plain facts. The human touch is what made the facts and facets more interesting to read.

Writing & Editing 

The writing is as simple as it can get. No fancy words, no fancy phrases. Yet the stories were so effective in terms of feel, visual imagery, characterization and what not. The people felt real, the scenery felt surreal. If reading this book wouldn’t induce you to travel to Shillong, nothing else really would enthuse you to book that ticket and go backpacking.

The editing also was just perfect given that the book is a compilation. It is extremely hard to understand the mindset of a diverse group of people and bring out a single theme from all the stories. The editor and the compiler surely has done a stellar job of it.

Though the stories were way too good, it would have made a bit more sense to talk a bit about how the author of each story a bit in the end of respective stories. It would have given a insight into what made these stories that they are.

My favorite stories were Tale of Interpretations, The haunted valley and Conversations around a Phuga.

Note : I received a sample copy for review from The People Place Project. Do check them out! You can buy the book on Amazon!

 

Reviews

#13 : UrbanClap : Review

UrbanClap ads seem to be having a prominent place on my Facebook and Instagram feed.

Given that I was feeling particularly lazy to drag myself to the beauty parlor for the monthly quota of picking and prodding, I decided to give UrbanClap a try. The INR 200 credit I had was also itching to be spent.Salon at home seemed welcoming! I went ahead and downloaded the app. I had googled about the services offered but when I actually opened the app, I was surprised completed. Heck. They had a ‘divorce lawyer’ service. I couldn’t help but laugh my head off!

Below is a screenshot of the services they offer.

So I went on to book a beauty service from the Salon at home option. Below are some screenshots of booking process. As you can see, they offer beauty services only for women at present. The process is quite simple and  regular salon services available. The pricing is more or less like your typical salon.

I was a bit doubtful if there would some additional charges for conveyance, however when I checked out, there was no such addition. I was asked to enter my address and pick my preferred time slot. After a couple of minutes, I was assigned a professional.  I was also sent a text with the professional’s contact details.

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Review of the Professional 

The professional assigned to me, Ms.Uma arrived promptly on time – 9AM. She came carrying a huge bag like Santa. In it were neatly packed kits.She got right to work without chit-chatting. I had opted for two types of waxing and she explained in detail about the products used. Given that this type of wax I had opted for was new to me, I was apprehensive if it would cause some allergic reaction as my skin is quite sensitive. She assured me that no such thing would happen.When it comes to waxing,the beautician often struggles to judge the right temperature for the wax as the tolerance level of each person varies. I’ve had horrible experiences of being burnt with overheated wax.This person clearly knows her trade well and ensured not to overheat the wax. At the end of the service, she cleaned the area we were sitting as there was some spillage of wax and disposed all consumables properly. In short, she was thoroughly professional.

Review of the App/Service

The app itself is quite light and easy to navigate. It is quite stable and didn’t freeze or force-close.

Pros

  1. A wide range of  services are offered.  It’s easy to have everything in one place.
  2. If you are new to the city, UrbanClap will surely be of help.
  3. They don’t employ professionals, they only connect you with professionals – This means if you are a freelancer, this could be a good place to start for your business leads. However, I have no idea about the leads generated or charges to sign up.
  4. Fairly good communication system – prompt texts etc. I had no reason to  contact their customer service so I am not commenting on that.

Cons

  1.  The professional is assigned to you as far as beauty services and few other services are concerned. You don’t get to choose. Which means if the person assigned to you is rated low, you have no choice but to live with it. The professional I was assigned was rated quite well. She also knew her job well. So I had nothing to complain about – For other services like Bridal Makeup, Photography etc, once you key in your requirements, professionals contact you with their quotes, so you get to pick and choose.
  2. There is little or no visibility if the professional is trained.However, once the assignment is done, the professional’s profile is sent to you and it does contain details about years of experience and ratings. Thus, you have to no choice but to accept. I hope UrbanClap has a quality mechanism in place.
  3. Security is an issue – Given that you are pretty much letting in a stranger whose credibility you don’t really know. The regular plumber or mechanic or handyman would obviously be a known face in the area when compared to some random professional. I hope UrbanClap has a mechanism to handle security verification.
  4. There isn’t much transparency in billing. As in if I pay INR299 for a service I would like to know how much is actually going to the person and how much is going to UrbanClap.
  5. There isn’t any option to reschedule the services as far as I checked.

Overall, I’d rate the professional (Ms.Uma) 5/5 on while I’d refrain from rating the UrbanClap service as I’ve tried just one service. Rating based on just one time experience doesn’t seem to be fair.

 Note : This review is a part of the Chennai Bloggers Club campaign in association with UrbanClap. I received INR200 credit to try out the service in exchange for an honest review.

Reviews

# 9 : Lunch Pi : Food Review

After three years of reviewing books, I’ve decided to diversify finally 😀 What could possibly be better than kicking it off with food! I don’t exactly belong to the foodie category but I can certainly appreciated good food.

I had called up Lunch Pi the day before I wanted to order and checked with them if I had to place the order now or if it could be done later. The person who answered was polite and courteous given the time I called them (8.30 pm). He said I could order any time before 11.30 AM which worked perfectly for me.

A visit to their website  showed me three options – A La Carte, Daily Menu and Party box with the A la carte and daily menu showing their same things. When I called up the next day to order, the person answering recommended that I visit their Facebook Page where they updated a daily menu. I ordered one Mini Thali and two Thalis and I wanted them delivered to my office at Guindy by 1pm. I was asked to text my address which I did.

1PM it was and there was no sign of delivery. Given that I am a stickler for punctuality, I rang them up and enquired about the food. The person apologetically replied that they had delivery issues with the previous delivery on route and our delivery would be delayed by 15 minutes.  Again, I called them up by 15 mins and was informed that the delivery person was at our gate. The delivery person profusely apologized for the delay.

Food finally 😀

The packing was perfect and made a lot of heads turn. It looked a lot like a typical pizza packing only a bit sturdier with an attractive logo. I simply hoped the food was as good. To my complete surprise the food was very tasty and the quantity was just perfect. The mini thali had one Paratha, one portion of Almond rice, Dal and Panner Butter masala with a small portion of salad. While, the regular Thali contained two Parathas, One comparatively bigger portion of Almond rice, Dal, Panner Butter masala and a small portion of sweet. Typically with such packed lunches, for some reason, the oil in the dish tends separate and floats on top making the dish almost inedible. The food delivered was quite warm and there wasn’t oil floating on top. So brownie points for that. The dishes weren’t spicy and the flavors were  well balanced. In short, that lunch turned out to be a lunch to remember 😀

Rating,

Service 3.5/5 (Please do improve communication and put in place a mechanism to notify delay in delivery)

Food : 4.5/5

Packing : 5/5

Note : The Chennai Bloggers Club put me in touch with Lunch Pi and offered me a coupon in exchange for an honest review.