Monday, January 06, 2014

My experience with Buddhist Chanting- NMRK

Happy New Year all! If you've been following my blog for a while (by which I mean, if you read it when I actually posted on it- apologies for the absence!!) you will know that spirituality has been a huge part of my life. I am a certified clinic hypnotherapist, having studied under the amazing Yuvraj Kapadia (who teaches at Illuminations in Dubai), have studied Reiki, am a Theta Healing Teacher (unfortunately that didn't work out too well for me), have gone to Pranic Healers, done Angel Healings, studied a bit of I Ching and went through a phase where I pretty much read any book on spirituality I could find. In the beginning I found I just couldn't get enough of the stuff.. it felt like this whole world had opened in front of me, a world I knew nothing about, a world that gave me a glimpse into other worlds, of worlds we will go to after this world ceases to exist. Needless to say, I was fascinated.
This went on for a few years and the whole point of "healings" really is as the name suggests, to heal. The more into healing modalities I got, the more disappointed I'd get with the people involved. Worse than an individual who is completely oblivious to their shallowness, is one who thinks they are very evolved and are completely blind to their faults, or justifying in their nature of it. A lot of the people involved in this business (make no mistake, it is a business) have money issues, ego issues, think they are better than others, and are riddled with insecurities. Of course there are exceptions, but having studied these modalities I realized I was very unqualified to be a healer, and besides, I HAD a day job. Many others around me studied for the sole purpose of then becoming healers and charging people absurd amounts of money per hour after investing in a few weeks of courses. There is no exam and no sifting process, and unfortunately with the stigma surrounding psychiatrists and psychologists in this part of the world, a lot of people opt to go to extremely unqualified and very immature "healers" for some serious issues in their life- be they medical or emotional. While you may think it unfair for me to bash them, please know that is not my intention. Please heed this as a warning if you're looking to go to one of them, find that you're paying crazy amounts of money to someone without any changes occuring or if you're obsessed with them thinking they have some extra ordinary powers. I need to reiterate again here- I could have been one of them so also feel I'm in a safe position to comment, and while there are some really great ones, they are few and far between. Also, despite the thousands I paid in not only undergoing, but learning different modalities, I found things in my life for many years just stuck, unmoving, and I guess it would be safe for me to use the word, unhealed.
I had completely snapped out of all things "spiritual" for a few years and had embraced living my life daily and accepting myself and my problems for what they were. In hindsight I'm SO happy I went through that phase, as that path of acceptance was more "spiritual" than the part where I was constantly trying to figure out the "why" behind things and trying to change them (although I'm extremely grateful for the knowledge I accumulated too as I'm able to make an informed decision for myself about what works and what doesn't). And one day, Nam Myoho Renge Kyo was introduced to me, and that's when the miracles began to happen.
A friend of mine who was not one of the most positive people I know (to put it politely) was visiting town and she was absolutely beaming. So much had changed about her, yet outwardly nothing had changed at all. "What happened to you?" I kept asking her through our meeting, and she kept saying, "I'll tell you!" I finally managed to pin her down for a coffee and said, "TALK!" when she told me about the chanting she had been doing. I was riveted. She was peaceful, positive, hopeful and had an amazing amount of clarity and insight about her life, something I'd never witnessed in the decade and a half I'd known her. "Try it," she said to me, and that evening itself, I did.
This meeting happened in Novemver 2012 and around January 2013 is when I really got into chanting properly, so have been practicing it for around a year. While my friend lives outside of Dubai where there are many meetings and an amazing support system of SGI (the organization), I have been practicing it for the most part alone by myself. It is said that in the beginning you see amazing changes and great victories and there is a name for it called "beginners benefit." As I didn't have anyone to tell me that, I think I blocked the fear that my beginners benefit had a cut off period, and honestly 2013 was a year of magnificent miracles. Don't get me wrong, I had many, many low periods and many struggles, with some amazing circumstances and learnings come out of it. For me, as I said earlier, the biggest problem I had in my life was of being "stuck"in many aspects, and things sort of flowed from one to another. These happened almost after Day 1 of me chanting. "It's a coincidence" I kept saying... how could 5 to 10 minutes of chanting every couple of days make such a huge difference to my life? It did. And it kept happening.
To give you a few examples- My relationships in my life dramatically improved. I wrote my first novel in a month over the summer of 2013 (fingers crossed for it to get published in 2014... and in case you're wondering how good a novel written in a month can possibly be, the fact that I actually FINISHED something I started was victory enough for me). I had random things happen like Bentley offering me a free car for 6 months, or the Manager of an extremely high end boutique here calling me out of the blue to offer me HER discount for a ridiculously expensive crocodile skin bag I had passed up on because of the price tag. Crazy, weird, amazing experiences!! And these are the tip of the iceberg as I don't want to get into stuff that happened in my personal life. I have since talked of my experiences and gotten a lot of people into chanting too, and it overjoys me to hear of their victories and miracles they are experiencing!
So how exactly does one even start, you ask? Well, sit straight in a comfortable position with your eyes open, and in a clear voice say "Nam Myoho Renge Kyo"... and repeat. That's it :) It helps me greatly to chant along with a YouTube video that I use (you can try using this one as its a lot slower) and start with just a couple of minutes a day. Also know that you don't have to be Buddhist or convert to chant, and there are a lot of sites that talk about chanting and give you more information- is a great one.
If you have more questions about NMRK or my experiences with it I'd be happy to answer them in the comments below (please do not send me emails), and of course, if you'd like to share your experiences if you chant too I'd be thrilled to read them. Good luck!

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Review of my Cayenne GTS

If you've been following this blog for a while, you'll know I'm a HUGE Porsche fan. And if you're following me on any of the social networks (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) you'll know that I recently got delivery of my Cayenne GTS 2014. I'd gone for a very funky white on white exterior (and by that I mean the car had white painted wheels) as my old Cayenne Turbo was black on black and since I'd seen the colour combo on the streets of Beirut last year, I'd absolutely fallen in love! When I went to order my car, I was going to take the black interior and have parts of the car painted red (as seen on another car in the showroom.. you can check out the picture of that on my instagram) but had been told for 2014 there was a special red-black interior. Basically my car, being one of the first getting delivered for 2014, would be one of a kind. To personalize it further, I had the sidestep customized to have my name on it, just as I did my older Turbo Cabriolet. I was so nervous to see how the entire thing would look put together, and thankfully, it was love at first sight. 

I drove the GTS and loved the drive... it was similar to my old Turbo but a lot sportier. I got the delivery sometime in the middle of the week (probably a Wednesday?) and was intending to use it to partake in one of my favourite activities- going for a long drive alone, listening to loud music (seriously, it's like meditation for me). I got into the car, put on the radio and was slightly confused. In place of clear gorgeous sound I was used to from the Bose speakers (so good that I actually decided I didn't need to upgrade the system) there was a static-y sound that plagued practically every station I tried. Ok, so maybe I wouldn't be going for a drive. On parking the car and getting back in later that evening, I noticed all the entire screen of the entertainment system had switched to Arabic. Not good. When I reversed my car out, the passenger mirror pointed down as it does, but when I went into drive it didn't go back up. At this point, I was slightly freaking out. It was only the next day when I drove the car in the blazing afternoon sun did I realize the AC didn't cool as well as my old car. I picked up my Mother who pointed out that the vents just had air gushing through them, but were working more like a fan than an AC. Crap. 

I didn't want a car that was going to have to go with a 100 Kms on it to the service center, as I figured that will be the start of many, many service visits for the rest of my time with the car. The Porsche guys though assured me they'd take care of my car and give me updates on it daily. In the meantime they even sent over a brand new Panamera 4S for me to use (gorgeous car, but not one I'd want). Over the next few days they called me every day as promised, to give me updates. Turned out the issue with the Arabic system and mirror issue could just have been a problem with formatting of the keys (since I had both of them in my handbag at that point that could have been a problem) and they "rebooted" the system to just be safe. They did however inform me that the radio now, due to placement of the antenna, had a lot of static, and this was normal and how all their cars behaved. I sort of realized that with the Panamera as well as the radio on that wasn't clear. For someone who LOVES music, especially to drive around listening to it, this was a problem. I told them I didn't understand how a newer car could be worse than my old car, and they offered me a full refund if I wasn't completely happy with it. They urged me however to stay with the car for another day and see whether it was something I wanted to live with. 

I was comforted knowing a full refund was on the table and decided to give the car another shot. I got the car back, grabbed a CD and played with the bass and treble (which I wasn't able to earlier given everything had gone into Arabic) and decided I could live with only listening to CD's or my iPod in the car and to return it because of the radio was silly. I fell in love with the look of the car all over again and decided to keep it... till I used it in the blazing sun the next afternoon. My Mother and I had to make 2 trips to the mall and used the old Cayenne and the new Cayenne to see the difference... sure enough the new one just didn't cool enough. 

This is my 4th Porsche in 7 years and till date I've had ZERO problems with any of my other cars. I intended on being a Porsche owner for life. Again, their service through this process was excellent and pain-free so I have no complaints on that front... but, unfortunately, the car had to go back. I asked to Manager herself to use the car and check the AC and even specified that if there WAS a difference, I would be most happy to wait for the exact replacement, but she said there was no difference in the AC of my new one as opposed to their test drive car. While I must specify there were no AC issues in the Panamera, I couldn't risk it and reorder a Cayenne only for it to maybe have that issue again especially since they specified it was working to Factory Standard. But I just can't wrap my head around the fact that the new car behaved that much worse than the old. The old one has held up THAT well, that despite having it for 4 years, my Mother actually decided to keep it since it had aged so beautifully. Try saying that about a Beamer or Merc! 

As sad as they were to see me go, I was sadder to leave and give back this stunning car. The bigger problem is knowing that the newer one in some respects is a step back from the older, which may mean a sad goodbye to the company for good. Or at least for a long time!

Thursday, August 22, 2013


This little wonder has a Dual Core 2.0 GHz processor, has a 5.5 full HD display, a 13 megapixel camera as well as runs Android Jellybean 4.2. Find a full list of specs here.

All you need to do to win this beauty is:
1) "Like" my Facebook Page at
2) "Follow" me on Twitter at
3)  Send me an email to with "Done" as the Subject. In the email please let me know your name on Facebook and on Twitter (your Twitter handle).

Here's a few things to remember-
- The entry is open for the next 2 weeks till the 5th of September 2013.
- The competition is open to Jumbo and Lenovo staff in the UAE too.
- The competition is open to anyone in the world who can get someone to pick up the phone from the Jumbo Office in Dubai! I will not be posting the phone out.
- If you already are following me on Facebook and Twitter, please go ahead and follow step 3 above!

Good luck guys!!
A big shout out and thanks to the folks at Lenovo for the device!! 
Jumbo has recently been appointed as the distributor for Lenovo phones.. and trust me, they have a fantastic range of phones at amazing prices!! You can go to any one of the Jumbo showrooms to check out the range as well as the K900, which really is a fantastic device!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Book review- To Kill a Mockingbird

There are some books that are quick reads, some that are absorbing reads, you have the funny reads, the trashy beach reads... and there are some that reach out and touch you, enrich your life and forever change you. In recent years Palace of Illusions was one such book for me, and last night I finished To Kill a Mockingbird with a sense of wonder and amazement. What amazed me more than the glorious writing though, was the fact that every one around me seemed to have read the book but me.

If you belong to the few who haven't as yet read the book, or were forced to read it in school but don't quite remember it, can I please urge you to pick it up? The story is about a lawyer, the formidable Atticus Finch, who defends an innocent black man in court for the alleged raping of a white girl. What makes the novel particularly moving however, is that the entire story is seen through the eyes of Atticus's five year old daughter's eyes.

Atticus is a single parent raising his two kids, Jem and Scout, in a very poor and prejudiced town in Alabama. Throughout the novel Atticus does the best he can in trying to impart words of wisdom to his kids, and tries to raise them the best way he knows how.
“Atticus said to Jem one day, "I’d rather you shot at tin cans in the backyard, but I know you’ll go after birds. Shoot all the blue jays you want, if you can hit ‘em, but remember it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird." Throughout the novel we view the loss of innocence of the kids, of the townspeople and see a clear fight between good and evil. Sometimes evil wins, and Lee, the author, does a beautiful job of depicting a Father trying to explain to his kids why that is sometimes so, showing them how to deal with adversity in his life.

It is no wonder that this book was a Pulitzer Prize winner and it's sad to think that this is the only book Harper Lee ever wrote. She is a gifted storyteller and once you're done reading the book it may be of interest to you to read about the Authors own childhood and upbringing. 

This book is one of the most magnificent ones I've read and is in places deliciously funny, while making me cry in others. It's not only a snapshot of the times (the South during the great depression) but also of a family dealing with death and loss, hope and light, and all the prejudices and struggles that come in between.

Really, I can't put it in any more words than this- To Kill a Mockingbird has to be one of the best books I have ever read.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Book Review- On Writing

I have read a few "how-to" books on writing novels, (some really excellent ones like Bird by Bird and Writing Down the Bones) and was always ironically looking for instructions on what to write about, and how to actually start. Years of reading on the subject got me nowhere, but recently something strange and wonderful happened. A novel sort of just poured out of me... as if by magic. Now while I had a rough first draft out, I had no clue on how to actually go about editing and creating a second draft, despite knowing what changes I wanted made. My masterpiece felt like a house of cards with great big gaps in the middle that I knew I wanted and needed to fill, but instead I felt like I was being consumed with what felt like writers block. I went on to in the hopes of finding a book that could help me out and that's what I found On Writing.

On Writing, a memoir of the craft, is written by Stephen King who is best known for his sci-fi/horror genre of work like Carrie and The Green Mile.While I have never even read anything by him and have no intentions of writing about aliens or poltergeists, the reviews on Amazon seemed promising and the best part of the book was that it was short. After all, I needed to get back to my own writing so needed a quick read and fix. What I was met with however, was great writing, extremely useful tips and a very motivating life story.

The book is split up into three parts with the first being about the writer's life right from his earliest memories to now. A boring autobiography this is not. There are short chapters that literally capture memories from King's life and are beautifully written, sometimes being laugh-out-loud funny to having some poignant moments that had me teary eyed. The second part is actually where the tips on writing are to be found. The third part talks about the writer's brush with death, when a driver ran him over while he was out for a walk. Again, I have never read any of Stephen King's work but reading On Writing really made me want to.

You don't have to be a writer to read or enjoy this book, but if you are a writer, I really suggest you pick this one up. This is one of the best books on writing that I have ever read. There are many handy tools present here, and ones that I could actually use and I wish I'd read the book before. One of things he keeps stressing on is "writing with the door closed" which not only means writing away from distractions, but not sharing your work with people till the entire thing is complete. I was sending out my work, chapter by chapter, to well meaning friends, and all the issues I have now are actually an outcome of that. In terms of my dilemma, he actually advises shelving the first draft away for six weeks before coming back to it, so by default my taking "time off" was actually just what was needed. I will be taking some more time to destress and get back into reading before I face my work again.

Again, if you do like to write, I cannot recommend this book enough. However, if you are a fan of Stephen King's work, want to know more about his life or just want to read some literature about the life of an author, I'd highly recommend this be your next book. A great, great read and one that I'll be referring back to in later years for sure.

Thursday, August 01, 2013

My experience with Bentley in Dubai-

For over a year now I've been in the market for a new car. While I knew I wanted to upgrade my old Cayeanne Turbo (with the old shape) to a newer one, I was confused about what to upgrade my 917 Turbo Cabriolet to. As you can probably tell, I am a die hard Porsche fan. I've had my Turbo for 4 years now and before had a Carrera 4S Cabriolet for another 4. I decided though that it was time to test out something new and have been confused about what to change my car to for a very long time now.

 I'd written almost two years ago about test driving a Ferrari California and while I loved it, I just didn't quite love it enough to give up my Porsche for it. This year however I decided I really had to change my car and contacted my friends over at Ferrari again who handed me the car keys for another California for 4 days. "Talk about SERVICE!" I exclaimed to anyone willing to listen. They'd come over, handed the car with car keys to me, taken a signature and said, "call us when you want us to pick it up." That damn call was one of the hardest I've ever made.
I was still was going to go ahead and order it when a little birdy told me that the shape of the car was going to get changed in 2015. Since I'd be getting a 2014 edition, it just didn't make sense for me to go in for one now. I test drove the new Bentley V8 GT but despite its fantastic price (for a Bentley that is) I just wasn't convinced. I was going to test drive the Mercedes SLS but a visit to the showroom where I actually sat inside the car made me realize it's nose was way too long I'd visualized myself crashing into people all over Dubai. I've never been a fan of the Maseratis or Astons and the zippy Audi R8 was also rumoured to be getting a change of shape next year.

That's when a friend of mine pointed me into the direction of the Bentley GT Speed Convertible- I test drove it and it was an absolutely dream on wheels and after that there was absolutely NO doubt in my head that that was the car I needed to get. Maybe lacking the sex appeal of the Ferrari, it more than made up for it in driving pleasure, comfort and sheer luxury! Did I mention that this is the fastest convertible and probably the second fastest car in the world? This however is not a review of the car as I had it for less than half an hour. I grumbled about the short time I had to play with it but decided to order it as I was completely in love with it.

I was dealing with a gentleman by the name of Anas at Bentley and I have to say, this guy was fantastic. While even picking out which car I should get the guy had advised me to go for the v8 instead of the more expensive W12 as he said the performance of the car was just as good. Even while picking options for the car there were many add ons that he said were a stupid expense, like the 30K stereo system I was thinking of getting. And as soon as I'd finished placing my order, he then called me with a huge surprise- While my ordered car was only coming in November, he said he'd be happy to give me a brand new Bentley V8 to drive till then, absolutely free!! I was absolutely blown away. Mind you I was the last one in the family to actually get one as all my family are Bentley fans and I think my sister was even the first person to get one in India. I don't know about the type of service they received, but I must say, I am was one happy camper. What happened you ask?? Weeeeell, as luck would have it, without having a SINGLE accident in all the years I've been driving, someone decided to bump into and dent the loaner Bentley 10 days into me having it, that too while it was parked somewhere. While Bentley was great about it and fixed it at no extra charge and was happy to hand it back to me but I really didn't want the responsibility of driving the car just IN CASE something else went wrong. Paying for one of them was bad enough! Besides, I was scheduled to leave for my summer vacation a week after (still in Dubai however... don't ask!)

After driving the V8 for those 10 days, I was extremely happy I'd decided to get brand new Speed version instead. If you do get a chance, I really suggest you test drive the cars. And if you do decide to deal with them, I cannot recommend dealing with Anas enough. He was absolutely fabulous, and if sending me a car wasn't good enough, he followed it up with 2 bags full of Bentley swag. I can't rave about their cars and customer service enough!! While I'll review mine when I get it in November, here is a short instagram video I made of the loaner V8-

You can contact Anas at Thanks again Anas for the fab service! 

Monday, July 29, 2013

Book Review- The Cuckoo's Calling

Book lovers out there (and probably well informed non book lovers too) probably need no introduction to "The Cuckoo's Calling." The book that overnight was catapulted into the Amazon #1 spot was done so by J K Rowling's admission to writing and publishing it under a pseudonym, Robert Galbraith. To know more about that, here's an article you may find interesting.

After reading some of the hype around this book I knew this was going to be my next read. I absolutely loved the Harry Potter series and intend to reread the entire series back to back someday, and had even picked up Rowling's next book, The Casual Vacancy but hadn't bothered reading it as I read reviews of the book before starting on it. The Cuckoo's Calling however seemed to be getting rave reviews with one Amazon reviewer even suspecting (before Rowling's big announce) that the book was so well written that the author's name was probably a pseudonym used by a famous author. The book also falls under the crime fiction genre which I also do quite occasionally enjoy, so this one seemed to be a safe bet all around

The story is about a private detective, Cormoran Strike, who has been hired by the brother of a dead supermodel, convinced his sister did not commit suicide as largely suspected, but had instead been killed. Rowling's writing is fantastic and the way she spins the story is nothing less than beautiful. Her words are a joy to read as are her descriptions. I found myself being fascinated by the way she spins sentences and highlighted a few as an example-
"The dead could only speak through the mouths of those left behind, and through the signs they left scattered behind them."
"Suicides, in his experience, were perfectly capable of feigning an interest in  a future they had no intention of inhabiting." 
Perhaps those who love to read literature will appreciate the writing style and I personally think this has to be the most poetically worded piece of crime fiction I've ever read. 

But then comes the plot and the story. I feel like the novel would make a great movie- the kind that moves very slowly with a bunch of strange, suspicious characters appearing in it, all coming together and making sense in the last 10 minutes when the shocking truth is revealed. Although, reading it is sadly not nearly as much fun. The novel builds a fantastic story but I sort of guessed, simply because of the "you'll never guess who the end" rule, what the end was. The characters did come to life through the story, but a fast paced thrilled this is not... it moves very, very slowly. I often find my mind drifting and forgetting which character was being referred to, and mind you I finished the book in 3 days. It's not that the characters were confusing but I just kept getting restless waiting for something to happen and for a quicker pace to kick in. I didn't come away thinking the ending made too much sense either, but I won't get into that for fear of giving away the story. If you do however read the book, I'd love to hear your thoughts on the end and whether it was satisfactory to you. I felt overall that the book was quite an average one- not unreadable, but definitely not an "unputdownable" one like Inferno, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo  or even Six Suspects if you're into Indian fiction.

Overall, I guess I'd give it a 3 out of 5. Read it for the hype and language but don't expect too much going in and then you may just be pleasantly surprised. Unfortunately, I'd had my expectations sky high so was slightly disappointed. 


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