Saturday, 26 February 2011

a glorious sight to behold.

We all know that a picture 'speaks a thousand words.'
But what about a video?

Just a glimpse of the splendiferous fireworks over and on the sea, right by Kuwait Towers. I can't figure out how they managed to do that, so beautifully coordinated too. I love these colours and how their reflection is illuminating the dark expanse of sea.
The traffic was horrendous; it took us over an hour to get there and we missed quite a bit of the laser show on the towers but the finale was worth it.

Congratulations Kuwait on 50 years of Independence and 20 of Liberation!

I converted the video to upload it faster, hence the poor quality. The real thing is way better, but my cantankerous internet connection won't hear of it. My apologies.

Thursday, 24 February 2011

a flashback, a social media success story and a craving for doughnuts.

I was never too fond of doughnuts. A little doughnut franchise in Bombay changed that.

Mad Over Donuts. (M.O.D.)

Their doughnuts (I can't bring myself to spell it as donuts) redefine delicious. They are unbelievably and irresistibly scrumptious. My cousins introduced me to M.O.D. during my stay in Bombay at my aunt's place. We'd go to the Juhu branch at midnight (funnily enough I've never been there earlier) with my Khalu (mom's sister's husband) and spend about twenty minutes debating on the flavours and delectable appearance of the batch displayed and finally select two each. In a couple of minutes there would be no trace left of them except for the melted chocolate smeared around our (my) mouths and this too would miraculously vanish as our tongues were stretched out to the limit to get every speck of frosting that had escaped, back into those salivary glands.

The bff and I, about to dig in.
My flavour? 'Color Me Bad' - sprinkles on melted hazelnut chocolate. Deeelish.

Then, heaving huge contented sighs, we'd select another dozen or so doughnuts for the rest of the family at home. The family at home receive their wares joyfully, and hurriedly call dibs on their favourite flavours and put the box in the fridge for the next day (as it is now past 2 am). Unfortunately they never get to sink their teeth into the ones of their choice (or at all) as by morning, there are just a couple of doughnuts left from the dozen, the rest having been devoured up in the dead of night. The perpetrators are blameless of course. It is not their fault. You cannot leave a boxful of the world's most heavenly goodies unguarded and expect it to remain untouched, lying in wait for you.

If I'm not wrong, this is the first and only Indian brand of doughnuts. And oh boy, their lil hole 'n ones are the best in the whole friggin' world.

What makes them the best?
1) Great service and fresh stock even at 1 am (which is when they close for the day).
2) Home delivery till midnight.
3) They have awesome promotions - buy 2 for Rs. 99 and get a cappuccino free, buy 9 get 3 free.. We'd never leave with less than a dozen.
5) No one makes doughnuts like them. NO ONE. Not Dunkin', not Krispy Kreme.. Do you dig? NO ONE! Formidable competition to say the least.

Besides that?
The marketing is bloody brilliant.
Never having lived in Bombay, I can only comment on the internet marketing. Being a marketing graduate, I am in awe. The website kicks traditional out on the street. M.O.D. has positioned itself as fun and extremely lovable and that's the secret behind its mass appeal (the vision statement will tell you all you need to know). From cute graphics to an extensive and intelligent play on words (employees are called M.O.D. Partners-in-Crumbs), the offbeat site is pretty darn neat.

I haven't even started on their Facebook page. It has GOT to be my favourite company fanpage. Judging from the escalating fanbase, it's a significant contributor to building their brand equity.
What's so special about it? The entire page brims with creativity. It's fun. It's interactive. There are promotions and contests specifically targeted towards Facebook fans, pictures just for the page (this one being my personal favourite), endearing status messages that encourage fans to partake and express their ardent love for doughnuts while M.O.D reciprocates the love.
Their recent status message inspired me to blog about them.
"We like the 'likes' of you!"
That dear readers, is how a brand should use social media.

Now, I languish for a Color Me Bad.
M.O.D. needs to expand to the Gulf. Starting with Kuwait.

Picture courtesy: Logo 'borrowed' from M.O.D.'s Facebook page. I'm sure they won't mind :)

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

blogger award.. woot woot!!

Behold, my First Ever Blogger Award.

Fancyflea, I thank thee =D 
She's got a Project 365 going on and her pictures are awe-SOME. Yallah, check out her blog The Fancy Flea already!

The Rules laid down, cold and simple:

1. Thank the person who gave you the award and link back to them in your post.
2. Tell us seven things about yourself. 
3. Award 7 recently discovered new bloggers.
4. Contact these bloggers and let them know they've received the award.

7 tidbits you knoweth not of me:

1) The first animated film I remember loving to bits was The Land Before Time. I was four.

2) I'd like to study literature at Oxford. 

3) As a tween, when assigned menial tasks around the house, I'd conjure up something to make the drudgery more tolerable. When I was washing lettuce for the salad, I was Little Foot munching on a Tree Star (you won't get it unless you've seen The Land Before Time), when I was emptying a sachet in a cup of tea, it wasn't sweetener but a sleep inducing drug. Etc.

4) When I'm running late, my mind automatically switches on that rhyme the White Rabbit sings in Disney's Alice in Wonderland -
I'm late, I'm late 
for a very important date.. 
no time to say hello goodbye! 
I'm late! I'm late! I'm late!

I'd sing this often (mentally) when hurrying out of my society to catch a rickshaw.

5) I have an inexplicable fascination for things British (not just the accent) - literature, countryside, manors, the old no longer existing lifestyle, fashion, BBC adaptations of classics.. Maybe it's the 'slave' mentality. I suspect my mother, Enid Blyton and the BBC had more to do with it.

6) My favourite period in history is the Second World War. I love watching movies and reading of people's survival stories during the war, especially the Battle of Britain. How the English coped - their collective determination and iron will through a time like that is truly something to admire and marvel at.

7) My mom encouraged me to keep a diary. She bought me my first one when I was in second grade. It had a name on the binding - Electra, for the girl getting off a green scooter on the front cover. The name stuck.

Now disclosing the new blogs:
Booktastic! [my first *unknown* follower :) ]

That's with the newbies. I haven't really come across people new to blogging.
This is where my resourcefulness kicks in. *improvises to continue the list with the newly discovered blogs that are a part of daily reading*
Travel Babbles

To the award God: Sorry if you think I *broke* the rules. You left me no choice.
To the non-blogging reader: Blogger awards are cool.

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

smell your soap.. and test it too

Do you ever look at the testers of liquid hand soap and wonder, 'how on earth am I supposed to 'test' that stuff without water??'
I do.
I thought the same when I saw the shelves and shelves of Bath and Body Works' liquid soap of all kinds of delicious varieties - grapefruit, cherry blossom, midnight pomegranate etc. Each type had a tester bottle. What for?

But then, while looking at the moisturizing creams, I saw this.


Browsing through a store like this entails sniffing and dabbing ones' palms with scented creams, lotions, spritzing wrists with body mists and sprays and at the end of the scrutiny one might smell something like a BABW outlet herself. A wash basin within with a varied choice of aromatic soaps is very welcome. Naturally, I washed my hands so they were redolent of the essence of pink grapefruit. [I have a thing about clean hands (and for pink grapefruit). They NEED to be clean. At all costs. And the tiles were pretty :)]

Why did Bath and Body Works take so long to get here? It beats its competitors (the ones here anyway) by a mile and a half. It's difficult to resist the gorgeous whiffs emanating from the store on walking by it, scents so pleasing to the ol' snout.

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Before I Die - Crossing off the first

No. 4. - Spend a day at a spa..

Not just any spa. An aquatonic spa. One of the rare few in the world, the first in the Middle East and the best spa in Kuwait.
And I spend the day there for free. 

Whiled away the afternoon hours with mom's bff whose friend invited her who invited me to accompany her to the Spa Aquatonic at Crowne Plaza (did you follow that?)
So we entered and the attendant who met us asked me my age (23). He gave me a discerning look and then said, 'are you sure you're not under 18?' Sheesh!
Moving on..

Caution: Major overuse of the word 'awesome' suspected.

What a place.. WOW WOW WOW!!

Here's a peek of the entrance from their website (click for a better look):

The place is magnificent - the decor made me swoon. There were windows of carved wood everywhere, in the changing area and were all around the aquatonic pool. The plush interiors are made of marble and look very swanky without ever coming close to ostentatious.
A locker with an electronic locking system was assigned to each of us and contained a towel and a huge kingly peach coloured bathrobe. They had my heart right from there :) Changed into my swimsuit and followed my spa mates into the pool.

This is what I saw (again, from the website - photography wasn't allowed and anyway I was too busy breathing it all in to take furtive pictures with my cell):

We went during ladies hours and there weren't that many people anyway. After a long time I smiled at strangers (not 'coz I'm a snob, I just don't remember to use my cheek muscles that way but today I was beaming) and got smiled back at. Some of the women were wearing INSANE swimming caps! Check them here. They beat the ugly, old, monochromatic Speedo ones anyday! 

The pool was aweeeesomeeeee (I warned you)!! It was GINORMOUS and was divided in 15 sections (but I can just recall 13). So the concept behind the aquatonic pool is that it offers a 'therapeutic experience' to de-stress. There are a number of jets underwater in the walls in numerous parts of the pool, with an intent of addressing and lessening problematic pains in the body through water massages.

A particular area (that you can see in the lower left hand of the picture) has these little U shaped cocoons where you sit (with great difficulty, it takes some getting used to - not getting thrust off the seat). There are jet propulsions in the wall that are aimed at different parts of your back. I felt I was being pummeled. Right next to that section, is a track that one is supposed to walk through against the powerful flow of the current. That was awesome! Behind this, on a higher level lies a still pool (extreme left of above picture). What's so special about it? Well, it has treadmills and cycling machines IN it. SUPER AWESOME FUNNNN!!

I also did around five minutes of aqua aerobics with a long cylindrical piece of foam (Google says it's called a pool noodle). Oh MAN. It just refused to stay under my foot underwater, kept throwing me off. I didn't spend too much time on it after I got the hang of it, was too busy hyperactively exploring, afraid we'd leave before I entirely checked out every single section satisfactorily.

There were deckchairs too, underwater (duh). Aqua massage chairs, they're called. The neck and feet are where you get you massaged - if you can settle your rear into it without floating out of it. After a time, propped in front of any jet, it felt itchy; it was doing great things for my blood circulation. Stone statues of swans tower at the corner and back of the pool, furiously spitting out a continual flow of water that lashes your back when you sit under it.

There was a jacuzzi/hot tub too of course, and I sat out the majority of the last hour there in utter bliss, occasionally dipping my chin into the foam, it had a sweet sensation. I probably would have fallen asleep if it weren't for nagging fear that my head would nod off into the frothing water. A small but long waterfall ran the whole length of the pool in the middle, and I walked under it sideways with my hands outstretched grinning like crazy, remembering how we'd drench ourselves back in India.

(There was nothing falling from the ceiling, if that's what this pic made you think)
On another, higher level right at the back, there are jets in the ground. Rocked my world! I leaned against the wall and stuck my feet firmly right over the jet (needs practice, else the water thrusting out just makes you float :S). It felt ticklish, but in a pleasant way. I could see the whole pool from up there. The dark carved wooden windows looked exquisite, highlighted in the sunlight that filtered in through the blinds behind. The interiors have an Arabian look about them giving off a very harem-like feel. The whole extravagant experience seduces you like nobody's business. As I looked on at the dozens of jets propelling water at varying forces and pressures, the lighting, the temperature controlled water, it struck me how much energy and electricity it must need to maintain a place like this. Staggering amount. The annual membership is not inexpensive and the daily walk-in alone is 50 KD. 
I love exorbitant freebies ;)

We spent over two and a half hours in there (only 60 minutes is recommended for health reasons.. I don't know what they are but I could add to avoid your skin looking like a prune's exterior. But the website says 90 minutes in there and you could lose 500 calories! :D) and then wadded back to the changing rooms in our humongous bathrobes. There was a sauna and steam room too. Obviously, I popped into both :P The steam nearly burned me to death. After about 3 minutes, I was hopping towards the door like a bunny, screaming 'ow ow OW!' Went into the sauna then, apparently it was turned on specially for this dear blogger ;) Ah I loved that. It was peaceful, since I was the only one there. I can't imagine why though; it was so calming. Then I got bored and went to shower. I'd forgotten shampoo but naturally it was available in each shower cubicle in liquid dispensers. After drying my hair with one of the blowdryers plugged into the wall, I finally dropped my bathrobe into a basket, bidding it a forlorn farewell.

Sigh. What a great day.