Why I Like Select Citywalk….

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Well the most obvious answer is shopping. I mean that is why people go to a mall, right ? And along with shopping perhaps to eat or meet up with friends and spend a day together- eating, shopping, catching a movie or attend one of the many events happening there. When Select Citywalk opened back in 2007, being the only shopping mall in South Delhi, it was “the” place to go to- latest brands, swanky interiors and even swankier crowd. Truth be told, shopping was the reason why even I started going there. Going from Chandigarh to Delhi, Select Citywalk became a one-stop destination for all your needs- shopping, eating and fun times- a lot like what Khan Market was in the ‘90s. Gurgaon malls felt too far away and in any case since Ambienece Mall had not yet opened up, they did not have the brands that Select Citywalk did- MAC, Mango and the like.

For a long time it remained so. Once I moved to Gurgaon, I just forgot all about Select City. Not only did trips to Delhi become rare and work oriented, all shopping and outing needs were met by the various malls, especially Ambience, in Gurgaon itself. So it was that Select City gradually faded from my memory.

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Strangely, my affair with the place was reignited after I moved back to Chandigarh. Any trip to Delhi meant a trip to Select Citywalk. After a few such visits, I realised that I enjoyed going there even when I didn’t want to “do” anything- shop, eat or catch a movie. I just looked forward to being there. Perhaps it was the ambience of the place or the decor, which was unique and different on every visit, or the charm of the outdoor open area- I don’t think I can pinpoint what is it exactly that draws me to the place. Even when I’m through with whatever shopping I want to do, I like to go back to the place and just be there- at times do some window shopping; at other times just sit with a book either in one of the coffee shops or maybe even the aisle and watch life go by. And this I most enjoy during the week days that are not so crowded.

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If I’m not mistaken, I read on Facebook that Select CityWalk is the most “checked in”  place, perhaps of Delhi or is it India? Honestly I don’t know and to me it doesn’t matter. And neither do the various awards and accolades that it has won though I can just feel, if not articulate, the reason why it has won all these awards. Yes there are standards of maintenance, hygiene, service that go into it. But then there is an intangible something beyond such reasons that make you want to go back to the place again and again. Ever since Elante Mall opened in Chandigarh, shopping needs have pretty much been met in Chandigarh itself. Yet there is certain something that Elante lacks, something that draws me to Select Citywalk more than to Elante or any other mall in Delhi/NCR. Perhaps it is this “something” that draws big brands like Bobbi Brown and Sephora to Select Citywalk too. Whatever it is, I hope it continues to hold its attraction for a long time to come.

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Bikanervala at Chandigarh

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Chandigarh, to my mind, has very limited and staid options when it comes to eating out. Of course, that will depend on the place you are coming from- if you are visiting from the hills or the “pinds” (villages) of Punjab and Haryana, Chandigarh is the desi Manhattan. However, if it is Delhi and similar metros that you are coming from, Chandigarh will never seem to wake up, let alone offer any variety of eating out options. Restaurants that have been here since a donkey’s years continue in their old vein and well, with the same old taste. New ones like Jiggs Kalra’s Punjab Grill shut shop in no time. No offence, but the food of restaurants like Ghazal- Mehfil tastes the same as it did in the ‘80s. Similar is the case with Sindhi and Gopal sweets. That they are able to retain their chefs in this age of high attrition and jumping loyalties is to their credit but as a consumer, I find my choices severely limited.

I am not much of a foodie but occasionally that I do eat out, I like to have some choice and well, good food. When I moved to Chandigarh a few years ago from Gurgaon, one of the things that not only me, but we as a family missed about Delhi-Gurgaon was the unlimited options of either going out to eat or ordering in – For Italian it was (and still is) The Big Chill and Diva; for Indian, Punjab Grill, Punjabi By Nature, Veda, to name a few; and for chatpata stuff it was Bikanervala– I somehow never like Haldiram’s much.

20140422_142714 Seeing Bikanervala opening in Sector 26 Chandigarh was quite a welcome surprise. Honestly, however, we were a bit apprehensive whether the quality would be the same. We decided to try it out and our standard order pretty much plays around with the same items- Chola-Bhatura, Dahi Bhalla, Paani Poori, Raj Kachori, Dhokla, Matar Samosa, Matar-Kulcha. After arguing a little bit for more curd in the Dahi-bhalla and Raj Kachori( same story at  every outlet), as we started eating, my son heaved a sigh of relief- his chola-bhatura tasted just the way it does in the Gurgaon outlet! And henceforth there was pin drop silence as we all enjoyed our favourite stuff.

Since the place is new, it was not crowded. It is neat and clean, nicely done up and the seating is much more 20140422_145146comfortable than the high stools of Gurgaon Sec 29 outlet. The menu is not as vast but all the essentials are in place. We could not try out the mithai spread but plan to go back for that soon. Actually, I’m looking forward to picking up sweets and mathis from here during the festival season- I just hope that they are still around and in business till then. Chandigarh is not very warm to outside brands – Smoke House Deli, Punjab Grill and more recently Haagen Dazs ( at Elante) being case points. However, until such time comes, let me enjoy my dahi bhalla in peace!

Forest Essentials Tejasvi Lightening and Brightening Cream

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This is a product that has just been launched by Forest Essentials and free samples are being offered to their Soundarya ( Loyalty) Members. The original scheme offers a complimentary sample of the Tejasvi Lightening and Brightening Cream worth Rs 525/- on any purchase and is available till 30th June, 2013 or till stocks last. However when I went to their store at Elante Mall at Chandigarh, these samples had not yet reached them. The SA however was nice enough to hand me a small sample. That I’ve harassed this sweet lady plenty since Forest Essentials opened their store at Elante Mall, Chandigarh and she recognises me by now might have helped! The pictures I have put up is of this small sample and since I’ve been travelling ever since, the picture quality is not very good but it gets the job done.Ordinarily I don’t see the point of putting pictures of products except in case of swatches. The only reason I put them up is to show that I did use the products and my take on it is genuine. Other than that, how does the picture of a shampoo bottle or shampoo itself, or a soap or oil, help anyone, I don’t understand. Anyways, coming back to the product sample, what is the size of the sample they are actually supposed to give with a purchase, I don’t know so cannot comment on their pricing.

Ordinarily I’d have a problem with “lightening and brightening” creams given the Indian obsession with the “gori chamdi”. But the thing with Ayurveda, as I understand it, is that the “lightening and brightening” is of your natural, original skin tone allowing your natural tone to be at its brightest sans a tan. So what the cream claims is not to make you “gori-gori” but to restore your skin’s natural brightness and ‘fairness’. My experience with Forest Essential so far has been nothing but amazing. I’m totally in love with this brand, their authentic Ayurvedic products and the salutary effect on the face and hair and I’ll soon have my take on more of their products posted. Had it been some other chemical based brand, I would not have tried even a free sample.

Tejas gud wrComing to the cream itself, what Forest Essentials says is – Tejasvi combines unique natural moisturizers along with selected Ayurvedic herbs to provide extraordinary lightness and brightness, smoothness and suppleness to the skin. It contains Cow’s Ghee along with Coconut Oil, Organic Beeswax, Kasturi Manjal, Peepal, Akashneem, Jivanti and Banyan. These ingredients are renowned in Ayurvedic texts for enhancing elasticity of the skin leaving it with a lighter fairer skin tone, supple and youthful with a noticeably soft resilient and ‘plumped’ quality, and a radiant glow or “Tejas”. The cream they say is created by “ancient Ayurvedic physicians who have used the special techniques of Bio-fermentation, seasonal potency of rare and precious herbs in aged-ghee, stored in copper vats, for their extra ordinary properties of lightening and rejuvenating the skin”.

The procedure for application is to massage a little bit on clean, wet face for minimum of 10 minutes once a day. Then you rinse it off with warm water, followed by cold water. On my normal-oily skin it did not need anything afterwards and given its rich ingredients – cow’s ghee, coconut oil – I doubt even dry skin people will need anything at least in this weather.

Tejas close upI’ve been using it for about a week now which is actually not enough to form an opinion about a product but just an initial impression. And my initial impression is pretty positive. The cream is almost solidified when kept in cool place like ghee would be but thankfully has none of the smell of pure cow’s ghee that many don’t like. I’m in a fairly humid place( Pokhra, Nepal) ever since I started using it but still it did not feel “chip chip” on my face. Neither did it break me out except for an occasional pimple here and there which could be due to my own hormonal roller coaster. I did not even feel the need for a moisturiser in the morning after rinsing the face with plain cold water. And yes the skin does feel supple, healthy and bright in the morning but a week is not enough to comment on the “lightening” property though I do feel that it will help in restoring the skin’s natural tone. But oily skin people, especially those residing in hot and humid places (which right now is almost entire India!) may not like the feel of it and it may break them out at least in this weather.

And that’s pretty much what I can say about it after just a week of use. Once back in hot and humid Chandigarh, I’m not sure I’ll like to continue using it in this weather. But come October and I will definitely pick it up for extended use maybe as a night cream.

On the whole, prima facie it seems like a good product with great natural ingredients that benefit the skin. As with most Forest Essentials products, a little will go a long way though what is the quantity being offered for Rs 525/- has not been specified. in any case, Forest Essentials products are priced on higher side than the drug store brands but they have their own dedicated following who pay and are happy to do so. Moreover Forest Essentials is a cruelty free brand that does not test on animals. I can use their products without the thought of some hapless bunny being tormented to make the product.

The only downside I can see is the timing of the launch of the product. With most India being unbearable hot and humid, this cream may not suit the oily skin people, at least for now. In the winters it should be great for them while dry skin ladies will love it.

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