In the wake of strong dissent expressed by Indian Taxi drivers, it is worth asking whether the aggregator model is one which can keep both the customer as well as the supplier (the taxi driver, in this case) happy? As we speak, numerous taxi unions are on an indefinite strike in major cities like Bangalore, Mumbai and Delhi with an overarching complaint- India’s two most popular on-demand cab companies are not helping drivers earn enough; in fact the daily earn for some cab drivers has plummeted by 80% over the last 6 months.
The Customer vs. Supplier Conundrum
With the intense competition in the on-demand taxi aggregation space, the two key actors in the eco-system viz. the driver as well as the customer are often left dissatisfied due to diverging demands – one party is simply not earning enough while the other party is asked to pay an exorbitant amount for a ride. Given that on-demand ride hailing has become a habit, customers are forced to accept the fares displayed on their screens under the guise of the ‘going-rate’ or the ‘price that you pay for comfort’. And there’s nothing wrong with that whatsoever- demand drives prices. Why would a company not want to charge a customer, a certain something, a premium, if there’s a demand for that service?
The problem becomes a little more complicated when it comes to the drivers. In the early days, aggregator companies invested significant capital into acquiring and retaining driver partners by incentivizing them with lucrative payouts, even if they were losing significant money on every ride. With the focus increasingly turning towards profitability, the companies are forced to cut costs. And the drivers are suffering in the process because of the sudden decline in their incomes.
In the past few years, India has been plagued with diseases that involve unique and less known viruses from around the world. We’ve always been wary of mosquitoes that are part and parcel of our sub-tropical climate. They are the carriers of most viruses and have been wreaking havoc since decades, mostly without being detected. Dengue, kala-azar, yellow fever, Malaria and the likes have taken away several lives when treatment was sparse in the early 20th century. Growing up in West Bengal, we have been using a mosquito net since forever and while it is irksome to manage, it has probably prevented quite a few diseases. But the usage is getting rare these days as it is an inconvenient and confined measure to prevent the mosquitoes and more families are opting for other convenient methods.
Zika virus : The rise and spread
I wasn’t aware of the Zika virusuntil a few years ago but now I know that it was discovered long ago in Africa, though it also has an Asian strain. It was limited to Africa until 2007 and began spreading in Asia post that. Zika virus is transmitted through the mosquito species Aedes aegypti that also carries deadly viruses of Dengue, Malaria and Chikun guniya. The mosquitoes bite an infected human and then a non-infected one to transmit the virus. While it has always been prevalent in Africa, only a few cases have been recorded in India yet. But don’t let that fact deter you from gathering prevention from Zika virus as there is no vaccine invented yet.
Who doesn’t love a good pickle? The mere thought of a tangy, spicy or slightly sweet pickle makes me salivate at any point of time. Being an Indian, most of our meals are incomplete without a plethora of pickles. I have a habit of choosing the pickles according to my mood. So, one day it is the hot and sour chilli and lemon pickle, followed by a sweet and sour Green Olive pickle made by my mother, or a fiery stuffed red chilli pickle to go with a snack. We’ve been using pickles in more ways than one in Bengal. The residual oil from a hot and sour Green Mango pickle is used in jhaalmuri or to mix up mashed potatoes to accompany daal-rice.
While surfing for non-vegetarian pickles online, I bumped into the Places of Origin website. They have a wonderfully sorted site with more varieties of pickles than I could even imagine. The classic Pork pickle and Naga Chilli Pork pickle look absolutely delicious. Since we are a voracious fish consuming family, we’re always on the lookout for interesting ones like Prawn and Bombay duck pickles. I’m definitely going to order few of these from the site as they look wonderful and are quite moderately priced.
If you are a little adventurous and want to try to regional pickles of India, there’s a lot in store for you at Places of Origin. I’ve only heard about Ker Sangri pickle from Rajasthan, but never tasted it. Other interesting picks are Gongura pickle from Andhra Pradesh or Mango Thokku from Tamil Nadu to choose from. Oh, and don’t forget to taste my favourite Kashundi from Bengal! It’s a great condiment with fried snacks with the tang of mustard and heat of chillies. If you are a fan of sweet pickles like a few in my family, go for the Chhundo from Gujarat. It’s a sweet and slightly sour pickle made with grated mango and jaggery and is great with paratha or thepla.
I have to admit that I hadn’t even heard about Dates, Turmeric, Chana Methi or Garlic peel pickle until I went to buy pickles online. It is just amazing of the ways you can utilise these pickles with different varieties of food. India has such a rich heritage of pickles from each of its states that is hard to find elsewhere. At Places of Origin, there’s Lemon pickle without oil and Garlic pickle in Olive oil. In case you don’t want too much oil but cannot resist pickles either – try these. They are really unique and brought together for the first time to be available across the country online. And they would also make for innovative and awesome gifts for any occasion with gift packs of 1 kg assorted pickles for friends and family.
Spice up your meals with a little pickle of any variety and you’ll be sure to win hearts all around!
This winter has been particularly harsh on my feet, resulting in a neverending search for effective foot care products. I’ve been trying out foot scrubs, salts, and creams which would return some softness to the horribly cracked soles. This trial of various products has culminated into a series of winter care products that will find a place in this review section. Himalaya Wellnesshave been a pioneer in herbal products and I’ve been using their face wash as well. Here’s a detailed review of the Himalaya Wellness Foot Care Cream that I loved using this winter.
The foot care cream comes in two sizes – tubes of 50g and 20g. I received the 50g tube for review. It is non-messy, easy to carry for travel and convenient. The cream is non-sticky and has a faintly herbal aroma, not too overpowering.
My favourite season, winter, is here. While it comes with a lovely nip in the air, deliciously fresh seasonal vegetables and fruits, sun-warmed pullovers and jackets, it also arrives with cracked heels and dry scaly skin. I’ve tried a multitude of foot scrubs and creams, in hot water and cold, but none have been of much use for my sensitive soles. The Spa Ceylon Green Mint Cooling Foot Scrub was a pleasant surprise that I received in a subscription bag. Spa Ceylon is a luxury Ayurveda brand that is obviously expensive. So I was hoping to try out the product before buying a full sized product. I must say that the cooling foot scrub has absolutely bowled me over. It’s a class apart from the other ayurvedic foul smelling scrubs or creams. More details below.
The scrub comes in a 200 g bright green tub that justifies the Mint flavour, and has a cool black lid. I received a free sample of 50 g with my bag. The flavour is soothingly minty and the scrub is coarse and grainy. It is bound to remind you of a refreshing peppermint chewing gum.
Do you recall that warm holler of ‘Chai Garam‘ at Indian Rail junctions? Chai, tea, chaa – it’s a beverage that I cannot function without. A detoxifying lemon tea first thing in the morning, a tight milk tea toward noon, green tea or iced tea in the afternoon and finally a lightly spiced or flavoured milk tea in the evening. Yes, that’s my daily tea routine. And I love spiced tea, especially cardamom or cinnamon. I had mixed and ground a few whole spices together to make my own spice mix, but it was way too addictive to be consumed daily.
I’ve won this hamper of 500 cups of tea from Vahdam Teason Twitter. It came as a big surprise and is a blessing for a tea lover like me. They have sent a wonderful box of Cardamom Spice Tea, packed in airtight pouches and one sample each of Assam Spice Tea and Kashmiri Kahwa Spice Tea. I love the effort they implement on packaging the tea and send ziplock pouches to store them. I’ve tried all three varieties and loved each of them. They are different, exotic and very fragrant.
Cardamom spice tea
Cardamom Spice Tea – First things first, I have 500 cups of this beauty, yay! When you open the sealed pack, the aroma will instantly hit you. It is extremely organic as there’s no chemically added essence, but only crushed cardamom mixed with black tea. The aroma is so heady that I kept sniffing the airtight pouch till it was time to discard it. About half a tea spoon is enough for two cups of creamy cardamom flavoured tea. You just need to boil this flavourful mix with milk (adding a little water if you wish to dilute it). The black tea that is used in this mix has round crumbly grains and is strong. Crushed green cardamom pods and husk enhance the flavour to a blissful heaven. It’s a must try if you’re a spice tea lover or enjoy the Elaichi Chai at your local chaiwala’s.
When Green Tea is mentioned, I’m not exactly the one who’d jump with joy and opt for it. I have tried various brands and can’t proclaim real or even fake love for Green Tea. For most of the brands, they have been good for health and rich in antioxidants, but not much has been done on the flavour. There’s ginger, lemon, honey and even tulsi added to Green Teas by Indian brands, and each of them tends to quiver towards an oddly bitter taste. 6X Green Tea by Four Fountain Labs is probably the first among the ones I had that tastes very well too. I received five sachets as a sample with a note about the product.
How Does 6X Green Tea Taste?
Amazing – if I have to describe it in one word. The best part is that, it comes as a powder in a sachet, rather than a tea bag. The powder is totally soluble in water and gives a light brown hue. I feel tea bags often lead to wastage of the flavour and taste of tea. In that respect, 6X Green Tea doesn’t leave room for any waste. The brew has a subtle flavour of mint and taste of ginger that is far from overpowering its inherent quality. And it is far from being bitter even near the dregs. I loved the refreshing after-taste and the feel it imparts. Easily one of the best Green Teas I’ve ever had.