7 things I loved about Reena Martins’ Bomoicar

It’s been a while since I turned the last page of Reena Martins’ Bomoicar. I read the book, smiled as I flipped pages and then passed it on to some of my hostel girls. Even though a few are not Goans, they expressed liking towards the stories, towards the writing and towards Goa and its people. While Bomoicar is a compilation of short stories written by various people, Reena Martins ensures that it doesn’t read like it’s written by different people. Even though there were some overlaps here and there, I didn’t mind reading bits and pieces over and over again. That’s how beautifully the book is complied, edited and presented to us.

252186-untitled-1Here are a few aspects about Bomoicar I really loved.

The stories: Not all stories were related to love. There were stories within stories. There were stories of separation, stories of a person loved dearly by all, memories. And each of these stories found ways to be tied back to this city. There was romance, there was mischief. But it was all related to Bombay. Some stories were left incomplete in reality, but in the book, there was an ending even if it wasn’t a happy one.

Konkani words: Recently, my warden called me to her office and asked me to stop speaking in Konkani. It’s rude, she said. Bomoicar, on the other hand, encouraged the usage of Konkani words. For instance, words such as dumpel, copachem, kapod – these words took me back to Goa. There were these moments of nostalgia. I think I also paused my reading at one point and started telling my roommates stories about our house in Goa, our neighbours, stories about my grandmother.

The Goan Aunty: She was everyone’s aunty. If there was anything running common across the book, it was this aunty. It was around the time Morarji Desai was elected as the Chief Minister of Bombay State in 1952. This aunty saved the parched throats who longed for alcohol. I started liking this aunty, and so will you, once you read about her. Quite a saviour she was, I must admit.

Beyond singers and musicians: Bomoicar introduced us to Goans who played various other roles – Julio Riberio the supercop, renowned architect Charles Correa, a national name in urban planning Edgar Riberio, other merchant navy officers. The Goans we know are usually connected to the music industry. Bomoicar introduced us to the other successful and inspiring lot.

Devotion: There were times, when I was transported to Goa because of this aspect. Aunties took their daughters to church, first dates were at Sunday mass, and attending Sunday mass was mandatory. It was just so-catholic at times. But that’s how Goans are, aren’t they? Everyone believes strongly in some saint or the other. I liked it much.

A walk through old Bombay: These stories had a good amount of Bombay history attached to each of these tales. There was politics, there was architecture, there were words that described Bombay in its early years. There were stories about the bifurcation. So it was not just people, it was more than that. It was the story of Bombay through the eyes of Goans.

Goan culture in Bombay: These stories will resonate with every Goan who reads Bomoicar. It narrates stories of Goan aunties, the floral dresses they wore, the houses Goans lived in, the food – especially choris pao, the drinks (booze), etcetera. And how can we forget the ‘wat men?’ and the likes? Our bastardized version of English is still what defines the Goan community in Bombay. Sad, but true.

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Asado: Mumbai’s first Latin American fine dining restaurant

We recently dined at Mumbai’s first Latin American fine-dining restaurant named Asado. The word Asado comes from a social event – more like a barbeque session – in Argentina. The term is used for a range of BBQ techniques. Now you get an understanding of what exactly this new restaurant is all about!

During my visit, I must admit that I loved the the Mexican Seafood soup the most. But what took so long to set up a LatAm themed restaurant in Mumbai? And does it match up to Mumbaikars’ expectations? The following interview with the owner Trimaan Singh Chandock, Director of Concept Development, should provide some clarity on the background of this special themed restaurant in Bandra.



Asado is believed to be the first Latin American restaurant in Mumbai. What do you think took so long to set up one in the city? Also, what inspired you to take the lead?

We thought of coming up with a Latin American fine dine restaurant about a year ago. Opening a new restaurant needs a lot of work, especially when it is a specialised cuisine. We didn’t have a reference point and nor did we want to follow someone. So working on the menu, the ambience, sourcing raw materials for kitchen and building the right team, all together meant a lot of work.

I have travelled to Brazil, Argentina and Mexico a couple of time and have always been inspired by their food habits. Every time I visited, I have enjoyed their al fresco style street restaurants and their grills. And that’s where I got my inspiration for ASADO.

How would you describe Latin American cuisine?

Latin American cuisine refers to typical food, beverage and cooking styles common to many countries and cultures in highly diverse areas of the country. Some items typical of Latin American cuisine include maize-based dishes (tortillas, tamales, tacos, Flautas, Empanada, Enchilada) and various salsas and other condiments (guacamole, pico de gallo, mole, chimichuri, Habanero chili, aji, Jalapeno). These spices are generally what gives the Latin American cuisines a distinct flavor; yet, each country in Latin America tends to use a different spice and those that share spices tend to use them at different quantities. So a simple sauce of tomatoes, roasted bell peppers, garlic, onions and herbs can taste different by mixing the style and quantity that originally referred to a specific combination of sautéed or braised aromatics, which exists only in the Latin American cuisine. Also there are some special fusions because there is an influence from Spanish, Italian and Japanese communities that are there. This also helps bring in variety to our cusine.

Have there been any alterations made to recipes to suit the Indian palate? If yes, give us an example.

No, the food from our kitchen is absolutely authentic. We believe in authenticity, and that is the reason why we also import almost most of our ingredients like Cheese and Tortillas so that we do justice with the preparation.

What is the kind of research that went into putting together the menu? Did you and your team speak with people or any other process?

Yes, there is a lot of research work that has been done before we finalized our food and drinks menu. We have been to Latin America, different Latin Cuisine speciality restaurants in London, Dubai to find out the best dishes. We also learnt a lot through managing Loco Chino – our Tex Mex QSR in Mumbai. The key elements to our success have been Mr Jaspal Chandock, our MD, our talented chef and the brilliant team at Balu Hospitality.

How has the response been so far? Are Mumbaikars welcoming this new cuisine like you’d hoped it would? Do share some best experiences with us.

So far the response has been are amazing. Just in the first week of opening, and we are trending as the second best restaurant on Zomato. We had the courage to open a Latin American speciality Restaurant because of Mumbai, and touch wood we have been welcomed and appreciated by foodies, bloggers and media in the very first week of opening. Asado did a full house on the first weekend.

Quinoa Salad_ASADO

Quinoa Salad

Mexican Sea Food Soup_ASADO

Mexican Seafood Soup

Katafi Pastry Prawn_ASADO (1)

Katafi Pastry Prawn

Chicken Enchilada_ASADO

Chicken Enchilada

Chicken and Bacon Wrap Dates Antichucho_ASADO (1)

Chicken and Bacon Wrap Dates Antichucho

Cauliflower Pistachio and Gorgonzola Soup_ASADO

Cauliflower Pistachio and Gorgonzola Soup

Caramelized Pork Belly Salad_ASADO

Caramelized Pork Belly Salad

Baked Parmesen Polenta_ASADO

Baked Parmesen Polenta

One-word descriptions

Ambience: Chic

Food and drinks: Not-that-great

Service: Clumsy

Music: Super! feet-tapping

Pocket-heavy? Decent. INR 2000 for two

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A morning dedicated to Cycling

One Friday evening, my hostel girls decided to wake up a little too early on a Saturday only to go cycling. The idea seemed exciting, so around 10 of us didn’t mind sacrificing our Saturday morning sleep to take a tour around south Mumbai (or SoBo like we all call it). We woke up at 5 am (did I mention it was a Saturday?) and managed to take a train by 6:30 am to Churchgate. While hunger started creeping into our stomachs, we were way too excited to even stop by to grab a bite. We were also scared of the traffic crowding the roads, making us all the more nervous on the streets of Mumbai.

Quickly, we headed to the cycle rental shop, took our bikes and set out. I thought I’d forgotten how to ride a cycle. Silly thoughts! But once I started peddling, I couldn’t hide the grin on my face. Memories of my school days cycled around the winding lanes of my mind. I remembered how I used to wait till 7:58 am to leave for school. Even though my mother didn’t quite approve of  it, I loved unleashing a wild streak every time I set out. I gave myself only two minutes to reach school. It wasn’t all that far anyway.

And oh! It wasn’t just me. All my girls had their own cycle stories to narrate, and most of them were funny. One, twice, some of us lost balance and the cycle tilted a little too much, but we straightened up and started cycling again. We decided our own route and roamed around for more than an hour.

As we cycled, the people who were running, jogging, walking et cetera stared at us. Along the Marine Drive promenade, some people even stopped to watch us cycle. I was having so much fun that it did not even strike me that our uproarious laughter and mirth was attracting far more attention.

It was a good decision to ride early in the morning. Because by the time we were on our way to return the cycles, the deserted roads of south Mumbai were getting populated with traffic. And you know how each junction in SoBo is! Happily, we gave back the cycles and headed straight to Colaba Bakery to grab breakfast. While some of us gorged on scrambled eggs, a few of us couldn’t resist the tempting mutton kheema. Of course, tea and coffee brought along a bittersweet ending to the morning.




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Misplaced Reminiscence

The story I narrate,
Is of the faculty that betrays.
But betrayal rides with men,
Then why oh why, do you treat me like them?

This lady wants to reminiscence her childhood,
But you’re mulish, uncooperative.
She wants to recite her adolescence,
But you strike through her thoughts.

Then she wishes to recount her teenage.
She wants to laugh and cry at once,
Again, you strike off every memory.
And she rejoices over this loss, over this skip.
Nothing to embrace.
No stories to say.
They were inferior, anyway.

But some memories could be ingrained.
She wished she could.
She replays, She tries.
Till it loses its charm, its essence.
So she can recite it to someone,
Or just live them again some day.

So, dearth of memories,
Create a demand for new ones.
And you march in again to erase,
As if it’s a scribble on virgin paper.

Dear memory, you’re not fair.
You bring back bitterness in the quiet,
And hide your sweet side.
You retain what I think least
And misplace my lovely days.


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Interview with Aqaba Chef and Director Anuj Thappar

One fine evening, a close friend and I were invited to the new Mediterranean restaurant that’s born in the business hub of Mumbai. Situated in the opposite building to my office in Lower Parel, we headed to savour some authentic food from across the Mediterranean region at the newly-opened Aqaba. When we walked into the plush restaurant, I was reminded of a five-star hotel lobby that’s spacious and elegant. With bare walls and limited decor, Aqaba created this calm atmosphere that brought the city’s hustle-bustle to a standstill. What added to this serene evening was the soothing instrumental music that did not interrupt our conversations or gorging.

With regard to the food and drinks, Anuj Thappar, Chef and Director at Aqaba gives us an insight into the menus, and tells us why Aqaba is not just another Mediterranean restaurant in Mumbai city.

Chef Anuj (2)

There are so many restaurants in Mumbai that serve Mediterranean cuisine. What makes Aqaba special?

There are many restaurants that serve some Mediterranean dishes but very few restaurants, if any, that are dedicatedly Mediterranean.  At Aqaba, we serve food inspired from across the Mediterranean, including Greece, Italy, Lebanon, Morocco, Turkey, northern Africa and the Arabian coast.

And in addition to the food, our ambience is the personification of relaxed luxury where the openness of our space is in stark contrast to the hustle and bustle of the city.

What was the thought process you employed to come up with this menu?

The menu was designed to offer food from the Middle East, but to also incorporate eclectic dishes from regions such as Jordan, Southern Italy, Spain, and Northern Africa amongst others. We also want guests that are discerning and looking for a unique dining experience, to be able to find that experience, in their own city.  Lastly, we have tailored the dishes to the Indian palate so the sensitivity towards flavors we enjoyed is maintained, while not losing the authenticity of the cuisine.

What’s your favourite from the menu and why?

I’m very partial to the Mansaf, a traditional Jordanian dish made of lamb and fermented yoghurt and served with rice but also fancy our range of Mezze.

The Mansaf is a very simple dish and it’s because of its simplicity that the flavours are more pronounced.  There are more than 20 mezzes to choose from but what stands out as a common factor in all is that they’re light and the perfect start to the evening or perfect accompaniment with drinks!

Which recipe has been a hit among Aqaba’s patrons till date? What could be the reason?

While it’s still too early to say, our experience so far is that people are very receptive and eager to have the availability of a highly under-represented cuisine in Mumbai.

There are a few signature dishes that have received a very good response from all. For the vegetarians, the Moussaka, Paneer Shawarma and Broccoli & Mushroom casserole are a must try. For the non-vegetarians the Chicken Tagine, Lamb Moussaka and Beef Kebabs are a definite hit.

Is the aim to serve authentic Mediterranean food or will there be some tweaking to suit the Indian palate? If yes, tell us more.

This really was the million dollar question for us to answer as well!  From our initial trials and interactions we decided we need to have our food to be as authentic as possible while being attuned to the Indian palate.  I think the words you’ve chosen are very apt – authentic cuisine that’s tweaked for the Indian palate but not Indianized cuisine.

Share some insights on the drinks menu too. Which are the drinks that the Indians scout for in your drinks menu?

The cocktail and drinks menu is as important as the food menu because we find that this particular cuisine is best enjoyed when paired with wine or sangria, and have worked with a wine sommelier to curate a wine list for Aqaba.  Our Watermelon and Basil Mojito has been a regular favourite among guests as has our Burning Mandarain cocktail (orange flavoured vodka with jalapenos and soda).

As with the food, it’s important to constantly innovate on the drinks as well as people always want to try something new.








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Independent Women: Good, Bad and Nothing Ugly

People around me often talk about being nice, being good, being crazy, being weird, being this and being that. There are also these sporadic occasions when we talk about being ourselves by shedding the cloak that has ‘I am so cool’ splashed across this intangible robe.  And most of us having these conversations turn out to be independent women. And being ourselves has a lot to do with being independent. Here’s why:

Gain perspective on life: It’s understandable that we need family, friends and other supporting characters to shoot a film that we script every single day. But hey! Have you ever tried travelling alone or taking a walk by yourself to learn about what’s gone by and where you could be possibly heading? I’ve done it a lot of times, and it makes me happy because I can introspect and feel confident.

As an independent woman who is self-reliant, I don’t need to depend on someone to travel with me even if it means I have a day or two to spend in a train. What are books for? It’s the only chance I get to step into the shoes of multiple characters despite living only one life.

Take control and cultivate confidence: However complex a circumstance may be, many a times, an independent woman finds it easier to take control of the situation. Why, you ask? Simply because she’s been in control of her life for quite a while now. She isn’t scared of losing anything. She reasons, takes a risk and accepts what cannot be changed.

There are times when I wish I weren’t independent at all so that someone else could tell me what to do, guide me through. But what’s most refreshing is when you know you’ve taken that decision and you’re accountable for your judgement, not your father or mother or your uncle or even your grandfather. And I can’t take control of anything if I haven’t injected confidence in myself. What do you think?

Be Yourself: Recently, I stepped out for lunch with a colleague who in a week’s time will be remembered as a former colleague. As we drank some steaming soup and indulged in a delicious Chinese meal, we also talked about us – How we grew fond of each other, how working together was so much fun and that someday, hopefully, we might get a chance to work under one roof again. He said one more thing, and that’s something I can’t come to terms with. He said, if I want to win more hearts and impress at my workplace, I should stop being myself. “While it’s good to ask questions to attain better clarity, it’s also advisable to find your own answers.” Wait… whaaa?

Ever since, I’ve looked at ‘being myself’ as an independent woman problem. This list does not end here. While this is my perception about being independent, another discussion with my gal-pals narrated another story. We are also perceived to be…

Intimidating: No matter if the walls in my room tremble with my roaring laughter, I am invariably told that I come across as an intimidating woman. But I do make it a point to smile. How then does this make me intimidating? In my defence, I find the world intimidating!

Opinionated: We (my girlfriends and I), are strong believers of having informed opinions. Here’s where extensive reading plays an important role. At least, it’s better than being indifferent to a situation. How can you take control of a situation of your unable to come to some sort of an agreement with your thoughts?

A bunch of loners: All right. I am financially independent, I take my own decisions, I don’t mind going to the movies alone, and I can sit in a coffee shop and read a book. I can also take a walk by the beach, sit by the shore and write something. I can draw up a travel plan for myself, invite others, and if they’re caught up with something important, I can set out alone. And that makes me a loner.

Like many other independent women, I live in a hostel where I socialize with other ladies belonging to various professions. At work, we mingle with each other. How then, does a woman who can stand for herself, and even you, when you betray trust, be called a loner?

Like anything under the sun, even being self-supporting has its pros and cons. But hey, can we reflect more on the pros so that we can design our destiny rather than employing destiny to take charge of our lives?

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My awe-inspiring experience at Adlabs Imagica

If it wasn’t for my sister, I would have still not seen Adlabs Imagica. If you’re working, and you have your weekends off, you know what it’s like to stretch your Saturday slumber till afternoon. But no, my sister insisted that we go to Imagica and explore the celebrated theme park. So I woke earlier than usual and took off to the outskirts of Mumbai. I was still not quite awake even when I reached the entrance of Adlabs Imagica, and my first impression of the place, to put it in simple words, wasn’t all that great.

After crossing the main entrance, I landed on the other side that brought to life fairytales that were read to us when we were kids. For a moment, I was swept out of reality and and transported to the fantasy world where there was a dashing hero, a villain, a beautiful scenery, lots of picturesque lands and water bodies, grand palaces, soothing music as I strolled along, and then at once, my eyes landed on the roller coaster! The kid inside me sprang to life and my sleep took a nap of its own, while I zoomed on Nitro, my fave roller coaster at Adlabs Imagica.

One after another, I took some of the most scary, freaky but thrilling roller coaster rides. The Dare Drop seemed scary too, but again, what doesn’t seem scary at Imagica? For me, it was a matter of letting loose and having fun. I got off one roller coaster and ran towards the other. Between these I stopped for a boat ride which was relaxing and didn’t match up to my excitement level. What was totally ironic is that, my Sister who dragged me to Imagica, refused to get on to any ride. So when the time came to try out the themed attractions such as Mr India, Wrath of the Gods, I for India and Prince of the Dark Waters, I made a concious effort to leak out less information about the rides and took her with me. She did scream her lungs out, but well, at least she managed to enjoy a bit of Imagica 🙂

She took the front seat during our meal breaks. For lunch, we marched towards The Imagica Capital, an Indian buffet restaurant, which caters to most of the crowd. As a staunch non-vegetarian, I was not quite impressed when I saw only veg dishes listed on the menu. The main course had only one chicken dish. Not that I was hungry and wanted to hog on, but the little chicken on the menu didn’t disappoint.

The Street Food Festival was on, and my sister relished every bit of it. The pani puri was spicy and fiery. While she was pre-occupied with the extensive chaat menu, I couldn’t wait to go out and get back to the field of fun!

Hunger started seeping in towards the evening. So we quickly took a tea break at the Red Bonnet American Diner. The decor made up of vintage cars, dinning tables and quite the American style was impressive, and the range of burgers didn’t let us down.

I covered as much as I could on that one Saturday, and I couldn’t imagine leaving Imagica without getting onto the Scream Machine. It was scary. Even the thought was scary. I gathered all the courage I had and decided to my make it my last ride for the day. Most onlookers are filled with a mixture of dread and excitement at the thought of boarding the Scream Machine for the height it touches. When the machine first started, I had my heart in my mouth. As it started getting faster, I began to relax and within two minutes, I felt so close to the sky. I could kiss it. But just as we were spinning and going higher at the same time, the ride was coming to an end. I was transported back to reality. The sky seemed far, again as my feet touched the ground.

If I’m quizzed about my most awe-inspiring experience at Adlabs Imagica, it will be this Scream Machine. It’s scary, no doubt. But it’s a fantastic challenge you could counter your fear with!















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The Secret I’m Coming to Love

It’s not a song or a lyric,
Neither a conversation nor a snippet.
It’s nothing grave,
It’s nothing embarrassing.
It’s just a little secret I keep from you,
A secret I keep from me too.

It’s the story I cannot say,
Even though it’s something you want said.
It’s a tale, let’s state,
A secret that controls my imagination.
Still, it’s a secret I cannot give away,
Lest you wish I rue my day.

A tricky secret it is,
that keeps rattling in my mind.
I hold this secret;
But when I want, I can leave it behind.

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7 Things I Love About Daphne Du Maurier’s ‘Rebecca’

RebeccaIt had been a while since I’d read a thrilling novel, and one day, the book club in office suggested we all read Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier. When the meeting was dismissed, I returned to my desk and placed an order for the book. Like never before, Flipkart took almost three weeks to deliver the novel. I was only hoping not to lose interest in the book that was also being discussed widely. As soon as the book arrived, I tore open the packaging and read two pages. And the first line “Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again” will always be one of the best opening lines of a novel I’ve ever read. 

I will not write that the novel displays an exceptional vocabulary, but the story is what gripped me all along. Who doesn’t love a story that’s unpredictable till the last line? In fact, I had to read the last paragraph three times to figure out what exactly happened. I slept over it and when I woke up, I couldn’t stop praising the author for giving us such a beautiful story to read. Instead of writing paragraphs about Rebecca, I thought it’ll be better to just listed down what I loved most about the book.

Manderley: Within the first 10 paragraphs of the book, Du Maurier describes Manderley, and how.

There was Manderley, our Manderley, secretive and silent as it had always been, the grey stone shining in the moonlight of my dream, the mullioned windows reflecting the green lawns and the terrace. Time could not wreck the perfect symmetry of those walls, nor the site itself, a jewel in the hollow of a hand. The terrace sloped to the lawns, and the lawns stretched to the sea, and turning I could see the sheet of silver placid under the moon, like a lake undisturbed by wind or storm. No waves would come to ruffle this dream water, and no bulk of cloud, wind-driven from the west, obscure the clarity of this pale sky.”

Aren’t you already in love with Manderley?

Sneak-peek into a Woman’s Mind: As a woman, I repeatedly hear guys describe us as a bunch of complicated species. They also say we think and over-think. No one, not even us, can figure out what’s going on in our little minds. Du Maurier takes advantage of this and crafts a character whose mind is nothing less than a spider’s web. I loved the way we strolled with the protagonist as she kept revealing her thoughts, her complex thoughts.

The protagonist: A simple girl. The protagonist is not the hero. In fact, the book doesn’t even have a hero. I fell in love with the second Mrs De Winter. She was not just innocent, but had a mind of a child. She analysed everything she encountered. She spoke little. Very little. She opened her mouth only when a question was directed towards her. She was patient, and never considered herself among the ones who were born with a silver spoon in their mouth. Towards the end, I realised I love books that are written in first person.

Bridging Past with Present: Even before the second Mrs De Winter discovered the truth, she kept moving back and forth in time. The past was playing such an important role that she based all her assumptions only on the past. The future was something she wasn’t really bothered about. Another thing I loved about the protagonist.

Keeping Rebecca Alive: Oh Rebecca! Even though she was not physically present during any conversations in the book, Rebecca was still there. She was in Manderley, she was at Maxim’s gran’s place, she was in the car, she was in the book Maxim handed over to the second Mrs De Winter, she was just everywhere. Du Maurier kept her alive so that we could fall in love with the second Mrs De Winter. That’s what I’d like to believe.

The Love Story: Such an adorable love story! After I was done reading, I suggested it to a guy friend who also loves reading. When he asked me what’s it about, I couldn’t help saying that it’s an adorable love story. Well, guys prefer not be cool about lovy-dovy stuff, so I had to describe the book as a gripping thriller, which it is.

Open Ending: To some, it’s quite irritating when the author does not end the book aptly. But I loved it! Daphne Du Maurier tells us one hell of a story and then says, “I’ve given a decent ending. I’m sorry you’ve had to read the last page over and over again to get clarity on what exactly happened, but sorry, you need to start playing the role of a detective now.” She obviously didn’t say this, but I’m going to assume she said it. And isn’t it fun to play detective?

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Strolling through the streets of PR at MSLGROUP India

With the intention to recognize an influencer within the company every month, MSLGROUP Social Hive handpicked associate account director Rashi Oberoi to kick-start this initiative. Apart from her charming smile, this National College alumnus has an interesting story to share. An expert in the public relations sector, Rashi has spearheaded some exciting and challenging PR campaigns which took off to success. A quick chat with the pretty lady reveals more about her voyage:

Rashi Oberoi - resized

What skewed your direction towards public relations?
Graduating in Communication (BMM) left me amazed with this newly discovered world and boosted my confidence to embrace it. Well, the course also left me highly confused about what I should take up since I couldn’t figure out what I was actually great at.

In short, I was clueless about my career. Initially, I joined my friends in taking up a job at a marketing firm, where it was more about partying and less working. Eight months with the firm and I was having lots of fun, but it didn’t reap a learning, so I decided to switch. In the meantime, some other friends were strolling in and around PR, and I decided to give it a shot. Nine years hence, I can’t seem to get rid of this sector.

Was there any other inspiration apart from your friends?
Going by the eight month stint at the marketing firm, I just wanted to have a job that made sense. Also, I had heard so much about agency culture so it was more about venturing into the culture and being a part of some ‘cool ‘ planners.

When did you join MSLGROUP?
I joined this company in May 2011 as a senior account manager for Lifestyle, Consumer and M&E vertical, and I still feel like a newcomer. Also going by the trend in the company, where-in most people have been here since adam found his apple, I feel like I have just stepped in.

Tell us about your days here and how you’ve grown within the organization over the last three years.
The journey through MSLGROUP has been very exciting since day-one. What’s catchy about MSLGROUP is that the ones who’ve spent a good number of years in this company have got this immense opportunity to evolve with the organization while trying their hands at other areas in the communication spectrum.

Today, I can proudly say that almost all of us do so much more than PR for our clients which transcends across influencer engagements, collaborations, marketing tie-ups, digital outreach and so on. This in itself has ensured that motivation levels are at an all-time high, as each day people do something outside of their comfort zone, and in turn their overall learning is massive.

In terms of growth, I believe that we are in a field where ‘People’ are our assets. So if each day I am able to work on something new, with new people and bring forth new ideas that inspire all of us and make us believe that we are doing something meaningful here, the growth is immeasurable.

Take us through your journey in the public relations world.
I started my journey in PR with Perfect Relations, which served as the grounding platform for me to learn the tricks of the trade. The learning was enormous and I won the opportunity to work for some of the biggest music, sports and entertainment events and brands in the country.

Later, I was also associated with Kolkata Knight Riders for an IPL season and then tried my luck at mar-com at HDFC Ltd. After spending two years on the other side, I realized I wasn’t meant to be with the corporate world. Why? I found it extremely slow, stagnating and bureaucratic. It’s everything an agency is not! So, I jumped back and was lucky to find a spot at Hanmer (now MSLGROUP).

What are the challenges you’ve had to face to wade through this ocean of public relations? Share your learnings with us.
I think the biggest challenge one faces while in PR is to be able to manage themselves around different kinds of people. It is critical to be patient and most importantly trust others around you. If you are not a people’s person, or generally cannot manage to evaluate others’ expectations; it is a tough road ahead. And you don’t necessarily need to be a social butterfly. Try and be a good listener and genuinely thinking of others’ interest along with yours, is the best way to keep most challenges at bay!

Name a couple of your favourite campaigns of which you were the mastermind.
I wouldn’t like to call myself the mastermind as every brilliant campaign has the sweat and blood of multiple team members. Some of my favourite campaigns — The James Bond Festival on Star Movies, for which the team bagged three international awards in 2012; The MasterChef Australia campaign , for which we partnered with other MSLGROUP clients as well as media to create multiple city events, where-in not a single rupee was exchanged and the impact was just brilliant! Also, we recently did a barter campaign with Mandira Bedi for Singapore Tourism Board, which again was done through a barter deal, was extremely creative and impactful.

Where do you see yourself five years down the line?
Aarrghh! I hate this question. I don’t know and I don’t like to think about it either. I find it extremely boring to have set goals. While it is important to track your growth and have a vision, I think setting an aim makes you lose focus somehow. So hopefully, in five years while I do not know what I would be doing, I hope I continue to have all the friends I have made so far, while working in this great place and industry! Importantly, I hope I am able to significantly contribute to the sector so that it becomes a little more valued and understood than it is currently.

And how would you like to make this contribution?
The global leaders at MSLGROUP are already making significant and landmark contributions by introducing award winning, creative and strategic services that are elevating brand marketing to the next level. I’d like to get more involved with such teams, contribute and lend to new thought leadership in this industry. So hopefully, I will get more chances to learn and work with such leaders as well as the millenials who are buzzing with ideas and creativity to optimize my contribution.

What’s your message to the millennials joining MSLGROUP?
Enjoy the work you do every day (some days it’s really hard, but try). Make lots of friends, because that’s what makes work even more interesting. And step out of the box. We have some amazing case studies on Noovoo that are so inspiring and which can be totally adopted for your clients. So make use of it.


As told to Suezelle D’Costa, senior account executive, MSLGROUP Social Hive.

Categories: Open Letters | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

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