Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Mapro Farms: Mahabaleshwar

Cold Stone Ice cream
It was a one-day trip to Mahabaleshwar. Now, if you are not too interested in shopping around, there are very few things that you can do in Mahabaleshwar. There are various points in and around the city, which offer a glimpse of the Sahaydri valley from various angles. Then there is the Venna Lake, in which you can go boating, or ride horses on its bank or just idle around the bank. But, you can spend an ample amount of time at Mapro Gardens. 

Mapro Gardens is a diversification by Mapro Foods, which is very popular in Maharashtra state for its processed fruit products like fruit crushes, squash, etc. Mapro has also diversified into products like chocolates, honey, gulkand and many more. Mapro Gardens is located on the  road from Panchagani to Mahabaleshwar. It is an open garden restaurant, almost like a resort. The garden restaurant serves various food and (non-alcoholic) drinks to keep you busy through the day. The best part of their menu are the ice-creams and juices. Since Mahabaleshwar is pretty famous for its strawberries, all their ice-creams have generous portions of fresh strawberries. And the portions are large enough to fill you up.

Fresh Strawberry with whipped cream
You can enjoy the foods and drinks at tables spread in an area shaded with trees, over looking the farms and valley across Mahabaleshwar. The choice of food, though, is  limited. They serve a few types of pizza and sandwiches, strictly vegetarian stuff. But, the good part is, the pizza base and bread loaves are freshly baked in Mapro's kitchen. You can see the guys rolling the pizza bases and bread and bake them in the ovens in front of you. The choice of juices too is good, it varies from soda-based juices to thick shakes.

And while you sip your juice or milk shake, or enjoy your ice-cream, you can have a look around the Mapro gardens. They have a nursery where they've planted strawberry. You can see the strawberry in various stages of growth. You can also enjoy by the fountain in the garden.

The best part is that most of the ingredients used to make these food stuff come from the area in and around Mahabaleshwar. And it has provided an employment and business opportunity for many locals in the local area.

Mapro has also conveniently placed a sales counter in Mapro Gardens, which sells most of Mapro's process food products. It is good to buy them here, as you get a 10% discount on the M.R.P. mentioned in there. It is good to go for fruit crushes or squashes, as they are locally made. Mapro also makes chocolates under the Mazzana brand. You might want to take home a few of those too. And their chocolate factory is located right next to Mapro Gardens. Take your little ones there to see how their chocolates are actually made.

Mapro Gardens is a wonderful place, where you can easily relax for 3-4 hours. They could do with some entertainment options for children. Otherwise, it is a wonderful place. And a must do, when you are travelling to Mahabaleshwar.
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Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Sibal's foot-in-the-mouth disease

Do you think that the New Telecom Policy being formulated by the Ministry of Telecommunications and IT help in fighting corruption? Do you feel that the Women's Reservation Bill, if passed by the Parliament and enacted by the President of India, will help you lodge an FIR in the police station without any of the current hassles? Also, do you think that, if passed, the Government Services (Declaration of Assets and Investigation) Bill will help those below poverty line get their full share of ration food and fuel from the neighbourhood PDS shop?

If your answer to all these above questions is "yes", consider yourself in the elite company of Shri Kapil Sibal, the Minister for Human Resources and Development, as well as the Minister for Telecommunication and IT. In the video shown below, the honourable (and highly educated; he is a lawyer in the Delhi High Court) minister states that the Lokpal bill (either in current form or that proposed by Anna Hazare and others) will not provide education to the poor children, nor will it stop policemen from taking bribe, nor will it provide for basic infrastructural facilities. And he is the same person who went on record saying that the arbitrary 2G spectrum sale hasn't caused any loss to the government. Why, Mr. Sibal? Is it because the government employees as well as politicians will stop working for they cannot take a bribe, fearing the wrath of the Lokpal? Will a government employee say, "I cannot take a bribe, because the Lokpal might prosecute me and I cannot work if I do not take a bribe"? If so, our system really needs to be dumped into the sea and a new fresh start is needed. Yes, Lokpal bill will not be able to provide these things. But then, it will ensure that the development funds are actually spent on development. Prince Rahul's father, Rajiv, once famously said "Less than 15 paise out of every rupee actually reaches those it is meant for". The Lokpal bill is supposed to increase this amount from 15 paise, to ideally the entire rupee. Only then, will the poor children receive education, the people will get good infrastructural facilities. The Lokpal bill won't cure you of a heart attack or a simple cold too, but it will see that someone who needs these medicines, gets them on time and in the right quantities.

Towards the end of his talk, he urges the common man to take up cudgels against corruption as they are the only ones who can fight it.  Yes, Mr. Sibal, we will fight it. But, all we need from our government (remember, we voted for your return) is a strong legal backing to nail the culprits, without fearing for our or our family's safety. Remember, we are not yet a banana republic, else we could have dealt with some of the corrupt in accordance with the laws(?) of a banana republic. So, do not connect unrelated issues.
Sibal's foot-in-the-mouth diseaseSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Sunday, April 03, 2011

The cup is ours!!

Yes, Team India has done it for us. 28 years in the waiting. That is twice the time Lord Ram or the Pandav spent in the woods, banished from their kingdoms. And captain M.S. Dhoni, fittingly, lead from the front in the finals and finished off the game with style!! It isn't more hurting for the opposition than scoring the winning runs by hitting a seam bowler for maximum. If you do not believe it, ask a certain Chetan Sharma. Or those who watched Javed Miandad clobber him for a boundary off the last ball. And I was witness to every moment of the final. From Zaheer's tight spell, to Perera's hitting. From the agony of losing Sehwag in the first over, on a duck to the joy of  a solid Gambhir-Kohli and Gambhir-Dhoni partnership.

All said and done, through the series it was a team effort. Team India certainly deserves this cup, as everybody contributed their bit for the team in the entire series. Tendulkar and Sehwag did it with the bat, Yuvraj provided crucial all-round support. Gambhir, Kohli and Raina provided consolidation when it was most required. Zaheer was crucial with the ball and broke partnerships for his captain. Dhoni backed his team-mates solidly, in their highs and lows. He accepted the limitations and tried to circumnavigate those. And he was brutally honest with his assessments, which perhaps led the team in giving a bit more. His team selection was criticised, batting form was a concern, but the team's performance made the critics swallow their own words. Yes, ODI cricket is a game of chance, and had things been the opposite way, everyone would have bayed for Dhoni's blood. And Mahi was honest about that too, in the post-match presentation. But he took the risks, and the team justified his gambles. Those who do not dare to loft the ball (and thereby risk being caught out), will never hit a six.

Very very special thanks and gratitude should be reserved for Gary Kirsten. He took up coaching after Greg Chappell had left it fractured and demoralised. Chappell's so-called reforms led the team from disaster to disaster, not only on-field, but in the dressing room too. He has built a superb atmosphere in the dressing room and rallied around with the players. He and Dhoni together instilled a lot of self-confidence in the team, but that wouldn't have been possible if Gary hadn't inculcated the spirit and ways of Indian cricket. Chappell thought Australian cricket is most professional and hence Australians dominate the word scene. He thought the same "professionalism" could be brought into Indian cricket. And the same Chappell is the chairman of selectors in Australia, has selected a team that lost the Ashes at home and for the first time since 1996 didn't enter the World Cup final. In this light, Gary's contribution is immense. I sincerely desire that Gary changes his mind. If not, let's find someone who imbibes Gary's methods in going about his job.

And finally, to the man (God, I would say) who has shouldered the expectation of a nation for more than two decades- Sachin Tendulkar. He finally has that elusive World Cup winning team medal in his showcase along side the countless man-of-the-match, man-of-the-series and other awards he has received during his glorious (for my lack of vocabulary) career. He deserved it and the team has done it for him.

Once the frenzy has died out, the celebrations have ended, there are a few points that India has to ponder upon.
  1. We lacked a decent pace attack. To be frank, Sreesanth isn't exactly a reliable bowler. He was lucky to get into the team, thanks to an injured Praveen Kumar. Zaheer shouldered the responsibility almost single handedly. Even Munaf and Nehra were mostly off-coloured in their bowling.
  2. Spin too, wasn't quality spin that is expected from an Indian side. Harbhajan looked to contain rather than attack, Chawla was spraying the ball all over the pitch. Ashwin bowled nicely, especially when asked to bowl in the mandatory power play.
  3. Dhoni has accepted that India aren't a great fielding side. But then, we need to work upon our fielding and get better with it. In the final, crucial 30 odd runs were saved by Yuvraj and Raina's brilliant fielding.
  4. Gary Kirsten is going back to South Africa. Pray that the person who replaces Gary, carries on what Gary has been doing and the way he is doing it. Do not try anything suicidal like Greg Chappell.
  5. Finally, let us show the same zeal and support for other sports persons too. Hockey, tennis, badminton, athletics, etc. They too bring laurels for India at world stage.
The cup is ours!!SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend