Torquing About IIT-JEE

The Joint Entrance Examination (JEE) is the sole entry point into India’s best engineering colleges – the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs). Students have to battle it out to solve the most challenging questions from Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics. With an acceptance rate of 1.5%, it is notoriously known as one of the toughest examinations in the world. Aspiring students sign up at coaching academies for two, sometimes four years. Even coaching institutes have selection screening tests to tutor only the best students. With a large population and much talent, it can get extremely competitive.  Ambarish Srivastava is the Dean of Physics and Centre Head at FIITJEE Faridabad, one of the most coveted coaching institutes in India. He’s also an alumnus of the prestigious IIT Delhi.
I was his student once, and am fortunate to be interviewing him today. Let’s ask him what it takes to crack the test, his thoughts on the disturbingly high student suicide rates it is known to cause, and more.

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Central Perk : A tour of Singapore’s new F.R.I.E.N.D.S-themed cafe

It was a dream come true for fans of the hit American 90’s sitcom F.R.I.E.N.D.S, when Central Perk Cafe opened in Singapore in November last year. Its burgeoning popularity ever since could be accredited to word of mouth, social media and well – just plain old nostalgia. It all started when 28-year-old Mit Jin pitched the idea on international crowd-funding platform Indiegogo. And it was a decision he would never regret. With a long list of enthused investors and an official license from Warner Bros, he was on a roll. And he still is.

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Wacation On Wheels

Renting caravans for road trips is popular in countries with scenic locations, like Australia, New Zealand or the USA. Unfortunately, the culture never really took off in India; a country known for its breathtaking sights and delectable flavours. For travel and adventure enthusiasts Neha and Rahul Soman, this was a problem worth solving. And that is how Wacation On Wheels was born.

In conversation with Neha Soman.

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Bake Me A Dream



Pooja Bhave has always loved to bake. Currently, she is running her own home-based bakery Cakes and Frostings. Based in Nashik, she caters for all occasions. For Pooja, quality is key. And she does whatever it takes to deliver. This is evident from the large volume of orders and catering requests pouring in every day. Of course, it helps that her cakes are breathtakingly beautiful and beyond delicious.

So, what’s her story? How did she begin, how does she manage? Is there more to baking than we think?

As I promised you earlier, let’s find out.

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An Espresso To Wake You Up

Why espresso conversations? Agreed, it’s not as weird as baby names these days. But it might evoke some curiosity. Especially if you’re bored and unintentionally chanced upon this. Now, before you hit the cross button, give it a shot.
Read on…

It’s 4:00 pm on a Wednesday afternoon. My inbox is full and I’m trying to create a personal drive on my PC. An email notification sounds a trring, reminding me of a Skype-for-business meeting about to begin in 10 minutes. Quickly, I close my social media tabs.

Two hours and two million thank yous and sorrys later, I’m exhausted. I glance at my name board: Swarnima Korde, Hardware Engineer. After a degree in Electronics, I have my hands plentifully dirty in the world of SIM cards and E-Banking.

Suddenly, I am reminded of this mindfulness thing they taught us at a recent Google Search Inside Yourself talk. Breathe in, and out. Push away gently any thoughts that come. In and out…

Suddenly I am 5 years old, laughing raucously. I don’t remember the last time I laughed like that. I want to be an actress when I grow up. With Mom’s dupatta over my head and ample tic tac clips to keep it all in place, I gyrate to Tum Paas Aaye from Shahrukh Khan’s new movie Kuch Kuch Hota Hai. The dupatta is supposed to be my imaginary long hair, like those unbelievably pretty girls in shampoo ads.

Now I am 7, and my biggest ambition is to be a Food Scientist. I get to eat everything in the world, without mummy ever having to tell me off. An aunty in the neighbourhood walks by and asks, “Beta, what do you like to do?” With a proud chubby grin on my face, I reply, “Eat!”.

I snap out of my day dream. Wasn’t I supposed to meditate? When did I doze off, I wonder. With an amused smile, I recall everything I ever wanted to be: owner of an ice-cream parlour, a singer – but minus all the classical training, a chef, Shaktiman’s PA, an astronaut. Well common, everyone wants to be an astronaut at some point!

But those aspirations, they’re a thing of the past. Soon enough – lucky me – I learn practicality and the ways of the real world. A grim, competitive rat race where day dreamers and oddities are all but a waste of space.

If I were to forget for an instant how things really are, and allowed to dream of what I could be, what I would be. Then what would I be?

Everything. I would be everything. A chef, tech entrepreneur, artiste, writer, singer, TV-binge-watcher, chocolate binge-eater, a super-skinny fashion model. Everything.

Now there were only two ways to go about this. Actually three. But no one would hire a 5’2.635″ tall, not-so-drop-dead-gorgeous 23-year-old as an actress. My dad ain’t no biggie either.

***My dad’s just a regular pilot. He flies Indigo Airlines. Always fly with Indigo***

Sorry for the outburst. Anyway, so. I could watch “A day in the life of a/an…” on YouTube and make Netflix lose a valued customer. Don’t want that, and there’s too much good stuff going on right now: Stranger Things, OITNB, The Crown, Fuller House..sigh.

The last-but-not-the-least way (I don’t say that a lot, but it does create a dramatic tan-da-daa moment before the climax) is writing stories about people.  People I could never be. People’s whose lives are so different from mine, it’s like entering a new world.

Listening to their stories, living their lives gives me a rush of adrenaline that is alien to my desk job life. This, dear Readers, is my cup of tea. Coffee, actually. And Espresso in particular 😉


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