Testing Reebok’s reversible running shorts

Late September & Delhi is at its worst.

Hot, humid, the fag-end of the monsoons – which explains all that heat and humidity.

So, of course, that is exactly when I decide to buy some new running trousers, and test drive them (as it were) in such an unforgiving climate.

Because I’d just bought some Reebok running shoes, I decided to try out their clothing range as well, and bought a pair of reversible running shorts –  well, more capri-length to be exact.

They are indeed reversible –  grey one side, black the other:

I have subsequently used these running shorts at least twice, if not thrice, a week since then, and 2 1/2 months on from humid September, I am every bit as pleased with them, and they show no sign of wear and tear.

They really do wick away the sweat, as advertised:

The only adjustment I made to the trousers when I bought them, was to cut off the care label, in order to make them truly reversible.  Like so:

 

It was stitched on in such a way that removing it was easy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My only cavil – I do wish there was a pocket.

I bought & paid for the trousers myself, and no-one in Reebok knows that I blog.

They cost Rs 2699 (in late September 2016).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you want to buy these running shorts, you can get to Amazon very quickly, straight from this page.  Just click on either of the links below, and they’ll take you straight to their website…but, hey, you know all this stuff, right? 🙂

How good is the new “Juggernaut” mobile app?

Very good, is the answer.

This recently launched app for mobiles here in India, is set to change the way we read, make no mistake.

Without being remotely qualified to write an in-depth technical review of the Juggernaut app, let me just say that it was easy to download, is super easy to use, and the one query I had was replied to promptly by the support team.

Basically, with Juggernaut you can download and read books on your mobile –  & access the same books on a device like an iPad.  (This was actually my query to the support team).

Books are very reasonably priced, and what is refreshing is that the initial titles are focusing on and promoting Indian writers.

But how does reading on Juggernaut differ from reading in, say, a Kindle?

Well, for starters, you don’t have to invest in a separate piece of hardware.  Your smart phone is enough.

Plus, there is an interactive aspect to the app, whereby you can ask the author a question, straight from the app itself, which is pretty cool.

In the interests of full disclosure, I was contacted by Juggernaut towards the end of June, asking as a blogger and, especially, a book blogger, whether I’d like to review books using their app.  The first book that I read using the app, “How to kill a billionaire”, is reviewed in my other blog, and was sent to me, free, by the good folk at Juggernaut.

I was initially a bit of a techno-loser, forgetting to report back to Juggernaut that I had indeed downloaded the app, but once this hiccough (entirely my fault) was cleared up, they have been in regular contact.

So, step 1.

Download the free app.  I now have it on my iPhone & iPad.

You can quickly personalise the app, by going to one of the 23 categories they list & seeing what’s on offer.

Step 2.

Download a book – and here I must be honest, I don’t yet know how smooth the payment mechanism is, but I suspect it will be seamless.  The app as a whole seems to be that way.  Certainly the book is downloaded in a trice, with an instantaneous follow-up email.

This was the first book I read, and I deliberately read it on both my devices, and the transition between the 2 was flawless.  It picked up on one where I had left off on the other.

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You can increase the font size, as well as the background colour:

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When you’ve finished, you can chat to the author – haven’t tried, but fully intend so doing – and leave a review.

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There are many books, all very reasonably priced, and then there are some free books, so (naturally!) I downloaded a couple of these, starting with “Tale of a Tub” which, to my shame as an Eng Lit grad, I haven’t read.

This is how the book is presented:

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And the acknowledgment that the download is complete:

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All blissfully straightforward.

In its portability – eliminating the need for even a Kindle – I think the good folk at Juggernaut are definitely on to a winner here.  We all of us carry our smart phones everywhere, and as I have discovered, it’s no different than reading a book than, say, reading an email which we all do all the time on our phones.

What is super exciting about the team at Juggernaut is that they are not only promoting reading, but they are simultaneously promoting writing.

See.  Read this message:

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Now HOW exciting is this?

So, in summary –  a free app that delivers books quickly and inexpensively to your smart phone.

Clear, nice look.

Simple to use.

10/10.

Would I recommend it?  Hey!  That is exactly what I am doing here 🙂

Travels with my Smith & Canova Power Purse

I have an amazingly resourceful sister who always finds truly amazing gifts for me, and has done for years.

But even so, on a scale of 1-10 of fab gifts I’ve received from her over the years, my Smith & Canova Power Purse comes in as a straight 10.

LOVE IT.

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My sister bought both daughter dearest and I a power purse, and it was difficult to choose a colour – but in the end, purple won.

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Basically this is a smart leather clutch which can absolutely be used as an evening bag, AND it comes with a built in power pack and a charging cable.

You charge the in-built battery, off you go, and when your phone needs charging – hey presto.  Done.  On the go.

Genius.

Here are the specs from their own website:

This sleek and stylish rechargeable clutch bag is a must have accessory for a busy girl on the go. It has a built in wafer thin power pack which will charge an average smart phone one and a half times. There are many pockets and card holders inside to carry your other essentials. Made in beautiful soft grain leather and available in a choice of colours.

    • Genuine leather
    • Internal zip pocket
    • 2 internal slip pockets
    • Gold fittings
    • Smith & Canova branded interior
    • Built in discreet 4200mAh power pack with 5 hours charge life
    • Compatible with all Andriod phones
    • iPhone adaptor must be purchased separately

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I take mine everywhere with me, and since it has space for credit cards and several pockets, it is ideal for travelling.

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And see, sometimes, I can even colour coordinate my Power Purse! (This was in Borneo, last month):

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And here’s the link to their website.

Jane paid for these (as I said earlier) & certainly no-one in Smith & Canova knows that I blog.

But…how nice that this company is based in the old home town, Leeds.

What are Mabul Water Bungalows like?

Borneo’s Sipadan is a mecca for scuba divers, and on both our visits there we have stayed at the lovely Mabul Water Bungalows.

The first time we visited was in September 2009, for our son’s 21st birthday and we returned in August 2015 for my husband’s 60th.  The very fact we returned is testimony to the quality of the accommodation and the diving infrastructure.

The resort is super pretty, with walkways connecting all the different parts of the resort: the rooms, the main hotel dining area, the dive centre and then onto the “mainland,” which is actually a tiny island, with a few stalls and another dive resort.Malaysia_Mabul Island_P1070984

Malaysia_Mabul Island_P1070983Every room has a bike, for getting around:

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The island:Malaysia_Mabul Island_P1070989

One of the stalls, that cater mainly to visitors.Malaysia_Mabul Island_P1071013

And back to the Water Bungalows:Malaysia_Mabul Island_P1070871

Malaysia_Mabul Water Bungalows_3185It is all charming, beautifully maintained and staffed with friendly co-operative staff.

There were a couple of changes in the 6 years between our visits, not to the standard of the rooms nor the resort per se, but 2 changes that should definitely be noted.

In 2009, a majority of the guests were European and virtually everyone was a diver.

Fast forward to 2015, and the situation was very different.  The majority of the guests were mainland Chinese, most of whom were not divers, but exuberant (and rather noisy) snorkellers. Unless you dive on the house reef, close to the resort, the obsessively-selfie-taking Chinese (many of whom seem to swim fully clothed and wearing rubber rings and arm bands) are not an issue.  The menu in 2015 seemed to be a little more Chinese than I’d remembered it from 2009, but I guess that’s inevitable.

It’s also popular with Chinese honeymooners…IMG_2205The second change was the presence, very discreetly, of soldiers.  I used to go for a run every evening, up and down the connecting wooden walkways, one of which juts out into the sea, and one night when I went out later than usual, I came across a group of soldiers.

There has been, sad to report, kidnapping incidents – and worse – involving Abu Sayyaf (a terrorist outfit operating out of the southern Philippines) and these soldiers are now stationed at Mabul to protect staff and guests.  They were very discreet, and always friendly, but you have to know that there is a certain element of risk.

The diving was excellent – that is not under the control of the hotel, of course, but their boats, dive-masters, boat crew, dive centre staff were, without exception, friendly and competent.

On the days when you get to dive on Sipadan, the boat leaves very early, but there is always a light self-service breakfast and – oh joy of joys –  good coffee available, even at dawn :IMG_2222There’s even a house moggy to keep you company.

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We had 2 memorable stays there, both for significant birthdays…which is why being charged Ringit 15 for a broken glass was a silly irritant.  When you have spent a lot of money – the resort is not cheap – to be charged for a broken glass…it wasn’t the money, obviously, just – quite frankly – the pettiness.

But that would absolutely not stop us from re-visiting, nor from totally recommending it.

Be sure to check the security situation before you go, and then make your own decision, balancing the fabulous diving with the possible safety issues.IMG_2128I can’t honestly tell you about rates, because they are a function of season and then there are the diving costs to add on.

Here is the link to their website, where you can enquire about rates.

We paid our own way both times and I did not tell anyone there that I blog.

How healthy are Whole Food energy bars?

This review is written for us by a guest blogger (&, in the interests of full disclosure, a dear friend).

Gautam Chima is a serious cyclist (none of this Sunday morning-India Gate-post a selfie on Facebook stuff for him 😛 ), a musician, a keen angler – in fact we met up in Himachal, on a fishing trip.

Here Gautam reviews an energy bar that he has tried and enjoyed, and even though he writes from the perspective of a cyclist here, it seems to me that this would work equally well for all the trekkers and hikers and long distance runners out there.

Over to our guest blogger:

“Tirath Singh is a road cycling friend of mine, and its an old habit of mine to never ask about anyone’s profession. That conversation is too boring to have, and quite frankly if someone wants to tell me what they do; id rather have them start that discussion!! However, the loophole of this policy is that sometimes I miss out on some really cool things. case in point, apart from being a pretty good cyclist, Tirath is also the “Chef Partner” at Whole Foods India and previously unknown to me , he is concocting some really clever “healthy” food, tailor made to our Indian conditions.

So as it turns out I was looking for someone to sponsor us some granloa bars for a race, and lo and behold, our knight in shining armour, that’s Tirath, sent us a huge cache of granola and endurance bars. Surprise, Surprise! Now being the true-to-my-roots-punjabi, i was really skeptical about the goods. I mean how could these compare to my tried and tested training/racing staple “Nature Valley” bars?! Anyway, “kee farak paenda”, i don’t have to eat them, i just have to distribute them.

Onwards to raceday and while distributing the Whole Food goodies, i realized id left my personal stash at home. Hunger strikes and you eat what you get. Opened up the “Endurance Bar” and down it went, and another , and another! Fast forward a year later, and my Nature Valley stash is still safe and secure, hiding in a cupboard!

So what makes it tick? among all the “healthy” seedy stuff the label displays, its the jaggery and coconut that spins the magic . Dont get me wrong, im no fan of coconut taste in my food; but thats the thing; my butter chicken fried taste buds can hardly tell there’s coconut in there. The Gud and dates hold it all together beautifully , without being over sweet. “YUMMY” is an understatement.

And that dreaded feeling of reaching out into your back pocket, only to find a dried flaky bar disintegrate all over you, as you try to eat it…..no longer a part of my training life! The bar is sticky and comfortably soft in your mouth; and all of us who deal with dehydration on a daily basis , know the awful feeling of putting something flaky and dry in our mouths, mid ride.

Its an instant shot of energy, so delicious that you need to make sure youre not snacking on it regularly! I’ve had these in 3 hours races, and all day climbs, 1 every hour and they keep me going! Ive seen cyclist friends finish their morning hour-long hammerfest with one of these, before heading off to work! Its a formula that is balanced, and well, just works! Also, it feels good to support a local product, knowing its sooo good! I take them everywhere, on a long drive, trekking and even fishing trips.

buy it in their stores, or buy it online. what’s the worse that can happen? you’ll think it was horrid and that i’m getting paid to peddle Tirath’s bars. on the flipside, you may, just may discover a treat that makes training a bit more fun and enjoyable!!

Word of caution : this review is ONLY for the “Gluten Free Endurance Energy Bar”, they have other bars as well but this ones the keeper for me.”

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Gluten Free Endurance Energy Bar

Thanks, Gautam.

On the shopping list this goes!

WAR DOGS

“War Dogs” is a fun, quirky film (though with more F*** words than you can shake a stick at) and – absolutely fascinatingly – a film based largely on true events.

2 youngsters – Efraim Diveroli and David Packouz –  become international arms dealers, exploiting a U.S. government initiative that allows businesses to bid on military contracts.  They scour the internet, find the contracts posted online – all in the name of transparency, bid for the contracts, source the merchandise from some of the planet’s murkiest corners, and become overnight millionaires.

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And this is all absolutely true.

To quote the film’s director, Todd Phillips: “To me the guys are heroes…The government knew that they couldn’t source 100m rounds of AK ammo in the middle of a drought after two Iraq wars. So they went to these two kids knowing they were gonna source it in a shady way, and as long as nobody knows, wink wink we’re cool. For me the film is an indictment on the US government and their process of procurement, and the guys are kind of awesome.”

And this is what makes the film such fun.

These 2 youngsters, who rock up to meetings with government officials stoned out of their minds, are super likeable, and you are clearly gunning for them. (Yes, agreed.  Bad pun.)

Miles Teller (David Packouz) and Jonah Hill (Efraim Diveroli) are both excellent, playing the young, hustling, “bro” lifestyle to perfection, though Jonah Hill does tend to steal the limelight.
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The real David Packouz even has a small part in the film.

Well worth watching.

And I learned a little piece of recent, crazy American history.

PARTITION Stories of separation by Sonam Kalra

Currently this is, perforce, a Delhi-NCR-centric review, but one hopes that this latest show by Sonam Kalra will travel the country and beyond…

“Partition Stories of Separation” was performed for the first time at Delhi’s India Habitat Centre in front of a sold-out audience this weekend.

A show devoted to the trauma and sorrow of Partition was never going to be easy viewing and there were moments of great sadness.  Great, heart-wrenching sadness.  When the elderly Sikh spoke about the death of his sister, I could hardly breathe, it was so raw and painful.

But this pain, which Sonam Kalra talks about in the programme, cannot –  and must not – be avoided or ignored:

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This trauma is part of the DNA of the subcontinent and it has to be commemorated and shared, especially with the gradual passing of the brave generations who lived through the horrors of Partition.

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Through song, and poetry, and interviews with amazing people who lived through Partition, this traumatic period of history is brought to life by Sonam Kalra, Salima Raza and Sonam’s team of amazing musicians.

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But for me, what moved me the most, was not so much the looking backwards at history, but the positive looking forward towards peace and reconciliation.

And here the energy and thrust of a younger generation with a different mindset was in evidence.

I loved the inter-active feeling of the show –  from old fashioned postcards on which we were asked to write our message of peace starting with the positive words “When we meet…”, to the hashtags to be used on social media to build a dialogue with “The Other Side.”

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There were cute, quirky touches, such as a “postbox” for the postcards for Pakistan.

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We were even given pens, ensuring that there we all had no excuse not to write.

A pile of old luggage in the entrance to the auditorium spoke volumes.

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I hope that this show travels the length and breadth of India, and more than anything else that it travels to “The Other Side.”

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Shabash to Sonam Kalra for giving voice to painful memories, but than anything for presenting the pain with so much love and, most importantly, hope.

Testing the Reebok Z Strike Elite AND the Reebok One Distance 2.0

This is a slightly unusual review since it deals with 2 different Reebok shoes, one of which I had to return due to a flaw.

On 28 June 2016 I bought a pair of Reebok Z Strike Elite shoes from the Reebok store in DLF Mall, New Delhi, India.

This was my first Reebok purchase & I was impressed by the knowledgable sales staff (despite it being sale time, so busier than usual) and I bought a lovely blue pair of shoes:

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I now possessed 3 pairs of running shoes (#takingmyrunningseriously) and since I was part of a #100daysofrunning challenge, and therefore running every day, I rotated between my reeboks and 2 pairs of Adidas shoes.

I was running an average of 10k per day, but not wearing any pair of shoes on 2 consecutive days.  From the very first run, these shoes felt comfortable, great and cushion-y (is that a technical term?) and very light.  No teething problems, no blisters, nothing.

From Day One I loved the Z Strike Elite, and instagrammed to that effect.

Here you go, just a few images.

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Took my shoes to Borneo:

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And to Kuala Lumpur:

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But…at 162 km (I log my usage on mapmyrun.com) holes suddenly appeared in the heel area of both shoes.  Like so:

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I contacted Reebok –  and this part of my review now covers their customer service.

5 August: I email Reebok, sending the photos I have just shown you (above).

6 August: Reebok Customer Care replies, apologizing and asking for details, including a scan of the original invoice, which I didn’t have to hand, so on the

7 August: I sent a copy of my credit card statement.

9 August: Reebok replies asking me to get a duplicate invoice from the store.

OK.

10 August: I went back to the store in DLF mall, where they kindly printed out a duplicate invoice in no time at all, which I emailed to Customer Care.

11 August: Reebok email me to say I could go ahead and claim my replacement shoes.

 

Score card for Customer Service?

10/10.

They were quick, polite and efficient, as indeed were the staff in the shop.

BUT sadly the much-loved Z Strike Elite were no longer in stock, & so I had to get a different shoe, and pay around Rs3000 on top, since the sales are over.

So, with some regret – it’s out with the Z Strike & in with One Distance 2.0

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I did my first run in these shoes this morning, and first impressions?

I like them.  A lot.

I like the tag at the back when you put them on:

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Love the lime green.

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They felt as cushion-y and bouncy and comfortable from the word go as the Z Strike Elite.

Now, though, I shall watch the heels like a hawk, hoping there isn’t a repeat performance.

Has anyone else experienced this?  The inner lining wearing out so quickly?

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The store manager suggested it might be because I kept my shoes laced and pushed my feet in and out.

I absolutely don’t, and told him so.  So I actually have no explanation as to why the Z Strike Elite wore out so soon.

Anyway, onwards & upwards as they say – and let’s see how the One Distance 2.0 perform.

I’ll post a follow up review in a few weeks.

Neither Reebok nor the store knew that I blogged and I paid for the shoes myself.

Is the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre worth visiting?

The Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre just outside Sandakan, Malaysia is in Sepilok, and is located right next to the orang utan rehabilitation centre, so it makes sense to visit the 2 sanctuaries on the same day.

The Sun Bear Conservation Centre isn’t cheap (for non-Malays) but I’d say it’s absolutely worth a visit.

The centre isn’t huge, but has an excellent raised boardwalk through the trees that allows you to look down on the bears, and even see them in the trees, as we did on our visit there last week.  The staff were excellent, stationed on the boardwalk at strategic viewing points, happy to explain and answer all our questions, all in truly excellent English.

Our first sun bear sighting was hijacked by an orang utan from next door, who swung in from the trees and proceeded to upstage the bears.

While on the walkway, trying to spot bears below us, we watched in fascination as a young orang utan stole a bottle of insect repellant from a visitor’s back pocket and then proceeded to open the bottle, taste it, pour it all out (narrowly avoiding the crowd below) and eventually toss the bottle into the bushes.

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Yes, it was an interesting photo op, (though one does hope the poor orang utan wasn’t sick as a result of his thieving) but as one of the staff explained –  orang utans will do exactly the same thing to your camera if they get hold of it.  Try and eat it and then throw it away in disgust.

You have been warned.

Back to the bears.

They are the smallest bears in the world.  They love coconuts.  And they are being seemingly well cared for and protected in this centre.

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So, to answer my own question in the title of this post…yes, definitely worth visiting.

Sun bears

Website: Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre and this will give you the exact address & the opening times.  For what it’s worth, we went there in the early afternoon, before going on for the 3.30 feeding of the orang utans next door, and the timing was perfect.  Not too many people.

Budget about an hour.

We paid our own way and didn’t tell the people at the centre that I blog.

Travels with my coffee mug

If you are a coffee-holic & a bit of a coffee snob to boot, then this review is tailor made for you.  Especially if you travel/hike/climb/trek.  And even more so if you can’t stand instant coffee.

Wearied by frankly revolting coffee in so many (otherwise amazing) places, uncaffeineated at the start of days in (otherwise amazing) remote parts of the globe, this gift, below, from a fellow coffee-holic & trekking friend was beyond perfect.

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It’s a thermal portable coffee plunger mug from Kathmandu – the company, not the city.

So all you need to do is pack a bag of ground coffee, get boiling water from your hotel/camp cook/boil it yourself (hey, you can figure this bit out, right?) and Bob’s your uncle.

The only teensy flaw in this jug is that when your pour out the coffee, it leaks a little from the top, but that is such a small price to pay for having one’s morning caffeine fix that it hardly counts.  I checked the website just now, when sharing the link with you and, guess what I found?

  • Lid is not completely spill proof

There you are, then.

In the 3 years I have had this mug, it has travelled all over the place with me, since it weighs virtually nothing and saves my life every morning.  It’s tough, and in 3 years in backpacks it has precisely one scratch, and I’m still trying to puzzle out where it came from.

Together, we have been up to the Himalayas (I live in India), we have been climbing in Ladakh, to Africa (where we used to live) to Myanmar, Sri Lanka.

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Have Kathmandu coffee mug, will travel is now my new mantra.