Solo Travel: Why women should travel alone at least once

 By Somali K Chakrabarti

It’s been an exceptionally long break of about two weeks from blogging for me. Just in case you are wondering where I had disappeared, here I am back before the year end, scribbling down my thoughts. Resuming after a break sometimes becomes a bit challenging, but then I remembered the advice that I often dish out to others about blogging regularly, and pushed myself out of my self imposed hiatus.

With the year coming to an end, my stream of ideas was somehow drying up. I was also yearning for a change and wanted to break away from my routine. But, with a new member in our house– a cat named Po, a family vacation is not feasible. Po happens to be an overtly sensitive creature, who is a source of constant amusement to us but he needs to see known faces around him and he cannot be left alone overnight.


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Café Mojo – A cool hangout in Mumbai

Café Mojo – A cool hangout in Mumbai


A weekend clears away the rust of the whole week.

Come Friday, and I start looking forward to the weekend ahead to break the monotony of the week. As much as I love to explore new places, but what usually happens is that I and my husband often end up going to the same places over and over again. So much so that at times I yearn for a change from the places that we usually hang out in during the weekends. Last weekend a change came in form of an invite to an exclusive dinner for bloggers at Café Mojo.

Cafe Mojo

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10 Quotes on the Joys of a Good Conversation

10 Quotes on the Joys of a Good Conversation

 By Somali K Chakrabarti

Stimulating Conversations

Some conversations flow spontaneously, create uplifting vibes, and leave you upbeat and energized. These conversations go beyond the icebreakers, normal pleasantries, small talks and jokes, discussions on mundane matters, or venting out problems and happen to be more engaging, and mentally stimulating. Possibly because these conversations are around things that we may care deeply about or may help us to discover new things about ourselves, or to develop new perspectives. While silly chatter with close friends often help to unwind, engaging conversations reveal the depth of one’s personality and sometimes they may leave a deep impression on the mind.

Good conversation is as stimulating as black coffee, and just as hard to sleep after.  — Anne Morrow Lindbergh. 

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Churning Of The Ocean – A Tanka

By Somali K Chakrabarti

ChurningThe Ocean

Image Source

Churning the ocean
In a bid to separate
the black from the white —
reveal the hidden demons
in a million shades of grey!!

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Jewel of the Night

By Somali K Chakrabarti

Image Source

A canoe set sail
in the middle of the night
The boy saw a jewel
hanging from the sky
When wind pushed the boat
to the beat of waves
The jewel slid down
and rested at the edge
The boy thus tempted,
cast his net and hook
Little did he know
that the moon was a crook
Beckoning him with a smile,
The moon lit the sea
As fast as he could,
the boy sailed forth in his reverie
“Come up here,” he heard the moon say
But the horizon, forever
held him at bay
For a long time,  moon kept up the play
then it dipped into the sea
…and quietly slipped away

© Somali K Chakrabarti, 2016

 If you believe that any picture on the site infringes your copyright, please inform and it will be removed

Lei: A wreath for your soul  is a string of short poems reflecting on nature, life, illusion and inspiration.Lei

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10 Quotes on Why Too Many Choices Can Make It Harder To Choose

By Somali K Chakrabarti


Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could.

ROBERT FROST in The Road Not Taken

Life is all about the choices we make. Time and again, we come across situations when we must choose one option over the other. Much like multiple choice questions, of the many given alternatives, we need to select the one, which under the given circumstances seems to be the best, correct or most optimum as compared to the others. Though there is something very exciting and liberating about the ability to choose and most of the times we crave for choice, yet, the decision to choose can be stressful too.


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Five long term actions for controlling air pollution in Delhi

By Somali K Chakrabarti



China will trap its smog and turn them into diamonds. 

– World Economic Forum 


As bizarre as it sounds, this video posted by the World Economic Forum (WEF) on their Facebook page claims that China will tackle Beijing’s air pollution problem by turning the carbon from smog particles into a diamonds.

If at all such a technology is practically and economically feasible then maybe it is time for our Delhi government to explore the possibility of use of such a Technology, the pollution levels in Delhi being at its highest and one of the worst in the world.


While the schools remain shut for three days, all constructions and demolitions have been banned for five days, as usual the center and the state government are busy leveling charges against each other as to who is to be blamed for the smog that shrouds Delhi. Whereas Delhi govt sites crop burning in Punjab as the major reason for pollution, the central govt says that 80% of the pollution is caused inside the city.

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Dynamic Asset Allocation Funds – strive for growth, limit loss

Dynamic Asset Allocation Funds – strive for growth, limit loss

 Buy Low, Sell High

Though, we all know that for generating reasonable returns, any investor should ‘Buy Low and Sell High’, yet, for an individual investor this is easier said than done.  It is not only difficult to track the market on a continual basis, while diversifying the risk, but it is also difficult to have the heart to buy beaten down stocks when market has fallen substantially and sentiments are running low.

Besides, with increase in losses, the gain needed to break-even also increases. Moreover, for an investor, the pain of selling a stock at a loss far exceeds the pleasure of selling the stock at an equal amount of gain. Hence, the importance of containing the downside to the portfolio cannot be emphasized enough.


That is where the expertise and knowledge of a fund manager comes into play – in selection of appropriate asset class at any given time while lessening the psychological pain of investors.

Dynamic Asset Allocation Strategy

Balancing exuberance with caution, a dynamic asset allocation strategy uses the market volatility as an opportunity for switching between asset classes to benefit from growth of equity market while reducing the volatility of returns.

With the example of ICICI Prudential Balanced Advantage Fund, I proceed to explain how a dynamic asset allocation strategy allows for capital appreciation, while limiting the impact of loses on your portfolio.


ICICI Prudential Balanced Advantage Fund (BAF)

BAF is based on the wisdom of buying low and selling high.



Using an in-house Price –to-Book Value (P/BV) Model, the fund allocates higher in equity when the Equity Market Valuation is low and reduces its equity exposure when the Equity Market Valuation is high. The equity exposure of the fund, which is a blend of large and midcap stocks, varies from 30% – 80%. A core debt portfolio is used for rebalancing.

This minimizes the role of emotions in investment decisions and helps to remove the psychological barriers (greed and fear) for its investors. The investor, thus, stands to gain more in a rising market and lose comparatively lesser when the market falls.


Alternative to Fixed Deposits

Asset allocation by individuals is driven by their risk appetite, market opportunities, and the liquidity requirement from their investment at any given time.  The most common instrument into which most retail investors in India put their money are fixed deposits (FDs).

BAF is a great alternative to FD for parking cash. The returns have been consistently higher in comparison to FDs. The fund also offers an Automatic Withdrawal Plan to manage your monthly cash requirements. Additionally, BAF generates tax savings for investors. The returns from BAF become tax free after one year while the returns from FDs continue to be taxed. 


Derivative Strategy

To qualify for such equity-like tax treatment, it is mandatory that the funds’ exposure to equity must remain at 65%. But, as mentioned above, the BAF equity exposure varies from 30% – 80%. In order to maintain the equity exposure at 65%, in rising market conditions, whenever the fund’s allocation to equities is reduced below 65%, portfolio re-balancing is done by investing the remaining amount (short of 65%) in derivatives, and the rest in fixed income securities. 


Returns in All Types of Market Conditions

ICICI Prudential BAF Returns


Though past performance may not necessarily be indicative of performance in future, it is reasonable to point out that as per MFI data in % CAGR terms, the fund has consistently outperformed both standard benchmarks Sensex and Nifty since March 01, 2013 to Sep 30, 2016, thus creating wealth for the investors.  The fund has a consistent dividend history as well.

The ability to generate good returns in all types of market conditions makes BAF suitable for investors with a moderate risk appetite, seeking long term wealth creation while limiting the downside. 


A dynamic asset allocation fund could be a most suitable investment option when the equity market valuations are not very attractive. #TarakkiTalks

Also, it helps to remember that an investment horizon of 3 – 5 years is needed to reap the full advantage of such a fund. 

This post is written in collaboration with Blogmint and ICICIPrudential.

Mutual Fund investments are subject to market risks, read all scheme related documents carefully. Investors should consult financial advisors, when in doubt about the suitability of a product for them.


Five small changes can secure your family’s future

 By Somali K Chakrabarti

Festive times are full of fun and frolic. These are the times when we cherish togetherness with our family, the most, and if we happen to be away from our family, we miss them the most. Just like festive celebrations, life too is incomplete without our family. From time to time, we realize that we must do everything in our capacity to secure our family’s future. Yet, we often tend to procrastinate in buying the insurance.

If we start early, with a saving as little as Rs 535 / month (18/ day), we can secure our family’s future with an Rs 1 crore life insurance cover.

Further, small lifestyle changes can help us to easily save to secure the future of our loved ones.

If you want to find out more, please read the post FIVE THINGS YOU CAN GIVE UP TO SECURE YOUR FAMILY’S FUTURE on Life11.


Image credit#Yehbhionline

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Five things you can give up to secure your family’s future

Five things you can give up to secure your family’s future


Festive times are the times when we cherish togetherness with our family, the most. If we happen to be away from our family during these times, we miss them the most. Just like festive celebrations, life too is incomplete without our family.

From time to time, we realize that we must do everything in our capacity to keep our family happy and to secure their future. We plan for our children’s education, their career, we plan for our vacations, yet sometimes, we miss out on planning for a constant source of income for our immediate family in our absence. We know that we need to be prepared for such an eventuality, but we often tend to underplay its importance till something drastic happens that shakes us up.

Then, we go for life insurance!

The reasons to procrastinate are many – sometimes, we are not sure which insurance plan would suit us the best, at others we are not sure if we can afford to pay the premium for the policy or how much money do we need to set aside each month for it. But, believe me, it is not at all difficult.

You can buy insurance online.

Using the online insurance calculator, you can calculate the insurance premium for your chosen plan. When you click to insure, an E-Agent can assist you in the process, or you can even arrange for a call back.


The question that pops up next is that with ever increasing expenses, how you would manage to pay the premium. That, too should not be difficult provided you are willing to make small changes to your lifestyle. Here are a few such things you can cut down on to save Rs 30 – 50 per day.  

  1. Reducing your coffee at cafe – A cup of coffee at a café costs more than Rs 100. You may consider going for a walk in a park with your friends instead of catching up with your friends at a café over cups of coffee.
  2. Using public transport or a car pool – If you drive alone to office, you may instead consider opting for a car pool or for a bus or train, on some of the days. Not only will you save up a whole lot of expenditure on petrol but you’ll also have company while travelling to work.
  3. Going for morning movie shows – When you go to a theatre to watch movies, the ticket costs are comparatively much cheaper if you go for morning shows. Watching movies online is yet another option.
  4. Avoiding promotional offers – Nowadays we are flooded daily with directed promotional offers and discounts. These offers, almost like fast food, are at times very enticing and tempt people to buy things that they do not really need. A good way to avoid such impulsive purchase is not to open all emails with promotional offers that come your way.
  5. Saving electricity costs – The age old wisdom of switching off lights, turning off electronic devices that aren’t in use, using energy saving light bulbs and unplugging chargers for laptop and mobile phone help to reduce the wastage of power, and considerably reduce the electricity bill too.  


If you start early, with a saving as little as Rs 535 / month (18/ day), you can secure your family’s future with an Rs 1 crore life insurance cover.  

Sounds too good to be true? Well, then check out for yourself on HDFC Life website.

Insurance is crucial – buy it online, conveniently with HDFC Life #YehBhiOnline

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