Monday, January 7, 2019

12 Reads of 2018

I'm a voracious reader and as I've grown, this has meant more and more nonfiction work. I had a goal of reading 12 nonfiction books over 2018, and I'm happy to say that I succeeded. (I won't even count the fiction I read over the year, because it was A LOT).

Here are the 12 that made my 2018 list in no particular order:

1) Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth

Duckworth is a psychologist (and McKinsey alumna!) who takes us on a journey of exploration of the qualities that lead to success and achievement. She covers in detail 'grit', that secret ingredient that's not really luck or talent, but a combination of passion and resilience. 

Recommended? Yes, I'd give this an 8/10. You'd also enjoy this if you're a parent.

2) Daring Greatly: How the Courage to be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent and Lead by Brené Brown

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” (Theodore Roosevelt)
If you haven't yet already, I'd recommend watching Brown's sensational TED talk. I love what she spoke, and this is what led me to buy the book. I'm not exaggerating when I say it was truly a game changer for me - I'd love to give copies to lots of people I know! We live in a culture where vulnerability has traditionally been seen as a weakness, but Brown presents a powerful case for why it actually is a strength.

Recommended? YES. 10/10. Go buy it right now. Buy a few copies. Give them to those you know. 

3) The Ten Types of Human by Dexter Dias

Oh. My. Goodness. Y'all, this book made me think and ponder and marvel and tremble. It's also been a while since I had to sit down with a dictionary as I read, and this book definitely required that. Dias does a marvellous job of tying in various anecdotes, research and his own personal experiences to present the ten archetypes of - as he says - who we are and who we can be. These include:
-The Perceiver of Pain
-The Ostraciser
-The Tamer of Terror
-The Beholder
-The Aggressor
-The Tribalist
-The Nurturer
-The Romancer
-The Rescuer
-The Kinsman

This book will scare you as it dives down to the depths of the worst we can be, but also comfort you as it shows you the flipside of these archetypes. This book was a good ~750 pages but I was so absorbed that I finished it in a few days. 

Recommended? Yes! 8.5/10. It's not an easy read, and that will dissuade many, but I think the messages are worth hearing. 

4) The Things You Can Only See When You Slow Down, by Haemin Sunim

You're probably expecting something hokey here right? Get past that, and give this a chance, I think you'll be easily surprised. This book is full of easily digestible words of timeless wisdom that you can return back to time and again, meditate upon, and share with those around you. 

Recommended? Yes! 9/10. Keep it by your bedside and come back to it.

5) The Power of Full Engagement by Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz

I've long been a believer that you should solve for energy, not time, to bring (and get) the best of yourself to the different dimensions of your life, including family, friends, and work. 

This book does a great job of expounding on that, as well as giving practical tips (e.g., getting enough sleep, regular workouts), for doing just that.

Recommended? Yes! 9/10. I'd also recommend reading this book with a highlighter and making notes if you'd like. 

6) Fierce Fairytales & Other Stories to Stir Your Soul by Nikita Gill 

I loved the concept and thinking behind this book! However, there were definitely some stories I enjoyed more than others. I would gift this to younger friends and family because I think that's the exact right age to read this. 

Recommended? Yes! 7/10. I'd recommend buying a copy, reading it yourself first, and then reading it to younger family members.

7) milk and honey by rupi kaur


8) the sun and her flowers by rupi kaur

you tell me to quiet down
cause my opinions make me less beautiful
but i was not made with a fire in my belly
so i could be put out
i was not made with a lightness on my tongue
so i could be easy to swallow
i was made heavy
half blade and half silk
difficult to forget and not easy
for the mind to follow
-rupi kaur, milk and honey
I don't really read poetry that much, and always thought this was something to be mulled over. However, I devoured these two books in October and have already returned to them and finished them a second time. As a Punjabi woman in this time and age, kaur's work was especially relatable for me. Give it a try.

Recommended? Yes! 9/10 for the first and 8/10 for the second.

9) Start With Why by Simon Sinek

Another book I was led to by a TED talk, Sinek's book's premise is that it's more important to solve for your 'Why', and then your 'How', and then your 'What'. He goes on to give examples of organisations and people who've lived and worked this way, and provides compelling evidence for why (heh) this works.

Recommended? Yes! 8/10.

10) Tools of Titans by Tim Ferriss

'Ferriss has a very successful podcast, and has included wisdom from those he has interviewed into this book in three sections: healthy, wealthy and wise. Each little nugget can be digested on it's own and there's really no particular order in which you should read this!

Recommended? Yes! 8/10.

11) Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari

I was led to this book after reading Dexter Dias' Ten Types of Human (above), and after it was recommended by a colleague and mentioned in passing by someone else. I thought all the hype must be for something - and I was right!

Harari does a great job of laying down the thousands of years of human history into a compact and easy to read book - I devoured the ~450 pages in about six days - and covers some of our greatest achievements as well as some of our irreversible (often ecological) fuck ups. It's also strange how often themes in this book have come up in the days since (I finished this last week). 

I liked it so much I ran to the bookstore to get his next book (I got the last copy they had!) and plan to start it soon. 

Recommended? Yes! 9/10.

12) Originals by Adam Grant 

What is it that makes some of us more creative than others? How is it that there are so many cool, original startups around, but only so many succeed? What is it that ensures a good idea is executed well?

Grant is an organisational psychologist who covers all this and more in his wildly popular Originals. 

Recommended? Yes! 8.5/10. Even if you're not an entrepreneur, the knowledge in this book is applicable.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

The Mayura: Restaurant Review

Happy new year, everyone! It's been a while, so I thought to break tradition and post on a Tuesday this time - I'm sure you're in need of new restaurant recommendations, right?

Located in Kenrail towers, the Mayura is an Indian restaurant that you may not have been to yet. I'd heard about it, but never been, so when I was invited to do a review, I naturally jumped at the chance.

Located in Kenrail Towers, the ambience of the Mayura has peacock-themed, warm interiors. There's a lot of space to sit down, both inside and outside. The restaurant is the brainchild of Rajiv Segal, who has a corporate background and being from Delhi, had a high standard of quality and had developed a distinctive palate, which he wanted to bring to the people in Nairobi.

The menu was chosen for us by Rajiv (and boy, did we eat a lot!).

For starters, we had some paneer tikka, mutton chops, fish amritsari and banu kebab (chicken).

The paneer tikka was absolutely amazing! The paneer was fresh and soft, and the marinade was amazing. The flavours had permeated all the way into the paneer, and the accompanying spicy beetroot puree and mint chutney was a great pairing. It was reminiscent of a visit to Delhi I had made many years ago where I had similar paneer - amazing how flavours can bring back moments like those!

Next up - the mutton chops, fish amritsari and banu kebab.

The mutton chops were great! Easily the best I've had in a while. The meat was soft and came off the bone easily. The marinade was amazing too - not too spicy, with flavours of ginger, garlic and garam masala coming through, all the way into the meat.

The fish was nice too - it tasted homemade, and the batter had ajwain in it. The batter could've been a little crispier.

The chicken banu kebab, however, was not my favourite, and I wouldn't order it again. The charcoal from the grill overpowered the other flavours, and the spices hadn't gone into the chicken well.

For mains, we had dal makhni, rogan josh, butter chicken, accompanied by methi and butter naans.

The dal makhni was wonderful - it almost tasted like what you'd get at the gurudwara. I kept eating this, even without the naan, and could've happily had it on its own! It would've benefited from a tad bit more ginger.

The rogan josh was easily my favourite main meal! The Mayura has definitely figured out how to do amazing mutton - something which other restaurants get wrong a disappointing amount of the time! The flavours were WONDERFUL, with ginger, garam masala and onion coming through. The meat itself was so soft, almost melt-in-your-mouth!

The butter chicken was good - however, the flavours hadn't completely permeated into the chicken. The curry itself, however, was AMAZING - light and buttery.

Overall verdict? I definitely loved my experience there, and would go back again. This time, I may stay away from the chicken and opt more for the paneer and mutton dishes.

What did you think? Have you been to the Mayura yet? If not - do visit and let me know what you think!

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Health First - or Treatment Later?

"Would you rather be proactive about your health, or be reactive as needed?"

If you pose this question, I highly doubt you'll find someone who'll select the latter (and if you do, I'd be very interested to meet them and learn more).

I think we all agree that it's important to be proactive about our health - physical health, mental health, emotional health - but when it comes to actually putting this into practice, we fail.

We are finally coming to a stage where it is more acceptable to talk about our health issues, and we are supported on these. I'm especially pleased to see many organisations, carrying forward the discussion on mental health issues and how we can support those around us (

However, I firmly believe that we won't have as much impact as we'd like if we don't address prevention alongside supporting treatment.

Personally, I've tried to get more proactive about my health, and I think there's a lot we can do as individuals to be proactive, and as organisations and social units to support this proactivity. (Here is an article I had published about some of my own 'wellness rituals' - and I'd encourage you to give it a read: )

I'm not a medical professional, and I would advise you to follow their advice when it comes to actual practices to put into place, e.g., a regular workout routine, regular checkups with your doctor, a healthy diet. You're probably also aware of a few no-regret things you can put into place like getting enough sunshine, finding time to laugh and be grateful, meditation, and reading, just to name a few.

What should you take away from this? As a person - it is ABSOLUTELY OKAY to say that you want to dedicate time and energy to self-care. As an organisation or social unit - you should try your absolute best to support those in your networks to help them understand that it is okay to do this!

What are some of the ways that YOU have committed to be proactive about your health, and ways that you've seen support for this from others? Do feel free to share!

Monday, November 12, 2018

CJ's: Restaurant Review

I've heard a lot of great things about CJ's Restaurant, in the CBD, but unfortunately hadn't had an opportunity to go there until very recently (who goes to the CBD for fun, right?), when I was in town for a few meetings over a few days - and managed to go a few different times for lunch!

CJ's is also that kind of place that has an amazing website - warning, their online menu has tantalising pictures! - so they'd kind of already endeared themselves to me before I went.

Two things I love about CJ's - despite being bang in the middle of Nairobi's CBD, they have a lovely, open ambience that's helped by the glass roof that lets in lots of natural light, and they have very friendly, attentive staff members.

I wouldn't call myself a regular (just yet) but I've already discovered my CJ's drink of choice - their peach iced tea. There's an option of getting this with some ginger juice (Kenyans loveeee ginger), but I prefer it without.

This peach iced tea is my new love. My bae if you will. If you ever need something from me, bring me one of these and your chances will be MUCH better!

On my first visit, I ordered chicken strips with masala chips, described as 'tender, juicy, breaded chicken strips served with honey mustard, french fries and coleslaw'. Honey, you had me at honey mustard...

True to their word, these WERE tender and juicy, and absolutely delicious! The honey mustard was a PERFECT complement. The masala chips were good, but not exceptional, so next time I get this I may opt for their regular french fries.

The next time, I got the chicken parmesan sandwich - described as 'tender chicken lightly coated in parmesan breadcrumbs, roasted green peppers, rustica sauce and melt'.

This too was - spoiler! - amazing, and definitely had a comfort food vibe to it. The chicken itself was delicious, the green peppers and rustica sauce blended with it perfectly, and the parmesan breadcrumbs were the absolute cherry on top!

In fact, I enjoyed this sandwich so much that the next time I went, and opted for the half and half (one half of your choice of sandwich, a cup of soup of the day with a small caesar salad), my sandwich of choice was the chicken parmesan.

This time, the soup was a lovely creamy Thai chicken noodle soup, which I'll definitely be returning for! The Caesar salad was fresh and crispy, and it had bacon. Who doesn't love bacon?!

Will I be returning to CJ's? Most definitely, and soon at that! In addition to their amazing food, service and vibe, their prices are also pocket friendly. Gotta run now - I find myself having this sudden, unexplainable craving for peach iced tea...

Monday, November 5, 2018

Afta Eats: Restaurant Review

Sunday brunch is a sacred ritual to partake in - and what better place to indulge than a place reputed to have amazing coffees, waffles and crepes (both sweet and savoury), as well as granola bowls and vegan crepes?

A few Sundays ago, I decided to check out Afta Eats with a friend for her birthday.

I love the light, open look and feel of the new wing at Village Market - part of it is almost food market-esque!

On this particular Sunday, Afta Eats wasn't that busy - surprising given all that I've heard about it, and that it was 11 am. They had a great, energetic playlist on, definitely something designed to get you up and about.

The only thing that could've improved the vibe of the place, in my opinion, would've been mimosas but - alas! - we managed to do without. The Afta Eats tables are definitely cute, with little infographics on various drinks in them. Their menus could use some upscaling though - they don't live up to the aesthetic of Afta Eats.

To drink, I got the chai latte, while my friend got a coffee.

The chai latte was unfortunately milky. Not bad, but not something I'd offer again unless they changed it.

Surprisingly, they didn't have chicken that morning. My friend and I decided to split a choco chip waffle, and a veggie crepe. I was a little suspicious about the latter - I'd gone in expecting meat - but this emerged as my favourite!

Surprisingly, the waffle was small! Definitely not the size I'm used to. However, this did not stop it from being ABSOLUTELY delicious. It was fluffy, not too sweet, and the strawberries were a perfect addition. I think this could absolutely be an amazing dessert!

The crepe - this was the surprise winner for me!! It contained a lovely medley of vegetables, and came with two different sauces - one spicy, one slightly tangy. It was perfectly spicy, with all the flavours of the vegetables coming through PERFECTLY! I'd definitely order this again (if I don't get tempted to try any of their others, of course), and would recommend you to as well. 

Do I plan on going back? Most definitely, yes!

Monday, October 29, 2018

Amani ya Juu: Restaurant Review

Although Nairobi is definitely a greener city than many others, it can sometimes feel like we are surrounded by concrete and construction, and personally this can be overwhelming at times! This is why I love going to restaurants like Zen Garden and the Arbor - the outdoorsy ambience serves to remind me that Nairobi is STILL more than your average concrete jungle.

I was super excited to learn that there's yet another restaurant I can add to my beautiful ambience list - Amani Ya Juu (or Amani Garden Cafe, not sure which is the correct name :) ). Amani ya Juu literally means 'peace from above', which I think is quite beautiful.  

When a friend suggested meeting here for lunch one warm Saturday, I naturally jumped at the chance!

To drink, I ordered their iced tea, which was quite lovely and refreshing in this weather! Also, my new thing is iced tea, especially flavoured.

For mains, I ordered a cup of tomato soup and grown up grilled cheese (it had salami, pesto and mozzarella), which came with a small side salad, while my friend got the Serengeti salad (mixed green salad with apples, honey roasted Macadamia nuts and a choice of bleu or feta cheese) and Nairobi nachos (ugali chips with salsa, corn salsa and guac).

Surprisingly, my waitress came to me and told me that they didn't have the tomato soup, so she had replaced it with the carrot and cashew soup. I was a little confused as to why she didn't ask me what I wanted instead, but thankfully I didn't suffer.

It was delicious and quite soothing (and I was definitely in need of soothing)! Not a combination I've ordered before, but one that I would definitely get again - and the crackers were a lovely accompaniment too.

The sandwich was lovely and light - I thought it would be heavier than it really was, so that was nice. The flavours blended together well, although the pesto was a hint on the bitter side, leading to it coming through stronger than the salami or mozzarella. Who doesn't love a grilled cheese sandwich though??

The accompanying salad was also great - largely thanks to the delicious poppy seed dressing it came with that was light and tangy. Do they sell this by the bottle, perchance?

The nachos were good, although they were quite hard! I can imagine they would be difficult for very young or very old people to eat these.

The Serengeti salad, in addition to looking delicious, definitely lived up to its aesthetic! I think I may try that next time - doesn't it look absolutely amazing? It was also accompanied by the previously mentioned dressing.

For however lovely their ambience is, I think the cafe can definitely improve on its service which noticeably on the slower side. Thankfully, it was a lovely day and we were in no hurry at all, so we didn't get too upset about this. 

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Grief and I

Allow me to introduce you to my friend, Grief. He has been walking with me since April and I do wonder when I may be left alone...

Is there an FAQ for losing someone? Asking for a friend - not Grief, but me this time.

It's been a little busy in my mindspace recently - you see, Grief is quite popular and since he started hanging out with me, he has all these other friends who've decided to join the party.

Confusion. Waking up and feeling like it may be an ordinary day - but something, somewhere feels off, what could it be? Confusion. Having those around our family think that we're doing fine - how can they not see?

Rage. She kind of roams around with no clear target - sometimes she's concerned with how modern medicine failed us, how they didn't detect how serious it was in time, how something, SOMEWHERE, might have saved my uncle.

Gratitude. 26 years - I had 26 wonderful years to learn from him. Cut short though they may be, I'm grateful for every single day of these.

Fear. Fear whispers in my ear - what if what if what if? What if you have to go through this again? This time you broke, slowly and surely. Next time, you will surely shatter, and there won't be any putting you back together.

Fearlessness. Strangely enough, Fearlessness and Fear have found a way to coexist. Nothing could ever be scary compared to the last few months, right?

Anger. So much of it. The future we got cheated out of. Sometimes, unjustifiable toward my other family, who got more time with him then I did - and immediately followed by

Shame. We all lost him. I don't get to prioritise my friend Grief over his cousins who've found homes with my family at this time.

Hope. She's the gentle hand on my shoulder, telling me to stay strong, to be strong, to be happy - because that's what he would want.

Hurt. So many conversations left unspoken, questions left unasked. Things that only Shiri uncle would know - moments where I forget, the past, the usual, comes rushing back, I think of picking up the phone and shooting him a quick message and then boom! Hurt reminds me of that which I dared to forget.

Weariness. She's the loner standing at the corner of this whole party whispering softly

I'm tired. I'm exhausted. When does this ever end?

Strength. He's the friend who has a direct connection to my support network and has managed to keep me going - keep us going - as this party goes on. I'm thankful, everyday, for his perseverance.

Monday, October 22, 2018

Lucca: Restaurant Review

Lucca, at the Villa Rosa Kempinski, Nairobi, is an Italian restaurant I'd long been meaning to check out, but never quite got around to. Naturally, when the opportunity came to go, I jumped at it! I've heard a lot of good things, so I was eager to check it out.

Friday night dinnertime found a friend and I at Lucca. I'd checked out their menu in advance, but of course, hadn't quite yet decided what I wanted. 

The ambience was warm and welcoming - think of a nicer deli vibe, which was comforting, especially considering this was still during Nairobi winter. The reception was also warm and welcoming - I was led to my well laid out table by a smiling server.

Their mixologist's creations looked very interesting! (However, I would recommend a quick spellcheck before they next print out their menu).

We opted for the Remy old fashion, and the Professor gin and tonic.

Professor gin and tonic

Remy old fashion
Both were amazing and refreshing, and I'll definitely be going back to try some of their other menu items!

To start off, as any respectable Italian restaurant should do, the restaurant provided a bread basket. Now, a well put together bread basket is enough to make me weak at the knees, and this one definitely didn't disappoint! Their specialty butters were also amazing and flavourful. 

For mains, we opted for the Gnocchi di patate con calamari e pesto di basilico (Gnocchi with pesto and calamari), and the Chicken breast with puttanesca sauce, polenta cake and sautéed chard (that doesn't need a translation, does it?) Strangely enough, they didn't have ravioli that evening!

Let's start off with the Gnocchi. This was, quite simply, amazing. It was creamy and flavourful, with a delectable combination of flavours that worked very well together without being overpowering. The calamari also came through very well, and didn't fit into my favourite category of seafood pet peeves - overly fishy. I'll definitely be back for this!

The chicken breast on the other hand was - well, bland. Even the picture I took was blurry, I was so disappointed! Definitely not something I was expecting at a restaurant I'd heard so much about. 

Overall verdict? I'll definitely be back to try more items on their menu - especially the drinks and the desserts, which we weren't able to get to. Despite the chicken, I did enjoy my experience, and would only urge that they apply their detail-oriented approach (think Gnocchi and drinks) to their WHOLE experience. 

Monday, October 15, 2018

Haandi: Restaurant Review

If anyone asks me to recommend the best Indian restaurant in Nairobi, I'll definitely say Haandi. Hopefully this doesn't come as too much of a surprise to you, but if it does, or if you disagree, you're very welcome to change my mind! I'm always open to new experiences.

I don't go to the actual restaurant as often as I would like. Their ambience is lovely, but the location itself isn't too exciting.

It was a Sunday family lunch, and we were celebrating my parents' 39th anniversary (woo!), so you can imagine that we ordered quite a bit ;) In the interest of being true to what I write, I'll only cover the dishes that I personally tried out of those we ordered.

Before we begin - a huge kudos to Haandi for their service. We got great service and attention from our server as well as the manager on duty. The manager made sure to understand why we were there, gave us some lovely recommendations, and also helped us proactively adjust the portions we needed when it became clear that we had ordered (far) too much. Perhaps Haandi could think of getting wider tables? Punjabi families need all that space...

Another kudos for a website that is FUNCTIONAL and BEAUTIFUL! A personal pet peeve is going to an excellent restaurant with a crappy website - there's no reason you can't be excellent across all channels, is there?

I think I had a ginger ale or something, but my mum ordered a salty lime soda. It sounded hella weird, to be honest, but I think that's what I'll order when I go!! It had a lovely flavour and a delightful hint of mint. Plus, the salt was exotic not creepy if that makes sense?

To start off, we ordered the chilli paneer, the murg burra (boneless chicken tikka), and the lamb seekh kebabs.

To be incredibly honest - I've had better chilli paneer in Nairobi, even at Haandi itself! (Also, totally forgot to take a picture...)

The murg burra. Let's spend a moment here, shall we? Again. Without a doubt, I can say that this is the BEST boneless tikka I've had at a North Indian restaurant in Nairobi. The chicken was creamy and soft enough - think melt in your mouth. It was marinated exquisitely all the way through, and the chicken itself was great! Definitely a 10/10.

The seekh kebabs were great too - a little on the dry side, but good flavour, which sometimes restaurants completely fail to achieve when they're working with lamb.

For the mains, we ordered the malai kofta, dal bukhara, jeera chicken and rogan josh. I didn't try the malai kofta, but did manage to have a bite of all the rest.

First of all, the dal bukhara. It's been a LONG time since I've had a proper dal bukhara (black dal cooked overnight). This was amazingly done, with lovely flavours of ginger and butter too. Honestly, I wouldn't be opposed to ordering ONLY this and eating it alone the next time I go! Thanks for destroying stereotypes about vegetarian food having to choose between being healthy and being tasty, dal bukhara, you the real MVP.

Can you smell it yet?

The jeera chicken was perfect too. It's a personal favourite of mine, so there may be a little bias here - but I highly doubt it! I loved that the individual flavours of this dish were so perfectly subtle that they blended together perfectly! We got this medium spicy, but I feel like this dish could hold its own without that spice if it needed to.

Finally, the rogan josh. Again, forgot to take a picture here. Good - but didn't hold a candle to the chicken or dal!

We had these with naans and rice. The naans were soft, but not something I would eat alone. However, a perfect accompaniment to the dishes above.

After all this, we definitely had to take a meanwhile before heading home for some well-deserved cake!

Have you been to Haandi? What was your experience like?

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