Your How-to Guide to Info on The Fly: Guialis

It was a cosy Saturday afternoon. The hubby and I had been to an art exhibition with friends. By the time we left, our hearts were full with the satisfaction of a Saturday well spent. Our stomachs, however, were far from it and kept pushing us towards the idea of a good old round of tea and snacks, holiday style. After a wild goose chase for the perfect coffee shop of about 20 minutes, we turned to the Wise One – Grandpa Google.


Wow. That’s a lot of search results. But erm … well, not exactly what we were looking for.  

We wanted some place small, quaint, not crowded, and not flashy. On to search results beyond page 1 (gasps!) … and there they were. A couple of places which fit the bill – as per their listing descriptions. But when I clicked on the relevant link and landed up on their profiles, I realized I didn’t have to go by the owners’ testimonies. I could read reviews by real people who’d been their guests! … For a long time we’d cherish the perfect relaxed afternoon we enjoyed that Saturday sitting at a tiny, quiet, old-world tea-n-snacks place – exactly as I wanted.

I felt grateful. I was curious about the local search directory without which we’d never have had this awesome experience.

The site was unfamiliar. “Guialis”, it said – a brand new online classifieds directory of local businesses and services. I was surprised. I didn’t know such a site even existed! Its cool, clean mobile interface impressed me the moment I landed on the its homepage. Simple and direct. With a searchbox and none of the clutter that’s usually part of web directories. (Come to think of it – web directories like this should be especially mobile-friendly. When you search for the nearest eating place, movie theatre or shopping mall, it’s your small, rectangular electronic lifeline that you’re likely to be hanging on to for support, right?) On Guialis, I hardly felt like I was on my mobile.


Even as you search (think “restaurants in Oshiwara”), autosuggestion options keep helping you refine your search continuously (“Chinese restaurants in Oshiwara”, “cheap Chinese restaurants in Oshiwara”…)


Finally, a cool, neat, no-clutter results page with stunning quality of text and image display.


I browsed through. From restaurants, apparel, shoes and beauty to weddings and even personal loans – Guialis features it all. But so does every other major local search service provider. What’s the big deal?

Nothing, apart from the fact that it’s 100% free – not just for end-users but also for business-owners. Yeah that’s right. All you need to list your business on Guialis is to register on the site for free. No need to contact the local search provider – like some websites require. And no need to pay for anything. No, not even an “upgrade”, ’cause your free business profile is already the best. ;) It not only allows you to upload an unlimited text description of your business, but also an unlimited number of images. We know a picture speaks a thousand words. And in case of web-based promotion of businesses, pictures also give you a thousand times more page-views and popularity to the 21st century ADD-afflicted web surfer.


That’s not all. I discovered Guialis is one of the very few web directories of India which allow users to create entire profiles for their favourite restaurants, hotels, spas, beauty salons etc. and share the good news. This requires no intervention from the business concerned. I was really impressed by this feature as it puts user feedback at the very centre of how popularity works within the directory. This helps increase the reliability of the profiles and makes them more meaningful to the entire user-base.

Oh, and did I mention providing ratings and reviews is a piece of cake on this site, requiring nothing more than a registration? I believe this is a very important feature, as an easy rating and review process draws more users to participate, thereby increasing the overall quality and authenticity of site content.

And we all know it’s absolutely essential to compare notes on everything in the world with our friends on Facebook and Twitter, right? Guialis knows that too. That’s why it allows you to share all your profiles, ratings and reviews on social media. :)


All in all – I have my Guialis profile created. I like to use it not only for info on the fly, but also for helping people like you and me by contributing my views on the products and services I use.

What about you?

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post.

Rain-soaked Rumblings of a Raving Romantic

She’s finally here.

With due pomp and circumstance, due anticipation and due carelessness, expected charm and unexpected addictiveness she’s here.

For those of you who’re too bored with my predictable tri-chotomies, it’s our intensely seductive, oh-so-anticipated new neighbour – the rainy season – I’m talking about.

The first evening that the rains really – I mean really really – hit us here in our part of Mumbai, I was in no position to pay any attention to it. Shubho was down with very high fever. I had already spent the entire evening going to the local doctor, buying medicines, sponging him, feeding him and getting worked up in general … till I realized it had silently started. In hindsight, I guess it was silenced by the fever-heavy cacophony inside my head.

Do you see where this is going? Me neither. Anyway, let’s go on till too much thinking gets in the way.

rainy seasonPhoto by Bahman Farzad

“My eyes lose themselves in the pouring abundance …

Seeking the mystical faraway …

Was it just the drizzly breeze or your eternal futile cries  

Piercing the heart of my lonely day?”

Before you have a heart-attack (or call your publisher-uncle as you catch your breath) – wait. Those are not my lines. Just an over-ambitious attempt at reproducing some timeless rainy melodies

“Monsoon.” (Replace with synonym in your mother tongue). What is it, really?

Is it just a welcome shower of relief after the (inevitably) volcanic summer?

Is it the unfortunate result of a gaping hole suddenly driven through the sky? (Don’t know about this one? Ask your two year old nephew.)

Is it just one of the innumerable divine punishments for the sins of humanity? (Ask Shubho.)

Or is it that time of the year which makes you feel alive again? Is it that pest of a pal of yours who forces your mind off the important stuff and out through the window? Is it that magic potion which acts against your natural instinct of self-preservation and doesn’t let you close the windows at night, ensuring you wake up coughing next morning?

Have you figured out The Point of this post yet? If not, good going. If yes, please don’t let it slip – I don’t want to know. ;)

rainy seasonPhoto by ►CubaGallery

Fortunately for me, that evening when the rains really really hit us was a Friday evening. And incredibly more fortunately for me, the fever (understandably) got bored by the very next day and left. This ensured Sunday morning consisted of just me and the rains. Sadly our relationship had to be limited to one-sided ogling. You see, I wasn’t sure I’d survive physical intimacy.

It was crazy, as it was serene.

It was exhilarating, as it was melancholic.

It was… OK no tri-chotomizing. Let’s just say it made me realize I belong in the fourth group – the “rains make me feel alive again” one. As if you hadn’t figured that out already. :P

I don’t know about you, but I’m all excited. Yes, in spite of the time and money spent on my daily commute having doubled. I’m fascinated by the mythological tales surrounding the Mumbai monsoon. And I’m all geared up for soaking it all up for real this time.

So here’s a big Welcome to the pesky droplets, to the addictive grey skies, to the erratic soaking blasts, to the shivers, to the pensive moods…

Oh yes. Also to the puddles in the street, to the muck, to the un-usability of public transport, to the cough and cold, and to the utter chaos all around.

Happy monsoon penguins pigeons! J

Kissing Goodbye to Freedom: The Moral Police and Public Display of Affection in India

It was a moment of solemn beauty.

The sea a hundred bawling shades of grey. The moon and black chasing each other across the fickle sky. The sporadic drizzles pecking the mutinous waves down below.

I was speechless. Just thankful that it’ s all happening. I don’t know when it was –but I guess right after I’d pecked him lightly on the cheek – when my reverie was shattered by the distinct sound of throat-clearing behind us.

There he was –short, dark and carrying a colossal round paunch and an even more colossal smile of conceit – the omnipresent (OK with the exception of where he’s needed) Indian policeman.

He had apparently known it all along – what we were up to. He’d been keeping a “close watch on us” ever since we parked the car, you see.

“The people who live on this road are the most important people of Mumbai,” he warned. “ I’m entrusted with making sure no one disturbs their peace of mind. And you, sir, are doing just that with your obscene acts. So I’ll have to fine you. Rs. 4000.” And with that he pretended to pull out some papers.

“But we don’t have so much cash on us. Will Rs. 500 do???” My multiple brained academic star of a husband blurted out.


I’d later shared this story with a friendly taxiwala and this is what he’d got to say, “One bakhra like you per day, and the b***ard’s achieved nirvana. You should never have even offered more than Rs. 50.”

Welcome to the world of haggling over bribes. But I digress…

Public display of affection India

You know who I’m talking about – you’re all familiar with him – the fatherly neighbourhood policeman who always has an eye out for youngsters running a risk of going astray. That well-meaning gentleman who always shows up at the right time and place to teach you the price of a lesson or two on the right way to behave in this country.

What makes him so powerful? So omniscient?

Welcome to the scar on the face Section 294 of the IPC of 1860, which deals with obscenity laws in this country, and is generally used by policemen for earning those few extra bucks for their hard work of harassing innocent young couples. Here’s how it goes.

Whoever, to the annoyance of others,

(a) does any obscene act in any public place, or

(b) sings, recites or utters any obscene song, ballad or words, in or near any public place, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to three months, or with fine, or with both.

Now that’s what I call the death-knell of individual freedom. And that’s because of those three little highlighted words in there.

What is ‘annoyance’? In the maddening motley of noodle straps and noodle-nourished necrophilia, spaghetti and spirituality, premarital abstinence and preposterous abuse that is India, how do we define what is ‘obscene’?

The spine-chilling aspect of this Section however, is the ‘others’. If ‘annoyance’ of some unqualified group of ‘others’ could be the legal basis for determining the degree of criminal offense committed, we could just as well blissfully repeal our legal code altogether and defer all legal decisions to “the majority”.

To take an example – I’m sure a great majority of Indians would consider love marriages “annoying”, if the sheer proportion of Indian marriages that are arranged is anything to go by. Does that mean a “love marriage” is a crime as per the IPC?

We’ve all (I hope) heard of those magnificent things called “individual rights”. The legal code stipulates what falls within and outside of these rights. If the majority finds the exercising of any of these rights offensive, I should think it’s their business to learn to deal with it.

Our law however leaves “obscenity” and “annoyance” to extortion. Did I say extortion? I meant interpretation. Unfortunately for the common man the only significance of that tiny room for interpretation is the brilliant scope of extortion and harassment created within it by some resourceful government servants (read police-people).

As a totally irrelevant and insignificant aside, I’d like to mention that we were already married when the Worli sea face incident occurred.

Repeat – We were already married when the Worli sea face incident occurred.

“But why do you think telling that to the police person would’ve made any difference? He accused us of performing obscene acts in the public, and whether we’re married or not has got nothing to do with it – isn’t that so?” My poor guy enquired innocently.

“Oh that’s only inside your logical little brain dear. This is India. Marriage is the ultimate license for any act of affection between a man and a woman – obscene or otherwise.” I sighed.  

Apparently my instincts had not lied.

It is inconceivable how … the expression of love by a young married couple, in the manner indicated in the FIR, would attract the offence of obscenity and trigger the coercive process of the law.

That’s what Justice Muralidhar of the Delhi High Court had to say in his judgement, dismissing obscenity charges brought on by an FIR filed against a married couple caught kissing in public, in 2009. Incidentally, the police overlooked to name any “annoyed” complainants in this FIR.

Married? Unmarried? Legal? Illegal? Seen? Obscene? The jury is still out on the question of legitimacy of Public Display of Affection (PDA) in its varying degrees and contexts. But here’s something that’s certain – as long as the laws remain antiquated and unclear, and the police remain free of a stipulated code of permissible conduct while dealing with possible offenders at the scene, harassment and extortion of young innocent couples by the force responsible for upholding the law, are here to stay.