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Home Tour: A fantasy writer's loft house in Madh Island

blue computer table
When designer Jaya Peter of Livinart wrote in to me with photographs of their latest low budget project, I was intrigued. To add to the thrill, the owner of this loft house in Madh Island is fantasy writer Samit Basu (author of The Simoqin Prophecies, The Manticore's Secret and The Unwaba Revelations, the three parts of The GameWorld Trilogy, a fantasy trilogy published by Penguin Books, India). As an aspiring writer, and as an appreciator of art and aesthetics in modern design, this is probably the dream home for me to feature!

dining table eggshaped

A bit of background about Livinart - they are a trio of creative people - Anu, Shalini and Jaya, with complementary strengths. Last year I featured another gorgeous home done by them. They believe in usable, need-based design, and want to make memorable pieces of furniture that become special to people who own it! In this project, everything including the lamps, curtains etc have been custom made for the client.

Says Jaya, "The first thing that stuck us about the space was the sense of scale, it is a loft house and the height of the ceiling is around 20 feet, looking out into the Arabian sea 260 degrees....stunning blue sea...". Mental notes were made immediately about an aqua theme reflecting indoors as well. hence the blue curtains and the sea green kitchen and TV unit.

It is a bachelor pad and Samit  being a graphic novelist wanted them to see the space from that perspective.
graphic frame custom madeThe bedroom
loft, upstairs bedroomThe flight of stairs that leads into his room has a sliding door which they wanted to treat like a page out of a graphic novel. After quizzing him on his favorite characters, they made  a storyboard with an interesting array of  characters. The fact that the railing and stairs were black, white and grey helped in creating an interesting graphic frame.

bedroom, ombre curtains, sea viewHis writing desk needed to look into the sea, but the space in his room upstairs was barely enough for a bed, hence they decided to give him their classic space saver computer table (featured in the cover pic above) that would perfectly in his space.

They also wanted to treat the doors of his wardrobe not merely as wooden shutters but a framed art work. They ran the idea of using ancient maps by him. After brainstorming , they decided to use maps out of his favorite fantasy fiction/ comics e.g: Asterix  map of Gaul), Terry Pratchets Discworld map, Lord of the Rings etc..
map wardrobe custom made

On choosing the lighting
pacman lighting custom made livinart

Samit likes gaming and is a fan of pacman. hence the team decided to surprise him by making Pacman lights for his house.

The rest of the accent lights, were custom-made in various shapes and sizes because it was near impossible to pick up lights from any store since the sense of scale in this loft house demanded really big lights or a cluster of
custom made lighting
different lights in sizes and shapes.After some trial and error, they hit upon the correct cluster of black and grey lights that were conical, helmet shaped etc..

Says Jaya, "Now hanging the lights and fans were a production in itself as we needed to make long rods( like in high ceiling churches) to hang the fans and lights at a decent height."

The soft furnishings

20 feet long curtainsThe curtains had to be a blue ombre, in keeping with the sea-views.19 feet cutains cannot be bought in shops but had to be made to scale so that the point where the white moves into light blue which moves into indigo is at the correct place.

beachview apartment double length curtainsShalini  custom-made a print in which fish move from one side of the ombre to another in the central panel. Anu had worked with some artisans from Rajasthan who would be able to achieve all this.

Hence the 20 feet long curtains got made. This is a classic example of the synergy this design team possesses!

Custom-made furniture
Most of the furniture was custom-made or sourced from Liviart's own design studio.The trio spent a lot of time in the flat at different times of the day to truly understand the play of light, and the feel of the space.

Says Jaya, "We needed to give him a nice big book shelf. The ideal space was below the staircase.While spending time in the flat we noticed that in the afternoon, the sunlight  created nice shafts through the staircase on the wall. We decided to follow these lines and make a book shelf along that wall."
green and blue couch and side table
Most of the furniture has a zen quality to it. The egg shaped dining table with its eclectic mix of chairs, the pull out japo day bed (featured here in both its avatars), the sofas with a hint of an upward curve etc.

kitchen functional bachelor pad chalkboardThe side tables have a detachable tray which can be carried to any part of the room. Here they conceded to a splash of color and print. The kitchen is a functional yet well-designed space with clean lines and masculine colors.

So keeping the space masculine, with splashes of indigo, green, they  maintained the theme of a writer in residence by the sea.

Images via Livinart. Click on images for a better view

A rendevouz in South Goa

Last weekend was well-spent. On invitation by BlogAdda (the best way to explain BA is that it's a company that is for bloggers, and always has our best interests at heart) and Renault, I joined 30-odd other bloggers for a weekend of fun, food and long drives in the new Renault Lodgy.

We were made to feel special right from the moment our plane tickets arrived in our inbox, with the BA team urging us to tweet, pack and click relevant pics.It was an interactive trip all the way!

At The Leela Palace Hotel Goa, we were accorded a warm welcome by the hotel staff, by the Renault team, especially Kautuk, and of course by the lovely five-some of BlogAdda - Harish Krishnan, Ankita Vadhel, Sushma Parvi and Tridib Karmakar. They went out of their way to ensure that the bloggers were well taken care of, and the event was planned extremely well!

At lunch, I was delighted to finally be able to meet Ayan Banerjee, a blogger I had worked with for the Game of Blogs, and who was instrumental in our winning the contest!  It was wonderful catching up with him!

The room at The Leela was certainly something to write home about, and I spent some quiet time enjoying the view. A knock and a hello later, I was great pals with my roomie for the event Madhumita Phukan. Her joie de vivre was quite infectious, and for the rest of the event, we had the best time ever, comparing serious notes about blogging, laughing our heads off at some little thing or the other, and delighting in the fact that we shared similar interests in food and ahem! other stuff:)

The evening event saw us intently concentrating on a presentation by Renault's dynamic marketing team, followed by a sumptuous dinner. The Leela Hotel has surpassed all my expectations when it comes to great buffet food. The sheer variety, excellent taste, and of course the lovely presentation, with excellent blogger company thrown in, made every  meal memorable!

Day two was all about the Renault Lodgy. We started the day early,  and were soon off to Cancona, an hourish drive in drizzly weather and good company, lots of pic and pit stops and best of all, taking turns at the wheel. The Lodgy impressed me, and it was a beautiful drive. At The Lalit Cancona, we spent time on the beach, and then had another tasty buffet lunch. On the way back, our team decided to take it slow and experience the car completely, so we really had fun - a tea break and an impromptu photo shoot were the highlights of the trip back.

That night we were back at The Leela, with a very enlightening panel discussion by 5 bloggers who have made something very special out of their passion for blogging. It helped to hear their points of view, their candid advice and tips! What followed was a party to remember, with Goa's best band The Forefront treating us to beautiful foot tapping music. It was fun to let our hair down and a treat to discover the hidden talents of some of our co-bloggers who entertained us that night with their beautiful voices and dancing! We were also pleasantly surprised when Renault gifted us with a Mario Miranda print on tile. Truly an interesting keepsake of a weekend well spent!

The experience was delightful and I am so glad that I bumped into many interesting bloggers, and it's fun staying in touch with them on social media. The week that followed the event has been busy, connecting and sharing pics over social media and reminiscing about the good times we had!

A few days after the event, the fun was still full on! The winning teams were announced, and they walked away with amazing gifts! There were generous prizes for winners of the best video and photographs, and I must say they were very well deserved! Congrats to all the winners!

A big thank you to the amazing team at BlogAdda, the wonderful Renault team, the hospitable staff at The Leela hotel, and to all my amazing blogger friends for a memorable rendezvous in South Goa!

I was a part of the #LiveLodgycal Drive by in association with Renault India

Pic credits: The Keybunch, Madhumita Phukan, Tridib Karmakar, Saurabh Mukhekar, Nikhil Narkede 

Renault Lodgy: Review, Features, Price

 I am just back from the #LiveLodgycal drive in rain-drenched Goa where I joined several other bloggers in test-driving and experiencing the new Renault Lodgy. The Lodgy arrived at The Leela Goa amid a lot of hype and expectation. But you know what? At first look, it impressed! Though Renault actually launched their first MPV 3 decades ago, this is their first MPV in India, and by the looks of it, rather a special launch for them.

I was part of an amazing team of drivers Nikhil, Sourabh and Arun, while Tridib from BlogAdda accompanied us. Tridib should be thanked for most of these images. My team mates and I took turns driving this beautiful beast, the weather and the great company made it a memorable experience. Here's a prospective buyer's review along with what I loved about the car, and what I didn't!

Driving Experience

Though it was my first time driving this car, or any MPV for that matter, it did not feel awkward or unfamiliar when I took the wheel. The driver's seat is comfortable. When I started the car however, the gears were quite uncomfortable to maneuver, for a while, after which I finally got used to it. From then on, it was smooth sailing, literally, as I have never had a smoother ride in any other Indian car. This has a lot to do with the car's ErgoDrive feature which promises total driving pleasure. And I won't refute it, because even on the worst pot-holed bylanes of Goa, the smoothness was a constant. So the smooth handling is the feature which stood out for me.

Do you get an idea of how roomy this car is? This is my team at a pitstop, and while it drizzled,
Nikhil and Sourabh decided to take shelter in the dynamic trunk storage which is expandable up to 1861 litres

The acceleration is beyond great, and though I was not brave enough to try it out, my co-driver was. The car does the 0-100 km/hr dash in a cool 12 seconds. It boasts of a top speed of 170 km/hr which I suppose is not a good idea on Indian highways, and my team mates luckily agreed.

Braking is excellent too, and the car can come to a smooth and refined halt even when the brakes are suddenly applied, as unknowingly tested when a cow decided to cross the road right in front of me. I was at a comfortable 60, and my co-passengers were only slightly shaken. The cow of course, was unaware of the whole episode.. definitely a plus point for the Lodgy! Jokes apart, my co-driver did demonstrate in a particularly heart-stopping moment, that this MPV definitely possesses a good set of brakes. Though this may sound flippant when you read it, believe me, it was a time when I wondered if he would stop the car in time to prevent the untimely death of a young (ish) mom (me) with two innocent babies back home. But as you can see, I have survived to tell the tale, thanks to the Lodgy's fantastic brakes.

Road noise: Full marks to the Lodgy here. It successfully drowns outside noise, and if you want peace and quiet to calm your thoughts and the strange noises in your head, I highly recommend a highway trip in the Lodgy. It's so quiet, it's almost yogic!

Driving Conditions:
We mostly drove on narrow Goan roads, and the highway from Cavellosim to Cancona and back. The Lodgy was brilliant on these roads.  My co-driver and I also tested its stop and go conditions, and we were pretty pleased with the results! Still, I believe, driving it in a metro would be a bit of a challenge. So the verdict on driving condition is, it's best suited for weekend getaways and long road trips. We didn't quite get to check its off-roading capabilities, but we had a ball literally making a splash with this car. Watch this video shot and uploaded by Saurabh and you will know what I mean!

The blind spots for someone like me who who is inexperienced in driving an MPV was the car's windscreen pillars, which quite obstructed my view of oncoming traffic when turning a corner. But, with practice, you kind of get used to peeking over and beyond to get a view of that corner. I also thought that when reversing, there's not a good enough view of the bottom rear of the car, but the rear parking aid, certainly helps!

The Lodgy comes as a 7 or 8-seater, with roomy full-sized seats. It's a very comfortable car, especially with the adjustable lumbar support feature on the seats. There were 3 of us sitting in the

Enough room for 3 adults, the seats are roomy, but I can't
say the same for leg space

second row at times, and yet, the car was spacious as well as extremely comfortable. I wouldn't really say the same for leg space, but my team mates disagree with me, so the jury is out on that one!

The mounted AC vents for the second and third rows (pic right) are a great feature, and ensure that every person sitting inside can travel at a temperature comfortable to them.

The touchscreen ICE (In car entertainment) is great, and we made quite good use of it, with the Animal Song almost becoming our team's anthem.

Though (luckily) I did not have the opportunity to experience the Lodgy's safety mechanism, from the brochures I gather that
it comes with top-notch safety equipment from airbags, to ABS, EBD and other world-class safety measures. My only concern is the rather small wheels!

How it measures up to the competition
The other MPVs in the Indian market is the older oyota Innova, and the more recently introduced Honda Mobilio and Datsun's Go Plus. Though the
Maruti Ertiga is an LUV,  the Lodgy is also finding itself being compared to it, a bit unfairly, I would say!

How does the Lodgy stack up against the competition? I think if you were in need of an MPV you would want to ignore the rest and focus on choosing between the Lodgy and the Honda Mobilio. However, while the Mobilio is quite stylish and looks better (to my eye),
the Lodgy's 110 PS version is sure to make it the most popular MPV in India. The engine power has a peak of 108 bhp and a max torque of 248 Nm. Not bad!

Another area where it is slated to win, are the low maintenance costs. The company claims that it will have the lowest maintenance costs among the competitors mentioned above, and is offering a
  5 years/100,000 kilometers warranty.
I think this is a fantastic car to take on roadtrips with friends. Also, I would so love to drive this beast and go on a road trip with my girl gang. If you are traveling with family, you will be extra concerned about the safety features, but be satisfied that this is the car for you.

Both the 109 BHP diesel  and the 84 BHP variants we tried gave us an incredible driving experience. This MPV comes only in diesel versions currently. With a fuel tank capacity of 50 liters and fantastic mileage, backed by Renault's cutting edge automobile superiority, it's a car that I would highly recommend.

However, here are a few things that could have been better. I love a good design in a car, and I am afraid  the Lodgy, though handsome at some angles, has a boxy look that doesn't quite appeal to me. I also would have loved additional second-row leg space because I sometimes find myself sitting at the back with kids when on long distance drives. The seat itself is very comfortable, especially since it can be reclined back to an extremely comfortable position, even with 3 adults sitting there.

Other things you are wondering about

Cost: Ranges from 8.2 to 11.8 depending on the variant. Visit a Renault dealer to know the ex-showroom price in your city.

                    85PS STD
                          85PS RXE
                          85PS RXL
                          110PS RXL
                          85PS RXZ
                         110 RXZ 8 SEATER
                         110 RXZ 7 SEATER

Mileage: The engine  gives a mileage of 15 Kmpl in cities, and more in highways
6 gorgeous colors - Royal Orchid, Planet Grey, Absolute Steel, Pearl White, Moon Light Silver, Indigo Breeze.

My personal favorites were Pearl White (featured in this photo) and Absolute Steel(featured above).

So what do you think? Is the car 'Lodgy'cal enough for you? 

I was a part of the #LiveLodgycal Drive by in association with Renault India

Profile: Rahul Alvares, Author and Nature Enthusiast

It is not often The Keybunch features men, and I am pretty sure that if you are a regular visitor here, you are a tad confused. But here's the news. You are going to see more men featured on this blog, especially the one's who have not been afraid to take divergent career paths, and come out successful!

The gentleman in focus today Rahul Alvares is doing some amazing work in nature conservation, and I believe that all of us Indians have a duty to preserve the species that are native to our country. Rahul is a well-known herpatologist based in Goa. In addition, Rahul is multi-talented. He is an author, wildlife photographer, fitness instructor, a myofacial trigger point therapist, and even a musician and a motorcycle enthusiast! Even as I write this, I find it difficult to fathom that one person can do so many things so well!
Collared kingfisher bird tours Goa
A rare and elusive Collared Kingfisher which Rahul photographed on a boat trip down
the Cumbarjuan canal on the Zuari river
Rahul Alvares started his wildlife career working with many of the leading resorts of Goa.Snake killing in these properties ceased as the staff were successfully trained by him in the art of catching these reptiles using equipment specially meant for the purpose. During the same time he also conducted lectures on snakes for the foreign tourists staying at these resorts.
Vine snake
With a body like a creeper, a tail as slim and delicate as a tendril, and a parrot green color finish, the Vine snake secures a place as one of the prettiest of Indian snakes, says Rahul.
Rahul conducts his own bird and snake excursions into some of the best wildlife areas of Goa. During the off-season Rahul is off on his own excursions around India and abroad finding and photographing all kinds of wildlife along the way.
For his early training, Rahul worked at the Pune Snake Park under Neelim Kumar Khaire and later, at the Mammallapuram Crocodile Farm under world renowned herpetologist, Romulus Whitaker. During this period, he also worked with the Irula tribe in Mammallapuram and trained to handle venomous snakes. He later traveled to Thailand and Malaysia to gain experience in handling King Cobras.
Rahul has been retrieving snakes from human habitations in north Goa (Arpora, Calangute, Candolim, Porvorim, Panjim, etc.) for the last eighteen years. Till date, he has succeeded in rescuing more than 1500 snakes.
During his spare time, he edits an on-line newsletter on his work called The Creepy Times (and do subscribe because he has a very engaging style of writing). Rahul’s first book, Free From School, is published by the Other India Press and is a great inspiration for both parents and children keen to take a break from the burden of formal, academic studies.His second book, The Call of the Snake is a collection of his snake rescue stories in Goa. It also contains, in addition, critically useful information about snakes and how you can survive a venomous snake-bite.

 Rahul has coauthored his third book Birds of Goa with Heinz Lainer  in 2013. This coffee table book contains over 250 of his bird photographs. In 2004, he was selected for the ‘The Young Naturalist Award’ by Sanctuary and ABN- Amro Bank. In 2008 he was selected for the ‘Carl Zeiss Wildlife Commitment’ Award.

 If you want to do something different in Goa, you need to contact Rahul.He organizes wildlife tours, camping trips, birding trips and other exciting stuff that will make you happy you left the crowds back on the beaches and followed Rahul!

 Says Rahul,
"Call me on +91-9881961071 when you’re done with the everyday tours, the usual company and the same old sites. Then I’ll custom design your nature excursions into the unexplored forests of Goa."

Now, that's something I'd look forward to very much. Wouldn't you?

All images are from
Cover pic via

Keep Calm and Love your Rainy Days

Bazıları için camdan dışarıyı izlemek, Scooter Watertight bot, çizme ve ayakkabıya sahip olan çiftler içinse dışarıda ıslanmak başka güzel...

Getting your home monsoon-ready: Tips, Tricks and Style

First Things First

Chłopcom pewnie przydałyby się #płaszcze przeciwdeszczowe :) Tobie też zdarza się zapomnieć #parasola? Sprawdź naszą ofertę na płaszcze i zawsze bądź gotowy na zmianę pogody! Zobacz na,0.html
Secure your roof! pic via
  • If you live in a house, make sure you give an SOS call to the waterproofers to come and check your walls and roof as soon as you read this.
  • Seal window and door cracks, caulk if required.
  • Make sure your drains and sewers are unblocked and free-flowing.
  • Make sure water does not log or clog your surroundings. Get some workers in to slope or dam wherever required.
  • Trees.  They could fall over or branches could break and damage walls and vehicles. Make sure they are trimmed, and dead branches are removes.
  • Short circuits are the monsoon's worst nightmares. Get your wiring checked, make sure you unplug electrical equipment at the start of the monsoons when lightening and thunder showers are common. Also make sure everyone at home, from tweens to seniors know how to switch off the mains.
  • Save Water: If you have implemented rainwater harvesting, give yourself a pat on the back. If not, keep containers outside, and use the rainwater for washing utensils or clothes. Here's a lovely rain barrel DIY idea.Also, save water, shower together! ;)

Indoor Home Care
From Padma Lakshmi's Kitchen: Homemade Masala Chai recipe
pic via
  • If you have the storage space, pack up your heavy wooden furniture in thick, dry cloth. Wrap with waterproof material and store. If you cant do this, drag wooden furniture away from windows and doors. If possible layer them with a pretty cover.
  • Put away heavy carpets and rugs.
  • Store away heavy or thick bed linen, bath towels and bath mats. You don’t want the hassle of waiting for them to dry.  Instead bring out or invest in light, quick drying alternatives to these.
  • Move your plants around. Too much rain may harm them.
  • Keep your summer curtains indoors. Buy pretty dip and dry curtains.
  • Stock up on tea, coffee, spices and soup ingredients. 
  • Clothes: Dry clean your cottons and summer wear, and store them. 
Monsoon Style File
Zivame has a lovely range of 
neon pop raincoats


  • Bring out your lightest clothes for the rainy season. And do buy raincoats. Umbrellas are passé this year J They keep you warm and totally dry minimizing your risk of catching unpleasant colds.
  • To make up for the lack of heavy furniture, lay out comfortable and light dhurries on the floor with attractive cushions. Low furniture works splendidly too!
  • Colour
splash cushion cover
    Loving these color splash cushions on Limeroad
  • Designate a “Wet area” outside your door where your family and visitors can leave their umbrellas and raincoats. Designate a wet shoe zone too. A good idea someone shared with me last year, was to use a sort of a deep tray and layer it with pebbles on which you can leave your wet shoes. The water trickles past the pebbles and settles at the bottom, leaving you with dry, clean shoes and no wet puddles!
  • Want to take your stylishness up several notches? Create a rain chain with upcycled glass bottles. A rain chain will divert water away from your house, but at the same time enhance the look of your house. Best of all, they make a really soothing sound. Click here for some lovely DIY rain chain ideas
Old silverware becomes a part of this delightful rain chain
simply-beautiful-world:  ❥‿↗⁀simply-beautiful-world agoodthinghappened:  From
Pic via
Polka Paisley Kullads
Polka Paisley kullads from
  • Invest in kullads, tea pots, trays and cheery serveware. There's nothing better than sipping  chai and munching hot pakodas on a cold, rainy day says Karishma Madan on our facebook page!
  • Keep the home cheery. While the weather outside can be dull and wet, a splash of color will brighten up your home
  • Books! There's nothing lovelier than curling up in a comfortably chair reading a book on a rainy day! Booklovers, make sure you have a good book to read when you need it!
All other pics via Pinterest

Swapnali Patil's home in Germany

"For me, home is where the heart sings," Swapnali told me when I chatted with her one day on Facebook. The thought stuck in my mind, and when I looked at the pics of her home, there was no doubt that her home is not just singing, but doing a happy dance.

 Swapnali takes pride in keeping the accent of her home India. She says, "My home reflects everything that I am today which is totally Indian. You can see in the colors and in the kind of fabrics used in my house. "

She loves a touch of warm colors like red and yellow.  Swapnali says her affair with colors began way back, when she was a little girl, and used to watch her mother drawing colorful Rangolis every single day.

he true-blooded desi girl that she is, she loves to celebrate festivals and especially Indian ones. In fact, her love for DIYs in home decoration was piqued during the Ganesh festivals back home, where her family used to make their own decorations to adorn the deity.

She loves brass artifacts and antiques, and loves to surround herself with things that remind her of India. Ganeshas, Radha-Krishna statues and paintings of Indian Gods are everywhere!

Swapnali loves her home in Germany located in a quiet street with a huge garden outside. The 2-storey home has a basement and garden, and each room has a balcony - ample space for her to exercise her decorating skills.

Loving the little Indian touches in her kitchen
 However, she spends a lot of time these days tending to her toddler, and she says her home is a work in progress. She eagerly awaits spring so that she can start gardening as well. Well, this glimpse of her garden that she has shared (see pic below) has me wanting to see more! So I hope you will send us more pics soon, Swapnali!

And here's a lovely painting nook she has made for herself. How inspiring!