11 January, 2016

Stone Town, Zanzibar- Glimpses from a place frozen in time

Tanzania is a country that stretches from the coast to Mt. Kilimanjaro, the tallest free standing mountain on Earth and the highest peak in Africa. Among the gems it has to showcase are a couple of archipelagos (group of islands) hidden somewhere the Indian Ocean. Located off Dar es Salaam, towards its north-east, the autonomous region of Zanzibar comprises of Pemba and surrounding islands as well as the archipelago comprising of Unjuga and surrounding islands. The city of Zanzibar is located in the later. These islands have a fascinating history enshrouded around them, particularly the city of Zanzibar. In the old part of Zanzibar city is the Stone Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Here are glimpses of this scenic place from a couple of visits in November 2015.

One can travel to Zanzibar from Dar es Salaam either by Air or by Ferry. Here's a view of Dar city from air on the flight to Zanzibar. 
A view from the restaurant at Serena Zanzibar
Relaxing at the restaurant of Serena Zanzibar
A glassware with delicate Arabic/ Mediterranean art work on display at Hyatt Zanzibar
The beach outside Hyatt Zanzibar, a star hotel, near the Zanzibar Port
Two-wheelers are a favourite mode of transport in Zanzibar
Many of the buildings and establishments at Zanzibar are over a century old. Here is one such building.
Another old establishment
Narrow streets characterise the Stone Town.
Another old building in one of the narrow streets
Hakuna Matata is a popular phrase in Swahili language. It roughly means 'Don't worry, be happy'. Thanks to the movie 'Lion King' the phrase was popularised outside the Swahili speaking parts of the world. 
Tourism mementos for sale. Much of these come from China. 
A shop selling mementos.
Stone Town is characterised by old buildings which are protected by the UNESCO World Heritage Tag
A view of the historic old Fort. It was symbolic as a seat of power by the Arabs changing hands multiple times before it became a heritage site. 
Another view of the Old Fort, Stone Town, Zanzibar, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Entrance to the Old Fort, Stone Town, Zanzibar, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

A board explaining the World Heritage Site of Old Fort, Stone Town, Zanzibar
A board at the entrance to the Old Fort, Stone Town, Zanzibar
Brass knobs/ spikes on one of the doors at the entrance of  Old Fort, Stone Town., Zanzibar
Decorative work on wood at the entrance of  Old Fort, Stone Town., Zanzibar
Many modern buildings in Zanzibar have adopted the age old theme of wood designs giving the entire town a feel of being a place frozen in time. The above picture is from Serena Zanzibar, a 5-star hotel in Stone Town, Zanzibar. 
A traditional wood door with brass knobs
A traditional wood door
Food is one of Zanzibar's major attraction. Here are a few dishes we ordered at Serena Zanzibar, a star hotel.
Prawns Chuku Chuku- fresh sea prawns garnished with spices and served with either steamed rice or mashed potato.
At #SerenaZanzibar.
Jacxon Evance is a waiter at Serena Zanzibar. A happy man, here he is wearing a traditional Zanzibar cap. This cap has its origins in Oman, which colonised Zanzibar for many decades.
A local walking along the beach 
Beyond the closed doors lies freedom. 
A yacht  sailing as the sun sets
Locals enjoying the evening on a beach.
The locals and tourists blend very well in Zanzibar. 
Boats anchoring at the end of day. 
Yachts sailing past one of the many pristine beaches in Zanzibar
A kid enjoying football on a Monday morning. This is what many people in Zanzibar do through the week. They take life as it comes and enjoy it every bit. 
Locals use small boats to travel from one island to another and also to the mainland.
A traditional boat contrasts with modern vessels.  
Boats during low tide as seen near Zanzibar Port
Placid ocean waters during low tide as seen from Hyatt Zanzibar.
One of the many islands that one gets to see as one flies to Zanzibar from Dar es Salaam

A view of the azure Indian ocean waters and coral reefs from a small plane.

When rays of sun hit the water around noon, one gets to enjoy the ocean's beauty flying overhead.  

07 January, 2016

ASUS ZenPad 8.0 - Head above the rest in the world of tabs

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The ASUS ZenPad 8.0 Z380KL
In a world full of tabs, it is often a challenge to choose and ensure you have the best product. There are many factors that one needs to go through before deciding to buy one. Like me if you need a tab for multiple-purposes, I would recommend you to seriously consider buying the amazing ASUS ZenPad 8.0 Z380KL

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The ASUS ZenPad 8.0 Z380KL
Why did I want a tab?
I am a 40-year old blogger, PR pro and father of a toddler. Here are some of the reasons for me to buy a tab:
A) A device to help me Blog/ Write: As a serious blogger who is often on a plane, boat or foot, I need a machine that takes care of my blogging needs where ever I am and when ever I want. 
B) A device for multi-functions: Whether I am at home or I am away, I often feel the need for an all-rounder- a device that takes care of my calling, documenting as well as storage needs. 
C) A device for my family: As father of a 3-year old I need a device that I can use to share some quality time with my kid when ever he wants me to. And yes, I need it to show my wife the details of the in-fashion clothes that I come across on the net. 
D) Music: I need music sometimes to get away from the crowds outside my doors. And I need a device that not just plays music but drives away the crowds from my mind space : ) 

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Key reasons to buy ASUS ZenPad 8.0

The Asus ZenPad 8.0 in its packing
How to choose a tab and why I chose the ZenPad 8.0 Z380KL?
There are multiple factors that you need to consider before buying a tab. Here are some strong reasons for me to buy the ZenPad 8.0: 

1) Brand position: The market today as you know is flooded by zillions of brands. While I don't demonise the ones that are new in the market, I personally look for brands that I can trust for product quality as well as after sales service. ASUS is one such brand, that is associated with durability and service with a smile. It also provides excellent after sales support across the major cities of India. 

2) Past tradition of producing/ marketing similar products: ASUS has a long history of producing android devices and now tabs. The ZenPad 8.0 Z380KL is one such product in its long history of marketing similar devices.

3) Affordable price: I need everything a device has to offer and yes, I need it at an affordable price. The ASUS ZenPad 8.0 Z380KL is one such device. It is competitively priced vis a vis its nearest competitors, and far less priced than the much hyped iPad, while providing similar or more features. 

4) Speed and storage: There is no fun in having a tablet that can't handle the latest websites, online games, online video calling or if can't store images from a holiday on a long week-end. The ASUS ZenPad 8.0 Z380KL provides solutions to many of these worries. It comes with a Qualcomm 64-bit Octa Core Processor (Quad 1.36GHz + Quad 1.0GHz) Snapdragon 610 (MSM8929), OpenGL ES 3.1+AEP support, Adreno 405 @500MHz. It has an in-built storage of 16GB and an additional 5GB ASUS Web Storage space for life. Interestingly in the 1st year you get an additional 11GB and a stunning 100GB of Google Drive space for 2 years. It comes with a 64-bit Dual Channel LPDDR3 2GB RAM memory.

5) Latest Technology: Once you are satisfied that a device will last long enough, look for the technology it incorporates. The ASUS ZenPad 8.0 Z380KL comes with the latest technology scoring very high on the specifications scale. Among others, it has the world’s first integration of DTS-HD Premium Sound, has 4G network compatibility and a high-definition screen with 76.5% viewing area. It runs a newly-designed ZenUI 2015 interface over the top of the Android 5.0 Lollipop OS (operating system) including Google’s own suite of apps.

6) Long lasting battery: You need a device that goes on and on despite you working on it for hours. ASUS ZenPad 8.0 Z380KL is one such device. It comes with a 4000mAh Lipolymer Battery which powers it for 10 hours. 
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ASUS ZenPad 8.0 Z380KL comes with a 4000mAh Lipolymer Battery which powers it for 10 hours. 
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A closer look at what's inside the box
7) Size: You need a tab that you can really carry around and use, whether it is on a holiday or at home. The ASUS ZenPad 8.0 Z380KL is a latest mainstream 8-inch tablet device that is very easy to carry around. 
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The ASUS ZenPad 8.0 in hand
8) Fast Wi-Fi and 4G: In this world of fast communications there is no point in sticking to something that is slow. I chose the ASUS ZenPad 8.0 Z380KL over the rest because it provides amazing internet access thanks to the 4G LTE technology, 3G DC-HSPA+ Fastest 3G Download speed up to 42 Mbps. I have used it's Wi-Fi at home and it works seamlessly. It has the GSM/WDMA Quad-Band for Worldwide Data Roaming and comes in 850/900/1900/2100MHz

9) Photos: The ASUS ZenPad 8.0 Z380KL comes with two PixelMaster cameras. While the Rear Camera is produces 8MP images and comes with auto-focussing, the Front Camera is 2MP. And if you want to take image on the go, the good news is that there is no shutter lag.

But what makes this tab stand apart is its technology behind taking pictures. The tab bridges the gap between a stand alone digital camera and a phone camera by miles. It offers amazing night time landscapes in low light. It merges four pixels into one super pixel which results in 400% brighter photos at night.  

Some features of the cameras are: 15 effects modes in the Rear Camera and 8 on the Front one. These include Low Light mode, HDR (for better backlit images); Beautification (to improve portraits by adjusting the softness or brightness of the skin, eye size and cheek width); a Selfie mode with 140 degree Panorama if used with the front camera; Time Lapse; Time Rewind and Smart Remove, which deletes moving objects such as passers-by from the background of your shot. 

The ASUS ZenPad 8.0 Z380KL offers awesome image creativity through its panoramic selfies of 140 degree wide-angle. Not just that, once the images are on the tab you can beautify the images at the touch of a button. 

10) Communication: The ASUS ZenPad 8.0 Z380KL being an android device blends perfectly with the Google Os. With the ZenMotion you can create shortcuts through touch gestures which lets you open apps in an instant even when the display is off. Here are some such short-cuts: Pressing ‘c’ activates the Camera; ‘w’ = Browser; ‘e’ = Email. It's that simple!

11) Display: ASUS ZenPad 8.0 Z380KL comes with an amazing wide viewing angle of up to 178%. The screen display is 1280x800 HD of 189 pixels per inch.
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The wide angle viewing of ASUS ZenPad 8.0
It comes with a 76.5% wide screen-to-body ratio. This is far ahead of many similar products in the market. It has a anti-fingerprint coating, so no worries about having to wipe the screen each time your child uses it. The 16:10 Aspect Ratio eliminates black bars on screen while watching movies and games. It offers a higher optical transparency 94% thanks to the ASUS TruVivid technology. Due to this watching videos is a pleasure as the tab offers very detailed images with sharper contrasts and rich colours.
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The ASUS ZenPad 8.0 has a stunning  display
12) Easy Reading: Thanks to the ASUS Tru2Life Outdoor Readable technology, the ASUS ZenPad 8.0 Z380KL can be used for outdoor reading. The device can differentiate the lighting conditions and automatically adjust the display for eacy reading even in bright sunlight. Also, the ASUS Bluelight Filter reduces the blue light emission by apx. 30% without disturbing the rest of the colour balance. All this contribute to more relaxed eyes. 
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The display of ASUS ZenPad 8.0 incorporates the latest eye-friendly features and technology
13) Music: If music interests you, then at this price look no further than ASUS ZenPad 8.0 Z380KL. For the first time ever in the world we have a tablet that comes with interchangeable rear elements where you can either add a longer lasting battery or get an integrated speaker within the protective tablet cover. It is also the world’s first tablet which integrates DTS-HD Premium Sound creating an immersive cinema-style experience with deep, rich bass and treble. A DTS-HD Premium Sound speaker is also built in to the CA81 ASUS Audio Cover. which is actually a six in one, that has four Main speakers, one Center and one Subwoofer. It delivers sound in an upward direction. It has six hours of battery life on its own.

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The DTS-HD Premium Sound speaker cum cover of the Asus ZenPhone8.0 offers stunning audio

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A close look at the innovative speaker cum cover of the Asus ZenPhone8.0
14) Style: Yes, I am concious of what I walk around with and I need a device that satisfies my style quotient. The ASUS ZenPad 8.0 Z380KL balances of grace and durability in a excellent way. Apart from the device itself, even the cases that it comes with are stylish offering you the options of full personalisation. 

The tab's design has been influenced by its similarity to the way a clutch bag is carried. It comes with a stylish embossed leather pattern and clean lines. The 6mm slim bezel and rounded edges on it allow for a more comfortable grip and ergonomic holding position. The device comes in three different colour choices: Leather Black, Pearl White and Aurora Metallic and can be added with the ASUS Zen Clutch or one of five different coloured ASUS Zen Cases. You can change them to suit your taste or mood.
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I enjoy the style quotient that comes along with the Asus ZenPhone8.0
15) Accessories: The ASUS ZenPad 8.0 Z380KL experience can be enhanced with its accessories- 
ASUS Power Case (CB81) and ASUS Audio Cover (CA81). 
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The Asus ZenPhone8.0 in hand with its cover

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A close look at the cover of the Asus ZenPhone8.0
Other reasons:
16) Social media and Built-in apps: Using social networks, apps, games and the internet is a breeze with the ASUS ZenPad 8.0 Z380KL. The tab's on-board apps can be used for quick editing, addition of effects and sharing on social media, cloud services or any linked devices. 

The new ZenUI interface offers great customisation and personalisation. It has over 1,000 features and automatically receives 24/7 updates through the Google Play Store. ZenUI has 35 of its own apps. 
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A list of pre-installed Apps of Asus ZenPhone8.0

17) Movie making: If you want to go beyond the normal and make movies out of a tab, then the ASUS ZenPad 8.0 Z380KL allows you to use its pre-installed MiniMovie app. You can also make a Pro Slideshow in 1-2-3 Steps using the MiniMovie app


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