The Queen of London's underground

Making your journey musical: Hadar Manor playing at a London underground. All pic @ Hadar Manor

The London underground is often regarded as a haven for upcoming music artists. It is here that the cacophony of screeching trains and the mechanical clatter of the escalators combine well with the drumming, strumming and singing of hundreds of performers who come out every day, vying for the attention (and tips) of thousands of commuters who travel daily using trains. It was among these hundreds of buskers that one voice stood out and made a successful transition from busking to recording and winning a million hearts in the process.
Hadar Manor, famously referred to as the Queen of the Underground, is a woman of many talents. She is a busker, a songwriter, a composer, a producer and above all a doting mother.

Finding her strength in music: Hadar Manor 
Sharing the highlights of her musical journey, Hadar says, “I started my journey when I was 21 years old. I came to London with just an old second-hand guitar and four songs to my name. I started busking on the South Bank of the river Thames. Then someone told me about auditions to get a license to busk on the underground.”
The time spent busking on the underground, Hadar says was an amazing time of her life. “Busking underground was definitely an upgrade as I met some great people and was invited to collaborate and play with some very talented musicians. Some were already well known musicians like dance legend Sandy Rivera and singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran,” Hadar says.

Coming from a small village in Israel and serving with the Israeli army at the age of 20, Hadar would have hardly imagined that her life as a training officer for medics would turn out to be the perfect prelude to her life as a musician. Yet, it was this experience and the influence of 60′s and 70′s British Rock ‘n roll that she listened to during her teenage years that flowed into her lyrics too. “My days at the army inspired me to take up music as it helped me pour emotions into my lyrics. The song itself could be about a few experiences, however they all carry a similar emotional intention,” Hadar says.
Armed with all this experience and singing songs of the life of an ‘urban gypsy’, Hadar certainly knew how to brighten up the monotonous commute of many London workers. And it was these people and many more who voted her the Queen of the Underground – a competition that crowns the best busker among London Underground’s licensed buskers. “Winning that title meant that for the first time in my life I had the opportunity to go into a professional studio and cut an album. The result was the birth of Crossing London – my debut album,” says the singer.

Queen of Underground
Though Hadar continued busking even after the album release, it was the birth of her son Leo Elvis Thomas in 2011 that inspired her to take the plunge from being a busker to a signed artist. “Busking gives you a sense of freedom, yet I wanted to do bigger things rather than just stay underground. Becoming a mother changed everything. From an urban gypsy, I became a responsible mother.” Even a wandering soul settles down sometimes, she stresses in between. “I always wondered if I’ll be able to keep creating once I have a family. To my surprise, I’ve become more creative after the birth of my son,” she says.
Since then, Hadar has become a completely independent musician, putting in all her saving from busking to build a home studio – teaching herself and vowing to write, record and produce a song for each month of her life, starting with the January song. Now, a year into being solo, Hadar recently released her second album – The Year & Now – with 12 songs, each for every month.

Terming the album, the diary of her life, Hadar says, the experience has enriched her as a person. “It was a great opportunity to reflect on the past few weeks and then months. There were times when I thought of giving up, yet I believe you just got to get on with things. I love this whole process of having an idea to writing the song and then recording and producing it. It’s so satisfying. Giving up, did I say?” she smiles.


Men dancing in 6inch stilettos

Yanis Marshall with Arnaud and Mehdi
This video just blew my mind. First of all, I wish I had moves like these. Second of all, I wish I could even walk in 6 inch stilettos. What these men do to combine both completely amazes me, and frankly, makes me extremely envious.
I think they have everything going for them... They are good looking, their choreography is amazing (...aaah those moves) and its a treat to watch them.
YANIS MARSHALL I have become a big fan of yours.
Here's the amazing video


House of Flavours - review. One of the best Indian restaurant in Reading

Indian Restaurant & Bar, House of Flavours, Kings Road, Reading
Reading in Berkshire, UK has a lot of amazing eateries and undoubtedly the place houses some of the best Indian restaurants. Having tried almost all of them in the past one year, I have to say that House of Flavours on Kings Road tops my list of amazing Indian restaurant offering good quality food and excellent ambience coupled with good service.

I had the good fortune of meeting the owners - Mr Chander and Mr Gurpreet - when they had just opened the doors to their new restaurant in September, for menu tasting. Since then, I have to say, I have been very impressed with their hospitality and kind personal attention, every time that I have visited the restaurant with my family or with my friends. From suggesting Today's Specials to personally looking after their guests, the owners do a commendable job of making each and every person present in their restaurant feel at home.

Why the review now? Well, I went to have dinner at the restaurant again some time back, to use the offer that was being advertised on Facebook - 25% off on food bill. And I have been raving about the newly updated menu so much that my friends asked me to write a review about the same on my blog. So, here it is:

The interesting décor
When we reached the restaurant at around 8.30pm, it was unusually packed for a Tuesday night, but we were seated in a comfortable spot and were seen by an attendant right away. To start off, I ordered Sweet Kewra Lassi (£2.99) while my husband ordered a Johhnie Walker Black Lable (£5.58). The drinks were served immediately along with poppadoms that came with a selection of spiced onions, mango chutney (the yummiest ever!!) and mint sauce (99p per person) as we pondered over the vast menu to decide what to order for mains.

Yummy Kewra Lassi
Finally I decided on ordering Nargisi Subz Kebab as starter and Paneer Taka Tak with butter naan for myself, while my husband opted for a spicy Chicken Jalfrezi with tandoori roti as a main with Lasooni Chicken Tikka as starter.

Nargisi Subz Kebab
Though the starters took some time to arrive on our table, it was worth the wait. Being a vegetarian, I rarely find good starters in Indian restaurants - in fact all I can find in name of starters is paneer - paneer tikka, paneer pakoda or paneer patty. Nargisi Subz Kebab was a delight. And going by the satisfaction on my husband's face, I can say that he too enjoyed his Lasooni Chicken Tikka.

Lasooni Chicken Tikka
Our main course announced its arrival, way before it landed on our table. Such sizzling noise it made, popping away on the skillet, that few even turned to see what was coming on our table. Since all their dishes are made to order, I asked for less spicy while my husband went the whole hog in asking them to make the spiciest Jalfrezi ever. What can I say, we both have different taste when it comes to food, and the restaurant did their best to serve us food according to our liking.

(From top to bottom) Paneer Taka Tak, Chiken Jalfrezi and butter naan
The butter naan was just perfect - perfectly layered, buttery, chewy and soft. I couldn't have asked for more. After all this, there was absolutely no place for desserts, but I would highly recommend their Gulab Jamuns. They are the bestest that you will find in Reading.

With such an awesome gourmet delight, an added 25% off on our food bill was like a cherry on top. And just as we got up to leave, I looked at my husband and said, "We are definitely coming here again." He gave me a big smile.

Two course with Beer/ Wine/ Drink - £13.99
Three course with Beer/ Wine/ Drink - £15.99

p.s: Don't go by their online menu. I think they haven't updated it yet. They've added a lot more dishes to their menu now.