That Feeling of Winning!

Entry for Winning! #Conclave14  http://conclave.intoday.in/. In an era, where the world has moved to 140 characters, I won’t use many lines to explain what Winning means to me and will make it short and simple :)

As an entrepreneur my feeling of winning comes from my everyday experience & interactions with the people around me!

When I see people in our organisation smiling and feeling happy about the culture we’re building at our workplace, I feel we’re winning and we’re moving forward.

When our client says, “Good Job” to our team, I feel that we’re winning together as one unit, as one Team.

When the trainee in organisation gives us a party for buying a new bike or our peon gives a party for his kiddo’s birthday, I feel that we are winning as human beings.

When our mentors talk about their learnings, share their experience and guide us that feeling of winning comes in as we know we’re not alone out there and have someone somewhere who is showing us the light.

When my parents tell me to continue with what I am doing, I feel I’ve won their trust and am winning as a son.

When my wife supports me for everyone decision that I make, forgives me for every mistake that I make, I feel that I am winning as a husband.

More than anything else, Winning for me is a feeling that comes from the happiness, happiness of soul, body and mind.

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Gadget Spotlight: JBL Flip, A little beauty

Let’s start 2014 on a musical note with one of the coolest bluetooth speakers – JBL Flip. It connects easily with your bluetooth enabled smartphone, tablet or system and also plays music through the 3.5mm AUX input.

Don’t go by its size, the portable Flip packs a big punch with its loud and crystal clear sound. In the price bracket of 5,000+ INR it is one of the best portable mini bluetooth speakers around!

It has a “Call” button which means that you can use the Flip as a hands-free speaker for your phone calls. The Flip has an external AC charger and doesn’t come with an external USB charger which is not really a problem unless you don’t like carrying too many wires with you. You can listen to the music on JBL Flip in a horizontal position or by placing it vertically upright with the sound output depending on type of music you play.

The JBL Flip rests on its rubber support and packs a punch despite its small size

The JBL Flip rests on its rubber support and packs a punch despite its small size

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As the name suggests you can Flip it to make it stand vertically upright.

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The speaker easily works on battery for 4-5 hours and delivers sound through its two 5W drivers.

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2013 Social Media Bloopers

They say that mistakes are bound to happen and they can happen to the best of us. But the most important lesson is to learn and improve from them. So, as we say hello to 2014, let us look at which brands make it to the list of 2013 Social Media Bloopers.

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How Restaurants Should Use Facebook?

So you’re running a restaurant/working in a restaurant and wanna know how you can use Facebook? Folks at my company, Iffort have created a small presentation which will help you get started with a basic framework :)

Hope you guys would like it.

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That Journey to Krabi (Thailand)

Yes, I love exploring new places and consider myself as an explorer. However, for the explorers in us it was a vacation of a different kind. We had planned a quiet romantic holiday but little did we know that this journey would have its own thrills and drama.

NOTE: This blog-post is written for ‘I am Explorer’ Indiblogger contest. To discover, the real explorer in you check-out Tata Safari Storme by www.tatasafari.com/

The Boarding Saga

Earlier this year, we had embarked on a trip to the beautiful island town of Krabi and the memories of that thrilling holiday are still fresh in my mind. Early in the morning, we headed to the T3 terminal of Delhi airport and reached well on time. The excitement was evident and the happiness of heading to Bangkok en-route Krabi was visible in our eyes. The executive at the Thai Airways desk confirmed our destination with us and we replied that we were heading to Krabi via Bangkok. He handed over the boarding pass of Delhi to Bangkok to us and asked us to wait for the boarding pass of the connecting flight from Bangkok to Krabi. We waited patiently and moved sideways to make way for the next person in the queue.

I checked again and asked the executive if there was any problem. We were in for a shocker! He told us that our connecting flight from Bangkok to Krabi was shifted ahead of its departure time by an hour. We were in for disbelief as we were now left with only half hour for transit between Bangkok and Krabi. I told him that it’s not possible at all as were never informed about the change in schedule. I asked him if there were any hopes of catching our flight on time. He said that the same problem had happened with passengers in last evening’s flight and they were able to make it on time. He said, let’s hope for the best but did mention that the flight from Bangkok to Krabi was the last one for the evening and the next connecting flight was only available after 14 hours. God, this was meant to be a leisure holiday and not a nerve racking one is what I told myself.  Still not satisfied, I called up the Yatra.com executive and asked him how on earth could this happen without we receiving any notification! Pallav, the Yatra.com guy was in panic and said, ‘Sir, it’s not possible. Flights are never shifted before schedule and incase of any changes, you would have received a notification’. Hoping against hope, I asked Pallav to check with his team and get back to me with a solution.

Lastly, I tweeted and tagged the thaiairways handle in my anger and frustration.

I tweeted to Thai Airways with a picture of my boarding pass and the ticket originally issued.

I tweeted to Thai Airways with a picture of my boarding pass and the ticket originally issued.

My last tweet before we the flight take-off

My last tweet before the flight’s take-off

We were relaxed and calm once the flight took-off! We thought that despite only 30 minutes of time between transit we’d still be able to make it. We were praying to god as we were on a vacation and we really didn’t want to start it on a bad note. We told the Thai Airways flight attendant about our problem and he listened to us patiently despite the language issue.

About 3.5 hours into our flight the attendant came back and asked us to take out our cabin baggage. We were clueless as to why was he asking us to do that as we were very much in the air. Nevertheless we followed his instruction and also followed him as he walked ahead of us. We were in for a surprise as he shifted us to the ‘Business Class’ and handed over a small chit of paper to us. It had some note in Thai language and he asked us to give it to the security. We landed at the Bangkok airport but only after the 29th minute of transit time.

Just as we moved out of the plane, we met a couple of security personnel with our name placards. They asked us to move fast towards the security check. We started walking very fast, really fast and they personnel started running.

So did we as we could see a glimmer of hope. We were at the gates again for a security check. There was a small queue and the staff asked us to stand in the queue.

The staff member requested the security guy to consider us first and shouted, ‘Sir, I would request you to please help them as they are the last 2 passengers to board this evening flight to Krabi. Sir, this is the last flight for the day and there is no more flight to Krabi for another 12 hours so I would request you to let them go’.

He understood what the problem was and we zipped through the security check and rushed towards the boarding gates. Within the next 3 minutes we were in the flight and as the guy had rightly said, we were the last 2 people to board the flight which was delayed by 15 minutes. We were so happy as if we had achieved a milestone. We looked towards each other and knew that the adventure had begun :)

The Arrival Drama

As if this was not enough, there was more in store for us! We reached the small airport of Krabi at about 8.30pm in the evening. It was so dark outside, there were hardly any lights and you couldn’t differentiate land from water. The airport wore a deserted look and the only people in the airport were those from our flight. There was a separate queue for international passengers and we waited at the conveyer belt to collect our baggage. We were happy to have landed in Krabi and that the journey had finally begun!

15 minutes went by and our bags didn’t come. We had 3 bags in all and we were wondering what was happening! Slowly all the passengers went away with their bags and there were only 3 families left at the airport.

One of the french men shouted, I am here for a vacation with my wife and 1 year old son and I have nothing but our passports and some money. I don’t have clothes, I don’t have baby food and I have nothing.

The airport was really getting spooky by now as there were hardly any people around. We located the Thai Airways help-desk at the airport but there was no one around. After sometime, one girl from the staff walked into the desk, didn’t look at us, didn’t say anything and handed over a pink slip to us. She didn’t understand a word of English language but did figure out that our baggage had gone missing. She took down all our details in the pink slip including the details of the Pakasai Resort where we were staying. A Swedish family told us that there were no taxis at the airport and they just booked the last one.

Thankfully, we had the YourKrabi.com taxi driver for our assistance as we had booked our taxi to the Pakasai resort well in advance. We were given the assurance by the staff-member that our baggage would reach Pakasai resort by the next day.

The Serene Beaches of Krabi

With no bags, no clothes we reached the Pakasai resort. Next morning with nothing to do, we walked towards the Ao Nang beach in the same pair of jeans and t-shirt. It was hot and the sun was beating down hard on us. We headed to the nearby Railay beach and went back to the hotel in afternoon. The bags were there in the lobby of Pakasai Resort!

The virgin beaches of Krabi were divine and a treat to the shutterbugs! The photologue paints the real story :)

The Panoramic beauty of Nopparat Beach, Krabi

The Panoramic beauty of Nopparat Beach, Krabi

A quite evening at Nopparat Beach, Krabi

A quiet evening at Nopparat Beach, Krabi

Evening sunset at Ao Nang Beach

Evening sunset at Ao Nang Beach

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Long Tail Boat at Ao Nang Beach, Krabi

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Morning Breakfast at Pakasai Resort, Krabi

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Hong Islands – Just laze around and do some snorkelling

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A Russian family playing soccer at Nopparat Beach!

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Krabi is a perfect destination for the families

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A young kid with his family in the long tail boat at one of the beaches in Krabi

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A little girl plays at the Ao Nang beach

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A long tail boat at the shores of the Ao Nang beach as it finishes its trip!

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The Islands near Krabi – Tubkaak Beach, Chicken Island and the Hong Island are a popular destination for the families.

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The soft white sand beaches, the towering cliffs make it an awesome experience.

The Lifetime Experience of Kayaking in Mangrove forests at Ao Thalane

On one of the days, we went to the hidden gem of Krabi, Ao Thalane to Kayak in the mangrove forest. Although we were Kayaking for the first time, we thought that it would be like one of those rafting experiences in Rishikesh.

The chirping sounds of the jungle, the monitor lizards, the limestone cliffs and the monkeys make Ao Thalane so spectacular. We were given a 5 minute drill on how to Kayak and next we were up there in the waters. We had to negotiate the forests, the obstacles and the narrow pathways. Although Shalini was wearing a life jacket, knowing swimming would have helped in cutting risk if the Kayak toppled over.

Since she was doing any form of water sports activity for the first time, she was a little nervous and that made our Kayak go slow. 6 km is a really long stretch and you can easily get tired. The tough path didn’t make it easy either and to make matters worse we were way behind our group and the guide.

As we entered the dense forest, we were caught off-guard by one of the obstacles and our kayak toppled over. For one moment it seemed that everything will be over. We shouted for help but the Kayakers next to us were French nationals so they didn’t understand a word of what we were saying. Although I wasn’t wearing a life jacket, I realised that we were close to the branch of a tree and I moved her to safety. I held the branch with one hand and started searching for the dry bag. In the meantime, one of the guides came to our rescue and helped us find the bag and get back to the Kayak.

It was a thrilling experience and those moments of going into the water as the monitor lizards and monkeys watch you are something I can never forget.

Here are some pictures from the Kayaking trip.

The Hidden Paradise of Krabi, Ao Thalane

The Hidden Paradise of Krabi, Ao Thalane

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and that’s our Kayak with Shalini on the front.

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The group infront of us as we prepare to Kayak!
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A swiss and a french girl teamed up to Kayak together

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As everyone goes deep into the jungle through the tight paths

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The obstacles on our way!

The guide negotiates through the obstacles

The guide negotiates through the obstacles

Despite the obstacles, the overall joy of exploring the unknown surroundings of Krabi during our journey was simply fantastic! Something similar to the journeys with Tata Safari Storme.

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9 Fun Things to Do in Coorg (Kodagu)

Working in a digital agency, sometimes you don’t realise how your days/weeks pass-by and it’s more so when you are managing your own business. A couple of months into the regular regime, I knew that my soul needed a break! That’s when we started planning for our next vacation. Being in Delhi, North has always been accessible so we wanted to explore a bit of South India. Having visited Kerala in 2011, we were looking to visit a new destination. After a bit of looking-up, the thought of going to Coorg and Mysore came to our minds.

So we started with our plan and the idea was to get the basic elements of our trip right:

Number of Days: We holidayed for 4N/5Days. Spent 3 nights in Kushalnagar near Coorg and 1N in Mysore.
Flight: We booked our flight tickets with Indigo Airlines a couple of months in advance.
Where to Stay? (Hotel or Home-stay) We opted for the Eco Habitat home-stay at Kushalnagar and the experience was brilliant. Post our vacations, we have realised that nothing can beat the experience of a home-stay if chosen correctly. In Mysore, we stayed at The Ginger Hotel and got a good deal from goibibo.com.
Food: Karnataka has a lot to offer in food. It’s not just about the Dosas and Vadas. It’s a heaven for both vegetarians and non-vegetarians :)
What to do? Coorg and nearby areas have plenty of options. It depends on what you are comfortable with. There are places for trekking, rafting, river sight-seeing, you could see the waterfalls and of-course the usual ones such as visit the temples, heritage sites etc.
How to go? This isn’t a million dollar question as you would be traveling via cab if you’re like me and are coming all the way from Delhi. I evaluated a couple of cab/taxi services and finalised Taxiforsure.com.  What an experience it was & the driver was a rockstar. He was very helpful despite the language barrier and went a long way in assisting us and clicked a lot of our trip pictures. 

Here is a photo-story of what we did & the places we visited during our stay in Kushalnagar/Coorg. The pics have been taking using an iPhone 5 and Nikon DSLR camera. That’s why you would see a difference in the quality/type of images.

The taxi from taxiforsure.com was right on time and we got an instant buzz the moment we touched down at the Bengaluru airport.

That's our sweet driver Jayram from Taxiforsure.com

That’s our sweet driver Jayram from Taxiforsure.com

Stop over for the Kairali meal at the Kamat. Since I was just getting into the journey groove, I started with a plain dosa and mausami juice. The restaurant is just before you touch Mysore, enroute Coorg.

Stop over for lunch with the traditional Kairali thali at the Kamat. Since I was just getting into the journey groove, I started with a plain dosa and mausami juice. The restaurant is just before you touch Mysore, enroute Coorg.

1. Stay in a Home-Stay 

The charm, the aura and the surroundings of a home-stay are really very special. Coorg has plenty of options for home-stays. We stayed at Eco Habitat in Kushalnagar which is slightly off Coorg but a fantastic property and well connected.

That's the beautiful Cottage at Eco Habitat

That’s the beautiful Cottage at Eco Habitat, Kushalnagar

An Instagram Shot of the Eco Habitat Resort. With the pony and a bunch of other animals, the Eco Habitat resort was far from the maddening crowd in city.

An Instagram Shot of the Eco Habitat Resort. With the pony and a bunch of other animals, the Eco Habitat resort was far from the maddening crowd in city.

That's another shot of pony in

That’s another shot of the pony and sheep lazing around in their habitat

Food at Coorg

Our gracious hosts, the husband wife duo of Som & Chetanwere so warm and friendly. Chetna’s meals breakfast, lunch and dinner were delight and gave us a real glimpse of the South Indian delicacies.

Traditional South Indian food for dinner

That’s dal, rice dumplings and curd for dinner. The heavy image exposure is for the flash used to compesnat for the night shot.

2. Visit the Dubare Elephant Camp

Dubare Elephant Camp near Kushalnagar is a good place to enjoy the good old elephant rides, elephant bathing and more. Across the river, you can also enjoy water rafting.

Dubare Elephant Camp near Kushalnagar is a good place to enjoy the good old elephant rides, elephant bathing and more. Across the river, you can also enjoy water rafting.

The Camp is The Property of Jungle Lodges and Resorts Ltd, Govt. of Karnataka

The Camp is The Property of Jungle Lodges and Resorts Ltd, Govt. of Karnataka

3. Chikli Dam, 3km from Eco Habitat

The Chikli Dam

We went to the Chiki Dam which is 3km off Kushalnagar. It offers picturesque spots and is a delight for the shutterbugs.

Here is another black and white shot of the mountains/river near the Chikli Dam. It's a heaven in the evenings.

Here is another black and white shot of the mountains/river near the Chikli Dam. It’s a heaven in the evenings.

4. Visit the Golden Temple, Coorg

Located at about 30 minutes from the Eco Habitat, Bylakuppe is a Tibetan Refugee settlement, the magnificent Monastery in Kodagu state. You would see Tibetan refugee monks, their families and the golden statues of Buddha and other gods across the Namdroling Monastery.

The Golden Statues of Buddha, Padmasambhava and the Buddha Amitayus. The picture shows 2 of the gods.

The Golden Statues of Buddha, Padmasambhava and the Buddha Amitayus. The picture shows 2 of the gods.

Bylakuppe monastery

Bylakuppe monastery

An elderly couple were praying right at the footsteps of entrance, there was something which caught their attention

An elderly couple were praying right at the footsteps of entrance, there was something which caught their attention

Group of young monks at a park in the temple

Group of young monks at a park in the temple

5. Don’t Miss out on Abbey Falls, Madikeri 

8km from Madikeri, Abbey Falls are in the mountains of Western Ghats.

8km from Madikeri, Abbey Falls are in the mountains of Western Ghats.

While I like being behind the camera, my dear wife did manage to click a picture or two of me :)

While I like being behind the camera, my dear wife did manage to click a picture or two of me at the Abbey falls :)

6. Go for the Jungle Trek in the Western Ghats

With lush green jungles & waterfalls all around, Coorg is a heaven for those who love trekking. We trekked right after the monsoons and there were leeches who greeted us, but the breathtaking views and the scenic waterfalls didn’t dampen our spirit.

Go for the Jodhpala jeep trek, 12km of Madikeri as we did with the help of local ex-army man, Ravi. He took his 4 wheel drive Bolero in the narrow lanes of the jungle and made it an experience of a life time. On our way up the hill, we met a local family and were treated with limejuice and Upmas.

That's our 4wheel driver, Ravi up the jungles. He waited for us in the heart of Jungles as we came back from our trek in about 1.5 hours.

That’s our man Ravi up the jungles with his 4 wheel drive, Bolero. He waited for us in the heart of Jungles as we came back from our trek in about 1.5 hours.

The jungled opened upto some pictersque views during our trek. It was a beautiful view of the western ghats, with rudraksha trees calling for the rains and waterfalls all around.

The jungled opened upto some pictersque views during our trek. It was a beautiful view of the western ghats, with rudraksha trees calling for the rains and waterfalls all around.

I couldn't resist taking a pause and clicking such heavenly views.

I couldn’t resist taking a pause and clicking such heavenly views.

7. Adore the Mountain View at Raja’s Seat, Madikeri

Raja’s Seat (Seat of the King) is a seasonal garden of flowers and artificial fountains and was a favourite of the king during ancient times. It is a popular tourist spot in Coorg and you would see large groups of youngsters out here at any time during the day. The garden offers breath-taking views of low rise mountains and you can spend hours here adoring the sunset.

Raja's Seat

Raja’s Seat

Special Tip: Just before you enter the Raja’s Seat garden you can take a ride on the toy-train for 10 bucks. It’s good fun and will revive the memories of child in you :)

The Toy Train outside the Raja's Seat

The Toy Train outside the Raja’s Seat

8. Experience the Natural Beauty of Coorg

Unfortunately, I don't know names of any of these flowers. If you do know any of these names, do share them via comments.

Unfortunately, I don’t know names of any of these flowers. If you do know any of these names, do share them via comments.

If you just want to relax, you can adore a variety of colourful and exotic flowers bloom in Coorg.

If you just want to relax, you can adore a variety of colourful and exotic flowers bloom in Coorg.

If you just want to relax, you can adore a variety of colourful and exotic flowers bloom in Coorg.

If you just want to relax, you can adore a variety of colourful and exotic flowers bloom in Coorg.

Coorg rich in flora and fauna with coffee plantations, pepper and cardamom plantations all around.

Coorg is rich in flora and fauna with coffee plantations, pepper and cardamom plantations all around.

Coorg is rich in flora and fauna with coffee plantations, pepper and cardamom plantations all around.

Coorg is rich in flora and fauna with coffee plantations, pepper and cardamom plantations all around.

9. Grab a Copy of Short Escapes from Bengaluru

Lastly, before you pack your bags, do grab a copy of the travel guide Short Escapes from Bengaluru by Lonely Planet. It will be a good friend for your trip :)

Short Escapes from Bengaluru

Short Escapes from Bengaluru – My Companion for the journey around Coorg

This is what I did in Coorg :) Came back from a wonderful vacation recently? Do share your experience in comments while I pen down my next post on Mysore.

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Some iphone 5 Accessories for you :)

iPhone 5 is one of the most stunning phones in the market right now and a desire for many. While it boasts of cools specs and features, there’re some issues like low battery-life etc. Here are some iPhone accessories that help me to get more from this device.

Battery Love: Mophie Juice Pack

If you own an iPhone 5, you must be suffering from low battery woes. The battery really dies fast and if you’re on a 3G connection then it is even worse. I had read about juice packs that power your phone in in-flight magazines. However, I found out those juice-packs to be bulky and nothing less than a hassle for frequent usage. I thought someone somewhere would have made a juice pack which matches up with the iPhone 5 itself.

Thankfully there’s one in the form of Mophie juice pack. Unfortunately, these guys don’t ship to India so be prepared to shell-out some good money on shipping if you plan to own this one. As for me, a kind buddy Sandeep Oruganti was generous to ship it all the way to India and gift this pack to me :)

It does make the phone tall and bulky :)

It does make the phone tall and bulky :)

Mophie Juice Pack

Rear view of Mophie Juice Back: Those little dots are the LED indicators.

Camera Love: Lenses + Tripod from Photojojo

If you’re one of those amateur photography nerds and spend your time taking a lot of random pictures from food to coffee then there’re a couple of accessories that you might want to add to your iPhone kit.

Photojojo Lens for iPhone

They’ve got a bunch of iPhone 5 lenses in the form of Macros, Fisheye, Wide angle and Telephoto etc. I’m in love with #photojojomacro lens which enables you to take those super-close macro shots with an iPhone 5.

Off-course you can never compare its quality with a DSLR but it is still very good. The macro lens comes for 20$ but again be ready to pay for the shipping duty as these guys aren’t in India yet :) I also have the telephoto lens from Photojojo but haven’t used it much as it just offers you a 2X zoom.

Some early morning shots taken in the neighbourhood park.

Some early morning shots taken in the neighbourhood park.

Photojojo flower shot

Photojojo flower shot

:) stunning no?

:) stunning no?

Test pictures with Photojojo Macro Lens

Test pictures with Photojojo Macro Lens

Gorillopod GripTight Tripod Stand

While taking those awesome pictures with buddies/family you feel that you could have been a part of them? Check this Gorillapod Stand then :) It’s perfect for self portraits and group shots. Available at photojojo for 35$ and some more for the shipping cost.

Gorillapod Clamp Stand for iPhone 5

Gorillapod Clamp Stand for iPhone 5

Handy for your group shots and self portraits :)

Handy for your group shots and self portraits :)

Music Love: Fake Beats by Dr. Dre Bluetooth Speaker

Warning: Ignore this if you’re a brand loyalist at heart :) I picked this ‘mini bluetooth speaker’ from the street market in Thailand. At the first sight, you’d be fooled by its looks since  it comes with the branding of the original Beats by Dr. Dre. The audio quality is quite good and for a speaker of this size the bass packs a considerable punch.

Give this speaker a shot before you put in big bucks to buy the real ones :)

Fake music!

Fake Beats Bluetooth speaker!

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