Friday, November 30, 2007

Malling till JAB WE MET

I had much more pressing matters to attend to after my visit to the Lawyer’s office. I spent the afternoon into the early evening at a Mall located at Bhowanipore called Merlin HOMELAND. A 5 floor mall dedicated to all home stuff, from paint to flooring, from bedroom to bathroom and kitchen to toilet. Add to that an exclusive 3 floor section dedicated to all things electronic and electrical called E-Zone.

So I’ve got a list of stuff to buy and know what it costs. At one time it seems like a whole lot of money, but then most of us don’t realise what it takes to set up a home and live in the luxury of having things bought of time making our lives comfortable. But here’s another eye opener for those who plan to ever do a spring clean, you’ll realise the amount of junk you have accumulated over the years.

Anyway the hours spent at HOMELAND had me work up an appetite and I ended up going to FORUM where some more window shopping and video games kept me busy till I met up with friends and we ended up at STAR STRUCK a sports bar lounge kind of place. A bit dark for my liking, but good to chill out in their comfy seats over a couple of beers, not to add that its not all that expensive.

Then I picked up tickets for JAB WE MET and I think that was the perfect way to end a long fruitful day. The movie is a must watch and though I had apprehensions about the movie starring Shahid Kapoor and Kareena Kapoor, the movie turned out to be super. I must admit that Kareena has done a splendid job and just as I had raised my opinions about Akshay Kumar a while back, Ms. Kapoor has definitely gone up several notches in my book. The lady can act. The movie is a laugh riot, more so in the first half and though the second half tones down a bit, it’ll keep you glued on. All the songs have a perfect place in the movie and are in sync with the storyline. So all I can say is, if you want to watch an entertaining movie, go catch JAB WE MET.

A Legal Matter

Yesterday I had to visit a lawyer whose chamber was next to Kolkata High Court. I have come to believe in my first professional experience with lawyers that they just complicate simple things and then charge you a whole lot of money for their contribution to giving you stress.

Anyway the visit to Old Post Office Road next to the Kolkata High Court was quite enlightening. The pavements are lined with typists tapping away at the keyboards of their age old typewriters. Young and old lawyers chatting over tea at corner tea stalls in their black robes. Then there are some of them scurrying around with files and some of them sitting with typists getting some documents typed. I also noticed that every little piece of real estate is utilised to its optimum, like the Photocopy Shop which was housed in a hole in the wall. Cars are parked four or five lanes parallel and it’s a wonder how anyone gets their cars out especially when even I couldn’t pass between any of them.

But the best thing is the line of food stalls. Just seeing the variety of food being prepared and served on the street side warrants a visit someday soon for me to actually try some of their stuff. A week long fast would be good preparation for my visit here to indulge in a day long food festival.

All in all the area around Kolkata High Court is a place where people are doing brisk business be it food, legal, photocopying, stationery or then just the parking guys. Everybody is making money!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Birthday Party by the Poolside

Last evening I was invited by a friend of mine for his Birthday Party at Aqua, the pool side lounge bar at The Park. Well for someone who is not that well versant with the high life in Kolkata, my friend pointed out some of the who's who of Kolkata, Fashion Designers, Advertising Gurus et al. Anyway I was quite fascinated with the antics of the bar tender that had been practicing for this routine for a while in between pouring drinks for the guests. The boy put up a descent show.

While some great snacks were being served, the booze was flowing like the River Hooghly and people had been swept up into high spirits. The cake cutting was followed by popping of Champagne to usher in another Birthday; one of the Birthday Boy's relatives who were at the party was celebrating her birthday too. Wow! A double whammy! Day before was a double wedding reception and now a double birthday. What a way to start the party season.

I'm still craving from some of that Golden Fried Prawn being served there last night though...

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Some Good Performances Could Happen Here

This morning I headed to Nazrul Manch, the Open Air Theatre along side the Lakes on Southern Avenue is a massive venue for any kind of musical extravaganza. The surroundings add to the fun quotient. Large open spaces lined with walkways, trees and best of all a massive lake to provide a cool south breeze. A capacity of about 3000 and a huge 100+ wide feet stage is what makes this a more preferred destination for live music concerts. And all this doesn’t take away from it the most essential requisite of a live performance; Acoustics. The OAT is built in such a way that it captures every sound and propels it towards the audience. I am definitely looking forward to attending a concert here this season.

Wedding Season starts

Yes as luck would have it, I had invitations to two wedding receptions. Add to that the fact that I had some pressing matters in the evening which required my utmost attention. But one can't resist the fact that its wedding season and you have the opportunity to get into a suit and grace the occasion. OK am just kidding about all this stuff. I just can't resist the fact that there's going to be an awesome spread. Food! Food! Food!

I decided to visit Raja's sister's wedding first as it was in Garia, which is way out and way in the interiors. So while I just made do with some Puchkas and coffee, the main menu entailed rice, pure ghee, dal, begun bhaja, pabda maach, kosha mangsho, jalpai er chatni, papad and topped off with raabri. I must add though that the wedding had all the ingredients of a man who was influenced by the arts. The shehnai's atop the entrance and then the pandal walls lined with terracotta art was exquisite.

My brief stop there was followed by a long, long drive down N.S.C. Bose Road down to Tollygunge. I just about made it to Ajoy's wedding reception ad was the last person to enter the Princeton Club hall. After exchanging pleasantries and being introduced to his wife and family, I was led to the all important food. I was pretty hungry by now and the Laccha parantha's, shammi kebab, Mutton Biryani, Chicken Masala was relished. I followed this up with hot Gulab Jamun and Ice-cream.

Man I got to say, I love this wedding season. I can't wait to attend tonight's Birthday Party at Aqua. Weddings, Birthdays! They’re all the same. Any excuse feasting on some great food.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Testing My Taste Buds

Last evening I decided to watch Om Shanti Om once again. Meneka was the venue and it was a wonderful experience going to a normal cinema hall once again. But before the movie while we were waiting outside we relished some real spicy bhel-puri. Once in and after the initial chaos of getting to our seats, the joys of watching a movie such as Om Shanti Om on 70 mm and in a large theatre was a far cry from the Multiplex experience. There was a marked difference in the gentry that flocked the hall and people were whistling and clapping during the song sequences and everytime a dramatic scene came upon the screen. Mithun Da, Govinda, Dharmendra, Kajol and Tabu were some of the appearances on screen that had the crowd cheering.

But the most fascinating occurance was that of vendors coming into the isles during the interval and selling pop-corn and chips. They had the trays infront of them stacked with the goodies. It brought back memories of my school days going to watch movies at Globe, new Empire and Jamuna Cinema.
After the movie, we were debating going to Comics which was just next door, but finally ended up going to Bachan's Dhaba and picking up Tandoori Chicken and Roomali Rotis to have at home. While standing there waiting for our order which did take a while due to the huge crowd at the dhaba, we couldn't resist the temptation of Kulfi. That's probably the best I've had and then again, I was a bit hungry at that point. What added to the hunger pangs was the Biryani being readied to be served. The aroma had my taste buds tingling.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Troops Still Deployed

After Dinner when I headed back home, I had to cross the 7 Point Crossing and as mentioned it had now been taken over by the Army. Several Trucks and a command jeep had been deployed. I actually came into close range and noticed that the troops didn't seem to be happy about the fact that they had been called into the streets and relegated into a policing force. They had the look of disdain and seemed eager to get back to the barracks.

Once back home I noticed that they kept patrolling the area between the "Command Centre" and Topsia which is across the No. 4 Bridge a bit past my house. This continued all night.

Life Back to Normal

Early in the evening I had made a trip to Dalhousie and life carried on as usual. Infact people there didn't even understand the extent of the violence that had engulfed pockets of Kolkata. I drove past the Eden Gardens and one of the flood light towers was lit. Maybe full swing day-night work must be in full swing to prepare the ground for the upcoming India-Pakistan Test match here.

So the day after the organised rioting as termed by the "failed intelligence" of the Police department, the affected parts of Kolkata limped back to life with a shadow of fear and a huge police force looming over them. Shutters were up and roadside markets and shops were open for business. Whether they did brisk business is doubtful.

As I walked back home along Park Street towards Park Circus, I inquired with several Policemen whether the curfew would continue today too post 10pm. Their answers seemed quite non-committal till I reached the main post at the 7 Point Crossing at Park Circus where I was informed that there would not be any curfew. The 7 Point Crossing which has now by default become the command centre for police, the army and the media is the central point to access all the affected areas. Anyway once I got the green signal from one of the policemen at the 'command center' I immediately made plans with friends and we went out to Park Street, well the unaffected part which is the hub of the nightlife. We had dinner at One Step Up and I'm not getting into what was ordered. Lets just say it was a yummy meal and lots of fun.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

The Morning After

It so happens, as you must have already realised, that the epicentre of the conflagration lies in the path to my office and that I walk through the 7 Point Crossing at Park Circus every day. So yesterday morning when I was walking to work and saw a huge build up of Police forces, I knew there was some trouble boiling up. That it would lead to such proportions wherein the Army had to be called out was beyond anyone's foresight.

So knowing fully well that The 7 Point Crossing would be fortified, I headed back home last evening and came up the Army Contingent.

This morning that very same crossing that had been fortified by Policemen yesterday morning, then by a Violent Mob and finally by men in camouflage last night, was now besieged by the electronic media.

This part of the city seems to have settled down after the army enforced a curfew from 10pm to 6am this morning, but there still are police pickets on all street corners lying in wait to see that yesterday's madness is nipped way before it can mushroom into something beyond control.

Cost Of Violence

The damage had been done, becuase I was witness to 10 vehicles, charred beyond imagination, being towed into the custody of the Topsia Police Lines Station across the road. The entire opposite side of our place looks like a junk yard.

This is besides the immense loss to property and individuals who have been injured in such senseless violence.