Monday, December 15, 2008

Spanish Jazz and more at Tolly Club

Bangladesh Festival

Long Overdue Party


From Left To Right:
Back: Chandrima, Sharmistha, Indrani, Priya, Purbasha, Srimoyee, Radhica, Ryan
Front: Nilanjana, Amit, Sutirtha, Kalika, Raja


From Left To Right:
Dipanjan, Pramit, Ryan, Raja, Radica, Pooshan, Kalika, Priya, Kabir, Sutirtha, Myself, Angshuman, Srimoyee, Amit
Sitting: Santanu

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Jason Statham is still The Transporter

After going to the Saras Mela, we stopped over at City Centre to grab a bite at KFC. The usual Zinger meal done, we decided to watch a film. So we bought tickets for the 10.10 pm show of Transporter 3 at INOX. Having watched Transporter 1 & 2, this was inevitable. Here's about the movie.

Jason Statham returns in the third movie as Frank Martin a.k.a The Transporter. He retains his no nonsense action oriented image, but this time around the movie takes you into his more romantic and humane side and delves into his personal life which brings us to Valentina (Natalya Rudakova) hiw love interest and the Package. Yes Frank makes exceptions in his rules and goes through hell or rather sends all the bad guys trying to harm her to hell. Also returning is Inspector Tarconi (François Berléand), who has developed a strange friendship with Frank. He provides the French Humour to the film that takes us through exotic locales of Europe; Marseilles-Munich-Budapest-Bucharest-Odesa.

The action is just out of this world and typical of a Luc-Besson film. And ofcourse the car chases between the Audi and The Mercedes are just mind blowing.

Saras Mela 2008

Yesterday after office I decided to drop into the much publicised SARAS MELA 2008 which is happening at the grounds at Kurunamoyee, Salt Lake. The mela started on the 4th and is on till the 14th of December.

I wanted to pick up some handicrafts, if I found anything interesting for my house. And this was an oasis of such stuff from various states of India. Potters, weavers, pickle makers, et al. I did the entire round and also indulged in a snack of Mushroom piyaji at the end of the rounds.

In between while I was going from stall to stall, I recoginsed a voice I had heard ever so often on the radio. Sure enough it was Lopamudra Mitra belting out some of her popular tracks to entertain the audience. This was the entertainment quotient devised to attract people to the mela.

I finally did pick up some stuff and should be going back to get some other interesting knick-knacks I saw there.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

You'd Wish You Were Blind Too

A couple of days ago I caught a movie on TV. Blind Dating, that's what it was called and I sat down to start watching this movie hoping to catch some laughs on how things could get on blind dates. Well then it turns out that the hero of the movie was blind. Yes and it was his experience with women. Overly cute and good looking, this blind boy had women drooling all over him and he wanted someone who wouldn't sympathize with him because of that very fact. He wanted to be treated like anyone else. Take it from here; the movie about this boy's failed dates will keep you laughing. Yes there is a a love story and a happy ending where he finally finds his true love and all that, but the journey till there is quite a riot.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Brain Damage to Ugandan Savage

Last evening I went for a senseless film at Fame South City mall. Called Dil Kabaddi, it seemed to play more ‘kabaddi’ with my sensibilities. OK, I have to agree that the cast was very good with the likes of highly acclaimed actors like Rahul Bose (Rishi), Irrfan Khan (Samit) Soha Ali Khan (Mita), Konkona Sen (Simi) and Rahul Khanna (Veer). Both Payal Rohatgi (Kaya) of Bigg Boss fame and Saba (Raaga) are also good in their roles. Unfortunately this comedy of errors about failed marriages and extra marital affairs and the likes of that just aren’t captivating as it lacks any semblance of a story line.

I have to say I’m glad that I ate some great food before the movie at the Food Court and even gladder to say that once I got back home, I watched the critically acclaimed movie with Forest Whitaker playing the role of the mad dictator Idi Amin in “The Last King Of Scotland”. I watched the movie till the wee hours to gain back some of that lost cerebral matter earlier on.

Manfred and his heart of Gold adds more music to our ears

This Saturday I had the honour and pleasure of experiencing music and a show like never before. A talented bunch of kids, an emotional foreigner Business Tycoon and the warmth of cultured Kolkatans made for a heady mix at The Tollygunge Club.

I had gone for a swim on Saturday and after that realised that there was an event on the calendar that I had wanted to attend and it was the same evening. So after a quick bite, I proceeded to the lawns where the group of youngsters had all lined up in neat rows as a choir group should and all looking resplendent in their white shirts. These were the famous singing sensations of the Dr. Graham’s Homes on their annual tour of the city for the Rising Stars in Concert 2008. I was just blown away by these young vocalists belting out songs from Westlife, Abba, Linkin Park, Elton John, Irene Cara, Eva Cassidy, and Evanescence. They also did renditions of Maa Tujhe Salaam (A.R. Rahman), I will Survive (Diana Ross) and We Are The World and The Joseph’s Megamix from musical Joseph and His Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat by Andrew Lloyd Webber which were just over the top.

A violin solo by a little boy named Prayash Biswa Karma was just intriguing. Look out for this young lad; he’ll soon be on the global map of music with the right kind of nurturing of his gift for music.

In the midst of this was a touching moment that brought Derek O’brien on stage to auction a cricket bat which had by some twist of fate been handed to them just that afternoon with signatures of the entire Indian Cricket team that had just played a one day international match vs. the visiting English team in Chennai. So as the bidding started at Rs. 50,000 with a lady bidding the first amount, the battle egged on with another gentleman in the audience till its reached Rs. 90,000/-. Thereafter a gentleman from the back, bald, dressed in black and ‘gora’ who had chatted with us from the next table in the Shamiana while were we grabbing a bite, took the bidding to a whole new level crossing the Rs. 100,000/- barrier. Our two brave Kolkatan’s egged on by Derek took the bid up to Rs. 150,000/-. Thereafter Manfred, another burly ‘gora’ with an enormous beer gut just went to the next level taking the bid up to Rs. 200,000/-. By now our two contenders’ were out of the running and Derek himself stepped in as the new contender for the bat. But our ‘generous gora’ had his heart set on getting that bat and outbid even the witty Derek out of the trophy and it was settled at a quarter of a million Rupees (Rs. 250,000/-). Going once, going twice, Gone to Manfred from Germany.

His accomplice Tony, the other ‘gora’ as he referred to himself when he came up to the stage to introduce his kind hearted friend and wonderful human being Manfred, thanked the people of Kolkata and their kindness and warm heartedness and said that Kolkata was his second home. Manfred on the other hand accepted the bat and offered it to the lady he had outbid as he said he wanted to give the money to these wonderful children anyway. Tearful and emotional, reminiscing his humble beginnings, he got a standing ovation from the crowd.

Later on when I spoke with Derek and he told me that the warm and generous man had signed a cheque there and then and handed it to them. Wow! That man has a heart bigger than his gut. It was a deeply moving scene to behold him addressing those kids and telling them that they deserved the best life and the promise of his lifelong support to them.

The choir was called back and for the sake of the enthralled audience performed two Christmas carols before finishing up their performance.

It truly was an inspiring and entertaining evening that cannot be forgotten.

Thoda Puchka, Thoda Chinese

I think all Kolkatan’s should visit the Strand and revive its days of glory, rather than let it be relegated to a paradise for couples tucked away in some shady corner and sometimes rather openly displaying their love for each other on this riverside walkway. To that effect I do make an occasional visit to this street side food paradise. I have a favourite Puchka wallah and make it a point to have some every time I go to the Strand as I did on Friday evening.

After the visit to there I decided to go down to Central Avenue and indulge in some Beer, Chilli Chicken and Mixed Fried Rice. It had been long overdue and thus we ended up in this famous chinece eatery called Chung Wah which is patronised by most office goers in the central business district.

The freaky part is that on either side, the length of the restaurant are cabins that seat 4-6 people which are like private cabins with a curtained entrance especially made for family type patrons in this otherwise frequented watering hole. It’s the ultimate place for Chilli Chicken and Mixed Fried Rice. The cheap booze is just an added bonus.

Chung Wah
13 A & B, Chittaranjan Avenue,
Kolkata - 700072
Tel: +91-33-22277003

Friday, December 05, 2008

A Hot Night Spot next door

After a tiring day and the journey, (half hour in traffic trying to get past Metro Cash & Carry) my wife and I decided to go out. We contemplated turning the car around and heading to park street when we suddenly remembered that we wanted to try out this place which we had been seeing so often and heard so much about and that it was right next door to our place. So we decided to head to I Lounge Bar situated in Metropolis Mall, Highland Park.

Once there, we enquired what kind of food they served and got to know apart from the huge facade promoting the Peshawari. We got to know apart from India, North West Frontier Cuisine, they served Chinese. So we stepped in. The place is surprisingly bigger than I expected. On the left is a Lounge set up with a DJ booth, right in front is a long bar with a counter and high stools, beside which are a couple of high tables with high chairs and on the right is seating for dining kind of experience. I liked the entire layout and ambience.

Once we were seated at the dining area, what was really nice was the beam down to the centre of the table from a focus lamp on the ceiling which was a standard feature on all the dining tables, while the rest of the restaurant was in darkness highlighting the rays of light coming from the various fancy wicker lamps hanging from the ceiling.

We started with a Pina Colada each and some Chilli Pepper Chicken for starters. This was followed up with a Pitcher of Mojito and some Chicken Liver preparation from the Indian palette. Once we downed the Pitcher which served six glasses, we ordered food which was a mutton preparation (it had some exotic name) and one naan. The food tasted as exotic and yummy as promised on the menu. Oh and there reason for the small quantity of food was the constant refill of the bowl of cheese lings. We went through 5-6 of them.

Meanwhile the DJ was belting out one good song after another and mixing them to perfection. He went through a whole Hip-Hop phase playing some of the classics. In the middle, he fell from grace with some recent Bollywood music, but then resurrected himself with some more classics. Thereafter, we knocked down another Pina Colada each to that pulsating music which held us back after eating a bit past midnight. After which, I kind of got transported to the lovely beaches of Goa.

So if you want to get transported to your place of happiness, you ought to visit this nightspot. Its reasonably priced and the food is really good.

i Lounge Bar
1925, Metropolis Mall, 2nd Floor,
Hiland Park, Kolkata - 700094, West Bengal
Phone: +91-33-24367811, 24367812

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Metro finally! No Mamta! Thank God!

I’ve been driving past this mega outlet everyday for the past 6 months or so, both morning and evening, on my way from work and back. So I have actually seen it come up from bare land to the massive structure covering over 100,000 sq. ft. of shopping space. Metro Cash and carry, the German wholesale giant has had its share of troubles kick starting their operations in Kolkata. Opposition from unions and political parties alike have been a stumbling bloc for industry in any sphere taking off in Bengal, especially after the much hyped exodus of the TATA Nano plant from Singur.

So I guess today is a small victory of sorts for the state with the opening of Metro Cash & Carry and I couldn’t resist clicking a picture on my way to work this morning after having observed the preparations being made over the past week for this historic day. There wasn’t a trace of any kind of opposition to the opening. I guess with Dada (Saurav Ganguly) inaugurating the place, it made the people of Kolkata proud.Way to go Kolkata. Way to go Bengal.

The other thing I did was visit the transmitter site at the Doordarshan Complex spread over a vast expanse of land in Golf Green. Perched on this structure which is the TV Tower are transmitters of various Private FM channels and AIR (All India Radio).

Update: In the late evening at about 7.45 pm, I got caught in a traffic jam about a kilometre short of Metro. The first day seemed to have kicked off with a bang. By the time I reached Metro, there was a line of bikes and cars with a sea of people inside and outside the Metro premises. I saw people with cartons loaded up on their bikes and it seems traders in Kolkata have lapped up this new wholesale marketplace.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Sorry Bhai! I sat through it!

Last evening just for good time pass we decided to catch the 9.45 PM show of Sorry Bhai at Fame Highland Park. It sure was time pass! A silly plot (Bhai comes for Bhai’s wedding and falls in love with the bride to be and she falls in love with him and what ensues), even sillier acting skills peppered with the terror strikes in Mumbai had about 6 of us watching the movie.

Of course while I mention that the much hyped Chitrangada Singh is as gorgeous as a girl gets, she can’t act. Sharman Joshi can but will never become a mainstream Bollywood star. Thank God for putting the two veterans Shabana Azmi and Boman Irani in the movie. I think I managed to watch it just because of their managing to hold their own and not the plot. Sanjay Suri, well he’s ok.

But to my surprise I found an all too familiar name in the casting at the beginning of the movie; my good friend Priyanka Bose and so I watched eagerly till she appeared on screen. Yes that doe eyed girl in the frame mesmerized by the Professor and then in a seductive red dress dancing to the professor’s lovelorn saxophone playing dream sequence and zap, she’s gone just as soon as she appeared. Well it was a lengthier role than the item number in Johnny Gaddar and this time she had some dialogues which she pulled off pretty well. Good stuff Priyanka.

Ok that apart, if you have money to waste and time to kill and it’s a hot day and you’re looking for a place to sleep in the comfort of air-conditioning and recliner chairs, go for this movie. Note I said go, not watch.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Chimney Soup at Eau Chew

Ok after the last fiasco of going to Eau Chew Restaurant, we made another attempt this Saturday and managed to catch some much desired Chimney Soup. Along with that we had chicken chow, fried rice, chilli chicken and sweet n sour mixed vegetables. Eau Chew is famous for its Chimney Soup and every once in a while is worth a visit.

I guess this pulled me away from being glued to the TV on Saturday. Even though I wanted to go watch Parikrama playing live at Some Place Else, I couldn’t bring myself around to that and headed straight back home to catch up on the happenings in Mumbai, switching from one news channel to another to catch the latest updates of the siege of the historic TAJ Mahal Hotel in Mumbai.

EAU CHEW RESTAURANT
12, Ganesh Chandra Avenue,
Kolkata - 700013
Tel: +91-33-22378260
Mr. Joseph Huang
Mob: +91-9830141857

SJC94 get together at Ani’s Place in Salt Lake

As the debacle of the Mumbai Terror Attacks unfolded, a bunch of us old school batch mates met up at Anirban’s place in Salt Lake. After going round and round for a bit, which is not unusual while trying to locate a house in Salt Lake, we arrived at the gates with the crossed Tennis Racquets on them. We took the flight of stairs up to the 3rd floor and were greeted by some recognisable and some not so recognisable faces.

Thanks to the previous GTG and Facebook and the likes, I managed to recognise a sizeable number of folks who I had gone to school with. Like the last GTG at Mags, this was also one of those times when I had to go back in time and recollect names and faces. The faces were easier, like Mr. Saha and our Maths classes together. Soumik and Nandan the two blokes who always contested previous year IIT Question papers on the black board every morning.

Once settled in and a couple of drinks down the party shifted to the terrace with Arijit on his guitar and Nizar assisting on the vocals. As we went into the night, it seemed like a motley crew that broke into song and dance. Yes we did have a couple of tipplers but for most of it, we were a decent gang having fun and reminiscing the good old days. Of noteworthy mention is Prabir who captivated a sizeable audience first with his tales of Piracy on high seas and thereafter his totally Bollywood style Filmy Tragic Love story. Abhi Kahani Baki hai Bhai!

Guys send me more Pictures and I’ll upload them on the Picasa album, and also the names of all who attended. I missed a lot of people while clicking; some left before I got there and some were on the floor below. So I’m waiting for all the pictures from you guys and all the names of the people who attended.

A word of Thanks to Ani & Julie for organising the GTG.

Friday, November 28, 2008

The Piper & The Princess


Gosh I have no idea where to start from. How about, Yippieeee! I got to watch Jethro Tull Live. Better still, Jethro Tull & Anoushka Shankar fusing Indian Classical and Rock Celtic Blues Music.

Let me start by saying though that my heart and that of the entire world goes out to the people of Mumbai. Thos that lost their lives and those that are still fighting to provide the freedom that we so enjoy. Towards that effect the concert started with a minutes silence to pay homage and solidarity with the people of India’s Commercial Capital, Mumbai.

All this turmoil on the western coast led to beefed up security at the venue of the concert at Science City Auditorium. So we had to be at the venue two hours before the concert. So I reached at about 5.30 pm and picked up the tickets that I had booked online. Thank god for that because I was like the 10th person in the line that turned out to twist and turn all the way up to the main gate way past the parking area by 6.30 pm. We finally got in and got seated by about 7ish and it wasn’t till 8pm that people were finally seated after going through all the security checks and the concert kicked off after we all stood for a minutes of silence for the events occurring in Mumbai.

Ian Anderson came on stage and in his witty way introduced the three parts of the two part concert. The first was Anoushka Shankar with Tanmay Bose doing a pure classical thing which would be followed by The Band itself, Jethro Tull who would play what he said was an attempt at Rock and the third and final part of the program would be Jethro Tull jamming with Anoushka Shankar in an east meets west kind of Music soiree.

Anoushka took stage with Tanmay on Tabla and accompanied by two artists on Tanpura and one on the Flute. A two track repertoire of classical music with a fast paced crescendo set it up for a break after about an hour.

While the stage was setup people waited anxiously for Jethro Tull to take the stage. Sure enough as the master performer Ian Anderson got on stage to a loud applause he humoured the crowd with some quips and went straight into Act II with his antics on stage. I was amazed by his energy and agility even at his age as he did his trademark Krishna pose with the flute and kept kicking his legs way up into the air. It was encore after encore as he progressed into his early days of music with likes of Aqualung and It was A New Day Yesterday but it’s an Old Day Now.

It was about half past 10 when Anoushka Shankar joined him on stage and they sent the crowd into a tizzy with some mind blowing fusion specially composed for this tour. The “jugalbandi” between “The Piper & The Princess” on Sitar was fantastic. The show ended and after being called back by the crowd who was craving for more, the final Encore was “Locomotive Breath” when the Band was called back and played till nearly half past 11.

Here I’d like to add something which I found quite annoying and maybe quite stupid. The “pseudo happening” people of Kolkata paying Rs. 1500/- per ticket occupying the front section of the auditorium were the most dead set of rockers I’d ever seen in my life. The crowd up in the balcony who had paid the lowest denomination tickets were the ones who were actually egging the concert on, showing much appreciation for the music. Yeah I guess they have some new party talk, these psuedo types. Lets get this straight, either you're a rocker or you're not. Just attending a TULL Concert doesn't make you cool.

Anyway that said I’d like to add that this is like the gates of dawn with the Piper setting up a whole new era of International Acts looking at Kolkata as a venue to perform. Keep them coming man! We love great music!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The Best Buffet Lunch in Kolkata

I was invited for lunch with the in-laws and what better place than Mainland China at South City Mall. Add to that the fact that it was their delightful Lunch Buffet. I say delightful because of the limitless quantities that one can eat at this buffet. Ok, I’m kidding about that. After going through the spread that is laid out, I think what makes it wonderful is that you take bits of everything on display and enjoy your own Chinese Food Tasting Festival.

I particularly liked the Chicken Fried Rice and Crab that was prepared today. Otherwise there was everything from soup to dumplings and noodles to shrimps. Of particular interest was the constant filling of the little tea cups with Jasmine tea. And all this for just Rs. 295/- + VAT per head, only at Mainland China, South City Mall.

Mainland China
South City Mall, S-313, 3rd Floor,
375 Prince Anwar Shah Road,
Kolkata - 700068
Tel: +91-33-64578361, 24225330/31/32/33

Premo Sudha Rase

Last evening I attended an epic concert preformed by two highly acclaimed exponents of Classical Music, Pandit Ajoy Chakrabarty and Ustad Rashid Khan. The concert was in aid of a young ailing theatre artist who was suffering from Cancer. When I reached the venue, Kalamndir on Theatre Road at 5 pm in the evening, a sizeable crowd had already gathered. By 5.30 pm a serpentine line had formed going out onto the road and the Auditorium doors were opened to the anxious multitude of music lovers who had come to witness this concert. From Kolkata’s who’s who to music loving community of ages varying from 12 – way over 60 years old trotted in and took their seats.

On the dot at 6 pm an announcement was made and the show was kicked off by Ustad Rashid Khan. The concept was unique in its form that the singer would take off from a popular Rabindra Sangeet into a classical recital based on it.

After the Ustad had performed for about an hour, a break was announced and following which bot he and Pandit Ajoy Chakrabarty came on stage to present a cheque to the sister of the artist whose aid in which this presentation was being made.

Thereafter Pandit Ajoy Chakrabarty took stage and captivated the packed auditorium for the next hour or a bit more.

I’m not much of a classical music fan, more because I don’t understand the art form, but am intrigued by the commitment of these artists and the rigorous training they undergo to capture notes that are beyond my imagination. I just love the way they modulate their voices and the sound of all the instruments. It’s so different to the western music which I’m more accustomed to listening.