Monday, March 30, 2009

A cute Movie on my favourite subject: Food

For once I’ve watched a movie where Catherine Zeta Jones looks her age and is not in bewitching tights or looking sexy as hell. No doubt thought that she still looks beautiful as ever. Anyway coming to the movie, this is a poignant story of a dedicated and strong willed chef, who under very trying circumstances finds love. Her sister coming to visit her dies in a car crash leaving her little daughter to be cared for by her. Meanwhile trouble brews in her work place where a new chef is appointed in her kitchen. Balancing between her new responsibilities and fending off competition for her job, the story evolves into a beautiful bond between the protagonists. It’s a typical love story and don’t we all love happy endings. So if you’re a foodie with a sensitive side, watch this one. Aaron Eckhart as the fun loving chef with an ear for opera music and Abigail Breslin playing her sister’s daughter add zest to the plot.

Tangra after a long time

Exploiting the opportunity to ride my bike, I suggested we go to Tangra, since we hadn’t been there for a while. So out we headed on my Karizma for typical Chinese food at Kim Ling in Tangra. The order was quite simple. The famous Thai Soup followed by American Chopsuey, Mixed Fried Rice and Chilli Chicken.

On our way back, we made a pit stop at the local grocery store to pick up some stuff. it was most amusing to see all the workers going out of their way to see us arrive there on a bike. We were like a novelty. The reason being they had always seen us coming in our Maruti Swift.

Kim Ling Bar & Restaurant
Govinda Khatick Road,
13, South Tangra Road,
Kolkata - 700046,
Tel: +91-33-28650996, 23298923

Return of the Kazi and some Rural stuff

On Sunday we decided to drop into the West Bengal Handicrafts Mela which was happening at Milan Mela Grounds just behind ITC Sonar opposite Science City Auditorium (I’ve given the location, just in case people don’t know where the Milon Mela Ground is). The mela had been opened a little while back and I would drive past it everyday on my way to and from work. So finally when we decided to go on Sunday, I seized the opportunity to ride my Hero Honda Karizma. I needed to get a little work done (a silencer guard nut replaced actually and the accelerator loosened out a bit). So after a 5 minute pit stop at the workshop which was very close to the grounds, we headed there.

Fortunately the time we chose was the late mid afternoon and the place was relatively empty, so I managed to park my bike right in front of the gate. We bought the Rs. 5 entry tickets and headed in. We went from one pavilion to the next and made a full circle of the place not thoroughly impressed with what was on offer. I just felt that somehow, traditional handicrafts had been replaced by more commercial kind of things. Masks seemed to rule the roost. Anyway I also feel that liking and disliking things is very circumstantial. I guess I wasn’t in the mood to buy any traditional handicrafts as of now and thus nothing really interested me that way. But if you’re looking to get some traditional handicrafts to decorate your home, this fair might be worth a visit.

Their Last Gig at Some Place Else

After a sumptuous meal, I was charged up and there was no way we were going home, especially when it was just 9pm and it was a Friday night. So we drove in the general direction of Park Street, my wife guessing exactly where we would end up and so we did; Some Place Else, the Mecca of live music. It was along wait of nearly an hour before Hip Pocket took the stage a little after 10.30pm. In the meanwhile we downed a couple of beers and were quite amused by a shutterbug from one of the dailies clicking pictures of Parno (upcoming Bengali movie actress) & Ranadeb Bose (Cricketer from Bengal). I was more taken up with the fact that he was clicking pictures of the Band members and especially of Rishi & Samidh. Only when hey had gone up to the stage did one of Barmen tell me that this was their farewell gig, Rishi & Samidh were leaving Hip Pocket after being with the band for 14 years. They were going out on their own to pursue a new duo venture.

So we stayed for the entire show and though Sumit Ramachandran nursing a bandaged hand after going through surgery wasn’t on stage for their last gig together, Dabbu filled in on the lead and they played to a full house. I made sure I’d catch the last renditions of their gig together which I noted down and is below:

Lay down sally.
Wild horses.
Come together.
Let it be.
Blowin in the wind.
Bad moon rising.
Black magic woman.
Walk of life.
Who'll stop the rain.
Money for nothing.
Feelin alright.
Coming back to life.
Take me down.
Day tripper.
Roadhouse blues.
Break on through to the other side.
Wish you were here.
I want to break free.
Crazy little thing called love.

Hip Pocket’s new line up is already in place and hope they live up to the legacy left behind by two of Kolkata’s leading musicians.

So for the last time they are:

Band: Hip Pocket
Samidh Mukherjee – Bass / Vocals
Dabbu – Guitar (filling in for Sumit Ramachandran)
Rishi Chanda – Guitar / Vocals
Shom – Keyboard
Nondon Bagchi – Drums / Vocals

Food from Down South, Simbly Superb!

It was Friday night and I was looking to go out to some place I had never been before. My wife suggested south Indian food and this place called Tamarind. I had kind of heard of the place but couldn’t quite recall where I had heard about it. So here we were parked in front of what looked like a small little restaurant. Walking up the stairs, I could already get a good feeling about the place, just by its décor. Once inside, a courteous young man showed us to a table which was just a little away from the entrance.

All that wood décor gave this place a warm and enriching feel. I was immediately taken up by the copper drinking glasses that were on the table and along with the menu came two earthen glasses of butter milk. While my wife was going through her menu, I was a bit confused about the one in my hand. I thought we were having south Indian food, so why did all the dishes sound like north Indian stuff. I asked her where in her menu she had the south Indian food because I couldn’t find any south Indian stuff on my menu card. Apparently they do have north Indian cuisine too and they had given me the north Indian menu. I immediately exchanged that for the menu that had the cuisine this place was famous for. The dish names on the menu were a tongue twisting delight but fortunately they had descriptors and exact names of states to which they belonged.

So we ordered a portion each of Meen Moilee (Kerela) which was a mild preparation of cubes of fish cooked in coconut milk, Mutton Uppu Kari (Chettinad) which was tender pieces of mutton tempered with mustard, curry leaves, tomato and southern spices, Mutton Hyderabadi Biryani and 2 Aapams each. I don’t think we took a break from eating till we were licking our fingers at the end of the meal. The food was simbly superb. Well actually we did have a brief moment of distraction when a gentleman walked in the door and we looked at each other in surprise and it struck me that he was Gautam and he owned the place. He was glad to see me and enquired about the food, which I had just about started to eat.

Finally we decided to go in for a sweet dish and since there were only three things on the menu decided to try some payasam. Oddly enough just as we were about to order, each of us was given a small bowl with what looked like some sweet stuff with a rose petal on top. We were told that this was the speciality of the place and if we still wanted to order payasam, we could. We decided against it once we had finished this sweet dish called “meetha do baar” and all I can say is that it was yum and finally when the bill arrived, it was actually on the house.

But no Indian meal is complete without the finger bowl. And yes it did come with hot water and a slice of lime. Oops, actually no Indian meal is complete without Paan (beetle leaf) at the end and so once the bill was paid, two square pieces of Paan were placed on our table. I had never seen a paan made and clamped together with a clove. Well my wife explained that this was the south Indian version, it’s called “beeda”.

I really loved the food and true to its specifications on the menu, the chilli icons 1, 2 or 3 actually signified how potent the dish would be on ones palette. This dining experience was definitely worthy of a good tip, be it ambience, service or food.

177 Sarat Bose Road ,
Kolkata - 700026.
Tel: +91-33-24638799, 64548011
24 hours helpline: +91 9830051705

Thursday, March 26, 2009

The Promise of better road travel

This morning as I left for office a sudden downpour brought traffic to a crawl. As the wipers kept sweeping the rain water from the windscreen I noticed I was behind a pink bus that had the name “VOLVO” written in huge letters across the back window. I was quite amused how every bus wanted to be a Volvo and when I looked more carefully it just got better. In small letters over the “VOLVO” was written “JUST LIKE” in small letters.

This was just too funny and the traffic posed the perfect situation for a picture. So I whipped out my camera and took these pictures. It just goes to show how Volvo buses have set the benchmark of luxury road travel that all operators want to make the promise of being just like that.

A fun movie about a funny community

The story revolves around the community and their outlook to the survival of the Parsis around the world. The story is narrated by Little Zizou and how he sees the world around him. The story about a little boy idolizing his favourite football star Zidane and his journey through some tumultuous times is with interestingly juxtaposed with his brother’s failed love for Zenobia and obsession with a Boeing 747 Cockpit which he and his friends want to turn into a flight simulator, his father who is a religious militant propagator of the purity of the Parsi community and his neighbour trying to salvage the respect of the community through his newspaper.

A strange movie about the much ridiculed Parsi community left a bit more to be desired.
Though it was funny and poked fun at the various people in the story, it lacked that punch required for being commercially successful. Boman Presswala (Boman Irani) as usual played his part with perfection and the gathering of the entire Parsi community to be part of this movie from Shiamak Davar to Gary Lawyer still doesn’t do the trick. Even appearances by Bollywood heart-throb John Abraham, sizzling and sexy Kamal Sidhu and funny man Cyrus Broacha don’t really help.

The Making of The Mongolian

I just had to post this. Not only is it awesome to eat, its a delight watching it being prepared. The Mongolian Mixed Grill at Food Talk, the food court at South City Mall.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Another movie on relationships, but really funny

This movie has a strange plot and reminds me a lot of another movie I had quite enjoyed a while back called “The Devil Wears Prada”. How To Lose Friends & Alienate People is a comedy about a British journalist trying to get inside the Hollywood Circle. Sydney Young (Simon Pegg) is the crazy Brit who somehow lands himself a job with a high profile magazine in New York which is owned by Clayton Harding (Jeff Bridges). He develops a strange friendship with fellow journalist and aspiring novel writer Alison Olsen (Kirsten Dunst) and finally realises that he loves her. Of course on the way to finding love he does have this deep desire to sleep with upcoming sizzling hot Hollywood Bombshell, Sophie Maes (Megan Fox) who epitomizes sexiness all because of her hard selling agent Eleanor Johnson (Gillian Anderson).

The movie is a much watch if you love comedy. Sydney Young’s histrionics will leave you laughing all the way till the end.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

A sudden Downpour

Yesterday was a hot sunny day and so when one of my colleagues suddenly popped in at about 4 in the evening and said it was raining outside, it seemed quite absurd. But when I did step out on to the staircase behind our office and looked out, it was like all hell had broken loose. It was torrential. In fact it come down till visibility was reduced to several meters.

I suddenly panicked, having remembered that I had left the windows at my house open. I had images of my entire bedroom getting flooded. Fortunately a call to that side of town confirmed that they didn't even have a drop of rain. Anyway the bright side was that the temperature came down.

Monday, March 23, 2009

A good take on Men-Women relationships

An interesting movie with a decent star cast all about the strange relationships between men and women. All the characters and parallel story lines are interesting intertwined and the story is weaved around the various stages and circumstances of relationships between these people. He’s just not that into you is worth a watch for all those who want to get a perspective of how strange relationships can be.

And this is what the star cast line-up looks like.
Ginnifer Goodwin (Gigi)
Kevin Connolly (Conor)
Scarlett Johansson (Anna)
Bradley Cooper (Ben)
Justin Long (Alex)
Ben Affleck (Neil)
Jennifer Aniston (Beth)
Jennifer Connelly (Janine)
Drew Barrymore (Mary)

So makes you wonder with a line up like that, whether the film will do well at the Box-Office.

Drive to Diamond Harbour

After a night out on Friday, our plans for an early morning drive out to Diamond Harbour got a bit stalled. We finally managed to get out at 12.45pm. The option of going on my Karizma (bike) was dropped because I had heard quite a bit about the road being a little unsafe for biking. Anyway it took us about 45 minutes to get till Joka and on to the Diamond Harbour Road via the James Long Sarani by-pass. I remember many years ago a bunch of us had cycled down to Diamond Harbour and it had taken us a bit over 3 hours to get there. So from this point I estimated an hour at most. Diamond Harbour was 38 kms from here.

All estimates came to naught once we got stuck at Amtala crossing. We must have been there for a good half hour in traffic. But once through, the drive on the barely two lane highway (if it can be called that) is quite scenic. I loved the tunnel effect created by the tress lining both sides of the road right into the distance. Coconut groves kept popping up all along the way and most of all was the sheer population on this stretch of road. Its probably one of the most densely populated highway I’ve driven on. Every couple of kilometres you come upon a little settlement, both village and semi-urban.

The main hazard on this highway is the buses. The drives take their buses to speeds unimaginable and they come hurtling towards you with their lights flashing like a canon ball. This coupled with the innumerable cyclists that ride on this road makes the drive pretty stressful, as you have got to keep your eyes peeled on the road and leg ready to hit the brakes in an instant.

But all that said, once you take that final curve towards the left and see that huge expanse of water in front of you as you get into Diamond Harbour; it is well worth the drive. We reached there a few minutes before 3 pm and stopped at the West Bengal Tourism Hotel “Sagarika” and went straight up to the first floor where they have a Bar. We were the only two people there and got straight to the popping a beer and enjoying the river breeze. Our main objective was to have some good Bengali Food and so as we ordered our next beer, the food had come.

Bhat (boiled rice), daal, aloo bhaja, Betki, fish curry & Chicken kosha. When the food arrived, we didn’t quite think we’d be able to finish it, but after licking our fingers at the end of the meal, we sat back victorious, having finished every last morsel that had been served.

After this we decided to take a walk down to the ruins of the Old Fort which was the main attraction of the place. While walking there, we came upon an odd sight; a fire tender was filling water in its tank from a pond. Only later did we realise that the pond was part of the Fire station. Anyway on getting there, I was shocked to see that there was hardly anything left of the structure. The river had swallowed most of it and it seemed that the banks had eroded considerably since I had last been to this place more than a decade and a half ago. We walked around and into the little bit of the fort that remained and spent the rest of the afternoon on the banks of the river. Keeping us amused were the giddy goats and chicken that were walking around. We even managed to catch two little goats; they quite cute when they’re that size, hopping and playing around.

We finally watched the sun go down sipping some tea and then walked back to our car parked just outside Sagarika and left for Kolkata at about 6.00pm.

If you think driving on that road during the day is bad, the drive back at night was even worse. The unrelenting bus drivers and other cars coming in the opposite direction with their headlights on high-beam blinding you constantly made only worse by those cyclists who you can hardly see in the dark. Anyway we got stuck again at Amtala and finally got back to Kolkata at about 7.30pm. The entire day trip was just a little over 100kms in driving distance back and forth.

We headed straight to South City Mall and did some Lukhagiri for a bit and watched a movie at FAME before heading home.

Friday Night on Park Street

On Friday we decided to head out to Park Street and try a new place. We new in the sense some place where we hadn’t been together or in a long while. So after the 3 of us walked up the steps and peeped into OLYPUB, we decided it wasn’t worth the wait at this packed watering hole and walked out to the street just outside Moulin Rouge. While waiting there and wondering what were the places to go to, we decided why not try Moulin Rouge itself. None of us had been there and didn’t quite know what to expect.

So as we walked in, we were rather surprised by the ambience. Quite contrary to the name, this place seemed like an eatery frequented by families rather than tipplers. So while were shown to our table towards the back right next to the refrigerator with all the raw sea-food on display I took stock of the place and we were quite sure that the shooting of Parineeta happened in this restaurant. Anyway a couple of beers and some chilli chicken and Bhetki were enough to set us up for the evening ahead. Well the food wasn’t that great really and we were glad we didn’t order much.

After that we headed to Some Place Else and listened to Hip Pocket after a long time. They seemed to have experimented a bit and brought in a new sound into their covers of the usual songs that they play. The lead riffs are more experimental and I kind of liked their versions of the Pink Floyd and other covers that they played. I could venture to say they had Hip Pocketed the songs they played.

Band: Hip Pocket
Samidh – Bass / Vocals
Sumit – Guitar
Rishi – Guitar / Vocals
Shom – Keyboard
Nondon Bagchi – Drums / Vocals

I waited for the next act called Catch 22. They were what liked a composition of members from various bands. They sounded very much like Urban Reflektion because of their lead singer and especially the funky songs they played. The band has spunk and is peppy enough to get your spirits high on a Friday night.

Band: Catch 22
Guitars: Rohyt and Rajkumar
Bass: Bijit
Drums: Deboprotim
Vocals: Satrujit

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Another Conspiracy Theory

Last evening, after a brief visit and round of all my favourite toy shops in City Centre, we headed out to Mani Square to watch Eagle Eye. IMAX was the theatre. It’s the latest of the multiplexes to open in the city and since they were the only one’s showing the movie, it was good idea to watch it here. The tickets were even priced cheaper than all the multiplexes @ Rs. 90 each. We went up to the top floor of the mall where the hall is situated adjacent to the food court and bought tickets, after which we headed down two levels to Aqua Java to grab some dinner. They seemed to have run out of Lasagna and chicken, so we managed to get Pasta and a Chicken Sandwich. But to start with we had a Blueberry Cheesecake. It was pretty big and pretty yum, but I can surely add that I’ve had better. After we finished our meal, the sweet tooth got its way and we had another of that Blueberry Cheesecake.

On our way up to the movie, we had about 7 minutes to spare and my wife wanted to go to this place called Scary House. All I can say is that she came screaming out through the other end of our walk through that dark spooky place, the scream was enough to have every single head in the food court turn in our direction. So next time you’re in Mani Square and if you don’t have a weak heart, try this place for thrills and chills, all for a mere Rs. 50.

Anyway coming to the movie, Eagle Eye, it was along the lines of Enemy of the State or even Die Hard 4.0 for that matter. A conspiracy Theory that involved some mind blowing cyber stuff. The effects and the basic story line were good, but just seemed a bit clichéd. Shia LaBeouf (Jerry Shaw) and Michelle Monaghan (Rachel Holloman) do their bit as the protagonists and Billy Bob Thornton (Agent Thomas Morgan) is good as the FBI agent chasing this wild goose cyber chase supported by Rosario Dawson (Zoe Perez) the special Agent assigned from the Air Force. Basically to put it in a nutshell, a super computer decides to play god and eliminate a whole lot of people and our heroes save the day.

I must add though that the hall is just mind blowing. I've never seen such a big screen in my life. the action scenes nearly had cars flying out of the screen. All this in just 2-D! I wonder what a 3-D movie experience must be like in this theatre.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Afternoon Ferry Ride on the River Hooghly

I know I love my job when it takes me to places such as this. So what if it’s just a one hour recce of a River Boat called Mayurpankhi. I went to Millennium Park and boarded the ferry that took us to the Howrah bank of the River Hooghly. Getting on the ferry that would take us to the other side was quite fascinating. There are no guard rails and proper gangways to get on board. The ferry just lines up against the platform, the rubber tyres cushioning the impact and people just get on while two helpers at each swung ropes over the railings onto the boat on shore holding it in place. This entire operation happened in minutes and before we knew it we were on the river heading towards our destination.

I got buys clicking wondering when the next opportunity to shoot both the bridges, Vidyasagar Setu (New Hooghly Bridge) & Rabindra Setu (Howrah Bridge) from the middle of the river come my way. Once on the other side, we disembarked and got onto the ferry which we had come to see, the Mayurpankhi. This boat makes one hour trips with proper entertainment & snacks for a mere Rs. 60 every Saturday & Sunday. It was quite a fascinating boat with stage, kitchen and all that is required for making merry on the river.

We then headed back to the other side, our mission completed. We came, saw and liked what we saw. All the other boats moored were the catamaran which was used to go to Haldia, the Big passenger ferry that goes to the Sunderbans and the small speed boat that belonged to the river police.