Sunday, May 31, 2009

Books & Beyond

There’s always something to do on a weekend if you look hard enough. I had remembered my boss telling me about this book sale that was happening at Prudential Hall next to Peter Cat and how he had bought a whole lot of them for a steal. So once I was back from Mumbai, I told my wife, who loves reading books about the sale and off we went. Books & Beyond, the erstwhile book store of the RPG Group was clearing out stocks and everything was up for grabs at a flat 50%. My wife went a bit dizzy and after a bit so did I, carrying that load. I think we ended up buying some 14-15 books.

Since we were in the area, I decided to check out Emami Market (popularly called Landmark). At one time this was “the mall” and I had never seen it till date. So off we went. When we got there, I was kind of disappointed because the way people had gone on and on about Landmark in its hay-day this place was tacky and puny compared to the malls of today. Kind of reminded me of the 5 mall day when I had visited the likes of AC Market. Anyway we were committed having come thus far and so after getting a parking spot we explored the mall. I went about on my expedition of finding a measuring tape to no avail, but we did end up buying Needles and thread from this place.

After that we indulged ourselves in some softy right outside the entrance and then called it a day.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

A Couple Of Days in the Financial Capital...contd. some more

Since I was in the Lokhandwala area, I thought I might as well catch up with friends who were this side of town. So after our meetings, I hung out at some malls in the area and fixed up the plans for the evening. The place was decided and I met Dharmesh again along with one of his friends and we headed out to Firangi Paani. The place was huge and there was a live act which was supposed to start later on. So while we hung out with some beers, I noticed that this place was quite popular with the TV crowd. Mona Singh was there with friends having a blast. Unlike us, out of towners who look at them, most Mumbaikars couldn’t be star-struck.

I need to do some shopping and took some time out and headed to the close by Lokhandwala Market and with the help of my sister in law managed to get some great deals (she’s good at this bargaining thing) on some stuff for my wife. That done I headed back to Firangi Paani to join my friends.

After a while Vikrant & Kajari from Delhi (now married to each other and well settled in Mumbai) joined us. Gosh! I’m seeing them after several years now. So we got straight down to the business of catching up. We moved to less noisy side of the restaurant as the live band had started performing and believe it or not, Pooja Bedi was sitting at the table next to us. Oh ok, that me again, being an out of towner and being amazed. These Mumbaikars couldn’t be bothered. Anyway after some time, Dharmesh and his friend called it a night and we guys carried on for a while longer. There was so much to catch up. Vikrant, had nearly given this meeting, as he was dealing with the loss of his Mahindra Scorpio which had got stolen that day.

But when we finally left, we were all glad that we met up.

I took an auto back to Bandra and called it a night. The next day, we had a meeting in the morning and left for Kolkata by the late afternoon Spice Jet flight. Thank god it was a direct one. I wouldn’t be able to deal with another flight to Kolkata via Delhi.

It was a nice couple of days in Mumbai, the Financial Capital of India.



Vikrant & Me.
Kaajari, Myself & Vikrant.

A Couple Of Days in the Financial Capital...contd.

The following day in Mumbai, we had a couple of meetings lined up and after we had finished the first one in the evening, I had time to kill most of the mid afternoon and did some Lukhagiri and some shopping on Linking Road.

While walking down Linking Road, I was quite fascinated by the numerous types of Taxis and decided to click some. In Kolkata apart from the good old work-horse Yellow Ambassador, one hardly gets to see any other type of cars that ply as Taxis. Mumbai Taxis started from Maruti 800s progressing through TATA Indicas and Indigos right up to Maruti Esteems. The blue Cabs were Air-conditioned ones and the Yellow and Black ones were basic types.

After that I went back to the Guest house for some lunch and then headed out for the next two meetings which were on the other side of town near Lokhandwala.

A Couple Of Days in the Financial Capital

Just before entering the Taj, I just had to get a picture of the Bandra-Worli Sea Link which is very near completion and promises to cut down travel time between the suburbs and the business district in town by one hour.

Anyway that was in the morning and after we left the Taj in the evening, we headed out with an ex-colleague for a drink and ended up going to a place called Temptation just off Hill Road. A couple of drinks later we went our separate ways. I decided to do some lukhagiri on Linking Road and Hill Road and make plans for the later part.

The plan finally brought me to Zenzi. I caught up with Dharmesh, a school friend and my sister in law Akhila. We were pleasantly surprised to also catch up with another couple of my wife’s cousins, Vikram & Jagdeep, there. It was just a great evening over beers and munchies.

Way past midnight, Dharmesh and I decided to go grab some dinner and he took me to a place called Persian Darbar where we indulged in some great Indian food.

India Radio Forum: 2009

We made it to Taj Lands End by 9am after going through some short cuts that the Auto wallah went zig-zag through. It was India Radio Forum once again. Like every year, walking down the steps towards the Forum area, one can get that familiar aura of Radio Professionals. Though it is meant for media planners, Brand Managers et al, it as usual ends up as a congregation of the Private FM Radio fraternity.

The session started with the normal CEO panel with the usual suspects. The same old discussion, same old points, and they went on blah blah blah. Radio Rocks because of what it can do for advertisers and Radio is in dire straights unless the government changes some policies blah blah blah. And thank you very much. I had heard enough and was looking forward to some real inside stuff on creating really good radio programs that could captivate audiences.

So session after session on technology and audience measurement and then finally one guy I had heard before, Diamid Moncrieff. A passionate radio guy from the UK who really believes that sounds could influence. I liked that session.

After that, the guy who had been sold the hardest, Mike Reiss. He is the guy who has penned the award winning and whacky TV series “THE SIMPSONS”. His session was full of laughs and though it had nothing to do with radio per se, it did make one wonder about the possibilities. I guess this was the best session and got everyone back in the groove post lunch.

We had heard and seen enough and having no entries for the Awards that was to follow, we headed out once the Forum was over.

Spice Route to Mumbai

Thanks to Cyclone Aila, our Spice Jet flight to Mumbai got cancelled. We still needed to get to Mumbai for the India Radio Forum. So we enquired with some other Airlines. Indigo was the only one with seats available and were charging some 15K one way; Mind-blowing. The only other options were Kolkata-Bangalore-Mumbai or Kolkata-Delhi-Mumbai on Spice Jet. We opted for the latter. So I left home at 10 am for a 12 noon flight to Delhi. Our connecting flight from Delhi was at 6.15pm. So we had just about enough time at the Delhi Airport for a meal between the two flights.

I was quite impressed with the New Delhi Terminal which was coming up to International standards with shopping arcade and food court and ultra-modern architecture. The only thing I still felt lacking was the Aero-bridges. In the afternoon sun, waiting for the bus on the tarmac was quite an ordeal. I noticed a bunch of passengers who took shelter under the wing of the aircraft which was quite hilarious. Anyway that apart the airport seems to have invested in some state-of-the-art equipment which was quite visible from the Fire-tender that I saw parked near the terminal.

The other thing I saw was the newly acquired IL-76 Phalcon parked along with the other IL-76 aircraft of the Indian Air Force at their usual enclosure. The next day next day when I saw the news, the aircraft was being inducted into service. The IL-76 Phalcon was one of several that had been ordered by the IAF to be their eyes in the sky bringing India into a league of countries that has full AWACS capabilities. This will surely be a force-multiplier for the Indian Air Force.

So before I knew it I was back on another aircraft and on my way to Mumbai. I was glad when we finally reached Mumbai and were in the guest house at about 10pm. I was thoroughly impressed by the guest house which I must say was five-star class. There was no way I was making any dinner plans after a full day of flying and so just ordered some take-out and called it a night.

Hi-Tech Fire Tender

Monday, May 25, 2009

Cyclone Aila hits Kolkata

Cyclone Aila! I kind of missed the news in the papers in the morning and went to work. Only by late morning did I realise that this overcast sky was a big deal. “Aila!!!” a cyclone is what it was. Ok I thought to myself, as usual its heading towards Bengal and at the last moment will either hit Bangladesh or the Orissa coast. By noon with wind speeds hitting nearly 100kmph, and visibility going down to a few metres as I watched from our office window, I was beginning to wonder, especially when the local News Channels were only talking about the Cyclone. By noon, Kolkata Police had sent out a red alert and offices were shutting down, letting employees head back home before the cyclone hit. We could see the clouds racing across the sky and every now and then lightening and walls of rain moved across like a white veil. By 3 pm, things had gone from bad to worse.

I decided to take a stroll and headed to the ground floor and as I stepped out on the street, I realised what a cyclone was. The wind nearly took me off my feet and as I looked in both directions, the streets wore a near deserted look with a few stragglers diving for cover trying to make their way home. I decided to make my way back to the comfort of my office on the 9th floor.

There was nothing to do, but sit this one out. Then I got a text sms from SpiceJet saying that our flight to Mumbai the following morning had been cancelled. The rest of the evening was spent following the news and looking out of the window as Cyclone Aila hit Kolkata and trying to get tickets for Mumbai which we finally did.

I finally decided to head home after sitting out what seemed to be the worst at about 9pm. Outside our parking lot, a huge tree had been uprooted and lay across the road. Fortunately, it was after the exit and I had to drive in the opposite direction. On the drive back home, there were trees uprooted everywhere. Most of the hoarding flex prints were shredded and some of them had the entire structure crumbled to the ground.

The best was when we approached home. I dreadfully realised that our apartment complex was the worst place to keep a car in this situation. It has an abundance of trees and as we drove to our building the way was blocked by the tall Eucalyptus tree leaning across the road on one of the buildings. There was no way I was driving under this tree. It looked like a disaster waiting to happen. So I backtracked and drove around the apartment complex and approached our building from the other side. I parked my car on the opposite side a little away from where I usually parked because my normal spot was right under a tree that provided shade.

After about an hour while we were having dinner, I heard a thud and sure enough when I went out onto the balcony, I noticed the tall eucalyptus tree missing. It was lying right across the road. It was just a matter of time as I had guessed.

Anyway on Monday when I came back to office I noticed that the tree that had fallen had been chopped up, like many others that had been across the city. On the weekend when I had gone to the Tollygunge Club, the aftermath of the cyclone was quite evident. I heard over 60 trees had been felled by the storm. Tragic and yet makes us rethink of the ultimate power of nature.

Indus Valley: A Rather Practical Eatery

After the show at Dalhousie Institute, we decided, since we were in the neighbourhood, to try the restaurant just opposite the club. Since it was raining, we didn’t want to roam about too much in search of a place to eat and it so happened that we hadn’t tried this one.

So we ducked in to Indus Valley and got the menu. A very decently made place, practical and yet with its unique tinge of style with Mohenjodaro-Harrapa type wall sculptures lending credence to the name.

The menu was quite exhaustive and we decided to try their continental fare. We took the suggestion of one of the waiters and ordered a portion of Cheese Bites something for starters. It was yum and we wiped the dip clean. For our main course a Non Vegetarian Pasta and a chicken dish made for a sumptuous meal. The food was well made and I have to add, with hints of Indian herbs in the pasta, it did make for the most unique Italian I’ve ever had.

At the end, I couldn’t resist desert and a Hawaiian Sundae (with 3 scoops of Ice-Cream) made my day.

Indus Valley
53 Syed Amir Ali Avenue,
Shivam Chambers (Opp Ice Skating Rink),
Kolkata - 700019
Tel: +91-33-22817805, 32583454

Kolkata's Young Rock Stars

Grand Finale of Vodafone Rock Stars in association with T2 at the Dalhousie Institute.

99: An untrue story based on True Events

99 is a fictional movies based loosely on some true events that had occured in the past.

The cast:
Sachin (Kunal Khemu)
Rahul (Boman Irani)
Zaramud (Cyrus Barocha)
JC (Vinod Khanna)
AGM (Mahesh Manjrekar)
Kuber (Amit Mistry)
Jahnavi (Simone Singh)
Pooja (Soha Ali Khan)

Sunday, May 24, 2009

My First Rickshaw Ride

Yesterday I went on my first hand pulled rickshaw ride.
E-Mall
6, Chittaranjan Avenue,
Kolkata - 700072

Friday, May 22, 2009

Hot Wok: More of a Watering Hole

HOT WOK VILLAGE CHINESE RESTAURANT
56, SOUTH TANGRA ROAD,
KOLKATA - 700046
TEL: +91-33-23280702, 40012133

THAI SOUP (SMALL) 70
CHILLI GARLIC PEPPER CHICKEN (FULL) 200
PRAWN CRACKERS 60
SPICY HUNAN CHICKEN (FULL) 190
FRIED RICE (MIX/PRAWN) 100
RICE NOODLES (MIX/PRAWN) 130
VAT 12.5%
KINGFISHER PREMIUM LAGER BEER 95X2 190

Monday, May 18, 2009

Awesome Weekend

This weekend was a blast. Considering that the past week brought on a welcome onslaught of rain coupled with dazzling lightening flashes followed by deafening claps of thunder, I thought we’d have to stay in. But as luck would have it, rain didn’t play spoilsport on the weekend. Though we spent the entire day at home on Saturday and there was a mild drizzle till noon, the weather was awesome in the evening and just perfect for some thukpa and momos. So we got on the Karizma and headed out to Elgin Road, with a quick pit stop at South City Mall on the way. Momo Plaza is one of our favourite places to eat and we ordered our standard Mixed Thukpa and Fried Momos. Our luck was looking up, because they also had Chilli Fried Pork, something which, whenever we get there is finished. So we ordered a plate of that too. After finishing, we even decided to pack two plates of momos to carry back home and good that we did because it made for an amazing midnight snack.

The plan was to get up on Sunday morning and go cycling at the crack of dawn. Ummm we didn’t exactly wake up at the crack of dawn, but early enough (6.30 am) on a Sunday morning and took our Firefox Bikes and headed out. We explored the inner lanes and by-lanes of Santoshpur and our surrounding areas. It was a good hour out on or bikes and the sun was beating down on us so we made a hasty retreat back home and indulged in some Sunday breakfast followed by ghoom (nap).

Our afternoon plan unfolded with us going to Bhuri Bhoj, a restaurant that served Bengali Cuisine and we were glad to find the place tucked away just off the E.M. Bypass near Metro Cash & Carry. I parked the Karizma outside and when we stepped into this practically done eatery, we were surprised to see that it was quite packed, save the first and last table. We took the first one and soon after, the last table was also occupied. So as we were mulling over what to eat, a steady stream of people kept popping in. Make shift waiting arrangements were made in the adjoining garage for people to wait, and the crowd kept getting bigger, pouring out onto the road. We were quite shocked that this little eatery was so popular with people. Anyway we indulged in dal, bhaat, jhingey aloo posto, pabda maach (fish), malai chingri (prawn curry) and aam-er chutney. When we were nearly through with our meal, the rising temperatures outside did take their toll on the waiting patrons and while some left in a huff others did come in to make their sentiments known, leading to an entertaining altercation between some of the patrons. But all in all, this place had yum food, was well priced and had a loyal patronage. But the best part was, they did home deliveries too within a 3 km radius and our house was within that radius. So we paid and took one of their home-delivery menus with us.

Bhuri Bhoj Restaurant
318, Madurdaha, Kalikapur,
Kolkata - 700107
Tel: +91 33 65176077

After that sumptuous lunch, we decided to head out and indulge in some exploration. So we rode towards Garia over the Baghajatin Fly-over. We came up the Metro station and turned left to see how far down into Garia the Metro tracks went. So riding along the road with the elevated Metro tracks on our left we managed to go down about half a kilometre where we noticed the cause of the delay in the Metro project. There was a building bang in the middle of the proposed line. So while pillars had been erected on both side of the building, the mid-section couldn’t be constructed unless the building was razed to the ground. Wonder when that will happen?

Anyway we turned around and as we were heading back we saw the craziest thing ever. If you think I’m “PLANE CRAZY”, what is this person?

After that we headed into New Garia Township and scoped out some of the interiors. One thing that did seem evident seeing the open drains on the roadsides in this low lying area surrounded by wetlands was that during the rains the entire place must be getting inundated. Anyway as we were riding around we came upon a flock of Geese, yes Geese, and I stopped the bike in its tracks, rubbed my eyes, popped out my camera and starting clicking. 11 geese walking around on the colony road, sometimes being chased by the local dogs, who themselves seemed to be having fun and more than attacking them seemed quite curious themselves. It was quite mind-blowing actually. It’s not everyday that you get to see Geese walking down the road in any city.

After that we headed back home, but didn’t quite stop as the weather seemed too nice to get back indoors and so we turned the bike around and headed back out of the colony towards our next destination. I had wanted to go for a boat ride for a while now and today seemed to be the perfect day. So off we rode towards Strand Road and without wasting any time when we reached, got ourselves a boat and went for an hour long ride on the River Hooghly. “O Maajhi re….”, this was exactly the way I had wanted it to be. The boatman with his single oar at the back of the boat was pushing against the current of the incoming evening tide and ahead of us looming high was the mighty Vidyasagar Setu. I just went trigger happy with my camera, shooting anything and everything on the river, above the river, by the banks of the river and the stupendous bridge which we passed under. On our way back we came upon the boat “Mayurpankhi” and its smaller cousin, with a live band blaring music on one of its jaunts on the river with merry makers. Finally we came back to the banks and disembarked climbing up the stairs of the embankment where all the food stalls were. We settled for some Soda Shikanjee (Lime with Ice, Soda and Masala) and while it was being made a local train passed on the track behind us. Its quite frightening actually standing so close to the tracks when these trains pass by, but all part of the experience of going to The Strand. We finally picked up some Bhutta (Corn) and headed back home after a long adventurous day out.

Some beer followed by some home cooked rice and Green Thai curry was a fitting end to a eventful weekend.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Smoke - Summertime Rocks


A song from SMOKE from the album Smoke Signals featuring 'Summertime Rocks' is available all over India and ONLINE @ www.musicstore.bluefrogsounds.com.

This is an awesome song. Way to go Ashu & Dhruv.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Meet Bill

A hilarious twist of events results in Bill (Aaron Eckhart) finding his true calling in life. Bill works for his father-in-law’s company and is quite bored with his job. One day he suspects his wife Jess (Elizabeth Banks) is having an affair with local news reporter Chip (Timothy Olyphant) and decides to capture his wife’s infidelity on camera and does so. Unfortunately the entire video gets leaked onto the internet and ensues in big scandal. Meanwhile he has to mentor a school kid (Logan Lerman) who actually with the help of Lucy (Jessica Alba) a lingerie sales show him the light and influence his decision to find his own calling.

The movie at times is quite hilarious and yet seems flat as an entire movie. If you feel that your life is in the doldrums, Meet Bill. I recommend it as a one time watch if at all.

The Bistro: Delightful Little Place

Last evening we finally went to The Bistro. We had tried once before and never found the place and ended up going to Tangerine Wok & Grill instead. But this time around, we decided that we would find it and I recalled having seen it once or twice while passing by. We even called to confirm the location and then headed out. The weather was nice and so we took the Karizma. Once we reached there and entered this tiny little eatery, we realised what that write-up we had read meant by ‘its small”. This place is like a hole in the wall, with just about 3 tables squeezed in, but its nicely done.

So we went about ordering some food and settled for Fried Prawn with Hot Schezwan Sauce for starters and the Penne E Polla Fettucine Pasta and Roast Lamb with Herbed Rice for the main course. A blue Curacao based mocktail drink which lived up to its tangy taste as mentioned in the menu. The food was nothing like the more celebrated Italian places. It had a distinct taste of its own which I would say sets it apart from the regular Italian cuisine that one gets to eat around. I can’t put my finger (rather my taste buds) on it, but it’s different and very tasty. I’d go to say it has a very homely flavour to it.

After having our meal, our host and restaurant owner who had been chatting with us through the meal, insisted that we try the desert. I had already made up my mind at the beginning that I was going to have the Caramel Custard and so apart from that we order a chocolate version of the same - Coco Loco. They were both out of this world.

All the while we were there, there were take away orders being packed and sent off. This place understandably has a huge clientele that takes food back home.

We were definitely coming back here.

The Bistro
244A, Purna Das Road,
Kolkata - 700029.
Open: 11 A.M.-10 P.M.
Tel: +91 33 24635938