Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Of trains , winter holidays and running

The sunlight streamed through the half drawn curtains had me awake. The train was slowing down as a station approached. I craned my neck to see but could hardly make out which station it was. A hawker selling tea entered the compartment to the utter joy of all the passengers who quickly swarmed around him.We Indians love our tea, and there is something heavenly about that tiny cup of hot tea served when you are half snuggled inside that blanket on the train berth. Train journeys were always an integral part of my holidays. I used to eagerly wait for the summer vacations where we would take the train to my grandmom's town to spend holidays with my cousins. Tickets those days were booked way in advance , tiny rectangular cardboard cutouts. I especially loved overnight journeys - the joy of climbing up to an upper berth and falling asleep to the rhythmic jostling of the train. I love train journeys to this day. But the general paucity when it comes to time and distances traveled have us giving in to flights most of the time.

Holidays are also about meeting cousins,aunts,uncles - the whole retinue of an extended Bong family. Invitations for lunch, dinner , breakfast are not to be ignored. And never underestimate the emotional cost of each tiny bit of morsel put on your plate.The whole hierarchy of the family tree can be threatened by your mere refusal to devour the last piece of fish preserved just for you. Unfortunately for me, a Bong who has also chosen the sadistic world of running , the conflict is eternal. From dragging the father along for a 90 minute early ( I mean really early) morning walk at the nearest lake while I run to the amused look on the face of the man selling coconut water on realizing that a Bong woman chose to spend her early morning hours running , the struggle between a Bong coming back home to Kolkata and a runner just trying to keep up her routine is real. Kolkata and running are not really friends - as a fellow runner and friend puts it:). But like a lot of conflicting identities which sink into our personalities ( tell me if you have been able to balance out yours because I never have) , this too will find it's own little space. Till then , I will enjoy slurping the last bit of the soft, mushy rosogolla (we also have the GI now, woot woot!) and the very confused look of the onlooker as I whizz past in my running shoes.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Of Media and content

The subcontinent got it's first joint Nobel Peace winners at a time when mortars and bullets are flying across the borders. While Ms Malala Yousafzai was definitely the more well known personality,I, like several others, had not heard of Kailash Satyarthi till the news broke.It probably also is a reflection of the media  today which spends an inordinate amount of energy on trivia and rantings of the political class and what it thinks is 'news'. A couple of weeks back TOI carried an article on Indo-China diplomatic relations. Accompanying the article was a poster of the Deepika Padukone starrer Chandni Chowk to China. Erm. I never got around to reading it. On a lighter note, I remember spotting this at one of the Army camps on the road somewhere in Ladakh. Political diplomacy, anyone?

India's Mangalyaan Mars Orbiter Spacecraft created a remarkable feat in it's own right, proof that a trip to Mars doesn't have to break the bank.  At $72 million, MOM costs just a fraction of NASA's $670 million Maven, and $2 billion Curiosity Rover. The leading US daily,
NY times,carried an editorial cartoon called"India's budget mission to Mars" , which it later apologised for.  Whether meant to be funny or ironic,  the racial stereotyping was more than apparent.

The festival season just went by , belated wishes for Bijoya and Eid. Thankfully, the past couple of festive days in Bangalore have been immune to the havoc that the rains have been creating in the city, making driving around an adventure in itself. And seems nothing short of good fortune to have been spared from Hudhud (someone please explain the logic of cyclone nomenclature, apparently this one is named after a bird).Hopefully, Diwali would be a peaceful one, wishes for a safe and happy Diwali!

Saturday, August 23, 2014

A happy independence day

The independence day weekend just went by. In his maiden independence day speech,the new PM announced the scrapping of the 64 year old Nehruvian Planning Commission with a new think tank entity. Amidst serious debates on the new think tank panel , my only thought was economics students would now probably be spared the horror of going through archaic histories of the 5 year plans. My most memorable independence day was the Chamser Kangri adventure in Ladakh a few years back when we were supposed to  summit on the 15th but had  to turn back because of bad weather.Only reminds me of how long it has been since I put on my trekking boots last :-).

Closer home , the three day weekend holiday turned out to be a great chance to catch up with theatre. With parents in town , we went to watch Gasha - a play in Hindi set against the backdrop of the Kashmir imroglio and the tale of a fractured friendship between two boys , a Kashmiri Pundit and a Kashmiri Muslim. The play is the third and final part of the Kashmir Trilogy, the first two parts being Rizwaan (2010, First Festival of Contemporary Indian Theatre in Paris)  and Djinns of Eidgah (Royal Court Theatre, London) but can be viewed independent of the two parts. The narrative straddles swiftly between the past and the present to weave the tale of the two boys but  never loses rythm. It's also surprisingly hilarious for a backdrop which couldn't be more serious and  keeps the audience breaking into peals of laughter. A lovely  evening spent at Jagriti (which now also sells cutting chai and samosa) followed by a Sunday lunch inspired by the Bongmom cookbook cuisine. The mom okayed it (yippee!), a perfect end to the weekend holiday:-).

Saturday, July 19, 2014

The world cup is over , now what?

The FIFA world cup is finally over. Which means room for "other than soccer" topics of conversation over lunch, coffee and dinner (did people notice the Wimbledon just whisked by?). Not a huge soccer fan myself but it is difficult to stay immune to the hoopla and the passion around what probably is the greatest sporting spectacle in the world. My most vivid image of the soccer world cup is Italy winning the finals in 2006. I happened to be in Milan during the world cup and was lucky enough to witness the grand victory of a soccer obsessed nation. Notwithstanding the FIFA spectacle, Italy remains one of my most favorite destinations in the world.


Speaking of favorite destinations, I managed to visit Goa thrice in less than a year. Between taking my parents to South Goa just after monsoons to holidaying with an old friend leaving for Singapore, Goa manages to offer everything from the solitude of it's remote beaches to the epitome of letting your hair down and not caring about the world. My friend also introduced me to this series of travel books written by Fiona Caufield. Called the 'Love' series, Fiona writes about the most offbeat destinations to be discovered in a place. We discovered an old Portugese villa serving traditional Portugese fare for dinner (also the owner chats up with you and may even be cajoled to play the guitar. Which he did for us. Two women can be insistent enough).

The monsoons are here. Thankfully Bangalore weather has gone back to being 'Bangalore' weather again. If you know what I mean. Between my early morning tennis classes and generally being violently lazy, I try and manage to pick up a cue on Bong cuisine from here. I love the way she writes and her general enthusiasm for food. Plus inspiring an audience like me , who given a chance would stick to the luxuries of a cook dishing out the fare for you. Hopefully, I will surprise my 'Bong mom' when she comes visiting next time :-).

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Eat Drink Replay

'One of the very nicest things about life is the way we must regularly stop whatever it is we are doing and devote our attention to eating' - Luciano Pavarotti and William Wright, Pavarotti, My Own Story

And so I did. A series of weekends spent over..well, food! From brewpubs to midnight dinners. A short recollection of my new epicurean discoveries in Bangalore:

Toit: The long pending photo club lunch at Toit , Indiranagar. Bengaluru's apna microbrewery.Quirky beer names. Mine was called Tintin. For the more adventurous. there is a spicy beer ! Food is good too, especially starters. My pasta in pesto sauce was a little too cheesy to finish though. Perfect for a lazy Saturday lunch. I wish they had a place to crash after the beer and the food though..yawwwwn!

Citrus, The Leela: A weekend buffet lunch with a dear old friend visiting Bangalore. You may find it difficult to tear yourselves away from starters and salad section to the main course. Incredible selection of cheese. Absolutely not to miss, the fresh baked thin crust pizzas. And heavenly desserts!

Jamavar, The Leela: An ambience to die for. I think. Wouldn't matter if the food was not good enough:-). Not that it wasn't. We stuck to a simple dinner of Appam and Pachakari stew after our weekend eatathon. Worth a revisit simply for the ambience. And to do better justice to the menu:-)

French Loaf: One breakfast place with ample choice of fresh breads and vegetarian fare for breakfast , apart from the  standard English breakfast that a couple of other places in the same vicinity like The Hole in the Wall in  offer. My toast and herb omlette was quite ordinary, but I loved my friend's onion mushroom sandwich. That's some compliment for vegetarian fare!

Biso,Citrus Hotel: A saviour if you are working late and want to pop across the street from work to catch up on a midnight dinner. Limited menu but my chicken alfredo pasta was not too bad. There is a fair Indian spread for the midnight dinner. Also serves beer. Avoid the steaks. Oh, and for desserts, try the Bull's eye:-)

To more epicurean pleasures, Bon Apetit!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Dining at the king's table

The three day Holi weekend was completely unplanned for. I missed out on the Friday holiday on the calendar , which earlier anticipated, would have atleast resulted in (i) a trip back home to gorge on a lot of feesh or (ii) a trip to Saada Dilli/Gurgaon to catch up on the kebabs (friends too, friends too:D). So I ambled around, with books and coffee for company till Sunday evening when sudden plans for dinner materialized with a foodie friend (the kinds who can freeze on the restaurant, skim through the menu and decide on the order with expert precision , sparing people like me the effort of doing any of the above). The chosen venue was a Korean restaurant - Soo Ra Sang (which translates to 'King's dinner table' ) on Wind Tunnel road , just off Airport road.

The location is away from the normal weekend crowd , a quaint set up with a small but exclusive parking, a luxury by Bangalore standards. Paper lampshades with Korean calligraphy, bamboo furniture and a semi open air seating lend a very soothing aura to the entire atmosphere (I could even see the half moon peeping through the Bangalore skyline:-)). You can choose to sit in the low Korean style seating with cushions on the floor with a charcoal grill set up right in the middle.

We were first served the Korean style water with a dash of cornstarch.  Our order of grilled meat (Dak Kal bee and Bull Kal bee - no , not my memory of Korean cuisine,those are the notes taken down on my phone:-)) was then cooked in the grill at the centre and cut into small pieces with thinly sliced garlic and potatoes.

Next came all the accompaniments - kimchi,macaroni salad, zucchini ,sprouts,pickled radish, spiced baby potatoes, blanched spinach and fried aubergine. All delicious and can be asked any number of times!

Our last order was a plate of deji bull go gi served with a bowl of sticky rice. Absolutely yummy!

There is no dessert here and the meal is rounded off with glass bowls of cinnamon tea. Utterly refreshing and a perfect end to the delightful dinner!

Some helpful facts:
Address: Wind Tunnel Road, Off Old Airport Road
Cards Accepted: Yes
Price: On the steeper side , a meal for two will come for 1200-1400(without drinks).
Drinks available:Korean Beer

Note to self: Carry a camera next time you are out dining.

Interesting trivia on Korean dining etiqutte: Suggestions include items such as "when you see a fat cow, goat, pig, or chicken, do not immediately speak of slaughtering, cooking or eating it". Erm;-)

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Generation Flux

Read a very interesting article on the pace of accelerating change in the economy and business. And the importance of accepting chaos as a normal course of what is going to define the future for sometime to come.Very interesting perspectives:

"Uncertainty is when you've defined the variable but don't know its value. Like when you roll a die and you don't know if it will be a 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, or 6. But ambiguity is when you're not even sure what the variables are. You don't know how many dice are even being rolled or how many sides they have or which dice actually count for anything."

"If ambiguity is high and adaptability is required, then you simply can't afford to be sentimental about the past. Future-focus is a signature trait of Generation Flux. It is also an imperative for businesses: trying to replicate what worked yesterday only leaves you vulnerable."

And my favorite, a quote from Charles Darwin:
"It is not the strongest of the species that survives; nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change."

Read it. Chaos is here to stay. Are you a Genfluxer?