Friday, January 2, 2009

Wish you all the happiness folks

I spent the NY at a family friends place digging into Shorshe MaachKwasha Mangsho and Begun Bhaja and a lot of other things. One reason why a lotta people I know in this part of the country don't like Brinjals is because its not made in the best of ways. You guys should try begun bhaja. Else you'll end up like the kid in school who wasn't thought Math well and he grew up to hate it. 

Anyway, the food was great. Greater was the company. So much so no one noticed it tick past 12. And then some one was like:

"Hey Baaro ta beje geche"  (Its past 12)
"Na Na... two minutes to go"
"Arrey na na.. its 12..."

.. 'confusion' ..

"Happy New Year!"

...*Wishes*Hugs*Huddles*Pranams* ..

And then I went back to Adiga's 'White Tiger'. I'm liking it. Suggest you pick up a copy too. 


Happy 2009.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Talakona Trek

I alight at the ‘IN’ gate at Koyembedu looking for souls with portly backpacks waiting to escape the urban madness and head into blissful wilderness. I spot this petite lady with a backpack half her size and shout out: Me: Chennai Trekkers Club? - Her: Yeah! /  Me: Where’s every one else? Its close to departure time! Her:  No clue ..  looking for them!

After the regulation head counts, enthusiastic introductions and distribution of our dinner packs we start out on our way. It takes quite a long time to beat the Ambattur traffic and after a few snarls, we are finally on National Highway 205 en route to Talakona. The journey has begun.

Our first pit stop was on the T.N – A.P border where we stopped for the toll tax. It was here that our CTC member Arul Kelvin spotted an Indian Krait. Alas, it was run overL. Irony that CTC had organized a Snake walks earlier that day. Arul dutifully shifted the snake to the edge of the highway. Good work mate.

We continued with our drive. After Tirupati, the real fun starts! For those of us who know ‘Sai’ – he kept our group rolling in laughter and everybody indulged in wholesome leg pulling sessions! Every few kilometers were punctuated with calls to our guide asking ‘Talakoa ekkada?’ Given the fact that our destination was deep routed it was indeed an arduous task finding our reserve forest destination. But like everything else, CTC pulled it off and found its way to the base camp at Talakona at 2.00 A.M Saturday morning. After a tiring journey, our sprits were no way tired and we chatted till about 2.45 A.M deciding whose gonna sleep where before we finally retired for the day..err.. previous day.

The next morning, post Idly, Vada, Pongal and some tea, we started the trek.

A 1 k.m. pathway leads to the base from where you start the actual ascent. Once the ascent started, the entire group split into 3-4 groups and of course everybody fell silent, conserving energy to the stepped climb. The climb was an all in all a good one, except for may be a few paces, but still moderate by CTC standards. Mid why through our ascent, the sounds of water fall greet us and pepped up our sprits. A few moments later, we are greeted by a small stream that joins the bigger water fall down under. For many of us, we were tasting water from a running stream out in the open for the first time and everyone sweared that they had’nt tasted water better than this! It was yummy. After drinking to our tummies content and some photo ops we headed to the first water fall.

'Wow' is the word. Picture post card perfect may be an alternative word. 

A pool of magnificent turquoise water with a beautiful water fall greeted us. Surrounding it from three sides were 100 M high rise and sharp edged cliffs. Of course, the next had to happen. All the 28 of us jumped into the pool and waded like a bunch of happy water buffaloes. Such bliss! The little dose of tiredness that any of our group members might have had vanished. The water was freaking cold and people seemed forget this in the wave of infectious solitude that the group experienced. Poor Arun had a cut from one of the sharp under water rocks dotting the entire pool. A good one hour plus later we managed to pull our selves out of the water and head higher up into the small hills. Post lunch, we walked close to 2 km up there to visit a colonial bunglow, but a passing forest official played spoilsport. Anyway, we began our journey downwards. It was a stepped descent and a bit steep at places.

The water fall that greeted us now was the mother fall! Yeah! Again, we wasted no time in getting our skin under the mighty fall.

Now folks, you have to take every word that I say now literally. The forceful water chunks hitting our backs from over 100 feet felt like some one walloping you with a blunt pieces of iron! We screamed our lungs out and held on to each other. We were drenched to the bone. And further more. It was exhilarating. It was a moment that bowled everyone over. The expression of child like enthusiasm and sheer gusto upon being in all watery wilderness had to be seen on the faces of out CTC members to be believed! Added to this were gusty winds that sprayed water all over you like no other. I am short of expressions at this moment. It was like facing a good thunderstorm in a radius of 20 feet! (Oh, there is where Shubha did a smart thing. She came under the water falls wearing a rain coat. Not that it made a difference, but beat that I say J )

We started our downward ascent now and headed back to our base camp to start our onward journey to Chennai. We caught dinner at Tirupati and after a few pit stops on NH 205 reached Chennai at around 2.00 A.M  (I didn’t notice a single remotely tired soul. The water sure is therapeutic and fools your muscle into believing they did nothing all day)   

We were hit and drenched to the bone. And did we enjoy it! 

Trek pics:

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Cafe Leopold

Have been wanting to visit Cafe Leopold ever since I read Shantaram.  Sample others like me here. And now this. Am sad. Also read what another visitor has to say. 

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


An average grub spot is not motivation enough to review. But it’s been a while I’ve updated my binge blog. Guilt pangs strike. And I write.

We’re reviewing Giorgio today.

No specific reason for walking into this place. Except that it’s a known devil. And was a previous jaunt for the friends I was catching up with. So we knew what to expect, order and pay.

For the killer location they are in they’ve made rather drab use of it. You are greeted by a hut that is supposed to resonate a beachy touristy feel. It doesn’t. There is so much they could have done to pep this place have. Have a roll counter, have shawarma’s, have a kebab counter. But they had none.

They looked like they were on a budget when they did the interiors. An orange coat on the wall and average lighting is what you will get. But like they say, ‘Location, Location and Location’. They had that and could’nt bother about the rest.

Now some food talk. What do you get? They are sizzler specialists basically. World food is what the menu states. They have flags of most GCC and Latin American countries and they look exotic enough. Every dish has a country prequel to it. Libyan Lamb Chops, SudaneseSea Fish, Timor Tiger Prawns. Ok, not quite, but that how they are named. And of course they have the ingredients mentioned. But I noticed that they do not serve Shawarma under Lebanese fare. Not happening. And Fish and Chips are 3 fillets? Excuse me!

Anyways, myself, Sid and Vatsa are seasoned eaters. We were having none of this globe talk. We were not expecting the real taste of the cuisine anyway and had zeroed in on some thing chickeny. And in the fare they had we were pretty sure they would taste all the same.

So we asked them: Which one of your dishes has the maximum serving? ; Attendant: Er.. umm.. He mumbled a couple of dishes with his eyes down and it was clear he did’nt know/care what he was talking. He was basically repeating from our suggestions I thought. Anyway, we settled for 2 Jamaican Jerk Chickens and a Veg platter.

Now, how do you define jerk chicken?  Its basically what the cook decides is a ‘jerk’. So we got some thing that was between boiled and light fried and tossed in some random herb. Bet not one of Bolt’s favorites. They served boiled vegetables and some casuina rice. It was just Haldi Rice I tell you. That too without the flavour. I enjoyed the fried cabbage though. Not worth the 300 bucks.  

The Veg platter was good. I forget what rice it was, but the crispies and the veg Manchurian were regulation and good.

Would I recommend? At this price, not really. If prices correct by about 30% its probably worth it. But then again most places in Chennai that serve sizzlers rob you. Opal Inn is one. I remember the early 90’s, they used to serve mega portion sizzlers that were really a delight. Its average now. And sizes have shrunk by half. Tangirene is a good option though. We’ll review that another day.

Giorgio, T-29, 7th Avenue, Besant Nagar, Chennai, Phone  42040202

Wednesday, October 29, 2008


Terracotta look alike flooring, catamaran wood work (every inch of the place), swaying palm trees and a majestic ocean front view (its like 300 Meters away) and white sail boats. So Mediterranean. Except that we’re in Chennai. 

L4. Thats what they call the place. 

Firstly, this is a good piece of real estate. Wonder if they got some good rentals on the terrace lease. What ever. Great concept. Expect that you really can’t sit out indoors at anytime before, say, 6 in the evening, by when the view of the ocean front is drab. But they’ve got a covered seating area on the right with very comfortable seating and depending on the angle of the sun you should consider sitting there. There’s an indoor air conditioned seating area as well. You are greeted by multiple black and white portraits and while they look good I fail to make the connection with a restaurant.  

We were having a quick meeting and I couldn’t focus on the food. They were clearly very reasonably priced and had quite an exotic spread. Service was quick. I’ll really have to get back and sample their main spreads to get into reviewing the food.    

Where? 4th floor – Citi Centre

If you are treating a visitor out of Chennai, you must consider taking them to this place. Chennai, as you will concur does not have a great sky line, but the ocean front stubs every thing out and irrespective of what you eat you will recollect a snapshot of the majestic ocean front for quite a while. 

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Happy Landing

I was checking into a Jet flight sometime this year and had to sign something for excess baggage. I was given a Kingfisher pen by the Jet staff. I smiled at them and they broke out laughing. If only I knew this was coming :)

As an aviation enthusiast I like both these guys for what they have achieved. At a time when you were made to feel obliged for boarding an IC came around Naresh with an unseen class of service. And when you thought that was the pinnacle came around this beer man giving travelers a reason to fly beyond just reaching a destination. And its remarkable what thus guy's achieved. Kingfisher is one among the World's five 5-star rated airlines. Giving her company are the like of Emirates, Qatar Airways and Singapore Airlines - all of which are state funded.

This looks like a great study on branding. Both carriers have a distinct brand equity and it'll be interesting to see how they avoid trampling over one and another's feet. But I guess when you bleed theres no spaces for Ego's.

I hope both of them just stick to benefiting from synergies and continue to operate under 2 distinct entities. Otherwise, am gonna miss the competition. Meanwhile, I'm waiting for Paramount to go Pan India.   

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Rock On

Fresh. Just like Eau De Cologne.

Those of you who still smile to yourself watching Dil Chahta Hai and like the non Punjabi hurling subtlety of Lakshya, you would probably want to watch this movie.

The script though loose at places has an over all nice and pleasant feels throughout and the execution is superb.

I have always rued at the lousy sets we put up for performing artists in our country. Any of you remember that ghastly set they put up when Michel Jackson performed in Bombay? I was embarrassed. And then there were the sets at the rock shows in this movie. I enjoyed them as much as I enjoyed the music and the rest of the movie.

The ‘rock star’ do was’nt over done – just perfect it was. In their bid to touch on realism, the background of all the characters was very well depicted. My personal favorite was “When have the Mascarenhas ever done anything of substance?! This sure did clear a lot of my doubts on Anglo’s :) Farhan plays an investment banker and can be seen advising his clients to invest into infrastructure. Clearly, the scriptwriter was clued on in the mid 2007 rally. So what if my ICICI Infra fund is down 20% now? Of course, the scene where he switches on the NSE screen ‘just like that’ was a bit too much. The attention to detail was again missing when the ‘long lost’ music notes are found. It looked as though it was just torn from a new matrix note book. But come on.. these things don’t matter.

The sets are wonderfully designed, and Farhans apartment was wow! I notice the Buddha statues quite often in the movie and am wondering if I missed a clue. Like the ones Google leave here and there. This has to be one of the better designed rock show sets I’ve seen in India. Very aesthetic and the sets were clued on to the signature of the entire movie. The lighting was good, very nicely capturing the intensity of the scenes and you can see all the work that’s gone behind this.

Farhan - Farhan’s rock star do would make you smile just like DCH did. I notice though, the dramatic and intense scenes had the camera cutting away from his face. They focused on him in short bursts and had several back to camera portions. But otherwise, his do was great. Remember, its not the easiest of things to capture the energy one associates with a live performances and look natural at that. It was superbly captured and could easily pass over as a real professional rock concert. And Farhan the singer? He was awesome and you have to hear him croon!

Purab Kohli – Without doubt the film’s stand out actor. Most of the time it looked like he was doing his usual Channel V stuff. Super screen presence.

Arjun Rampal, probably it was his toned down character that didn’t quite add to his screen presence. But nice stuff as the lead guitarist. Except that I didn’t notice his fingers strum.

Luke Kenny – This dude was awesome! Very subtle and marvelously held his own against the other three.

Prachi and Shahana the lady leads were very good.

On a microscopic view, maybe the sum of the parts didn’t quite convincingly add up, however the parts in toto very brilliantly executed.

The entire rock concert scenes were very will shot. Not only did they bring out the naturally contagious energy a rock concern usually serves up but used the different zoom in tone they use at the real rock concerts to capture the crowd enthusiasm.

The last cheer among the audience was when the movie ended rolling - “Don’t download the music, buy the CD”