Friday, November 30, 2007

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Love in the time of Cholera

'Love in the time of Cholera' is the first Gabriel García Márquez book that I picked up. I saved it for many days just for a perfect day to start reading it. After one year the perfect day did arrive and Marquez's writing did not leave me grudging.

The story's a love triangle between Florentino Ariza (the jilted lover), Fermina Daza (who dismisses their relationship as just a teenage crush and moves on) and Dr. Juvenal Urbino (the man who woos and marries the lady). Undaunted, Florentino waits for 51 years, 9 months and 4 days for Juvenal Urbino to die; so he can propose again to his one and only true love. He even claims that all these years he had 'saved' himself for Fermina - 622 casual relationships not withstanding. Thankfully for him, love is rekindled.

It's moving, the way Marquez strings along the inevitability of old age and the daily trifles of ageing couples. As you put the book down, it just leaves you with one thought - that even at 80, love might feel the same as it did the first time at 16.

[Original pic by tricia ward photography]

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Idli-Dosa at Salem Kitchen

D drawer o The Letter S A

Salem Kitchen at the Forum Mall (Food Court), Bangalore is my first pick for a quick and no nonsense idli-sambar-dosa meal. I quite enjoy the way I can make a multi course meal out of it.

The starters range from a plate of idlis or a bowl of mini idlis and sometimes even the exotic paniyaram. For the main course I usually go with the crisp paper masala dosa or the set dosa. But you can also choose from onion dosa, rava dosa and many uthapams - all of which are excellent.

On the days you might want to abstain from idli dosa, you can make a happy meal out of their ghee rice (only if you are not the calorie counting types) or their multi layered malabari parathas with chicken or mutton curry.

The last time I tried the biryanis, it didn't leave me running for more. Salem Kitchen also serves a range of sea food that I have yet to feast my taste buds on. Until then, nothing like their idli-sambhar-dosa meal to make me shell out auto fare to the other end of the town.

[Original pic by kastner]

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Ruskin Bond's 'Roads to Mussoorie'

One of my friends, during travels, was thoughtful enough to get me a personalised copy of 'Roads to Mussoorie' autographed by Ruskin Bond himself. This copy was even bought from the very Cambridge Book Depot on Mall Road (Mussoorie), made so famous in Ruskin Bond's writings.

Like any other book by Ruskin Bond, this one too comes with a soul. It's a collection of 12 stories based in and around his home town - the picturesque hill town of Mussoorie in Uttranchal. Each story is a simple account of the ordinary that's both wickedly funny and benignly kind. Laced with every day gossip and scandals from the not-so-quiet hill town, it's one book you will find difficult to put down until you finish the last page. And even thereafter.

My only grouse is with the publishers (Rupa & Co) of this book. The book could have benefited with a better cover and diligent proof reading. For his part, the author more than makes up for it all.

[Original pic by Dey]

Monday, November 26, 2007

Short eats at Coffee World

Coffee World at Eva Mall in Bangalore may be inconveniently located but it has its own secret draw that has hardly anything to do with their menu. Eva Mall (Brigade Road) happens to have the best kept restrooms of all the malls in Bangalore.

But once you are there, Coffee World doesn't disappoint either. The menu has variety for both tea and coffee lovers.
If you want to grab a quick bite just pick from any of their freshly made sandwiches. I personally prefer their sandwiches with french bread since panini or the wholewheat bread get too dry sometimes. This is usually followed by an Earl Grey tea pot or two; and sometimes even a hot capuccino on longer visits.

If you have a sweet tooth, chocolate brownies with ice cream or Belgian waffles with cream aren't bad choices either. I wouldn't recommend their cakes though.

In the evenings, the seating outside is a better option. But don't expect service at its best there.

Coffee World's proximity to Inox cinema at Garuda Mall makes it my favourite retreat after movies. Nothing like tearing apart a movie over a hot mug of capuccino or an apricot tea pot with my friends.

[Original pic by B Tal]

Sunday, November 25, 2007


I do not know how accurate or inaccurate an account it is of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart; but to me, the movie Amadeus made great viewing.

The film has stellar perfomances, ornamental sets, magnificent architecture, lavish costumes and ostentatiously fashionable wigs. But at it's core it's a tale of ageless conflict between the genius and mediocrity.

It's the story of Mozart as told by Antonio Salieri, his arch enemy. Salieri can hardly accept that a seemingly frivolous Mozart was chosen as the instrument of God for divine music instead of someone more deserving like himself. Mozart's middle name 'Amadeus' (meaning 'God's beloved') only seems to mock at Salieri, pushing him to declare a war between himself and God, with Mozart as their battlefield.

As someone who can more than see his inadequacy in Mozart's genius, Salieri rightly foresees that only pure genius is immortal. Anything less than genius is but inadequate.

Regardless of its historical or musical context, it's a story that is timeless and told impeccably well. For me, learning more about Mozart was a bonus. Plus, it made me reach out to my iPod and listen to his music finally.

[Original pic by roujo]

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Queen's stinking ways

Queen's on Church Street is the first refuge for all north indians in Bangalore missing 'ghar ka khana'. Until a year back, I too was a regular. I guess I was guilty of over-visiting to a point where I outgrew it.

What best to order depends on what time of the day you land there. If it's early evening, I like to choose from their chaats menu. It's always a close call between Aloo Tikki, Dahi Papadi Chaat and Paani Puri. If it's a not a tie, ie. But if you are not the chaat types, veg or egg rolls are a good bet for any early evening snack.

If I land up for a long leisurely dinner, chicken tikka kebabs make an excellent starter. Sometimes I am guilty of overdoing it with chicken tikka curry for main course. The bread menu has choice too but I rarely deviate from the healthy and simple phulkas. Plus a veg dish of stuffed capsicum or baingan ka bharta usually rounds up the meal for me. Not counting the Sirka Pyaz (vinegar soaked onions) and pickle that make the usual accompaniments at Queen's.

For a quick lunch, Methi Aloo is my big favourite. It tends to be dry, so always order a curry to go with it. Methi tadka dal does just as well for me. But my lunch is never complete without steamed rice and a glass of buttermilk to wash it down.

PS: Sadly biryanis are nothing home to write about. Mutton (in all forms) is average. The service is bad at peak hours and the owners seem least bothered about guest experience - including the stream of sewer water running in front of the entrance, the last time I visited them a year ago.

[Original pic by mutantlog]

Friday, November 23, 2007

"We all came out of Gogol's 'Overcoat' ''

So claimed Dostoevsky or Tolstoy, or both. But it was the reference made to 'The Overcoat' and 'Gogol' in the 2007 movie 'The Namesake' that left me sufficiently intrigued about this Russian writer and this particular story.

So while rearranging my bookshelf the other day, I was more than happy to chance upon 'The Overcoat' by Nikolai Gogol as one of the stories in this really old book by the title of '6 Great Modern Short Stories'. Understandably I began with some intrigue and absolutely no warning of things to come.

The story revolves around this loser clerk from an unspecified department; and how a new overcoat makes his life rather eventful -at first for him. And then, for the residents of St. Petersburg.

It's a good read any day. A better read after a bad day at work. And if you get Monday blues like me, it's best read on Sunday night. The morbid absurdity, the endearingly mundane situations and the comic mixed with tragic kept me hooked - and smiling - till the last line.

Next on my agenda is his short story 'The Nose'. It's a story of one man's search for his lost nose. I should hope that it's nothing short of absurd, again.

[Original pic by seriykotik1970]

Thursday, November 22, 2007

End of my Coffee Days

It's all thanks to Cafe Coffee Day(on MG Road) that I am a happy Barista convert today.

Until a year back, it was every day that I headed straight to Cafe Coffee Day (next to Bombay Store) after a hard day's work.

So what has changed? Apart from the service that sucked even in those days, ie. For starters, the capucinno got progressively worse. And their marketing brains got wiser.

Now, I rarely get full change back from them. It comes back with a promotional pack of mint (in lieu of change) and a barely audible mumbled apology. (Note to aforementioned marketing wise men at Coffee Day: I've my own lil strategy to combat that ;)

Then came their own branded packaged drinking water - inconveniently priced against the norm. Followed by the caveat that only medium sized capucinno will be served and no longer the regular size. Plus came the trauma of in-your-face hideously packaged merchandise occupying more real estate. Extracting the life time value of a customer in one single visit seems their motto now.

But there's one thing that they have managed to keep just right. The rich, luscious and gleefully sinful - Chocolate Fantasy. Very toothsome. So when I want to indulge my sweet tooth, I know exactly what to do. Get myself a take away!!

[Original pic by mondoagogo]

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Sad demise of Mumbai Masala Sandwich at Brio

For a regular like myself, a new printed menu card only brings bad news. Not only do I have to work harder in finding what I usually enjoy having, but I've to pay more too. For a portion size that has just begun to shrink.

But when Brio at HomeStop printed new menu cards this time, they did more than just touch up the prices. They even changed the recipe for their famous Mumbai Masala Sandwich. For worse. Leaving me with one less thing to order :(

Now when I'm there, I just feast on the hot chocolate. And the yummiest croissants that I 've tasted so far. Thank god for small mercies ;)

PS: Sadly both the tiramisu & teas are avoidable, so opt for coffee instead. You might find delight in the choice of coffee in the menu.

(Original pic by Spo0nman)

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

tea house

A coffee lover, I was initiated into tea by my best friend. And it started with some practical sessions at a place with the largest tea menu that I've come across in Bangalore yet. If you are a tea lover and have been in Bangalore, Infinitea on Cunningham Road hardly needs an introduction.

Being a regular there, I have tried and tested most of the menu and have come up with my own list of what to order when only the best will do. All the herbal teas are amazing; and are terrific value for money. But if you are ordering the chamomile tea pot, do ask for extra hot water especially if the carafe doesn't look full to you (chamomile tends to soak in a lot of water). Earl grey is another favourite that will never disappoint. And nothing like a plate of piping hot momos while you are at it.

Momos are the star sellers at Infinitea. Of course, if you are a regular visitor, you would notice that the prices are soaring and portion sizes are dipping. Probably, the owners are trying to palm off the cost of renovation to guests. Wouldn't have minded it as much if they would have paid some attention to the washroom as well.

If you like your tea very much, you can even buy authentic and exotic tea leaves and make some for yourself at home. And give the sandwiches a miss if you are a value for money type like me. Order a pasta salad instead.

If you end up there for a meal, Cubbon Fish is worth a try. There's choice for chicken lovers too. And to wash it down? Some green tea perhaps.

PS: In the picture you see my favorite two seater at Infinitea.

(Original pic by Premshree Pillai)

Monday, November 19, 2007

Cappuccino time

If you are strolling down MG Road in Bangalore and looking for a hot cup of coffee there are many choices you have. There's Cafe Coffee Day in front of Bombay Store, there's Java City on the parallelly situated Church Street, or the fashionably bohemian Koshy's up the road. Along with a smattering of more Cafe Coffee Days, Baristas and Coffee Worlds if you are prepared to walk down to Brigade Road.

But if you are looking for a quiet relaxing spot with a view and a delicious mug of coffee to go along with it, my pick would be Barista on MG Road in the Barton Centre Complex. And while you are at it, I would recommend a nice hot Apple Cake to go along with it. (Do insist that it's heated up; you'll get mixed results otherwise.)

PS: I really hope that you'll have the good sense to give Java City, Church Street, a miss. It positively serves the world's most horrible coffee and tea. But if you do land up there, don't miss the Chicken Corn Quiche - which more than makes up for everything.

[Original pic by Voxphoto]