Monday, December 6, 2010

….and the award goes to….NDTV Good Times Food Awards

Just a small perk of being a wife to the guy working in the food industry. Husband’s company was part sponsors to the event, and moi tagged along happily. Now we all know of NDTV Good Times channel and the many number of food shows that they air, and just as an aside i watch them most. Just watching them whets my appetite and raises my cravings. That’s the foodie in me digressing from the main topic. But hey, the main topic is still food and yet more food. Now it seemed like an organic step forward for NDTV to start the Food Awards and that they did, this year 2010.
Though the invitation card in itself was pretty plain, the event was anything but that. Westin Gurgaon was the venue.  It was a very chilly evening but the news that Rocky and Mayur of tRocky and Mayurhe Highway on My Plate were hosting the show, was enough to warm me up. I find the duo very cute and love their sense of humor.
Almost all the food luminaries from India were present. Right from Ramola Bachchan of Manre, AD Singh of Olive, Prahalad Kakkar, Rashmi Uday Singh, Priya Paul, Vir Sanghvi, Zeba Kohli, Sanjeev Kapoor, Suhel Seth, Chetan Seth …phew.
The jury comprised of Aditya Bal, Marut Sikka, Vicky Ratnani, Ritu Dalmia, Rocky, Mayur and Vinod Dua. The show started bang on with a couple of witty remarks by the duo (Rocky and Mayur) and the announcements of, yes, the awards. We had settled on our round table laden with goodies including Cadbury’s Bournville, hummus and pita. sushi rolls and guess what khandavi and dhokla (*wink*). Reds and whites in place all from the Delmonte table were feeling sufficiently happy but not before checking the logo placements on the standees.
Soon the husband was called on stage with Prahalad Kakkar to give away the prize for the Sensational Debut. Secretly he wished it was a Sensational Debut Starlet but well this is foods awards night and the award husband and Prahalad Kakkarwas for a Restaurant. The award went to Indigo, Mumbai. Team Delmonte cheered the maximum, no not for the winner but for their man giving away the award. 2 glasses of red in and GP the young little girl was nudging her boss “sir, why did you not talk more with Prahala Kakkar” In answer the boss (husband in my case…which means i am his boss) got her yet another red. Oh well….the wine truly speaks. Some P3Ps looked regular and familiar but their names didn’t come to mind. Well for that DG was all help….he even told husband before entering about a lady who they have worked with earlier and who was nominated this night. Warning so that the husband doesn’t say well she looks familiar. Are we ageing? Nah we just multitask so much we forget (*wink).
After the awards were given and some friendly banter by the  hosts, the jury were invited up on the stage whjury ere they released a book done by Rocky and Mayur, who very nicely told the audience that though the food tonight is free the book isn’t. so go buy!

Then came the music performance by Shafqat Amanat Ali. My favorite song of his is but obviously “Tere Naina” form My Name Is Khan. Shafqat Amanat Ali He sang beautifully and soulfully. However he was also very particular no body gets up to leave to go out, no one talks and blah blah…he was in short quite fussy. But his music and renditions were awesome, with many in the audience going “encore” for a performance.
We left for food soon after and what a spread it was. The entire decor was around the Highway on My Plate theme and so was the cuisine. There were Maharashtra,Punjab, rajasthan, Lucknow, Bengal milestones serving up exquisitely popular dishes from these regions. Special mention goes to boti kebabs, prawns, chicken chettinad, and deliciously sinful paan flavored kulfi.
Time to go home, the return gift was a lovely scarf for the ladies and a tie for the men from none other than Satya Paul. Well put together show, it was a lovely evening out.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Of wineries, villages and us

Have you ever been to a winery? for those who haven’t let me tell you it is an amazing experience of the sensory kind. Scintillating aromas, grape vines, huge barrels, people passionate about wines, some sommeliers and others wishing to be them….it is an extraordinary world.
However wine tasting involves not getting drunk but allowing the taste to win you over, swirling wine in the right kind of glasses, smelling the divine and finally rolling it across your taste buds and then…………spitting it. Palette cleared, another sip and flavor and experience taken in and the wine spat out. They have large spittoons for the purpose. Though sometimes i wonder what they do with that much wine in the spittoon, but well that’s another flight of imagination, another story, fit for another time.
On the other hand, let us picture this, an old village in sadda own India..Paheli (i am besotted by SRK) movie like setting. A commanding patriarch with perfectly oiled and twirled mooch and a mile long turban, chewing tobacco reclining on the couch with a battery of servants around him pampering him and chatting the maibaap up, and one dutiful servant holding a spittoon. Yes, a spittoon for the bade sarkar to spit out the red liquid that fills up the mouth after chewing that perfect paan.
Yet another place, another scenario, picture this. A sleek world class city of high rise buildings, meteorically rising property prices,hi-tech gizmo toting public, the bling of solitaires, the swoosh of designer pallus, the metrosexual man with gelled hair, original Armani jeans from last phoren vacation zipping past in the swank car and then wait---here comes the red light. And on that red light the car screeched stopped, you are admiring its bumpers and the air is filled with blaring music and then the door opens. Just when you are starting to fantasize about the prince charming’s P3P like life, ptchak squirts the red liquid straight on the road. That is one thing that cuts across the barrier of caste, religion, age, and profession though not that much of the sex (thankfully not many women do it). Look around you, observe the peopl;e on bicycles, on scooters, people with designer glares and people glaring at you, all have this one thing in common and the world is their spittoon--sure they don’t do it in the Fine city of Singapore for the fear of caning ;)—thay claim their right on it. Majority of them are spitting old or young, boys or men, educated or no.Next time when you “Relax” on the red light just observe this phenomenon.
Come on guys, red light is to manage the traffic flow not a pit stop for spitting, please take a cue from the ultra-chic wineries or your native village, use the spittoon. Think about all those Civic lessons.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Kingdom of Dreams

The trip between Delhi and Gurgaon is full of unexpected adventures of the horrifying and nightmarish traffic jam. But but this is not what i am “musing” on today. With husband going to work to Gurgaon everyday, a trip in the evening for a show or a visit to KoD had remained a dream only so far for me. However the opportunity came right through when his business partners descended on the city with the wife. so when the boss calls….you go, and yours truly was ever so excited at the prospect. After all it was recommended by the heartthrob ShahRukh Khan.
Kingdom of Dreams is spectacular and dazzling, this is where culture, art, food, grandeur combined with mindboggling scale and technological wizardry all meet in a blend that is truly breath-taking.
Two huge elephants greeted us at the entrance, a photo-op DSC00933was missed because soon the husband spotted the group we were to meet. When we entered the main space a lotus gate flanked by two huge urlis led us to the Culture gully. 

On entering was a spectacle we weren’t really prepared for. DSC00936 Huge air-conditioned space covered with a sky dome complete with clouds etched Rajasthani puppetson the dome lent the place a clear-day kind of a feeling even though it was well past 7.20pm. We just had 10 more minutes before the show actually began. After a couple of gasps of awe and wows it was time to proceed towards the Nautanki Mahal. 
sky dome

The cameras had to be deposited at the theatre entrance with the security as photography is prohibited. The entrance to the theatre was grand too.  entrance to Nautanki MahalWe rushed in and occupied our plush red colored seats.

The show, Zangoora: The Gypsy Prince has all the ingredients that go on into making a succesful, opulent “Om Shanti Om”esque Bollywood bonanza. The story line, the selection of the music, the performances everything was at a grand scale. A sensory treat it is nothing like any Indian would have seen before, infact the wife of a delegate even commented that she has not seen anything like this even in the Vegas. Well that was some compliment, that made me feel proud to be an Indian. Seriously, it is quite a matter of pride when good things are being said about one’s country that is so underrated.
An elephant comes out of the floor, the throne of the king and the queen gets elevated, the heroine enters on an eagle, and the play bursts open with the Jodha Akbar’s signature “Azeem o Shaan Shehensha…” This pic is courtesy the Internet The beats and the spectacular stage design, the perfectly crafted Neeta Lulla dresses…each element has a life of its own and has a story to tell. The stage props and the LED lends an atmosphere of grandeur, of a feeling of being transported into the palace, a forest, being in the middle of a storm and all of it.
The story line is that of love,deceit,revenge, and of eventually the good triumphing over evil. At the end of the show many dancers come up in the aisles and dance with the audiences to a really fast beat and rhythmic Zangoora title track. A fitting end to the spectacle.
The flawless choreography by Shiamak Dawar is just that…flawless, and as always awesome. The acrobatics were perfectly in sync, a Macbeth kind of a witch hanging upside down, the arrival of the princess in an udan-khatola, everything was at a grand scale. Which was great and the visual treat made up for the lack of understanding of the Hindi language by the delegates and a few other foreigners. The visuals and the performances took everybody’s collective breath away.
The story line was a bit draggish at a couple of places but all else made up for it. It is actually high priced, i mean tickets costing Rs1500 each in the silver category…is exorbitant by any standards. But i guess the scale of economies in the case are such :)
After many oohs and aahDSC00954s we were ready for more gasps and some chilled beer. Took the trip to Culture gully again and was greeted by the resounding thumping of drums and shouts…the tribal dance was on and the group surrounding them were trigger happy and a few even shook their leg. 

We visited the Indian restaurant for some curry in no hurry (bad one). But it rhymes. The ambience was great and in keeping with the entire look and feel of the place. The chaupal DSC00963 like seating, copper tumblers, a wall lined with lanterns and another with the kite manjha rolls in various hues, and yet another with matkas emanating soft light was good.DSC00962 But :( the food wasn’t much to talk home about, very regular fare.
It was a memorable evening and one that all thoroughly enjoyed. Next day husband’s office was abuzz with only Zangoora and it occupied a place of pride on my fb status too.
Kudos to the team behind this. Infact am planning to take my parents and in-laws there this winters. Inshallah!! Though the husband is still petrified of his Gurgaon trips he promises to indulge. It is a lingering experience that leaves a big grin on the face.

Monday, November 22, 2010

A trip down to God’s Own Country…

Planning a trip with the husband is most often than not filled with adventures of a different kind. What begins as a confirmed trip sways between various Kabhi haan and Kabhi Naa; as always professional commitments have a nasty way of raising its serpentine head at just that precise moment. So after many a tantrums thrown by our 8 year old we finally decided to cut short the trip but go for it nevertheless. And was it a good decision…yup ultimately it was. Cause over a measly 5 day trip including 2 of travelling we enjoyed the most and carved out our moments. Yes like the Kerala tourism ad says my moment sure was waiting…and grabbed it..i did.
A day of sightseeing in Kochi and we were ready to embark on a cruise to the backwaters. 2-3 hours away from Kochi to Alleppy which is where we boarded our cruise. The cabbie poor chap had heard of the Rainbow Cruises 1st time and made many calls to find out exactly where it was. His anxiety reflected on my poor baby as he thought here too is something might go awry. Thankfully it didn’t. En route there were many small shops selling jute and coir products and the hammocks took my breath away. It was awesomely priced at just Rs.350 pre bargaining. But the baby was like “why do you always have to do shopping mum, let’s go” and I had to give in. My bargaining prowess did not see the light of the day here..but a mental note was made already.
Reaching the dockyard, we all let out a big sigh of relief and amazement it was an extraordinarily beautiful sight. On checking in the guy at the reception told us we had been upgraded to the luxury houseboat from the premium category that we had selected. Our hearts did a somersault..whoops it was too good. 67613_445114387751_585582751_5076066_2465725_n
The houseboat was true to its promise. What a luxury. We had a sit out area with a lovely rug thrown in and sofas with fluffy and comfy seat cushions. A relief for the aching bums after a journey of 2 and half hours. The dining room was separated with glass sliding doors and behind it was the bedroom. The room had a bay window, a four poster bed and an A/C that was on full blast.

Our little photographer had started clicking the swaying palms and the ducks and other birds that he spotted. The journey began with a cool and fresh nariyal paani that the hubby loved, i ignored and baby refused. The cruise along the backwaters was breathtakingly beautiful presenting some of the gorgeous sights and waterways, and some funny ones too like the buffalos bathing alongside. There is a whole economy thriving along the banks and a life style that is so alien considering that we are in landlocked Delhi.
The cruise revealed many sights that were visually delightful and indelible etched in the memory. Aft66559_445121697751_585582751_5076283_754363_ner meandering through several kilometers the backwaters opened up into a large water expanse. this is where the boat anchored for the night. The site overlooked a beautiful field of water lilies that stretched over a couple of kilometeres on the right and the left side was all open water. 

The sunset was magical andinspired all of us including the little tyke to meditate. It was really heart warming to see the little imp quiten down and close his eyes facing the sunset and do his bit for 2 minutes. those 2 minutes trust me were peaceful…what with him keeping his ever blabbering gob shut. phew!
While we were on the deck a rice boat vendor came trying to sell us live prawns! A67789_445122847751_585582751_5076318_2399834_n fisherman came along and spread his net wide to catch some. However it was very difficult to stay out on the deck post sunset since insects of the flying sorts took over and shooed us into the cabin. 

A chilled glass of beer down, we were ready to gorge on the fantastic gastronomic treat, dishes cooked in Kerala style. Fortunately the child also loved what was served. We wrapped33710_445123147751_585582751_5076324_639209_n up for the night promising to each other on catching the sun rise. But the next morning the sun played truant and hid behind the clouds during the sunrise and eventually shone bright in all its glory at around 8.30. The fisherman from the night before came to collect his fish and along came a toddy collector too. Kerala has many Toddy bars.  
Breakfast was served around this time and was a delectable spread of uthapams, sambar, and idlis with a choice of sandwiches which all ignored. At 9.30 we docked back….the journey on the houseboat ended. Lovely experience made up for treasured memories for all of us and the baby ranks this as one of his favorite holiday trips. After this we left for Munnar…which is another story for another day.
Kerala Rocks!!!!!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Walk the walk but also walk the talk
I have been to various heritage walks regularly organized by the India Habitat Center. They have all been amazing and transports you to another world of royally and grandeur. The monuments silent and mute witnesses to the ravages of time and also of humans stand stoically amidst the urban jungle. Some of them have really been ill-treated what with all those beer cans, potato chips empty packs, and littered with many spoils of human consumption. It is really sad at times to see them in decrepit state. Undying testimonials to love are scrawled all over, at time one wonders how some of them actually managed to reach the height where such absurdities have been etched. I am sure these last and deface the monument much longer than that undying love between the secretly meeting couples. Some of them may have married, some now in new relationships, and some may have been dead long time back. Such scrawlings are infact a reflection of our uncouthness and collective neglect of what are the remains of our architectural heritage.
Some times the way the authorities work also amazes me. There is always a sagging, standing on one leg rusting blue colored board proclaiming the monument to be a protected monument by the ASI. But what protection is being given is anyone’s guess. At times even when one gravitates towards some of the monuments wondering what it was, and who built it, and what timeline. One still returns with no answers in fact more questions. Because those protected monuments are standing there nameless, faceless though protected. Protected form what one may ask since there is no one physically guarding them even no guards, no one to stop vandalism etc.
I feel as citizens it should be our responsibility to not vandalize, deface or litter in and around the monuments. In fact why should one litter at all I don’t understand. But that’s another story for another time. Let us all make a beginning, a beginning to protect our heritage, our national treasures and not just for the upcoming CWG 2010 but much more beyond that….a commitment that is life long….a responsibility that will filter down generations!