Feb 25, 2011

50 things to do before you die in India

Found this post at this website. Interesting.

50 things to do before you die in India

1. See the Taj Mahal
2. Eat at the highway Punjabi dhaba
3.Watch an Indian movie in the theatre
4.Play cricket on the street
5.Put mehndi aka henna on your palms
6.Take a dip in the Ganges at Varanasi
7. Walk through the bazaar of Chandni Chowk, Old Delhi
8.Go to Pushkar Mela(Fair)
9. Sip tea at a streetside stall
10. Watch the cricket match at Eden Gardens Stadium, Calcutta
11.Visit the city of Palitana, City of Jain temples
12.See the Golden Temple, Amritsar.
13.Spend a week at Osho Ashram, Pune
14.Sunset with the camels on the sand dunes of Rajasthan
15. Visit the mystical ruins of Khajuraho
16.Tiger Safari at one of the many Tiger Reserves
17.Visit the Gir Sanctuary, the last refuge for the endangered Asiatic Lions in the world.
18.Attend the Durga Puja in Calcutta
19.Fly kites at the annual kite flying festival in Ahmedabad
20. Blind yourself dancing in the monsoon rains (my personal favorite)
21. Go the southern tip of India, Kanya Kumari.
22.Get an oil massage in Kerala
23.Ganesh Visarjan, watch the idol of Ganesh the Hindu God being immersed in the sea.
24.Visit the Tirupati Temple, Tirumala.
25.Stay at the Udaipur Lake Palace Hotel, Udaipur.
26.Dine at The Taj Hotel, Bombay
27.Take the Darjeeling Train Journey, Darjeeling.
28.Volunteer at an Orphanage.(believe me it will change your life)
29.Travel in the train (make sure it’s not first class)
30. See the Meenakshi Temple, Madurai
31. Attend the Republic Day Parade, New Delhi.
32.See the world famous Dabbawallahs (lunch delivery specialists, all of them uneducated) in action in Bombay. (given a six sigma rating for organization and zero wrong deliveries)
33.Meet the Real Maharaja staying at one of the heritage hotels.
34.Go to Ladakh the highest plateau in the world
35.Visit the Chapel of St. Francis Xavier in Old Goa.
36.Yak Safari in Sikkim
37.See the Sun Temple in Konark, Orissa.
38.Stay in the Shikara or House boat in Dal Lake, Kashmir.
39.See the Mysore Fort lit up, Mysore.
40.Sun Bathe in Goa.
41.Visit the Gandhi Ashram, Ahmedabad
42.See Jodhpur, the blue city, Rajasthan.
43.See the Red Fort and Qutub Minar, Delhi.
44.Tashi Jong Monastery, a Buddhist Monastery, Himachal Pradesh.
45.Follow the Buddha Trail, Where Budhha found enlightenment.
46.Scuba Diving in Andaman Islands.
47.Visit the Ajmer Dargah, Ajmer.
48. Ride a motorcycle on the street of India.( seems impossible)
49.Do Kushti i.e. Indian form of wrestling.
50.Get a Gold Facial. Yes, 22 carat gold facial.

Feb 21, 2011


Restaurant Week was on, and my friends and I decided that we needed to get together, and treat ourselves fancily. So we booked ourselves a table at Olive, and loosened our purse strings.

What: Olive Bar and Kitchen

Where: Mahalaxmi Race Course, near Gate No. 7

Cuisine: Continental, plus alcohol

Elegant, classy, serene. The outdoors is nice, furnished in shades of white and off-white, candles on the table, a fountain and a beachy feel to it. There are two pretty ladies personally coming to your table, playing the guitar and singing, on some days. Everything has this air of quiet elegance and soft glamour, not a hoity toity five star and not even a random fine dining place.

I went through Restaurant Week and hence, the menu was a fixed three-course meal. We did not order anything a la carte, except a bottle of wine. There were three of us, so we could order three different things in every course.

The food is decent. It is tasty, and the salads are something to talk about. Even if it is just 'leaves', as my friends put it, they are still delicious, with the dressings. The Restaurant Week menu was not something grand or great - just a usual fare of an assortment of some continental dishes.

For the first course, we had a Caesar Salad, Wild Mushroom Borek and the Olive Oil poached Duck Breast Salad.

The Mushroom Borek was a crunchy puff pastry filled with mushroom and herbs. There was a green chutney dip with it which together tasted quite nice. The textures complimented each other well, and there was a depth of flavour too. Bit the crunch, to find a soft and creamy mushroom filling.

The Caesar salad we ordered was vegetarian and had a nice dressing to compliment it. The veggies were very very fresh, and that made it a pleasure to eat. Even though it was not much in terms of preparation, the fresh ingredients made up for it. The lettuce had just the right amount of crunch, and dressing, with nothing overpowering, and finding little salted capers amidst that jungle was an absolute delight.

The Olive Oil Poached Duck Breast Salad arrived, and the meat was camouflaged under the leafy green lettuce. The presentation left a lot to be desired, as it almost felt like the duck breast was attempting to engage us in a game of hide and seek, among the leaves. But once the salad touched the taste buds, it was an explosion of flavour. Dominated by the lemon vinaigrette, the leaves were crisp, and the orange and arugula added an interesting contrast to the flavours, with tangy, bitter and saccharine playing subtle games with the taste buds.

The best thing was the portions. They were really good for one person, and would fill someone with a good appetite. At the end of the course, we were already feeling a bit full.

Next came a watermelon sorbet as a palate cleanser. And it did the job quietly. The flavour was just about right, without dominating, or leaving a strong aftertaste in the mouth.

The main course followed. We first opted for the Seared Tenderloin Medallions, the Seared Basa Fillets and the Vegetable Pot pie, but we were then informed that the medallions were not available. So we substituted the Medallions for the Crumbled Sausage Green Peas and Cauliflower Risotto. and we chose a Vegetable Pot Pie, the Seared Basa Fillets, and the Risotto. The Pot Pie was honestly, quite ordinary, and not something I would come to a restaurant to eat. I expected more out of the vegetarian menu and was quite disappointed with the main course offerings. My thought was that if I am coming to a nice place, I'd like to try something new too, and not the usual Arrabiata or pot pie. The pie was creamy with diced vegetables and a crunchy pastry on the top. It was rich and hence, very filling. Yet there was something missing.

The Basa Fillet was delightful. The fish meat was succulent and tender, and did a good job of retaining the flavour of the marinade. The meat, though tender, was not quite melt-in-the-mouth quality. The glaze that the brown butter provided glinted in the candlelight, providing a bit of visual appeal, and also added a richer quality to the flavour. The seasonal vegetables that accompanied the fish added a contrasting crunch to the smooth texture of the fish. All in all, the dish was good, but not what one would call memorable.

We ordered all three desserts. I absolutely loved the cheesecake. The Affogato was nice too, and chocolate fans would quite like the pate. For me though, it got a bit overwhelming after a couple of bites and I could have no more. To be fair, it was nice and gooey in the centre, as it should be, and had the right texture.
We ordered a Sula Chenin Blanc, which was not too sweet, not too dry, and went well with the food.

The menu felt very limited for a vegetarian, and if the purpose of Restaurant week is to have people try out new places, then they should have at least attempted to have something new in their menus too. I am not talking about extravagant and expensive dishes, but I am talking about something a little more than just vegetables put together. The non-vegetarian section seemed sufficient on that count, though one item on the main course menu - the medallions, was not available. It was surprising that the management allowed that to happen, especially during restaurant week, as they should have expected a crowd which would probably be trying out Olive for the first time. Instances such as this definitely diminish the chances of a repeat visit.  

The wine list at Olive seemed limited too, as they did not have a dessert wine, when we asked for one. The Chenin Blanc was what was recommended to us, and it was good yes, but we preferred something sweeter.
The servers did have a knowledge of wines and food, that seemed useful for first-timers who do not know what to expect at Olive. Though, they could do with passing on the knowledge in a friendlier manner.

The ambiance is quite nice and a good mix of casual and classy, comfy and sophisticated. We liked the outdoors better than the secluded interior space.
We were lucky to have live music on the day, with two young women moving from table to table with a guitar, singing songs on request. We even interacted with the two musicians and it was quite nice.

The outdoor area is really nice, and something rare in Mumbai, without any traffic noise or any other interruptions. It is a great setting for nice conversations.
The portions were very good, and I liked the first course the best. It set the bar high, but unfortunately, nothing else matched up to it.

The service was polite and prompt, and quite smooth too. Wine glasses were refilled quietly and the servers would ask how we liked everything.

In short:
It is a nice place to go once in a while, and spend some quiet, happy time with friends or family or your beloved. Children are not allowed, so it is nice if you want to go for a date too. It's better in the evenings, with the candlelights. Choose your meal well, with some wine, and you will have a good time. But a fair warning, don't go for the food, go for the ambiance and the experience. 

(With inputs by Mariette Valsan, esp for the non-vegetarian section.)

Feb 15, 2011

Nouveaublogophobia - Fear of new blog posts

Aibohphobia - Fear of palindromes
Person 1- "Dammit, I'm mad!"
Person 2- "Aaaaaaaaaaaaaa!"

Alliumphobia - Fear of garlic.
Vampire, anyone?

Allodoxaphobia - Fear of opinions.
No comments.

Ambulophobia, Stasibasiphobia, Stasiphobia - Fear of walking or standing.
Cathisophobia, Kathisophobia, Thaasophobia - Fear of sitting.
One person, both these fears. Go imagine!

Anablephobia - Fear of looking up.
Eyes on the floor, young lad, eyes on the floor!

Androphobia, Arrhenphobia, Hominophobia - Fear of men.
Ha ha ha ha ha!

Anglophobia - Fear of England, English culture, etc.
What an arse!

Francophobia, Gallophobia, Galiophobia - Fear of France, French culture, etc.
Must be British.

Arachibutyrophobia - Fear of peanut butter sticking to the roof of the mouth.
Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!

Autodysomophobia - Fear that one has a vile odour.
Keep a deo handy dude!
Autophobia, Eremophobia, Isolophobia, Monophobia - Fear of being alone or fear of oneself
Who's that?
Oh, it me...
Oh wait... Aaaaaaaaa!

Cacophobia - Fear of ugliness.
Caligynephobia, Venustraphobia - Fear of beautiful women.
Even more interesting.

Chirophobia - Fear of hands.
Yeh haath mujhe de do Thakur!

Chrometophobia, Chrematophobia - Fear of money.
Plutophobia - Fear of wealth.
I am a pretty helpful person. I am willing to take what these people fear. For the greater good of course.

Coprophobia, Scatophobia - Fear of feces.
Oh shit!

Counterphobia - The preference by a phobic person for fearful situations.
Decidophobia - Fear of making decisions.
Should I blog this, should I not? Should I? Should I not? Aaaaaaaaaaa!

Dextrophobia - Fear of objects at the right side of the body.
Fine, I'll keep to the left.
Levophobia - Fear of things to the left side of the body.

Diplophobia - Fear of double vision.
Dipsophobia - Fear of drinking.
Funny how they are co-related.

Ephebiphobia - Fear of teenagers.
This fear is courtesy of a parent.

Euphobia - Fear of hearing good news.
- Congratulations! You are cured of the fatal disease.
- Noooooooooooooooooo!

Geniophobia - Fear of chins.
Now, that's where a double chin would be a real nightmare.

Homophobia - Fear of sameness, monotony, homosexuality or of becoming homosexual.
Ummm... how are homosexuality and monotony related?

Katikomindicaphobia - Fear of the RNI (Resident Non-Indian).
Mikatikoindicaphobia - Fear of the NRIs (Non-Resident Indians).
Funny how it's all about India.

    Syngenesophobia - Fear of relatives.
    I'd say, welcome to India :)

    Novercaphobia - Fear of one's stepmother.
    Meet Cinderella...

    Symbolophobia - Fear of symbolism.
    You're telling that to an English Literature student?

    Technophobia - Fear of technology.
    Hello Apeman... Do you understand what I am saying?

    Macrophobia - Fear of long waits.
    Suicide point: government office.
      Mnemophobia - Fear of memories.
      Try amnesia... Ghajini style.
      Amnesiphobia - Fear of amnesia.
      Ummm... do nothing memorable?

      Ideophobia - Fear of ideas.
      Phronemophobia - Fear of thinking.
      Ergophobia - Fear of work.

      Panophobia, Pantophobia - Fear of everything.

      Feb 11, 2011

      Office Office

      It's a new office and a new place for me. The job profile has changed slightly. The people have changed entirely. But of course, there are some things that never change.

      Every office has certain characters that are very very standard. They are a staple in a medium to large sized office environment, and every office is incomplete without these characters.
      • There is the moody and broody Finance guy. He releases your salary, and more often than not, it seems that he takes that personally. He seems to be PMSing at the end of every month, mourning the loss of cash, and every new employee is like a stab for him. His high is not alcohol, but profits. And what a high!
      • Then there is the office 'chamia'. Everyone loves to love her. And she loves the attention. She is the looker, she is the reason why people don't mind dragging themselves to work every morning. One smile, and the day is set. And she is what they talk about when they are drunk with office mates.
      • There is of course, the poor, hard worker. He may be the trainee, or he may be a regular exec. But he will work harder than all of them put together. He is the one you will see in office after everyone has left and before everyone is in. And he will quietly go about doing every task and more.
      • Tyrannical bosses cannot be missed out. They run about, they scream, and they are the topic of frustration-venting-discussions. Sleepless nights were a gift from them. And their backs are the best places to exchange glances. They will blame everyone in the world. And everyone will love to blame them.
      • The office jesters, who prance about, crack bad jokes, lighten the mood and love everyone. They smile, and get smiles, they make trips fun, and they are always invited to everything.
      • The star - who will hog attention, and want it. The star - who is sometimes arrogant, and talks only to select people. Who knows he/she is good, and never fails to show that.
      • The silent star. This is the real star. But will never show it. he/she will quietly go about working. But the day he/she is on leave, that is when chaos comes to earth and the star is valued.
      I am sure there will be more. These are those I noticed. Feel free to add more if you can think of them.