Delhi’s Wedding Shopping Bonanza – Part I

Love or Arranged, Marriages will be absolutely no fun without the wedding shopping. Or so I believe! Weddings give not only the bride and groom the freedom to splurge freely, but also an occasion for the invitees to shop for that special outfit.

As we all know, Punjabi weddings go over the edge sometimes, most of them carry on for a couple of days and there are about half a dozen functions the bride needs to dress-up for. So most families start a couple of months in advance to stock up on the clothes, shoes and accessories. A Good Idea!

If you are doing you shopping in Delhi, I’ve put together some of the best stores and shopping areas out of my experience.

I want to give you fair warning that Wedding shopping can go completely out of hand and you may end up buying things because it is ‘so pretty’ or ‘the price is just right’. The best way to avoid that is to PLAN. Have a budget, make lists, set the number of sarees, bags, suits, shoes (well! Not shoes) you need to buy. When you are buying something ask your self – Do I Like it or Love it?And is this the best thing I have seen anywhere or the best thing in this shop? And always ask – Where all will I wear it?

Now that you are ready with your Plan, lets go shopping!

First stop – Karol Bagh & Chandini Chowk

Karol Bagh & Chandini Chowk are the most famous and well-explored shopping hubs. These places are so famous that movies and books like Zoya factor & Pyar ke side effects have made reference to them. And not in vain, I may add. You will get your traditional to designer copies here and at comparatively fewer moolahs too. You will however, need to be familiar with the gallis-gochas and certainly need to be great at bargaining.

Chandni Chowk is one of the largest wholesale market of Asia. Earlier it was almost impossible to reach there but since the arrival of Metro service from CP to CC, it has become more accessible. Put on your walking shoes and be ready for narrow lanes and lots of people. I can safely say that, I love the Delhi Metro – they brought in the metro where cars couldn’t go before.

Chawdi bazaar is a great place to get your wedding cards printed. Near the paranthey walli gali, you’ll find the shops with ribbons, wrapping paper, baskets and boxes. These come in handy when the gifts for relatives and so-and–so need to be packed. For some great quality dry-fruit visit the spice market.

Now coming to the main event, the clothes. Both CC and KB have hundreds of small no name shops stocking up the bling goodies. The price range to suit any budget, but one must have a good eye for the material and the workmanship, or else you’ll be taken for a ride. Ask for designer rip-offs of the spring or winter collection, you’ll definitely find what you are looking for.

One can certainly see a shift to latest malls and other shopping destinations, in most Indian metros. But these small gallis and tiny nooks & corners have a charm of their own. There is an excitement about going there. It’s like watching a real good thriller after seeing a couple of boring chick flicks.

A little off topic, but while you are there, take a tour of the neighborhood on a cycle rickshaw down the traffic-choked Chandni Chowk. This place is — if not all of India’s , but certainly a large part of it — main shopping thoroughfare, lined with shops selling drippingly sweet and chats, lurid textiles, perfumes and jewelry and also has an anomalous branch of McDonald’s thrown in for good measure.

As you can see, I can go on and on about Chandini-Chowk, but I shall stop here. I still have a couple of great stores to tell you guys about so watch out for Part 2!

Road, Movie

It’s amazing what a promo can do… it can make you think that what you will watch will be amazing… it can make you perceive the excitement involved, it may make you consider watching what the promo has to offer. One such promo is for Dev Benegal’s latest “Film Festival” churn out… Road, Movie.

It’s amazing what a promo can do… it can make you think that what you will watch will be amazing… it can make you perceive the excitement involved, it may make you consider watching what the promo has to offer. One such promo is for Road, Movie.

The highly anticipated movie, with the sar jo tera chakraye soundtrack according to the promo, was fast paced, with subtle humour and had a sense of visual alacrity and aesthetics not commonly seen in today’s cinema. If one were to regard this as a “Festival Film,” with festival implying catering to the film festival audiences, yes the film has its moments. But if you were to put this in the “Bollywood envelope” it fails miserably.

It does have it few moments, but it seems more for the Festival fraternity especially in a scene where you see the kid (Faisal) giving the customer (Abhay Deol) tea and saying, “tujhe kya lagam yeh starbucks hai?” (Did you think it was going to be Starbucks?) This dialogue in a film, where the country hasn’t even seen Starbucks, a term only the jet-setters or travelling community would know, does not make sense to the average Joe. The other more insane dialogue, which you think could have probably come from a Bingo commercial is the tel dialogue where Abhay offers the local water-lord tel and says that would make him a ‘real man’.

The film doesn’t live up to the promo. It seemed as if the promo’s intention was to entice. With its colours, a fantastic rendition of an old song, interspersed with the best moments of the film, it truly did its job, of bringing people into the theatre. But that’s where it ended. It could however not keep them in their seat, which is where the director truly disappointed.
One would think, that if given more time, the director could have probably managed a screenplay wherein which the story could have been shaped better along with characters having a hierarchy instead of all being middlemen, and no one clear character emerging as the archetypal hero or villain. Even if you keep aside the hierarchical nature of cinema, and think of the director of doing something new, the fact of the story not feeling complete cannot be ignored.

The movie is not only slow, but its visuals after a while, especially those of the road seem monotonous and almost forced. There is a charm to aesthetics, but it only remains if it is used in modest quantities. To simply put it, I would have rather left this movie on the road, then called it a movie in a hall. The only saving grace, its 95 minutes and in the end, you can hear the song played in the promos before leaving the theatre.

Interesting fact: Faisal has previously worked in a final film made by four students of MCRC, Jamia Millia Islamia titled ‘Boot Polish’. Dev Benegal was the adviser at the time the film’s proposals were being discussed by the students who directed it.

My top 5 @ Road Trip – Bangalore

Roadtrip is fast becoming our favorite restaurant in Bangalore. The comfortable surroundings,  the casual setting, the awesome food and the fact that they now serve beer are all great reasons to go there.

The food is always good, in fact on our last trip someone said “I’d like to know what they don’t make well” that says a lot for any place. We have tried most of the things on the limited menu and some on the ‘Today’s special’.  Apart for the Bacon Quiche, I don’t remember anything that I haven’t liked. On the Quiche, I’ll give them the benefit of doubt, though – it was probably just a bad day.

Grilled Fish with Mustard
Here are some of my recommendations of what to eat at RoadTrip.

Tangy Prawns

A light and tasty starter, where coral pink prawns are sautéed in garlic infused butter, then some fresh coriander is folded in. It is served with a crunch salad in a vinegar dressing. One portion of Tangy Prawn (Rs. 200) is a great starter  for about 4 people.

Ham & Cheese Pizza

Rarely have I eaten a cracker-thin-crust Pizza that comes close to the freshness and lightness of ingredients and texture that you’ll get at Roadtrip. The menu has something called the Ham & Cheese Pizza (Rs. 275)  with whole-wheat or normal base options. Of course you can ask to customize the toppings to your liking. I like to add the sundried tomatoes & mushrooms to the ham, cheese & basil toppings.

ravioli
Chicken Ravioli

Ravioli is a type of pasta that looks like little packets of seets. It is basically a filling sealed between two layers of thin pasta dough. The Chicken Ravioli (Rs. 250) in white sauce with some sundried tomatoes is divine at road trip. Again the ‘Custom Made’ option is available at no extra cost. This one needs to be eaten to understand how good this really is!

Pasta in Arrabiata sauce with Broccoli

Don’t you think anyone can make good pasta in white-cheesy sauce? I mean if it has cheese and some chicken & herbs, not much can go wrong.

It is the arrabiata sauce that is the real test. Arrabbiata is a Roman sauce of garlic, tomatoes, basil and red chili cooked in olive oil. You know what all’ arrabbiata means? It means “angry style”, named as such due to the heat of the peppers.
Road trip has a great arrabiata recipe, even the veg with just some broccoli tastes smashing. So if you find yourself in Road trip on a day you need to eat only vegetarian, try this one.

Straganoff
Stroganoff

The next thing on my list is the Beef Stroganoff.

This is originally a Russian dish of sautéed pieces of beef served in a sauce with sour cream. From its origins in 19th-century Russia, it has become popular in much of Iran, Europe, North America, Australia, South Africa, Lebanon and Brazil, with considerable variation in the actual recipe.

The tender juicy meat was somewhat unexpected at first glance but it was marvelous till the last bite.

These are just a handful of things we have tried and liked. Do try the other Italian and Continental dishes on their menu and let us know your favorites. Road Trip is open from noon till Bangalore closes, seven days a week.

Bon Appetite!

Dev D review

Dev D

Dev D is the latest incarnation of the epic Devdas by Saratchandra Chattopadhyay. The idea of the movie might be from the book but the implementation is anything but.

My first thought on Dev D – What a weird name for a movie ! What an eccentric song (emotional attyachaar) ! What a bizarre promo ! And finally what a strange but totally entertaining movie !

Dev (Abhay Deol) is the son of a rich industrialist from Punjab who is packed off to London for higher studies. Paro (Mahi) is the daughter of a manager in Dev’s father’s factory and is a good friend of Dev. The movie begins with a quick characterization of the hot and fiery Paro and the spoilt brat that Dev is.

The conversations between Dev and Paro and Dev and his dad, who he liked to call by his name ( Sattu) are absolutely hilarious.

A refreshing change from the rest of the bollywood adaptations of the novel, Dev D narrates the same story in REAL situations. The screenplay is smooth, no lecture bazzi happening and no long-drunk-falling apart-dialogues.

Anurag Kashyap takes the basic structure of Sarat Chandra Chatterjee’s original story, but updates it to today’s time and issues, making the characters’ actions and motivations something that a lot of the viewers can relate to.

I loved the fact that names of the characters just fall into place, amazingly imaginative. The minute ‘Chunni’ introduces himself, one can’t help but smile. Wearing his goggles to see who is calling when the phone rings was an LOL moment for sure.

The songs felt like, what-the-hell-is-happening, but in a couple of seconds you are drawn into it and you come out of the hall humming ‘em. Contradictions-Confusion-Craziness all-in-all interesting.

Times of India gave the movie 5 stars, saying that Dev D is indeed a coming-of-age film. I agree.

Unlike the last couple of movies I’ve seen recently, this one keeps the viewer engaged. It doesn’t bore you with song and dance routines, or thinks that the audience is dumb or assumes that logical reasoning is outside the scope of the viewers mental ability. CC2C, Gajni & RNBDJ may have been blockbusters, but this one deserves the awards.

Shekhar @ Stalefresh says it was a bold & well thought of movie; most my friends are of the same opinion. But I’m sure this is the opinion of a certain segment of people. If this was a report I was working on I’d say – ‘Teens & Young Adults, living in urban areas, adventurous and outgoing are the key segments’. Some movies are not made to please everyone, but to shock a few.

My verdict – Thums up  (With vodka please 😉

Review of Fashion … and … when will it finish

So … I just finished seeing the movie Fashion and I have only one thing to say to Madhur Bhandarkar … that was one loooonnnggg movie dude ! Oh and I also think it was a very boring movie.

I mean I get the idea of realistic cinema and and all that and I’d probably have been fine if this movie had gotten over in about 1-1/2 hours instead of the 2-1/2 hours it took, but the whole look and concept of Fashion just didn’t work for me.

The movie is about a small town girl who comes to the big city to become a model. Her struggling days, her success, the arrogance and her downfall have all been depicted convincingly. Priyanka’s role is pretty good and her acting commendable, and that is just about the only thing that I liked about the movie.

I just feel that the movie took a long time in getting the message across and that made it slow and almost tortuous. I don’t remember seeing a movie, in the recent past, which I wish would have ended sooner.

Another thing which doesn’t work for me is that Madhur’s movies for some reason look like they’ve all been made on second hand reels which he found while lurking in the back alleys of the entertainment industry.

And no by second hand reels, I don’t mean that the concept is old. Kudos to Madhur for daring to make a film which actually shows the reality of the industry like it is. But, he could have atleast used better lighting ! Or a better camera-man !

Well, I agree that I don’t understand the movie biz very well and how expensive it is to make movies … but I really wish I hadn’t paid so much money to see this movie.

Oh, btw, Madhur … taking a dig at real life and packaging it in a movie is not realistic cinema. Show us something we haven’t seen. I mean we’ve all seen the gay fashion designers and their socialite trophy wives and the drug addict models … ‘Nuff said !

Dostana Review … and … Apple product placement

I saw Dostana last Saturday and kinda liked the movie. I mean I have no idea that John Abraham had so many fans in Bangalore. I mean fans of the male kind ! The kind who would whistle looking at John coming out of the Miami Ocean in his Undies … a ‘La Ursula Andress. Well, not really, but you get the drift !

Anyway, the movie was fun and mostly harmless clean comedy. I know some people were disappointed with the movie because … you know … they actually thought that Abhishek Bachhan and John Abraham would be playing a couple in the movie !

So, anyway the movie is about two random guys who are looking for a place to stay in Miami and end up being interested in the same apartment. The hitch is that the apartment is only for girls and so the duo decide to act as a couple and the rest, as they say, is history 🙂 Well, not really, but you know how these things go … I’m not supposed to spoil the fun and all that jazz.

All in all, I’d say its a nice and fun movie … Oh wait .. I already said that. Well, go watch the movie then.

The other thing that I wanted to talk about is product placement in movies. Specifically, Apple product placement. And when does it really start to get irritating.

I mean, I’m all for the producers making an extra buck by making the actors pose with nice and sexy gadgets, but there definitely has to be a limit to this. Or if there isn’t … a limit should be set soon … like now !

The makers of Dostana must have really got a nice bundle from Apple for promoting Macbooks, iPods, and iPhones in the movie. The movie features all those gadgets in multiple scenes and in places where they were absoltely avoidable. In fact, Karan Johar went a step ahead and started with promoting Apple products outside the movie too by gifting John a (new shiny white) Macbook on a chat show he was hosting for, of course, promoting the movie.

Soul Cafe, MG Road – Bangalore

soul Soul cafe is a swanky looking, hookah-serving, cafe on MG road. On any given day, one can see hordes of young ones sitting in the crowded open air seating area of the place, taking drags from a hookah like no tomorrow (and of course with each drag, posing for the mandatory mug shot taken using a shitty low res cell-phone camera).

My wife and I have been thinking about paying the place a visit since the last few months and when we were at MG road this afternoon, we finally decided to have lunch at the place.

Well, the big banner announcing a buffet for Rs. 222 /-  did play it’s part in luring us. I’m not a hookah lover, nor am I a lover of Bangalore’s polluted air and so we decided to sit inside in air conditioned comfort.

Except for one thing. The air conditioning system was switched off to save electricity probably and it was actually quite suffocating inside. When will the restaurants in Bangalore understand that switching off the air conditioning only makes the closed room even worse to be in ? And this is not the first time I’ve seen a restaurant in Bangalore do this. On second thoughts, we should have sat outside.

We were offered a choice of place to sit, not because they were being nice to us, but because the place was empty. Except for one family. That should’ve given me some hint.

We took our places and were handed over the menu. Within a minute a captain was upon us asking us to order. I’d seen some kids drinking beer outside but there was no alcohol on the menu, so I asked the captain if they serve beer and he said yes. And added in a low voice, would you also like vodka, rum or anything else ? I asked for the wine menu and was told they don’t have one.

I asked which Beer do they serve and he took a while to remember the name. “Curlsssberg – A german beer” is what he had to say. I said bring it on. My wife ordered an Orange Iced tea.

The drinks were at our table in some time and the captain was again on our head asking for our main course order. He suggested that we go with the Prawn Sizzler, another dish that wasn’t on the menu. And I said “OK, we’ll take one of that”. The captain promptly notes down “Two Prawn sizzlers. Anything else Sir ?”. I said:

“I want only one of that. Get me a plate of garlic bread also”.

“With cheese ?”

“No”.

“May I suggest the sea food sizzler ?”

“No. I only want one sizzler. Thank you. (Getting irritated) If I want to order something else. I’ll look at the menu and order later”.

“Thank you Sir.”

“No. Thank YOU (for leaving us alone)”.

Now, I’m not usually rude to waiters. After all they’re only doing their job. But, I go to restaurants for the food. And while I appreciate choice, I’ve learnt enough to trust restaurants in Bangalore and so I like to read about what I’m eating.

Anyway, both the wife and I waited with some anxiety for the food to be served. The captain came to us … yet again and asked me who would be eating the sizzler .. to which I replied, we’ll share … The guy didn’t know what to say. He looked at me and said:

“But there are only three prawns in the dish, Sir ?”

“So ?”

“I think you should order something else.”

“Get me the sizzler and if we’ll decide if we want more.”

By this time, I was thoroughly irritated with the waiter.

Long story short, food came, we ate, nothing to write home about and and we asked for the cheque.

The sizzler turned out to be the most expensive item on the bill. Atleast double the price that I was expecting it to be. Now, I don’t know if that really was the price because … well, the dish wasn’t on the menu anyway.

So, I paid the bill, killed a small cockroach which I saw walking on my table and walked away. Needless to say, the guys didn’t get any tip from me.

I ate a chicken roll from a nearby stall since I was still hungry after the disgusting meal.

Point is, I’ll never be visiting the place again. And I’d suggest that you guys also don’t. The place just isn’t worth it. The food is mediocre at best, overpriced, service shabby and cleanliness non-existent. Have I already said the food is mediocre at best ?

Rodeo – Connaught Place, New Delhi

Located in the A block, inner circle of Connaught Place, Rodeo can be classified as an authentic Mexican restaurant, or atleast as authentic a mexican restaurant can be in Punjabi food infested Delhi. With a relaxed, comfy and cozy atmosphere, it is an old favourite with the veterans of Delhi’s pub scene.

The bar has a ’wild west’ theme and though the restaurant just got a make over, it still retains the feel of an old saloon. The waiters in the restaurant are dressed as cowboys and the service is quite average. If you need some head-banging music to go with a beer in your hand, this isn’t the place for you. We have been going there for years & the ambience, quality of food, waiters, music haven’t changed a bit and that is what I like best about it !

With their speciality in Mexican and Italian cuisine, they also serve Draught beer. We ordered the Nachos platter (150-250) which is unquestioningly the best dish there, along with Fajitas for starters. Our main course was the POLLO AL GREQUE, a chicken dish (375) which to our dissatisfaction was very dry. There is a buffet from Monday to Friday at RODEO (C.P.) and Friday to Sunday at RODEO (Gurgaon). The buffet is a great opportunity to get those flavours at a down to earth cost.

Overall, Rodeo is a quaint little place which offers clean good food for those who just like to unwind with a good drink.