Sunday, January 18, 2009

Candies: sweet place

(Candies entrance, dreamily green; don't miss the rush of school kids:)
(The beautiful Buddha statue at the entrance)
(Veg puffs, and two coffees, for Rs 160. And don't miss those sweet sugary what-dya-call-them-thingies on the left:)
After a vigorous kick-boxing session, the one thing u crave for is some hot liquid... Strangely, hunger just disappears and I sometimes do not even think of eating evening food. So, earlier I used to take my lap-top, punch my pending columns and dreamily look over the haze of pollution the Bay of Bengal, off Carter Road's Cafe Day. And spend quite a packet of my hard-earned money on continuous cups of coffee which steamed but seemed cold by the time the lips made contact with the cup; or occasionally buy the cookie box (with free espresso offer) that nobody ate at home. And swat flies, which sort of stuck to you wetly. And shoo off crows that eyed your cookie box hungrily. But last week I discovered this amazing place called Candies, off Pali Hill. It is a must-visit place. It has very good, clean energy. With a Thai golden Buddha Statue looking benignly at the world, and especially at all those who enter Candies, that energy is a given:) I found school kids just love it, they were everywhere and that is understandable, why: the price is affordable (soup for Rs 30, veg puff for Rs 30, quiche for Rs 50). Food portions are nice, bite-sized, so you can eat more of many... My fav sort of eating.. And what I love about it is the space inside is so green, lively. The decor is good. It feels clean, spanking. And what I most loved, is that tiny flourish of courtesy, in those tiny sweet-bits that come on your plate: sometimes a soft chocolate, but always something sugary and sweet...
There is a salad bar too, yummy. I love salads though though for that you really need to be hungry. As I said, I am never hungry to eat food after exercise (My prana or chi must be indeed rising:)

Where is Candies?

(Off Gold Gym).

St. Andrews Road
Bandra West
Landmark: Near Pali Naka
Phone: 022-26432425

Friday, January 16, 2009

Linking Road, Yeeks...

(Empty stretch along Linking Road, before the shops open. I noticed the wires hang bulbless before the shops. Obviously, the bulbs are removed when the shops shut, to prevent theft!!)

I used to live in Bandra for a long time, on St Paul Road, off Hill Road, in a dilapidated bungalow (which continues to crumble as I occasionally pass it now). My spouse-to-be and I were there as PGs. Yes, I belonged to that rare tradition-breakers (for middle-class, I am talking about) who had a live-in relationship before it became permanent. And it was NOT all that wild thing Indians think live-in relationships are: usually it is rather a mundane convenience, commerical convenience too: since both of us worked on shifts we hardly even saw each other:) But like I said, in Mumbai, though all my immediate colleagues and middle-classly clerks and office staff knew of it, nobody made a song and dance of it. Nobody treated me like a fallen woman or whatever it is they say about such `bold' women in our country:) Which is why Mumbai was so liberating for me, from stifling Chennai which, despite its intense pretense at insularity, can be rather nosey about such things. But apparently these days rooms/flats are difficult to find, for live-in couples. Which goes to make my point, Mumbai is becoming boring and stuffy, like the rest of India.

Now to come to Linking Road specifically. Even those days when I was wide-eyed new to Mumbai I never did much of shopping around Linking Road. I found/ find things there on the pavements, pretty tacky. Unlike some `wow', `I-must-have-that' moments you get in Colaba or even Hill Road (not so often, that stab, these days). I remember reading a while back that there was some nasty eve-teasing moments when the shop-keepers were caught ragging the girls from the schools near by. So, I don't have a great liking for that stretch.

But somehow my kid got into her pretty head she must visit a particular shop for a particular pair of shorts that her particular friend had. And so there we were, before the shoppers took over the pavements. We located the shop: I explained to my kid that most of the stuff on the rack at that particular shop with that particular appeal to her particular friend seemed like discards!! So we sauntered off sadly from there and went to another shop, off KFC. She liked a top on the mannequin. And the boys undressed the mannequin. And then, till my kid tried on the top and we left, say ten-15 mins, the shop-keepers deliberately did not dress that topless mannequin. Their behavior indicated that they had slipped into a crude moment: they were walking around it, fingering the mannequin. And though one could not come outright and say this was eve-teasing at its worst, something like that was happening. At around eleven am or so, and with few women still out on their sprees, you could be in the minority in that male-dominated space. Not a pleasant experience at all. My innocent kid did not notice. But I felt that sort of capped my Linking Road experience. And convinced me that it has nothing of appeal to me, before, now or ever.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Colaba calls

Sigh! I have been having the Colaba-itch. Completely keeping off South Mumbai since I shifted to back-of -beyond Kandivli, I have not been visiting it as often as I did, while working at Nariman Point and earlier at VT. Unlike Fashion Street and Linking Road and even Hill Road, which have largely metamorphosing into some sort of a low brow stuff (largely), Colaba has managed to retain its exoticism and exclusivity (in terms of what you get on its streets, I mean). So, since visiting it after the terror attack, I have lately begun to re-experience the Colaba craving. Never mind that Mcdonald there has no toilet, no seating place and the only toilet, shared by other shopkeepers is too seedy, soiled to be worth more than a line here. I feel most uncomfortable in this Mcdonald due to its pace, some sort of rest less energy that stampedes my enjoyment of the French Fries.
I love Colaba, never mind that is is full of pimps who keep propositioning to my husband, despite my domineering presence. Never mind the drug dealers hovering around, thinking my fair-skinned husband and daughter to be foreigners in search of a joint!! Since I look and talk and walk like a local I have never been subjected to this seedy attention. Last time, when my husband decided to walk his talk and took a national flag along the path covering those spots hit by the terror attack -- because it outraged him that some cowardly twerps from elsewhere exploited the openness of this city and used it just to vandalise its soul -- from VT onwards to Oberoi, , I walked beside him, to take off some of the attention he was drawing with his serious look and his huge flag:) I think he was also making some point about how a Muslim (I) and a Hindu (Him) could live together in peace, and love. But since I am embarrassed by such outward shows, I felt that having done my wifely duty I could leave him at some point, where his friends joined him. So, I shrugged him off at Churchgate (his friends joined him there) and moved to Colaba for some gemstone windowshopping. Had a blast. Till I tried to call my husband and his phone kept ringing and ringing. Standing off Cafe Mondegar I felt a bit lost, and felt stared at, in a strange way that can happen at such places, by people on the look-out for such things. Colaba is that sort of place: one time, safe. Other time, something creepy can crawl out.

Any case, this blog is about the Mario Miranda T-shirt I picked up at Mondegar, for around Rs 210. It is the Salaam Mumbai visual (see my side-bar), that typifies Miranda and Mumbai. I love it, though have not yet worn it. It has a nice line about beer and cheer. Yes, Mondegar is that sort of place. Nice food, limited menu but wholesome. Beer and some old music. You know what I mean:)

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Ha ha, language issues

The other day I had to give a speech at my complex. While some people came up to tell me it, in the usual nice way people have, that is was `inspiring', one vinegary person pointedly told the organiser the matra basha was being ignored by some people!! He meant me, of course. Sod, I am from Tamil Nadu. I speak passable Hindi and can be understood well enough. I am also suffering when the language comes out a bit wonky (because I am a linguistic freak and it hurts me more that a language rolls crudely off my tongue) but that is not due to my not trying. In childhood is when you really pick up the nice nuances of a language. If political leaders in my state had not played politics I would also be speaking great Hindi. But instead of appreciating that I can speak the language well enough perhaps not elegantly enough people still pick on me!! One school kid who (I was teaching yoga to that bunch) once told me that I `sounded horrid' when I speak Hindi. I don't think so at all -- but thanks to Bollywood actors, from Mehmood onwards, poking fun at our Tamil-accented Hindi is a big laff:) Any case, I will laff along -- all I can say I love all languages and I feel attempt must be made to speak all elegantlyand yes, regional languages must be given prominence because otherwise they will suffer greatly as future generations neglect them completely. Indian languages are beautiful and spiritual and each must be conserved and the only way one can do it long-term is to bring them in use in daily currency.

Coming to the language issue here, while the Shop boards names issue became big, the media generally ignored all the events happening in my part of town (Thakur village). Lots of shops got into real trouble, as seems to happen as a matter of routine here. In any case, following that, some shops have gone overboard and do not have any name in English -- the idea was to have the shop name in both languages I thought. See Garcia, the pizza guys, in the above photo:)

In Tamil Nadu, where also the language issue has long been politicised, everywhere you will find boards both in English and Tamil. That is because Tamil Nadu has international aspirations.

If any foreigner comes to Thakur village (surprisingly, quite a contingent lives here) I can imagine him looking at the Garcia board and wondering.... I mean, it does not even a small pizza or a food plate image to indicate what it is selling!! Fear, as they say, can be quite a key!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

The low-cost gourmet restaurant

Almost accidentally we walked into the Gourmet city restaurant. What a place to eat good food!! (It is inside In Orbit, first floor, off the home furnishing section of it). For one, it is quiet, far from the bustle, I-will-elbow-you-out-of-your-table buzz that hustles the Food Court in In Orbit. It is empty, because sadly except regulars to the gourmet shop (which most middle class types avoid for obvious reasons -- high end stuff, recession and all that) nobody probably knows of it.

I ordered a ravioli (Rs 100 only!!) with mushroom sauce (etc Rs 100, but divinely worth it) and my husband some pasta and we drooled. And I had a cactus tea infusion and he a genuine filter Capi and we drooled some more. It is has a great menu, covers a nice palate range, including Thai food, aloe vera punch, terrific shakes, etc. Am going to be visiting the place soon. Prices are very reasonable. Chefs look like they know their stuff. Food tastes pure, hot and really tasty. The tea came with a perfect tea-timer -- and I loved that nice little touch about it....
Off it, at counters around you get gourmet stuff from abroad -chocolates, cheeses, teas (I picked up a huge bundle -- from sweet rose, to mulethi to orange etc and lots of fusions:) -- I skirted the other sections. But my subconscious clock is ticking -- waiting for the moment when I am going to be back!

Where is this Gourmet Restaurant?

Inside In Orbit's Home Stop. Link Road. You cannot miss it!

Monday, January 5, 2009

Parking woes

This is the lane near my home, off the Dream Park. As you can see, most of the lane's side are used for cars. This is a pretty common sight all over Mumbai just because the city planners are deliberately obtuse. I mean, even the BMC wants to build malls!! NOt car parks which is the need of the hour. Even the builders want to build malls and buildings (that, thanks to recession, nobody wants). Even purely on commericial terms all seem to be particularly moronic -- any financial nitwit will tell u the demand for car parks is more than for malls and flats. Yet, these seemingly money-making breed (BMC is the richest civic body in India) are so short-sighted.

In South MUmbai you may own a car for five lakhs or so. But pay parking fee deposit of Rs 1.5 crore. Is this for real? That too in some seedy, dilapidated compound wall?

In my own complex, the car park which cost Rs 75000 has now appreciated to Rs 3.5 lakhs (in seven years). Stilt parking costs Rs 7 lakhs, and still people are buying and begging to buy, though none are available for such rates. The car, as u guessed, is less than the parking space:)

And even as I throw such figures, the official secret is that all builders must provide car parks for free (ha ha!!!) and that is mandatory. That of course is a big joke. The builders won't provide car parks even for a fee, is what most residents find out. Only everybody colludes in this big laff:)

As abroad, rented parking slots is where the big money is. Clearly nobody is seeing that!