Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Gourmet City to shut down?

Bad news guys. It seems Mumbai is still not a gourmet city... because the Hypercity's gourmet counter is likely to shut down. It has def me to mourn for its demise. How sad... I used to love the food there, the quiet, the pricing and everything about it that teased my tongue... Now it is going to go and we will have to hunt around in Nature's Basket or Foodland for those yummy things we need that makes us feel like food aesthetes.

Btw. I suppose we really don't have food sensitivity in the city. The fact that most restaurants are not stocking the desserts u want (tiramisu, cheesecake) but keep safe options (ice cream- yeow!) shows that we are very mundane when it comes to food. A Japanese food specialist we met at Kelva told us that the Sushi stuff u get, or the wasabi ready-made stuff u get, made from China have been spiked a lot with spices which is not the way they are meant to be. They have a subtle flavoring that only the Japanese get right. However, subtlety and Mumbaikars?? Never the twain shall meet:( 

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Shubha Mudgal and sponsorship and RJ gone berserk

We went to Nehru Center for a powerful performance by Shubha Mudgal. I know I am no music critic, but as a student who struggles with musical notes daily I have some right to talk of enjoying her performance..Rushnai, meaning illumination.. A sufi word?

The RJ Rohini got booed for talking too much, with constant reference to herself and reciting Hindi poems... But RJs who try to become comperes are born with Duck's back I guess (Remember Sajjid Khan who did not like being criticised by Ashutosh for being cheap and demeaning and rationalised even... some people do things for fun, some for a living. ). This Rohini even wound up the show by saying  'I am Rohini' or some such nonsense!! Heavens..

The worst thing I saw was when the sponsors got shawls from the artiste. I have never seen such gross and cheap behavior from any sponsors till now. I wonder which sponsor's bright idea it was. As it is, what with the RJ's motormouth and these sponsors' lackey's wanting to be on the stage with the artiste and talking and strutting before the mike with a shaky, foolish voice (nobody had ANYTHING illumining to say) it was extremely irritating to the audience which got thoroughly restless at such lapse of grace. The sponsors also practically got booed with loud claps. But possibly, they also were born with duck's back (otherwise would they dare to make such social gaffe) and patted themselves on their duck's backs, thinking they were being honored.

Union bank, Reader's Digest were amongst the five sponsors I recall.. Terrible. I can imagine the plight of the artiste reduced to pampering clerical egos (actually these  Johnnies are just signing cheques for their managements. The real aesthete or patron will never do that!!) . Apparently they love music, somebody said. I wonder at that really! If they did, they will never treat an artiste like that...

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Lotus eating at Kelwa beach

We decided to travel out once more, now that the kid is not at home. Lately, as a Mumbai kid she was beginning to have shudders at quiet spots that pleased us village types. So we had sort of stopped going out -- the sacrifices of parenthood. Now that she is not there to fuss any more, we decided to revive our enthusiasm for gadding about. Even though I otherwise lead an enviably lazy life (do I?), I find that I am unable to relax at home simply because I have so many things to do. Apart from the chores, all those things from my deprived childhood (beadmaking, jewellery making, fabric painting, etc). So, a holiday out helps me shut that clamour in my head.

At Kelva we mananged to finally wind down the Mumbaikar clockwork mechanism. Hammocks, beer, cooked food at the right time, unobstrusive staff, sprawling banyan tree, lovely and aesthetic touches by somebody who loves the place and loves beautiful things and loves Buddha:)Log huts, clean toilets, continuous water supply, and power supply, kid's play pen, a pleasant manager, a tiny swimming pool with clear water, a beach just across (and since the beach alongside this stretch is messy and the crowd thereabout rowdy, we just ate lotus at the resort:) Am giving you the link which gives u the general, high-end rates. Tents (Rs 1000 odd, a large dorm like hut, with equally cheaper rates, smaller log huts, concrete huts with different rates and more).

So, if you wish to chill and not have to drive to far off to do that, here is where you want to go. Beautiful.

Also, Kelva Beach Resort is available for the dates :

Non Ac Eco Log Hut : Rs.7000/- for 2 persons for 2 nights.

Extra Child (5-12) : Rs.2500/- per child for 2 nights.

Extra person (above 12) : Rs.3500/- per person for 2 nights.

And if the page does not display (they are reviewing their rates, plus remember rates are different for different seasons, holidays) write to them /or contact them at

91.022.6631 0581
91.022.3292 2038

Friday, October 16, 2009

Lemon Grass restaurant

I am partial to people from the north-east because of Biki, my Muay Thai instructor. Very smiley, sweet people, child-like. This restaurant is full of them, to serve you, so already I am biased.

Jahnavi, my daughter, whose taste  is simple -- she likes Thai food, pizzas, French Fries, Mughlai and not always in this order -- and whose appetite is huge -- loved the food here. The starters we ordered were just so lovely -- and I must confess to something terrible, I cannot remember the names!! It was a few weeks back and I was confident that standing on my head as well as my pampered taste-buds will combine to help me recall the list of stuff we ordered. But there it is, I cannot remember anything except that  I enjoyed my food and we were giggling a lot and felt a bit sad that the place was so empty and the bamboos waving about added to the sense of isolation. . My kid licked her fingers. And we lliked the serving size. Plus they did not have the dessert I wanted (always happens only to me).  But the ambience was good (so quiet in that area), and of course, my smiley waiters. If you are partial to Thai and Chinese food then this is the place... Rates are reasonable. I liked the low mid section: but difficult to snuggle into that if you are wearing skirt or shorts:)

Lemon Grass Cafe

106, First Floor, Palm Spring Mall, Link Road, Malad West, Mumbai
Mumbai, Maharashtra, India

28817444, 28817888
(Above Croma). 

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Watching Malavika Sarukkai, revisiting NCPA

My husband and I were revisiting NCPA's Tata theater after a long, long while. I remember going there for a play with my kid, Othello, a few years back.
It remains unchanged. The chandeliars. The uniformed boys (at the food counters), looking a bit harried at the thought of having to serve  celebs -- possibly because they recognise them.  I love that crowd, having interviewed a few during my journalistic days. It is a closed, tightly guarded celeb I-scratch-your-back-your-scratch-mine sort of set, but I like it because they are so non-pretentious despite that halo they have given each other.... U could dial-a-quote with them and they made my feature-writing that way a cake-walk, though I recall Alyque Padamsee made me wait for an hour for a long column he should have written but only had time to dictate to a rookie and after the garrulous man spoke I had reams (on my recorder) and I had to give it some structure... This was immediately after Sunday Times was launched:)

Any case Dolly Thakore hopped in, while we were nervously waiting at the ticket counter (the laptop from where the tickets were being issued, had first shut down, then was slow and there did not seem to be a system of Q and the fellow was feeling too hassled to remember to be polite:) and told that harried fellow  the seats she wanted for herself.. Sigh.  The 300-rupee seats were all sold out, we managed to get some seats off the aisle in the Rs 200-range, and were thankful that we could see the full beauty of the dancer perfectly from that perch.

The cold coffee is quite a filler. And I munched on a cheese sandwich before the dance drama (Kashi Yatra). What a stupendous performance. The reason I am back to doing these things in the city is because my kid is now training at the classy Kalakshetra and I don't want to be a mom who does not know of Malavika Sarukkai's  style when she discusses it with me. So despite this silly reason for returning to my `culture vulture' days, I was glad I was doing it. The dancer glowed, every movement of her perfect. Her expressions lucid. And for the first time I felt I could follow the story in the dance. Such poesy... One day perhaps my kid too will do that?? And I will be in NCPA, watching her... after a sip of cold coffee to settle my nerves:)

Monday, October 12, 2009

Prithvi Irish coffee, a tradition

I went to Manoj Joshi's superb play Chanakya this Sunday. It was playing in south Mumbai and just when I was bemoaning the fact that things don't seem to move up north, to our forsaken suburbs (though we have recliner seats in cinema near home:)the play was announced in Prithvi. We booked online, such a smooth operation. And after years nearly, we went to Prithvi. Got the tickets also immediately, though I wondered how the delivery will happen. The last time I went, was a few years ago, to attend an experimental play and having foolishly ordered pasta and waiting eternally for it as the Q to enter the theater grew (No seat numbers in Prithvi, so this ancient, out-of-sync with modern times practice).
Any case, we managed to float in eventlessly, and were amused to see funny incidents of Mumbaikarbrazenness -- squeezing one extra person into somebody's lap, trooping in late and squeezing out the rest of early comers; and during loo break try to take over somebody's else seats (if that is possible, since there are no numbers). Sitting on the steps, though the usherers keep pleading to leave it for the actor's passage. And then, of course, the brazenness of letting your mobile ring loudly in this tiny theater, so poor Joshi had to restart the act.  But Mumbaikars are very game and such brazenness  is attempted because they don't mind that squeeze, that elbow, that jostling sense of being in a crowd, even to watch a classy play.

The Cafe: Like I said, the last time, a few years I was there, I had ordered a pasta plate for my ever-hungry, cribbing daughter and was still waiting as the Q grew. So that was an annoying experience.
This time we had a slightly more irritating experience, when the waiter boy (Nandu something, since I was irritated enough to ask his name) took the Rs 500 we gave, took down the order and said he will give change and items to our table... but when another waiter went to enquire, this boy was standing in front the guy at the counter who was saying no such order had been placed and he did not know anything about it (or some such nonsense which happens when we do these silly trusting things that should not be done at such public spots). Any case, my body language was aggressive as I wagged my hand at the boy who I recognised (and my husband, that trusting fellow who never takes receipts and always then sends me out to salvage the situation, did not remember his face)... (If anybody at Prithvi is reading it and wants to contact me, u may email me at and next time I come I will point the boy out to you)... Any case, he readily handed over the change, despite having acted as if he knew nothing of the altercation happening.. Irritating...

Any case, the irish coffee at Prithvi is a Mumbai tradition by now! I have always had it.  This time I pigged on a blueberry cheesecake (which just last week I attempted at potpourrie too). The latter is more grainy, and I always vote for that texture. The Prithvi one is smoother.. and quite delicious in its own right. Lovely.

The heavy-duty stuff was not available -- pasta, eggs  and such items because the menu is apparently going through an overhaul. But otherwise, despite the old chairs that have not been changed since I saw them years ago, despite the sense of something patchy and tatty at Prithvi, it still rocks. And is a nice place to hang out with friends, if you get a seat:)

The play was superb. And is running housefull:) Thank god the city has it culture spots still...

Contact details? Log in here...

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Sea Link, dreamy though delayed

The sea link that connects us humble Suburbanites to South Mumbai looks rather dreamy. Yes. But it took a looooooong while to materialise. I remember as a rookie journalist being asked by Darryl D'Monte, one of my fav editors, to do a story on why it took so long, for the Times of India, no less. That was over 15/16 years ago!! Imagine... It has materialised only now -- which only shows that though Mumbai has the mostest money, its city fathers have the leastest intention and love in working for its good. Every time we go over the sea link (it cuts down on traffic mela and saves a lot of time) my husband, also a journo then and sadly even now:), gets apoplectic about how Mumbai is slow on its projects while back home, Chennai, despite its overtly goonda politics, is so fast with such projects which display the city positively.

Another sore point with him, where the Sea Link winds off in Worli, we have to take long U-turn to swing into the city. It, according to him, is a clear case of different departments not thinking together to give a common solution to the city. And throwing up problems that ruins a grand gesture like the sea link ... Apparently in the mornings there is a huge traffic pile-up here... After so many years, this is how we wind up a project? Messily?? I see journos don't write about such stuff any more. I had one journo student who was so thrilled about being given a pack of Arundhuti Roy books by her agent while releasing her latest book This journo called it a `miracle gift'. Is she naive? So you know the cadre of journalism nowadays:(

Link is named after Rajiv Gandhi. Oh, btw. while swinging on the Bandra flyover I was amused to see Mt Mary Church described as Mt Merry Church!! Such a typo in a city announcement... Cannot be rectified?

Sea Link Cost:
One way, Rs 50
Return, Rs 75.

I think there is some pass facility also.
Btw. Bullock carts, two-wheelers not allowed on the link:) Though the way Mumbai is progressing, we should all give up our cars and go back to carts... best way to travel in this city...

The day Meru let me down

The Meru cabs have a proud slogan: Rely on Us. However, last month while going to Chennai and boarding an early morning Kingfisher flight for it, the cab company let me down. At 5.30 am (the sort of time when such things can make you nail-bitingly, intensely nervous), the cab did not come as scheduled, though I got an ack the night before and an sms around 5 am that very morning. My husband called up the helpline and was told the driver, a Dubey, was not taking the call, so they will despatch another cab soon... Again, the sort of time when the clock ticks and with the way the lines overflow at the airport these days, this can only make the would-be passenger intensely nervous. My part of town it is tough getting an auto ordinarily and to hunt one down at that unearthly hour!! Heavens, I was so nervous because I was keen to get to Chennai, to bring back my daughter, coming home for the first time since her hostel life began this year.

Then, we waited, yet after five mins. no call, no cab. I told my husband we must ditch Meru and find my own auto, or he must drive me to airport. We did not know what to do? What if the cab came when I went down ? That is the sort of confusion such letdowns can inflict, which can make the situation even worse due to lack of communication. Then, luckily I spotted an auto just pulling and managed it to the airport... No call from Meru till date, let alone 30 seconds after complaint.

My ref numbber is AE1A26273 -- in case anyone from Meru is reading this and wants to mop up failed reputation:(