Monday, January 26, 2009

Zzzzzz



Sanam At Mannat

Sanam outside Mannat, waiting for the King Khan to arrive... in vain, I must say. The tall building in the background is his office, the shorter while building in the middle is Mannat. Most of the complex is hidden behind the huge compound wall. Right opposite, facing Mannat, is the beautiful Bandra sea-face.

The Bandra Worli Sea Link Bridge


A view of the Worli Prabhadevi skyline from the Sea Link bridge entrance on the Bandra side


The Sea Link bridge, nearing completion. Will bring down the travel time from Bandra to Worli from 30 mins at peak time to less than 10 besides decongesting Bandra-Mahim and Dadar. It's also expected to be a major tourist point and it's not difficult to imagine why! :)

ps: Apologies for the low quality pics, clicked by a seedha saadha Nokia in foggy weather

Bouncing Back!

On the eve of the second anniversary of the Mumbai terror attacks, we got the opportunity to visit the sites of the attacks, to pay our homage and express our gratitude to the men who laid down their lives defending us.

Our first visit was to the Trident and Oberoi. As we passed the entrance, the smiling and smartly dressed valets and security officers warmly welcomed us, no sign of terror or apprehension on their faces. Looking around at the Trident, it was hard to imagine the horror of two months back. While parts of the Oberoi remained boarded up under repairs, the Trident stood tall and beautiful in all its glory, the restaurants on the ground floor that had taken the biggest hits desked up and warmly lit, beckoning its guests again.




I got down for a minute, at the foot of the building, looking up and was overcome with emotion, fighting hard tears of pride - Radio Mirchi playing "Mar Jaawa", a song that could have very well summed up the admiration and love the country feels towards these heroes of 26/11.

Our next stop was the Taj. After 3 days of fire and assault, I was almost scared to imagine what I would find. In my last trip to Mumbai, I had marvelled at the beauty of this grand old building. I was almost hesitant to see it, knowing it would be really difficult to see it in ruins.

This is what we found.


The beautiful old lady, looking just as beautiful as a desert does in full bloom after a terrible storm! With hardly any external sign of damage, except a few boarded windows, and a fresh coat of paint to hide its scars, the Taj stood resplendent in the afternoon sun, thousands of admiring visitors gazing at it in pure awe, while the Gateway of India opposite it stood ready to receive thousands of visitors for the Satbhavna Concert organized by the Govt of Maharashtra on occasion of Republic Day to applaud the resilience and strength of this awesome city.

Here you can see workers replacing the focus lights illuminating the frontage, while other workers are hard at work inside restoring it to its full glory.



Our final visit was to the Leopold, and while we were unable to drop in for a cup of tea due to restrictions in our schedule driven by the baby in our midst, it was not surprising to see the Cafe thronged by hundreds of patrons, another fitting tribute to the never say die spirit of the city.



Yes, one might argue that life has to go on, and that this is just part of moving on. But truly, seeing the pace of work, and the positive vibes emanating from every place we visited, I can say one thing for sure... terror might put us down for a few days, but we will come up winners, stronger, more united and more resilient, with every attack!

Amchi Sexy Mumbai

We spent the weekend in Mumbai, enjoying every second of it. Here are some things that rated high on our to-do list:

1) An evening at InOrbit Mall in Malad - watching the people, some shopping, bumping into celebrities, and of course, a taste of the non-veg platter at the Food Court
2) A trip to Mannat at Bandra Bandstand, hoping to catch a glimpse of the King Khan. By the way, if you reach there late evening, the beach is an excellent spot too!
3) Oggling the Sea Link bridge - you can do this on the way to and from Mannat :) Also have a look at the unbelievable long and winding sky walk from BKC to Bandra Station over the WE Highway.
4) A trip to Trident, Taj and Cafe Leopold - our homage to the martyrs and the indomitable spirit of the city
5) A horse carriage ride through the cobblestoned streets of downtown Mumbai
6) Lunch at Tendulkars, with Ajit Agarkar for company on the adjacent table. Not to mention the 20% discount we got on a bill of 4500 from the Goan manager!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

A Tale of Two Restaurants

Two nights, two restaurants, two very different experiences.

Last night it was Sigree, at the very end of DP Road, behind Mainland China. While we had visited the area dozens of times earlier, we had not visited Sigree. They have an outdoor seating with a buffet spread, and a la carte dining inside. We chose indoors. While the place was large and pretty full, with maybe 200 diners, it was also very spacious, comfortable and relaxed. We ate like crazy, the Adraki Lamb, Lamb Soup and the Rogah Josh was simply out of the world. So were the Mushroom Shabnam and Paneer Rawalpindi. When we finally licked down the last of the huge kulfis, we could barely walk. It had been a totally awesome experience!

Today, it was Flags. A restaurant that used to be extremely high on my list. Untill now. Apparently they went in for a make over. The new interiors are very inconvenient and impractical, making it impossible for the waiters to serve you properly. The food has turned from awesome to poor, with the mocktails being the worst. The worst was the music, loud and dicso, just completely at odds with the candles on the tables, and loud and jarring enough to make you want to run out. A truly disappointing experience.

So next time you are looking for a nice dinner... Sigree it should be!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Quote for the Day

I hate you...and then I love you...it's like I want to throw you off a cliff....then rush to the bottom to catch you!!!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Movie Review: The President is Coming

After a heavy dinner of Shengsi Crabmeat Soup, Lemon Coriander Soup, Eight Treasure Seafood Soup, Pepper Prawns, Crispy Corn Chilli, Schezwaan Noodles, BBQ Betki Fish and some delicious Chicken Lollipop, Siddha and I decided to catch a movie... and at 1130, there really weren't too many options. So we ended up watching "The President is Coming". I had warned Siddha it wasn't that great - that's what I had been told. On the other hand, I had a feeling it would be fun.

Feelings sometimes work better than feedback! :)

We loved the movie, and so did the other fifty or so patrons in the theatre.

President Bush is coming to India, and a PR agency is contracted by the US Embassy to find that one representative of the 30 million young Indians to shake the coveted hand of the President. And how do you do that? Through the mother of all reality shows - a no holds barred cut throat competition that puts them through the grinds, to find the one with the best understanding of America and a passion to be American.

The beauty of the movie is in its characters. From the gay South Indian mathematician geek, to the young dashing Gujrathi stock broker, the Bengali novelist, the wannabe Paris Hilton, the voice and accent trainer and the anti-social "MNS" social worker, the characters are just perfect! The conversations are hilarious, in a very Calvin sort of way - the best humour is probably what we see in the way we behave in everyday life.

The movie's probably exiting theatres soon, and you might be lucky to catch a late night show... try it, don't expect any insights and inspirations, and you might actually love it!

PM Goes to RTO

A couple of days back, our very own PM went quietly to the RTO to get his licence renewed :) The only favours he asked - that he be allowed to do it on a Sunday, and that Sheila Dikshit not be there to welcome him :)

Three cheers to our sweet PM :)

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Proud to be a Slumdog?

I have not yet seen the movie, of course, but I do have some initial thoughts about what's happening with it. Yes, it might be a perfectly well done movie. Rahman has probably given an excellent sound track, Frieda and Anil Kapoor have probaby acted well, and so on and so forth. And it went on to win 4 Golden Globes for its primarily western creators.

But why are we Indians so ga-ga over it? It's not really an Indian movie. It's shot in the slums and dark under bellies of Mumbai. It is a story of hope written by an Indian, but it's also a vivid portrayal of the India that's always appealed to the westerners in search of heart wrenching stories of the third world, pictures and articles that gnaw at your conscience and makes for some great reporting!

That's probably why it's getting the acclaim that a Lagaan never did! Because, even if it was a period movie, Lagaan was about the positive in India. An image most westerners probably find loath to accept? Because it challenges their dominance in an ever-increasing flat world?

I have a feeling this movie will be most appreciated by NRIs and wannabe NRIs - because it gives them the reassurance that their decision to leave the country was very right!

Again, just my thoughts - and I am not really talking about the movie!

Movie Review: Chandni Chowk to China

Akshay Kumar has a flair for comedy and action, and CCTC tries to give you a combination of both. Does it succeed? Depends on how you look at it... if you are willing to keep logic aside and simply appreciate some silly jokes, literally flights of fantasy, and some great action, CCTC is a definite option this weekend.

Sidhu is a "vegetable cutter" from a dhaaba in Chandni Chowk, with dreams but no way to get there. Mysteriously, there appear two Chinese, convinced he is a reincarnation of the legendary warrior Liu Sheng, and the only solution to the problem of the evil Hojo, who's taken over their village. Sidhu, conned by the fraud Feng Shastra (yes, he knows both Feng Sheu and Vaastu Shastra) expert Chopstick, lands up in China. Now, add to this a story of two separated twins, Suzie and Sakhi, born to an Indian girl and a Chinese man who speaks Hindi. One is brought up in India, and lands up in China looking for her missing father and sister, the other joins Hojo. And of course, we can't not have Dada, Mithunda playing Sidhu's adopted mother, father, brother, teacher, mentor, guide and everything else. As one review said, you take all the masala Bollywood has been spicing up for years, and try make a mother of all masala movies, and you have CCTC.

So is it really worth watching? I think so, yes!

Here's what to watch out for...

1) Some simple jokes which will make you laugh. Try catching the "this is true love" joke...
2) An excellently choreographed title song - a dream sequence just before Sidhu lands in China. Probably one of the best ever usages of martial arts in a dance sequence!
3) Deepika's arrival on the scene as India's contribution to the "action heroines", a la Kill Bill. I'm not kidding - her fight sequence at the airport has to rate among the very best. And yes, apart from her moves, do check her facial expressions. Here's an actress waiting to be unleashed.
4) Some good fight sequences by Akshay
5) A short and sweet "floating with an umbrella" song sequence
6) Akshay's dance routine while waiting for the Chinese visa
7) Some amazing locales
8) Deepika. Deepika.

A little less loud, and minus Mithun Da's irritating dialogues, this would have been a show stealer :)

Rab Ne, Again..

I've seen Rab Ne a few times already, and every time I've enjoyed it a little more than the earlier time! Maybe it's in the innocence of Suri, the very real life portrayal of the Indian middle class, the vivacity of Taani, the dance numbers, the over-the-top cool Raj, naam toh suna hoga, or simply the peace of the Golden Temple coming out so beautifully, this movie has been growing on me. It's also interesting to profile the audience.. most seem to be repeats, from the kids to the oldies, everyone laughs with Suri, everyone cries with Taani, and everyone has their smiles back on their faces after the honeymoon, as they stream out of the theatres...

Truly a timeless movie, I hope a lot more would be able to gain from this as much as I have, instead of getting stuck in questioning the possibility of a wife unable to recognize her husband in a new outfit.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Updated Syllabus!

Sanam had a question in her Hindi exam - name three of India's desh bhaktas. Her answer - Hemant Karkare, Mahatma Gandhi and Ashok Kamte.

Teacher gave her full marks!

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Ab Tum Kabhi Maa Nahin Bann Sakti...

Miyou had a sterilization operation today... and apparently, she was already pregnant a second time, less than 4 months from the time she had her three kittens...

We got her operated on at Pet Aid in Erandwane in the afternoon. She had to be kept without food or drink since morning, and after we got her back from the OT, she was groggy till morning. I had to take her beside me all through the night. It was very touching to see that even though she knew well that it was I who had taken her to the hospital and put her through her ordeal, she still wanted to sit in my lap, and be comforted by my patting.

Sometimes, I wonder if we really have the right to decide for her... but then I remember the three months we spent cleaning up the mess from her litter, and then it doesn't seem that difficult a question to answer any more!

Happy New Year

Another eventful year has gone by... and oh, what a year it has been! When the year began, the Sensex was at a never-before 20K, and market pundits were already talking about 25K. Then came the turn. It started with the sub-prime crisis, and quickly ballooned into an all-encompassing recession that enveloped not just the US, but the whole world. Markets crashed to half their levels at the beginning of the year, losing trillions in market capitalization. Investment banking turned overnight from the alchemy of the finance world into a curse, auto makers scrambled to keep afloat, airlines and hotels struggled desperately to survive.

And then came 26/11. 3 days that have forever changed the way India, and the world, will look at terror.

And yet, I would describe the year 2008 best on one word: growth. Growth of India as a real super power on the world stage. From Chess to Boxing to Badminton and Shooting, India is no longer begging for attention. The CommonWeath Youth Games heralded the rising dominance of young Indian in sports. IPL showed that BCCI didn't just have the money, but the vision and the powers of execution to change the cricket world. With fantastic victories over Australia, India rose as the leaders at home and away! ISRO's Chandrayaan propelled India's space program to the moon, and yet again, India's democratic institutions showed the world what people's power was all about. Tatas bought Jaguar and Land Rover, while the Nano emerged as the most exciting new kid on the block since the Model T! And with the signing of the Nuclear Treaty, India's dominance on the world stage was complete.

But most heartening was the way the country rallied as one after 26/11. As Shiv Sena activists protected mosques and madrassas, Christians protected Hindus, Parsis distributed free bread, and for once, Vande Mataram and Jai Hind was the mantra of the country. MNS's hate campaign bit the dust and people of all faiths and castes joined hands against terror. For once, petty politics gave way to true national unity, and the parliament voted as one to bring in a slew of measures to strengthen our defences. And of course, the true heroes were the countless, faceless jawans, police officers, commandos and fire men, who gave their all, and their lives, in the service of the nation.

For me, personally, it was a truly exciting year! I got my entry into the executive management, finally giving me ability to truly make a difference to the company I have treated as my own for over a decade. We got Catrina, and a few months later, Casatta and her two siblings were born. Siddha and Shweta were blessed with Samah, Sanam had finally got her prayers answered!

What does 2009 have in store for us? Terror, Global Warming and Recession will dominate the headlines for sure... but the optimist in me tells me, this will also be a year when the tide will turn. For the better!