Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Food In Delhi.

I spent some time in Delhi last week and the inescapable conclusion is that the food there is far more varied than that in Bangalore. It's also far better and far more expensive but then I'm not so concerned with the latter. Over the course of a week, I tried Alkauser, Laidbackwaters, Azzuro, Swagat and Flavours. They were all outstanding bar one.


The kebabs were bloody marvelous. The house specialties were Galouti and Kakori kebabs, both of which were out-fucking-standing. Melt in the mouth, enough fat to make your arteries harden with fright, and they were served with a superb parataha, the name of which eludes me. We also ordered some Dal (kinda boring, but it was okay. Not good.), paneer tikka (very, very good. The Northies know their paneer.) and some surprisingly excellent fish tikka which we had to bribe them to obtain as it was the last plate. The biryani, Lucknowi, was startlingly boring. And wet. And the meal only cost us 200 bucks a head. Paisa vasool wonly.

Laidback Waters

Went here the night we got in. Uber-kewl joint it is at the Qutub. Like a lounge bar crossed with a harem. Managed to get the nicest seats, nay beds in the house. Their drinks a pifflingly weak but the food more than makes up for it. We tried some chicken tartlets (inventive but weak on execution.), saffron prawns (fresh but too much saffron.), fish finger-lets (gut. zehr gut.) and a gigantanormous bread basket with the pick being the rasin-nut bread. Main course was a Goan fish curry with rice which made us sing but it lacked in texture, as if they had run the sauce through a blender. Others had lamb with polenta, chingri malai curry and a baked potato and vegetable thingy that was good but preferable as a side to a roast leg of lamb. Dessert was superb with the wine and chocolate cake being the pick. Expensive? You bet. 12K for the five of us.


Small little Eye-Talian place in Saket. But this belies the price (gah! Horrendous!). Food was acceptable. Not outstanding. Fish fingers, bruschetta, red snapper in leek and cream sauce, sole with lemon butter , Caesar's salad and a very very good take on the ubiquitous chocolate fondant. But don't go there. Horrendous service. You're likely to gray waiting for your food. Seriously. I'd much prefer Sunny's or Herbs and Spice.


Very nice place where a Southie like me feels at home, with waiters shouting in Kannada. Food is much like Anupam's and as good too. Which is something because the nearest water body is the Jamuna. Very fresh kane rawa fry and prawns koliwada to start with and the main course consisted of prawns, Manglorean and Chettinad, and some ghee roast chicken. A most excellent meal it was and most reasonable priced too.


We had a good salad and some wonderful wood fired pizza here. I'm told the pricing is reasonable by Delhi standards but would be expensive by our Southern standards. Food is pretty good, desserts are nice but the service is a bit stuck up.

Other than these, we did the chaat routine at Chadni Chowk (dang, I'd eat chaat if they could make it like that in Bangalore.), hot chocolate fudge at Nirula's (sucks donkey's balls. You don't know HCF till you've been to Corner House.), lots of wedding food (some simple, some extravagant but all of it brilliant.), McD's (which does take away and only then do you realize how ghastly it can be.), house part food (Penne alla Vodka, and a cold macaroni salad and some eggs and some meat.) and a few more meals on the run. Oh, and Momos at Dilli Haat. Not bad, I expected better and have been told Chanakyapuri is where it's at.

Mostly, I was very impressed with the food and the city. But more on the city later. The only pity was that I wasn't able to visit TC's which was just around the corner.

Oh, did I mention that I was shacked up with the Recluse? Thanks dawg.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Riding in cars with girls

(with apologies to Beverly D'Onofrio).

Conversations with Corporate Whore and Mr. D quite often are decontructionist (yes, it's a word now) in a blog-worthy kinda way. This is a good example of what can happen in one of those conversations. When Mohayana comes in for his quarterly visit from the Meritocratic Republic of Temasek and these blog-worthy coversations become better. Or worse. Depending on your point of view.

This post is about hot girls in cars, generalised for the urban Indian situation. (Typing in 'hot girls' ought to bring in some unsuspecting googlers. *evil laugh*).

Genus I. Girl driving a car.
Several things work for this particular species. Driving a big (expensive) car would mean a certain amount of money already having being spent from teenage years on the right hair- and skin-care products causing the basic looks (perfectly straightened/permed/natural hair and clear skin) to be taken care of. Paid for by Daddy, of course.

Girl driving a small car started off as a nervous driver, driving all her scared friends when she just got her licence to honk. She'd still probably be a nervous driver (let's face it, they're all bad drivers), except a seedy-guy watching would want to say "Come here bebee, I will protect you" and flashes a sidey grin. Me? I would just think it, not say it.

If either species of this genus would have anything going for them, it is the poise. At a traffic signal, this girl is obviously stared at and she knows it. It adds to self-esteem and all that. Poise = hotness. Hotness = confidence. And so it goes.
By the time the small car girl draws on years of being stared at and drawing confidence, she'd become an aunty-type and is, hence, excluded from the purview of this blogpost.

Genus II. Girl riding shotgun.
Now, this is difficult to classify into various species. You'd want to classify her into this genus only if she isn't being driven by an old man (anything over the age of 32, after which you'll be heading into into Genus III or into sugar daddy territory). Something tells me at the age of 32, I'll still be playing the game and my stories will be like Horsey's, only not as funny. Actually, my stories are already like his anyway. hmmm.

A dressed-up girl is probably on a date - you'd have to read their body language to make further assessments. You think they've been seeing each other long? Is it a nervous first date? Are they just hanging out? Is she his sister? You, Dear Reader are discerning enough to make this assessment. Go on, I know you do. Even better, you play games with your own shotgun girl (or driver boy) making fun of that other couple making imaginary conversation for them in your own car. You don't? It's great fun, you must try it sometime.

Genus III. Girl in the back seat driven by her parents.
When this girl was a child, she'd entertain her parents by saying "Red bus" and "Embassadoor" and "Utility Building" when they were outside her window. These days, she'd be SMSing her friends who are out for a movie/clubbing and thinking to herself "Leather jacket on a Bullet, nice!" or surreptitiously checking out another dude crossing at the traffic signal.

Jammaster Jakkur (no link) has a theory, in a primeval kinda way, about girls on bikes. It's a pretty good theory but let's leave that aside for another day. Likewise with girls using public transport. Sometime soon.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Heart Attack

So Munnabhai spent a few months in Gujarat, working at IIM and trekking across the countryside. He said the food was vegetarian and rich. I had no idea how rich food could be till I saw a video he shot. It's called a butter vada pav. And I just had to show you didn't I! Here's that video:

And I felt my heart quiver just looking at it.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Horn. OK. Please

How many times does this signboard:
...figure in this video:

Bonus points for guessing the location. Aleph, Chamique and Dilettante are excused from the game.

Friday, November 17, 2006


"Am I going to have a problem with you, Bond?", Vesper Lynd says.

"No, dont worry. You're not my type."



from Casino Royale.

Update: That was rightly phrased after the lines from IMDB was brought to my notice.

McDowells Single Malt.

"But my best story is how I got my bottle of 'McDowell's', a single malt from Goa, India. Things were set in motion by an e-mail I sent to United Breweries, the company who owns the Goa distillery, asking where in the UK I could buy a bottle of their single malt. I didn't really expect to hear anything back, but e-mails are cheap, so nothing to lose. I had almost forgotten about the e-mail when, more than a month later, I suddenly received a fax from Vijay Rekhi, the president of UB... "

Read the rest here. It's quite the story. Some customer service that.

Life at the factory

"Emergency siren!", says Paul (I don't know his real name yet, so let's call him Paul) rather loudly

A few people (i.e., me) look blankly at him and lots of others get up from their desks and start walking towards The Balcony With The Fire Escape. Lots of people assemble downstairs in the large space between the office building and the shop floors. Rube asks if we can smell burning rubber and I'm wondering how bad the fire is. Everone stands in lines department-wise and I find myself in the HR line (since I've been using a former HR guy's computer until my laptop is given to me).

Some 10 minutes of counting heads (and after using up 1608 x 10 man-minutes) later, we all head back to work happily, like school kids excited having missed a period.

My first ever fire drill. *clap clap*
Good fun it was!

Thursday, November 16, 2006

On Bangalore. Or Bengalooru. Or Bengaluru.

There has been quite the furore in the Desi blogging world with reference to the proposed name change for Bangalore. Or rather, the-name-change-that-has-been-announced-but-requires- legal-sanction-to-ratify-it. Assuming our moribund government lasts that long.

Sandeep calls this "...the first of many braindead schemes to ensure that it’s all downhill from here" and that "...decolonizing and all sound good only if it were not used as substitutes for policy."

Indian Inheritance asks "...what the fuck is wrong with the name Bangalore?"

Nitin Pai decries this as "...not an isolated act of etymological terrorism by the H D Kumaraswamy government in Karnataka."

And the venerable Economist pipes in and strikes an opposing note:

"...Following the examples of Bombay, Madras and Calcutta, Bangalore has rebranded itself, taking the local name for “city of cooked beans”... Will it catch on? Yes, in the end it probably will, just as Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata are slowly taking hold. Sign-writers and printers will be glad of the new business, politicians will claim a blow against British cultural enslavement and a victory for authenticity (though that story about the old woman and the king may be tosh), but many others will give a weary sigh. So many places change their names, and so often. They have every right to do so, of course, and it seems discourteous not to use their new names if they expressly ask you to."

And they sign off saying, "Dear Name-Changer, feel free to adopt any moniker you fancy, but do not hector others if they jib. A city of beans by any other name will smell as sweet, or beany."

Where do I stand? I can live with name change, even if I think that it is pretty stupid to murder a well known brand. What I detest is the fact that this linguistic chauvinism is being used to cover a litany of sins. Of the father and the son.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

No Tears

I can't say that I'm sorry to see them shut shop.

Not once did I have a good meal, much less a single good biryani, there but then I speak only for myself.

Others seem to have mixed reviews of the place.

Previously, here and here.


And drink up!

MadMan called a few of us over (Amit, Deepak, Lahar, Prabhu and Suman) to witness the cocktail wizardry of the chaps from Monin. MadMan tried his best to destroy a blender (I'm hoping that Prabhu posts that picture!), but it proved to be resistant to his charms. Dinner, as usual, was outstanding.

A few pictures below...

My Credit

I was taking a close look at my latest credit card statement from Citibank and it had a most curious clause:

"The Credit Information Bureau India Ltd. (CIBIL), is an initiative of the Government of India and the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to improve the functionality and stability of the Indian financial system. This is in line with their efforts to provide an effective mechanism for exchange of information between banks and financial institutions, thereby enabling customers to avail of better credit terms from various institutions. All banks and financial institutions participating in this initiative are required to share customer data with CIBIL. In view of the above, we wish to inform you that we shall now be reporting the data pertaining to your account with us (including Additional Card on your account) to CIBIL. This data will be updated on a regular basis for all our customers. We thank you for your continuing support and co-operation in this matter."

I understand the reason that a Credit Rating Agencies exist, ostensibly to assess the Credit Score for both induviduals and corporations which it turn is used to determine applicable interest rates based on a risk based pricing giving due weightage to expected costs of the borrower. That's hardly what I have a problem with.

What I want to know is under what specific RBI Notification or Guideline this is being done as I feel it amounts to an invasion of my financial history and privacy. Further, there seems to be no method for me to "opt-out" of such a reporting mechanism. Neither have I chosen to "opt-in" to such third-party disclosures.

I am also curious as to what information, or data as so mentioned, they will disclose to CBIL and what the terms of such disclosure are with the rights and liabilities of Citibank NA and CBIL. As it is my financial data, I maintain a right to know as such. Lastly, I am worried as to the safety issues related to a common pool of such sensitive financial information being held at one location. How can they assure me as to the veracity of the safety mechanisms in place and how will they indemnify me against any losses that might arise from an unauthorized leak or disclosure of the "reported" data to CBIL?

In the United States, such disclosures to and the functioning of Credit Rating Agencies are regulated by the Fair Credit Reporting Act which lays down obligations such as "providing a consumer with information about him or her in the agency's files and to take steps to verify the accuracy of information disputed by a consumer. Companies that provide information to consumer reporting agencies also have specific legal obligations, including the duty to investigate disputed information. Also, users of the information for credit, insurance, or employment purposes must notify the consumer when an adverse action is taken on the basis of such reports. Further, users must identify the company that provided the report, so that the accuracy and completeness of the report may be verified or contested by the consumer. It has been recently amended to guard against Identity Theft" (from Wikipedia) Do similar obligations exist as regards CBIL?

On to CBIL. From their website, one gathers that the shareholders are primarily banks that operate in India, Dun & Bradstreet and Trans Union International, who are one of the largest Credit Rating Agencies in the United States. Their current shareholding pattern is as shown below:

Right, so we've established that this is a closed eco-system of banks that essentially share financial information related to the credit-worthiness of their customers. Whether the customers agree or not. How well do they protect our data ought to be the next pertinent question. The answer is not very comforting. Among other common sense measures (access control and anti-virus software) they employ:
  • 128-bit SSL encryption for all Web-based transactions including FTP.
  • Cryptographic solutions for all information sent or received through any physical media i.e. CD, DAT and DLT.
Comforting? I'll leave that to the crypto expert who reads this blog. Apart from the fact that such agencies are apparently very easy to lie to. Lastly, there seems to be no privacy policy posted on their website.

Citibank in their reply to me state, most pithily, that "...CIBIL is an initiative driven based on RBI's guidelines and all banks are required to share their customer information with them... the details shared would be the credit limit assignment and the payment pattern of a customer and the information will not be of transactionary details. We are not aware of the email address of CIBIL to be shared with public."

All in all, not a very happy situation.

Monday, November 13, 2006

A temporary halt to the Jobless 55 / Slightly schizoid

“You’ve been unemployed for 5 months?”

“Erm, yeah.”

“What on earth have you been doing so long, you jobless mofo?”

“A little bit of volunteer work at Dream A Dream and a lot of chillin’ at home”

“Don’t get bored ‘chillin’ at home’ by yourself?”

“I am somewhat interesting to hang out with, you know.”

Flour and A Filling

In a verdict that has far reaching consequences for Mexican food lovers, a judge in Massachusetts has ruled that:

"A sandwich is not commonly understood to include burritos, tacos and quesadillas, which are typically made with a single tortilla and stuffed with a choice filling of meat, rice, and beans..."
Rejoice, rejoice for a sandwich bar is saved and the burrito fights another battle.

Friday, November 10, 2006

To The Field...

I visited the farms today. And they were green. Green, bountiful, soothing, earthy, beautiful and calming.

Even if I did meet a man with a gun. And he smiled at me.

And wells that were dry so long that Guava trees had taken root and borne fruit. But they tasted so sweet.

Bonus points if you can identify the crops depicted in the first three pictures. I'll even make it worth your while, say a cup of coffee and a slice of cake.

Previously, Kolar District.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Zen. 2.75/5.00

Went to Zen with MadMan and a couple of his friends for their seafood buffet last night.

If you want to stop reading here, then here's my take: Don't go. Not for the food, not for the ambiance and certainly not for the value for money proposition. Worthy and far superior alternatives are, T'chi for Chinese, Harima for Japanese and Shiok for Thai.

Their insipid and uninspiring salad bar was a motley collection of soggy vegetables in the same bloody dressing. The beef salad was good, insofar as the beef was good, but they overdid the celery. Everything else was best left alone.

The sushi and sashimi bar was, well at best it was bright. A boring selection of fish of which the best that could be said that it was fresh. Ish. The ubiquitous tuna (no toro), salmon, octopus , mackerel (which was better than I imagined it would be) and some very good jellyfish. But there was no chef in attendance nor were there any name-tags to identify the food. Shoddy service really. I don't really like sushi, tried some, wasn't bad. But certainly not good.

The trouble with buffets is this. Heat lamps and induction stoves. They keep things warm but food also ends up over cooked, dry and pretty damn unappetizing. Their main course options were an unimaginative rice/noodle/beef in oyster sauce (again, good beef mediocre sauce)/chicken with cashew (ooh! Indian Chinese)/stir fried veggies (that collapsed into goo)/prawn green curry (hideous)/fish in sweet soy sauce (Yaaay! So exciting!) and crab in black pepper (taken out of the shell. No fun.)

They had this counter where you could choose your raw fish and it would be grilled and served, the only choices being "Spicy, sir or medium-spicey?". They had pomfret, red snapper, lady fish, tiger prawn, lobster, salmon, scampi and a few other local varieties. Safe to say it was middlingly ordinary. Piddlingly so.

They also had a few satay starters. Pity they all tasted the same, burnt to a bloody crisp.

Dessert encompassed the usual suspects. The fresh fruit was the best option along with a Chocolate Mille Feuille. The chocolate fountain had, what could be best described as, Amul chocolate in it.

This is no gustatory pleasure. The focus is not on the food, quality or appearance. It's more an experiment in excesses. I 'll give it a pass in future and would recommend you do the same.

MadMan adds:

Well... I ate a lot, but overall, a bit of a "meh" feeling. I might have paid Rs. 1000 + tax on it, but 1750 is too much for *that*.

In order of eating:
  • Satays: Burnt meat, no unique flavour. Total let-down. They need to hire better chefs for this.
  • Dim Sum: very nice, fresh. That's why I ate the entire first batch. ;)
  • Tempura: Too much batter on the teeny-weeny prawns. Made it a lighter version of some Chungs-style batter-fried prawns. Larger prawns would have made them tastier. (But I've never thought that much of tempura anyway.)
  • Sushi: Darn, I ate a lot of that, didn't I? Dunno why. I was drawn heavily to the soft-shell crab roll. Anyway, I liked a good chunk of it. That definitely was the surprise of the evening.
  • Salads: the beef and the mixed seafood salad is all I had, both of which were good, apart from the celery.
  • Grilled Seafood: One of my lobsters was ok, the other was mush. Scampi was tasty. Prawn (too small) was so-so. Fish barely registered on the tongue.
  • Hot food: Green curry, fried rice, etc. - not at all what I expected. Not worth mentioning.
  • Desserts: *loud yaaaaawn* Fake mango dessert, fresh fruit, and lychee in coriander syrup? Plus that un-chocolately chocolate fountain. Except for the millefeuille, nothing worth writing about.

Jobless Pictures.

Saw this (over Ulsoor Lake) on Rajyotsava Day. They were headed to Chinnaswamy Stadium to drop flowers on the "waiting dignitaries". Oh for a bomb instead!

In other news, Nilgiris have finally entered the 21st Century. Even if a little late.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Oktober Fest, Bangalore

So last night we hit Oktober Fest at the Taj Residency courtesy our local MLC. Bloody good fun, as the pictures and videos will attest too. Big Germanic mugs of beer, sausages of every size and variety, meatloaf, chicken, potato and sauerkraut.

The only downside was that the one fight, as is wont, involved two drunk dudes from Ulsoor. I highly recommend you visit next year. If the powers that be in Bengaluru decide to allow it. Speaking of which, I think it was highly appropriate that it poured from 5PM to 6PM, thus putting paid to any chance of self-aggrandizing bullshit that was planned at Chinnaswamy Stadium. Was there a riot afterwards? Possibly...