Friday, July 29, 2011

Chennai Diary II

Day 5: Uneventful so far except that the team happened to go out for lunch to a restaurant called Delhi Dhaba on ECR road. I had been eyeing a Delhi Dhaba on the Thuraipakkam Road and wanted to try it out and today I did…though the one at ECR. The food itself isn’t great as such. For the first time, I found that I am not in the minority. Of the 15 people in the group, 10 were vegetarians. We veggies stuck to one half of the table and the non vegetarians to the other half. The vegetable shorba for the soup was quite decent…a thick translucent liquid with a few chopped vegetables thrown in. We ordered for a vegetable kebab platter for starters which was a nice assortment of about seven kinds of starters. Except for the mushrooms, the rest of them vanished in no time. That platter was quite a decent one too. After this excellent beginning, the main course did let us down a bit. All curry gravies were quite bland and tasted the same. Sarson ka saag was an exception though.
Verdict is one can go here…no regrets and definitely for someone from outstation who is starved for good food, this can be recommended but not for a discerning diner. (although it looks like 3 days of having good dinner has made me go back to my picky ways.)
As of now, the plans are to try the Express Avenue tomorrow. I resist malls in any city as they only clone each other but EA has been highly recommended. I have also been told it could contain some handicrafts etc. let me try. If not anything, I guess my time will pass well in that huge mall. With also a multiplex in it, I might throw in a movie. People who know Hyderabad say it is like the Inorbit. My verdict tomorrow, once I have been there.
I want to carry back a bit of Chennai flavor with me whether they be clothes/ handicrafts/ food/ snacks/ footwear…whatever.I am only a bit skeptical about buying snacks as I may end up finishing them off before I reach Hyderabad and not have anything left for the family.I have been recommended Grand Snacks. Let me see. Being in city outskirts at Shollanganallur, I need to travel quite a bit for getting anything. But yes, I am glad to get this opportunity to go out and explore. I do not look forward to sitting cooped at the guest house for the weekend…that’s sure

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Chennai Diary

Almost out of blue, with a very short notice of 2 days, an office trip to Chennai was planned. The trip is supposed to last for 3 weeks. First, I was told it was a training for a week…which I thought was ok but then that was extended to three weeks saying that we needed that on-job experience as well. That set me thinking. On one hand, at a personal level, I felt that it is going to be a good break from my daily grind. Second, was the opportunity to learn something new and this has always excited me.
As I was packing, I decided to pack the best of office wear. I was excited and looked forward to looking good, feeling good and giving this trip the best shot.

As I got down from the train and stepped on to the Chennai soil, I looked around to see, observe and absorb. I wanted to see how the city is different or similar to Hyderabad. What I noticed were the black and yellow Ambassador taxis which are not to be seen in Hyderabad. We have all those accident prone Indica cab drivers with their dented and scratched cabs. Another mini shock was being charged 430 bucks for a distance of 22 kms to my guest house! And this is the official price set by the police stationed there.

The service apartment provided was below par and I had to quickly shift to the company guest house. On the plus side is that the guest house is 2 kms from the office. This was my dream since we came down to settle in Hyderabad. Commuting to the office in less than ten minutes…that’s cool. The travel is taken care of but I lose heavily on quality food. Complementary breakfast is just that…something that’s an obligatory part of the deal. A semi-conscious and drooping dosa, rock solid idlis, and a watery fruit juice complete the deal. Lunch at office cafeteria is a well-known story…everything stinks of dal/sambar. All that I can do is get adventurous while in pursuit of dinner.

There shouldn’t…rather cannot be any comparison between the restaurant-rich Hyderabad and any other Indian city. If Hyderabad had a similar long IT corridor, we Hyderabadi foodies would be spoilt for choice! My friend and I went to Nallas right opposite my office once in the last three days (has it just been three days?). This place comes with high recommendation from many of my Chennai colleagues. Our meal for two consisted of three rotis, a soup, a curry and a can of soft drink each which totaled Rs 430! An ordinary restaurant, though air-conditioned, with ordinary ambience in Hyderabad will not charge as much. If they do, they will be out of business in no time. Out here, there aren’t really any other decent restaurants around.

Yesterday, we got a little more adventurous and headed towards a food court beside Asecendas. No one without a company ID was allowed inside. I surrendered my ID and got another tag in exchange. Well, with this new set of tags, we stepped into the food court and wow! Like a young girl getting attracted to glittering trinkets, all these junk food outlets had us stunned for all the choice they offered…all of which I might not even care for in Hyderabad . I almost ran towards Mc Donald for their burger, chomped on it washing it down with a much-caloried 7 UP.

Unsatiated, I looked around for more. It warmed my heart to find a bit of Hyderabad in a sign in a corner proclaiming ‘Hyderabadi.’ Well, I can have that once I am back in Hyderabad. I gave my favorite chaat corner a miss, so also the Chinese Wang’s, KFC etc and went seeking stuff from the famous Sarvanan Bhavan. Sarvanan Bhavan, which I thought specializes in South Indian, had a variety of North Indian stuff as well. I narrowed my choice to the never before tasted Idiappam. This was offered with coconut milk. I watched with fascination as I saw a tablespoon full of batter being spread thin in a deep vessel, covered and cooked. A hollow thin hemisphere-like layer was gently coaxed out once cooked. It looked very similar to the regular Dosa we have but I knew the batter was different. I was very tempted to lapse into my comfort zone and ask for chutney to be served with it. But I stoically stuck to the white, sweetened, cold, milk like accompaniment. The dosa was unique as it had a paper like consistency towards its rims and expectedly a slight thickness at the bottom At least, I got to try something from Sarvanan Bhavan and the Idiappam for the first time too.

By the way, how did I forget the filter coffee?! Being at Chennai and dining at Sarvanan Bhavan, I did order for filter coffee. It smelled amazing and tasted good too but really not worth the 23 rupees that I paid for it. I might need to try the same at some road side restaurant to have the real ‘kapi’

Today is the fourth day here. Need to see where else I can go for eating something different. I don’t know whether I will lose weight or gain some at the end of this stay. There are times, I get nothing but a plate of rice with curd and times like yesterday when I binge. More Chennal news in the next few posts till I come back…soon I hope!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Mumbai Life Cycle