Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Yaksha, Basil and buffet experience in Hyderabad restaurants

I hadn't eaten out for a long time. As I was thinking of which new restaurant to try, I came across Yaksha. I wondered why the name Yaksha (a demi-god) for a restaurant. Nevertheless, after reading the favorable reviews, I decided to visit the place. The distance of about 13 kms to Banjara Hills takes about three quarters of an hour in the usual Hyderabad traffic conditions. But that day, every traffic light waved me green as they seemed to understand the urgency of my hunger pangs and urged me to zoom by, thus allowing me to cover the distance in 25  minutes flat!

As I stepped inside Yaksha, I stood there uncertain as to where to go. Like a cinema hall, it was too dark inside. Also, the place seemed so tiny! There was no welcoming usher either. In fact, I had to draw the attention of one of the ladies who was passing by and asked to be seated. She waved me to the nearest table which was filled with some cutlery. I sat down a tad hesitantly and waited and waited. After a full 5 minutes, the same lady comes by and points in the general direction of the buffet spread and asks me to help myself. The usual expectation during a buffet is that the starter and soup be served at one’s table. But here that was not to be. I got up trying to find a path through the narrow spaces between the compactly placed tables careful not to stumble and trip in the darkness. In all this darkness, I spotted a bright countenance. When I peered closely, I found it belonged to an ex-colleague of mine. One of the few times I appreciate a fair complexion. Thank god, something is visible in the darkness! After the initial ‘Hi’ s, she told me that they were here as a group of about 15 people and were not just lamenting about the quality of food but rather the lack of it, I mean the food itself. The restaurant perhaps never had a huge number of 15 visitors in one go!

I made a quick u-turn wondering where to go to quench those quickening hunger pangs. A la' liberty was a well tried restaurant and one that I am truly fond of but I have been there thrice already. So I quickly decided on Basil in the immediate neighborhood. Basil is no stranger to the Hyderabadi. I had also visited the place around 3-4 years ago once and had carried no particularly favorable memories of the place. But then I thought about giving it a try once again.

As I stepped into the restaurant it was a relief to find it well- lit. The glass windows were used to let in natural light. Basil also comforts me as it is a pure vegetarian restaurant. Even as I stepped in, the usher was at the side and seated me at once.

Well, coming to the meal…let me tell you that I am a small eater and most of the restaurants make money on buffets through people like me. Now, why do I state this? I actually had a second helping of all dishes on offer! And if your mouth waters at the prospect of quality food, let me correct that assumption. I am not talking of quality but quantity here. Even as you think of allowing your eye to rove over the buffet spread, the journey ends almost where it begins. Two salads…unable to distinguish between the two diced vegetables placed in two different plates was all that was in the department of salads…and two starters to begin with.

When I talk of starters and salads, my mind recalls Barbeque Nation and Liberty. And that’s what I call a hearty beginning to a hearty meal. This offer was like the ragged clothes of a beggar. But to be fair, the starters of corn and boiled and barbequed potato were quite decent. For the first time, in a buffet I could actually finish off one full naan as there were only two curries and one dal to go with it. And only two sweets. The whole thing comes to Rs. 234 with taxes. What the restaurants must realize is that a discerning diner is willing to pay more for some unique taste/dish on offer in the meal. What else would make me bother to travel a distance of 26 kms for a meal? I can as well have it in any place nearby. The food itself was not unpalatable but then…

One of the risks that you run into when visiting a restaurant on a working day is to find groups of women having their kitty parties. I found one such group here too. Most of the women pass themselves off as upper middle class not by virtue of some self-achievement but the achievements of their husbands…which rather translates to the flaunting of the wealth amassed by their husbands. Many of them do not look well-educated themselves. I feel annoyed by the loud chatter and the louder guffaws that emanate from such groups. Culture and education seem not to even touch these women—all of them decked as though attending some party—sari, jewelry, flowers et al Why such uncharitable remarks you wonder. This was my experience there:

When I sit for any meal at a restaurant I always ask for tissues, beside the napkin provided. I did the same here too. I was seated beside the buffet table and one of the women while passing by my table, simply pulls out the tissues provided to me. I couldn’t help stare with disbelief at this uncouth behavior. She realized perhaps and asks customarily…”you want these?” and goes away without waiting for a reply with the bunch clutched in her hand. Luckily, there is a private room provided for such groups and the noise is contained within. It was at the end of about twenty minutes that the door opens and two of the women step out to have the dessert. Too lazy to go back, they stand there eating the sweets. Two more women join them, then more and then all of the 15 or so people all standing there right beside my table talking loudly and eating more noisily. One of the women finished her ice cream and had the audacity to just deposit the cup right beside me on my table as it was within her reach before she went for a second round of desserts. Fortunately, the alert waiter quickly removed the dirty bowl and spoon from my table. Respect for such groups dipped further seeing such behavior.

To sum up this post, this is not my usual review of a restaurant but rather a comment on the cost cutting measures adopted by many of the restaurants in Hyderabad these days wherein they keep the price the same year after year but the items on the menu in the buffet are fast depleting thus disappointing the regular patron. Case in point: ‘Haveli’ in Madhapur.

(Added later: Went to a gathering arranged at the banquet hall of Basil in the second week of Jan 2012. The food is the same as it was in the buffet. I had hoped it might be of better quality as it was catering to a group of about a 100 people)

Wednesday, June 22, 2011


This picture of Wasim Akram recently in one of the newspapers took my breath away. Girls, this guy is still drool-worthy!
We girls, who grew up in the late 70s and through 80s, were not all that fortunate as we had no such heroes we could have a crush on. And so who did we have? Amitabh (hain!) Bachan, Mithun Chokroborthy, Shotgun, Jeetendra...You get the scene, right? That entire period we didn’t have ONE Bollywood hero we could drool over.
Luckily for us, the cricketer Imran Khan came by and had us girls swoon over his pictures in the sports mags and we ended up cutting and sticking his pics in our rooms. Post teens, I found amongst my contemporaries, all midget sized actors.
And when I had given up on watching a soothing visage, arrives the tall and handsome, Abhishek Bachan with Refugee and knocked me flat with his dark brooding eyes, left-handed gestures, the small crinkle of smile in his eyes, and a ‘bechara’ expression on his face.

Watch him as the intense lover in Refugee, watch him as the funny and naughty Bunty in Bunty aur Babli, as the oh-so-sexy brooding bad boy in Yuva, as the gay with the cutely effeminate characteristics in Dostana. Watch him in Paa as that bespectacled politician portraying a clean image playing father to his real life one. Watch him in all his talk shows/interviews and listen to his witty and intelligent repartees.  AND… and watch him mouth those now famous words “Get Idea!” I LOVE that Idea 3G ad where he says, “Chi! Kitne gande gande comments aa rahe hain!”
He brings back the same magic that the heart-breakingly handsome Garam Dharam & the handsome hunk Sunil Dutt had spun with a their looks ( an amazing mix of vulnerability and sheer masculine strength.)

Just as I write this, I hear he is going to be a papa himself. I wonder what’s going to be the product when a 6 footer handsome hunk cohabits with a piece of plastic.

Thursday, June 2, 2011


There will be two dates on your tombstone.
And all your friends will read them.
But all that's going to matter is
the little dash between them.

Yep, life is as short as that little dash between the two dates. Why don't we just keep it as simple and straight?