Here is an on-the-go scribble on Bangkok. I have to admit that the city has a way of growing on you. i enjoy it a lot more with each visit. Singapore, one of my favourite haunts, serves up everything exact and precise. You feel safe, almost inoculated. Bangkok, like a well-fed Sardarji,loves to flaunt its underbelly. It thrives on its eclectic mix, the good with the garish, the Egyptian cotton-lined to the remotely dangerous, the lemongrass scented to the Bird’s Eye implanted, the straight with the tut, the ladyboys, the straight cross-dressers, and the much simpler to understand, regular homosexuals. If you wish to enjoy Bangkok, you have to learn to let your sensibilities be a bit more fluid, more accommodating, for Bangkok will push them to the limits, from food to design to orientation, and in the end, it is how you bounce back, more learned or more disgusted, that will shape the experience to come. Read more
If you can tell, I am feeling a bit Bond, James Bond. If he can have a movie called the Quantum of Solace then I jolly well am justified writing a blog entry titled such.
But it is true folks, life is about the bigger picture, not the 300mm zoom version shot from a voyeuristic angle that you often get to see, although, I admit, that is not a bad angle to see things.
Annyhoos…Enough deep talk; let’s get shallow…today I am in the mood to administer a little get-to-know-me true-false quiz-format kinda’ entry. It is my (vain) attempt at trying to make my mundane details sound intriguingly exciting! Here goes… Read more
The new corporate conglomerate is a very scared body. So traumatised are they by the very people that they try to serve and save that they don’t know anymore how to get up in the morning and breathe without pissing off some activist, a minority community, or an endangered species of a rare marsupial. What started as America’s favourite past time – suing someone over something they did or didn’t do, suing someone else who thought that this idea was silly to begin with and then going and suing the entire legal system just to keep things animated – has now definitely blown out of proportions. Read more
Doing business is easy, but not in India. On the degree of being a difficult thing to do, business in India ranks right behind removing your own appendix without enough anaesthetic. Sure there may be government subsidies but that means dealing with government officials in the first place. Save having in-laws over for your honeymoon, nothing can be more unpleasant.
But fear not. I am experienced in the ways of at least this world. I have tackled numerous slimy officials, bribed many a clerk, sweet-talked an equal number of ‘babus’ and bought the wedding decorations for a few ministerial secretaries, and all that only before my morning tea today.
Read on then to your own fortunes. Here are things they don’t teach you at night school.
I have just come back from Spain, perhaps the most homophobic country in the world. Either that or they are all closet homosexuals with a deep-rooted insecurity and some sort of need to “fit in”.
Sounds rude right? Well it was all fine till I went for a bull fight, or, as they like to glamorously call it, a Corrida de Toro. I always knew the correlation between big cars and the penises of men who own them but this public drama of complex egos, this mayhem of the morons, this fiesta of fragile fools is something that could keep even Freud up and perplexed for a very long time. No other society in the world I can think of feels so desperate a need to prove their virility and power in a manner more degrading, self-degenerating, uncivilised and illogical. And all this under the blinding garb of tradition, honour and other such words that bullfighting enthusiasts obviously love to cite but have no clue to their meanings.
The term “Bull Fight” is only half true: that there is a bull involved. Outside of that, it isn’t much of a fight. Taking candy from a kid might be considered a stiffer challenge with higher betting odds, especially given how kids are nowadays, with cable TV and wrestling and what not. Bull-fighting, in comparison, is like driving with the seat belt not off but just a tad loose in a Styrofoam car. I think a mechanical bull ride could be more dangerous. This made even American football appear gruesome, forget ice hockey or rugby or worse yet, Aussie rules football. Read more
Like a mild rash in the nether regions, we have all got it at one point or another. At all odd hours, odd situations – “Hello, Good evening sir/ma’am, would you like a credit card/loan/phone connection…they are like spam in your mailbox except that unlike spam they arrive at the most inauspicious of occasions.
I remember reading somewhere that the telephone was invented about three decades or so after the bath tub (don’t ask me where I find such stuff). I sure as hell doubt its authenticity but the point made was very relevant. It said that for about thirty years you could step into a warm comfortable bath without the telephone going off! Read more
The world is full of places and institutions that we collectively refer to as the hospitality industry – bars, cafes, restaurants, hotels, motels – all are a dot on the hospitality map. Hospitality itself can be defined as the combination of an array of products (tangible) and a series of actions (intangible) which together help facilitate productive and effective employment of one’s time and also to make one feel welcome and at home.
So when we go and buy a meal or a glass of wine we are contributing to the hospitality industry in exchange for services that can and cannot be quantified. A room we hire is a certain size and we can hence calculate how much a hotel charges per square inch of space they rent out. The bottle of water they sell too has a similar measurable cost component. But what about a bed that is always made and the fact that at some places they buff-shine your shoes and arrange your clothes in neat folded piles? What about the steward who always greets you by your name and remembers your favourite dish and the way you like your drinks? There is no defined way of measuring the worth of all such gests and instances which although almost invisible are an intrinsic and important part of the hospitality product.
These are services and for a sceptic like me they remain the most desirable and yet the least offered part of the hospitality component. Are we, the people of an independent democratic republic, really being served?
India is (finally) shining. It may not seem like a complete even sheen but it sure does have a certain lustrous appeal about it. It’s the beam of a satiated belly, a good Indian meal downed with some good wine.
No, wait, I am not going to rant about Indian food and wine pairing for 2 reasons: I have bored too many too often with it and secondly, I charge for it.
What I am on about is how restaurants in the capital have upped the ante thus taking local competition to a whole new level. Having reached a certain sense of peak with respect to decor and dining props – cutlery, crockery, freshly flown-in fish et al – the stripes now belong to the one who can slickly and superbly pair off the food with some wine. Gone are the days of Punjabi Chinese and stale Sushi. The new places take every precaution to make sure that you get great food and superb service – supreme satisfaction. But they are still not cheap, who said anything about cheap.
So here is a list of restaurants which I feel are doing a fairly good job of choosing the right food and wine and then making sure that the two come together at the right time on the right table to culminate in unparalleled culinary delight, or big tips, whichever happens first or more often.