Indi’Go’ deli

Indigo (the restaurant) was my favourite place to dine at as I became a teenager. They served exotic Italian food (in an age when Little Italy and Trattoria were the only Italian restaurants), Hrithik Roshan (the then love of my life) ate there and it was ‘different’. My idea of success in life was the day I could eat at Indigo just like that (don’t curse me for low ambition, currently Nobu, London is the aim)

A Deli, is a place which sells cured meats, exotic cheeses and more by weight. On the side, it offers a dine-in experience mostly made up of sandwiches and salads (thanks Wikipedia). In all honesty, its an informal yet delicious dining experience. The Indigo Deli isn’t cheap but isn’t as hoitytoity as the Colaba restaurant and proves wonderful for Indigo fangirls like me. I get to see or buy my favorite cheeses, I get to feel the bustle while enjoying good food and well, its a nice ‘New Yorkish’ experience. Or was.

Monday evening, however, was a dampener. We walked in early, to get a table in their dining section. We  managed to get a table in the deli area because it was quite empty, but I asked for a table in the dining section. I was told the section was closed. That’s it . No reason. The Bawa guessed it could open at a later time and he asked why it was closed.
‘It only opens at 7.’

My watch said it was 6.56 pm, but before I could say anything, I was told, the section was only by reservation only.

‘Can I reserve a table now?’

‘Its booked up ‘

Wow. What a way! The staff is so well versed with the seating chart that she doesn’t even want to check before telling me that the seating was full. Now, if this was a Saturday or a Friday, I’d believe her, but it was a Monday. The Bawa pulls a lawyer and waits a while before saying that he just called their landline and was told that there was a table.

The lady, in all her earnestness says that that was because the section opened at 7.30. Wow! The time changed and she knew it without anyone telling her. Talk about telepathy.

Was there a need to lie? By the time the manager came (upon our calling of course), I decided I did not want to  eat there anymore. The manager was sweet, well behaved and extremely apologetic. She did try to cover up for the goof up and I give her points for that, but the damage was done. Probably, with my fatku jeans and crumpled shirt the waitress had thought I wasn’t worth a table. If I was sporting a Louis vuitton bag, I would get better treatment, I am sure.

Because in truth eating at Indigo (the restaurant), is often like being in Goa during the X’mas season. Unless you’re well dressed and look like you deserve a table, no bhao. I don’t mind that because well, Indigo is quite formal. But the reason I thought the Akerkars started a Deli was to cater to a crowd less formal and hence there would be no snootiness. But today, I was mildly shocked and massively annoyed.

If you lie to me blatantly and point fingers and loudly bitch about me, I’m taking my business elsewhere. You deserve my money if you can be nice to me.

Serving great food alone isn’t enough. Being kind while doing so is what brings a customer back. With their lies and more lies, Indigo Deli lost itself a customer. But more importantly my evening was almost ruined. Thank God we walked out!

PS: Sherine, I know you wanted to eat there… I apologise on their behalf.

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‘Stray’ into my heart

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I grew up with a strong desire to bring a dog home. My dad, a dog-lover, always put his foot down and said no. It always broke my heart. He did get home our lovely cat. But he always refused to keep a dog.
We had three dogs guarding my uncle’s home -two Dobermans and a stray desi dog that dad had randomly adopted.

While the Dobermans were lovely, the loyalty of ‘Namu’ was something else. He would sense my dad’s arrival even when our car was more than a few kilometers away.

Namu died. So did the Dobermans We built a small shrine in their memory.

A puppy was lost near my building. I fed him a few biscuits and milk. He had distinctive spots on his body. Two months later, the puppy was all grown up and had made a home in the neighbouring park. He would recognise me. And walk with me whenever I passed by the park. A few biscuits were enough to make him my friend for life.

These two dogs and many more, convinced me that the so-called mongrels in this city are actually sharper than most pedigree dogs. One day, I told myself, I will adopt one of them.

And that day did come. I found Bono. He’s the apple of my eye. And when people ask me what breed he is, I proudly say he is a stray. Yes, people love expressing shock that I chose a stray over a lab or a pug, but the truth is, Bono chose me.

When people talk about stray dogs being a nuisance, I often find myself defending the four-legged ‘rasta’farians. If they are cared for, and if they are vaccinated, they add value to the community. Five gardens has strays that are regularly fed and vaccinated and they guard the neighbourhood. They don’t bark or chase regular walkers but if they think someone is dubious, they warn people with barks and howls.

This year, Twestival is supporting the NGO Welfare of Stray Dogs (WSD). The organisation works towards vaccinating, sterlising and helping the dogs of Mumbai. You can read about their work at http://www.wsdindia.org

Check out http://WWW.Mumbai.twestival.com for more info. They need volunteers, donations and more. Do your bit. My dog and his relatives would be extremely grateful to you.

Room for Rent In Kandivali

Hi All, 

I’m helping out my friend Michelle. She’s looking for a room mate, and mind you if you get her as your room-mate you are maha lucky. 

She’s super cool. As is the flat. The rent is 7K, no deposit and you just need to pay 7k broker’s fee. It’s a steal! So email her right now: punkpolkadots@gmail.com

If you know someone who’s looking, send them the info right away 🙂

Can Love Be Arranged?

Love just happens, it can never be arranged- a very drunk A to a sober B who is getting to know guys through arranged marriage.

So B is a decent looking, intelligent, well qualified girl who’s also got a decent job. She explains, ‘I’ve played the field and none of my boyfriends would ever get my parents’ approval. That headache, I do not want. So let them choose, right?’
‘But why?’ C, who’s been quiet so far asks, ‘ are you that desperate to get hitched?’
‘No yaar! There’s no reason to say no to the process, is there?’

Now, that’s a conversation I overheard. You can call me a voyeur buy it’s a topic I have been pondering about for a long long time. I am a single 24 year old. My parents are fairly liberal, but they want to ‘assist’ me in meeting Mr. Right.

‘Beta, you haven’t met anyone and how many dateable guys do you meet anyway? Give this a shot. Don’t wait for the last train out!’ My father said to me one evening. There was no rational argument out of that one. I spend 12 hours at work (nah! Not going to date anyone at work!) and rest of the time I spend with my family or friends. There’s a slim chance of meeting Mr. Right in these circles. So this mad writer, novelist and a content manager decided to let the family look for matches. I won’t deny having interacted with a few ‘prospects’ and I’m not surprised that most of the profiles ‘forwarded’ to me have left me pondering (now that’s what I do the best!)

Most of those opting for arranged marriage are in it because it’s something they have to do. ‘You sort your career and the next thing expected is settling down. So yeah it’s the logical thing to do,’ a friend confesses.

Another thing about arranged marriages is that the love doesn’t come right at the beginning. The hopeless romantic in me wants to believe that you look for love and discover it with your partner. But I can’t help but wonder, how does someone’s caste, height, salary or designation help define this complex emotion called love!?
‘They don’t define it but are the practical things that you seek commonality on. Marriage is better handelable if these things are clear. Don’t forget that you’re deliberately looking for things in common, only to make the process of falling in love simpler.’ says a voice who’s been happily married and her marriage is part arranged part love.

My question is how do you know what you’re looking for? Isn’t that the fun part of falling in love, opposites attract, being completely surprised by the emotion?

‘That stuff works in movies. The opposite soon starts irritating you. You have a million fights and before you know it the relationship starts to emotionally drain you out!’ this voice recently broke up, so leave the bitterness be.
Despite the bitterness, the above voice has a logical point. ‘You could opt for either. There’s no guarantee of it working. But in arranged marriage you are a bit closer to reality.’
I disagree. Proof: ‘Wanted: a fair, good looking bride. Min: post graduate, ready to move to Australia temporarily.’ ‘seeking allegiance for a good looking, highly educated bride. ‘

Okay, so if she’s fair, you’re more compatible or if he earns more than 10 lakh a year you guys will make it to your 25th wedding anniversary? How is that close to reality in any way? Besides, in love marriage you probably know the flaws and problems of the partner. In arranged marriage, it’s all disguised.
‘My cousin got engaged to a guy, spent a lot of time with him and then found out that the guy would get fits regularly. The family denied it even when they were confronted. Obviously she broke it off! I feel in arranged marriages, a lot is left to surprise to ensure a good match doesn’t slip away!’ says another friend who knows arranged marriage is not for her.

‘Arranged marriage happens through family contacts and stuff. So, people vouch for the guy or the girl. The family is involved and there are more than two brains who give the relationship a thought!’ another friend argues.

‘Isn’t it better though that the two minds who are involved only think it through?’ The first friend retorted. And exactly at this point, I realized that this debate could go on forever. I was nowhere closer to finding out which one was a better option and I found myself standing right at the same point I was when I started writing this article.

In conclusion, it doesn’t matter whether you opt for arranged or love marriage as long as you end up making a balanced decision. ‘I have seen  enough love and arranged marriages fail simply because of the idea of happily ever after. Forget that nonsense, accept the flaws and smile for what you’ve got and you will manage a happy marriage.’ Concludes my grandma whose arranged marriage has lasted a good 56 years!

Are Relationships About Love Anymore?

Location: Café Leopold

Time: Around 11 pm

Three girls obviously over-dressed for Leopold’s sitting in one corner. One look at them and you’d know they wanted to go some place fancy but ended up coming to this backpacker central in Mumbai. Glasses clinking, one of the girls’ phone rings. She goes out to take it.

‘That was my boyfriend. He’s so possessive! I am sick of him!’

I was a bit taken aback with that confession. This was the first time I was meeting her and I’d been introduced just about 15 minutes ago. Anyway, the friend with whom she came asked her a bit more about the situation. Turns out the girl had randomly met this guy through common friends and they got slightly infatuated with each other. ‘Four years is too long for an infatuation but!’

The guy was possessive, this girl didn’t know how to break up and that’s why she was in this ‘relationship’ with him. Of course, towards the end of the night we were figuring out some plans for next week and this girl volunteers her boyfriend to drive us around etc. I couldn’t believe it. Of course, me and my friend both asked her why she wasn’t breaking up. Her excuse was that it was ‘Convenient’ and she didn’t know how to break it off.

Convenient. This guy was of a different religion, so no future. He happened to meet her and she happened to end up with him. She hated that he was concerned about her and she says its convenient. For who?

Can she imagine what’d happen to the guy when she dumped him after 4 long years? If there is no future, why get into a relationship anyway?

Is this what our urban relationships are all about? Convenience, ease and boredom. How disrespectful is it to your partner when you publicly acknowledge your hatred for him in the same sentence that you acknowledge them as your partner?

People are dumping the ‘loves-of-their-lives’ for trivial reasons and I wont judge them. At least they’re honest with their partners about their feelings.

Mumbai Girl Speaks

I love Mumbai for many reasons but one of major reasons is that I can be out at anytime of the day without worrying about security. Somehow, many of my friends who’ve lived in different cities especially up north say that Mumbai is designed for the independent woman.

I’ve explored the streets of Mumbai at every odd hour of the day. I’ve lost track of time thanks to an engrossing conversation on the Shivaji Park katta at 4 am. I’ve walked alone after sundown and if some guy tried acting funny, all I’ve had to do is confront and create a commotion, a handful of friendly Mumbaites have always rushed to help. That’s the beauty of this city. Every person is your friendly neighborhood hero.

Every once in a while though you see how some guy or a group of guys acted smart. Be it the indecent behavior at Gateway or the New Years Eve fiasco at the Marriott last year, these instances almost always end up with fingers pointing to the girls. ‘They were skimpily dressed,’, ‘They spoke rather brashly’, or ‘they were rude and dressed suggestively’. Are you kidding us? It’s like a murderer saying, ‘He irritated the shit out of me, so I just shot him.’

No matter what clothes I wear, nobody has the right to behave in such a disgusting manner. I want the freedom to wear what I want to. Wearing a salwar kameez will not help keep these pervs under control.

Why am I writing this? Recently I saw a man sitting right under my house and something about him was strange.  As soon as I walked past him, the guy started to walk with me and suddenly came real close and tried to talk to me. My instinct caused me to yell at him. He didn’t stop walking behind me. He actually followed me to a cab! I got in the cab and got on my way. See the other thing about Bombay is that you have to go on and get to work. Bombay doesn’t wait for anybody, not even for a girl who’d like to beat up a puny little guy who was unnecessarily following her.

Saturday mornings are beautiful. I wake up slightly late and laze around a little before heading out to walk in Parsi colony. At 7 am the place is swarming with fitness freaks, but at 9 am on a sunny Saturday morning, there’s just about a handful of people. I like my solitude (yeah so nobody laughs when I break into a momentary jig to ‘Desi Girl’ on my iPod). But lately five gardens is sort of a psycho central. I keep an eye out for any funny things especially since some git tried to grab my phone and run.  The weirdo who’d tried to talk to me, was actually standing at the corner and followed me for an entire round before I walked too fast for him and got home. The next day the same guy is waiting under my building.

I’d screamt at him, given him angry stares and yet the guy kept following me. Time had come to tell Dad and then a police complaint was made. The guy was new to Mumbai and apparently couldn’t deal with the culture shock. But is that an excuse to be acting all weird? He probably didn’t mean any harm, sure, but does that mean you tolerate someone following you around? Do you continue to tolerate a freak who tries to talk to you even after you have scream at him?

Does a culture shock disillusion you from identifying the appropriate from the inappropriate? How many times are we going to discount these guys for their lack of respect for women? Whether they are in a culture shock or they suffer from humungous egos, nothing justifies acting odd with a woman. And we Mumbai girls will not let these losers dictate the way we dress or the time we get out. We will hunt you guys down and kick your ass- Mumbai style!

Twittering Upto A Revolution

26/11 has changed many people forever. Those who have survived it, those who escaped it and got lucky, those who lost loved ones, those who came face to face with the terrorists, those who were reporting on location and then there were those who monitored the news closely and kept contributing to an online newsfeed with timely news reports, analyses and opinions.

I was on twitter and I sincerely want to thank the community for using this unique medium to create awareness about the situation across the globe. The phenomena brought forth the power of citizen journalism. Of course, it had its pitfalls too. Rumors can spread quickly etc. But then, think about it. Those living abroad and concerned about the situation in Mumbai could constantly keep in touch via this medium.

These twitter feeds were being used by the international media as well for the speed and precision with which it functioned.

Unfortunately, the one thought that hasn’t been letting me rest is that the terrorists’ aides could have been monitoring twitter too. The TV channels couldn’t stop giving out key information about the NSG operations at the three locations, which I am sure was being conveyed to them. The terrorists were equipped with SAT phones and blackberries. Did I unknowingly help those b*stards?

But I think some people on twitter deserve a mention here.

Right from the list of emergency contact numbers to the victim names, Asfaq was constantly mobilising info to help out concerned individuals across the globe. Your contribution is immense. Thank you

www.twitter.com/asfaq

He heard a blast like sound in his south-Mumbai residence and immediately put a question on twitter. His tweets on my phone made me realise the magnitude of what happened at 10.30 pm on the night of 26/11; thank you, Gaurav.

www.twitter.com/gsik

Lives abroad, but didn’t lose touch with the city while it withstood the worst terror attacks ever. Used to be a student at my Uni. Thanks for interesting reads you put up, Shriansh.

www.twitter.com/shriansh

I don’t know this person, they followed me and I followed them. They’ve been putting up amazing articles that give you an indepth read into the situation.

www.twitter.com/crypticvalentin

This person has been speaking of communal harmony and just been supportive of the sentiments of the Mumbaikars. It didn’t matter that they’re far away in LA, US.

www.twitter.com/goldenheart

He got together with his friends and organised a candle light vigil at Carter Road. Thank you.

www.twitter.com/ajeshh

These are just a few of them. There are a lot more. These guys make me believe that our country has people who think and will not be scared to run the country if they need to.

At a time where me and billions of Mumbaikars were distraught about the terror struck in their city, seeing these guys constantly putting up info, selflessly, was heart warming. I am glad I could put in my two bits. And as I write, there are about 20 tweets going up under the #mumbai tag every minute. Bravo guys! Bravo!