March 27, 2008

Night Bites

Nine-to-five days, an evening with friends, dinner by 10 and to bed. For most of the week, that’s my routine. Yeah, B-O-R-I-N-G, I know. But I like to think I’m as responsible to my work as to my health. Besides, what are the weekends for, if not for upsetting my weekday sked?

Midnight Express

But late nights don’t mean I pop a frozen pizza into the microwave. My inner diva demands style, even if it is the middle of the night. My gang of friends and I are familiar with every 24×7 coffee shop in town, but when we want a post-party meal in effervescent surroundings, we now head for the all-you-can-eat Midnight Express buffet at Lido.

Not leftovers from the day’s main meals, or tired burgers, the Midnight Express actually has live counters, even at that time of the night. There are uttapams, appams, dosas and pasta served up fresh and piping hot. On my last visit, I also dug into Kozhi Varutha, a cumin-flavoured chicken curry, dum ka murgh, kadhai paneer, karai kudi urlai roast, zaman dal and jeera pulao.

For dessert, there was mud cake, semiya payasam, pineapple upside-down cake and chakri pongal.

A true midnight feast. Those girls in the Enid Blyton books had no idea what they were talking about.

The Midnight Express at Lido, Hotel Ista, 1/1, Swami Vivekananda Road, Ulsoor, Bangalore 560008. Tel: 25558888. Available on Fridays and Saturdays, from midnight till 2.30 am. Price: Rs 450 all inclusive per person.

I Could’ve Danced All Night

All I wanted to do was take off to the cold climes of the Himalayas. I, the original Ms Enthusiastic, was mugged of my zest by the muggy weather. But my gang has been trying hard to lure me back to life. And last week, they managed to do it.

Flag's

How? Well, they picked me up from work, put me into a cool, cool car and whisked me off to Flag’s. I said to myself, ‘Blah. Just another restaurant’. But boy, was I wrong! The place was transformed by a special dance night. Salsa experts Jango and Renata livened up their dance lessons and performances with their super chemistry and crowd-pleasing style.

The meal, although meant to be incidental on such an occasion, couldn’t really be taken that lightly either. More than 200 dishes from across the world means it took even world weary me a long time to decide. But the variety lifted my spirits. They went a notch higher as my gal pals pulled me to the improvised dance floor.

Owner Jatin Nangia ensured that our happy hours were truly happy by extending them through the night. The ‘buy one, get one free’ actually applied to all the drinks - cocktails, mocktails, spirits, wines and even champagne. Lively music, spunky couples and sparkling wine to go with the conversation. My glass of bubbly runneth over.

My enthusiasm won’t flag in a hurry now.

Flag’s, B-1, Amarchand Mansion, 16 Madam Cama Road , Colaba, Mumbai; Tel: 22828200, 9221700748; E-mail: jatin.nangia@flagsindia.in. Salsa Nites every Thursday. Happy Hours from 6-8pm on other weekdays. Meal for two (without drinks) costs Rs 1,000 and up.

Kairi Kamaal

Once upon a time, my gang of girls nearly had a falling out. In three parts. Over nine gossamer-sheer yards. Cool and yummy as a long drink of aam panna.

Raw Mango

First, one of us spied these one-of-a-kind Chanderi sarees draped across a Dilli Haat stall, near closing time – and instead of picking up pronto, she stopped to call us and missed the best buy.

No matter. The next day we pounced on the young designer behind the Raw Mango label. For these were no ordinary sarees — NIFT grad Sanjay Garg played havoc with the traditional Chanderi palette, convincing the weavers to colour them contemporary. We dithered for hours. Everyone’s patience was shot as pink as my favourite silk by the time we’d bought and booked. In the bag: a bold banding of black, red and, hold your breath, sexy silver (for the bride-to-be); a rose-and-gold (me, me, me!); and caramel partnering cocoa for our ecru-ist artist pal.

But we’d all three fallen heart over heels for that one — sinuous teal green and chocolate stripes, looking amazingly like blown-up-barcode. Weeks later, we were at each other’s throats again. Why did none of us have the presence of mind to scoop it up — at least we could have shared? The Raw Mango man doesn’t retail in Delhi. And we had no idea when he would turn up in town next.

My inbox just lucked out, though. Because I’ve got this invite to his three-day exhibit, starting today, aptly called ‘Kairi’. Starring those same heavenly soft, head-turning sarees. Dupattas and yardage too.

Go drool. Drape and twirl. Wrap yourself in a sheer sliver of summer.

Just bring anyone but your best bud along.

Kairi, Shilp Haat, 1st floor, Rajiv Gandhi Handicrafts Bhawan, Baba Kharak Singh Marg, New Delhi. From: 27-29 March, 11 am to 7 pm. Contact: Sanjay Garg, ph: 9873191816 Prices: Rs 1800 onwards.
Wild Mango also retails in Mumbai, at Bombay Electric, 1 Reay House, BEST Marg, Colaba; ph: 22876276; bombayelectric.in; and Melange, 33 Altamount Road; ph: 23534492. In Delhi, select pieces are occasionally to be found at Kamala - The Craft Shop (of the Crafts Council of India), Rajiv Gandhi Handicrafts Bhawan, Gallery 1, Baba Kharak Singh Marg; ph: 55969600, 23743322.

Lap It Up

A gizmo junkie, that’s me. I was first in queue to pick up the red iPod Nano or the 7 Mega Pixel slim Digicam. So I just had to check out the latest laptops by HP and Lenovo that perfectly blend technology and fashion.

Laptops

Not for me any old boring notebook, encased in stodgy black. The limited edition notebook series from HP is hip enough to have its own line of matching clothes, designed by Shantanu & Nikhil! And brand ambassador Soha Ali Khan is not the only one who loves Lenovo’s little beauty: I’ve fallen for it too.

Here’s what I liked about them:

HP Pavilion dv2800 Artist Edition Notebook PC , Rs 53,990
Tech Specs: Integrated webcam. HP QuickPlay launches DVDs, music, and photos at the touch of a button.
Trendy take: Simply gorgeous casing in off-white, with a zany design. I could do some serious gaming on this as well as my powerpoint presentations.

HP Pavilion DV6800 Notebook in Thrive Imprint, Rs 54,990
Tech Specs: Widescreen display. 256MB of graphics memory. Integrated webcam and great speakers. High definition HD-DVD drive. One touch media button for faster access.
Trendy Take: Tres elegant. Loved the way it can become my complete, portable multimedia and entertainment centre.

Lenovo IdeaPadU110, Rs 80,000
Tech Specs: Frameless display for better viewing. Shuttle key, touch-sensitive media controls, and Dolby Home Theater sound.
Trendy take: Practically weightless, could fit into my large tote. Textured, bright-red lid. Great for the girl on the go.

Choices, choices.

HP: Delhi: The Computer Park, A2A & A2B,Raja House,56 Nehru Place, New Delhi. Phone: 26416376.
Mumbai: Avi Electronics, Ground Floor,Bharat Bhavan,Mumbai,711 Linking Road Khar (W), Phone: 26460296.
Bangalore: Computer Planet, 119, 1St Floor, 5Th Avenue, Brigade Road, Bangalore. Phone: 25582919.

Lenovo: Delhi: Landmark Infonet Pvt Ltd, 20, Regal Building, C P, ND. Phone: 41501095.
Mumbai: Amar Technologies and Information Systems Pvt Ltd, Shanti Niwas, Shop No 6, Dr Ambedkar Road, Dadar East. Phone: 24113184.
Bangalore: Caddons Computer Services Pvt Ltd, # 3350 K R Road, BSK 2nd Stage. Phone: 26762986.

March 25, 2008

Soul Music

The end of the financial year’s coming up and no one’s happier than me. The last-minute tax-saving measures will be history, finally. And now that I’ve got used to living within a budget, I can just as well blow the April surplus at Soulscape, the ‘furniture and more’ store I’ve just discovered at Indiranagar.

Soulspace

It seems to have something for every mood. Whether I’m going for clean and minimal or looking for something opulent, Soulscape has something I fancy.

Conversation pieces from all over the world. Wood from South-East Asia and Europe. Wallpapers from Brussels and Paris. Recliners from Singapore and sofa sets from Italy. And, totally tailor-made for lazy lie-ins, bedroom units that are fixed up to allow me to eat, watch the telly and work on my laptop (besides sleeping and chilling, of course).

End-of-the-financial-year pangs, though, warn me to set my sights lower. So I’m glad I’ve also spotted the artefacts from the Metropolitan Museum, New York. I love the 19th century replica jewellery boxes, the red shoe bookmarks and, most of all, the Color Magic desk clocks. As each second ticks by, the colours change, covering the full palette in one minute.

Now if only the countdown to the end of FY07-08 would be as pleasurable.

Soulscape. 967, 12th Main, HAL 2nd stage, Indiranagar, Bangalore 560008. Tel: 25211875, 9341368324. Sofa: Rs 90,000, dining table: Rs 1 lakh, centre table: Rs 20,000, bed units: Rs 65,000, recliners: Rs 45,000 (all baseline prices), Color Magic desk clock: Rs 3,500, red shoe bookmark: Rs 1,000.

Choo-mantar!

You know how I can’t resist handbags. There’s a certain enchantment about getting just the right one in the right material and the perfect size. But sometimes, I want something more than all the basics in place. I want a bag that speaks volumes rather than just holding volumes.

Jimmy Choo Art Bags

And guess what? I think I’ve found what I’m looking for! I just had a sneak preview of Jimmy Choo’s Spring/Summer ‘08 collection and fell in love with both the limited edition arty clutches that Choo president and founder Tamara Mellon got artist Richard Phillips to collaborate on.

Both are so delish, I really can’t make up my mind. Could you help me choose? Both are inspired by Phillips’s pop-art. Both sport sensual, haunting images that could be from fashion magazines of the ’60s and ’70s. Both ARE quite eye-catching, with the art emphasising women’s eyes. The one inspired by Phillip’s painting Nuclear (1996-1997) is rather bling, with shimmery highlights on a bold portrait that mimics the warm orange shadows and cyan colour tones of old-time photographs. The other one has Riot (1998) at its core. The hypnotic faces of four young women featured in an old eye-shadow ad with a prism of colour rippling around their spidery black lashes.

The designs are available as larger totes as well. But the two clutches have me in their clutches.
Convenience meets art. An easy-to-fasten clasp. And an easy-on-the-eyes design. No wonder I’m mesmerised.

Jimmy Choo Limited Edition Art Bags will be available from April at the Jimmy Choo boutique, The Galleria, Nariman Point, Mumbai; Tel: 30277070; Price: Starts at Rs 20,600.

Viva Mexicana!

Getting a man to agree with you is next to impossible, so I was pleasantly surprised when my other half willingly signed up to accompany me to a food review. Was it my new perfume, the dress, or the killer chandelier topaz earrings? Fat chance. It was the enticing prospect of a plump, juicy steak, picked off the new menu at Rodeo, one of the capital’s oldest steakhouses.

Rodeo

Rodeo has been around since 1994 (yeah, it’s been a long time) and what keeps people going back to this Mexican restaurant for more is their constant revision of the menu (every six months). So even though they have a huge bank of dishes, they introduce only about 30 at any given point. The latest changes have resulted in a dazzling array of savouries and sweets — great on the eye, and the palate.

We began with Glazed Tex-Mex wings (chicken wings barbecued in a glazed sauce with a hint of honey), and Camarones Fritos (fried shrimps) with a crunchy peach sauce; the combination was refreshing. And then moved on to Camarones Itzae (shrimps marinated in balsamic vinegar, Mexican chillies and parsley sauce, and served with rice). Steak lovers like my spouse can close their eyes and order Fille De Barbacua, a Cajun- flavoured tenderloin steak barbecue in a peppery Chile Colorado sauce. This steak is a mean version of the regular one and worth every bit(e). But the highlight of the meal, surprisingly, since we are happy meat eaters, was the Grilled Cottage Cheese Tian, a paneer steak with a layer of spinach and tomato petal served with bell pepper and a cashew nut sauce. I just couldn’t get enough.

Before I forget, my feeble attempts at resisting dessert came to naught when a flambeed Coffee Brulee, a delicious twist on the standard Creme Brulee, was placed in front of my nose.

As always, I succumbed.

Rodeo, A-12 Connaught Place. Phone: 011-23713780/81; MGF Metropolitan Mall, 3rd Floor, MG Road, Gurgaon, Phone: 0124-4012198/99; Meal for two without alcohol: Rs 1,000.

Summer Sojourn

Summer-sky blue. And sea-deep blue. Those are the colours of the Mediterranean in May. Vibrant Majolica ceramics. Gorgeous Murano glass. Turkish-blue tiling on my favourite mosque in Istanbul.

WOW Italy

Yes, we’re going on a summer holiday. All through Italy, via Istanbul. Just us girls!

Sumitra Senapaty, founder of Women on Wanderlust (WoW), will fly the gang out of Delhi at crack of dawn. Arriving early in Istanbul to hit the bazaar with hours to spare. (No smirking, scowling boyfriends coming between us and the shopping spree! That’s why it’s women-only, see?) A belly dance over dinner later. (Again, no possessive tugs at wandering eyeballs necessary!)

Next day, we’ll come, see, conquer Rome. Toss a coin in the Trevi fountain before admiring the Vatican, the Colosseum, the Sistine Chapel.

Siena, Montepulciano, San Gimignano and Pisa next. Wine and cheese tasting in Tuscan farmhouses en route. Sampling cultural Florence, from Duomo to Uffizi.

A week out, we’ll wake in ‘Bologna the Fat’, to indulge purses and palates alike. And fall asleep in dreamy Venice. Doge’s palace and Basilica, a peek into the Murano factory, before drifting down in a gondola.

Reserving stamina for the grand finale: fashionable Milan.

Spin the compass. And say ‘Ciao, Italia!’

WOW in Italy: 10 days/9 nights, from 13 May, ex Delhi. Package price: Rs 1,06,000 per person (twin share), inclusive of airfares (ex Delhi, including taxes), Italian and Turkish visa fees, overnight stays, entrance fees to key attractions, and all transfers, meals and excursions listed in detailed itinerary. Transportation from other Indian cities extra. Contact: Sumitra Senapaty; ph: +91 9891655054; email: me@wowsumitra.com; www.wowsumitra.com.

Trendy readers get an exclusive discount of Rs 5,000 when making a deposit (50% of the trip costs) to hold their place by March 30th.

March 20, 2008

No Sweat

Some things, I can do for myself. Like sign up for membership to the hippest fitness club in town. Psyche myself to attend everyday like I have a role in the next Nic Cage action movie. Yet, when I see my reflection in patchy tee and baggy pants in those unforgiving all-around mirrors in the workout studio, I want to run home to Mama.

Fitness & Fairies

My workout partner suggested I run to Fitness & Fairies instead. So I did — and, oh boy, am I glad. Ballerina-choreographer Yana Lewis has just set up her store for active clothes for the studio and the street. Sourced from England, the US and Colombia, these clothes are manufactured using new technology. The fabrics do not just absorb moisture, they actually accelerate evaporation.

There are low-slung tracks for the mornings when I feel like a jog by Ulsoor Lake. Slinky black catsuits for when I want to stretch in Lewis’ pilates workshop. Hot pink leotards for the haute gym. And two-toned mats — olive-pink and Prussian blue-magenta — for when I want to touch my inner yogi.

And then there’s the funwear: Khaki green palazzo pants (as suitable for the lotus position as the lounge), long swirling skirts and funky jewellery. For the budding ballerina in the family, there are cute ballet frocks and shoes too.

I love me. In these clothes, I love my shape too.

Fitness & Fairies, G¬2 Casa Capitol, ground floor, 17 Wood Street, Ashoknagar, Bangalore 560 025. Tel: 99805 25575. www.fitnessandfairies.com. Prices from Rs 200 to Rs 4000.

Paradise Found

I’ve always liked the relaxed vibe of the Shack. And although I didn’t think it could possibly get more chilled, the place just dropped a few degrees very recently. What’s the secret behind this newly notched cool quotient? Well, it’s like this: On its fifth anniversary, the Hawaiian Shack expanded ops to two more floors. In memory of the late Shack founder Romy Lalwani, the new restaurant section is called Romy’s Paradise. With a separate entrance and playing very different music from the Shack, it’s where the younger, zanier lot seems to be heading these days.

Romy's Paradise

When we’ve had our fill of retro, my gang of gals and I can come to a more commercial sound — from Bollywood and R&B to hip-hop. And although the decor has a rather rustic feel to it, complete with a faux red-tiled roof ceiling, there’s some other remarkable stuff too. A DJ elevator that moves between the two floors, drum-shaped tables and chairs and a collection of miniature musical instruments — from sitars and guitars to veenas and violins — mounted on the white stucco walls!

I tripped on the starters — especially the Chicken in Hawaiian Sauce and the Shanghai Paneer. And the signature cocktails and shooters put me in the spirit to turn dancing queen in a trice.

It may not exactly be the Taj Mahal, but when you’re kicking back with a long drink after a long week, you’ll be tempted to say, ‘If there’s Paradise on earth, it’s here, it’s here, it’s here’.

Romy’s Paradise, 2nd Floor, Hawaiian Shack, 16th Road, Khar (West), Mumbai; Tel: 226058753; Prices: Free entry for girls from Sunday to Thursday; On weekends, it’s Rs 400 for single girls, Rs 800 for couples and stags. Starters from Rs 150, Cocktails from Rs 250, beer pint Rs 100.

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