Friday, January 29, 2010

There's Always a First Time!

Confession time, people. I was a Mainland China virgin until the past weekend.

For the uninitiated, there’s always been the Indian Chinese served at most Chinese restaurants in India, and the Chinese served at Mainland China. I had never been to the restaurant because numerous people had told me that the Chinese they serve is rather bland, authentic Chinese so to say. And we all know that Indians love Indian Chinese. We have Chinese dishes that even the Chinese aren’t aware of! The most popular example being Chicken Manchurian, I think.

But I got convinced by a colleague to try the lunch buffet at Mainland China, and after the experience I’ve been wondering why I hadn’t been to the restaurant before!

Mainland China has two restaurants in Calcutta - one (the original) at Gurusaday Road & a new one at South City Mall, Calcutta’s newest hip destination. Both restaurants are HUGE. They also have a private dining facility at Silver Arcade on EM Bypass. I went to the one at South City. The ambience is serene, with just the right amount of lighting for a fine dining experience. The décor consists mainly of beige walls & ceiling, and cut-out wood.

And the food? It’s classy stuff. It retains the authenticity of Chinese cuisine, yet is spicy enough to tingle the Indian palate. The buffet spread consisted of a soup, LOVELY dim sums (I was going to make an entire meal of dim sums until I realized I didn't want to end up paying almost 500 bucs for dim sums alone!), chicken wings in Hunan sauce, chicken noodles, ginger fried rice (white with a hint of ginger, not the typical fried rice but very nice), a chicken entrée, one lamb and 3 types of fish (prawns, crabs & regular fish).

I didn’t check what was on offer for vegetarians, so excuse me s'il vous plaît!

My only grouse with the buffet spread was that they had so many fish dishes on offer and only one chicken & one lamb. But then, I live in Calcutta so I should’ve been prepared for the fish onslaught. Just that it seems a little unfair :(

The desserts….were awesome too! Strawberry mousse, Strawberry ice-cream, Vanilla ice-cream with darsaan (an ass-kicking combo), and tiny little white jelly-like cubes (kind of like the petit fours of Candies) that had something to do with almonds & were drizzled with orange sauce!!

I was truly in Chinese food paradise as we stretched our lunch to approximately 2 hours.
For those who might be interested, Mainland China serves lunch from 12.45PM - 3.30 PM & dinner from 7.30PM - 11.30PM. The lunch buffet costs Rs 325 (or Rs 350, I'm not sure) + taxes on weekdays & Rs 425 (or Rs 435) + taxes on weekends (in Calcutta that is. Prices in other cities may vary).

They do serve alcohol & accept credit cards. They have their own website, so you can check out their menu online. Their telephone nos. are 64578361/ 2422 5330/31/32/33 (South City Mall) & 22837964/65/66 / 32511257 (Gurusaday Road).

Mainland China is a classy place and it doesn't end at the food. They have superior service - efficient, prompt, attentive & helpful. That’s very different from most restaurants in Calcutta where one often finds waiters who are clueless about their own dishes, rude & act like they're doing you the biggest favor on earth by serving you!

When you go to Mainland China - or the next time you go to Mainland China - order the darsaan with Vanilla ice-cream for dessert. Vanilla has always been the real McCoy of ice-creams, and the darsaan is sweet & it’ll stick to your teeth and make you feel like a kid again :)

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Do You Agree With Maryse?

Is this the news that men all over the world have been waiting to hear?

A prominent French Psychologist, Maryse Vaillant, has claimed in her book that extra-marital affairs are good for a marriage and can actually improve the marriage. Therefore men should stop being castigated for being serial womanizers and having extra-marital affairs. Needless to say the book has run into a lot of controversies.

Vaillant argues that men cheat on their wives because they need breathing space (and not because they don’t love them any longer), and that fidelity is a “cultural” and not a “natural” concept.

Well, I do agree with her argument but not with her act of justifying infidelity, or “rehabilitating it”, in her words.

The fact is we’re biologically not meant to be monogamous. We’re very similar to animals in this regard, and animals don’t stick to one mating partner. Men especially are genetically programmed to mate with as many partners as they can - it’s the whole theory about evolution and the male trying to spread his genes as far & wide as he can. So I do agree that fidelity is a “cultural” rather than a “natural” concept – we are “conditioned” to be loyal, we’re not innately loyal. However, marriage is a cultural concepts too so if men intend to get married - which most of them do at some point or the other - they should be willing to live up to the commitments that come with marriage as well.

It’s also true that most who cheat claim they did so because they needed breathing space, which they didn’t get in their marriage/relationship or because of the boredom that had set in after years of being together. But I feel the way out of this should be a healthy discussion with your partner and not infidelity. And if it’s boredom that one needs to address, the couple should try to spice up their love & sex lives - do small romantic things that will make their partner happy, try out new things in bed etc. If nothing works, they should seek professional help.

So yes, I agree that fidelity is completely a cultural concept but saying that infidelity is good for a marriage is a lame excuse for not wanting/being able to live up to the commitment one makes. And trying to “re-habilitate” fidelity is like asking women to put up with more shit in life. After all, men are never OK with their wives having a sexual relationship with other men, are they?

Come to think of it, we’re not very different from animals at all in this regard.

What do you feel - do you agree with Maryse?

Friday, January 15, 2010

Are We All Really Idiots?

I just recently got around to watching 3 Idiots. Frankly, I wasn’t too excited about the movie despite the hype surrounding it. The star cast and the Aamir Khan - Kareena Kapoor pairing were not enough to make me want to watch the movie.

I’m just not a big fan of campus movies anymore. It’s a world and a life I’ve left way behind - one that I cherish and look back at fondly but one I’ve outgrown nonetheless. And I think real life is what happens after college - when you’re left to meet the challenges of life on your own, when you have real responsibilities and must live up to them, when your survival is in your own hands. So I took my own sweet time to watch 3 Idiots and honestly, I wouldn’t have felt sorry even if I’d let it pass.

I found it to be a very mediocre movie and definitely not worthy of being the highest grossing Bollywood movie ever. I didn’t not like it - it had its share of funny moments…the ‘balatkaar’ speech, the scene where Rancho mixes up all the question papers b/c the professor doesn’t know who is who, the scene where Raju tells the professor how an induction motor starts, and I liked the Wangdu twist at the end. But the entire vacuum cleaner scene and the fact that people were shown committing suicide as if that’s the most fashionable way out of life’s troubles ruined the movie for me. But I’ll give credit to 3 Idiots for getting across a message that perhaps most Indian parents needed to hear. I don’t know how successful they’ve been in doing so - it’s hard to undo years of conditioning after all. But then, Bollywood has the power to impact people in serious ways, so you never know.

Like millions of other kids growing up in India in the 90s, I too was one of the kids growing up in a pressure cooker situation. We were trapped in an educational system that was oppressive, unnecessarily cumbersome and where our entire lives & careers would be determined by a single exam - the Class XII Boards. It encouraged memorization (my Physics teacher used to refer to it as "ingest the knowledge & vomit it all out during the exam, no need to absorb or retain any of it") but didn’t ensure that we were able to get anything out of it at all that we would be thankful for later on in life (except a good command over the English language in my case but most Indian schools don't even guarantee that).

Of course, my parents too wanted me to become a doctor or an engineer or join the Indian Administrative Service (it’s an obsession with people of the “cow belt”) but I rejected all of these options. I decided to study Economics instead because it was logical, made sense to me, was (largely) application based and I enjoyed it much more than Physics, Chemistry or Math, and according to my folks it was the only subject worth studying apart from Science. That pacified them a bit.

College applications were an entirely different story though. In India, you don’t get to decide what subject you want to major in; other people decide what you can or cannot study - which is THE MOST ridiculous and retarded system of education anywhere in the world. (You’re allotted a subject based on the percentage you score in your Class XII exams, irrespective of whether you have an iota of interest in the subject or not. So God help you if you were having an off day during one of those exams, your life could get practically fucked). So, I started applying to colleges in the United States, and turns out that was probably THE best decision I’ve taken in life so far!

But most kids aren’t as lucky as I was....

And then comes this overly simplistic movie which deals with the confusion, stress and disillusionment most teenagers go through when deciding which way to go (medicine/engineering vs listening to your heart) as if it's just a matter of deciding whether you want to wear a yellow dress today or a green one!

The movie gives out a singular message - forget a career that’ll bring you financial security and chase your dreams; you may be barely able to make ends meet but at least you’ll be doing what you want to do. But does the movie show us a way to overcome the frustrations that lack of a good income is bound to generate later on in our lives? It doesn’t, which is why I feel it was too simplistic.

Yes, there are some people who really couldn’t care about how much money they're making but most of us wish to be financially comfortable. Or will do so once the rose-tinted glasses with which we tend to see life while in our teens wear off.

We all have dreams of a nice house, a nice car, of being able to travel the world, being able to afford a good lifestyle and things we like. And the truth is that a corporate job helps us turn those dreams into reality. Sure, it can get really monotonous and stifling at times. We can get stuck in a rut. We start to question whether this is what we wish to be doing with our lives.

Well, we may not like working a 9-to-8 schedule but truth can not be wished away. What a financially secure and rewarding career can give us is also something we desire. They might be mere material possessions but there’s a very good chance we won’t be happy without them either. Life is not always a choice between yellow & green.

A Country of Jealous Men

What exactly is our problem with N D Tiwari?

That he continues to get action at the age of 86, something that most middle-aged Indian men & men his age can only dream of?

Accept it or not, that is the only reason why the country is so pissed off with him. Envy. Jealousy. And the fact that sex is so over-rated in our country. I mean, what’s the big deal about sex anyway? It’s meant to give pleasure, help in carrying on the species and give an outlet to the energy that could otherwise get channeled towards violence & aggression, things that are detrimental to the entire society. There’s nothing sacred about sex. So do we mean to say that people holding public offices should be off sex for the entire period they hold office? That it’s unlawful for our Heads of State to seek pleasure?

Of course not. We’re only shocked that a man his age was getting it on with - not one - but three young women!!

No one’s talking about the fact that he was having sex outside his marriage, when that should be one of the only two things we should be prosecuting him for (IF he has a living wife that is), the other being whether he used his position to get sexual favors from these women. Did he promise them - or the person who supplied him with these women - something in return for sex? Were these women being sexually exploited by him? If not, then why are we prosecuting him?

We have no business doing so just because he was enjoying a foursome at the age of 86. Show me one man who doesn’t want to have a rocking sexual life or one woman who doesn’t want to be sexually satisfied at that age. All of us - except the lazy types - want to be sexually active till the day we die, and why not? Sex is a basic human need. We know it’s every man’s fancy to be part of a threesome at least once in his life - even better if he has three women working on him at the same time!!

So let’s grow up as a society and as a people. Let’s not overrate sex. There are plenty of men - and women - who have sex outside their marriage and/or indulge in sexual practices that are out of the norm (menage a trois, tantric sex, sex with animals, sodomy, anal sex etc.) N D Tiwari is just plain unlucky that someone videotaped him in the act. Even unluckier that he happened to hold a public office of prominence at the time.

I know for sure that all men are secretly giving it up for the dude. And praying like hell that at least their wives, if not nubile young things, would still be interested in having sex with them when they’re that old & wrinkled.

P.S.: Totall unrelated but saw a sign at Connaught Place in Delhi which was advertizing massages at home. It had a number that you could call & they would send you a masseuse at your residence/place of preference. The flyer also had an e-mail ID where you could mail your request: And infront of the sign was a man selling whips!! I could've died laughing :D

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

When Was The Last Time You Got Fitted?

While women across the world were busy putting the color of their bra up as their status message on Facebook - ostensibly as a means of creating awareness about breast cancer - men had their own take on the game. Once they figured out what was going on that is. Some of the funniest comments from guys on Facebook were…
  • How does it matter which color if it has to be taken off?
  • You give me reasons to be ‘hooked’ on to Facebook
  • Anyone even bothered about what color we prefer?
  • Men are simple. Black or red does it every time!
  • Men around the world must think they have won the lottery today
  • I want proof!

But my favorite was this…

  • No, no, it’s not too much information at all. Thank you for sharing.

This had me chuckling for quite some time.

Honestly though, I’m with the men on this one. I mean, putting the color of your bra on a public forum isn’t going to create awareness about breast cancer. Not by a long shot. It’s a silly game at best, sure to generate funny, crass or voyeuristic comments from men. So women, if you really want to spread breast cancer awareness talk to your mom, aunts & other women you know about doing a breast-self examination regularly and getting mammograms done on an annual basis (particularly women above 30 years of age). Or at least getting their breasts examined by their doctors/gynacs periodically to detect the presence of any suspicious lumps. THAT is how you would truly spread awareness about the disease.

Now, since we're talking about bras already, have you noticed how ill-fitted most Indian women are? They’re either wearing bras that are too big for them or ones that are too small and have their boobs spilling out (and no, I’m not referring to three-fourth coverage bras). Other common problems are wearing bras that offer no support and adjusting the straps so loose that their boobs sag.

Usually women are too lazy to go to a proper lingerie store (or the lingerie section of a departmental store) and try bras out before buying them. They don’t feel bras are worth investing money in. Then there are the cheap cotton bras that are available in small shops that generally don’t have trial rooms. Women usually just ask for their size and buy the bras without trying them, whereas the truth is that our bra size changes as our body changes (and our bodies are changing constantly!), so it’s important to try a bra out before buying it.

While I do understand that not everyone may be able to afford bras that cost 1000 bucs a piece (that’s generally what fancy branded bras cost), the fact is that bras are probably the single most important piece of clothing in a woman’s wardrobe. They give shape & definition to one’s body, and there’s no bigger turn-off than a woman in an ill-fitting bra. Besides, wearing the wrong bra can have a number of harmful effects on one’s body such as back problems, headaches, neck strain, rashes and even pulled ligaments! For these two reasons alone, a good fitting bra - one that’s the right size and offers good support - is worth investing in. There are also a number of lower cost options (in the range of 400-600 a piece) available at branded lingerie stores these days.

So women, GO GET FITTED!!

And to all the men reading this, sorry I forgot to warn you this was going to be a girly post :)

Photo Courtesy:

Monday, January 11, 2010

Pyaar Impossible

Pyaar Impossible is the kind of movie where the protagonists talk in terms of “Yeah whatever”, “Like, you know?”, “Shut up, really?”, “You know, what?” etc. and the director has paid more attention to the accent with which Priyanka Chopra speaks English (Indian-meets-American) rather than the story or the script.
Like, really!!

To give you a synopsis, the movie is about a geek - played by Uday Chopra who really doesn’t need thick glasses & braces to look ugly - who continues to nurture secret feelings for college beauty Priyanka Chopra (guys, you can really go ahead & call her a sex bomb) even 7 years after they have graduated. PC on the other hand isn’t even aware of his existence (though he once saved her life!!) and has moved on to get married, have a kid, get divorced & work at a Singapore technology firm as their PR & Marketing head!!

The geek lands up in Singapore chasing a suave fraud (an appropriately cast Dino Morea) who has stolen his software and is about to sell it to the same company that PC works at, for a record amount. Geek boy follows PC to her house and agrees to become a nanny to her precocious daughter.

For one, it’s a story Hollywood has shown us many times before. Divorced woman, mother to a child falls in love with her child’s (male) nanny / housekeeper or her co-worker. So the movie has nothing new to offer in terms of story.
There are too many loopholes in the script, many WTF moments. For instance, no one - in any corner of the world - goes to work wearing beach/resort/party wear, where the skirt is barely long enough to cover the butt and the top buttons of the shirt are always popped open to reveal push-up bra induced cleavage. Not even in the US of A, leave alone Singapore.
Secondly, Priyanka Chopra’s character comes across more as an airhead rather than a smart, independent young woman who is a single working mother, drawn out on all strings trying to manage a demanding career, a home & a super brat of a child. She has spent her entire life seeking only attractive men and wonders how people can be so shallow so as not to look beyond a person’s looks / appearance. She leaves her 6 year old daughter in the care of a male she doesn’t even know after meeting him for two minutes! She works at a technology company but doesn’t know how to operate a computer. The list goes on.

Why did I go to watch this movie, you ask? It has Uday Chopra in it, so I was suitably warned after all.

Well, I thought it would be a breezy romance given the candy-floss feel of its posters & previews. Little did I know that there would be an OD of Uday Chopra (there’s just Uday Chopra & more of Uday Chopra on screen!!) Couldn’t we have had some more of Priyanka Chopra?? Coz, you know, she’s been getting to wear the most awesome clothes since Dostana, and with her mind-blowing body and her chic short hair she totally works the screen.

Pyaar Impossible is the kind of movie which ends with the girl saying “I’m just a girl but with you I feel like a princess”, and where people say “Shut the front door” rather than “Shut the fuck up”. It’s too superficial and hollow to tackle the subject of how people give so much importance to looks and the concept of Prince Charming. It hardly shows a romance growing between the beauty and the beast (who insists on calling himself a “geek”) to warrant an ending where she falls for him. You wait for the film to mature at some point but it doesn’t.

Overall, Pyaar Impossible isn’t unwatchable…I never felt bored in the movie as I did during Avatar…but I’d suggest watching it when they show it on TV on a Friday night when you have no other plans, rather than watching it in the theater. The only good thing about the movie is Priyanka Chopra. She’s confident, stylish, sassy and super hot.

To conclude, I’d like to say two things to Yash Raj : 1. No one wants to watch Uday Chopra on screen (and that too so much of him!). I mean, it’s not his fault that he looks the way he does, but it IS his fault that he thinks he still should be an actor in spite of his looks and repeated audience rejection (No, the Dhoom franchise is not a hit b/c of him), and 2. No matter how many movies you make for him, he’s just not going to cut it as an actor. Impossible hai yaar!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Ferari Mon

Ferari Mon is one of my all-time favorite songs. It’s from a Bengali movie called Antaheen, starring Aparna Sen, Sharmila Tagore, Rahul Bose & a Marathi actress Radhika Apte. This song is so melodious & sweet, you’ll want to play it over & over again. It’s sung by Shreya Ghosal & Babul Supriyo, the music is by Shantanu Moitra, and I think apart from the composition what makes the song so endearing is the way it's been sung.

(Though Shaan has also sung for this movie & I would’ve absolutely loved it if he’d sung this song along with Shreya Ghosal)

You can check the song out here or here. It is in Bengali of course, but you’ll fall in love with it even if you don’t understand the lyrics.

P.S.: Anyone know what Ferari Mon means?

Thursday, January 7, 2010

The 4th Idiot

Really, I don’t have an opinion on the 3 Idiots controversy. I don’t care whether Chetan Bhagat gets his credit or his money. Therefore, I don’t have an opinion. The man is rich enough to be living in South Bombay; I don’t care if he earns a few more lacs.

But the controversy has me in splits - Chetan Bhagat’s statements & reactions to be specific. He claims he’s been grappling with the issue for 2 years but kept silent about it. Why? Pray tell. Was he waiting for Fairy Godmother to come and sort out his issues before the release of the movie?

His reasons for finally speaking up on the issue (when he must've realized he's no Cinderella & no Fairy Godmother is coming to his rescue!) are hilarious. It starts with his mom having cried because his name came so late in the rolling credits and scrolled by so fast that she missed it!!

Now, didn’t mom teach him not to trust strangers when he was little? Or was someone not paying attention growing up?

If he wanted credit upfront, he should’ve ensured that part was mentioned in the contract he signed - so the producers would be bound by law to give him credit as due, or bear the consequences. I honestly didn’t expect an IIT-IIM graduate who worked as an Investment Banker before he became a writer to be so daft.

It’s clear what Chetan Bhagat is really after are the film awards for Best Story, as he keeps repeating in every interview that Abhijat Joshi & Rajkumar Hirani will go around collecting all the awards while he’ll be forced to watch from the sidelines. And his getting upset over not getting the main credit for the story makes sense given that he’s made his intentions of turning into a screenplay writer quite clear.

And then came this - “They have an army of people to promote their side of the story, crores of media budgets and are sparing no efforts to bring me down. The only thing I have is my fans, and the truth. But then, the truth is Krishna, and the Pandavas had only that while there was an army on the other side. Remember who won that battle?”

Oh please! We don’t need a refresher course in Bhagavada Geeta 101! Leave that for the saas-bahu serials on TV!

And then came the clincher! Bhagat said that he’s a Krishna bhakt (devotee of Lord Krishna) and he’ll happily join ISKCON & dedicate his life to Krishna!!

Really? And who’ll pay the EMI/rent for the South Bombay apartment while he spends his life serving Lord Krishna? Poor wifey who continues to hold a corporate job so hubby dearest can realize his dreams of becoming an author, and cry like a cry baby when he feels he's duped when what he really should've been doing was to pay attention to the goddamn contract he was signing?

Sorry for getting personal Chetan, but I still haven’t forgiven you the 100 rupees that I spent on ‘One Night @ the Call Center”. (That book is right up there with Meenakshi Reddy Madhavan's 'You Are Here' on my list of the The Shittiest Books Written Ever!!)

Once rumors that Vidhu Vinod Chopra & Co. are planning to sue Chetan Bhagat started doing the rounds, Chetan Bhagat promptly decided to “close” the controversy by saying that he & his fans want to move on, and they have. Would he have made such a big issue out of the whole thing if the movie had tanked like the one that was based on ‘One Night @ the Call Center’?

Honestly, I don't care who wins this battle of the credits but I wonder if Pritish Nandy hit the nail on the head when he Tweeted that given Aamir Khan’s penchant for unusual promotional strategies, it could be possible that the fight with Chetan Bhagat is aimed at pumping up sales of both Five Point Someone and 3 Idiots?

Now, that’s a thought. Five Point Someone IS flying off the shelves after all.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

This Pattern Needs to Break Itself

Starting the year with visits to the doctor’s, path labs etc. is what I’m referring to. It’s been a pattern for the last few years and it’s terribly upsetting. I mean, you don’t want to be starting your year being sick and lining up for check-ups at doctors’ clinics & various tests at hospitals.

2008 started with chronic pharyngitis that took me almost the entire year to get over as the throat infection would just keep coming back. 2009 started with unbelievably rapid weight gain (2 kgs in one week!!) that sent me scurrying to the doctor and then to the hospital to check for polycystic ovaries & hypothyroidism. And 2010 has started with a stomach bug. A short trip over the New Year weekend turned out into a sick weekend that saw me mostly on the bed & on antibiotics. Which meant, no street food, no shopping, no meeting my fabulous friends who call that city home (Vinny, if you’re reading this, now you know why I didn’t get around to calling you :(

I’m hoping 2010 is GOOD and that the first few days do not set the pattern for the rest of the year. Here are the tangible things I want to be looking at by the end of this year:

  1. 7 kgs weight-loss (minimum 5)
  2. Better fitness levels
  3. Better all-round health
  4. Cutting down on my expenses by 10-15%
  5. At least a few lacs sitting pretty in my bank account
  6. Respectable investments
  7. A more stylish wardrobe

And with all the positive influences around me (read a boy who believes being over-weight & non-stylish are the two biggest crimes on this planet, punishable by death) and the fact that I now live in a city that doesn’t force you to be counting how many pennies you have left in your bank account at the end of each month, I think the goals mentioned above should be attainable.

In my defense though, I’m not technically over-weight. According to the BMI calculator, I’m on the border of normal & over-weight. And I think I’m reasonably stylish. Just that the goddamn companies want only skinny people to wear their clothes these days, so finding an outfit that I like AND that flatters my body (that is of cow-like proportions right now) is tougher than finding a needle in a haystack. And unfortunately for me, I don't possess the patience of The Boy who can spend an entire day trying to find a pair of jeans or a t-shirt that he likes, and is still perfectly happy to not have found anything by the end of the day!!