Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Movie-ing Up

I remember going for a movie 20 years ago when I was a kid. It was La Bamba and my friends and I were excited to be able to see a cool movie, eat popcorn and be in a theater. I also remember the torn seats, all of us packed like sardines, smelly neighbours and we were told to keep our feet off the ground for fear of rats and roaches!! Chennai, at the very least, has changed!

The nicest theater when I moved back a year ago was Sathyam Cinemas that houses about 6 different screens. The thing with Sathyam is that each screening room is also of a different level of cleanliness, service etc. The nicest of the lot has leather sofas and in-theater service of the goodies from the refreshment stand. But the sofas seat two and if you don't have a partner, it would be really weird. Or if you go with someone you really don't want to snuggle up with! :) But they also have online reservation of tickets which is quite cool.

The nicest part of Sathyam is that a friend of mine has set up a children's play area in the complex called Magic Hat. Its quite cool - for all those who don't have access to people to look after their child. This place has a video room, play area, sleep area... and its clean and very reasonable. And its open not only to people seeing a movie but for others as well.

Okay, so recently they opened an INOX film complex at the Chennai Citi Center. Its AMAZING. I truly felt like I was back in the US. Its clean, carpeted, air-conditioned. The refreshment stands are great. And the theater seats recline and have cup-holders!!! cup-holders!!!! Yeah! I'm totally excited. Now I'm happy to go watch movies!

My Food Blog

My passion is food and cooking and eating :) I'm not a natural cook ie I need to follow some kind of guidelines - I'm not okay with just throwing things together. But I enjoy cooking a lot - its almost therapeutic. So I decided to start a food blog of all my favourite recipes, and stuff that I love to cook and eat and feed others!

Here's the link to my new blog. Check it out!

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

National Geographic

This is an amazing photo...take a look

look closer and you will see that the white lines are the camels (the photo is taken directly from above) and the black is just the long shadows.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

India: Fired up on Chillies!

Recently India entered the Guinness Book of Records with the World's hottest chilli, Bhut Jolokia! Apparently Bhut Jolokia means Ghost Chilli because the person who eats the chilli gives up his ghost!

Not sure why, but I feel inordinately proud! I guess it stems from watching people eat Jalapenos (apprently only 10,000 on the Scoville heat units compared to the Bhut which is 1 million plus!!) and Bird's eye yellow chillies and exclaim that it was the hottest thing in the world and nothing can top that. I would eat the same thing, and say, "there must be something hotter in India". And now I am right. And India has shown the world!

(photo taken from here)


Friday, February 16, 2007

Sarees with a Twist

The saree wars are quite a spectacle to behold in Chennai. It first began with the world's first reversible saree introduced by RmKV - there were billboards all over the city with the beautiful Jyotika wearing one and everyone said Wow - Wonder How That Works. One saree can be worn 4 different ways. Then people went to the store and said Pah Too Heavy for Madras Weather (ahem! are the same mamis wearing heavy Kanchivarams?).

Next Sri Kumaran Silks introduced the saree with a pocket! yes, a pocket!! For the busy woman who needs to put her cell phone/ keys/ wallet somewhere quickly. Now they show a pretty, slim girl wearing it - but what about the fat ones? Does it then become like jeans where the pocket slings to the back? Hmm...I wonder how you sit down with a cell phone sticking out of a - ahem - back pocket?
RmKV then introduced the 50,000 colors saree. And the same Jyotika - smiling and happy - and all Chennai was talking about whether she would wear it for her wedding to the actor, Surya. They also then introduced a saree which weighs only 800 grams (is that to remedy the heavy reversible?).

Now Sri Kumaran has come back with the denim saree! Aimed at the younger jeans-wearing crowd, the ad also states "also suitable for elders". If that doesn't sound terrible in itself, I just dont see the Madras Mamis wearing denim or one with a pocket.

Maybe RmKV has a better grip on the Mamis. Atleast the reversible, the 800 grams and the 50,000 colors sarees are worth considering. Wonder when Nalli is gonna join the fray? C'mon, Chennai needs you.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Still Life With...

I've been interested in food photography for a while, but have done nothing about it. Until I joined Still Life With. This is a working photography group started by Lara. Every month she posts a theme for the month and we are to go off and take photos. It got me motivated and I'm enjoying this very much.

This month's theme is Splish Splash Drip Drop. That is, food in motion...Here are my contributions for this topic so far:


Bananas and Chocolate Sauce

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Good old Landmark

I went on a buying spree of kids books in Chennai. I started out with the Oxford Bookstore on Haddows Road. It opened a while ago but I hadn't found the time to visit as yet, plus I had a gift certificate that I needed to redeem before it expired.

Well the store is supposedly 3 storeys but one storey was a cafe and the second was the cashier. So that left only the 3rd storey which was approximately 600 sq ft. The selection of kids books was extremely poor especially for pre-schoolers. The staff were completely incompetent. The cashier had no idea how to work the register, nor how to use my gift certificate. The remaining 4 guys on the staff - 2 were giggling over some book, one guy was scratching himself and the 4th was browsing magazines!! It was ridiculous. I spent 45 minutes just waiting at the register!

From there I went to the Crosswords bookstore on Venkatnarayana Road in T Nagar. They too had a tiny bit of floor space, a miserable selection of books, and were bizarre-ly incompetent at the checkout line. I was the only one there and yet no one even asked if I needed help or cared the least bit about expediting my bill. I spent another 1/2 hour trying to get my bill. They too had a whole section devoted to a cafe!

Needless to say, I was extremely disappointed. As my friend wisely said "the new bookstores are all style and no substance".

It was back to good old Landmark, where I found everything I was looking for. The only thing I feel Landmark should change is their huge amount of time, energy and money devoted to selling knick-knacks like costume jewelry and random "gift articles". But then, maybe the teenagers these days need a place to go buy sweet-nothings for their significant others. Landmark's selection of books, CDs and DVDs though is top-notch.

The other small but significantly impressive stores are Giggles (in the Taj Connemara hotel) and the book shop at the Taj Coromandel hotel. Tiny stores that ooze substance!

Friday, February 02, 2007

Jayanthi's Chicken and Mutton Mart

The sign says

"Jayanthi's Chicken and Mutton Mart. Specializing in all types of imported birds, rabbits and meats. "

Right there on Poonamallee High Road, Chennai. The scariest meat shop I have ever seen. Make no mistake I still miss chicken tikka and crispy bacon, but when I see signs like this one and stores like this, I'm doubly glad I stayed veggie.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

The Madras Club

As far as clubs go in Chennai, Madras Club is definitely the nicest. Its true that they are very old fashioned and have oh-so-many rules, but ask any member and they will say that its completely worth it.

We recently went through a year of screening, informal interviews and formal interviews to be invited to be a temporary member of the Club. But I wouldn't have it any other way. Its what makes the Club so exclusive. You definitely won't meet the riff-raff here.

The nicest part of the Club is the great playground. And you'll realize that its so great after having lived in Chennai for a year and realizing that there is NO OTHER PLACE where kids can play outside. I am also told that they have the best bar in the city. Since I haven't done a survey of bars, I'm just going to take their word for it. And of course there's the swimming pool, the gym, the bakery and the lovely grounds overlooking the Adyar River.