Friday, June 09, 2006

The RAINS in Calcutta

Monsoon in Calcutta is just round the corner or it might be here. I mean you really cannot say. The monsoon comes into this part of the world in a predatory way. Initially its just stalking you. There are just an odd spell of shower here and a little drizzle there. Then it becomes a bit more regular, storms with dark clouds that make the sun hide and the evenings slip into the dark night. Not too much of rain, enough to cool the air and making you beg for some more. And then the sudden downpour once in a while. And then before you know it its drizzling all day. Earlier on it was a known thing that every shower would be followed by waterlogged streeets. Making sure those who missed the rain stuck inside offices got wet in ankle deep or sometime knee deep water on their way back. Thats not really what Calcutta these days. I would actually love the waterlogging and I know most of us did. If not the getting wet part, at least getting home wet and telling everyone how bad the roads were.

Sunday, June 04, 2006


I dont consider myself a movie buff, I just consider myself as a cine watcher who is usually deeply affected for a minimal span of time by whatevers happening in the screen in front of me. And hence I find it pretty strange that sometimes there are certain movies that stay there with me and keep me thinking for more than just a brief period of time. Its not that I remember the whole movie, its usually a single scene that stays stuck and the remainder of the movie just lurks behind consciousness. I have been watching a few movies recently and of the last three that I have watched in a movie hall I can convincingly say that they were a complete waste of money. I am not going to say that they were the worst movies i have ever seen, that I am sure is another one and it will take a rather inspired effort by a director to beat that.
The last three movies DOOM, Tom, Dick and Harry and Fanaa were pretty unwatchable. Doom and Fanaa we at least sat through because we had paid big bucks for them. However we had paid the most for Tom, Dick and Harry and still needed to walk out after a few minutes. However they still are faraway from Rog, which in my mind stays the ultimate insult to the whole world of film making and film watching.
Lets start with Doom. Its one of those movies which start of with the basic idea that all you need for a movie to click is great special fx. You can therefore spend the money on that alone then ask a lousy scriptwriter to make a story around all those effects and a bunch of no good actors to move about the set while whatever was supposed to happen happens. Theres some out in space station in which some scientific research on genes being mutated and its effects on the poor people so mutated are being studied. Something goes wrong. The ultimate warrior machines are let loose to fight this menace. The new mutated versions are really strong and heavy fighting takes place. Ultimately we know that mutation makes changes in certain human beings to make them atrocious beasts while another set becomes superhumens. The set of rescuers are also accompanied by the usual eye candy damsel who needs to be rescued as the final act. Final shots arelike a comp game.
Next lets get to Tom, Dick and harry ......... nothing to say.Watched Fanaa, was apprehensive from the beginning. Yet went for it.
Initially it was the usual hindi movie stuff. Song and dance routine, guided tour all over Delhi, this that some more dance in the rain. And then there was the twist which hopefully could have made the movie better. Then it was screwed up as royally as possible only in hindi movies. Bring in a kid, bring in the emotional crap, bring in some dilemmas that the hero has to deal with, then finish it off with a bang. These movies prove that RDB, Satya and such movies are still just flashes in the pan and hindi movie has absolutely no intention of considering the basic fact that its audience has some intelligence and intentions of watching movies that are bit more than just the crap that is being dished out.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Have become quite an addict of the coffee houses that have sprung up all over the place. The CCDs and Baristas basically should be offering me a lifetime membership card pretty soon. They should also be seriously considering me as an employee instead of a client. Not only am I regular at their joints I also continually strive to expand their client base. I have introduced the idea of lounging at these cafes instead of going for a movie to at least a few dozen people. I know these people are basically not that smart and my thoughts really would not be appreciated yet I will continue in this struggle of mine.
My first choice is obviously Barista. Well its costlier. However thats only if you order something. Barista has this really cool company policy of not asking people to leave even if they have not ordered anything and the place is so crowded that genuine coffee drinking clients are having to wait outside. Also in some of the outlets they provide you with a scrabble board or a guitar or something to enjoy yourself with your friends while you enjoy your cuppa (or you might just enjoy it without the cuppa). Also the tv is on so you can catch up on whatevers on. Also the newspapers and magazines stacked in the corner is pretty helpful in killing time alone while sipping on your coffee. And usually the crowd is pretty nice which is a bonus.
CCD is also basically similar, although I doubt if they have a similar company policy about entertaining us loafers with no cash for the coffee. Also I have not seen a CCD with scrabbles or guitars. However they have a system which allows you to play songs on the system (again not free). Also each of the CCD have at least one set of really comfy and proper couches which is perfect if you have a large group of people going along. The other difference is they actually have people serving you. Besides CCD chain has a newsletter of its own which you can browse through, though I personally am not too convinced about its editorial board's literary taste.
In both of them I usually go with the espresso if I would like to have some coffee. Everytime I order it in either of the places they make sure that I know what i am about to have. Usually in really serious voices they make me realise that it is "dark coffee, 25 ml,bitter" with a face that makes me confident that I am not supposed to have it. What the hell! If you are so sure that its that bad why keep it on the menu? However I actually like the bitter taste of coffee. And I usually customise my espresso by adding generous helpings of sugar to get thet syrupy sweet taste hidden behind the dark bitter taste of strong coffee I am sure that a lot of other people might actually go for it if they were not warned so menacingly by whoever is supposed to prepare it. For dessert it is usually a Dark Temptation or ChocaVloc. Both are basically the same. Both have a really soft and warm rich chocolate brownie with two scoops of vanilla. I love the feeling of the smooth cream and the rich chocolate mixing in the mouth.
Besides these, if I am hungry I usually go for the chocolate doughnut. I usually ask them to add an extra ladle of the thick chocolate sauce and take a scoop of vanilla cream to go with it. However I have at least two cases when the doughnuts were soggy and that really makes a messy situation.

Friday, June 02, 2006


Went with friends to an "eat out" place that I used to frequent often during my college days. Situated at the corner of the Park Street- Wellesley (currently Rafi Ahmed Kidwai) road crossing, Dreams used to be the usual haunt for most of my friends as well as anyone in Xaviers wanting to have a bite. It was this small little shack with really dark interiors. The place served vegetarian dishes downstairs and everything else on the first floor. To get to the level of non-veg dishes you needed to get up this really narrow and creaking wooden stairs which could barely support our bodyweights.
After going through the proper dining place which were no more than two small rooms with as many chairs and tables possible thrown in and climbing yet another flight of equally dangerous stairs you reached the"place". The "place" was basically a terrace that had been converted to an extension by covering the sides with cheap cloth and canework supported by bamboo poles at the four corners. The place was supposedly kept cool by a standing fan that was much less effective than its constant and loud whirring would suggest. Here was where we gathered mostly after 1:30 in the afternoons, after the canteen had shut down and we had still infinite amount of time to kill and an equal number of boring lectures to ditch. The food was alright, though nothing really great and the view into the street or the houses opposite were nether really sights to kill for. We usually sat down with a roll or some veg hakka, and did the very important job of killing time. Our usual waiter was a dark, mustachioed, pot-bellied man in a greasy sleeveless vest with sweat dripping all over him and usually into our food as well for that extra "Dreams" flavour. The other services besides the food being brought from the kitchen was left to us. We knew that the tissues were kept on the left most drawer of the wooden cupboard and we poured our water into glasses that were transparent once, now translucent and very much towards becoming opaque.
It might not have been the ideal restaurant on a place so close to Park Street, but it was surely the place we preffered.
However, in the middle of our third year in college suddenly the "management" of Dreams had a brainstorm and thought of renovating the place. I guess it was partly prompted by the sudden coming up of a restaurant too close to itself for comfort. The said restaurant was much smaller but it was an "ac" restaurant and poor Dreams could not bear upon the thought of losing its clients to this new kid on the block.
We then left college and drifted apart, touching down base only very rarely and even rarer was a trip to "Dreams". Even those few times that we went to "Dreams" the efforts for a changeover was truly and sincerely on its way. However, on the surface there was no visible change as such. The same old people serving the same old food in the same old way in the same old place. And we didn't ask for more.
We came back this time to be shocked. The ugly duckling had become a beautiful swan (I know it sounds cliched). Well not really. At least it had tried.
It was no more the dark and muggy place that we frequented. It was now in its new avatar of a swanky downtown restaurant with glass top tables and table-mats (ahem). However the people were the same, however they now had uniforms. The vests had been traded for formal whites or greys and they wore those little bows that were customary for the waiter look. The chairs were much more reliable and even the heavier amongst us need not be scared of causing loss of the restaurant property by trying to sit comfortably, unlike those prehistoric days. Someone actually came with a pad to write down our order. Hell it was the same guy, he just had to play along with the rest of them. I am pretty sure he just scribbled some gibberish on those pads, and just like those days long long ago just kept them in his head. The food was brought in much later (well the fancier the restaurant the longer the wait) than usual Dreams time and it was brought in with some style. The breads were brought in wooden baskets, the sabzi in those really aesthetically pleasing , with really small capacity though, copper plated bowls and what nots. They were willing to serve it as well. The cost had gone up a bit, honestly not much though and we would have been surprised if it had not. The "place" had changed as well, though it was not ac, it had gone through with all the other changes that the restaurant deemed required. We really would not dare to open the left most drawer of the wooden cupboard even if the tissues were still kept there.
It was no more "Dreams". It was now Dreamlands A.C. Multicuisine Restaurant.
The transformation was complete.
I am not complaining about it, though I will take that dark, hot and sultry place anyday to the new swanky one. Hey I just hope those new students at college take this new Dreams with its place as the new hangout for those hours to kill and those classes to ditch.